The Arkhosian Empire
The Arkhosian capital of Io before the Unbinding
Centuries ago, the human Empire of Galaryn, weakened by infighting and corruption, began to withdraw from its more distant outposts. Among those was the mountain fastness they called Drakholt. It had been a costly occupation and attempts to subdue the native dragonborn clans into an obedient fighting force had failed. They took with them two half-trained legions of dragonborn and left behind towns full of settlers unwilling to go.
As the legions withdrew, the dragonborn clans descended in search of plunder, only to find their way blocked by two dragonborn legions, armed and trained in the Galaryn manner. They had deserted under the leadership of an officer named Drakir, who now claimed that these towns were under his protection. In the following weeks, his army defeated all who came against them, and Drakir personally defeated several warlords in single combat until all opposition was gone. Drakir moved quickly to secure his kingdom, rewarding all clans who stayed to settle and allowing all others to return to the mountains. Any humans unwilling to be ruled by the new kingdom were escorted to the border. Thus, Arkhosia was born.
Over the centuries, Arkhosia developed into a highly civilized kingdom with a strict law code and an ordered society. Dragonborn are typically gruff and to the point, and Arkhosian law and tradition reflect this.
During the Psionic Crusade – which the Arkhosians dismissively called “The Southern War” – Arkhosia remained staunchly neutral until the Unbinding, the Arkhosian name for the cataclysm that destroyed much of their realm and killed Emperor Drakir IV. His son, Rhogar, blamed the Southern War and set about ending it, and carving out significant new lands in the process.
Now the Empire rebuilds. The Gulf of Io is tamed once more, this time using bound water elementals and the aid of a blue dragon named Orendrix, and the Arkhosians are doing their best to make peace with the thousands of new non-dragonborn citizens in their expanded Empire. Some, however, whisper than Rhogar is not done, that Arkhosia is the true heir of Galaryn and that the Emperor means to take their new weaponry south to conquer the Free Cities or even to challenge Bael Turath.
Society and Law
Arkhosian society is highly militaristic. All adults undergo regular military training and may be called upon in time of war. This rarely occurs, however, as the Empire maintains a large army and engages in major wars only occasionally.
Law is based on a strict code of honor, and civil cases are often settled by combat, though rarely to the death. Criminal cases are judged by a tribunal of clan warlords, none of whom may be of the same clan as the involved parties. The defendant’s clan warlord serves as his counselor, though the warlord may also be called to testify to the character of his client. This practice requires clan leaders to be highly educated and familiar with the people of their clan. Finally, all dragonborn have the right to appeal to the Emperor.
Non-dragonborn in Arkhosia
Even before the recent conquests, Arkhosia had a non-dragonborn population. Most of it was concentrated in Drakhall, formerly the westernmost outbost of the Empire, but now a port city on the much expanded Gulf of Io. The mostly human population of the city have lived under dragonborn law and served in their own units in the dragonborn military for centuries, and have grown quite proud of it. Drakhall men were vital to rescuing survivors during the Unbinding and for their service, the new Emperor awarded them the title Dragonkin.
For now, the people brought under the Empire’s sway during the Psionic Crusade have been allowed to maintain their own laws and customs as long as they pay taxes to the Empire, but there is little doubt that the Empire hopes to recreate its success with Drakhall in the new lands.
The Empire is ruled by a hereditary Emperor, who is advised by a council made up of all clan warlords. Changes to Arkhosian law must be approved by both Emperor and Council. In time of war, the Emperor is supreme commander and the warlords serve as his chief lieutenants. A warlord may withhold the support of his clan for a war when it is first proposed. If he does not do so, he is sworn to serve for the duration of the war. Any clans who withhold their support become responsible for defending the homeland. No clan may refuse to fight in a defensive war. This system has resulted in Emperors going to war only when the feel confident that most or all of the council will support them.
Female Warlords and Empresses are rare, but the do occur. Female dragonborn serve in the military alongside males and share equal responsibility for governing the Empire as well.
In an interesting and never-yet-used caveat, the title of Emperor remains hereditary only so long as the current Emperor’s clan remains dominant. Any clan may challenge for leadership, in which case a ritual battle is fought.
All faiths are represented in the Empire, but by far the most popular among dragonborn is the worship of Bahamut. Many also revere Kord. The worship of Tiamat is largely carried out in secret. A few view Bahamut and Tiamat as two sides of one coin, and strive for a middle way. Such belief is held by worshipers of Io’s Children. A few dragonborn also worship Io himself.
The Arkhosians are a nation-at-arms as already noted. The army is organized around the dragonborn clans who first descended from the Drakholt Mountains. Each clan chooses a Warlord to lead them in war, and to represent them on the Council.
Arkhosian armies include drake-mounted cavalry armed with bastard swords and elemental pistols, as well as elemental powered warships both at sea and in the air. Infantry tend to fight in formation armed with halberds or glaives, while scouts carry sheaves of tratnyr javelins, a traditional Drakholt weapon. As they become available, elemental firearms are being added to the arsenals of units, with more elite units receiving the new weapons first. Drakhall has also contributed to Arkhosian armies, fielding units of heavy horse as well as longbowmen.