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History

The Ancients

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{Book 1: Last of the Vaal Queens}

It has been written of Queen Atziri that her throne room was lined with mirrors and that she held court naked, demanding the same of those wishing her audience. The theory was that a naked man had nothing to hide, but one might easily venture that Atziri utilised her striking physical presence to influence courtly engagements in her favour.

A woman like Atziri, beautiful and naked, would be very difficult to refuse. The few statuettes and reliefs that remain depict her as a rare beauty, a young woman with exquisitely delicate features, large, mesmerizing eyes, and a full figure of intoxicating sensuality. Whether the depictions are realist or interpretive is unfortunately impossible to corroborate.

But who was the woman behind the title? The few surviving accounts on this matter contain two schools of thought on the matter. Some speak of Atziri with adoration, touting her as a visionary, the woman who would lead the Vaal into a brighter future. Others are less kind, suggesting that Atziri's love for herself overshadowed any love for her people. If her court of mirrors truly existed, however, then the latter seems more likely. Vanity, after all, is the most insidious of all Sins.

Only one thing can be said for certain of Atziri: she was the last Queen of the Vaal. The trail of history ends during her reign, some four hundred years preceding the Imperialus Conceptus.

{ -Trinian - Intellectus Prime}

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{Book 2: Zerphi the Murderer}

It is said the Vaalish noble, Zerphi, lived for 168 years. That is more than three times the current imperial average. Were this the only unusual attribute of an otherwise uneventful life, Zerphi might have have been cast into the back corner of history to gather dust with the other inexplicable anomalies. But his life was anything but uneventful.

Zerphi was the Vaal civilisation's most infamous serial killer. Over a period of 128 years, Zerphi abducted, tortured and murdered thirteen victims. All in their twentieth year of life. All of noble descent. All Gemlings. But this feat alone did not catapult Zerphi into the annals of history. Rather, it was the quality of his heinous acts that set him apart, not the quantity.

Evidently, Zerphi was a master at inflicting the most prolonged and agonising demise. His victims' bodies were found in a state of horrific mutilation, yet post-mortem analysis revealed that all of the physical trauma infilcted had occurred while the victim was still alive. Some sources claim that the techniques of torture were so refined that he was able to inflict the most intense and lasting pain the human body is capable of sustaining.

Then we come to the curious matter of Zerphi's death which, as so often occurs with historical investigation, brings us back to where we started. Zerphi was finally found at the side of his thirteenth and final victim, who was unmolested and unmutilated. Simply dead. When the centenarian's body was committed to autopsy, the recorded results are mystifying in the extreme. It is claimed that Zerphi did not possess the body of a 168-year-old, rather that his corpse had the physiognomy of a man of twenty years, no more.

Life and Death have walked hand in hand since the beginning of Time. Could Zephri have persuaded them to kiss?

{ -Trinian - Intellectus Prime}

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{Book 3: The Queen's Thaumaturgist}

In a culture festooned with gems and steeped in thaumaturgy, Doryani must have had quite the exceptional mind to rise to such preeminence as he did. Or perhaps he was simply more ruthless than his counterparts. Such is the impression one tends to garner from the accounts written of events following Zerphi's death.

Atziri's orders are quoted in a number of different texts. Doryani was "to make any effort within the realms of possibility, and to act without fear of question or consequence". And to what was Doryani expected to apply this supreme effort? The investigation of Zephri's longevity and youthful vitality.

There is a particularly chilling manifest, containing endless lists of names, page upon page. The names of young men and women, ranging in age from sixteen to twenty-six, sent to Doryani for "processing". Only those of "full and recent maturity" were deemed capable of accommodating the "necessary procedures" required without succumbing to "premature expiration".

Yes, Queen Atziri was prepared to slaughter her own people in the desperate pursuit of perpetual youth and beauty. Vanity, indeed, is the most insidious of all Sins.

{ -Trinian - Intellectus Prime}

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{Book 4: Raising the Azmeri}

Drain a cup of Azmerian tea and then try to read your future in the leaves. You'll find that your Vaalish will come in mighty handy. Our literature was conceived and born within the Azmeri's cultural marriage with the Vaal.

Prior to Vaal contact some 2500 years ago, the Azmerian culture had a purely oral tradition of story and record keeping. Afterwards, their literary culture blossomed, along with just about every other aspect of their fledgling civilisation. From the moment the first Vaalish embassadors set foot upon the rugged slopes of the Azmerian Ranges, the Vaal civilisation held the hand of the Azmeri as they grew from a primitive tribal existence into a cohesive culture of settlement and agriculture.

Yet while the Vaal were generous with their knowledge and guidance in many areas, there is one subject upon which they were notably silent: the Tears of Maji, now known as Virtue Gems. Despite an exhaustive search, neither account nor passing reference can be found regarding gem usage amongst the early Azmeri. Though they described the Vaal as having flesh adorned with glittering crystals, our Azmerian ancestors were never privy to the gems' potentials or powers.

At least, not until the first Vaal refugees came knocking five hundred years later.

{ -Trinian - Intellectus Prime}

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{Book 5: The Fall}

The Vaal. Thousands of years in the making. Gone in a blink of Solaris' burning eyes. The Azmeri tell of the Vaalish immigration with equal measures of pity and horror. Small bands of tattered, shambling survivors, bereft of their families, their wealth, and in many cases, their sanity. They were welcomed, and cared for, but none could give the Azmeri the one thing they sought in return. None could tell them how the Vaal realm came to such a sudden and catastrophic end. An apocalypse that came to be known as The Fall.

The number 3126 is forever burned into Azmerian history. Three thousand one hundred and twenty-six: the number of Vaal refugees who came to live with and eventually become absorbed into the Azmerian people.

Three thousand one hundred and twenty-six survivors from a civilisation counting in its millions.

{ -Trinian - Intellectus Prime}

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{Book 6: Imperialus Conceptus}

Tarcus Veruso descended from the mountains and led his eighty thousand tribesmen and women through the doomlands to Azala Vaal. There he planted his banner upon Atziri's grave and with these words founded our great and eternal empire.

"The Vaal closed their eyes to flesh and stone, to blood and bronze. We are not Vaal. We are Azmeri. For now and forever, our eyes are open."

Veruso built his capital upon the bones of Azala Vaal and baptized it Sarn. From there, Veruso formed the first Legions and proceeded to conquer the lands beneath the Mantle, clearing it of the mindless constructs and fierce abominations left in the wake of The Fall.

True to his word, Veruso ensured that his people lived "with eyes open". The ancient Vaalish centres of learning and power were sealed and quarantined. Thaumaturgy was outlawed and those who stained themselves with Vaalish folly were burned for their sin. The Tears of the Maji, too dangerous to be destroyed, were gathered up, taken to Highgate, and buried within the bowels of the mountains. The caverns there were sealed and forgotten.

A supreme effort to erase the past. A primitive reaction born of primitive times, in the opinion of this humble historian.

{ -Trinian - Intellectus Prime}

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{Book 7: The Light of Phrecia}

Five years after Veruso's death, Emperor Caspiro, too, was dead. Although accounts of the exact details differ, one clear fact is agreed upon. Caspiro was dismembered by something referred to simply as a dark being.

It was General Alano Phrecia who avenged the Emperor's death and who triumphed in driving away the pervasive darkness enveloping what would become the imperial heartlands. Though it seems fanciful to contemplate a portion of our Empire cast in perpetual night, Azmerian writers of the time are unified in their depiction. Perhaps it was caused by peculiar weather patterns or some thaumaturgical residue of The Fall. On this matter, this humble historian is left in the uncomfortable state of pure conjecture.

On the first Sacrato of Lurici, 35 I.C., Alano himself wrote that "our legions drove the dark being deep into the recesses of its lair and sealed it away for eternity". Having returned the gaze of Solaris to those lands stretching from the foot of the Mantle to the Axiom Ranges, Alano Phrecia returned to Sarn. In the absence of a clear hereditary succession, Alano was crowned emperor and the Imperial heartlands were named in his honour.

With the former realm of the Vaal thus tamed and settled by our Azmerian ancestors, the Eternal Empire saw a long period of peace and prosperity under an unbroken line of Phrecia emperors.

"To care for this Empire with eyes open." - A traditional vow made by the High Templar upon the coronation of an Eternal Emperor.

{ -Trinian, Intellectus Prime}


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