Part of the Empire of Aeterna.
|Umbern Quick Facts|
The word "Umbern" is a corruption of the old Aeternan word for 'shadow', and exactly why it was named this is lost beyond the reach of the history books. Some of the more haughty philosophers suggest it is the shadow of the empire, shaped correctly but with none of the substance; Others suggest it is because it sits in the shadow of Storm's Hold. Those within its borders tend not to care.
Umbern's history is somewhat more colourful than most of the Empires' to begin with, then seems to fade into the shadows of its namesake. The great hero of their history, Myrdinar, founded the nations by binding together a group of barbarian tribes living on the edges of Storm's Hold, allying them with Aeterna at large, and with the empire's assistance actively carving out a portion of land - some of it literally reclaimed land from Storm's Hold - three unimaginably difficult acts.
Unfortunately records of this time are incredibly vague, as the majority of the work was done by a single man acting amongst tribes of barbarians, and the scribes and historians of the empire are often extremely frustrated by the complete lack of information available about both Myrdinar and his acts.
Since then the warriors of Umbern have been called upon for all large-scale warfare that the Empire has undertaken, as well as acting as a strong buffer between them and Storm's Hold - although some scribes like to play down their involvement in quite a few cases. They are not called upon lightly, as few commanders are qualified to order them around; however, when the empire marches to war, Umbern's barbarian troops will decorate the front line.
Despite this the actual land itself has little in the way of a direct affect on Aeternan history. The fact that they hold off the beasts of Storm's Hold is simply an everyday thing, and thus many battles which would be famous for centuries in other lands go by with barely a footnote in Umbern, even if warriors have to be called in from four other provinces. Only when the entirety of Aeterna must be mobilised to hold the line do the history books note down the events within.
For all that the land may seem a hive of insanity and chaos from without, politics are rife within Umbern, simply in a somewhat different form, a tangle of alliegences and grudges, traditions and binding oaths which can carry for generations or be forgotten in days. Many communities lack a central leader, instead following whoever is most suitable for the task at hand - or at least, whoever shouts the loudest. The Empire subtly encourages this attitude, and takes advantage of it in an effort to train their most promising generals.
Anyone who is to have any hope of reaching the highest officer ranks must first prove themselves, and at a time of the empire's choosing, they are given charge of one of the Umbran communities, sometimes for up to a year. This is a well-known tradition amongst the Umbrans, and there is rarely any true bad feelings towards the would-be commanders - many of them gain a certain degree of amusement if the would-be general has no idea how to take charge of their people. However, most tend to pick up the local customs well enough to be able to use the Umbrans effectively in combat, which is the greater goal of the project; Others gain true loyalty from the barbarians, showing personal strength and wisdom, although those who manage this feat are often watched carefully once they return.
In any case, being sent to this task is only given to those who the empire believes can handle it, and they are trained beforehand, as the empire has no wish to lose aspiring talent to the whims of the barbarians or Storm's Hold. It is also used as an extremely harsh punishment detail for those less prepared, and usually a terminal one.
4 Internal Divisions
Umbern is divided up into many small, feuding towns that clash periodically in almost-ritualised raids. Even with the rest of the Empire looking on and the raging wilderness of Storm's Hold just over the border, the people of Umbern seem hard-pressed to stop fighting each other, let alone get along. Despite this, the capital of Talionis exsists as a form of neutral ground where the various lords and 'nobles' can gather and form a centralised leadership- when required. Currently, there are three major powers on the Council of Lords: Lord Meridus Viartos, Lord Annuis Lucant and The Shrikesbane. These three all have their vassals and squabble amongst themselves, trying by bribery and force of arms to exert more power on the council- but none will dare attempt treachery within Talionis itself, for the guardians of the city take a poor view of such actions. The guardians- known as the Legion of Ghosts to outsiders- have a simple requirement for joining: survive a two-week-long journey into the Storm's Hold alone and return. The Legion of Ghosts serves no master, but act both as the deadly elite on the battlefield and retribution against those who betray the hospitality of Talionis.