So this is a cross-post. It is both my #fridayflash for the week, and my 'E' entry for the A-to-Z Challenge. 'E' is for the 'Empire of Gold and Jade,' the first, only and reigning human empire.
Everything noteworthy around here begins with an apocalypse. Theirs was the Apocalypse of Demons, when the womb of the world was torn asunder, imps stoking The Cracks in the distant west until their ancestors roused. Then emerged the demons, intangible and vast, and rather than bestowing the imps with an infinite kingdom, seeking to add our world to their blessed charnel. What magic the imps possessed was corrupted, and their bodies pulped into titanic corporeal forms for their ancestors to roam our plane. So ended the previous tyranny.
Their slaves, the humans, fled into the east like water amid fingerprints. Away fell the nine-legs and triclopes. No one could survive the breath of demons, so toxic it reduced the largest sauropods to skeletons. Nine-legs, which many thought did not even have lungs, choked to death under the long strides of titanic demons. Deserts quaked, sinkholes supped upon cities, and the skies rained a burning wine. It was a most glorious apocalypse.
Only as they approached The Uncanny Valley did any opponents stand unyielding, the work of humans and not yet humans, the golems, the bodies of granite and brick, and within them all, hearts of jade. Secrets stolen and perfected by the cleverest slaves, these were the creations of the Jade Tribe, commanded by a voice that rose above the howl of demons. Her golems clung to their ankles, and then to the knees, dragging them to the ground where they could be pried apart.
Yet not all demons took to land, many sitting astride the clouds and hurling comets at the foolish mortals. Here came the Golden Archers, all-chemists who summoned power from without, not within, taking up the wand and the stave. Wizard snipers shot the demons out of the sky, cleaning heaven by making war. Surviving triclopes and imps hid in the shadows of humans for mercy.
Of those fallen demons, the majority exploded upon impact, maiming the land. Those demons who fell without combustion were made the campfires for the brave Golden Archers, and their chief, who will be marked as the Golden Emperor, climbed into the hull of the greatest fallen demon, and carried out from its sundry fires a breastbone of unparalleled magic. This he offered as a wedding present unto the chief of the golem-makers, she who will be marked as the Jade Empress. The bones of demons formed unparalleled golems, titans in their own mindless right, a bulwark against the inferno. No fire passed east of the humans’ brave army, and it unfurled west until the demons were extinguished, and all that lay behind it was a kingdom awaiting two thrones.
In the first dawn of their campaign, he who will be marked as the Golden Emperor and she who will be marked as the Jade Empress were wed, as were their retainers, and where the Golden Emperor had three additional retainers, so they were wed to the Jade Empress’s eldest sister and two brothers, and so were their generals wed, and where the Jade Empress retained two additional generals, these were wed to the Golden Emperor’s aunt and eldest blood brother. They wove their peoples together so that no tide could sunder them. It is recorded by every poet worth reading that together these two carried culture out of the fire.
And that’s how the latest tyranny began.