Sands of Alscyra
The Meridian Empire
The Meridians arrived on the continent of Alscyra about 300 years ago. They arrived by ship in the Merchant Republic, where they were quickly turned away due to a lack of valuables or useful skills. They headed south into the endless desert and set up what camp they could. It was a perilous existence, between the natural hazards and the disdain they immediately received from the Desert Lords who ruled the vast wasteland. The Lords were subservient allies to the dragons who secured their demesnes, and so the Meridians found themselves forced into hiding whenever possible.
Things changed after a young visionary led a small band of Meridians to set up a forward camp, called Skyswatch, on a hill not far from the cave system his people had been hiding in. When the dragons inevitably descended, he uttered a desperate prayer to Pelor, and then, at least according to the Empire, a miracle happened. A barrage of flaming arrows rained down from the sky, destroying the assaulting force. When the Meridians went to retrieve the actual arrows, they instead found powerful magical weapons and armor, glistening and untouched in the desert sun.
So began the era of military might that made the Empire the dominant political force on the continent. Skyswatch became the capital city, and the young visionary crowned first Emperor.
The Empire is ruled by a singular Emperor or Empress, the firstborn of the same family line as Ellus, the young visionary that founded Skyswatch.
Currently the Emperor is a man named Aldorus, though he has not been seen by the public for some time. Rumor is that he has taken ill, which is unsurprising given his advanced age. Unfortunately for the Empire, his only child is the girl he fathered scandalously late in life, to a woman who died in childbirth. Should Aldorus die, the rule of the Empire would fall to an 11-year-old girl. In reality, this means rule would fall to the clerics who see to the girl’s welfare, further cementing the church as a dominant force in Meridian society.
Primarily human. That said, Skyswatch is cosmopolitan enough (having become larger than any of the nine cities of the Merchant Republic) that all races can be found at one time or another. However, dragonborn and other draconoid races are forbidden from entering, if not killed on sight.
The official patron god of the Empire is Pelor, and it shows. There are small shrines to other gods, barring Bahamut, but it is Pelor whose massive cathedrals form the skyline of Skyswatch. There is a very strong belief that dragons are beings of pure evil, and so Pelor is primarily worshiped in the aspect of dragonslayer, bringer of light into darkness.
Outside of the capital, the Empire becomes less militaristic and more agrarian. Much of the region has been converted from desert to fields and dales through the nuturing magic of druids and other primal types. This expanse of fields and farms is divided into counties, each ruled by a count, who of course reports directly to the Emperor, at least in theory.