The Empyrean Alliance
Capital: Far Vahandir
Ruler: Invidis, High Lictor
Government: Limited Theocracy
Primary Race: Human, Elf, Halfling, Lizardfolk
Primary Language: Empyrean
Regional Bonus: True Believer - Your familiarity with religious doctrine and the frequency with which you meet non-believers gives you a +2 racial bonus to Knowledge [Religion] and Sense Motive.
The Empyrean Alliance is, in many respects, not an actual nation, being rather a series of confederated polities connected by the Academy Charter that guarantees basic rights for its citizens, organizes local militaries for mutual defense, and creates a forum for refining and disseminating the Empyrean faith. It redefines the Lictor Council of the old Academy, affording each leader of a Charter city-state or nation the position Lictor with the Lictor of Far Vahandir holding the position of High Lictor, the First of the Council. Three additional Lictorships are given to the Keeper of the Sacred, the Keeper of the Word, and the Keeper of the Hall, who together safeguard the Academy's history, traditions, belief, and physical resources.
The modern Alliance is formed of the nation of Empyrean Darminia as well as six city-states: Far Vahandir, Lir Walhai, Sanguine, Greening, Marak Tün, and Tann. Power amongst the Empyreans is currently divided into three factions.
The smallest are known variably as the Radicals, the Vordeyvans, or, most commonly, the Militants. Once the dominant faction, it was primarily their actions that triggered the Sunset War and, as such, they lost both many members and a good deal of internal prestige and support through-out the course of the war. They believe that the only way the Academy can complete its mission and avoid being destroyed is through action in general and military action in specific. They feel that the only reason the Academy lost the previous war was due to an insufficiency of willingness to do what was necessary. They support renewing the contracts with the Courts of the Damned and expanding them to secure greater military force with which to crush the foes of the Academy. They are now lead by Lictor Vorthool of Sanguine, renowned for his bombastic presence and disconcerting good cheer when discussing topics that would make most men blanch.
Larger than them but still not dominant are the Istins, usually known as the Moderates. Under the leadership of Lictor Lelvieta of Empyrean Darminia, the Moderates are convinced that time and patience are the keys to victory. Progress must come slowly to be meaningful, like a single seed growing into a mighty tree that then sheds more seeds, until a forest is born. They disdain military action in any but the final extreme of need, preferring a wide range of non-confrontational methods of spreading the Empyrean gospel: missionary work, economic cooperation, preaching, and educational outreach to name a few.
Currently the dominant faction is the Apologists, informally called Invidians or Criers. Lead by High Lictor Invidis, they hold themselves as personally responsible for the Sunset War and believe that the war was an indication that the Academy had lost its way. They feel that it is impossible for them to move on before amends are made and forgiveness given to them by those they wronged. They combine zeal and self-effacement to a degree that many find disturbing, especially in their holy warriors: the self-declared Flagellants. Traveling Faengleis, these paladins of the Vanished Gods will throw themselves into the most impossible situations for little or no reward in the name of the Academy, hoping their sacrifices can earn a measure of redemption for their people. Many veterans of the Sunset War--sickened or traumatized by the scale of the conflict--have flocked to the Flagellants, seeking a meaningful way to die.
The history of the Empyrean Academy is long--longer than that of Faengleis if their stories are to be believed--and they claim to possess a written history stretching back to the ages before the Sandstorm War. They claim many historic figures amongst their ranks, though the Emperor Penultimate is perhaps the most noted.
What history can be confirmed is both short and recent, their existence having been uncovered in AG 1257 by a group known to posterity as the Lords of Whitehall. As a result of this revelation, the group's patron--the Empire of the Sun--announced the Academy's presence to the world following the unexplained disappearance of the Lords. The resultant conflict has become known as the Sunset War for the terrible price it extracted from the Empire, which was the chief opponent to the Academy throughout.
Following the defeat of the Academy in AG 1264 and the effective decapitation of the organization's ruling structure, the Academy was thought permanently defeated by those who had opposed them, but the resilience of the Empyreans was startling, as was the depth of resources they had amassed during their long life in the shadows of history. With Lictor Invidis at their head by virtue of the political capital he had earned by saving a remnant of the Empyrean forces after the disastrous defeat beneath the shadow of Godsfall, the Academy has begun operating in the open, seeking to join the other nations of the world on the stage of history.
The chief expression of this came in AG 1266, during the so-called Repatriation. At this time, the newly-appointed High Lictor Invidis declared that all territories conquered by the Academy during the Sunset War would hold individual plebiscites to decide whether they wished to stay a member of a potential alliance or return to their former condition of governance. The vote was put to the nation of Darminia as well as the city-states of Lir Walhai, Sanguine, Lighthouse Rock, Greening, and Wettam Post.
In the end, only Lighthouse Rock and Wettam Post voted to leave, while the others ratified the Academy Charter the next year in AG 1267 which laid out the rules and relationships between Empyrean Darminia and the various city-states that compose the Alliance.
The first major test of the Charter came in AG 1270, not in the form of conflict but as a request from the dwarven undercity of Marak Tün. Cut off from its sister cities in the Dwarven Remnant, besieged by the forces of Urkan Sefrogost, the dwarven port could not survive without help from outsiders. The Empire and the Ascendancy were both too weakened by the Sunset War and the troubles that had sprung up since and no other power was both willing and able to provide the necessary aid.
There was much debate in the Lictor Council that governs the Alliance, but the High Lictor cut through it with the simple fact that the Alliance exists to lead others to enlightenment and that includes salvation of the body as much as the mind. So the Forgemistress of Marak Tün became the first non-Academician to sign the Charter and her undercity swore itself to the Alliance.
Following that lead, in AG 1273 the city-state of Tann sought and secured Alliance aid as the Court Aquatic increased activity in their area, threatening a full-scale invasion of the city before Academy help drove them back. Following the lifting of the siege, the Baron Iolkeh Tann signed his name to the Charter and was Blooded to the Academy by AG 1275.
With little more than a decade having passed since the conclusion of the Sunset War, there is great and prevalent enmity when it comes to the Empyrean Academy in any form. Simply being a member is punishable by death in the Republic of Sylat, while those countries most damaged by the conflict--the Empire of the Sun, the Elven Ascendancy, and Sthalafar--look upon Academicians and the Unblooded both with varying depths of suspicion, derision, and hatred. While discrimination against Empyreans is not codified in law nor publicly condoned, it is tacitly approved of by most authorities and it is highly unlikely to go punished except in the most extreme cases (and even then, far less severely than the infraction would merit).
Even countries that were less affected by the war such as Eldesta, Malivorm, and Malakute still suffered for the conflict and there is a lingering resentment there that means Empyreans should not go about except in numbers and only at urgent need. Local authorities are more likely to defend an Empyrean's rights than elsewhere, but still not with the same zeal they would show to most foreigners.
Naturally, Fyrall and the dwarven undercities--the places that the Sunset War touched most lightly--are also more willing to deal with the Alliance equitably. The Empyreans have few friends here, but their enemies are less strident as well. An Empyrean can expect suspicion without violence, which is the best they can realistically hope for.
The largest question on the global political table, however, is Xain's stance on the Alliance. While, for its part, the Empyreans abhor Xain's treatment of its people and its devotion to Feyoon, it remains undeniable fact that all of that dire country's good fortune in the last two decades stems directly from the Academy's war. Further, Xain is the only country that contributed absolutely no forces to the war, which means they paid no price for the Academy's defeat, either. For her part, the aging Queen Vindicar has issued no public statements endorsing or denouncing the Alliance, which is enough to raise hackles in countries such as the Empire.