While the Overlord’s rule is absolute, the Empire is too large for Kyros to directly control everyone. Instead, Kyros grants authority over different parts of the Empire to the Archons, who are, essentially, second to Kyros himself. Some Archons are governors of provinces or military districts, others control important groups like armies, mage guilds, or specialized agents like the Fatebinders. All are people who wield immense power. It is also a title in Kyros' hierarchy (the rank immediately and distantly below the Overlord).
In modern times every living Archon either swears fealty to Kyros or lives the nasty, brutish, and short life of a hunted animal. Each Archon is granted limited autonomy over their area of control. As long as they serve Kyros’ goals and do not break any of the Overlord’s laws, Kyros permits the Archons to rule their armies and provinces in a manner of their choosing. Because of this, the Archons and the groups they control will often clash with one another. The Fatebinders were created by Tunon the Adjudicator, Archon of Justice, to solve these problems.
No one knows how Archons gain their strength. Some Archons were born to power and privilege. Others were beggars in the street before their powers manifested. The only common thread among Archons is that they serve Kyros. Or they die. Few Archons have appeared in the latter decades of the Overlord’s rule. If one believes the legends of the time before Kyros, new Archons arose every few decades. These new Archons, called Exarchs, would challenge the current Archon of their powers for dominance. The most famous of these legends tells of a young exarch challenging the Sun Queen, Archon of Fire. Their battle lasted for days and created the Scar, a miles-wide swath of destruction that persists to this day, centuries later.
In Kyros' Empire, Archons are permitted to lead as they see fit. The Adjudicator's Court bears little resemblance to Iron Hearth, for example, and less to Cacophony. The Overlord codifies this as the Right of Privilege: so long as an Archon remains loyal to the Overlord and upholds the legal code, Kyros grants them significant freedom to rule their dominion as they see fit. As a result, some territories seem wildly different from others. They say that were you to travel the length of Terratus, you'd find yourself in a different empire every span. Only the Overlord's law unites them. In a way, the legal code - and by extension, Tunon's Court of Fatebinders - is the blood coursing through the empire's veins, the order that makes civilization possible.
Over time, an Archon's relationship to their territory can grow deeper than we can imagine. The line between them and their land blurs. Fatebinder Rhogalus is partial to the story of Moramus of the Mire, but Cairn and the Stone Sea are even more explicit. Lingering Edicts aren't exactly rare, and they shape the lands even as the Archon administrators do... and even as the lands shape the Archons.
The true measure of an Archon is not some sort of birthright, but their life and achievements: An Archon becomes one through belief. As the future Archon grows confident in their power and more importantly, the people who surround them start to believe in their power, it increases organically. For example, Graven Ashe did not became the Archon of War immediately: He was originally an illiterate, but talented military leader of one of the Northern militias. His charisma and notoriety resulted in him becoming an Exarch and gaining the ability to assuage the burdens of his soldiers with his mere presence. As he took on a mantle of power and became known all around Terratus as the new Archon of War, that ability expanded to bearing the physical burdens of his men, not just their fears and doubts.
While all Archons possess magical powers, there is no other common thread between these women and men. An Archon might be made of fire, capable of conjuring storms, or able to heal with a touch - the only defining trait of an Archon is that this magic power originates from within. It is unclear how Archons come into their powers, but it is generally understood that most grow into or develop magical power throughout their lives, with only a few notable exceptions (such as Sirin, Archon of Song) having shown powers seemingly from birth.
Mages view Archons as the pioneers of magic, as any and all spells that 'mere mages' (that is, non-Archons) can cast all work by tapping into the power of an Archon that has come before - an act often referred to a signing a spell or invoking a sigil. For example, the Earthshaker Guild developed their earth-controlling spells from Cairn, Archon of Stone, while many of the Blood Chanter spells of frenzy and fear are adapted from the power of Sirin, Archon of Song. As there have been many Archons to wield similar powers (at least a half dozen Archons of Fire are known through history) it is possible that two mages might invoke different Archons to accomplish similar effects.
It seems most likely that, while there is a clear distinction between mortal, Exarch, and Archon, the domain of an archon is a subjective assignment. Clearly Exarchs can coexist with Archons of the same domain/element; Graven Ashe was an Exarch and general and fought the previous Archon of War Blood Ruin. But they clearly presided over very different ideas of what War was; it doesn't seem clear that, before he became known as the Archon of War, Ashe was an Exarch of War. Just as likely he was an Exarch of Leadership or Exarch of Command. However, "the" Archon of something inspires more awe and fear than one of several, so it benefits both the Archons and Kyros herself to give them each specific titles. It's unclear if the idea an Archon is associated with has an effect on what magic they acquire; certainly the physical burdens Graven Ashe was able to take on as an Archon are more appropriate to an Archon of War than other ways his powers could have expanded, e.g. an ability to share skills between his followers, but they also could have expanded in even more appropriate ways, e.g. letting each soldier strike with the strength of all their nearby comrades. If the name does shape their power, this would provide one more lever for Kyros to use to keep her Archons in line.
Dozens of Archons currently bow to Kyros’ will, including:
- Tunon the Adjudicator (Justice)
- Graven Ashe (War)
- The Voices of Nerat (Secrets)
- Bleden Mark (Shadows)
- Sirin (Song)
- Pox (Ruin)
- Orphan Midwife (Rebirth)
- Ranna, Nirabel, and Slayr (Frost)
The Young Fatebinder will become an Archon when Act III begins; whether they bow to Kyros's will is up to them...
- Thousand Embers (Fire)
- Cairn (Stone)
- Occulted Jade (Tides)
- Nox Mirea (Pestilence)
- Rin (Lightning)
- Blood Ruin (War)
- Moramus of the Mire (Fungus)
- Sun Queen (Fire)
|How the Mighty Have Fallen||Defeat each of the Archons in a single playthrough of the game.|