History of the Lands
1 I.R. (Imperial Reckoning) – Formation of the First Imperium
Kalos the Brazen, one of the first truly devoted to the malign goddess Vix, first gained support of his own tribe by publicly murdering the old chief. Several warriors attempted to remove him from power, but Kalos killed them first then their family as retaliation. Many complete clans were eliminated by the time Kalos had consolidated his rule. His style of rule favored the strong and, in turn, his people became as iron. Eventually, the ruling of one tribe was not enough to satisfy him, so Kalos began a series of wars against the neighboring tribes until all the lands of men in Southern Oras were under his dominion. A system of feudalism was developed to better help him administer the newly conquered lands, with himself and his closest allies at the top and the oppressed, conquered people at the very bottom. Martial spirit was instilled into his people and those that reacted favorably were allowed entry into the warrior class. These warriors were heavily indoctrinated with the will of Kalos and his goddess Vix and worked tirelessly to ensure order was maintained above all else.
578 I.R. – Fall of the First Imperium
After many centuries these warriors became complacent, often acting like petty lords over small chunks of land. Eventually this complacency gave way to dissent, then dissent to rebellion; while the original revolt was by warriors who greedily wanted more land and money for their services, it soon spread to the oppressed commoners who wanted nothing but fire and death for their overlords. Had it spread slowly, the Imperium might’ve been able to repulse the peasants, but it came so strong and so suddenly that there was nothing the lords could do. They watched helplessly as their gluttonous retainers were slaughtered and the pent up energy of hundreds of years of oppression was released. By the time of the rebellions end, all of the Imperium was free save for the area around the Imperial City of Vixarc. Most of the Imperial family and their allies were slaughtered and their armies were completely defanged.
The First Interimperium Period
It took years before the lands become prosperous again, but eventually people repopulated once desolate areas and trade began in earnest. It was during this time that the five nation-states began to develop. At first the towns became cities, then the cities became city-states. These city-states expanded their power over nearby regions until they held great tracts of land and prestige. Soon the nations of Altria, Acea, and Celta grew an early version of national identity, though most people identified more with their town than their nation. Even Kalos, reduced to a mere kingdom, began to trade and advance themselves quietly.
752 I.R. – Formation of the Second Imperium
Terrigad the Deceiver, tired of being a mere king, set out early in his reign to remake the Imperium of his forefathers. His legions became strong and well-equipped, but instead of declaring and conquering all of the lands at once he instead created a mighty coalition between all of the nation-states save Acea. He convinced the other kings that they had grown too fat on trade and their wine-making monopoly. Avarice took hold and the kings demanded their fair share, but Acea would not give up its well-earned riches. They fielded a mighty mercenary force with the money they had earned and the war was long and costly, but the combined might of Kalos and their allies was too much. As the armies celebrated, agents from Kalos quietly slipped into the various camps and murdered almost all of the other officers and leaders. The soldiers awoke with a new master and new orders to conquer their former lands. There was some resistance at first, but after a third of the enemy was executed there were no more questions. The other soldiers were scattered into the Kalos legions so they could have no chance at unification against them. With no more professional armies, the kingdoms could only watch in horror as Kalos once again assumed the mantle of Imperium.
Terrigad, worried that another uprising would occur, organized his forces in such a way that each conquered land maintained an Imperial Army in their capitol rather than scattered forces across the land. This way it was easier to drill them constantly and ensure that discontent did not have a chance to ferment.
Despite many changes to the organization of his troops and the land of his subjects, there was still a problem that had yet to be anticipated: succession. While historically the imperium passed titles down from father to eldest son (sometimes daughters) there was usually very little family unrest due to sibling infighting leaving only one of two possible (and strong) heirs. In addition, previous Imperators had to be very involved with the actual running of the state but new advances such as writing and arithmetic led the the creation of an advanced bureaucracy that could virtually run itself. This led to a decrease in the attention spent on the state by the Imperial family and an increase in more leisurely activities like hunting and dueling. By not actively hunting each other, the royal family grew large and bloated.
1346 I.R. – Fall of the Second Imperium
It all came apart during the reign of Demalos III. It was customary for the Imperator to designate two heirs, so if one died then there would be an immediate backup. Very often this was used by Imperators to place many people in the line of heirship as a way of bestowing favors. On a return voyage from his summer palace on the island of Tezerine, a sudden storm came from the west and sank the entire royal fleet; not a single personal survived. Not only was the Imperator on board, but all of his had perished as well, despite each taking their own boat. Horror turned to suspicion and suspicion turned to war as each of the surviving family members either blamed someone else for the murders (as they were being viewed as) or fought for control for the throne. Despite all of the heirs being killed, there was still one daughter, Valeria, that had not perished but she was a bastard child. She also was a Sorcerer in the Mycrean Islands to the west and had no formal claim to the throne, but that did not stop her from trying to force herself as Imperator. The civil war was long and bloody, with various family members tying themselves to the various provinces with Valeria leading Kalos. Many of the legions had their own idea of who was Imperator and aligned themselves accordingly, with generals often usurping the family member trying to push their claim.
The Second Interimperium Period
It took nearly two decades, but eventually all of the armies were exhausted and each of the provinces settled into being content with independence. Even the island of Tezerine, once the personal land of the Imperator, declared itself free from Kalos and established a republic (though there are very few “citizens” that can vote). It was during this time that the fortifications that dot the land were established, as well the Imperial Arcanium,. Despite the fact that the Imperium had broken apart, Valeria and her descendants refused to let the title disappear; to them the Imperium was alive and well, though with much less land.
Trade spread through most of the land with one major exception: Kalos. Despite the food surplus and large amounts of raw materials, none of it was allowed to leave the Imperial Province. The port cities were no longer used for trade as they had been converted to military dry-docks dedicated to naval research. Gold still came in from mines to the north, but none of it flowed to the other nations. Trade not focused on the island of Tezerine, a midpoint between Celta to the east and the other kingdoms to the west. Even dwarven and elven goods began to show up in the fledgeling republic who enjoyed its new status as a mercantile people. Wealth and prestige flowed in causing jealousy in Kingdom.
1570 I.R. – Formation of the Third Imperium
It was another two centuries before Valeria III had enough of the kingdoms being independent. Through the years of hoarding raw materials, the other nations had become more reliant on trade than ever to field their armies and fill their bellies so when Kalos established a blockade of Tezerine there was great alarm. While it seemed like an act of war, this was actually the Tezerine merchants bartering for the greatest deal they could get; exclusive trading rights throughout the empire for the island’s most prosperous of trading guilds. While the kingdoms still had plenty of domestic food, it was other raw materials that began to take effect on them. After several decades of vital shortages, the other kingdoms decided that they had enough of Kalos and declared war together. They expected a quick campaign as Kalos had a war on three fronts, but they did not expect what they found.
Kalos had spent the years leading to this confrontation fortifying their posistions across the whole of the country. A line of forts and fortifications ran along both her east and west borders. Even a less dense line of forts ran along the coast, but the navy did the rest there. Not only that, but the legions of Kalos were also outfitted with the finest equipment available at great expense to their stockpiles of resources. Steel plate armor and weapons adorned the armies, as well as the finest bows and fine-tuned logistics. Even magical warfare, a first for the region, was used to great success for Kalos. The enemy armies found themselves fighting a mighty wall with naught but bare fists. After they had bloodied themselves upon the Kalos legions, the legions pushed back and easily routed the enemy. The rout turned into destruction as, once again, Kalos conquered all of her old territory.
Valeria III had worried about the dissolution of the imperium long before she had reconquered it, thus she had a plan ready to organize the lands. Knowing that fear or avarice alone would not be enough, she created a system that endures. Every province would be ruled by a viceroy appointed by the Imperator and be made up of several duchies, each ruled by a duke who would be appointed by the Imperium. Each duchy would be split into multiple counties, each ruled by a Count and appointed by the viceroy. Counts would then appoint any other local positions. Every level would have their loyalty enforced by bribes and by Imperial representatives who were authorized to maintain obedience by any means. Each county would also maintain a legion barracks with its size dependent on the size and value of the land. Tezerine, while still subject to the legion barracks, did not have as many of the other restrictions placed on it.