Cultural Nugget #1: The Emperor is Everywhere

(Excerpt of Cultural Analysis Circa 2400 AD)

One of the stranger phrases used by citizens of the modern Ankadian Empire in making decisions is, “The Emperor is everywhere”. Usually it is invoked by one member of a deciding group when an unjust act is being considered, and its invocation out loud is considered a weighty act, which may stop a wicked deed in its tracks before it begins. While it is commonly rendered with the Hakat word meaning simply “emperor”, it is more often rendered with the Doga phrase “Kaiag Rokoru”, meaning Kai’s Preparer, a religious title attached to the Emperor of the Ankadian Empire which is separate but related to the secular position. When rendered this way, the phrase in essence means, “you never know when the wrath of God will drop directly on your head”.

The origin of the phrase goes all the way back to the first emperor of the Ankadians, Ankad himself, and is based in an element of his character known as the “Emperor’s Spontaneity” and traditionally continued in in his descendants. This “spontaneity” was exhibited in the first Emperor’s tendency to investigate situations on his own now and then, sometimes looking into even small crimes or situations, but more often crossing the entirety of his Empire to drop in on a Warlord unannounced and investigate the goings on in that Warlord’s domains, both to better understand the Empire itself, and to look for any misrule. While the stories and legends surrounding this behavior are legion, perhaps one instance from the tenth century, itself based on a precedent-setting judgement laid out by Ankad in a similar instance, will serve best to illustrate it best. Some might consider the first instance a better story to use, but it is mostly only documented in the Teachings, the Holy Scriptures of the Ankadarul, and so could be dismissed as legendary, while the tenth century incident is very well documented for its time by many sources.

In the tenth century incident, a small handwritten note thumb-printed in blood came to the Emperor himself, Dalaran ArdAnkadia at that time, via relay through a spice merchant who served the kitchens of the Imperial Palace. In the note, which was written in very poor Hakat, a purported cattle herder, with a position essentially that of a bondservant, laid out a charge against his ruling Warlord, Rakash Darr Iklen ArKirren, that the Warlord had stolen the cattle herder’s wife to keep as a concubine. The herder plead for the Emperor’s justice. While under both Ankadian moral and judicial law, such a crime was considered one of the greatest injustices imaginable, the claim was unsubstantiated. However, the thumbprint meant that whoever had made the claim was willing to be identified. The Emperor recorded the message in his journal and laid it by for three days of consideration, then sent one of his Naralenians, a member of a group of highly trained warrior women sworn to celibacy, to investigate the charge secretly.

Months later, for the ArKirren lands were one of the furthest provinces in the Empire at that time, the Neralenian returned and reported that the herdsman was real, and that his wife had indeed been stolen from him by Rakash Darr ArKirren because of her good looks and vibrant demeanor.

Without giving a reason why, the Emperor announced that he was going on a tour of the Empire to see some of the outermost territories and headed out at the head of the Imperial Army’s fastest legion. At the same time, he sent the Neralenian agent ahead, to keep an eye on the situation. When the Emperor arrived, Rakash Durr ArKirren had hidden the herder’s wife, and had almost succeeded in having the herder himself killed and vanished. However, the Neralenian agent had rescued the herder before word of the Emperor’s coming had reached the province, and also managed to find and secure the herder’s wife. When the Emperor arrived in Rakash Darr ArKirren’s court, he summoned Rakash Darr to answer for the charges against him. The Rakash Darr denied them, until the Neralenian agent produced both of the offended parties, as well as evidence and additional testimony.

The Emperor offered the Warlord one chance to repent, for the sake of his soul, and when the Warlord insisted that the herder was nothing but a bondservant, the Emperor replied that Kai’s Justice made no such distinctions and struck off his head with the Sword of the Preparer, which had been handed down from Emperor to Emperor since Ankad. The Emperor then stripped the ArKirren family of all power and forced them into exile for allowing their leader to commit such a crime, took the generals of their armies and sent them to work for other Warlords, appointed a new family to oversee the lands from among the meritocratic Imperial government, and resettled the herder and his restored wife on Imperial lands with a small stipend to cover costs of raising the child engendered on the wife by the Warlord in the name of Kai’s mercy.

Incidents such as this, though technically rare, have instilled a holy terror of the Emperor throughout the Empire, for the Emperors of the Ankadian Empire, while usually working through their bureaucracy, still maintain in their own persons all the power of their government and can prosecute injustices at will. Of course, more often it is the Naralenians or some other Imperial agent who will look into a crime that has somehow escaped correction by provincial authorities, but even by 2400, the ArdAnkadia family continues to accumulate a number of personal triumphs each generation.

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