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... of Ancient EmpiresbyThe Stalker
...of course one of the most powerful and ancient empires is the predecessor of the current Alphatian Empire, which history refers to as Old Alphatia. Though this was not an empire of Mystara's history, it is still one that has had a great effect on Mystara's history. It is unknown where the Old Alphatians had their empire, but it is generally speculated that it was a place with a different reality. Some say that Old Alphatia was not merely a world in another crystal sphere, but actually a separate layer of one of the outer planes! Whether this is true is uncertain, but it would explain why the Alphatians had to learn how to cope with new laws of reality (the ability to fly seems to have been almost natural where they came from) and why they were suddenly faced with the fact that "only" 20% of their population could become wizards.
Old Alphatia was destroyed when a dispute between factions of magical study began. The two factions were the Followers of Fire and the Followers of Air, and they argued which of the two elements was the most powerful. The dispute lasted for many years until the Emperor, Alphaks I, who was one of the Followers of Fire himself, ended the dispute and simply declared that fire was the most powerful element. This is the part of Alphatian history known as "Alphaks' Folly". The Followers of Air were outraged and refused to acknowledge the imperial decision, which caused the Followers of Fire to harass them, as the Emperor allowed them to use stronger and stronger means in their feud against the Followers of Air. Eventually the dispute developed into a full scale wizard war, as both factions used exceptionally powerful magic against each other, magic so powerful that it eventually destroyed Old Alphatia or at least made it uninhabitable.
The Followers of Air escaped the destruction and settled on Mystara, thus founding what became known as the Alphatian Empire. Most of the Followers of Fire perished during the wizard war, but some are said to have walked the planes for a thousand years until they eventually found their way to Mystara as well, and then changed their name to the Flaems. These are the founders of the modern-day Principalities of Glantri. The foolish Emperor Alphaks also survived the tragedy, and later achieved immortality; he became the Immortal Demon Alphaks who seeks the destruction of the Alphatian Empire.
...but of course, very little is known about ancient Blackmoor. It is generally believed that it was placed at what is now the north pole of Mystara, and elven scholars claim to know that the people of Blackmoor were humans who wielded vast magical powers, though it is unclear what sort of magical power this was, as there seems to be no similar force to compare it with in all of Mystara's history. Despite their vast powers, it seems obvious that the people of Blackmoor knew little wisdom of how to wield it, for they eventually caused their own destruction as well as that of many other cultures when they caused the Great Rain of Fire around 3000 BC. One might suspect that this is a primary reason why elves are distrustful of humans, as they can wield great powers without having the wisdom to used it correctly. Exactly how the people of Blackmoor caused the Great Rain of Fire or how it happened is unknown, for there were no survivors to pass on such information. It is a great shame that this, the greatest and most powerful culture of Mystara's history, is left completely unknown to posterity.
...but many sources have spoken of this nameless lost empire. According to the legends, the people of the empire were thriving and learning new and powerful magic until the nobility felt that their already vast powers were not enough. They apparently rejected Preserving Magic for the more powerful and certainly forbidden and corrupting Magic of Defiling. Such magic required great sacrifices, eventually even human sacrifices, which the nobility were more than prepared to give. Some legends say that at this point the ruler of the empire had lost all respect for his people and abandoned them, and nobody knows what became of him. It is also said that the corruption of the nobility was caused by one or maybe two evil Immortals, most likely "the Gnoll", though some say that the forbidden tome called "Thanatopsis" also reveals that the Grim Reaper, Thanatos, was the major evil force behind the corruption, which seems consistent with what is known of him. Eventually, other Immortals decided that this could not be allowed to continue, and they thus broke the non-interference policy of the Immortals and stepped in, though Thanatos is believed to have responded by opening a permanent, magical gate to the Pits (some planar travellers seem to prefer the term "The Abyss") and unleashed endless numbers of demons upon his enemies. The mysterious "Guardian Immortals" refused to be distracted by any opposition, so they somehow closed the magical gate, and eventually they utterly destroyed the entire empire, punishing the inhabitants for their endlessly evil deeds. A few sages have mentioned the term, "The Flame's Apocalypse" war, in association with these events, but it remains unclear whether this term is accurate, or if it is even connected to the fall of the nameless empire.
However, the legend of the lost empire is often questioned, as many scholars and sages have been interested in the legend over the years, and their research seems to indicate that the lost empire was located somewhere along the south-eastern coast of Brun where lands such as Vestland, Soderfjord, Ylaruam, and Thyatis now lie. However, attempts to find evidence of the long-lost empire always seem to see the explorers return with an absolute certainty that their attempts to locate the lost empire have failed only because there was nothing to find after all, and thus concluding that the legend was merely a legend. Failures to discover evidence of the empire or parts of the empire itself over the years seems to confirm that there never was such an empire - if there had been, surely at least one of the many expeditions to find parts or evidence of it would have yielded some sort of success or discovery by now.
Commentsby James Ruhland
Ahh, the uses of passive voice are many and profound 8-). One might almost get impression that the world destroyed itself in an unexpected upheaval.
Actually, as the Alphatians themselves admit in their own histories, the followers of Air destroyed Old Alphatia. And not during the conflict, but after they had emerged victorious from it (the Flame followers had revolted against Alphaks and sued for peace). Finding their world somewhat worse for wear after this petty dispute (in the sense of being unlovely, or at least less pleasing to their eye), they had already decided to find someone else's world to steal rather than put in the effort that would be required to rebuild their own world.
So, like small children (which, from an ethical & philosophical perspective, they were), they smashed their world to bits and took someone else's - Mystara.
- Vivianna Romanones, scholar and Magistrix, commentary on the tome "...Of Ancient Empires" (author unknown)