"Praes could be held, but it could not be owned. There would be no Dead King to reign forever here, no Tenets of Night all must bow to. The Dread Empire would have a hundred thousand Tyrants, all of them lost and grasping beyond their reach until their doom fell upon them. And the Tyrant would rise anew, with fire in their eyes and unquenchable ambition in their stomach that Creation would deny – but oh, the craving."
Black Knight[1]

The Dread Empire of Praes, often referred to as "the Empire", "the Dread Empire" or "Praes" is one of the predominant Evil polities on the continent of Calernia. It was founded on the first year of the Imperial Calendar, roughly thirteen hundred years before the current events of the story. Its capital is Ater.[2]

History[edit | edit source]

The Imperial Banner

As one of the oldest polities on Calernia, Praes has a long and storied history. It can be mostly characterized by strife; predominantly with itself and Callow but at times of great peril or greatness, with other polities as well. It is also largely a history of failure, with only a handful of Tyrants achieving long-lasting impact. Of the Empire’s seventy-odd attempts to conquer Callow only two had succeeded.[3]

The history will be presented in a chronological order, recorded in the Imperial Calendar. The Calendar itself starts on 1 AD (After Declaration), 1324 years before Book 1.[4] Events taking place prior will be give in BD - Before Declaration. Many events do not even have an approximate date.

Early History[edit | edit source]

Before there was an Empire, there was war. The lands now making up the Dread Empire were once several separate polities embroiled in conflict.

The Orc Clans, at the height of their power, raided the Soninke with impunity, enslaving many from their cities. The Soninke had several kingdoms centered around what are now the Wasteland's major cities, while to the south the Taghreb occupied the Hungering Sands as nomadic tribes, warring against the Goblin Tribes - and each other.[5]

Not much writing has been preserved from this forgotten age. What there is, paints a picture of a people bitterly at odds. So much so that even a threat of extermination by an outsider failed to forge a temporary alliance.

War of Chains[edit | edit source]

See also: War of Chains

The War of Chains was the first war that the Miezan Empire waged on the polities that would eventually make up Praes, starting roughly a millennium and a half before Book 1, 150 - 100 BD. Their first expeditions landed on the shores of Soninke and Taghreb settlements who have previously encountered a Miezan ship that was blown off-course and eventually sent it back.[6]

Having a formalized system of rituals under the Petronian theory of magic and taking advantage of local disputes, the Miezans were successful in defeating and enslaving the human polities. Akua Sahelian believed that had the Soninke focused on improving their strengths instead of removing the deficiencies of ritualistic magic, they would have won the war.[7]

The following wars focused on conquering the Orc Clans and the Goblin Tribes[8]

Miezan Occupation[edit | edit source]

See also: Miezan Empire

Miezan occupation had a tremendous impact on the peoples and societies which they subjugated. It lasted from the conclusion of the War of Chains up to the Declaration of Empire, roughly a century. In many ways, this brutal union of people under a foreign invader is what gave birth to the Empire.[5] The goblins were least affected, having offered their surrender after a handful of defeats. They managed to retain most of their holdings.[9]

The orcs had almost an exact opposite experience. At the time they were experiencing their golden age, often raiding Soninke settlements and even fighting with the elves of the Golden Bloom. As a result, the foreign empire took a very harsh stance and systematically dismantled every aspect of orc culture. They went as far as razing the holy grounds of the Broken Antler Horde, the largest city on Calernia at the time.[9]

The human experience was somewhat in-between, neither utterly destroyed nor indifferent, they bore their shackles with hatred. Eventually, Miezan began to crumble as the foreign empire thought against the Baalite Hegemony in what would become known as Licerian Wars. By the time Calernian people rose in revolt there was barely a legion of foreign soldiers left to guard them.[10]

Declaration of Empire[edit | edit source]

See also: Dread Empress Maleficent I

The details surrounding the Declaration are sparse. It dates back to 1324 years before Book 1 and it marks the start of the Imperial Calendar. We know that the woman who would become the first Dread Empress was called Amina. Though we don't know her exact origin, she was a Taghreb.[8] Presumably she was also one of the leaders who led the rebellion that overthrew the Miezans. She would become Dread Empress Maleficent the First and she also named the Empire "Praes", a word from Old Miezan which probably means shackles.[1]

Based on the modern Empire, it's tempting to believe that she forged Praes by force, however this does not seem to be the case. The Orcs considered her a friend and it's mentioned she didn't break the promises of Declaration, implying the Declaration itself might be a piece of diplomacy and negotiations.[8] It's assumed she began the construction of the Tower in Ater as well a formation of the Imperial Government.

Her rule came to an abrupt end as the Soninke could not brook the less populous and powerful Taghrebi being in charge.[8] She was killed less than a decade into her reign by Subira Sahelian of Wolof, who took her place and became the Dread Emperor Sinister the First.

The Age of Wonders[edit | edit source]

The Age of Wonders is never properly defined, though it hearkens back to a time when Praesi Tyrants wielded considerable influence internationally and their ability to mold the Empire was almost unfettered. This is something of a romantic idea as in practice the Tyrants were always bound by the needs of their nation.

For our purposes, the Age of Wonders starts at a point when Names which have traditionally been divided along ethnic lines - such as Red Fox or Grey Lion - were replaced by Imperial Names - such as Dread Emperor or Black Knight. One can think of this as a cultural transition point. According to Amadeus, this occurred over a thousand years ago.[5] It's end shall be defined to forty-five years before the current events.

Dread Empress Sinistra I[edit | edit source]

See also: Dread Empress Sinistra I

Attempted on 120 AD, the ritual of Dread Empress Sinistra the First to steal Callow’s weather was an unmitigated disaster and is referred to as the Emprie's “first great national act of lunacy”.[11] It turned the land lived in by Soninke into what we know it as today - the Wasteland. It also exaggerated Praesi overpopulation problem by lowering the amount of arable land.

Praes had food shortages prior to this event, ultimately rooted in the Miezans overburdening their fields with Petronian field rituals. In fact, the fields were already starting to rot from the inside and whilst Sinistra's failed ritual was disastrous, it only sped up the process that was already in place.[12][11]

War of Thirteen Tyrants and One[edit | edit source]

See also: War of Thirteen Tyrants and One

Fought between fourteen Claimants, the War of Thirteen Tyrants and One was one of the most brutal civil wars ever waged in Praes.[13] It was triggered when Dread Emperor Vile I tried to solve the Empire’s issue of overpopulation by unleashing a magical plague that would kill two in ten.[14] It severely diminished the Empire's strength though it resulted in the victory of Dread Emperor Traitorous.[15]

Dread Empress Triumphant[edit | edit source]

See also: Dread Empress Triumphant

Starting her rise in 493 AD, Dread Empress Triumphant, the first and only of her name, conquered all of Calernia, barring the Kingdom of the Dead - her ally - and the Golden Bloom, which was relocated to Arcadia in only 10 years.[16][17][18] Such a feat was unprecedented and has not been repeated since. Among her many accomplishments during her conquest, Triumphant has:

  • Unleashed a demon of madness on Laure, the capital of Callow, thus ending the Alban dynasty.[19][20]
  • Harmed the Choir of Judgement, sharing this accomplishment with only one other Dread Emperor: Traitorous.[21][22][23]
  • Forced the Kingdom Under to pay tribute after she flooded several of their tunnels with demons.[24]
  • Slaughtered over nine tenths of the Rattling population in the Chain of Hunger and she only withdrew after burning everything down and salting the ashes.[25][26][27]
  • Utterly broken the Titanomachy. A fifth of the Gigantes were slain and the rest were left on the verge of death and centuries of accumulated power was depleted. Most of their spellsingers were mentioned to have been massacred by her in the process.[28][29]

Overall, Triumphant's conquest was perhaps the most brutal, continent-wide slaughter of the peoples of Calernia in recorded history. Culturarly, Triumphant is considered one of the worst calamities to ever befall the continent, equated with the Dead King. Her conquest was one of the main reasons why Praes was more than an international laughingstock. To quote Cat: “Every time some madman climbed the Tower, there was the risk he or she was cut from the same cloth [as Triumphant]”.[17]

Her downfall took 5 years and was the culmination of the First Crusade. As her last act of spite, she collapsed the Tower on the heroes that invaded Ater.[30][20]

Forty Years of Shame[edit | edit source]

See also: Crusader Kingdoms, Dread Emperor Terribilis II

Following directly after Triumphant's Fall in 508 AD, Forty Years of Shame refers to a period of time when the Dread Empire was partitioned into Crusader Kingdoms.[31] Apart from Wolof, all of the Empire's major cities were ruled by the crusaders kings though in reality their authority held no further than a few miles away from the cities they had ruled. Neither the Northern Steppes nor the Grey Eyries have been conquered either.[32]

The first revolt which followed the establishment of the kingdoms gave rise to the Second Crusade, where Proceran armies pulled down the Tower for a second time and the Wastelander armies were crushed into dust.[30][33] It was a perilous time for Praesi as a whole but for the nobility in general, with High Lords and Ladies facing extinction. The situation was so dire it gave rise to one of the most honoured Tyrants - Dread Emperor Terribilis II.[7]

The second revolt was led by a man who would become Dread Emperor Terribilis II and it effectively ended the crusader nations after the Third Crusade failed.[33] Terribilis has spent his lifetime dismantling the kingdoms, which also included subduing a band of giants by putting a small city on fire.[34][35] The period ended around 548 AD potentially after the Fourth Crusade was repelled.

Sixty Years War[edit | edit source]

See also: Sixty Years War, Dread Empress Regalia II

Taking place at approximately 650 AD, the Sixty Years War was initiated by Dread Empress Regalia II who invaded Kingdom of Callow which was still occupied by the the Principate of Procer. It took the titular sixty years, concluding around 710 AD when Dread Emperor Nihilis I retreated to the Blessed Isle without ever signing a formal peace treaty. It is considered one of the most brutal engagements between two sovereign surface nations, leaving both on the brink of collapse.[36][37]

For Praes, the end of the war brought forward a century of mediocrity. The cultural shift was highlighted by a song known as the Tyranny of the Sun. Black speculated the continuous failures with no gains dramatically altered the nations cultural landscape.[37]

Secret Wars[edit | edit source]

See also: Secret Wars

Taking place a century after the end of the Sixty Years War, at around 810 AD, the three Secret Wars were the Empire’s attempt to invade Serenity - the hell-realm of the Dead King.[37][38]They were an utter disaster for Praes, especially since Trismegistus himself took to leading his army against the Empire. This was without precedence as he never personally led his armies during the Crusades.[39]

Dread Empress Maleficent II had eventually used demons of absence to avert Serenity’s counter-invasion of Ater by a hellgate, roughly 25 years after the first war was declared on 835 AD.[38][32]

Contemporary History[edit | edit source]

Starting with the death of Dread Emperor Nefarious around 1285 AD, the Empire has seen a substantial restructuring of its government and military. Collectively these are knows as the Reforms. On the whole, the Empire's recent history can be best characterised as a series of long-term plans meticulously implemented by Dread Empress Malicia and her Black Knight.

Imperial Civil War[edit | edit source]

See also: Dread Emperor Baleful

Known at the time as Whore’s Rebellion, the Imperial Civil War was a succession war fought after Dread Emperor Nefarious was poisoned by his concubine Alaya of Satus. It had two sides: Dread Emperor Baleful, emperor-regnant and Chancellor of Nefarious; and Dread Empress Malicia, empress-claimant and the concubine who killed the previous Tyrant.

Malicia was supported by the Calamities, a handful of Orc Clans: predominantly the Howling Wolves and the Red Shields, as well as some of the Goblin Tribes. Eventually she also gained the support of the High Lady of Thalassina.

Baleful’s support was based on the High Seats. In particular, the High Lord of Kahtan - Mawasi Muraqib - was the leader of his armies. He was also supported by Okoro, Wolof and possibly others though as is often the case, most of the High Lords and Ladies were hedging their bets. The war ended in Malicia’s victory and the start of her reign.[40]

The Conquest[edit | edit source]

See also: The Conquest

The Conquest is the name given to the Empire's second successful invasion of the Kingdom of Callow. It was lead by the Named band known as Calamities roughly twenty years before the start of the series, around 1300 AD. It was an overwhelming victory for the Empire. The campaign itself was a culmination of a decade of planning from the Black Knight in order to end the repeating cycle of war between the Kingdom and the Empire.[41]

The aftermath of the Conquest left a significant cultural impact on Callow. Due to the overwhelming victory of the Praesi the Callowans dealt with the loss by putting them on the pedestal.[42][43] Of course, it also lead to over twenty years of subjugation under the Tower, with all the political changes that entails. The Fairfax Dynasty was eradicated, the power of the nobility destroyed and a new system of Imperial Governship was implemented. It was the crowning achievement for the Legions of Terror, in many ways elevating the institution to a previously never achieved status.

Currently[edit | edit source]

See also: Dread Empress Malicia

Other Notable Events[edit | edit source]

  • The First War of the Dead
  • Goblin Rebellions (seven in total), including the one known as the Long War

Ethnicities & Races[edit | edit source]

The Dread Empire is made up of several different ethnicities and species, including Soninke, Taghreb, Duni, orcs, Goblins and Ogres. With the annexation of Callow, it now also includes Southern Callowans and Deoraithe.

Praes seems to be inspired by Africa, as denoted by names of cities, ethnicities, and languages the dark-skinned Soninke and the sand-colored Taghreb. Plus, the names of Praesi human ethnicities reference African groups, as Soninke is a West African ethnic group, Wolof are a people form Northwestern Senegal, and Taghreb might be a reference to Maghreb, the name of the Northwest Region of Africa (which is an Arabic territory). Also, the language used by Praesi Soninke is called Mthethwa, which was an African confederation of Eastern Southern Africa.

Praesi Duni, who are paler-skinned due to being descendants of Callowans that settled in Praes during the age of the Crusader Kingdoms.

Government & Politics[edit | edit source]

The ruler of the Empire is called the Dread Emperor, Dread Empress or Tyrant, a title that is also a Name. There are seven High Seats - one for each of the large cities - to whom lesser lords are sworn.

While nominally Tyrants have absolute power (and at times this has been true), unless they have monstrous personal power or Praes itself is facing an existential threat, there are practical limits to their power. The High Lords and Ladies have a substantial amount of influence, meaning that to some degree the Tyrant is forced to pander to them or risk losing their control over Praes. They are also kept in check by concerns of popular uprisings, as sufficiently angering the general populace could lead to rebellion and even the appearance of heroes.

Despite that, it is undoubtedly one of the most centralized governments in Calernia. As the governing body, the Tower overseas numerous institutions, among them:

Cities[edit | edit source]

  • Ater, also known as the City of Gates. It's the capital of the Empire as well as the seat of Imperial Bureaucracy. Usually ruled by the reigning Tyrant, currently Malicia.
  • Wolof, the High Seat of the Sahelians. Currently
  • Okoro, ruled by High Lord Jaheem Niri.
  • Aksum, ruled by High Lady Abreha Mirembe, now empress-claimant as Dread Empress Sepulchral. Her appointed successor is Isoba Mirembe.
  • Nok, once ruled by the Yeboah family. It was deposed and the Sesay were installed. Currently ruled by High Lord Dakarai Sahel.
  • Thalassina, formerly the biggest sea port in Praes, it was destroyed in the Tenth Crusade. Some scholars believe it to be the first Praesi city. It was ruled by the Kebdana, with the last ruler being Idriss Kebdana
  • Kahtan, ruled by High Lady Takisha Muraqib. According to Wekesa the Warlock, it may be the oldest Praesi city.
  • Foramen, currently ruled by a goblin called High Lady Wither. Until its capture by the Confederation of the Grey Eyries, it was ruled by the Banu.

Historical Dread Emperors/Empresses[edit | edit source]

See also: Dread Emperor/Empress

Namelore[edit | edit source]

The Dread Empire is one of the three human nations that has a common number of Named associated with it.

Names that are nearly constantly in use are Dread Emperor/Empress, Chancellor, Black Knight, Heir/Heiress and Warlock, with several other, less frequent names following, depending on factors.

- Dread Emperor/Empress, also referred to as "the Tyrant". Currently held by Dread Empress Malicia.

- Chancellor (currently outlawed)

- Black Knight. Previously held by Amadeus.

- Warlock. Previously held by Wekesa.

- Apprentice. Previously held by Masego. Currently held by a hero from Ashur.

- Hierophant. Currently held by Masego.

- Assassin. Current holder unknown

- Captain. Previously held by Sabah.

- Scribe Currently held by Eudokia

- Squire. This Name was historically shared between Praes and Callow, used to train both Black and White Knights. Previously held by Catherine

- Adjutant. Currently held by Hakram 

- Heir/Heiress. Previously held by Akua.

- Diabolist. Previously held by Akua and Dread Empress Truimphant.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2017/01/04/epilogue-2/
  2. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/chapter-35-spur/
  3. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/prologue-2/
  4. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/epilogue/
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/chapter-15-company/
  6. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/11/02/ye-mighty/
  7. 7.0 7.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2017/04/19/villainous-interlude-chiaroscuro/
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 8.3 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/12/07/beast/
  9. 9.0 9.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/07/08/chapter-15-company/
  10. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/11/23/chapter-45-corpses/
  11. 11.0 11.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2019/07/01/seed-i/
  12. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/chapter-35-spur/
  13. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/11/02/red-skies/
  14. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/08/24/chapter-36-madman/
  15. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/11/11/chapter-1-supply/
  16. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2019/11/04/epilogue-5/
  17. 17.0 17.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/11/04/prologue-2/
  18. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/chapter-18-cradle/
  19. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2017/10/11/chapter-34-talks/
  20. 20.0 20.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/chapter-22-rescue/
  21. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/09/03/fatality-ii/
  22. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2019/05/29/interlude-repudiation/
  23. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2019/10/18/interlude-a-hundred-battles/comment-page-1/
  24. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/chapter-57-betwixt/
  25. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/06/29/chapter-24-invitation-redux/
  26. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/08/06/chapter-40-viviennes-plan/
  27. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/11/12/chapter-70-the-calm-before/
  28. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/06/22/interlude-sing-we-of-rage/
  29. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2019/05/01/peers/
  30. 30.0 30.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/08/12/chapter-20-rise/
  31. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2019/08/02/seed-ii/
  32. 32.0 32.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2017/12/04/chapter-49-hearsay/
  33. 33.0 33.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2016/10/12/heroic-interlude-prise-au-fer/
  34. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/11/18/chapter-2-demand/
  35. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/09/09/chapter-24-aishas-plan/
  36. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/04/27/chapter-7-snares/
  37. 37.0 37.1 37.2 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/10/10/interlude-queens-gambit-declined/
  38. 38.0 38.1 https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2020/01/28/chapter-6-equivalent/
  39. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/07/02/chapter-25-edge/
  40. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/chapter-23-moroks-plan/
  41. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/03/25/prologue/
  42. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2015/04/01/chapter-1-knife/
  43. https://practicalguidetoevil.wordpress.com/2018/02/26/chapter-69-swan-song/
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