I remember not the year, so I will not attempt to frame this. Far from the overwhelming Realm, far from the plains of Beltagne, even far from the Haltan League; in the distant North did this tale unfold. The Ascendants had been broken, yet at the Battle of the Seven Suns, the advance of the deathly horde was halted. A slightly uncomfortable stalemate reigned, for the Ivani clan held the southern marches against the occasional raid, while the rest of the survivors rebuilt their city anew, this time, in the banks of the Valley of Dandelions. Xavier, the son of the White Queen, was the first child born to this nascent folk.
New Ascension thus matured around the Cradle of Thunder, ancient war-manse of an old goddess. A year had passed, perhaps. Flowers bloomed with ease, but the Ascendants scarcely settled smoothly. They were miners! Their toil was stone, not wormy soil! They turn clay into artforms, craft grand palaces of marble, stone-like-silk and fire! Oh, and let us speak not of the overbearing sun and moon! What of trade? No clansman would willingly be a merchant, but here they come, these winged men of the clouds, with their tall frames, fluffy things and charming smiles. And coin, much of it.
They were frustrated, unfortunately. The youth that had followed Lucille saw themselves with a bitter drink to taste. The abandonment of the life that they had led took a heavy toll upon their faith. The new city had, then, a little bit of an issue. A small issue, no real concern. An entire generation of dispossessed youngsters with energy to spare. Like ice to a cocktail, the Airfolk brought in the second ingredient to this funbag. Martial arts.
You see, Ascendant warfare is a rigid thing. The clansmen of the high clans are the ones trained as warriors. Scale and mail they wear, great shields locked with each other, short stabbing weapons and spears. It served for the ant-nest that was old Ascension. It served for the majestic mountain ranges they dominated, but... as you well may guess, served not for the snow-dunes and valleys that made their new home. But these? The styles of the wind that the Airfolk brought to New Ascension were taken by the Ascendants like fish take to water. Schools formed, grew and gained influence in the city. Soon, merchants paid their respects to the local masters rather than government officials. Underground gangs were formed, fights broke out under the gaze of Luna.
There was strife under Lucille's home again, but I need not speak of this at all, do I?
There was not even time to court the local god-court during the first days of New Ascension, but now? A city-mother had been seen prowling amongst the streets, and a home was built for the charming goddess. She gave few blessings to the people that had yet to prove themselves worthy, but alas, this was a start. Her shrine was planned to be thrice-folded, with three roofs and three floors; all planned according to the theorems of sacred geometry. A grand project, to be sure, but lengthy.
And in the shade of lumbering, chiseled stone did four schools gather. No guards stood, no vigil was kept. The center of this shrine would be baptized by might. Challenges were issued, and rang though the empty halls. Adepts and initiates to the styles of the wind stood there, arrogant in their prowess. The masters watched from behind, wings folded. Indeed, many of the ones here towered over the Ascendants; bronzed skins, tattooed eyes and vibrant gazes. The Airfolk.
Two of them met in combat, dust rising in the wake of their blows. Her
stance was aggressive; his was still like water, and like water wrapping around the strikes of the girl. They turned and twisted, grappling to the ground, and then back to their feet. And to this dance were the heavy gates of the temple flung open by a kick!
A booming sound. The gates crashed down. Somebody coughed from the hail of dust. "The White Queen!"
gasped the gangsters.