Tiberian Empire

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020558/ http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1020558/ Far across the Eastern Ocean lies an empire that spans an entire continent. For 600 years the armies, magistrates and culture of the Tiberian Empire ruled Brittanis. Just over a century ago, Empire was assaulted by a vast army, and the Emperor Caelestus called the whole of Tiberian forces abroad back to defend their homeland. Today, precious little is known about the goings-on across the ocean. The occasional trading ship crosses the vast expanse of the Eastern Ocean carrying goods and news from the former masters of Brittanis, but such instances are exceedingly rare. Many suspect that the Empire has fallen to conquest itself—a bitter irony for some Brittanic folk.

Foundations

At its height, the Tiberian Empire held vast swaths of land on its own continent, though even then they did not hold the lands from coast to coast. Instead, they chose to expand across the oceans, and Brittanis was known to be only one of many colonies, though Brittanis was the largest in terms of land mass. The history of the Empire is hidden in the mists of antiquity, but according to myth the first Tiberians were survivors of the Fall of Aquilon. The Aquilonians created the magical Waygates and their entire culture and power was dependent on food, people, and trade coming and going through the gates. When Aquilon fell, the Waygates were damaged during the magical cataclysm, stranding thousands of Aquilonians in far-flung parts of the world as the laws of magic, the world, and life itself were broken and the very earth became an enemy to the living. Suddenly, the colonists found themselves cut off from resupply and alone on the edges of a savage continent. Instead of disappearing from history forever like the majority of other Aquilonian colonies, the founders of Tiberium planted their feet and built a society that would last for thousands of years. (NOTE: Before this point, all history regarding Tiberium is shrouded in myth and legend. It’s only after the foundation of the Republic that good historical records exist. Everything previous has been destroyed by constant inter-fighting among the smaller, fractious kingdoms that the Republic consolidated.) The Empire is not one nation; it was forged out of the horrors of the Breaking and the bravery and compassion of man. In the wake of complete destruction of their way of life, the ancestors of the Tiberians turned their society on its head, developing a way of life based around merit and contribution to society instead of bloodlines and hierarchy. At its height, Tiberian society was a Republic, not an Empire. An elected Princeps (First Citizen) ruled for two year terms, chosen by members of a Senate who were, in turn, elected by the population of their province, city, or region. The third branch of the Tiberian government consisted of the Synod, an assembly made up of the High Priests of each faith composing the White Court. Each side of the government—Senate, Princeps, and Synod—could over-ride the other two and a delicate balance of power existed for many centuries that allowed the Tiberian Republic to expand and grow to encompass vast amounts of land and near-unimaginable wealth.

Fall From Grace

After nearly 1,000 years of governmental consistency, the Republic’s destruction was sudden and completely unexpected. A priest named Drusus Nero was elected as Princeps, breaking one of the major traditions of Tiberian law: no clergyman shall be elected to the Senate or as Princeps. Nero, however, was an ordained follower of a new god, a faith that had exploded in the previous 100 years until it rivaled the White Court in political and material power. The god’s name was Victrix, and his faith claimed to be one of honor, martial prowess, and dedication to the Tiberian state—ideals that easily took root in the hearts of proud Tiberians of all classes and stations. Victrix was a god of the Tiberians, for the Tiberians, and his faith spread like wildfire. Unfortunately, the entire faith of Victrix was a lie, and tens of thousands died in horror and agony because of that treachery. For over a century, the cult of Victrix grew and prospered, and one of the key tenets of faith in Victrix was the Mark of Victory—a brand, tattoo, or otherwise permanent symbol of Victrix on the forehead of the believer. At times, even newborn children were given the Mark in the first weeks after birth. Three generations of Tiberian believers were overjoyed as one of their own was elected to the highest office in the Republic. Their faith was misplaced, however, for Victrix was a wholly made-up god—he did not exist, and the “priests” of his faith were in fact, acolytes of an demon named Accolon . The demon had hatched a vast, continent-and-century spanning plot to gain the power needed to ascend from merely a powerful demon to one of the godlike Demon Princes—and he succeeded, for once his High Priest became the Princeps of Tiberium, Accolon's victory was assured. Drusus Nero could not become a member of the Synod, for his faith was not recognized by the White Court—indeed, they denied the existence of Victrix entirely despite the powers the false priests wielded. But the cult had grown so large and so influential that politically they could not be ignored; Drusus Nero played the victim of religious intolerance, and despite ten centuries of custom, was elected Princeps of Tiberium. Just over a year into his term as Princeps, Nero organized a massive celebration, for he had bullied the Senate into declaring Victrix the patron god of the Republic. The Synod tried to block the measure, but the cowed Senate and the corrupted Princeps forced the measure through, thus sealing the fate of the Tiberian Republic.

The Black Reign

On the day of the declaration, every single worshipper of Victrix was ordered to assemble at the nearest Temple of Victrix to praise their god and declare his supremacy above all. Tens of thousands—possibly hundreds of thousands, for little is known of the true scope of this disaster—gathered all over the empire and unknowingly sacrificed themselves to a nascent Demon Prince. For Accolon had planned and schemed perfectly; over a century before, his followers discovered a long-forgotten temple of fallen Aquilon and delved into its secrets greedily. In that ancient tomb, full of lore from beyond the stars that drove men mad from merely reading its dusty scrolls and forgotten tomes, a simple soldier named Drusus Nero found the knowledge that would make him into the most powerful man in the world. Drusus found a ritual that could funnel the power of ritual sacrifice over vast distances and infuse a single being with that magical might. The more brutal, torturous and violent the sacrifice, the more power was transferred from one temple to another, focused down all the way to a single being. On the day of celebration across the Tiberian Republic, the vile cultists of Accolon/Victrix cast that ritual, calling terrible dark magics upon each and every soul bearing the seal of Victrix upon their forehead. Each and every being with the Mark of Victory—Senators, the vast majority of the nobility and military of Tiberium, commoners and slaves, all the way down to babes in swaddling clothes—were sacrificed by horrific, flesh-warping magic that took hours to fully destroy its victim. This power was channeled from temple to temple across the entirety of the Republic and infused into Drusus Nero, transforming him from mortal man to a demigod in an instant. At that moment, the Republic died and the Empire was born screaming in the ashes and corpses of its own citizens. Unknown thousands of Tiberians lay dead, sacrificed to Accolon who absorbed the power channeled through his avatar Drusus Nero and ascended to near-godhood. Accolon ceased to be bound to the ranks of servant demons and is known to this day as Accolon, the Demon Prince of Lies, Treachery, and Forbidden Knowledge. Tiberium was nearly destroyed in the following years of horror. Called the Black Reign, Drusus Nero renamed himself the Emperor Victrinox and set about ruling his new empire. He gave orders to the remaining military, commanding the deaths of the entire Synod, every priest of every known god, and all remaining Senators who opposed him. The REAL faith of Accolon was installed as the ruling religion, and the surviving folk of Tiberium toiled for nearly a century under the darkness and oppression of the Demon Prince of Treachery. Some few surviving priests of the White Court and those loyal to the memory of the Republic founded an underground resistance, but it was many years before they could strike against Emperor Victrinox.

From the Ashes

Almost a century passed under the Black Reign of undying Victrinox, and the fledgling Empire managed to survive, though many of its outer provinces were lost to enemy nations, monstrous armies and rebellion. It is during this time that a Tiberian general named Marcus Lucius Caesar made the first exploratory journey across the Sea of Storms and the first Tiberian feet walked the earth of what would later be known as Brittanis. Caesar had re-conquered lands lost to the Tiberians for generations, and the army Marcus led was fanatically loyal to him alone; the Emperor could not merely assassinate his most powerful general for fear of the entire army rebelling at the same time. Instead, Emperor Victrinox sent Caesar on what he thought was a suicide mission. Instead, Caesar returned even more powerful. Marcus Lucius Caesar spent 5 years in what was called the New World, gathering allies and knowledge from the native peoples. One of the most important discoveries he made was the existence of different gods—the Three Sisters were entirely unknown in Tiberium and Caesar brought both their faith and their priests back across the ocean with him, intent on the death of Victrinox and the restoration of the Republic. Caesar landed back on Tiberian soil and immediately marshaled his armies for war against the Dark Emperor. For several years their armies clashed until finally Victrinox’s forces weakened to the point that Caesar could march on the capital, Tiberium City. In one of the greatest battles in Tiberian history, Caesar fought his way into the city and, with the aid of Rydderych, a sword crafted by the might of all Three Sisters in the Otherworld, slew Victrinox in the temple of his own dark creator. Immediately the dark acolytes of the Prince of Lies were hunted down and slain—Tiberium had come out of the shadow and into the light once again.

Brittanis ancient clans

An Empire Arcane

Marcus Lucius Caesar was universally acclaimed a hero, and the people tried to make him Emperor. Despising the title, he re-instituted the title of Princeps and set about rebuilding his homeland. He re-established the Senate, but when he attempted to do the same with the Synod of the White Court, the people balked. They had been persecuted and deceived by religion for so long that the idea of a clergy, no matter how well-intentioned, having government over them seemed impossible. Instead, Caesar gathered the greatest and wisest arcane masters in the land and instituted the Etherium, a council of the thirteen greatest mages in the Empire and they became the third branch of government. Despite his heroic leadership, Marcus Lucius Caesar was a noted womanizer and had sired several (possibly dozens) of bastard children along his journeys—including at least two in Brittanis before his triumphant return to Caledor. By far his most famous child was Honoria Ambrosius, known later as Honoria Brittania. Born with the Tiberian bastard surname for those of ancient heritage (Ambrosius), Honoria fought as a legate (field commander) in her father’s wars to re-unify Tiberium after the fall of Victrinox and was a renown paladin of The Lady of the Lake. Her faith, however, was to prove both her downfall and her glory. Honoria fought in the Senate against the Etherium, espousing the virtues of the White Court and the Republic. When her efforts failed and the Etherium was victorious, the Archmages repaid her efforts with exile. Just like her father, Honoria and her loyalists were effectively banished to the far side of the ocean. They sailed away to the lands her father had begun to explore, and Honoria Ambrosius would never see her homeland again. See Brittanis for details. Sending Honoria and a large part of the army across the ocean served both the newly-powerful Senate and the Etherium perfectly well, for a great deal of Caesar’s political power stemmed from the army at his beck and call. Caesar fought this political onslaught for as long as he could, but he was murdered on the steps of the Senate house for his efforts. In his will, Caesar named his young great-nephew Octavian as his adopted son and heir. Octavian proved to be cunning and politically astute, gathering power, allies and clients until his bid for power was realized. After the murder of Caesar, the Senate and Etherium together spent the next decade stripping the executive branch of much of its power. Through a series of puppet-Princeps, they managed to outlaw the clergy of any god whatsoever from election to any public office, serving in the legions, and many other restrictions. The Etherium also creates the office of the Inquisition during this period. Ten years after the death of his adopted father, Octavian Caesar ran for the nearly-powerless office of Princeps, and was elected by a landslide. Like his namesake, the younger Caesar proved to be a man of the people, and leveraged the masses against the Senate and maneuvered the Etherium to a stalemate. The Etherium, in response, attempted a blatant bid for power and plotted to assassinate Octavian as they had his father. Octavian surprised everyone involved and showed himself to be a powerful wizard in his own right and obliterated the attackers. Having anticipated the Etherium actions, Octavian rallies the people against them, executing many and stripping them of many of the political powers they had acquired. But then Octavian then goes one step farther, and at the acclaim of the masses and the Senate accepts the title of Emperor of the Tiberian Empire and renames himself Augustus, meaning “Exalted One.” Emperor Augustus has himself made the head of the Etherium, ruling both the arcane and executive branches, and the Senate cannot stand against him. Thus begins a long line of Archmage-Emperors ruling the Empire to the present day. (NOTE: all Imperial history to this point is well-documented in Brittanis by the literature the Tiberians brought with them and created in Brittanis. From this point forward, everything is speculation and rumor and tales of the few traders who have dared to cross the Eastern Ocean.)

The Retreat

What is not known about the events leading up to Tiberium recalling her people is vast compared to what IS known. Despite having ruled Brittanis for six centuries, the distance involved meant that the New World has always been its own entity, far more of a Tiberian Colony that part of the Empire itself. What is known is this: from the East came an army beyond counting, boiling over the Spine of the World—the largest mountain range on the entirety of Aerys—and pouring into the heartland of Tiberium without any warning. Humans and monsters fighting side by side blanketed the countryside, slaughtering the unsuspecting peoples of the border provinces seemingly overnight. Caelestus I, the reigning Emperor of Tiberium, ordered all the provincial garrisons stripped of soldiers and sent to fight the invasion. It was not enough. Step by bloody step the invaders pushed the legions back, and all the eastern provinces were lost to the enemy. Chaos enveloped the Empire, for they had not fought against such a concerted attack since the beginning of the Imperium. Then came the order that shocked an entire continent—Emperor Caelestus gave the command that a massive ritual would be cast, an image appearing in every major Tiberian city, telling the inhabitants that the Empire was under siege and all troops loyal to the Empire were to board ship or march immediately for the capital city where a defense could be mustered. That was the last coherent communication from the Empire—many believe that despite the thousands of troops who boarded ship and sailed for Tiberium, the Tiberian Empire has fallen and no longer exists. At the very least, all magical communication has stopped and any long-distance scrying of Imperial lands yields only a strange silver fog that even the best mages cannot penetrate. The gods, unsurprisingly after centuries of oppression under the hand of the Etherium, are also silent about Tiberium. The results of the Tiberians leaving Brittanis have had far reaching consequences, and can be read about in the History section and descriptions of the individual nations. But almost nothing is known about the Empire as it may or may not exist today. It is as if the entire Tiberian Empire and the continent of Caledor just went dark.
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