Flying Byzantium, ruled and populated by Orredin. Think of it as the Byzantine Empire, Atlantis, and Eurovision into one slightly less gay package [1]. It is also the home of the Purple Guard and its capital is the flying city of Helion. The Helian Empire is considered to be an Absolute Monarchy [2]. At one point in time, the Helian Empiire occuplied Dace [3]. Helian names are very reminiscent of real life Greek ones, but with softer consonants such as "Petraclius Volcanius" [4].

History of HelionEdit

The history of the Helian Empire is very long, and probably largely mythological. After the collapse of their city in the sky, much of the knowledge was lost, and a great deal can only be surmised through oblique references. What is known is that the Helian Empire once encompassed most of Vosca, including what is now Illegon, the Kaselreich, the Kalkatts, Iber, and much of Tujanca. The collapse occurred about 1800 years ago.

In those days, it is said, the mighty empire's great city covered much, if not all of what we now know as the Broken Sea. Massive beyond reckoning, the city flew close to the sky to access the more powerful flows of energy that resided there. The city was sustained by the power of the Orredin themselves, as well as that siphoned off from the material world. Races the names of which have not been spoken in ten thousand years were the enemies of the Orredin then, and one by one they were crushed, their own mighty empires cast down and smote unto ruin by the incredible magic commanded by this colossal empire. Even Karthack, young in those days, bent the knee rather than face the wrath of Helion. The Peace of Helion lasted nearly a millennium. But something went wrong. That something was humans.

As Helion grew, its influx of slaves and immigrants grew as well. Being a cosmopolitan people, the Helions were not terribly interested in doing actual work – they preferred to let slaves and magic handle everything. As a sign of their graciousness as masters, their finer servants were made free, and allowed to live on their great city with them. Many Orredin, charmed by these newcomers, and tired of the tedious process of working out if the members of their own race that they thought to marry were blood relatives, took husbands and wives from human or lesser-Din stock. The offspring of these unions were never Orredin – but this did not concern them much. After all, they were immortal. What does parenthood mean to an immortal?

Then the plague came.[5]

The Orredin are not a hardy race. They do not react well to filth, changes in climate, even dust. They are particularly vulnerable to disease. The sanitation works of Helion were a marvel in and of themselves – but they were designed for a population that was largely static. A population that didn't boom. With the coming of the humans, the works were quickly overloaded, the island overpopulated, and with the resulting squalor came disease. A great plague formed in the southernmost district of Helion, and swept like a hot wind through its streets, killing millions. The plague spread through the city, leaving unspeakable mountains of dead in its wake.

The central district of Helion saw this horror unfolding, and enacted a quarantine. As many people from uninfected quarters were taken into the central district as possible, and then the mighty gates dividing these sections were shut, and barred.

The death continue for months. Rebellions began, entire wars were fought in individual quarters, which covered hundreds of square miles of cityscape. Battles that killed a hundred thousand men went unnoticed, as none ultimately survived the plague to tell of them. But, despite the high price paid, the central district escaped infection. The horror seemed to be nearing an end.

By the time the remaining Orredin, now a bare fraction of their original numbers realized that there were no longer enough of them to sustain the city, it was far, far too late to do anything about it.[6]

The city had been sinking at a controlled rate for some time, but some event, a fire, or a battle, or a collapsing building or a mass homicide, pushed it over the edge. The city began to gain speed in its descent. The high council in Helion panicked, and did the only thing they could do – they held onto the only part of Helion that they could. The central district was connected to the rest of the island by great bridges. These were destroyed, and the rest of the island was abandoned to collapse, while the central district remained, with just barely enough living Orredin within to keep it afloat. The cataclysmic results of this collapse may have killed more people overall than the plague. Tidal waves from an overturned sea annihilated coastal cities, swept islands clean of life, covered over entire civilizations in silt.

The world was rocked by the cataclysm. In the aftermath of the Empire's collapse, the continent devolved into anarchy. Barbarian tribes driven out of the nocturnal sea onto land conquered great swathes of territory, particularly in the North, and peoples fleeing both these barbarians and enormous tidal waves created by the falling continent moved inland, a massive migration into territories previously occupied mostly by sophisticated but nevertheless uncivilized barbarian tribes.

One country that held firm, however, was Ruvia. The city of Ruvia, which had been a fairly backwater town under the thumb of a Helian client state, was uniquely suited to survive the calamity, and became a refuge for those seeking to escape it. Great numbers of people from across Illegon and beyond ended up there, and with some of the only farmland not inundated and flooded by the disaster, the city soon became very prosperous. This was a new beginning for Ruvia, one which marked the beginning of its rise to imperial power. At the height of its potency the Sunlit Empire of Ruvia was nearly as enormous as the Helian Empire had been — and ostensibly included Helion itself, though that relationship was always dubious.

Of course, the fall that beggared many and enriched a few was devastating to none more than the the Orredin themselves, who had lost paradise. Grief-striken, enraged, and looking for someone to blame, the Orredin turned on the humans who had taken refuge with them in the central district, and slaughtered them. After this, they brooded for years. The scant few thousand of them who had survived now brooded on their island fortress. Most of them were related by blood. There was no way to practically replenish their numbers and make a new start. The race seemed doomed.[7]

Eventually, through experimentation with their few remaining human slaves, the Orredin found the answer. While the offspring of an Orredin and a human would result in a human, multiple generations of selective breeding could produce a human born with purple eyes. The next generation of offspring with such a human would produce Orredin, rather than humans. These hybrids, discovered only several hundred years ago, were the answer to the problem. It required a complex system, charts, and strict enforcement of protocols, but the Orredin found a way to restore their race. It would just take a long time, and a lot of fresh blood, to produce the right kind of people, "born in the purple," to produce new Orredin.

The Helian Empire that emerged was changed. No longer cosmopolitan or trusting of outsiders, they segregated themselves above a plateau of earth and stone that had formed beneath the city over the course of eons, where those human members of their empire were forced to live. This place, called the Black Plateau, is home to a vast army of enslaved humans who toil in dark to secure the future of Helion.

Huge armies of mercenaries press Orredinian interest on the continent. A great many do so not for pay (though that is considerable) but for the possibility of being chosen for their excellence, physical capabilities, intelligence, and (though the Orredin would never admit it) their sense of fashion, to be inducted into the program, and bred into the Orredinian race. Such a position is tantamount to a commission of minor nobility, and these warriors double as the Imperial Guard of the Helian Emperor himself: The Purple Guard.[8]