Though today the name “Outremer” evokes a certain mix of fear, shame, and sadness in the people of the Ilostrian Empire, not a terribly long time ago it was a point of pride. Simply meaning “overseas,” the simple name belies a complex and varied history.
The region is noted among Ilium’s scholars as the birthplace of human civilization, where mankind first began his habits of breaking earth and planting seed, building up homes and then fighting over them. Though many various ancient cultures rose and fell throughout uncounted millennia, the crowning achievement of ancient human civilization was the Jedmet culture.
This culture is noted as being the first to build permanent temples to the gods, around which most of the Jedmet cities would spring up. They also had the first codified system of laws, taxation, and government, and had a stratified society based on wealth and relationships to the priests and rulers of the cities.
Though the Jedmet civilization was virtually destroyed by the invasion of Nebka, most scholars agree that Jedmet refugees are responsible for founding the settlements and cities that would eventually evolve into the human tribes of Cagethi, the Ilostrian Empire, and the various pre-Imperial tribes of Gallaeca, Lumeria, and Kernlaendern.
While not equals to their elven rulers, the humans of Outremer under the rule of Nebka still prospered and developed a sort of elven-human hybrid culture. Many half-elves were born from the time period of Nebkan occupation of Outremer, and while these half-bloods were never truly accepted into Nebkan society, they were freely welcomed as productive members of human villages. Even today, under hobgoblin rule, Outremer boasts the largest population of half-elves in all of Phasis.
When Emperor Gaius Severnus il Magnus came to Outremer it was with the stated intention of freeing the humans of the land and reclaiming the legendary birthplace of human civilization. Flying these banners, it was not long before the human subjects of Nebka took up the cause of the invading human Empire, Gaius’ numbers nearly doubling by the end of the first year of his invasion. Indeed, loyalty to their perceived messiah was so strong, many of these Outremer natives became the very Tomb Wardens that were sworn to protect the final resting place of Gaius I.
The arrival of the Golden Horde saw a changed Outremer. Though the war between Ilium and Nebka had been hard fought, nothing could compare to the mindless destruction brought on by the monstrous horde. The glorious Garden City of Khaton, Shining Jewel of the East, was laid to utter ruin, its gardens burned, its structures flattened, its irrigation canals filled, and a million of its inhabitants butchered. Other large cities fared little better. Some were wiped completely from the map. Rivers ran red with blood. Once flourishing, fertile, and plenty, Outremer was utterly transformed and now is mostly arid.
For two centuries afterward, Outremer seemed doomed to collapse forever into monstrous barbarity. Then, amidst the rotting corpse of the once-glorious Imperial province, a new power consolidated – a tribe of particularly fierce and fecund Hobgoblins, who quickly united several neighboring tribes into a collective powerful enough to bring order and stability to the destabilized region. Within a hundred years, these tribes had consolidated themselves into a powerful nation in its own right, expansionist, warlike, and boasting a budding culture, all under the guidance of a relative unknown young warlord, Taurog the Iron. Styling himself as the Great Khan of a reborn Golden Horde, he fought exclusively against the remnants of the old Horde, bringing tribe after tribe, roving band after roving band, feral beast after feral beast, to heel. He wrote extensively, communicating his intent clearly and concisely to the leaders of the Empire, Nebka, and Akkad. He sent emissaries to the three great nations, engaged in cultural exchange, and in twenty years had re-developed many parts of previously destroyed Outremer.
His natural charisma and military genius steamrolled the disorganized monstrous remnants of the Golden Horde. A true power emerged in the Taurogite Empire, one whose military structure and tactical genius inevitably brought it into conflict with ancient, abiding Nebka and Akkad. When the wars began, Taurog personally came to the Ilostrian Empire’s current Emperor, Tertullian VI, and asked him to join in his quest to reshape the world, unite East and West, and bring about a new age. His impassioned speech swayed many of the Imperial Dukes and Counselors, while many more decried it as a call to treachery against the Empire’s oldest allies. Though Tertullian VI declined Taurog’s invitation, he also offered very little in the way of assistance to Akkad and Nebka – a move that cost him a great deal of popularity among the nobility.
Today, Taurog still rules most of Outremer and is engaged in bloody warfare against Nebka and Akkad alike. There are rumors brewing that his court wizards and alchemists are churning out a great many discoveries that will eventually turn the tide of the wars in his favor. And many fear that once he has overcome the elves and dwarves, the only logical choice would be to set his sights on Ilium, to repay the Emperor’s lack of faith.