|“||For among the battle-hardened youth there shall rise the Fortold, the Greatest Emperor, scourge of our enemies, commander of a host most devastating. And the Empire shall be made whole.||”|
500 years ago, a warrior named Taius united the fractured martial clans and swept down from the north, crushing Scholar Empire. He named himself Emperor and established his dynasty. He was called the Masked One, after the silver mask he wore to scare off his enemies.
The Augurs saw in their visions that Taius's line would fail one day. When that day came, the Augurs would choose a new Emperor through a series of physical and mental tests also known as the Trials. Taius did not appreciate this prediction but the Augurs managed to assure him. On that account, the Augurs raised Blackcliff and began training students.
Known as Trial of Courage, this Trial puts a strain on Aspirant's personal fear. Elias Veturius fears bloody war therefore he is sent to the Great Wastes where he encounters the haunting vision of his future. Helene Aquilla fears of height so she is sent to an altitudinous vulture's nest. Marcus and Zak Farrar fear water and tight spaces respectively. Their destination is Blackcliff's belltower and the Trial ends during sunset on seventh day. The winner for this Trial is Marcus Farrar and the prize given is a dagger.
Otherwise known as Trial of Cunning, this Trial tests Aspirant's wits. The location of this Trial is at Blackcliff where they fight with various enemies such as wraiths, legionnaires, scorpions, viper and wights until dawn. The key to survive is to find the enemy's weakness. The winner for this Trial is Helene Aquilla and the prize given is a special armor crafted by the Augurs.
This Trial stretches Aspirant's strength, ergo it is named Trial of Strength. They are each given a platoon of men to fight one-to-one among themselves. The rules are no battle armor and the battle will end when one defeats or is defeated by the leader of the opponent. Elias's opponent is Helene while Marcus's is his own twin, Zak. This Trial is won by Marcus and Elias. However, despite the rule, Helene did not die in the battle because of the nondetachable armor given to her after winning the second Trial. She is thus disqualified from the third Trial due to an honest error.
This final Trial is known as Trial of Loyalty. This Trial takes place at Blackcliff amphitheater where they race to execute Laia in front of the crowds. Once the Augur tells them to proceed, Helene knocks Marcus out so that Elias can kill her. Instead of killing Laia, Elias defends her. Marcus who has gained his consciousness on the other hand takes the chance to put her to death. Due to this, Marcus Farrar is the official winner for the fourth Trial and therefore the Trials. He is then declared as the new Emperor, Helene Aquilla - the Blood Shrike and Elias Veturius - the loser.