- Aeremus the Just - / by Frixos Masouras

Aeremus the Just

Inkhaltiroz fathers take pride in retelling the story from the birth of their first. Some even brag about the might of their offspring and how they shatter the eggs, spreading a thousand pieces for miles as their frail wings open for the first time and how their birth shrieks cover even the maelstrom thunder that rumbles forth from the Inkhaltir sky almost every day. Very few of those fathers however actually have a true story to tell, that speaks of glory and greatness. One such story is that of Nalaekartas, father of Aeremus, Myrolaenis and Dhanalwh.   His story does not speak of his second and his third. Only of his first.

Aeremus did not smash his egg, nor did he spread his wings. Instead, to the amazement of all those who witnessed his arrival, Aeremus was able to breathe forth the flame from within him before he even took his first free breath of air. The shell cracked, but did not explode. It shriveled, warped and soon collapsed into a heap of ash as Aeremus strode into the light. Yes, the light. For the skies were barren, devoid of storms and lightning the day he was born. Nalaekartas knew that his firstborn son was destined for ascension before he even gave him a name. The Dragon Lords of Inkhaltir were ecstatic with this birth, knowing that only once in a thousand lifetimes could they ever set eyes on one like him. One who is born of fire. One who is born red.

Drunk with pride, Nalaekartas could not think ahead as far as his betrothed did on that day. Sarmira was solemn as she watched her son step forth from his egg, for she knew that from every ten families on each peak only one firstborn could ascend. She understood that Aeremus most certainly looked like he could prevail in any form of dragon combat yet a mother always worries. But she did not worry for long.  Even as a whelp, Aeremus stood twice as tall as his brother and sister. The families roosting on nearby peaks went as far as to try and hide firstborn births lest their own have to square up against the son of Nalaekartas and Sarmira. The council took no pity on any of them, pitting Aeremus against five other sons of Inkhaltir. Simultaneously.

As was customary, only the mothers could attend the battle since the fathers tended to not take kindly to the death of their firstborn. Not that the mothers brushed the grief off, but they were less likely to express their distress and anguish with violence and mayhem. The crater of Mount Yiorleth was chosen as the site of combat with the mothers gathering there by dawn to comfort each other. Comfort that was deeply necessary on that day, for all the dragon mothers present who were not Sarmira. Unlike the day that Aeremus was born, the sky on the morning of battle was black with clouds. Red lightning ripping the milky formations above, a sign that the other mothers there took to their hearts like spears. One by one the sons of Inkhaltir arrived at the crater. He was the first to emerge; now of age, his wingspan casting a shadow as large as a human keep.    

The other five were hesitant to even set off into any sort of fray, even though they knew that they could only leave the crater alive if Aeremus was no more. Four of the five had already won their first fight and instead of facing a single opponent they were all chosen to face the Red Son. Sarmira’s son was not just monstrously larger than the other dragons, he was also cunning. Before any of his opponents decided on a course of action, he took to the sky forcing them to follow. In the air, he divided and he conquered. The clouds rained wings, scales and dragon heads. He left his strongest opponent for last. A bronze and nimble Inkhaltiroz named Zartaelias whose mother was the only one left standing on the crater’s rim next to Sarmira. The others had already set off to mourn alone on their peaks. A sudden break in the bank of clouds above revealed a pillar of flame descending rapidly towards the crater. Aeremus dug all his claws snuggly into Zartaelias and held him downwards.  As they fell he bathed him in fire so hot that his scales, much like the wall of his egg, cracked and warped. What was once majestic bronze became a bland black. Aeremus drove his opponent with a thundering crash into the crater bed, exploding not only rocks and dust into the air but also ashes which was what Zartaelias was reduced to.  

Sarmira felt like a tree in a storm, whipped in all directions uncontrollably with the guilt from all the death she witnessed and the pride she felt for her son. Aeremus the Just was fulfilling his destiny with every step he took. Following his victory that day, he was sure to be granted his first ascension to a world to be worshipped by men. Everyone knew however that his first ascension was only a small step. Every dragon on each Inkhaltir peak was clicking their claws with glee, knowing that once his work in any mortal plane was completed he would be branded as a general and he would take to Eren to lead his kin in the ageless battle for cosmic control.
There, the dragons of Inkhaltir face the demons of Urkron and the winged maidens. The angels of Ayam.  Aeremus knew that this is what he was destined for, and so did the council. Which is why he was not given other firstborn victors with whom to rule over Alamaris. Instead his family was punished due to the price that came with the prowess of their firstborn and the other sons he killed, depriving Myrolaenis the chance to breed her own and Dhanalwh to father future dragon warriors for the war at Eren.    

Aeremus knew that ascending with both his brother and sister was a bittersweet affair for their mother and father who would be left alone on Inkhaltir for centuries not knowing how their children are faring in their new task. Alamaris was still a young world when the three arrived. Its people still clad in crude animal skin, using nothing but wood and rock to kill and create. He was the first to grant the mortals below visions of their new Sky Lords. Visions of fire and destruction to instill fear in their hearts. By doing so he helped them understand life better as soon after these visions came their own discovery of fire, opening a path to the future. The forging of Alamaris would soon begin.  Following his first contact with his future worshippers he also granted his sister rights to visions, but not his brother who Aeremus always saw as incompetent and inferior. But blood is blood thus Aeremus never openly opposed his smaller brother.  Dhanalwh’s work in Alamaris would come much later and it would prove as important as the forging of the very first blade.  

Aeremus was initially worshipped as the Judging Fire. He was the Just. Following the creation of steel and the rise of the families that would spring forth the Five Seats, he took on yet another title. The Lord of Fire. Not one that burns for justice but one that simply burns. He saw no reason to put an end to this, seeing how men reveled in combat and bloodshed. They simply could not do without a conflict on which to suckle and drag to no end. Warlords killed in his name but also raised statues and churches. One mortal with whom Aeremus had a unique relationship with Kelon Amberthas. The first man who decided that the injustice done upon the people of his land by the Five Lords would have to end. Sick with farmers handing over half their crops for royal feasts, disgusted with young girls taken away to serve banquets and depraved lords on silk sheets. He raised his voice and Aeremus was listening. He spoke to Kelon at nights, filling his head with the flame of justice. A flame that engulfed Kelon who rode from city to city, bringing people together under one banner. Thus the Order of Aeremus was born. Kelon led the Order in a savage war for six long years. And he prevailed. He took back the churches from the bloodstained hands of fat warmongers and waved a sword in the face of the Five Lords. He reminded them that Aeremus the Just watched all and knew all and that justice would soon befall all of them, burning rich and poor alike should the Order be opposed any longer.

The Order of Aeremus became an independent army of lawmen, judges and executioners. They never answer to any of the Five Lords, only to their one Lord in the sky. All Alamarian courts became houses of Aeremus seeing how not a single soul was impervious to the fires of justice. The Order however could not intervene freely with all matters of men. Whether it was a land dispute or a fight between kingdoms, there were many matters from which the Order kept its distance.

Aeremus is one head above a ten story tower. He has scaly coat red as blood with wings so large that they cannot fold neatly on his sides. Instead their humeri stand tall on his back, spreading the wing coverts like the sails of a warship behind him. The curvature from his fore underbelly, chest and neck is flawless culminating in a horned crown with tens of menacingly black spines protruding from his horned hood. Even the scaly brows above his sharp eyes are dotted with upturned spines. His limbs end in claws that bare the same blackness as the spines that line his entire back. From the top of his crown to the split end of his relatively short and thick tail.

“Why do I spare you? You are a lord, Thuméss. Your death would only bring more havoc to this land, and by Aeremus, you have brought enough as it is. No. You will live to tell your children and their children that your keep still stands because the flames spared you. Because my Lord willed it. I am burdened with bringing justice to this land in the name of Aeremus the Just. I swear before the almighty Father of Fire, should I have to address you again for ANY matter of injustice, you will burn.”

Kelon Amberthas
Prime Pyrearbiter