The Birth of an Empyraeum
In the time of the Bloodless Conquest (BE25-1EA), little was known of the world beyond the massive continent known as Eurasia. Alexander rightly considered, using the knowledge of the time, the Isles of Brytta to be the westernmost extent of the world. Likewise, he saw the forested hills surrounding what might have become Busan in South Korea as the easternmost extent of his new empire. He did not then know of the still vaster landmasses out of the oceans.
Maritime navigation had, of course, been widely practised by explorers, traders and adventurers in at least the centuries preceding Empyraeum but their findings and secrets were not shared widely, their secret trading and adventuring grounds closely guarded, often jealously so. It would not be until the first years of the Empyraen Age, following the foundation of Alexandria the First in Egypt and the construction of the Great Library that such knowledge came to his attention. As all learning and writings from the new empire - together with its greatest minds - flooded into Alexandria, he realised that there was much he had not known.
It is rumoured that he sent the now-infamous pairing of Kel & Kal (Alkemas Neshaa and Kalliades, both Dracograth) to what many were calling the New World. Here they encountered mostly migratory tribes whose culture deeply impressed the spiritual Neshaa. There was never any 'first contact' as it were, for the tribespeople stayed distant from the pair. Even without their armour, the Dracograth must surely have inspired fear in the people of the plains. In later years, as the tribes strode confidently towards nationhood, ambassadors to the Empyraeum from the powerful Federated People's Nations spoke of old legends of their people; legends which told of red-haired giants seen from afar but never approached. The ambassador laughed that Alexander, too, had a red-haired giant beside him, which he took as a fine omen upon future relations between their peoples.
Similarly, the Ippon Empir and the Land of Dream far to the south were unknown to Alexander as they grew and developed unmolested. Their explorers saw all they needed to convince them that the Empyraeum would make a finer friend than an enemy. Only the odd and strange and considered deeply eccentric nations of the Azteka and Inkara south of the Federated nations remained aloof from the Empyraeum, sending no emissaries or explorers. Ambassadors from the People's Nations - both North and South - implied that this was, perhaps, better for all parties.
Later on, strange and seemingly abandoned islands neither belonging to nor swearing allegiance with any of the burgeoning nations were found to be home to nothing but enigmatic ruins and scattered vestiges of hastily abandoned occupation. Several of the Empyraeum's new partners and allies spoke of these places in whispers only. Ghostlands or dead places they called them, with a shudder and whichever superstitious gesture their culture found reassuring.
None of this, of course, was known in those heady days of the Founding.
The Bloodless Conquest
The times before Empyraeum were brutal. Even the campaigns of Alexander that led to the hidden mountain of Chomolungma were filled with savage battles, much death and suffering.
What came after was alike to nothing previously seen since mankind grew sufficiently in numbers to contest with one another over land and resources. Empyraeum historians call it the Bloodless Conquest.
We are all aware of the Kalshodar and some of might have been fortunate enough to see a Dracograth up close. It was said that when the Ten Thousand marched down from the hidden interior of Chomolungma, that an army of one million fell immediately to its knees. Never before had such incredible warriors been seen outside of the darkest imaginings of man. Six cubits high, broad and covered from head to foot in wondrous armour from which strange sigil cast forth a coruscant and magical light; many fell to the ground as if the gods walked among them. The legions of Ares or automata of Hesphaestus had come among them, they were certain. Alexander, clad in armour as gloriously golden as the dragons who stood beside him, was at their head, looking more the son of a god than ever before. To a man, they were undone by the sight.
Now imagine those tribes or peoples who had not even seen Alexander's army prior to that moment. Imagine the glorious marching of Ten Thousand Kalshodar in magnificent armour of gleaming black and shining silver. Imagine by their side three hundred golden Dracograth, their armour gleaming like the molten face of Helios, appearing to all sight great dragons twice the height of a man. Imagine what that would be like to see for just one moment, consider it as if you were a farm boy wh had only just learned which end of the sword was which. Would you fight such an army?
From Chomolungma to the far Eastern Ocean, none dared even stand in their way. Solemnly and silently, they marched onward, pausing only to accept the tribute presented to Alexander, to hear the oaths of fealty, to begin to build the Empyraeum. Then back again they quietly marched, nought but snatches of conversation and the clanking of their armour marking their passage. Each man was deep in his own mind as he adjusted to and learned what it meant to be such as he was now. Alexander was glory personified, an island of tranquility and assurance in a rapidly shrinking uncertain world. To the west, they marched again opposed by none. Gold, jewels and weapons were cast at their feet, oaths were sworn and allegiance given freely. They passed through lands where armour was not even heard of let alone seen in such quantity.
Forget not that, before this time, not even the hoplites of Alexander's expeditionary force had worn much more than breastp[ate, greaves and helmet. None had seen a man encased in armour as if he were a great scorpion or a statue of bronze. Nobody could have imagined the armour of the Dracograth which made them as two-legged dragons with snarling faces holding great axes of blazing silver. The only experience which could have prepared people for this sight lay in the mythical exploits of their gods and heroes. Of automata, daemons, monsters, gorgons, titans or gods.
On the army of titans marched, close to one million regular soldiers behind them, towards the narrow sea separating Europa form mysterious Avalon or Bryttan.
Oddly, it was in these supposedly backwater islands that they met their first and only resistance, futile though it was. A man with an iron or bronze sword could no more harm a Kalshodar that a boy bearing a branch could kill an elephant. We had fought those Mauryan monsters on the Hydaspes and even a concerted sarissae attack was like rain to those beasts. The Kalshodar swept through the attacking tribesman no more bothered by them than we would be by heavy rain.
It was claimed to have been Lupernikes - to the surprise of many - who sent out the order to knock the attackers unconscious with spear flat or shield rather than kill them. To think about this, it must have been like a mighty warrior murdering children or babes, totally without honour. Perhaps, in spite of their initial resistance to being the perfect warriors that found with none, the need for violence that had so plagued the race of men for so long was releasing its grip on their souls. Perhaps they were changing.
Suffice it to say, the resistance they encountered in Bryttan and nearby Éire was temporary. Before long, the army began to fragment as garrisons of what became known as the Regular Irregulars (the multinational and multicultural mortal soldiers of the army, those who'd marched to Chomolungma and those who had enthusiastically joined up along the way) with small Kalshodar support were left behind to make sure nobody forgot their oaths. A great many Bryttans joined the army for the return journey.
Those that remained arrived at Alexandria the First in the year that became known as BE1, the year 1 Before Empraeum in the new calendar.
The Great Exodus
The terrifying truth is that the truth has been forgotten.
It is known that in the year EA316 Alexander - the Hegémon - disappeared. He vanished under the eyes of two loyal Dracograth in his throne room in Alexandria the First. What few know is why.
It was decided best that the people were not made aware of the Hegémon's absence. His Kalshodar and, more specifically, his five closest and most loyal friends, covered up his absence well aware of the panic and chaos releasing such information would be. They hunted for him, they waited, they prayed and hoped. Then they realised that they would, at the very least, need a plan before they told the Empyraeum. If they told the Empyraeum. He could be coming back any time, it was not as if he were dead or anything.
In order to formulate that plan Kalliades, it is rumoured, sought the council of Her, the mother to them all. The plan she suggested was simple and led to what may arguably be the best years of the Empyraeum.
In EA350, the Stewardship was instituted. Each of the Dracograth, that body most trusted by Alexander, would serve as Steward for one hundred years or until Alexander returned, whichever was shortest. The official story at first was that Alexander was training his most trusted lieutenants to hold the Empyraeum together in case of some disaster, Kalliades had filled in for him before during his sickness in Babylon many years previously. Everyone had thought him dead then and that is what stayed his tongue and fuelled the caution he preached to his fellows this time. Alexander was not dead, they were certain of that. So, story held before him like a shield, it was Kalliades who became the first - and, so he hoped last - Steward.
However, the greatest Steward of them all was not a Dracograth.
He was the Spartan Lupernikes. Marcos Lupernikes became Steward in EA1150 and did not step down until EA1850. That was almost ten consecutive terms of office. Not a lot for a functionally immortal being but certainly a great honour for a 'mere' Kalshodar. He was responsible for the true Golden Age of the Empyraeum. Technology undreamed of, stability, prosperity and comfort for all Empyraeum citizens (poverty was unheard of until quite recently). He was a master statesman, forming fair and balanced trade agreements with all the sister nations of the Empyraeum save the Aztecs.
He also is the one responsible for the disappearance of the Kalshodar.
As nothing has been heard from neither them nor Alexander in close to seven hundred years, nobody knows for sure exactly what the cause for this disappearance is but we can use the evidence available to make some educated guesses.
In HA1425, Lupernikes received a visit from an ambassador. This was not an altogether unique occurrence, he was the Steward and that was his job. This visitor was, however, most unusual indeed. He claimed to represent the interests of all those grey areas on the map, all those islands which neither belonged to nor swore allegiance to anyone. He brought a treaty from Konciliatos - The Council - which was much more a declaration of war. They knew Alexander was missing and, worse yet, they could prove it. Their representative, an ill-looking man by the name of Ataraxias, was doing nothing short of blackmailing them.
Lupernikes knew; this man who claimed to be offering help to avoid chaos in fact desired anarchy and, perhaps, even civil war. This Council wanted to create pandemonium and disorder then step in and take over once the smoke started to clear.
He would not give them that chance. War, the Kalshodar were created for. War they would wage and war they would win but at what cost?
The Kalshodar were bred as warriors, there is no doubt about that but he could not forget Her words "a world without war where no man preys on other men...". Kalshodar had been created as more than warriors, they had been made protectors, protectors of the human race they no longer fully belonged to. To wage war on the very people they had sworn to protect, the prospect was horrifying.
He chose Anaptyssō, the strategic withdrawal in order to reground, analyse and plan. Perhaps, with no enemy to oppose, this Council would simply wither. It has time to let humans do what they did best and come together to oppose this rot.
The call went out, in EA1852, the order - long planned for but the one nobody expected to hear - was issued. Withdraw to The Nest. Anaptyssō.
Just how long they remained there is unknown. The Nest; a hidden Kalshodar base - a place of last and final resort in case of an invasion or cataclysmic disaster - which was located deep below the Temple of the Dragon in what was truly considered to be the last place anybody would look. Under the city of Alexandria-Upon-Thames - Lúndún still to some - in Bryttan. What Lúndún had which Alexandria the First did not made all the difference, a very old subterranean rail transit network know locally as 'The Tube.' A transit system that Lupernikes had supervised the construction of with the singular aim of hiding their bolt-hole in, as it were, plain sight. Deep enough below ground to survive even direct bombardment from orbit, with enough supplies to assist in any aid effort for the population above or room for refugees. It was built around a fusion generator which would function even if all other sources of power were to die.
The Kalshodar vanished and the Empyraeum - quite predictably to many - started to crack. Humans had relied on Alexander and his proxies for so long that they had forgotten what it meant to govern themselves.
What is know is that Mike Two-Hawks, a Navajo from the Federated People's Nations spotted two strange beings when he became the first man on the Moon in EA1898. He was warned by these golden giants with the faces of dragons to leave. This information was repressed, the supposedly 'live' transmission of his mission - beamed across the whole world on television - was edited to remove all evidence of this encounter. As these things do, the video resurfaced and, for those with the eyes to see it, those beings were clearly Dracograth.
Unfortunately, in the passage of two hundred years, too few remembered, the eyes that could see were almost non-existent. Many have later criticised the decisions made by Lupernikes as a little too simplistic, too naive even. His error was to think that humans thought as did he, that they would value and defend their Empyraeum and that political will would overcome this small problem quickly.
Almost exactly one hundred years later, telescopes at Jodrell Bank in Bryttan, saw what those pitifully few eyes knew to be a thing of terrible consequence; a fleet of ships entering the cis-lunar Void Gate. The Kalshodar were gone, perhaps forever. We believe that they had tired of looking for Alexander and, fearing what this Council would not hesitate to do, went looking for the one man who could stop them, the one man we so desperately need. His error was to be subect to Xeno's Mortality Paradox and not realise he had lost a vital connection to what he had once been. "Once death is no longer an inevitable and constant worry, fear no longer influences every single decision one makes." He had forgotten that it is fear, no reason, that drives mortal men and women...
They spread out to the stars to find Alexander. This made sense and he thought that humans would step up and do their duty while the Kalshodar were gone. He was also sure that the Kalshodar would be back in no more than a year or two. He forgot that humans like to be led and that fear is an incredible motivator, at least in the short term. He also forgot just how short human memories can be.
Of course, Ataraxias - now known a High Prefect Apateon - got his war and he won. The Empyraeum became The Unity and all vestiges of a glorious past were buried under promises of a glorious future that never came. The Empyraeum never was. Alexander died in Babylon that fateful day. The Kalshodar were a myth from more ignorant times; they were simply normal humans who served a tyrant masquerading as Alexander. Order was the way. The Way was the right path to live by. Divergence led to disorder led to chaos. Conform, Converge, and Conserve; the Trinity of Unity. Even the name is a perversion in itself.
Trinity! Unity! None have less right to even speak those words let alone pervert their very meaning.
Even the counting of the years was changed. As EA1976 was to dawn, 1UE (Unity Era) rose to deprive it. Golden illumination became sallow obscurity.
The fear of change and desire for stability in uncertain times, humanity felt that its protectors had abandoned it and so, they seized the next best alternative.
Some of us, in spite of their best efforts, have not forgotten. Some of us still pray for Alexander to return, his legions at his back and cast this pretender to his throne down forever. Some of us go out there, into the furthest reaches of the galaxy hoping to find him ourselves. Some of us simply Seek for the slightest sign of hope in an age gone dark
[Log Entry : RMS Belmorrah : BE89614UK51:AE2641/UE695: Expedition Leader/Seeker G..apSion]