In order that the glory and dominion of our most serene, holy, unconquered Empress, ninth mistress of this radiant Empire, be ever furthered even unto the very boundary of Heaven, the Monastery of Dzie Piaņ commits this most humble missive, in hope that it might earn its place in that most august, splendid, and complete repository of wisdom, the honorable Imperial Library, and that it might enhance by the meager wisdom it contains the inimitable and eternal splendour of our great Empire.
May the Empress reign ten thousand years!
This work undertaken in the year 736ᵉ by the humble Sister Owl Snowspire
This scroll sealed 750ᵉ by Chief Scribe Carnation Summer-Daisy
This scroll blessed in 750ᵉ by Abbess Queenfisher Highlake
Borne forth across the Void upon the noble ships Scorching Wind Enflames The Spirit Of Ten Billion Honored Souls, Raft upon the Current of Whim Delights in the Galaxy's Unending Grandeur, and Indomitable Spirit of Commerce Nobly Bears Aloft the Burden of Numberless Bountiful Worlds
Watched over upon its voyage by the Knight-Librarian Dame Tern Sorrowhelm
Inducted into the Imperial Library in 754ᵉ by her Most Esteemed Grace Imperial Librarian Heron Sallowvale, Foremost Among the Learned of the Realm
In her glorious and unmatched wisdom, Her Imperial Radiance the Ninth Empress, in the year 693ᵉ, did command of all the learned among Her splendid realm to undertake the study, such as was possible, of certain barbarian peoples, and to compile manuscripts with all that can be learned of their heretical ways, as a bulwark against the manifold enemies of this holy Empire in times both of peace and war. It is from that most wise edict this humble work derives, and I pray this effort be deemed adequate in Her incomparably magnificent sight.
Among those barbarian peoples which menace our most holy Empire are those known, in their own tongue, as the Şan Te La Li, and to us as “the Society of Worlds.” These, as the honored reader is of course aware, are those heretics who did first dare defy this most holy Empire’s righteous dominion of all Creation, who first among all the barbarian peoples did turn back the cleansing spear of Her conquering fleets. They are those cowards whose spies did sow destruction among the righteous upon the very day of the Carnelian Genocide, and did thus condemn our blessed people to an age of ignorance and chaos.
The manner of their heresy has too long escaped the all-revealing light of Imperial science, which has perhaps elected not to stain its noble hands with the filth of a dishonorable enemy. But distasteful and degrading though this ugly task may be, it is nonetheless incumbent upon us to discern those perversions of thought and mien that so afflict the mid-western barbarians, to better deflect the blades of treachery they seek to drive through the spine of Her Radiance’s just dominion.
To that most crucial end, I have conducted myself these ten past years in most grueling research of this little-understood foe, and it gives me great pride to present the fruit of my studies to Her magnanimous gaze. This task was made all the more arduous by the peculiar and secretive nature of these barbarians: they do not conduct themselves in trade and social intercourse with the other peoples of the Galaxy, as do the many small heretical powers, but instead keep to their solitude upon the green worlds whose bounty they do squander and deny to the those not of their barbarian race. Even their language is a secret known in its entirety only to them, even as some few words escape their strangling fist from time to time.
How, then, could the nature of these barbarians be discerned? This question long bedeviled me, as I sought through what tattered records remain from the War of Wars. In time, I found a small number of worthy sources, both flesh and parchment. For there is one hole in the great iron curtain that divides their universe from our own: that secessionist confederation known as the “Socialist League.”
This “Socialist League,” as the august reader is of course aware, comprises diverse worlds unjustly seized during that most terrible War, subjugated by barbarian hands and then entrusted to the scum of Imperial society, those degenerates with the most to gain by the foreshortening of Her Radiance’s steadying arm. In order better to dominate these degenerates — for all know that the Socialist League is but the Society of Worlds’ loyal puppet — the barbarian invaders established its governing bodies upon their own capital world, the hidden planet of “Te Ka Sa Lan,” whose location remains to this very day perhaps the greatest mystery in all the known galaxy.
In this way, it was determined that those degenerates assigned to represent our stolen worlds in the “democratic assembly” on Te Ka Sa Lan have some small aperture of exposure to the culture of these very barbarians. As a number of the stolen worlds remain accessible to our merchants, if not our justiciars and peers, I took upon myself the unenviable task of traveling there in person, upon the noble merchant vessel Chrysanthemum Blossoms in the Garden of Hope, may her service to the Empire be long remembered, under the guise of a heretic journalist, to seek out interviews with those degenerates whose feet have touched the Hidden World.
What I learned therefrom was illuminating.
It is of course the received wisdom our noble race has been elected to convey throughout the galaxy that all glory and holiness resides in the person of the reigning Empress. So it was with inarticulable sorrow my faithful heart came to discern that the mid-western barbarian holds not even grudging respect for the living shard of God-That-Will-Be, let alone the holy reverence that is her unquestionable birthright. No, for instead these peculiar barbarians hold to a hierarchy that excludes Her Radiant Majesty entirely.
It is this hierarchy that compels and controls them every waking moment of their lives. Never do these barbarians know the freedom and inner peace accorded to even the lowliest Imperial peasant. For in all things, there is a leader and a follower, a dominator and a dominated, a mistress and a slave. And every mistress is herself a slave to another, unto the top of that voluminous hierarchy, whereupon stand the greatest heretics in any nation: the “Three Great Ones,” who conspire to pervert all of creation from their high tower on a secret planet lost to Imperial cartography. Submit! That is the command. Submit, because you need to be controlled. Because you are weak, foolish, a danger to yourself. And only in abject slavery will your worth be found, equal and indistinguishable to everyone else. Even the greatest must submit to subjugation, must quench their fires, must suffocate their inspiration, must repress their ambition, must muzzle their power, all for the good of “The People.” For — and this, esteemed reader, will shock you like little else you have learned from these pages of wickedness and sin — the mistresses of this godforsaken realm are the least free of all. As their people are slaves to them, so they are slaves to their people. Watched and hounded every hour of every day for any sign of independence or righteous fire.
One almost feels pity for them. Imagine, if the Empress was muzzled like a pien şai in a cage, permitted only to carry out her grand plan for Creation if it suited the whims of every last wretched, ignorant peasant. God would suffocate.
It is this obsession with the subjugation of the self that drives these barbarians to their treachery and heresy. When they chanced upon the light of holiness spreading like a beacon throughout this galaxy, what else could their diseased minds compel of them but to dominate it? They could never comprehend a land of freedom, of prosperity. They saw a great and mighty Empress who refused to kneel, and maddened by her unchained strength and righteousness, drowned the galaxy in blood and war.