The Middle Kingdom
You live in the center of the world.
Alaad, a 3000 year old empire, hacked from the sweltering and ever-encroaching jungle. An oasis of civilization, the empire of Alaad faces trackless deserts to the West, towering mountains in the North, endless seas to the South, and in the East a haunted wilderness.
You know there are other kingdoms, other civilized lands. Traders come by boat or by camel, for exotic spices and perfumes, for pelts and ivory. Others come for enlightenment, to learn from Alaadian sages and ascetics, to master mind and body, for transcendence or for power.
Sixty years ago, it seemed as if Alaad had discovered the greatest ascetic master of all. Rabanuuz kept the Empire safe as the rest of the world plunged into darkness. He taught his disciples the Way of the Cobra, let them peer into the Infinite world of the All-God. Yet the strain was too much for him. As his great powers finally defeated the darkness, the demonic forces finally overwhelmed him. Only the prayers of the Emperor, calling for Heaven’s wrath, saved the Middle Kingdom. The city of Qilanar was destroyed in the cataclysm; today only the Emperor, his harem, and his palace staff reside there.
Rabanuuz’s death left the Middle Kingdom in turmoil. War broke out between the fighting orders, and only after decades of fighting did the Leopard Knights finally reunite the Empire. Hopefully life can go on as before.