By Dret Rylas
Related by Dret Rylas as passed down to him by his father and his father
The great city of Mercius, the jewel of the Trancian empire, lay in the Fahlidi mountains overlooking a vast plain. Life in the city was that of any other large habitation with good times and bad. The people of Trancian were ruled by an emperor and his council. They were mostly just and fair, but they were lazy and ill informed of the goings on in the surrounding lands. Trancian had a huge army, but like the politicians they too were lazy and far to laxed in their duties to the people. The people were pompous and had neglected their gods for many years, believing that times were good and so they didn't need the gods. The gods in return had forsaken the people without them knowing it.
There was, however, a few exceptions to that rule that were diligent in their training. These few kept their minds, bodies and spirits fit so whatever trials they would face they would be able to overcome; and there were bad times rapidly approaching from the horizons. One of these few, a warrior by the name of Aestivan Rylas was an exceptional fighter and had never been bested. It is said that he had fought one hundred men and won without even a scratch. Many believed that the gods favored him and so he was envied, but he was kind and well liked by most. The dark day came during the games of the harvest festival, when most of the cities inhabitants were at the arena, either watching the games or selling their wares. From the crest of an adjacent mountain came a thunderous noise growing gradually louder until the sound drowned out the voices of the thousands who screamed for their champions in the ring. The citizens were dumb struck and the soldiers were not prepared. A dark army of enormous proportions fell on the city like a plague, filling the streets with its fowl contempt for life. The army began to massacre the people of Trancian with little resistance from the Trancian soldiers in their futile attempt at organizing a suitable defense. The Trancians were being decimated and something had to be done.
Aestivan, seeing that his people and his home were being destroyed, prayed to Ardula for strength. It is stated by witnesses that at that moment the hand Ardula himself reached from the sky and touched the weapon of Aestivan. The warrior took up the axe touched by the gods and waded into the fray. He hacked and slashed and felled enemy soldiers at every turn. He had slaughtered hundreds of the dark scourge within minutes, but their number was too great. Aestivan knew that even blessed, as he was, his strength could not hold out.
Aestivan called to other warriors who had not been lazy and they began to gather as many civilians together as they could while he held the enemy at bay. When all were gathered that could be Aestivan and the six other warriors made a tactical withdrawal up and over the mountains. There were so few of them that had escaped that the dark army didn't even bother to give chase. They were content with their slaughter and destruction of Trancian.
The small group of people wandered through the mountains for years, looking for a suitable land to begin a new life. Just when it seemed that the perfect place could not be found the company came out of the mountains onto a lush plain of rolling hills. Aestivan and the six other warriors formed a league that would govern the people they had led this whole time. The league would be disciplined and fair and not be lazy. They learned to build structures that would withstand assaults from large numbers of foes and they sculpted the lands to their advantage. With so much open land and so few citizen, the people who had come to call themselves after the name of their great leader Aestivan began to move farther out settling new portions of this great place. The league of Aestivan kept tabs on all new settlements and any man who called himself lord of his lands still answered to them. When Aestivan, the last remaining man to have faith in the old gods, became an old man and his time to go to the gods had come he went on a journey. He never disclosed his direction or intended destination to anyone he simply left. He took with him only the clothes on his back and his great axe that had been blessed by the god Ardula. Aestivan was never seen or heard from again. It is said that he returned to the city of Trancian to die in the place he was born. Others say he went in search of the leader of the dark army to kill him. One thing is certain, though, that many Aestivan axe men have spent their whole lives searching for the artifact, the Axe of Aestivan.