The Sunlit Empire
The Sunlit Empire is the only other center of civilization Mastaria has been able to confirm definitely. They are not the only other concentration of people, but the only ones united and of a size to rival Mastaria.
Mastaria and The Sunlit Empire has never truly seen eye-to-eye. They had both been experiencing a long period of prosperity prior to meeting. In both instances, it was also the first time they met a military power that might rival their own. Mastaria being ruled by soldiering guilds, military supremacy is fundamental to continued stability in the country. The Sunlit Empire, on the other hand, practice a form of meritocratic republic. Various classes of society get a certain number of seats in the senate, and those most qualified taking the positions. However, it is not quite so simple. In addition, The Sunlit Empire sees themselves as inherently divine. Their solitary rise to power in their region gave rise to the belief that they are the sole light of civilization and that their rule, thus, is divine. The senators chosen are greatly venerated, and fulfill positions of both priests and rulers. This makes the present peace almost as hard to bear for the Empire as it is for Mastaria. Where the soldiering guilds eventually must prove their supremacy to the Empire, the fundamental philosophy of the Empire dictates that they must be the strongest. So far, though, the Empire has resigned itself to considering Mastaria inferior until otherwise proven.
With the precise extend of the Sunlit Empire being unknown, the truly dominant culture is a matter of guesswork. The representatives of the Senate, and even the occassional senator himself, states that the coryphaean culture is the mark of the true leaders of the society, but it is not to be found in the area near the border. There, instead, is the more indigenous culture similarly found in the eastern region. Where the coryphaean culture seems dominated by sculpturing and complex callipgraphy, the artwork of the locals is of much cheaper materials. A common theme is the depiction of nature, but with fantastic colours.
An elusive part of the Sunlit Empire, the coryphaeans seem to enjoy very prominent positions within the Empire. A common theory in Mastaria equals them to the population of the Mastarian valley, not elevated as such, but the natural members of the country’s dominant population group. The flaws of the theory, the reverent position of coryphaeans in their religious scripts, and the way coryphaean is occassionally interchanged with that of ‘senator’, keep the theory extremely tentative.
Coryphaeans are much more darkskinned than the indigenous people that form the majority of contact between the two nations. The wealth of all those revealed to Mastaria may be an indication, or simply a planned coincidence.
Like so many other parts of the Empire, the exact extent of their military is unknown, but Mastaria had an opportunity to observe their methods during an organised uprising near their borders (helped in no small part by Mastaria herself).
The Sunlit Empire is based on the idea of their inherent divinity, and their declared supremacy is vital to them. This philosophy pervades their military, as well. The Sunlit Empire makes excessive use of raiding parties, and have been known to deploy talented orators and the like to turn popular opinion in a region against their opponent, aided by extensive amounts of gifts. Military theoretics have speculated that a desired side-effect of this is the elevated economic status of those who comply with the Empire, thus proving their supremacy.
The point of the raids seem to be equally aimed. If the strategy is successful, noncompliant regions suffer while the compliant ones prosper, the Empire moves in and establishes more thorous bases and eventually simply drowns the opposition. The Empire’s skills in direct confrontations remains unknown.
The question of war
Oneshot has had no meaningful contact with the Empire, save for the biannual visits from the Empire’s ambassador. They withhold a precise opinion on the matter, but rumors have persisted for years that the guild has offered the City Lord access to Oneshot’s most secret and esoteric machines in case the war breaks out.
The Knights are simultaneously the most eager proponents of peace, and the ones most unnerved about the Empire’s presence. The fear is that the characteristic heavy cavalry of the Knights will be useless in a desert battle, and that the guild will lose both standing and extensive resources trying to contribute to a war.
The Outriders seem to favor peace, but the suspected dealings between Moorhigh and the Empire has seen them change their stance, as they have started suggesting pre-emptive raids to rid the Empire of the infrascructure needed to bring a true force to bear.
Moorhigh are the most ambiguous on the matter. On the one hand, they have no problem encouraging war for reasons ranging from security to the quasi-religious practices of the Crafters. On the other hand, they have been receiving large sums of money and pieces of knowledge from the Empire for decades now. Rumors that the Empire is giving them engineering knowledge similar to what Oneshot hides away, for example, has everyone on their toes. Moorhigh insists that the Empire is merely trying to bribe one of the guilds away from the other, and that they merely absorb the riches and ignore the words, the generally poor reputation of Moorhigh speaks against them.
Five Spears remains in favor of peace, arguing that the colonization efforts are enough of a resource drain, and that a major war couldn’t be fought under the circumstances. They support the continued efforts in the south-eastern region to extend the border to something more favorable to Mastaria.
Carlton’s Riders stand with Five Spears on the matter. However, they advocate increasing efforts in the south-eastern region to speed up a situation where an attack on the Empire is viable. This put them fundamentally against the hopes of Five Spears, and the result is an interesting situation where Five Spears support Carlton efforts in the south-eastern region, but simultaneously try to draw operations out without spending money, to stall the ever closer moment when Carlton can safely vote in favor of war.