History is always a tricky subject. It depends on your point of view, or more properly, it depends on the viewpoint of the donor. There are ways to study history that don’t involve the Living Memory, but then, there are ways to swim without using your arms or legs and there are ways to eat without using your teeth.
Two schools of thought on the Second Perfected Empire. We’re best off ignoring the First Perfected Empire, formed around 850 by the first Prefect Cenno I, in what’s now called the War of Formation. Many atrocities, et cetera. It had little to do with the Second Perfected Empire, aside from geography. The FPE was by all accounts a basically dictatorial structure, organized as a collection of feudal states dominated by the tremendous, tremendous magical power granted the Prefect via dominion over the Dark.
After Cenno III died in 1133, however, that power was gone (escaped with the Prefect’s last breath) and the FPE became a collection of independent states for about six human (or four litorian) generations. It’s perhaps ironic that the Armistice Cenno III secured with the Diamond Isle protected the collapsed empire from giantish invasion. I’m sure the Most High thought so, especially given the antithetical nature of the Most High — an intelligence composed of and bound within the Dark, which had effectively enslaved the most powerful nation in the Mother Countries — and the Prefect, a living human who controlled the second-most-powerful nation in the Mother Countries by dint of his domination of a Dark well of power. If Cenno III had chosen, he could have crossed over into the arms of the Dark and emerged Undying and immortal, trading power and strength for only his freedom of will.
But I digress. A century and a half passed, Yellow Teeth Remain Sharp, a gifted warleader but by no means a living font of Dark-drawn magical energy, organized her tribe-nation’s military and swept across the old Perfected Empire, conquering first the lowlands and then over a period of decades expanding until the Second Perfected Empire’s borders matched those of the First (excepting only the pugnacious realm of Rrerrshbarr). Expeditions into the Wordwood and the Southern Peaks drew them into the fold.
The result: a militarized oligarchy, focused on a probably-inevitable war with the Diamond Isle and on maintaining the central authority of the Prefect across the vast geographic area of the Empire. Whether the Second Empire of Perfection can be called Good or Ill depends on the viewpoint of the caller. To the urban merchants of the coast, it permits trade more-or-less safely across a vast area containing many markets and many products. Mercantilism is at best a secondary pursuit of the Empire, but even its harshest critics admit the average standard of living in its cities is higher than anywhere else in the Mother Countries, including Ka-Rone the Eternal City.
Those critics point, however, to the aggressive, often brutal, deeds by the Perfected military which make that trade possible. Not ten years goes by without some corner of the realm in a state of revolt, and the excesses of the Spice Wars and the Faen Massacre are well-documented. The United Imperial Peace is at best a compromise; only bloodshed can keep the entropy at bay.
The Prefect in the popular consciousness, then, is a litorian swaddled in military honors, ensconced in the heavily foritified Citadel of Rosepetals, jealously guarding his or her treasury with inherited artifacts or borrowed magic.
SEE ALSO: The Day of Seven Errors, the Empire of Perfection, Yellow Teeth Remain Sharp