Having pushed back the Vorfon into deep Vashad territory, and having subdued most of the southern Jabari republics, the Hyuga family from the Hayami canton were a force to be reckoned with. Their ancestral home was the capital of the Empire of the Western Sun, a bastion that held first since its reconquest and rebuilt after the downfall of the Empire of the Hawk, formidable, all-seeing, and a foreshadowing for the modern Empire of Tremanath. Unfortunately, having their faith placed in wrong places and not placed in the right ones would dictate the end of this great power. Hokoku, a Zeyurai goyama (monk) that lived in the a secluded monastery on the jagged hillsides of the Kymune Mountains, had a vision on a fateful night. In his dream, he was visited by the Goddesses, commanding him with a task on their behalf. They told him to inform the new Emperor that Hyuga had become decadent and had been turned away from the Spiritual World. As such, the new Emperor should devote his energy to building a new Imperial Citadel, one closer to the gods, to the divine, to the spiritual purity Hyuga now lacked. Spurred by his faith and devotion, with no day to spare, he took his meager belongs and marched to the capital.
Temple_o by JaeCheol Park (photo cropped at bottom)
At an audience at the court, Hokoku was mocked, scolded, and beaten up with the guards, for the cheerful entertainment of the court. It is important to mention that the Zeyurai faith was still quite new in those days. Despite being departed from the local Tremanathi folklore and religion, their practitioners where deeply discredited within the Empire, seen as nothing more than deviants and crazed outsiders. Despite the goyama‘s best attempts to preach his vision in and outside palace walls, none would hear him. None but the young Sora of House Hensai. Sora was a second-degree nephew to the emperor, a couple years younger than his son. His family had some lands in the Houi canton and often parlayed with the Zeyurai monks. Some say it was monk’s dark magic, other the credulousness of youth, or even a mean to an otherwise unreachable end. But from that day on, Sora as a Zeyurai believer. He gave the monk shelter, learned from him, heard his vision many a times, and understood why the gods’ willed it. A few months this lasted, until one day Sora walked into the throne room with the severed head of goyama Hokoku. The court was shocked, with courtesans retching and falling to their knees, sick. Sora stood proud and said he had just found and killed a traitor, one calling for a revolution to tear down the walls of the Imperial Citadel. That same month, a cart full of beheaded Zeyurai goyamai strolled in, with Sora announcing he had stomped the vipers nest, for the glory of the Empire. His ruling uncle welcomed the boy into his retinue, and Sora became almost like a sun to him.
“Lantern light” by Andrzej Musiał
Years came and went, and Sora grew in standing and reputation. He had become a powerful general, responsible for the legions of the north and for manning the Fortress at Mijon. His troops revered and following him with fervor and dedication. His skillful mastery of the spear and his cunning strategies ensured Vorfon (affectionately called Takumi Masani, “those who forsake their heritage to side with the enemy”) soldiers stayed away and quelled, allowing his uncle and soon-to-be-crowned-Emperor cousin to focus on keeping the sovereignty growing. Nevertheless, the prosperity of some attracts the jealousy and greed of others. And some tales come back to haunt you if they are not kept truly dead in the past. Troubling reports came in one day: civil unrest was brewing near the Kymune range. Almost certain these had to be Zeyurai-lead insurgents, returning for vengeance, Sora asked his uncle to give him the honor of squashing the uprising. With a smile, the Emperor gave him his blessing. The vanguard was called, and within a fortnight, they marched Southeast. This was all but an elaborate ruse.
Sora knew, from his eyes in the Fortress, of a horde of Vorfon soldiers amassing in the bogs of Vashad. A formidable force, but not one that would threaten the citadel. Unless the right pieces were in place… Like a trail of crumbs, he baited the people from the steppes to assault the citadel under the cover of night. The thinned defenses were sabotaged by Sora’s faithful commandos, and the gates were opened ajar during a moonless night. In pitch blackness, the hooves approached. And fire consumed the city. Screaming and dying, those within the walls were stomped over by the mounted forces, as their homes were put to the torch. Then, from beyond the ridge, spearing his forces, General Sora Hensai galloped, rushing to the keep, trapping the Vorfon forces between the burning city, the mouth of the river Inori, and their charging lances. Reports are conflicting, saying the Emperor and his family were put to the sword by the Takumi Masani assailants, however without fully exhuming the possibility that General Sora did that himself, extinguishing the Hyuga dynasty with his own hands. Sora gave chase to those who ran, as a dire sunrise illuminated Hyuga, as it crumbled to ruins. The power vacuum was strong, and Sora was the only candidate that could keep the Empire safe, as the highest general. Crown as Emperor, Sora I of Snake House of Hensai immediately began the construction of his new seat of power, near the shores of the Hiba Lake and the Toshiro mountain pass, as the monk had foreseen. The Emperor would call it Char Char Saran, a very odd name that etymologically had no roots in any Tremanathi dialect at the time. It is speculated that, after all those years, the original name given was all but forgotten, and so Sora named it as the closest thing he could remember.
Cover picture: https://www.theimagen.eu/heroes-of-three-kingdoms.html
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