Sokan Empire

General

Flag Design of the Sokan Empire

The Sokan Empire, also known as the Empire of the Sun, is located in the eastern half of Threa's temperate, forested north. It controls everything between the Central Mountain Range and the eastern shores, as well as a large island off said shores. The northern border is marked by the taiga, while the southern border lies at the edge of the rainforest. Thus the Sokan Empire borders the Riz Tribes, the Flamewing Hightribe, Treztown, and the Truzlin Tribes.

Being the mightiest nation and among the most advanced nations of Threa, its neighbors are wary of it and most prefer to be on good terms with the Emperor. If a people draws the ire of the Sun's chosen leader they can quickly becoming subjugated and enslaved by the Bronze Legions, the proud soldiers of the Empire. As implied by the references to the Sun, it is seen as a deity by the Trezlin, named Sokans, living in the Empire. Overall the Sokan Empire can be described as a civilized country that features a strong, well respected military, and an advanced bureaucracy and administration.

Society

Honor, courage, and zeal are the pillars that this Trezlin-civilization have been founded on. Hard work can bring one anywhere, even if they started at the bottom of the societal classes. Education is available for everyone who can afford it and everyone who pursues a honest profession can usually afford to send at least one of their children to an institute of higher learning, even if it means making sacrifices regarding their own life standard. Courage is most easily displayed by the glorious Imperial Legions, who have brought victory after victory to the Empire and set the borders as they are today. Service is seen as a Sokans way to show devotion to the Empire and to display the courage every Trezlin should possess. Honor is for many Sokans more important than their own life. Challenging another lin to a duel is allowed and even commoners do it as many have had at least basic training with weaponry due to going through basic service within the legions. Insulting someone is seen as barbaric and usually the Sokans have a good way with talking and people. Foreigners often think the Sokans to be outstandingly polite, as long as said foreigner is a Trezlin, too.

A Sokan's most important social group is their family. No true Sokan would ever bring shame to their family, and they try to uphold their relatives' honor whenever possible. Blood is thicker than water and every Sokan knows this to be true. The advantage of closely knit family ties is that there's always people a Sokan can rely on, but the disadvantage is that it often leads to favoritism when important positions within the Empire are handed out. Sometimes, when one severely destroys their own family's reputation, they are expelled from their family. These outcasts have little hope of becoming anything as no one is going to financially or otherwise back them. Even as outcasts, a few exceptional individuals have managed to impress with their skills, and achieved a good status within the Empire.

When a Sokan pursues the companionship of another, it is traditionally the males who have to be the pursuer, despite the fact that males and females are on equal footing in the Empire. It isn't unheard of that a female might begin the courting by showing a lot of interest in a male, but it is usually the male who has to bring it to a finish. Courting consists of meeting in private to get to know each other, but also of getting to know each other's families. No honorable Sokan would dare marrying a partner who isn't liked by their family, because they do not wish to lose their own family's approval. All courtships end either in the two parting ways, if they weren't meant for each other, or in marriage, if they were. Homosexuality is seen as disgusting and unnatural within the Empire, because it doesn't further the industrious population of the Empire, of which the Sun disapproves.

As mentioned, females and males in the Sokan Empire are equal, because under the light of the Sun all followers, no matter what gender or place of birth, should have the same chances. By tradition and due to the development of roles, there's some places where males and some where females are more prevalent. Males tend to be warriors or crafters, while females tend to have a hand for trading and caring for the young, elderly, and the sick. In the administration both sexes tend to be equally common, as both seem to be equally interested in it.

Prejudice towards other races is very common among the imperial citizens. Trezlin and especially Sokans are seen as superior to the others. Kul are seen as nothing more than animals that have too big a mouth, that's especially true for Truzkul, Trezkul and Sozkul - the least advanced kul the Sokans have contact with. Even the Sokans have to admit that Blazkul, Aezkul and the other more advanced kul are nothing to joke with, but they still see them as inferior. Kul and other kinds of lin are useful tools in the Empire. Slavery and taming Trezkul are both common practices. The latter has given the military of the Empire winged war mounts, that have given them a great advantage in the wars of the past centuries.

Even if the Empire greatly expanded through warfare and military service is seen as a honorable deed, the imperial population is not very militant. War is seen as a way to subdue inferior cultures, but people aren't blind to the blood it costs. It is simply seen as a necessary evil to further the Empire's glory and to prevent the expansion of barbarism. The fallen are seen as honorable lin that died fighting so others may live in peace and prosperity.

Personal wealth is a very important matter. Rich families are admired, as long as their wealth came to be through honest work, which includes trading and banking. Since conducting proper business requires trust, a system of local courts has been established, as well as laws of business. In order for business to happen, one has to write a formal contract stating which party has to do what. That way, no one can fool the other. Given the focus on keeping one's honor intact, it is generally seen as a disgrace to try and cheat or trick their client when conducting business.

The earlier mentioned feeling of superiority also comes from the Sokans being a very cultured people. They love art, fashion, and even have theaters in which they show plays. Of course the commoners cannot afford art or fashion, but they do visit the comedies that are available to them. Fashion-wise the wealthier Sokans really enjoy silks and jewelry to show off their riches on their body. To design clothing is actually a proper profession within the Empire and a noticeable amount of tailors earns their living by making fancy clothing for the high social classes. Commoners usually wear simple tunics out of wool or linen, while leather makes for good vests, boots and gloves.

Social Ladder

Social status is a very important matter within the Sokan Empire. One's status is decided by their profession, political status, and their wealth. Having served in the legions or pursuing a career in the administration of the Empire already puts one above the average commoners.

The highest step in the social ladder is owned by the Emperor and the high ranking officials of the administration as well as the legions. The grand marshal is second to the Emperor and thus on par with the ministers of the imperial ministries. Of course the families they are part of are the largest and most powerful ones, often controlling entire provinces due to their social standing. Even without blue blood, a pseudo nobility exists.

On the next step are the governors. Being the undoubted voices of the Emperor within the provinces, they are quite powerful and have at least a small amount of latitude in their actions. With the help of a little bit of bribery and good relations, one can gain benefits from said governors. The Ministry of Loyalty better not get wind of it, or the people involved could lose their power. Or their heads. Since the governors often delegate some of their power to their advisors or minor ministers, there tends to be a small elitist circle in each province that keeps things running and tries to hog the power to themselves and their families. Marshals of the Legions also tend to come from these families.

Beneath those elites are their underlings, who are still a good bit above the normal commoners. Administrators, soldiers, scholars, and wealthy traders are looked at with respect and awe. Their status is what a commoner would first aspire to reach before aiming for more. Especially the Sokans who have served the Empire enjoy great respect among the population.

Hard working, honest folk are the broadest step on the social ladder. A Sokan who works to feed their family and keep their house that their family likely owns since generations, that is a Sokan who can be proud of their status. Given the openness of the administration for educated commoners intended by Garhan, even Trezlin born into this social group can climb the ladder relatively easily.

The next lower social level is reserved for foreigners. They aren't well liked by the Sokans and most are seen as inferior. It is hard for a foreigner to gain any kind of reputation or admiration. Even traders from foreign lands tend to be more tolerated than accepted, even if without trade the richer Sokans would have to get used to living with far less luxury goods.

Slaves and criminals form the bottom of the barrel. They are considered the worst of the worst. The former is at least useful, so criminals are often turned into slaves as punishment; a sentence that is often for life. Having no rights at all, slaves could technically be killed as soon as they stop being useful. Sokans see that as a waste and cruel slave masters are often kicked out of their position. After all, they are doing unnecessary harm to their employer's property. Even old slaves often find a use, usually as a household servant.

Life Timeline

A Sokans life begins among their family. Hatching usually happens while being surrounded by friends, family, and neighbors. All relatives, not only the parents, take care of the freshly hatched lin until they've reached an age where they can be a little bit more independent and help around the house. This is encouraged by the multiple-generations households the Sokans have. It isn't unusual that one lives in the same home with their parents and grandparents for a long time, until they have a family on their own.

The time of a Sokan child is split between helping around the house and learning things from the local teacher or village elder. Many pick up important skills such as reading and writing in lessons taught by these people. Some families can't afford to send their children away to learn, because they need their helping hands to ensure that the family is fed and sheltered.

Once they are old enough, almost all Sokans seek to either learn a trade or study. While the trade of most will simply to become an efficient farmer, some learn complex crafts such as blacksmith or carpenter. Few have enough money to achieve a proper education, but some families sacrifice their own wealth to ensure their children get a chance to climb the social ladder.

After learning a profession, most lin will just work until they are too old to. Hopefully they already have children of their own at this point, who can take care of them and the family's house. One is hatched among their family, one dies among their family if possible. Every Sokan ends up on a deathbed, even if they died somewhere outside, so that the family can say goodbye properly before burying their relative.

Religion

Only one religion is allowed to be followed within the borders of the Sokan Empire - The Servants of the Sun. The Sokans' religion is simple, but relatively logical; they believe the Sun to be a deity as it brings light, warmth, and is seen as the reason that grain grows and that all living beings flourish. It, the Sun, feeds the Sokans, so that they may worship it and spread the faith surrounding it. Being people who love the day thus, they dislike the night and prefer to be indoors and among family and friends when it is dark outside. They also despise anything coming from the depths beneath Threa, including the Hozkul and Hozlin. The latter are hit even harder by the prejudice of the Sokans than the other races. Rain is seen as a gift of the Sun - it hides its own warming being with clouds, just to allow the ground to be wet, so that the seeds in it may sprout when they are touched by the divine light again.

Many great temples, called Sun Towers, are built in its name, and even smaller villages at least have an altar within a small, round building without a roof. The so called Sun Towers are basically just tall structures that include living spaces for the Speakers of the Sun and the Arch-Speaker of the province. Praying ceremonies happen exactly at midday, when the sun stands highest, on the Centday of each week - because the Sun is the center of a Sokan's life. The ceremony is held on top of the towers, while the audience kneels on carpets and listens to the Speaker, who tells them stories of glorious servants of the Empire, and how they spread the Empire's and the Sun's influence and enlightened the world. Alternatively they condemn recent immoral events, such as lustful festivities or disloyalty. The towers themselves are guarded by the Sun Tower Guard, a force of old legionnaires, that use small, spiky shields, which can be used as an off-hand weapon.

With the Sun as a deity, it is just natural that the two moons of Threa are seen as something that one should not worship. The Sokans forbid the Sozlin to pray to the moons, even though it is a big part of their culture and as important to them as fishing. Many Sozlin simply follow their believes in secret, even if they risk being persecuted by the Servants of the Sun for it, who go as far as enslaving them for it. Interestingly the Blazkul see the Sun as a descendant of the Flame or at least its creation, so it is divine for them, too, if in a different way.

The Sun laid out rules to live by for the Sokans. Supposedly it scorched them into a bronze plate that Emperor Sokan held out to the heavens, asking for guidelines. Everyone who does not live by these rules shall be banished to a world of darkness never reached by its warming light, while those who do live a life according to these rules shall join the Sun in the heavens and bask in its shining glory. Here are the rules:

  • 1. Praise the Sun with word and work.

  • 2. Do not slay another true follower of the Sun.

  • 3. Do not take what is not yours, but gain it through sweat and toil.

  • 4. Those who are not creatures of light shall perish as the demons of the darkness they are. Banish them with all your might.

  • 5. Those who do not follow the Sun shall work for the ones who do, so they may do their duty to the Sun yet.

The fifth rule legitimates the enslavement of all the races that have not been chosen by the Sun to be its followers, so every race but the Trezlin.

Holidays and Ceremonies

The Sokans have a bunch of ceremonies. Some of them are related to their religion, while others are national holidays - sometimes it is even a combination of both.

Marriage

Marriage is a very important matter in the society of the Sokans. Of course a Speaker of the Sun has to give the couple their blessing for their bond, so that the Sun may also shine its caring light onto their children. Usually the entire family or even the entire village is present to give little gifts to the future couple. The gifts are a great help, as they are often useful things for their home such as furniture, carpets or lamps. Sometimes it can also be just promises of help, for example that they will help the family when it makes an addition to their house so that another generation can find a place in it, or even helping them build a whole new house.

Funeral

The Sokans deal with the loss of their loved ones by burning them on the high towers, allowing the ash and smoke to float towards the Sun. As usually only bigger cities feature these, villagers often have to partake in a small pilgrimage to the nearest city to burn their dead there. Only devoted Sokans may be burned, the rest is simply buried in the ground to rot in darkness. Afterwards, the people hold a small feast that lasts until sunset, then they quickly clean up and disperse for the night.

Summer Solstice

Being the longest day of the year, it is truly a reason to celebrate the lengthy stay of the Sun at the sky. However, it is also a day for sadness, as the people know that the Sun is going to be around less from now on. They celebrate this holiday by making festivals during daytime within the streets instead of working. Drinking, taking drugs and performing plays on city plazas is a common thing. These festivals are usually paid for by wealthy locals in order to bolster their popularity among the people. It makes it easier to become governor or to stay in that position.

It is a fest for the community as a whole and a chance to bridge gaps between feuding families. Gifting friends and family small tokens of gratitude is not uncommon on this day, neither is it to propose bonding to one's other half.

Sokan's Crowning

This day, celebrated on the Centday of the fifth Week of Summer, marks the day Sokan was crowned Emperor. The Church glorifies him as a descendant of the Sun, seeing him as the one who allowed the Sokan Empire to truly flourish, and as a prophet of the Sun. In truth however, Sokan did not found the religion. He was openly part of it, but didn't spread it actively. His conquest laid out the foundations for the greatness Garhan brought. Garhan took over the nation absolutely, rightfully taking what should be his as the Emperor of the Sokan Empire, thus an Emperor put on the throne by the Sun's blessing. Before Garhan, the Servants of the Sun were a small cult. He purposely spread it because it glorified him as a divine being, making it easier to assume power. Of course this isn't the official story. Officially, the Sun directed Garhan to take over.

As much as it is a religious holiday, it is also a national one. It is spend not with vibrant celebrations, but by honoring the ones who have fallen for the Empire and by paying respect to the Emperor. It is not uncommon to send gifts of appreciation to the Emperor, and to sacrifice an animal to the Sun, to then eat it among the family. It has become tradition to especially remind of family members that have contributed to making the Empire strong and wealthy. The relatives that are mentioned and glorified could either already be dead or still be alive and simply be appreciate at large by their whole family on this day. It has the positive side-effect of giving people a reason to aspire to become just as great as their ancestors, as well as making the people who are already putting effort into a respectable career to feel even more supported and valued. Members of the administration and their families get to celebrate with the governor of the province, which means that a large feast is arranged. The ministers and their family celebrate with the current Emperor himself and his family. It creates a bond between the Emperor and their direct servants.

Language

The primary language of the Sokan Empire is Sokan. The Sokan language has two dialects, a high and a low version. The low version is spoken by the common people and depending on location can be quite different from place to place. High Sokan is spoken by the ministers, diplomats and the rest of the Emperor's court as well as the Emperor themself. It sounds highly and includes many variations of adjectives. Even the Sozlin within the Sokan Empire have to learn Low Sokan if they want to be taken seriously by the Sokans.

Sokan idioms and phrases often include mentions of the Sun, the ancestors, or military slang that made its way into colloquial language. Examples are: "By the ancestors!" (exclamation of surprise, etc.), "May the Sun light your path." (farewell), "The Divine Light shine upon you!" (blessing/farewell), "Steadfast like a phalanx." (can mean someone is actually steadfast, or thick-skulled), "Impale yourself!" (basically "f*** you", but in reference to impaling someone with a spear).

A Sokan's name looks like this: [Name] [Family Name]. Usually Sokans receive their first name from their parents. The family names of commoners often refer to a profession or is otherwise made out of common words. Gerud Smith is an example. If one is a minister or governor, that could be part of their name. Gerud Smith of Sandhaven, for example. However, wealthy and powerful families tend to have names, that are well sounding and usually have nothing to do with common professions. An example for this would be Julos Arilius. The letters 'J', 'L', 'U', 'O', and 'A' are quite common in Sokan. The Trezkul under the rule of the Sokans are named after their feats or physical traits. One might call their mount 'Strongback' for example.

Government

In the Sokan Empire it is easy to pinpoint who is in the highest position and may command everyone and everything - the Emperor. Just how it should be in a true monarchy, the title is given by parent to oldest child. It is irrelevant if the oldest child is a male or a female.

A single lin couldn't rule and administrate an entire empire by himself, especially not one so mighty as the Sokan Empire. That's why education is such an important matter in the Sokan Empire, because educated lin might become ministers and governors after having been an official for a while. Featuring a large, efficient administration the Sokan Empire is well organized. Every citizen has a chance of being part of this apparatus as long as they work hard and are well educated. Having good connections to certain influential people can never hurt either, of course.

This brings up another issue however - corruption. Knowing that power corrupts even those who received it as a gift, Emperor Garhan founded the Ministry of Loyalty. Its agents are a very, very uncomfortable sort. They are fanatically loyal, well paid, and well taken care of, and some are even kept secret. They function as internal assassins, detectives, and sometimes also crime investigators. They ensure the Emperor's will is done and that no one will ever try to reverse what Garhan has created - even Emperors after him. Never has the Ministry of Loyalty been used abroad whatsoever; that's a job for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and its Shadow Department.

There's a few other ministries - Construction and Crafts, Agriculture, Social Matters and Health, but no Ministry of the Military. The military administration is in the hands of the Legions itself and the Emperor is their highest ranking officer. This is to ensure that the Legions won't ever listen to some minister over their Emperor. The Emperor picks the ministers themself, they are often lin whose work makes them stick out of the masses.

Beneath the ministers are the governors, who simply ensure order and safety within their province as well as a steady flow of taxes to the capital. They are also the people the ministers go to if they want to enact an edict in a province. Governors always have to ensure that the Emperor's will and law is done in their province. Governors are also picked by the Emperor themself, but since no Emperor can keep track of all the possible candidates at once, it is usually the ministers of the Empire, the ministers of the province in question, or the former governor even who propose new candidates.

Each governor has the right to employ a circle of advisors who are very similar to minor ministers just without the right to decide anything, except the governor grants them such a privilege. The governors may also appoint the judges of the imperial courts in their jurisdiction and may also pardon criminals. Apart from that they cannot influence the courts and are not allowed to jail people without trial. Every citizen is equal in the eyes of the Sokan law. The emphasis lies on citizen, as foreigners and slaves are obviously not considered equal, not even by law.

Minor Factions

Given that there's no such thing as a noble families, there aren't any big official political players within the Sokan Empire, apart from the Emperor themself. At least not publicly. Many families are still very influential, often simply because they are very rich or because their family members occupy certain positions within the Empire. High ranking officers, ministers and governors are often backed or just part of large, wealthy families. Some of the larger trade companies have also become extremely influential within some provinces. Usually said trade companies are in the hands of influential families, but sometimes the trade companies are even more influential, because they can work as a conglomerate of multiple families.

The Arilius Family

One of the families that has grown prestigious and rich by having been part of the Bronze Legions for multiple generations. Many of their family members even managed to join the First Legion, most notably Julos Arilius, who was the Marshal of the First Legion during the Great War of the North. He, like many other Arilius, brought glory to their family with their service. Given their overall good standing with the military and how many leading roles they fill, it is unwise to mess with them. One is unlikely to be able to climb the career ladder in the legions anymore after wronging them.

Notable members:

  • Julos Arilius (441 ar - 4?? ar): Deceased. Former Marshal of the First Legion.
Ministry of Loyalty

Given that the Ministry of Loyalty would work against the Emperor and would even go as far as assassinating them, should they ever try to get rid of what Garhan established, it can be seen as a minor faction within the Sokan Empire. Its agents are everywhere and have ears and eyes on almost all activities within the Empire. They ensure Garhan's beliefs are followed and treat him as the most divine Emperor of them all, and his children as mere descendants of someone who was much greater than they could ever be.

Organization:

1. Minister of Loyalty.

2. Overseer.

3. High Agent.

4. Agent.

5. Initiate.


Notable members:

  • Erik Sharpener: Minister of Loyalty.
Military

Presently, the military of the Sokan Empire, called the Bronze Legions, is well organized and equipped. The imperial armed forces are a professional force, based on volunteers who receive payment for their service to the Emperor. Recruitment is possible at specialized offices, which are run by educated administrators, who have served in the legions themselves. These offices exist in every town, so villagers just have to take a one day trip at most in order to sign up for the soldier's life. Every Trezlin loyal to the Empire is allowed to serve, that includes females as well. Sexism is non-existent in the Sokan Empire. Only during dire times may the Emperor force the population to fight through conscription, but given the high status of the military and the population's patriotic willingness to fight, a steady stream of volunteers is usually present. Often even recently conquered people are recruited and gathered in their own units, which purely consist of foreigners. Those auxiliary forces are usually used on the front lines, to preserve the actual Sokans and so these foreigners can prove their worth. It is a good way to acquire full citizenship and the genuine admiration of the Sokans. Foreign Trezlin can climb the ranks of the legions just like any Sokan could, given enough effort on their own part. A foreign Trezlin who did his duty to the Empire will quickly be treated like a proper Sokan, as will their descendants.

The first phase in every Sokan's military career - even if one is aiming for an officer role - is being a skirmisher. No matter if one is rich or poor, they will fight side by side as equals in the military. Comradeship is encouraged thus and actions that harm the cohesion of a unit are punished harshly. This skirmisher phase is two years long, but can be reduced to even one year if the skirmisher displayed outstanding prowess and courage. This mostly happens during wars, because it is easier to prove one's worth in a fight than it is in peaceful times. After successfully finishing their skirmisher time, they will become a legionnaire. This ensures that all legionnaires are veterans. Many already end their service after the skirmisher phase, if the nation is not at war, because just having had the status of legionnaire for one day already speaks of the service this lin has done for the Empire. Every former legionnaire can be called to serve again if the Emperor needs them. They are basically reservists. Every legionnaire is documented in the vast archives of the Bronze Legions' main administration, which is located in the capital.

There's also a different path in the military, but it is only available to hunters, and other people experienced with tracking, surviving in the wild, and finding ways through difficult terrain. Those people may sign up for becoming a Pathfinder in the legions instead of a skirmisher or legionnaire. Pathfinders have a very important task in the legions; they've to figure out the lay of the land ahead, so the legions may follow and conquer it. This is also the reason why the legions sometimes even recruit deserters from regions they intend to capture into the pathfinders, because they know the lands the legions will soon subdue the best. Knowing the terrain is of critical importance, because only then can the legions be supplied the most effectively and are able to pick the right field for a battle. Over time, the Pathfinders have added a few other tasks to their job description. They are also experts and tracking down and ambushing rebels, or really anyone who sits out in the woods instead of meeting the legions on the battlefield. Pathfinders are organized in their own cohorts, which are assigned to legions and under the direct command of the legion's marshal.

As implied and stated, military service is honorable and prestigious. This is wanted and encouraged, as it means more people will volunteer for service. The payment isn't bad either. While skirmisher can not afford their own house, except they build it themselves with the help of family, they could at least pay for the rent in a modest district of a city. If they live with their parents still, they at least make a sizable contribution to their household's income, which is enough to cover their own expenses. Legionnaires earn even more, enough to be eligible for a loan to build or buy their own house. The higher the rank, the higher the income. Soldiers that have reached legionnaire status also gain other benefits and privileges. They receive a pension once they become too old to be called upon, meaning even without children a soldier will be able to survive off their own income. This also takes a financial burden off their own children, if they have any. Some families have become legionnaire families, meaning that the parents served and their parents did and so on and so forth, so their children must serve in the legions as well, because tradition demands it. Because this continued duty made the next generation better soldiers than the last, it often happens that officers are recruited from these families. This increases their income considerably, which lead to some of this military families to become wealthy. Often the wealth combined with the prestige they received through their service gives those traditionally military-oriented families a lot of influence in their local area.

Strength wise the Sokan military is stronger than that of the Gren and Treztown combined. The Sokan Empire has the strongest military force of Threa and could beat any of the currently existing nations, if only numbers, skill of the soldiers and officers, logistics, and equipment are taken into account. Geographic conditions, like the mountain pass Treztown clogs up or the rainforest that offers many opportunities for ambushes to the Rizlin, prevent that the Sokan Empire can just subjugate every nation out there. The symbol of the Bronze Legions are two spears, crossed behind a shield, which has an image of the Sun on it. Soldiers in the Sokan military salute their superiors and comrades by crossing their arms over their chest so that the wrists lay over each other, and then the splay their finger out, roughly depicting a sun with their hands. If one hand can't be used for this, because it is holding a shield for example, the gesture is imitated by with a single hand, even if the person doing it is holding a sword or spear. Usually they just splay out their pointer and small finger then.

First Legion

If a legionnaire does their duty with devotion, is always loyal to the Emperor, and fights like one of the bests, then that legionnaire is moved to the First Legion. They are a prime example of what a life dedicated to soldiering can lead to. Hard training and harder drills steel the soldiers of this proud unit. Greatly respected and praised among the common population, it is them who can raise the moral of even an already broken army by simply appearing on the battlefield. Where the First Legion fights no enemy is left standing. What the First Legion defends will not be lost until the last legionnaire fell. Their devotion to the Emperor is unmatched and many keep going beyond what is considered natural. Wounds that would make a normal lin collapse are shrugged off and the legionnaire continues to fight until reinforcements allow him to patch himself up, or until he finally does succumb to the blood loss.

Not the entire First Legion consists of those handpicked legionnaires, only the legionnaire cohorts do. Because the First Legion requires skirmishers for certain duties, it can and does not only consist of said veteran legionnaire cohorts. The skirmisher cohorts in the First Legion, just like in the other legions, are recruits and soldiers who have served for less than two years. Skirmishers of the First Legion do not have any special status, but since the officers of the First Legion get to watch them fight, it can under rare circumstances happen that they pick some of the skirmishers to serve in the First Legion directly, instead of sending them off to another legion.

The First Legion is equipped with armor made by the best armor smiths of the Empire, as well as the best weapons available. They are expected to use this equipment to fight until the bitter end and fulfill all orders without question. The armor they wear is a fair bit heavier than that of the common legionnaires. They wear plates even on their thighs and upper arms, as well as pauldrons on their shoulders, ensuring that the best warriors of the Emperor are also the most well protected. Their helmet has a metal fin on it, with a round edge on the top. It is just supposed to be an easy way to identify them, and not a weapon. A full circle with eight wavy spikes protruding from it - a stylized shining sun - is their symbol and they wear it with pride on their legion banner, and have it painted on their shields. It is a blessing to their allies and a warning to their foes. The phrase of the First Legion is "Chosen to serve the Divine Light until the end".

Order of the Emperor's Wings

A special branch of the Sokan military consists of a type of combatant that is unique in Threa - kul-riders. The Sokans have managed to steal eggs from wild Trezkul many centuries ago, and then hatched them in their own care. Hatchlings that are raised by Sokans are very loyal, but also not really useful when left to their own devices due to a lack of initiative. Various roles are filled by the riders, who are specially trained Trezlin, and their mounts - scouts, supply-transports, and of course they are also used as a mighty weapon. Feared for their strength, the Trezkul war mounts make for intimidating enemies on the battlefield. They can easily drop rocks or fire bombs on a city, making them a deadly weapon also during sieges. This branch of the military is called the Order of the Emperor's Wings and at its head are the four Grandmasters of the Order, who are direct subordinates to the Emperor. Even hybrids may serve in the order, if they agree to obey their rider. In return they get to live among other kul peacefully, receive food and shelter, and perhaps even get a chance at mating - something that would be unlikely otherwise. The Sokan Empire is highly interested in hybrids with a fire breath and even stick them in breeding programs to make more of them. Fire is a much more powerful weapon than venom, especially during sieges.

The Ministry of Loyalty always keeps a very, very close eye on the Order of the Emperor's Wings to ensure that they do not abuse their power. While they have little political influence, the strength of their war mounts enables them to cause quite some havoc should they decide to turn their backs on the Emperor. This makes it essential that only the most loyal and most zealous Trezlin may be picked to serve in this special order. One may think that picking them from th First Legion is a good idea, but it is not. Their members are too old as that they could be retrained to fight as riders instead of soldiers in a formation. Young, flexible Trezlin are needed for such a tasking duty, so the Order allows every Sokan of the age of fourteen to apply. Every accepted candidate then has to travel to the headquarter of the Order, where they will be thoroughly tested to see if they make for a good rider.

Most of those that apply are not taken. Out of perhaps ten applicants, one is picked. Criteria are loyalty, strength, and the right personality. A firm but also caring hand is required to dominate a Trezkul. No juvenile will listen to a rider that doesn't care about them, but neither will they listen to one that does not keep a grip on them. Without a bond between rider and mount, the otherwise useful war mounts are a dangerous liability. Once a suitable candidate has been found, they are harshly trained for two years. Many drop out of training, as it is either too hard for them or they fail their tests. Their mind and their body are strengthened, as it requires cunning to use their war mounts efficiently. Losing a Trezkul to a dumb mistake on the battlefield would be an unforgivable loss, and is punished accordingly. As an additional note, those who fail their training as a rider, but still proved to be capable lin, are commonly offered to serve in the Aerie Guard. It is a small force of well-trained legionnaires, who only serve the Order of the Emperor's Wings. They guard their various outposts, but especially the primary aerie.

Those that do succeed are officially made a rider with a ritual inside the Aerie of the Order, and are around sixteen years old then. During the ritual, a group of fresh riders is presented with a group of juvenile Trezkul that is equally large. These Trezkul just began producing their venom and learned flight. The riders get to pick their mounts then, but this process can take a bit. Sometimes two riders want the same mount, so they've to let the mount decide who they prefer. Once everyone has a mount, the rider is supposed to harvest venom, likely the first doses the Trezkul ever produced, from their new mount and fill it in a breakable vial, which is then integrated into a special dagger's blade. This dagger is handed to the rider. Since Trezkul are not immune to their own venom, the rider now possesses the means to kill their mount with ease. It balances out the physical strength of the kul, and it also means that whenever the mount has the rider on their back they are vulnerable. Thanks to the airtight storage, the venom remains fresh for decades. After picking their future war mount, the rider gets to name them as well.

For the next year, the rider and the mount are trained together, so that they form a good team. During times of war, this time can be drastically shortened. The joint training is so short, because the Order believes that a proper deployment teaches much more than any training could. After their training, the riders mostly serve as scouts, transports, and messengers for many years. They barely fight, at most they do small skirmishes, because their Trezkul are still not grown enough. It is preferred to use Trezkul who are at least twelve years old for battle. This means it takes another six years before the juvenile Trezkul may enter proper battles after they've received a rider, so their riders will be around twenty-two years old when they experience their first real battle. At least the rider and the mount had plenty of time to bond until then, to ensure that their coordination and organization wont just fall apart in the heat of the fight.

The Trezkul that the riders may pick from were raised within the nurseries of the Order, where servants and a broodmaster took care of them and raised them to be devoted kul of the Empire. Broodmasters, as their name suggests, also plan the breeding programs to ensure a steady flow of able-bodied Trezkul. It isn't necessary that the mounts are raised by their future rider, it is just important that they are raised by lin from the get go, so that they can imprint on them as their leaders and natural superiors. They've to learn to serve the Empire and never doubt their place in the Sokan society and military hierarchy. However, many hatchlings are unsuitable for service, as they display too wild and aggressive behaviors to tame them while they are still being raised in the nursery. They are slain and their meat used to feed the riders.

Due to their long lifespan, the kul easily outlive their initial rider. If possible, those riderless Trezkul are handed down to a rider who lost their mount, as both share the experience of losing a half of themselves. Should no suitable rider exist, they'll be given to a newly trained rider instead. This is a rare honor, to receive a grown kul, so only those riders that graduate at the top of their class are chosen for this. Since the rider has to acquire some experience before using their kul in a battle, they will only do small duties until the rider is at least eighteen years old. Then the Trezkul gets to engage in battle again, and the rider for the first time.

Very old Trezkul often serve as instructors for the younger ones, because they are too old to fight themselves, but can at least hand down their wisdom to the younger generations. It is forbidden for the Trezkul to assist in caring for the hatchlings, to prevent that they create lasting bonds with the young ones. It would be horrible if the Trezkul banded together to rise up against those that use them as tools of war. Such incidents never happened, as wild Trezkul are usually killed far before they reach adolescence. Most members of the Order, especially those in the higher echelons of the hierarchy, are aware of the danger they are dealing with, and are very thankful for the fact that they've so many bolts and daggers filled with venom to slay their own mounts, should they ever turn against their riders.

When it comes to weaponry the riders stick to the short sword as it is easy to use in most situations. Of course riders and their mounts, given how important of an asset they are, have to be protected well. Every rider wears a bronze breastplate, greaves, pauldrons, bracers, and a special helmet. The pauldrons look like stylized Trezkul wings that extend over the back of the wearer. Additionally they wield a round bronze-plated shield akin to that of the legionnaires but it is smaller in size so it can be utilized properly on the back of their kul. During flights in high altitudes or during cold weather, the riders wear thick fur coats. Their war mounts are not as well armored, because it is simply an extremely expensive undertaking to create full-body armor for a Trezkul. Armor for their lower forelegs, plates for their shoulders and on the back their necks, helmets that almost fully enclose the top of the head, and upper flank armor is all they average Trezkul is protected by, apart from their own thick, scaled hide. Older, larger, more experienced Trezkul sometimes receive heavy armor, so that they can be used as hammers against enemy formations. Heavy Trezkul receive full bronze plate armor; their chest, back, sides, hind- and forelegs are utterly covered in armor.

Ranks and Organization

Thanks to a clear, well-structured hierarchy the Bronze Legions are one of the best organized armies in Threa, only outmatched by the Firehorns. Obedience is a virtue among the soldiers of the Bronze Legions, as is discipline and courage. They follow orders as closely as possible and the marshal will direct his entire legion, relying on the captains and sergeants to ensure that his orders are fulfilled. Said orders are usually delivered from the marshal to the captains either with messengers on the back of daebis - flightless, tall, sprinting birds - or by young members of the Order of the Emperor's wings on the back of their Trezkul. The latter is also used when the grand marshal wishes to relay an order to the marshals. During a battle, the daebi riders become the most common form of delivering information.

Logistics is an easy matter within the Sokan Empire's borders, thanks to paved imperial roads. Columns of ox-drawn carts easily supply the legions as long as they stay within the realm, even during the cold winter or the rainy fall. If the legions are on missions abroad, it becomes much more difficult. Most of Threa does not have a network of paved roads. Dirt roads are more than enough during summer and late spring, but during fall, winter, and early spring when the ice and snow melt, the dirt roads are impassable for heavy supply carts. This makes large-scale operations impossible during those seasons. Small-scale operations remain possible, if enough Trezkul from the Order are assigned to supply-transport. Should a large part of the order be dedicated to it, it would even be possible to supply multiple legions in a field camp, if they had time to store food and firewood.

Said field camps are created to wait out the bad seasons or during sieges. They are very elaborate compounds, featuring wooden fortifications that increase in strength the longer the legion stays put. Given enough time, a Sokan legion can build up a heavily entrenched wooden fortress. Everything a few hundred or multiple thousand lin could need is located within those camps - food, drink (even wine and beer), smiths to repair weapons and other useful artisans, and since the Sokans allow women and men to serve in the army, it isn't too hard to perhaps find a willing partner to ease the boredom of waiting. During sieges, workshops sprout up all over the camp where the war machines are build. Overall, the organization of the Bronze Legions is very professional.

The ranks and units in the Bronze Legions:

1. Emperor. Of course the Emperor is at the head of it all and directs the Bronze Legions as they please. They have total control over every unit and may send the troops wherever they want. It is tradition that the Emperor's heir is taught by the Grand Marshal or the Emperor him- or herself how to wage war, so that they may make good decisions in coming conflicts and do not have to fully rely on whatever the future military officers suggest.

2. Grand Marshal. The grand marshal is basically the minister of war. He is especially important during peace time to continuously improve the legions and their organization. During war, he acts as an advisor to the Emperor and tells him where to best use the military might of the Empire, or even leads it on his own, if the Emperor is not willing to busy him- or herself with warfare. The grand marshal wears very decorated armor. Their breastplate features an embossment on it that represents a circle with eight spikes; it is made out of gold and supposed to represent a sun. Yellow and red feathers hang down like a short mane from the edges of their pauldrons, which also depict the golden embossment. In addition, he wears a blue sash, with a golden medallion attached to it that also carries the emblem of the Sun.

3. Marshal. A marshal has the command over a legion, which consists of five sections, so a total of 5,000 soldiers. 2,000 of these soldiers are legionnaires and the remaining 3,000 are skirmishers. These numbers do not include logistics personnel and staff. Aside from these sections, a legion also usually receives one or two cohorts worth of pathfinders. The legions are noted in a register, named and numbered - 2. Legion, 3. Legion, etc. Many legions even gain a honorary title if they accomplish great achievements. Example: 2. Legion "Protectors of Bronzebridge", given to them for valiantly defending the Bronzebridge near the capital until reinforcements arrived, despite losing 3/4 of their forces. Should multiple legions be involved in a battle, then one of the marshals becomes a prime marshal for the duration of the fight, so there's an instance that stands above the other marshals. Usually the marshals simply decide who the prime marshal should be via a vote. A marshal, for sake of identification wears a red sash around their torso. A bronze medallion with the emblem of their legion is attached to it. The marshal of the First Legion wears a yellow sash instead. Just like the grand marshal, the marshals have a mane of red feathers hanging from their helmets down the back of their neck. The marshal of the First Legion has yellow feathers instead of the red ones. The circular embossments their breastplates feature also have eight spikes, but are made out of bronze instead of gold.

4. Captain. A section is commanded by a captain, and is made up of ten cohorts, so a total of 1,000 soldiers, not counting staff and logistics personnel. Four of these consist of legionnaires, the other six of skirmishers. While sections are also registered in the same fashion as legions, they rarely gain names. Captains can be easily identified by the three bundles of red feathers that protrude from metal pins on their helmet, and the yellow symbols painted on their breastplate and pauldrons. Said symbols resemble a circle with four spikes attached, two vertically, two horizontally. Captains of the First Legion have yellow feathers on their helmets instead of red ones.

5. Sergeant. Cohorts are headed by a sergeant and consist of either 100 legionnaires or 100 skirmishers. Just as the other two formations above, cohorts are also given numbers. Sergeants together with their staff have to ensure the well-being of the soldiers under their command, and ensure that they follow the orders he has received from his own superiors. Sergeants rarely have to decide on what to do with their cohort on their own, unless they are cut off from the chain of command. During urban fights or battles in difficult terrain, large formations involving the entire section often do not work out and a sergeant might end up having to make decisions on their own. Instead of the three bundles of feathers a captain a has, a sergeant has a singular small bronze pin on their helmet, from which protrudes a single bundle of red feathers. They also have a yellow circle painted on their breastplate, but unlike the two ranks above it doesn't feature any spikes. The sergeants of the First Legion have a yellow feather instead of the red ones.

6. Ladius. A ladius is simply in charge of nine other soldiers of the same kind. It is the most experienced of the ten soldiers. They are supposed to hand down their knowledge to the less experienced soldiers and act as an example. Ladiuses serve as someone the other soldiers can speak to if they've an issue and who they are supposed to speak to if they want to bring something up to their sergeant. The ladius can always get into contact with the sergeant, so that issues that could hurt morale can be quickly resolved. During battles, the ladius only has to ensure that his 9 comrades are close by and well. Rarely do they actually have to give them orders. Only in the absence of a sergeant may the ladius command his little group, or when a sergeant ordered the group to split off and fulfill another task. Pathfinder ladiuses are very different in that aspect, they've to actually give many orders, since it is usually just them and their nine fellow soldiers that move through the wilds together, far away from their sergeant. Otherwise they've no authority. The group lead by a ladius is called a lado. Unlike the actual formations above, they are not numbered or given names. Usually a sergeant will always be aware of the lados beneath his command, and simply sorts them by the names of their ladiuses. The only thing a ladius wears that allows one to differentiate them from a normal soldier are the yellow bands around their wrists.

7. Legionnaire. Only Sokans who managed to serve their two years of skirmisher duty, or finished early through display of combat prowess and devotion, may become legionnaires. While they do not command groups of skirmishers, they technically stand above them in the hierarchy.

8. Skirmisher. The lowest caste within the military - new recruits.


Here is the organization of the Order of the Emperor's wings.

1. Emperor. It is just natural that the Emperor is at the head of their Wings. Just the legions, the Emperor may deploy the wings wherever they wish to.

2. Grand Master. There are four Grandmasters, because the Emperor does not want that such power lies in the hands of a single lin. They have to decide as a council on how to keep the Order going and may suggest where to allocate their forces to the Emperor. Logistics and organization are their main concern, because the Emperor decides where to send the Wings in the end. They belong to him/her after all. A grand master wears a red sash with the symbol of the Order on it, and their helmets also have a mane made out of golden feathers. Their own breastplate and the one of their mount, if they even still have a war mount, has a golden sun embossment on their breastplate - the circle with eight spikes.

3. Master: A master is a seasoned Arius who has been promoted, so that they may command up to as many wings as the grand masters are willing to give to them. If a master becomes too old to fight, they may take up other positions in the aeries. They could become a quartermaster or a broodmaster for example. A master has yellow feathers coming out of a pin on their helmet, and their mounts have yellow feathers attached to the edges of their pauldrons. The circular embossments on the breastplate of a master has two horizontal and two vertical spikes.

4. Arius: An arius is a rider who leads a single wing, so a total of five kul mounts and their riders - including the Arius. Usually they are either deployed beneath the command of a master of the Order, or are put under the command of an officer in the Bronze Legions. Wings are numerically organized - 1. Wing of Emperor, 2. Wing etc.; some might even adopt a special name. Usually the riders forgo the "Of the Emperor" and just say Wing. Just like the sergeants of the Bronze Legions, the ariuses of the order wear helmets with red feathers on their heads. Instead of a circular embossment on their breastplate, they've a painted circle on their breastplate. The war mount of an arius has many red feathers hanging down from beneath both shoulder plates, that form manes similar to those of the marshals.

5. Rider: The only one a rider may command is their own mount.


Military Units of the Sokan Empire
Legions Wings
1st Legion "Emperor's Chosen" 1. Wing of the Emperor - Winged Spearhead
2nd Legion "Protectors of Bronzebridge" 2. Wing of the Emperor - ?
3rd Legion "The Conquerors" 3. Wing of the Emperor - ?
4th Legion "Sun's Shield" 4. Wing of the Emperor - ?
5th Legion "Spears of Zeal" 5. Wing of the Emperor - ?
6. Legion - Newly Devoted 6. Wing of the Emperor - ?
7. Legion - Seven Spears 7. Wing of the Emperor - ?
8. Legion - North's Illumination 8. Wing of the Emperor - ?
9. Wing of the Emperor - ?
10. Wing of the Emperor- ?
11. Wing of the Emperor - Five Shades of Death
12. Wing of the Emperor - ?
Equipment

While it is normal in many other nations that the warriors bring their own equipment, this is not the case in the Sokan Empire. The army is entirely professional, which also means that all weapons and armor is bought by the state and thus not the property of the soldier in question. Soldiers are lend their equipment for their entire length of service and are expected to take good care of it. If they need a replacement for something because they broke it themselves, they've to pay for it. Equipment losses due to combat, decay and similar are covered by the army. Members of the First Legion are allowed to take their swords home and riders of the Order are allowed to keep their venom-filled daggers with them, as a sign of trust and so they've a memento of their service. An entire industry formed around producing weapons, clothes, armor and other items a soldier needs during their service. Some trade companies and big workshops specialized in military necessities and play a major role in the logistics aspect of the Sokan military.

The skirmishers of the Sokans are armed with bows, javelins, round, wooden shields, spears, and daggers as back-up. The shields are thinly coated with bronze to reinforce them and make stopping projectiles and piercing weapons more likely. Unlike the shields of the legionnaires', the shields of the skirmishers do not carry the emblem of the Sun. Spears and arrows feature simple bronze tips, that are easy and thus cheap to create in large amounts. For their own protection they only receive a leather jerkin and a bronze helmet, which offer at least basic protection against enemy blows. Due to its lighter weight, this set of armor grants them more mobility, which allows them properly fulfill their role as skirmishers. The lack of a bronze breastplate also means they less easily reflect sun light and are thus harder to spot.

Legionnaires are much better armored than the skirmishers, but use the same type of spear as their primary weapon and carry a dagger only as a back-up. Each legionnaire is equipped with a bronze breastplate, bracers, a helmet, and greaves, beneath which they wear simple linen tunics and pants. The helmet features two holes for the horns and has to be slid down the horns until it properly sits on the wearer's head, then a leather strap can be used to fasten it securely. It doesn't cover the muzzle, and leaves large holes for the eyes so the legionnaires have a clear view. During winter the legionnaires pad their clothing with wool on the inside to keep themselves warm, or simply wear woolen clothing. The bronze-coated shield they carry is larger than that of the skirmishers and tends to carry the engravings of their legion on its edge. Given its size and the bronze-coating, the shield protects the wielder well against projectiles. When raised right the shield of the legionnaire and the helmet combined leave only the eyes of the legionnaire as a target for archers. Of course the shield and breastplate of a legionnaire carry the emblem of the Sokan Empire. The large sun looks upon every foe right before they are smitten.

Thanks to the relatively large amount of educated Sokans, one is not too hard pressed to find an engineer capable of designing siege engines; they are commonly used during sieges and even battles by the Sokans. Some of the blueprints date back to the arrival of the Emberspike lord, who smuggled them into the Empire of the Sun. Another piece of equipment the Sokans like to use during large battles and especially sieges is the usage of fire bombs. In their deep mines, the Sokans have found fire maggots, which they harvest their oil from. Clay pots can be filled with the maggots' oil, effectively turning them into a piece of incendiary ammunition, which can either be thrown by a Sokan soldier, or a larger version can be dropped by the Sokans' Trezkul.

Tactics

Not only are Sokans great strategists, they also excel at tactics, but can still not reach the Emberspike's level of drill, cohesion and discipline. Trezlin simply lack the warrior nature of the Blazlin. Thanks to using young Trezkul and their riders as messengers, they've no problem quickly delivering new orders and important information to their units in the field, which makes using complex tactics and more importantly changing them on the spot a possibility. As the larger part of their army consists of light troops, the Sokans put a lot of focus on softening up their enemy from far away, before the legionnaires shatter them completely. Trezkul are useful at hunting down any fleeing formations and at the shattering itself. In order to do this, they either drop rocks or land in any available free spot, thrash and trash any enemy troops, then rise back to the skies before they form a proper response. Should the enemy have any air units themselves, then that's what the Order of the Emperor's Wings focuses on first.

The average formation consists of skirmishers with javelins, then light warriors and then comes a rectangle of legionnaires. Skirmishers approach the foe and throw their javelins in an attempt to kill and disorganize their lines. Archers with shortbows focus on suppressing the enemies archers, so the light warriors don't have to fear enemy projectiles. Should the enemy try and chase down the skirmishers, then they retreat and disperse, trying to lure the enemy into breaking their formation apart. Then come the light warriors, who rush the enemy and do their best to tire them out. Once the enemy is fatigued and has been thoroughly covered in javelins and arrows, the legionnaires move in to end the battle once and for all. Sometimes this tactic isn't possible, or wouldn't lead to victory. Using the legionnaires as a firm block the enemy tires themselves out against, while the skirmishers and light warriors flank them is also an option.

In order to be as unbeatable as they claim to be, the legionnaires focus on creating the perfect shieldwall. Every soldier covers the soldier next to him- or herself with their shield. It helps greatly against melee charges, especially given that most neighbors of the Sokans, like the Riz tribes or the Gren, are very disorganized fighters and aren't too good at dealing with the strong, disciplined formations. The legionnaires stab their opponents through the thin gaps in the shield wall with their spears, trying to keep them at a distance. Since the spear is the most common weapon in Threa, their opponent doesn't really want to get too close anyway. Against opponents like the hightribes who prefer to use long arming swords over spears it can be a bit hard, since spears aren't very handy for very close combat and the shieldwall may break if enemies with such weapons manage to get too close, so the legionnaires have to make an effort to prevent that they do. If arrows rain from the skies, then the legionnaires will form a protective shell around their formation by rising their shields up, to the front and to the sides. An impenetrable fortress can thus be constructed within moments.

Diplomacy

Diplomacy is handled very professionally in the Sokan Empire. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs takes care of such matters. Because they employ educated diplomats that tend to be well-versed in the customs of the land they are currently in, it tends to be a pleasant experience to hold negotiations with the Sokans. At least if they bring good news. The Sokan Empire sees itself as the rightful owner of Threa, especially of its forested north, and claim everything between the rain forest and the tundra, from east coast to west coast. Often the Emperor's delegates bring only one kind of deal: Submit to the Emperor or be smitten by his legions. This is not always the case, of course. It isn't unusual to be offered trade agreements or be asked for right of passage by the Sokan diplomats.

Being a diplomat means having a lot of responsibility. While the rough goal they are supposed to reach is defined by the Emperor, they still have to negotiate the deal by themselves. Thankfully they usually are assigned a rider with a young Trezkul to be able to quickly send messages back and forth, if they feel they need special permission to sign a new treaty. After all, it wouldn't be good for the Empire's reputation if the diplomats make deals the Emperor doesn't want to fulfill. Overall, the Sokan Empire can be quite generous, at least when one compares the benefits a nation receives from submitting to their interests instead of denying them. If a nation submits, it can often keep its current borders and it is just changed to an imperial province. Every Trezlin within may receive citizen status if they vow loyalty to the Emperor and accept the Sun as their sole deity, while every non-Trezlin is enslaved or killed. Sozlin are an exception here, as they are just send to the Sozlin tribes in the east to live as second-class citizens there. However, this isn't always the case. Often the Sokans claim the Sozlin helped prevent the expansion of the Sokan Empire by fighting or supporting the fighting, and then enslave them.

Foreign Relations

Treztown and the Gren Kingdom are engaged in trade with the Sokans for example. It grants all three nations prosperity, especially Treztown, who put tariffs on the trade flowing through them from the Sokan Empire to the Gren Kingdom and vice versa. Despite the flourishing trade, there's grant tensions among the nations. After all, the Sokan Empire sees itself as the rightful honor of Threa's entire temperate north. If not even the entirety of Threa. Thus Treztown is a thorn in the Emperor's eye. Protected by the Gren, the Firehorns, and soon three rings of walls it appears unconquerable, and has remained so for more than a century. It also occupies the only way to access the western half of the continent, if one does not wish to march either through the taiga or the rain forest. Luckily there's still a lot of wild, untamed land to take within the current borders of the Empire, so the need for new land can still be quenched. For now.

The Truzlin get no trade deals, instead they get cold blades. The Sokan Empire has an interest in expanding northward, into the taiga, since they cannot push past Treztown. Supposedly, there's untapped copper and tin mines in the north, which is one of the major motivations to go there, as copper and tin mines at home are slowly running dry. A similar fate is shared by the Riz tribes. While the Sokan Empire is wise enough to not waste its manpower by pushing deep into the rain forest, they did dare to conquer and fortify a few of the border regions. They are mostly used for plantations, on which the Sokans grow all kinds of luxury crops, such as tea, coffee, drugs, and other. Sometimes Rizlin try to assault the Sokan border provinces, which usually leads to either burnt plantations, or enslaved Rizlin. At least Rizkul aren't too difficult to kill for the Bronze Legions.

The relations to the Flamewings are horrible. One would expect that is the case for most of the hightribes, but it is especially bad with the Flamewings. Both the Sokan and the Flamewings lay claim on the savannah. The Sokans even build forts and colonies on it in the past, which greatly angered the Flamewings. Eventually, the Flamewings managed to push the Sokans mostly back out. Now the Sokans only hold a couple of fortresses and settlements at the shore right east of the rain forest - the only path the Flamewings can take into the Empire. Nowadays the Flamewings raid the border province and skirmish with the Bronze Legions and the Order. These fights hit the Sokans far worse than the Flamewings, who see it is a good way to pass time. Currently the Emperor does not want to dare and try to push deeper into the savannah again, even if his legions might be capable to do so. Invading the desert wakes greater threats than a single hightribe, and could have far greater consequences for Threa than just some burning Sokan cities.

Relation Chart
Nation Relation
Hoz Kingdom No contact (hostile)
Rebel Kingdom No contact (hostile)
Republic of the Zule Peace
Riz Tribes Mixed relations (peace - minor conflict)
Sozlin Tribes No contact (cautious)
Treztown Peace
Truzlin Tribes War
Gren Kingdom Peace
Blazewhips No contact (hostile)
Emberspikes No contact (hostile)
Fireclaws No contact (hostile)
Firehorns Peace
Flamewings Minor conflict
Wolshak Packs War
Public Opinion

The Empire has a very high opinion of itself, thinking that every other nation is inferior. They even go as far as thinking that most races are inferior when compared to the Trezlin, despite races like the Blazlin easily a head being taller. One could call Sokans racist towards the other species of lin.

Sozlin enjoy the best opinions among the Sokans. They live as vassals under the Emperor's rule and are seen as lesser, but at least not as slaves. They live away from Sokan cities and only visit them to sell their surplus of fish. Sozlins who are caught praising the moons are directly enslaved, which has been the cause of tension among the Sokan majority and the Sozlin minority. Unfortunately the current Empress Arja the Zealous may change the status of the Sozlin soon, unbeknown to the Sozlin themselves.

Treztown is seen as a degenerate mixing pot. It shouldn't exist, not like that. In the eyes of the Sokan elite it should be an imperial city, free of the stench of non-Trezlin and all present kul should lose their rights and become mounts or slaves.

Truzlin and Gren, despite their much more civilized ways, are seen as primitives when compared to the Sokans. Both lack culture, art, and manners. For a Sokan the only things that differ a Gren from a Truzlin is that they stand in stone castles and have bronze swords instead of stone axes. Despite these mean opinions of the Gren, the Sokans are forced to engage in trade with them or suffer from a lack of tin. The primitive Truzlin on the other hand are readily enslaved by the Sokans, who think that it is the right treatment for these savages.

Sokans hate, but also fear the Flamewings. They are ruthless murderers who raid and plunder Sokan villages, break into aeries of the Order to violate females, break eggs, and simply ruin the entire place. The Flamewings are efficient in their cruelty, and their warriors, lin and kul alike, have beaten the legions multiple times. Only have they lost when heavily outnumbered or outwitted. Sokans despise the Flamewings as much as they fear them.

Treaties

Peace Treaty of Woodstead: The peace negotiated between the Free City State Treztown, the Gren Kingdom and the Sokan Empire. Apart from officially shaping the borders between these realms, it also ensured that after the war trade was free and open between these countries.

Economy

Hard working Sokans are a very important element of the economy, but there's one that is even more important - slaves. Due to centuries of warfare and more recently, the northern expansion, the Empire has acquired many slaves in the past and continues to do so nowadays. If one is born as a slave's child, they remain a slave. Becoming a free citizen is a rare occasion and only possible if one is a Trezlin and emancipated by the governor of the province. Some of the slaves have the luck of being personal servants, but most are unlucky and have to work their life away in the mines. Not only lin are enslaved. Captured Truzkul often end up as pack animals or diggers, same goes for Sozkul. It is easy for the Empire to prosper on the backs of slaves. Even Blazlin can end up as slaves due to the border friction with the Flamewings. Blazlin usually make for poor slaves, though - while they are used to being beneath kul, they do not take being basically objects well and have a very rebellious nature. That they are all combat trained doesn't make keeping them in check any easier.

Apart from exploiting the lives of slaves, the Empire also prospers due to their trade with most of their neighbors as well as the strong internal trade. Ignoring the slavery, their economy is very similar to the other nations in their region - liberal.

Currency exists in the form of imperial denars and deni, singular dene. Ten deni make one denar. A dene is roughly the worth of a Trez copper coin, while a denar would be the equivalent to a Trez silver coin. Denars are made out of a silver-gold alloy (80/20), and deni are made out of silver. Both have the seal of the imperial mint stamped into the still soft metal to verify their worth. Gold on its own is seen as unfit as currency, as it is too hard to acquire in large amounts. If one wants to trade in gold, they usually do so in small, flat gold ingots. Even the poor trade in deni. Given the Empire's influence and might in the world, imperial denars are often accepted even in Treztown or the Gren Kingdom. After all, they are made out of silver either way so their worth is bound to the material. A system of banks exists across the nation, mostly owned by rich trading companies. The banks lend money, profiting off interest, or invest it into businesses, to be gain profit shares.

Owning vast forests and lands, the Sokan have a great surplus of wood. Most of Threa's marble quarries are within Sokan territory, making the regal material one of many natural resources that one can find within the Sokan Empire. Copper would be another one. The resource is easily found in abundance in the parts of the northern mountain range that is owned by the Sokans. Iron ore has been found there, too, but the Sokans themselves have no use for it. A few miners have it dug up though to have traders bring it all the way to the Gren Kingdom, where they sell it - illegally, in the eyes of the Emperor. Silver can also be mined in the southern mountain range. A lot of the shiny metal is needed to make currency out of it.

Agricultural goods are also in good supply. Sokan wine - especially Rulunian Wine - is seen as a delicacy in the northern regions of Threa, growing on the hill- and mountainsides of the southern mountains.

Professions

The free Trezlin of the Sokan Empire learn all kinds of professions. From farmer to scholar, every position is obtainable by everyone given the right education. Higher levels of education are sought after even by commoners, if the family can sacrifice enough wealth to make it possible. For the slaves the only options are hard labor or being a private servant at best.

Trade

Due to having access to land- and waterways to other developed societies trade exists externally as well as internally. The most active trading route is the river that springs from the mountains near Treztown, flows by said city, and then makes its way through all of the Sokan Empire to end at the east coast. Ships sail down and up that river all day and night long, bringing goods from far and near to the prosperous cities that were founded at its shore. If traders want to sell their goods in the Gren Kingdom, they simply move their wares from the ships onto carts and follow the eastern road all the way to Steelport, if they wish. In Steelport, they could even trade with the Firehorns. This is the only place where a Sokan might trade with a Firehorn, as the Sokans do not allow trade with them in their own realm.

Trade doesn't only flow from west to east and back whatsoever, but also from and to the south. The Rizlin are eager trades with the Sokans - it grants them the good will of the Emperor as well as the goods made by Sokans artisans like textiles, weapons and tools. In return the Sokans receive exotic goods that are seen as luxuries in their own country - herbs, fruits, tobacco, drugs, etc.

Apart from offering fishing grounds the access to the ocean doesn't make trading easier. The only other trader on the seas would be the Firehorns, but as mentioned trade with them is forbidden and the Firehorns would refuse even if it weren't. It would be too far a trip anyway as they would have to sail through the arctic ocean north of Threa - a place no one has dared to sail yet.

Exports

When it comes to natural resources, the Sokans export mostly copper, silver, and marble to Treztown and the Gren. While wood is available in large amounts, it is not scarce anywhere in the northern realms, and thus would not fetch a good price, unless it is of a very high quality. Some traders also sell iron ore to the Firehorns in Steelport, even if it is considered illegal. After all, it is hard to prove that a trader sold iron ore to the Firehorns in another country.

Thanks to trade with the tribes of the jungle, the Sokans own the products they have in supply, like herbs, spices, and drugs, and sell them to other nations for an even higher price. They also sell their own wine, very successfully. No feast in the northern realms can consider itself proper when it does not serve sweet Sokan wine. Nothing produces better wine than the Sun Berries the Sokans farm, and especially the Rulunian Wine, from the province Rulunia, fetches an insanely high price. It has become a symbol of high status to serve his ridiculously expensive drink. A 40 gallon barrel can cost more than 2000 Treztown pounds! More than a full set of quality armor.

Imports

There's a large demand for tin within the Sokan Empire. Many of their mines have run dry in the past, if not all, and now they rely on deliveries from abroad. They also import wood from the jungle from the Gren, as they cannot cut it down themselves without upsetting their Rizlin trading partners.

There's also a high demand for exotic wares among Sokan's wealthy elite. Be it spices, fruits or drugs, the rich want to experience it all, thus they buy them off of the hands of the Riz tribes.

Illegal Wares

Nothing, except lethal poisons, is considered illegal in the Empire. The Sun does not forbid its followers to enjoy themselves in all ways possible after all. Symbols of other religions is also a forbidden trade good, in order to not spread heresy.

Demographics

Not all inhabitants of the Sokan Empire are citizens, but all citizens are Trezlin. Most non-citizens are either Sozlin, who are considered below citizens, but above slaves. Many of the slaves are Truzlin who were enslaved during the expansion in the north, while another large part of the slaves are criminals and a few are even Blazlin captured in battles with the Flamewings. The grand majority are slaves that were caught during the expansion-wars, so Trezlin as well that refused to give themselves to the Empire and the Sun. The numbers of slaves have been dwindling, because Trezlin slaves at least have a chance at becoming free again, if they prove their worth as citizens and their devotion to the sun. Slaves are also not all that inclined to reproducing as free citizens are. A lack of slaves might drive the Sokans to new conquests or changes in how they treat Sozlin soon. They are already forcing every moon-worshiper into slavery that the servants of the sun can find.

Being a prosperous Empire, there's many young lin among the population which steadily grows. Commoners do not tend to grow too old, working hard on the fields or as men of crafts. The richer lin can afford medication and doctors as well as a better lifestyle to begin with, thus they live longer. Most people live in rural areas, so in the hamlets and villages surrounding the large population centers that they supply with food. However, the few cities of the Empire does have are large and prosperous. The area with the highest population density is the eastern island with the capital build on it. Said capital city is sprawling over most of the southern half of the island by now.

Education is important to get ahead in higher positions, but few lin aspire such. Many remain farmers or learn a trade. School isn't mandatory, so not every Sokan can read, write or calculate. Since many Trezlin see them as important skills even for everyday life, they often at least learn that. Every village has at least a few among the population who are possess these skills and who are willing to teach it to the younger generations if necessary or wanted. Being capable of reading and writing is usually seen as a requirement to be able to lead even a village. The literacy rate of the Sokans is way above that of the Gren and Treztown, but could never hope to reach the height of the hightribes or the Republic.

The kul population mostly consists of Trezkul war mounts but also of Truzkul pack animals. The expansion in the north give hunters many opportunities to catch these strong kul. They are perfect for transporting goods, as they are hardy, smart, but also fit into warehouses - a trait the Trezkul do not have. Trezkul are also too important as war mounts as that they would be used for such low work. Some Sozkul are also enslaved, mostly for digging around the many mines of the Sokan Empire or to be used by Sozlins as mounts, pack animals or similar. Attempts have been made to breed Sozkul like cattle, to use them as a source of meat, even as feed for the Trezkul, and blubber. Every attempt has been unsuccessful so far, as the Sozkul are sapient and outright refuse to reproduce in such conditions.

Around ~8.000.000 Sokan citizens and ~15.000 Sozlin live in the Empire, of which ~10.000 are slaves, as well as ~2.500.000 other slaves. Thanks to the Order of the Emperor's Wings, ~200 Trezkul are considered part of the Empire.

Technology

Thanks to the efforts of Garhan to improve the education level of the common people, the amount of scholars and inventors among the Sokans has greatly increased over the last centuries. Logically this development put the Empire in a good shape progress-wise and it exceeds the technological levels of most of its neighbors by far. Only the Republic and Treztown, thanks to Aezkul scholars, exceed the Sokan Empire when it comes to how advanced they are.

While steel is outside of the Sokans metallurgic understanding, bronze and other alloys of metals with a low melting point are certainly not. Having basically perfected bronze-working, Sokan-made bronze-ware is sought after even abroad. Its properties are better than those of the rough iron the Gren produce, but also harder to produce and acquire as tin and copper are rather rare. Jewelry made by Sokans can even rival the ones made by Blazkul or Hozkul. Sokan-made ornament is way easier to acquire and thus a great trade good,that goes over the store counter for a high price.

Their understanding of nature is lacking as it is not the main focus of their research. Most of their medication is bought from Rizlin tribes who in turn acquired it from the Aezkul Republic, which makes it very expensive to buy and only affordable for the wealthy class. Basic herbal knowledge can be easily found within villages, but it won't cure any plagues and only the trained physicians of the legions are capable of treating grievous wounds, which has made them very useful to the common people during peace times.

Engineering, on the other hand, is one of the main focuses of Sokan scholars. Even in the past the engineers have thought of great structures like the Bronzebridge, but nowadays their design for castles or war machinery puts the progress of even their smarter neighbors into the shadows. Of course the economy also heavily profited from inventions like the water mill and pulleys. The Emberspike exile put them on the right path in this academic field by bringing them plans for the war machines, from which Sokan craftsmen derived other useful devices like those mentioned previously.

Architecture

Sokans are great surface architects and have build many beautiful monuments as well as impressive palaces for governors and ministers. Rich Sokans - traders and the like - often commission a mansion to be designed by the famous Sokan architects. Even the houses of commoners are often well build and made, so that they mast for multiple generations.

Bricks and stone are common building materials within cities. Marble is featured within and outside many of the mansions. Outside of large communities, wood takes over, but not in the form of shaky shacks, but in the shape of well carpeted housing, made by experienced carpenters.

City Structure

The cities of the Sokan Empire do not follow a certain layout or plan. One thing most of them have in common is a city wall though - every large and prosperous city has one. Apart from city walls, the Sokans also build castles in order to protect their Empire and discourage criminals on their roads. The castles gladly offer protection and shelter to passing traders and travelers. Many cities feature a basic sewer system to ensure that at least the public bathes and toilets are supplied with fresh water. This has made Sokan cities some of the cleanest communities in Threa.

Villages and smaller towns in the Empire are nothing special. They are build how they fit into the landscape and use the land they have to the best of their abilities. They are often nearby the larger cities and supply them with food and other resources gained by animal husbandry or farming crops.

In order to protect their borders, house their legions and also project power internally, the Sokans build forts. More on them in the section "Notable Structures". To supply their army in the field as well as their forts, and to ensure an easy journey for traders and travelers alike, the Sokan Empire features a vast network of paved roads. The main roads are kept in good maintenance at all times, making traveling within the Sokan Empire even during bad weather an easy task. Only small villages are connected with each other by dirt roads, that turn into muddy hazards during fall and spring.

Notable Structures
Sokan Fort

These forts tend to be rather small, but are build in rather large numbers. Featuring thick walls and fortifications, they tend to be good defensive positions for the legionnaires they house. The smallest forts only have enough room for a cohort and are more of a glorified guard post, larger ones contain an entire section, while the largest can contain an entire legion - these are often referred to as citadels. Citadels even feature aeries big enough to house a few Trezkul and their riders. These large compounds are only built in dangerous areas, like the border to the Flamewings or Treztown, while the forts are build throughout the entire Empire to ensure that law and order is the norm on Sokan roads.

The thick walls surrounding them usually form a square that has circular bastions at its corners in order to enable the defenders to fire at enemies right in front of the curtain walls. Murder holes allow archers to shoot at enemies from within the bastion - yes, they are hollow and can be entered through the top of the walls, but not from the ground level. Commonly these bastions also feature siege engines such as ballistas or catapults in order to provide some heavy fire support for the defenders and to fend off possible threats in the air. Even the cohort-sized forts have heavy weapon emplacements, making even them a hassle to conquer. Apart from bastions and siege engines, the forts may also feature boiling water or oil for the gate houses as well as containers that provide rocks that the defenders can throw down at enemies who try to scale the walls.

In the case of a war, the forts also make for great logistics centers as they often have rather stockpiles, however, they tend to be mostly empty during peace time.

Sun Towers

Given that the Sokans believe the Sun to be a deity, it is just natural that their temples are tall towers so that they may be closer to their deity during prayer. The towers are usually around 30 m (98.4 ft) tall and feature multiple Gothic supports, as well as roofs held up by ornamented pillars. Most have either a square, hexagonal or octagonal shape, but they all feature a large open area at their top - this is where the prayer takes place and where the dead are burned. In general the temples are only build within large cities. The wealthier the city is, the better the temple looks. Many make use of gold, marble, and silver in order to decorate the temples from the inside and out.

The space within the tower has little religious use. It contains a large, spiral stair case that leads to the top and the multiple levels within. Said levels offer space for the quarters of the Speakers, their servants,and a small temple guard. Said guard, the Sun Tower Guard, mostly keeps watch of the area nearby. Usually the living quarters of the temple's inhabitants tend to be quite luxurious. The Servants of the Sun are a wealthy class and don't mind showing it. After all, their religion is about hard work being rewarding and what harder work could there be than taking care of the spiritual needs of the people and ensuring that they stay on the right path.

Apart from living quarters, kitchens and storerooms, the temples' interiors also often include a library. These libraries can contain all kinds of books and are often the only library in town. While the literacy rate of the Empire is relatively high when comparing them to most other nations, reading is still not seen as a common way to pass time but more as a necessity.

Primary Aerie of the Order (213 ar)

A giant tower build on the island near the capital island which serves as shelter and a place of training for the Order of the Emperor's Wings. The island it is build on is mostly made out of granite and thus offers great possibilities for underground caverns. So the aerie features a great system of tunnels and caverns in order to breed, train, and shelter many Trezkul.

The above-surface part of the tower is made for sheltering quick-response units of Trezkul-riders and their mounts as well as containing the headquarters and administration of the order. In order to support the massive surface structure there are large stone supports all around the tower. Of course it is a fort in its own right. The massive walls won't be brought to fall easily and the tower's garrison, even ignoring the Trezkul war mounts, is impressive and well equipped. The spear catapults all over the tower are easily capable of taking down any kul within sight, be it wild or fleeing ones.

The plans for it were made right after the founding of the Order itself. Construction started in 208 ar though and finished in 213 ar. A lot of the time was taken up by digging out the underground caverns and ensuring that they still make for a good foundation for the tower on top.

Bronzebridge (310 br)

An extremely impressive bridge spanning the distance between the large island of the east coast of Threa and the mainland. In the past it was made out of bronze and wood. The only reason it was doable in the first place is how shallow the water is in that one spot, enabling support beams in the middle of the water. It was the namesake for what came before the Sokan Empire - The Kingdom of Bronzebridge. Even back then Sokan engineers did impressive deeds.

Nowadays the bridge is way larger and made completely out of stone, decorated by bronze and marble. Only the bronze statues and engravings remember of the former bridge. The stone bridge is way more impressive though being sturdier and capable of having multiple trade caravans pass by each other. It leads straight into the capital of the Sokans, making it a vital point of the Sokans' defense.

The original bridge was constructed in 310 br, but the replacement's construction lasted from 202 ar to 208 ar.

Fort Falcstone (796 ar)

The castle itself is nothing out of the ordinary. Featuring a wall that doesn't contain a big area, a fortified keep and a tower, it isn't even a big castle. It does provide power projection in the north for the Sokans and a feeling of security for the colonists living around its walls though. Fort Falcstone is also the strongest point of the Sokan Empire in the north, marking the northern expanse as their ground. As long as its fortifications stand the Truzlin have no hope at expelling the Sokans from their land - the taiga.

It was constructed between 793 ar and 796 ar on top of a hill nearby a small Sokan colony named Falcville, after said hill which is named Falcstone due to the many snow falcons nesting nearby.

The Ministries (203 ar)

This building has been designed by the best architects and build by the best masons. One could mistake it for a palace but it is far more important than that. It houses the many ministries of the Empire, from the ministry of agriculture to the ministry to education, every single one is sheltered here. Providing work space and even living areas for the ones employed here, it is truly a vital compound of the Sokan Empire.

The building process began in 200 ar exactly at the start of spring. It took the Sokans five full years to build the compound, finishing it in the fall 205 ar.

Solar Spire (est. 800+ ar)

Empress Arja the Zealous decided shortly after her coronation in 784 ar that she would build the greatest Sun Tower yet. Planning took a bit over a year, so construction began in 785 near the Bronzebridge, but on the mainland and not on the capital island. It was far enough inland that enough place existed around the construction site to raise an entire city to surround the tower. Because the construction attracted so many workers, this is exactly what happened. What was at first a mere camp for the builders and architects quickly turned into a proper town over the course of a few years. A lot of progress has been made during those years, too, and the master builder estimates the construction to be done after the year 800 ar. The foundation and the majority of the tower has already been built, but most of the top is still missing. If one can believe the rumors going around, then Empress Arja might be planning to enslave the already vassaled Sozlin in order to increase the pace at which the structure is being build.

With a height of over 100 m (328.1 ft), it is a structure that will outdo even the Great Temple of the Flame. It is octagonal in shape and has a distance of 30 m (98.4 ft) between two opposing sides. Each of the eight sides also features a single huge, thick support build out of granite. At their bottom, the supports are build like arcs, which allows people to walk right by the tower's walls, without having to round the big supports, too. The entrances to the tower and the huge spiral staircase, which wraps itself around a thick center pillar, can be found here as well.

Each entrance consists of a double door large enough to let a Trezkul pass with its head lowered. They are decorated with depictions of the Sun's face, made out of gold and silver. Every single window in the tower's windows are made out of crystal glass, which is clear and without taint, so that the divine light may shine into the rooms and studies of the many Speakers within. Said rooms are lavishly furnished and decorated with marble, statues, and pieces of art. The tower is a piece of art in itself, inside and out.

In order to protect such a grand structure, an entire cohort worth of Tower Guards has been created. They are legionnaires who have been hand picked by the Arch Speaker of the Solar Spire themselves. While they are dressed in some of the fanciest bronze armor that master armorers can produced, a lack of actual combat leads to them losing their experiences and slowly becoming less skilled fighters. One should not consider them equal to the First Legion.

History

Antiquity (??? - 91 br)

More than a thousand years ago, Trezlin settled on an island in the far east of Threa. They erected tribal settlements near the shores and lived off fishing, which brought conflict with the Sozlin tribes that were already established. Yet the Trezlin, who just like the Sozlin were naught but hunters and gatherers, managed to stay and acquire enough land to live off on the island. Unlike the Sozlin, the Trezlin changed their ways, settled down properly, laid out field and began domesticating animals. Over time their numbers grew quicker than those of the Sozlin and the Sozlin had no choice but to leave the island or be removed by force. The Trezlin tribes now took roots, developed more advanced technologies like using metals as materials for tools and weapons. Soon their numbers grew so large that they required a better way of organizing their society than having a chieftain - the first kingdoms developed on the island, lead by a nobility consisting of the chieftains and their family as well as famous warriors and big land owners. A whole three petty kingdoms rose on that single island and one of them was later going to be known as the Sokan Empire. This entire chapter in the life of the Sozlin took centuries and the time of hunter-gatherer societies likely took multiple millennia and its beginning dates to the times where Trezlin were mere uncivilized pack-based hunters.

Before it became a beacon of civilization and might, the Sokan Empire was known as the Kingdom of Bronzebridge - a petty feudal monarchy that settled on the large island off Threa's eastern shore. It was named so because it controlled that part of the island that was close enough to the main land to build a bridge between its own coast and the coast of the mainland, allowing for a permanent land connection between the two. This made the realm wealthy, as they could ask for tariffs from all those that intended to visit the two neighboring petty kingdoms of the people of Bronzebridge. The name they gave their own cultural group has been lost to the ages. Unfortunately the wealth brought the envy of those two neighbors, who declared war on the Kingdom of Bronzebridge not to annex them, but to force them to let remove tariffs and pay tributes to the other two realms. A dark era followed, during which the Sokan's ancestors lived poor and with thoughts of revenge.

Those two neighboring realms didn't remain friendly to each other once the king of one of them died and was replaced with his powerhungry son. They declared war on the other and fought viciously. King Sokan saw his chance to get said revenge and turn his petty kingdom into something much greater. Striking at the capital of one kingdom, while its armies were assaulting the capital of the other one, King Sokan managed to conquer it and thus force their army, which occupied the other kingdom's capital, to surrender. This marked the beginning of a new era and a new nation, as King Sokan didn't intend to just stay a king for much longer.

Events of this Era
  • Founding War (93 br - 91 br)
Rise of the Empire (91 br - 207 ar)

With three king titles under his name, he had himself be crowned Emperor of the Sokan Empire. The people looked up to him as a witty strategist, but he wasn't well versed in matters of the state, letting nobles handle it for him. The rulers that followed couldn't remove the grasp the nobles had on the country for a long while without risking a civil war. Despite the power of the nobility, the Emperor was firmly seated on the throne in the capital. Peace and trade with the neighbors brought wealth and the Sokans quickly figured out that they had a good hand for holding diplomatic talk. Only minor wars popped up, that earned the Empire a town here and there or ended up in white peace or even trade treaties if both parties came to the agreement that peace might be beneficial. Emperor Sokan died having achieved no further things of grand importance, but he was always fondly remembered by his people as the founder of the greatest nation that shall ever exist on Threa and as the first true Prophet of the Sun, since he was openly part of a small religious cult that began taking root in the Empire. Back then, the Sokans had religious freedom so people didn't care too greatly, but Emperor Sokan tried his best to have people adopt his faith. Many nobles did so in order to gain the good-will of their superior.

After Sokan's death, his daughter took up the crown and continued to rule during an era of peace, but a troubled one nonetheless. Trezkul have always been an issue for the nations in the northern, forestry half of Threa. They, like other beasts, made the wild lands hard to tame and caused losses, be it eaten farmers, eaten cattled or destroyed villages. Truhon Tamer wondered if Trezkul could be put to use and become nothing but another workforce or even war mounts for the Trezlin living in the region. Many thought him a moron for that and no one supported his cause. Having gotten rich by breeding and selling cattle on his big property, he was able to fund his projects himself, for a while at least. His theories were interesting and revolved around his assumption that all kul are beasts as well as civilized beings, meaning that one could control them like some kind of pet, given the right training, and also teach them complex commands, due to their heightened intelligence, compared to simple animals. According to him, it was just important to catch them young or breed them even, in order to indoctrinate and domesticate them as soon as possible. Bent on showing everyone that it is doable, he paid mercenaries to acquire eggs and young Trezkul. Yet his attempts at domesticating them showed no success at all and he was forced to cull all the hatchlings before they became too large. Having sold all his property, he was poor and broken. His wife left him and he only had his youngest son left. Not wanting to be a burden to his family anymore, he hanged himself.

Jonas Tamer, mentioned son, picked up his father's work. Having grown up among the Trezkul his father had tried to tame, he had a better understanding of the creatures. He did it all himself, because his father left him no wealth at all, having been utterly broke. Being no experienced kul hunter, he almost got killed while attempting to raid a nest. Not only did he come out in one piece, he also managed to acquire a kul egg. He cared for the egg as if it were his own child, thus figuring out what was important when it came to domesticating Trezkul - one had to make them think they are dependent on their caretakers, create a familiar bond with them instead of just purely forcing them to listen. Their intelligence meant that they required some kind of motivation to follow commands and having a good life is a motivation as any, so he tried to feed and amuse the hatchling to the best of his abilities.

The Trezkul he cared for became his dear friend - even more than that, the Trezkul became part of his family. Jonas was able to ride him, after buying a a saddle and re-purposing it as a kul harness. He wanted more than just his own kul though, he wanted to make sure his father's work got the recognition it deserved. So on one fateful day, he flew to the palace of the Sokan Empire on the back of his kul. After bursting through one of the windows of the throne room, spears pointed at him by the royal guard, he spoke to the current ruler - the young, intelligent and progressive Emperor Garhan. At this time, the Sokan Empire faced a threat - a local militant kingdom was growing and didn't seem unwilling to pick a fight with the Sokans. Garhan saw the great plans Jonas came up with and agreed to fund him, hoping that a personal army of kul would ensure the lasting independence of the Sokan Empire. Thousands of gold coins were spend to get him all the Trezkul eggs he could want, and the training of a the first generation of riders began. Jonas even got his own piece of land to build the Aerie of the Order on it, so he could continue his work in peace. After skilled caretakers ensured the hatchlings were well taken care of and properly indoctrinated, the first riders received their mounts and trained aerial combat. After six years of raising the Trezkul and another four years of training them, the first bunch of battle kul were ready. Just in time for their first use.

In a long, festive ceremony in 207 ar, Emperor Garhan declared that from now on they shall be called the Order of the Emperor's Wings, marking their founding. Jonas Tamer became the first Broodmaster. They would follow their Emperor and start an entire new era for the Sokan Empire.

Events of this Era
  • Crowning of the First Emperor (91 br)
  • First Attempts at Taming (163 ar)
  • Garhan's Coronation (192 ar)
  • Founding of the Order of the Emperor's Wings (207 ar)
Era of Glory (207 - 513 ar)

The Order of the Emperor's Wings swiftly legitimated its existence by actively taking part in a defensive war. Earlier mentioned militant kingdom declared war against the Sokans, who at that point in time didn't have the well-drilled Bronze Legions, but only relied on a simple system where every Sokan had to bring their own weapons, and was commanded by the local nobility. If it weren't for the Trezkul of the Order, the war would have been an utter defeat. With the help of the Trezkul, the Sokan armies were able to fight offensively and conquer large swaths of land from the ones that attacked them. The war ended with a lot of land gained and people praising the riders that Emperor Garhan funded in his wisdom. A road to greater glory began.

Emperor Garhan wanted to decide over state matters himself, organize the Empire how he wanted to. He was a smart lin after all, unlike those pesky, inbred nobles who sat on the pieces of land they owned but didn't care for. This showed during the last war, where some of them even refused to contribute their levies or just sided with the enemy. It made him angry having to witness such treachery. But how does one get rid of them? Obvious traitors were simply executed, but the other ones were harder to get rid of and required the careful use of shadowy tools. Assassinations, bribing, dubious jailing and executing brought most of the power over the Empire into his hands. Once he was stronger than the rest combined, he simply made them give up their titles and exiled them. Meanwhile the cult around the sun was spreading through the Empire. Garharn supported this movement greatly by making it the state religion, because it saw the Emperor to be the sole rightful ruler of the Sokans, by the grace of the Sun itself, so that he may serve as its representative. Support from the masses due to their religious devotion and his successes during the last war, coupled with his well-handled intrigues against the nobles flattened the path to turning the Sokan Empire, once a feudal monarchy, to a centralized state where the Emperor is the sole ruler.

A single lin cannot rule over an entire nation themselves, however, but who could Garhan trust to be loyal? Commoners. He put educated commoners into governing positions and gave more powers to his ministries, that beforehand served as simple advisors to the Emperor and the other nobles of the realm. By his decree, his nation was split into provinces which were administrated by educated locals, who would likely never dare to become traitors. After all, the Emperor gave them a great gift - a well paid position with responsibilities and chances at promotions. His reforms ensured that the Sokan Empire was the best administrated and most civilized nation of its time, apart from the Republic of the Zule. With the nobles gone, every bit of military might also belonged to the Emperor. It was still an undisciplined bunch of part-time warriors, though. Not a force capable of the great conquests the Empire pulled off in the centuries to come.

Grand achievements attract a lot of attention, even unexpected attention. An Emberspike landed in the capital and demanded an audience with the Emperor. People were terrified and the Order of the Emperor's Wings was worried, as they weren't able to react quick enough to prevent his landing or even realized he's been living on Sokan ground for a few years now, learning the language from a farmer he kidnapped. The Emberspike was an exiled lord, according to his own words. His own Hightribe expelled him for reasons unknown. What they did know, however, was that he was a battlesteerer beforehand had a lot of knowledge about to how one can organize an entire army. This knowledge and his service as the Emperor's personal mount he offered, in exchange for a life of luxury within the Empire. With his help, the Sokan Empire began building up the Bronze Legions as they are now. As a trial by fire, the Sokans subjugated a coastal realm, as well as a few of the Sozlin tribes nearby. The Bronze Legions proved to be an unstoppable force when combined with the Order of the Emperor's Wings. This was one of Garhan's last achievements.

Garhan became terribly ill. He realized he would die too soon to truly use the potential power of his empire, so he decided to ensure that his future children, including the current heir - his oldest son - would not mess up what he's founded and created. The Ministry of Loyalty was founded with Trezlin he considered the most loyal and devoted Sokans one could find, who would consider him and only him the one true divine Emperor to rule throughout all ages, even if disease takes him away too sun. He hid his ill state from the public as best as he could, to ensure that in their eyes the Emperor didn't die of a mere sickness, but because the divine Sun called him up to itself to be at its side. As he lied on his deathbed, he had his son vow to him that he would bring greatness to the Sun and not let the potential of the Empire go to waste.

His son and almost all the Emperors and Empresses afterwards fulfilled that promise. Only once did the Ministry of Loyalty have to step in and remove an Emperor under suspicious circumstances because they tried to remove the provincial order. Of course they did so in secret. Three centuries of diplomatic negotiations, military annexations and spreading the Cult of the Sun throughout the eastern half of Threa's north went on. One nation after another either willingly gave into the Empire to benefit from its prosperity and advancement or was forcefully annexed by the Bronze Legions. Trezlin had a quite easy time accepting the Emperor as their new ruler, as living within the Sokan Empire meant living free of nobility and the restrictions of a feudal or tribal system. Instead they lived in a society that allowed everyone to climb the social ladder. For non-Trezlin being absorbed by the Empire meant slavery or death. During all this time the exiled Emberspike was an important advisor to the Emperor or Empress that ruled, and served them as a mount when necessary. Truly, without this Emberspike the Sokan Empire wouldn't have been able to accomplish what it did. The Emberspike died in 497 ar. His body was cremate in the capital's Sun Tower, but the memory of him wasn't preserved well.

Jurva, the last Emperor of this Era, was a very aggressive one. He wanted to outdo all those that came before him, so he stopped using diplomatic means almost completely and focused much more on the military. The decades of his leadership were violent, but also glorious. Never did the Bronze Legions have so many successful campaigns in so little time. A nation either directly submitted to the Emperor or was smitten without mercy. Trezlin who refused to be indoctrinated were enslaved right away, but every foreigner willing to die for the Empire was accepted into auxiliary units without a problem. Jurva's path was one of "Either you are with us, or against us.". His militant rule caused the large waves of immigration that hit Treztown and the unification of the kingdoms of the far west into the Gren Kingdom.

One of the less well known campaigns, because the Sokans aren't proud of it, is the conquest of the Savannah. Flamewing raiders, both Blazkul and Blazin, occasionally attacked the souther imperial core provinces. Most Emperors had tried to mitigate this by increasing patrols, both aerial and on the ground, but Emperor Jurva had other plans. A grand emperor like him could never accept that core regions are in danger. In the year 450 ar, he had two legions and a few wings send out to exterminate the threat in the savannah - the region between the Searing Deserts and the Sokan Empire. At a high cost of lives and material, the Bronze Legions were successful in driving the few tribes that did live in the savannah out. Shortly after, in 451 ar, an imperial order obligated multiple thousand Trezlin to colonize the region, so that they may fortify it against the Flamewings. The campaign was considered a success at first. The Flamewing raids on the core regions stopped, because they instead focused on the border region. While the problem was simply moved to less important regions, Jurva was still celebrated as a protector of his people. From 455 ar on, the situation changed drastically. The raids became far more common, and also much stronger. The entire 4th Legion, the 1st, 3rd, and newly founded 12th Wing were deployed in the south to assist the local militia in keeping the peace. Later on the 4th Wing followed, but even that was not enough in the end. The Flamewings gathered an army and waged war against the border region. Settlement after settlement the Sokans had to give up, until they were pushed out of the Savannah, and had retreated to the more fortified border at the thin strip of land between the rain forest and the eastern shore. This entire phase is usually named War of the Savannah, and lasted until 456 ar.

Another one of his campaigns led to the greatest war the northern realms ever saw. Treztown, the wealthy city state, had to become an imperial city and the Gren Kingdom a bunch of new imperial provinces. Treztown would be a prosperous jewel in the center of the Sokan Empire, according to Emperor Jurva's plans. He even had plans to turn it into a new capital, so that the Emperor would sit in the center of his realm. In the year 467 ar, it was time to capture said to-be-jewel and Emperor Jurva himself ordered the Grand Marshal to send out five Legions, including the First, to capture the city state - the largest land army Threa has ever seen, a show of might and dominance. The siege began in the same year, on the Centday of the 7th Week of Fall. As the Shadow Department received information from supporters of the Sokans within the city, the Grand Marshal became aware of the fact that the Gren were going to aid Treztown in its time of need - bad news for the Sokans. He urged Prime Marshal Julos Arilius, the Marshal of the First Legion, to assault the city before winter comes, to ensure that they have a fortified position should the Gren arrive.

On the Centday of the 14th Week, one day after a group of two kul and six lin broke the ballistas of the legions and exactly 7 weeks after the siege began, the Sokan battlehorns were heard and their soldiers marched to take the walls of Treztown. The battle for the Free City State between the mountains officially began. At first it seemed the Sokan Legion's would once again be victorious. They managed to seize the Second Ring and were preparing to take the First One. Unfortunately, that's right when the allies of Treztown - the Gren and the Firehorns - arrived with a united army and drove the legions away. Thus the siege ended on the Postday of the 16th Week of Fall. While the Sokans may have lost the siege, they had yet to lose the war, and still managed to burn down the Second Ring before the enemy reinforcements arrived. Instead of dwelling on their defeat, the legions already began filling up their ranks again so that they could strike out and beat the army the Gren were surely gathering for a summer campaign. The Sokans considered it unlikely that the Gren would strike in spring, given that Treztown had to rebuild and that food was likely in short supply.

(More to be determined)

Events of this Era
  • War against Militant Neighbor (206 ar - 208 ar)
  • War for the Savannah (450 ar - 456 ar)
  • Great War of the North (467 ar - ??? ar)
    • Siege of Treztown (467 ar, 7th Week of Fall, Centday - 467 ar, 16th Week of Fall, Postday)
Present

Currently the Sokan Empire is at peace and has been so since the Era of Glory. They have a shaky peace with Treztown and the Gren Kingdom, which means they cannot expand westward anymore at all. A few of the most western Sokan towns and villages report that aggressive Wolshak packs have attacked people or even burned down entire hamlets. This is unusual and unheard of in the history of the Sokans, who usually had a good grip on the packs and thought they enslaved all those that were within their own borders. It appears they were wrong. Many say that those packs are coming from Treztown's territory, because Treztown doesn't act against them with nearly as much harshness. The Bronze Legion promised to take care of the issue and send a few cohorts to investigate the matter. The western frontier, the large swaths of land captured during the Great War of the North under Emperor Jurva, is the most untamed land the Sokans have and most of the towns there are just ruins because the Sokans burned them down centuries ago. Many of the conquered people moved either out into other nations or deeper into the imperial core provinces. This has likely allowed packs to settle and grow in the region.

Since the Rizlin supply the Empire with drugs, spirits and other luxury goods, the Sokans do not want to upset the trade with them by expanding southward, neither do they really want to mess with the dangerous jungle where their legions can't use their full potential. Having the wish to be self-sustaining when it comes to natural resources, the Sokan miners dig ever deeper in the hopes of finding more tin. But many think that this is fruitless and instead hope to acquire tin through conquest.

That leaves one direction - north. Having recently finished Castle Falcstone, the way to colonizing the north has been opened. Hundreds of Sokans who are eager to colonize previously uncharted lands wander into the north, taking along their families and all their possessions to found new settlements. There's hoping that there might be many surface tin ore in the north, since the Truzlin, the north's natives, do not use metal at all. Since the Truzlin basically feel like their homelands are taken from them, especially since the Sokans began hunting down the great mammals the Truzlin live off of, they have taken up arms against the Sokans and try to fight them wherever possible. They do not stand against the might of the empire's military and may only risk to attack villagers or caravans. As long as Castle Falcstone stands as a beacon for the Sokans in the north, there's no way they'll abandon their efforts. The fact that the nights in the north are long and the Sokans hate the dark might come in handy.

In the south lurks a threat for the Sokan Empire - Flamewings. The Savannah, a mix between light forest and desert, is claimed by the Sokans, who have settlements and castles there, but also by the Flamewings who lead their raiders and trophy-seeking younglings there. The results are dead bodies, spilled blood and burned villages. So far, neither side has bothered with large strikes. The Flamewings aren't good at mustering large armies, the Sokans don't dare stab at the wasp nest named the Searing Deserts.

An internal conflict is also looming at the horizon, because the current Empress - Arja the Zealous - has plans to remove the rights of the Sozlin, according to rumors. She wants to put them all in the new mines in the north and force them to build the Solar Spire, because the Truzlin slaves are too few and too weak in her eyes. The Ministry of Loyalty isn't sure what to think of it. It is worried the Sozlin might cause more problems than the Empress is expecting, who thinks sending in the legions and just enslaving them all will work perfectly fine. Of course the Sozlin tribes aren't nearly strong enough to actually prevent any fate the Empire chooses for them, but they are enough to cause many issues along the way. Combined with the conflicts in the north and south, that might open up too many fronts at the same time - precisely what the Ministry of Loyalty is worried about. Luckily the Gren are busy among themselves, partly because the Sokans are busy on those fronts, so they won't be a threat to the Empire.

Important Historical Figures

Arja the Zealous (764 ar - Present): Current Empress of the Sokan Empire. She's extremely religious, so religious in fact that she wants to remove the vassal status from Sozlin and make them slaves, too, because Trezlin are supposed to be the only free people under the Sun.

Garhan the Initiator (172 ar - 221 ar): Sixth Emperor of the Sokan Empire. Under his rule, many things changed. First of all, he got rid of the entire nobility. They were just a bother, morons with nothing to show for themselves but their bloodline. Instead of having them rule his lands, he was the one to come up with the ideas of officials, of people from the people, picked by him, ruling the people. Thanks to his investments, taming Trezkul became possible. He laid out the foundations for the a long era of expansion of the formerly relatively small Sokan Empire, but he did not end it. His own plans for wars and diplomatic annexations outlasted himself and were fulfilled by his descendants.

Jonas Tamer (165 ar - 230 ar): He is the Trezlin who managed to tame Trezkul. A hero of the Sokans, who made the glory of their Empire possible and is remembered as a grand example of how lin are superior to kul. His father, Truhon Tamer, was the one who began the experiments and trials, but Jonas finished what he started and made his theories reality. Without his efforts, the Order of the Emperor's Wings would not have been feasible.

Jurva the Conqueror (423 ar - 497 ar): Xth Emperor of the Sokan Empire. He was extremely militant and preferred to use the might of his legions over the skill of his diplomats in order to conquer new lands and increase the Sokan Empire's size. It was him who send the legions against the Treztown-Gren Alliance, starting the Great War of the North.

Sokan the First (135 br - 72 br) First Emperor of the Sokan Empire. His name is forever going to stick to the realm he founded. Beforehand he was simply king of a small realm in the far east of Threa, until he won a grand war against two other kingdoms only to have himself be crowned Emperor of all three afterwards.