The War of Memory Cycle focuses on the troubles of the Risen Phoenix Empire and its conquered lands in the years 171 and 172 of the New Imperial Age.
The Risen Phoenix Empire is composed of five self-governing provinces — Amandon, Daecia, Darronwy, Riddian and Trivestes — plus five protectorates under more invasive rule — Averogne, Corvia, Illane, Kerrindryr and Wyndon. All of its territories were separate kingdoms before the ascension of Risen Phoenix Emperor Aradys I of Daecia in the Imperial Reckoning Year 1, but were progressively annexed into the empire up to its most recent conquest: Illane, subjugated as of midsummer 171 IR. The current Emperor is Aradys IV.
Much of the action takes place in Illane, which is still considered a part of the Heretic Lands — the territories west of the Rift. Its people do not worship the Imperial Light, but give reverence to various other spirits and gods. It is not a kingdom but a collection of autonomous city-states that collaborate for mutual defense and trade, and as such was conquered city by city, with the major resistance concentrated at the northern city-state of Savinnor. The last city-state to yield was Fellen, at the southern tip of Illane.
Though it surrendered without a fight, the Illanic city-state most essential to the story is that of Bahlaer. Located in the southern third of Illane, it is home to a large population of Shadow Folk, or Kheri, which the Imperials consider to be monsters of the Darkness. With nearly no Imperial presence inside the walls, it is an uneasy refuge for those hostile to the Empire.
South past Illane is the land of Padras, considered part of the Serpent Lands. Its northernmost city, Kanrodi, is under siege by one of the Imperial Phoenix Armies, the Crimson Claw. The Risen Phoenix Emperor’s only son, Crown Prince Kelturin, leads this army, but his continued inability to take Kanrodi has made problems for him politically.
Overseeing all events in the Heretic Lands is the Rift, the titanic cliff that divides Imperial East from Heretic West. Uplifted more than a thousand years ago in the aftermath of a great disaster, the Rift restricts passage between the two lands and also shelters dangerous creatures in its caves and forests, from goblins to wraiths, elementals to skinchangers. The Riftlands — as the territories on its border are called — include the red rock spires of Varaku and the endless depths of the Forest of Mists, both fiercely hostile to Imperial folk.
Beyond the western border of Illane lies the one unconquered land in the Heretic northwest: Jernizan. The Crimson Claw spent years attempting to conquer Jernizan’s nomadic people but were finally turned back by wildfires. Though Jernizan is no longer an Imperial target, it is still considered a threat; much of the Crimson Army is stationed along its border with Illane instead of with the siege-camps near Kanrodi, just in case.
To the north of Jernizan, in the Thundercloak Mountains, is the Imperial protectorate of Kerrindryr. Its well-populated areas exist mainly in the eastern foothills or ‘Low Country’, with only isolated villages and hamlets scattered through the alpine valleys of the ‘High Country’. A major source of metals and quarry stone, Kerrindryr became an Imperial protectorate before any of the other Heretic Lands — it was not conquered but submitted itself willingly to Imperial rule, hoping to be defended against both the Jernizen and the ogres from the north.
To the east of the Heretic Lands, through the only official crossing at the Rift Climb, lies the kingdom of Wyndon. Its territory consists of a narrow band of civilization stretched between the Rift’s edge to the west, the Mist Forest to the south, and Corvia and Amandon to the north and east, and is almost entirely covered by the Forest of Night. Its people are hunters, trappers, miners and lumberjacks, with a capital city in the eastern lowlands called Thynbell. Though ruled by its own king, it is considered a protectorate rather than a province because of the fractious nature of its populace. Nevertheless, it is the main bastion for the second of the three Imperial Armies, the Golden Wing.
Corvia, directly north of Wyndon, is considered a protectorate though it is still in the process of being conquered. It encompasses the northern Night Forest and the scrub-covered slopes of the Khaeleokiel Mountains, including the inactive Aekhaelesgeria volcano. The native Corvish people are a mix of humans and skinchangers, widely considered to be thieves and bandits, and have been engaged in a vicious running war with the forces of the Gold Army since Wyndon became a protectorate — and perhaps before.