Chapter 37: The Weeping Tree Blooms

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AE 23,205

The Great Disjunction almost dashed the Inxikrah offensive before it began. Though they had absorbed the skills of their vanquished foes, the Inxikrah were a subterranean race and, therefore, inexpert ocean navigators at best. The churning seas claimed a quarter of them. But those that landed fought ferociously, viciously, sweeping across Aestaria, consuming their victims and growing smarter each day. The Vermillion Legion, all but leaderless, was easily conquered. Though victorious, the Inxikrah were weakened by the battle as well. But when Aq'Toth unceremoniously dismembered and consumed Draug, he mind melded and learned of the impending blooming of the Weeping Tree of Eyos, and the great power soon to be released within the Monolith.

Having communed with the Weeping Tree, Valknu was aware of the blooming as well, and with Draug beaten and the Inxikrah weakened, he knew the moment to strike had arrived. He had no reason to suspect the Inxikrah knew the Weeping Tree was about to bloom, or the tremendous power its blooming would unleash. But he knew they must never be allowed to access it. If the Bloodbound could engage the Inxikrah, they would be triumphant. If they allowed the Inxikrah to access the power of the Weeping Tree, the Bloodbound would fail. The Second Empire might never happen. Instead, the Inxikrah would plunge the world into another age of chaos, a thousand times darker than anything Draug had inflicted.

It was sunset by the time the Bloodbound arrived at God's Heel to head off the Inxikrah. The rest of the Magmar were already there. As they prepared for war, The Monolith hanging in the sky above them began to pulsate with color. The Star Lenses built to focus the light inwards onto the Weeping Tree now refracted it outwards instead in a brilliant display of iridescence that shone across the sky, illuminating all of God's Heel in a fantastic display of coruscating lights. The Bloodbound felt buoyant, not just from the joyous nature of the spectacle, but as if gravity itself was undulating as well.

The Great Blooming had begun.