The Fall of the Altrian Empire

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Note: The Following History is Unofficial and although based on the LS Timeline it isn't in accepted canon. It was also written previous to the release of the new maps, and a key element of the Fall being the Conclave has since been removed from the official timeline. Still... enjoy

The Fall of the Altrian Empire – A Summary.

Sire, I do wish you would find the time to read all twelve volumes, however at your command I have had one of my students, Gavadel of Amber write up a summary of the most important events and some interpretations as you commanded. – Your obedient servant Hardrad of Jhan


Volume 1 Foundation and Growth

The Altrian Empire was the last and greatest of the civilisations Aedaris has ever seen. The Istax Empire and the Bubasti Kingdom were centuries dead when Prince Aleksandr of Altri dreamed his dream of One Hand guiding the destiny of the peoples of Almeria. One Emperor, One Justice, serving the highest to the lowest. On the Field of Dorian he took that first step towards that dream and the Altrian Empire was born.

For six and a half centuries the Empire grew, until it enfolded all the Northlands, Almeria and Avalon. Elves, dwarves, phaethon, humans, yeti, deryni and others were included in it’s populace. Her two military forces, the Knights of the Emperor’s Hand and the Knights of the Emperor’s Fist were welcomed everywhere as keepers of the peace and the heralds of justice. The Knight’s of the Palm were charged with the protection of every citizen and traveller within the Golden Land and for the first two centuries fought long and hard in keeping the goblin and orc hordes in check. The Knight’s of the Emperor’s Fist were his shock troops, used for policing the borders and along with the Imperial Guard in taking the battle to Altria’s enemies. Banditry steadily decreased and eventually kept to almost zero, first because of the risk in confronting the Knight’s of the Palm and secondly because conditions within the Empire improved to the point that few had need to take up that risky trade.

The first three centuries of the Empire are now seen as the period of real vitality. The dream was still fresh, the people believed in Aleksandr’s vision and even those who were conquered found their lives were better under the protection of the Golden Throne and the first Emperor’s dream of Justice were more than just hollow words. This time was the finest hour of the Knights of the Fist and saw their Grand Master as one of the Emperor’s closest advisors. However even during the Empire’s birth, the seeds were sown that eventually would lead to her destruction.

Volume 2 Discordianism and the Deryni

Although no direct connection has ever been made, it is curious that two of the most direct reasons that led to the Empire’s destruction were both first recorded during the third century of the Empire’s growth and both within twenty years of one another. Worship of Eris by humanity can be traced back millennia however it is around AA 230 that there is confirmed evidence of an ‘organised’ discordianism, with a High Priestess and followers from all ranks of the Empire. It is important at this point to note that it can be dangerous to overstate the influence of Eris. Although widespread, the overall percentage of discordianism must be kept low, even if we double our suspected figures, it would still leave the vast majority of the Empire worshiping Tyr and Yehovah. Some other minor gods were also worshiped and during this period the Emperor Edwurd II encouraged religious tolerance. Fifty years after the first records of discordianism there is a court census which lists Berefin of House Mergriffon as a member of the Legion of Dynamic Discord shows that the Legion had already began to form by around AA 280 and included some nobility in it’s ranks.

The first confirmed existence of the deryni is from around AA 250 although it’s possible that they had been in existence for sometime beforehand and indeed it has long been suspected that Zoltar the Invincible was deryni rather than human and he had led Sanctuary in it’s battle against Aleksandr more than two centuries earlier. Some would go as far as to suggest that Zoltar was the first true deryni and point to evidence that the deryni first appear in region of Sanctuary two and a half centuries later although they soon spread throughout the Empire.

The biggest problem facing the deryni was their powerful gifts, fortunately perhaps for the human parents they are also a peaceloving people, yet their tremendous abilities would eventually instil fear and jealousy in their human kin. First and most noted in history of the age the deryni far outstripped their human kin in the magickal arts. Although some talented pure-strain humans could rival some of the deryni the greatest wielder of magicks were always the deryni themselves and they in time came to rival even the elves.

However the greatest gift of that race was (and is) their psychic abilities. Humanity have developed some psychic talents since time began it seems, however these gifts were sporadic at best and only a small percentage ever developed any of the these talents and fewer still developed them to any real strength. It seemed to be with the opposite with the deryni; it was a rare deryni indeed who didn’t develop at least one talent in his life time and most were far stronger than their human counterparts, some would even go on to develop two or even three talents, unheard of for humanity at large.

Fortunately in the first centuries of their existence their numbers were extremely low and they were little noticed within the Empire as a whole and when they were they were more than often only too happy to serve and train for the Emperor’s service for any of the roles for which they were suited, especially as Imperial Magicians.

Volume 3 Empire and Magicks.

Due to records kept by the elves we know that however skilled they would eventually become in the arts, it was a human, Hermes Trismegistos almost 47,000 years ago who first laid down the basic principles of magick, drawing upon energies inherent in the planar structure of our universe to produce wondrous effects. It is perhaps in the Order of the Winged Serpent that human magicians reached their peak in that art if the fractured stories and legends that have survived from the Graecan era are to be believed. Magick has been with humanity since before the beginnings of their own civilisations or records began.

However it is from the time of the late third and early fourth centuries of the Altrian Empire that ‘modern’ magick was born. Over the centuries some of the Hermetic Tradition had been taken and specialised from it’s original haphazard concepts into something more focussed and powerful which gave rise to the modern orders (modern in the sense of recent historically even if some of these ‘modern’ orders are no longer in existence).

In AA 310 these recently formed Orders of the various magick arts came together after four years of intensive negotiations at the behest of the Emperor Danyel I and his Court Enchanter Magius the Red to form the Conclave. The Conclave was created for the purpose of furthering magickal knowledge and presenting a common respectable front to non-mages. It was also charged with policing the magickal community, both those within the Order and without.

After the first century of their existence their influence stretched into all areas of the Empire and some of the greatest wonders of that Age (or any other) were created not by any one Order but by spells and artefacts that had these different magicks working together in unison. It should be noted that even during the founding era of the Conclave the deryni made up a higher than proportional numbers of the various magickal orders.

Volume 4 The Golden Age

Although the real vitality of the Empire were it’s first three centuries, the Golden Age of the Golden Throne was to be the next four. The empire continued to grow, albeit slowly, wars were rare and civil unrest even moreso. The Empire was undeniably a force for Good and Justice, embodied in it’s two military forces, the Knights of the Emperor’s Palm who worshipped Yehovah and the Knights of the Emperor’s First, followers of Tyr. Both proved a check on the other and together with the Conclave represented the most obvious manifestations of the Emperor’s will. This Golden Age was punctured only by the Thirteen Years of the Dragon and considering the sheer force of the threat it is a testament to the Conclave that their combined magicks were able to defeat her binding her under Centaur Isle. For the Conclave, after thirteen years of battle, failure, research, loss and experimentation it was their Golden Hour of this Golden Age.

The quality of life for the average citizen was also very high. The justice system put in place by Aleksandr I and refined by his successors was the wonder of any age where a farmer could hold a duke accountable to the law and win without any repercussions. Even Danyel III abdicated when charged and found guilty of a crime the records do no make clear. Magicks and Magickal devices, although still expensive were within the reach of even the commonest of men and if a citizen could read then cheaper still scrolls of power were available at low cost. Spells that would help with livestock, crops and illness. Their were scrolls to deal with any known disease or hurt save death and rumours were constant the Black magi were always close to discovering the secret of immortality.

Volume 5 The Rise of Discordianism

In AA 480 a petition was presented to the Emperor Elrik I for permission for the construction of a temple to Eris on the north east shores of the continent. Discordianism by now had friends in the highest ranks of the Emperor’s government and with minor political maneuvering the permission was given. In 500 the temple was constructed, giving the High Priestess a permanent home. The Legion of Dynamic Discord and later in 561 when the Paratheo-Anametamystikhood of Eris Esoteric were formed, made their bases of operations at the Temple. Throughout the sixth and seventh centuries the religion continues to spread throughout the empire and in the upper echelons of the nobility begins to rival that of Yehovah and Tyr. The Knights of the Emperor’s Palm manage to stay aloof from this inner corruption of their values, the Knights of the Emperor’s Fist slowly begins to succumb.

A this point in the seventh century the Empire ceases to expand although most of their major rivals have long since long since been subjugated there are still minor threats mainly from the raiders of Gardagh and under the will of Ahrikol the orcs and goblins began to multiply once more. The leadership of the Empire is more interested in sacrificing artefacts and animals in the name of Eris than governing the Empire and setting policy. Even when the region of Illefarn is over-run by orcs in AA 688 the response from the Empire is slow in coming and even with the mighty Battleragers part of the mighty city of Kolond is still taken and fortified by the orcs.

The machinery of the Empire is still strong and the foundations of the government well laid that it takes a few centuries before the decay becomes apparent to those both within the Empire and the enemies without.

Volume 6 The Knights of Purity

A pubescent boy unknowingly and unwittingly hastened the demise of the Empire by centuries if not a millennia or two. In AA 966 Aldan, a deryni youth at the onset of puberty visiting Altri to watch the wedding of the Heir Apparent had his talent awake as he was being violently jostled by a crowd that numbered in the hundreds of thousands. In the panic and in the fear of being crushed his latent talent awoke and subconsciously the youth tried to defend himself from the terror he saw closing in around him. Unfortunately for Aldan and all his kin, his latent talent was that of a firestarter and he was perhaps the most powerful in a generation, by the time the smoke cleared, over 3000 civilians were dead including the Heir Apparent to the Imperial Throne. The public backlash caught everyone by surprise and the riots in Altri especially left the Deryni Quarter of the city in flames, hundreds dead and a lingering desire to drive the deryni from their midst.

The most long-lasting effect of this massacre was the founding of the Knights of Purity, initially formed by Knights of the Palm and Knights of the Fist who had lost family and loved ones in the Aldan’s unwitting attack or during the riots that immediately followed that although saw mainly deryni die, many humans were also killed. Originally their mandate was to purge the deryni from the empire in recompense for this attack on Altri itself, but others were attracted to the Knights, including many nobles who felt that other non-human races had too much influence on the Emperor.

Even at the time of the backlash, one voice cried for public calm and time to understand what had truly happened before setting the Empire on such course, in order to learn from the mistake and make sure it would never happen again. That voice was Lord Aurelius Paendragon, Grand Master of the Knights of the Emperor’s Palm.

Volume 7 The Rings of Power

Almost five thousand years after the forging of the first three rings of power (now in control of the elves), Ahrikol made his second attempt in AA 972, and this time these new rings would answer to the Master Ring he himself wore. Emissaries were sent to all the major powers, except the elven nations and he offered the might inherent in these devices in exchange for servitude. His envoy dispatched to Altri approached Lord Aurelius Paendragon and Lord Morwin Melgriffon, Grand Master of the Knights of Purity. Morwin accepts the ring, originally hoping to cheat Ahrikol and use the ring to his own ends. Aurelius has the envoy arrested and executed.

Morwin subverts the other high-ranking officials within the Knights of Purity until the upper echelons are people only by Morwin and his Ringwielder Captains. With the aid of the ring he gains a wisdom and guile not inherent in his character which he uses to stand ever closer to the Emperor. Other wielders throughout the empire gain the power of the ring, but within a few decades even the strongest willed and purest of heart who accepted these devices have succumbed to the power of the Master Ring. Whole provinces of the Altrian Empire are now effectively under Ahrikol’s dominion. The rest of the Empire, with the possible exception of House Paendragon are blind to the subversion, their leadership distracted by the hedonistic rights in the name of Eris.

In AA 1000, during the celebrations for a millennium of Empire an elderly and ailing Aurelius Paendragon confronts Morwin in front of the Emperor on charges of sedition and treachery against the Golden Throne. Unable to prove these charges, he challenges a surprisingly youthful Morwin to single combat as two Knights should. The challenge is accepted and Aurelius even at his age and in his bad health put up a surprising fight. Even with the power of the Ring, Morwin found it difficult to defeat Yehovah’s Champion in single combat. However his immortality and the power of the ring eventually broke Aurelius’ sword and the old knight fell before Morwin’s blade. The Emperor intervened on behalf of Aurelius’ family which Morwin demanded should be executed, the Emperor instead exiled them to the small insignificant trading post of Losthaven. Several of the Knights of the Palm follow Aurelius’ son into exile.

Volume 8 Fall of the Conclave and the Witch-hunts.

For seven centuries the Conclave held together the different Orders of Magick, at least to the outside, as one Brotherhood. And indeed during the early centuries the greatest accomplishments from various artefacts of power to the binding of Tiamat were achieved by the Conclave working as a whole.

Even in the beginning though petty rivalries between individual mages and between the various orders saw the halls of the Tower as rife with politics as the Golden Palace itself, from various positions such as Court Enchanter or Emperor’s Advisor or Court Ambassador to heads of small specific research positions within the tower fought over bitterly. It is even said the position of Tower Librarian was an envied post, though mainly because of it allowed it’s holder a seat on the Tower Council.

By the 1100s the Tower was rife with corruption and scandal as any noble house, however because of the greater power they wielded, the were held to a higher standard. Every minor scandal was elevated in the eyes of the populace, particulary by the Knights of Purity who eyed the Tower jealously, aware of the deryni who lurked within it’s walls.

Of particular note is the corruption of the White Magus deryni Lucius Cantor by the Black. The Black Order gifted Lucius with a Ring of Power, something they themselves had avoided along with most other magi, they themselves although not master of ring lore, could detect the dark vibrations emanating from it and guessed at it’s purpose. It is thought that this was a research project within the Black to record the progress of the domination of the ring, ostensibly in order to combat it’s effects. Perhaps the experiment was a success but the public outcries at the depravities of the once pure Lucius focussed the long-held rage against the deryni in the direction of the Tower.

With the Knights of Purity and the will of the people of Altri arrayed against them, the Conclave falls apart. The Orders retreat to their respective towers outside of Altri, with the exception of the White Magi, firm in their belief that remaining public and open in their attempts to heal the damage done by Lucius Cantor and other scandals they can reclaim their image and the public trust.

The dangerous gambit fails, as the now immortal Morwin gains the permission of the Emperor to wipe the Magi from Gaia, also the will of Ahrikol as other than Lucius, only very few of the magi had accepted his rings of power. As a group, they could be one of his few real adversaries in his quest to dominate the Empire. With the White Magi remaining in the open, they are the main and the easiest targets. The witch-hunts take the better part of a year before the Knights can claim victory against the Magi, though truth be told it was the Ringwielder Captains who alone of Morwin’s followers who had the strength to hunt-down and kill the most powerful members of the White Order. The Knights of Purity gain considerable prestige with the final destruction of the White Order.

With the removal of Aurelius Paendragon a century earlier and the destruction of the of the Council of the Conclave, Morwin now stood as the most prestigious of the Emperor’s Council, With the last two voices of reason silenced Morwin continues the witch-hunts, mainly targeting deryni and elves also known as wielders of magicks. With the effective leadership of the Empire in disarray the non-human regions of the Empire begin closing themselves off, mainly restricting movement out of their realms for fear of making their own races a target to the Knights of Purity. The dwarves are particularly distrustful of this new direction the Empire is taking and Minister Thuran from Illefarn is eventually arrested for attempting to defend deryni rights. By the 1120s the Empire is fractured and strained and with the rise of Morwin to almost executive power, it seems nothing can be done to stop the demise of the Empire.

Volume 9 The Last Hope

In 1128 the old Emperor Verrus III died. His son Octavian had spent his youth in a foster home on estates near Camille. Morwin encouraged Verrus to keep his son away from the court intrigues, in the hope to take advantage of the new emperor’s youth and inexperience. It seems that later reports changed his mind and three attempts were made on the young man’s life and his foster parents made it clear to Octavian what their suspicions were. Even from his remote foster home, he began paying attention to the situation on Altri and made contact with House Paendragon. During his coming of age he was approached by a pair of magi, of the red and the black who gave him some teaching in magick. They explained what they’d learned of the lore of the Rings of Power and the corrupting influence it had on many in his father’s court including his father’s chief advisor: Morwin the Immortal. The Black Magi after fleeing concluded their research that had began with the poor white mage Lucius Cantor and working in secret with the Red had manged to subvert on of Ahrikol’s rings. Ironic perhaps that these mages of the Dark and the Fire had created a new creed. On gifting the Ring to Octavius he takes the oath. In darkest day, in blackest night, no evil shall escape my sight, let those who worship evil’s might, beware the power of the Emperor’s light. It should be noted this first ring was perfect and without the weakness of the later rings or the need to be recharged with a lantern, working in perfect harmony with the body of the heir apparent.

When Octavius returned to Altri on the death of his father, with the aid of the ring and the magi he defeated two assassination attempts enroute, on entering the court awaited to receive him he shocked all present being flanked by two magi and the Knights of the Emperor’s Palm under Utha Paendragon retrieved from exile in the north by ordering the arrest of Morwin and his closest advisors. Using their ringwielder magicks, they managed to escape to Yevath.

It was already perhaps too late, even as Octavius took the throne in the name of Aleksandr II, news came in that Illefarn formally seceded from the Empire for the treatment of Minister Thuran. His first act as emperor was to send envoys under Utha to the realm, in an attempt to explain the new leadership and direction of his rule. The envoys managed to prevent Illefarn demanding any retribution but little else. Aleksandr takes a tour of his realm, the first Emperor in generations to do so, and stopping at every province and province capital and by his own example, persuasion and natural charm manages to avoid any further secessions.

Aleksandr outlaws the Knights of Purity and tries to reverse the damage done by the witch-hunts. Altri again has not one, but two Court Enchanters, the Black and Red Magi who gifted Aleksandr with his ring. Discordiansim isn’t outlawed but discouraged and at least on the surface the people of Altri return to the worship of Yehovah and Tyr.

For fifty years Aleksandr works at repairing the damage done by his predessors and perhaps during the first decades of his rule this damage was only superficially healed. It is undisputed that over the last two decades much was truly healed and even if many of the grudges lay closer to the surface than appeared none would dare break the peace, not so much out of fear of retribution, but out of love for their last Great Emperor, Aleksandr II.

Volume 10 The Witch-Hunts Renewed

In 1177 at the age of 84, Aleksandr II passed away in his sleep. His chosen heir, his grandson Aleksandr III is found dead within the hour. A systematic assassination of the imperial household. It is in this turmoil that Morwin returns from exile in Yevath. With the Empire leadership in disarray there is little to stop the now Necromancer and his Immortal Captains seizing the reigns and Morwin ascends the Golden Throne as Morwin I.

The Knights of Purity are returned to their place as the single most powerful group in the Empire, many of the Knights of the Fist join. The Knights of the Emperor’s Palm are disbanded. The new Immortal Emperor has no intention of sheltering anyone with his own hand. Any noble who raises their voices in disagreement with the new turn of events is executed. The remnants of House Paendragon flee to protect the newborn infant heir to the seat of the House, again several now disinherited Knights of the Palm flee to protect them.

The witch-hunts begin once again, this time in force with nothing held back. The deryni are treated as pariahs wherever the try to settle and there are none in the great city of Altri itself. Even humans who develop Wild Talents flee for fear they will be executed as deryni. Pogroms tears through their neighbourhoods in other town with alarming frequency. The treatment of other non-humans begins to follow that of the deryni, eventually all non-humans in the central provinces are declared as slaves. The work of Aleksandr II now lay in ruins and after a delay of fifty years, the Empire finally began to fragment. The non-human regions of the empire formally secede and the deryni flee in droves to refugee camps, many of which become deryni towns, villages and these quickly become forts.

Volume 11 The Cleansing Wars

Five years after taking the throne, Morwin had consolidated all in his hands. The central provinces were now firmly under his control and he allowed the outer regions of the empire to secede whilst he build his own forces. In 1182 with all his pieces in place, Morwin launches a campaign against the seceded nations, apparently to keep the empire whole and to punish the deryni for damages done to the empire. In truth it was merely to bring these regions back into Imperial control and to reduce all non-human populations to slave status. The long since forgotten incident of 966 was no longer enough to galvanise the people against the deryni, however by this point hatred was almost inbred to the human population, and the propaganda machine of the Empire found it easy to blame the ‘deryni conspiracy’ for every difficulty facing the Imperial Citizens, from crop failings (deryni magicks) to the secession of one region after another (deryni machinations). With the lack of any real motivation gone, the humans fell back on fanaticism rather than reason There were still those who couldn’t be convinced, it was still too soon after Aleksandr’s reign, but those nobles who’d survived the purges and yet disagreed with the Morwin’s campaign preferred to retire to their secure country estates.

It would be difficult to call it ‘A Cleansing War’ if only because Morwin chose to fight his eccentric and erratic campaign on many fronts at once, against ht elves here, the dwarves there, this deryni fortress there. Indeed any military tactician looking back on these campaigns makes it clear that in the in the ten years the wars lasted, it would have been almost impossible to make victory more difficult than he had. If Morwin had employed even basic strategy he could have conquered the seced regions in a campaign probably lasting even half that time, although he lacked the traditional magicks, he had enough Ringwielders in the ranks of the Knights of Purity to deal with even the most powerful deryni mages. And even in her final years, the Legions of the Imperial Throne were still by far the largest and most powerful military force at that time.

However fighting the campaign the way he did, Morwin squandered much of the Empire’s strength. Evenso victory was almost his by 1192. By the spring of that year the deryni fortress of Lealta, the last to hold out finally fell. Most of the non-human realms, even Illefarn were by now at least under the Empire’s martial control, their armies broken and reduced to fighting guerrilla-style wars against the Empire. With the fall of Lealta, the family of the tremendously powerful deryni mage Canthus Ephairi was captured and brought to the capital for execution. An attempt at rescue failed and the execution was moved forward to the day after the attempted rescue instead of the High Summer Games Morwin had planned to celebrate the Empire’s final victory.

With the execution of his family Canthus lost all reason and decided upon a revenge to punish the city that for two centuries had no only been arrogant enough to exclude his people, but had hunted them to the point of extinction. Powerful even by deryni’s highest standards, on the High Holiday to open the Summer Games Morwin during which had originally planned on executing Canthus’ family as the Morwin was addressing the people from the Golden Palace overlooking the Emperor’s Square, Canthus, a skill psychic levitated up from within the crowd. Behind him the closed up Tower of High Sorcery disappeared, his last gift to his people. It reappeared far to the east. Having captured his enemy’s attention, Canthus declared his doom on Altri. As he began to glow brighter and brighter, the Imperial Guard’s arrows and the magicks of the Ring-wielder Captains, including Morwin’s own powerful attacks fail to harm the red magus. Canthus’ spell summons all his most powerful magicks and to maximise his effect he pours all of his life-force into it. When the smoke cleared, the City of Altris, pride of the Empire, the Home of the Halls of Justice, the Golden Palace and until minutes before, the Tower of High Sorcery was erased from existence.

Volume 12 The Aftermath

With Altri gone, Morwin and the leadership of the Empire dead, the remants flailed in the death-throes, causing much damage but ultimately coming to nothing. The Knights of Purity quickly disintegrated into individual groups, their Ring-wielding Captains all being with Morwin for the celebrations. Many smaller town and villages near altri were caught in the blast that seared the previously beautiful countryside and turned to ash. The region immediately surrounding Altri soon became desert. Other major towns and villages were abandoned in the plagues and famines that followed the collapse of the empire.

It is doubtful that any one leader could have rallied the Empire, perhaps the heir of House Paendragon, but at the time the youth was not yet 16 years old and by the time he was old enough the Empire was already past any rallying point. The human population dropped considerably during this time and considering the number of forming townships and villages that took refuge in Thessalae, we can estimage that in the two decades following the Fall of Altri the human population of Almeria was around a quarter of it’s level in AA 1177 when Aleksandr II died.

It is easy to say in hindsight that the Fall could have been averted if certain steps had been taken earlier, if Aleksandr’s heir had survived, if discordiansim had been banned rather than discouraged or even if Morwin had planned his military campaign better and he could have pulled all of the Empire under his control. However for all the threats our world faces now, perhaps it is for the best that almost eight centuries ago Morwin didn’t realise his ambition of ruling over a new Empire, a dark corruption of all both Aleksandr’s had stood for and dragging humanity and all Almeria into a longer and darker age than the one we face now.

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