The Prelude to the Fall
It is hard for me to remain an objective educator for these next few lectures. Despite the years that have passed, the Fall of the Empire is a time which remains etched into my mind. It is a time when all we as Humans had built was toppled. There is a certain feeling of loss, when a foreign force conquers another: powerless and defeated. That feeling would be more bearable than what had happened. Rather than the Empire being conquered, we handed it, and all of Humanity, over to a monster.
The Arrival of Ebnus
After his discovery in the central Stammiglin mountains by the University expedition, Ebnus traveled to Arelean to the Imperial University for study. Word of Ebnus had traveled to all the major Universities in Elhal, and scholars from all the Kingdoms came to meet the Ebon Man.
For days the scholars subjected Ebnus to various exams. Overall, the intensive study revealed little useful information about Ebnus’ origin. The scholars learned a few rudimentary facts:
- Ebnus had no gender, nor any way to reproduce. Based on his deeper voice and lack of any traits that are common in human women, Ebnus was classified as male.
- His skin was metallic but elastic, providing him some degree of armor.
- He could see in the dark with his glowing eyes.
- He was stronger than an average human.
- He could eat, but did not require it for survival.
- He did not need to sleep, but was able to mediate.
The scholars concluded that Ebnus was not of any known species on Elhal. He was unique, and they speculated that he may be one of the lost races from the Eon War.
I was at the Imperial University during this time, and was in a lecture hall during one of Ebnus’ examinations. He was polite and a willing subject. He would casually joke with the scholars, and in some ways seemed quite charming. This of course was exactly what he wanted.
Ebnus was then taken to the Guild of Arcanis where the Mages took their turn to study him. They were unable to learn much beyond what was already known. They did discover that Ebnus could manipulate arcane power if in the presence of a Mage, but was unable to summon or cast any magic in the absence of a Mage.
Looking back, I suspect that the Mages were unable to learn anything because Ebnus was manipulating and blocking their magics. As for Ebnus’ ability to manipulate magic from an existing source of power, we will soon learn the terrible length he would go to obtain that power.
After word of Ebnus’ arrival had reached the Church, they began extensive research to find any reference to Ebnus in their library. They too fell short, and could not find any reference to anyone like the Ebon Man. The First Father made a trip to Arelean, at the request of Father Berold, the head priest of Arelean.
The First Father traveled from Ceradome to see the Ebon Man. He met with Ebnus and they spoke for several days. When he left, the First Father gave Ebnus a book of the Sacred Scrolls for him to learn more about the All-Father.
Again in hindsight, Ebnus was cunning enough to avoid traveling to Ceradome. Had he tried to enter the city, the Seal of Ceradome would have prevented him, if not destroyed him outright.
Making the Rounds
After the scholars, mages, and the First Father had studied Ebnus, they had no reason to hold him; none could find evidence that he was a threat. By law, he was free to go about his way. As such a novelty, those with power welcomed him into their circles. Before he could step off the grounds of the University, Princess Onina (23rd in succession) welcomed him into her home, providing him a place to live, and introduced Ebnus to her circles.
For the next year, Ebnus attended the University as a student; to learn more about Elhal and this new world. He studied history, humanities, and engineering. He was naturally intelligent and discovered a talent for public speaking.
Outside of University, Ebnus continued to learn our culture. Princess Onina opened many doors for Ebnus. He learned swordsmanship from General Vesden, Arcane Principles from the Archmage Isbor, and Father Berold schooled him in the ways of the All-Father.
In that first year, Ebnus received an invitation to meet with the Emperor. Arenth and Ebnus became quick friends. Over the course of a year their friendship grew. In short time, Arenth began to discuss the politics of the Empire with Ebnus, who impressed the Emperor with his insight and council.
In 1022, Arenth invited Ebnus to be part of his council and join the other diplomats and scholars. Ebnus became involved in the day-to-day governing of the Empire.
Looking back, it is almost comical how the Emperor invited the wolf into his home to sit by the hearth with his children. I cannot believe that Ebnus was able to accomplish this by charm alone. More likely, he was using some kind of power to make himself appear so favorable and likable. The end result was the same, Ebnus became a trusted friend and advisor.
This next part is more speculation on my part than it is hard facts. This comes from what details I was able to piece together during the Fall from those few people who survived. It is something I continue to research today.
During his time as counsel to the Emperor, and his involvement in the social circles of the royal court, Ebnus began to seed the Fall of the Empire.
The first to fall under the sway of Ebnus was General Vesden, his martial instructor. The General, like the Emperor, was more militant than diplomatic, and Ebnus was likely able to appeal to his desires to bring the Empire’s enemies to his knees. He would do this by proposing a way to make a better Imperial Soldier. This new soldier would require some materials and volunteers. The General was in a position to provide this for Ebnus in the form of ebon ore from Monatobe, and volunteers in the form of soldiers.
Ebnus had located a set of caves not far from the Imperial Capital, likely from his studies at University. In those caves, he created the first of the Demon Forges. It would be a small forge, one that was sufficient for converting up to ten individuals.
Ebnus then used General Vesden to meet Master Danxtur, the head of the Curved Daggers. Together Ebnus and Vesden would convince Danxtur to join the cause. Ebnus must have promised Danxtur something similar to what he proposed Vesden: a way to make a better Curved Dagger. The three formed a cabal, under the guise of providing greater protection for the Empire.
As mentioned in the last lecture, the attacks of the Orcs, the Giants, and the Oran Insurgence had made the military concerned about its ability to defeat the next attack on the Empire. It must not have been hard for Ebnus to have convinced them to join his plan. They both had their concerns about defending the Empire.
The Birth of the Demons
Ebnus completed construction of the first Demon Forge and began to test it using soldiers as his subjects. It must have taken time and numerous dead test subjects, but eventually Ebnus was able to create the first Demon Soldier.
From what we know from the Archmage Severis, the Demon Forge is a terrible magical device. Subjects are strapped into its chamber, and then their souls, their essence, is ripped from their bodies. The essence is then used to fuel a magical spell which takes raw ebon ore and infuses it into the soulless-bodies, transforming them into Demons. Then the Demon King implants a part of his essence into the soulless body to give it life and a basic intelligence.
In the caves, Ebnus created the first Demon soldiers. They were stronger than a human soldier, they had the same armored skin as Ebnus, and were able to see in the dark. They did not feel fear nor pain, they did not sleep, and they did not eat. They were easy to train, and became adept soldiers in a short amount of time. They were just what Ebnus promised, and both Vesden and Danxtur must have been pleased with the results. What Ebnus did not tell the two, was that the Demon Soldiers were totally loyal to Ebnus.
Pleased with the results, Vesden and Danxtur each provided more soldiers and Daggers to undertake the process. Soon, the caves filled with with Demons: Ebnus’ army.
After we complete the series of lectures about the Fall, we will take a break from history lectures, and I will focus some time looking at the biology of the various Demon castes.
Ebnus appeared to be a lost and confused artifact from a past time, stumbled upon by a scholarly expedition. In truth, Ebnus was anything but innocent. He slowly earned the favor of those in power, and in two years, assembled a power base necessary to topple an Empire. He had one last ally to win over… The Emperor.
In our next discussion we will discuss the Fall of the Empire, and Ebnus’ rise to power.