Set in the year 1014 AH (After Holy), Heart of the Empire focuses on the dealings of two major forces that make up the greater world power. After the time of Awakenings, magic eventually calmed into a strong and steady thrum of power through the planet. Civilization slowly re-established itself across the major continents. Wutai, having never lost its civilization, was the first to rise to power, but was content to remain to its continent, where it still boasts the lead in technology and magic to this day.
The central continent, where Midgar once lied, became Inhabitable once again in the year 324 AH. With vast territory to claim and bountiful natural resources, the nations that grew there became swiftly powerful. One nation, calling itself 'The Holy Empire of Nations', rose up and began conquering neighbors, bringing them under the same flag. In the year 583 AH, the central continent was unified under the banner of 'The Empire'. Imperial Cid Highwind the second took the throne in what was once known long ago as Junon, now known simply as 'The Capital'.
The Empire did not raise to power on its own. Hand in hand, it worked with a budding new religion, known originally as 'The Holy Church of the All Father', now simply known as 'The Church', it has assimilitated and taken bits from hundreds of religions that now make up its mass. To the public eye, church and state are intricately aligned and uniform. It is a rare day that the Emperor Highwind and the Pope disagree on anything, in public at least.
The western continent was habitable just after holy, but in the year 52 AH was ravaged by an intense wave of natural disasters that rendered it unlivable for four hundred years, when it was finally re-colonized. The people there are simple people, like the American Indians, they espoused simple naturalistic ways to meet their needs. They were fully unprepared when the Empire appeared on the scene in 634 AH, declaring they must all join the Empire. Some nations gave into the demands, but the vast majority refused, and so it was war, a war that drags on to this day with the Empire gaining slowly with every passing year. Facing cultural and religious extermination, the natives fight with almost demonic ferocity to attempt to repel the invaders.
The Empire, on its 'holy' quest to unify the world, also turned its eyes to the East. Some say the Emperor is lusting for a magical item inside of Wutai. The public story is that Wutai is squandering its resources and its citizens are full of sin and worship evil and malignent spirits. This war, started 50 years after the western war in 683 AH has produced little but shame for the Empire as every strike onto the continent has resulted in overwhelming failure. Not a single town has fallen to Imperial blades or spells, the Wutai'n army, equipped with superior technology and magic drives them back with ease every time.
Two continents are not enflamed in these wars. The northern continent, also known as the 'Forbidden Continent', is still covered with exposed life stream and is a nexus point for chaotic magic. Those who live there are constantly wracked with change and mutation from the excess ambient energies of the place they live. The southern continent is a quiet peaceful place that is simply over looked by any of the three vying world powers. Most predict that it will eventually be consumed, once one of the wars comes to a finish one way or the other.
Peace was struck between the Empire and Wutai in the year 1003 AH. After a strong and swift military campaign that saw the Empire losing several vital cities to the East, they were forced to agree to a truce to have their territories returned. Several years later, in 1009 AH, the Empeor Highwind married the children of the recently deceased Wutaiin ruler, uniting the nations together under one banner. This peace was not to last, however.
In 1013 AH, the god-emperor Highwind fell in battle, downed by a lone arrow wielded by a Barbarian child. While the child was elevated to kingly status over the suddenly unified tribes of the barbarians, the empire fell into bloody civil war, divided amongst one side that felt their new ruler should be a warrior, and the other who supported the new emperor who was more political than soldier, Elliot Highwind.
In a year long war, Elliot threw open the lid to the pandora's box of Magitechnology thanks to the notes left behind by Cid Highwind before him, upsetting the political balance between mankind and the Espers even as he secured victory for himself. With a political marriage to the ruler of the capital, the civil war collapsed, leaving the empire tired but at peace, at least on the surface.
Now, the church murmurs strange things. Having secured the southern lands of Valente for their own, and with great public support for their generous aid given during the war, the church stands to gain much power. In a sudden move, they have repealed the bans on heretical technologies, opening a church college of science (The Faithful College of Applied Science (FCAS)), the church now wields more power than Elliot or many loyal imperial citizens can be comfortable with.
A new war brews, but there will be less armies marching across the field. The tension grows as either side considers the power of the other and takes steps to undermine and attack subtly. Noble houses and guilds are being called to choose sides. Church and state, having stood together to form the empire, now only one can emerge to see the dawning of a new day.
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