After the defeat of Gbaji in 450, Arkat place Dragon Pass under the rule of his troll friends and then returned to the West. He then settled in Fornoar, at the time considered part of Ralios. There he remained, surrounded by his companions, his wives, and his beloved children – the trolls. He gave nearby Guhan to his First Hundred as a stronghold. Arkat was no longer trollish, but he was feared and his shadow darkened the lands. For many years he remained in Ralios, and a curious empire formed around him. He taught those that came to sit around him, and enforced a strict moral code for his followers.
After Arkat’s apotheosis, his followers – called Archons – kept the peace, continued Arkat’s teachings, and guarded his secrets. The Dark Empire, as it was known, was highly pluralistic – although the “state religion” was that of Arkat and his teachings, most of the population followed different cults – Darkness, Lightbringers, Earth cults, Hykimi, and even Solar cults were all welcome, as were Hrestoli and even Brithini. For over a century, the Archons kept peace in Ralios and the surrounding lands.
This changed in 680 when Jrusteli armies were carried to Seshnela by Waertagi ships and ended the Seshnegi civil war. The Jrusteli and their God Learner sorcerers quickly came into conflict with the Dark Empire. The God Learners sought Arkat’s secrets and the Dark Empire was forced to become an empire in truth and not just in name. In 740, after 60 years of war, the Kingdom of Seshnela, aided by the Return to Rightness Army, defeated the Dark Empire and destroyed the Cult of Arkat. The God Learners blocked off access to Statham Well in the Hero Plane, and Arkat could no longer be communicated with. His secrets were pillaged and plundered.
Now some nine centuries later, there are many branches of Arkatism, formed during the long period of occlusion and isolation.
The Arkat cult is millennialist – Arkat saved the world from Gbaji and he will return to defeat Gbaji again. Until then, his archons carry his message forward and rule in his place. However, the evil God Learners have trapped Arkat and prevent us from communicating with him. With the destruction of the Dark Empire, there is no single recognized group of archons, but instead a myriad of secret networks.
When the Middle Sea Empire collapsed in the late Second Age, some of these secret networks claimed power, usually with the backing of allied Lightbringer or troll tribes. But by now each network or sect had incompatible beliefs and tenants. Some claimed to be stewards for the archons (or even Arkat’s return), others claimed to be archons appointed by Arkat, and some even claimed to be the herald of Arkat’s return. Sects fought with sects, only for the Seshnegi to briefly reconquer the region and for the cycle to repeat.
And of course most of the population just continues their traditional worship of the Invisible God, the Lightbringers, Troll Gods, or whatever.
Although much of what these secret networks espouse may seem nonsense, especially as Arkat cannot be communicated with to confirm or deny it, they have power because of Arkat’s legacy. He was THE greatest Hero-with-a-capital-H of all time. Everyone recognises this – his allies the Hrestoli, the Lightbringers, and the trolls, and his enemies the Solar worshipers, the Hsunchen, the dwarfs, and of course those few civilised Chaos cults that are capable of recalling the past.
In Peloria, Arkatism is pretty irrelevant, outside of a lingering fear of it in and around Dorastor. Arkat is acknowledged as a great hero by the Talastari, Skanthi, and in Aggar, but has no cult – just a lot of respect and fear.
In the Holy Country, there is the House of Black Arkat in Arkat’s Hold which is a very old remnant of when Arkat’s friends and followers ruled Dragon Pass and the Shadowlands. It has managed to survive over a thousand years since the Tax Slaughter – and is rumoured to have been in secret communications with the Dark Empire in the Second Age. But for many centuries it has been completely out of contact with Ralios.