LORE
The Immortal Emperor and the Golden Age

‘But after thousands of years of progress and incomparable achievements, inevitably, the Empire began to fall into stagnation and decadence. Madly holding onto their privileges while resisting change and trying to avert the collapse of their society, the Emperor and his theocracy took to measures that rivaled that of true despots in cruelty.’

- Agos, old wanderer

At the time of the game’s present, the Calamity - the cataclysm that nearly wiped out the continent of Xeryn and everyone on it - is in the distant past, having occurred over a millennia ago. Still, due to the immense powers let loose upon the land, the scars of that disaster can very much be perceived everywhere. And though such a long time had passed that people of this age cannot even imagine what the world was like before the Calamity, it that does not mean there are no legends about what happened…

Imperial tradition states that a Golden Age had been going on for over a thousand years at the end of the Third Age. This exquisitely prosperous and blessed period occurred on behalf of the gods themselves: they were the ones who guided Valen Xevaris, the Immortal Emperor. Xevaris ascended to the Imperial throne over a thousand years before the Calamity. Him not growing old - or, in fact, not aging at all - was not a natural phenomenon, and the people of the Empire had started to grow suspicious at first. However, the clergy soon declared that Valen Xevaris is a direct descendant of the gods themselves, a son of Xyn, the supreme god and Lord of the Pantheon.

The Emperor was thus seen as a demigod, and his popularity grew exponentially in the first few decades of his rule. Supported unquestioningly by the clergy, His Divine Majesty performed miracles on a daily basis: refreshing political reforms, sensitive social engineering, economic boom, game-changing inventions, glorious military victories, and divine interventions were among the many things attributed to Xevaris. The true extent of his involvement is impossible to say today, but there is no doubt that under his rule, the Empire rose to be the greatest power in the whole world. Imperials also had exceptionally good relations with the Elder Races, to an extent that was unprecedented in the countless ages before.

But as all good things must come to an end, the Golden Age started to dwindle as well. The continent’s riches were nearly completely exploited, the gap between the rich and the enslaved throngs was wider than ever, and the Emperor seemed to become disinterested in the everyday life of his Empire, as a result of which he withdrew from public after the first 700 years of his rule, leaving the practical governance of the continent to his trusted Apostles. These men and women were the highest ranking priests and priestesses serving in the clergy, and the most prominent of them made up the Council of Twelve, the effective ruling body in the Emperor’s name.

It is said that His Divine Majesty started working on something that would be his masterpiece, an effort that was secretly aided by the Elder Races, but whatever he truly occupied himself with in seclusion never became public knowledge. Meanwhile, the Empire started to drift further into corruption and decline. Lacking resources and new territories to exploit in order to uphold the excessive luxury of the ruling classes, the Empire ponderously moved its immense forces to occupy and strip-mine thus far independent nations as well as the much larger and fertile continent of Raokan to the North. This, in turn, caused rebellions in a handful of provinces and new territories, to which the Twelve and their theocracy reacted with more Imperial oppression. In the meantime, unimaginable funds were directed into projects that extended the Temple District of the capital and other major cities, creating awe inspiring architectural marvels dedicated to the gods. Due to this, the rift between the theocracy and the rest of Imperial citizens only grew larger.

The Empire was on the brink of civil war by the time the worst atrocities towards the oppressed provinces were inflicted. Chief among these was the genocide committed in Viran, a once developing country situated on great islands between the two continents. Viran was especially rebellious, and the Twelve decided to make an example of them to other provinces plagued by unrest. As hundreds of thousands of Virani were being put to death, the first Omens began to appear. It is said that the Elder Gods could no longer abide Imperial cruelty and evil done in their name, and many retrospectively speculate that the Omens were supposed to be their warnings. On the order of the Twelve, however, these curious and threatening phenomena were ignored, regarded as manifestations of the gods’ anger owing to rebelling subjects. The Immortal Emperor remained silent. Eventually, after a month of odd and eerie occurrences, the gods descended from their seat on Mount Xyn and the Calamity started. The Golden Age was over, and from the ashes of the cataclysm a new world was born: the Riven Realms, the New Empire; the setting of Vagrus.

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#calamity #loreupdate #theimmortalemperor #xerynempire