Many of you have approached me, asking to recount the events of the last ten years. I’m beginning to understand that many outside of the Holy Empire didn’t quite understand what was going on within our borders. As much pain as it causes me to recall the tragic events of this last decade, it is necessary if we are to bring an end to the bloodshed. This might take some time though. A lot happens in ten years, especially ten years of war.
But is the story I will tell you the truth? It would be presumptuous of me to say. I can only tell things as I saw them – my truth. Ask one of Seamus of Stag’s advisors and he might spin a widely different tale.
十年战争的故事 - Tales of the Ten Years War
843 YSD – Falcon’s Last Flight
If Empress Maeve Falcon committed a sin, it is certainly the sin of pride. It is often when you think you have everything under control that it all falls apart. The dangers of unreasonable pride will be a recurring theme in this story. So much that in centuries to come, historians may well call this war, “the War of Pride”.
Where to begin? Maybe with the prophecy.
At the dawn of our era, what the scholars call the “Historical Age”, Ronan the Great, High King of the Falcon Clan, defeated his rivals and had them bend the knee before him. The Human clans were no more. An Empire was born.
It is said that on the day of Ronan’s crowning, the Seventh Dragon himself, Sar-Elam, appeared to the new Emperor and talked with a voice that was both ancient and timeless. “Emperor of the Falcon!” he said. “Your blood is the blood of Men. For as long as your blood endures, the children of Ylath shall prosper.”
…Well, he probably didn’t say these exact words, but all accounts at least agree to their meaning: as long as the Falcon dynasty existed, the children of Ylath – the Human race – would prosper.
But of course, Sar-Elam’s words also turned the Falcon line into targets. The Demons of Sheogh, in particular, made several attempts against the Falcon Emperors through history.
憎恨的计划 - Hateful Plans
In 564 YSD, the Second Eclipse reddened the skies of Ashan, two years earlier than the Blind Brothers had predicted. The Demon Prince of Hate, Ahribban, who had been hatching plans to spread dissent and enmity within the Empire for years, personally led the siege of the Empire’s capital city, Falcon’s Reach. Emperor Liam Falcon died in battle, while Demon cultists led by the traitor Jezebeth hunted down his heirs.
Fortunately, the Duke of Griffin, Anton, managed to kill Jezebeth and rescue Liam’s only remaining family: his niece Gwendolyn. The princess safe, the imperial armies joined forces to liberate Falcon’s Reach and destroy Ahribban.
And so the infernal plans were thwarted, and the blood of Ronan kept flowing.
When the time of the Fourth Eclipse arrived, Empress Maeve was ready. The Blind Brothers had perfected their art, and this time their predictions were completely accurate. The Eclipse happened the very moment it was expected, and when the Demons unfurled upon the lands of the Holy Empire, the Knights of the Light were there to welcome them with blessed steel in hand.
Everything was under control.
But Empress Maeve was underestimating the current ruler of Sheogh, the one they call the Demon Sovereign. While the Demons were being routed on the battlefields, a party of assassins infiltrated the walls of Falcon’s Reach. At their head was none other than Jezebeth, who had been offered – or cursed with, depending on the way you look at it – a second life in Sheogh as a Succubus.
Jezebeth was hell-bent on finishing what she had failed to do four centuries earlier. Jezebeth and her Demons stormed Maeve’s throne room, killing the Empress and slaughtering her entire family. Then, they burnt Falcon’s Reach to the ground, to ensure no heir of Falcon would survive.
The Fourth Eclipse ended with the Demons’ defeat… and their greatest victory.
血债血偿 - Blood for blood
Yet the world of Men didn’t seem in a hurry to end. And for scholars, that could mean only two things.
The skeptics reasoned that Sar-Elam’s prophecy could have been wrong all along, or at least misinterpreted. That happens all the time, really – just as you should never trust someone claiming to possess the one and only truth, you should never believe someone who claims his interpretation of a prophecy is the right one.
The faithful, on the other hand, claimed that Maeve’s son Brendan had somehow survived the massacre of Falcon’s Reach. As unlikely as it sounded, many in the Empire wanted to believe it. The Church of Light proclaimed there would be one year of mourning: if the child Brendan was found alive during this period, he would inherit the throne. If he was not found, then he would be declared dead, and a new Emperor would be chosen among the Dukes of the Empire.
That time was spent hunting the last pockets of Demon marauders. Among them was Jezebeth herself. It was Ivan of Griffin, leading a company of griffin riders, who located and cornered her. The Succubus had been trying to hide in plain sight, in the ruins of Castelrose, the old citadel of the Holy Inquisition.
It was no secret that Ivan had been good friends with Empress Maeve, and he showed her assassin no mercy. You probably know the folk song their encounter inspired? I think it goes like this:
The lyrical qualities of this piece are certainly debatable, but that’s not the point. What is important is what the song doesn’t mention: the fact Jezebeth had one last bargaining chip to offer in the hopes of saving her sorry hide. In a last, desperate gambit, she offered information about the boy Brendan. But Ivan replied that he would never believe one word spoken by an assassin, especially a Succubus. And that’s when he cut her head off with a mighty swing of his sword.
With Jezebeth’s death, the Fourth Eclipse was finally over. But in the Empire the troubles were only beginning…