Empire of Lightrune
As an empire the has that has stretched back over two thousand years, Lightrune has a lengthy history filled with heroism, treachery, war, and great accomplishments.
Pre-Imperial History: The Coming of the Runes and Unification
Before the foundation of the Empire, the area that was now the Empire consisted of nearly a dozen kingdoms. Lightrune (then known as Lothan) was one of them: a fertile and populous land, but not nearly large enough to subjugate any of its neighbours.
Lothan, however, was soon graced by the appearance of a new religion. The new religion spoke of the power of the throne of Lothan, and prophesied how it would spread its influence throughout the lands. This religion differed from those of surrounding lands in that it directly supported the right to rule of its king: indeed, it made the king’s right to rule the entire centrepiece of their religion. In addition, the clerics of this new religion showcased powers none had before, being able to create destructive runes that could be, with training, mixed with other spell effects. While the clerics of Lothan’s previous dominant religion fought back against this new cult, it soon gained widespread support at both upper and lower echelons. The old ways died hard, but die they did, and no record of them has survived.
This marked a major turning point. Lothan, renamed “Lightrune”, now had an army of clergy devoted to advancing its interests. By contrast, in other countries the laity were considered to be beholden to their religious figures, and received assistance only on sufferance. This was not helped by the fact that the new clerics of Lothan were a cosmopolitan lot, comparably: they would allow any religion to coexist alongside their own provided it also allowed for the divinity of the rule of the king. This caused further attrition among enemy cleric ranks: many felt that the outcome of a temporal war would not necessarily affect their lot, one way or the other. Kings that tried to force the same sort of loyalty shown by the Imperial Cultists on the priests of their kingdoms ran into even more problems. Many took it as insults and helped out Lightrune in their conquests to punish their own kings. Others led open uprisings against their lords.
The day the king of Lightrune declared himself Emperor marked the start of a new calender (IDY: Imperial Dominion Year). The empire, at this time, encompassed the lands that are commonly referred to as the Tradelands, the Northern Baronies, the Blue Tar Desert, and the Capital District.
IDY 403-1417: The Dwarven Millenium
The first dynasty of the Empire (the Goldram Dynasty) came to its end in the fourth century. The final emperor, Ardorius Goldram, was venal and reckless, the two qualities which led to his assassination before he could sire a proper heir. Fortunately for the empire, civil war was narrowly averted, thanks to a treaty with the dwarves, which bound the dwarven and human thrones together in the event that one was without an heir. While there were objections, the Imperial clergy strongly backed the dwarven emperor Narvi, and centuries of diplomacy throughout the Goldram dynasty had made ties between the two cultures quite strong.
The Dwarven Millenium, or the Five Dwarven Emperors, is often considered a golden age for the Empire. While expansion was minimal, peace and good governance were standard. Imperial architecture, in particular, reached its height and most of the great buildings of the Empire were constructed during this era, and the architecture that followed was often based on the architecture of this time frame.
The final dwarven Emperor, Torgad Swordsmith, was killed without properly grooming his heir. By this point, the vassals of the empire had slowly amassed more and more personal power, many of which desired a change. A candidate could not be agreed upon, and the Empire dissolved for a hundred years of infighting.
IDY 1546: The Demon Incursion
As the Empire was rent to bits, the Elves had to deal with their own problems. The first drow had appeared in the eleventh century (Imperial), elves obsessed with lengthening their already massive lifespans indefinitely, without changing themselves into the undead. The way the drow chose to do this was to sacrifice other elves. Although the rituals to become drow were destroyed at every opportunity, new drow were continually popping up, and often seeking after larger and larger amounts of magical power, the better to subjugate elves to act as sacrifices and ensure their immortality.
Things got even worse when a group of drow (referred to by elven historians as the Thirteen Traitors) tried to make a pact with Abyssal powers. The result was catastrophe: large portions of the elven dominions were overrun by demons and thousands of elves lost their lives. The elves, desperate for assistance, sent an embassy south to the human kingdoms of the fractured Lightrune.
The three greatest kings of Lightrune agreed to put aside their differences, and led armies north into the forests and caverns that the elves called home. Uniting, the allied forces managed to close the largest of the gateways to the Abyss, kill the Thirteen Traitors, and regain a large portion of elven territory. Casualties were high, though: two of the human kings were killed. In the aftermath of the war and with the prestige of defeating the demon hordes, the final king, Darius Firehelm, managed to not only reunite the empire, but to bring the elves into it as an Imperial protectorate. The elves were for the most part glad: their numbers had been greatly reduced and they deeply needed the peace the Empire promised, and the reinforcements of Imperial soldiers to protect against those demons that had escaped the aftermath of the Incursion.
IDY 1832: A New Dynasty; Westward Expansion
Nearly three hundred years of Firehelm rule was ended by a peaceful transition. The final Firehelm, not having an heir of his body, had named his Prime Minister, Xander Lanalar, as the Imperial heir. Xander was quite popular, both with the nobility and the common folk, and the Lanalar dynasty was off to a fine start.
Xander’s most notable and controversial deed was the settling of the lands of Sunrest. Unoccupied for centuries, the lands had a bad reputation amongst the dwarves and the various tribes of the west, despite the land being very fertile. It was rumoured that the civilization that had occupied Sunrest had destroyed itself in a spectacular fashion, and that it cursed any who lived there with a similar fate. However, unless the curse is a particularly subtle one, this proved to be false, as Sunrest became quite the jewel on the Imperial crown.
IDY 2369: The Present Day