The Empire - known as "Avelonn" in the Imperial Language, with both terms being used in English - is a vast and ancient quasi-theocratic monarchy residing on another world much larger than our own. Its highly-advanced technology relative to other civilizations it has encountered, the religious zeal and convictions of its people, vast wealth and near-inexhaustable resources have allowed it to survive and prosper for over five millenia, even while surrounded by hostile populations bent on its destruction in an environment far more rugged than that of the planet we call home.
The Empire is the creation of a single will and vision, founded by one whom time records only as Markus. Markus was no ordinary man, however. The Empire's Histories remember very little of his childhood - in fact, almost nothing - though it is thought to have been a fairly normal one. Many myths and tales, however, exist surrounding his birth. Various and differing claims of miraculous happens abound as part of the quirks of the Empire's many regional cultures; but the Imperial Church itself ackowledges none of them officially.
What is clear, however, is that as Markus grew older, he began to exhibit potential and ability beyond that which any human being had any apparent right to possess. By the age of 15, he was the greatest warrior of his own city-state and the surrounding land as well. By his 18th birthday, he had been adopted by his people's unmarried and childless king, not only as a son but as his hier. As the young man aged, these powers increased, eventually reaching demigodal heights. Despite having no readily-apparent magical ability - indeed, despite coming from a city-state without any such ability among its populace - he came to work wonders. Markus, only in his twenties, healed the sick, slew great monstrous animals with his bare hands and displayed impossible physical strength. His body grew muscular to herculean perportions and he stood taller than all but a handful of his fellow ciitzens. His memory was perfect, his speed of thought like lightning and his wit sharper than the finest blades.
In his early thirties, he became king. Overnight, his already superhuman characteristics multiplied. His mind was filled with ideas and inventions, cunning plans: a grand vision. He tought his people to make steel, to harnass rivers for power, to build crossbows and make paper. He organized a grand, well-equipped and disciplined professional army fueled by a conscription system, crowning them "Bands of the Chosen" - or Legions. All of it, to serve one purpose. To build an Empire that would never die.
And so it was that, over the next half century, Markus's armies slowly conquered the surrounding peninsula. Under his direct guidance, the eleven "Great Cities", the dominant powers of the region, were subdued one by one. His people prospered and drew their cousins from conquered states into their folds to form a united body. At the age of 82, Markus - now in control of the entire peninsula - crowned himself Emperor of a new Empire, promising his subjects that their new nation would last for All Time.
Over the course of their long war of conquest, the Legions grew ever more in complexity and technical prowess. Doctrines, manuals and regulations were perscribed, training regimes and centers of learning established. An ever greater, more potent war machine was built, until the Legionaries wielded repeating bolt-throwers and crossbows, incendiary weapons, steel plate armor... all under the tutelage of Markus himself. What few enemies remained - raiders from the northern lands - were dispatched with contemptable ease. A period of peace and prosperity, of meteoric change, soon followed.
The Golden ReignEdit
As Emperor, Markus turned his energies toward reshaping the cultural landscape of his new realm. He constructed for them a new language, established the structure of their government and laid down their entire system of law and jurisprudence. However, after a reign that lasted nearly three centuries, Markus's mortal body gave out. His remains burst into white flame, leaving nothing behind. The Emperor had become a god.
The Imperial ThroneEdit
Upon the death of its Emperor, Markus's daughter Joséphine took the throne of the Empire. A centralized Imperial church - the Ecumenical Patriarchate - was immediately founded, mandating the worship of Markus as the Empire's patron god and savior. Since that time, the Empire has been ruled by a succession of quasi-divine Empresses descending from Markus's daughter. His bloodline has never faded - the current Empress, Geneviéve, resembles him as much as his actual daughter did.
Theoretically, the Empress holds absolute executive, judicial and legislative power - total control over every institution and of the life (and death) of every citizen of her domain. She has the de jure authority to draft and pass or veto any law, to summarily render judgement on any judicial case without appeal, to appoint and remove any person to / from any office, and so on. Practically speaking, however, she has very little to do with the day to day functions of the nation. She convenes and presides over the Supreme Assembly of State (the Imperial parliament) but rarely even speaks, sits in on meetings of the Grand Council of State (the executive cabinet) but provides only input and advice, and regularly meets with the Lords Marshal (the military supreme command).
The Arch-Chancellor of State, the Empire's Head-of-Government / Prime Minister, is chosen by its citizens in direct elections (more details on this system later in the article). The winning candidate to the position is then granted Investiture (i.e. 'approved' and bestowed with authority) by the Empress, although it is within her power to nominate any person of her choosing to the office... to leave it vacant, or to abolish it altogether, if she so desires. Neither of these things have ever been done, and the Arch-Chancellor has been selected by popular ballot since the days of Markus. The Sovereign has, however, at times of significant urgency, used her powers to replace an incumbent holder of the office, either appointing a new interim Arch-Chancellor for the duration of the emergency or (more rarely) initiating an irregular election. Seats in the Supreme Assembly of State are likewise allotted by ballot, although along a much more complex formula (details, again, to come later). Representatives in the Assembly have, likewise, been sacked by the Empress in exceptional cases, almost always after having been found guilty of criminal charges... though she could, once again, theoretically appoint and dismiss them at will.
In terms of the Imperial legal system, both religious and secular, all authority is derived from the Imperial Throne. However, unlike other Monarchies, the offices, duties, powers and titles of the Imperial Throne are inseparable from the woman (or, theroetically, man) occupying it. The personal, actual consent of the reigning Empress (in the form of her Seal and Signature) is required for the systems of government to function. Those appointed to the highest offices of the state are given a Sovereign Mandate: a rescript signifying the reigning Empress's sacred trust in the person she is appointing. It is from this Mandate, the legal document embodying her Trust, that the office-holders derive their power and authority. By extension, the Mandates through which these officials appoint their subordinates also confer the Sovereign's Trust. In this way, the Imperial government is able to function through a system of delegated responsibility and authority: those Ministers and high officials who are directly chosen by the Empress are responsible for the actions of those they choose to serve beneath them, having been entrusted to exercise proper judgement. Upon the death of the reigning Empress, all her personal Mandates of Authority - be them civil, military or religious in nature - are nullified. Her successor must confer her own, new Mandates. Although in many - if not most - cases, the actual office-holders do not change: they are simply given a new Mandate from the new Empress to renew their authority. (This is particularly true of military positions).
The death of an Empress does not just affect the Empire's executive government and military. Following a period of national mourning for her death, elections are convened for the Arch-Chancellorship and the Supreme Assembly of State. In many cases, this sudden re-shuffling has caused the delicate balance of power among the political parties of the Supreme Assembly to shift drastically. It has only been in the last 800 years, with rise to dominance of the Principalist Party, that this destabilizing tendancy has abated. These emergency elections are generally prepared for well in advance, although they often yield surprising results.
Because of the unique structure of the Imperial government, the Imperial Throne must be continually occupied. The new Empress is not crowned upon the death of her mother; she is crowned at birth, and spends her entire life being addressed as "Your Majesty", so that the transition of office between mother and daughter is seamless. There is no provision in Imperial law for a Regency or for determining orders of succession because no Empress has ever failed to bear a child and none have ever given birth to more than one.