The Fall of the Empire
Today we are going to focus on the major events which we refer to as the Fall of the Empire. In its duration, the Fall lasted about six months. Having lived during the Fall, it was not clear at the beginning that the Empire was coming to an end, rather by the time the people of the Empire understood, it had already happened.
This lecture will be a mix of facts and my own personal stories about this time. The cold facts of the events are important, but the Fall was also something that happened to people you may know, and my own commentary will provide some insight about what that was like. You should not waste the opportunity to ask others my age as well. Depending on where you lived, experiences were different.
From our last lecture, the Ebon Man had won the support of General Vesden of the Imperial Army, and Master Danxtur of the Curved Daggers. Together the three worked to build the first Demon Forge and created the first Demon Soldiers under the guise of better defending the Empire.
With their combined forces and influence, it would have been possible, though not easy, for them to take the Empire by force. They did not. Rather they took a softer approach. They appealed to the Emperor.
What comes next was information I was able to gain from a fellow scholar, who worked within the Imperial Palace. I met him after the Fall, and only knew him as the Sage.
At some point in the Summer of 1023, the three met with the Emperor and showed him the Demon Soldiers, and explained to him their creation. Ebnus said that the procedure used to make the Soldiers was simple, with the goal of making a better foot-soldier. He went on to explain that he had more complex procedures which could make more powerful beings who were stronger, more intelligent, and could use arcane power.
This intrigued the Emperor, though he was also cautious. Creating something that powerful could be a danger to the Empire. (As we will see.) At the same time, the past few years worth of conflicts had made the Emperor realize that a stronger army would help deal with the rising threats to the Empire. He informed Ebnus, Vesden, and Danxtur that he would consider their proposal and inform them of how they should proceed.
Over the next few days, the Emperor met with his wife and thirteen children. He told them about what he had seen, and what it represented. The only people he trusted with this level of power would be his only family, and he wanted volunteers from his children to undergo Ebnus’ procedure.
There were several arguments between the Emperor and his wife. She was afraid of the power that Ebnus offered, and wanted the Emperor to stop Ebnus’ work at once. (Some suspect that as a religious scholar she saw the parallels to the Eon War). She even suggested that the Emperor have Ebnus executed by the Curved Daggers.
If only the Emperor had listened to his wife. It’s possible Ebnus would have defeated the Curved Daggers, but at least he would have been on the defensive.
The Emperor was not swayed by his wife’s passionate arguments and held firm. Among the children there was more debate. Of the thirteen, nine of the children sided with their father.
The Demon Princes
The Emperor presented his nine children to Ebnus. Ebnus took them to the caves and placed them into the Demon Forge. There, Ebnus used his powers to transform the Emperor’s children. When they emerged from the chambers, they were Demon Princes. The Princes were each over ten feet tall, with armored skin and glowing yellow eyes. As promised, they were intelligent and skilled in the shaping of arcane power, though unable to use their own essence to create magic.
The Princes had more autonomy than the Soldiers, and each Prince had their own personality. They were able to command the Demon Soldiers mentally, uniting the soldiers movements into a potent fighting force. And, as with the Demon Soldiers, the Princes were also under the power of the Ebon Man.
A quick note about about the title Prince. The nine children of the Emperor who subjected themselves to the transformation were not all male, four of the nine were female. Demons, much like Ebnus, have no gender nor did any of the four girls keep any feminine traits after the transformation. Because of that, we use the default male term of Prince for these creatures.
The Demon Army
The Emperor was pleased with the results of the Princes, and more impressed with the innate ability of the Princes to command the Demon Soldiers as a fighting Force. Then word came of an Orc incursion in Southern Vaasari. The Emperor dispatched two of the Princes along with the Demon Soldiers to protect the Empire.
The attack on the Orcs was a total success. The Orcs were routed before they could send any slaves back to their empire. Only a few Demon Soldiers were lost, but the Orc force was totally destroyed. This convinced the Emperor that an army of Demons was needed.
He authorized Ebnus to create a larger facility to create more Demons. In the plains of northeast Arelean, the new facility was built. Ebnus used the Demon Soldiers, the Princes, and his own arcane ability to construct the facility in just weeks.
The Emperor, through Vesden, commanded soldiers to undergo the process. In the course of a month, the Demon Forge created thousands of Demons. Ebnus also created several different types of Demons, including the Demon Knight, who could command units of Demons, and the Demon Lord, who could command groups of Knights. In addition, a smaller number of Curved Daggers underwent the process and were transformed into what we know now as the Ebon Blades. The fields outside of the Forge began to fill with Demons.
This did not go unnoticed, and word spread of this mysterious building and the creatures surrounding it. In the winter of 1022, the rulers of the four Kingdoms and the Church of the All-Father sent representatives to the Emperor to get an explanation of what was happening.
On the 18th of Hearthlight of 1022, The Emperor invited the delegation to the Imperial Palace. The Emperor along with Ebnus, Vesden, and Danxtur met with the delegation to discuss the Demons. There was a demonstration of their abilities and a chance for the delegation to meet the different types of Demons.
The Delegation was not won over. They demanded that the Emperor end the transformations and destroy the Forge. The negative reaction disappointed the Emperor. He considered for a moment the idea of shutting everything down, but before the Emperor could give his final decision, Ebnus acted.
At his command, the Demons sized the Imperial Palace, killing all the human guards. Ebnus ordered the the Demons to kill the Delegation. He told the Emperor, Vesden and Danxtur that there was no turning back. For the protection of the Empire, all dissent needed to be eliminated. That could only be done by conquering the Four Kingdoms.
The Emperor, Vesden, and Danxtur were shocked. Their plans for the Demon armies were for preserving the Empire, not to conquer the Kingdoms. They tried to stop Ebnus, but they were outnumbered. Vesden was killed by Ebnus in a sword fight. Danxtur tried to get the Emperor to safety, but was eventually cornered and killed. The Emperor was captured, now a prisoner of Ebnus and the Demon Princes.
At the same time as the coup was occurring, the army at the Demon Forge moved out to capture and hold key areas of Arelean. Overnight they captured the soldiers in numerous outposts and fortresses, and took them to the Demon Forge to be transformed.
The Emperor’s Last Proclamation
Ebnus had the Emperor issue one final proclamation. In it, the Emperor declared that Ebnus was the new and rightful ruler of the Empire. It declared that Ebnus was the best leader to protect the Empire. He encouraged the rulers of the four Kingdoms to recognize Ebnus’ rule and ally themselves under his banner.
The Proclamation was sent through the Imperial Dispatch to all ends of the Empire. During the days it took to travel, the Demon Army, under Ebnus’ command, solidified its hold on Arelean.
On the 23rd of Hearthlight in 1022, Ebnus proclaimed himself the Demon King.
While the Fall happened in the course of a few days, it would be much longer before Ebnus would get what he wanted; the subjugation of the Four Kingdoms. For some Kingdoms the Fall would come quicker than others. For some Kingdoms the Fall would be more bloody than others.
In the days following the Proclamation, there was a strange calm; a shock of sorts. For the most part, things remained normal. The Imperial University was open, and people went to the Church to worship. While the Demons were strange creatures, they began to blend into the background. The people of Arelean did not want to confront the idea of having just been conquered by a foreign force.
Some of the overly-optimistic questioned if there was any concern at the change in power. They would be proven wrong sooner than they thought.
In our next session, we will look at the time just after the Fall, focusing on some of the important groups and organizations which were the closest to the Fall. We will then look at how each Kingdom reacted to Ebnus’ rule.