Unsurprisingly, Athrintalec’s despotic rule triggered a growing resistance among the populace, and throughout the Empire, small bands of rebels formed throughout the land, raiding military patrols and tax wagons, doing whatever possible to fight the enemy and protect the populace. For all their cunning, these small bands were fragmented and weak, little more that gnats buzzing in the Empress’s ears.
Forging the Red Blades
A rebel leader named Dursten Howlett realized that his band was too small to make any effective progress against the Empire, and that he needed to revise his strategy. Skilled in both arcane divination and clerical magic, Howlett created a ritual to allow near instant commnication across the Empire by binding his own life-force into Athrintalec’s Arcane Matrix. Knowing that this ritual would consume his physical body, he instructed his followers in the ritual needed to open communication with him via bonded objects. They scattered across the Empire teaching the ritual to other rebels, and before long they were united into a single underground army.
Fighting the Enemy
As the Red Blades grew, recruiting more and more rebels, Dursten discovered that he could travel through Athrintalec’s web of energy like a ghost, a perfectly undetectable spy. With Dursten feeding them flawless information, the Blades were able to keep the army off-balance while avoiding traps and feints by the enemy. The Empress cracked down hard on her subjects, however, and with each victory the Red Blades achieved, the lives of slaves and common folk got harder. Seeing that this war could not be won by attrition, Dursten and his lieutenants devised a plan to topple the Empire completely.
Strike Off the Head, and the Body Will Follow
Using the arcane matrix against the enemy, the Red Blades created a blind spot in the Bay of Blades. While small groups of Red Blades assaulted the Empire’s strongholds on the mainland to draw the Empress’s attention, the bulk of the Blades were able to infiltrate Wyrmsreach itself. Knowing that victory must be achieved at any cost, the Red Blades fought like madmen, tearing through the defenses of the mighty citadel until they were able to confront the Emerald Queen herself. None of the Blades survived the battle or the magical backlash as the matrix collapsed, so none know the specifics of the battle, just that the Empire was left leaderless and unstable, and the Queens mightiest weapons were no more. As the surviving generals of the Empire’s army squabbled among themselves, the citizens of Tolgalen rose up and freed themselves from tyranny.
The Red Blades Today
In the years since the death of the Blades, several individuals have tried to claim the legacy of this group, although none have rallied under its flag for long. Most of these would-be heirs were revealed to be frauds, although a few have been harder to discredit. Regardless, the people of Tolgalen, while grateful for the sacrifices made by the true Red Blades, are unlikely to believe anyone who lays claim to the mantle of this honored group.