The Emperor, and Past Emperors
Although His Gloriousness, The Emperor, is referred to as The First, The Last, The Only, it stands to reason that there must, at some point, been a time when there was not an Emperor. It is staunchly maintained by many of the Emperor's most solid supporters that He is immortal, this has never been independently confirmed.
Because of the rumours surrounding His life (or, at the very least, alleged lack of death), the Emperor's actual history is shrouded in a shroud of mystery, a shroud so shroudy that it shrouds all who would attempt to de-shroud it (paid for by the Circle Square Societie for the Promotione and Expositione of Shroudes).
The current Emperor Mar'kan II, is only middle-aged, after all. Not immortal. He has, in reality, a slight limp, waning eyesight, and a predilection for long naps in the afternoon. Make no mistake, though; his power is absolute. The slightest mention of his limp will earn the speaker a one-way trip to the dungeons, all expenses paid.
Emperor Mar'kan II ascended the Imperial throne in the Year of the Glib Marmot, a year that boded ill for politics throughout the Imperium. The Guild of Lawyers, Debaters, and Haberdasherers was dissolved by the outgoing Emperor in a fit of pique, while the Guild of Clerks, Secretaries, and Aides split up, citing creative differences. They reformed weeks later as the Guild of Clerks, Secretaries, and Executive Helpers, but were forced to split up again after three months of dismal reviews. The Guild of Clerks et al. has been in the business now for 308 years, 278 as other Guilds. The Clerks and Secretaries have, at various times, elected to admit the Joculators, Embalmers, Tool and Die Makers, Wastrels, and Mimeographers (a recent addition; using the awesome power of the Mime, precise, if highly interpretive, recordings of meetings and discussions can be kept for future use. An ideal solution, as it deals neatly with both the need for commercial accuracy and the regrettable glut of Mimes. Storage, however, remains a problem).
The Guild was split up again recently by the current Emperor after a recent Mime-o was misinterpreted as reading, "The Emperor is a funnel cake". Adjustments to suit this new state of affairs were made with commendable haste by the Guild, but it was not enough. The guild was dissolved, and the Mime put to death. They are looking to reform again in a few months, with the addition of the formidable Schoolmarm Union. No nonsense, it can be predicted, will be brooked.
The Emperor! His very name strikes fear into the hearts of his enemies, and awe into the hearts of his supporters. The current Emperor, to continue with a vein of discussion that was begun so long ago, ascended in the Year of the Glib Marmot. It was a rough year for many, particularly the previous Emperor, who, having been embroiled in a much alluded-to but never adequately explained scandal, was forced to step down, at great speed. He stepped down so fast, in fact, that he forgot to take the noose off of his neck. Lord High Executioner Langston Wordsworth, who happened to be present during the incident in question, said that His Highness "didn't notice" the noose until it was too late. They never do.
It is interesting to note that, despite the unanimous veneration of His Majesty's Divine Being, virtually all of the past Emperors met some violent or unpleasant end. The fourth Emperor, Meroving'ian, was found in his bedchamber, tarred, featherd, and waxed. This would not have been a problem but for the unfortunate happenstance that he had also been turned inside out. A note was pinned to his rather messy jacket. It read, "We don't like you. Signed, The People". His son, Meroving'ian II, was no better off. There was a regrettable yachting accident in which he was quite accidently drawn, quartered, and thrown into the sea. The fourteenth Emperor, Heroclites, attended the first ever operation of his marvellous invention, "the Killotine", where he suffered injuries that ultimately (and entertainingly) led to his death. The fifteenth Emperor, Adamantius, died peacefully in his sleep. This would no doubt warm the hearts of any interested listeners, were it not for the fact that he was in his early twenties at the time and in perfect health. The four hundred-odd passengers, waiters, and crewmen on his Imperial Yacht that stormy night were not nearly so lucky.
The only Emperor (thus far) to not die under tragic, not to say inevitable, circumstances was the second Emperor, Tarquin Superbus. He seized control from the first Emperor, Milarkus the Malcontent. Tarquin claimed afterwards that he was "sick of [Milarkus'] constant complaining". It was a bloodless coup, given that garroting seldom creates open wounds unless the assassin is young and inexperienced. With Tarquin, this was not the case.
The reason Tarquin Superbus survived to the ripe old age of 85, and died of natural causes, is because he resisted, throughout his life, the urgings of friends and enemies to step aside, regardless of how insistent these urgings were. Although he was a fair and thoughtful ruler, Tarquin was also, to put it bluntly, an unstoppable killing machine. A number of unsavoury characters attempted to remove him from power; all attempts met with failure, and tremendous laughter from those present.
A tribe of giant sea otters prevented the expansion of the Imperium to the east during the early years. While Milarkus had tried to achieve concorde with this brutal behemoths, all he succeeded in doing was reducing the supply of official Imperium messengers to near-critical levels. Tarquin, on the other hand, had a different approach in mind. The first night after being declard Emperor, Tarquin set off in a rowboat to the sea otters' island. He stormed those rocky shores with nothing more than a sneer and a spar of driftwood. The next morning, seven hundred otters lay dead and Tarquin had built a dock to receive ships, cabins to house workers, and a tavern that he could get roaringly drunk in. This exemplifies Tarquin's famous motto, "Vinae! NUNC!", a stirring reminder of the glory of bygone days.
Although the Imperium is currently enjoying the rule of its seventeenth Emperor, one wonders how long such a system can last. But one shouldn't. His Terrificality, The Emperor, Is Manifest.