The Chromatic Fear
Centuries would pass with the uneasy struggle between those who put direct faith in the Empire and its patron deity, and those who wished to worship whom they pleased. While the Imperial Church would grow massively and dominate the masses, the other cults devoted to the various other Deities would wax and wane with membership over the years.
Many cabals would attempt to convert large numbers, only to dissolve under the pressure and prejudice from the public. Others would keep to themselves in private, many even in complete secrecy, and would manage to grow and flourish. In particular, the unaligned cults of the gods Erathis and Ioun would not only manage to spread in their secret societies but also infiltrate many high-standing members of the Empire.
The Builders Behind the Scenes
The followers of Erathis, who revered her as the Goddess Mechanus, often times were heavily involved amongst the politicians and bureaucrats of the Cities and considered themselves the architects of Law, Order and Stability. To them, it did not matter what faith the Empire followed as long as the principles and practices bestowed by their Goddess were put in place in the foundations of society. It was often joked that priests of Erathis would make converts of many of the Imperials without them ever knowing.
Meanwhile, the scholars of Ioun would form low-key fraternities amongst the academics and pupils of the Universities to delve into the forbidden lore and arts without drawing notice from the Empire. Of all their findings, the most important would become the discovery of the latent powers of those who would become known as “sorcerers.” This discovery, unfortunately, would also bring them under the scrutiny of the Throne.
Fires of Inquisition
In the late 800’s, new cults would begin to emerge with a more sinister agenda. News and rumors would spread of people kidnapped in the middle of the night; politicians and bureaucrats assassinated with little trace of the killers. Countrysides would burn with fires lit by mad mystics and heretics. It wouldn’t be long before the militant forces of the Church and the Dragonborn would uncover the burnt ruins of what has served as temporary temples to dark beings—Chromatic Dragons. Many of them. For every color of the Chromatic Scale, a different cult with a different agenda. The fear, paranoia and hysteria would grow, and the newly dispatched Inquisitors would find a frightening link: These were not separate cults, but instead devotees to different aspects of the Betrayer herself.
The Chromatic Fear had returned, and now it had penetrated the defenses that were always kept in place at Monolith. There was no massive invasion forces beating down the barriers of The West; no Dragons in flight raining terror from the skies. Instead, they had corrupted and decayed Mankind from within and struck at the core of the Empire. Soon, the fear would turn towards a xenophobic backlash not only at the infiltrators—but at the other faiths.
It began with a grand inquisition on the Academics of Ioun, once it was revealed that they had discovered Sorcerers who drew their powers from the blood lines of Dragons. The Wizards had come under scrutiny, with the Throne demanding to give the details of any humans baring magic from Draconic blood. When it was refused, an angry Emperor Malith the 5th would declare ALL Sorcerers enemies of the state, citing that even the “Wild” magics that others tapped into were instruments of Chaos and Corruption.
With the followers of Ioun either locked up, tortured to death or scattered in hiding, the cults of Erathis knew it was a matter of time before the Emperor set his sights on them. It was inevitable that one of their own would betray their order as Heretics out of fear, and reveal their involvement in the governing of their nations. An emergency meeting was called to all who followed the Goddess Mechanus, and it was decided after much deliberation, prayer and ritual that it was their destiny to be found out. The only way to not only successfully preserve all the progress they had accomplished, but to preserve the stability of the Empire itself, was to let them be taken out of the grand equation.
Soon afterward, it was not one of their Order but a colleague who knew of their schemes that had sold them out the Throne. What the colleague didn’t know was that the information given to him about a grand meeting of the Order was intentionally given to him to hand over to the authorities. When the Inquisitors arrived, along with a deployment of Dragonborn Elite, they had found the cult members waiting and willing to be taken prisoner.