Two thousand years ago, the reign of Unim began.
The story of where he came from, and how he came to control the continent of Ager is lost to time. But is know is that he did arrive, and set himself up as god-king over the 2 dozen or so minor kingdoms that made up Ager.
Unim was a jealous god who demanded complete submission from his people. He abolished all other religions on pain of death. He eliminated the aristocracy and all other civil authorities, replacing them with a priestly bureaucracy loyal only to him. Magic was the sole province of the god-king’s closest advisers and priestly followers. Trade and contact with other realms was prohibited to all but the state, and was controlled by the bureaucracy.
The borders of the Ager were closed, with none able to enter or leave of Unim—the granting of which was never recorded. All non-humans (except for a small number of halflings) faced death or exile; the neighboring Elvish and Dwarvish kingdoms took in huge numbers of non-human refugees.
It was a time of peace. Weapons, like magic, were banned from ordinary people. Following the initial wave of violence after the god-king came to power, where his might destroyed or exiled all monsters and creatures of evil, war was not waged either within the borders or against neighbors. Crime was punished swiftly and decisively by the priests. Men being men, many contemplated or planned rebellion over the two millennia. They all found their plans thwarted, and their lives forfeit, when Unim’s soldiers stormed their homes or encampments in the middle of the night.
But over the years, many did find a way to escape Ager to find freedom in other realms across the sea. A thousand years into Unim’s reign, a man named Arvid Askrsonn escaped by boat with a band of companions and set up a small trading colony on the shores of the far land of Dahomey. Making an alliance with the local lords, and eventually with the emperor of Dahomey himself, they assumed control over trade with Ager and used that as cover to smuggle out refugees for the next century.
Arvid’s heirs became kings of a rich trading kingdom called Romsdahl. With great wealth, and tremendous human capital provided by refugees and immigrants from Dahomy and elsewhere, Romsdahl became the preeminent naval power on the Western Sea.
Over the centuries, the refugees from Ager dreamt of return to the home of their ancestors. Encouraged by the priests of their new gods (whose deities greatly desired the fall of the god-king), they raised monies and armies for a Grand Crusade.
The ultimate invasion was well planned and executed with incredible precision. The naval invasion from the west was coordinated with incursions by the dwarves and elves from the east. Unim’s armies, untested in actual war, collapsed almost immediately. But the god-king’s own citadel of Amarna was an inaccessible and impenetrable fortress-city filled with fanatical priests, powerful wizards, and countless armored warriors.
While the crusading army stood in siege, a small group of powerful heroes used magic and resourcefulness to breach the city and fought hand-to-hard right up to the throne room of Unim. The final battle was bloody and violent; but when the dwarf knight Khazant Ironshoe buried his axe in Unim’s head, the 2000 year reign of the god-king was over.
There was a brief period where the crusaders attempted to form a unified kingdom under King Yonas I, a descendant of Arvid; but almost immediately upon his death the Land split into dozens of tiny baronies, duchies, clerisies, and the like. Wars were fought over borders and between the followers of the new gods. Monsters returned from exile beyond the northern mountains. Two generations of war and hardship fell upon Ager until the exhausted populace could take no more.
The Congress of Lords—the leaders of nearly every faction and realm—came together in the Citadel that Yonas I had erected near the ruins of Amarna. They declared Citadel to be a Free City, and the unofficial capital of Ager, and seat of the House of Yonas, the titular regent and head of the Lord’s Congress. They fixed current borders and spheres of influence, and declared that future conflicts must be brought before annual meeting of the Congress for resolution before any wars could be initiated.
The Peace of Yonas has held for nearly 150 years now; while wars still happen they are minor and typically settled before too much blood is shed. However, violence is still an everyday reality for most people in the Land. Crime against person and property is commonplace throughout the countryside; monsters and evil strike out with impunity as most local lords lack a military force strong enough to protect their rural populaces.
Mercenaries, vigilantes, adventurers, and knights errant are the only protection most people have against the ravages of Orcs, bandits, lycanthropes and worse terrors.
Most independent religions have begun to build “armies of the faithful”, using them to not only defend temples but also to protect small villages and towns in exchange for tribute and conversion. This practice is technically illegal as the Unified Faith is the only officially sanctioned church within Ager, and the only one authorized by the Congress to raise armies.
The House of Yonas lives on in name only, with it’s heairs virtually powerless and essentially captives. The lands surrounding the Citadel are under the protection of the Four Central Cantons: Anjou, Crailsheim, Asturias, Rethel. It is an open secret that the lords of these 4 houses enrich themselves by collecting the taxes and tariffs earmarked to support the crown, and they have collectively controlled the marriages and alliances with the House of Yonas for decades.