4 The Voice of Enigma
(From the point of view of Violet Belladonna)
The largest empire the world has ever seen...
That is not an understatement. Izrecael truly is the greatest empire throughout Luxael. Caelum has the highest amount of gold in the land. Vega can showcase their dominion over the skies. Chateau Valencia unsurprisingly sends their applause on how mighty their soldiers are. Duibhne will have all the right to flaunt their powerful fleet of warships and their cargo ships of colossal proportions. Of course, the crimson palaces of Nihilheim create the most potent magicians inside the classrooms of Varba. However, none of them could ever contend against the vastness of Izrecael.
Even if all those powerful realms combine the size of their territory, no matter how vast and how immense the outcome of their cute coalition may be, Izrecael is still more substantial in comparison.
Needless to say, a vast empire such as this will inevitably pack a large population, and a large population breeds a large army. Shocker. Without counting the noncombatant citizens, Izrecael has a million and a few thousand more soldiers willing to live and die by the blade in the name of the empire. We make sure the passion, the dedication, the bravery, and the commitment of our soldiers will never break, and our monstrous capabilities to gnaw at our enemies without mercy shall spread throughout Luxemia, so all must know of the beasts living behind the walls of our barracks.
No matter how hopeless a situation is, even if the world seems to be ending in the battlefield, no matter how powerful the foes are, the soldiers of Izrecael will never retreat. They would rather die than suffer the humility of loss in their life. Their act of bravery is one that deserves respect, but they will not find that respect from me. They are men of honor who will never run from a battle even if it's a losing cause, and I think, more than anything in this world, what they were showing is just evidence of how foolish soldiers are when their honor is at stake.
There are a lot of them though, having an exact count of the number of our soldiers is near impossible. Other empires fear the sheer amount of soldiers we have in our army, and it's a fear I can respect. No matter how steadfast a soldier is, if we throw a hundred men at him who were all willing to die just to kill him, then he will fall above the soil he trifled with for sure. However, a vast empire is difficult to rule, and it's obvious to say that anyone who would hold the responsibility of being a king of such an impressive land will subject himself to a considerable amount of stress. Not even the wisest of all kings could handle the weight of millions of people and a thousand miles of territory with his hands alone.
The academe concocted a plan to rule the territory of the empire with ease with the help of the previous royal families to solve this problem. The previous regime, which ruled over Izrecael, had divided the empire into four sectors that soon became cities within the walls of Izrecael.
Abzu is the city in the northwest where soldiers train after ten years of education until their life is forfeit. I have nothing more to say about it aside from the fact that no woman I know other than the queen and I have stepped foot here. They say it's too bloody, too icky, and the rank of soldier's sweat is not something a lady could handle. Cowards. I suppose those ladies are overreacting, for, aside from the sheer amount of soldiers lurking about, it looks exactly like the rest of Izrecael. Some are nice and cozy, you know, very homely, while the other parts have a lot of shit and garbage, I say this literally and figuratively, some people here shouts garbage and smells like shit. See? Perfectly normal city.
Eridu is the port city of Izrecael, in the northeastern part of the empire. They stood there to guard enemies that might sail from far north of Luxael. Though this is mostly just a form of tradition, the realm cannot seem to let go. Guarding Eridu against threats coming from north of the Never-Ending Sea makes little sense, for, as the name of the sea itself implies, there is no one living in the far north, and there is nothing there for the eyes to see but saltwater and death. If you ask me, though, I say Eridu is the punishment city. It's damp, and it smells fishy and salty; the people look like they have seen better days, and the place itself is just one big wet market. The queen still comes here, but, ugh, just… no.
Eshnunna is where travelers can enjoy the company of the common folk. Of course, anyone can visit anywhere anytime they want except, of course, the palace of the royal family. This rule is not an exception to travelers. Still, the people of Izrecael encourage visitors to stay where the common folk lives to showcase that being a part of the 'common' is not synonymous with 'disgusting' and 'barbaric.' They are happy people, they're content with their lives, laughing at the pompousness of the rich, respecting the greatest of the wise, proud of the strength of the soldiers, and loyal to the crown. Their joy fills them with life, and they have nothing but love for being alive. The streets are filled with joy, the smell of freshly baked bread, the fragrance of food being cooked in the furnace mixing with the familiar scent of leaves and soil. They are a huge reason why Izrecael is what it is now, a burgeoning city filled with songs and laughter. I enjoy coming here; I wish I can say the same thing about Eridu, though. God, that place is disgusting.
Lastly, what lies in the southeastern part of the empire is the city of Ur. This is the grandiose city of the royal family, and this is where noblemen, wealthy merchants, renowned artists, great thinkers of our time, and anyone who has the money and influence lives to brag about the fact they live near the chamber and the throne of the king. Of course, it's the cleanest part of the city, and this is mostly because people want to fool the king into believing his empire is shining with marble, steel, and other shining splendor with the smell of gardenias and jasmine. In fact, the roads of Ur are one of the very few parts in the kingdom where they did not use the dark mud so that the streets would reflect the glimmer of stars and the sun in the skies. Some people even believe that the shining city of Ur is where the gods themselves reside. Little do they know most of the people in Ur believe in no god but themselves; vanity, fame, power, and money can get anyone anywhere in life, that includes eternal damnation.
This is where I live. Such is the land where King Vortigern rules with the virility of a soldier but the wisdom of a true ruler; here is where Queen Lara once stood proudly with the strength to overcome all men who would dare belittle her for whatever she has hidden between her legs. Foolish men will not suffer severe punishment if they speak ill of the great queen, whom I served for the entirety of my life as a servant, and as a loyal friend, this is the orders of the queen herself. Still, if words spread towards the cities that someone insulted her knowing they are inside the walls of Izrecael, only the gods will know what the people will do to them. The queen doesn't know this. One of my many jobs is to make sure she sleeps well at night.
The king oversees these four cities with the help of eight people. The royal couple, along with twenty-two members of Izrecael's High Office, chooses certain people to rule each city, two rulers for each city, a total of eight expected rulers. Every city has specific standards of how the leaders must behave and perform. This is a troublesome process that leads to a lot of under the table discussion and lip services, but at the end of the day, the just and wise royal couple has the final say on the matter.
The two rulers I speak off have titles too. The people of the empire officially calls them, by the law of our sovereign land, as Ruler of Finance and Ruler of Law. The first guy is the one who makes a lot of money... I wonder how. Meanwhile, the other guy's job is to encourage his people to beat the soul out of anyone who disrespects the queen—it's a joke, but it's not far from the truth either. I mean, after all, it is a law in Izrecael that those who disrespect the queen must be beaten to death, so... Did I lie?
Their job is quite self-explanatory. One handles the city's finance and taxation while the other handles lawmaking and enforcing. Every month, they must report to the council of the king, not only about the cities' well-being but to prove to the noble people before them that they are, indeed, fit to govern the people of Izrecael. Every month, they must report what improvements they made to the city and how they contributed to the betterment of Izrecael.
The pillars are the most critical aspect of the cities. Four pillars reside inside of Izrecael. They are long, no, that's an understatement. They are just… unbelievably lengthy. They're not large or anything, they're not even thick. The width of the pillars is perhaps similar to the width of an ordinary cottage found in a typical neighborhood. However, their length precedes that of the skies itself. They are so long one cannot see the end of it even if they try to fly towards the heavens. The winged-men of Vega told us that the pillars of Izrecael are taller than they could have ever imagined; even if the winged-men flew from up above until they exhaust their wings, they still could not see the end of it. From what they can tell, they're not even halfway to the top of the pillar.
It's such a spectacle to see too, a structure so tall and with such an enigmatic aura surrounding its genesis, but we can only gaze at it as it pierces the clouds.
I'm not sure exactly what these pillars do, and no one knows their real purpose and how it was possible for anyone to build them, to begin with anyway. However, I remembered that her highness Queen Lara once told me that the pillars are a steady source of magical power. The reason why mysticism is such a potent part of the Luxael culture is because of these pillars. Although it is possible to use mysticism and magic without the aid of the pillars, their existence makes it easier for everyone to use magic.
Therefore, Izrecael is such an essential empire in Luxael. Attacking Izrecael means they endanger the pillars. Endangering the pillars means putting mysticism and magecraft in jeopardy. We are untouchable not just as a fortress, not just as a military wonder, and not just as a spectacle giant. Other people are also benefiting from what Izrecael protects.
For hundreds of years, people had called them the Pillars of Izrecael, the Pillars of Magic, the Breathers of Mana, the Doombringers, the Devil's Spear Piercing the Heavens, and I'm sure there are a lot more names the academe gave the pillars to show their dismay to magic. Not to mention, the pillars are mysterious, and ones are of a bizarre nature. The academe fears what they cannot measure, what they cannot sense, and what they cannot explain—something I wholeheartedly understand.
However, a few decades ago, the fool Edolom the Wise ran around the damp streets of Eridu with a fish on his hand, flailing the said fish towards the direction of Eridu's pillar and screaming something repeatedly.
"This is an enigma! This is an enigma!"
So, of course, many people laughed and poked fun at Edolom the B*tch they threw cow dung at him and called him names, but he persisted, Edolom the F*cktwat kept screaming and screaming those words all over the place as he flailed the fish he was carrying towards the pillar until he reached it. He kept screaming, yelling, yapping, and not minding those who laugh around him every day, crying, "This is an enigma! This is an enigma!"
As time went on, people just went on with it and found his dedication intriguing, and his persistence gained other's respect while some poked fun of him even more.
That's the story of why people called the pillars Disis'an Enigma.
This is quite messed up now that I've thought about it because Edolom the Shit Head breathed his last words while screaming at the pillar till he, well, became Edolom the Dead.
I don't quite understand it, to be honest, but what I am seeing right now is something I don't understand more. As I ran out of the royal palace, what greeted me was the reality of the circumstances outside.
The enemies are not here yet, but the people of Ur are scrambling, out of breath, praying as they kneel on the ground. I ran towards the catacombs as fast as I could with the princes, still resting on my arms, with the eleven soldiers running beside me.
I saw it.
From a distance, I saw thousands of creatures I cannot quite distinguish from afar, climbing towards the pillar at a distant city. From its position, I'm guessing it's the pillar of Eridu.
And I heard it.
I don't know where it was coming from, but it was the sound similar to that of how an old wood sounded when you stepped your foot on it. However, this sound is louder, powerful; it's a sound I'm sure everyone in Izrecael can hear.
I hear it from every direction.
It's coming from all over me, from everywhere.
No matter how hard I tried to push my palm on my ears, I could still hear it.
The pillars are crying for help, asking someone to rescue them, bleeding from inside from the attack of the creatures climbing it. It seemed never-ending; it seemed as if they would surely fill the entire pillar with the ravage savages the enemy uses as soldiers.
Suddenly, I heard a massive banging sound. It came from the gate of Ur. No, it was not a singular banging; it was many, and a symphony of banging sounds accompanied by the screams and yelling of the countless soldiers outside.
"Let us in!"
"They're eating us!"
"They're not humans!"
"We can't defeat them!"
"We're being overpowered!"
"Retreat! We need to retreat! Let us in!"
"There's too many of them!"
"Please! We can't win against them!"