Ways of the Seven
Founding of the Valuan Empire
Over a thousand years ago, there were no nations or grand empires – only city-states and the authority that such bodies could wield. The people called the land Valua, and they formed the great cities that dominated continental politics and war.
In the South, at the mouth of the River Adramel, was formed the city of Avandras. Named after Avandra, the chaotic good goddess of change and travel, Avandras grew to boast the largest population of any city on the continent. Cast in the mold of their adventurous, curious god, the Avandran people expanded outward and northward. Though boasting one of the most well-maintained and massive military forces in the known world, Avandras absorbed territory and cultures into the nation not by force, but by trade and commerce. Their nation was one of ethnic diversity, and both high Elves and humans sat as rules of the city-state. The kingdom’s willingness to obtain power and land through non-violent means led to it becoming a great beacon of culture: Scholars and great wizards flocked to the city, and countless artists and bards took up residence in the ever-expanding streets of Avandras. The city entered a period of incredible prosperity, and became Valua’s greatest source of magic, art, poetry, music, and learning. Many great wizarding academies were founded, and the city became known for its incredible spellcasters, be they wizards, sorcerers, warlocks, or otherwise. The city also underwent a great political shift: The political power structure was dramatically shaken up from a hereditary monarchy based on divine rule to a very democratic build. Avandras saw power difussed amongst an emperor and parliamentary body, with a Mages’ Council standing as a lesser, third body that had minor influence on the political process. Much like the nation’s expansion, this change was largely bloodless.
In the center of the continent called Valua, where the Adramel and Lelek rivers meet, was the city-state of Erathir. Named after the lawful good goddess Erathis, the patroness of law and civilization, the city was much more militant in its mindset. Before there were preachers or clerics of Erathis, before there were churches and shrines, there was the Paladin Order of Erathis. To know the Church of Erathis is to know the Paladin Order of Erathis and their zeal for law, justice, and righteousness – and the desire to punish those who break the commandments of their god. In the same way the Church itself is built around the Paladin Order, so too is the city-state of Erathir built upon the Church itself. As such, the city’s behavior reflected the Paladins’ militant mindset: Erathir was ruled by a single governor, to whom was transferred total authority, and the city was organized into military districts. The city, though largely human, also held large populations of halfings within its territories.
When the city began to expand its borders, it offered those that resisted a simple choice: Surrender, flee, or die. As Erathir expanded and claimed more and more territory, its commitment to law and order saw it become perhaps the most stable empire on Valua. Over time, this stability and order led Erathir to being welcomed the territories they expanded into. All throughout this period of acquisition and absorbtion, a great rush of architechts, builders, inventors, and thinkers flowed into the city, and as it expanded, it became of city of spectacular construction: Magnificient aqueducts, expansive bridges, and soaring skyscrapers were built both in and around the city. The Grey City, as it became to be known, was not deficient in the arts, and it enjoyed a reputation for the most fabulous sculpture in the known world.
Eventually, the two great city-nations saw their borders swell up against the other, and the two eventually entered into full-scale war. Over a decade went by as the two fought against one another, each unable to ever gain the upper hand, the war in a seemingly perpetual state of stagnation. Eventually, a prince of Avandras sought the governor of Erathir and offered the obvious solution, the solution that had been staring the two great metropolises in the face: Unification. After all, reasoned the prince (both privately with the governor and on pulpits to the public), each city’s citizens considered themselves not “Avandrans” or “Erathins” – but Valuans. As opposed to the two realms warring as foes, they should come together and form one great nation, one powerful nation – a Valuan nation.
The people of both territories, weary of ten years war, accepted this stunning, radical proposition, and from this marriage of the two largest cities on the continent of Valua was born the Valuan Empire.
The remaining population of the Valuan continent were each in turn given the chance to submit to the rule of the new nation and become provinces of the empire. Many tribes and cities submitted immediately, others relented after months of diplomatic pressure, and others were seized by force. Historically, seven tribes were said to be the final holdouts that resisted the rule of Valua. They were driven west, into the Untuun Mountains, and were never heard from again.