The Taug Empire and Xushan

The Taug Empire and Xushan

The Taug Empire, prior to the Godsfall, was the single most powerful country in the world. Their military was well trained, highly disciplined, and well led. Economically, the country was rich, with plenty of cultivated land for food, several great centers of learning, and a high level of culture.
The emperorship of Taug was an inherited post that stayed within two noble families that dated back to the founding of the Empire, the houses of Toth and Learbeth. The two houses, which intermittently intermarried, had several different branches and sub-houses that the emperorship would occasionally shift to, depending on the decisions of the House Council, a group of elder nobles from the two houses that generally held the real power behind the throne. The last legitimate emperor, Tharald IV, was from House Learbeth. Mel’Argo Toth’s manipulation of the House Council and membership of House Toth, as well as his leadership of and influence with the powerful Phoenix Legion, was what allowed him to prematurely depose Tharald IV and take his place as Emperor. There were several other prominent noble Houses in the Taug Empire, but none held nearly the same amount of power as Houses Toth and Learbeth.
The Empire was founded by two warlords, Xankal Toth and Heren Learbeth. Distant cousins from the northern reaches of Tericia, together they raised an army and conquered a large portion of the continent, establishing the Kingdom of Taug in central Tericia. In less than 100 years their decendants conquered the neighboring tribes, and in -817 the Taug Empire was declared in the city of Caldach. The first Imperial Court consisted of the heads of the houses of Toth and Learbeth, with the various tribal lords attending, all of whom were invested as Imperial Dukes of the Empire, and establishing the first Noble Houses. The first emperor came from the house of Toth, and was styled His Imperial Highness Mel’Rinath the First.
As the only truly organized and unifed force on Tericia, the Taug Empire had little trouble overrunning the remaining tribes and small city-states that were not yet part of the Empire, and less than 20 years after the founding had pushed their borders south until they came up to the southern section of the continent, known as Xushan. The Taug had little experience dealing with anyone other than their own tribes and petty kingdoms, so when they came upon what appeared to be something more than a disorganized tribe, they were unsure what to do. The ruling family of Xushan, who the Taug styled as the House of Mentoxis, was more than willing to deal diplomatically with the Taug. Seeing that there was little to be gained by war, the Mentoxans sent some diplomats to Caldach, signed some (in their opinion) silly paperwork, and declared themselves allies of the Taug Empire, in order to keep their larger northern neighbor from interfering with the internal affairs of the Xushan continent. This pleased the Taug immensely, giving them the satisfaction of gaining a stable southern neighbor without having to bleed out the military and economy by simply conquering and subjugating the entire area. They were then left to strengthen and consolidate their previous conquests, unifying and developing the continent of Tericia into the economic and military power it would eventually become.
Two hundred years after the founding of the Taug Empire, the ruling houses laid the foundation of the new Imperial capitol, Dewared Geval. Just seventy-five years after its founding, Dwared Geval became the largest city in the known world, planned by geniuses, designed by great artists, and filled with the richest and most influential citizens of the Taug Empire. Over the next three hundred years the political, military, and economic lines of power would re-align to center on Dewared Geval, leaving any visitor in awe of its grandeur. By -300 Xushan and the House of Mentoxis, long-time indifferent allies of the Taug Empire, would be coerced into being re-organized as the Vice-Royalty of Xushan, giving them a legal and permanent tie to the Taug Empire, and being officially recognized as an autonomous province of the Empire. The arrangement made little real difference to the Mentoxans, who again signed some more silly paperwork and went about their business undisturbed. From the outside the two nations seemed to be one indivisible country – the reality was that the Taug pretended to rule over Xushan, and the Xushan pretended to be loyal.
Peace and prosperity was generally the rule for the Taug Empire for the one hundred fifty years after the founding of Dewared Geval. There were some skirmishes, small rebellions, and issues here and there that disturbed the peace, but nothing like what was going to happen. In -135 the Taug Empire began to come into conflict with the Apoth Imperium over trade routes crossing the ocean between them, and what started out as minor incidents grew into open hostilities after an Apoth frigate, the Imperial Hand, after being harassed by a marauding Taug clipper, the Zephyr, finally decided to put a stop to it by having the Apoth War Wizard who happened to be on board sink the clipper and kill her entire crew. The sinking of the Zephyr may not have ever been noticed, except for an Apoth sailor boasting of the destruction to what turned out to be a Taug agent in the city of Shemdah-Alsane on the east coast of the Apoth Imperium. After some investigation, the Taug Empire confirmed the destruction and began targeting all Apoth shipping to be either destroyed or captured. Soon afterwards the Apoth Imperium and the Taug Empire formally declared war on each other in -127, with both claiming that the ocean trade routes were at stake. On one side was the Taug Empire and their Xushan allies; on the other, the Apoth Imperium. With the naval warfare came a compete breakdown of the trade routes, causing the Empire of Derelaine to attempt to intervene as peacemaker. Several talks were started, but all of them ended in shouts and accusations, with the final attempt actually culminating in the murder of the Apoth representative by the Taug.
By -115, the Taug and Apoth were fighting through proxies as well as direct confrontation, with one of the casualties being the Kingdom of Darmat. The king, known now as Tybell the Foolish, sided with the Apoth Imperium and Derelaine in an attempt to both curry favor and position himself to take spoils in the event of a Taug defeat. The plan backfired. With no way for the Apoth to directly support them, the Taug-backed Cinnerian barbarians quickly overran the Kingdom of Darmat, burning the capitol to the ground and publicly executing King Tybell. Taug agents helped the barbarians re-organize the Kingdom of Darmat into the Vice-Royalty of Morrokouth. In theory the two eastern provinces became the Vice-Royalty, with the other four provinces becoming liege states. In actuality the Vice-Royalty was not much more than a puppet state, with the other four provinces left to the savageness of the invading barbarians. True central authority broke down completely in the former Kingdom.
As the conflict between the Apoth Imperium and the Taug Empire began to spread, the elves of the world looked at the violence and destruction that was happening and decided that it was perhaps time for them to remove themselves from the affairs of man. In -91, The High Elven Council voted to migrate west to the Fey States, where the growing war would likely not affect them.
By -80, the Taug Empire found it did not have sufficient manpower to successfully invade the Apoth Imperium, and looked for another way to break their power. In -78, the Apoth god Vargoth, keeper of secret knowledge, saw in the Taug the chance to cast down the Apoth pantheon and take his place as a conquering overlord. Vargoth defected from the Apoth pantheon, and brought to the Taug the secret of creating Saints, those heroic mortals blessed with the gift of a divine spark. With this secret in hand, the Taug set about creating as many saints as they could convince their gods to create, with Vargoth himself providing much of his divine self to these mortals. In response, the Apoth gods did the same, and the number of saints rose dramatically in just a few short years.
By -67, legions of Saints had been consecrated, and the fighting that took place between rival saints was both legendary and devastating. For seven years the saints searched each other out with the intention of killing each other. By -60, the ranks had thinned enough for the next Taug plan to begin – the interference and election of a sympathetic Derelaine emperor, who could be counted on to at least stay out of the way, of not side completely with the Taug. After seeing what happened in Darmat it was not a hard sell. With this in hand, the Taug began massive recruitment of the goblinoids to the west of Apoth, forming massed armies that poured across the Apoth borders. The invasions were thrown back by the mighty Apoth War Wizards, but the distraction allowed the Taug to land troops on the eastern coast, where the two nations finally met on a field of battle. The ensuing combat between saint-backed armies was nothing short of epic in both its scope and destruction.
Unfortunately for the Apoth Imperium, with the goblin attacks to the west and the Taug invasion to the east, the Apoth troops were unable to stem the tide, and in -43 the Taug captured Kelerin and literally pulled the Apoth Imperator from his throne. He was shackled and sent back to Dwared Geval, where the leader of the Phoenix Legion, General Mel’Argo Toth, beheaded him before Emperor Tharald IV. The Taug began the messy job of occupying and subjugating the entire Apoth Imperium.
Just six years after the Imperator was executed, one of the original Apoth Saints, Kernag the Eternal, began an active uprising in Solena, the province to the west of the Salt Sea, where the goblin armies had been causing so much trouble. Such was the uprising that General Mel’Argo personally took command of the situation, bringing the full might of the Phoenix Legion to bear. Giving no quarter and sparing no one, General Mel’Argo attempted to suppress the uprising with brute force, but with mixed results. Kernag managed to keep the rebellion going in one form or another for twenty-two years, with times of relative quiet and open warfare in between. It was during this time that the half-ogre Gore, in -27, came down from the Northern Reach mountains and carved out his short-lived empire.
The final showdown between Kernag and Mel’Argo Toth happened outside of the Imperial College of Wizardry, Sorcere Nex. Fortunately for Mel’Argo, he was in the former Apoth capitol when Kernag performed the ritual that destroyed the Tower of Wizardry, Solenesta, and the surrounding thousand miles. The resistance was destroyed by the blast, as well as the entire Taug regular army that was on the west side of the Salt Sea, and approximately 95% of the Phoenix Legion, who had wanted to be present when the War College finally fell.
From -14 to -5, General Mel’Argo spent most of his time subjugating the remaining Apoth provinces that had not already been brought to heel, but he also recruited the remaining leaders of the Phoenix Legion on a new project – the creation of a weapon intended to slay the god Vargoth and steal his power. Much progress was made when Mel’Argo discovered how to steal the divine spark from saints to power a specially forged weapon.
Political events culminated in the deposition of the last legitimate Taug Emperor, Tharald IV by Mel’Argo, brought about by his influence with the House Council and the remaining Phoenix Legionaires. Mel’Argo declared himself Taug Emperor, and with the military firmly in his grasp his power was absolute. At this time Mel’Argo commissioned the empire’s greatest smiths to forge what would become the Reaver, a greatsword capable of absorbing the divine spark of saints. His intention was to create the weapon and power it by killing every Apoth saint he could find, then confront Vargoth directly. As Vargoth had given much of his divine power to fuel the Taug’s saints, he was in a weakened state and had not recovered the many sparks he had granted.
In the year 0, Mel’Argo Toth, Taug Emperor, managed to force Vargoth onto the Prime Material Plane, and used an artifact called the Godsfall Stone, which was also used to create the Reaver, to chain Vargoth’s divine spark to the Prime Material Plane, and to keep it from being banished if Vargoth’s material body was killed. Surrounding himself with his most powerful followers, Mel’Argo took the greatsword Reaver and thrust it into the heart of the weakend form of the god Vargoth.

The resulting explosion obliterated Mel’Argo and his followers, and apparently destroyed the entire city of Dewared Geval, and a four mile swath of land surrounding the city. The destruction of Dewared Geval set off a chain reaction of events that engulfed the entire world. The continent of Tericia was sundered in two, forming a new, separate southern continent that contained 98% of the former Vice-Royalty of Xushan. Many islands were formed from the remains and wreckage of Dwared Geval, creating the Shattered Sea. The eastern provinces of Deralaine sank into the ocean, leaving the capitol on an island. The Vice-Royalty of Morrokouth also sank into the ocean, and as if on a pendulum, the Umbrian Peninsula rose from the sea in response. 70% of the human population was killed either in the destruction or ensuing chaos. The amount of debris from the explosion created a cloud that blocked out the sun for a year, causing countless other deaths from starvation.

Looking upon what happened, and realizing it was directly caused by their interference and intervention, the various deities of Rekarra silently withdrew from the affairs of men, allowing them to sort out for themselves the wreckage of the world they created. It was not long before this time was referred to as the Age of Darkness.

The True Fate of Dewared Geval-

Although history records that the city of Dewared Geval was destroyed when Mel’Argo Toth killed Vargoth, the truth is much more complicated.
The artifact that Mel’Argo crafted on the Godsfall Stone, the Reaver, was a greatsword of incredible power. Although Mel’Argo believed that the sword was capable of slaying a god, the actual powers of the sword were not fully understood by him. Mel’Argo did not know that truly extinguishing the divine spark of a god is impossible, for the spark itself is eternal and indestructible. The sword he created was truly powerful, for it was able to completely suppress the divine spark in a god. However, the result of that suppression was not its destruction, but the forcing of the spark from this plane of existence to another one where it would not be hindered. Until the Godsfall this had never happened.
When Mel’Argo managed to chain Vargoth to the Godsfall Stone and struck him with the Reaver, Vargoth’s divine spark was suppressed and forced into a newly-created demiplane that spontaneously appeared as a side effect of the suppression. The backlash of the strike obliterated Mel’Argo’s corporeal form, and ripped the entire city of Dewared Geval from the prime material plane, along with four miles of land that surrounded the city. The resultant vacuum created the explosion that caused the major tectonic plate beneath the city to shift several hundred feet in a second, and set off the chain reaction of devastation that became known as the Godsfall.
The city of Dewared Geval still remains to this day, trapped in the demiplane, with the Godsfall Stone still in the center, and more importantly, Vargoth is still chained to the stone – which completely negates any divine magic, including any that would be able to rescue him. The Reaver, Mel’Argo’s weapon, was blown away in the explosion that killed Mel’Argo, but is still in the city. Mel’Argo died, but his spirit was trapped in the demiplane with Vargoth. All living persons in the city were killed when the demiplane was formed, and the city and surrounding countryside today is nothing more than a dead wasteland, with several hundred thousand dead corpses perfectly preserved in the cold of the demiplane. While much of the city is badly damaged, and many buildings were destroyed in the explosion, there is a trove of wealth that exists in the city. As the capitol of the Taug Empire, Dewared Geval boasted a major university of magic, major temples to most gods, and premier craftsmen from nearly every skill and discipline, as well as the primary residences of the most powerful noble houses. Anyone who could manage to find the city would have access to nearly unlimited wealth – if they could survive an encounter with the spirit of Mel’Argo. More importantly, if someone were able to free Vargoth from the Godsfall Stone, and move him far enough away from it, the demiplane would instantly collapse, shunting Dewared Geval back to the prime material plane, and possibly causing another cataclysm.

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The Taug Empire and Xushan

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