The Dark Empire, Page 85-91 by Wolfenshire ()
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The Dark Empire, Page 85-91
The Lord Protector, Rotathian of the Aomo, lifted his face to the ocean spray coming from the crashing waves on the shore. His Squire would have fits over the salty water soaking his armor - nothing could rust armor like salt water. He had left the open pavilion tent to get away from the bickering of King Madious of the Medo and the Governor Casthium of the Santi.
First, they had argued whether the ships were sea-worthy enough to make the journey to the Crystal Isles, then they had argued how many ships should risk the journey, then they argued about who would be spokesman to the Jinn.
His rank was equal to the Medo King, and slightly above the Governors, but his family had been the Lord Protectors for far longer than even the Medo King. Lord Rotathian’s people had accepted the loss of the ancient’s technology and founded the Protector Knights long before any of the other Kingdoms had thought to prepare for a future without technology.
Long ago in the distant past a calamity had struck the world of New Aiden, though no one knew what it had been – a war perhaps, or maybe a natural disaster, but nothing had been able to stop the decline of their civilization to the Dark Ages that now strangled their world.
There was no place one’s eyes could not fall on the remains of that distant world now lost. The ancient and broken machines could be found everywhere. As a boy he had explored inside one of the titans that lay dead in the forest beyond his home. Though the machine was dead, it was obvious the craftsmanship that had gone into its making.
That titan was one of the last still whole, and wouldn’t be much longer. The Aomo had been cutting apart the dead titans and using the metal to make their armor. The blacksmiths could make armor, but nothing on the level of the metal the titans had been made from.
He was just considering turning back when a shimmering blue light resembling a large round serving plate appeared no more than ten feet in front of him at the furthest edge where the surf coming up onto the beach ended. If King Madious had wanted to be the first to speak to the Jinn, fate was about to take that from him. Lord Rotathian was by chance standing in the right place, destiny was about to come to him in a terrifying way he would never have imagined. Whatever he had imagined the Jinn might be, he had not been prepared for this.
Two of the largest tigers he had ever seen stepped out of the blue shimmering light. Both had fangs at least six- or seven-inches long protruding downward from their jaws, and on each of their backs rode…Lord Rotathian was about to say children, but no, they were young, very young, but these were warriors.
Both of the warriors were very small, perhaps less than half the size of a man, but their eyes told the tale of how lethal these small warriors were. One was dressed all in black and had a raven on his shoulder. The boy’s eyes made Lord Rotathian shudder – the eyes were as solid black as the deepest night and held the glint of death in them. The other warrior, a younger boy, but with golden eyes that sparkled in the sun. The boy was dressed as a hunter might dress, and he had brownish-blue wings with a span of at least twelve feet.
Lord Rotathian’s hand dropped to his sword hilt. The boy in black shook his head as the two tigers approached. He decided it was probably good advice and raised his hands away from his weapons, palms upward. The black-clad boy and the tiger he rode advanced on him. He took a step back, and then another, and another. He continued to back up until the tiger stopped. The boy nodded, indicating the distance from the shimmering blue light was correct. The tigers went around him to stand each to one side about twenty feet apart.
Two more tigers, but without riders, came through the shimmering light next. Where the first two tigers projected raw primal strength through size, these tigers were slightly smaller and projected pure grace and a hidden lethality in the way they walked. One of the tigers was black with white stripes, and the other white with black stripes. The two tigers took a position to each side facing outward and slightly behind the first two tigers.
Next came two rows of smaller tigers, cubs, and of the type as the first two tigers were. The small tigers formed to each side and behind the black and white tigers. Ah, they are forming a guard corridor for the King of the Jinn, but why children? They were all children, even the two largest tigers. Perhaps these were the children of the Jinn King?
What came next was so terrifying, Lord Rotathian nearly turned and fled. He was no coward, but the Being that stepped out of the shimmering light was death incarnate. It was a man, but not a man, and easily as large but with massive shoulders. He had brown and black wings that stretched out to a span of at least twenty-four feet, and where the boy on the tiger had held only the glint of death, this creature’s eyes were filled with death. This creature had not only killed many times before, but enjoyed it, and there was just the hint of insanity around those eyes, as if this creature had been forged in the darkest dungeons of hell.
Lord Rotathian hands began to tremble as the man-creature approached. It stopped just in front of him and might have given him a smile meant to calm him, but only highlighted a set of lethal fangs.
“I am Prince Raen, Border Prince of Northhaven Fortress, Warrior of the Raven Temple, and Herald of the Eagle. None here will harm you.”
The Creature spoke with a thick accent and Lord Rotathian realized the Creature was not speaking his language. Everyone on New Aiden knew of the magic that allowed this to happen. There were several languages spoken across the planet, but when you spoke with someone with a different language, the magic allowed your ears to understand – it was magic left over from the old Jinn.
“Do you speak for these people?” asked the Creature.
“There are three allied Kingdoms here,” said Lord Rotathian. “I am the Lord Protector of the Aomo, but I am of equal rank as their leaders and can speak for all.”
“Very good. Keep your hands out to your sides, and make no sudden movements. You will meet with Queen Jasai Raven, but you are only to address her Regent, Lord Raven. The Queen will also be attended by the Prince Consort, her personal advisor, and body guards. You are also not to address her personal advisor, but if her advisor asks a question, you can consider it asked as if the Queen had asked it and answer.”
Lord Rotathian nodded, now understanding. Not even the Jinn could stave off death forever, and was the reason why they had not been seen in tens of thousands of years. As they had grown old, their magic had waned and the technology they had given had died with them. Their children were now old enough to reclaim their lost realms. These were indeed the children of the ancient Jinn. They would bring new magic into the world. It was also fortunate that their government was nearly identical to his own, he understood and knew the rules this person, Raen, was explaining - Raen must be their Chancellor.
Raen moved off to the side and waved a hand at the shimmering blue light. The next two through the blue light was the very stuff of nightmares, and if there was any question that these were a new generation of Jinn, the two demons that stepped onto the beach verified their identity. Every Temple on New Aiden had images of these large reptiles on the walls. Some legends said they were demons, and others said they were angels, but all agreed they were the most dangerous creature ever encountered.
The next through the blue light was another reptile. It wore a cooking pot on its head and carried a long silver spoon as a sword in its right hand. Lord Rotathian smiled, he had hoped to meet one of these creatures. The ancient Jinn was said never to go anywhere without one of these playful and quirky creatures at their side, but the legends also said these creatures if angered were nearly as dangerous as the larger reptiles.
The small reptile knelt in the sand, then lifted a handful of sand to its mouth and tasted the sand. Seemingly satisfied, the small lizard stood and reached its left hand back through the blue light…and another of the small lizards stepped out onto the beach. This one was just a touch smaller than the other one, and had eyes of midnight, and Lord Rotathian saw the glint of death in those eyes.
Realization struck like a thunderbolt. The second small lizard was a girl, and the Queen of the Jinn. It made so much sense and every legend of the Jinn fell into place. The small lizards had never been away from the side of the ancient Jinn. These small lizards were the Jinn’s children. The other children were likely children of other citizens of the Jinn Realm, but not wholly Jinn, but still supernatural creatures in their own right. The larger of the two small lizards was probably the Prince Consort. The larger small lizard wrapped his tail protectively around the Queen. Yes, thought Lord Rotathian, that was an act of familiarity that only the Prince Consort would do.
Lord Rotathian was struck by another thought. He saw a vast intelligence in the Jinn Queens eyes, she was observing everything. The two small lizards stepped away from the blue light, and a tall man stepped out of the light next.
The man was dressed as a hunter, the same as the boy on the tiger. Ah, yes, the boy is his son, and this man must be the Regent. The man was clearly the most beautiful man Lord Rotathian had ever seen. His long black hair fell in waves over his shoulders, and there was a keen intelligence in his eyes. The man had a son, so it was likely he was already spoken for, but that wouldn’t matter, every woman, and man so inclined, would be vying for his attention.
The group began walking towards him, but there was still one missing, the Queens personal advisor. That question was answered a moment later as a last man stepped through the light, and surprised Lord Rotathian more than anything else he had seen. A Mekan!
Not only had the Mekan already gotten to the Jinn first, they also held the Queen’s ear. The Mekan, a farmer by the looks of him, walked behind the Queen, but nobody was guarding him. The Mekan had earned the Queen’s full trust, which really wasn’t a surprise, the Mekan were famous for their honesty.
There was no doubt King Madious and Governor Casthium were somewhere behind him watching, and likely having a seizure now at the appearance of the Mekan in the Jinn Queen’s Court. Whatever petty plans King Madious had prepared was now neatly put to rest, and the Governor’s arrogance would be severely suffering that a lowly Mekan held a position higher than him.
The Queen and her party stopped in front of him. The tall beautiful man spoke first. “I am Lord Raven of the Raven Forest Temple, why have you brought an army here?”
Lord Rotathian was taken back at the suddenness of the question; no diplomacy or introductions, just straight to business. This man wasn’t just a pretty bauble in the Queen’s Court.
“We heard your call and came,” replied Lord Rotathian.
“We did not call for you,” said the man.
“There was psionic blast wave, we came,” said Lord Rotathian.
“And what is it you want?” asked the man.
“We want the return of the Jinn,” replied Lord Rotathian. “The machines left us by the Jinn have all but ceased to work, and we don’t know how to repair them. Also, the Geoggs are plundering and killing city after city, but not even the combined might of our armies can stop them. They still have working digger lasers, and we can’t fight such weapons. Our world is dying, we need the Jinn’s help.”
The tall man considered this for a moment before turning to the Mekan. “What say you, Sir?”
Farmer Seth stepped forward. “What he says is true.”
“I would be willing to allow one representative to return to the Crystal Isles with us to discuss these issues,” replied the tall man. “Who would make the best representative?”
Farmer Seth gestured towards Lord Rotathian. “The Lord Protector of the Aomo, and his knights, have a reputation for truth and have always conducted themselves with honor among all the Kingdoms. They alone have kept the trade routes open and safe, and come to the aid of other cities when they can. I would trust the Lord Protector to tell you the truth of the political climate and affairs of all the Kingdoms as I could not. I am only a simple farmer.”
The tall man smiled. “You are far from a simple farmer, my friend, false modesty among the Ravens is not a cherished trait.”
“Yes, my Lord Raven,” said Seth.
Lord Rotathian kept his expression neutral, a friendship had obviously grown between the farmer and the one called, Lord Raven. That alone spoke volumes, the Mekan didn’t easily give their friendship. They were generally reclusive and fiercely independent. Many Mekan had died trying to defend their kingdom from the Geoggs, but in the end they had been forced to surrender or be destroyed.
The Lord Raven gestured to Rotathian. “You and one servant to attend you may come with us for three days to discuss matters.”
“I accept,” said Lord Rotathian, and turning around shouted. “First Knight, have my Squire pack for three days and come to me, quickly. I am going to the Crystal Isles to petition for a treaty with the Jinn.”
Something in the sand caught Lord Rotathian’s attention. He looked down and noticed a set of footprints, but none of the Jinn had walked behind him, and nobody had been on the beach with him before they arrived. He followed the footprints with his eyes, they originated from in front of him, where the large winged man had stopped to give him instructions. He looked at the footprints the winged man had made from the blue shimmering light. Most of his prints were now covered by the other Jinn that had arrived after him, but Rotathian noticed one of the prints – a double impression. Something had come with him through the light and followed in his footsteps.
Something had been standing behind him the entire time. He lifted his hand and snatched it back when his hand went numb from an intense cold. Rotathian noticed the winged man had stepped out of line and was heading towards him. Rotathian quickly held his hands out to the sides, palms upward. The winged man stopped, but the deathly glare from the creature made it clear he was not to do that again.
Rotathian realized he had gotten it wrong, such a powerful Knight that commanded a Border Fortress and guarded the lands of the Jinn would not be a Chancellor. There was only one person in any Court that would command the personal attention of such a Knight. Queen Jasai would not be Queen if her father were still alive, but though she was the Queen, she was too young for many of the affairs of state. The Queen Mother had been standing behind him, guarding her daughter, and over-seeing the meeting.
Lord Rotathian bowed deeply to the unseen Being. “Queen Mother, it is an honor to meet the Mother of the Jinn.”
“The Queen is over here,” said Lord Raven.
Rotathian blushed. He was certain something was there, but…he hoped he hadn’t just embarrassed himself. He was just turning around when all the tigers began roaring. King Madious had thought to approach the Jinn without being invited to do so. The black tiger and the white tiger leaped out of the line and charged at the surprised Medo King. Madious turned and fled, screaming for help. The Santi soldiers and the Medo Sailors all dropped to a knee and bowed their heads as the two tigers ran past them. Nobody was going to help the foolish King.
The tigers never caught up with the King, and Rotathian was fairly certain that had been the plan; surely the tigers could have caught him before he had gotten a dozen steps. King Madious reached the inlet river and jumped in. The tigers stopped at the edge of the river and roared, then turned and calmly walked back.
The Squire arrived dragging a chest behind him. The Queen and her court turned and started filing back through the blue shimmering light. One of the smallest tigers detoured toward him and walk behind him. He heard a very young voice whisper, “He saw you Mother Raven.”
Rotathian, thinking perhaps one of the young children had gotten behind him turned around to look, but only the young tiger cub was there. Who had spoken? He decided to let the mystery go and followed the Jinn Court through the blue shimmering light.