The True Empire of Kaegor (Old Empire)
What is now the True or Old Empire was once merely the eastern most Satrap of the Empire of Kaegor. When Kaegor XIII, the last ‘true’ emperor was deposed by Innocence it proclaimed itself loyal to Kaegor’s cause and refused to acknowledge the authority of the new Divine Emperor.
The Kaegorian Empire continues under Emperor Kaegor XIX in the east and they refuse to deal with the traitors of the west with high contempt. In principle they are hostile to the Successor States but in practice are co-operative. Feeling bitter and aggrieved the Old Empire has turned to dark deities. Its Kaegorian Army adores Hextor the god of war, discord, massacres, conflict, fitness, and tyranny. Its merchants follow Zahak a demi-god of Commerce, Trade and Greed with no compassion or caring for others. The poor and weak are indentured and regimented under the eyes of the clerics of Bralm, the slaver goddess of insects and industriousness.
The History of the Old Empire
East Warlderia was spared much of the earlier Wars of Kaegor the Great. It was only after the Peace of Melthurien that the rebellious humans spread to the East. The human General Pamarian landed on the peninsula that would later be the site of grim fortress of Tervingard. It was a bold move as Elves were masters of the sea and the Armies of Man always travelled by land till this point. The Dwarves of the Eastern Mountains would have fallen on any land column and rather than try to fight through the naval gamble was taken. Pamarian’s fleet on barges, galleys and cogs succeeded because it was so unconventional and illogical that it was not envisioned by the Elves. He marched north with his small force attracting human followers and fighting small battles with unprepared enemies. He fell upon the unaware Elves of Gleaming Tovaj, now True Kaegoria and burnt their fleet at anchor. The Elves rained magical fire upon his force and drove it way but their mastery of the Indersta Sea was ended. More men came by ship and joined the ranks of Pamarian and he fought a viscous and ignoble war against his enemies. The Forest of Bowden was put to the torch and the Glens of Serenity hacked and burnt. In a dozen years he drove the Elves back in to Gleaming Tovaj and north to Lamure and blunted a Dwarven assault at Polymera. In an act of equal barbarism the Fey Sage-Wizard Mav Id’Erian called down a ‘tear from heaven’ to smash the vulgar upstarts. It fell to earth near the ruins of Bowden where it split the earth and turned day in to dusk with a cloud that killed Man in his thousands. Resilient, or callous, Pamarian rallied his remaining men and struck at the beautiful Elven City.
“It was not merely that they sacked and looted but that they did and could not appreciate that which they destroyed. Like a vulture feeding on the corpse of a gifted poet, their sacrilege was beyond their comprehension.” The Ghost of Tovaj
The sack of Tovaj was the end of the War in the South East. The very air was foul and the fields withering. Both Man and Elf were sick and weary; too tired to carry on. Pamarian marched north to build the keep at Udrakadesh where he finally died upon his 40th birthday. Kaegor himself arrived in the ruins of Tovaj by land having freed the lands south of the Dwarven Mountains. He commissioned the fortress of Tervingard to command the Straits of Hope and then went back to his new capital never to return. For a decade and more the lands lay fallow till the strong sea winds from the east had blown the poisons away. Man settled the lands now free from ash and poison. They built the city of Pamarian over the ruins of Tovaj and spread out and settled. So matters remained till the great collapse of the Kaegorian Empire. Till the deprivations in the West drove the East to split in to the successor states with the exception of the loyalists that would become the True Empire.
The Military of the Old Empire
The Army of the Empire consists of professional, Men of War, Religious Regiments, Hextorites, Feudal part-time soldiers and even humanoid auxiliaries.
The leaders of the Men of War swear a blood oath of loyalty to the Kaegorian Empire and each other. Between the age of 7 and 9 children will leave their family homes and join one of the Junior Barracks where they receive an education and activities focused on general literacy and numeracy along with physical strength and endurance. This education is paid for by the family or sponsor. Exceptional applicants may be accepted without a fee but this is not very common. The regime of the Junior Barracks is tough and disciplined but not overly harsh. Students are well fed and cared for to aid their development. Assuming they do not fail or drop out they will progress on the next stage. At puberty the ‘would be’ Men of War applies for the War Barracks. Assuming they are accepted their education focuses much more on skill at arms and combat. It is hard and intense training but not exclusively relating, to war. The top performing, or best contacted, would be trained for command. All must pass a final, potentially, fatal test. Graduates would be posted to a regiment within the Army depending on performance and influence. There are several prestigious regiments within the Men of War. The Kaegorian Guard, are charged with the safety of the True Emperor. The True Legion is a heavy assault unit equipped with the best arms and armour available. The Knights of Kaegor are a premiere cavalry unit made up of veteran warriors. There are also several pseudo-knightly chapters such as the Most Fearsome Order of the Manticore and the the Magnificent Phalanx of the Wyvern.
In parallel to the Men of War Barracks are the smaller Halls of Hextor, they serve a more brutal and ecumenical upbringing. Based at War Abbey they provide a highly motivated and ecumenically supported fighting force. Graduates from the Halls of Hextor will serve as a guard or soldier for the scourge of battle. Only the best and most brutal of worshippers may go on to join the elite Fists of Hextor. Arguably the most effective fighting unit in the Lands of Warlderia, the Fists will literally prefer to face death rather than the dishonour of defeat. The most numerous of Old Empire troops are the feudal units. They are raised by the nobles and great land owners. Many of the officers are retired Men of War who have done their ten years and been discharged with honour. They range in competence from full time household troops to shambolic militias. They also tend to make better garrison troops and have more widely skilled members.
To make numbers up, in the Empire's endless need to defend itself, humanoids, orcs, ogres and the likes, have been recruited to bulk up the quantity of troops available. Owing loyalty to none but their tribe and employer they have become popular and even fashionable though never fully accepted.
The Empire’s naval forces are ad hoc and limited in size. There is are two strong squadrons at Tervingard operating on either side of the Choke and the Devil's Sea. At True Kaegoria there are some especially fine war galleys but beyond that the naval forces are small in size and rarely deployed beyond coastal waters.
The Head of the Empire is the True Emperor Kaegor XIX who rules from his vaulted throne room within the Palace of Kaegor at True Kaegoria. He is a direct, male descendant of the first True Emperor who himself was the Governor of the province at the usuption of the ‘heretical’ Divine Empire. True power does not rest with him. Though lauded and respected his is a figure head that masks the murky power broking that goes on behind the throne. A cabal of vying interest rules the Old Empire.
- The Men of War (Army)
- The Priests of Hextor
- The Clergy of Bralm
- The Arcane Order of Thaumaturgists (Wee Jas)
- The Smiths of Starfall
- The Old Nobility
- Followers of Zahak (Merchants)
The factions stay in power because they have the strength to and for no other reason.
The casting of Arcane Magic is strongly regulated within the Old Empire. All practitioners must be registered and approved by the self-governing body, The Arcane Order of Thaumaturgists. None may cast magics without their approval for the land itself was nearly destroyed by the callous casting of the Elven Sage-Wizard Mav Id’Erian. A renegade wizard or sorcerer is a dangerous thing in the Old Empire and if caught is treated severely. The traditional punishment is to be draped in iron chains, weighed down and then cast in to the sea.
The Old Nobility still control large tracts of land and are also heavily involved in other aspects of society such as the military and clergy. Fiercely conservative they oppose those that would change the empire and constantly clash with the merchants and traders. Interbreeding can be a problem as ‘pure’ bloodlines repeatedly inter marry.
When Man came to explore the crater of the ‘Tear from Heaven’ they found strange ores and minerals within it. Most potent of all was an ore very similar to Mithril, save it was a burnt red colour and glowed with a dark light. This ‘Starfall’ alloy made fine strong weapons and superior armour but was hard to craft. Thus the Smiths of Starfall came in to being, craftsmen dedicated to blending this new ore, obsessed with keeping their art secret and to control the supply of the valuable resource.
Before the division with the other treacherous parts of the Kaegorian Empire, the people of the region worshipped very similar gods and goddesses. Since then the envy and bitterness has driven them down dark paths. One such is the worship of Zahak, the demi-god of commerce, trade and greed. Merchants and traders follow this god’s selfish business practices though he is virtually unkown beyond the True Empire. Vulgar and self made men, the Clergy of Bralm are not loved by all but are an important part of the fabric of society. They get things done and organise the jobs that no one wants to do but need doing. They build and maintain the roads, dredge the rivers and even supply the slave miners for Starfall. Rivals to Zahak, they are needed but not loved.
Paramount with the Old Empire are the Men of War. The Army is the defender and soul of the Empire. Without it there would be no heirs to Kaegor as the land would be overrun by heretics, spies, elves, dwarves and so on and so on. The Army gets the lion share of taxes and resources. Within the Army are licensed war wizards, sons of nobility and war priests of Hextor. The Army is fed by Bralm quartermasters and wields Starfall weapons. Nearly all the factions have an interest in the Army and it knows so. The Empire is militarised and a warlike state needs a war like god. The ruthlessness of its warriors is reflected in its choice of deity, Hextor god of war, discord, massacres, conflict, fitness, and tyranny. He instils drive and energy in to the Old Empire but at a great moral cost. Hextor teaches that the world is a harsh, unforgiving place. The strong rule the weak, and power is the only reward worth having. Cruelty and mercilessness are necessary tools, “Mercy is for the weak”.
One of the newest and most unique units of the Empire is the Imperialium Caelum Speculatores (The Imperial Sky Scouts) based in and around Tervingard. These Wyvern riders are becoming more and more useful though they have yet to be tried in war.
Illustration: From The Battle for Wesnoth (http://www.wesnoth.org/) used under General Public License