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Dead!And so great an artist!
Ch. 49, The Twelve Caesars
History is a hideous art, and within the arcane beneath what we know of its vast masquerade of factuality often hides truths a million times more hideous.
Magic, already oppressive with its shocking premise, will perhaps be the final destructor of us humanfolk – if separate folks dwarves, elves and us be – because its maelstrom of unmeasurable variables couldn’t be undone by mortal ability if leaked, willingly or not, upon Mid-World. If we could possibly grasp our birthright and entitlement to magic, we should do as Mede, the last Emperor of the House of Ylirian, did. Emperor Mede had ascended the higher cliffs of Iornium and jumped hundreds of meters below. No man cared to gather the scattered corpse into a sanctuary or dig a grave to him who had been their master and god; for certain scrolls in his treasury and a certain sarcophagus in his sister’s temple – of which Ylirian Mede had ordered the construction – were found which made imperial loyalists wish to forsake. Some whose families had served the Ylirian dynasty for half a century do not admit that their rightful liege had ever reigned.
Ylirian Mede went out on the Typhoon’ Cliff, what is now known as the Tarasque, and thrown himself into the deep abyss after seeing the tomb his ancestors had raided from Nalgarroth. It was this tomb – or was it a sarcophagus – and not his monstrous unescapable folly, which made him forsake divinity. Many would have swallowed the cigue if possessed of the monstrous unescapable folly of Emperor Mede, but he had been a god and singer and had not minded.
Divinity was in his blood, for his grandfather, Emerit General Conphas, or the Butcher-God in later years, had been a crusader of great splendor, whilst his grand-grandfather, Emperor Qaralys the Great, or the Butcher-God a couple of decades later, was one of the earliest absolute monarchs of the Iornianni Imperium, and had codified the kingly laws in the great Illyrian tradition, recorded all conquests, specifically his conquest of Nalgarroth. Indeed, old Qaralys had mastered the intellectual arts during an age of widespread mania; his visions and foreseeing of a dark age-Nalgarroth civilisation earning him much trouble with the Senate, who disliked his claims of divinity. In 1087, this enlightened despot had been locking himself up in the Senate with what he called his senators and all had died of starvation in plain, dull, summer.
But it was the fire of Emperor Qaralys, especially when in campaign or in the Senate, which chiefly gathered his enemies under one banner. In a stoic age like the early second millennium it was reckless for a god-emperor of Iornianni to talk about wild hunts and ancient gods under a conquered nation’s first desert; of the pyramids and pillars of an empire of old, crumbling under sentient sandstorms, and of damp, silent, red steps leading inexorably down into the darkness of estranged mausoleums and shining treasure-vaults of inconceivable wonder.
Especially was it reckless to blame living things that might haunt such a tomb for the loss of the 20 thousand-strong garrison left behind; of creatures half of the desert and half of the underground and impious fortress – fabulous creatures which Whores and Gleemen might call Goblins; creatures that might have transmuted after the end of the Bloodpact between elves and trolls which had decorated the dead cities within its walls and pillars, its vaults and silent rows. Yet after he returned home for the last time Emperor Qaralys would speak of such fantasy with a zealous dread, mostly after the Senate’s failed assassination and murder of his son and heir Valerian; fearing of what he had awakened in the depth of the Old Kingdom and of how he had dwelt among terrible odyssey known only to him and his companions whom he eventually had executed. And at last he had spoken of his inheritance that peace had seemed acquired for the Imperium. He had shown little remorse for his warfare and when he had his Imperial Guard shut the doors of the Senate, for his mind moved curiously, he had plainly, dully, smiled. Ever since his son had vomited his red organs, Qaralys had seized to see the mortal things. Neither had he boasted on his alleged divinity in his last hours, some corrupt historian chronicled, but when three long weeks later he finally died he had called himself a martyr.
Emperor Qaralys’s second son Alexius was a highly paranoid ruler. Despite his dazzling godlike looks similar to his father, his demeanour and ideology were in their very essence so distorted that he was universally reviled. Though he did not inherit the madness which most proclaimed divinities carried within, he lacked vision and practicality and would offer himself to unreasonable greed, laying famine upon his people for reasons of state. Despite his weaker frame he was intensely aggressive, and was of incredible erudition in administratition. Thirteen years after ascending the Fire Throne he married his mother’s niece, the daughter of a wealthy patrician and imperial consort, a doll said to be keen in witchcraft, but before his son was born charged her house and father with treason and had them all thrown down the Typhoon Cliff, completing the Senate’s misapproval which had begun favouring popular generals, such as Alexius’s nephew who had a striking ressemblance to the former’s firstborn. He had a prestigious reputation for military feats and was returning from the Northern front to attend his triumph. The Senate approached him and after a week of dark nights and shared whispering rumours, Emperor Ylirian Alexius died, poisoned by a snake in his bed.
In the morning of Emperor Alexius’s death the now all-mighty Senate saw fit to deny divinity to the fallen monarch, which angered the widely accepted Emperor, Conphas, God-Emperor Qaralys’s nephew and hence a nephew of god and therefore God himself, made a strange and fatal decision in disbanding their institution, as they were the people’s appointed voice.
As the scion of gods, Ylirian Conphas the now accepted and mighty monarch of the first imperium of men embraced a sad and tragic aspect of his flawed nature. Tall and of dazzling handsomeness, with a rare kind of silver hair that the wind snapped with grace he lacked no gorgeous feature, Yliran Conphas began his personal reign – without a Senate – under great augurs. It was he who first defeated the reconstructed al-Krul dynasty which had risen dangerously close to imperial borders before being repelled through the Nalgarroth wasteland, and…