The Autumn Imperium and the Blood War
300 years ago…
The Eladrin forming the core of the Imperium once saved much of the known world from the threat of abominations and the raw force of elemental entropy, notably the legendary world-destroyer, the Tarrasque, released from millenia of imprisonment by illithids—mind-flayers, lords of nightmares, as the common folk call them. The Tarrasque’s devastation was amplified by a Plague that struck in its wake. No one knows whether the Plague was caused by some intentional malice, or simply a blow of fate arising from the infection, contamination, and filth that becomes unavoidable when more than three quarters of a population are left as corpses without the manpower to bury of burn them in honor.
The Eladrin kept their distance, fortifying the links between the world and the Feywild, and watching from that echo world as this one spiraled towards its inevitable doom. In good faith, they did send legions of their fey knights and Rimefire air cavalry against the evil, and never in known history had so many eladrin willingly sacrificed their millenial lifespans to stand in the gap for all the races of the world. They were heroes.
Meanwhile, in the midst of the its demise, the human empire of Aegeus, which made up most of the Vast in the natural plane, turned an unexpected corner. When everyone expected the end, with plague-rot and indomitable destroyers on the rampage, the humans made an unexpected move. I doubt anyone now alive knows the intricacies of how or why, but in the end, Aegeus secured its survival by courting evil with a small but influential clan of vampires known as the Night, who resided in, and invisibly controlled much of, the Aegean metropolis Ithia. The vampires offered the humans immunity from the plague, born in their tainted blood, and with it additional power with which they could not only hold the abominations at bay, but thwart their other enemies and ultimately achieve all they desired.
Looking back, one can hardly call it a moment a shining light, a beacon of hope, but countless Aegeans, not only humans, but most all races, willingly subjected themselves and their children to the “vaccine” rather than fall to the certainty of the plague. Thus, the largest generation of day-walkers (as full vampires call them) was born by blood. The dwarves, dragonborn, and goliaths stoutly opposed the move, at first, out of pride for their undefiled blood. The deva fled at the first mention of the option.
Alas, the choice was made by individuals of the populace, and thus far from formal or controllable. The willing found their own means of seeking the assistance of the Night and there was little anyone could do. Soon their were few people left in the biggest cities of the Vast that were not dhampyr.
Meanwhile, the plague seeped even into the Feywild, rendering the best laid defenses useless, and thus, even the Eladrin sought the immunity of the dhampyr. Over half of the Archfey courts along with the elves of the world resisted such a devastating contamination of the fey blood. However, the a contingent of the Gloaming Court, known as the Autumn or Twilight Fey, made a desperate gamble. By means of a cunning deception-bolstered by an unexpected alliance with the fey giants, the fomorians (predecessors of cyclops)-they stole into the heart of Mithrendain where the Tree grew. The Life Tree, guarded deep in the heart of the Fey capital became the means of mass vaccination of the eladrin. By infecting the tree, any fey who were dying of the plague could live. Thus the Fey avoided directly consorting with the Night, while still benefiting from it’s gift, and submitting to its power.
The rest of the Fey, upon realizing the deception, took immediate recourse. The entire Gloaming Court was exiled to the natural world without leniancy, and a brutally swift operation commenced to exterminate all fomorian and vampire-tainted fey from the Feywild. Meanwhile, the Archfey commissioned immediate fey magics to attempt to heal or salvage the dying Life Tree. They could not reverse the infection, but did manage to isolate its effects to a single major bough. The bough itself died and, to this day, clings in gnarled black decay upon the bole of the Tree. Shortly after commencing the Eradication, most major links to the natural world were severed, and thus the Feywild was detached from its echo plane more severely than ever before.
The Gloaming Court, though exiled, were powerful. Having saved themselves from the Plague and having bolstered their numbers with refugee fomorian and dhampyr of the other fey courts, they entered their exile in this world in a panoply of glory and strength. Allied by the newly powerful dhampyr humanoids of this world, the Host of Autumn Fey managed to imprison the Tarrasque and expel the mind-flayers from this realm.
An uneasy peace followed the Blood War. The Autumn Fey, by far the most powerful force in the known world, began building an empire. Their armies kept the lesser abominations and natural beasts and predators in check allowing the rest of the races to rebuild their civilizations and their lives. The Pax Autumna: The Peace of Autumn became the name of the Eladrin-won peace and unity that spread throughout the Vast and well into the known world neighboring it. Trade resumed, roads became travellable, and raids by goblinoids, pirates, and gnolls were largely thwarted.
Now, however, after long years of maintaining the praised Pax Autumna at all costs, the Eladrin run, dhampyr- and fomorian-enforced Imperium is decaying from within, and Outlanders: non-fey and non-dhampyr, are receiving the worst of the empire’s dissolute transformation.
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