The Empire of the Sun
Ruler: Shezar Sendeyvrian, Empress
Primary Race: Human
Primary Language: Imperial Common
Regional Bonus: Glory Waning - As the Empire diminishes, more and more of her people turn to the divine for hope, giving you a +2 racial bonus to Diplomacy and Knowledge [Religion].
Regional Feat:Thahtma's Hammer
Dedicated to the glory of the Sun Goddess Thahtma, the Empire was--until recently--the mightiest and most noble of the human nations, a land ruled by the precepts of honor, piety, and chivalry. Paladins were trained in the great Prelate Academy, where men and women from all walks of life came to prove their skill at arms and their faith for a chance to serve their goddess. Then, desperation and fear nested in men's hearts, for the Iron Empress was dead in the same war that devoured her heirs, the paladins harrowed and too few for the great dangers that stalked the countryside. But in recent weeks, a light has returned to the Empire for a new Empress sits atop the Just Throne: the adopted sister of the last Sendeyvrian heir Elthan, Shezar Sendeyvrian, once Shezar Enkaiza.
The modern Empire is divided into 22 provinces, each with a regional capital and hereditary Governor-Noble tasked with--amongst other things--the security of the citizens, the collection of taxes, the upkeep of religious facilities (including accommodations for wandering paladins), the training and provisioning of an armed muster, and the administration of low and middle justice. Only representatives of the council are permitted to administer high justice (colloquially known as the Justice of the Lance). The "armed muster" generally consists of a few hundred well-trained soldiers spread throughout the province who often serve on city watches or as strike forces used against bandits and dangerous wild creatures, but can be used to command militia forces for large-scale engagements. Their primary purpose, however, is to serve in the Imperial Army in times of war.
After the death of Empress Telria Sendeyvrian and the apparent ending of her line, for nearly twenty years rulership of the Empire was taken over by a council of the provincial Governors-Noble, though in truth they are mostly controlled by the five most powerful Governors: Toma di'Strykus of Irinhythe, Fontleroy Ledgerdemesne of Cair-over-Caldin, Eustace li'Barma of Danteel, Bertlemeyer Ikuriel of Todmorrow, and Shezar Enkaiza of Albranhigh. Even after Shezar's ascension to the throne, the Governor's Council remains an important facet of politics.
Since the horrors of the Academy War, the Empire has slid swiftly into decline, with a noticeable migration of the population from the once wide-spread farming communities to the illusory safety of the cities that dot the Empire's crumbling road network. This is most apparent in the western provinces, where province after province fell to the myriad invaders rampaging down out of the mountains. Even after their recent full annexation of the Aurosien Protectorate, a quarter of the Empire's territory has been conquered by powerful mountain tribes, with their raids striking deeper and deeper into the remaining lands. Recent diplomatic successes have prevented a full-scale disaster, but it remains to be seen how long the orcs and giants will abide with peace, as well as how long the Empire can stand to have its sovereign territory occupied.
Once, the rolling plains of the Wending Vert were divided amongst dozens of small countries and hundreds of isolated cities. It was not until Tower Age 412 that a leader strong enough to challenge the petty Emerald Lords arose: Indrose Albran. The second son of the Lord of Albranhigh, when his father and older brother were slain, he swore revenge and gathered his people. Though he proved masterful at pulling people to his side, convincing them to fight, and driving them to excel, he was only a middling tactician, so his many conquests were bloody affairs for both sides. At the Battle of Raven River, his forces were almost crushed between three armies. It was only through help from an unexpected source that victory was secured: Masha Sendeyvrian, the pious daughter of Lord Thanor Sendeyvrian.
With Masha's expert help, Albran defeated the three lords and swept across half the Wending Vert in ten seasons of war. Even as his people conquered, so Albran was conquered by Masha's piety and compassion, tempering his bloodlust with gentleness and honor. When he died on the fields of Colhollu against Vanar the Black-Handed in AG 429, it was Masha who stood to lead the Armies of the Sun. Under her rule, they conquered most of the Wending Vert and her daugher--with the blood of Albran in her veins as well--finally took the shining city of Saras Hann on the shores of the Diamondmere. There, in the greatest fortress in the Vert, she planted the sunburst flag of Albranhigh and declared an end to war and injustice in AG 471. On that spot was built Thahtmahan, to be ruled forever by the House Sendeyvrian in the name of the Sun Goddess.
Growing steadily more powerful, the Empire reached the apex of its strength at the close of the Age of Small Dreams, only to lose the king's share of it in the disasterous Sunset War. Indeed, as horrible as the conflict was for all involved, it earned its name because of how much it cost the Empire. Hundreds of thousands died in the war and the future of the Empire died along with them.
The Empire maintains a friendly relationship with the Elven Ascendancy, who are their traditional allies. They are so close that the only heir to the Imperial throne--Telria's son and youngest child, Elthan Sendeyvrian--spent decades of convalescence there at Queen Myrnétlarn's personal invitation. During that time, there wais no small amount of pressure for him to take an elven mistress as any product of their union--as a sterile half-elf--would have no claim on the Imperial throne and quiet those factions agitating for the return of a strong central ruler. Now, of course, the pressure has switched to encouraging his betrothal to his adopted sister, the new Empress Shezar.
Less cordial are the Empire's relations with the largest human nation: Xain. Though it remained officially neutral during Xain's civil war, it is well-known that many prominent paladins aided the rebels in their bid for freedom. Further, the Empire was the first foreign power to recognize the break-away states, sending ambassadors and opening economic ties with them even before the fighting had completed. It is an open secret amongst the Xaini nobility that--when the Reconquest is complete--there are plans on the table for a full-scale invasion of the Empire.
The threat of Xain is a distant one, though, when confronted with the realities that lie on the Empire's borders. In the west, they contend daily with the ogres of Ormengöde, the giants of Skazkull, and the orc hordes of Natha Harada. In loose alliance, these three states represent enough power to threaten Thahtmahan itself, though that danger is grown less pressing in recent weeks, following an historic peace accord. The Empire's eastern flank, meanwhile, is threatened by the monstrous Sepulchral Tithe with its undead legions that wait and grow with each passing season while the Empire's limited resources are directed to other problems.
Being the only nation physically contiguous with theDwarven Remnant, there is some small amount of trade conducted with the undercities, but the increasing isolationism of the major cities means it is conducted primarily by smaller, local communities who often trade foodstuffs for regular visits by dwarven militia forces, which has a deleterious effect on hostile wildlife and bandits.