During the age of the Old World and the pinnacle of it’s Empire there was a strange duality. There was the empire itself, the vast plains, satrapies, protectorates and claimed territories, and there was the capital. There was an old adage used before the Nightmare War, that if you didn’t have the Capital, you didn’t have the empire. The reverse was quite true, whomever held the capital by default held the empire, from one sea to the other.
During it’s history the Capital of the Empire was laid siege to no fewer than seven times. The first siege ended with the crowning of a new conquering Emperor, and the next six ending in the destruction of the would be usurpers. The key to the longevity of the last ruling dynasty was the magnificent defences of the Capital that were built following the single successful coup.
While there were ample numbers of mundane defences such as walls, towers and defensive castles, the true defences of the Capital were inside the towers and drew upon the ley lines of the entire empire for their power.
Additional Ideas (4)
The ruins of the Aegis Bulwarks can stil be seen today by explorers intrepid or foolish enough to travel into the deep wastes of the central plains. There were seven of these massive citadels built around the Imperial Captial, each built along geomantic lines. An army that tried to lay siege to the Capital would first have to neutralize these fortresses before they could safely lay siege to the walls of the city itself.
During the Nightmare War these mundane fortresses were assaulted from the direction of the city and it was only by their incredibly durable construction that anything of the structures remained after that brutal week, let alone a thousand years later.
The Paling Towers
Added after the fifth Siege, recorded in the Imperial Year 3284 of the now defunct Imperial calendar, these slender towers were added to the central structure of each of the Aegis Bulwark fortresses. The towers tapped directly into ley lines of earth aspected essence and their structure was designed to draw this essence up and project it like a wall or force field. When all seven of the towers projected their palings, it would make the capital invulnerable to all but the most powerful of attacks.
This proved to be a valuable investment for the ruling dynasts as the sixth siege involved a junta of Fire Mages and their associated allies. The rain of fire that was intended to break the Bulwark defences was brushed aside by the combined power of the seven towers.
This power failed only once, and that was during the Nightmare War when the ley lines across the central plains were scrambled along with the destruction or corruption of nearly a dozen known clathrates in the greater geological region. Devoid of elemental power, the resident mages attempted to fuel the towers with their own magics and other sources. This temporary paling lasted a day and a halt before collapsing and with its fall the Aegis Bulwark fortresses were broken into the ruins that they are today.
One of the most striking objects protrayed in Imperial art is the shining spire of the Godescealc Obelisk, or just called the Godescealc. This massive structure was grown from the bedrock by use of planar and elemental magics, making it a living piece of stone. This combined with the widespread geomancy practiced by the empire, the Obelisk was the single most potent source of essence or mana in the entire world. While it would be easy to assume that this would make for an excellent spell battery but in truth it was purely defensive in nature.
Inside the Paling Barrier of the Aegis Bulwarks, the Imperial City was still vulnerable to lesser scaled magics such as scrying, spells of flight, assassination and teleportation. This hidden magic would be used to eliminate a number of unpopular dynasts but ended with the rule of Parinjar XII. Parinjar created the Godescealc and made it into a focus for a powerful set of wards. This warding around the city effectively prevented outside magic from penetrating into the city itself. Scrying was useless, teleportation was suicidal at best, and other long range magics were deflected, prematurely detonated or negated by the wardings.
The Godescealc still stands unmarred in the center of the ruins of the Capital though it's former power is completely gone. The ley lines that once fed it have been redrawn in the age that passed. It was during the Nightmare War that the Godescealc served it's greatest purpose. On the final night the hero King Thyr and his mount Aurixia accessed the stone and with what power remained they used it to seal the planar breach as well as banishing and destroying most of the monsters and demons rampaging through the ruins of the capital, at the cost of their own lives.
Located in various places around the perimeter of the Capital's walls and in a few towers inside the royal palace, the Storm Casters were the latest and smallest of the Sarol-Faer, or Weapons of Magic. Resembling a mix of gyroscope and K'tonian clockwork device, these metallic objects sat atop towers covered in copper domes. The domes would be opened and the Mana Projectors would be extended, then discharges of elemental force could be released.
The Storm Casters spat bolts of lightning that while having long range and dealing signifigant damage were not the most accurate or predicatable of weapons. The casters also ran a constant problem of consuming too much essence to fuel their discharges, and when the geomantic grid and clathrates failed, the Storm Casters were the first of the Saroll-Faer to fall silent.
The most massive of the Sarol-Faer, the Magma Cannon was nearly a mobile tower on it's own. Balancing on rotation rings and gimbals of K'tonian inspiration, the Magma cannons condensed essence, or mana into liquid hot stone where ever it was fired. An area to be targeted would in a few seconds find itself under several inches of magma, killing most things instantly and breaking all but the most durable and heat resistant of devices and golems.
Crewed by dozens of men and a cadre of wizards, the Magma cannons were manned and fired until each of the weapons was destroyed by the horrors of the Nightmare War. Some scholars believe that the cannons and the death that they dealt, feeding on secondhand power even, was as pivotal to the victory of man during the Nightmare War as the Godescealc and Thyr's sacrifice.
Also known as mana shells, a Jusith Faer is a condensed and liquified form of essence or mana. Fewer than half a dozen shells are known to survive and the liquid inside is considered very hazardous. Living things exposed to the material suffer mutagenic effects, though through study of this substance some alchemists have been able to concoct potions to restore spell abilities (potion of mana), as well as boosting spell powers, or even grant spell like abilities for a short time.
A Jusith is roughly the size of a medium melon and resembles a glass jar containing a multicolored liquid wrapped in silvery wire. If broken, the liquid would behave in a very unstable manner, and could simply evaporate, explode into a cloud of mucus or butterflies, or turn anything it touched into living purple stone. It is chaotic stuff.