Dread Empress Malicia the First is the reigning Tyrant of the Dread Empire. By the time the first book of the Guide begins, she has been ruling for forty years, and she is later referred to as "the longest-reigning Dread Empress in the history of the Wasteland".[1]

Background[edit | edit source]

Her real name has been revealed to be Alaya of Satus, nicknamed "Allie" by the Black Knight. She was formerly a concubine to Dread Emperor Nefarious, taken by force into his seraglio. She's implied to have assassinated the Emperor and usurped the throne in a civil war also known as the "Whore's War". Born in the Green Stretch, she was an innkeeper's daughter who worked as a waitress and met both Amadeus and Wekesa before being taken to the Tower.

Appearance[edit | edit source]

Alaya is an exceptionally beautiful Soninke with dark skin and long hair. Catherine notes she is tall, with sharp cheekbones and smooth skin.[2] [3]

Her beauty is much commented upon and she wears clothes that display it - it is apparently unrelated to her Name, though she uses magic and Name power to make it more noticeable and distracting.

Personality[edit | edit source]

Several characters mention her as being calculating. She's mentioned to be a lesbian though she is not above using her effect on men to her advantage, which her stated sexual preferences does not seem to hinder. While she plays up her reputation as a seductress in public, she is more modest in private and was stated by Black to have never really overcome her "very provincial views on propriety".

It was said by Tikoloshe (an Incubus with the capacity to discern people's desires and bound by Wekesa to not lie) that Malicia "craves control the way a starving man craves a meal" which would make her a megalomaniac. She is also a bit paranoid in her desire to keep control of the Tower, likely a consequence of constantly dealing with the schemes of Praesi Nobility, but it has led her to take measures in case Amadeus would plot to betray her, as the Black Knight is the one who truly controls the Legions of Terror and they are loyal to him rather than to her. She is aware that Amadeus is her most loyal and trustful supporter, yet she feels threatened by his influence, which causes her much internal turmoil.

Malicia presents herself as the metaphorical "good cop" to Amadeus' "bad cop" when interacting with the Praesi aristocracy, though she seems to hold them in little esteem. As far personal relationships go she'd known to have kept Nefarious' seraglio after his death and she's referred to Amadeus as "the only man in this entire Empire I can call a friend". Scribe has an open dislike of her and implied Ranger felt the same.

History[edit | edit source]

Early Days[edit | edit source]

At some point after Dread Emperor Nefarious' failed invasion of Callow, she was forcefully added to his seraglio by the Sentinels. Her father protested and was nailed to the floors of his own inn. She'd previously met Amadeus and saw him again when he became the Black Knight and was summoned to the Tower by the Chancellor. Nefarious was later killed, and she claimed the Name of Dread Empress before the Chancellor could, triggering a civil war. At least two High Lords and a High Lady stood against her in that war, and presumably all of them were defeated before she took control of Praes. The Black Knight served as commander of her forces and seems to have raised her an army in the Northern Steppes, including the later-famous Marshal Grem One-Eye, Marshal Ranker, and General Istrid.

The Conquest[edit | edit source]

Her involvement in the Conquest itself is unknown, though the Reforms that enabled it would have needed her approval. In the wake of the annexation of Callow, Malicia quieted unrest among Praesi high nobility by creating the Imperial governorship system and awarding rich cities to members of the Truebloods.

Powers[edit | edit source]

Despite initially working as a barmaid Alaya has taken to power in a short amount of time she has overwhelmed the status quo of Praes. By allying with Goblins and Orcs and outlawing the name of Chancellor she has upset the Truebloods. She has expanded the name of Empress to encompass the duties of Chancellor as well. Her main power lies in crafting schemes that exhaust her enemies through her indirect manipulations as seen in the constant infighting of Procer. She is also able to handle direct threats by employing the Black Knight, her closest friend.

Rule: Allows her to control an individual without visibly having to control them this allows her to subtly control individuals around her without arousing suspicion. With this power anyone in her presence is merely a pawn. Similar to Black she can also plant commands in others, however her power has limits and she is unable to control a large army.

Epigraphs[edit | edit source]

“Power is mostly a matter of making the right corpses at the right time.”

– Dread Empress Malicia the First[4]


“Only heroes get to have the torch handed to them. Villains must take it from their predecessor’s corpse.”

– Dread Empress Malicia, First of her Name[5]


“I trust people to act according to their nature. Anything more is sentimentality.”

– Dread Empress Malicia the First[6]


“It is impossible for the Empire to make an appreciable gain so long as this gain is a loss to every other nation on Calernia. To remedy this, we must discard the traditional lines of allying only to Evil polities and make it so that it is in the interest of other powers for us to rise.”

– Extract from ‘The Death of the Age of Wonders’, a treatise by Dread Empress Malicia[7]


“A war fought and won for the wrong reasons, under the wrong cause, can be a greater threat to the Praes than simple defeat. Maleficent the First spoke of villains raising their own gallows, but failed to add that the killing stroke in a hanging comes from the height of the drop.”

– Extract from ‘The Death of the Age of Wonders’, a treatise by Dread Empress Malicia[8]


“To repudiate what lies at the heart of Praes – ambition, skill, learning – would be a mistake, yet to allow those traits to be principle rather than tool has been the mother of a great many dooms. The greatness of olden days must be put to modern purpose or see itself turn irrelevant to the lay of Creation.”

– Extract from ‘The Death of the Age of Wonders’, a treatise by Dread Empress Malicia[9]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source]

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