The Marcon Alliance or Marcon Empire was the largest multi-world power during the Dynastic Period of the Mage Wars.
Alliance or Empire?
The Marcons were clearly an empire: they were led by an emperor, practiced imperialism, and were generally not nice people. Because history is written by the victors, who insisted that everyone call them an 'Alliance', all surviving records created by the Marcons use that word.
However, everyone else regarded them as an evil empire, so records written by anyone who wasn't held at sword-point refer to them as the 'Marcon Empire'.
In modern publications, both terms are considered accurate.
The Marcons began as an ethnorelgious group on the Greater Continent. While Marconian tradition holds that their lineage began on the Summer Lowlands, the true 'heart' of Marconian ideology sprang up in the interior. True Marconians were indeed very small in number, but several distinct cultures shared a few similarities: they practiced slavery, degraded women, and believed that being the strongest gave them divine right. Marconian religion, or at least the early precepts of it, preceded the formation of the first empire.
The first Marconian emperor gained superiority over his rivals and eventually controlled around two dozen towers and an area of roughly six million square miles. In order to command the region, the emperor needed the co-operation of the arch magi who had capitulated, so he called the new empire an "Alliance". Thus, the name "Marcon Alliance" stuck.
Is is believed that in around 3000 B.G.A., dimension-traveling mages began to spread the religion (or at least its core ideology) to different worlds. It would take five hundred years for this ideology to give birth to the true Marcon Alliance.
The Narano are often held up as an example of proto-Marconians; however, if Emilie Sachen is to be believed, most of the evidence is historical revision by the later Marcons. Chester Rumbarahl, whose later incarnations became some of the Marcons' most powerful leaders, was born from the Narano. As he introduced the concept of reincarnation to the Marcon Alliance, he would eventually be revered as one of their gods.
The Marcon Alliance as a multi-world empire began at Pem Farheuill, in B.G.A. 2507, during the Intermediate Priod of the Mage Wars. By the middle of the Dynastic Period they were a major power, and by the end they were by far the strongest. Marconian history refers often to the Twelve Sanctions, which formed the beginning of their empire.
Had events not transpired as they did, the Marcons would no doubt have conquered the entire verse within another millennium. Their only delay was by Lelerough, Destroyer of Worlds, who broke nearly half the Empire; and because their destruction by her was incomplete, they recovered their power as if it never happened.
However, in B.G.A. 301, an entire army of battling sorcerers seemingly appeared out of nowhere. Using a well-planned series of pinpoint attacks, they shattered the Marcon Alliance, broke its powerbase, and left them vulnerable to hordes of enemies.
The breaking of the Marcon Alliance is considered the turning point in the Mage Wars, and the transition between the Dynastic Period and the Second Chaotic Period.
The Marcon Alliance took over 2,200 years to form, and was destroyed in just one.
Fall of the Marcons
The most complete source of information on life inside the empire, as well as its fall, comes from the diary of a slave-girl named Lyria.
The tale follows Lyria and a landowner's son through the Gudersnipe Army's invasion, and the complete destruction of the Marcon Alliance. The story provides a unique look at the fall of the Marcon Alliance from the perspective of the Marcons; Lyria writes repeatedly about the anger and frustration of the people around her.
Lyria and the son eventually escape. The son, despite being a full-blooded Marconian citizen, escapes death because he is mistaken for an escaped slave. He and Lyria leave the Marcon Alliance for one of the newly-freed slave worlds. Though now free to leave him, Lyria stays with the son who has showed her kindness through the years, and consents to marry him; this is the end of the diary.
The Marcon Alliance was ruled by a military dictator who called himself the emperor.
During its existence, the empire was rulled by dozens of families. Power often changed hands through assassination, though passage from father to son was not uncommon.
The proverbial brass ring was always the emperorship, leaving the bulk of the Alliance relatively stable. A strong central leader was not always necessary, as the different regions were largely autonomous. Expansion was the most important thing, so all that mattered on a local level was making more land part of the empire.
At its zenith, the Alliance controlled more than 50% of the Known Worlds, making them the largest political entity since the Empire of Roads and probably the clear winners of the Mage Wars had the Gudersnipe Foundation not made them all dead.
The Imperial Court, often simply refered to as 'the court' (with great reverence) were the 1,001 most powerful mages in the entire Marcon Alliance (with the Emperor, of course, being the 1). The court had two Mage Towers; one at the capitol on Lake Bentika, and the other at Centered. Each tower was made entirely of White Ivory and Adamantium, and contained the Crystal Fortress. Both were destroyed by the Gudersnipe Army. The Armory at Kartik was not destroyed, but simply lost.
The Marconian religon centered around a practice of ancestor worship and worshipping the emperor. The Marconian creation myth, as well as the customs, rules, and beliefs of the culture, are contained in a multi-volume text called the Bravkar. Though Marconian emperors were routinely proven mortal, they were still considered deities by almost all Marcon citizens. The emperor was usually honored with tributes, though blood sacrifices were commonplace.
According to Marconian religous beliefs, the known worlds were created 22,000 years before the founding of the Marcon Alliance, or in about 23506 B.G.A.. The Great Sun Gods, the first iteration of the Marcon Alliance, fell to earth in around 17194 B.G.A., which gave birth to the Age of Darkness and the Dragon Clan. A series of warrior-kings would rule in the name of the Great Sun Gods through the Age of Darkness until the founding of the Marcon Alliance in 1506 B.G.A, at which point authority was given directly to the first Marconian Emperor, believed to be a reincarnated Great Sun God.
The first Emperor supposedly fathered all true Marcons, so the ancestor worship centers around tracing one's family line back to the original Emperor. Because every Marcon believes he can trace his bloodline back to the first Emperor, every Marcon has a legitimate claim to the throne; therefore, any citizen had the right to assassinate the Emperor and take his place, if he survived the attempt.
The Marcon account of ancient history is considered a complete fabrication, including the very existence of the Dragon Clan (supposedly invented by the Marcons to justify their claim of the verse). The Marcons' Bravkar, which tell the story of the Great Sun Gods and the warrior kings of old, use a poetic verse form and were probably handed down orally through the Age of Darkness, where stories were embellished and figures mishandled. Certain elements of the Marcons' version may be true, when filtered through the commonly accepted version of events.
Herbet Patric Galactis, author of the Accepted Histories posited that the "Great Sun Gods" of Marconian legend were the Ancients, the progenitor civilization of Antiquity, and that the "fall" mentioned in the Marconian texts is the Fall of Roads. No concrete details in the Marconian religious book offer a chronology of the Age of Darkness, and may be an exaggeration. Much like the Dragon Clan, the story about the first emperor being a reincarnation was likely created to justify his claim to the throne.
Customs and practices
Though many details about the Marcons were lost during the Second Chaotic Period, a few fragments have survived, both in the form of written records and oral histories.
Whenever a new land was conquered, settlers from the previously held regions were brought in to convert the new region. The Marcons worshipped their emperor, and forced whoever they conquered to join the imperial cult. All who resisted were slaughtered.
The Marcons hated technology, and tended to destroy anything more advanced than iron smithing. Electricity especially was targeted, and whenever a new land was conquered they would often destroy the cities and relocate the entire population to help quickly subjugate them.
Entire races were often enslaved, especially when the Marcons encountered a group whose physical distinctions could easily separate them from the Marconian citizens. Skin color was a favorite indicator, though the Alliance was so vast that there really was no specific standard. No Marcon would sully his hands with any sort of labor; even mental tasks such as accountancy were beneath them. Therefore one class of (menial) slave, to the Marcons, formed a faceless, nameless mass, and the other (mental) class were trained and often quite well educated, but still slaves, and still reminded of their subordination. Most of this second class were slain or taken with their masters as the Marcons fled Lelerough's rampage, leaving only the completely uneducated.
Above all else, the Marcons are remembered for their profound misogyny, so much so that it is often wondered how they managed to reproduce. While slavery was common, all women were automatically slaves. The concept of partnership did not exist, so no Marconian citizen had a 'wife'. Female slaves were socially lower than male slaves.
Women in the Marcon Alliance were considered good for only two things: sex and producing sons, in that order. Though some lower-class slave owners would use their women for labor, thus keeping them alive to work, very few women in the heart of the empire lived past the age of 20. Most died in childbirth long before this.
The Marcons' hatred for women was so strong that many thousands of years later, calling someone a 'Marcon' is considered the worst insult within the Gudersnipe Foundation.
The Marconian legal system is based upon the principle that it is wrong to punish an innocent man. Therefore, any case that goes to trial, is bound to result in a 'guilty' verdict. Trials are purely for show and based entirely on ritual and ceremony. The jury consists of animals; usually herd animals, with sheep being the favorite because they are small and relatively well-behaved.
The animals are placed in a pen while the trial proceeds. At the end, the pen is opened, and the animals are allowed to decide guilt or innocence by moving into one of two appropriately-marked pens. The 'guilty' pen is filled with food, ensuring the animals make the proper decision. Juries always consist of 13.
The Marconians did have a unique spoken language, obliterated when the empire fell. No surviving examples exist, though many words used in regions they once controlled are suspected to be Marconian in origin. Modern experts on the tongue have no idea how their language sounded, as the written version recorded only the consonants (assuming a native speaker would be able to fill in the vowels).
The written language is quite complex, with some two hundred distinct characters. Scholars speculate it evolved this way to allow any magical treatise from a subjugated people to be translated. The Marcons needed a written language that could cover every conceivable use-case; which meant only a handful of their elite could ever truly master it.
While extensive writings in the Marcon tongue did exist, no more than a few paragraphs survived the Mage Wars outside the archives of the Gudersnipe Foundation. Countless inscriptions, jewellery, and seals also exist. The Foundation has publicly stated that they have the entire language carefully mapped and documented, and will happily translate any short passage presented to them, but have provided no information on it, intending, indeed, for the tongue to remain lost.
In Korrinth, a new language called Korrali was invented based on assigning sounds to about 30 surviving characters from the Marconian language. Since the sounds the characters originally made were completely unknown (and all of them were consonants anyway), Korrali bore no resemblance to Marconian.