Alesian Imperium

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The Alesian Imperium
Country Information
Capital: Charnath, Alesia
Ethnic Groups: Humans, Orcs (in the Shadowlands)
Religion: Alesian pantheon
Government: Imperial Monarchy
Current Ruler: Glindor Corvarath Paralor


Proud and militant Alesia has the largest empire and some of the most powerful infantry in the known world. The mostly-human Alesian Imperium has conquered two-thirds of the sprawling southron continent, also called Alesia, centered over the world's south pole. Imperial legions continue battling their ancestral enemies, the Shadowlands Orcs, over the remaining third.

Alesian forces have also established protectorates over some far-flung lands like Bahija and Elluria. Imperial embassies can be found throughout southern Veth. The Imperium is ruled by a God-Emperor with magical longevity and administered by a well-honed bureaucracy that doesn't easily suffer failure.

History

Alesian-imperium.jpg
Map of the Alesian Imperium

The conflict between human and orc on the Alesian continent is older than recorded history, stretching back into the realm of mythology. Much of the land on the continent has changed hands more than once throughout the endless years of warfare as the strength of each race has waxed and waned. The orcs once almost annihilated the human population entirely, and had managed to lay siege to Charnath itself. The Alesians were able to hold out long enough to mount a counter offensive, however, and steadily pushed the orcs back. The current boundaries of the Alesian Imperium mark the greatest extent of human civilization on the continent in over a thousand years.

Approximately three hundred years ago, an Alesian general named Glindor Corvarath killed the ruling Alesian Emperor Kravo Jornothen in a military mutiny along the banks of the Pen River deep in the orc-held Shadowlands. Jornothen had gone mad and was obsessed with achieving immortality through glorious death in battle. He took three legions of Alesian troops up the Pen River to confront the orcs, and led his forces into a narrow defile where they would be hopelessly surrounded by orcs. With the help of Larold Vertonthen, Glindor led a successful mutiny against the Emperor, and safely withdrew the Alesian forces before they could be annihilated by the orcs. Gharvol Jornothen, son of the deposed Emperor, humiliated himself by panicking in the face of the orcs during the Alesian retreat and lost the support of the military that he would have needed to maintain his family's hold on the throne. After Glindor claimed the Imperial throne in Charnath and adopted the dynastic name Paralor, Gharvol was sent into exile in the remote village of Heldo, in Osk.

Glindor's rule has seen the reform and expansion of the Imperial bureaucracy, reclamation of territory from orcish control, and curbs on some of the traditional prerogatives of the nobility. He also defeated the Hrungarth king in Morarth and annexed all of Hrungarth into the Imperium, and made Bahija an Alesian colony. In the year 470, the Alesians became embroiled in the politics of Veth when the Ellurian goverment in exile sent out emissaries seeking military aid after Aslar conquered Elluria in the Southlands Wars. The Imperium sent several legions under the command of Larold Vertonthen and Prince Etaudus Paralor to Garusk. The unexpected invasion caught the Aslarians by surprise, and the Alesians inflicted a number of defeats on Aslarian forces and pushed them back to the banks of the Rainbow River. The peace negotiations restored the borders to their original position before the war, and recreated the kingdom of Tollor to act as a buffer between Aslar and the new Alesian Elluria. In subsequent years, the Alesians have negotiated trade agreements with Arangoth, Elvendeep, The Isles of Myst, and other nations in the region.

Notable Historical Figures

Geographical Features

The Alesian Imperium is divided into eight provinces: Alesia (sometimes called Alesia Prime), Terlind, Hith, Osk, Tosco, Algrarth, Granar, and Hrungarth. Alesian lands generally occupy the outer perimeter of the continent, with the interior of the continent occupied by an impenetrable Ice Sea. Much of the continent experiences long, cold winters, with a relatively short and temperate growing season. Granar is an island province, and the Granarians are considered the Imperium's best shipwrights and sailors, and are known for their sense of humor. Terlind and Algrarth are both known for their productive farmland. Terlind is also known for the quality of its whiskey and beer, and Terlindian whiskey is a popular export to Veth. Hrungarth is the youngest province of the Imperium owing to its relative geographic isolation. It has been in part or entirely independent of Imperial authority for much of Alesian history, and has only fully come into the Alesian fold under the reign of the current emperor. Hrungarthians are taller than most other Alesians, and tend to have blonde or red hair. Many Alesians consider Hrungarthians half barbarian, but the quality of the soldiers they produce is unquestioned.

Charnath

Charnath, the Imperial capital, is a fortified city with thick double walls and heavy, steel-reinforced oak gates on the outer walls, and portcullises on the inner walls that create killing grounds to trap invaders. The main streets of the city are broad and straight to facilitate the efficient movement of troops. The city gets its life and color from its people: the merchants and artisans hawking their wares, the street vendors offering hot food on a cold day, and the people of all walks of life going about their daily business, regardless of the weather. The Granite Throne, the Imperial palace complex at the heart of the city, is somewhat grim and uninspiring to look at, since it was built in darker days as a place of refuge in desperate times. The interior of the Granite throne is rich in decor and hosts private parks and temples, as well as residences for the Imperial family. Much of the space that used to be luxurious accommodations for nobility at court has been given over to different departments of the Imperial bureaucracy under Glindor's reign.

The Shadowlands

The orcs currently control approximately one third of the continent, an area called the Shadowlands by the Alesians. There are two major avenues of invasion into the Imperium from the Shadowlads. The first is near Trith, in Osk. The border between Osk and the Shadowlands is secured by a string of fortresses connected by a massive stone wall that stretches from the foot of the mountains surrounding the Ice Sea all the way to the western Coast of the Alesian Imperium. These fortifications are manned by a combination of Varniok and local militiamen, though the vicious winters in this part of the Imperium are an equally important defense against orcish raids. The lone open route into Osk is bounded on the west and north by the ocean, making it relatively narrow. The shape of the coast requires a nearly ninety degree change of marching direction after passing the defensive walls, creating two easily defensible choke points only miles apart. The 4th (Storm's Fury) has the responsibility of keeping this pass clear, and defending the road that connects Osk with Hrungarth. The 5th (Obsidian Pegasus) is often required to assist in this duty when orcish activity increases in the region.

The second is at Dornmoth, in Algrarth. The 21st (Raging Hydra) is responsible for guarding this pass into the Imperium, and sending regular sorties into the Shadowlands to wipe out any orcish settlements that encroach on the border. The climate is more hospitable here than on the Oskan border, and several there are several good sites for settlements, so orcish attempts at colonization are a perennial problem. This route is also better suited for large forces, and has been used to stage large-scale invasions in both directions in the past. There is a large gap in the Alesian fortifications along the western shore of Ren Bay, owing to the presence of the Bog Marshes, a large chain of disease and monster-ridden swamps. The original swamp at the mouth of the Pen River has been greatly expanded by Alesian Kovarniok, and stocked with summoned monsters to keep the orcs out.

Mountains protect much of Hrungarth's border with the Shadowlands, so raiding parties are more of a problem then full-blown invasions. The 23rd (Granite Rams) stationed in Kurvo is responsible for sweeping the inhospitable mountain passes and dealing with raiders. Tavrosok of the 23rd operate in some of the most adverse conditions imaginable, and operate with a greater degree of independence than most other Falvarniosok. The 23rd's survival skills are legendary, and unsurpassed on the Alesian continent.

The Orcs of the Shadowlands

Alesian orcs differ somewhat from their goblinoid kin on Veth. Derisively called Tuskers by the Alesians, Shadowlands orcs have froglike blue-green skin, thick hair that is often matted into dreadlocks, and viscous black blood. Their breeding cycles contribute to a surplus of male orcs, and when they get too numerous, they starve and become savage. When their ferocity reaches a boiling point, teeming hordes of orcs boil out of the Shadowlands and swarm toward the Alesian frontiers in search of new land to conquer. They live in a tribal society, ruled by the shamans, the priests of Orglok and Arkala. They have created a theocracy in the service of the outcast gods, and rule through absolute fear. These cunning and dangerous orcs command terrible magics, and aren't above experimenting on their own people to refine their craft. They are fond of raising the slain on a battlefield as undead to reinforce their ranks, or to finish off an exhausted Alesian force if they retire to their Tarim without cremating their dead. They frequently use their dark arts to warp beasts, orcish warriors, or even themselves into fearsome killing machines, an abomination the Alesians call a Virsekos. They even create unspeakable abominations from bizarre combinations of human and animal parts, using loathsome magic to knit together that which should never be joined, and animate it with a parody of life. Shamans are endlessly inventive, and one never knows exactly what to expect from them when engaging the orcs in battle.

Government and Politics

The Emperor

The Emperor is properly titled as Theorus, son of the High One, but he is simply addressed as "His Divine Imperial Highness" et al. The Emperor is the head of the Alesian state religion, and supreme commander of the Imperium's military. The Imperial family makes use of life-prolonging magics which can extend lifespan beyond five hundred years in some cases. This, coupled with the extensive use of protective enchantments and magical items, makes the Imperial family seem more than human and invincible by commoners. The Emperor's word is followed, for good or ill, in Alesia without deviance when it is actually given. However, Glindor hardly is any sort of saint. As a God-King, his whim has been known to override intelligent and wise actions counseled to him. In his old age, he has become wiser and has surrounded himself with more trustworthy men, so this circumstance has been lessened over the years.

The Emperor's most able advisors tend to be those selected through merit to various posts. However, just as often as truly gifted and intelligent men are chosen, so are the Emperor's sons given commands of the powerful legions or a city. This makes for a disparity between one legion's leadership to the next, as well as that of city to city. Glindor has made a habit of marrying his daughters off to his most talented subordinates, ensuring a steady infusion of fresh blood into the Imperial House, as well as increasing the loyalty of those who might otherwise become rivals.

The Bureaucracy

While the Emperor's power is absolute and unchallenged, no one man can directly control every aspect of such a vast empire. It is no understatement to say that the Imperial Bureaucracy is second only to the Falvarniosok in providing strength and stability to the Imperium. With the aid of the various bureaucratic arms of the government, Glindor has been able to govern an empire that stretches for thousands of miles with remarkable efficiency.

After seizing power in a mutiny, Glindor sought to stabilize his rule through increased centralization of government functions, and a corresponding reduction of the power of the nobility. To this end, he reorganized and expanded the Imperium's administrative machinery considerably. He enlarged the size and authority of the central bureaucracy several times over, and has given over a significant portion of the Granite Throne to house the various ministries and the people who run them. Through an extensive correspondence network that runs the length and breadth of the Imperium, the bureaucracy keeps track of everything from the yearly tax revenues to the barley harvest in Theno.

Glindor has also instituted yearly competitive exams for admission into the civil service. Though the exams are open to all comers, the Prinovordok dominates the bureaucracy because they are generally the only ones with the education to do well on the exams. Though this is the case, the merit-based exams and division of tasks within the bureaucracy prevent any family from gaining an undue amount of influence for very long. Military service is a prerequisite for holding any of the higher positions within the civil service, though many Prinovordok have found ways to serve out token careers in the Falvarniosok with little inconvenience.

Provincial Government

After the Emperor, the Garatosok (provincial governors) are the unquestionably the most powerful individuals in the Imperium. A Garatos has considerable resources at his disposal, not least of which are the three legions which each province fields. A track record of competency and personal loyalty to the Theorus are equally necessary prerequisites for consideration for such an important post. Garatosok are appointed to two year terms and serve strictly at the pleasure of the Emperor. There is no limit to the number of times a Garatos may be reappointed to his post, so long as he remains in the Emperor's good graces. Garatosok are equally likely to be retired generals, or senior civil servants from the bureaucracy. Military Garatosok will have a civilian lieutenant; the reverse is also true.

Each province is further divided into prefectures, which usually consist of a town and the surrounding countryside. Prefects have all but replaced the hereditary administrative and judicial powers of the Prinovordok. Large cities may have as many as three, with one Senior and two Junior Prefects. In cities where a Falvarniok is based, the Hithos may serve as one of the city's prefects. The Hithos of the Silver Arm always serves as the Senior Prefect of Charnath.

Notable Government Officials

Glindor Corvarath Paralor: The current Alesian emperor, who has ruled for over three hundred years. He seized power in a military mutiny on the Pen River in the Shadowlands from the mad emperor Kravo Jornothen, who hoped to ensure his immortality by dying gloriously in battle with all his men. He assumed the dynastic name Paralor upon his ascension to the throne, the name of the founder of the Jornothen dynasty. Glindor's original surname was Corvarath, and was only a distant relative of the Imperial line and would have been far down the list of succession if not for the coup. During his rule, Glindor has expanded and improved the function of the bureaucracy, and curtailed much of the traditional power of the nobility. His campaigning days ended when an orc shattered his shoulder and nearly severed his arm with an axe. Despite the best efforts of Alesian healers, he never regained full function of his left arm.

Etaudus Paralor: 17th Son of Glindor and heir to the throne. Led the Wolves of Winter in the Alesian intervention in the Southlands Wars. Currently serving as Garatos of Elluria and residing in Garusk, Elluria.

Larold Vertonthen: Glindor's closest friend and ally, and brother-in-law by marriage. Larold came from a humble farming background in Terlind, and was a Tavarnin under Glindor's command during the campaign into the Shadowlands. He was Glindor's co-conspirator during the military mutiny and subsequent march to Charnath to claim the throne. He has proven to be one of the Imperium's most capable generals since. Glindor has bestowed the titles of Ve-Hithos of the Imperium and Hero of the Imperium on him, and has rewarded him with generous grants of land in Terlind. Larold spearheaded the Alesian invasion of Elluria and negotiated the treaty with Aslar. He is generally considered an extension of Glindor's will, both militarily and diplomatically.

Tule Seleir: Garatos of the island province of Granar. A former military colleague of Glindor and Larold. De facto commander of the Alesian navy, and Glindor's authority on maritime commerce.

Military

Main Article: Alesian Military

A legionary standard bearing the Imperial eagle.

The Falvarniok, the dreaded Alesian legion, is the core of the Imperium's military might. In the perpetual struggle between humans and orcs on the Alesian continent, the Imperium lives and dies by the strength of the legions. Schools of Arms throughout the Imperium take in raw recruits and mold them into Varniok, or legionary soldiers over the course of an intense full year of training. Many Alesian men serve at least one five year tour in the legions, as military service is a prerequisite for any job in the Alesian civil service.

Religion

Main Article: Alesian Religion

Alesian religion is polytheistic, with Jornos the Starfire, birther of the world, as the head of the pantheon.

Society and Peoples

Alesian Social Classes

The Jornosorok Class: This includes the Emperor at the head, with his family and trusted advisors also as a part of this clique. These are the holders of power, though a meteoric rise to these ranks can coincide with a fast fall from favor. Formal attire for this class is Imperial blue robes and cloaks with silver embroidery and black trim, long hair and crowns/skullcaps for all. Hoods are worn up, most of the time. Jornosorok tend to wear magical protection, if not military armor, beneath their robes and carry at least daggers, if not swords or priestly weapons. Alesians are generally conditioned to believe that the Imperial Family is impossible to touch, and this is reinforced with the sheer number of magical protections most carry against assassination and the fact that they have increased lifespans.

The Prinovordok: The Prinovordok class is the landed nobility, held in check by the Emperor. They administer lands and tithe a certain amount of their earnings in order to hold the title of Prinovordok, which confers certain rights upon the class (They're allowed to the Emperor's court). These rights include the ability to sit in judgement over disputes and collect taxes. However, if they cannot pay the set amount of the tithe, they lose patrician status. Prinovordok are also given the right to own slaves. Under the reign of Glindor, the nobility has lost considerable prestige and has seen their traditional rights eroded by the expansion of the bureacracy and the elevation of military men to positions of power.

The Grenadorsok: Grenadorsok are a class of men who own their own land and work for their own profit. They are also much of the Falvarniosok's recruitment base. Most Grenadorsok are smallholding farmers, though the emerging Alesian merchant class is also legally part of the Grenadorsok. Some successful Grenadorsok can rise to the status of a Prinovordok, but this is rare since few successful merchants are willing to pay the tithes that come with ennoblement.

The Freemen: The Freemen are a class that includes all propertyless free subjects of the Imperium. Most Freemen are tenants on Prinovordok estates, urban dwellers, or emancipated slaves. Freemen are another significant recruitment pool for the Falvarniosok, enticed by the land grants for military service, and the attendant increase in legal rights by moving up into the ranks of the Grenadorsok.

The Slaves: Slaves are a class of criminals or captured spoils of wars sold to patricians to work as labor. They are also held by the Imperium as labor for civil projects, though only when the Falvarniosok are at war. They are also sometimes sent to fight in the gladiatorial pits where they can win their freedom early, or to the public brothels where they can earn the money to buy their own contracts. Slaves are held only for a certain amount of years before released as Freemen. This eventual freedom and the light treatment most receive mitigates any sort of revolts, as well as the threat of Falvarniok intervention.

Language

Modes of Address

Droste/Drostis: Polite forms of address toward an Alesian man or woman, equivalent to "Sir/Madam." Technically only correct for addressing those of the Prinovordok social class, but it has spread beyond its original usage.

Khalor/Khalis: Proper form of address for a member of the Jornosorok class. Roughly equivalent to "Prince/Princess."

Garatos: Governor of a province; the original meaning of the word is closer to "warlord."

Theorus: Proper title for the Alesian Emperor, also the name of one of the Alesian deities.

Common Phrases

Jornos dal makstan do: "Jornos watch over you." A common Alesian greeting/parting.

Jornos dal makstan jordothen: "Jornos watch over this castle."

Thovaratos: Victory, a common Alesian battle cry; also used as a salutation among soldiers.

Military Terms

Main Article: Alesian Military Terms

Alesian Magic

Vashra, the Mistress of Magic, weaves the threads of spellcraft throughout the cosmos in Songs. Alesian wizards learn to perceive these Songs through their training, and learn how to manipulate them. To cast a spell, a wizard must focus on the melody of a particular Song, and fit lyrics to it in the form of an incantation. The words chosen affect the shape of the effect, and the more fitting the words are to a particular song, the more powerful effect will be. By accessing the Song of Fire, a wizard may create a fireball which flies through the air and explodes, or a pillar of fire which pours down out of the sky, or encase the blade of his sword in a nimbus of flame, or dozens of other effects. Tapping into the power of the Songs is a taxing business, and as a wizard becomes fatigued, he loses his ability to concentrate on a Song and perceive its melody clearly.

Since this method of spellcraft is so closely tied to the goddess Vashra, many Alesian wizards develop a deep, personal devotion to her. Some become enthralled by the beauty and unbridled power of the Songs, and become obessesed with studying them more closely, and searching for new Songs currently unknown to mortal men. Such individuals are called goddess-kissed, and are generally (and not unjustly) regarded as standing on the brink of madness.

While most individuals associate Alesian magic with Kovarniok, many of the most powerful wizards in the Imperium are women. The vast majority of men who display magical aptitude in the Imperium become Kovarniok, whose magical training is limited by their martial training and the rigors of life in the Falvarniok. The easiest and most socially acceptible way for a young woman to receive magical training is to associate herself with one of Vashra's temples. Those unwilling to devote their lives to the service of the goddess in return for training may have a difficult time seeking out a teacher willing to take on an apprentice due the concentration of wizards in the military and the clergy of various Alesian deities. Still, most regions have at least one such unaffiliated mage, who are often referred to as witches (and even less complimentary things) by the local populace. Though these reclusive and often eccentric wielders of magic are often viewed with suspicion by common folk, their services often command high prices among the Alesian aristocracy.

When not in the uniform of a Kovarnin, male Alesian wizards favor a shirt and trousers with an overcoat in the colors of their Falvarniok, rather than the robes favored by wizards elsewhere. The overcoat is cut loose and long at the sleeves, but not enough to cover the fingers, and usually full-lengthed down to the ankles. This overcoat is usually left open, with only a single, simple chain across the chest to hold it in place so it won't slip off. Since most Alesian wizards are also soldiers, a mage's overcoat has slits in the sides and back to facilitate horse riding, and to keep one's sword in easy reach. Many female mages belong to religious orders dedicated to Vashra, the Alesian goddess of magic, and dress in priestly vesture. Those who are not tend to dress in the style of ordinary members of their social class.

Necromancy is an entirely separate discipline, one introduced to humans by the Traitor God Orglok. Alesian Necromancy is blood magic, and requires a sacrifice of life. A necromancer may shed his own blood to release a spell's power, sacrifice a victim as a proxy, or profane Grenadias and blight the land. The most powerful necromantic rituals may wither acres of vegetation, or require the sacrifice of multiple victims. Thus, it is both outlawed by the Alesian state, and repugnant to most Alesians. Practitioners of necromancy also earn the enmity of Hepheran, Llarm, Vashra, and Grenadias for harnassing the Lord of Traitors' hateful power. Wizards and Hevarniok who turn to necromancy can expect punishment from their former patron deities, and the Gatekeepers, an order of Llarm's priests, actively hunts down and destroys necromancers and the undead for their blasphemous mockery of the Greeter.

Not surprisingly, funerary rites are of extreme importance to Alesians. Priests of Llarm are found throughout the Imperium, endeavoring to assure every Alesian a proper funeral so so that all souls may be sent on to the Greeter, and not linger in the mortal world to haunt the living or fall prey to necromancers. Alesians generally favor cremation to burial, as it robs necromancers of a source of potential undead minions. In cooperation with Vashra's clergy, Gatekeepers construct great stone obelisks on burial sites and other areas plagued by restless spirits. These obelisks are magical artifacts of great power, a bridge between this world and the next. Undead are drawn toward these obelisks, sometimes from miles away, finding them irresistable. Touching an obelisk will utterly destroy an undead creature, freeing the restless soul and carrying it to Llarm's hall for judgement. Funeral pyres are constructed at the foot of an obelisk, and the marker stones that cover the ashes of the deceased are arranged in concentric circles around the obelisk.