Empires fall, but seldom all at once. They fall slowly, piece by piece. Barbarians mass on the borders. Unrest builds in the capital. Weak rulers poison strong ones. The army wins battles but loses provinces. The collapse can take years. Afterward, no one is able to pinpoint the precise moment when the old order failed. There was no single moment. There was only an epoch of decline, followed by the spreading realization that what used to be the empire has now become something else.