Female Human Ranger 2, Wizard 3, Heir 10
Heir Presumptive to Torland.
Currently in Northern Torland with The Iron Legion.
Her father now dead, her brother the second child of the emperor has assumed the mantle of Emperor.
According to official sources she suffered badly from lengthy times of illness in the last few years. These have left her bed bound and ill suited to public life. It is thought that she will be married to a high ranking noble at the earliest convenience.
Of course some people know different. Different news has returned to the capital of her victories agasint the Dragon of The North and the end of the costly war there. Further rumours of a Triumph by Praena and her Iron Legions has sent shockwaves through the senate and the Emperor's houshold.
It is now feared in some quarters that she plans to prove the legitimacy of her claim to the imperial throne, and that if she does, she will use her legions to attempt to take it by law or by force, if required.
It remains to be seen what steps will be taken by her brother the Emperor to thwart her plans. The political map of Torland has been changed dramatically by the revelations of The Dragon's influence.
Male Human Fighter 4, Wizard 1, Heir 8
The Heir Apparent to Torland. Trained from an early age to take up the reigns of power Constantus is an exemplar of the Torlandish way of life. The best gladiators honed his skills in the martial arts through extensive training.
A man of action rather than philosophy Constantus is very popular with troops and public alike.
Word on the streets of Bigany is that Constantus had better have good advisors or he will never win an argument, never mind a war. Nor is he well known as a philosopher, much to his father's chagrin.
Emperor of Torland (Deceased)
Born to the Imperial line the early death of his father left the heir elect, then 25 years of age as leader of the worlds largest empire. Together with his wife and their young family they set to governing the empire.
While many of his predecessors had focused on military expansionism Autarchus preferred philosophy. Under his rule the arts flowered. This continued for several years, despite the recommendations of the military.
Following a series of border disputes that caught the armed forces ill prepared for assault the young emperor panicked. Making a series of rash decisions public unrest was rife. Fortunately, salvation was at hand in the guise of Lady Averella Torvina. Descended from a long line of Military tacticians and Diplomats the Empresses lady in waiting was as astute a politician as has been seen in Torlandish history.
Her common sense advice (which mixed mercy and brutality in the Imperial way) quickly, brought the populace in line. The strong but reserved military policies she recommended led to an increase in military effectiveness while leaving much from the state coffers to be spent on promotion of the search for knowledge and the arts.
The Reign of Autarchus has thus far been a successful one. The military are firmly under Imperial control. The troublesome northern lands are under the control of one of his most trusted advisors. The Pursuit of knowledge and the arts has flowered. Apart from what has been referred to as 'the Lakeport Incident' that severely weakened the western armies the military campaigns have been successful.
The Empress of Torland. Known for her beauty the young lady who would someday become empress could scarce have known what the future would hold for her. Spending the summer on a small isle favoured by the aristocracy she scarce could have guessed that the young man and his bodyguard who courted her were the heir to the empire and his captain of Guards. As a noble from a minor family the young lady could not have hoped for anything other than the status of concubine or maybe consort-But certainly not the title and rank of wife to the emperor to be.
Later, following Autarchus' philosophical debate over the principle of love with his father and the heraldic staff the young lady's' family were elevated to a rank befitting their future station.
After their marriage they had two children, first a boy and then a girl.
Not long afterwards the emperor died suddenly, leaving the young couple at the head of an empire. In these early days the lady came to rely more and more upon and older friend of hers Averella Torvina.
Many diplomats and political pundits see the Empress as stronger than her husband and many suggest that it is her that is behind the major changes in policy of the last few years. Particularly those decisions that required direct military intervention rather than political machinations.
Human Female Aristocrat 5
Lady in waiting to Duchess Averella Torvina. Lady Praena is a child of one of the Duchesses neighbours, a relatively small land owning noble family. The Duchess took a liking to her and decided to take her on in the role of Lady in waiting. Over the past several years the young lady has been trained in the ways of court in the imperial household.
It is thought that with her looks, connections her lack of family status will not prevent this young lady from marrying well.
Guardian of the North,
Councillor and Advisor to the Empress and her daughter.
Human Male Bard 6, Spymaster 5
Grand Master Herald, Master of Ceremonies. Part of the Imperial retinue Victor Travels with the Empress wherever she goes. It is he that decides upon seating precedence and other such matters. He is rumoured to have an uncanny ability to know things about people and has alternately been called a spy and a bard.
Whatever is said of him is loyalty to the empire is unquestioned. As is his devotion to the ceremonies that govern its court.
The Captain of the Empresses guard. A brilliant young officer in the imperial academy he started life as a cadet destined for great things in the Legions. Instead, he met the future emperor Autarchus with whom he became fast friends. Soon he was serving as his personal bodyguard and head of a century of praetorians.
Upon his rise to power the new emperor promoted his friend. Following his role in the meeting of the emperor and his wife the captain was promoted to the office of centurion in the Empresses Cohort. He now ranks as personal champion of the Empress and commander of the Empresses Cohort.
Master of Meaning,
Arch Deacon of Stiuradh.
Bogomil is an archetype of devious Machiavellianism in the long tradition of the order of Stiuradh. Following a number of years of apparent inactivity he has in the past 5 years risen to a position of some authority in the Torlandish church.
As a tutor to the heir apparent and sometime attendant to the imperial court his power has grown. It is also said that the ageing head of the Torlandish church has begun to look upon the Former Deacon with increasing favour and his ideas have begun to infiltrate the teachings of the church of the moons in that region.
His title is a matter of dispute with the Bigany church who argue that his actions have not merited the promotion and have refused to ratify it.
Magus Imperius. Di Scerni appeared on the scene in Torland about ten years ago. Then in the service of a minor noble with a deep purse he spent his time producing fireworks and illusions to spice up his employers parties. Of mixed Ylari and Torlandish extraction the swarthy skinned and thin mage had a way of surrounding himself with an aura of mystique.
Not trained through formal channels the Order of Draiocht quickly had him under scrutiny but could find no blemish that they would disclose. Gradually his fame grew until he came to the attention of the imperial Magist of the time who was searching for a successor. In the end two were chosen, one self or renegade trained, the other formally trained by the Order of Draiocht in Bigany.
Both were bitter rivals and sought to out do each other at every opportunity. This led to both gaining great magical power in a relatively short time span. Now that their hatred simmers rather than boils they occasionally work together.
Di Scerni is an obsessive when it comes to magic. He relentlessly drives his apprentices who tend to either flee within weeks of starting or stick it out to the bitter end. His imperial duties mean that he never has more than a handful of apprentices at a time.
He is known as a keen advocate of secularisation of the empire, something which the rest of the imperial advisors oppose.
A somewhat strange man he has spent too long in his researches. His brilliance is not matched in his manner, which can appear abrupt. Nevertheless he has shown himself a tireless worker for his employers. He is rumoured to maintain estates in the far east.
Male Human Fighter 15
One Handed Dirt Legion Champion.
The Province of Vitrus
Architecture of the Provinces:
The province of Vitrus echoes with the splendour of a bygone era. In past days the Senators of this realm, the Vitreusi, were amongst the most powerful and wealthy of the families of the empire and this was visible in their splendid constructions.
The province consists of 6 major towns and the city of Vitrus itself. The city once far outnumbered its vassal towns in wealth and population. In recent times this has changed, the mining town of Vaerans Mine is the most populous with its significant mineral deposits, the town of Tersus' Cross has grown from its humble origins as a trading outpost to contest with Vitrus as the main trade town of the region.
Vaeran's Mine is architecturally speaking a disaster. The town is little more than a mish mash of housing clustered around the slag heaps and pit heads of the mines themselves. The Vitrus family mansion in the town is perhaps the only exception, a fine example of the colonial style with gardens from the early colonial period. Of course the mansion has been in decline for over a century now and is little used except for the administrative offices of the west wing. A council of mine owners, who compete with each other in the external squalor of their houses, hiding their vast wealth within, rules the town itself. Were a meteor to be sent to strike down a town in this part of the world Vaeran's mine is good candidate.
Tersus's cross was originally a hamlet where nomadic tribesmen came to trade and drink. However, this was all to change when the adventurer and entrepreneur Tersus Joined the Vitreusi expedition to conquer the lands. Tersus reached a cordial arrangement with the locals, building a tower, which stands to this day in the courtyard of the family fortress. The fortress itself is more a residence than a military structure, for the Torlandish army is somewhat reluctant to allow those below the rank of senator the privilege of a secure base of operations.
The Residence stands atop the hill overlooking the town and has a magnificent view of the plains that stretch for miles in all directions. The town itself is laid out in accordance with standard imperial edict of the mid colonial period and forms a grid like structure. The standard white washed and towered walls surround this. The centre of the town features baths, temples and assorted emporia with the agricultural that provides the economic muscle of the town concentrated in the southwest quarter both inside and outside the town walls.
While the town has expanded far beyond its walls in the last century the centre of the city has retained its architectural charm and is a fine example of the building of the period.
The Vitreusi family maintains a fine villa on the outskirts of the town and several family members are in residence.
Finally we move on to the faded jewel that is Vitrus. The founder of both the Vitruesi Dynasty and the Vitrus Province had a distinct vision of the future in setting up this base of operations. Eschewing places of more short-term benefit he forged a base in a harsh environment of hostile woods and terrain. The reason for this was the convergence of two of the great northern rivers.
At this place the town of Vitrus was founded, like most of the early colonial towns the centre of the town was a great fortress, in this case built overlooking the turbulent junction of the rivers. The Citadel overlooks the locks, which control access to the upper resource rich reaches of the rivers.
The main streets of the city stretch from here outwards in a radial pattern on the same bank. Development has never extended to the other banks of the river despite the ample availability of suitable land. There are even local laws preventing such development.
Architectural Features within the city include: The Citadel, The Greater and lesser curtain walls, the temple of the Moons, The Senators Residence, The Empress's tomb, the Great Canal.
The citadel is a large concentric structure, which has changed in function and appearance over the years, originally residence and fortress it has become a mixture of military and administrative centre. In particular administrative functions relating to the river trade are run from the large number of buildings that are located in what were formerly courtyards and killing grounds.
One Notable feature of the fortress is that it was designed to counter airborne as well as overland attacks and has several distinguishing features in this regard, their usefulness in battle has yet to be tested.
The Curtain walls are surrounded on the outside by canals, which originally were moats, now however they are cluttered with moorings and barges and businesses and houses along the inner circle are quite sought after.
Amongst the various monuments, parks and statues of the city the Temple of the moons stands out as a great work. The strength of devotion to Brionglóid in the region and particularly amongst the Vitreusi family has resulted in a temple design that is surreal and magnificent. Departing from the more utilitarian designs that are common elsewhere in the realm the temple here somehow manages to look like a different building from each viewing point, truly a tribute to the mad architect Percival of deep delve (who ended his days in such ignominy). It is rumored that the priests of Charon prefer not to dwell in the temple and indeed they have their own barracks in a suburb of the city.
The Senator’s residence lies aside the Vitreusi family Docks and warehouses by the waterfront, indeed it is the only dwelling in the city with river frontage. The dwelling is a two-story building with two wings stretching from a central domed portion. Capable of housing twenty guests and family members this is used by members of the reclusive senators family at such times as they are in town. This also serves as the administrative hub of the family's waning business empire.
The Empress's tomb was built at one end of Imperial way and is an imposing structure of Marble and Granite. The city maintains this building well and it is guarded around the clock. Those privileged few who have seen the interior were amazed by its extravagance; the empress ordered it built to reflect her favoured quarters in Torland prior to her death. To this day a squad of imperial guardsmen, who pose an impressive sight in their royal purples, guards the Tomb.
The Great canal was begun in the early days of Vitrus and has been built on and off over the last 700 Torlandish years. Originally this was intended to extend from the city of Vitrus all the way west through Misneach's Cleave to the western realm, however it appears that the most ambitious stages of the project were stopped due to military concerns and arguments over the ownership of the canal once it left Vitreusi lands. This dispute is now entering its second century of legal argument as the imperial crown has refused to judge on the case leaving it in the hands of various senatorial sub committees who argue for jurisdiction. AS it stands the hundred feet wide canal provides an artery to the surrounding region and it is for this alone that the capital retains its economic precedence.
Out of town lies the Vitreusi estate on the far bank of the river in the woods that lie between their convergences. For those who dare the journey it is worthwhile for the Vitreusi estate home is truly epic in proportions. Accessed by a gravelled road that winds through primeval woodland the Elven built gatehouse lends a hint of what is to come with its loft ceilings and exaggerated angles. The main house itself overlooks a valley almost constantly filed with mist. The approach leads through the mile long lawns leading to the house. In the final stretch of the approach the outlines of a further extension that was never built are visible if overgrown with creepers and hedgerow.
The main steps lead to the hundred-foot wide columned entrance hall, containing one of the finest staircases in the empire. This central portion is an octagonal building with buildings stretching like spokes.
The North or Imperial wing is built to the demanding standards of the imperial etiquette masters and is perfect in its internal symmetry. Though styles and trends have changes its hundred rooms still meet the requirements of today. The East and West Wings matched the North in size if not grandeur; these are the warren like dwelling places of the Vitreusi clan and their retainers. The Symmetry is broken somewhat by the great tower at the end of the east wing, stretching hundreds of feet in the air containing the family archives and library.
The Western Wing ends in a tower, part of the original structure on the site, though this is now in bad repair and little used.
The rest of the original complex, a small villa, has now been converted to use as the family chapel, though it is also a site of pilgrimage to adherents of Brionglóid.
It is to be hoped that some future day will result in the refurbishment of this, one of the great stately homes of the empire.
The elves who currently occupy parts of Torland have done so for several centuries. They have close relations with the Elves who inhabit the area to the West of Bigany.
Their King and Queen rule these Elves. The King is a mighty warrior who is also adept at the arts of magic. The Queen is rumoured to be of supernatural origin, an outer planar creature who fell in love with the King. An epic poem of their courtship, some 400 years ago, does exist, however, human ears have never heard it. It has been said that Master bards are willing to give up their art to hear this tale.
The current Elven rulers came to power following the death of their predecessors.
Their predecessors died in defence of the former capital of this grouping of elves, an unknown fortress rumoured to contain unimaginable wealth.
The wealth of this fortress is undoubtedly what drew the dragon that arrived in flame with an army of humanoids it had somehow smuggled deep into the Elven lands.
The fight had seemed hopeless when the current King and Queen arrived and in a battle that lasted several weeks kept the Beast and its hordes at bay long enough for the remaining Elves to flee.
Since then the Elves have established a new capital deep within the woods; woods which are protected as much by the magic of their rulers as the units of rangers who patrol for invaders.
Although technically within the borders of Torland and subject to its crown the Elves are independent and ensure the continued goodwill of the Emperor by their lack of involvement in local politics and ensuring that their kindred to the south west do not openly ally themselves with Bigany.
The Action at Redbrick bridge endangered this by placing an elf of considerable military prowess in a position of open opposition to the empire. This has caused a wave of popular outrage amongst the plebeian class who have started to turn against Elves.
Brother Ponderous: Travelogue Vol CXXXIII:
This route is not especially well known, though in the past it had greater prominence.
The route takes the traveller from the great northern city of the Kingdom of Bigany to what was once one of the most important provincial capitals of the Torland Empire.
In between the traveller must face the well-patrolled perils of the Great lake, nearer to sea in size, land locked though it is.
Across the lake There are several settlements, though none to compare in size to Lakeport, Jewel of the North. Settlers from Bigany, Torland depending on who held sway over the region, founded these settlements in a past age. There is a large minority of people in this region who view themselves as citizens of the empire, though few would say so publicly - the reach of the crown is long and harsh.
These settlements each lead to trade routes into the empire itself. Vitrus lies upon the north most of these, leading the traveller through the Cloud Reach Mountains. This land is rumoured to contain the fabled land of Jotunheim; the home of the cloud giants amidst a storm that rages perpetually. The traveller need not worry however, as the route does not venture this far into the mountains on its way from Westreach, rather it follows the Pass known as Misneach's Cleave -apparently the God Misneach cleaved the pass in his eagerness to attack the demon hordes! Such are the tall tales told in many of the wayside taverns in the hamlets that dot the trail.
Further on at the apex of the pass lies the westernmost outpost of the Torlandish Military machine. This pass has been fortified heavily against the so-called deprivations of the Black Guard as they defend the low lands (claimed by Torland) from the so called invaders. It is a match and more to the mighty citadel of Lake Port and ensures the security of the Torlandish heartland beyond.
Further on the terrain descends once more into the river valley of the mighty Travan River that wends its way east across the plains. An item of interest to those of engineering bent is the massive canal running alongside it, which is derelict and incomplete; its construction stopped for fear of allowing the Bigany forces access to the more navigable stretches of the river and the heartland of the empire.
LockTon stands atop a waterfall descending to the valley below; its name coming from the incomplete Lock which was to allow ships access to and from the plains several hundred feet below. The town thrives on the lifting mechanisms that expedite the journey onwards.
Further down the vale are communities of halflings; proudly tending their orchards and vineyards. Further on again beneath the spur of Mount Tacticus -named for the supposed resemblance between the general’s nose and the slopes lays the town of Veroncini capital of the western province. Ruled by the local Senator this is a thrving burg.
Some time later in the foothills comes the former border town and military base of Vitrus' Bluff arranged on a solitary peak overlooking the area. This town is but a shadow of its former self and has been in decline since the westward expansion.
Finally we reach the city of Vitrus, once one of the great provincial capitals and now a shadow of its former self. Still the great market and the tomb of the empress are worth a visit.
The Military Structure of Torland is at least as complex as its political make up. The back bone of the torlandish Army consists of the legions. These are supplemented by auxillaries, mercenaries and elite units.
The Legions fall under a number of different categories. First are the Imperial Legions, next the Senatorial Legions and finally the conscript legions.
The Imperial Legions are those which were formed by Imperial edict. The majority were founded by Tacticus and other Emperors of his era.
The most prestigous of the Imperial Legions are the Praetorians. These are Legions I to V. Each is charged with a particular duty in the preservation of the Imperium. These duties are primarily defensive though members of the legions are secunded as advisors and shock troops to other legions on occasion. This is usually done to bolster a weakened legion or provide active service training to the Praetorians.
The Remaining Imperial Legions are stationed throughout the empire and are responsible for maintaining the communications channels and integrity within the empire and with its external allies. These are also the troops most likely to be called into service for major campaigns overseas, although this has not been the case in recent years. The Toughest of these legions are the Dirt Legion which is prevented from entering the Imperial Province of the Tor peninsula by law.
The Senatorial Legions are funded by each of the senatorial provinces rather than directly by the Emperor. They are required under the Imperial charter of the Province. Senatorial legions vary in quality and size from little more than permanent militias to highly trained fighting forces depending on the Province. Senatorial Legions are often kept under strength and bolstered from the ranks of freehold farmer-soldiers who gain land and freedom from taxes in exchange for military service. This is most common in rural provinces.
Conscript Legions have little more than a core of fighting men. They are responsible for training the militia and others who are forced to join in time of war. Strict regulations govern the number of times that conscripts can be drafted although once in the army conscripts have no rights to pay or leave. The merit of these legions is small and they are generally viewed as a training ground for people who may join the army proper or who are retiring from it. Most privelege related promotions occur in the conscript legions. The conscript legions are generally used in auxillary or support roles in war, few professional soldiers want to fight alongside them.
Auxillaries are troops of allied nations who fight part or full time with the legion. They are most frequently encountered near the empires boundaries as there is little trust of these professional soldiers whose primary loyalty is to a foriegn power. That said, several of the Imperial protectorates have a long tradition of having their soldiers work for a while with Imperial Legions where they learn the methods and tactics of disciplined warfare. Certain auxillary units are also noted for their total refusal to adapt Torlandish customs and methods of warfare, most notably the Frost Reavers of the Ice coast.
The Torlandish army does not normally make high levels of use of Elite Units, other than the Praetorians of the Imperial Guard. There is a strong distrust of the notion of giving a single unit too much power. Instead they prefer to diffuse their special forces throughout the empire and the army.
It is known, however, that the Imperial Information service is highly active and has extensive networks of spies throughout the empire and the world, though a notable weakness is the area of Bigany.
The Dwarven Clans supply from amongst their ranks Dwarven Defenders who assume the title Imperial Defender (Equal in status to a Count). These fanatical bodyguards have the single purpose of preserving the emperor's life and that of his family. For this they receive financial benefits which are said to be excessive, even in dwarven circles.
The Dwarves also form the backbone of the imperial Engineering Cohorts, generally acting as officers in charge of Conscript labour.
The Elven nation in exile despite its protectorate status and often turbulent relations with the empire supplies a number of Archer Units
There are a small number of Units of Battle Mages. These tend to operate outside the Legion structure and are usually attached to command staffs.
The Upper ranks of these legions are populated most densely of any of the legions. The Middle and lower ranks are usually made up of semi retired mercenaries or Imperial Guardsmen. No Praetorian would ever lower themselves to joining a conscript legion except perhaps as tribune.
In peace time the conscript legions are populated mainly by officers and their permanent staff. Members of the poorer classes are obligated to serve in the military on attaining majority. This is so that they can be trained in preparation for war. In practice this is a little followed tradition.
In wartime the conscript legions serve several purposes. They are used as general labour by the engineering corps during sieges and the like as well as operating as support troops throughout the provinces. Their use in combat has been restricted in recent times in favour of better trained and equiped troops. This represents an overall fall in the level of preparedness of the Empire for sustained Military campaign.
While the black guard may feel that the Torland army was kept back due to military & political reasons there is more to it. Who do you think caused a lot of this disloyalty and treachery? and who helped to stir up the revolts and who inspired the Dirt Legion Commanders to go into politics? Most of all, who let it be clear to the Emperor and the Senate that they would be psionicly assassinated (or worse) if they tried anything stupid. King Darius Kinnet XIV of Bigany followed the advice of his Crown. "Divide and ignore". Darius feared many things, The Emperor of Torland wasn't one of them.
King Egdar Kinnet I isn't quite so confident…yet.
I remember as a young noble coming across a highly interesting volume on politics. The authenticity of the document is debatable, after all what would confidential documents be doing in public library? Mind you, every library of note has to have at least one classified book.
Black Guard Perspective
(Internal Use Only)
Commander 'X' of the Black Guard
The Torland army is one of the most efficient armies in existence. This efficiency is characterised by an ability to move large bodies of troops efficiently through hostile territory.
The Sheer size of the Empire has meant that it has never been able to bring its full strength to bear against a single opponent. That and the fact that the Emperor and senate are reluctant to trust more than a handful of legions to any one leader for fear that they might revolt against the crown.
The treachery of the commanders is perhaps rooted in the fact that they are people of noble birth with aspirations on the crown. We can use this to ensure that Torland never brings its full strength to bear.
Of all the legions, the ones, which have proved most loyal -other than the imperial guard, are the dirt legions. This is perhaps due to their dependence on the crown for their lives.
Historically they have been involved in crushing several attempted coups though they have not always been successful; part of the reason for their fall from favour.
The Dirt Legions have always had their own code: Legion, Empire, Emperor.
Another reason for the fall from favour of the dirt legions is the fact that the ranks of nobility were gradually being populated by former commanders of these units, increasing their poiltical sway within the senate.
Political expediance perhaps explains the dispatch of the XIIIth Legion under their politically powerful leader to complete an unknown task. The fact that they never returned is perhaps the surprise. No trace of their existence has emerged for 150 years - a matter for the scholars.
The other Legions
The history of the Torlandish army
For the first five centuries of its existence, Torland had no army standing. When the authorities in Torland thought it was necessary to take military action, they called up the citizens who had subscribed to a list. When these citizens were called up, they took their own armour with them and formed a temporary army. At the end of such a campaign the 'part-time soldiers got a reward: some money or a patch of ground. In these centuries, when there was no real army, The Empire of Torland very often used allies.
When The Empire of Torland became bigger and bigger, and the military actions took place further from Torland and The Torland Peninsula, the people weren't satisfied with the citizen-army anymore. About 100 B.K. the Torlandish general and Consul Gaius Marius had made a regular army out of the Citizen-army. It became much better and stronger, because the soldiers were better trained and armed. A disadvantage of such a regular army was that it could be used as a personal political means of power. A good example of this is Jurius Kinnus.
When Augustus became the first emperor of the Torlandish Empire, he started to demarcate the frontiers of the Empire. Before the reign of Augustus, The Empire of Torland was a hegemonic empire, which means an empire with zones of decreasing influence around the center of Torland and The Torland Peninsula. Apart from that, Augustus conquered big territories in the middle of Nagaranthiel, and he also tried to conquer the northern barbarian lands, but he made no progress there. When Varus was defeated with his legions at the Teutoburgerwald (9 A.K.), The Empire of Torland began to demarcate frontiers very clearly around the territory where the empire was in control. Augustus kept peace inside the frontiers of his empire. That peace was named after him: Pax Augusta. Along the northern frontier of the empire (along the peaks of the Ice Hold Mountains and the Iron Pass) a lot of forts were built in order to bring enough pressure on the barbarians outside the empire. The Iron Gate being the most powerful. In this way the Torlandish army became a standing army, which was unparalleled for those centuries.
Talamh was formed from the void by the Great One known only as the creator.
Talamh was formed by The First Born, children of “The Great”. The Great can not a be refered to by he, she, it or them. The Great must always refered to as The Great. Gender, Plurality and Tense do not apply to The Great.
Its next act was to create the life essences that would come to be the gods and creatures of the world.
The Great created Draíocht, Croí and Feo, Cróga and Cogadh in that order. And no others.
Having created the world it was left to its own devices with the gods quickly establishing order.
They created unchanging Talamh.
After millions of years they introduced seasons etc.
Some of these sought to create, some sought to destroy.
All had their purpose and acted in accordance with that purpose.
They all had distinct personailities and acted accordingly.
Even Feo, the destroyer, had his purpose.
He was initially one of the most creative Gods. Once he invented entropy though, the paradox of wanting to destroy everything including himself without destroying everything drove him Mad.
Mortals were created.
Some had the ability to introduce chaos into this divine order.
This was necessary to avoid stagnation.
Feo is as much a creature of Chaos as of Evil. Initially he was a divine genius who freed the prime plane from stagnation by creating change (chaos) and helped form the cycles of creation and destruction to allow the plane to develop.
Tain McLir became aware of this potential, the possibility that he could reorder the cosmos in his own image.
He was trying to achieve greater divinity in one step.
He sought to do this but had insufficient grasp of the extent of the problem he had unleashed.
What he attempted was possible but he could not achieve it by himself.
The opening of the chain gate was triggered by the acts of Tain McLir.
He was misled to this end by a cabal of Demon Spawn that he had thought to control.
Táin McLir created the Chain Gate and harnessed the power of The Fallen.
He could simply not contain that much power.
He had to let their physical forms through in order ro reduce the amount of power he was absorbing.
Once that happened he lost control of the power.
The Demon Lords and Devil Princes arrived and devastation commenced.
The failure of Tain McLir signalled the failure of Wizardry as a means of independence.
It was made stunningly obvious that Arcane power needed to be restricted.
Misneach's actions represented a God acting true to his nature.
While he posessed free will and was aware of the consequences of his actions it is also true to say that gods tend towards patterns of response as the milennia pass.
It would be grossly unfair to call Misneach's sacrifice as a pattern response.
No one, especially a God would allow themselves to die out of a habit.
It the most unselfish act in history.
It was the act that defined The Risen.
These patterns are not necessarily visible but they usually exist.
The Creator's intervention leveled the playing pitch.
The Great should only be refered to as The Great.
The Great first intervened millenia before The Chain Gate War.
This first intervention ended The Doom War.
Feo and his followers had created hundreds of evil and chaotic races.
They formed an army of billions to destroy the universe.
The Great banished both Pure Good and Vile Evil in favour of True Balance.
The Gods who wished to remain active on Talamh accepted Balance.
The were The Chosen.
They were granted new alignments: Cerebral, Centered and True.
Great power still remained in the world and mortals grew in might.
Many ages later Táin McLir rose to the pinacle of Wizardly power.
The Mages were out of control and Táin McLir was the greatest of them.
But there were hundreds of Epic Mages, tinkering with reality.
Many of them were pawns of banished extremist deities both Good or Evil.
It undid the immediate cause of the problem and presented a clear imperative to the gods to act.
This imperative was such that it allowed them to overcome their previously established patterns of behaviour.
The gods were once more given the task of governing the world of Talamh.
They had been reprimanded severely by their creator, reminded that their task was to govern rather than observe the world.
The subsequent arguments resulted in the formation of the church of the moons and its factions.
Misneach sacrificed himself to save Talamh.
He died because he defied a Word spoken by The Great.
No God may go to Talamh.
This event was the reason the Gods unified all their followers into The Church of The Moons.
The Church of The Moons is charged with ensuring that mortals are kept in line.
It is also why Draíocht reduced the availability of Arcane Power to Mortals.
Since then the gods have been active in their involvement in the world.
They have taken a level of interest in day to day goings on that would scare most mortals.
The Church of The Moons, does all the low level work.
It is the Gods’ instrument.
They only take an interest when matters of great importance warrant it.
Or on a whim.
They view Talamh as a great game.
They have their favorites of course and The Church of The Moons may make requests to them.
However, this level of intervention and micro management has created a problem.
The world runs the risk of stagnation, of transcending to law - something which few of the gods desire.
While the Fallen and Risen are prohibited by injunction, choice from acting in the world it has proved necessary to open up possibilities of external influence that are potentially unbalancing.
This is handled by something of a quota system monitored by the Church of the moons.
In cases where the Risen/Fallen exceed their mandate they are purged.
The Fallen and The Risen have no mandate.
All alignments are accepted by The Church and as such the strife between them is in constant flux .
Extremes such as the Risen and Fallen are not accepted.
The Church of The Moons is a huge organisation, but it just cannot be everywhere at once.
While they do attempt to hunt down the Fallen, they appreciate the balancing influence of The Risen and so do not attack them.
The Risen will leave once The Fallen have been defeated, so they will be around for a while.
The Dragon in Nagaranthiel has managed to take advantage of a loop-hole in the ordinances that govern the gods intervention in the world.
Originally from another place it first came her at the request of a mortal.
Having completed a stage of its evolution it moved into the plane, rebirthing into mortal form.
In this it managed to somehow circumvent the rules that usually apply.
It has never revealed exactly how it managed this.
The Dragon first arrived as a mortal extension of herself during the time of Táin McLir.
She grew slowly and carefully in power avoiding Fallen levels of evil or chaos and She went undetected for a long time.
When McLir fell and the Chain Gate Smashed, she was forced to deal with the Elves as Magic was taken from the world and she hid from the Church of The Moons but she built her power even despite these set backs.
All the time she hid her true origins.
Having arrived the Dragon spied out its target and struck with great suddenness and force.
It is speculated by arcane theorists that the Dragon exists in both mortal and godly spheres of existence simultaneously - Not in the sense of an avatar but something where it is equally present to both.
Eventually Misneach was raised.
While his essence was being reformed and the Gods were watching, she used the Magic of the Song of Balance which she had long studied to allow her Divine Fallen essence to reform.
Immediately she cloaked her essence and hid it in the Abyss, where it taunts Feo’s mad imprisoned form.
Her prime plane form is of a dragon but it’s corruption and power less than her full form but is hidden well.
As a result any action by the gods against the dragon in one sphere of existence would have consequences in the other.
If she draws the scrutiny of the Gods, they will imprison her in the Abyss and destroy her mortal essence. No matter what the cost. However she always masquerades as Evil not Fallen.
Some suggest that the gods are afraid of the forces that would be unleashed by such an encounter.
The real battle would be in The Abyss.
They would sever her connection to the Prime.
Then they would sent Avatars and Psionic Giants to slay her mortal form.
The Epic Risen Knights would be sent on one last quest.
Draíocht would remove her magic.
The Avatar of Bas would seal her fate.
Bas is lethal when not balanced with Saol.
Much of the Dragons power seems to be tied up in maintaining this dual existence.
The war with the Elves is an entirely mortal affair and observers have not been able to detect direct divine intervention by the Dragon in the war.
As a result it has managed to stall the hand of the Church of the Moons in intervening.
The Dragon has often made massive donations to the Church of The Moons.
The manipulation of the Elven nation into a diametrically opposite position has resulted in a self-balancing situation.
The actions of the Dragon in Torland and beyond are treated as all other acts by powerful individuals.
They are viewed with suspicion.
Recent attempts of the Dragon to gain control of the bloodline resulted in a setback for its schemes.
The Dragon may attempt to merge with the bloodline.
The action freed up the gods to intervene directly in countering some of the Dragon's bolder moves.
Prompted the Church of The Moons in Torland to take a firmer stance on the affair.
The re-emergence of the Imperial regalia is seen as a direct counter to its threats in the Torland region.
Finally, the gods have proved reticent in speaking of the Dragon.
Reticent is not the right word.
It simply doesn’t concern them.
No one (Divine or Mortal) has ever shown that the dragon is a divine level threat.
The Gods will deal with any Divine Level Events that happen.
The Church of The Moons will deal with any mortal issues as they see fit.
Those who have communed on the subject have either received no reply or such a reply that they keep it to themselves.
No one really asks.
Anyone who is wise enough to commune with the Gods, is wise enough to know when questions are not welcome or when they are expected to find the answers for themelves.
The Torland Army
Tribune Celius Triumvus, of the Empire.
The XVIII Legion Volume I
I have read much over the years of my youth, strange for a man born to the plebeian Classes. Like most of my age I was caught up in the literature of heroes, especially those of war and conquest.
It was as a young child that I first resolved to become a soldier. As adolescence progressed I studied and became a learned Scholar. My treatises on the military campaigns of the empire won prizes.
Had I been born to the senatorial class I might have risen quickly to fame and fortune as a great general and commander of men. Instead I was victim of a society where the plebeians could aspire to comfort, the ownership of a few slaves and a peaceful old age. An unobjectionable life interspersed by the excitement of the games orchariot races. The alternative was to join the army and serve as a soldier, potentially rising to the ranks of Decurion after a number of years. To spend retirement on the plot of land awarded for a life of toil under another man's orders, the orders of someone whose birth counted for more than their ability.
But, then, there was the Dirt Legions. The Legions composed of criminals, outcasts and failed gladiators. There are only two Dirt Legions and one of them is the XIIIth. The Dirt Legions are the only place where a common citizen can rise to the rank of tribune and lead an army, the only place where a convict serving a life sentence can earn freedom, the only place where a man destined for the gallows can go to escape.
The Dirt Legions are a place where life is cheap. It is the only place where the worst criminal in the empire can gain noble rank for the simple act of being the most ruthless soldier around.
The XVIII Legion Volume III
I have talked in the previous volumes about my early rise to the position I now hold. How as a convicted felon I found refuge in the vicious but welcoming embrace of the Legion. I have talked about the legion's history and the role it played in the many wars that went to make the empire what it is today. There are, however, elements of the tale that I have omitted. Elements that cause me pain beyond bearing to commit to writing, for such is the strength of the curse upon me.
To explain the story I must first provide some background. In the past the Dirt Legions have been the first to enter a battle and the last to leave. The level of death amongst the legions has made those who survive into some of the toughest fighters in this world. We have never baulked at an order, never refused a call to arms. The only legions in the empire to have that record.
Some 15 Years ago the colonisation of the eastern Desert folk began. Their land was sought, not for any immediate benefit but for the access to wild animals for use in the circus it would bring. The emperor of the time, long descended to dissipation sought fresh victories from abroad to distract the plebeians from the degeneration of the society in which they lived.
Initially the XIIth Legion was sent with two other legions primarily composed of auxiliaries. This turned into a massive campaign involving fifteen legions, fully half the armies of the east. The campaign ground on for 3 years without any progress. The senate debated the usefulness of the war and questioned the emperor's decision.
In an attempt to stop the war the Senate took action, Consul Habius Vitrus, Senator of the Vitrus family placed a motion for the removal of the newly conquered lands from the empire, effectively ending their occupation.
In this motion the Consul was supported by a variety of senators but in particular by what had become known as 'the Dirt Senate', Senators whose families had risen from the ranks of the Dirt Legion to that exalted rank. This powerful group of individuals represented the state of opinion of the military at the time and was considered vital by both sides.
Through extensive land grants and bribes the emperor won the vote for his newly gained lands and intensified his efforts against the nomadic tribes.
Over the next months there were several assassinations of prominent senators and an attempt on the life of Consul Habius, who only survived through the use of magical arts he had long studied.
Consul Habius fled to his country retreat where he lives, to my knowledge to this day -despite several attempts to assassinate him.
The Dirt Legion's involvement in this was nil. As a legion involvement in politics had always been avoided, unlike many of the other legions. However, the Emperor was obviously displeased with the opposition of former soldiers to his designs. It was not sufficient to have several of them assassinated and some more executed for crimes against the state, if anything that strengthened their resolve. Also the emperor was running out of funds to support the war in the east.
In an attempt to either destroy the legion and its memory or achieve the wealth it needed the Legion was sent on its final mission in service of the emperor.
I, Celius Triumvus, Tribune of the XIIIth Legion did lead the legion to the very gates of death and to a fate, which makes death a welcome release. I personally, the legion under my command - A total of 7,000 troops at full strength were dispatched into the Great Northern forest to invade and conquer the former elven capital.
We fought elves that tried to stop our entry into the area due to treaty. We fought Goblin and Orc Armies, Ogre and Orog Champions, Ogre Mages and their spells and still we pressed on. We met the forces of the Trolls and the Dark Minds that guided them. Finally with but a thousand of the Legion standing we fought our way to the very gates of that great citadel.
In any other war we would have had support, other legions to strengthen our line. In this we did not. We had traveled by night for several weeks by many routes to bring us to the edges of the forest. None but the legion knew where we were, the legion and the emperor who commanded them. The Emperor who had forced a tribune to Geasa Bond.
The Geasa this: 'I will never return from the Elven City of Nagaranthialleth the fair until I return with its plundered riches. I will only surrender these riches to my rightful emperor'
Geasa bound as I was I looked on the troops around me. They would have followed me to the very gates of hell and beyond had I ordered it. Every one would have been a champion or officer in another legion. All skilled at arms.
The gates of that great city opened and we knew fear. What issued forth was not an army, no great host to assail us. Instead it was an honour guard, composed entirely of Giants encased in armour of adamantite. But yet we could have taken them -though the victory was costly.
In their midst walked a young woman. Entirely average, vivacious, but knowing. She carried an aura of palpable fear that transcended her form to unsettle an army. Bedecked in jewels as she was, she walked to the front of our line and demanded our surrender for entering her realm, and then we knew -this was no fifteen year old girl but the Dragon who claimed this mountain home.
I called the champions and standard bearers and we prepared to charge. Her shape started to change and where previously had been a girl a shimmering shape revealed a serpentine form some three hundred foot in length, its blue black scales covered in runes, its belly embedded in a thousand gems.
With that change the illusion surrounding us disappeared and the host lining the valley walls was revealed. Goblin, Orc and Orog. Ogre, Ogre Mage and Troll. Giant and Hellhound. We were surrounded. We prepared to die.
All Day we fought and all night. As each man fell the enemy dragged him off to some unknown fate, all the while the dragon looked on. As Dawn arose our hope turned to despair, their number thinned they still came onwards. And then it seized my mind, the night before an exercise I felt the domination of its mind over mine. I heard myself issue the command to lower arms. I felt myself kneel to it, her the great and terrible beast who would come to dominate my life.
Those who were felled were taken and healed, to work the mines of the mountains or bound to serve in her army.
The Officers and champions were taken for special treatment, days...months of torture and pain and the constant reminder of her presence until finally she enthralled my to her service, supplanting oaths to the empire with oaths to her empire, vast and spanning nations.
So this then has been the tale of how I, Celius Triumvus Tribune of the Empire came to be the creature that is Incarsus Maximus, Marshall of the Fell Horde, Tribune of the Lost Legion, Captain of Nagaranthialleth, Champion of Uber Atexus Verus Draconic Lord and Infernal Power.
So you see my old friend, our fates are not so different after all.