This was originally intended to be an entry for the April One Shot contest. Unfortunately I neglected to check its end-date and so found myself with a half completed work which seemingly had no purpose. I have decided, however, that it does outline some key character and culture traits for my world Kaile. Thus it is posted here.
Evestin Tir’Sen, 1213 A.F.
Evestin Tir’Sen, Prince Heir of the Haram Empire, paced commandingly up and down the deck of gargantuan Excelsias as he watched his father’s men work. Even from off shore he could see their little bodies toiling for the collective good of the Imperial people; axes rising, falling, and striking the trees as the sounds of progress cut through the evening air. On occasion a tree would finally give up its hopeless struggle and crash to the ground. One small victory at a time, the war on nature was being won. Evestin looked to the air where columns of black smoke slowly rose into the darkening sky, seeming, if only for a moment, to be a permanent fixture upon the view. He supposed those would be the new foundries his father had commissioned in preparation for the inevitable war lingering on the horizon; a war the Empire would most assuredly win.
He turned for a moment and watched as a sailor ascended the stairs to the aft deck and rang the ship’s bell. It was seven o’ clock and the autumn sky was darkening quickly. The sailor turned, glanced at the view, and hastily returned to the hatch from whence he came. Evestin had no doubt of the man’s ignorance. He could not truly conceive the great events taking place around him. Events as ignorant of his existence as he is of theirs. Such a simple man’s thoughts were surely based around hearsay, rumor, lies and little besides. Evestin, on the other hand, knew the cold hard facts. The reasons behind, well, everything. The war on nature was not simply a move to strengthen the Empire’s body. It was also a move to strengthen its spirit. As the greatest nation on Kaile the Haram Empire could bow down to the natural world no longer.
The vessel rounded a bend in the coast revealing the flickering lights of the great port of Rivenguard. Still under construction, the city and harbor looked majestic under the slowly rising moon and, as beautiful as the lights were, the moon gave off a truly magnificent glow illuminating all the lands before it. Perhaps, thought Evestin, not all nature deserved to be conquered just yet. Gazing into the distance, cloak billowing in the night breeze, he heard someone call his name demanding his presence immediately. In all ten years of his life Evestin had never felt so strangely disappointed.
Eiln, 1222 A.F.
Eiln chuckled slightly as he pressed the palm of his hand against the prisoner’s forehead. This moment was the result of weeks of work, struggle, and hardship. Burning the forest hadn’t been hard. In fact it had been so easy that his men got a true rest for the first time in months. Looking through the ashen remains for something resembling a human, however, was quite to the contrary. He looked into the man’s eyes. They were already dead. He was one of the faithful two hundred; a remnant force of the once proud 18th Imperial Legion reduced to nothing more than armed vagrants. Whatever their logistical standing they were a pain; manipulating nature to their advantage by hiding in the tallest of trees, and striking from the darkest of shadows.
Fortunately, Eiln had forsaken nature long ago. What meaning did it have, in the end? It was a tool; nothing more than a tool to be manipulated. When tools outlived their usefulness they should be subsequently destroyed. Thus it was with this forest. Thus it was with his town’s Illuth. Thus it was with this man. Those soldiers, all those years ago, had done him nothing less than a favor. That day, he had been liberated. That day... pain lanced through his mind as images flashed before his eyes. The tree was burning. He was frightened. His sister cowered in the corner, clothes torn from her body, tears streaming from her eyes. Their parents' bodies lay near by. A soldier, an Imperial soldier, stood above them both; a cruel and condescending smile marring his features.
Eiln shook his head to clear it. There was no point in dwelling on the past; there was the future to contend with now. Yet, still, rage coursed through him. Anger at all that was wrong with the world. Wrong that he would make right. He let the anger build, energy shot through his arm, the man's head exploded, and his men stared.
Talis Tir’Sen, 1257 A.F.
Talis Tir'Sen stepped around the charred stump. It had been thirty five years since the burning of Avon and yet scars still remained; ugly blemishes upon an otherwise pristine landscape. It was a beautiful autumn day and the leaves had already begun turning. Yet here, unlike in the forests of Katar, the ground was not dappled by color. There were no leaves high above for the light to shine through, creating complex patterns and giving the province its reputation for natural beauty. Instead, the hill she now stood on, looking over the fertile fields of Avon, was bare. The people had vowed 'never again' and, admittedly, they had lived up to that vow. Rivenguard had been rebuilt; its ships repaired and redeployed. The foundries to the east had resumed production, and the mines supplying them, located deep in the Granite Mountains, were again churning out ore.
Yet, the land was still seared, stumps still covered the hill. Then, by chance, she spotted something. It was a small plant, stretching towards the sun, standing taller than the grass about it. The leaves were slightly darker too, closer to the green of her dress, and instantly set it apart from its surroundings. This was a tree. So then, nature was rebuilding slowly but surely as the people of the Haram Empire had. Talis supposed that perhaps, as some poet had once claimed long ago, there was a destined renewal that came after every war; an inevitable return to the norm. As she and her retainers crested the hill a farmer, tilling his field, looked up and stared. It wasn't every day that one saw the Empress of the greatest power in Kaile strolling through the countryside; watching as the world rebuilt.