Chapter 1: Discovery
They had come in the night.
From across the Poison Sea, across the water that dissolved steel in a matter of seconds, they arrived. The stories they told rippled through Achai and reached the ears of the Council in a matter of days. Stories of a land the lay beyond the sea. A land with fields so fertile that crops practically leapt from the soil. Mines filled with gold, diamonds, and metals previously unheard of. And trailing just behind the stories came the whispers. They said that this was a land of magic, the kind that was supposed to have departed the world along with the gods three thousand years before. They called this land Vizey
The men themselves denied the whispers, but strange things kept happening around them. At first they were small, a campfire lighting too quickly, or an angry dog growing strangely calm. The men stayed in an inn in a small village when they first arrived, but soon soldiers showed up to take them to the Council. On the road to the capital, stranger things began to occur. One night, with a storm raging, a tree nearly fell on one of the Vizeyen. All the soldiers swore that the tree actually seemed to hang in the air for a moment as the foreigner scrambled away unscathed.
That same night, one of the horses panicked and kicked out wildly, hitting one of the men in the chest. Only, the Vizeyan walked away without a mark, and the horse's shoe was shattered. None of the soldiers spoke much to the Vizeyen after that point, though the foreigners never so much as said an unkind word to them.
When the Vizeyen reached the capital of Ki-Sai, they were immediately ushered into the Council chambers. For three days, no one in the city heard any word of what went on in the chambers. On the fourth day, the Vizeyen emerged, and a proclamation was issued from the Council throughout Achai:
"These men have come to us from the Kingdom of Vizey, across the sea. They offer an alliance, if we can but find a way to link our two great lands. The sea crossing is too dangerous, they tell us. 50 ships just like their own left on this journey, and only one arrived safely. However, they know how to craft a metal that will survive the rages of the Poison Sea.
They also tell us that the gap between our lands is not so great. At its narrowest, at the point of the Boar Peninsula, our two lands are scarcely more than a league apart. With the metal that these men will make for us, we will build a bridge across the sea, a bridge that will connect our two
lands for all eternity.
We call on all men of working age to contribute to this grand project. This bridge will bring great riches and knowledge to Achai. It will stand as a testament to our greatness. And the alliance it forges will help us crush the rebels in the North. History will remember those who built the bridge between worlds."
From all corners of the empire, young men left their farms and villages to make for the Boar Peninsula. Among the last to leave was a young man of just 17, nearly still a boy. He'd had to run away from his family, but when he saw the great city that had sprung up overnight on the coast, and the massive foundation already under construction, he knew he'd made the right decision.
His name was Aodan.