Phoenix Emperor

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The Phoenix Emperor
Phoenix Emperor.svg
Vital statistics
Gender Male
Race Unknown (possibly High Elf, Wood Elf or Ancestral Elf)
Class Battlemage or Magician
Birth Unknown, some time before 1125 BEKE
Death Unknown, some time after 1125 BEKE
Religion Unknown (possibly Fire Cult or Proto-Elven Religion)
Family
Consort Unknown
The Phoenix Emperor
Reign Some time before and after 1125
Successor Unknown, see List of Emperors of Neressa

The Phoenix Emperor (fl. 1125 BEKE) was a legendary individual - assumed to be more myth than reality by some skeptics - who is alleged to be the ancestor of the Emperors of Neressa via an unbroken bloodline, and is most famous for defeating the forces of Fathred's Confederation during Fathred's failed "Southern Campaign" in 1125 BEKE.

Theories

The given name of the Phoenix Emperor was unknown. He wasn't even mentioned in any contemporary written sources (save for the ones regarding Fathred's failed Southern Campaign), and there is no archeological evidence of his existence either - which forces historians to look at oral tradition instead. However, oral tradition must be taken with a grain of salt, as it is hard to separate truth from myth and legend. Aside from the question whether he even existed in the first place or not, point of contention is the question whether he was a representative of the (descendants of the) first or second wave of Elven migration into Neressa.

Proto-Elven theory

This theory posits that the so-called "Phoenix Emperor" was a Proto-Elf - or whatever the first wave of Elven migration into Neressa evolved into - speaking the dialect of the Proto-Elven language that would later evolve into Old Neressan. As such, this theory also implies that he was a repesentative of the first wave of migration, possibly even the leader of the Neressan branch of Hycyati clan, also known as "Hikiyëti" in the Neressan language.

The weakness of this theory is its inability to explain how and why did his forces clash with Fathred's, as the territory between Neressa and Etrand was populated by Lizardman tribes, and Fathred's forces certainly did not reach down to the Grey Mountains.

High Elven theory

This theory posits that the so-called "Phoenix Emperor" was a High Elven warlord, possibly a rival to Queen Salvia of Froturn, fleeing with his whole clan as Salvia's forces unified the Kingdom of Froturn, eventually bumping into Fathred's forces and defeating them before further migrating into Neressa. This theory implies that he was a representative of the second wave of migration.

Wood Elven theory

This theory posits that the so-called "Phoenix Emperor" was a Wood Elven warlord (from before the Kingdom of Dragoc was founded), possibly a clan-leader whose clan ventured north - bumping into Fathred's forces and defeating them - before eventually migrating into Neressa. This theory implies that he was a representative of the second wave of migration.

Conflated historical figures theory

Some believe that rather than being a single individual, the so-called "Phoenix Emperor" is the conflation of several unnamed historical figures into one mythical person, which might explain some of the conflicting rumours and contradicting sources and myths about him. The beauty of this theory is the implication, that none of the aforementioned three theories are mutually exclusive: one of these unnamed historical figures could have defeated Fathred, one could have led a High Elven migration into Neressa, one could have led a Wood Elven migration into Neressa, and one could have been the leader of the Proto-Elven Hycyati clan - all at different times, eventually mashed together and conflated into one mythical figure, whose name was immortalized as "Phoenix Emperor".

Legacy

It is difficult to assess the legacy of a person whose precise dates of birth and death are unknown, whose mere existence as a historical figure is questionable, whose existence (if he was real) predates the actual unification of his supposed empire by at least a century. Nevertheless, he is an important figure in Neressan mythology and is religiously revered, even though not much of his real identity is known - myths, legends and superstitions fill the void, some even canonized within the holy books of the Fire Cult. Some even claim that his given name was forgotten intentionally, so that he would be only remembered by his posthumous epithet, making his de-facto deification easier.

The Emperors of Neressa all claim to be direct descendants of his through an unbroken bloodline and consider him the first Emperor of the Empire of Neressa - while skeptical historians find this shaky (just like the person's very existence), most foreigners see no reason to deny this claim, especially if they are in the company of patriotic-minded Neressans who blindly believe what the emperors claim.

All in all, whether he was real or fictional, the Phoenix Emperor's name serves as a rallying cry for Neressans, uniting them under the same banner. His legacy is one of national unity and defiance against foreigners.

See also