Ninefold Celestial Empire

The Ninefold Celestial Empire provided the greatest part of the human population of the Sunset Isles. Their mighty sailing junks carried thousands of Imperials westward from the doomed empire, and their navigators and captains had the luck to strike upon the Sunset Isles before their provisions gave way. Their culture and ways have spread widely throughout the isles, though they have been changed in turn by their close contact with the myriad other refugee folk that landed in the Isles.

The Empire itself was a vast land of rolling plains, hills, and forests, dotted here and there with mountainous regions toward the interior. Tens of millions of men and women lived within the compass of the Empire, dwelling peacefully under the rule of the Emperor upon his great Jade Throne, overseen by the Mandarins he appointed to rule the cities and provinces. Noble Magistrates carried out the imperial laws, and if the taxman came more often than most folk liked, the invader came hardly at all. The last major threat to the Empire's existence had been the old Kueh kingdom overcome twelve hundred years ago. Only the occasional depredations of Skandr pirates were of much concern along the seacoast, as the last serious invasion had come six hundred years ago, in the time of the Night Kings and their sorcerous barques sailed by dead men. The arcanists of the Empire had managed to drive back that deadly peril, and all expected that they would do the same to any future menace.

All, at least, save for the arcanist known as Lammach. Born of the Gadaal, the diviner had taken service with the Emperor in his youth, and his extraordinary powers of foresight had lifted him to the exalted circles of the Imperial Arcanists. The native-born wizards resented his rise, and when he took to warning of visions of a great and consuming danger his colleagues combined to dismiss his talk as that of an overexcited moon-watcher. Lammach turned his attention to preparing for this disaster instead, and used all of his great wealth and influence to arrange for the building of myriad great sailing junks and the laying in of stores. It beggared the arcanist, but when the Red Tide finally arrived off the eastern coast of the Empire, all was in readiness. He pleaded with the Emperor to escape with him, but the old man refused to leave his nation, and Lammach was forced to flee with only what his fleet could carry. The thirty thousand men and women he led set forth on a perilous voyage west to the Sunset Isles, trusting in the diviner to lead them to safety. Though it ultimately cost him his life, Lammach did so, as is related in the history of the city founded where he made landfall- Xian, the City of Western Peace.

The refugees descended from those few make up the bulk of the human population of the Isles, and most other human nations and tribes have since commingled with their blood. The average Imperial is a little shorter than most, with skin ranging from dark gold to light ivory, dark almond eyes, and hair tending to fine, straight strands. Few men grow beards, though luxuriant mustaches are favored among the scholarly class of Xian.

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