The First Empire was the strongest political entity in Nirvalin for about 2200 years. The capital, Damacia, in its early history, was one of a half-dozen anonymous minor city-states, constantly in and out of war with one another. Around 1200 BBA, the Demascians, under the leadership of Titius Trebatius, forced all of his rivals into submission, consolidating Arundel, the rough, northern country, into one large state. The anointed Emperor Titius Trebatius and his decedants would send forth the legions of a united north on a conquest to shape the weave of history for all peoples of Nirvalin.
Technologically, Arundel was unmatched at the time. They possessed the sturdiest castles and thickest armor among men. They built roads so their armies were far more mobile than any other, and they were masters of siege warfare, as they had had abundant experience from fighting one another.
The empire’s first expansions were slow as it’s concern was for solidifying their boarders. Minor territories such as Craithweith and Maidenwald were the first, but excursions into Brandonbad were thwarted. In the year 1090 BBA, Emperor Priolaus Trebatius, the grandson of Titius, began the conquest westward, past the bounds of Lake Galladel into the lands he named Bulwark, Winterlands, and beyond. Priolaus has hence been cited as one of the Great Expansionist Emperors, who after only a thirty year long campaign, claimed all the lands and people up to the Western Wastes. Only a generation later, Priolaus’ son Bormus Trebatius, looking to outdo his father’s reputation, set his sites on the long defiant barbarian country of Brandonbad, but he did not live to see the capitol, Risbane, fall in the year 1000 BBA.
With all the habitable north brought under heel, the empire saw two hundred years of peace. It was during this time that the empire saw significant economic and diplomatic growth. They reached out to foreign lands and people, including the Dwarves of Keldrum, whose skill at weapon and armor craft was unmatched, as well as the Dwarves of Mordrum, whose riches under the mountain were uncounted. The empire profited from both relationships, and continued to make ties with their neighbors. The arid country of Narshé lay south of the Issah River, and through diplomacy the larger towns of Stonekirk, whose people descended from northerners, and Anan, then a growing fishing village, were willingly brought into the fold of the empire.
The year 750 BBA saw the succession of a young emperor named Cornelius Trebatius (the Short). Inspired by tales of the great conquests accomplished by his ancestors, Cornelius proclaimed that it was his destiny to lead the conquest of all Nirvalin. The Empire had not seen a military campaign for generations, and further expansion would surely lead to conflict with the Elves, whom the Empire had had little success with in diplomacy. The Elves had inhabited the fertile lands of southern Nirvalin for uncounted thousands of years, and the north was steeped in superstition concerning those lands.
But Cornelius was not dissuaded, and personally oversaw the construction of an army of forty thousand men spoiling for a fight. However, Cornelius was young and untrained, so when the time for war came, it was his general Ardimir who lead the march. Ardimir was a brilliant strategist from Galadel and a confidant leader, in stark contrast to the boisterous yet inexperienced Emperor Cornelius the Short.
The Arundel war machine rolled into what was then called the Free Marches, taking territories one by one nearly unopposed. Over the ten years following the invasion, the north men struggled to find a decisive victory against the skirmishing Wood Elves, who operated a guerrilla war from behind the lines. However, the Empire did what they had done against the Dark Elves of Craithweith, the Brans of Brandonbad, and the beastmen of the North: they slashed and burned large swaths of land and constructed seemingly indomitable fortresses in their place. By these means, the Empire was able to dominate the Teriggon Verge, the Green Lands, and the country they named Ardimir’s Wake.
Cornelius, who ten years earlier believed he would see all of Nirvalin brought to heel under his rule, was severely disappointed with the progress his general had made. Out of impatience more than anything else, Cornelius ordered Ardimir to rally the army for an invasion of the Everwood Forest, the bastion of Elfdom in Nirvalin. Ardimir was reluctant to launch such an attack, as traditional, open-field tactics would be no good in the dense and maze-like forest. Nevertheless, Ardimir sallied forth to do his emperor’s bidding.
Entering the forest was like entering the jaws of a bear trap; every day a detachment of soldiers would be ambushed by a storm of arrows falling from the tree-tops. Any attempt to locate an Elven stronghold or city in the forest ended in futility, as the scouts reported that there were none to be found. With moral at a low, Ardimir deemed that if he were to win this war, he’d have to burn the forest down one mile at a time until the enemy revealed themselves. However, Ardimir refused to resort to such destructive means, and instead withdrew the remains of his tattered army from the thicket, reporting that the place was cursed by Elvish magic and thus untouchable.
Centuries would go by without a conflict of such scale as the Wood Elves licked their wounds. The Empire saw steady expansion into southern Nirvalin under the leadership of a number of emperors. More often than not they would simply settled on unoccupied lands, placating their new neighbors with profitable trade. Cobalion and the Halflings therein profited greatly from Imperial expansion, as Davoi was made a protectorate of the Empire in the year 600BBA. Simultaneously, the Empire settled the plains region of the Free Marches, named Vanguard as it marked the furthest western territory before Nirvalin becomes Kyrinthia.
The Empire’s acquisition of Cobalion and subsequent founding of Winno gained them access to the Souther Sea, and proved one of their most profitable expansions thus far. The settlement opened trade with distant lands previously unknown to the north; spices from the exotic continent of Halden became one of the most in-demand imports in the Empire, but it was Winno’s rich yet overextended fish industry that had the Empire set their sites on Nirvalin’s southern coast of Romeris. They founded the city of Calenhad in the year 380BBA on Romeris’s wester peninsula, meant to wrench control of the seas and launch further expansion eastward.
This unsurprisingly put them in conflict with the Castidan people of eastern Romeris (Castella). These seafarers were allies with the elves, and thus were no friend to the Empire already, but now the Empire was butting in on their fishing grounds. The Empire had constructed a formidable navy to protect their fishing trade, but the Castidans were unmatched on the sea. Despite their naval superiority, however, the Castidans did not have a strong land army, and the conflict between them and the Empire was brought to a swift end after the Empire seized their rival’s largest port, renaming it Alabaster. Castella submitted to Imperial rule without struggle.
The First Empire would reach its greatest extent after settling the plains region of the Free Marches, named Vanguard as it marked the furthest western territory before Nirvalin becomes Kyrinthia. what would be its highest strength at about 1 BBA, when the First Empire encompassed nearly all of known Nirvalin. However, their advance was halted at the Battle of Aethelmham, the great bridge across which lay the wild elven realm of Kyrinthia. At this battle, the combined forces of the Elder Races, including Elves, Centaur and Fey finally defeated the armies of the First Empire, saving Kyrinthia from the incursion of humanity.
For a while the greatness of the empire maintained, but it was not to last. Eventually, internal strife and a failing economy tore the Empire apart. They were unable to expand their boarders beyond the Aethelmham, and many of their territories fell to ruin. The empire’s collapse was complete around the century of 500 ABA, when their vassal lands declared themselves independent en mass, including Brandonbad, Romeris and Cobalion. Nowadays, the remnants of the First Empire has been reduced to their home land of Arundel as well as a few adjacent provinces they’ve managed to hold onto.