Although we acknowledge the decline, it is hard to say exactly when or how it began. Some say it started in the spring of 418 with the Gradorite revolt. News from the distant continent came slowly, and the threat was underestimated from the start. The Acean Republic reacted hardly at all. Her vassal state won free before the year’s end. Grador and its islands were not strategic nor central to Acea, but it was the first significant loss ever dealt to the empire. It signaled the end of Acea’s long summer of ascendancy. From the perspective of many historians, the loss of Grador marked Acea’s transition to an autumn republic.

Other historians will argue that it was the creation of a throne that began the setting of Acea’s blazing sun. Having an autocrat changed the character of Acea. Many thought it would remain a perpetual republic led by houses of representative governors, the highest of which held a steady hand on the helm of the great empire. That highest house, the Officium, first elected a princeps in the year 399, ostensibly to manage small matters at a time when the Officium’s governance was mired by partisan impasse. So effective was this “first among equals” that, with the cheering support of the people and their governors, she quickly assumed additional powers and transcended the Officium.

By the year 416, Acea controlled the majority of the known world, and even parts of the hidden world. But this rate of military and economic expansion was not sustainable. The new maps of the world were drawn too quickly, for the empire’s infrastructure, taxation programs, and military controls were alternatingly too aggressive and too tenuous to survive the whims of Fate. Back on the home continent of High Acea, the noble class used its wealth and influence to check the powers of the throne after the Empress designated her son as successor. The new emperor lost his power to cut through the same bureaucracy that plagued the Officium. The politics of wealth and graft, say some historians, is what heralded the decline of the greatest empire of all time.

But these are not your true concerns. History is important to learn, but a soldier’s role is to hold ground here, in the now. It is not your duty to influence lofty matters of state or to save the empire from itself. It is only your duty to save this ground, to weaken the rebellious tribe of Garra so the loyalists may eventually persevere. Your sacrifice of blood will water this hallowed earth, and from it may there grow a new field of Acean bounty.

The Autumn Republic

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