The story of the Empire of Kyrot, generally referred to simply as “The Empire,” is really the story of its founder. The Dark Lord of Kyrot was born in a small fish-mining village. He was, presumably, named after the color of the sea on the day of his birth, but few remember him by anything other than his title. After displaying promising talent and viciousness in equal measure as a youth, and as a young man slaying a flying whale menacing his village, the DL left his village for greater challenges. Years of travelling hardened him, trained him, and earned him his own mercenary band. A series of unlikely events saw his mercenary company placed in charge of a failing kingdom beset by enemies on all sides, a situation which the DL slowly turned to his favor.
Under his iron hand, hex after hex of land was explored and conquered, and the kingdom prospered. The officers of his mercenary company became his generals, and were given autonomy and power to act in his stead. The tenacious Dave, the DL’s first apprentice and devoted follower in the way of psi-assisted combat, was first among equals. His “second” general was in fact the half-sisters Margeret and Mallory, shield maidens seemingly born to the battlefield. The third general was a creature of the DL’s own creation: Calren, bred from a specially engineered bloodline derived from lantern archons, designed and trained to root out, stalk, and eliminate the enemies of the empire. These three became the head of powerful Orders within the Empire, Orders which became critical to further expansion of Kyrot. Others held power in the kingdom, such as the High Marshal of the Army, technically an equal to the generals, but in truth he was merely middle management. Power flowed from the Dark Lord to his generals, from them to the military, and the rest of the Empire merely obeyed.
Following the conquest of the entirety of their home Realm, Kyrot became a true empire after the conquest of the Barinland. The DL lead his highly disciplined troops across the Shar-Asmodeus Bridge, facing only cursory resistance from the Barinland forces. The Realm was a grey place, with sparse vegetation dotted by paranoid enclaves of easily conquered groups. The Fortress of Night, where the Lord of the Realm resided, was the only real challenge. But together Margaret and Malory forced the Lord to flee his sanctum, becoming Lords in their own right.
Across the Asmodeus-Maat bridge, Dave fought a different battle for Nemusland. The realm, Filled with geometric rock formations worn away by millenia of sand and water, was a surprisingly populous Realm with rich traditions and a powerful military. Dave had little chance of military conquest against a united Nemusland, but the Lord of the realm was at odds with his subjects. A loner obsessed with puzzles and exploration of the past, the Lord conquered the sacred city of Reatpass and claimed the throne of the realm, breaking the traditions and laws of the realm. Compounding his crimes, the Lord barred entrance to the city, and refused to govern or exercise the necessary roles of his office. Instead built traps and automotons to fight those who would trespass on “his” territory while he explored the seemingly endless secrets of the lower levels of Reatpass. Dave took advantage of the dissension, swearing to unseat the usurper in exchange for Lordship, a position he would hold sacred. Backed by the DL’s reputation for orderly rule, the people agreed to the proposal. Dave, leading a group of accomplished Nemusland Magi along with his own order of psychic warriors, was able to overcome the Lord’s defenses through brute force and unswerving dedication, and ultimately claimed Lordship for himself after the escape of the former Lord.
After two momentous conquests by his generals, the DL spent decades consolidating power. In this time his lust for power was temporarily assuaged, and he was overcome with a sort of domesticity. He solved bureaucratic conundrums, directed civil engineering projects, organized imperial colleges, and countless other projects. He drafted detailed legal codes to govern the Empire as it grew, and he founded a state philosophy dedicated to power and order. He even took on his final disciple, a foundling girl named Jissa from beyond the realms who possessed a powerful darkness inside her, yet who brought peace and joy to those around her.
Peace is not something that can last, however, a lesson the DL knew well. Uprisings required quelling, infighting and plotting amongst the nobles required occasional culling, the generals had to be pitted against one another lest they band together to usurp power, peasants had to be constrained to maintain the social order, and petty bureaucrats had to be executed to oil the mechanisms of government. Eventually it all became too much work for too little reward. Perhaps there was a better way to approach things? But such musings only made the DL appear weak to his generals. Realizing the empire he created was no longer the one he wished to rule, the DL simply left, abandoning Kyrot to whoever was strong enough to hold it. He would, finally, begin his own journey once more.
After the departure of the Dark Lord, his "Vizier" took over in his stead. The Vizier was an accomplished healer within the Empire who the Dark Lord kept close at hand for emergencies, but was never a real advisor or confidant. Rather, he used his powers to enslave key members of the nobility and military, as well as the High Marshal of the military and the leader of the Justicars. The Vizier obtained rule of the Empire in a mostly bloodless coup. Jisa, the final disciple of the Dark Lord was the only one to oppose the new order, and her fate is unknown. The other generals felt that opposition was pointless, since someone needed to rule, and holding the throne was ultimately a distraction from their own goals and missions.
In the 30 years since the change of power, the Empire continues much the same as before. Wisely, the Vizier instituted few changes, which maintained stability within the Empire. While some areas of society have seen decay or corruption creep in due to the Vizier's lack of vision and his commitment to self-interest over Order, the Empire as a whole prospers. The state religion has shifted from the Path of Power to that of the Asmodean faith, but for now both co-exist. The vizier's greatest accomplishments were delving into the Underdark, something the Dark Lord avoided, and the conquest of the Realm of Aranai, resulting in massive loss of life but a significant influx of resources. The most valuable find in the Underdark, which has shaken the empire to its core, is the acquisition of Soulstone from the deepest caverns. This mysterious ore is mined from areas where the Underdark abuts the hidden portions of the Plane of Shadows, and is capable of making fundamental changes to equipment or creatures. Equipment incorporating this ore takes enchantment much more efficiently, and often takes on a semblance of sentience. Creatures "enhanced" by incorporation of soulstone find their potential unlocked, and quickly learn new abilities foreign to their original paths, but do so at the cost of various mental and physical aberrations.
The incorporation of soulstone into the special military organizations ran by the various generals was essential to the conquest of the Aranai, and leant greater power to these secretive orders that become increasingly autonomous from the larger military. The general Calren and his Justicars were instrumental in the conquest of Aranai, as he was able to make a bargain with a defecting high priest of one of the Chaos cults. The defector betrayed his own people after realizing the success of their summoning ritual ultimately meant his own doom, and he conspired to channel the power of the ritual into himself, and the destruction of the seals guarding the Realm’s seat of power. The defector abandoned his realm, knowing his own people and the outer gods both sought his blood, which gave Calren the opportunity to claim lordship of Aranai.
Now, the Empire is on the cusp of further expansion, as the primarily halfling dominated island realm of Thrania lacks a sufficiently organized military to fend off a largescale invasion. Of the other realms, Misty Lake has a strong defense but so far refuses to involve itself in outside conflicts, Nak and its einherjar might interfere but do not have access to the necessary Bridges required to intervene, and Patraa’s city states are too fractious to mount any defense of Thrania.
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9 Realms Backstory: Kyrot Empire
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