In 680AI Emperor Masar III died suddenly leaving a question of ascendency. It was widely believed that Masar III would appoint his advisor and life-long friend Morit Heightener as sovereign-overseer until an appropriate heir could be established. However, he died before making this declaration. Having no direct heir himself, the bloodline fell to his brother-in-law, Reginor Locke, according to many. Others claimed that Locke’s marraige to the emperor’s sister, Marisai Hayle, meant Locke’s son / Masar III’s nephew Engles Barton Hayle was the rightful heir. Hayle was a boy of 15 at the time and, although legally old enough to ascend, he lacked the political savvy to defeat his uncle.
In a complicated web of graft and coercion, Locke managed to secure the throne. It became rapidly apparent that Locke was not a stable man. History tells us that he was a legendary drinker and a poor tactician. The proof can be found in his campaign against the Ma-kraw chieftan Riverbrood from 683-685AI. Half-seas over for the entire campaign, the battles were a significant loss to the Imperials in what should have been a short series of skirmishes. Far overextending his men into Makranar, Locke was beaten back again and again. Eventually a more seasoned general, one Mollix Kon of Kyr-Bannon, stepped in and finished the campaign.
Returning home in 685AI to less-than hero status, Locke’s reputation began to diminish with the people and his standing with the Register also faltered. Over the next year, Locke became a symbol of corruption and greed. The nobility lost significant standing with the people. After being rebuffed several times by the Register, Locke actually ordered a regiment of foot soldiers to surround the Registry. This action was the final straw.
For the first time ever, the Registry used their ability to legally depose an Emperor on 7 Hashin 686AI. Locke responded by gathering to his side several loyal nobles. In the meantime, the High Register voted to place Hayle, now 23 and a seasoned soldier trained as a Partisan, on the throne. For the next two years, Locke consolidated his forces and used his legendary charisma to stir discontent among the noble houses.
On 29 Amelon 688AI, Locke and Hayle first met in combat on Allysi Field, south-east of Masagar. There, in the heavy snow of the early new-year, the two sides fought to decide the fate of the Empire. On one side, the Register and Hayle, and on the other Locke and his traitors. Hayle was clearly the better tactician and though he eventually won, the cost of life was tremendous. Over 11 days and three battles, 20,000 men lost their lives.