The First Step Into A New Era

For weeks, a fleet of full-rigged Archothirian galleons had been braving the waters of the great Eastern Ocean. Departing from the provincial capital of Kurjimin, the wondrous city of the mechanical Minjipen, the ships had been decorated by some of the greatest wizards and mages in the Empire: large, intricate circles, sigils and glyphs were carved into the hulls and then covered in mana-conductive paints and dusts, that would amplify their effects. All kinds of spells and incantations, such as Elohimian spells for protection, Sheserim offensive spells, Dwarven construction incantations, Elven weather manipulation enchantments and Triclopian marine tracing spells, who all drew power from a central Mana Field Weaver placed on each ship. With all of these spells, the galleons would be able to brave even the stormiest of waters, and this was an important objective for the Empire: this expedition, one of many, was Archothiria’s first step into a new era of exploration towards foreign lands and far-away kingdoms, and it therefore had to be the perfect mission.

This fleet of galleons in particular was lead by Andhaka Ghaddar, a young noblewoman sheseirim member of the famous noble house of Choronzon, who had plenty of previous naval experience thanks to her family’s interest in sea travels, and their holdings on the Imperial coasts.

⪻⪦ ✦𒈔✦ ⪧⪼

⪻⪦ ✦𒈔✦ ⪧⪼

Andhaka Ghaddar Choronzon on the Imperial ship “Speranza Meccanica”, Anno 1093

Suddenly, in the early morning, the ship’s watchman shouted, his voice reverberating throughout the entire ship thanks to a series of auditory pipes used for fast communication. Andhaka woke up suddenly in her cabin, quickly dressing up and exiting onto the galleon’s main deck. Through a glyph-enhanced spyglass, Andhaka could see them: enormous floating islands, much larger than those around Auphania, stood still high above the sea, clouds gathering and flowing against their rocky sides.

She ordered the ships to get closer to the levitating landmasses, and at the right moment, ordered the crew to shoot one of the galleon’s flares vertically, to alert anyone who lived on the island of their presence. The flare flew up, above the clouds, and exploded in a bright long-lasting flash of colorful light, concentric circles of sparkling dust visible from many toors below.

This flash of light would be the first step, the start of a new, glorious era of Imperial splendor.


”That certainly is one of the larger fleets that I have observed. How long have they been present?”

Xana lowered the pair of binoculars that she was looking over the northern edge of Belsegallia’s main island with before turning to face Ariana. Normally she would have needed a much more powerful optical device in order to see more than a few hundreds of meters down, but the heavy clouds and mist that usually surrounded Belsegallia were unusually thin enough for the ocean surface to be visible.

”A patrol said that it sighted a large flare-like object being fired around sunrise, or roughly four hours ago. Making out the features of the ships is difficult from this distance, but they do not appear to match the construction and styling of Rocovan or Ghratean vessels; they may be from another foreign nation.”

Ariana had said “foreign nation,” but Xana understood her as more likely referring to yet another inhabitant of the strange land that laid beneath the clouds. While the Belsedori were reasonably knowledgeable about nearby aerial nations, it had been less than three years since they first began to encounter terrestrial dwellers like the Rocovans; such meetings had so far gone relatively well for the Belsedori and resulted in the opening of trade, but none of them had involved a contacting party as large as the fleet of ships that had recently announced its presence to them.

”Naturally. Do you feel the intensity of the magical aura radiating from the boats? Neither Rocova nor Ghratos has previously been known to use magic to such an intensive degree; furthermore, the aura is different from the kind of magic that the Ghrateans prefer.”

”They do seem to be carrying a worrying amount of energy, Should I send for the sky navy as a precaution?”

Xana considered the proposal for a moment. Having one or more airships move into a position where they could be visible from the ocean surface might be seen as an aggressive action, but some amount of hedging also seemed appropriate; an airship of some description might also be necessary to transport a diplomatic party from the ships if they wished to send one.

Xana waved her hand before motioning for an aide to bring her something. She then quickly wrote a message onto a sheet of paper before sealing it in an envelope and handing it to a guard, which left shortly after with several others.

”A visible show of force is not yet necessary at this time, but several of the ships will be ready to set off on short notice if needed. In the meantime, have any of our newest guests attempted to fly up to here yet?”

Ariana shook her head.

”None that we are aware of. They may be waiting for us to send a party down to them instead.”

”Hmm. I could organize a diplomatic delegation to send down, but that would keep our visitors waiting for a while; and besides, it would be more fun to go visit them myself. In the meantime, make the usual preparations to receive land-dwelling visitors.”

Just as Xana turned around to fly off of the edge of the island, Ariana quickly asked her one last question.

”You’re going down alone? What should I do if the foreigners attempt to harm you, your majesty?”

Xana tossed the pair of binoculars that she was using into the hands of Ariana before replying with a playful smile.

”You keep track of how many ships I sink before the rest of them run away!”

And with that, Xana swiftly applied an invisibility spell to herself before diving over the edge of Belsegallia.

Xana teleported herself the last thousand or so meters into the air above the bow of the largest, most heavily decorated ship that she could see on approach, dispelling the invisibility that she had been using while diving for the last few minutes in the process. She then landed on her feet at the base of the ship’s bowsprit, creating a loud thud that likely alerted anybody that hadn’t yet seen her to her presence. Rather than fold her bright red wings as she normally did while on the ground, Xana elected to keep them outstretched at their full 5-meter wingspan to the sides as she addressed the ship’s crew using translation magic and an exceptionally loud voice.

”Good morning, visitors! I am Xana L’aderina, official representative of the glorious Kingdom1 of Belsegallia under which you are currently sailing; and, as you have requested with your flare, I have arrived to speak to the woman in charge of this fleet.”

Staying true to her stated diplomatic purpose, Xana was not carrying any immediately visible weapons. She was, however, wearing intricately crafted and seemingly enchanted metallic armor sans helmet, made from something resembling silver and set with a variety of lavender- and yellow-colored gemstones. The lack of a helmet also made it easier to see the extremely pale peach-colored skin, crimson-red hair, and luminescent yellow irises that clearly distinguished her from a human, while her plainly visible wings, feathered tail, and taloned feet indicated a clearly avian character. Additionally, both her apparel and Xana herself radiated an immensely strong magical presence that would be highly noticeable to anything and anyone capable of sensing magical energies.

1The Belsedori word Koletsa has a literal meaning roughly equivalent to “monarchy” or “rulership”; despite this and the extremely matriarchal nature of Belsedori culture, however, it is commonly translated to “kingdom” in concordance with more common naming conventions for monarchies other than Belsegallia.


Admittedly surprised from her sudden appearance, Andhaka was left impressed by the attitude and bravery of this strange new woman. Exotic beings were not new to any citizen of the Archothirian Empire, - since most of them were the exotic creatures themselves - and neither were beings capable of flight. Regardless of that, discovering new cultures and peoples had always remained a great event ever since the first days of the Empire. Back to her mind came the countless stories that had filled Andhaka’s childhood: mythical and often actually historical tales from centuries past, when her ancestors, allied with their angelic counterparts, gradually discovered, united and conquered the other kingdoms that now existed within Archothiria. However, she hoped that no such actions would have to be partaken here.

In order to answer to Xana’s apparent show of magical strength, Andhaka decided that she too would show this harpy some of her magical abilities. Her eyes began to glow a bright blue, as the magical glyphs and sigils on her body started to glow, activating as she recited the right formulas in her mind and jittered her hand in the right patterns. The ridges of her curled horn too began to glow an eerie blue; a small turquoise flame appeared, floating in front of the horn’s tip, and gently fluttering as if isolated from the rest of the windy sea.

Gently tapping a concentric circle of smaller glyphs that glowed from beneath the skin on her throat, Andhaka activated her own translation spell and replied to Xana in her powerful voice, for which she was well known amongst the nobles of Diteroph.

”Greetings Xana L’aderina. I am Andhaka Ghaddar Choronzon, captain of the Lancia Dei Mille Mari, the galleon you’re standing on, and leader of this exploratory fleet. I have come to your lands as a representative of the great Archothirian Empire who, after centuries of isolation, decided to again start to explore the lands and seas of the new world. I hope our tracing flare wasn’t too much of an inconvenience for you and your people.”


”Well, that was pleasantly faster than expected.”

Xana folded her wings behind her and stepped from the bowsprit’s mounting structure down onto the deck of the ship itself.

”The flare was no issue whatsoever. Allow me to welcome you, representatives of the Archothirian Empire, to the lovely, snowy realm of Belsegallia; or, perhaps more accurately, to the ocean under it. We Belsedori, as you have already ascertained, live on the gathering of islands over there.”

Xana briefly turns around to point at the largest floating island among the group that rested several kilometers above sea level and the Archothirian fleet.

”This sea is normally far too stormy for land dwellers to be able to see them from the ocean surface, but the weather here has been unusually clear; that is, I presume, your doing. I could arrange for a more formal delegation to receive you on the islands, if you wish; do you happen to have any way to reach them yourselves?”

The Belsedori had more than enough capability to transport a sizeable party of flightless individuals up to Belsegallia or any other aerial environment, but Xana wanted to know whether the Archothirians were able to reach it themselves; the answer would have much bearing on how Belsegallia could interact with them, among other concerns, and obtaining another demonstration of their magical abilities could prove to be highly useful in a number of ways as well.


”Yes, our elven weather spells must be the ones to blame. Low visibility and stormy weather aren’t exactly the conditions someone would look for during sea travels. However, we hope the meteorological disruptions didn’t hinder any important activity or event.”

”No, do not worry, there will be no need for a delegation. We’ll reach the islands ourselves. We always have flight and propulsion sigils at the ready for occasions just like these. Of course, I won’t need them myself thanks to my wings, but they’ll serve the others well.”

”If it’s not a problem, can I bring the captains of the other ships along on our way to the islands? That would be 20 people in total. If it is too much for your comfort, feel free to tell me so, of course.”


Queen Xana clapped her hands together as she responded to the question.

”Of course! You can bring as many women as you like; tell me when all of you are ready, and I can guide you to the meeting place that we have prepared. Just be sure that you bring some warm clothing; terrestrial dwellers often find Belsegallia to possess much colder weather than what they are used to.”


Meanwhile in the royal palace in Terenata, a diminutive Belsedori with lavender hair and a pale mint-green dress was busy sorting glasses and silverware in the castle’s kitchen after finishing a selection of desserts.

”I have the milkshakes and ice cream ready like dearie wanted, but I don’t know how many guests are going to be visiting; I’ll have to wait until she gets back to plate everything. Is there anything else that I can do in the meantime?”

Yukari briefly stopped to look around the kitchen in thought, the head movement causing the bells on his hair ornaments and collar to jingle faintly as he did so. He then recalled the unseasonably cool, -43°C weather that prevailed outside that morning, which had earlier prompted him to don a sweater.

”Maybe I should make some hot tea for everybody; they might get cold while they’re walking in from the courtyard.”

He then proceeded to begin preparing spiced milk tea while he waited for Xana and the visitors to arrive, all the while wondering what sort of civilization had been the latest to run into the Belsedori.