Amidst the patch of mud, the inhabitants of Maximara called a training ground, where the very earth seemed to drink in the blood of the Lowlander, the remnants of our latest war against the apostate and traitor, Sharona Arbuckle, I found myself. She and her ilk had sought refuge in the untamed fringes of what had once been the First Asrian Kingdom, colliding with The Ardaling Tribes, who now called those lands home. "Savages clashing with savages," my sister Flavia Eternia Magna wrote to me in a letter, a notion I quickly contested. Was it not our sacred duty to bestow the light of civilization upon our inferiors? Flavia, in her youthful innocence, saw things differently, unable to fathom the grand design as I could... at least, not yet.
These pitiful wretches proved utterly feeble in combat, serving as little more than living grindstones to hone the edge of my blade. The road to Maximara bore witness to its crucified defenders, and the lucky few who survived were granted the mercy of water, extending their penance. Could anyone doubt my benevolence?
Speaking of savages, my sparring partner from the Lowlands launched a vicious overhead strike towards me, his blunted axe seeking my head. A regrettable decision, for my blade met his exposed neck, and the crimson tide flowed as a fitting tribute to his ineptitude. May he eternally endure the torments of Inanis. Raising my sword in triumphant glory, careful not to tarnish my pristine armor with pagan blood, my legionnaires erupted in cheers, their pockets heavy with the spoils of war. Their enthusiasm, a natural response to witnessing true greatness, or perhaps it was the newfound wealth that kindled their fervor.
"Blood falls from Caelum! The Angels sing praises with each swing of my blade! Solis applauds the screams of my victims!" was my triumphant warcry.
Our revelry was abruptly interrupted by the arrival of a messenger, his fiery hair and the Hawk on his coat of arms marking him as a Caorrani, our brethren in faith. Unfortunately, he bore a Lendan stone adorned with a black ribbon, casting a haunting shadow over his gaunt features even in the brightest of days. He appeared battle-hardened, but my perfection as a First One revealed that he was but a young boy, perhaps a squire or a noble scion of a patrician family. There could be but one meaning: the loss of someone of significance. Sensing the gravity of the moment, my soldiers knelt before me, heads bowed in solemn deference.
With a curt nod, I summoned the messenger closer, the eerie glow of the Lendan stone in his outstretched hand providing a grim backdrop.
"I bear tidings from the edge of civilization, Triumvir Asran Eternius Hirodanus, King of Asrania." the messenger declared, his voice unwavering despite the gravity of his words. "Triumvir Cailean, King of Caorran, has fallen in battle on the outskirts of Ecclesial Lands, in the town of Orikos."
My fists clenched, the recent combat's adrenaline still coursing through my veins. Cailean had been my co-ruler, a steadfast ally in our quest to unite the fractured lands of the West. But now, with his death, I stood as the sole ruler of these turbulent realms. My ambitions, once restrained by Cailean, could now blaze with unbridled ferocity. It seemed that patience was indeed a virtue.
The messenger continued, his tears welled as he spoke. "Cailean's apotheosis occurred during a border skirmish against an Eldamari incursion. His courage never wavered, and his sacrifice in defense of the West shall be forever remembered."
"What of his body? Has it been recovered?" I inquired.
"His immortal frame is en route to Antigonia, where The Ecclesia will oversee its care before it's sent back to Caorran, my lord," the messenger replied, his head bowed, his demeanor a blend of mourning and reverence.
I nodded solemnly, acknowledging the messenger's words. Cailean's death was a loss, but it also presented an opportunity. His absence offered a chance to further consolidate my power, to unite the world under my dominion. It was a significant turning point, a cataclysm for my enemies, a divine gift for those who would be under my benevolent rule.
"You've delivered your message, and it has been received. You may depart and bear witness to a new age. May Aeternum Solis guide you on your journey."
The messenger bowed and withdrew, leaving me alone with my thoughts, surrounded by the silent presence of my legionnaires. The Lendan stone, still aglow, felt euphoric in my hands as I contemplated my next move. My gaze shifted from the sprawling town of Maximara, now under my control, up to the bright blue Caelum, a sky beneath which everything would be mine alone.
With Cailean's death, the west would bow to me, not as Triumvir, but as something greater, something more divine—an Apotheon. Asran Eternius Hirodanus, The Light-Bearer, the sole ruler of civilization. Yes, that sounded right. I owed my friend Cailean for this incredible opportunity.
"Behold, my legions!" I thundered with all the authority I could muster. "Your Imperator, your Dominus, your Sun, your Apotheon!" all delivered in the usual Asrian theatrics.
For a moment, my soldiers stood in stunned silence, the gravity of my proclamation nearly heretical. But soon, the cries of "Apotheon" echoed through the war-torn streets of Maximara, its inhabitants surely trembling in fear of divine retribution. I would grant the crucified a swift and merciful death and share some of the town's gold with its inhabitants. It was only fitting for a ruler of my greatness.
My path like the sun itself led to the west, where I would summon the lords for my ascension. Of course, I'd need to appease the lords of Caorran and the Solar Ecclesiarch, but in due time, all would kneel before the Light-Bearer.
For who would dare defy the one who brought forth civilization?