Concerning Events, People, and Places of the Ishtii Empire

A Brief Summary Concerning Events, People, and Places of the Ishtii Empire

Empire of Ishtul

An empire that succeeded the Thassan Kingdom during the time of Yzergild, who ruled from 1 to 41. At its greatest extent it encompassed territories stretching from Sea of Grass and the Northern Wastes to South Lands and the Eastern Sea. After 895 it sank into anarchy and split into multiple kingdoms under the onslaught of barbarian invaders from the north and east and the Horde to the south. Due to his military ineffectiveness against the Hordic gains, the last emperor, Justus IV, was deposed by a military Junta in 989, the traditional date for the end of the empire. Modern chronology generally begins with the ascension of Yzergild (AY and BY) and the beginning of the Yzerite Dynasty, a testament to the impact the Empire has had on modern history.

Yzarpur III

(b. 461— d. 492) Ishtii emperor (477 – 92). He ruled with his father, Yzarpur II (or Yzarpurian, little Yzarpur), until the latter’s death in 480; recalled from the frontier, Yzarpur III plunged into a life of dissipation in Ishtul. After his sister tried to have him killed (482), he executed the noblemen involved and began ruling capriciously. His brutality stirred unrest that ended years of Ishtii stability and prosperity. He renamed Ishtul Yzarpuriana (“The City of Yzarpur”). Physically impressive, he claimed he was a demi-god and fought opponents in the Imperial arena. His mistress and advisers, their plot supposedly assisted by the Sons of Silver, had Yzarpur strangled ending the Yzarian dynasty after a reign of over three hundred years

Imperial Crisis

The Crisis (also known as simply “The Crisis” ) (492 - 540) was a period in which the Ishtii Empire nearly collapsed under the combined pressures of invasion, civil war, plague, and economic depression. The Crisis began with the assassination of Emperor Yzarpur III at the hands of his mistress and allied generals and noblemen, initiating a fifty-year period in which 30 - 35 claimants to the title of Emperor, mostly prominent generals and ambitious nobles, assumed imperial power over all or part of the Empire. The most notorious episode is the assassination of Bethica, and subsequent auctioning of the throne, by the Sons of Silver in 502. By 530, the Empire split into several competing states centered on either urban areas (such as Ishtul) or around access to magical or natural resources (such as the Magus Confederation). The Crisis ended with the ascension of Palmyrene, the last of the so-called “Adventurer Emperors”, who began the reconquest of the former imperial territories.

The Crisis resulted in profound changes in the institutions, society, and economic life of the Empire. It would take several generations for the Empire to overcome the economic disruption and depopulation of the nearly 50 years of anarchy.

Adventurer Emperors

An Adventurer emperor was an Ishtii Emperor who seized power by virtue of his prowess as an adventurer. Unlike previous emperors who had seized power in military coups d’état or by winning the influence of the Imperial Council, the adventurer emperors tended to be low-class commoners (often from outlying parts of the empire); the first adventurer emperor, Thrax, had begun his adventuring career in the City Guard of Ishtii. An adventurer emperor could not boast of a distinguished family name or a successful career as a statesman or public servant; rather, he had only his military or magical career to recommend himself, and his only influence the points of his soldiers’ swords or sorcerer’s spells.

Some of these emperors were members of the equestrian class who had worked their way up to a sufficient position of influence within their area that other adventurers would support a bid for the purple, although this was a risky undertaking because the other adventurers could withdraw their support at any time and perhaps shift it to another leader who looked more promising at the time.

Because the adventurer emperors were frequently border commanders or mercenary peacekeepers along the fringe of the Empire, the act of overthrowing the reigning emperor and seizing power for themselves left large gaps in the empire’s border defenses, gaps that could be exploited by the Empires’ enemies, leading to the Lizardfolk incursion into Ishtul territory in the 510s which resulted in the construction of the Walls around Ishtul. The adventurer emperors also used state money to pay their troops — no emperor who had come into power by force of arms or magic could afford to allow his followers to fall into dissatisfaction or disaffectation, as those who live by the sword die by the sword — and public works and infrastructure fell into ruin. To accommodate the vast demands of buying off their adherents, the state often simply seized private property, damaging the economy and driving up inflation.

The imperial system was on the verge of total collapse in 540 when yet another adventurer emperor; a war-priest of Hieronymous named Palmyrene, seized power and donned the purple. Palmyrene instituted a number of reforms designed to stabilize the empire and the imperial office bringing an end to the Crisis.

Although further Emperors would don the purple on the basis of military power or magical skill, the phenomenon of the adventurer emperors died out.

Historical Periods

Periodization is the attempt to categorize or divide time into named blocks. The result is a descriptive abstraction that provides a useful handle on periods of time with relatively stable characteristics. However, determining the precise beginning and ending to any “period” is often a matter of debate

Classical Empire

Determining the precise end of the Thassan Kingdom is a task of dispute by modern historians; Ishtii citizens of the time did not recognize that the Kingdom had ceased to exist. The early Yzerite “Emperors” maintained that the Kingdom still existed as the first Emperor, Yzergild, was originally raised to the throne of the Thassan Kingdom. The early Ishtii state continued to call itself the Kingdom of the Thassa (Rex Thassalia) in official documents until the ascension of the Yzarian Dynasty

Ishtii acquired imperial character de facto from the 130s AY with the acquisition of territories around the Thassa and further west and definitely with the acquisition of the myriad of kingdoms along the Sea of Grass. At the time of the empire’s maximal extension under Yzarpur the Great, Ishtul controlled the entire Thassa as well as all of the Northern Continent south of the Dragon Mountains and the Southern Continent north of the Plain of Fire.

Culturally, the Ishtii Empire was significantly human, but also saw the rise of demi-human traditions, such as those of the elven, half-elven and dwarven cultures. The empire began to decline in the crisis of the late 400s.

Late Empire

The Late Empire sees the rise of Cuthbert under Csetiphus, finally marginalizing other deities cult with the Aurelian decrees of 833, as well as the conquering, consolidation, and reorganization of break away territories. Successive invasions of humanoid and giant tribes finalize the decline of the Empire in the 900s, while the core of the old Empire persists into modern times as the Exarchy of Ishtul. Active animism having already been succeeded by continued developments in valor and cult religions, the cultural character of the late empire is characterized by the synthesis of centuries old religious and monastic orders. The syncretic nature of these philosophies in due course influenced the theology of Cuthbert, which came to dominate the last few centuries of history.

Many individuals have attempted to put a specific date on the symbolic “end” of the Imperial period with the most prominent dates being the deposing of the last Emperor in 989, the closing of the last Mage Academy in Ishtul in 1102, or the conquests of the Exarch in the 1220s.

Ultimately, though, it was a slow, complex, and graduated change in the socioeconomic structure in history that led to the changeover between Classical Empire and Modern society and no specific date can truly exemplify that.

Csetiphon Dynasty

The Csetiphon dynasty is an informal name for the ruling family of the Ishtii Empire from Csetiphus Chlorus (Csetiphus the Pale) (d. 612) to the death of Csetian II in 726. It is named after its most famous member, Csetiphus who became the sole ruler of the empire in 585 after a contested succession and subsequent civil war. Although its founder was a renowned soldier, the dynasty is most noted for its cultural, religious, and economic policies of non-expansion and integration.

Decian the Half-Elf

(b. 590, — d. 657) Ishtii Emperor (613 – 657). Decian was the half-elf great-nephew of Csetiphus. After the death of Csetiphus’ brother in 613, Decian rose to the purple over other claimants; mostly due to his sterling military record and despite his ethnicity. Decian distinguished himself against the northern gnoll tribes who had encroached on the Empire’s borders in the Great War of the North (607 – 610). The campaign and following pogrom virtually eliminated several of the monstrous humanoid races on the Northern Continent. His reign is decidedly different than his previous soldierly life. Decian was a noted scholar, painter, and poet who encouraged the arts, rebuilding much of the devastated urban areas of the Empire. Decian was also a noted proponent and believer in magic. It is his largesse that funded the magnificent Temple of Boccob in Ishtul. Decian was a pious man who supported multiple religious orders. Decian was especially generous to a new cult, that of St. Cuthbert, converting to worship Cuthbert as the sole true god of men in 634. During Decian’s reign of 44 years, the longest imperial reign in over four hundred years, the Empire gradually recovered some its former glory.

Fifteenth Master

(b. before 700 – d. after 780) the Fifteenth Master of the Sons of Silver (740 – 780). A human of unknown origin, and much like the Sons of the Silver after 600, little is known about him. The Fifteenth Master is the fifteenth person to be master of the Sons after their shift from a military organization focused on power-politics to a monastic order. Previous leaders of the Sons styled themselves “Prefect” or “Captain” in tune with their martial origins. At some point after 600, the Sons became monastic order stressing discipline and wisdom; the nature of this change was similar to a number of “mystery orders” –their rites, initiations, and names became a matter of private record seldom shared with those outside the Sons. Only those who have made the climb share in the secrets of the Sons; and as such, are sworn to never reveal it. Although the Sons still acted as de facto bodyguards and stewards of the purple-clad emperors of the Ishtii Empire, their function became decidedly less political and more personal. The Masters acted not only as protection for the Emperor, but also as advisers and teachers.

The Fifteenth Master (also called “The Great Teacher” in some contemporary texts) was initially an adviser to the Emperor Gordian (d. 747). Gordian did not leave any male heirs of age to rule, and the Fifteenth Master stepped in as regent for his infant son Gordian II. However, during the next year a series of claimants to the throne emerged, plunging the Empire into a period of civil war (traditionally 748 – 812). During this period the Sons, at the direction of the Fifteenth Master, were once again active in the political and military events of the Empire. Some scholars claim that it was the personal strength of the Fifteenth Master that kept the Empire from disintegrating altogether; although this view is not widely accepted. It is during this period that the modern interpretation of the duties of a Master of the Sons of Silver was formed. All subsequent Master used the texts of the Fifteenth as a guide or template for their own mastership.

The date of death for the Fifteenth Master is unknown, but is generally accepted as after the Battle of the Oud River (780) which is the last known mention of him in the historical record.

Milvian

(b. 772 – d. 812) Ishtii Emperor (810 – 812). Milvian was a noble originally from the eastern city of Seesat. Considered a legitimate claimant to the throne at the time, most historians view him as a usurper of the throne. Milvian was the perfect of Ishtul until 810 when, rumors having reached the city that the reigning Emperor Marcel and much of the Imperial Army had been destroyed at the Battle of Beetle Hill, he offered himself as a potential candidate for the purple. Having secured the support of the Sons of Silver and the population of Ishtul, Milvian was publicly acclaimed emperor in the fall of 810. The usurpation obviously went largely without bloodshed (the historian Nemus names only one victim).

Once word reached the city that Marcel has survived and was marching the remnants of his army towards Ishtul, the city remained loyal to Milvian (most likely due to the city’s merchant and aristocratic classes attitude towards the excessive taxes Marcel has levied to pay for his military exploits). After a short siege, what remained of Marcel’s army was induced to switch allegiances (contemporary sources suggest that sorcery was in some way involved) and Marcel was forced to surrender. Milvian had him murdered sometime before the spring of 811.

The victor at Beetle Hill, Aurelian, had enlarged his army and began his assault on Milvian’s troops in the spring of 812. After a series of defeats at the hand of Aurelian, Milvian withdrew to the city and began preparing for a lengthy siege. For unknown reasons, Milvian decided to join battle with Aurelian and make his stand at a stone bridge on the main military road to Ishtul, the Dragon Bridge. During the course of the battle, Milvian was slain and most of his army destroyed.

Battle of the Dragon Bridge

The Battle of the Dragon Bridge took place between the Ishtii Emperors Aurelian and Milvian in 812. Aurelian won the battle and became the sole ruler of the Ishtii Empire. Milvian drowned in the Phrat River during the battle.

According to chroniclers such as Lactantius, the battle marked the beginning of Aurelian’s conversion to Cuthbertism. Lactantius recounts that Aurelian and his clerics had a vision that Cuthbert promised victory if they daubed the sign of the cudgel on their shields. The Arch of Aurelian, erected in celebration of the victory, certainly attributes Aurelian’s success to divine intervention

Milvian had, after a series of defeats in the spring, began preparations for a lengthy siege of Ishtul in the summer of 812. For unknown reasons, he decided to sally forth with his army and face Aurelian. Aurelian chroniclers claim that Milvian received false information from St. Cuthbert; other place the rationale in simpler terms – the poor harvest of the previous year did not leave enough provisions for the defenders to last any considerable amount of time.

Whatever the reason, Milvian chose to make his stand in front of the Dragon Bridge, a stone bridge that carries the Flame Road across the Phrat River into Ishtul (the bridge stands today at the same site, somewhat remodeled). Holding it was crucial if Milvian was to keep his rival out of Ishtul, where the Council and people would surely favor whoever held the city. As Milvian had probably partially destroyed the bridge during his preparations for a siege, he had a wooden or pontoon bridge constructed to get his army across the river. The sources vary as to the nature of the bridge central to the events of the battle. Nemus mentions it, vaguely, as being a wooden construction others specify that it was a pontoon bridge; sources are also unclear as to whether the bridge was deliberately constructed as a collapsible trap for Aurelian’s forces or not.

The next day, the two armies clashed, and Aurelian won a decisive victory. The dispositions of Milvian may have been faulty as his troops seem to have been arrayed with the river too close to their rear, giving them little space to allow re-grouping in the event of their formations being forced to give ground. Already known as a skillful general, Aurelian first launched his magical cavalry at the cavalry of Milvian and broke them. Aurleian’s infantry then advanced, most of Milvian’s troops fought well but they began to be pushed back toward the Phrat; Milvian decided to retreat and make another stand at Ishtul itself; but there was only one escape route, via the bridge. Aurelian’s battle wizards and griffon cavalry inflicted heavy losses on the retreating army. Finally, the temporary bridge set up alongside the Dragon Bridge, over which many of the troops were escaping, collapsed, and those men stranded on the north bank of the Phrat were either taken prisoner or killed. The Sons of Silver, the backbone of Milvian’s army made a desperate stand on the north bank, fighting to the last man. Only Aurelian’s admiration of the bravery of the Sons spared the lives of the remaining monks. The Sons who survived immediately pledged their loyalty to Aurelian in gratitude.

Milvian was among the dead, having drowned in the river while trying to swim across it in a desperate bid to escape or, alternatively, he is described as having his flying boots dispelled. Lactantius describes the death of Milvian in the following manner: “The Bridge in his rear was broken down. At sight of that the battle grew hotter. The hand of the Lord St. Cuthbert prevailed, and the forces of Milvian were routed. He fled towards the broken bridge; but the multitude pressing on him, the wicked magic he had relied on to save him failed, and he was driven headlong into the Phrat.”

Aurelian

(b. after 760?— d. 827) Ishtii Emperor (790 – 812 in contention with Marcellus II, Marcel, and Milvian; 812 – 825 as sole ruler). The eldest son of Marcellus from his first wife, he spent his youth at court. Passed over as successor to the throne (despite a legitimate claim), he fought to make himself emperor killing his step-brother Marcellus II in the process. Victory at the Dragon Bridge outside Ishtul (812) made him sole emperor; according to legend, a cudgel and the words in signio Vinces (“In this sign, conquer”) appeared to him in a vision granted by the priests of St. Cuthbert and he forthwith adopted Cuthbertism. In 813 he issued the Edict of Hedjuk, granting special privileges to the Church of Cuthbert; he also granted lands for churches and monastic orders dedicated to Cuthbert. Under his patronage, Cuthbertism began its growth into the dominant world religion.

Aurelian Dynasty

The Aurelian dynasty is an informal name for the ruling family of the Ishtii Empire from Aurelian the Great (d. 827) to the death of Aurelian IV in 906. The dynasty’s name is derived from Aurelian who founded the dynasty after his ascension as sole emperor in 812. The dynasty is considered the last legitimate dynasty of the Empire. The Aurelian dynasty is notable for its strong adherence, support, and preference to the Church of St. Cuthbert. During their reign, Cuthbertism became the dominant public religion in the Empire. After the dynasty failed with the death of Aurelian IV due to plague (many historians, however, have argued the affliction was magical in nature), the dynasty died out. Phocas, a leading merchant, was immediately crowned emperors beginning a period of shadow emperors who effectually ruled the Empire as imperial generalissimos controlling weak-willed puppet emperors rather than by donning the purple themselves.

Justus II

(b. 952 – d. 989) Ishtii Emperor (980 – 989) . Justus II (also “The Last True Emperor”) succeeded his uncle Justus I. These two formed the short lived Justinian dynasty. Justus I had finally wrested control of the Empire from his leading general, Belasar, who was executed in 977. After nearly five decades of rule by powers behind the throne, and the numerous losses of territories, the Justinians set about attempting to rebuild the Empire. While Justus I ruled in Ishtul, he sent his nephew Justus II out with the Imperial Army to subdue the breakaway provinces of the Empire. After a series of stunning victories against a collation of petty kings and barons at the Battle of Nissus in 979, Justus was able to restore the entire western half of the old Empire. Unfortunately, Justus I was assassinated in 980, forcing Justus II to return to Ishtul to secure the throne before he could consolidate his gains. During the years 982 – 986 Justus II campaigned extensively to reclaim Imperial territory in the south. However, the growing threat of the Horde forced Justus II to turn his attention east to this new threat. Justus II was killed in battle against the Horde, slain by a drow priestess at the Battle of Highport. His son, Justus IV, succeeded him only to be deposed after only 47 days. After the subsequent civil war for control of the throne, the Empire disintegrated into a series of kingdoms; each concerned only with defense of the immediate territory they could control or influence.

Sea of Grass

The Sea of Grass (Halfling: Alfold) makes up most of the large lowland plain occupying the western half of the Northern Continent. The site is approximately 52,000 square miles. The highest point is the hillock Hoport (500 feet) and the lowest point is the Tizza River. The terrain ranges from flat to rolling plains.

The plains derive their name due to the unique flora that covers almost the entire plain. The large grasses (there are seven known species) range in height from a foot to ten feet. The central portion of the plain is entirely covered with grass, which despite efforts to remove, continues to grow. Most major settlements on the Sea of Grass are either magical of built upon a natural feature such as hill or large rock outcrop.

The Sea is comprised politically of dozens of baronies, dukedoms, and other assorted minor kingdoms. Once partitioned into provinces of the Ishtii Empire, the Sea of Grass is nominally rules as a loose confederation of states owing fealty to Lhouis Eared. Lhouis, the youngest son of Khazorus, was granted lordship of the motley assortment of nations when Khazorus’ conquests were partitioned with the Treaty of Hespat.

Hordic Conquests

Hordic conquests (977 – 1020) (Undercommon: Tormtor, literally “reclaimed”) also referred to as the War Against the Giants, or the Hordic Uprising, began after the death of the drow prophet R’raashi’dun. R’rasshi’dun, or Rashi in Common, established a new unified political polity in the semi-arid fringes of the Plain of Fire which under the subsequent Rahisdun (the Rightly Guided Ones) and Uny’aad Dynasty saw a century of rapid expansion of previously marginalized humanoid races into the rest of the Southern Continent.

The historian Gaebbonus, in his tome The Fall of Ishtii, describes the extent of the conquests thus:

“Under Ommiades, the first great Hordic king, the Hordes Empire extended two hundred days’ journey from east to west, from the confines of the Dragonbach to the shores of the Western Ocean. And if we retrench the sleeve, as it is styled by their writers, the long and narrow province of march of an underground army. We should vainly seek the indissoluble union and easy obedience that pervaded the government of Ishtul; but the progress of Undercommoners diffused over this ample space a general resemblance of manners and opinions. The language and laws of the heretofore “evil” gods were studied with equal devotion to any center or church in the human-centric North: the Orc, Goblin, Drow, and the Giant embraced as countrymen and brothers in the pilgrimage of Hedjuk, the new religious center of the South; and the Undercommon language was adopted as the popular idiom in all the old Imperial provinces to the southwestward of Freeport.”

The Hordic conquests brought about the collapse of the Freeport Confederation’s power and a great territorial loss for the reeling Ishtii Empire. The reasons for the Hordic success are hard to reconstruct in hindsight, primarily because only biased sources from the period have survived. Most historians agree that the Ishtii and Freeport governments were militarily exhausted from decades of internal fighting. Donner of Altire however, suggests that formation of a state in the south and ideological (i.e. religious) coherence (based on a synergetic pantheon of creation gods under an arch-deity, Tharzidun), enfranchisement of marginalized humanoids, and magical mobilization (contrasted with the increasingly anti-arcane beliefs of the North) was a primary reason why the Hordic armies in the space of fifty years were able to establish and consolidate their gains, though his work has not been commonly accepted.

Eventually, the Hordic conquests as a mass movement stopped. Historians have long debated the cause. Despite contemporary claims of divine intervention coupled with political or racial superiority, Northern scholars have yet to agree on a singular cause for the sudden decline in territorial advancement by the Hordic armies. Most agree that the lessened influx and availability of new followers following decades of integrating all available populations, the need for consolidation of conquered territories, and political in-fighting all contributed to the gradual slowing of Hordic movements. In the period following the Fall of Nimocadia the two major political groupings have slowly settled into an entente, or stalemate, with only gradual gains (political, martial, or economical) made by either side.

The estimates for the extent of the basic ideological spread of the Hordic theocracy suggest it is over 5 million square miles, making it larger than all current states.

Siege of Freeport

The First Hordic Siege of Freeport in 1002 was a major conflict of the Hordic Wars, and was one of the numerous times Freeport’s defenses were tested.

It was fought between the Freeport Confederation with the assistance of mercenaries from the eastern kingdoms (themselves a remnant of the Ishtii Empire) against the Hordic Ommiadian Kingdom. The Orc king, Muawah I, who had emerged as the ruler of the Hordic Empire following a civil war, sent his son, Muawah II who besieged Freeport under the First Councillor Justorius. In this battle the Horde, unable to breach the city walls, blockaded the city along the coast north of the outermost walls. The approach of winter forced the besiegers to withdraw to the south to the other sides of the Straits of Marmara.

Just prior to the siege, a refugee named Kallinkik of Highport had invented for the Freeport Navy a devastating new battle spell that came to be known as “Freeport Fire” which allowed it’s wielder to cast sheets of magical flame from hundreds of yards away. In 1003, the Freeport navy utilized it to decisively defeat the Hordic navy in the Straits of Marmara, lifting the siege in the summer of the same year.

The defeat of the siege can be attributed to two factors: The unbroken defenses of the city and the devastating winter. The naval victory Freeport won ensured the city could be supplied by sea. Meanwhile, the Hordic forces were beset with starvation in winter.

This victory halted the Hordic expansion northward for almost thirty years, although the Horde would not be decisively defeated until a conglomeration of armies from the human lands decisively defeated until the Second Battle of Freeport. The victory in the Siege of Freeport also cemented Freeport as a powerful and independent naval city-state and expanded its sphere of influence over the entire eastern portion of the Central Sea.

Horde

The term was first applied to large battle groupings of humanoids that fall outside the “classic” or “civilized” races of humanity (Orcs, Goblinoids, Giants, etc.) by human generals. The term was later applied to all of these races and by the time of their mobilization and invasion of former Imperial territory came be the standard Common synonym for the Rashi.

Before and during the Ishtii Empire, raids by bands and tribes of humanoids became common on the northern and southern fringes of Human territory. The first use of the term Horde to describe a battle march of these creatures was in 415 BY when a large Gnoll incursion ravaged the eastern plains. Eventually, all humanoids not settled within ‘civilized’ lands became referred to as “the Horde(s)”.

The modern usage became standard vernacular at the onset of the Hordic Conquests (977 – 1020). The various humanoids allied under the banner of the Rashi are usually referred to in Common-centric histories as “The Horde” although not all humanoids the term was historically applied to are included in the political, religious, and military grouping ruled by the followers of Rashi (e.g., Kuo-Toa).

Fall of Nimocadia

The fall of the city of Nimocadia in the summer of 1020 is considered the final battle of the Hordic Wars. Although there were other, minor, skirmishes after the city fell, this was the last battle that resulted in a significant change in territory or political influence. The borders between the Rashi state and the human led kingdoms descendent from the Ishtii Empire have largely remained static since the winter of 1020 (although there has never been a treaty or armistice to legally define any frontier).

Nimocadia was a human city in the eastern valleys of the Dragonbach Mountains. Renowned for its beauty; especially its art and buildings, the city was one of the several cultural centers of the southern provinces of the Ishtii Empire. Placed on the narrow strip between the Central Sea and the Dragonbach, the city essentially controlled all landward access to the Southern Continent from the Northern Continent, and as such was a valuable military possession. The city itself had changed hands numerous times over the course of human history. Prior to, and during, the siege the city was a self-governing city-state on the Freeport model.

The city was besieged in the summer of 1019. Confident of success the First Lord of the city refused demands for surrender and compounded the insult by issuing threats to the approaching army. A loose coalition of human mercenaries and other adventurers manned the city walls. To the north, several human kingdoms sent troops under the banner of a battle-priest of Cuthbert as well as a sizable flotilla of ships to help break the Hordic blockade and supply the city.

In the fall of 1019, the two navies met in the Bay of Nimocadia. The Hordic navy beat back a joint naval attack by the various allied human kingdoms. The failure of the navy to break the blockade put the human armies in a tenuous position on the ground. Without the ability to supply by sea and facing the onset of winter, the human armies withdrew, essentially abandoning the city the Hordic siege. Even without pressure from a land-based army, the Hordic army was still unable to break the siege during the winter of 1019-20.

In the spring of 1020 a new human relief army was defeated at Zama, about 12 miles east of the city. The following month, fearing the arrival of another relief army and facing a dwindling number of battle ready troops, General Grunnt, an Orc, ordered a general assault on the city. After several days of bitter fighting, the Hordic army held the east wall. Frustrated by the continued losses of his army, and the cities steadfast insulting refusal to capitulate (despite ever worsening conditions within the city) prior to his assault, Grunnt refused any offer of negotiation. Once the Horde held the city, Grunnt ordered all of the survivors slain or sold into slavery. The city was looted and burned, the fires raging for several weeks according to sources contemporary to the battle. The carnage was so great that Grunnt had to move his camp upwind of the city due to the stench of decay from the ruined city. Eventually the shattered, depopulated city was abandoned and the Hordic city of Tharzidunian was built a few miles from the ruins.

Ravenal

Ravenal the Short (Ravenal III), (b. 1152 – d. 1220) first Exarch of Ishtul (1182 – 1220), the Son of Martelus and father of Khazorus. Succeeding his father as Master of the Palace (1174), he ruled the city of Ishtul, the provinces to the immediate east and west, as well as the Central Sea and islands of the Thassa from behind the auspices of a puppet king. In 1179 he chose a noble-born cleric of Cuthbert to succeed as then next king, christened Childeric III. Under the guidance of Ravenal, Childeric effected reforms that strengthened the political power of the church of Cuthbert and advanced the elimination of learned arcane magic (or wizardry). After Childeric expressed a wish to retire to a religious life (1181), Ravenal, with the consent of Zacharias, Patriarch of the Church of Cuthbert, had himself proclaimed king (1182) and Childeric entered a monastery on the Island of Cree. In return for this recognition, Ravenal increased suppression of the mage schools and academies. Essentially, Ravenal used his popular standing and martial power to further the churches crusade against wizardry in exchange for political support and validation of his newly intended dynasty. Ravenal changed his title from King to Exarch (a portmanteau, of Executive and Partriarch) to reflect his new found ecclesiastical power. Consolidating his territories, Ravenal set out to re-conquer the former Imperial provinces. He died of camp fever while on campaign in 1220.

Khazorus I

Khazorus (b. 1198 – d. 1263) was the Exarch of Ishtii (1220 – 1263) who conquered most of the Northern Continent by the year 1260. The eldest son of Ravenal the Short, Khazorus and his brother, Kharlomus, divided the Exarchy after Ravenal’s death in 1220; a few short years later Kharlomus died and Khazorus assumed control over his portion. During his 43 year reign Khazorus proved himself a brilliant military strategist and administrator, promoting art and education while waging are from the Sea of Grass to Stormhaven. Among his many campaigns were: the Western War (1223 – 33); the Pirate War (1235 - 36); the conquest of the Eastern Marches (1256 – 1260); the Subjugation of the Tribes (1240 – 42). All of these were a part of his forty year effort to subdue and reunite the former Northern territories of the Ishtii Empire and his tireless championing of Cuthbert. Known for his piety as well as his brutality (he once beheaded more than 4,000 in one day), Khazorus united most of the northern lands and created a period of relative order during the otherwise tumultuous century and a half after the Hordic Conquest.

After his death in 1263, his empire was divided amongst his three sons. This division was made permanent by formal agreement after a year-long civil war broke out amongst his sons. The Treaty of Hespat in 1264 set the division as such: Lhouis, the youngest, retained the western half – mostly the confederation of kingdoms covering the Sea of grass; Kharles, the eldest, who retained the largest portion, the Eastern Marches from Stormhaven to the Oud River; and Khazorus II, the middle and supposed favorite, who held the lands of the “Old Exarchy” - the city of Ishtul, the provinces from the Oud river to the East and the Tizza to the West, the provinces around the Central Sea, as well as the Islands of the Western Thassa.