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Birth of an Emperor

Information sourced from 'Assorted Traditions of the Empire', 'The Great Apollyon' and 'A Brief History of the Empire of Midland, vol.3''

Written by David_Ulph

"By all the powers of the Gods Ancient and Revered, we call upon the Grace, Protection and Pride of the Elder Triumvirate to be blessed upon this new Apollyon. A new heir to the Crown of Thorns. A new heir to the Glorious Empire. An new heir to be draped in thine holiest of colours from this day of birth, to the day of their passing from this Mortal Realm into thine embrace past the stars. Past the sign of the Bull, meaning this newborn emperor will have to stay true to the brave and assertive Path of the Bull in order to remain worthy of his destiny."
An excerpt from 'The Great Apollyon', discussing the birth of Emperor Sarrus VI


The crossover between the Third and Fourth Eras is largely believed to have occurred during the Warlord Period. This largely undocumented period of time is named for the violent power vacuum caused by the rapid collapse of the Empire of Midland, and caused the destruction of many great pieces of imperial architecture and documentation.
However, out of all literature lost or burned during this time, the most meticulously kept and secured information was in relation to the Emperors, especially the records of their births, coronations, and deaths. This has led to historians specialising in the Third Era to have their timelines split between each individual Emperor's rule, as where any events that have lost their exact dates over time will have a note somewhere of having occurred "during the reign of Emperor ___".
Despite this causing untold frustration for historians attempting to set defined dates for even major events such as when the Renaissance of the Dragon Age began or even the official collapse of the Midlandian Empire, it has allowed such detailed records to persist on the lives and duties of the Emperors themselves. This is seen most prominently in the traditions surrounding their life events.


Birth Day

The Emperors of Midland were incredibly superstitious folk, predicted to have been inherited from their legendary origins connected to the Gargoyle King of floating Eldervair. On the run-up to the predicted birth day of a new heir, astronomers and diviners were invited into the imperial court at Doldrey in droves. These would be ordered to scan the night skies and assess the threads of potential fate respectively for at least a fortnight before the due date, scribing prophecies and predictions of the Empire's coming future.
While the majority of primary sources of the actual prophecy texts have been lost over time, the work of astronomers on the fateful day are to record which zodiac sign the imperial heir is born under. This would be interpreted in several different ways, which the experts would have to correlate and discern which is the most accurate to the fate of the Empire in the time of the Empress' period of solitude.
The period of solitude appears to be a tradition held by the latter half of Emperors as the culture of wetnursing grew in popularity. This led to the emergence of the now-canonised by the Holy See Scythe-Saint Nympha as working with the Imperial Court to fund and hand-pick specialist priestesses of Galana. These priestesses would work with the imperial handmaidens and surround the Emperor's consort to ensure her and the heir's safety for some time after the birth itself, and would go on to form the Sisterhood of the Knot.
After ensuring the health of the Empress and heir, the child would be draped in golden silk as they mantle Courga's divine power and grace and become a true heir of Humanity's future as the next representation of First Man Logaan the King in Yellow. Surrounded by the Sisterhood, the pair would emerge into a celebratory ceilidh in the court where the astronomers and diviners would proclaim the weal of the coming century as everyone sips the finest wines.
Various snippets of more traditions survive to this day, such as offering a silver coin to the child where depending on if they grab hold of it or drop it would suggest their care for the imperial coffers. Elixirs crafted from rowan berries would be given to the Empress, and willow branches would also be given to the newborn. Modern scholars believe both of these were used to ward off any influences from Fae.

Name Days

For Emperors, there existed no tradition of celebrating birthdays like the rest of their subjects. Instead, they would honour the past Emperors in extending their legacy by celebrating namedays. These would resemble feasts held annually on the date connected to the historic figure they are named after, usually being Sarrus.
The Sarrus Emperors held their namedays on Sarrus I von Apollyon's birthday; the 7th Samhradh. Harrian II von Apollyon held his nameday on the date of Harrian I's death due to no record ever existing of his birth date; the 28th Harvestend. Bridgett von Apollyon celebrated her own birthday, even during her time as Imperial Regent, though this changed when she was granted the Crown of Thorns. At this point, she had the choice of which imperial name she would mantle due to the legal questions over a female ruler of the Midlandian Empire. Bridgett chose Idus von Apollyon, and thusly began celebrating her nameday as Idus' birthday; 20th Handsel.
Emperor Bridgett von Apollyon is the best evidence as to the theory that while an emperor would formally and publicly only celebrate their nameday, they would also celebrate their personal birthday in their own privacy just like any other subject of the Empire. After the death of her son, she would not allow any celebrations or sense of joy throughout the Imperial Palace on his day of birth. She would also reportedly spend her own birthdays in the solitude of her son's crypt below Helden.
A preserved music sheet uncovered in the Helden catacombs within the mountain below the ancient city plays this festive ceilidh tune. Accompanying evidence and notes suggest it was penned to honour the Apollyon lineage and be played during the birth of one of their kin. As Emperor Sarrus VI was the only to have a record supposedly 'dancing out of the womb', some historians suggest the tune may have accompanied his birth. Since this discovery, celebrations of new heirs to the Kingdom of Doldrey being announced will play in honour of this history.

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Cover image: by Vertixico


Author's Notes

Okay just below 1500 words, the rest of the beef seems to be coming from here! Well, uni has picked up so quickly which has led to almost no writing! Ah well, I can smell the irony that I'm procrastinating on a report about what more the law can do for maternity/paternity leave to write about fictional birth traditions!   In terms of inspiration, a few Scottish traditions have eked their way through. Namely the silver coin and anti-fae techniques have their roots in mainland superstitions as I don't personally know any native island traditions! I also don't have my wee personal library due to being stuck at home in lockdown with my books with my flatmates. Name days are of course inspired by real life namedays, which revolve mainly around Christian Saints you are named after.  

  Random tangent of real world trivia alert! Okay, so there was a massive wildfire ravaging my island (Benbecula) on the first night of planning this article which took everyone by surprise so we put the local news on BBC Alba. After the news and the risk of our town in particular needing to be evacuated there was a show about these two young musicians touring and playing sets of their music around the furthest Hebridean islands. One of their tunes was used for this article because hey, they're fantastic, but this tune in particular is named after an island I had heard of but didn't really know too much about. It being on the Northern Outer Hebrides, and me being in the Southern Outer Hebrides (it's not far by distance, but is by culture.. believe me), and it being uninhabited.   Okay so.. Sula Sgeir. Just means roughly "Wee Rock of Gannets", and of course has a history of men from Ness proving their manhood by sailing far out to this tiny island to catch young gannet for guga (look it up at your own peril, it's disgusting). However, something that completely blindsided me that is such graphic but apt imagery of wilderness is the story of the sister of 7th Century Saint Ronan built the only inhabited building on the island (apart from the modern lighthouse) for solitary contemplation. She was then discovered to have perished in her bothy, and a family of cormorants had made a nest within her ribcage.   Some adaptations of the tale suggest that this wasn't merely nature taking back over from humanity in the wilds, but the cormorant was actually a reincarnation of this now Saint Brenhilda, who had been born from her old ribcage as she accepted her seclusion in the wilds to such an extent. I just think in certain connotations this tale can be quite beautiful, but in all definitely striking imagery I may take inspiration from heavily. Tried to put the image in this article in honour of where and when I discovered it, but couldn't fit it with it's meaning so that idea was quickly scrapped.

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21 Feb, 2021 19:28

I thought this was a very interesting article! I don't understand the entire world, but this was a very informative piece about birthing traditions for emperors and their children. Nice job!

~TimeBender~Check out the first chapter of my newest book on World Anvil (Spoiler I'm posting the entire book for free): 1/The First Rule of Monsterborn Adoptions
Journeyman David_Ulph
David Alexander
22 Feb, 2021 14:47

Thank you! I am glad you enjoyed and apologise if anything seemed a bit too much! If you have any questions I'm sure I'd be able to answer XD

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides! Check my Summer Camp ramblings out here
22 Feb, 2021 19:38

I am curious as to what happened to Emperor Bridgett von Apollyon's son! Do you have an article about this somewhere? I'm sorry if it's a fairly obvious article, I just haven't gotten around to exploring your world yet.

~TimeBender~Check out the first chapter of my newest book on World Anvil (Spoiler I'm posting the entire book for free): 1/The First Rule of Monsterborn Adoptions
Journeyman David_Ulph
David Alexander
22 Feb, 2021 20:55

Ah, no need to apologise! I started writing my notes up onto World Anvil with Worldember just there so I still have a lot of holes to fill in so far. The Empire occurred centuries before the current setting, so there are lots of different interpretations of some parts of history where the real truth isn't fully known. The death of Harrian II is one of these moments, while it is known he became sickly for some time and bedridden before his death, the cause of his illness and the illness itself is debated! Definitely an event I will make an article on some day!

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides! Check my Summer Camp ramblings out here
22 Feb, 2021 21:19

Thanks for the reply! I find this world intriguing, and I think I'll follow it so i can explore more of it soon.

~TimeBender~Check out the first chapter of my newest book on World Anvil (Spoiler I'm posting the entire book for free): 1/The First Rule of Monsterborn Adoptions
Journeyman David_Ulph
David Alexander
22 Feb, 2021 22:52

Thank you! February seems like a slow month for me so far, and so will the majority of March (essay deadlines and all that), but I'm glad you enjoy :D

Latha math leat! Sending praise from the Hebrides! Check my Summer Camp ramblings out here