The Phoenix Court
Hess’ Generals take the Imperial Courts
After divinations in i281 were rumored to confirm the death of Dauban Hess on his journey to find the Isles of the Dawn, his generals began to whisper that they, and not the Dragon Kings of Illia and Hemispia, deserved to rule the Golden Empire by right of Dauban Hess’ trust in them. And so the Empire he left behind broke into many pieces, as his Successor Kings squabbled amongst themselves about the proper mode of succession – heredity or appointment, kingship based on blood or trust – and the Dragon Kings of the East broke all contact with the Imperial Court and reestablished the Sun Court in Heliopolis. The Dragon Kings of the Sun Court advocated inheritance as the proper transmission of power, while the Imperial Court in Millene advocated the appointment of power to the loyal and virtuous
The Imperial Court in Millene took the name of the Phoenix Court in response – both to symbolize the rebirth of a trusted general as a King, and the rise of the Court from the ashes of
Dauban Hess’ disappearance and the betrayal of the Dragon Kings.At first the Phoenix Court outshone the Sun Court of Illia; it was influenced by the Great Schools of the Gola and was the model of the civilized, imperial court, as the educated and the ambitious sought appointment to seats of power. But in time, the Phoenix Court grew darker and dimmer. Since rule by appointment could not guarantee
the lasting legacy of an inheritance passed on to descendants after death, some of the rulers of Phoenix Court lands grew increasingly interested in magics that could prolong life. Practitioners of alchemy and sorcery, arts with long traditions in Thessidia and the Gola, gained many new patrons, and Nymarga’s old advisors and adjutants began to reassert their power in what some called the Return of the Magicians, making themselves useful in this pursuit of long life and even immortality. The underground worship of dark and ambitious gods grew slowly but steadily, as secret temples to Amaymon the Whisperer and Ligrid the Temptress and Ishraha the Rebel were built throughout the cities of Thessid-Gola. In i360, Larisa, the Oracle Queen of Khael, cried out that Nymarga’s spirit had been released into the world once more, and rumors spread that his tomb had been opened and plundered.
The Phoenix Court was in open warfare with the Sun Court by i380. Wars were launched against Amora, Illia, Hemispia, Dania, Palatia, and Khael; cities were sacked or conquered, the Kingdom of Telesia centered at Agrapios was destroyed, and slowly the deaths of Dragon Kings began to mount in number. The Kings of the Phoenix Court withdrew into seclusion, even as they sponsored intrigues in neighboring lands, sent their fleets and armies out to sack and despoil almost indiscriminately, and sought out gold and slaves for the darkening city of Millene as rebellion spread through overtaxed and depleted provinces. After almost a century of conflict the reason for their seclusion was revealed, when in i475 emissaries from Amora bearing tribute finally gained an audience with the Phoenix Court, and fled in terror at the worms that dripped from the rotting, stillliving flesh of the depraved Kings and Lords of Thessid-Gola, some of them kept alive since Dauban Hess’ time by strange rituals and bloody human sacrifices. Word spread quickly throughout the Known World, and the damned rulers of Thessid-Gola became known as the Worm Kings.