Founded about 1,000 years before the Golden Age by Kubliah Ren, the Layloma Empire was one of the most enduring monarchies of the Dynasitc Period. Layloma is centered on the Gorbash Steppe and was most famous for its mounted troops, even into the modern era where they fought alongside tanks.
Layloma was the most recent effort. Much like fighting fire with fire, Kubliah Ren sought to fight empires with an empire of his own, through conquest of neighboring city-states and tribes, and marrying off his various sons and daughters to the daughters and sons of potential allies. While some of the understanding of the era is colored by Kubliah and his descendants' propaganda, it is true that, for the most part, the conquests were not severe, and the newly annexed territories were allowed to retain local customs, and even the local rulers often kept their seats (and their heads), if they agreed to pay tribute and obey the Ren's laws.
In all, Kubliah conquered seven major nation-states and 137 city-states, along with an unknown number of nomadic and semi-nomadic warrior tribes. He did not expend resources building elaborate palaces for himself, or demand the worship of his new subjects, but raised vast armies, built fortifications, and perhaps most importantly, organized food co-operatives. War and Food were the mainstays of his reign; ensuring a new generation of soldiers grew up strong and healthy was as important as feeding the armies he already had.
Cities near the strait were fortified and standing armies maintained, while cities further away were taxed. Local populations were relocated to safer regions. In a way, the Layloma Empire pioneered the notion of defense-in-depth on a massive scale. Kubliah himself was meticulous: he believed taxes were an integral component of the common defense, but decreed no man should be made to pay more than his fair share, or beyond his means. This made him quite unpopular, as the poor often paid little to no taxes (and received free food for a meager amount of labor), while the wealthy were quite heavily taxed.
It seemed, briefly, the empire Kubliah had built would not last much beyond his years. While he himself had few indulgences, his chief son Wabaki Ren desired a grand and splendid palace for himself, and commented frequently that when he was emperor, it would be his first priority. When the sincerity of this remark became undeniable, Kubliah quietly had Wabaki's throat slit, decreed his chief daughter Seteshi Ren would succeed him as emperor, and immediately made her his co-regent. This was not a together popular decision, as women were still treated like property across much of the empire. Kubliah himself was not fond of this option, because he felt he had failed to instill in Seteshi the appropriate kindness needed in a monarch.
The decision was still the right one, however, as Seteshi had little trouble holding the empire together, and was still reigning strong when the chief enemy, the Marcon Alliance, was savaged by Lelerough in 901 B.G.A.. Local custom holds that Layloma was spared because it had a woman as emperor, and Lelerough approved of this (Seteshi was responsible for propagating this rumor), but the Accepted Histories hold that the empire was spared, because its culture was not Marconian. As H.P. Galactis wrote: "It's highly unlikely Lelerough knew or cared what sort of parts were sitting on Layloma's throne. They weren't Marconian, and that's all she cared about".
Still, life under Seteshi was not as comfortable as her royal declarations claim. With the Marcons defeated, she focused her army's efforts on conquests in Iami to the south, and into the rugged and mountainous western lands. Iami had previously been an ally; and while most Laylomi people were content with defending themselves, few were excited about waging a war of aggression.
Seteshi's inroads to the west were successful, conquering numerous gold and precious-metal producing regions, which further fueled her war machine. The campaign in Iami, strengthened by the influx of gold, conquered a large portion of the region.
The empress herself was known for her violent temper, her rigid demands, and an indifferent attitude to human life. Still, she had little trouble maintaining power, as many of the programs begun under her father remained in practice. While she was much hated by the nobility, it was difficult to inspire insurrection when everyone's mouths were full.
In B.G.A. 897, Seteshi, then aged 64, began a co-regency with her son Magreth Ren, himself 31. Magreth, who was mostly raised by his paternal uncle, sought to fashion his reign more on what he had heard of his grandfather. His results were mixed, and by the end of his life he had lost all the territory conquered in Iami. His chief defeat came when his armies began to encroach on the lands of the Sun and Sands Flight of dragons.
The Ren Dynasty lasted another two hundred years before being succeeded by the Rets Dynasty, who ruled until the region was attacked by the old Gudersnipe Army at the start of the Second Chaotic Period. What followed was nothing less than the dissolution of the empire.
Second Chaotic Period
During the Second Chaotic Period, the Layloma Empire existed as a series of warring states. The old boundaries completely forgotten and the old ways lost, it was far more tumultuous than even before the empire. Centuries of endless campaigns had largely depleted the region's natural resources, and the recipe was ripe for a few truly horrific acts.
At the time, the Gorbash Steppe was a rich and fertile region fed by many great rivers. These were all intentionally dammed or diverted in an effort to starve the people of the steppes. While the region still saw too much rainfall to be entirely turned to desert, there was no longer the water needed to support large-scale agriculture. This forced much of the population on the northern side to retreat south, and caused many "wars of last resort" that generally ended poorly.
However, by this time the people of Layloma had generally found a mutual cultural identity, and while the warring states lasted across the second chaotic era, it was seen as an internal conflict, and when word of Eieber's Long March reached Layloma, they were quick to solidify and join the new Alliance.
The 23rd Emperor of Layloma was crowned in the first year B.G.A.. While the emperor was still an absolute monarch, he ruled now by the will of a central government. Indeed, there had not been a single emperor in nearly 300 years, but the 23rd emperor was powerful enough among the various factions to be crowned. Certain divisional leaders maintained control over their areas, but the emperor reigned supreme.
When the 23rd emperor grew close to death, he had no say in his heir, with the senate instead choosing a successor. This was not to say direct offspring or family members were out of the running, and returning to a dynastic quality was desired by many citizens. Thus, the 23rd emperor's nephew became the 24th, who was succeeded by his grandson.
The acts of war late in the Mage Wars had permanently changed the environment of the Southern Reaches. The Steppes were now all but uninhabitable grasslands, with scattered city-states propped up by networks of roads importing food, and exporting little.
Throughout the first and ages, dynasties came and went, and the empire grew increasingly weary and decadent. The capitol, now an ancient and hallowed monument, was mired in ritual and tradition. The emperor still held vast power, but had little way to exercise it. When the 80th emperor ascended the throne, he promised his people a return to the glory and greatness of the Layloma Empire.
In A.Y. 3272, the Necromanic Wars began. Immediately, the new emperor began to build up the army, buying modernized arms and weapons. Skirmishes broke out all across Layloma, which was home to both Grey and Green Temple necromancers. The conflicts between these were not as bad, here, as elsewhere, and were mostly quickly put down. Unfortunately, this was accomplished by the emperor siding with the Grey Temple, and using advanced weapons to wipe out the green temple.
Under the guise of "helping to restore order", Layloma again invaded neighboring Iami, itself embroiled in the Necromancer conflict. Initially, the government of Iami was thankful for the support, but grew suspicious when Layloma soldiers began plundering and pillaging. By the time the full scale of the invasion was realized, Layloma had become an occupying force. Northern Iami, Lyot Gulf, and the Isle of Spire were firmly within Layloman hands by A.Y. 3300, with the empire continuing its spread all through the next 70 years.
This was not the Empire of Old, which merely taxed regions and asked they contribute to the common defense, but reduced Iami's subjects to slaves, and seized everything of value. With the Necromanic Wars in full swing, the 82nd emperor was crowned. He abhorred what was done in Iami, and ordered an immediate withdrawal. Many Layloma soldiers, born in the conquered territory, were not eager to leave, and other powers within the empire were not interested in abandoning their new domain. The decision would be made for them in A.Y. 3370, when the armies of Layloma once again fought with the Sun and Sands Flight. In the light of the defeat, the 82nd emperor attempted to hasten the withdrawal, and was assassinated.
The 83rd emperor ordered a massive counter-offensive, calling up reserves and slave-conscript battalions, throwing a total of 800,000 men at the dragon flight. In the time it took to prepare this offensive, Sun and Sands was able to bring in reserves from Seacrest Spire, Flight of the Depths, Ice as Hard as Steel, and even as far away as High Mountain. This hastily-forged alliance would forever cement a bond between these flights, which while technically at war themselves had a generally cordial relationship and shared many breeding pairs. This time, the Layloma attack was thwarted in a single afternoon, with 800,000 soldiers dead and three million civilians in regions bordering the Sandria Desert also killed or injured.
The Layloma Empire collapsed into civil war for ten years.
The civil war in Layloma was very much a part of the Necromanic Wars. While Green Temple necromancers had been all but eradicated, infighting between various Grey Temple factions helped fuel the battles between neighboring provinces. With modern weapons at their disposal and no outside intervention, it took ten years for the once mighty empire to descend into utter chaos. Refugees fled rapidly into surrounding regions, even into war-torn Iami of which they had so recently lost control.
In A.Y. 3380, a combined force led by Dragoon Lancers of the Crimson Blade Elites and backed by members of the Alliance Regulars, entered the Layloma Empire and began a peace-keeping effort. What was left of the government was dismantled, and three new nations assembled: Kiatra, Senega, and Lumot. The Gorbash Steppe was established as a Remote Autonomous Region under the Alliance's control. At the time, the region was officially home to over a hundred city-states, but many of these had been reduced to rubble by the war or were otherwise a shadow of their former selves.
As an entity, the Layloma Empire ceased to function. While Kiatra and Lumot did continue as monarchies, they were seen as unconnected to the traditions of Layloma, and instead saw themselves as a part of the long-lost nation states of the Mage Wars.