Zarosian Empire

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Ancient talisman detail.png

The Zarosian Empire was an ancient empire that covered the territories of where Misthalin, Asgarnia, the Wilderness, and northern Morytania now stand. It was a predominant force during the Second and Third Age. After attempts by Saradomin and Zamorak to remove all traces of the empire after its fall, only buried ruins remain as evidence of its existence.

The empire was ruled by the god Zaros himself at the capital city of Senntisten which was located east of where Varrock stands today. Archaeological discoveries by the end of the Fifth Age spurred interest in Zarosian history and culture. The subsequent return of Zaros to Gielinor in the Sixth Age followed by research efforts forwarded by Dr. Nabanik have led to the rediscovery of many long forgotten cultural elements.

History[edit | edit source]

Encounter with Hostilius[edit | edit source]

Hostilius' failed attempt to deceive Zaros was key to the founding of the Zarosian Empire.

The Zarosian Empire was officially founded during the Second Age. One of the most significant jumping points for the beginning of the Zarosian Empire was Zaros' encounter with Hostilius, the ruler over Infernus and the Chthonian demons. The Chthonian had the ability to create magically binding contracts which were put in place to cull their unchecked cannibalism. Zaros was willing to share his knowledge of travel to other worlds so that the cthonians could consume new types of races. In exchange, Hostilius would provide Zaros some of his legions. Hostilius attempted to trick Zaros by wording the contract so that the loyalty of the legions would fall to the eldest signatory. Zaros saw through the deception but said nothing as Hostilius was unaware of how much more ancient Zaros was. When the contract was signed, Hostilius lost all twelve of his legions which now fell under the command of Zaros. This gave Zaros what he needed to create his empire on Gielinor.

Loarnab[edit | edit source]

One of the first obstacles Zaros encountered on Gielinor was the hydra god known as Loarnab. With an army lead by Duke Nemesis, Loarnab was killed and turned into a power source.

Kharidian-Zarosian War[edit | edit source]

After defeating Loarnab, Zaros' empire grew to become the largest known in Gielinor's history. He invaded the Kharidian Lands resulting in a series of conflicts with the Menaphite pantheon. During this time, Zaros had also won the loyalty of the Mahjarrat who had previously worked for Icthlarin.

Contact with the Ilujanka[edit | edit source]

Zaros eventually encountered the Ilujanka, a race of lizard-like people from the world Iaia. Zaros became interested in their talents of being able to ride dragons. Thus, he recruited them into his ranks. In exchange for their service, he would seek out a cure for their infertility. Zaros would try many methods such as researching different types of plants for medicinal purposes.[1] He would also experiment with the creation of life by making the nihil race from icyene, vampyres, demons and aviansie. Though the result produced one of his most powerful generals known as Nex, Zaros considered the nihil to be meaningless. Although he was unsuccessful in his attempts to cure the Ilujanka's inferility, he still intended to uphold the promise by seeking out a way to transcend to elder godhood.[2]

Gielinorian God Wars[edit | edit source]

Main article: Gielinorian God Wars

The Zarosian Empire saw a significant downturn when Zamorak lead a coup and stabbed Zaros with the Staff of Armadyl. This caused Zaros to withdraw and lose his corporeal form. As a result, he was unable to fulfil the promise he made to the Ilujanka. Despite this, the Zarosian Empire continued to function well into the Third Age as a major contender during the Gielinorian God Wars.

The Temple of the Lost Ancients was a particularly eventful area for the Zarosian Empire. One such occurrence was the Battle for the Ritual Site, a campaign led in the Trollweiss Mountain area to secure an area to prepare for a Ritual of Rejuvenation. The leader of this campaign was a nihil named Nex. Despite the Zarosian Empire being far more powerful, they were outnumbered by Saradominist forces. They imprisoned Nex in an enchanted sleep and built the Temple of Lost Ancients around her though not without great losses.

Three thousand years later, the temple was once more a battleground, this time between the forces of Armadyl, Bandos, Saradomin and Zamorak as all sides fought to claim the Godsword for themselves. The Mahjarrat Sliske posed himself as a follower of Guthix and spoke with a group of Saradominists priests (among them was Ashuelot Reis) who had become deserters desperately looking to end the war by bringing back Guthix. But rather than bringing back the god of balance, the priests instead were tricked into reviving Nex. Although Nex was not at full power, it still took the combined efforts of the other factions to defeat Nex though they only succeeded at sealing her beyond a frozen door.

Decline[edit | edit source]

Through the combined efforts of Zamorak and Saradomin, the Zarosian Empire was destroyed. Very little of it remains today. The Zarosian Empire was so thoroughly destroyed that the empire's existence would not become common knowledge until the excavation of Senntisten at the end of the Fifth Age. Before then, it became a bit of a taboo to utter the name of Zaros as it was a superstitious belief that saying his name would give him power.

Legacy[edit | edit source]

Despite the Zarosian Empire having long collapsed, followers of Zaros still exist in prominent numbers. The denizens of the Bandit Camp are loyal followers while many Zarosian Mahjarrat are still alive. A sizable army commanded by an Illujanka named Vindicta has invaded the Heart of Gielinor fighting with the followers of Sliske, Seren and Zamorak over the source of the Anima Mundi.

Government[edit | edit source]

The throne room located in Senntisten, the centre of government of the Zarosian Empire.

The Zarosian Empire was a theocracy with the worship of Zaros being the sole accepted religion. Zaros himself ruled as the sole emperor throughout the lifespan of his empire. Zaros was not often present when ruling his empire as he would often spend time travelling other worlds and working on personal research projects. In his absence, he would often delegate his rule to the Zarosian dukes. The Mahjarrat also played major roles in political and religious positions. Azzanadra took the role of Pontifex Maximus, the head of the church. Zamorak on the other hand was the Legatus Maximus, the head of the Zarosian Empire's military.

Much of the Zarosian Empire's government was run from its capital city of Senntisten. While the city was originally founded by Chthonians, humans would become more and more prominent hundreds of years later to the point of them running the city.[3]

Royalty[edit | edit source]

  • Emperor - The head of the empire was none other than Zaros himself. Even after Zaros' disappearance at the end of the Second Age, there was never another emperor that took his place.
  • Duke - A high position of power that is considered second to Zaros himself. They were the direct owners of the legions.
  • Priest-King - A position of power that became especially significant after the disappearance of Zaros. One such Priest-King was named Dagroda who ordered the evacuation of Senntisten after its fall to Saradominist and Zamorakian armies.
  • Matriarch - Rulers of individual settlements. One such Matriarch was Lamarinta who ruled over Ghorrock. This position of power survived until after the end of the Gielinorian God Wars long after the Zarosian Empire's collapse.

Settlements[edit | edit source]

The Zarosian Empire was divided into many different settlements. The majority of them are military bases that established the expansive reach of the empire.

Culture[edit | edit source]

Citizens of a variety of different races all intermingled in the Zarosian Empire. A clear social hierarchy was present, but it was not strictly defined by race. Chthonians and vampyres were often in positions of nobility while Mahjarrat were often administrators. Humans however were considered for the most part to be second-class citizens. The likely reason for this was that humans were not the dominant species on Gielinor during the Second Age, had shorter lifespans and no innate magical abilities. The higher ranking cthonians had trouble telling humans and other lesser beings apart from one another. Despite this, the Zarosian Empire was still considered highly progressive for its time.[source needed] Anyone regardless of their social status could ascend the ranks through feats of merit so long as their loyalty was to Zaros. One notable example was a human named Viggora who would rise up to become a high-ranking general.

There did not appear to be religious tolerance in the Zarosian Empire. Religions such as the worship of Saradomin was outlawed. However, there did exist several cults within the confines of the Zarosian Empire. Among these included the Cult of Orcus which was apparently centred around the Chthonian of the same name. Another significant cult was Sombre Vigil which created flesh giants that served as siege engines.

Language[edit | edit source]

The primary language spoken in the Zarosian Empire was the Infernal Language. It was introduced by Zaros as a common language for the whole empire, and supposedly quickly supplanted the many tribal dialects that existed before[4]. There are however evidence, that suggest the language was not as universal as intended, as the common tongue still remained. Although the elite of Zarosian society mainly spoke Infernal, some of them including vampyres and Mahjarrat also learnt to speak and write in the common tongue.

The Infernal Language is still actively spoken today even among Zaros' adversaries such as Saradominists and Zamorakians. Not only does it have a reliable translation to common tongue, but the language is often used in various incantations and other forms of spellcasting.

Another language spoken in the empire was Old Forinthryan which was most likely used among the lower class. Unlike the Infernal language, Old Forinthryan does not have a perfect translation to common tongue as the language's dialectic idiosyncrasies are not fully understood.[5]

Curiously, a large majority of Zarosian settlements did not have names that appear to be based on the Infernal Language. It is not known what language they were based on but it is otherwise fairly clear that the Zarosian Empire was multilingual.

Education[edit | edit source]

Ancient globe journal.png

Zaros valued education and enlightenment and insisted that the people of the Zarosian Empire were educated. His intentions were however not carried out by his subordinates as it was considered economically impractical to educate humans in agricultural and industrial labour. Nevertheless approximately one in five was able to read and one in ten able to write, which surpassed other socities at the time.[6]

There were forums where a variety of skills were taught, for instance Lowerniel Drakan taught the concept of blood magic to large congregations.[7]

Art[edit | edit source]

Pontifex Maximus figurine journal.png

Due to both time and the Zarosian Extermination there are few remains of artwork left from the Zarosian Empire. Amongst the remains are quite a few examples of fine pottery and ceramics, as well as small figurines depicting important figures of Zarosian society, as well as some paintings depicting historical events. The 'Solem in Umbra' painting, for instance, was an artist's depiction of the battle between Zaros and Tumeken.

Theatrical performances were a common form of entertainment in many different forms including plays and ballets. Sliske was a notable playwright and would use magic masks to puppeteer actors that were often poor people. Any deaths that would occur during the play’s story would also occur for real as the weapons were not props. Even after the actor was killed on stage, the magic mask would continue to control their corpse. [8] Another example was the demon Zebub's destruction of the city Onkhara, which was recreated as a ballet and performed on stage.

Architecture[edit | edit source]

The Ghorrock fortress, one of the best preserved examples of Zarosian architecture.

Architecture had fascinated Zaros ever since he first encountered the demon homeworld of Infernus aeons ago. Although most of the Zarosian settlements were destroyed, there are still architecture remaining from the Second Age. Some of the largest known constructions on Gielinor are of Zarosian design. There were many different styles of architecture in the Zarosian Empire. The Empty Throne Room, Nex's palace, Kharid-Et, Ghorrock and the Senntisten Insane Asylum are some of the best preserved examples of Zarosian architecture. Zaros had large aqueducts built to sustain the cities and expand the possibilities of agriculture. Similarly cloaca systems were also built to transport waste away from the cities, which helped reduced sickness as well as made use of the waste by processing it into useful substances. [9]

Religion[edit | edit source]

Azzanadra, the Pontifex Maximus or head of the Church of Zaros

The primary religion of the Zarosian Empire was the worship of the namesake god. Fate and control were the significant themes of Zarosian religion. Being able to trust in Zaros' greater plans was a major factor. Zaros was not always upfront with revealing his intentions and would guide others from the shadows. Although Zaros was both a god and an emperor to his people, he wished for mortals to be able to develop their full potential. Because of the relative lack of direct intervention on Zaros' part, many of his followers would have very different views as to his intentions. After the end of the Kharidian-Zarosian War, Zaros withdrew more from the empire, his absence caused people to begin referring to him as The Empty Lord, as his empty throne became a common symbol of Zaros' absence. Curiously although the title seems to be negative criticism of Zaros, prominent followers of him still occassionally refer to him as such. Likely, the various religious leaders of the empire took it upon themselves to interpret the will of Zaros in their own way, not always adhering to Zaros' direct words. As such, religion in the Zarosian Empire both during and after is reign was known to have numerous sects and variants on how to interpret Zaros' philosophy.

While Zaros was often considered evil by others outside the empire, Zaros himself was far more ambiguous in moral alignment. Rather than good and evil, morality was determined through consequentialism. That is, the moral worth of an action was determined solely through its consequences. Many mortal concepts such as revenge were foreign to him as Zaros was never a mortal. He was created by the Elder God Mah as an embodiment of the divine aspect of darkness. As such, his ways are extremely methodical and calculated.

Not everyone within the borders of the Zarosian Empire were worshipers of Zaros. Despite Zaros himself being very understanding and tolerant of the views and beliefs of others, the same level of tolerance was not always observed by his followers within the confines of his empire. One could face imprisonment for preaching Saradominist views, but would become accepted back into society upon conversion to Zarosianism.

Church of Zaros[edit | edit source]

The Church of Zaros was the empire's dominant religion. It had a complex structure of religious leaders. Because of the theocratic nature of the government, religious positions were often either equal to or higher ranking than positions of nobility. The Mahjarrat Azzanadra held the rank of Pontifex Maximus, the head of the church.[10] Azzanadra had the most contact with Zaros as well as the most knowledge of his research and history. As such, the Church of Zaros during its leadership under Azzanadra is thought to have held the closest resemblance to Zaros' true intentions.

  • Pontifex Maximus - The head of the church, a rank held by Azzanadra.
  • Pontifex - Leaders of the church. The most well-known of pontifices were typically Mahjarrat though other races could also hold the position.
  • Inquisitor - Inquisitors were servants of the church often tasked with investigating possible internal threats. The only known inquisitor was Kharshai.
  • Archbishop - An influential position of power often at the scope of a city. A human named Ayanetka was the Archbishop of Senntisten at some point.[11]
  • Bishop
  • Priest

Cult of Orcus[edit | edit source]

The Cult of Orcus was a religious order that existed within the Zarosian Empire. It was dedicated to Orcus the Necromancer, one of the Zarosian dukes. It has a presence in the fortress known as Kharid-et. Although Praetor Trindine expressed her suspicions of the cult's motives, especially due to their dabbling in necromancy, the members stationed at Kharid-et were ultimately loyal to Zaros, and assisted Trindine in protecting Kharid-et at the cost of their own lives.

Technology[edit | edit source]

Metallurgy[edit | edit source]

Imperial steel detail.png

The Zarosian Empire had forging methods that allowed them to utilise alloys such as Goldrune and Imperial steel. They also used early forms of iron such as Imperial iron and Third age iron. The high level of skill resulted in particularly strong weapons and armour, and the Zarosian army was well equipped. Some of the armour and weapons from the ancient empire is still usable or salvagable today. Torva armour is an example of some of the powerful and high quality armour that was invented in the Zarosian Empire.

Magic[edit | edit source]

Inquisitor staff detail.png

The Zarosian Empire integrated their magical capabilities into various forms of technology. The Zarosian Empire was perhaps most notable for their use of Ancient Magicks and Ancient Curses. This gave them access to powerful spells with a variety of uses such as combat and teleportation, teleportation being a troublesome branch of magic, that was only recently rediscovered in year 70 of the Fifth Age. Even today, various Zarosians as well as many different adventurers still make use of these spells and curses. The ancient elements: Smoke, shadow, blood and ice were the foundation for many kinds of magic developed and studied in the empire.

A pylon used to generate a defensive shield dome.

Remarkably, the majority of the surviving magic devices still work today even after millennia of disuse. One such technology was the use of pylons located within their strongholds that would generate defensive shield domes around the area. These pylons were powered by pylon batteries which could also be used to power Shadow Anchors that allowed the Shadow Realm to become more visible to others.

Magical technology was also used for security mechanisms. Special barriers could be used to restrict access to only those of certain military or religious ranks. A special pendant or seal would be used as a pass key in order to cross the barrier. Code-locked mechanisms that utilised switches themed after smoke, shadow, blood and ice were used as security mechanisms in locations such as prisons. Despite its sophistication, some prison custodians were known to frequently forget the combinations. The solutions to these codes were sometimes written down in a cryptic format in the event this would occur. Modern archaeologists were able to decipher one of these codes to be able to enter the Kharid-et prison block.

Timekeeping[edit | edit source]

The Zarosian Empire was highly familiar with astronomy. For day to day timekeeping, a timepiece which was akin to a portable sundial that would measure the position of the shadows cast by the sun. For long term timekeeping, the Zarosians had the means of predicting when the alignments of certain celestial bodies would occur. This implied the existence of a sophisticated calendar long before the establishment of the one primarily used in Gielinor today.

When it came time to conduct a Ritual of Rejuvenation, the Mahjarrat would observe a syzygy, a certain alignment of planets that would occur every five hundred years. While the syzygy did not have any inherit magical influence on the ritual, it served mostly as a means of keeping track of time for the long-lived Mahjarrat so that the rituals could be conducted at reasonable intervals between one another.

Even well after the Zarosian Empire's era, the use of celestial alignments remained commonplace among Zarosians to measure time. During Sliske's contest in the Sixth Age to kill the most gods, Sliske set a deadline for the end of the contest as the day of a solar eclipse by Zanaris onto Gielinor.

Medical[edit | edit source]

Vigorem vial journal.png

The Zarosian Empire had dedicated asylums to treat citizens suffering from mental health problems. One such asylum was located in modern-day Silvarea underneath where Gulvas Mansion stands today. One notable patient was a chthonian demon named Senecianus who was driven insane from the guilt of devouring a little girl named Rowena. Spells designed to cure such insanity were part of medical research efforts on the behalf of individuals such as the Mahjarrat Nabor.

Additionally, Zaros himself had experimented with various forms of plants to discover their medicinal purposes. His intent was to use them to research a cure for the Ilujanka's infertility though his attempts were unsuccessful.

Law enforcement[edit | edit source]

Sliske, the Praefectus Praetorio of the secret police.

Law enforcement in the Zarosian Empire was very strict. Major disciplinary action would be taken against any sort of insubordination or disloyalty. Lawbreakers would be held in a carcerem which means 'prison' in the Infernal language. One of these prisons was notably located in Kharid-et. Custodians were in charge of looking after prisoners.

Secret police[edit | edit source]

The secret police were enforcers in the Zarosian Empire.

Crime and punishment[edit | edit source]

Among some of the minor crimes were talking back to one's superiors or falling asleep on watch. Crimes of this scale warranted imprisonment for several months. It was also considered a crime for vampyres to overfeed. A common sentence for overfeeding was up to several months in prison. Treason and attempted assassination was considered one of the highest possible offenses. The demon Xil'gar Trog was guilty of treason received a sentence of imprisonment for eternity. Worship of Saradomin was outlawed within the Zarosian Empire's territories. An Icyene named Aurora was imprisoned for preaching the word of Saradomin with a sentence of five years. However, she was offered a chance to commute were she to convert to Zarosianism. [13]

In times of need such as food shortages, prisoners could sometimes be put to work as a means of earning their rations. In the case of a vampyre guilty of overfeeding, unleashing them to act as a venator would be considered though this would be considered equivalent to a death sentence.[14]

Imperial Law prohibited consuming humans, but it was poorly enforced, resulting in many of Senntisten's homeless being eaten.[15] One such example was the young orphan girl Rowena who was consumed by Senecianus, a Chthonian accountant who was overcome with hunger and subsequently driven insane.


Military[edit | edit source]

Zamorak as he appeared before ascending to godhood. He served as the Legatus Maximus.

The Zarosian Empire organised its military into legions each one owned by a duke. At the time of Zaros' initial invasion of Gielinor, a legion totalled 1728 soldiers.[16] Rank and file soldiers would often reside in camps, also known as castra. Some soldiers would occasionally have their families with them while living at these camps.

During training, soldiers would practice on dummies in the shape of a chthonian. To modern archaeologists, this was considered an odd choice as chthonians were normal citizens in the empire.

Legions would often carry a standard known as a Primis Elementis. They were considered important to a legion and to lose one was shameful.

Units[edit | edit source]

  • Legatus Maximus - The highest military rank of the Zarosian Empire. The only individual to ever hold this rank was Zamorak.
  • Legatus - Commanders of the legion
  • Tribune - Tribunes were lieutenants to the Legati
  • Praesul - Special rank given to the most favoured soldiers of Nex.
  • Centurion - Centurions were high-ranking officers.
  • Venator - Venators were scouts, hunters and spies. They often carried crossbows and daggers as they needed to travel light.
  • Legionary - Legionaries were the common footsoldier. They carried short swords known as gladii and square shields. They would wear armour most likely made of either Imperial steel, Third age iron or a combination of the two. They would use their shields to lock formations when facing opposing armies.

Races[edit | edit source]

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Update history[edit | edit source]

This information has been compiled as part of the update history project. Some updates may not be included - see here for how to help out!

Trivia[edit | edit source]

  • The symbol of the Zarosian Empire resembles a Celtic cross.
  • The Zarosian Empire takes heavy inspiration from the real world Roman Empire through its use of similar iconography and terminology.
    • The primary language spoken in the Zarosian Empire is identical to Latin[17], also used by the Roman Empire.
    • Zaros as well as his betrayal has parallels to the real world Roman emperor Julius Caesar.
    • The war between the Zarosian Empire and Menaphos may be a reference to historical conflicts between Rome and Egypt during the reigns of Julius Caesar and Cleopatra VII respectively.
  • Until the release of Kharid-et with the Archaeology skill, no two settlements in the Zarosian Empire started with the same letter. The developers likely intended to easily differentiate the destinations from one another as listed in the Ancient Magicks spellbook.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Azzanadra, "Desperate Times", RuneScape.
  2. ^ Zaros, "Fate of the Gods", RuneScape.
  3. ^ Ralvash, "Ralvash's memory", RuneScape.
  4. ^ Mizzarch, "Mizzarch's memory", RuneScape.
  5. ^ Jagex. "Roots in the Community." RuneScape Lores and Histories.
  6. ^ Mizzarch, "Mizzarch's memory", RuneScape.
  7. ^ Jagex. "The Old Blood." RuneScape Lores and Histories.
  8. ^ Ralvash, "Ralvash's memory", RuneScape.
  9. ^ Mizzarch, "Mizzarch's memory", RuneScape.
  10. ^ Jhallan, "Jhallan's memory", RuneScape.
  11. ^ The Book of Zaros, written by Ayanetka, RuneScape.
  12. ^ Jhallan, "Jhallan's memory", RuneScape.
  13. ^ Custodian's log page 2, written by Stepan Jovkai, RuneScape.
  14. ^ Custodian's log page 4, written by Stepan Jovkai, RuneScape.
  15. ^ Hazeel's memory, written by Hazeel, "Mahjarrat Memories", RuneScape. "There is a law in the empire against consuming humans, but I do not think they keep it very well, and I do not think Zaros is aware of the violation. There are many forces that keep the streets of Senntisten clear of the homeless, and not all of them are economic."
  16. ^ The Account of Aesa Fellsdottir (Part 1), written by Aesa Fellsdottir, "Barbarian Assault/Rewards", RuneScape. "Then a mighty stranger came to that place, and bargained for the loyalty of twelve dukes and their legions. Each legion comprised demonic soldiers numbering twelve times twelve times twelve."
  17. ^ Mod Rowley. "Fate of the Gods - FAQ." 25 March 2014. Recent Game Updates Forums.