Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Bartus Augustin is the God of the Sacred Empire (sometimes, wrongly, called God-Emperor); he officially claims no other portfolio as his own, but supporters (and critics) often name him as a God of Warfare and Conquest and Aristocracy and Autocracy, of Bread and Circuses, of Imperial Splendour and Ceremony.
Bartus began life as the mortal heir to his father’s – Kagan Agistan’s – freshly religious, zealous nomadic warband. Agistan had converted to Urakan’s faith after being persuaded not to sack a famed monastery; and devoted himself to the religion thereafter. Bartus, educated by zealous recruits from civilised lands, was a departure from nomad tradition as well as an ambitious man. He spent years exploring the Wastes of Arbina deeper than any had penetrated, and there he claimed to have fought demons, found holy artefacts, and been granted visions of glory and prophecy that he was to be the founder of a new Empire.
The schism that rocked the faith in those early days is a historical footnote in modern Taan; but Bartus’ wars become holy wars of conquest, and by the time his life was ending he was an Emperor in all but name. He called a Great Assembly of the nomad clans and pleaded with them to name him an Emperor instead of merely a Kagan, so that his lands would not be divided amongst his sons and generals on his death; it is said that he was encompassed in a holy aura and changed from old, frail man to a youthful incarnate deity in front of the Assembly, and they unanimously agreed to swear loyalty to him as Emperor.
Bartus, however, named his youngest son as the Emperor, and named his lineage the house Augustin, after Bartus’ father; and ruled as the young child’s Regent for a decade, enacting the key legal and land reforms and dispersing the unlanded nomads who’d brought him to power, changing the ancient nomadic warlords and their collections of tributary city-states, into a mighty foundation for a centralised global Empire.
Though often called the God-Emperor or First Emperor, Bartus has technically never been Emperor – though he has ruled at times when the incumbent cannot, but has only ever accepted the title of regent.
Although not a ruler himself, Bartus of course remains incarnate, dispensing advice to the Imperial Throne, sometimes leading armies, sometimes leading building projects or voyages of discovery, sometimes preaching and dictating new holy texts; he remains an integral part of, symbol of, and enabler of the Empire.
His church stresses fealty to Urakan Invictus, as the overdeity, and the importance of unity under the banner of Urakan’s Empire. Bartus’ role is as a local guardian and protector, and prayers directed to him are for the purer, mortal, immediate matters of life in the Empire – he is closer to a governor than an Emperor, in that regard. His temples are generally smaller and plainer than churches dedicated to Urakan, and any grand temple or cathedral to Bartus includes a grand and ornate shrine to Urakan as well. On the occasions where Bartus – who is very fond of pomp and ceremony, and even whose supporters cannot say is humble or modest – appears at services in his own temples, he insists on a humbling personal supplication at the shrine of Urakan, and a minute’s silent prayer.