The first age of the emperor is commonly referred to as the dark ages by historians. It refers to the period of time defined by both technological and cultural regression between the collapse of the classical age of antiquity and the early medieval period.
“Like a campfire burning brightly against the darkness, the god-Emperor protects.”-Charlemagne, First Steward of the Empire
The First Age
The lands of Snejhammer were in various states of ruination and disarray after the cataclysm of the ending times. The institutions that made up the foundations of the former classical age were also erased in an instant. Civilization it seemed was no more.
Waning in strength, and beset by evil monsters, humanity seemed destined to be extinguished like a candle set before a hurricane. However, out of the jaws of defeat, a champion arose to lead humanity to victory in the fight against evil; that man’s name was Charlemagne.
Charlemagne was the former lieutenant of the mysterious god-like figure known to us only as the Emperor. The Emperor appeared in the hour of mankind’s greatest need, the time of ending, to led mankind to victory against the armies of hell. This event would become known as the great crusade. However, on the eve of victory, the Emperor mysteriously announced his departure. Before he left, he promised to return again to led mankind one last time in the final battle against evil – ragnarok. He did one more thing and named Charlemagne as his chosen steward to lead mankind into this new future.
Charlemagne was the right leader for the job. He was pure of principles, stout of heart, and bold of courage. The people looked upon Charlemagne as a bastion of hope in an hopeless world. All would come to swear oaths to serve Charlemagne, and the god-Emperor of mankind. These oaths would later become formalized and codified into unshakable bonds of allegiance based on chivalrous notions of honor, duty, and servitude.
At the bottom of this new society were the peasants. The peasants swore fealty to serve their lords or ladies and promised to work their lands in exchange for protection and safety. Lords in-turn employed professional soldiers, known as knights, to defend their lands from evil monsters. Some knights would instead choose to swear their oaths not to a lord, but to the god-Emperor of mankind and made it their holy mission to fight the wicked and to protect the weak; these knights became known as paladins. Sometimes weaker lords might consent to swear oaths of allegiance to serve a stronger lord. The weaker lords took on the titles of baron or count, while the stronger lords took on the title of dukes or, if they were exceptionally powerful, kings. The steward of the realm, Charlemagne, was a king of kings. He was both the spiritual leader of the people, and the political leader; both responsibilities he carried out with uncompromising genius.
All lords, knights, and peasants of the Empire swore oaths in this fashion, and thus the foundations of this new feudal society were firmly rooted. It was every man’s legal and moral obligation to go to war if their liege-lord called them to. This feudal system of governance was decentralized by design, but proved highly effective in protecting mankind from the evil that remained in the world. Eventually, when the monsters were largely killed off by the knights, the long centuries rolled by and the stories of wicked monsters eventually became folk legend. But the stories carried a kernel of truth, and what the people hadn’t know is that the monsters never had really disappeared at all. The monsters were only hiding in the darkness, waiting patiently for their opportunity for vengeance against the humans. And that opportunity would come eventually.