First, a brief recap of the state of the world where the story takes place in:
It has been 10 years since the tumultous events of the Cataclysm when continents collided and the Godslayer rose to challenge the gods themselves, which put a sudden end to the devastating Great War between the Grand Alliance and the combined forces of the Yamato Empire and the Clergy of Mardük.
The once expansionistic Yamato has ironically been overrun by four rival demon hordes which have enslaved Yamatians and now hold the land in an iron grip. The demons' invasion of the rest of the world is hindered only by the rival hordes' power struggles.
Aison is ruled by the Grey Cult which worships the Godslayer which is now asleep inside the castle of the Aisonian capital of Myridia. Some pockets of resistance still exist as not everyone in Aison is going to willingly embrace the cult's philosophies or accept the reign of the Godslayer.
Libaterra is divided between various factions which include the Magicracy of Alent in the city of Alent and Central Libaterra, the Sultanate of Karaganda in the city of Vanna and the surrounding Tronin Desert, and the Rebellion in the city of Trinity Gask and Western Libaterra in general.
In Remon the dwarves and elves have isolated themselves, living in their own sanctuaries of Drithenspire and Sanae, and the marauder-infested human lands of Central Remon are divided between multiple city states while the Stewards' Council tries to rule from Remon's nominal capital Remonton in King Marcus Sarillius's stead while hoping that the missing king will return someday even if chances of that seem slim after 10 years of waiting.
Maar Sul has suffered the least thanks to its experienced and loyal army, and is governed by the deceased Maar Sulais king's close friend and advisor Leon Alcibiates who will act as regent until the crown prince Gerard Aurelac is old enough to take the crown.
Last and definitely least, Scundia is still a fackin' shithole infested with Scuns, those adorable yet facepalm worthy, politically incorrect idiots, who are ruled by the wise (for a Scun) King Khasra Mallorein III.
Each of the five nations has lived in isolation for the most part since the Cataclysm, not knowing what is going on in the other nations. However, there are a select few individuals in each nation who, unlike the ignorant masses, are very much aware of the recent shifts in power and plan to use these disastrous times, this Age of Emptiness, to their advantage...
And now onwards to the story:
The chapter begins 10 years after the Cataclysm in Ravensworth, a Remonian harbor city, where the Ravensworth Watch has imposed a martial law on the citizens to keep them safe from the threats outside the city gates. A seemingly ordinary day in the city becomes much more interesting when Watchman Robert suddenly notices a lone ship approaching the harbor. This is the first foreign vessel to approach Remon since the Cataclysm, and Robert and his comrades are quite enthusiastic to meet with the visitors and hear what has been going on in the outside world. Captain Adram Alek, his second-in-command Len Brennhild and the portly priest Gregor Ilyanovich decide to go meet the visitors as envoys. Before they leave, Adram instructs his subordinate Eric Stevenson to open fire on the ship in case the Watch sees Gregor's signal flare whose appearance will indicate that the mysterious visitors have ambushed the group. Before Stevenson can object to the possibility of blowing up the visitors' ship and his captain along with it just because Adram might be suspicious of the newcomers, Adram retorts with a simple statement: "The safety of Ravensworth comes before us."
Meanwhile in the elven city of Sanae deep within Folsworth Woods in Remon, more and more elves are succumbing to a mysterious disease of unknown origin known only as the Blood Fever which seems to only affect elves and which has been spreading rapidly among Remonian elves since the Cataclysm. Rhylian Loras has grown tired of waiting for salvation which will never come to her kind and, after witnessing her mother finally falling into a coma because of the ravaging effects of the plague, she decides to wander out of the woods to look for a cure before all elves are wiped out. During her journey she saves an elderly human mage Dieter von Waldheim from bloodthirsty wolves, and after introductions the two decide to team up because there's strength in numbers and they're both looking for information about the Blood Fever. They decide to head for Ravensworth, the nearest human settlement, where Waldheim's contact is waiting with an ancient tome that might shed some light on the recent spread of the plague.
Back in Ravensworth, Adram's group meets with the visitors who turn out to be from Maar Sul. The crew's crimson-cloaked leader introduces himself as Count Belial de Ardyn, and he's accompanied by his beautiful niece Desdemona de Ardyn, his armored nephew Mordecai de Ardyn, the black warrior Ismail, the Sarquil guard Khalid al-Saif, the hunchback Awar, and the advisor Johan. Belial claims to have been sent by the Maar Sulais court and demands to meet with King Marcus Sarillius to inform him of a looming threat to Remon. Adram quickly corrects the count by explaining that Marcus hasn't been seen since the Cataclysm and that all Remonian cities are now essentially independent city-states. Belial is surprised by this news because his spies' reports had claimed that Marcus was still in charge of Remon, but he doesn't dwell on the inconsistency long and instead decides to meet anyone in power to inform them of the threat. He reasons that Remonton, Remon's capital, is the likeliest place to find people with the highest level of authority, so he plans to travel there as soon as he passes the Watch's inspection.
The conversation is interrupted by the sighting of another ship which belongs to pirates calling themselves the Wanderers who have ended up off course thanks to the shoddy navigation of their first mate Timnath. The crew's leader, Captain Axikasha Keiran, has skirted the Libaterran shores for 10 long years but hasn't dared to stay anywhere for long; she, the former hero of the Grand Alliance, is afraid of what has become of her once dear Libaterran homeland since the war, and she's also afraid of the tragic memories which will certainly flood her mind should she ever return. She's been doing her best to raise her dead friend Viirsa's daughter Kaisa Blackwell to the best of her abilities. Ax realizes she has to stop for a longer period of time now that her ship has been heavily damaged in the storm, and the Wanderers sail towards Remon and Ravensworth to seek a haven to repair their ship, hoping that the Watch won't shoot them down despite the crew consisting of, you know, pirates. Not that they have any other options left because the ship's about to sink soon so they can't escape fast enough, and the Watch has already noticed them.
While the Wanderers' recently arrived ship has caught everyone's attention, a sinister, masked stowaway onboard the Maar Sulais ship uses the distraction to his advantage and chants a spell which releases a ball of light in the sky. Meanwhile the mage's accomplice, Zenobia, uses magic to manipulate Stevenson's mind so that he'll be more eager to attack the ship. The mages' plan works: Ravensworth Watch thinks the light spell is Gregor's signal flare and assumes the Maar Sulais are in fact enemies, and they open fire on the ship. Most of Belial's crew perishes either during the sinking or when the archers finish off whoever they can see around the wreckage. Ax notices Kaisa has stubbornly left the ship with a rowboat, and she goes after her while seeing if she can save any of the survivors of the sunken Maar Sulais ship. She and her crew manage to rescue the few survivors which include Belial's core group as well as Adram and his two companions. Johan perishes in the jaws of a giant red fish, which unbeknownst to the crew has been infected with a mutated strain of the Blood Fever and has been released by Zenobia's comrades to gather data on how it affects other creatures than elves. Although the fish explodes thanks to the Wanderers' crazy use of a powder keg, the masked mages have found the data the fish has provided to be useful to advance their sinister plans.
The chaos at the Ravensworth docks also attracts the attention of the arrogant, chaos-loving mage Deshwitat Rudbich who decides to mess things up a bit more because he feels the city has ripped him off in supply prices.
Meanwhile a group of clerics and paladins of the Church of the Memory of Cardia approach a lone cottage in the woods in Northern Remon but their target, a bearded man with a green, glowing blade, has been expecting his pursuers and attacks them as soon as they enter the cottage. The leader of the group, Father Almaric has a cryptic conversation with the man during the battle while the clerics try to subdue the man in vain. It takes a spell from the group's white mage Unithien Greyrain to finally slow the man down, and Almaric forces the man to surrender when he threatens to kill the man's son. Their mission a success, the group returns to Remonton with their two prisoners.
Work in progress.
Tropes featured in this chapter include:
- After the End: The story begins 10 years after the disastrous Cataclysm.
- Bad Dreams: Adram has nightmares of the death of his child and the suicide of his wife.
- Black Mage: Waldheim uses black magic to attack his enemies.
- Bearer of Bad News: Belial arrives in Ravensworth to inform the leaders there of an impending threat posed by the Totenkopfs.
- The Captain: Adram and Ax. The former is the captain of the Ravensworth Watch, and the latter is a pirate captain.
- Corrupt Church: The once noble Clergy of Cardia has changed quite a bit over the 10 years since it was reformed as the Church of the Memory of Cardia after the god Cardia's death in the jaws of the Godslayer. With Jonathan Ferron in charge as the high cleric, the church has become even more Knight Templar than it was before, relentlessly hunting down anyone with demon blood or ties to the Clergy of Mardük no matter the casualties.
- Find the Cure!: Rhylian and Waldheim team up to look for a cure to the Blood Fever.
- Grumpy Old Man: Despite being quite charming at times, Waldheim is initially grumpy for reasons he'd rather not divulge. As he warms up to Rhylian, however, he reveals he lost his elven wife and half-elven daughter to the Blood Fever and thus has a personal mission to find the cure so that no one else will have to suffer like he has.
- Half-Human Hybrid: Unithien is a half-elf, and Refan is a half-demon.
- Knight Templar: Almaric and the Church of the Memory of Cardia in general believe they're doing the right thing by purging anyone with links to dark magic, but their actions to succeed in that task are quite ruthless, and they don't really care if innocents get hurt in the process.
- The Lad-ette: Ax is quite a spunky example of one.
- Magic Knight: Belial is capable of using both his sword and his spells in combat.
- Malevolent Masked Men: The Totenkopfs wear skull masks.
- The Medic: Unithien is primarily a healer although she can also pack some offensive white magic spells which hurt creatures of darkness. This is her first clue to Refan's heritage although she refuses to recognize what she is dealing with.
- Mystical Plague: The Blood Fever is a strange plague which seems to only affect those of elven blood. Nymgrock discovers from old elven texts that the fever might not be natural at all because it has appeared in the past centuries ago and has been linked to a mysterious dark sage. Nymgrock decides to pursue the matter further, trying to find if someone has deliberately created the plague magically for some sinister purpose.
- The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The Wanderers don't really rape and pillage; they just sail... some of the crew members like sailing, others run from the law, the rest run from their pasts.
- Public Execution: Happens to Father Almaric whom the Proninists sentence to be beheaded in front of the cheering crowd.
- Sinister Minister: Father Almaric is quite ruthless in his quest to help his master Ferron in any way he can.
- Small, Secluded World: The five nations in the world have essentially lived in isolation since the Cataclysm, not knowing what is going on in the other nations. Remon is perhaps the worst of all because the masses and even most of the higher ups are completely ignorant of the recent shifts in power in the neighbouring kingdoms.
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