Broken Empire

A Scholar's Story

Pressure Of History

Swerius looked at his apprentice, a gaunt young boy of 13 struggling with the large tome of Karakus’ Treaties on The Laeceren Empire. He was just a small thing from a small house, was it house Travress or something like that? He had forgotten the moment that he had been told.
“I don’t understand why the Emperor bless-his-name would resort to using blood magic, it just seems wrong…”
The great library of Tarash’Fer echoed with his voice, this cavernous temple of knowledge that had stood for four centuries seemed empty these days. The great Gothic hall of history was silent, a tomb for a thousand generations of history. Statues of leviathan proportions peered down at him, great Counselors of history forever listening, forever watching… Sometimes he felt like they were looking through him like a man observing an ant. For a moment he felt as if the Imperial history itself pressed down on him like a giant weight. As First Counselor it was his duty to uphold and preserve the history of the Empire. Swerius shivered despite the fire crackling in the hearth.
His position, the position that he had held for 10 years, seemed to have dwindled in importance, especially with the continuing growth of the Order Of Mysteries. How did the sciences compare to magic? When one could perform the feats of a hundred men in the snap of a finger what use was there for men of science? Some still believed in the honest work of a man and his allies in the Office of the Violet Laurel made sure that funds were still put into their research, but even he had to question what use it was at times. Still, progress had been made and there was always the threat of blood magic that still stained the Empire with it’s corruption.
He had his own study where he could contemplate and officiate from, but he preferred it here, where he had spent most of his life. He remembered a time before the beginning of the new campaigns to the East when this place had been filled with acolytes, journeymen and apprentices all viying for the the coveted position of Counselor. Now it seemed difficult to fill all the required positions let alone competition for them.
The war to the East had been ongoing for two generations now, “The Great Campaign” as Emperor Cartious had called it. He was now long gone but the mandate of wiping out the heretics of the Eastern Kingdoms still stood in place. Of course now the main campaign was at an end with the Battle of Gorad Hill where both huge armies had met and dashed each other to pieces.
Even that seemed a distant memory now, memories when his life had been filled with hope for the future, when the history of the great Empire was important. He missed the scratching of a thousand pens, the constant reassuring sound of history being recorded. The writing still continued of course in the hall of Divine Will where the Imperial Precedent was updated constantly. Perhaps he would visit it later…
He shook his head, shaking the thoughts of the distant past away, bringing himself back to the here and now.
“It was a different time my young apprentice, also remember these text are written by a dwarf who have a very much different opinion on these matters. It was necessary at the time to vanquish the oncoming horde of the south. It was our lack of faith that hid what the Great Apostate had planned.”, replying almost rote of what he had been told as a child. The Great Apostate, Magaras Thul, a mage of great power who in one fell swoop had changed how magic was viewed forever. “Yes, it was the folly of the mages who lost control and caused the Voiding”..
“Surely there must have been another way?” his apprentice retorted in the sullen way that was so common in youth.
“We have the advantage of looking at thing in hind-sight”, he smiled closing his eyes, “Without the use of Blood Magic the Empire would have fallen and all around you would have have been destroyed, smashed to pieces by the oncoming horde. We live in an age of relative peace where mages are registered and the Order of Mysteries keeps us safe from those that would threaten the Empire with magic.”
“Caeplus told me that he heard that a Blood Mage had been found the other day, he says that the mages are the dogs of the empire sent out to silence all those who would have a different way of life”
His eyes snapped open at such a derogatory statement by his apprentice,
“Nonsense boy! You should not listen to such rumors, you are a Counselor or soon to be one and should know better than to listen such things without evidence.”
“Yes master”, the boy bowed his head a little further looking like he had been properly chastized. Yet could it be true? There had been rumors of more Mage activity within the city and there had been strange goings ons the last few nights. He did not sleep very much these days, one of the advantages of age to put up with the aches and pains of old age. It was also strange that his presence had been requested by the Office of Mysteries at the meeting of Magestorium later that day. They had asked him to prepare in particular information on the ancient dwarven city of Kragarash – a place of legend of a time before the Empire itself. The ancient dwarven city was one of the popular folk tales that was passed around the fires of Galera and Vrige. “The streets were made of gold and all dwarves under the aupices of the all-father” as the dwarves would tell it at least. From all that he could tell that was what it was – just a folk tale, though the Office of Reclamation had had some success in unearthing more of the history of the dwarves no evidence had yet come to light of the actual existence of the city of Kragarash. Ho observed over his spectacles what his errant apprentice was doing.
“Once you have read to the beginning of the Blood Crusade that will be enough for today. Prepare the books I have listed for you and then take a rest, it might be along night and I need you to be fully awake for our meeting. It is a great privilege for us to be called to the Magestorium so be on your best behavior.”
His apprentice made the right noises of agreement as he began to clear the writing that he had done. At least he would get some peace and quiet for a few hours, a chance to prepare himself for this meeting. It was always disconcerting to be brought before some of the most powerful men in the Empire, he just hoped that his apprentice was up to the task.

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