The Iumbu (ee-oom-boo) Empire, more formally known as The Empire of the Obsidian Throne, is the single most powerful nation in the Northern Savannah. The emperors and empresses trace their lineage to the heroes who led the liberating armies against the hated Dragon Imperium, and who established the fortress which now lays in the heart of the capital city, Iumbari. The empire has survived for over a millennia now, and houses some of the oldest troves of wisdom and lore from before the Magister Wars that sundered Isoterra into its current state. The empire is home to several notable adventuring guilds, and has strict laws about magic users and unaffiliated (free) adventurers in its lands.
The current leader of the empire is Emperor Niamban III, an aged but shrewd politician who still bears the scars of his youth as a ruin reclaiming adventurer. In imperial fashion however, he is preparing to step down in the next few years to allow his eldest daughter and current High Councillor, Atamba, to take the Empire. A powerful mage and successful military campaigner, she has already acquired a number of detractors and suitors seeking to limit her powers or claim them for themselves. She has, so far, rebuffed all of their attempts and is already establishing a collection of loyal nobles and merchant princes to support her after her coronation and assumption of the roles of the Empress of the Obsidian Throne.
Hereditary aristocracy, headed by the imperial family (the first among "equals").
To re-secure the former holdings of the empire, and to return peace and stability to the region. Recently, the advent of raids from the Great Northern Jungle, and the Teminna Kingdoms hidden there, have added a goal of defending the empire from invasion, something not heard of in generations.
The Empire of the Obsidian Throne is extremely wealthy, has a professional military and vast militia force, and is in possession of a number of items and information from the Magister Wars and the Lost Era.
The empire's deepest founding lore places its creation with the establishment of a permanent fortress at the fork of the rivers Naya and Mbaya by the heros who led the forces that had driven the Dragon Imperium from the lands. Chrono distortion notwithstanding, the date was approximately 3000 years ago, although the modern empire would not be a recognizable thing until about one thousand years ago. From that fortress, a city slowly rose, and through trade and warfare, slowly conquered the peoples around it, with the notable exception of the Smoke Orcs, who remain a largely nomadic group within and outside of the empire's borders.
Iumbu survived the Magister Wars and the nightmarish chronal distortions of the Lost Era for the most part, it's mages managing to recognize what was happening and then fashion magical defences similar to those the Last Chronomancer brought to other lands. Their in house creations were imperfect however, and large parts of the empire, in particular the rural and wild areas, were often subject to the nightmarish effects of magic and time being used as weapons of war. When the Lost Era ended, and the world had stabilized itself once again, only 45% of the empire was unscathed. That was a century ago.
In the time that passed, the Iumbarani have been hard at work rebuilding, exploring, and fighting monsters to reclaim their homeland. The current emperor, Niambana III, proved himself as an adventurer in this era, and still walks with a limp from an encounter with a manticore. Fortified villages and family compounds dot the landscape, as even after 100 years, things are not safe enough to live without some defences.
In its time, it has seen the rise and fall of other nations, most notably their neighbours, the Empire of Saqah, who collapsed during the Magister War to an onslaught of magic and strange creatures. Once bitter land and trade rivals with a shared frontier, Iumbu accepted many Saqaran refugees, and they remain the third largest human minority group in the nation after the Dakans. It has also seen the return of the amphibious Teminna Kindoms in the wet jungles to the north, shunted forward in time from some forgotten era, and are watching the peoples of the cooler Tasmran Peninsula to their south develop and push out further each year.
Demography and Population
The majority of the population is made up of Iburi humans, with Dakan and Saqaran humans making up the next largest populations. After that, Orcs and Monsterfolk make up significant minorities, and the elemental Orosa make up the smallest significant population group. As of 100 SR, the population breakdown is:
Humans (Iburi) 55%
Humans (Dakan) 14%
Humans (Saqaran) 10%
Orcs (various) 10%
Beastfolk (various) 8%
Other (various) 3%
The current population of the empire is ~2.1 million.
The empire is primarily resident in the Northern Savannah, with some holdings in the surrounding mountains, coastlines, and the edges of the Great Northern Jungle. However, like most modern nations not on skylands, their actual control of all their territory is not 100%. Thier skyship fleet mitigates this somewhat, but it's a reality.
The Iumbu Empire's military is a professional force backed by a significant conscription and local militias. For short periods, the empire can muster as much as 20% of its population and place them in arms and armour. This is no mean feat and can only be achieved because of its logistical sophistication and organization.
Iumbu is known for its heavy and light infantry units, and its ability to rapidly deploy troops via skyships. Troops patrol the wilderness areas regularly along land trade routes and near villages and other settlements. Iumbu is involved in a perpetual border skirmish with the Teminna Kingdoms, and is considering more serious action.
Iumbu has, within the context of the modern age, advanced technology and sciences; but it pales compared to where it once was.
With the fall of Saqah, Iumbu is now the only power in the northern part of the continent with the ability to build new skyships, however, until recently, this was of low import and somewhat neglected. With increased smuggling, monster attacks, and military threats, the empire is swiftly trying to dust off these skills. With rumours of skylands over the Great Northern Jungle, this technology is key any successful conflict with the Teminna Kingdoms.
Iumbarani technical expertise is held in good regard where they are known, in particular their engineers and alchemists. Iumbu bronze for example, has the properties of iron, and Iumbu roads will often outlive their creators without significant wear by several generations. Likewise, their philters and alchemical items are in high demand by adventurers and common folk alike.
Iumbu has good relations with the Dakan Confederacy on the North Coast, and they are long time trade partners. Lost Saqah was once a hegemonic rival when it was the Empire of Saqah, but their fall left a patchwork of citystates of which the empire has mixed relationships. The Teminna Kingdoms in the Great Northern Jungle are actively hostile to higher forms of mammalian and reptile life, placing them in immediate conflict with the empire and its Lizardfolk citizens and allies. The kingdoms and nations to the south, on the Annas Archipelago and Tasmran Peninsula, have cordial relations with the empire; with trade dominating their relations. The Volcano Kingdoms in the Northern Savannah are neutral for the most part, but the Garanga Elephantfolk holdings to the south are hostile.
Agriculture & Industry
Agriculture is a key aspect to the internal economy of the empire. Millet and barley are the primary grains grown, and these make up the bulk of the diet of most Iumbarani and their majority of their exports to the cities states of the Coast of Bones. The local vegetables and fruits are seasonal, and as they don't travel well, are seldom exported outside the immediate area they are grown. Cotton, imported to the region millennia ago, is the dominant textile material and a significant agricultural industry in of itself.
Baobab trees, wild and domestic, make up another large aspect of the economy and agricultural scene, providing fruit, medicines, and other goods that are processed locally and sold across the Southern Continent. These trees are so valuable that damaging them is punishable under imperial law, and destroying them can carry a death penalty depending on the reasoning and circumstances. This is, of course, assuming that the locals have not already dealt with the culprit.
Industry in Iumbu is found almost exclusively in its larger cities and the capital. The main industries are based around processing obsidian, creating high quality bronze and bronze goods, cotton processing and related textile industries, and steel manufacturing. Ceramic and clay goods are also massive industries, and feed both a large internal market and foreign markets. Iumbu made ceramic goods are considered to be among the finest int he world.
Trade & Transport
Trade occurs through three ways in Iumbu, by road, river, and sky.
Road trade is the most common for local trade between villages and from cities to the smaller settlements around them if there's no river. This is, arguably, the most dangerous trade method, especially if the destination is distant and there are few settlements in between. This trade is also the freest, with people from all walks of life and professional levels participating in it.
River trade is a professional's game in Iumbu, and sees the movement of heavy goods to all parts of the empire. It is dominated by a handful of families , who ruthlessly maintain their monopoly. Their actions have kept them on just the right side of the law so far, but imperial agents have begun to investigate them quietly. River trade is marginally safer than travel by road, and has greater capacity to carry cargo, but is fraught with hazards like hippos and crocodiles, in addition to monster threats.
Sky trade is limited to a handful of merchant houses given licence to operate skyships by the imperial court. This is almost exclusively high end cargos and for long range international trade of high worth. However, illegal skyships often engage in smuggling activities in the periphery of the empire, much to the chagrin of the sky navy and imperial tax collectors alike.
Education in the empire is centrally controlled, with auditors and inspectors travelling from village to village to determine if the children are meeting the standards for literacy, arithmetic skills, and philosophy are being met. At the same time they test children for magical ability, and children with magical potential are monitored for development. If they show aptitude, they're taken at the age of majority (16) to the capital and enrolled in one of the sanctioned academies there. Their families are compensated for the loss of labour, but this is widely seen as a point of pride for families.
Even after the ravages of the Magister War and the Lost Era, Iumbu maintains much of its infrastructure in good condition.
Its main road networks are well maintained, with the secondary ones being brought back into service as funds and time are available. The roads are patrolled regularly, but not regularly enough to guarantee the safety of the old days. Road construction takes a longer time than in other places, as the Iumbarani engineering techniques create a superior road through meticulous planning and construction.
Most of the aqueducts are functional, and settlements of any significant size have sewage systems. Clean water is not a concern in all but the most distant or isolated villages. Restoring the aqueduct system has been a multigenerational effort that remains ongoing.
Defences have become more important in recent years, with increased threats from the north and south, respectively. The old road forts were already coming back, but now resources are going back to retaking or rebuilding the border fortifications that had fallen in disrepair, and in expanding the sky navy facilities.