The Duvian Imperium is the oldest surviving nation in Aenar, dating its founding back nearly two thousand years ago. The Imperium is governed by a strict magocracy, in which mage-lords, known as praetors, wield legal authority over the rest of the society. The chief among the praetors is the Imperial Hierarch, the supreme ruler of the Imperium, who reigns from his seat in the imperial capital, Numenex.
Long ago, the Imperium covered all of Aenar, all along the Drakari Mountains and extending to the eastern coasts. Though it has since lost much of its dominion, the Imperium remains one of the great powers in Aenar, bosting a powerful military and great wealth from the Drakari Mountains and the Elderwood. However, much of the Imperium's focus has been pulled by its continual war for territory against the Sol'dai.
Duvian citizenry is broken down into three main social classes, of increasing political power and rights. The lowest class is the Mundane, those who are not gifted with magical abilities. The Mundane are typically restricted to more menial labors, such as agriculture or mining. A few members of the Mundane class are able to gain a decent amount of wealth as traders, though they still do not compare to their mage counterparts. Often, Mundane are placed into a form of indentured servitude, serving under a praetor or wealthy mage for their living. In ancient times, Mundane were used as sacrifices to fuel the blood magic of the praetors, though this practice has died down since the Imperium converted to the Luminarian faith. Mundane are allowed to serve in the Imperial Legion, though they can never rise to command positions. It is possible for a Mundane family to rise up into the Magi class, if a child is born with magical ability--however this is incredibly rare. But they may not be risen to the praetor-class
The next highest social class is are the Magi, or mage-commoners. The Magi are granted the right to own property and run much of the commerce of the Imperium. Skilled magi-craftsmen are reknowned for their ability to use magic to shape and purify their materials into higher quality products. Imperium weapons and armor are only rivaled by those produced by the elves or dwarves. Magi make up the bulk of the higher ranks of the Legion, with each squad of Mundane soldiers commanded by a mage-captain. Magi may be risen to the rank of praetor by order of the Hierarch or marriage into a noble family.
The final, highest class of the Imperium are the Praetors, the mage-lords. These powerful noble families control vast tracts of land, granted authority over the residents of their land as representatives of the Hierarch. The praetors are primarily focused on the politics of the Imperium, being the primary members of the Imperial Senate. Only praetors can become the Hierarch, if elected by the Senate. Praetors tend to be the masters of several Mundane servants.
Duvian culture has a long tradition of interacting with dragons, especially with the large numbers of the beasts that dwell in the nearby Drakari Mountains. The ancient Maelduvian tribes often lived in fear of a dragon raid, viewing the great beasts as near god-like creatures, wielding the power of death and destruction to a scale that, at the time, mankind could only dream of obtaining.
As the Duvians settled in the region, dealing with the draconic threat became even more of a necessity. The advent and development of human magic granted the Duvians a solution. Powerful Duvian mages researched methods of taming dragons, becoming the first dragonriders of Aenar. Due to the high level of skill and power the taming methods required, a small number of the mages were able to become dragonriders. However this turned the tide in the development of Duvian culture. Some praetors were able to use blood magic to bind their souls to their dragons, combining their power and creating a symbiotic bond that granted longer life and greater strength to both the dragon and the rider. Dragonriders of this variety were known as a Bound-Rider
Today, few dragonriders still exist, primarily due to the dwindling number of dragons in Aenar. As the Daemoni Razings ravaged the Imperium, some secrets were lost to the destruction. Along with this, the corruption of the old Duvian gods by the Daemoni tainted the perception of dragons in the Imperium. The Archdemons of the Daemoni are believed to be Bound-Riders, binding themselves to a corrupted dragon-god of the Old Pantheon. This binding is even more powerful than the normal binding the ancient praetors used, granting the Archdemon near immortality so long as his dragon-god still lives.
The Grand ProvingEdit
Each year, the mages of the Imperium can compete in a massive tournament in the Grand Colosseum in Numenex. The Proving is a combination of individual tests of ability and skill and direct duels between mages. Some of these challenges include traverse a trap and beast ladened labrinyth, or tests of survival in extreme conditions.
The winner of the Proving is granted the title of Champion of the Colosseum, earning a massive reward and political prestige. Typically the winner is from a noble house, who train tirelessly in the arcane arts, however there have been Champions from the Magi class. They hold this title until the next Proving.
Originally, The Imperium worshipped the gods of the Duvian Pantheon, which has dated back to the early Duvian cultures. The Pantheon consisted of four gods: Faerun, the god the sky; Celea, goddess of the sea; Duroc, god of the earth; and Eamachus, god of the Aetherium and king of the gods. The Council of Archons led the worship of the Pantheon from the Temple of the Divines in Numenex.
In 447 AF, the Imperium experienced a massive shift in its religion, when Hierarch Regulus formally converted to the Faith of the Creator, under the guidance of his close advisor Aemond. Regulus disbanded the Council of the Archons and converted the Temple of the Divines into the first Grand Cathedral of the Creator. This sparked the Duvian Civil War, in which a large portion of the Imperium claimed the Hierarch to be a heretic, worshipping a false god. Regulus utilized his Imperatori Guard to wipe out the rebels, until the war concluded and Aemond was appointed by Regulus to be the first Archbishop of the Faith.
The Imperial Senate is the legislative body of the Imperium, crafting the various laws for the Hierarch to give final approval on. The Senate is comprised of members of the praetor-class, with representatives elected by lower praetors. This has created a competiton among the praetor houses, who compete for power in order to secure a position on the Senate. The Hierarch also holds the ability to appoint a member to the Senate, with the only qualification being magical ability. Typically this is reserved for the Champion of the Colosseum. The final member of the Senate is the current Archbishop, who represents the Faith of the Creator. Members of the Senate are granted the title of Senator.
The Senate is granted legislative authority, but all laws must receive approval from the Hierarch in order to come into full effect. The Senate may override the Hierarch's decision with a unanimous approval, though this is an increasingly rare event. The other duty of the Senate is approving the new Hierarch, who must achieve support of the Archbishop and at least three-fourths of the senators.
In order for a law to move on to the desk of the Hierarch, it must receive three-fourths support of the Senate or the approval of the Archbishop and half of the remaining senators.
The Imperial Hierarch is the ruler of the Imperium, holding full authority over the Duvian society. He is granted wide sweeping powers, such as command of the Legion, final approval of all laws drafted by the Senate, the ability to appoint members to the Senate and raise a member of the Magi-class to praetor status.
Though the Hierarch rules as the supreme authority in the Imperium, he must first be elected by the Senate. When the reigning Hierarch approaches the end of his life, he names a successor-apparent. Following the Hierarch's death--or abdication of the throne--the Senate hosts a vote of approval for the successor-apparent. If he receives the approval of the Archbishop and three-fourths of the Senate, he formally accepts the title of Hierarch. In the event that the Hierarch passes without naming a successor, or if the successor fails to garner the appropriate amount of support, the Senate must then elect a new Hierarch from among its ranks. A nominee of this process must gain unanimous support of the Senate, a daunting task. This has only occured ten times in the Imperium's history.
The Imperatori Guard are the personal enforcers of the will of the Hierarch, completely loyal to his command. Elite warriors chosen from among the Legion, they strike terror across the Imperium, and the world. Across the Imperium's history, various Hierarchs have utilized their imperators to cement their rule and weed out any dissenters. Within this order are the Shades of the Imperium, highly trained assassins who can use the Aetherium to move undetected into the thoughts of Hierarch's enemies and inflict massive psychological pain. Fortunately, this requires a massive amount of aether to perform, requiring the Hierarch to be incredibly selective in his use of this power.
Relations with other NationsEdit
The Imperium holds its origins to the ancient Maelduvian tribes, who crossed the Drakari Mountains sometime during the final years of the Eldari. While many of these tribes continued to spread across Aenar, a small number of the Maelduvians began to settle in the region now known as the Duvian Plains. These tribes became the early Duvians. Many of these early settlements became the first Duvian cities, the most prominent of which were Numenex, Tyr, and Aashiem. These three city-states were the centers of power and culture in the early Duvian culture. Overtime, they amassed considerable amount of control and influence among the other Duvian settlements and smaller cities, to the point where they only were challenged by each other. This led to the War of the Three Cities in -303 AF, in which the three city-states fought over dominance in the Duvian Plains. Ultimately, the city of Numenex was able to overpower its rivals, relying heavily upon the development of the arcane arts by members of the Numenexi army. At the end of the war in -289 AF, Numenex was declared as the capital of the new Duvian Kingdom.
Rise of the ImperiumEdit
The next two centuries of the Duvian Kingdom saw continued progress of magical studies by Duvian mages, who began to organize mage guilds to better foster training and study of magic. The discovery of the mineral arcanium greatly advanced this progress, with the mages uses the magic-imbued resource to enter the Aetherium with greater frequency and consistency. The mages also soon were amassing more political power and influence in the Duvian system, though they remained under the rule of the largely mundane Duvain royal family. The heads of the mage guilds, known as praetors, soon were on the level of nobility in the Duvian hierarchy.
Eventually, the royal family became wary of the growing power the praetors wielded, both politically and magically. In -47 AF, King Urumach II enacted the Law of Subservience, an attempt to rein in the growing power of the praetors and formally bind them to the rule of the royalty. This was the finally straw to ignite a struggle for power between the mundane nobility and the praetors. In -38 AF, Praetor Aenach of Numenex openly declared a war against the royal family, believing that mages were the chosen rulers of the Duvian by the command of the Duvian Pantheon. Aenach was a Bound-Rider, and arguably the most powerful of the Duvian praetors. He quickly united the other praetors and mage-guilds under his banner and warred against the Duvian nobility for control over the kingdom. A few praetors and lower mages remained loyal to King Urumach, becoming known as the Loyalist faction, fighting against the Rebels. The following Duvian Civil War lasted several decades, until Aenach's army marched on Numenex in -1 AF. The Siege of Numenex lasted for ten days, though Aenach was successfully able to breach the walls of the city and stormed the Royal Palace in the heart of Numenex. Faced with the collapse of his city, Urumach was forced to accept Aenach's challenge of a final duel to decide the fate of the kingdom. Though he fought valiantly, Urumach was no match for Aenach's sheer power. Ceding the battle to the praetor-leader, the fallen king was dragged out to the palace courtyard, along with his remaing generals, and publically executed by Aenach. The remaining citizens of the city was given an ultimatum--accept mage rule or face the same fate as their former rulers. In the end, the mages were able to claim rulership of the kingdom. A month after the duel, the praetors convened in to formally elect Aenach as the new ruler of the Duvian people and declare the formation of the Duvian Imperium, with Aenach as the newly ordained Imperial Hierarch.
Expansion of the ImperiumEdit
The Imperium quickly organized and cemented its new political structure, forming the Imperial Senate and the powers of the Hierarch by 5 AF. After his rule over the Duvian Plains, the new Hierarch set his sights to the rest of Aenar. Though the majority of the land was occupied by various other human tribes and smaller cultures, the main challenge to Duvian expansion was the nearby Elvari kingdom of Eldarhuun in the Elderwood. The Elvari were a powerful society, residing in many of the older Eldari ruins. In 11 AF, Aenach dispatched the Imperial Legion against the elves, beginning the Imperium-Elvari War. The war lasted for the next thirty years, as the elves were able to utilize their extensive knowledge of the Elderwood and Eldari magic against the Legion's forces to great success. It wasn't until the Duvians were taught blood magic by their god, Aemachial, that the tide of the war turned. The power of blood magic proved too much for the elves, and by 45 AF, Eldarhuun had fallen to the might of the Imperium. In 49 AF, Hierarch Aenach died having successfully expanded his new empire across the southern half of Aenar.
Aenach's successor, Remulaan, oversaw the expansion of the Imperium across the remaining tribes, completing the spread of the Imperium in 62 AF with the conquest of the Brenton tribes of northwestern Aenar. It was also during this time that the Imperium began to seek diplomatic relations with the reclusive dwarves of the Aenan Underground. In 58 AF, Remulaan sent several diplomats to the dwarven capital of Durahk-zhan in the Drakari Mountains to negotiate with the dwarven king, Khar-darzhan. In 61 AF, the two nations signed the Pact of the Mountains, establishing a lasting economic alliance between the two nations. In exchange for dwarven minerals, the Imperium supplied crops and luxury crafts to the dwarves. To further expand the budding relationship with their new allies, Remulaan ordered the construction of the Dwarven Embassy in the imperial capital, a building that rivaled the beauty and awe of the Imperial Palace and Grand Temple. Later, in 68 AF, King Khar-darzhan sent a group of dwarven architects and builders to help with the construction of the Grand Colosseum, one of the great wonders of the world. The alliance between the Imperium and the Dwarven Kingdom continues to this day, and the dwarves would remain neutral in any surface conflicts.
The Birth of the Fallen and the First PlagueEdit
For the first two centuries of the Imperium, the Imperium saw an incredibly growth in weath and culture. Duvian cities became the centers of culture, art, craftsmanship, and magic study. Duvian mages made great strides in exploring the boundaries of magic and the Aetherium. In 248 AF, Hierarch Drakor began recieving visions from the god Aemachial, who supposedly told the Hierarch that he was destined to reclaim the ancient Godsrealm from the demon Void and reestablish the rule of the Pantheon. Drakor delved deeply into research on the Godsrealm and the Aetherium to prepare himself for the coming battle against the Void. In 251 AF, Drakor and his four closest Bound-Rider praetor-general entered into the Aetherium through a mass blood sacrifice of nearly a hundred elven-slaves. What happened in the Aetherium is still not truly known. The Luminary of the Creator claims that the praetors were cast out of the Godsrealm by the Creator for attempting to usurp the throne of the one true god. What is known is that the praetors returned to Aenar twisted and corrupted, barely resembling humans--the first of the Fallen. After a massive effort by the Imperial Legion, the corrupted praetors were finally driven from Numenex, fleeing deep into the Drakari Mountains, supposedly seeking the hidden dragon-gods of the Pantheon.
The corrupted praetors were not seen again for another fifty years, when the Archdemon Enduraam rose from the mountains riding the back of the dragon Telecanar and at the head of a massive horde of Fallen, beginning the first Plague in 299 AF. The dwarves were the first to face the Fallen horde in the Deep Roads, with dwarven settlements quickly falling. Eventually, the dwarves were forced to abandon their farthest outposts, sealing off the capital of Durahk-zhan. The Archdemon then redirected his focus to the surface world. The Imperium believed that it would be able to quickly crush this new threat, amassing the full might of the Imperial Legion at Aashiem to face the horde. The Battle of Aashiem was the greatest defeat the Imperium ever faced, with nearly three-fourths of the Legion falling to the Daemoni onslaught, including the death of Hierarch Vendurion. From there the Fallen quickly spread across the center of the Imperium, enacting untold horrors upon any who they came upon. The next century was a series of smaller battles and skirmishes, as the Imperium struggled to maintain order against the might of the Daemoni horde.
In 406 AF, a group of hardened veterans from the Imperium and Dwarven Kingdom met in the ruins of Aashiem to formulate a method of defeating the Fallen. The group formed the Order of the Vigilant-Sentinels, a brotherhood of warriors bound by a secretive blood pact that granted them greater ability to fight the Daemoni. With the new Sentinels, the war began turning in favor of the Aenans. Finally, in the Battle of Numenex in 437 AF, the combined forces of the Imperium, Dwarves, and Sentinels faced the army of the Archdemon. Though nearly a thousand soldiers were lost in the battle, Sentinel-Commander Samhain was able to slay Telecanar and personally dueled Enduraam. The legendary duel resulted in the death of the Archdemon, at the cost of Samhain's life. But at last, after nearly two centuries of war, the Fallen had been defeated. The remaining Fallen became disorganized with the loss of their Archdemon, retreating back into the Burning Chasms of the Underground. In recognition of their role in saving Aenar from the horde, the newly elected Hierarch, Hemachius, granted the city of Aashiem to the Sentinel Order as a headquarters. Though many believed the Fallen to be defeated for good, the Sentinels believed that the Fallen would return, recalling that there were five praetors who had returned tainted, with four remaining drago-gods to be corrupted by the Fallen.
- Duvian Plains
- Drakari Mountains
- Duvos Forest
- Central Plainlands