With the advent of the Prime Era, the Imperium was the first to establish a new state. The fact that the Dokht Imperium was established only after the sovereign Kingdom of Adornia in the South is merely a footnote in the official chronicles.
The Northern Province of the Laphite Empire was situated in mountainous terrain rich in natural resources. The area boasted excellent craftsmanship, developed manufacturing, and schools to pass on all of society’s accumulated knowledge to the new generation. The Emperor, an active patron of the sciences, established several research laboratories here. One of these, the Imperium Observatory, became a new refuge for the people during the first days of chaos.
Viceroy Leonard of the Northern province was one of the first to arrive there—the highland citadel seemed to be the safest escape from the sudden Prime flood. Unfortunately, he suffered a terrible tragedy along the way: while crossing a river, his wife fell from her horse into the viscous Prime that filled the riverbed, and died of its poisonous effect. The Viceroy was deeply shaken by the loss of his wife. For the rest of his journey he reflected on humanity’s helplessness against this new force. Conquering Prime became his sole reason for surviving.
Upon his arrival at the Observatory, Leonard’s spirits lifted. Making the Temple of Science a place of refuge for himself, his sons, and his people in the face of this tragedy became his new purpose in life.
Truly, in the midst of chaos and terror, emotions were useless. Impartial science, detached from the fates of individuals, could at least provide a new direction of thinking, a new drive for ideas. Uncertain times require a firm foundation, and when faced with such an unknown dangerous force, scientific knowledge could become a foundation as strong as the observatory citadel itself, if not stronger. Besides, just several years before, the development of scientific thought had been proclaimed an Imperial priority. A return to national values might foster the unity of humanity’s spirit and hold society together in this time of chaos.
That same evening, the Viceroy gave a speech to all in the Observatory. He called upon them to dedicate themselves to the study of the new substance; its properties, and its effects on all things both inanimate and animate. Of course, the main goal was to the search for an antidote to exposure. Those who lacked the knowledge or intellect for scientific work were required to service all of the routine needs of the community. “In these terrible times,” he proclaimed, “we must search for something special we possess within ourselves, and use it to counter the elements.” “That something is a lively, questioning mind, a drive for knowledge befitting the citizens of the Imperium.” Thus Viceroy Leonard concluded his speech.
In this way, at the dawn of the Prime Era, men of science became the highest caste of the new society. When the Observatory became too small to accommodate all of the incoming refugees, entry was granted only to those able to tangibly aid scientific research. These scientists became known as the Imperium, after the name of the observatory. Studying Prime for the sake of saving many lives was more important than interrupting research to save a few individuals—such logic controlled every aspect of the new society, and no one dared to question it. It was the same outside the observatory walls. Everyone waited for the Word of Science, for the results of the first scientific study of Prime, for the news that was supposed to tell them how to live in this changed world.
Within several months, the scientists had announced both “good news” and “bad news.” First, under the Viceroy’s orders they studied how dangerous Prime was to people. They concluded that the effect of Prime on a living organism could not be predicted, and there was no antidote. Also, even though Prime poisoning was not contagious, its effects may be dangerous for society, due to their volatility.
This dispassionate verdict caused a lot of concern. People began treating their compatriots impacted by Prime with suspicion, and they, in return, could not help feeling alienated. Conflicts arose and fights broke out, and as a result of the disturbance, any and all affected by Prime were declared dangerous members of society. If their internal concentration of Prime exceeded the maximum amount allowed, they were exiled from the settlements.
These drastic measures were, naturally, scientifically justified: “sacrificing a few for salvation of many” was the logic behind them, but that logic was not universally accepted. Those who had personal reasons to question the scientific arguments were especially difficult to convince. They did not see why healthy members of society had to be isolated from those contaminated with Prime. Numbers and formulas stated that, due to the climate of the Southern Province, Prime concentration there must be especially high, and therefore all its inhabitants were declared highly dangerous. Viceroy Leonard ordered that all communications with the neighboring province and its inhabitants be stopped, in order to save the lives of his subjects. Naturally, this resulted in an increased number of casualties in what later became Adornia, but the Viceroy could not please everyone.
The scientists’ second discovery was disclosed several months after the first. The news was so good that it quickly overshadowed the growing strain between the citizens.
It turned out that the impact of Prime upon passive matter, unlike that upon live organisms, fit certain strict rules, and therefore could be not only predicted, but even planned. Prime could change the properties of substances at various levels. By creating certain conditions while affecting matter with Prime, the final transformation could be controlled precisely.
Most importantly, it was quickly discovered that Prime was the most powerful fuel source known in existence, providing brand new opportunities for mechanics and technology. The simplest experiments in this field of research yielded incredible results. Under careful study and with the correct methods, Prime could replace all known types of fuel, bringing an unfathomable increase in efficiency.
What a revolutionary discovery! Now all of the possibilities and outcomes had to be discovered and accounted for as the laws governing the use of Prime were determined. Though there was a huge amount of work ahead, the reward promised to be equally enormous - new technologies, not only compensating for the loss of the old world, but able to raise the civilization to new heights!
Leonard rejoiced. Even in his most daring dreams, he had not envisioned a victory over Prime in which it was made to serve humanity. His subjects also rejoiced, and proudly proclaimed their love and gratitude toward the man who had been able to lead his people through times of chaos and despair to a hope for revival. These discoveries were the final step to strengthening to the scientific community and pushing its methods into the core values of the newly emerging state.
A little over a year after the Cataclysm, the two provinces began to restore their communications, but their old neighborly bond could not be revived in the new world, the Prime World. Both territories went on to proclaim their independence. When the South officially announced the formation of a new state—the sovereign Kingdom of Adornia, their Northern counterparts responded by reaffirming their commitment to the old political and social values of the Imperium. The people decided to show this heritage in the name of their new state, calling it the Dokht Imperium, and naming Leonard as their first Emperor.
The longer the Imperium scientists studied Prime, the more new questions they had, which led to an unending supply of topics for research. Prime was as inexhaustible a subject of study as it was a source of great power. Of course, the number of researchers, laboratory assistants and test subjects grew constantly. The project attracted everyone with any aptitude for scientific work, and responsibilities were allocated according to skill.
The study of the new substance required discipline, a consistent methodology and a systemic approach, and soon it absorbed all daily routines. The ability to contribute to the scientific studies became the dominant criterion for being a “useful member of society.” If you spent your own and others’ resources on frivolous subjects such as music, literature or other “humanities,” if you distracted other members of the Imperium from their research, if you violated the established rules and disciplines, then there was no place for you in the Imperium.
During the first few years, the scientists conducted deep research into the toxic and mutagenic properties of Prime, and finalized their study of exposure extent. This resulted in a more relaxed treatment of those impacted by Prime, at least as long as their exposure was within the limits which had been established by the scientific research.
But the other conclusion made initially——that Prime was extremely dangerous to living organisms—remained unchanged. To this day, the Imperium avoids any physical contact with Prime by wearing protective suits and following strict safety rules whenever they interact with the substance.
This careful approach to Prime did not prevent grand feats of engineering. Prime opened up new horizons of technical possibilities that, in turn, kept on giving the Imperium new ways of interacting with the world. Their new goal is to make the whole world technically predictable, understandable, and convenient, just as they managed to do with Prime. Thus, Prime serves not just as an interesting object of their studies, but also as a major tool for achieving their new goal. When studying Prime, the scientists merely analyze its physical properties, but when they put it to use, they are conquering the outside world.
In their weapons and fighting machines, the Imperium uses a new type of fuel: Prime Gems, which are artificially synthesized in special mines. Prime Gems hold the properties of Prime in a tiny form, but require higher effort to develop than traditional Prime deposits. This type of fuel is not economical to produce, but for military purposes, it is priceless.
That said, the Dokht Imperium is currently at peace. Of course, skirmishes in borderlands continue to occur regularly, but they are mostly just entertainment for bordering Lords, rather than serious battles.
Both the Imperium and the Keepers of Adornia realize that they need new deposits of Prime. Soon they’ll have to compete over these resources in the neutral territories. But after the Battle of Foggy Grove, the first nightmarish page in the history of the new world after the Cataclysm, neither party is eager to unleash a war for Prime just yet.