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Austria, 1867 (ON THE BLUE DANUBE): Franz Josef I. becomes emperor of Austria at only 18 years of age in 1848. He seeks to fortify his rule, but losses in the Italian war of 1859 and the Seven-Weeks War against Germany force him to accept the Austro-Hungarian Compromise in 1867. As ruler of the now dual monarchy, Franz Josef questions the future of his empire (GODS OF WAR).


His only son, crown prince Rudolf, mentally unstable throughout his life and ever longing for the love of his mother empress Elizabeth, suffers a breakdown in 1889 at castle Mayerling in an incident where he kills his lover, Mary Vetsera (LOVE YOU TO DEATH).


History takes a different turn that night, however, as Rudolf himself survives the night and, over the next decade, slowly succumbs to his madness. In 1898, empress Elizabeth is assassinated in Geneva. Riven by grief over never winning his mother’s affection, Rudolf’s madness takes over, and he begins dabbling in dark magic. At the same time, Hungarian-born Erik Weisz, known to the world as Harry Houdini, begins his professional career in magic in 1891, traveling the world in search of ways to improve his illusions with actual sorcery (MAGIC).


Aside from his research in magic, Rudolf is also intrigued by the scientific works of Nikola Tesla, originally hailing from Serbia. Rudolf invites Tesla to Europe, where he spends a lot of time working with him on experiments while gradually descending deeper into his insanity (DARKNESS WITHIN).

In 1914, the emperor’s nephew Franz Ferdinand and his wife are assassinated in Sarajevo. The emperor is left with no choice, and has to declare war against Serbia, ultimately starting World War I (A.E.I.O.U.).

The Great War is not going too well for the Austrian empire. Rudolf, now fully immersed in his studies of the occult and technology, learns about mystical orders in the world, and the rituals of the Goetia. He is contemplating ways to combine the forces of magic and technology to turn the tides of the war in favour of the empire (VIRIBUS UNITIS).


Ultimately, he decides to try to resurrect the murdered empress Elizabeth in an effort to boost morale for the Austrian troops. He carries out the ritual in the royal tombs, while Nikola Tesla continues and finishes his work in aid of the Austrian empire in Vienna. The ritual however goes awry, and while empress Elizabeth is resurrected, she is possessed by a demon upon her resurrection, and raises an army of undead to march against all the living instead of aiding the Austrian empire in its war effort (GOLDEN DAWN).


The war takes a different turn, and now the forces of mankind have to battle the Empress of the Damned and her army of the undead in order to survive. In 1916, at the height of the war, emperor Franz Josef is struck by pneumonia and on his deathbed. Rudolf and Tesla abduct the old emperor from his room, and pronounce his death, allowing Rudolf to assume the throne as new emperor. Meanwhile, Nikola Tesla transfers the dying remains of emperor Franz Josef into a specifically created mechanical suit in order to send him into battle as a figurehead and way to combat the undead Empress, thus turning him into Cyberpunk Joseph (MADE OF METAL).


Harry Houdini arrives in Vienna in hopes of undoing Rudolf’s magic rituals, but his efforts are in vain. Realizing what Rudolf has done, he uses his own white magic to bring some clarity back to the mind of the new emperor. Rudolf, ultimately realizing the errors of his ways, activates the mightiest of Tesla’s contraptions: He turns the empirical residence of castle Schönbrunn into a gigantic flying fortress named “Figaro”. The war culminates in a true “Battle Royale” with the undead Empress Sisi fighting her Cyberpunk husband Franz Josef, and Rudolf realizes the only way to banish the demon possessing his mother is by sacrificing his own life, as he had been the one to open the gate to the nether world and summon it in the first place. He sees that the dynasty of the Habsburg emperors is at an end, and crashes the Flying Fortress Figaro onto the battlefield, annihilating the Empress of the Damned, Cyberpunk Joseph and himself in doing so, reducing the Austrian monarchy to ash (BATTLE ROYALE).


Upon the demise of the Empress of the Damned, the remaining undead fall and the war comes to an end; and the rest, as they say, is history… but stories of the Habsburg monarchy will still be told in years to come (LEGENDS NEVER DIE).

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