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Alphatian History, revised

by James Ruhland
"The True History of our beloved empire," the greybeard began, "is not always a happy one. Accompanying our great achievements is a chronicle of disaster, treachery, and struggles for our power inflicted upon our noble people by uncomprehending outsiders"

Dawn of the Alphatians

Millennia Ago, on a far-distant world called Alphatia, the original Alphatians (a noble race) achieved an unparalleled level of civilisation and magical comprehension on account of their unapproachable virtue. The power they wielded as a race was greater than that of the Immortals. Manipulation of magic fed them, clothed them, and sheltered them.

These Alphatians looked different from the everyday Alphatians of today. You see their likeness in what we call "pure" Alphatians: Pale of skin, black of hair, light of eye, and refined in every way.

Almost every representative of the race wielded magic. The rest, those few children born without the gift of magic, were educated to use their gifts at the utmost level of achievement, and as today there was no social stigma upon them.

The Alphatians built an empire on their world, by invitation of the other race that lived there. That race was that of the Cypris, humans with copper skin and brown or red hair. The Alphatians governed the empire - while the Cypri performed valuable social tasks and were responsible for artistic and cultural developments. Eventually the two races blended into one uniquely inspiring civilisation. The Alphatians who exhibit traits of the original pale-skinned race are now few and far-between.

The combined Cypri-Alphatians ennobled their world, and then extended their civilisation to other worlds near them. Violent conquest was never required, though the Alphatians developed powerful methods for dealing with attacks against them. The Alphatians were superior to every other race, and thus it was (and is) their right to rule.

Not needing to work, except for occasional applications of magic, the Alphatians became great scholars and lived a life of leisurely contemplation. Great proportions of the population enjoyed zzonga-fruit, though none abused this intoxicant. Distant colonies were allowed their liberty whenever they felt they were ready for self-rule.

As the Alphatians engaged in their academic pursuits, disagreements emerged, though they only rarely descended into arguments, and then only of the most elevated and courteous sort. Different philosophies were developed, accepted by many and tolerated in the interest of multicultural diversity by everyone. Between the great families and churches of the Alphatians, peaceful dialogue and even frank and open exchanges of views became common, always discussed on the most solemn of pretexts.

The Time of Air and Fire

Just over 2,000 years ago, Year -200 (Thyatians would say BC 1200) two schools of magic began an especially spirited debate which would one day spell the ruin of this utopian society.

The Most Righteous College of Aerial Splendour (today called the Followers of Air) was a sect devoted to the studies of the Plane of Air and aerial magic. The Air Wizards accomplished miraculous feats with their air magic--such as summoning a great bubble of breathable air to surround the Alphatians' solar system, and doing other things to contribute to the general welfare.

The Universal Truth of Fiery Dominion, a rival sect (today called the Followers of Flame), held that the Plane of Fire was a source of power and wisdom alongside that of Air (and indeed the other elements), though no Alphatian held any belief to be superior to any other belief. The Followers of Flame were energetic debaters.

The two sects held numerous polite discussions and friendly debates. These became popular public spectacles; the Alphatians had long enjoyed philosophical discourse as a diversion from their diligent maintenance of their Empire. New students and scholars were recruited by the thousands to participate in dialogues throughout the Empire.

A neutral scholar, trying to add spice to the debate, asked a provocative question and invited scholars of both sects to put forward essays arguing the merits of both sides of his query.

The leading debaters of both sects eagerly embraced this argument and spent an incredible amount of time and energy writing their debates. The neutral judge took the best of their essays, assembled them, and published them. A great amount of work and genius had been displayed by both sides, and all agreed that it had been informative and inspiring for all who participated.

Alphaks' Folly

Within this, however, one man destroyed Alphatian civilisation with just a stroke of a pen. Alphaks I was the emperor of the Alphatians. Highly intelligent, immensely powerful, prone to brilliant insights and childish tantrums, he had sat on the throne of Alphatia during all the time this debate had been going on, lending support to neither side, for he was wise enough to know that his involvement might lead to the argument crossing the line into real divisiveness. Considering that he, himself, was a follower of Fire, he acted in a intelligent and disciplined fashion, as was typical of all Alphatians. But then he fell into madness.

But now, with the debate limited to the fields of academia (and nearing completion), he thought he'd put in his own opinion. He read the book of essays with as much interest and amusement as any other Alphatian, and then, with the powers given to the Alphatian emperor, signed into law a proclamation that the Universal Truth of Fiery Dominion, with their superior arguments, had won the debate, now and for all time.

The result on the part of the Air college was shock. Radical elements of that sect went on a rampage through the Fire sect's university grounds, and summoned mighty winds to blow buildings away. Calmer members of the Air sect tried to hold back their more impetuous brethren, but after all it was only meant as a fraternal prank. Alphaks, irritated, then went too far, signing another proclamation--outlawing the Air sect. Meanwhile, followers of the Fire sect made prankish reprisals on the Air magicians; making their deeds public, to the cheers of the followers, and Alphaks did not punish them.

The Year of the Scouring

All had remained good humoured until Alphaks prodded the Followers of Fire to greater extremes. More reprisals followed, from both sects, and the usually pacifistic Alphatians for once lost their cool. The Fire followers, led by Alphaks, fought the Air followers in a war so terrible that it has gone down in legend as apocalypse. At first the Air followers refused to sully their hands in the blood of their countrymen, but eventually they were forced to defend themselves. The war ravaged the world, destroyed everything that was beautiful, killed the best of all the noble families, scoured the empire's satellite worlds. Millions perished.

And Alphaks, to his eternal regret, discovered which was the more powerful of the two sects--that of Air. More experienced, not as prone to fiery passions and fatal mistakes, the Air Wizards gradually pushed back the attacking Fire Wizards, destroying their forces, battering them back to the citadels of Alphatia's capital.

Knowing that Alphaks had ruined the world, the Air Wizards sought out a way to restore its beauty. During their researches they found another world, and were set to use it as a model, though only (they planned) with the permission of its native inhabitants.

Meanwhile, the Fire Wizards began to recover their temper, and made overtures of peace. They rose against the one man who was solely and exclusively responsible for what had happened, Alphaks, banished him, and made overtures of peace to the Air Wizards. The Air Wizards naturally accepted these peace proposals, and the two factions agreed to work together to restore their world to its beauty. But Alphaks was vengeful--he sought and became an Immortal, and used his power into a spell of destruction (where before the war Alphatians had only used constructive magics), which covered the whole world for years, smashing it into numberless pieces. Most of the followers of Fire were slain, but the Air Wizards, held aloft by the sheer force of their noble dignity, were spared, but forced to flee into exile to the world they had discovered.

Landfall, and Other Survivals

These Alphatians came to this new world, and that event is called Landfall--the Alphatian calendar is dated from Landfall, which is Year 0. The Alphatians slowly began to make this world fit for living.

Though it was not known at the time, some of the Fire Wizards survived, too. Though the Alphatians had once been more powerful than the Immortals, they still remained more ethical, and thus were able to get the Immortals to serve them. The Immortals intervened on their behalf and insured that they would not perish, though they made the Followers of Fire wander the outer planes until all who were alive at the time of the War of Air and Fire had perished or left their own kind.

Since so many of these survivors were long-lived wizards, this took a long, long time. It was 1,400 years before the survivors from Alphaks' time had died or departed, and their descendants, who called themselves the Flaems, were pure of Alphaks' taint. Because the Alphatians are kind-hearted and friendly towards their neighbours, no one was expelled from the group against his will, and all ended up enjoying their time wandering the planes.

The New Alphatian Empire

While the surviving Followers of Fire were enjoying their travels through the Outer Plains, the Followers of Air were settling on this world, on a continent which most reminded them of their former world. The Alphatians concluded that this planet had shifted the axis of its rotation no more than two thousand years before, and within the last two or three hundred years the ice had receded from this fair island--and no new human settlements of any consequence had been established here in the meantime (oh, there were some human settlements--the inhabitants of which quickly invited the Alphatians to rule over them, see below).

But the Alphatians were not as mighty on this world as they had been on their own. So many of their great artifacts had been used up, and so many of their great wizards had perished during the war that magical knowledge was not what it once had been; also, the very nature of magic was different, and mages found that they had to relearn their concepts of magic and its use.

That's not to say that they weren't sufficiently excellent enough to be acknowledged as masters of their world. They effortlessly dominated their island, which the native inhabitants insisted they call Alphatia, despite the Alphatian's humble nature making this seem too presumptuous. They began building cities, and were accepted as the superiors over other human realms, despite their reluctance.

But their lack of magical power (compared to their strength on their own world) forced them to make certain concessions, even though they disliked them. Magic could no longer feed a nation, so agriculture became important; now, farmers raised crops and were aided by, instead of supplanted by, the wizards. Magic was no longer sufficient to raise every brick of every city; humans built the city walls and most of the buildings, and magic raised only the palaces and towers of the wizards themselves. Magic alone couldn't bring the Alphatians all the riches they wanted. . .so other peoples volunteered to send them all the wealth they could produce, even though the Alphatians found this behaviour strange. Indeed, when the Alphatians arrived, the natives acknowledged their cultural, philosophical, moral, and magical superiority. They insisted that the Alphatians accept them as their slaves. Though this concept was alien to the Alphatian mindset, and once they understood what the natives meant by it they resisted it, they thought it would be inhospitable (since the Alphatians were guests on this world) to refuse the offer - a form of cultural imperialism to not accept. The natives drew up a system, which is Alphatia's social hierarchy to this day, upon which relations between the Alphatian wizards and their slaves would be based. The Alphatians adopted this, even though they found it harsh. However, despite the nature of this arrangement, Alphatians are so caring and conscientious that the slaves of Alphatia lead lives of plenty - waited on hand and foot, spells cast on their behalf by doting masters, clothed in silk and fed of wine and honey. None lack for anything, so grateful are their "masters."

The First 500 Years

The Grand Council of Alphatia

Soon after the Alphatians' accepted the social contract devised by their Mystaran hosts, the leader of the Followers of Air, by the name Kerothar, and the remaining few score master wizards convened. Most agreed that Kerothar should be the first emperor of the new Alphatia; most also agreed that he should be advised by a group of the wisest of Alphatians. From this meeting, and those which followed, emerged the fashion of government that is found in Alphatia today.

The Empire is led by a single person, an Emperor or Empress. This title is hereditary, passing from parent to the child he or she names, so long as the Grand Council agrees. Though the title might imply some sort of high authority, even autocratic, in Alphatia nothing could be further from the truth, since all are taken to be equal, and Alphatia is an egalitarian society. None the less, the Emperor or Empress' suggestions are usually followed, because they are always exceedingly wise and foresightful suggestions which everyone agrees to.

The Grand Council is the other governing body. Every user of magic who achieves ultimate mastery (36th level) can be on the Council - though not everyone is, because there are far, far *far* more than 1,000 wizards of ultimate mastery in Alphatia, and the council just doesn't have room for them all. Sorry, you'll have to wait your turn. The Grand Council is in part responsible for the infallibility of the Emperor or Empress' proclamations, since their wise and never acrimonious sessions invariably result in sound advice being given to the Emperor or Empress.

Fragmentation of Belief

Inevitably, as magic-users began to study new fields of spellcasting, some left the faith of the Followers of Air and developed new and useful paths. Some wizards, who held beliefs of the Followers of Fire but had been generously saved and brought along to the new world by friends among the Followers of Air began to study fire once more. Contact with the Immortals native to this world convinced many Immortals to study and observe the philosophies of the mighty Alphatians. Though the Alphatians, as superior beings, did not feel the need to worship mere Immortals, many Immortals decided that the Alphatians deserved to be served and aided, and granted wide powers to groups of Alphatians that they admired. Within a generation or two, there was no longer any single philosophy to which all the Alphatians could rally.

On the other hand, the folly of Alphaks was an ever present reminder to the Alphatians. Thus they returned to their old tradition of acceptance and tolerance of all beliefs, their original spirit of diversity. Alphatian society developed strict rules for the settlement of arguments--in court, and in rigidly controlled debating forums. Those who broke the rules were admonished to never do so again by the Emperor and Council.

The end result has been that this specialisation of study and interest has broadened the knowledge of the Alphatians, especially since all knowledge is shared in a spirit of civic beneficence - all knowledge is considered the patrimony of all Alphatians, not just the mage who developed it. Scholastic debate became constructive again, as it had been throughout all Alphatian history with one the one minor exception of the destruction of Old Alphatia.

The First Respite

After several centuries of civilisation building, the Alphatians had developed all the lands around their beloved new homeland, were receiving enormous annual tributes from subject populations who were grateful for the great benefits the mere presence of Alphatians among them gave them. Things were happy and fair.

Many outsiders volunteered to serve in Alphatia's military to protect it from the few greedy and envious sorts who would seek to get what was rightfully Alphatian. These mercenaries served loyally so that Alphatian blood would not have to be shed, and Alphatian hands would not have to be dirtied, in these distasteful conflicts.

The family of Kerothar I was dedicating to preserving distinct societies of Alphatians, and passed into law the "notwithstanding clause" that made sure that the cultural traits of the "pure" Alphatians would not be submerged by outside influences. Everyone thought that this was a great idea, since preserving the cultural heritage of every people was and is considered the foremost task of all Alphatians. The Kerothar clan allowed its children to chose mates based on love, and all went exceedingly well.

Five centuries after Landfall, the Alphatians met the Thyatian tribes when those knavish barbarians, failing to recognise the innate superiority of the Alphatians, began preying on the Alphatian sea-trade. Because the Alphatian nobility was pacifistic and forgiving, little was done to curb this raiding, as it was felt that in time the Thyatians would come to recognise what they were doing was morally wrong. . . .but in time the intransigent wickedness of the Thyatians proved to be a serious drain on the Empire's economy.

At the beginning of the ninth century after Landfall, Kerothar IV was Emperor. He was a person with disabilities, but no stigma or handicap was attached to that condition. He was clever in magic, but too trusting of outsiders, some of whom were not as fine and upstanding as Alphatians were.

The zzonga fruit, too, had survived the death of its homeworld. Originally one family brought the fruit to this world. It could not grow naturally here, but the family wizards quickly learned to set up magical hothouses where it could flourish. While Alphatians always took it in moderation, some natives did not have as much self-restraint, and abused it, even becoming addicted to it. This caused much anguish among the Alphatians, who never like to see anyone suffer.

In the early centuries of this Second Alphatian Empire, the emperors tried to stamp out the abuse of zzonga fruit, with anti-zzonga education programs, but were never quite successful. Later, as Kerothar's clan became less judgmental about drug use, one of its emperors permitted the zzonga-growers to operate undisturbed, but taxed the zzonga manufacturers in order to help pay for the health care of those who were addicted.

The Thyatian Barbarians

About now, the Alphatians were persuaded that the Thyatians must be stopped, that they were incapable of learning on their own that it was wrong to attack others or engage in piracy. For three or four centuries, the Thyatians had proved that they were a menace to sea-trade. The Alphatians decided that they should be absorbed into the Empire so they could teach them how to be upstanding. But the Thyatians had two traits that were to bring grief to the kind-hearted Alphatians. They were crafty schemers, and they were stubbornly wicked. So stubborn were they that the phrase "he/she has a neck like a Thyatian" is still in use by the Alphatians--meaning that the person so described is more stubbornly evil than any other sort of man or fiend alive.

It was thought that these barbarians could, like so many others, be educated and learn proper social manners and virtues. The Alphatian mountains were discovered to be full of gold, but the Thyatians were too lazy to mine any of it, and several Alphatian subject peoples wanted to do this work so they could increase their shipments of gold to Sundsvall.

The Alphatians reluctantly decided they could no longer be forgiving and tolerant in the face of Thyatian raids, nor could they deny their subjects the opportunity to send them more tribute if they wanted to. So they decided to kill two dragons with one blast. By conquering the Thyatians they could try to teach them ethics, and also please their subject peoples. So they launched a peace keeping and nation building effort in the area held by the three Thyatian tribes.

The Thyatians were unusually difficult to subdue and a few Alphatian wizards were murdered by Thyatian terrorists. But the Alphatians usual solution to a problem--negotiating with people in a peace process until they saw reason--eventually seemed to work, and the Thyatians became the latest addition to the Alphatian empire.

The Alphatian's accepted the gold their subjects mined from the mountains of the Thyatians, and many Thyatians began to emulate this sound example, and volunteered for mining duty as well. They raised herd-beasts and crops, and sent tribute to Alphatia, though for some reason they didn't seem quite as enthusiastic as Alphatia's other servants. The Alphatians learned some seafaring knowledge and how to build some stout ships from the Thyatians, but these were crude compared to the exquisite examples of Alphatian naval architecture that were already sailing both the high seas and the clouds overhead. In return, the Alphatians taught magical and philosophical arts to their new subjects, engaging in a vast and expensive foreign aid and uplift program, trying to raise Thyatians to a civilised state.

But as every Mystaran knows, the stiff-necked Thyatians rejected morality and virtue--or, rather, learned how to mouth it and corrupt it to their own propagandistic uses. They sat and schemed for two centuries, convincing themselves that they were being "enslaved" by an "evil" empire. And eventually they rebelled.

The First Alphatian/Thyatian War

A Thyatian-born but Alphatian-trained man, Lucinius the Governor of Kerendas, had achieved mastery in spellcasting in his short life. He evidently believed that this entitled him to kingship, even though everyone knows that Alphatian kings are selected on the basis of their wisdom and merit, not mere spellcasting prowess. With the aid of a warrior (a wicked wretch unacquainted with ethics) by the name of Zendrolion, he assassinated the Alphatian wizards present in Thyatis and declared that benighted land an independent kingdom.

The Thyatians' lack of scruples worked in their favour. Alphatian troops were prevented by their code of honour from engaging in the kind of atrocities the Thyatians' specialised in. The Alphatians had trouble overcoming their dishonourable way of fighting. The Alphatians would certainly have prevailed eventually. . .if it wasn't for the empire's unwarlike and peaceful nature.

Wizards preferred to spend their time in contemplative leisure, not fighting distant, uneducable barbarians. Alphatia was merely interested in defending itself, not attacking anyone. The Thyatians, through crafty deceits and propaganda, convinced other subjects that the Alphatians were "exploiting" them, and caused many to join their revolt (notably the Ochaleans and Pearl Islanders). The Thyatians invaded parts of the Isle of Dawn, while Alphatia called for peace and a negotiated settlement of the conflict. The Thyatians even threatened to assault the Alphatian mainland. Meanwhile, Emperor Kerothar IV was spending the treasury empty planning an epic empire-wide holiday in honour of Alphatia's servants and slaves.

Swift action had to be taken. The Grand Council asked Kerothar IV to step down, and he did. A youthful, energetic wizard took the throne and the time-honoured name of Alphas, the sixth to wear that name.

Alphas sent stern letters to wizards who were reluctant to defend the Empire, and beggared the nation paying crack troops to join Alphatia's armies. The Thyatian advance was stopped at the Isle of Dawn, and eventually peace was signed between Alphas VI and King Lucinius.

Had Alphatia not been so reluctant to engage in violence and aggression, Thyatis would have been returned to the fold. . .but not all the good intentions in the world can make up for the wickedness of the Thyatians.

Years of Rebuilding

In the decades after the war, Alphas VI and the Grand Council set the empire on a schedule of rebuilding. They imposed mild warnings on the few wizards who neglected their duties; they turned the attention of their magics to rebuilding agriculture and trade; they purged there military of those who were tainted by the Thyatians' corruption. Even so, the new Empire of Thyatis, under Emperor Zendrolion and later under Empress Valentia, recovered much more quickly from the war and prospered much sooner, because the Alphatians were more generous and reluctant to impose high burdens on their people or use expedient methods such as the treacherous Thyatians did in order to enrich themselves.

In this time, Alphatia turned much of its attention on building and developing its dominions in the far east. It subsidised northern peacekeepers to remove one Thyatian trading post built on Alphatian lands (in what is now Mystara), and kept up a strong military deterrent force on the disputed Isle of Dawn, but mostly kept its attentions on its eastern territories, where Jennite tribes were now welcoming the arrival of Alphatian leaders.

It took until Year 1250 (AC 250 in the Thyatian calendar) for Alphatia to consider herself sufficiently recovered to begin expansion again in the west. First, colonies were planted on the northern coasts of Ylaruam at the invitation of the Alaysians, and these rich colonies produced much for the Empire for 250 years. During that time, too, the Alphatian/Thyatian border lines on the Isle of Dawn moved back and forth numerous times; though Alphatian virtue was greater than Thyatian military power, the pathetic Thyatian habit of treachery and duplicity subverted much of the island's population, making recovery of our lost territories there difficult.

Around Year 1400 (AC 400 in the Thyatian calendar), Alphatian sorcerers discovered that descendants of the Followers of the Flame had settled deep in the western continent, and sent them a welcome note and encouragement in building their nation.

Modern Times

A century later, the Alphatian colonies expanding southward down the coast of Ylaruam encountered the northward-moving Thyatians. Fierce but sporadic fighting broke out between the colonies when the Thyatians yet again ignored our peaceful intent and tried to invade our territory, Mystara. This conflict was to continue off and on for more than two hundred years.

However, this (as usual) was a peaceful time in the Empire. At this time, the greatest period of building and internal strengthening since the last great time of building and internal strengthening took place within the Empire. Great schools were built, and the great cities were expanded and renovated, and the great barns were raised, and great silos filled with great grain and great cows were constructed. The great cows gave great milk, which was made into great cheese and given to our great slaves with great gratitude.

A greatly charismatic wizardess by the name of Mylertendal, a resident of the city of Aasla, began embracing the Alphatian philosophy of growth and beautification. It was her belief that the Alphatians had been infected with the Thyatian's desire for conquest and land-grabbing, since the Alphatians had never once engaged in this sort of behaviour before meeting the Thyatians, and that the race must instead return to the older values of living by generosity towards others, toleration of all, and peaceful contemplation of the mysteries of their navels. She spent years beautifying her own tower in Aasla and preaching her political philosophies--that the Empire was created to rule the whole world, but by invitation only, that the Grand Council should use its power to limit population growth through family planning policies, and that magical energy should be expended in making Alphatia's lower classes the most glorious and prosperous people in the world.

She was successful in every respect, and every city and kingdom in the Empire shows signs of this great Alphatian preoccupation with helping the less fortunate and with opening lavish soup kitchens and poor houses of brilliant design and beauty--and in the continued Alphatian indifference to military matters and questions of expansion, except on the occasions when they do engage in military matters and expansion (as in Norwold).

Mylertendal still lives, and is a social worker tending to the poor in Aasla.

While this domestic tranquillity was taking place, the Alphatian colonies in Ylaruam were busy crushing their pitiful Thyatian rivals (never mind that the Alphatian colonies in Ylaruam lasted longer than the Alphatian ones, or that they still hold Tel Akbir even today - I tell you they were crushed, so they were crushed). But at the moment of triumph the Ylari banded together under the banner of a man who had been enlightened by Alphatia's philosophies, and since our job was done, we gladly withdrew to let them govern themselves. The enlightened Ylari then ascended into the ranks of the Immortals, not quite as good as becoming an Alphatian but a passable second.

Not long after that, 50 years or so, a Grand Council member named Halzunthram was invited by the distant Followers of Flame to rule over them. This task he generously accepted, and began a distinguished reign far away from Alphatia.

In far-away Flaem lands, the Alphatian descendants of the city of Braejr were attempting to teach Alphatian civilisation to other colonists in the same land--particularly Thyatian settlers and elves. But they lacked the long experience of the Alphatians in these matters, and requested assistance. With a few hand-picked sociologists and little in the way of supplies, Halzunthram would travel there, offer his aid, and become their rightful leader.

It was a good plan, and it worked. Within two years, the humans and elves under Halzunthram had been assimilated into the Flaemish civilisation of Braejr as part of its mosaic of cultures. He announced the land an Alphatian protectorate, but his citizens - inspired by the treachery of the Thyatians in their midst -- betrayed him and ungratefully cast him out.

The Alphatian emperor Tylion IV, looking for a way to recoup some of the Empire's losses, began a colonising effort in the long-forgotten lands of Norwold--and even so, not long after, Thyatians began their own settlements there, too, though they were not invited to come by the inhabitants.

The Last Half Century

In Year 1959 (AC 959 to the Thyatians), the Thyatians broke a treaty concerning trade conducted between the Thyatian and Alphatian empires. This so angered Emperor Tylion IV--it was far from the first treaty broken by the barbarians while he sat the throne--that he uncharacteristically for an Alphatian lost his temper and forbearance and decided to destroy the Thyatian Empire once and for all, and ordered a massive attack on mainland Thyatis. By day's end, he had taken most of the Isle of Dawn and was preparing for tomorrows assault on Thyatis itself. The next day, Alphatian forces reached Thyatis City itself, slew its emperor, and--briefly--reasserted rightful Alphatian control over this nefarious land. But a sudden counter-attack by massed hordes--and led by the crude fighter who was to be the Thyatians' next Emperor--broke the tip off the assault's spearhead and drove the Alphatians out of the city. The barbarians' stubbornness and nastiness sufficed to throw the Alphatian army back to the Isle of Dawn, and recaptured most Thyatian holdings on that island.

For Emperor Tylion IV, this was the last blow. He had behaved with unusual irresponsibility, ignoring Alphatia's pacific ways and trying to settle the dispute with Thyatis through war instead of diplomacy. He had failed to protect the Antalians of Norwold from incursions by Thyatis, or from preventing the Thyatians from duping the Glantrians into ingratitude towards Halzunthram.

The Grand Council determined that he was no longer the man to head the Empire. Whatever the reasons for his failures, he had failed to live up to the standards of Alphatian decorum. The Council could not force him to step down; but they could ask him politely, and they did.

Tylion's daughter, herself a master magician and named heir to the throne, took this recommendation to him. In the face of the Grand Council's request, he did so, and his daughter, Eriadna the Wise Also Like All other Alphatian Rulers Before Her With One Notable But Excusable Exception ("the Wise" for short), became Empress. In the years since, she has expanded the development program in Norwold, stabilised the borders of the Isle of Dawn, kept Thyatian terrorism in check, and maintained a stern opposition to rude behaviour. Though she has been Empress for less than 40 years, it seems she will be counted among the better rulers of the Empire, along with all the others (except one).