AETHER

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CHAPTER 10: AETHER

     THE CITY OF AETHER.

    FROM HIS VIEWPOINT ON ORION’S BACK, THE CITY WAS LIKE A GLOWING BEACON TO RAIZO AS SOON AS HE SPOTTED IT FAR AWAY ON THE HORIZON.

       AS HE GOT CLOSER, THE SHEER MAGNIFICENCE AND MAJESTY OF IT MADE HIM DIZZY, AS ALSO THE HUGE AND ENDLESS STRETCH OF LAND THAT IT WAS SPREAD UPON. RAPHAELA HAD TOLD HIM THAT BEING THE CAPITAL CITY OF EMPYREAN HE WAS SURE TO WITNESS SOME GRANDEUR AND SPLENDOR, BUT IT WAS ONLY BY SEEING IT WITH HIS OWN EYES THAT HE TRULY UNDERSTOOD WHAT SHE MEANT.THIS WASN’T JUST RICH AND HUGE, IT WAS ROYAL AND FRIGGIN HUMONGOUS. MOST OF THE CITY WAS MADE FROM A WHITE STONE VARIETY THAT MADE THE CASTLE (AGAIN, HUGE) AND THE SURROUNDING BUILDINGS SHINE UNDER THE SETTING SUN, MAKING THEM GLINT LIKE A LIGHTHOUSE IN THE DISTANCE.

    HE COULD SPOT THREE ROWS OF FORTIFICATIONS AROUND AETHER, WITH EACH SECTION OF  THE TRI-WALLED MONSTROSITY GAURDED BY ATLEAST A DOZEN SOLDIERS AND ARCHERS.

    SEEING THE PROTECTION GIVEN TO THE CITY, RAIZO DECIDED IT WAS BEST TO DISMOUNT AT THE GATE ITSELF RATHER THAN TRYING TO MANOEUVRE THE ARROWS THAT WOULD TRY TO PIERCE HIS PEGASUS AND HIS BODY ALIKE IF HE WENT ANY FURTHER, NOT TO MENTION THAT ORION WOULD HAVE TO SOAR TO A MUCH HIGHER ALTITUDE IN ORDER TO CROSS OVER FROM ABOVE THE FORTIFICATIONS. SO HE URGED ORION TO LAND, BUT THE PEGASUS SEEMED TO BE IN A DIFFERENT MOOD ALTOGETHER.

   INSTEAD OF SLOWING DOWN AND LOSING HEIGHT, ORION PICKED UP HIS SPEED, FLAPPING HIS WINGS FURIOUSLY AND GLIDED FROM OVER THE TOP OF THE GATES AND INTO THE CITY, AND AS HE DID, THE GUARDS JUST LOOKED UP ONCE AND WENT BACK TO WHATEVER IT WAS THEY WERE DOING EARLIER. ]

STRANGE, HE THOUGHT.

IN ABOUT TWENTY MINUTES OR SO, THEY CAME CLOSER TO THE CASTLE, AND RAIZO FIGURED THAT ORION MEANT TO CIRCLE IT BEFORE LANDING, THOUGH HE DIDN’T KNOW WHY.THE POSTERIOR OF THE CASTLE WAS AS BEAUTIFUL AS THE FRONT, AND CONTAINED AN ARRAY OF STEPS AND BEAUTIFULLY DECORATED BALCONIES AND PLATFORMS. ORION, LANDED ON ONE SUCH PLATFORM NEAR THE TOP OF TALL MONUMENT OF LEADERSHIP, WHERE THERE WAS A GROUP OF SOLDIERS WAITING IN FORMATION.

SO THAT’S WHY THE SOLDIERS AT THE GATES HADN’T PROTESTED, THEY ALREADY KNEW OF MY ARRIVAL.

  A SOLDIER AT THE HELM OF THE FORMATION HELD ALOFT  A BANNER THAT BORE THE INSIGNIA OF AETHER. A SIDEWAYS ROARING RED LION ON IT’S HIND LEGS, AGAINST A WHITE BACKDROP.

   RAIZO UNMOUNTED ORION AS SOON AS HE MADE A GRAND LANDING IN FRONT OF THE SMALL GROUP, AND SURPRISINGLY, HE HAD NO PROBLEMS STRAIGHTENING UP.

   THE SOLDIERS PARTED TO MAKE WAY FOR TWO GRANDLY DRESSED RIDERS IN THE CENTRE, ONE OF THEM WITH JET BLACK HAIR AND A BURNSIDE GOATEED BEARD UNMOUNTED AND STRODE TOWARDS WHERE RAIZO STOOD,HIS CAPE FLAPPING BEHIND HIM IN THE WIND.

  “YOU ARE RAIZO NECROS, IF I’M NOT WRONG?” THE HEAVILY BUILT MAN ASKED, HIS FACE SCARRED WITH MARKS OF MANY A BATTLE, AND EYES COLD AND HARD FROM SEEING THE DEATH OF MANY A GOOD MEN.

   “YES I AM, PLEASURE TO MEET YOU SIRE,” RAIZO REPLIED, BALLING HIS RIGHT FIST AND RESTING IT AGAINST HIS CHEST, BOWING AS HE DID SO---A GESTURE OF RESPECT THAT RAPHAELA HAD TAUGHT HIM BEFORE HE LEFT.

    THE MAN NODDED CURTLY IN RESPONSE,

   “I AM GENERAL MARKUS CROMWELL, AND THIS IS FIRST COMMANDER MAGNUS, WE WELCOME YOU TO AETHER. NOW, IF YOU WOULD BE SO KIND, FOLLOW US, OUR KING IS LOOKING FORWARD TO MEETING YOU.” MARKUS SAID, AND STARTED WALKING TOWARDS HIS HORSE,

  “WHAT ABOUT ORION? DO I JUST....?” RAIZO ASKED,

  “OH YES, ONE OF THE SOLDIERS WILL TAKE HIM TO THE AEROBLES,” THE GENERAL SAID, WAVING HIS HAND.

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