The title of Emperor was at first bestowed upon the suzerain of the Old Empire as a poisonous personal attack, a jab at the idea that the office had become too autocratic and not accountable to those who elected it. The Old Empire’s appelation as was by the same token first applied to it by its enemies who saw in Imperial power a threat to their own interests.

Over time, the two monickers stuck, though it wasn’t until 75 NCE that the title of Empire became official and the head thereof wasn’t recognized as an Emperor in title as well as power until 108 NCE. Ironically, the inflation of official titles corresponded with the diminishing of power and the fragmentation of the old state into a patchwork of squabbling entities.

Historians have argued at length about the “fall” of the Old Empire, but as it still legally exists today, the conversation has an air of academic contrivance about it. One might well cite the failure of the Ativian Intervention in 140 NCE, when Imperial troops were routed by the Raposans after an attempt to reassert authority. When the ruler of the Outland Empire upgraded his title to Viceroy in 157 NCE is another possibility. The University of the Rift seriously proposed in an academic conference that the first Spartakiad Games marked the final fall of the old Empire in that a major shift in thinking had to accompany the organization of an “international” sporting event.

Whatever the case, none can argue that the signs of decline are unmistakable. Crumbling infrastructure, rolling blackouts, inflation, reliance on overseas mercenaries to serve in martial roles on behalf of a populace more interested in luxuries than combat…those are the hallmarks of a crumbled Old Empire, and they arose in different places at different times.

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