The Fallen Times
For 1200 years the Homlish Empire stretched from the Raider’s Strait in the North West to the Quiet Sea in the East. Fully half of the world lay under the control of first the senators and later the Emperor-Generals. The might of Homlan was unquestioned, it seemed as though the gods had ordained that they rule the world.
This manifest destiny made the Homlish arrogant. Theirs was the greatest civilization ever known. Their science, art, and military were greater than everything encountered. If it was not the greatest culture then it surely would have halted. Theirs was the history that mattered. Theirs was the art that held beauty. Theirs was the science that showed promise. Thus was their downfall born.
The few decided for the many that all cultures should become one. It began slowly, with the re-education of the children of conquered peoples. Fashion was influenced through the nobility. Patrons were… convinced to patronize only artists that worked in the Homlish styles. Slowly the vassal states and colonies began to change, to become more homogeneous.
The elves, dwarves, drakes, and mummies watched as humanity rapidly began to lose its individuality over 800 years and become more like them. Some thought it good, that they would be less disruptive and tamer. Others thought it was a sign of the slow death of beauty and imagination that seemed to plague the world. To the short lived eyes of humans though, it was going much too slowly.
The Homlish Inquisition was born of brutality. The Homlish Legion was ordered by the senate to expedite the transformation of humanity. They were to find the wise men, the conservatives, the outspoken, and silence them. A cudgel was sent to do the job old age would have accomplished quietly.
The first executions happened publicly in the colonies, but as boys watched their grandfathers murdered, and men watched their sons struck down they began to all speak out. The Inquisition had to become more cunning, using stealth and guile to find the non-conformists. Before a full blown rebellion occurred, word reached the senate in far off Homlan and they realized their mistake. They sent their fastest messengers to retrieve the generals and their legions.
After receiving the messengers from the senate they paused the executions and observed what had happened. Yes, the natives were rather upset, but it was obvious in their faces, fashions, and art that Homlish culture was becoming their own. Thus with the mistaken idea that the cudgel was responsible for the work of old age, they decided that the senate lacked the will to finish the deed. The generals had received word that they were to stop their mad slaughter and return to Homlan to explain the actions of their men. So they brought their men with them.
The coup was fast and bloody as all successful coups are. Most of the senators were killed in Republic Hall, the centre of Homlan’s government. The few that escaped and their supporters were exposed and executed swiftly by the Inquisition. The decisiveness that had been turned on the Republic would be used to forge the Empire. However, the transition must first be solidified.
The rebellious generals selected their leader, William Victor Frederick, to become Emperor-General for life. As William I established his rule in Homlan, his son, William II, ensured the empire’s stability in the vassal countries of Famiglia Isole, Aadeem Badiya, and Long Plains. When Victor I took his father’s place at the head of the empire he decided that it was time to finish the job which his grandfather had begun. Not truly understanding the nature of running an empire nor an army, Emperor-General Victor I set to a task he didn’t comprehend.
His reign is poorly remembered and he was the last Emperor-General of William’s line. A distant cousin was put upon the throne and became the puppet of the generals. They understood how to manage an army, but not statecraft. The empire continued its decline while maintaining its size, its resources stretched thin. The Puppet Emperor’s son, Garland II, regained control of the throne and, having grown up during his father’s reign, he began the long task of mending the empire.
He was very successful and were it not for his own son, the empire might have survived its crisis state. Like the impatient senators and rebellious generals Emperor-General Garland III could not see the changes that were happening. He looked upon the history of the first purge and found that it was usually the religious figures that the people rallied around in defense of their culture. If they were removed it would greatly accelerate the unification of humanity.
This plan made Garland III consider Homlan itself. He watched as the priests of Homlan’s gods took credit for the hard work of farmers, scholars, and soldiers. Once more the Inquisition was turned loose upon the populace of Homlan.
Though impatient he was not a fool nor uncharismatic. Priests of all gods began disappearing, while the Emperor-General began to subtly erode their power base. It did not take long for religion to become unpopular amongst the aristocracy. Shortly thereafter they pleaded with Garland III to permanently remove this pox from their homeland and the Emperor-General complied. Religion was made illegal, churches crumbled, all religious texts were burned, and clergy were murdered in the streets. The Inquisition found out and cleaned up those who managed to hide.
Famiglia Isole was next, but the islands had always preferred academia and science to religion, so it was only the mariners that resisted and they did so with little enthusiasm. Knowing what was coming, the priests of Aadeem Badiya redefined themselves as scholars and historians of the supernatural. When the Inquisition and Legion arrived to root out religion, to their surprise they found a situation much like they had in the islands. They moved on, but for fear of lurking inquisitors the priests retained and eventually became their disguises in truth. So the aged Garland III turned his eyes towards the colonies.
Vertlieu would be the first to be purged because its people were not nomads like the peoples of The Flats, Long Plains, and Savage Plains, nor were they difficult to root out like the Wildlings of the Tree’s Teeth Mountains. Their shrines would be easily found, and their gods destroyed. Fate had a different decree.
For years Garland III had ignored the work of his father, pursuing his crusade instead of tending to his people. Plague ravaged the populace and he did not notice unless it brought whispers of godly wrath. Crops failed and he did not notice unless a priest blamed it on his blasphemy. Sailors went unpaid and he did not notice unless they spoke of storms sent by the furious gods.
When the Legion entered Vertlieu they went in too few and with too little resources. The Inquisition did its part, but its attention was split between there and problems back in Homlan. Then the Seven appeared. The Seven resisted the manhandling of the Homlish and inspired the Vertlieuans to do the same. A full blown rebellion erupted and after much fighting the Homlish Empire was thrown out of Vertlieu which was renamed Terre Des Sept in honour of the Seven Saints.
Meanwhile a scholar in Aadeem Badiya began to suggest quietly that perhaps it was time to cut ties with the empire. Saladin, as he was called, convinced the native nobility that they would be better off without having to bow to Homlan. He spoke peacefully, and he spoke gently, and with time the nobility conceded to his honour and logic. This the Inquisition could not condone. Saladin was assassinated, but the assassin was tied to Homlan. The peaceful scholar became a martyr. Some wished to wage war on the empire for this act, but calmer minds realized this was not what Saladin would have wanted. The vassal state declared its independence and renamed itself Atfaal Min Saladin. Homlan would have responded with force, but the Legion was split dealing with the Seven in Vertlieu, and the mutiny of the Homlish Navy.
Figuring that the Navy was less important for destroying religion than the Legion, Garland III had repeatedly delayed and reduced the pay of the sailors and captains. With the rebellion of Vertlieu this situation reached an all time low when some ships were given stores of food that were moldy before they were sent to out to sea. The captains would not stand for this and they declared their ships independent from the empire. Seeing an opportunity the wealthy traders of the Famiglia Isole offered the sailors a safe harbour AND pay if they would protect their assets. Fearing the loss of their closest vassal state, Garland sent the Legion to recapture the islands. The Navy stopped the too few legionnaires and pushed them back onto the mainland. In turns each major island city declared its independence from Homlan. They then tenuously joined together, out of fear of each other’s economically motivated predations, forming the Stati Uniti Citta.
Forced out of their two vassal states and their most productive colony, the Homlish Empire was in retreat. The Legion was pulled back closer to Homlan’s borders, and within it to keep order as rumours of revolt spread. This collapse both broke Garland III, and broke him out of his mad focus. Without passion he went about the business of fixing his empire. The Tree’s Tooth Mountains and Flats were abandoned, while the Long Plains and Savage Plains were almost entirely emptied of their Homlish representatives. Garland III spent the rest of his life stabilizing the empire. He succeeded and left his son, Kale I, a nation barely clinging to life.
There is stability, but little growth, and this is the case in much of the world. The zealotry and war in the past has resulted in the destruction of much infrastructure and knowledge on all sides. The balance of power remains unsure despite 50 years for it to settle. It has been further complicated by rumours of the spread of the undead in a previously fertile part of the world. The empire has fallen and it threatens to drag down the rest of the world with it.
These are the Fallen Times.