Chapter 26: Consular Draug and the Vermillion Legion
23,055 - 23,090 AE
'Desperation is sometimes as powerful an inspirer as genius.' -Benjamin Disraeli
If Aestaria during the embargo was the perfect place for extremism to grow, Consular Draug was the perfect leader to capitalize on it. A charismatic practitioner of the forbidden arts, Draug had created a religious sect called The Crimson Flame, a secret society of fanatics whose growing influence fanned the smoldering flames of Aestari nationalism. The Aestari were the first true people of Mithron, Draug taught, born as the children of flaming stars, raised from the old Vermillion Forests. They deserved to rule themselves and all the younger races that populated the other continents. According to Draug, the Aestaris would always be the rightful heirs to Mithron; it was their destiny to take their rightful place.
From his unremarkable beginnings as a heretic preacher outside the walls of the Seventh Sanctum, Consular Draug quickly rose to great power in only a few short years. Achieving a cult-like status, he assembled a devoted army of religious zealots called the Vermillion Legion. He rehabilitated the memory of Emperor Rasha and carefully studied his military strategies and political successes, as well as his failures. The more he emulated Rasha, the more he sought to correct the High Emperor’s final defeat. Thus inspired, he began devising an elaborate plan to invade Vetruvia once again.
Draug’s first move was to establish a secret alliance with the Lyonar’s High Council leaders from Baast, Caerme, Windcliffe, and Lyr, appealing to their resentment of Vetruvian primacy and appeasing them with promises of spoils from Vetruvia’s defeat. Only the leaders of Sunforge refused to attend. His northern flank largely secured, he then sent his warships on a surprise attack on the Songhai capital, Xaan, sinking the unsuspecting Songhai fleet stationed at port with little difficulty. At the Battle of Three Crossings, General Taegon from Kaido issued desperate pleas for help, but the Lyonar were complicit with Draug, and Ziros remained true to his oath never to aid the Songhai, who had left the Vetruvians to rot in their greatest hour of need. Draug moved past Xaan and conquered Kaido, consolidating his power over the entire continent of Xenkai. The world was shocked, but even as Draug turned his attention to Vetruvia once again, no one would come to the aid of his victims.
Or almost no one...