Monday, June 26, 2017

Valley Kingdoms: The Empire of the Throne, Founding

Wondering what the hell is going on with these blog posts? Well, head on over to this here post to get a general feeling for the Valley Kingdoms. If you'd like to read the other Valley Kingdoms pages, you can click the button up top or just follow this link to the index.

The Empire of the Throne
The Founding
Pictured: Major roads and cities of Sifhem
Sifhem, the Empire of the Throne, was a great Valley-spanning empire that lasted for nearly one thousand years. The core of the empire was founded on the Isle of Shalpirith between the former Othan city of Vabaten and the newer, more northern city of Dariden.

In its early period, the Kingdom of Shalpirith conquered the neighboring island of Engen. King Tuvis the Magician led the conquest, overthrowing Engen's native armies and wizards and ending the independent Kingdom of Engen under Medenva. In what would become known as the First Year of the Faith (Fi Vosye, F.V.), King Tuvis made the archpriest of Medenva ruler over all the temples in Shalpirith and Engen both, beginning the War of the Cults, also called the Unification.

Under Archpriest Usar, brother to King Tuvis who was acclaimed after the conquest, Shalpirith began a war that spread through the northern kingdoms under the banner of Unification. Soon, the great leaders of the cults met Archpriest Usar and King Tuvis on the field in Pirian. This battle, known as the Field of the Faithless, decided the future of the Valley Kingdoms forever: the Lucklord of Vihu, the Twin Priests of Ram, and the Hammer of Iva were all slain there. The Sea Folk of Febass turned on their own allies, and submitted themselves to Usar at the climactic moment of the fight, when all seemed lost for Tuvis, who was alone with his honor-guard and surrounded on a hilltop.

The Febassan treachery, however, reversed the tide: the cults were swept into the sea. King Tuvis perished from an infected spear-wound several days later. On his deathbed, he bade his closest friends and allies, the High Wizards of Shalpirith, to choose a new leader. They did: the young sorcerer Ethas was elected king.

Thus, in the same battle that established the supremacy of Dariden over the north, so also was the Unification nearly completed, and the first Emperor of Sifhem elected. Ethas enlarged the Dariden army and provided for it to be purged of slaves and freedmen, to be a standing force supported by slave farms on Shalpirith, and to occupy the north. The remainder of his reign was plagued with rebellions and wars as a result of the Unification.

Ethas also began the Litha Palace, which to this day houses the Sorcerer's Throne upon which the emperors of Sifhem sat. The seat was the very first construction to be completed: a huge throne carved from solid purple Shalpiran stone, gilt and plated with gold and silver, set with jewels, and cut to resemble a massive tongue of flame supported by crouching basilisks. The throne became the icon of the Empire's conquest, and from every conquered land there were new gemstones and new tribute added to it.

The High Wizards became the great imperial electors at Ethas' decree. They served as a state council, generals, and masters of every aspect of the empire. Gainsaying them was impossible and even the old nobility struggled to keep them in check.

Ethas' successor, Katha the Studious, was elected on the belief he would make the High Wizards even more powerful. However, once he was reigning in the Throne of Sifhem, he undermined the authority of the High Wizards in favor of the nobility, attempting to balance the two forces in the empire before they tore each other apart. Thus, the High Wizards under Katha lost their immunity to the laws and their right to sit as judges and the nobility began to staff the high positions of the empire again as functionaries.

Selection of the Emperor devolved neither to a committee of imperial notables nor to the High Wizards, but to the people of Dariden themselves; while Katha provided that the Sifik Emperor had to be a sorcerer (and thus was very likely to be selected from the ranks of the High Wizards themselves), the sorcerer who would rule them was given to the legislative assembly of Dariden, which was known as the Tribe.

Thus, Katha established the three pillars of the Empire: the wizards, the nobles, and the common folk. This was a tripartite division that would inform imperial politics for centuries, even as the Tribe became the Thivatin, that is literally Those Who Are Called, a governing body that assisted in the administration of the entire empire, and thus was drawn from each of the Empire's major cities.

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