The empire of Udai was founded in the year 71 of the Fall Era. But the history of its people goes well into the ages of antiquity. In the Dawn Era it is said that near the end of the Second Dragon War a collective of human and fordrin entered the region, intermarrying and forming new cultures.
Over the centuries, the region developed into clans of warlords, fiercely devoted to their ideals and authority. Wars and contentions mottled the region, until the fordrin suffered a curse called the Burning Hands. This curse, believed to be an affliction brought on by the dark gods, caused the fordrin to no longer be able to touch their human counterparts without inflicting serious harm on them. At that point in their history, the fordrin withdrew from society, forming what they referred to as the Hidden City. When exactly these events took place is a mystery, lost to the destruction and confusion of the end of the Dawn Era.
By the year 15 FE, the nation was comprised of seven distinct kingdoms: Xihan, Xiwang, Shinrai, Tatakai, Youkei, Zhu, and Senshi. Xihan was goverend by the warlord Zhi Tsan. In those days, the land of Secuba was in near constant conflict between the warring kingdoms. With the growing vacuum of power left by the withdrawal of the ruling fordrin class to the Hidden City, the kingdoms of Tatakai and Youkei joined in a pact and overthrew the kingdom of Zhu. After their victory, Tatakai betrayed Youkei and conquered them.
With the three regions united, the new kingdom of An was forged, so named after the warlord of Tatakai. Zhi Tsan, aware of the threat of this new power, called on his brother Zhi Sun, who ruled over Xiwang, to join him against An. By the year 65 FE, Senshi had been conquered by An, and Shinrai had joined with Xiwang as a vassal, with Xihan as the political governing seat of all three.
Tensions grew as warlord Zhi Tsan grew old. the kingdom of An invaded the prefecture of Xiwang, and killed Zhi Sun. This embroiled Zhi Tsan, compelling him to call on his allies among the fordrin of the Hidden City to end the conflict, once and for all. By the year 71 FE, the kingdom of An, along with the remaining unconquered kingdoms, all flew the banner of Xihan. It was the first time any one warlord held the seat of power over all the kingdoms of Eastern Alteris. In his final decree, he named the region an empire, granting each prefecture their own feudal rule under his authority.
There is some debate about where the name of Udai came from. Some believe it to be derived from the title Zhi Tsan was given by his loyalists, “Uda.” However, review of ancient texts reveals that the title of Uda was not give to Zhi Tsan until nearly 40 years after the empire was dubbed Udai. Deeper research shows that Udai is likely a mishmash of two words from the ancient dialects spoken in the region, “Yao,” meaning ambitious, and “Dai,” meaning banner.
The feudal empire of Udai established its capital in the region of Xihan at its founding, and the city of Xihan remains the capital to this day. In the empire, the power of each prefecture is divided among noble family lines, called houses. At any given time, there are about thirty houses in Udai.
While there are generally thirty houses, only twelve of those houses hold any real authority in the matters of national government. They are, in order of superiority, Zhu, Wei, Zhishi, Shinjitsu, Senso, Lieren, Moffa, Wushu, Heishi, Biruda, and Hasu. From time to time, a house is defunct due to actions by their leadership that are not in harmony with the will of the empire, and they lose their status. New houses are then established to replace them, taking on the role of prefect in the region where the previous house was removed. House Zhu has long been the greatest house in the empire, their prefects ruling over the majority of regions throughout Udai.
While the governing houses and the noble houses espouse the rule of the prefectures throughout Udai, every citizen has a family line that is referred to as a house. These houses provide the born surname of each citizen. Not every house is noble; many houses are artisans, farmers, merchants, or soldiers. But regardless of the noble lineage of a house, the relation one has to their house is a source of pride for each citizen. The governing houses of Udai are given the opportunity to establish places of learning, called Daigaku, or being translated, Universities. The Daigaku of each house focus their teachings on the skills and knowledge most prized by that house.
Teaching at a Daigaku is considered one of the highest honors a citizen can attain, and only the greatest scholars are selected for the duty. Udai is prized among all people of Alteris for its focus on education. Of all the nations of Alteris, Udai has the most unified primary education system for the rising generations. Almost all citizens are literate before the age of ten. Every city and village in the empire has at least one school, where the youth are taught a plethora of useful knowledge specialized for their region and status among the citizenry.
Not every scholar of Udai can teach at a Daigaku, so some choose instead to be teachers at the schools in the prefectures. Others, not content to share their knowledge only in a small region, become mentors, known colloquially as Ryoko-sha. These mentors go from region to region, sharing what they know, and often garner robust followings of disciples. Sadly, these followings frequently turn into rebellions, with the military of Udai being forced to quash them before they boil into episodes that could threaten the security of the empire.
The imperial line also has a house: Uda. However, this house is not included among the ruling twelve houses. Uda as a house can only be joined by birth, and their sole responsibility is to act as the figureheads of all of Udai. The current head of house Uda is Empress Uda Lei Lam. In recent years, Empress Lei has come under political stress. This is because she revealed the truth about the Hidden City of the fordrin. After an event referred to as the Revelation at Spade Island, recorded by the fordrin scholar Sachii, Empress Lei felt impressed to reveal that she was of fordrin decent, and that there was in fact no Hidden City. Instead, the fordrin were always among the citizenry of Udai, ruling over many of the prefectures under house Zhu. This has garnered disdain from fordrin who enjoyed their secrecy, and humans who believed they ruled Udai.
House Zhu has long been the most powerful house in the governance of Udai. While house Uda is the seat of imperial control, the day to day work of managing the law, settling legal disputes, and maintaining the peace is under the guidance of house Zhu. In many respects, the Emperors and Empress’ of Udai have acted more as figureheads than as governors. This distinction has also lent toward the discomfort many felt when Empress Lei revealed the secrets of the fordrin to the world at large. House Zhu however retains their strong loyalty to the Empress and the empire.
Currently in the empire, there are six prefectures: the capital of Xihan, where the Empress resides, Shinrai, Zhu, Jia, Kishi, and Kessho. Each prefecture is governed by a member of one of the twelve governing houses, with the majority of governors being either of house Zhu or house Wei. The houses of Zhu and Wei are fiercely adversarial toward one another, and there have been no shortage of attempted usurping of power between them in the prefectures. With the revealing of the fordrin as the majority ruling class of Udai, house Wei has increased their fervor, establishing themselves as the champion for human interests in the empire. While there have been some minor human rebellions since the revelation, house Wei maintains a strong position of siding with the Empress and the rule of law, citing that the only means of true and lasting change in the empire cannot be won by the sword.
Udai remains a powerful player on the stage of Alteris. Their collective devotion to their empire and education allow their citizenry the sense of self needed to maintain a strong community. Whether they seek training through a Daigoaku or not, each citizen of Udai finds purpose in their contribution to the empire. And it is in this that the empire of Udai have shown their strength.
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