Chapter 39: Dawn of the Second Empire

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AE 23,205 - 23,380

The Second Empire dawned over a world ravaged by war, fraught with climatic and tectonic instability, hobbled by chaos and evil. But there was also great optimism at the prospect of a New Age of peace and prosperity. After their victory in the Battle of God's Heel, the Abyssians returned to Ixus and an uneasy coexistence with the Inxikrah. Many Bloodbound returned to returned to Deladriss Peake or the Chakri Monastery, but many more chose to live among the people of their ancestors, and to rebuild. As individuals, they possessed the skills, talents, and characteristics of great leaders, and in each nation, they quickly rose to high positions, becoming the pillars of a new, enlightened civilization.

They kept their identities as Bloodbound hidden, however. Being known to hold the secret of Aperion's location could make them and their loved ones vulnerable to coercion from those desperate to possess such knowledge. Plus, the people had grown suspicious of magic and its practitioners, even the Bloodbound. The scarcity of crystals had removed magic from their lives. They associated magic with the evil of Draug and the Inxikrah and blamed it for the Great Disjunction. So the Bloodbound quietly went on with their lives. Many remained friends, united by their secret bond and by the positions they held in society. Their children did not share the Bloodbound's special powers, but as their grandchildren reached adolescence, it turned out that many of them did – a fact that was also kept secret.

Over time, however, people began to reconsider their superstitions and fears regarding magic. Some remained cynical, but many leaders privately acknowledged magic's essential role in rebuilding society. As people overcame their aversion to magic and sought to reincorporate it into their lives, the scarcity of crystals became a growing concern, perhaps even a threat to the planet's hard-won peace and stability. Although many considered the Monolith a symbol of hubris and madness of rulers like Draug and Rasha, and even Sargos, it was the only remaining viable source of crystals. Floating in the sky, it rivaled Mythron's moon in brightness and beauty, and was just as inaccessible.

Except to the Bloodbound.