Updated: September 5, 2021
The Empire of Isegrad Overview
The capital of the Isegrád Empire, established in ~800AC, stands tall over desert-like tundra and snowdrifts alike, looming like the needle of a compass. It points outwardly toward the heavens, ever a persistent reminder of their founder's unique persistence and drive for the top. It is here that much of the world's technological and magical prowess is demonstrated, with impossibly tall stone castles and reinforced walls that put the mightiest redwood to shame. Together, their construction paints a devastatingly competent picture for the empire as a whole.
Isegrádians are derived chiefly from Esche and Aiphe of centuries past. While the racial features of either have whittled down over the years, their values certainly haven't, and many Isegrádians have even intensified their initial principles to extremist degrees. Before Balin Sketch died, he left his followers with a sort of moral code to follow for the next eternity. This, historically speaking, hasn't been considered a ruleset by said followers, though a good majority still obey it to the letter. In the prior-mentioned extreme cases, some follow it religiously to the point of near-worship, while others disregard it almost completely.
The instructions of Balin proceed as such:
As one might expect, magic is quite central to the peoples of Isegrád. Balin and his closest advisors often described it as a fantastic gift that rose from almost nothing, and while future generations (obviously) didn't have the same spontaneous experience, the enchantingly fascinating nature of magic has nonetheless been properly communicated to a modern populace. To fit this, Isegrádians hold a great respect for magic and its users. Mages are typically treated very well in Isegrád, even when from foreign lands. This has led to some latent prejudice against the less-privileged.
There are few among Isegrádian citizens as well-respected and noteworthy as the Harbingers. While not royalty themselves, they are often considered as close as can be and are individually responsible for the goings-on of nearly every settlement of Isegrád's known to man. Typically, each settlement is given a single Harbinger as its leader. Harbingers are not always necessarily the strongest magic user in the land, but they do almost always have some facet that makes them unique. Some grow exceptionally quickly in the arts, others can copy spells with the blink of an eye, and so on.
It's only been recently that Empyrean have been allowed to grow to this stature through rigorous training, as it was thought for a long time that the walking golems were instead meant to be the right-hands of these powerful magnates. Since then, it has almost become standard for Empyrean to serve if not at a Harbinger's side then as one themselves.
The Empire of Isegrád is infamous for its constant use of arcane and sorcerous magic to achieve end's meet. From the very beginning, they have generously exploited these techniques to extreme degrees, explicitly and vocally viewing magic as a tool to be used. As such, their structures and what can be achieved with them are often some of the most absurd in the world, resulting in abnormally tall buildings with outrageous durabilities. This extends to more literal tools as well, with their artifacts, armor, weapons and otherwise being nigh-legendary in crafted quality.
While technology has failed to keep up with what can be achieved with magic, Isegrád is nonetheless constantly pushing that boundary as well, often incorporating simple mechanisms and metal constructs into magical rituals. One of the most interesting applications of this truth would be the Empyrean, a "race" of artificially-created humanoids that came about in the 900's. This creation in particular sparked an extremist interpretation of Balin Sketch's code, stirring up the belief that mages are born higher than otherwise. Ever since, this ideology has been growing in popularity.
In what was then viewed as a perfect interpretation of Balin Sketch's ideals (and often still is), many of the top mages of Isegrád collaborated to construct and give life to the first Empyrean. It was intended as a gift for the late emperor, but unfortunately wasn't complete enough in time to be put to use. Nonetheless, the Empyrean have since boomed in popularity and several are now stationed in each of the empire's many cities, with the capital holding the present record of ten. They are immensely expensive to make, requiring an absurdly rare set of materials and a team of master mages. Even then, the chance of failure is high.
Despite these hardships and challenges, Isegrád has dedicated mountains of coin time and time again to the cause of producing them. Many view the Empyrean as a religious construct; something to represent the truest of their ideals, akin to golem-like angels. Others distrust them and view them as a way for their government to impose on its citizens unnecessarily, and some have even speculated that they're prototypal war machines. Regardless, as far as we're presently aware, the Empyrean are merely a successful attempt at creating artificial life, and think and feel just as any ordinary human would. With, of course, a metallic or stone-like body.
Of course, it isn't all sunshine and rainbows for Isegrád. Their expansion has been borderline explosive, with mighty cities rising across the world in less than a few centuries. Many consider them to be slowing down, while others think this is only the beginning. Either way, the truth is that the empire is hungry, and consumes resources like no other. The snowy deserts of Dessica have long since failed to feed the growing faction and the nature of Isegrád inherently demands more and more. The production of the Empyrean has slowed down, and new cities have been popping up far less in the past few decades.
Some speculate that this is the end of an empire and that Isegrád was a flash-in-the-pan dream founded and failed by Balin Sketch, but... A newer, more frightening rumor has risen as of late: that Isegrád hasn't been floundering at all, and has actually been building up for one massive push out of their homely snowdrifts. Whether this is true remains to be seen, though the truth is sure to come about soon enough.
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