The district of Hertany, a Rethan-owned territory on the neutral world of Portalia, had once been a bustling agricultural area, taking advantage of the planet’s lush, varied climate in order to grow crops that would be ill-suited on other worlds. These lands boasted a fairly large population of Rethavok who worked closely with the nearby Ksithan, Temthan and Skyan populations. But in the space of just a couple of days, the entire district had emptied out, only for a tiny trickle of Rethan population to return.
With almost no one around to maintain the district, its control had briefly been handed to the nearby Ksithan district of Vriskera, only to be handed back to one of the few beings capable of actually looking after the city. Tenuk was originally meant to rule as leader of a faraway empire, but had abandoned his position as heir to the Kronospast throne to do, well, literally anything else. For decades, he had lived as a Rethavok, until suddenly he could do so no more.
Now, Tenuk was running a ghost city. Out of the population of 10,000 who had left, none of them had returned. The Rethans that had come to Hertany were from anywhere but Hertany, having fled their homes with nothing but their own sanity. From Tenuk’s initial headcounts, there were about a hundred Rethavok now living in Hertany, most of whom were seeking shelter in the city hall, unwilling to take what had been abandoned. Tenuk had poured all his effort and a large amount of his Kronospast fortune into providing these ‘free-minded’ Rethavok with food and warmth, while everyone else worked out what to do.
In fact, over the last few days, Tenuk hadn’t stopped working at all. Now, nearly two weeks after the Voidlord’s takeover, was the first time Tenuk had managed to stop and take a breather.
Of course, his break had to be ruined by someone else interrupting him. Well, in this case it was a call from one of the few beings Tenuk hated almost as much as the Voidlord.
“Why are you bothering me?” Tenuk almost growled as he answered the call. “You aren’t going to tell me to come back home, are you?”
“I am, yes. Tahnahos, you could be doing so much more by my side.”
The being on the other end of the line was Lord Avra, the emperor of the Kronospasts, and Tenuk’s father.
“Do we really have to go through this again?”
“I would like to go through this again, yes. You are slaving away for another race that would call you an exile and a traitor.”
Tenuk sighed. “They would only call me that now because 99% of them are being mind-controlled by an enemy deity. You wanted me to protect the Kronospasts from the dangers of the enemy deities, well, I am doing that right now by providing shelter for the poor 1% fuckers that aren’t mind-controlled.”
“And how is that helping us?”
“You don’t think that keeping strong ties with the unfortunate is helping us? Typical. I bet the mighty Whenvern would approve of my actions. And disapprove of the Voidlord’s actions.”
“You are correct there, son…” Avra’s voice sounded tired. They both knew Avra was getting old and wouldn’t be able to rule forever. “I just wish you showed the same love and care towards your own, rather than towards these others.”
“The Rethans have always treated me well and not forced me to do anything against my will. They also don’t experiment on their own. Uh, most of the time.”
Avra sighed wearily. “I cannot convince you. But I can offer… some support, I assume. Finances and food. Does that sound good?”
Tenuk hesitated, trying to hide his surprise, then simply not bothering. “You… are offering help?”
“As you said, the Whenvern would be pleased with your actions. I do not want to incur the Voidlord’s wrath, Dragonborn protection or otherwise, but I could send some secretive assistance your way, at least to cover for the next month or so until things settle down.”
“That… that would be… fantastic…” Tenuk was lost for words. “Thank you…”
“I would like something in return though.”
“Of course you do. What is it?”
“I would like you to visit at some point. Just a quick visit. To catch up. As a father and son would.”
Tenuk shrugged. That was a far smaller request than he had expected. “That’s fine. I need to get things sorted out here first though.”
“Understandable. I wish you luck.”
The line suddenly went dead. For some reason, Avra had always ended calls like that. Normally, Tenuk would have been annoyed, but as far as he was concerned, he was getting something good out of all of this.
A knock on the door distracted Tenuk, causing him to spin round. He swiftly opened the door up, revealing a familiar face.
“Heya…” Kohra gasped, having just leaped up a flight of stairs. “Dad called… Said he was going to call you… I wanted to warn you…”
Tenuk smiled, patting Kohra on the shoulder. “Thanks, bro. We’ll deal with dad later though, we have work to do.”
“Can I catch my breath first?”