The Vox Imperium
The first decade after the War of the Talisman saw the elves, a reclusive civilization long in decline, vanish completely from the world. There were many theories at the time regarding where they went, but no one was ever able to decisively answer the question. Even today, almost a millennium after the last elf was seen by human eyes, the means and motives behind the Vanishing are hotly debated by historians.
Of the three main elven kingdoms, only Lothrae on the eastern shore of the Celestial sea and the northern state of Oe Roweyn remained. The largest and most populous of the elven kingdoms, the legendary Avrayn-Aroth, had been utterly destroyed during the Final Battle, leaving the Shattered Shore and the Palace of Shards in its wake. The lands of Oe Roweyn had been claimed by King Asheron of Ironhold, and only the southern mystic known as Solari was able to enter the Palace of Shards. This left the former kingdom of Lothrae unclaimed and, as of the year 9 of the War Calendar (WC9), largely uninhabited.
Lien Dela, promoted from Captain to General following her performance in the War, saw an opportunity and led an expedition into the former elven lands from the city-state of Voxport, which was located on the western coast of the Celestial Sea and one of two entryports from the ocean. Traveling east between the channel to the north and the sea to the south, General Dela’s army met very little resistance from the sparse human settlements. They had lived under the nominal sovereignty of the elves for centuries, and hoped that they might enjoy a similar degree of autonomy under their new rulers. They were to find themselves disappointed in that regard, as each town and village was made to pay regular tribute in the form of taxes to their new overlords, along with submitting to compulsory service in the imperial legions.
But the Voxians offered much in return. Voxport was a wealthy polity, both materially and culturally. Lien Dela and her army brought significant advances in engineering, agriculture, and medicine to the humans of the former elven lands, who were struggling to get by without the aid of elven magic. Though self-rule movements would rise up throughout the conquered territory and would plague the new empire for most of its existence, paved roads and expanded crop yields did much to ameliorate the sting of subjugation for a time.
It had been the intention of General Dela to conquer the former elven lands as tribute to the Duke of Voxport, but by the time she and her army reached the ruins of Lothrae, the soldiers, flush with tribute and plunder, proclaimed General Dela their Imperator. They urged her to march on Voxport and make it another province in her burgeoning empire. So, rather than continue on to the city-state of Ur-Athaz, Dela and her army turned back toward home.
However, Duke Lostra of Voxport had learned of his general’s impending mutiny and sent two of his finest legions to meet her and her troops on the plains outside Voxport’s official borders. Before the legions came to blows, Imperator Dela rode out to meet the legions alone. Following a stirring speech, as well as a promise to share the spoils of conquest with their generals, the two legions joined hers, proclaiming Lien Dela Imperator and pledging their aid in the conquest of Voxport.
The conquest was brief and largely bloodless. Dela and her legions besieged the main city of Voxport, and after a perfunctory battle and a few days of negotiation, the Duke surrendered the city under pressure from his ruling council. The ruling council were in their turn under pressure from the people, who had seen and heard of the wonders brought back from the former elven lands, and had grown tired of Lostra’s reign, which had long been marred by corruption and a heavy handedness that bordered on authoritarianism.
Initially, Imperator Lien Dela intended for Duke Lostra to retain his title and serve as governor of the new Voxport province. However, the Duke was soon discovered to be behind an insurrection composed largely of his cronies in the nobility and a failed attempt on Imperator Dela’s life. This led to his own execution, the abolition of the ducal title, and direct imperial rule of Voxport. Within days of Lostra’s execution, Dela was officially crowned Empress Lien I of the Vox Imperium. She moved into the ducal palace and set about restructuring Voxport’s ruling council into an imperial senate, which would include representatives from all the territories under her rule.
Rather than attempt to conquer Ur-Athaz or the other lands south of the Celestial Sea following her coronation, Empress Lien chose instead to consolidate the lands she’d already taken. To that end, she set out on a tour of her new empire. She would spend most of her reign traveling from Voxport in the west to the ruins of Lothrae in the east, establishing the laws, customs, and procedures of the Imperium. That reign would be tragically cut short when Empress Lien died the following year after a duel. Though victorious, she took a wound during the duel that became infected, and despite the best efforts of her talented field medics, Lien Dela, First Empress of the Vox Imperium, died a week later. Her reign, while short, managed to establish a foundation for an empire that would last over three centuries and set a standard of rule that all Imperators would follow.
Over the next couple of centuries, the Vox Imperium would climb to incredible heights. The city of St. Aegus would be founded on the site of Lothrae’s ruins by Lien’s successor within the next decade, and subsequent Imperators would strengthen and solidify their hold over their territory, claiming sovereignty over all the lands “from the Channel to the Sea”. In an attempt to govern their vast territory more effectively, future Imperators would establish a new capitol called Voxia between Voxport in the West and St. Aegus in the east. The city took over a decade to build and was finally finished during the reign of Empress Lien II.
One enterprising Emperor would even cross the treacherous channel and conquer the lands along the southern coast of The Realm, the kingdom founded in the north by King Asheron of Ironhold. Though this province would last less than a century, the Imperium’s influence would be felt in the Realm far longer. When they were liberated from Imperial rule via powerful insurgency, the former province declared themselves the Independent Republic of Southgard, and would only rejoin the Realm if granted a representative voice in government. This led to Asheron establishing the first Parliament of the Realm, a governing body that persists to this day.
An ill-conceived attempt to expand their territory during the First Canonical War caused the Vox Imperium to lose the key city of St. Aegus in WC117, which encouraged a long-simmering independence movement in the former capitol, eventually leading to the First Voxport Rebellion in WC205. Though the Imperium retained the city-state as a province, Voxport also won a certain degree of autonomy, which included the reinstatement of the ducal title.
A series of weak Imperators and their misadventures led to further decline of the empire, and by WC300, the Vox Imperium was in crisis. A disastrous attempt to retake St. Aegus in WC302 caused the Imperium to lose control of most of its territory between Voxia and St. Aegus, giving rise to a loose confederacy of petty kingdoms. The Second Voxport Rebellion in WC328 led to complete independence for the city-state of Voxport.
The Imperium, now little more than the province of Voxia and a few client states among the petty kingdoms, limped along for a few more decades until Emperor Exactus IV attempted to restore the Imperium in WC395 by conquering the breakaway kingdoms between Voxia and St. Aegus. The attempt was an unmitigated failure, resulting in the death of Exactus and the loss of more territory, including key ports along the Celestial Sea.
Following a coup that deposed the last Vox Imperator, the province of Voxia abandoned all imperial pretense and restructured itself into a republic. The Senate, now directly elected by the people, took on more power within the government and replaced the office of Imperator with a Governor appointed by the Senate, who serves as Head of State but wields very little actual power. Time would not be kind to the Republic of Voxia, once the heartland of a powerful empire, which, after centuries of strife both within and without, has spent the past hundred years as little more than a client state of the Realm.