The Twilight of the Empire
Welcome again, faithful students. We are going to jump ahead now, skip over the bulk of the Imperial Age and look at the time before its Fall, referred to as the Twilight of the Empire. We are going to start by setting the stage, looking at the Empire and its Last Emperor.
The State of the Empire
The Twilight period of the Empire starts in the year 1000. The Empire has been in existence for a thousand years. During that time it has seen an extended period of prosperity, punctuated with the occasional conflict, both internal and external. Overall, the Empire was a shining tribute to the vision of First Mother and Regent, Kinera.
In this period, there is an extensive road system, which connects all four Kingdoms to each other and to the Imperial District. These roads facilitated both trade and communication. In all the Kingdoms, there are active ports and trade occurring along all the shorelines of every country. The Imperial Army has patrols through all the civilized areas, and outposts watching the more remote locations.
During this time, early education is formalized, and every citizen above the age of ten receives a basic education. The Universities have flourished, and welcome those who seek higher learning.
It is at this time that I am enrolled at the Imperial University.
The Guild of Arcanis is the source of arcane study, and Mages who graduate from the Guild often go into service of the Empire. While people are not comfortable with Magic, it’s understood that the Guild is not any threat to the Empire, and is working to make the Empire a better place.
In this time, the study of medicine has become formalized and taught in the Universities. Several healing schools have formed and many injuries and diseases become things which are treatable. In addition, the study of Healing Magics by the Guild have allowed for curing more serious wounds and ailments. Due to the limitation in the number of Mages, access to greater healing magic is quite limited.
The Church remains a spiritual constant and guide. In the Twilight of the Empire, the Church is ubiquitous in Elhal. There are temples in the smallest villages and cathedrals in the capitals. By this time there are numerous festivals held in the honor of the All-Father. Nearly all people are worshipers of the All-Father, and attend the church on a regular basis.
The Last Emperor
In the year 998, Arenth son of Vornald became Emperor after his father had passed from old age. Arenth was thirty years old, and married to Thress Mosom, an Arleanin. Arenth and Thress had seven children when Arenth ascended to the throne. They would have six more children over the next 10 years.
Today the idea of having a family that large seems to be mad, but in those days the Emperor was expected to keep the Imperial line intact, and so having a large family was critical and taken quite seriously. Also the Imperial Family had scores of servants, nurses, and tutors to tend to the children. This made raising a family of this size possible.
Arenth was a trained soldier, a graduate of the Imperial Academy. He had a reputation for having a sharp mind for military tactics. He never served outside of Arlean due to his position to the throne, but he was well respected by the Imperial Army. Thress was a scholar, having studied at the University, focusing on early Church History.
Arenth was a strong Emperor, but at times too heavy handed. Years in the Imperial Academy had given him a warrior’s mind, at the cost of diplomacy. He was complemented, however, by a group of diplomats and scholars. It was their job to temper Arenth’s harsher solutions, and they often came to words over decisions. They had limited success, but enough to make him a fair ruler.
Arenth brought the Empire into its millennium in relative peace, and was able to maintain the continuing prosperity. Like his father, Arenth was not interested in making his own mark on Elhal, and worked to maintain the Empire in its glory.
My own feeling at this time was that Arenth was a capable Emperor, who had nothing but love for the Empire. His speeches sounded more like a General addressing his troops, rather than an Emperor addressing his subjects. His love and dedication for Elhal was never in question.
Times of Unrest
Shortly after the millennium, Elhal faced a series of minor conflicts. None of them were serious, nor were they suspiciously close together. I only make mention of them to foreshadow events that are to come.
In 1013, there was a rash of attacks by Orcs on the eastern coast of Kotkala. These attacks focused on the coastal towns, and resulted in the capture of Kotkalan’s to be used as slaves in the Orc homelands.
We have not yet discussed the Orcs. Their homeland is to the East of Elhal, across the ocean. Orc’s have mastered navigation and sailing, and throughout Elhal’s history come to Elhal to capture people for slavery.
The Empire dealt with the raids in a straightforward manner. It dispatched more troops to the region as well as mobilized a coastline naval defense. There were several battles, but the Imperial Army turned away the Orcs each time. Within the year, the raids had needed. While the Empire was successful, the Orcs captured 400 citizens and killed another 200.
The Oran Insurgency
In 1015, a Monatobean man named Oran organized a large group of bandits and moved south attacking small villages and sacking caravans traversing the desert. The Bandits clashed several times with the Imperial Army, but they always retreated or evaded capture.
The Imperial Army dispatched more troops to the area to assist, and cornered the bandits in a series of canyons. That was when Oran revealed he was a Mage. Oran used his illegal arcane power to enchant his troops, and decimated the Imperial Army.
Rather than send more troops, the Empire took a different approach with Oran. They dispatched a set of Curved Daggers. The Daggers tracked Oran back to his stronghold in the foothills of Stammiglin. They infiltrated the compound and killed him as he slept, leaving their signature weapon, the Curved Dagger, in the body. Two days later the Imperial Army positioned itself outside the stronghold, and the bandits surrendered. After a quick trial, the bandits were executed.
The decision to use the Curved Daggers was Emperor Arenth’s, sending a specific message to any other possible insurgents.
The Curved Daggers are another future topic. They are the Royal Assassins of the Emperor, whose function is to protect the Empire. They still exist today.
In 1018, the Imperial University had requested permission from the King of Stammiglin to do some geological surveys of the Central Mountain range. This range was near the home of the Giants, but in the lands held by Stammiglin. There had not been a Giant sighting in over 50 years, so permission was granted. Several university expeditions began to explore and obtain samples from mountains in the region.
The expeditions attracted the attention of the Giants. They sent war parties to attack nearby Imperial Outposts. The Emperor, at the behest of his advisors, dispatched a group of diplomats, including the Emperor’s sister, Immos. The diplomats entered the region and the Giants attacked and killed them all, including Immos. This enraged the Emperor, who ordered a large force of the Imperial Army into the region to fortify all outposts, and to organize patrols to hunt and kill all Giants.
The Imperial army was successful and the attacks of the Giants ceased. The Army fortified the border, and began to escort the University expeditions so that they could complete their work.
The Discovery of the Ebon Man
In 1021, one of the University Expeditions made a startling discovery. While spelunking one of the cave systems collecting samples, they came upon a sealed chamber. When they opened the chamber, they found a single humanoid man sitting on a stone bench. His skin was ebon in color, had no hair, and glowing yellow eyes. He had no name.
Ebon is an inert metal found in the mountains of Stammiglin. It is a dark brown with tones of black. The metal is difficult to smelt and work. At that time, it was considered to be a useless ore when found in mines.
The Soldiers were wary of the man, but the Scholars on the expedition insisted to speak with him. To their surprise, the man was able to converse in our tongue. He claimed not to know who he was or how he came to be sealed in the chamber. While his lack of background was suspicious, his demeanor was calming and trustworthy.
The Ebon man was clearly lying. It is doubtful that the soldiers there could have killed the Ebon Man, but had they, our present would be vastly different.
They brought the Ebon Man, whom they named Ebnus, back to one of the Outposts. There, they dispatched word to the Imperial University of their find. The scholars of the University speculated that Ebnus might be one of the lost races from the Eon War. The University sent word to bring Ebnus to Arelean, at once.
The discovery of the Ebon Man beneath the mountain was the event which would lead to the Fall of the Empire. Our prosperity, advances in education, and a strong military opened the gates for the end of the Empire and plunged Elhal into a time as dark as the Eon War.
Ebnus was not solely responsible for the Fall of the Empire. There would be others, starting with Emperor Arenth.
In our next lecture, we will look at the relationship between Ebnus and Emperor Arenth, and see how it lead to the Fall of the Empire.