Before the War of Shadow, when the Dokhar held their arcane secrets to themselves, they ruled a mighty empire, which covered coastlines attached to the Shimmering Sea and beyond, and extracted wealth from the peoples further inland. They were enthroned on the island of Lo Dokh, where the leaders of the island's Seven Cities chose their king from among themselves, the first among seven equals. They did face challenges—the wisdoms of Old Aestyvus repelled their northward expansion, and the Kingdoms of Ngavar and Kantirin proper were in many cases able to resist incursion and not pay tribute. Nevertheless, they were a towering force on the world stage in their time, before the coming of the Enthroned Shadow.
The foremost leaders of the Empire of the Sea were the rulers of the Seven Cities of Lo Dokh
, who were known as Menghar, who comprised a leadership council called the Anmenghar. The Menghar would choose from among themselves the Anmengha Ru, who led the council until either they died or the Anmenghar votes to removed them.
Each Menghar possessed near-absolute authority over the city they ruled. The most powerful body outside the Anmenghar was the Order of the Unceasing Tide, which trained and consisted of the Andokh Renar
, making the Order responsible for religious life in the Empire of the Sea, and the source of its staggering naval power. Members of the Order held prominent military ranks, and were often assigned as advisors the governors assigned to conquered regions, and to the Menghar. Though the Seven Cities and the different conquered regions had smaller coastal defense fleets, the Empire's main navy reported directly to the Anmenghar. The precise relationship involved a network of conditional authority, meant to allow the Anmengha Ru to direct military efforts decisively, but still be held in check by the rest of the Anmenghar.
The island of Lo Dokh was divided roughly evenly into regions controlled by one of the Seven Cities, called Mengh, but none of the conquered territories belonged to the Cities directly. Instead, they were divided into provinces called Khor, to which the Anmenghar would appoint a governor, the Khorar. Khorar governed within the strictures set by the Anmenghar, and were responsible for collecting tribute from neighboring states, but were otherwise largely free to govern as they saw fit.
Though the Empire largely only conquered islands and coastal regions, they utilized the threat of invasion to extract tribute from neighboring, landlocked countries. Each conquered region maintained land-based military force. If and when a tributary refused to pay tribute, the Khorar would invade, sacking the rebellious tributary, extracting wealth equal to at least double the demanded tributary by force. The Korar also invaded tributaries which revolted against the Empire, or which were suspected of planning revolt. They often used this authority to extort expensive gifts from the tributaries, but this was allowed by the Anmenghar so long as it did not interrupt normal tribute. Tributaries were allowed to wage war on other countries, and on each other, so long as it did not impact the flow of tribute, which would
At its height, the Empire of the Sea possessed vast quantities of wealth. This included both monetary wealth, the primarily silver coinage minted by the Empire, and trade goods. Because tribute was not required to be in the form of coinage, many tributaries gave goods they produced as tribute, which included agricultural goods, as well as textiles, weapons, timber, spices, ores, and jewels.
The Empire maintained a vast fleet, which it used to conquer coastal territory, and protect its holdings from invasion. Because of the arcane powers of the Andokh Renar, this fleet was able to operate at a scale unmatched in its day, crossing small distances faster than other fleets by manipulating ocean conditions, crossing large distances by sailing away from the coast, and communicating with each other while at sea. Additionally, the Adnokh Renar could, while working in concert, use the ocean itself as a weapon, raising large waves to overwhelm their enemies, and summoning gigantic ocean beasts to fight for them. This fleet also contained a corps of soldiers trained to go on land and take territory. They would also extort new tributaries until regional forces could be properly established.
Different regions were protected by local fleets, which were considerably smaller, but stationed permanently, and therefore able to respond quickly to new threats. Regions within the Empire also possessed a land-based military force, which secured its safety and would be used to forcefully extract tribute if it would not be willingly given.
Originally an alliance between what would become the Seven Cities of Lo Dokh, themselves built from the myriad fishing villages of the island, the Empire of the Sea began when its people exploited the Andokh Ren to to seiz the islands surrounding Lo Dokh, and to secure portions of the coastline of southern Munuth, including the region where the Abbey of the Unceasing Tide
stands. From there, the Empire continued to grow, taking more islands and more coastline, and eventually the need for decisive action led to the Mergh electing one of their own to lead their council, a practice which would hold for the durration of the Empire's life.
Rivalries between the Seven Cities arose and fluctuated throughout the Empire's history, never quite devolving into civil war, and the Empire always presented a united front to its enemies, even when some of the Mergh disagreed with certain invasions or other acts of aggression. The only countries to successfully escape from under the yoke of the Empire were the Kingdom of Kantirin and the Kingdom of Ngavar—then unnumbered—which incited the revolts of other tributaries, but none of them succeeded.
The Empire attempted numerous invasions of the northern coast of Munuth
, either past or directly of the Empire of Aestyvus, but the arcane and technological secrets of Old Aestyvus were enough to repel the Dokhar every time.
The end of the Empire came when the Spirit of the Green, Khoron Lodovar, overran the entire island of Lo Dokh with wilderness, ushering in the War of Shadow in the process. Over the course of the war, many of the Empire's dominions would either be reintegrated into the countries they had originally been taken from. After the war concluded, those which remained coalesced into the Dokhar League.
Demography and Population
The Empire's population consisted almost entirely of various Dokhar people groups. This is a direct consequence of their tendency to only conquer islands and coastlines, and merely extract tribute from other countries. Nevertheless, this did result in a significant number of non-Dokhar people being brought into the fold, but they were very few in number.