The Second Ankyrean War - Aetolia Online Help

16.6.2 The Second Ankyrean War

Habbak looked out across the assembled Order with a sigh. It was indeed 
rare that nearly the entire order would come together, but it was a     
grave matter that brought them here. The rash departure of the former   
head of the Conclave of Magic Yrtez had left the Order abuzz and the    
moral implications had left the Conclave of Devotion fuming.            

The floor had been yielded to the Dhasan Ghetri, who spoke the angry    
tones of her Conclave. "This is an abomination! We must live our normal 
mortal lives, in the fashion the Gods saw fit to create us. This        
perversion cannot be allowed to go on..."                               

"The Gods led us to this gift! All inspiration is given to us by the    
Gods. Did you not claim that yourself?" interrupted Erand, a member of  
the Council of Magic and a long time supporter of Yrtez.                

Habbak was forced to ring the bell that stood on his podium to stop the 
interjection, but he could not bring himself to be enthusiastic about   
it. This debate had run for days with no resolution, and neither side   
was making headway. He could barely bring himself to pay attention, much
less separate two factions that would clearly never agree. Many years   
back, Chakrasul had hinted to the Conclave of Magic the means to extend 
their life indefinitely. Many had pursued this research, feeling that   
since they were better than the 'rellyw' they should live well beyond   
the years of them.                                                      

Yrtez, realizing there was merit in the initial testing of this method, 
quickly decided to undergo the rite herself. With the research that the 
Conclave of the Arts had been doing into the grammar and vocabulary of  
Kalsu, she was confident the true incantations had been discovered. She 
had some hesitation though, and had come to Habbak with her             
reservations. Habbak had counseled her against the rite; even if the    
testing indicated that it might work, was it truly moral to do so? Yrtez
was headstrong, however, and refused the admonition.

The reservations were reasonable. All the tests so far had made the     
patient mindless, or at best, severely lacking the majority of their    
former mental facilities. The most recent patient had taken up a new    
name after the experiment, and now lived among hordes of undead far away
from Spinesreach. Although Habbak was mildly curious about this new     
behavior, he simply could not risk losing the best mind among the       
Dhasani. He had ended the conversation with her by outright refusing her
request to do this, and she had stormed out of the room.                

After that, she never returned to the Conclave of Dhasani again. It was 
rumored that she had taken up residence in a castle to the southeast of 
Spinesreach surrounded by dangerous fens. With her, the majority of the 
Conclave of Magic had gone, leaving the Conclave of Sages feeling empty 
and very angry.                                                         

Her departure occurred almost a month prior to the long debate in the   
Conclave. It would be unfair to blame her for this rift in the Order; it
was a problem that underlaid the superiority philosophy that had been   
inbred into the Order for many, many years. Habbak himself did not      
believe in that philosophy, but trying to argue that was a lesson in    
futility.                                                               

----------

The fighting began a few days later. The Conclave of Magic had become   
more secretive since their departure, and in an unprecedented move, they
placed glyphs and wards about their chambers to protect against those   
who would steal their knowledge. Ghetri, the head of the Conclave of    
Devotion, still fuming from the days of constant deliberation, strode   
into the chambers, either unafraid or too headstrong to avoid them.     
Within seconds, her body began to shudder, convulsing with boils that   
swirled across her skin and caused horrific pain. Within a minute she 
was dead, her flesh rotting on the floors of the Central Spire.

The rest of the Conclaves were appalled; never before had anyone hidden 
their knowledge from the Order. Even without the death of Ghetri, this  
was a bold and obnoxious move on part of the Conclave of Magic; with the
wards, it was downright treason. As a group of the Conclave of Seers    
moved in to deal with the threat, they were met by an angry group of    
those loyal to Yrtez. None survived the encounter.                      

Habbak suffered from the inability to make a decision of what to do. The
Conclave of Magic had gone too far, but he could not let them all die   
under the strength of the other Conclaves. He sent a messenger to Yrtez,
pleading with her to come back to the Conclave of Dhasani and reconcile 
their differences. The only part of the messenger that returned were his
testicles.                                                              


The next blow to come to the Citadel occurred a few days later. Fighting
had sporadically broken out, particularly when Ankyreans travelled away 
from the fortress. Quite a few never returned, either joining the side  
of Yrtez or being killed defending themselves. In addition to the Ankyri
who never returned, Defenders of the Spires, the Syssin, were abandoning
their posts. The head of the Syssin, Champion of the Five Spires, came  
to Habbak, worried that her troops were being somehow brainwashed by the
likes of Yrtez. There had been infighting between the troops, resulting 
in more than one death.                                                 

This was troubling to Habbak. If the Syssin were being controlled from  
afar, it could easily turn sour on the loyalist Ankyri who used the     
Syssin as bodyguards. It was not a chance Habbak could take; so, just a 
few months before the complete demise of the Ankyrean Order, Habbak made
the fateful decision to disband the Syssin, and ordered them to leave   
the City of Spires. With a heavy sigh, the last Champion of the Five    
Spires did so, and the fortress was left vulnerable to physical attack. 

----------

The weeks passed with attacks and kidnappings of quite a few of the     
remaining Ankyreans. There was never a direct attack on the Citadel;    
instead the Order would wake up in the morning to discover another      
member missing and never to be seen again. Mortals had spread rumors of 
a dark cloud over the castle of Yrtez, and their unwillingness to come  
within miles of it. Fear had spread over the Order, and Habbak faced a  
difficult task of keeping peace within the Citadel.                     

Then suddenly at dawn one day, the sun never rose. The darkness that had
stolen over the lands as dusk fell remained like a foul blanket on the  
continent. Immediately the mortals became frantic. Some began to riot   
and pillage, destroying villages and thieving and looting. A few        
approached the Citadel, angry and demanding answers for this unnatural  
act.                                                                    

Habbak had no answers. The balance of the day had been destroyed. The   
Conclave of Science and Nature was immediately called upon to research  
this horror, and restore the sun to its rightful place. Their discovery 
was foul; great monuments once built by the Conclave of Arts had been   
perverted. In the past their purpose was to mark the passage of the day.
Now the former Conclave of Magic had altered them to determine its      
length.                                                                 

While the night remained on the continent, the kidnappings increased,   
and fear grew rampant in the Order. Some began to suspect each other,   
and accusations began to fill the normal business of the Order. But     
Habbak pushed the entire Order to discover whatever they could to       
reverse the darkness.                                                   

Finally, in what was probably the single clear victory of this war for  
the loyalist Ankyreans, one of the members of the Conclave of Arts was  
witness to the ritual that kept the darkness upon the world. Using this 
knowledge, the Order was able to come up with a counter ritual, and     
after a few months of darkness, the sun rose once again on the world.   

When it did, however, the world was in shambles. The majority of plant  
life had wilted and died. Most of the major cities stood wrecked, and   
towns were completely burnt to the ground. Mortals hid in caves and were
practicing cannibalism. Animals had died from starvation in the         
devastation. Aetolia would never be the same. This war of the Ankyreans 
was affecting the entire world.                                         

----------

The Order petitioned to the Gods to assist them. Lanos was unforgiving  
for their transgressions into the dark magic, even if now they were     
fighting against it. The other Gods had never shown interest in the ways
of the Ankyrean Order. Only Severn, the pitiful God, paid them any      
attention. He urged them to utilize their recent victory against the    
rebels, and gave them knowledge they desperately needed: the            
transformation they had undergone did not allow them to walk into the   
sunlight.                                                               

Severn petitioned His brother Arion to assist the Ankyrean Order in what
would turn out to be their final battle. Arion acquiesced, only on the  
price of a future favor from Severn. Working with the remaining few     
members of the Order, they devised a plan to wipe the scourge of rebels 
from the land.                                                          

One young member of the Conclave of Arts, Qeddwyn, was to proceed into  
the castle where Yrtez had made her new home, and steal the artifact    
that allowed this transformation to occur. He had accepted this fate    
unwillingly: it had been a matter of drawing straws and Qeddwyn had     
definitely not won. If all went well, the theft of the artifact would   
prevent the creation of more of these creatures, and the tide could     
begin to ebb.                                                           

The trip was treacherous, however. Qeddwyn faltered a number of times on
his journey to the keep in the fens. It was only the presence of Severn 
who silently walked with Qeddwyn that kept him on task. As he approached
the veil of darkness that shrouded the keep, Severn appeared to Qeddwyn,
and told him of the futile task he was about to undertake. The task     
would lead to the downfall of the Order, Severn said. It had to be done,
to stem the tide of these monstrosities; but the result would be the end
of the Ankyri.                                                          

Frightened by the words Severn spoke, Qeddwyn considered fleeing from   
the Order, and never returning to the Citadel again. For if he did      
nothing, someone else would take the mantle of this task upon their     
shoulders, and perhaps this fate could be averted. But the stern look in
Severn's eyes told him otherwise. Gathering his pack, Qeddwyn moved into
the veil of darkness.                                                   

The world inside was horrific. Warped trees and foul smelling swamps    
greeted him at every turn. He pressed on with only an ounce of          
confidence keeping his feet moving foward. At times he had to defend    
himself from foul leeches and massive snakes that sought to feed on the 
fresh prey. When he finally made his way into the castle, he wandered   
for days looking for an entrance into the inner lair where Yrtez made   
her home.                                                               

Finally, one day while resting his eyes momentarily, a group he         
recognized as rebels approached him, unaware of his presence there. He  
sat quietly in the shadows as they manipulated a hidden lever on the    
wall and moved through a rapidly opening passage. Collecting his        
belongings, Qeddwyn moved into the passage before it closed behind him. 

Inside was a sumptuously decorated banquet hall where many of the rebels
dined unaware of Qeddwyn's presence. He slowly moved in passages hidden 
behind curtains, attempting to remain unseen. Elaborate floors of rooms 
passed under his feet as he would sprint through some passages, and walk
quietly in others. He was extremely uncertain how he would ever exit    
this place once he got his hands on the artifact. Completely lost and   
alone, he nonetheless found the courage to continue on his task.        

Qeddwyn stumbled into a room with no exits that was shrouded in         
darkness, his footsteps clattering on the floor. Looking quickly around 
himself to make sure no one was aware of his presence, he sat down with 
his back against a wall. But, immediately he realized he was mistaken. A
voice sang out across the room.                                         

"Qeddwyn, my dear. How long has it been? Have you come here to join     
us?", Yrtez's voice echoed across the dark room.                        

"Yr-Yr-Yrtez...I did not know you were here. I have come to plead with  
you to stop this insanity. Please, rejoin us. We must remain as one and 
not bicker like the 'rellyw'."                                          

Laughter sounded out around the room. "Do not call me that anymore,     
Qeddwyn. You are the mortal now, the 'rellyw'. I live on forever."      

"But, none of the experiments worked, they hurt those who tried them..."

"Yes, they did not work at first. But Severn showed us the true phrases,
the true language, needed to be given immortality."                     

"He couldn't have. You lie! Severn has sent me here to end your         
scourge!"                                                               

The laughter rang out once again. "Has He now? I believe you have been  
mistaken. Severn sent you here because the Age of the Ankyreans is over.
The age of my kind is now beginning. He was simply accelerating what    
needed to be done."                                                     

"You lie; you have always twisted words to your own devises."

"I lie? Very well, believe that. What is it you came here for? Be       
honest, or I shall kill you now."                                       

"The artifact; the thing that Chakrasul gave you to create yourselves." 
Qeddwyn could feel he no longer had control over his mind or his mouth. 
The words flowed freely as if he actually desired to tell her these     
things.                                                                 

"The artifact you shall have, and I shall send you on your way. It is of
no use to me. If this is the only way you will see the truth, then so be
it. We have discovered powers beyond your dreams, Qeddwyn. It is folly  
for you not to join us."                                                

And then a darkness swept over Qeddwyn's mind.

-----------

Qeddwyn awoke many days later in his own bed many miles away in         
Spinesreach. He could not remember what had happened after his encounter
of the one formerly called Yrtez. He had somehow arrived back with the  
artifact in his hands mumbling to himself. The Order had called it a    
victory. No longer would these rebels convert themselves into their     
hideous forms.                                                          

When Qeddwyn gained his strength back, he strode to the Spire of        
Artifice to commune with Severn, who had betrayed him and the Order.    

Qeddwyn screamed aloud, "You played us, Severn! You tricked us." His    
shouts echoed across the stone. When no response came, he began to kick 
at the shrine in front of him, his anger consuming him.                 

"Mortal, do not show disrespect to Me. You will not like the results."  
The shadowed form of Severn appeared before him.                        

"I demand to know what You are up to!"

"You make demands of a God? Qeddwyn, you are very fortunate I like you."

Qeddwyn regained his composure as well as he could before responding.   
"Lord, she claimed you said the Age of the Ankyreans is over. You gave  
her the power to end our Order."                                        

"I did do as much, Qeddwyn.  I told you as much as well."

"But now they will rule; you have seen what havoc they did to the world.
Why would you allow that?"                                              

"I did not say they would dominate the land. I let them assume that.    
Their order shall wither, much like the Order of the Ankyreans should   
wither."                                                                

"But why?" Qeddwyn began to sob.

"It must occur for the world to continue. The Ankyreans have become     
apathetic to mortals, when their purpose was to bring enlightenment to  
them. Those led by Yrtez have sought to transgress against the Gods with
their actions. Both sides have erred."                                  

Severn continued, "Both will be destroyed soon, Qeddwyn. I advise you to
use that knowledge for what is it worth, and to leave the Citadel.      
Arion's plan will succeed, but it will have consequences that are       
unforeseen."                                                            

----------

The next evening saw the rebels move into the Citadel quickly, and      
without obstruction. After all, that was the plan. The rebels had been  
enraged by the theft of their artifact, something that had become almost
sacred. Moving swiftly, and as a group, they entered the Citadel to put 
an end to their once companions and now enemies. Once they moved into   
the Central Spire, a group of Ankyreans sealed the passage behind them, 
trapping both Orders together in that tower.                            

Using the magic that had been taught him by the Gods, Habbak called upon
the spirit of fire unborn to purify the Spire of the transgressors and  
unknowingly the end of his Order. For, where the pure light ripped apart
and destroyed the rebels, the true flames seared the flesh of the loyal 
Ankyri. Within a second, all within the Central Spire were annihilated. 
The strategy had worked, but at the cost of the entire Order.