The three kingdoms were always slightly suspicious of one another. Rumors spread about the Styrenesians, claiming that they had a hidden technology far greater than any in the other kingdoms. Thaelbracuna supposedly had been stockpiling arms. Some claimed that Hierdelicia's citizens were hoarding food for themselves. In a cruel twist of fate, famine, drought, and a volcanic eruption suddenly struck the land, leaving Annesia severely crippled. Tensions suddenly skyrocketed, and rumor became fact, as each king tried to keep their people from dying. They argued almost nonstop, their outrage echoing through their halls.
"Aescar, I know you're hoarding food! My people are starving, while yours grow fat!" Bryne shouted, his eyes searing into a man whom he once considered a friend.
"If you want food, then give us tools to grow it!" Aescar growled.
"Half of our forges were completely destroyed, and many of our mines collapsed in the eruption! What do you expect us to do, pull them out of thin air? Besides, so many of us are homeless, we need all of the tools for building new shelters to live in." He pounded the table with his fists.
"Would you two bumbling fools cut it out? Arguing will get us no where. We have to think of a solution to the problem, not cause more of them!" Eard disdainfully stated.
"Why, when you already have what we need?" Bryne accused, looking very pleased by what he thought was a stroke of genius.
Eard rolled his eyes. "Then why in the world haven't I used my 'miracle machine' to fix my own kingdom's issues?"
"Because it would fix it for all of us, and you want to extort us for everything you desire!"
Now it was Aescar who rolled his eyes. "Do you even think about what you're going to say before it comes out of your mouth?"
"Finally, at least one of you came to your senses," Eard said.
"Again, with the thinking! Enough thinking, it's time to act!"
"If we act without thought, then regret undoubtedly will come of it." Aescar replied, his usual stoic demeanor now beginning to return.
"We've been thinking for far too long," he replied, now eerily calm, "and I have a better idea than either of you have ever had."
He suddenly lunged toward the center of the table, reaching for the Diamond of Unity, an animalistic gleam in his eye. He shouted at the top of his lungs, "Fire!"
Someone else outside echoed him, followed by another voice, further away.
"What have you done?" Eard said, in a near whisper. His eyes grew wide, in horror.
In seconds, cannon fire and the explosive thundering of the cannon balls' impacts had filled the city.
"I never thought I'd actually have to do this," Eard tearfully whispered. Clutching his sapphire pendant, he recited a spell that he had learned as a child. Then he yelled, "Code white, target is...Bryne. Just, please don't kill him." From the shadows and dark alleys all across Oristalis, Styrenesian operatives appeared, surging towards the castle.
At first, Aescar merely stood in place, too overwhelmed to react. He finally came to his senses and realized that he needed to somehow get the Diamond away from Bryne. He tackled him to the ground, grappling for it. "Help, Eard!" Aescar begged, knowing that he could not win a physical fight with Bryne.
Eard's reinforcements flooded into the room, and quickly seized both the Diamond and Bryne.
"I knew you had a secret army in the city!," Bryne accused, "you filthy liar!" He writhed in the soldiers' grips, to no avail.
"Eard, why? Did you really not trust us?" Aescar questioned, "Didn't you trust me?"
"Of course I trust you. The contingency plan wasn't even meant to be used on you. It was in case a citizen stole the Diamond. Besides, the plan was required by the military. I didn't want it!"
"This is so typical of you Styrenesians," Bryne spat.
"If anyone here is a traitor, it's you," Eard said, pointedly, "Aescar, I think you know what we have to do."
The soldiers formed a circle around the three kings. Eard and Aescar stood side by side, facing their maddened friend.
In unison, Aescar and Eard said, "King Bryne of Thaelbracuna, you have committed treason, by endangering the nation of Annesia. You are permanently stripped of all authority and citizenship in Annesia, and you are exiled. Should you return, the law enforcement is instructed to kill you on sight." By the end of their decree, both were weeping.
"Goodbye, dear friend. I sincerely hope that you find a good life, wherever you go," Eard whispered. Aescar simply cried silently, unable to find words to explain how he felt.
Bryne once again shouted, but this time, the command was to retreat.
Aescar turned to Eard, wiped away his tears, and pathetically whispered, "I'm sorry, but I can't take any chances with citywide violations of privacy."
"Please, Aescar, don't do this to me! I swear on my life, it wasn't my decision!"
Aescar shook his head, defeated. He addressed the soldiers directly. All of you, along with King Eard, and your associates, are charged with treason, for violating the privacy of the citizens of Annesia, and for unauthorizoed deployment of military within the Crystalinian borders. You are stripped of all authority and citizenship in Annesia, and you are exiled. Should you return, the law enforcement has been instructed to kill you on sight."
The soldiers were now angrily shouting at the only remaining king of their nation, and began to swarm around him. They were suddenly cut off by a horrific crack. Everyone in the room turned to the source of the noise, to find what had once been the Diamond of Unity, now shattered into three equally sized gems: a ruby, an emerald, and a sapphire.
All around them, the whole world seemed to begin shaking violently, exploding with a deafening rumble. The roof began caving in. As the crowd erupted in panic, the three ex kings of Annesia rushed to pick up the shards of the symbol and source of power for their tattered nation. As soon as Bryne, having escaped the soldiers in the chaos, had snatched up the ruby, he fled. Waving goodbye a friend he wound never see again, Eard grabbed the sapphire, and ran as well. Aescar took up the final remaining crystal, charging out into a city that no longer resembled Oristalis.
The dead, killed by both the earthquake and the Thaelbracunan assault, were strewn throughout the streets and collapsed buildings. Behind him, the castle began to implode. Rubble laid where there had once been striking and massive buildings. He raced through the carnage, trying to focus on surviving, so he could lead his kingdom. When he had finally escaped the city, he turned to find that it had begun to sink. Entire sections of the enormous city were being swallowed up in sinkholes, which grew larger with every passing second.
His old life was gone, his country divided, and his closest friends exiled. He watched through tear-soaked eyes, as Oristalis was devoured by the ground itself. He held in his hand one of the only remnants of a country that had gone from being the most powerful in the world, to literally nonexistent.