A History of Basphara
Centuries ago, the God-Kings of Basphara rose up in an onslaught of carnage and terror, until their seemingly unstoppable engine of conquest suddenly crashed to a halt. Myth and history are unclear on precisely why, but the best-known story (albeit an heretical one) claims that the sons1 of Great Carias sought to usurp his reign, and that the clash left all four dead or dying.
Bereft of high commanders and exhausted from decades of war, the people of Basphara concluded their campaign, constructed great temple-tombs for their deific sovereigns, and proceeded to let their dominion slip away, province by province, for the next several hundred years. There were, of course, occasional fits of nationalism, several Thearchs that fancied themselves Carias reincarnate, and the occasional bit of sly maneuvering that allowed old lands to be reclaimed.
For the most part though, the aristocracy2 found it more engaging to focus on internal power-struggles, extraordinary decadence, and surprisingly productive work in commerce, statesmanship, and the arts and sciences. As such, the great cities of Basphara became celebrated centers of arts and learning. Such developments were denounced and bewailed by the pious clerics of the Blood of Carias, who enjoyed a deep entrenchment as the state religion but faced increasing indifference from the aristocrats.
Even the Grand Thearch – ostensibly the gods’ own representative – might now perform his ceremonial sacrifices with perfunctory aplomb in the temple square, only to return to his palace and dine with the Primate of Erathis. Meanwhile, the high priestess shrieks out empty promises to drench her altars with the blood of Basphara’s enemies3; out in the country, simple folk dance in the processions and pray to their humble hearthside icons.
Yet, these crude superstitions are not so harmless as the philosophers and sophisticates assume. Each quiet prayer to Carias and his sons pours a tiny trickle of spirit into the lifeless husks laid out in their gilded sepulchers. Most Baspharans nominally profess the creed that their gods shall someday return from beyond. Some work to hasten their awakening, unearthing dread rites and practicing forbidden arts, dreaming to see their master walk the earth.
Eighty years ago, under the reign of Thearch Valerian IV, they did.
The details of those events then have been kept a careful secret, in the hopes of preventing their repetition. Parthanas devoured many of the devotees who had sought his resurrection, and wrought much destruction in Parthaneia, but only a very learned Baspharan would have made the connection between the monstrosity they beheld and the demigod they worshiped.
Parthanas was somehow contained, by means kept obscure lest the cults learn to counter them. Of those heroes who survived his vanquishing, Valerian IV instituted a clandestine network meant to root out and thwart the activities of his most… devout citizens.
1 Davian, Ceristaltes, and Parthanas
2 Those who could prove direct descent from an officer of Caru’s legion.
3 By definition, anyone not under the rule of Basphara.