|Leaders of the Empire|
|Full Name: Empress Prazac I|
Prazac was born in 799 [IE] to Emperor Hawthorne III, in the city of Imperius, Pralgad. The name of her mother has been censored out of most history books (see canon) - Hawthorne's only wife had died many years before.
Prazac led a fairly sheltered childhood due to her father's power. During her teenage years, her father put her in charge first of several towns in Valorim, then - for a few years - the whole of Karnold Province (then a tiny, quiet region) to train her leadership ability. Although her reign over the province was brief and uneventful, it nonetheless bonded her with the barely settled continent that was to suffer so harshly under the plagues decades later. Furthermore, her rule - barely overseen by the distant capital - established her reputation as a people's leader, a stark contrast to the tyrannical rule of her father. It is said by the people in that region that, aside from governing, Prazac traveled through the land and even did menial tasks to help the populace.
She spent most of her days in the Imperial Castle in Pralgad. As customary for Imperial heirs, she was privately tutored by the loremasters in Hawthorne's court - her teacher in magic was Garzahd himself. Some theories now speculate that it was in that time that Garzahd established his influence on the future heir.
Ascension to the Throne
When Hawthorne was assassinated, Prazac was crowned sovereign of the Empire - the first Empress it had seen since its founding, incidentally. Contrary to popular theory, she immediately held all the political power that came with this office, in potential. However, she kept the council that had advised her father, and greatly relied on their advice. The council, in turn, was summarily owned by the archwizard Garzahd, through a mixture bribery, blackmail and mind control. It was little wonder therefore that, in spite of Prazac's eminent ability to rule, it was Garzahd, not her, who held the greatest sway in the Empire.
In this fashion, Garzahd kept a stranglehold on the Imperial throne (that, according to one claim, was aided by a mind-control spell he held over the young Empress) for five years after Hawthorne's death. This lasted until the Empire-Avernum War.
Garzahd was the one who declared retaliatory war on Avernum. This was the first act that should - according to Prazac in later years - have been vehemently opposed by the Empress, but met only with mild protests. Popular support for Garzahd's faction among the Imperial Army stifled any opposition, but the over-confident archwizard made one miscalculation. His purpose for declaring war was mainly to galvanize the people and gain their support through a surge of national unity, and to gain the greatest benefit in popularity, he arranged for himself to be put in charge of the punitive mission.
This was his end: A group of Avernites invaded his subterranean fortress and slew him, ridding Prazac and her council of his influence. Only weeks later, as Prazac regained her control over the Empire, the Imperial troops withdrew from Avernum. She gained the support of her people and the respect of the Avernites on that day, but she alienated her generals and most importantly the Imperial dervishes for decades to come.
The Plagues and the Reconciliation
With the invasion of Avernum at an end, the Empire was able to concentrate on more peaceful projects such as the settlement of Valorim. In the years following Prazac's withdrawal from the caves, the provinces of the new continent gained an unprecedented economical boost that matched that of the first days of settlement.
It was only five years later, however, that the plagues first made themselves known on the continent. Magical beasts - of kinds long believed to be extinct, and others never seen before - began to roam the lands. This increase in hostile monsters first merely made merchant traffic more risky, as it had been only decades earlier before the Empire had secured the land. When the monsters spread further and grew more ferocious, they also harmed the agricultural industry, destroying crops and making the wide fertile plains unsafe for farmers. These reports were initially met with little reaction from the Empire, since Valorim had always had a reputation as a wild country. The increasingly unstable economy was seen with considerable concern, however.
When in Icefall of 831 IE the fearsome six-legged alien beasts attacked and leveled the Keep of Tinraya and most of the surrounding lands of Footracer Province, Empress Prazac reacted by placing the entire continent of Valorim under quarantine, barring anyone from passing through Blackcrag Fortress (the only passage through the Ndovlu mountains) and forbidding ships to leave or enter the ports of Valorim.
Following the discovery that a group of Avernite agents (see Surface Explorers) had left the caverns, Prazac made another controversial decision and swiftly called for a diplomatic meeting with the adventurers. Over the protests of her advisors (and the open hostilities of a treasonous band of dervishes) she tasked the adventurers to rid Valorim of the plagues, rewarding Avernum with a sizable piece of unsettled land north of Karnold Province. This contract (signed in 833 IE between Empress Prazac and King Micah of Avernum) marked the Reconciliation of Avernum to the Empire.
After a lengthy and unfortunately turbulent reign, Empress Prazac was attacked by Dorikas, leader of the Darkside Loyalists, in 869 IE. Although she survived the assault, she was gravely injured, and died less than a year later. The Darkside Loyalists would probably not have appreciated the irony that their actions closely parallelled those of Hawthorne's Assassins, including the fact that they provoked a greater disaster for their own side than they intended. In any event, as Prazac had never married or otherwise produced an heir, the throne of the Empire eventually came to General Manfred Redmark, beginning a new chapter in the history of the Empire and Avernum.