The Fall of Draga
For over 1,000 years the Zetan Empire has stood steadfast, protecting its citizens from the many threats that plague the lands. The expanded empire’s reach grew to cover most of Uldor, but fractures began to emerge as they struggled to maintain order and offer protection to such large and diverse lands. Even still, the empire was holding, continually defeating evil as it reared its ugly head. Yet none could have foreseen the worst threat of all coming from within, from none other than the emperor himself.
The aging Emperor Draga the seventh had become obsessed with holding onto the power that his empire was slowly losing, believing a splintered empire would fall to the dark forces that inhabit this world. Fearing what would happen to the empire after his death, he desperately sought to preserve his life so that he may ensure his legacy and the permanence of the empire. He sent thousands of his Guardians around the world of Uldor to find a legendary artifact known as the Infinarium, a tome said to hold the secrets of life and death itself. Some legends said that whoever reads from the book shall never die. After a decade of searching, the Guardians found the tome and delivered it to the emperor. Upon opening the tome, however, Draga discovered it was written in an unknown language. The emperor summoned the most learned scholars to study the tome, but none recognized the language and thus were unable to decipher its texts. Undeterred, Draga turned to mystics and cultists in order to unlock the book’s secrets. So great was his obsession that the empire’s affairs were left entirely to the Council of Elders, while Draga himself became more and more isolated with the occult and the arcane. One day, without warning, the emperor emerged from his chambers. His skin, having been devoid from light’s touch for so long, had become gaunt and turned a pale grey. His hair, what was left of it, was spindly and black, reaching down to his shoulders. Draga — this Draga — slowly shambled outside the palace to address a growing crowd who were eager to hear from the emperor. That curiosity, however, quickly turned into panic as Draga produced the Infinarium and began to speak. “The time has stripped away all that which is unimportant. What remains is Nycros, the God of Life and Death. You all shall serve me in this life and in the death to come — Nycros is forever.”
If the crowd hadn’t been so transfixed on Draga — now Nycros’ — words, they may have more quickly noticed the dark figures slowly making their way out from the palace. The mystics and cultists that had helped Draga unlock the secrets of the Infinarium had become twisted abominations, they themselves becoming corrupted by the darkness held within the accursed artifact. By the time the crowd had noticed, the ghastly men struck, killing many within the crowd before most could even react. Those that were slain would find no peace, however, as their lifeless bodies would slowly climb to their feet. The remaining crowd fled in hysteria, while Nycros led his ever-growing army to the chamber housing the elders. As the horde burst through the chamber doors, the elders had but moments to spare. The Furies guarding the Hall of Elders leaped into action, protecting the elders from Nycros and his undead forces. In the aftermath of the battle, dozens lay dead or dying. The Furies managed to slay the attackers, as well as Nycros himself. As the Furies and Council members struggled to understand what had just transpired, the corpse of Nycros suddenly began moving, lifting itself from the ground until it was standing upright. The ghoulish figure stared at the elders with a cold, emotionless expression, then proclaimed: “Nycros is forever!” but before he was able to attack, one of the Furies decapitated him, causing his body to once again slump to the ground. Nycros’ body and head were placed upon a funeral pyre, along with the Infinarium and the dozens of undead bodies. After the final embers had burned, however, Nycros’ body and the Infinarium each remained. Furies placed the emperor’s body in a golden tomb, reserved for the bodies of royalty. Guardians were dispatched to hide the tomb and the Infinarium at opposits ends of Uldor, hopefully removing the threat to the empire for good.
The people of Zetan remained unaware of what truly transpired. It was decided by the Council of Elders to instead tell the people the emperor was slain by a dark creature that invaded the palace. The emperor’s younger brother and next in line to the throne, Drokal, was summoned to the capital. Immediately skeptical of the story told to him by the Council of Elders, he suspected his brother was assassinated by the Furies that were entrusted to keep him safe. Worried of future conspiracies, and not knowing who to trust, Drokal orders both Furies and Guardians to be immediately disbanded. His royal decree was dispatched to every city and town, removing authority and title of all Furies and Guardians. Guardians — the protectors of the people, and Furies — the keepers of the peace, had been removed from the roles for the first time since their founding. This left trained warriors scattered throughout the empire and it’s outskirts with no employ or purpose. Eager to put their talents to good use, some went on quests to slay beasts and monsters, as they were once charged to do. Others traveled the world, helping others in need. Some became mercenaries, warriors for hire. Some even took on trades and established themselves in their local communities.
Meanwhile, Emperor Drokal formed a new royal guard, the Red Legion, which was designed to fill the roles of the Guardians and Furies. Unfortunately for the Zetani people, the Legion would prove to be a poor substitute. The outer towns and villages could no longer count on the empire to protect them from bandits and beasts. Some villages hired mercenaries or relied on traveling heroes to help them. Even the larger cities began experiencing problems. The once well-maintained order had begun to wane and the era of peace and stability shifted to one of discourse, mistrust, and anger. Drokal’s Red Legion was sent to one city on the verge of riots, Tamana, to set an example. The harsh treatment of the people there sent shockwaves throughout Zetan, but the effect was likely not what Drokal had hoped for. A rebellion was brewing.