The Empire of Tolnedra (also known as the Tolnedran Empire) was an empire in the West named after the god of the Tolnedran people, Nedra. It was one of the larger kingdoms with its northern border set at the river Arend and its southern border at the Wood of the Dryads. To the east the border extended to the southern tip of Ulgoland and the southeastern side of Algaria, and bordered Cthol Murgos far to the east. The eastern geography of Tolnedra was largely mountainous, except for the plain of Maragor. The empire's southernmost lands officially held the Wood of the Dryads, although the Wood was in fact run mostly independantly by the Dryads themselves, recognised by the House of Borune. The northern and central regions consisted of fertile plains, with the great Nedrane River running from the eastern highlands through the center of the empire to the Sea of the West. Most Tolnedrans refused to believe in anything supernatural in nature, notably the powers of Aldur's Disciples, though mostly based on a principle of philosophy (as they espouse a type of secular humanism) rather than any real disbelief.
The Empire's PowerEdit
The Empire had a massive military influence, through its enormous military, numbering close to 300,000 (some 300 legions of 1000 men each). While the Empire was not so powerful that it could take on the entire of Aloria, nor successfully lead an invasion against the Mallorean Empire, it did possess the manpower and capability to hold a defensive position and keep its soil sovereign.
On the Western Continent many major highways were under the administration of the Empire's legions. Around half of the legions in total were stationed abroad at hotels, inns, garrisons and guard posts located all along the highways. Tolnedra only managed to gain administration rights of the highways through countless trade treaties. The highways administrated by the Tolnedrans included the Great Eastern Road, which ran from Rak Goska, capital of Cthol Murgos, to Northern Gar og Nadrak, although the imperial negotiators were unfortunately (but predictably) unable to gain legalisation to post imperial garrisons, Tolnedran hotels and patrols on this particular highway.
Its political influence on the world was also staggering. The Empire had embassies in almost every nation in the world. The Emperor of Tolnedra also held considerable sway over those international matters serious enough for the Empire to concern itself with.
Tolnedra was home to the Imperial legions, which made up what many Tolnedrans believed to be the the most orderly, neatly polished, extensively trained and well-drilled army in the world. The Tolnedran General Staff were also known to possess incredible skill in strategizing battles and mapping deploying legions and armies tactfully. Their skill was so renowned, in fact, that during the invasion of Kal Torak, the God of the Angaraks, Belgarath the Sorcerer recommended moving the Alorn base of operations from the island safety of Riva and moving it to Tol Honeth and its Military Academy (which was in fact only a few hundred leagues south of Vo Mimbre, the site of the largest and most important battle of the war), where generals who had risen through the ranks and gained valuable experience along the way held their posts instead of simply being appointed as a result of powerful family connections or political reasons.
The Houses of TolnedraEdit
Tolnedran politics was dominated by five noble houses: the Houses of Honeth, Vordue, Horb, Rane, and Borune. Any given family retained power over Tolnedra as long as it could present a viable heir to the throne. When an emperor died without an heir, extensive intrigue persisted among the noble houses until a new dynasty was established by one of the houses.
The House of HonethEdit
The capital of Tolnedra was, no matter which noble family held the imperial throne, the city of Tol Honeth, located on an island in the Nedrane River, almost directly in the centre of the vast empire, and the Emperor's abode was traditionally in the imperial compound directly in the centre of the city. Tol Honeth was the abiding city of the Honeth family, the richest house of Tolnedra and whose ancestor (Ran Honeth I) founded the empire.
The Honeth family led the empire through three dynasties, the last two of which were bought simply because of their enormous wealth.
The Succession of Ran Borune XXIII of the Third Borune DynastyEdit
In the fight for the succession of the throne at what seemed to be the end of the Third Borune Dynasty, the Honethite nobles agreed on simply buying the throne by placing forward a large number of candidates and giving the Council of Advisers a variety of choice within the Honeth house itself, instead of a variety of choice which included all the candidates of all the houses. Seven were entered into the running, including Noragan, the Grand Duke of the House of Honeth. However, the lords soon realised that even with their incredible amounts of money, which was over half the full wealth of the second richest house, the House of Vordue, the battle would be won by whoever had the most power behind him, not by whoever was best suited for by the Council. Therefore, they pulled all their other candidates out and rallied entirely behind the leader of their family, the Grand Duke Noragon. Very soon he almost made it onto the same level as the Grand Duke Kador of Vordue. He would have gained a lead on Kador, but the Vordue would have still been very hot on Noragon's heels and ready to pounce back into the number one position if anything of the slightest were to go wrong. However, to the celebration of the Honeths and the misery and dismay of the Vordues, Grand Duke Kador was arrested and held in the Imperial dungeon at Tol Honeth, where he eventually took poison "someone had left carelessly lying around" and died. Therefore, Noragon's most dangerous and threatening opponent was out of the race, taking with him any chance of the Vordue house re-rallying itself together and having any chance at once again gaining the throne. Noragen was now the apparent successor to the throne, with the most supporters on the council of Advisers (however, they were only supporting him because they had been heavily bribed. Noragen was not known to be a very nice person, and it was said he was a "jackass who had offended just about everybody in Tol Honeth"). For over eighteen months he held this position. The Borunes had no-one suitable to place as a serious candidate, the Horbites likewise (and even if they did they would be no match for the power of the Honeths) and apart from the Ranite Grand Duke and his committees behind him, only a small group of Ranites had rallied behind one candidate, who was not very taken seriously (being a Ranite) nor had very much power behind him.
Noragon would have assumed the throne without even anyone challenging him, had not the unpredictable Ran Borune adopted General Varana of the Anadiles as his son. The General openly walked in public wearing the silver mantle of the imperial family, and his sudden elevation to legitimate heir lowered Noragen's chances dramatically, but despite this, he still was, by far, the only man who had any chance of gaining the throne once Ran Borune died. The issue was very unclear on what was going to happen to the empire after the emperor's death. If the general had been a full blooded fellow Borune, just like Ran Borune, then there would have been no doubt that he would have been emperor. However since Varana was an Anadile (the Duke of Anadile), the choice was simply up to Varana on what would happen to the throne once Ran Borune passed on. However, the Honeths, seeing this, and looking into the still open window of opportunity to gain the throne, blinded themselves with hope, and made themselves not even consider the possibility that Varana would hold the throne for himself. Noragen was still the one who would pose as a incredibly powerful challenge to the general, and it was believed that he would still gain the throne. However, the chances of a fourth Honeth dynasty ended as a result of Noragen letting his guard down. One day, in his sprawling mansion on the slopes of the hill of the imperial Palace of Tol Honeth, Noragen was eating some shellfish for lunch, which turned out to be poisoned. Noragen fell ill almost immediately, and was dead before nightfall. The support behind him was so supreme, was so well established, that with his death, the Honeth's fell into more turmoil and chaos than the Vordues. The death of their leader, which had so fully united them, was a massively striking blow upon the family, and in their confusion and their sorrow, both for Noragen and for the now-lost throne, they couldn't pull themselves together for one last stab with one of their previous candidates. The Honeth family was out of the running for the imperial throne.
The House of VordueEdit
The second largest city of the empire (Tol Honeth being the largest), Tol Vordue, was located in northwest Tolnedra, and was one of the largest sea ports of the western sea. It was home to the second oldest house, the House of Vordue. The Vordues ancestors were the ones to take away the crown from the Honeths in the early days of the empire and start the second imperial dynasty, known as the First Vordue Dynasty.
The Vordue DynastiesEdit
It was during their first dynasty that the cities of Tol Borune and Tol Rane were constructed, and it was during their second dynasty that Ran Vordue II, being young and naive, gave way to the overpowering might of the merchant kings of Tol Honeth and Tolnedra, and ordered the full might and power of the empire and the legions to be thrown against Maragor, on the basis of the Marags capturing and eating Tolnedrans that ventured into their lands and attempted to claim the gold that pratically lay in heaps on the ground and in stream beds.
The Succession of Ran Borune XXIII of the Third Borune DynastyEdit
The Grand Duke (and head) of the Vordues, Grand Duke Kador, was most likely to succeed Ran Borune XXIII, seeing as the Honeth's incredible wealth was spread over too many candidates (seven, to be exact), the Borunes not having anyone suitable, the Ranites not being taken seriously, and the Horbites simply being unable to amass enough wealth to "buy the throne" and compete against the other, richer families (so they simply turned to poisoning the other family's candidates and the members of the Council of Advisors they had bought). Soon, however, Grand Duke Noragen of the House of Honeth began to catch up to Kador, on account of all the Honeth's rallying behind him, and it seemed that Kador's claim to the thrown was going to be challenged. Kador, however, was arrested under orders of the imperial princess Ce'Nedra on charges of attempting to kidnap a member of the imperial family, and in the dungeon under the imperial compound, someone "carelessly" left poison lying around, which the Grand Duke, in his misery, sampled excessively. His death created turmoil and chaos throughout the house of the Vorduvians, and therefore effectively put the Vordues out of the running for the imperial throne.
Tol Borune: The Borune FamilyEdit
Another major city of Tolnedra was the city of Tol Borune, in central south Tolnedra near the edge of the Wood of the Dryads. Tol Borune was the home city of the Borune family, another major house, and the one which held the imperial throne during Garion's lifetime (the emperors who held it being Ran Borune XXIII and Ran Borune XXIV of the Third Borune Dynasty). Ran Borune XXIII did not have a son to pass the crown onto (his daughter not being allowed to inherit the crown), and therefore the entire empire was pratically "killing each other in the streets of Tol Honeth" in order to gain the crown and start a new imperial dynasty. However, the wily Ran Borune adopted the Duke of Anadile, General Varana, as his son, and after his death, the general, in front of all the major lords and nobles of the empire, declared himself "Ran Borune XXIV, Lord of all Tolnedra", to the incredible outrage of the major houses. The general, however, was a great supporter and leader of the legions, and had gained their full loyalty, support and love, and with this incredible power behind him, not even the most arrogant lords noble houses dared openly confront him (although a few Honethite lords plotted against him in secret). Before Ran Borune XXIV ascended the throne, the Third Borune Dynasty was already the longest running dynasty in Tolnedran history, and was not at an end, with General Varana assuming the title of Ran Borune XXIV and not Ran Anadile I.
The House of HorbEdit
Tol Horb lies in the central west of Tolnedra, directly at the mouth of the Nedrane River. Its location was the main provider of money for the Horbites, as a result of it lying directly in the main sea route to the imperial capital, subjecting it to large amounts of revenue.
The Horbites DynastiesEdit
The Horbite family held the throne for two dynasties, the first one being the more notable one. The first emperor of the First Horbite Dynasty, Ran Horb I, was competant as emperor, and established the foundations of the dynasty well, but his son, Ran Horb II, was the greatest and most important emperor of Tolnedra and the man who set the first stone of the path that would eventually lead to the Tolnedran highways, and it was he who established the Kingdom of Sendaria from the Duchy of Sendaria (which was semi-officially renamed from the Duchy of Erat) in order to, through a complicated series of events, keep Tol Honeth a major centre of trade in the entire western continent. The achievments in his lifetime were astounding, and it was without question him who led Tolnedra to the economic dominance it held internationally.
The Nedrane ChainEdit
Tol Horb also controlled the incredibly large chain that ran along the entire width of the Nedrane. This massively thick chain could be lowered and sunk to the bottom of the river, therefore providing access up the river to Tol Honeth, or, in the case of an invasion by sea, it could be raised out from the depths of the river on great heavy winches and stretched taught across its entire breadth, thereby denying access into the river. This was put into effect after the destruction of Maragor, when the gods were disputing amongst themselves and Belar, a close friend of Mara, had his people conduct raids all along the west coast cities of Tolnedra, and the great chain was raised repeatedly during the many sackings Tol Horb was forced to endure by the barbarian Alorns to prevent them from sailing up the river and sacking the great city of the Empire itself.
Tol Rane: The Ranite FamilyEdit
In the southeastern mountains of the empire lay the city of Tol Rane. The city of the Ranites was the last imperial city to be built, and was built for the purpose of providing a temptation of trade to the stubborn Marags.
The Ranite DynastiesEdit
The Ranites led Tolnedra through two imperial dynasties. The First Ranite Dynasty, unlike the First Borune Dynasty and the First Horbite Dynasty, which had a good impression upon the empire as they led Tolnedra through a period of growth politically, militarily and influentially, the Ranites led the empire through a period of time where nothing major was accomplished on account of a hereditary disease stricking the Ranite emperors in their youth, preventing any of them from living long enough to accomplish anything significant. Ranite emperors of any Ranite dynasty were seen simply as caretakers.
Tolnedrans seem to be motivated through money and often kept records of debts, whether in terms of actual money including gold or favors owed.
Tolnedran nobles tended to be excellent in politics and political maneuvering. Tolnedrans were also very capable merchants, spies, and intelligence gatherers, perhaps only second to Drasnians. Toledrans who enlisted into the military were part of the famed Tolnedran legions, who had legendary discipline and fighting skill, favoring swords and spears. Tolnedran generals tended to be expert strategists and tacticians.
It was often said that the true god of Tolnedra was money as it was the Tolnedrans who invented it, and it could cloud even the most sensibly of mens minds from reason as the ill-fated invasion of Maragor proved, resulting in the destruction of Maragor and the scattering of its people.
The Tolnedran gold crown was the standard weight for money and goods in the West, and was deemed more pure and thus desirable than Murgo gold coins.