Roman Sunset Edit

In the shadow of Alexander, King of Kings, arose Rome, perhaps the greatest empire the world has yet seen.

Yet Rome almost never happened. It was almost aborted by an invasion of Spartan military colonists from Magna Graecia in the early third century BCE. These Spartan expatriates managed to evict the Etruscans from Rome and establish a Spartan kingship over the city, one which lasted a solid century and a half. But in 143 BCE Rome overthrew its Spartan king and installed an Emperor in his place. But a century and a half of Spartanization does not go away in a flash, and Rome soon had military dreams of her own, and would soon fulfil them. Within a century and a half, Rome would conquer an empire stretching from Armorica to Arabia, through military campaign after military campaign. Greece was incorporated in the second century. The Ptolemaic dynasty in Egypt was brought to an unceremonious end by swift Roman conquest in the mid-first century. Carthage and her empire, too, were brought under Roman control, but it was fortunately spared destruction, and the area would retain a uniquely Punic culture throughout Roman rule.

Alas, through the third century, Rome's expansion ended, replaced by years of famine, economic crisis, religious strife between Christians, pagans, and Solar-worshippers, and civil war. It was clear that the Empire was just too big. In 325, a compromise split the empire into three, each ruled by a triumvir - one in the South in Carthage, one in the East in Byzantium, and naturally, one in the West in Rome. And, for a time, it worked: stability returned. But the second half of the fourth century would bring further hammers down upon Rome. The Svear invasions of the Balkans starting in 356 ended Roman control of Greece and culminated in Byzantium being sacked in 361, forcing the Eastern Emperor to flee to Pergamon. Simultaneously, in 360, Britannia was abandoned, simply left to its own devices.

What would ultimately nearly bring down Rome for good came in the form of a united force of Jutes, Saxons, and Franks, who collectively invaded northern Italy itself in the mid-fifth century, under the leadership of one King Hrothgar - some believe due to being forced from their homes by Vandal migrations westwards. In any case, by the 460s they were threatening Rome itself. But all this changed in 476 when the Roman Senate, supported by followers of the Invincible Sun, overthrew the last Emperor, a weak puppet of a regent, and replaced him with an elected dictator. In a last-ditch move, the Senate raised an army to protect their city. And perhaps the Sun does indeed shine on Rome; the Romans stopped the barbarians.

And since then, the frontier across Italy has held firm. Though Northern Italy is now forever lost, the new Latin Dictatorship has reexpanded, retaining influence over Neapolis, Messana, and various Adriatic coastal possessions through tributary and puppet Senates. The reinvented state has entirely devoted itself to Sol Aniketus. Large portions of the country and its administration are under control of the militarized Solar Orders, who are ready to fight for the glory of the Invincible Sun at a moment's notice.

But the world is forever changed, and some barbarians are, perhaps, no longer barbarians. The Germans in Northern Italy coopted the old Roman bureaucracy and infrastructure quite effectively. The Kingdom of Nornidr is hardly barbarian at all now - its magnificent capital of Meduseld, established at the mouth of the Po River, and trade flows freely through the harbors of Venehar and Genovtorp. Though it does not have Rome - or perhaps because of it - Nornidr today is flourishing in the peace.

Even before 476, Christian missionaries arrived in northern Italy, and created a completely unintended effect. The Christian tales were simply incorporated into the old myths, and new faith has emerged: that of the Allfather. This new faith, its sacraments and beliefs codified and written into scripture, has spread northwards like wildfire in the last several decades, accelerated by warlords north of the Fells adapting it and spreading it by the swordpoint. Two of the most prominent of these have been the kings of the Goths and the Thuringii, who in the 480s and 490s suddenly and rapidly expanded their domains across wide swathes of Germany. Many of their soldiers have been granted lands in the newly conquered territories, and a new feudal class is developing. Now, they prepare to turn their arms on each other, and Germany appears ready for an even more prolonged, bloody struggle.

Elsewhere, In the vacuum left by the withdrawal of the Roman legions from Belgia, the Frisians and Batavians moved in. Though they had started migrating as early as the third century, finding peace with the Romans, the situation would turn violent in the fourth century, and the Friso-Batavians. Some of these Germans would cross the sea to Britain, ultimately forcing, the Roman withdrawal from the isles in 360. Friso-Batavia, now in control of a wide swathe of the coast and possessions across the channel, would develop into an advanced state society, with deepening divisions between the Etheling nobles, Friling freedmen, and Laten serfs. While the Allfather is popular here, paganism still dominates.

Britain was thrown into chaos after 360, with the Romans leaving and the Germans coming simultaneously. Christianity came to the British Isles for the first time in the fourth century, finding a home first amongst the Irish. By now, nearly all of Ireland has been Christianized, though it is still divided, between a number of clan-based petty states who are content to spend more time fighting each other than dreaming of any empire.

In Caledonia, the dispersed clans by 500 have coalesced into a pair of unified states, roughly divided on religious lines. In the west, the state of Dal Riata has formed by Irish pagan clans solidifying their rule over western Caledonia, helped along by pagans successfully attempting to resist Christianization. This in turn created the impetus for neighboring Pictland to unite, which on the flipside is very Christian. Both states are still not centralized, with the clan still the prominent unit of organization amongst the Celts and Picts. And they both turn south to face foreign threats.

One such threat is Yr Hen Ogledd. This unique state is actually a confederation of monarchs under a singular High King, of the Coeling line. When the Germans crossed the sea, some broke off from the Friso-Batavian crown's authority. Some went west, and carved for themselves little petty kingdoms that are still independent to this day, having never been subjugated by the Frisian crown. Others went north, creating the kingdoms of Bernicia and Deria. But the Germans did not unite, and the Cumbric Yr Coeling was able to war them and force the Germans to bend the knee in the 420s and 430s. This became a turning point in the confederacy's history, and it has continued its expansion ever since.

Lastly, there is Brython, formed when the rulers of Dumnonia after the Roman withdrawal expanded their realms gradually throughout the fifth century into Wales, and by the middle of the century the kingdom had completely Christianized. Brython is powerful, and it has been some time since the last campaign. Its army itches for combat, and there are weak German kingdoms to the east ready for conquest, sitting there like fish in a barrel.

As all these realms turn on each other, an age of war is now upon Britain, and perhaps there will be precious little left for the farmers and builders when the generals and kings are done with the islands.

Armorica has been reclaimed by Celts. But this kingdom of Brittany is one of the more eclectic post-Roman states, as not only is it ruled by a queen, its entire aristocracy and society is matriarchal. Brittany's monarchy is an elected one, with the new queen elected by the matriarchs of all the country's Great Houses. To boot, it has rejected both Christianity and traditional paganism, in favor of a religion combining the latter with beliefs of traders from cold lands even further afield - the belief in a Drowned Queen who one day shall arise from her oceanic domain and unleash the powers of the ocean upon the world. This cult of the Drowned Queen, formed in the mid-fifth century, today has adherents throughout Gaul, Britain, and even Iberia.

But the light of Rome is not yet extinguished in Aquitania. After the province was cut off from Rome by the migration of the Germans to northern Italy in the 450s and 460s, the local provincial governor set himself up as a King, independent of Rome, but preserving Roman culture. Though unlike the Latin Dictatorship, Aquitania is Christian, with an independent Gallic Church having been established there shortly after the province's independence was gained. The provincial government has fairly successfully incorporated the local archbishop into the state, and has also sponsored missions into neighboring lands. Nevertheless, Aquitania has suffered from numerous rebellions against an oppressive landowner class in the 490s.

Now we cross the sea to Carthage, where too the light of Rome stays burning bright. The Southern Emperor in Carthage, having been spared the chaos of barbarian invasions, retained in firm control of all of Roman Africa, which fast became the most prosperous region in the Mediterranean. Carthage ultimately reconquered Iberia from the moribund Western Empire in the 450s when the latter's heartland began to be threatened. But not long after, Carthage fell into crisis and civil war between rival imperial claimants. It was during this crisis when a rebellion broke out in Iberia, spearheaded by numerous Celtiberian warlords fashioning themselves as kings. It was soon joined by a number of Carthaginian patricians, led by Bomilcar, a scion of the Barcid house, Carthage's former rulers, who still wielded political influence centuries later. Carthage would never retake Iberia, and the rebellion would establish the independent republic of Ishfania, a confederation between the Celtiberian subkingdoms and the Punic republican cities, with an elaborate republican system that continues to be stable to this day.

To make matters worse, Egypt was lost to an invasion at the hands of the Ghassanid Arabs, and not long after, a rebellion of Solar-worshipping patricians broke Cyrenaica away. Ultimately, the last Southern Emperor was simply overthrown by annoyed local patricians, and a republic was established. Carthage of today is a far cry from what it once was, with much of the state coming under increasingly Punic cultural influence in the latter fifth century, and now bears few resemblances to the Southern Roman Empire. Yet it has solidified its dominance of the Mediterranean naval and trade spheres, and remains more prosperous than ever.

The Svearii invaded Greece via the Balkans in 350s and 360s and quite thoroughly made a mess of the place. The Eastern Empire was forced to retreat from Byzantium to nearby Pergamon after Byzantium was sacked in 361, an event the city has still yet to recover from. But by 370 the Svearii had retreated to the north by a combination of hardening Greek resistance and the lack of land in which to settle, and the Svearii would ultimately settle and remain there to this day. With the East Romans having been too badly injured to regain control, Greece fragmented into a collection of city-states, who still formed a loose alliance to fight against foreign threats. This would change in 376, when the Avars followed in the Svear footsteps and sacked Thessaloniki. Alarmed, the Athenian statesmen Anaxemander unified the Greeks under a common banner, and at the gates of Thebes utterly smashed the Avars. Anaxemander's alliance solidified into a permanent confederation, with the Athenians in charge, and quickly expanded via force to control the Aegean, even unceremoniously conquering the rump Eastern Empire in Pergamon in 425.

Asia Minor in the post-Roman worl is home to a trio of kingdoms. Furthest north is Pontus, an ancient hellenized kingdom that in its current form first gained independence during the Seleucid collapse in the first century BCE, before drifting in and out of Roman control, at various times a Roman tributary and client state, before ultimately regaining full independence in the 360s after the sack of Byzantium. In the central Anatolian highlands is Galatia, a kingdom of Hellenistic Celts who had migrated to the Greek world during the fourth century BCE, and ultimately found their way to a sedentary, surprisingly peaceful existence in central Anatolia. And lastly, the surviving Avars, adopting Christianity, resettled in Cilicia rather quietly during the late third and early fourth centuries, with precious few other places to go.

Back in the Balkans, north of Svearia is home to the Angles, who migrated there in the mid-fifth century alongside the great migration to northern Italy. The Anglic kingdom of Apland, so named for the country's supposedly rich number of apples in Roman times, is a creation of this migration, and controls a wide swathe of land from Dalmatia - itself home to piracy-loving fisherfolk who are only loosely under any country's control - all the way north to the Yotvingian frontier. Then there is Dacia, the shattered ancient country which was reunited in the third century when the king Ruboreles united the Dacians to repulse a Scythian incursion. Dacia's powerbase has over the centuries shifted from the interior to the east and the Euxine coast, and now the interior has been repudiated to the status of a march, to protect the increasingly wealthy country from German incursions.

The final story in the Balkans is that of the Bulgar Khanate. Forced from Central Asia by the Scythians, the Bulgars migrated south, after being defeated by the Dacians, to Thracia, where they almost sacked Thessaloniki before being repulsed by the Hellenes. They have since managed to settle in Thracia and assimilate the populace, but they are still regarded as barbarian threats by their neighbors - what does their future hold?

Empires under the Sun Edit

It is said that the city of Babylon is older than the world itself.

In any case, the politicking after Alexander's death in that very city passed control of its country to one general Seleucus. The chaos meant that Seleucus established control of a vast empire stretching from Asia Minor to Parthia. The now-titled Seleucus Nicator built his new capital, Seleucia-in-Babylonia, on the bank of the Euphrates near the shore. No less would do for the newly forged Seleucid Empire.

Seleucid dominance of the Middle East would last almost three centuries, controlling a rather large empire from Asia Minor to Bactria, but by the latter half of the first century BCE it had become utterly despised by wide numbers of their populace. Particularly in Babylonia, a sentiment had grown that the Seleucids were driving the old cities to ruin, and the Seleucid emperors themselves had become infamous for their weakness, corruption, and perceived decadence. To add to the bevy of problems, the people of Babylon had almost entirely embraced Zoroastrianism, which caused conflicts with Seleucid emperors trying to enforce a state cult. And thus, Babylon revolted. One Cyrus led the revolt, leading his men to Seleucia, and in 25 BCE sacked the city and burnt it to the ground, salting the ashes. Cyrus claimed to be the first of the Third Empire, a successor of both the Achaemenid shahenshahs and Alexander the Great. Babylon would within the next half century expand into Syria as well, and over the first and second centuries repulsed multiple Roman attempts to conquer the area.

With that, the Seleucids were forced to retreat east to Persia, after which they were quickly conquered by a dynasty from Parthia in the northeast, who would rule a strong and united Persia. Wars between this Parthian Empire and the Babylonians throughout the next century were indecisive. Ultimately, the Parthian Empire fell into decline and ultimately civil war after 300, allowing Babylon the opportunity to temporarily gain control of much of Persia. Alas, it would not last, as in rode the Artaxiad dynasty, a hellenized dynasty from Albania in the Caucasus, who invaded in the 350s and quickly established an empire of their own, the so-called Albanian Empire, out of Ecbatana. In Mesopotamia though, Babylon remains stronger than ever, and the old city remains a guiding light to the world as bright as it ever has been. The empire has spread Zoroastrianism by law, though open communities of old pagans and Christians remain.

The Ghassanid tribe of Arabs moved into Nabataea in the mid-fourth century, by 360 having established a kingdom there, taking over the city of Petra, and having converted to Christianity, fending off occasional Babylonian and Roman incursions. The collapse of authority after the 361 sack of Byzantium allowed the Ghassanids to incorporate Palestine into their kingdom, and by 370, they were in firm control of most of the Levant. The Ghassanid Kingdom's convenient position allowed it to grow rather wealthy. During the Carthaginian civil wars of the 460s, the Ghassanids swiftly moved into Egypt and conquered it. Egypt under the Ghassanids has become entirely Arabized, with much of the formerly Hellenized Egyptian population having assimilated or been displaced in the second half of the fifth century. In fact, the Ghassanid Kingdom has become the de facto heartland of Christianity.

Further south lies the Nubian kingdom of Alodia, of which there is little to speak of - its people are predominantly Christian, but the state only truly exists as the intermediary between the Ghassanid Kingdom and the great southern realm of Aksum. The Ethiopians of Aksum have adopted Judaism through a mixture of conversions and migrations of Jewish tribes into Ethiopia, with the ruling class largely converting during the mid-fourth century. Aksum's naval power has enabled to achieve dominance of the Red Sea, and - perhaps more importantly - the wealth of the Egypt-India trade which flows through it. Aksum managed to expand into the Arabian peninsula with the conquest of Sheba in the fifth century, and has begun to influence the Arab tribes of the surrounding regions. The Arab tribes remain quite quiet,

On the other side of Africa is the home of the rising Sao civilization. Around Lake Chad and the Chari River the Sao city-states have in the last few centuries arisen a number of magnificent walled city-states, led by divine kings. The fifth century saw them more or less unite under the leadership of the city of Pel Ma 'ir, which has subjugated most of the other Sao city-states into the first all-encompassing Sao polity - the wealth of the Sao is quite large, and they are militarily powerful. Further west is Gao, a more or less city-state whose wealth is largely based on the yet-small but burgeoning trans-Sahara trade, and the Ghana Empire, an expansionist state similarly garnering great wealth, whose military strength has helped it arise from a tribal collection to a burgeoning empire in the course of just a century.

Along the east coast of Africa, south of a number of Azanian trade city-states who have largely adopted Christianity and are mostly insignificant in the greater geopolitical picture, lies Yibram. This realm is inhabited by the decendents of Jewish Yibri Somali tribes who migrated, as well as some Bantu peoples who have converted to Judaism and assimilated. The unique branch of Judaism formed here, syncretized with the traditional African beliefs, is all-important - it is the religious leaders who choose Yibram's kings. It has evolved into an Indian Ocean trade power, with its impressive merchant fleet carrying as far as Nusantara. Recently, it has begun to incorporate the island of Madagascar - something which has not exactly been amiable to the Malagasy natives, some of whom have banded together under the leadership of a "Feather King" in the center of the island.

Next we travel to the other side of the world, wherein lies Scythia. Once just a collection of nomadic tribes in the steppe north of the Pontus Euxinus, Scythia over the past few centuries, with the arrival of a wave of hellenization, modernized and expanded north and east, unifying all of the land known by some geographers as Rus under one polity. It is now a rather cosmopolitan yet still quite unified realm, governed through an elaborate feudal system of satraps who provide tribute to the central Koloksai and alliances with local tribes near the frontiers. The extension of the Silk Road to Scythia has also made the empire rich through trade wealth.

Scythian expansion has forced numerous other tribes out of their homes. Aside from the previously mentioned Bulgars, these include the Balts, many of whom have migrated to new lands in the southwest, where they interacted with the Germans, settled down, and by the end of the fifth century had established a permanent kingdom - Yotvingia. Another was the Uar, known in some Greek sources as the Hephthalites and in Persian and Eastern sources as the Hunas. Scythian campaigning forced them into their current lands east of the Hyrcanian Ocean. But their current lands are just north of the great Albanian Empire. This could either be a terrible curse - or, just perhaps, a great blessing, as the great wealth of Persia has caught the eye of more than one Uar leader. East of the Uar are the Uyghurs, who were not forced there by the Scythians, but rather migrated there from the east into Ferghana and Sogdiana. The Uyghurs have adopted Manichaeism, which has been spread to them from its bases in central Asia.

Then, there is Bactria. Controlling the valley of the Oxus, the Greco-Bactrian kingdom has been overrun multiple times by nomadic invaders in the first and second centuries, but has yet persevered, with numerous of said invaders having simply been settled, hellenized, and incorporated into Bactrian society quite seamlessly. And thanks to its fortunate position along the Silk Road, enhanced thanks to the recent incorporation of the city of Marakanda into the Bactrian kingdom, Bactria stands prepared to grow rich. Still, the kingdom will likely always be threatened by nomads at its borders.

And lastly, there is the eastermost Hellenic kingdom, Taxila. This is the land of the Indo-Greeks, who recreated Alexander's conquest of India, after a fashion, by invading from Bactria in the second century during the ultimate fall of the Maurya dynasty, and while the Indo-Greeks have not quite expanded, they have retained their control of the Punjab despite multiple attempts at invasion, and the country has prospered. The fifth century saw the unification of the Indo-Greeks by the king of Taxila, and the resulting kingdom is now richer than ever, with cities such as Bucephala, Alexandria-on-the-Indus, and naturally, Taxila itself, all flourishing. It was here that Greco-influenced, or Yona Buddhism first established itself in the Maurya period, before spreading west through the steppes to become the dominant religion of Bactria and a popular religion as far west as Hellas.

The glories of Hindustan await.

Asian Sunrise Edit

Just as Alexander was in his death throes in Babylon, in faraway Pataliputra, another great shift would occur. The corrupt Nanda dynasty of Magadha was overthrown by the forces of an obscure scion known to the Greeks as Sandracottus - or, to Indians, Chandragupta Maurya. While Chandragupta would establish the empire, it was not under him that it would truly flower - but rather, under his grandson, Asoka, who would convert to Buddhism and fuel Buddhism's spread, and create an advanced economy and administration that made India perhaps the richest country on the face of the Earth. The Maurya Empire would last for centuries, surviving a period turmoil in the second and first centuries BCE, and its control of the Khyber Pass would mean that few invaders would gain access to India - something which would last until the late first century CE, before the Kushan invasions finally pushed the Mauryas from the Punjab. The Maurya state would limp through into the second century before finally collapsing.

Those aforementioned Kushans, known as Yuezhi to the Chinese, would through a series of victories and defeats, and being in turn ousted from the Punjab by Greco-Bactrian invaders in the second centurie, make their way south to the lower Indus valley by the third century, where they established realms of their own - a few of their warlords declared themselves kshatrapas, or satraps. Those Western Kshatrapas remain independent to this day, but they have never unified, and they are still rather poor - it may be just a matter of time before a neighboring state eats them away.

North India remained largely divided for another three hundred years, save for a number of short-lived Buddhist dynasties based in Magadha, such as the third-century Mahindas and the fourth-century Kanvas, none of which were able to permanently expand their control over the majority of the Gangetic plain. That is, until the 440s, with the birth of the Sundara dynasty in Magadha, centered around the great city of Pataliputra. In the 480s, under the ruler Ram Sundara, the Sundaras rapidly expanded to capture Indrapura and establish full control over the Gangetic plain. Magadha has once again emerged as the dominant North Indian power - whether they will managed to stay that way is another question entirely.

To the east are the kingdoms of Kalinga and Kamarupa, both Buddhist kingdoms, and both moderate powers that nevertheless potential powers. Kalinga has retained its control over the eastern coast of India in the entire time since the Maurya withdrawal, and though it has not expanded much since then, it has remained independent. Kamarupa is a kingdom of Tai peoples from the upper Brahmaputra valley who swept into Bengal in the 470s and 480s and conquered it, establishing their presence on the coast. Still, a series of rebellions against Kamarupa in the 490s has shown weakness in Kamarupa's control of the area.

In stark contrast to the warfare of the north, Southern India is in the midst of a veritable cultural golden age, that began around 470 and has shown no signs of slowing down. The Tamil Chera dynasty's ascension in the fifth century, following the subjugation of the rival Pandya and Chola dynasties after a tripartite clash over Tamilakam for centuries, has led to a flurry of trade wealth entering Southern India, and a corresponding flourishing in the arts and architecture. Thanjavur, the grand city that is the Chera capital, is one of the most magnificent cities on Earth. To the north is the grand Kannadiga Chalukya dynasty, which has established firm control over a wide swathe of central India. The Chalukya dynasty has become renowned for its poetry and the magnificent temples it has built during its reign. Neighboring Malwa is a more minor state that arose in the fourth century, and has ebbed and flowed with the tides of time. It is currently independent. Hindus, Jains, and Buddhists coexist in these parts of India, and in the coast of the southwest, Christian communities have begun to spread.

Across the sea, Nusantara is under the dominance of the kingdom of Tarumangara, a state with a rather unique culture. This heavily caste-based society, dominated equally by female theologian-rulers and male soldiery and bureaucracy, has developed in a kingdom that arose in Java in the mid-fourth century. With Tamil cultural influences and trade, by the mid-fifth century Tarumangara had begun to expand beyond Java, and by now has developed into a naval empire that spans most of the archipelago.

In Burma, civilization has begun to flourish, with the rise of the Pyu city-states in the fourth and fifth centuries. The city-states, much in the vein of the city-states of Greek antiquity, squabble and fight amongst each other, but their cultural and economic productivity cannot be understated. So far none of the city-states has especially achieved any form of dominance over the others, but tha tmay soon change.

To the southeast are two states, Kamboja and Champa. Both of these are Hindu, thanks to influence from India, especially the Tamil trading states, over the last few centuries. Yet there has also been a significant Chinese influence, especially in Champa. Kamboja is the latest in a succession of kingdoms to rule over the Khmer people - none have so far lasted for very long, or made a significant impact, but perhaps this one will be different? Champa is a unified kingdom which has ruled the coast from its capital of Indrapura since the time of the Han Dynasty, in one form or another.

Speaking of said Han dynasty, after years of trials and tribulations it would finally collapse in the early late second century, replaced by the chaotic Three Kingdoms period, with the kingdoms of Wu, Shu, and Wei clashing for control. This lasted just under a century, with Wei emerging victorious. It appeared that unity had returned to China - alas, it was not to be. A coup in 265 resulted in Wei being overthrown and the formation of a short-lived Jin dynasty, which would only last a half century until another period of civil war, the War of the Eight Princes, broke out in the 310s. Ultimately, the Jin dynasty was ousted. The civil war would continue for several more years, until Wang Jong, the former Jin grand commander, with the support of the peasantry himself overthrow the last Jin claimant and declared himself Emperor, the first of the Sung dynasty. The Sung finally brought peace to the country, though it remained unable to reconquer the north from invaders, and had largely pressured programs of land redistribution to the peasants at the expense of the upper classes. The dynasty almost fell in 420 thanks to a coup by the Sung chancellor, but a cousin of the imperial family escaped and led a peasant rebellion, ending the interregnum in 425. The Sung dynasty has since remained prosperous rulers of a united China, or at least southern China.

Alas, the Sung have never been able to retake the north - ruled by a succession of nomads from the north since Xiongnu invasions during the late Three Kingdoms period. First the Xiongnu, then the Xianbei, then the Khitans, then, now, the Rouran. In the 470s, one chieftain, Guran, born under an eclipse, united a number of warring Altaic tribes, supposedly with divine providence. He was crowned Gur Khan, and the Rouran stormed into northern China, which was then under the rule of the Khitan Liao dynasty. The Rouran by 485 had conquered up to the Yellow River, and with dominance over northern China, have begun to settle. The neighboring Ashina Turks and the Syanbi - the remnants of the once-proud people known in China as the Xianbei - have been reduced to poor little realms in the northeast.

Those Khitans, too, did settle, in west-central China, forming the Liao dynasty in the fourth century. Once controlling the majority of northern China, the Rouran invasion and Sung campaigns have reduced the Khitans to a small kingdom whose only relief is its partial control of the Silk Road, and whose days largely seem quite numbered. To the west are the Tarim Basin city-states, oasis towns such as Kashgar and Yarkand and Khotan and Kuqa who have grown opulently wealthy from that very same trade.

The Korean peninsula is divided between the northern Jin state - unrelated to the Jin dynasty of China, this was established by Jurchen invaders in the fifth century who have yet to assimilate into Korean culture - and the three kingdoms of Baekje, Daemahan, and Silla in the south. And across the sea in Japan, the land of the rising sun, has arisen the Hirajima Kingdom. Hirajima's exact origins are actually somewhat disputed and mysterious, but what is more important is Hirajima's solid control of a flourishing Japan through an advanced bureaucratic system.

Stats Bonuses Edit

Friso-Batavian administration is much improved thanks to its crown-funded survey of languages in its realm. (Friso-Batavia: +Rural income)

Nornidr's southern frontier is well-protected by a defensive line, consisting of multiple signal towers, each within sight range of each other. (Nornidr: +Brandgard, +Army development)

Administrative improvements in the Latin Dictatorship, aided by the work of the Solar Orders, have enabled running the country and its tributaries much easier. (Latin Tributary States: +Sol Aniketus numbers)

In 500, with the death of King Lesbostes, the Dacian electors met to crown a new king. It went off quite smoothly, with a new King Bureole being elected with much celebration. (Dacia: +Stability)

Carthage's provincial administrative system has greatly eased the burden of running such a vast country, with efficient tax collection systems, especially in the countryside. (Carthage: +Rural income)

From Ireland to Cathay, Babylon's cities are widely considered some of the most glorious to ever grace the earth. Babylon itself is home to over a million souls. (Babylon: +Urban income)

A vast Yibri trade fleet arrived in Tarumangara in 497-498, and returned to Yibram with some exquisite and rare luxury goods from the far-off isles. Yibri traders continue to ply distant routes. (Yibram: +Trade income)

One of the stranger episodes in recent Japanese memory occurred in 498 when the Hirajima king had a shrine erected to a strange culinary item, a fried dumpling known as the "samosa" that he had grown quite the liking to, apparently some sort of import brought to Japan by traders from Tarumangara. (Hirajama: +Grand Samosa Shrine)