Formations of Empire
History of Cerilia » Formations of Empire
The new gods made a pact that they would never meet in the world in physical form to avoid another cataclysm of Deismaar's magnitude. However they had full freedom within that single constraint and every instinct to give advice to their people, for they felt their former humanity strongly and fondly remembered their families and former neighbours and lands. Haelyn, as a result, walked with Roele in dreams and promised his brother support if only Roele would bring peace to Cerilia just as the other gods went to their chosen people and advised them on how to deal with the troubles of their land - for all the lands were plagued by beast-men, raiders, bandits, and the collapse of social order that followed the great battle at Mount Deismaar that saw so many young nobles die.
Thus the Anuirean records say, unlike most of his contempories in Anuire, Roele chose to use his powers not simply to glorify his own station, but to forge an empire of justice that would stand the test of time. Anuire was fortunate that Roele was gifted with the intelligence and nobility of his brother Haelyn, as well as his family’s legendary tactical brilliance and his own gift of being able to set aside personal ambition when his vision of the empire demanded it.
Roele began to form the empire by allying with those who had fought beside him at Deismaar and were willing to work with him for their mutual benefit. The allies quickly drove the beast-men and brigands from their lands and continued on to forge the entirety of modern Anuire into a single cohesive nation.
Some Anuirean records suggest that one of the key motives for Roele in spreading the empire past the borders of Anuire itself was to ensure that Cerilia could withstand another invasion from Aduria, many feared that the Adurian forces of Azrai would assault Cerilia again, and Roele was far from sure that the other races would support him, particularly given the terrible losses suffered by the Masetian people in what had been, from some perspectives, an Anuirean war. The wise of the other peoples knew Azrai would not have been satisfied with Anuire, but even they knew that war could have been delayed by years before reaching their lands, and the death of the gods had badly shaken all the nations. Other Anuirean records indicate however that Roele's sense of justice and fairness meant that he could not stand the sight of the city-states ruled by tyrants, huddled villages cowering from raiders, and other problems of weaker less organized realms than Anuire.
The oral histories of the druids and the written texts of the Orthodox Imperial Temple differ in the next stage of the empires development. By the tales of the druids and skalds of the Rjurik, noted in the legendary saga Hruthvir’s legacy, the Anuirean Empire’s ambition led it to invade Hjalsone, Stjordvik, and the rest of the Taelshore realms, the Anuireans were driven back by the valiant Rjurik berserkers but then corrupted the jarls of the Taelshore with bribes and flattery until the jarls swore loyalty to the imperial throne. Those Rjurik who refused to bow to the empire migrated north and west settling the sparsely populated Northlands.
According to the Orthodox Imperial Temple however the fledgling nation of Anuire was continually preyed upon by Rjurik vikings seeking plunder. The archduke of Boeruine supported by the Dukes of Cariele and Alamie then invaded Rjurik with the intention of capturing the shipyards of Rjuvik and burning them to the ground. Being Anuirean their armies marched by land rather than trust themselves to the uncertain sea and as a result conquered Hjalsone and Stjordvik almost by accident. The Dukes retreated as winter fell; their aims completed and wintered in Hjalsone.
Whatever the reason, once Hjalsone was held, the Anuireans swiftly began driving off bandits, goblins, beast-men, gnolls and the like which in turn left more land for settlement and apportionment to the victorious nobles. Rescuing the Rjurik from savagery drove thousands of missionaries north, and in turn encouraged Boeruine to seek to expand the empire along the Taelshore - as did his growing ambition to prove himself Roele's better. When the Rjurik massed to attack the Dukes, the tales told of an impending racial war were so terrifying that the Dukes called for aid from Roele, when the Rjurik saw the might of the entire empire turning towards them they yielded without battle.
The lands of the Rjurik were poor however, and plagued by goblins and the Gheallie Sidhe. Further the druids held tightly to the Rjurik and the priests of Haelyn found few converts. Once roused however, ambition is rarely quenched easily. The lands of the Brecht were in turmoil, with dozens of tiny kingdoms and rampant banditry. Convinced that he would not merely restore, but actively create order Roele was goaded by those nobles who had gained little from the conquest of Rjurik into attacking the Brecht.
One point of note is that although Anuirean histories give reasons (or excuses depending on the reader’s perspective) for invading the Rjurik (vikings) and Khinasi (slavers) beyond simply a grand plan to spread order and peace, even the Anuirean scholars tend to admit that a key reason for the invasion of Brechtür was simply a land-grab by those dukes who had seen Boeruine grow greatly from the domination of the Rjurik. A less often mentioned note is the number of Rjurik warriors amongst the armies of the Empire - while many Rjurik simply emigrated north to avoid the empire, the governors of the empire dealt with many 'young hot-heads' by sending them to fight in Brechtur until middle-age calmed their tempers.
Most of the Brecht states fell with ease for they were little more than city-states or isolated coastal vilages with few real realms. Müden, which was one of the few true realms to have survived the widespread bloodtheft of the decades after Deismaar welcomed the Anuireans and thus avoided bloodshed, its king took the title Grafensteller (count in Anuirean) and although officially chamberlain to his new Anuirean overlord effectively ruled his nation as before. Grevesmühl and Rzhlev however fought the Anuireans for every inch of terrain, and have never recovered from terrible losses and brutal occupation to suppress their regular rebellions. Danigau was the only realms to both remain intact after Deismaar as a realm and to resist the Anuirean empire. Wulf Danig, perhaps the first human wizard to learn to use realm magic and acclaimed the greatest Brecht general of all time, smashed every force sent by Roele against his realm until Roele was forced to accept the realm's independence. By -961 MR however the remainder of the Brecht realms were firmly held by the empire of Anuire.
Unlike the Rjurik and especially the Brecht, the Basarji were not fragmented as a people. While Deismaar had turned the social order on its head across Brechtur, the Khinasi social system meant that most of the nobles of the Basarji before still ruled their lands, while the returning scions were merely 'popular' captains and the like, most of whom either retired to a life of contemplation or, feeling the divinity within their soul keenly, took to the faith of Avani/Basaia. This stability brought with it however attendent problems - inefficient governance compared to the scion-led growth of Anuire, and consequential poverty that prevented the Basarji from uniting as a people, or driving out the beast-men and Vos plaguing their lands. Again Roele saw chaos, again Roele saw vulnerability to Azrai's wiles, and again his sense of honour forced him to intervene - and his true bloodline again ensured that most welcomed him as a near divine saviour. The bloodless fall of Ariya was directly due to this perception of Roele - Farid doune Arrasi remembered the valiant general at Deismaar and furious by the petty squabbles of the unblooded nobles that desperately sought to retain power welcomed Roele into the city as its saviour. If many of the Khinasi welcomed Roele, others did not and battles were furious in scores of cities. Roele however had the full force of the empire behind him however, with few voices recorded as speaking against yet more costly wars - certainly by this stage the general mood of Anuire was when they would unite Cerilia rather than if.
History needs its excuses however, and the later rebellions that culminated with El-Arrasi led later Anuirean scholars to claim that the Masetian people called for aid, other sources (in particular the 'plains raider' tales popular in Anuirean high society around 1250-1300 MA) that the Basarji slave-traders provoked invasion and many other tales aimed to undermine the Anuirean view of the Basarji and justify the attempts of various emperors (in particular Alandalae) to hold the empire together in the face of fading memories of the horros of Deismaar and growing local strength. In the words of the legendary scholar Mourde of Daulton (the author of "Empire: The Kingdom of Haelyn brought unto the Barbarians", which was described by Emperor Alandalae Roele as the definitive guide to the Anuirean Empire) ''Long considered inferior by the Basarji, the noble Masetians had been alternatively killed or absorbed by the Basarji within a single generation of Deismaar; this brutal annihilation of the peaceful Masetian justified stern measures at first by the Anuireans and only many years of exposure to the previously unknown concepts of honor, fairness and reason brought about by the liberation did the Basarji fully accept the remaining Masetian as their equal.''.
This viewpoint (and many other 'Anuirean Myths') was roundly condemned by the "Light of Reason", a religious text written by an unknown author found nailed to the doors of the cathedral of Avani in Ariya which spurred the young Rashid Doune Arrasi to question the focus of the traditional Basarji culture on small family units and eventually unite the people of the Sun Coast and win a substantial measure of independence from the empire. The exact treatment of the Masetian by the Basarji, and the reason for the disappearance of the Masetian culture is lost to the mists of time and generally of interest only to scholars and demagogues.
Having united the civilized lands of Cerilia, and almost entirely annihilated the beast-men and Vos tribes that had plagued the lands after fleeing Deismaar, Roele turned to the enemy he had always truly wished to battle, the Vos.
Before the coming of Roele, the Vos dwelled on the great plateau between Coullabhie and Tuar Annwn. Almost before he had finished his conquest of the Basarji, Roele moved north, driving the Vos across the Tsongya River. Roele's aim here was not to free the Vos from raiders or the threat of Azrai - in Roele's eyes, and those of his contemporaries, the Vos were the raiders and potential armies of Azrai. Roele wanted to smash the Vos, crush the worship of Azrai, and ensure that the civilised peoples of the empire were spared the cruelties of Vos raiders. In the most part Roele suceeded, for two decades he had driven the Vos from the lands they had conquered in the war of the Shadow, killed or put to flight the wandering bands of raiders - all had been driven back to Vosgaard. Now Roele brought the war to the home of the Vos and the wild fury of the berserkers was no match for the discipline and tactics of the legions.
The Vos retreated into the uncharted north, home previously only to goblins and beasts. Roele continued his advance relentlessly, slowed only by the cruel winter. Belinik and Kriesha then entered the fray fearing the massacre of their people - for unlike the Rjurik, Brecht and Khinasi few Vos welcomed the Anuireans and were simply assimilated into the empire continuing to worship and live much as they had before. Unable to convince their fractious tribesmen to unite, the Vos gods instead turned to the Awnsheghlien, corrupting those tainted by Azrai's blood into inhuman monsters and driving the hundreds of awnsheghlien that resulted to dominate the Vos and lead them and the goblins of Vosgaard against Roele.
With the aid of the awnsheghlien the Vos were united and given mighty warriors to follow in combat. Roele's advance was slowed to a crawl for several years. Roele gained land in summer only to be driven back in winter until finally he simply decided nothing more could be gained from conflict. He had conquered all the lands of value and "left the barbarians to starve in the barren lands of the north". He had driven the Vos from the civilized lands of Cerilia, and greatly reduced their numbers; he would be content with what he had achieved. That the conquest of Vosgaard could not be completed without exceptional cost is implicit in many Anuirean texts of the time.
The conquered lands were then colonized by the Brecht and Khinasi with Anuirean support. The realms of Uptlund, Horstmarch, and Medec were all colonized in lands formerly ruled by the Vos. Since the fall of the Empire, the Vos have reclaimed all but Uptland. Now Molochev, and Kozlovnyy stand where the old colonies once did. Few of the multitude of awnsheghlien inspired by Belinik and Kreisha remain, legends are divided on their fate with some saying that they were swallowed by storms on midwinter, slain by the Vos, or entombed to sleep beneath the earth.
Life in the Empire
Although the empire was not always welcomed by the peoples of Cerilia, nor was it truly despised by even those who oppsed it. The stability of the empire and its ruthless actions against the Adurian Vos and Beast-men tribes that had fled the battle of Mount Deismaar made life far better for the common folk than the chaos of the first few post-Deismaar years when ancient nobles lines fell like domino’s in a frenzy of bloodtheft and unblooded noble lineages collapsed in the face of hostile scion rulers.
The empire was notable for its adherence to the laws of Anduiras and later Haelyn (with certain exceptions such as the Hjalsone massacre and the Zikalan famines) and equality for all subjects of the empire (in the eyes of the law) was rigorously enforced, albeit along the Anuirean feudal lines (a Rjurik peasant was legally the equal of an Anuirean peasant, neither however was the equal of a Brecht or Khinasi baron).
It is noteworthy that for all the pious talk of equal treatment for all loyal subjects of the empire in the City of Anuire, in the distant ‘provinces’ of the empire the local Anuireans routinely treated their native countrymen (often born outside the historic lands of Anuire for several generations but nevertheless Anuirean in thought, word and deed) far better than they did the local population. Commonly for example an Anuirean magistrate could try and sentence any suspected criminals brought before them, but a Brecht magistrate would try only fellow Brecht and foreigners – not Anuireans. The Empire did however demand at east lip service to recognition of the rights of natives - the Empire was formed more by assimilation than conquest and iron-handed domination would have torn it asunder, those governors who mistreated their charges and were caught doing so - were punished heavily, even executed in extreme cases.
The Anuireans banned all trade tariffs save for those of the empire (benefiting the brecht traders greatly) enshrined property rights in the laws of all nations (although this was resisted heavily in Rjurik), heavily punished corruption (this decimated the nobility of the Basarji who, in the words of Traederic Dosiere had ‘passed from barbarism to decadence without pausing once to stop at civilization’) and operated a remarkably corruption free rule (for the most parts, although the legendary inability of the Anuirean lords to speak to local language gave local underlings considerable scope for graft). These aspects of the Empire, often overlooked by later scholars (both supporters and detractors of the empire) brought great wealth to the Empire and ensured that by the time peace was taken for granted, the idea of the empire was deeply imbedded in each nation.
The Empire did destroy the nobility of other realms where it resisted the Empire's influence, the thousand social ranks of the Basarji for example were reduced to three to all intents and purposes (‘native civil servants’, 'native craftsmen', 'peasants'), outlawed the ownership of slaves across the continent and spread knowledge of building, farming and fishing techniques throughout the continent.
The Anuireans tend to gloss over the harsher side of the empire, the occasional corruption, the inertia caused by a distant bureaucracy which could take years to respond to even urgent events, the often brutal stifling of native culture and ambition, etc. It is unarguable though that the rule of law and trade in particular flourished under the empire, and that since its fragmentation, the rule of law has often reached no further than the nearest kings blade.