Aritan: The Imperial Age.
The Aurelenian Empire
Unity, Enlightenment, and Conquest
Five subcultural nations united by a sense of civic duty, religious unity, and a goal to improve humanity through their own superior society.
The Aurelenian Imperial Dynasty, The Aurelenian Empire, or just The Empire. By whatever name, it is The defining political, military, and economic power in Aritan. Founded roughly 300 years ago by Aurelena Magna, the first Empress. Legends tell varying accounts of her origins, but all versions conclude with her arriving with on the southern shores of Aritan with a few hundred soldier/pilgrims, a new religion, and a desire to unite the world under that religion. The rest is history.
Most aspects of imperial culture reflect the general mindset and unified sense of direction that the has allowed the Aurelenian Dynasty to dominate as much of the world as it has. Though there is notable variation between the five original provinces, they all manage enough cultural similarity to both be identified together, and usually work together with great effectiveness.
Social StructureThe imperial social system is stratified into two main groups. The aristocracy that make up the highest ranking nobility, the Princeps houses, the oldest Dux houses, and the like, and the plebeian masses. As stratified as this is, the system is not as strictly feudal as other nations in Aritan, with a very strong meritocratic focus within the lower class that allows for movement between social ranks, and between careers in society to one that the individual is better at. This is combined with a very strong sense of civic duty among these people. The entire system is designed to create an effective machine of conquest, with every person at every level operating in some way to support it.
The aristocracy has, over the course of history, become somewhat detached from this ideal and structure. Imperial noble life tends to be very formalized, traditional, and very cosmetic, with new and ever more outlandish fashions dominating high class parties. Additionally, a great emphasis tends to be placed on the age of one particular house’s bloodline, which puts new lower ranking houses, a relatively common occurrence as the meritocracy of the plebeian class often promotes highly esteemed captains to nobility in order to govern new territory, into a bit of an awkward position in society.
Gender RolesGender roles in the Empire also tend to be different between the classes. while the faith of Sol holds that women are inherently more pure and holy than men, the meritocratic nature of the plebeians means that while common roles exist, any given job will be done by the most effective person available for it, whatever their gender.
However, in the highly formalized, and generally more religious aristocracy, the separation tends to be more stark. Men are usually put into positions of military command, while women are given roles of governmental, and religious authority. Additionally, high society’s fashion sense comes through here as well, with the holiness of women being an increasingly important factor. Higher ranking women will often where veils, or other covering types of clothing, though the wild and vivid world of contemporary fashion means that the types of clothing worn by some can sometimes miss the point. The entire idea, however, reaches its pinnacle with the empress herself, who is not aloud to be physically seen by anyone but her trusted servants and guards, and men must wear blindfolds while in her presence.
The empire has only one religion. Instilled through conquest so thoroughly in all of its home territories that any previous beliefs and traditions have been either completely subsumed into it or eradicated, the Faith of Sol is the single deciding force of religious life in the Empire.
The most fundamental beliefs of the church of Sol are a complete and utter devotion to Sol, shockingly enough. Imperial dogma holds that in ages past, Sol the creator of life and light crafted the world and all things on it so that the universe might be more beautiful, and humans, the most glorious creations for they were made in the image of Sol, placed upon it to live and rejoice in its beauty. However, human’s possession of free will led o conflict. Many of them chose to ignore the beauty of the world, and found reasons for conflict with each other, and they fought pointlessly, destroying the perfection of the world wherever they went. Such was Sol’s unending love for its creations that it chose to allow them to continue, decreeing that they would reap what they had sewn with their reckless decisions. However, their malevolence grew, and became a being unto itself. A great darkness known as Asphodel came upon the world, consuming the weak willed humans with its power, and brought sin, and destruction to creation. Sol was forced to do battle with Asphodel to protect the remaining faithful and strong willed humans from the darkness, and ultimately, it was successful. Asphodel was struck down, and rendered impotent, but the battle was taxing, and Sol could not undo all of the damage done. Humanity was now mortal, and the world was filled with chaos, violence, and falseness. In order to save humanity and creatin from ultimate collapse, Sol used what remained of his power to split a portion of itself, and infuse it into the remnants of Asphodel, charging it with safeguarding the souls of the dead until the day when Sol could be returned to power. This will happen when the remaining faithful of humanity have vanquished the darkness of the world, allowing Sol to return fully powered to bring about a new golden age of immortality lasting for eternity.
The Faith operates on every level of imperial society. Its uppermost position is the Empress herself. The Supreme Hierophant, the Great Sacrifcer, The Final Juror, the Empress is has the ultimate dictatorship over all religious matters. Her word is law, spoken through her lips by the will of Sol itself. However, the empress is also the final arbiter of almost every other facet of imperial government and life, and so delegation is a somewhat necessary process.Below her is the Council of Hierophants, a group of twelve elected from among the dozens of high clerics that are each responsible for governing a different territory of the church’s domain. Of the 12 council hierophants, 6 are presently from Lykis.
Below the high cleric electors and governors, are the common clergy. These thousands of clerics each usually manage a single temple each, and its surrounding lands. These temples usually have a number of Novice clerics, the amount depending on the size of the temple at hand. These novices assist in with the managing of the temple, and with the performance of various religious duties around the diocese.
Additionally, there are several monastic orders devoted to various aspects of the church. These range from dedication to the pursuit of scientific knowledge and political rhetorical theory, to complete devotion to Sol in every waking moment of life, in isolation.
The most powerful of these orders is the Order of Asphodel. These monks have taken it upon themselves to venerate and manage all things associated with Asphodel, primarily death; the necessary evil of life in the world. The Order of Asphodel is the only monastic order that gets its own position on the Council, and generally has a representative of some sort in most provincial governments. It also manages the rites and rituals regarding the treatment of the dead, a process which usually involves the preservation of a heavily ritualized memorial to the deceased consisting of several of their personal belongings, and their preserved ashes or remains, depending on what kind of funeral the person was able to afford. It is known among Imperial citizens that the preservation of this memorial is vital to maintaining one’s memories of life until the rebirth of Sol.
The imperial home territory is warmer, and generally a bit more arid than its northern neighbors, although this is by no means a constant across its landscape. The five original provinces do, however, tend to conform to dominant landforms in their areas, and can be used as a crude system of defining them.
Lykis is the most fertile, and most populated of the imperial territories. Its landscapes are dominated by rolling green hills, and occasional forests, though these tend to be smaller and sparser than those in more mountainous regions. several rivers cut across the province, and provide it with a great deal of its fertility and agreeableness to humans. It is also notably one of the most religious provinces, with its people being known in the empire for being extraordinary faithful and devoted.
Braxos is dominated by rocky highlands, and low mountains. one of the largest, though most sparsely populated. Its highlands are replete with forests, and interesting rock formations, and its people tend to live in smaller communities focused around their respective castles or defensive structures. Its people are known to be down to earth, old fashioned, and fiery.
Kergus is something akin to the less successful younger sibling of Lykis. its hills and fields are rockier, as it holds the bottom of the highland range from Braxos. Its rivers are smaller, and its game less plentiful. However, it is distinctively the flattest province, and this has allowed horses to make extensive habitation there. Keirgans have correspondingly become known as being harsh and blunt people, who are extremely competent horse riders, and form the bulk of imperial cavalry units.
The easternmost province, Atega is something of a backwoods to teh rest of the empire. It is rocky, though not as much as Braxos, and not as populous as Lykis or Keirgus. However, it’s peninsular nature has given it a much more maritime climate than the other provinces (excepting Vinkaea. Ategans are known for being somewhat socially different, and for being accomplished sailors and seafolk.
Vinkaea is fairly unique in comparison to the other provinces, in that it is not a specific area of land, but rather a blanket title given to the governing province of the islands off the western and southern shores. Named for the largest of these islands, Vinkaea is extremely rich in natural resources of various types, ranging from unique plants and trees, to minerals, to unique sea life. The islands tend to be very filled with flora and fauna, and seen commonly as a sort of combination paradise territory, and as a target of exploitation for its various resources. Though the large island of Vinkaea was of the same cultural roots as the rest of the empire, the rest of them were inhabited by various other peoples before the empire ousted, killed, or incorporated them. Vinkaea,as a governing province, exists as a sort of balancing tool, to keep the other provinces from fighting over its resources too much, and as such, it has many unique quirks that the other provinces do not share.
Clothing, and Common Ethnic Appearence
300 years of conquest and social mingling has added a great deal of variation to ethnic features common in the empire, and its citizens come in a wide range of appearances. However, certain tendencies do remain, particularly among older bloodlines. Imperials generally tend to be somewhat darker skinned than their northern neighbors. Darker curlier hair is also common, and it is usually kept cut fairly short for practicality, though this varies based on The situatuon and individual. Imperial clothing tends to be light, loose, functional, and extremely well made, reflecting their warmer climate, and the skilled craftspeople who are usually put into those positions. Commoners usually wear extremely form over function clothing, while aristocrats will dress in some of the most extraordinarily expensive, complex, and magnificent clothing possible. Veils of imported silk, cloaks that drag behind the wearer by several feet, and robes that are mad eof enough fabric to clothe several dozen children are common. Clergy tend to fall somewhere in the middle of this scale, while tilting more and more towards the extravagance of the aristocracy as they increase in rank.