A Brief History of the Empire
The realm of Mexico has seen more than one kingdom and empire rise and fall. Before the Aztecs the great cities of the Olmecs and Teotihuacan used to dominate the lands before they came apart as a result of droughts, famine and revolts. The Empire on the other hand can trace its creation to the founding of the great city of Tenochtitlan by the Mexica peoples. A group of nomads who had left a land from the north remembered only as 'Aztlan', the Mexica settled upon a small swampy island in the middle of Lake Texcoco, within the heart of the Valley of Mexico, allegedly after they saw a vision of an eagle landing upon a prickly cactus upon the lake.
The Mexica began to grow quickly however, founding alliances with the neighboring cities of Texcoco and Tlacopan. This put them on the course to become a dominant power across Mexico and successful wars with the neighboring states earned them vassals bringing tribute, power and above all sacrifices.
Sacrifice is an inherent aspect of spiritualism throughout the realm of Mexico. Despite this, the sheer scale of those forced to the altar is quite staggering. The Mexica in particular considered Huitzilopochtli, the god of war their patron, and coupled with their conquests and desire to enforce order and compliance with their conquered peoples, resulted in them taking on a voracious hunger for human sacrifices, occasionally in their thousands. The Flower Wars were instituted as regulated warfare designed to procure even more sacrifices. While this terrified their neighbors, it also caused deep resentment to build within them.
An ultimate showdown between the Triple Alliance and their vassals would have come at some point in time. But virtually any plans that they had set for themselves was completely and utterly derailed with the onset of the Rift.
The Rift was an enormous magical cataclysm which can be best described as the barriers between reality and the spiritual realms being torn asunder. The sky seemed to have wholes in it which unknowable, things could be seen looking back out from. And occasionally those things crawled out. Strange monsters stalked the countryside, animals could be found warped into strange chimeras and above all, the dead seemed to walk the land once again. It was a truly terrifying time, not only for the lands of Mexico, but for the whole world beyond.
Some gifted individuals from various lands were able to harness the ability to alter reality at will by tapping into the rifts in the sky. After a while, the rifts died down. In their own weird way, they became normal. And legends of heroes of various countries defending their realms from these monsters are commonplace. But in many ways the true terror was only just about to begin.
Death has always had a strange, personable relationship to the land of Mexico. Unlike many cultures, who fear and revile it, the people of the land viewed it in an almost friendly manner. Perhaps it is for that reason they were among the first to tap into it through magic. The priests of Tenochtitlan, already knee deep in the formerly alive sacrifices began to delve into the arts of necromancy. Of bringing and reanimating the dead to life. While it is thought by many that they originally had good intentions in trying to control the rifts, they became increasingly drunk on their power, raising undead armies and demanding even more sacrifices to fuel them. Not all of the priests agreed with this path. Even their own people grew terrified of them. The priests claimed that those who were reanimated enjoyed eternal life and dedication to the glory of the city, but those who witnessed them long enough knew that instead half-life and cold agony awaited those enslaved to the necromancers.
Upon the Night of Red Mourning, the necromancer-priests of Tenochtitlan slew the royal family and installed themselves as true rulers of the Triple Alliance. Even their own people thought they had crossed the point of no return, and the night was characterized by the Jaguar and Eagle Warriors literally cutting their way out of the city to escape with their families and other dissidents.
The Rotting War was one fought between the living armies of the Great Alliance, and the undead monsters led by the Necromancers Priests. It was a long and brutal war. If times during the early days of the rift were terrifying, the Rotting War was apocalyptic. Great suffering was had by all. But eventually, after several years of fighting in the grim darkness of that war, the Great Alliance retook Tenochtitlan and slew the necromancers of that army, ending the war.
In the immediate aftermath, the peoples of Mexico were tired. Some wanted to slaughter the Mexica for unleashing the evil upon the world, but their heroic struggle during the war earned them a reprieve. Nobody wanted to fight anymore. The endless hunger of the temples fell silent. Some say that even Death herself refused their offerings. The cult of Huitzilopochtli gave way to the cult of Quetzalcoatl, the god of life. Tenochtitlan still remained however, as it was decided that rather than return to conflict and suffering once again, the great alliance should be permanent. Thus, a new government was put into place upon Tenochtitlan. A Monarchy that united the cities and countries of Mexico together through a web of marriages and bureaucracy that allowed for assistance and development together.
And so the Empire of Mexico was founded. And for a time, there was peace and prosperity.