Chapter 28: A Landing on Styxus

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23,090 - 23,092 AE

Having extensively studied High Emperor Rasha’s failed invasion of Vetruvia, Consular Draug decided that rather than scissor attack from the North, as Rasha had, he would skirt Kaero and Petra Fortress entirely and sail around to the southwest side of El-Gamesh. He knew this meant navigating his ships through the unpredictable Sea of Judgment. It was a calculated risk, and one that would have many unforeseen consequences for Consular Draug.

Soon after setting sail, Draug's ships were swept up in a sudden maelstrom of unprecedented violence. Miraculously, none of the vessels sank, but the fleet was swept wildly off course. When the maelstrom subsided, Draug found his ships off the coast of a primitive and unfamiliar land. At first, he thought they had arrived on the Magmar continent of Magaari, but his men found it populated by strange lizard-like creatures, sentient but underdeveloped, frightened and frail. Pressing farther inland, they found vast desolate plains littered with unharvested crystals. Draug had never seen anything like it. Gleefully, he praised his own good fortune, marveling at the abundance of untapped crystals. They would be his source of power and the perfect secret weapon against the upstart nations.

Draug tried to question the serpentine creatures with his Mindwarpers, but sensing his true nature, they refused to speak to him. Under torture, they eventually revealed that Draug was in the peninsula of Ixus, on the continent of Styxus, and that they were the surface-dwellers, the Serpenti. When Draug asked what lay below the surface, the Serpenti grew even more afraid and more reticent. Only after the most painful interrogation did the terrified creatures tell him of the darkness that lay underground. Slipping in and out of consciousness, the Serpenti described scenes almost beyond Draug’s imagination, with giant subterranean cities made entirely of crystals.