- "And so Triumphant laughed, saying: ‘You spellsingers, wisdom of stars and weavers of fate, know now despair. I will break you so utterly even the remembrance of your wholeness will suffocate, and where rose your tall spires there be only the barren sea I made of your defiance.'"
- ―Extract from the Scroll of Dominion, twenty-fourth of the Secret Histories of Praes
Triumphant, the First and Only of Her Name, was a former Dread Empress of Praes. She lived between 470 and 510 AD, about 840 years before the events of the Guide. She was the only person to ever conquer the entirety of Calernia.
Background[edit | edit source]
Born in Wolof around 470 AD, it's unknown whether she was a highborn. During her reign she kept Wolofites close, though she had no love for them. Her ancestors hid behind the city's walls when the First Crusade defeated the Empire. Despite their seemingly close ties she despised Sahelians.
Her rise to power started when she openly slew the High Lord of Wolof, Baraka Sahelian, on the stress of the city, on the first day of year 493 AD. Before she donned the Dread Crown she was a Diabolist. Her reign is described in the Scroll of Dominion, the twenty-fourth of the Secret Histories of Praes.
Black mentioned she broke “nearly every other law on record”, except for the Decree, which prevents Praesi from performing scientific investigations - an act that would anger Gnomes. Wandering Bard described her as scowling all the time.
Abilities[edit | edit source]
- "Dread Empress Triumphant – may she never return – was widely held as the greatest diabolist to ever live, above even the Dead King. She’d summoned and bound entire legions of devils, put demons at their head and her bindings had been so well-crafted they had held for centuries after her demise."
- ―Akua Sahelian
Probably one of the most powerful people to live in Calernia, she has been called "the greatest monster to ever come out of the Wasteland". This is further reinforced as she's often compared to, and mentioned along side of, the Dead King.
Besides her immense power she also had a keen instinct and understanding of Evil and her relation to the narrative. The Dead King himself held her in high regard and mentioned that "There was a clarity to her that I’d [the Dead King] never seen the likes of.” Kairos Theodosian said she "broke in Evil as one would break in a stallion”.
Dread Empress Triumphant was known for her control over demons and devils. The demons she bound into standards of her Legions, to be used as weapons known as Hell Eggs. The Legions were thus rechristened the Legions of Terror. The host of devils, she summoned and bound using Lesser Breaches. She is recognized as the greatest diabolist to ever live and her first Name was Diabolist.
Tied in with her Diabolism, she was capable of creating separate separate dimensions in which other beings, such as Angels or Demons could be contained in, some which survived to this day. Akua Sahelian was going to use one such dimension to capture the Hashmallim. Despite Triumphant's prodigious skill at containing and using demons she used the Demons of Corruption sparingly.
Calernian Conquest[edit | edit source]
Whilst the events leading up to the conquest are not known, the event itself is fairly well documented.
Her conquest started with the Kingdom of Callow and took ten years in total. As her opening move she used a flying fortress to fly past the fortress-city of Summerholm. She unleashed a demon of madness on Laure, the capital of Callow, thus ending the Alban dynasty.
She was fond of having children crucify their own parents as a sign of obeisance and forced the Duchess of Daoine to do so to her own father who didn’t bow low enough for the Empress’s taste. It became such a common occurrence that the red cross eventually became the banner of the First Crusade.  
Crucifixion as a punishment was brought over from the Miezan Empire, used to make example of rowdy slaves. When Triumphant was using the same method it implied she viewed all the conquered nations under in a similar light. During the conquest, half the population of Daoine was wiped out.
Her subjugation of various principalities that would make up Procer lead to the full priesthoods of the west gathering in a conclave, the first in recorded history. The Hallowed gathered together and summoned an angel from the Choir of Justice, which she slew. In her rage she committed many atrocities against the powerful Arlesite and Alamans tribes that had dwelled on the shores of Lake Artoise. She managed to harm the Choir of Judgement, sharing this accomplishment with only one other Dread Emperor: Traitorous.
The Kingdom Under was forced to pay tribute to Triumphant after she flooded several of their tunnels with demons. Overall, it's questionable how much of a threat she really was to their kingdom. Catherine was of the opinion that they acquiesced to her demands due to isolationism to surface affairs, believing that if the Kingdom Under had tried, it could have put her down.
She slaughtered over nine tenths of the Rattling population in the Chain of Hunger. Yet, they offered no surrender. It was theorised that this was because only the very young and the very old are capable of intelligent thought. She didn’t manage to totally exterminate them and she withdrew after burning everything down and salting the ashes. Much of the Imperial chronicles about the rattlings are based around her campaign. During the conquest she also fought against some of the Horned Lords.
At some point during the conquest she allied with the Dead King and invited him into Creation. The elves of the Golden Bloom phased out their realm into Arcadia to escape her conquest. This has only ever happened once more, during the Second Liesse.
The Titanomachy was utterly broken by Triumphant. When the Dread Empress moved towards the Titanomachy their spellsingers took to the field in response. The ensuing battle took less than an hour, yet as a collateral it created a massive lake known as the Titan's Pond, formed out of plains half the size of Callow. A fifth of the Gigantes were slain in that period, their life-force used up in the battle. 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.
Even then, the Dead Empress did not stop, continuing to massacre and terrorise the giants. Per Akua:
- "What the greatest of the Tyrants had wrought was not easily undone. If it were the Sky Breaker and his wife would not still be bound at the summit of Cloudreach Peak, one cursed with endless hunger and the other with endless healing. It was said that the howls of anguish coming from them both still troubled the sleep of all who dwelled in the Titanomanchy, a reminder to the giants that defying Praes was never without cost."
- ―Akua Sahelian
Overall, Triumphant's conquest was perhaps the most brutal, continent-wide slaughter of the peoples of Calernia in recorded history.
Downfall[edit | edit source]
The conquest concluded after ten years with only two polities remaining untouched: the Kingdom of the Dead with which she was allied and the Golden Bloom which fled into Arcadia. Her armies however, were dangerously overextended and the resources of Praes were used up. This formed a perfect breeding ground for rebellions and the Empire had made many enemies during its meteoric rise. Tthe collapse of her empire took roughly five years.
It's unknown how the rebellions coalesced however eventually the entire continent rose up in arms against her. It's likely Eleanor Fairfax was the nominal leader as she was touched by Contrition and would have a Heavenly mandate among heroes. Along with Calernia, two overseas polities also attacked Praes: the Yan Tei Empire and a second foreign empire, possibly the Baalite Hegemony. This had severe consequences as when the Yan Tei landed a punitive army on Praesi shores they used their sealing arrays to trap at least a dozen demons in scrolls wich was a huge blow to Triumphant's power.
The Kingdom Under was also an instrumental part of the surface rebellion. Though they did not fight Triumphant themselves they nonetheless funded and armed the rebellion several years after Triumphant’s conquest was concluded. Such level of support was not seen until the Tenth Crusade, though that’s mainly because dwarves rarely get involved in struggles of the surface nations.
Death[edit | edit source]
The Dread Empress was killed in the war, unleashing every last demon she had bound in Praes and bringing down the Tower atop the heroes who were assaulting Ater, as her last act of spite. Allegedly her final words, when asked why she had caused so much death and destruction on Calernia, were "Why not?". This is referenced in a play that was banned by the Tower.
Legacy[edit | edit source]
As the sole conqueror of the entire continent, Triumphant cast a vast shadow that affected nearly every power on Calernia to some extent.
Calernia[edit | edit source]
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]”.
The Kingdom of Callow's ruling Alban dynasty was wiped out to the last by the Dread Empress, resulting in Eleanor Fairfax ascending as the first queen of the Fairfax dynasty. By massacring half of Daoine's population she forced the Kingdom of Daoine to unite with Callow, becoming the Duchy of Daoine.
The Principate of Procer was founded in the immediate aftermath of her fall, born from an alliance between the Arlesite and Alamans tribes. The people of the region were brutalized to such a degree they had to band together as a nation or see themselves devoured by neighbours. The corpse of the angel she slew resided in Lake Artoise until Cordelia Hasenbach dredged it up to use as a weapon in the Tenth Crusade, seven hundred years later. It's unknown what impact this had on the Choir.
In Dominion of Levant she’s known as the Empress Most Dread. Despite the fact that Levant as a polity didn’t exist at the time of the conquest its founding tribes still keenly felt her impact. Hundreds of thousands had died in the battle that created the Titan’s Pond and most of them were from those tribes.
The Gigantes were so weakened by her that they were fought to a very costly draw in the Humbling of Titans, which Procer then spun into a political victory. The weakening of the Gigantes was such that Procer could expand its conquests into Levant unimpeded a decade later. Even by the time of the Uncivil Wars seven hundred years later, the Titanomanchy was still recovering, with a large number of the giants but a decade away from death unless they continued to accumulate power and with most of their spellsingers being relatively young.
After her alliance with the Dead King, the Tower obtained a method of communicating with him, in the form of a stone that glows red once activated. She once stayed in Keter as a guest in the Silent Palace which remained unoccupied until Catherine Foundling visited him seven hundred years later.
A handful of Hell Eggs remained undiscovered or hidden. One containing a Demon of Madness was in Marchford. Eventually it was unleashed by Akua Sahelian. A Demon of Absence was dispatched of by heroes as part of the Tenth Crusade, located near Harrow. It's possible even more are yet to be found.
Praes[edit | edit source]
Triumphant's impact on the Dread Empire was immense, likely unmatched by any other Tyrant to this day.
Materially, her conquest had catastrophic consequences for Praes. She has spent an entire generation of Wasteland’s youth on foreign fields and the conquered territories could not feasibly be kept as part of the Empire in the long-term. She had broken Praes so so thoroughly that it took four decades for the Dread Empire to successfully repel the crusader kings who had carved the Wasteland into their holdings. She was the first person to destroy the Tower in Ater. By all accounts, her conquest ruined Praes.
Politically, she had prescient insight into the inner working of Praes. Malicia mentioned that: “Triumphant had understood the nature of the Empire better than any Tyrant before or since. Under her rule there had been no betrayals, no scheming Chancellor or rebellious High Lords. All had been united in terror of the monster of monsters.” She understood that for the Empire to function as a single, smoothly running entity, entity she couldn’t allow any infighting. She achieved this with overwhelming might.
As a Diabolist, she pioneered the use of Lesser Breaches - the opening of a temporary portal to one of the hells with a mass binding woven into it. This revolutionised the summoning of devils, allowing for entire armies of devils to be summoned at once instead of slowly summoning them one-by-one.
Culturally, most Praesi still press their knuckles to their forehead and murmur “may she never return” whenever Triumphant's name is spoken. To quote Hakram: “This is a prayer, Catherine. As close as we get, anyway. [...] Whenever her name is spoken, anyone who’s not a fool petitions the Gods Below to make sure she never manages to return to Creation.” There are many superstitions surrounding her fall, some people even believe that she and her Legions conquered the hell she ended up with.
Black Knight speculated that though the collapse of Triumphant’s Empire was traumatic to the Praesi culture, it was nonetheless not as significant as the Sixty Years War. This is as she actually succeeded whereas the latter venture was an utter failure.
Aspiring villains often compare themselves to Triumphant. Black Knight mentions they always quote the play, so much so that he knows the entire third act by rote. Many Praesi still view her as the greatest Tyrant that ever was or would be. Many plays have been made about her person, among them I, Triumphant and The Fall of Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name.
Epigraphs[edit | edit source]
“All lessons worth learning are drenched in blood.”
– Dread Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name
“If Creation is not mine, what need is there to be a Creation at all?”
– Dread Empress Triumphant, First and Only of Her Name
“And on the first day of the year four hundred and ninety-three after the Declaration did a stranger slay High Lord Baraka Sahelian in the streets of Wolof, and she did not flee. Instead she challenged the Sahelians in such a manner: ‘Come now, you who believe you might triumph over me, that I might teach you the error of your ways.’”
– Extract from the Scroll of Dominion, twenty-fourth of the Secret Histories of Praes
“And so Triumphant laughed, saying: ‘You spellsingers, wisdom of stars and weavers of fate, know now despair. I will break you so utterly even the remembrance of your wholeness will suffocate, and where rose your tall spires there be only the barren sea I made of your defiance.'”
– Extract from the Scroll of Dominion, twenty-fourth of the Secret Histories of Praes 
“And so Triumphant said: ‘Tremble, for I am not yet content.'”
– Extract from the Scroll of Dominion, twenty-fourth of the Secret Histories of Praes 
Mentioned in text:
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- The centrepiece of the mosaic on the 24th floor of the Tower depicts, amongst other events, the First Crusade and Triumphant’s fall.
- Akua’s weapon to make Greater Breaches was said to be the most dangerous magical weapon since Triumphant’s day.
- Akua mentions that “Attention to ironic detail is the difference between a Triumphant and a Nihilis.”
- Her image is often evoked on Major Arcana Tarot as the Empress
- The Dead King seems to have held her in high regard. Ranger says he had a “weird boner” for her.
References[edit | edit source]
- WOG: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1qW8omWZaifzjLO6qDHhkSv1uhPZURg4Cx9_AKqGvCZg/edit?folder=0AObafa1NYgGtUk9PVA