Some blame the Church. Some blame greedy or shortsighted Emperors. Some blame the forces of evil, whatever they may be. Some simply blame time. But after more than seven hundred years, the Empire of Tarsis is coming apart at its very seams.
At the height of the Empire, the power it wielded was supreme—both temporally and spiritually. The Emperor issued the Edict of Deviltry in 560 IA, declaring arcane magic akin to diabolism. The Edict made arcane spellcasting illegal, and worse, it gave the Church the power to punish, incarcerate, and even execute someone for violating Church doctrine. During the First and Second Inquisitions, the Church wielded supreme power in the Empire, both in the spiritual realm and the secular. And it is difficult to describe what Church leaders did with that power, beyond simply stating that they abused it. They may have thought they were reforging the world in Lothian’s name, but today that period of inquisition is called the Days of Blood, and most people in the Church look upon it with shame and regret. In 609 the Second Inquisition ended, and in 641 the Edict of Deviltry was overturned (although most regions were ignoring it long before that).
By then, people’s faith in the Empire had been quite shaken, and the Inquisitions stirred up anti- Imperial sentiments in every jurisdiction. Further, the technological advancements that had been the backbone of the Empire slowed to a halt. Over time, people found it harder and harder to locate someone who could repair or maintain their firearms, clockworks, or steam engines. Even among the Grailwarden dwarves, the number of technicians declined with each passing year.
In 706, Empress Addares XXXIII and XVIII died, leaving no direct heirs. Her cousin in Dohrinthas, calling herself Addares XXXIV and XIX, declared herself empress and moved the capital to her city. But many opposed her claim. An imperial advisor named Segaci Fellisti, who had counseled many emperors and empresses, decided that only he could save the Empire. Soon after, Holy Emperor Rehoboth claimed that if there was no clear successor to the throne, he—the only person in the Empire officially holding the title “Emperor”— should rule, as the first and greatest of the emperors, Delian Von Tessel, did, wielding both religious and secular authority at once.
No one knew whom to follow. Everyone seemed to choose a side, including factions of the Imperial army. Taxes were split among all three, depending on the allegiance of the various governors or commissars. Thus, Imperial finances were in terrible shape when in 710 barbarian invaders from the east stormed Tarsis and sacked the city. Upon leaving the city four years later, King Oulgas, leader of the united Eastern Hordes, said he had conquered it simply because he could. Resentment of the Empire had finally taken its toll.
For more information on the state of the Empire today, see Chapter 2: The World.