The Crescent Sea
Altara, or the Altaran Empire, is the northernmost nation of the Crescent Sea. Though it once covered the entire mainland, it now stretches from the northern shores to the great mountains south of Caenum.
Three hundred years ago, the Empire was founded by a half-orc named Tara, who united the northern clans. The empire spread rapidly south, seeking to create the perfect civilization by assimilating the best parts of each culture it encountered. Tearn was quickly brought into the Empire, and the city of Basa was founded to establish dominion over Marak. Trading routes were established to Elyniena, and for two hundred years, the Empire prospered.
During this time of expansion, lycanthropes and vampires were first encountered by Imperial forces. Lycanthropy was recognized by Legion as a formidable asset, and is passed on to most officers as a formal part of their rise through the ranks. Vampirism, on the other hand, found its home in the political elite and their diplomatic officers.
The Empire rejects magic, preferring the ‘fairness’ of armed combat. Public use of magic is an offense sufficient to bring even the most well-respected politician before the courts. Several powerful citizens were exiled to Basa for the practice of magic late in the second century of Imperial rule. This contributed significantly to the subsequent fracture of the Empire.
About two hundred years after its founding, the Empire suffered a significant military defeat against the independent dwarves of Marakar. This weakened the Legion, allowing both Marak and Tearn to secede from the Empire with little threat of military opposition.
The citizens of Basa declared Marak to be an independent nation under the legislative command of a council of magi housed in the southern city. Magic was decriminalized, and magical education was made free for all citizens. The dwarves of Mardakar just sort of shrugged, and got on with their business underground, largely unaffected by these developments.
Meanwhile, the old nation of Tearn reasserted itself on grounds of objection to Altara’s system of slavery (a common punishment for major crimes in the Empire). Tearnyn, which had always been a major city, became a truly thriving metropolis, especially with the completion of a huge underground canal system stretching from Tearnyn in the west to Riverhead in the east.
This shattering left Altara weakened, and looking to consolidate its position as the dominant force on the Crescent Sea. Its chance would come fifty years later, with the arrest of Cassius Marcus, a politician and mage. Upon his capture, he revealed to the political elite of Altara Imperia that he had discovered a secret that let him turn stone to heliite. This metal was lighter than air, allowing for floating structures the likes of which had never been seen before. At the instructions of the Emperor of the time, Marcus turned a huge amount of the bedrock below Altara Imperia to heliite, turning it into an impenetrable flying city, and a wonder of the modern world. Unfortunately, Marcus was kidnapped shortly thereafter by agents from Marak.