Brothers of the Tor
The Bythennian Empire
Though but a shadow of its former self the Bythennian Empire, the Jewel of the Earth, reigns as the worlds greatest power. Once all the known world from the western most coast of the Marcher Kingdoms to the High End Mountains in the east bowed to the might of Bythos, the greatest city to ever be. In the present day the Bythennian Empire covers much of the northern continent, consisting of more people cities and arable land then any other sovereign realm. Though most nations interact with the Bythennians out of necessity the Empire’s reputation is not a positive one. Viewed as imperialist conquerers and slavers all the world treats the Empire of Bythos with uneasy caution.
Under the reign of Emperor Calvin IX, the Empire has focused less on military expansion and more on working to improve relations and trade with the rest of the world. Calvin is of the opinion that to make Bythos the center of the world once more he need not subdue the globe but instead work with it. Calvin is of the opinion that neighboring nations will in time look to Bythos for leadership. This new policy however has not been met without resistance, Alexander Thapsos, the Emperors nephew and poster boy of the Empire along with a large and powerful group of the nobility oppose Calvin’s peaceful approach, and see conquest as the only way to ensure Bythennian hegemony and a return to past glory.
Politics within the Empire is simple in theory, obey the Emperor and follow his divine word, however the reality of it is very different. The court of the Emperor is one full of schemers and backstabbers, all hoping to push their own agenda and use the extensive imperial bureaucracy to their personal benefit. A skilled Emperor can maintain his court by appeasing his court when necessary and forcing them to bend to his will in times of crisis. The most dangerous political games within Bythos are played by the various wings of the Imperial family itself, who constantly butt heads to gain more power and improve their place in the line of succession. Recently the court of Bythos has been exceptionally tense, with Calvin IX losing control of his court day by day by following a new foreign policy wherein the Empire seeks to trade with its neighbors rather then conquer them.
It was 900 years ago to the day that the coronation of the first Bythennian Emperor took place. The reign of Emperor Justinian I was prolific and long, lasting over 30 years. It was under his reign the Empire rose from obscurity to a power to truly be reckoned with. Before Justinian Bythos was but a moderately powerful city state in a sea of hundreds more like it, but the enigmatic Justinian was able to expand the influence of Bythos and it quickly swallowed up many of its neighbors. By Justinians death his realm spread from the Inner Sea to the north to the Ronas River in the south.
A century after Justinians death the Bythennians were faced with a deadly threat to the distant west, the Euors, which would baptize their new Empire in fire. Despite posing a brave defense against the Euors the Bythennians and their many neighbors were pushed back again and again, but after a charismatic heroine emerged in the Marcher Kingdoms and began to battle the Euors in the rear the Bythennians were able to retaliate brutally and efficiently, crushing the Euors in several key battles. Bythennian Legions advanced into the Marcher Kingdoms and with the help of the locals pushed the Euor menace back into the sea.
The Bythennians in their great wisdom saw that the Marchermen would be unable to defend themselves against a future Euor attack, and decided to leave a large garrison within the Marcher Kingdom to defend the locals. Within a decade however the Bythennians decided that with the Marchers lands under their protection, they should also be under their rule, and with that performed a sudden and violent annexation. Over the next two centuries the Bythennians expanded east and south with great efficiency, conquering all before them and allowing their hegemonic dreams to become a reality. Though the Bythennians were able to conquer vast tracks of land with relative ease, holding it was a different story. Maintaining such a large and expansive empire was expensive and the conquered populace proved unruly, as a result the Emperors were forced time and time again to raise taxes and enforce harsher and harsher laws on the people. In time it became too much for the people to handle and starting with the Marcher Kingdoms and promptly spreading throughout the Empire the people rose up in revolt. The legions spread too thin and overworked were unable to quell the uprisings and within mere months the entire Empire collapsed. Bythennian nobles were ruthlessly cut down and murdered in the streets while many of the soldiers frustrated with their inability to crush the rebellion quickly found themselves joining the rebels. It was a dark time for the Bythennians, their native population was decimated and all its territory outside the heartland itself was lost. Even some high ranking Bythennians turned their backs on their countrymen and sided with the rebels carving out nations of their own. Cheif among these traitors were Prince August, who joined the Marchers in the opening days of the uprising and founded the successor state of Bythennica in the aftermath of the chaos, and High Imri Balathar who broke off from the Empire and founded the theocratic state of Bythanya in the northern most reaches of the Empire. In a dramatic bid to save his people, the Emperor Calvin VI ordered all true sons of Bythos to abandon their homes and retreat to the capital and hide behind its high walls. Though he abandoned his lands, Calvin saved the cultural identity of his people allowing them a future. The rebels quickly re-established their kingdoms as they were before the conquests of Bythos, and Bythos found itself once again as nothing more then a City State.
For centuries Bythos lay in wait as the world changed and evolved around it. The Marcher Kingdoms ascended to predominance at this time in the west while to the south Nal-Din and the Thacian City States became the cultural centre of the world. Under the Reign of Emperor Justinian VII the Bythennians began to once again expand. Bythos retook its lost heartland and quickly re-instituted the mighty legions. In less then 90 years the Bythennians went from a weak City State to once again the most powerful land on the face of the planet. This was largely made possible due to the deep ties the former heartlands still had to the great city, and were eager to once more be a part of its majesty. Though undeniably powerful once again Bythos was not what it was. The Marcher Kingdoms to their west was almost their equal in size and power, and the Kingdoms to the east proved more resilient then expected. Additionally repeated failed attempts to reconquer the Marcher Kingdom has delayed Bythennian expansion, and has even resulted in the Bythennians losing some of their westernmost holdings to the Marcher Lords who have established buffer states between the two great nations. The last major war the Bythennians have waged against the Marcher Kingdoms seemed at first to be a success, they stormed the capital and burned half the Chalim Confederation to the ground, but when the Knights of Corlonne and warriors of Arithai took to the field the Legions were pushed back, and in their retreat most were slain and even the Emperor himself, Alexander III was slain.
Today the Bythennian Empire is still licking the wounds it sustained in the last war with the Marcher Kingdoms, and the current Emperor, Calvin the IX has little interest in trying again, instead preferring to trade with his neighbors rather then crush them.