Siege of Oppara
The mighty empire of Taldor once stretched from the Arcadian Ocean to the border of the Padishah Empire of Kelesh. Aroden himself was said to walk among the people of Taldor, and his religion, a shining beacon unto the world, radiated outward from Taldor’s gilded capital of Oppara. Taldor’s ancient Armies of Exploration established footholds for the empire throughout Golarion, and during the Shining Crusade, its mighty phalanxes marched for thousands of miles to beat back the Whispering Tyrant and imprison him in Gallowspire. Yet despite these legacies, modern Taldor is a stunted remnant of its old glory, a declining empire that seems destined for little more than a footnote in the ultimate annals of history unless something can be done to reverse its fate.
A Brief History
Taldor’s dominance of the Inner Sea region and its absolute hold on most of southern Avistan swelled its government to an enormous size. A byzantine network of consuls, governors, and senators developed into new and ever-expanding strata of society until Taldor became a complicated maze, an empire ruled by one but governed by tens of thousands. Eventually, Taldor’s government grew so large and spread itself so thin across the length and breadth of the empire that corruption and vile excess plagued its outer prefectures. The disease of corruption spread quickly, infecting every level of government. The prefectures farthest from the gilded capital of Oppara began to revolt, throwing off the chains of their degenerate and moribund governors. The Taldan Horse and Taldan Phalanx responded brutally, struggling to close an iron fist on the revolution brewing in the distant holdings.
With Taldor’s military focused to the west, its old rival Qadira took advantage of the empire’s plight and invaded across Taldor’s southern border in 4029 AR, quickly capturing Zimar and enslaving its militaristic population in order to prevent rebellion. Qadira’s armies then marched virtually unopposed to Oppara’s doorstep just across the River Porthmos. Taldor’s royalty and senatorial classes panicked and demanded the emperor recall the Taldan Phalanx at once to deal with the new threat. A token force was left behind in Cheliax Prefecture to maintain the peace, and the bulk of Taldor’s armies returned to the homeland and settled into a 524-year war with Qadira that Taldans today call the Grand Campaign.
Two years after Taldor left Cheliax Prefecture in the hands of a scattered few companies of the Taldan Phalanx, a member of the Taldan senatorial class named Aspex led a successful revolt known as the Even-Tongued Conquest, destroying the Phalanx at the Siege of Westcrown and putting the first crack in the wall of Taldor’s might. Aspex led his armies of revolution across Taldor’s western frontier, annexing Andoran with diplomacy and capturing Galt and Isger by force. Unable to fight a war on two fronts, Taldor took the only choice left and signed a treaty with Aspex, creating the new empire of Cheliax and tolling the start of Taldan decline.
With the majority of Taldor’s poor entrenched in combat against Qadira for generations and the decadent royalty and senatorial classes delving deeper into perversion and excess, the Church of Aroden moved its center to Cheliax, signaling the end of the empire once and for all. Generations later, in 4528 ar, Grand Prince Stavian I outlawed the Cult of the Dawnflower in the Great Purge, convincing the populace that Sarenrae’s followers opened the door for the Qadiran military and guided them on their marches through southern Taldor. In a matter of months, every temple to Sarenrae was either burned or torn down and the Dawnflower’s clerics and followers murdered or expelled.
Seven hundred years after the Even-Tongued Conquest, Taldor still clings to life, its war with Qadira 200 years past and its military strong though underfunded. Modern Taldor is an empire in decline, with a decadent and complicated upper class ruling over an enormous and poverty-stricken lower class. Its prefectures fight border skirmishes, its noble houses joust and ruin one another, and its sparsely populated frontiers have turned lawless and chaotic. Thanks to its ancient Armies of Exploration, however, the Taldan coffers still run deep, and for 700 years now Taldor’s emperors have used their last weapon to keep the Taldan Empire alive: wealth beyond imagination.