Since the cruel Sardi Empire featured so prominently in a few previous posts such as Swan Warrior part 4 and Fairy Vault I felt I should explain what became of this country. So I present this retelling of an old "wrath of God" sort of legend.
The Fall of Sardi
Emperor Destarus, the man chosen by the gods to rule the mighty people of Sardi, stood in the palace gardens among the rare and exotic plants. Beyond the garden walls was Carmac, capital city and heart of the Sardi Empire. Destarus drank in the smells of spices, the cries of merchants from the market and the sight of the domes and spires rising from the rainforest. The jewels on his tunic glittered in the light of the setting sun. He ran a finger over the hilt of a long scimitar which hung at his side. It was made of a rare black metal only found in Sardi. For that reason it was the symbol of the empire. Closing his eyes for a moment Destarus ran the reports of his generals through his mind.
The king of the enemy country, Windola, had sent more soldiers to meet the warriors of Sardi in battle. Soon Sardi would destroy Windola and its poisonous religion of Light. Windola had made an alliance with Rovinien, which worried Destarus at first for the warriors of Rovinien were just as fierce as those of Sardi and probably the only army in the world who stood a chance against the nearly invincible forces of his empire. Still, the gods favored Sardi, for Destarus’ army was crushing those of Rovinien and Windola. This thought brought a smile to his lips.
His smile faded as he recalled the recent sea battle in which the coastal country, Caramyth had crippled his fleet and forced him to relinquish land along the eastern coast. Caramyth never had approved of Sardi’s slave trade. They had taken things too far by blockading the coast so that no Sardi ships could reach the islands where they usually rounded up slaves. Why the gods didn’t punish the people of Caramyth for their arrogance was beyond Destarus. When he had stormed into the temple and demanded this answer of the high priest, the priest had said, “I do not understand why we have suffered this terrible defeat but we must not blame it on the gods lest they become angry with us.”
Perhaps I should have him executed for his stupidity, Destarus thought.
A soft rustle of fabric cut through his thoughts. He frowned. How many times did he have to tell the palace slaves not to enter the garden when he was thinking? He opened his eyes ready to order the disrespectful slave beaten. The words died on his lips at the sight of a beautiful dark skinned woman clothed in a white dress with long silky black hair spilling down her back. A sword hung from a gold colored belt at her waist and there was more intensity in her rich brown eyes than Destarus had seen in any other person.
After a moment of staring Destarus composed himself and demanded, “Who are you? How did you get passed my guards? You are not supposed to be here!”
“I have been sent by the Lord of Light because the entire world cries out against the evil deeds of your empire,” she said. “The Lord of Light has looked into your heart and found it lacking. I have been sent to punish you for your wrongs and your arrogance.”
“I have the blessing of the gods,” Destarus laughed. “You and your Lord can never harm me.”
“Let us see what your gods’ protection really amounts to,” said the messenger and there was a sudden hardness in her eyes.
She drew her sword revealing that it was made of flames. Raising it above her head she brought it down with a powerful thrust to stab the ground before the emperor’s feet. Destarus staggered backward in shock as all the plants touched by the sword’s flames withered and died leaving a patch of empty dirt. The messenger pulled her sword out of the earth and stepped toward the garden gate. Destarus stood still for a moment staring in wonder at the dry spot front of him.
At last he recovered and called to the guards, “Stop that woman!”
Several guards moved to block her path but she slipped passed them all and out the gate.
“After her!” Destarus yelled drawing his black scimitar. “She must not be allowed to escape.”
The guards moved to surround him and together they followed the messenger into the city. She was easy to spot in her pale dress as she wandered the streets. The flaming sword she held high shone like a torch in the gathering darkness. Yet no matter how fast Destarus and his guards moved, she was always a few steps ahead of them.
At last she reached the wide market square where she paused. When the emperor signaled his guards to rush forward to grab her, the sword flared up until it was hot enough to crack a few paving stones. They halted and raised their arms to shield their faces from the dry heat wave. Unhindered by her enemies, the messenger called out in a terrible commanding voice that cut straight through Destarus’ heart.
“All you who are enslaved come to me. Your masters can no longer harm you, so fear them no more. Follow me and I will lead you to the freedom you have been praying for.”
The first group of slaves appeared between the buildings at the edge of the square. As they passed the woman their eyes glowed with hope. She waved them to continue walking and soon what seemed like an endless stream of people walked away from Carmac.
“Get back to your work!” Destarus screamed. “Your masters will have you all beaten.”
None of them paid him any attention. He took a step forward to block their path but again the sword flared up, forcing him back. All the plants growing at the edges of the market dissolved into piles of sand but the slaves were not harmed.
As the procession continued the messenger cried out again, “People of Sardi, do not follow the example of your emperor for he has doomed your country. Come with me and be spared of the evil which is coming upon all who stay behind.”
Destarus felt a twinge of guilt at her words but he suppressed it before it could become remorse. Citizens of Sardi came out of their houses and joined the procession.
“Don’t listen to her, she is a deceiver,” called the emperor. When again no one listened to him he added, “You will bring the curse of the gods upon yourself!”
Still, none of the people stopped. Three of Destarus’ guards dropped their weapons and joined those walking out of the city. Destarus cursed at them but they too ignored him.
At last the procession moved out of sight. The Messenger of Light made one last mighty sweep at Destarus and his remaining guards before following the slaves and people of Sardi into the night. Destarus ground his teeth and sheathed his scimitar as he considered what to do next. There was a sudden rush of wind which gave a mighty whooshing sound and filled with him foreboding. A moment later the guards cried out in alarm and the few people remaining in the city screamed. A giant wave of sand swept over Carmac burying the city and those in it even as they ran in a vain attempt to escape.
It was daylight by the time Emperor Destarus dug his way out of a pile of sand and lay gasping on the dune. After catching his breath he got to his feet to better take in his surroundings. There was not another living being in sight, only miles of sand in every direction. Here and there the remains of towers poked out of the desert landscape. To his left rose the Emerald Mountains, as green as their name implied. In a daze Destarus staggered across the shifting sands without a clear destination.
He continued walking for the rest of the day as the sun beat down on his back and the dry winds parched his skin. When he was so hot and tired he could walk no more he sank to his knees and stared at the mirages shimmering in the desert air. An image of the Messenger of Light appeared in the haze. She pointed at something. When Destarus looked where she indicated more images appeared. The mirage showed him the slaves and refugees from Sardi. He saw them making homes in the wilderness. The wind whispered the name of the new country they would form: Algamar. Somehow he understood that this word meant freedom in the new dialect made of Sardi’s language combined with that of the islanders who had been enslaved.
Destarus glared at the messenger, enraged at the thought of Sardi’s proud bloodline being mixed with that of lowly slaves. He drew his black scimitar, raised it and stabbed at her. The blade passed through her image and smashed against a rock, shattering as if to show him that Sardi was truly no more. This show of passion drained the last of his strength. He fell to the ground, all the life leaving his body. The wind blew and sand covered him.