While the total domination of Elhal would take several years for the Demon King to achieve, the first month after the disposition of Emperor Arenth was a chaotic time, especially for those who lived in the Imperial District of Arelean. Arelean was the core of the corruption that would soon spread throughout the land.
For those in the Imperial District this was a terrifying time. People went missing frequently and executions, both public and private, were occurring daily. The Demon King had a plan for every institution in the Empire, as was witnessed while his reign spread over Arelean.
Today, I will detail the effects of the Demon King’s rise to power, and how it affected the various institutions of the Empire. I will also take a few minutes at the end of this lecture to tell you some of my own experiences during this harrowing time.
The Crumbling of the Empire
The days following the Final Proclamation of the Emperor Arenth were a time of chaos. The Proclamation was a legal document, but no one believed that the Emperor willingly made that decree. The reign of the Demons started with the Imperial Palace and spread to several key military forts around Arelean. Over the following days, Demon Soldiers began to appear in the towns and cities. There were orders for citizens to remain in their homes.
During that first week, the Demons sized every major route into and out of Arelean. They blocked all the major roads, and they shut down all the ports in the coastal cities. Holding those key areas, as well as having some troops free to handle any resistance, had used up all the Demons that Ebnus commanded.
That meant that there were not enough Demons to occupy all the towns and countryside of Arelean. This created opportunities for people to hide and escape. It also created a need for Ebnus to gather more subjects for the Demon Forge.
The Imperial Army
The Demon King ordered the Imperial Army stationed in Arelean to stand down. Despite the Proclamation, the Imperial soldiers did not obey the orders and resisted. The Demon King dispatched his own army to deal with the problem, and the Demon Soldiers, with their armored skin and their superior tactics and guidance from their Demon Knights and Lords, proved to be a potent fighting force. The Demons killed those Imperial soldiers who resisted. After a few days of fighting, most soldiers who remained had surrendered. The Demons rounded them up and took them to the Demon Forge.
There was a group of Imperial Soldiers who avoided a direct confrontation with the Demons, and instead fled into the countryside of Arelean. They were lead by Captain Hendengren who, having received word of the failed standoffs against the Demons, gathered his men and gave them the following message:
Brothers and Sisters, we have lost. The Demon King and his armies have seized our Emperor and our Empire. To stand and fight them now is only to embrace destruction. We must survive, taking with us the embers of the Empire, and shelter them. We must survive and grow, in number and in power. When we have done that, we will return to our lost land, and we will strike down the one who stole our Empire, and restore her to her glory.
One-hundred and twelve Imperial Soldiers fled into the countryside and hid. They kept their Imperial armor and they formed the first resistance to the Demons. These soldiers would become known as the Brotherhood of Steel. We will spend a lecture talking about the Brotherhood and their role in the Reign of the Demon King and in the Demon War.
The Curved Daggers
During The Fall, word quickly spread of the betrayal and murder of Master Danxtur. The remaining Curved Daggers vanished to avoid capture, and gathered in one of their secret locations to plan an assault on the Imperial Palace. They were not aware of the Ebon Blades, the demonized Daggers now under the control of the Demon King, who were privy to all their tactics and their secret locations.
As the Curved Daggers planned their assault, the Ebon Blades entered and a battle ensued. Many on both sides died and the surviving Curved Daggers fled. The Ebon Blades had thwarted the Daggers’ plans for killing the Demon King, and were now hunting them.
The Daggers, much like the Brotherhood of Steel, realized that it would be impossible to take Arelean by themselves. Instead the Daggers spread out and established a new spy network, collecting intelligence on the Demon armies. Several Daggers slipped out of Arelean, along secret trails known only to the Daggers, and sought out their brothers in the Four Kingdoms.
The Ebon Blades continued to hunt the Daggers. Their skirmishes, which lasted through the Demon War, were known as the War of Shadows; small battles which were fought almost exclusively in the shadows throughout the Fallen Empire.
The Church of the All-Father
When the Final Proclamation was made public, people flocked to the Church for guidance. The Church, who were adverse to meddling in politics, provided comfort and solstice for its people. At the same time, Father Berold attempted to appeal to the Demon King, but was ignored.
Berold wanted to send word to Ceradome for guidance, but the Demons had blocked all roads, halting any communication with the First Father. Berold turned to the All-Father for guidance, and prayed upon the situation. He realized that the Church had to take a stand. He sent word to the other Priests and Priestesses in Arelean, calling for them to all meet at Berold’s Cathedral.
The group met and discussed the current events and their situation. They came to a consensus that they would make a public statement opposing the Demon King and demanding him to step down. They would advise the people to not follow the Demon King and to resist his rule.
As they gathered in the Cathedral working on the wording of their statement, a group of Ebon Blades slipped into the rafters of the building. The priests were no match for these Demonic assassins. The Blades killed all the priests except one, a young woman named Indar. During that attack, Indar became the host of a Kiv’uli and became a Defender.
Indar fought off the Ebon Blades and fled the Cathedral. She made her way into the town square, and with an eloquence not before attributed to her, she spoke to the onlookers and damned the Demon King, calling for the people to resist. When she finished delivering her message, the Kiv’uli left her. One of the remaining Ebon Blades killed her with a thrown dagger, and she died a martyr in front of the crowds.
The people of the city rioted and clashed with the Demon Army. Despite their passion, the Demon Army was too much, and in three days the rioting ended at the cost of many humans and far less Demons. Word of Indar had spread though, and other towns began to resist, drawing the attention of the Demons.
The Guild Arcanas
The Guild Arcanas was an early target of the Demon Armies. After the Proclamation became public, the Guild locked their doors and raised a number of magical defenses. There were forty-five Mages in the Guild hall. Using their magic, they contacted other guild members in the Four Kingdoms to inform them what was happening. They remained sequestered for two weeks, until the Demon King was ready to deal with them.
The Demon King dispatched a group of Demon Lords, commanding several Knights and twenty soldiers to deal with the guild. The Demon Lords came equipped with crystals containing a green energy which the Lords could use to cast their own arcane magics. Their supply of crystals far exceeded the power of the 45 mages and soon the magical defense on the Guild Hall fell. When their defenses fell, the Demon Knights and soldiers charged and made quick work of the mages. The Demons slayed them all in the resulting battle.
When we talk more about the Demon Lords, we will talk about the source of those crystals with the green energy, and how it is related to the infernal Demon Forge.
The Imperial University
The Imperial University was the last standing institution in Arelean. For a month after the proclamation, the doors remained open and students congregated in the halls and classrooms discussing current events. Formal classes were rarely held nor attended. Rather, the students formed informal groups, gathering information and debating various ideas and actions.
After the Curved Daggers, the Guild Arcanis, and the Church had been dealt with, the Demon King turned his attention to the University. A group of Demon Lords commanding Knights and Soldiers came onto campus and gathered all the scholars and students.
On the main grounds, a Demon Lord named Belst announced that the Demons would be taking over the University, and would determine a new curriculum. All students were welcome to remain, though most left that day.
After they took over, the Demons closed numerous classes and disciplines including history and religious studies. They also raided the University’s vast collection of ancient texts and took those to to the Demon King, for his own personal collection.
Within two semesters, the University was devoid of any human scholars. The Demons used the facilities for their own studies and experiments. A decade after The Fall, the half-demon/half-human Fiends would occupy the grounds, for their formal education by the Demon faculty.
The Fiends are another group which we will detail in a future lecture. Their history is short, but they may be the most important race of modern times.
The Four Kingdoms
Shock spread through the Four Kingdoms at the news of the Final Proclamation and the crowning of the Demon King. The Kingdoms sent emissaries and spies to find out what was going on, but getting into Arelean was difficult. Slowly, word reached the four rulers of what had happened, mostly through the escaped Curved Daggers.
The Kingdoms, all recognizing that the Empire was gone, did what they could to defend themselves. They first took command of the Imperial Armies in their Kingdoms and made them into their own armies. They then positioned troops along the borders with Arelean.
The Imperial Dispatch still functioned and the rulers of the Four Kingdoms sent messages to one another, and alliances started to form. When word of Indar’s defiance and the massacre of the Guild reached the Kingdoms, there was no other choice. The Four Kingdoms vowed to go to war against the Demon King and Arelean.
My Own Experiences
I was a student at the Imperial Academy during The Fall. It was a terrifying time. Many of us had met Ebnus in person, while he was a resident at the University. It was hard to believe what had happened, and there was little information to work with. There were no fallen Demons to study, and the shutting down of the Imperial Dispatch within Arelean made acquiring knowledge difficult.
We spent much of our time speculating. We debated the merits of a Demon run world versus one run by free humans. We pretended that the shift in power was not world-ending, but rather just another historical note to which we had all become jaded, such that we treated events in history as small facts to be discussed and debated. We tried to ignore the people dying, and those sent to the Demon Forge. We talked ourselves blind.
That ended for me when the Demons took over the University. I packed my backpack and headed north to my hometown of Zir. Along the way I saw a group of former soldiers being lead to the Demon Forges, unaware of what would happen to them until much later. I remained in Zir for a few months, until I found a way to sneak into Kotkala where I would join the academic community at the University of Inkala. I would remain there until Inkala fell.
The days and weeks after the Fall of the Empire were terrifying for those trapped in Arelean. We were not prepared to defend the Empire from within. Those heroes who tried to defend the Empire were defeated by their own corrupt counterparts. In those early days, our pillars of Faith, Education, and Communication were closed off. The people of Arelean felt alone.
On the other side of the border, the Four Kingdoms rallied together in an attempt to save the Fallen Empire, an attempt that would fail from the outside, and worse from within.
In our next lecture we will talk about how the Four Kingdoms resisted the rule of the Demon King, and how they would eventually lose.