Pre-Imperial Alcia refers to all of the history of Alcia prior to the formation of the Holy Xhovian Empire, and as such is a very broad term. Academically, it is commonly used for the periods from the Alcian Bronze Age (circa 2500 BCE) to the formation of the Empire (1134 CE).
Alcian Bronze Age
The Alcian Bronze Age is commonly held to have begun around 2500 BCE, by archaeological discoveries of bronze working in inner Xhodiar. Among the artifacts discovered from the pre-literate period (2500BCE - 970 BCE) are primarily weapons and tools. The development of bronzeworking spread north, but was still an economic boom for inner Xhodiar, and the other cultures in the tin and/or copper rich areas along the (NAME THE MOUNTAIN CHAIN) mountains and eastern coast. In this time, settlements began growing in size, and structure, especially Xiáz, which quickly grew to be the largest city in the region by 1000BCE. Around the same time we start to see the rise of the Eastern Xharmani cities, of Kassa, Viriz and Cos It was in or around 970 BCE however that writing was transmitted to Xiáz, via traders from Hemesh, keen to purchase their bronzeworks, and written records begin.
Main Article: Empire of Inner Xhodiar
Settlements had existed around the area of Xiáz since before the Bronze Age began, but according to sources written in the 950s BCE, they unified circa 1645 BCE (archaeological evidence suggests a later date closer to 1500BCE), due to mutual interests in trade and shared language, which led to great prosperity. Rapid economic and urban expansion on the back of the bronze boom led to Xiáz being the centre of culture in western Alcia in the period, and it quickly found itself in possession of the funds, metal, means and desire to expand by force to some of the neighbouring areas.
Xiáz's army utilised its wealth to issue equipment, paid for from the Hykiri's treasury, to citizens who were conscripted into service by the existing warrior class. This led to a two tier army, utilising lightly or unarmoured peasant conscripts, armed with bows, or cheap bronze weapons, and then armoured and/or mounted elite formations of the warriors, who would be entirely equipped with bronze swords and spears, as well as shields. By 895 BCE, Xiáz controlled a significant portion of the western coast, having expanded south initially, but most efforts being focused on a second wave of northward expansion, up into the coast of modern day Jugia.
With Xiáz expanding, new settlements began to crop up within their borders, the most significant of which was Mhętha, which starts appearing in records from 883 BCE.
The 3 Jewels of the East
Main Article: Xharmanni Confederacy
Writing arrived in the Xharmani city of Viriz first, in 897 BCE, and quickly spread to Kassa and Cos, as well as the settlements under their protection. The three city states were run by a combination of religious and martial aristocracies, led in dual each by a High Commander and High Priest. Before the acquisition of writing, the three had warred often, but the distinction between myth and history is hazy amidst these battles.
Viriz had established, and was growing a strong trade relationship with the people of the Neviran Delta, and was, by 864 BCE the most prosperous and wealthy of the three cities. However, it had tried to access the bountiful copper and tin reserves found further inland, but found the endeavour too risky, due to the "Ottanic Barbarians" (an old High Xharmanni term that seems to refer to the North Xhovian speaking people or peoples found along the southern portions of the (NAME) river) frequent attacks on any forces sent too far from the territory of the city-state. This led to a meeting between the High Commanders of the three cities, agreeing that it served their mutual interests to seize the copper and tin mines and share them between the three cities. This alliance, combined with a later meeting by the High Priests, and a further one with all six leaders present, led to the formation of the Xharmanni Confederacy in 859 BCE.
The Empire of Inner Xhodiar
In the 810s BCE, the Hykiri of Xiáz conquered Zegwá, and found for the first time, her empire was too large to run effectively in the absolute fashion she had been up to this point. This led to her restructuring her territories. No longer was it absolute rule by her alone, although she still held supreme authority. Now, the territory was divided up, between (NAMES), and power delegated to them. This is the point at which historians tend to agree the Empire of Inner Xhodiar can really be stated to have begun. For the next 40 years, the Empire of Inner Xhodiar would be the dominant force in western Alcia, only further fuelled with the discovery of gold in the Xhoriqhi hills.
The Hillsmen of the East
The newly formed Xharmanni confederacy had succeeded to a degree in seizing the Ottanic mineral mines, however, they faced a new threat now, having conquered and displaced the Ottanics. In 823 BCE, records start appearing frequently reporting attacks from Hillsmen tribes, who despite their technological inferiority, had a surprisingly successful record of defeating Xharmanni forces. The Xharmani names for these tribes included; Giants, Beastmen (perhaps reference to the fact that, according to Xharmanni sources, at least one tribe wore the pelts of Alcian Lions as a sort of military attire), Suxhan, Delidu and Runnilmi. This conflict would never be fully resolved, and would outlive the confederacy itself.
The Age of Agwa
Main Article: Agwa (Bronze Age State)
Further inland from the Empire of Inner Xhodiar, in 773 BCE (traditionally), the city of Agwa was founded, built by exiles and outlaws from the Empire, speaking Mhetannic dialects primarily. It was built on the banks of the (NAME) river, and became a common destination for exiles from Inner Xhodiar, but also for the Outer Xhorial people downriver, who in Agwa, saw prosperity. This rapid influx of people led to extremely rapid expansion territorially and economically for the city, until they too began encroaching on the territory of Western Hillsmen. Agwa however, took a different approach. Via negotiations, including a tribute of some 2000 pounds of gold, the Hillsmen became a vassal of Agwa, allowed to retain their territory as their own, but subject to Agwa law, and honour sworn to defend Agwa from any harm.
By 755 BCE, Agwa had become large and prosperous enough to attract the attention of the Hykiri of Inner Xhodiar. The two states had both been expanding inland, but Inner Xhodiar was doing so at a much slower rate. Fearing losing their dominance over the region to the "Criminals and Savages" of Agwa, they began a period of rapid eastwards expansion, exclusively via conquest, with records describing extreme violence, both from the inner xhorial forces, but then later, the tribes and cultures they were attempting to conquer, especially when they began to find Outer Xhorial villages and settlements. The most notable incident therein was the cannibalisation of the 23rd Cohort, where an entire military Cohort was trapped in a valley, killed, and cannibalised by a numerically superior outer xhorial force.
Though initially successful in expanding to a greater territory than Agwa, the Empire of Inner Xhodiar nearly emptied its coffers in this expansion wave, and had greatly overstretched its administrative capacities. Locals started becoming officials in the new provinces, which functioned effectively as independent petty kingdoms due to lack of communication with Xiáz.
Agwa meanwhile managed to turn a profit from these new provinces, trading with them despite the Hykiri ostensibly forbidding contact with them. This led to an increase in influence and power for Agwa.
The King of the Hills
Main Article: Nuhnimn (Historical State)
In 775 BCE, an Eastern Hillsmen Warlord, Anng Ar Nuhni, declared himself as (TITLE) or "King of the Hills" in Classical (HILLSPEAK), bringing writing to the hills, "inventing" a script from what he had seen in the Confederacy (think Cherokee Marly). Despite initially only ruling over a small handful of villages which he had been the chief of beforehand, he quickly united the Hillsmen tribes to the south of the Confederacy, primarily by diplomacy more than conquest, with the stated goal of rivalling if not defeating the Confederacy.
By the start of 768 BCE, the Hillsmen's Kingdom was large enough that the Confederacy began to worry, its forces were primarily occupied defending the western border, and so it sent diplomats to Nuhni, to try and negotiate a peace. These diplomats were executed after negotiations broke down, being torn in half by having their hands tied to one (PACK BEAST) and their feet to another. This began a short, decisive war with the Confederacy, which, despite ostensibly ending in a stalemate, led to the breakup of the confederacy, as Cos paid tribute to the Hillsmen, Kassa was sacked then seized, and Viriz fortified and isolated itself.
The newly born Nuhnimn Kingdom made Kassa its capital, and both Hillsmen and Xhovian tribes began to pay tribute to, or bend the knee, to the King of the Hills. The heirs of Nuhni would rule these lands.
Alcian Iron Age
The Alcian Iron Age is commonly dated back to around the turn of the century, 700 BCE, and was responsible for a significant change in the balance of power across Alcia, primarily due to the fact that the south was not as iron rich naturally as the north, with the exception of the mountain areas.
The first major power to really implement iron working en masse was Nuhnimn, under King Njon Ar Nuhni, however this quickly proved to be their downfall. The tribal rivalries that had plagued the Nuhnimn since their formation, that had only festered and grown with the lack of a common enemy, were finally escalated with the addition of new, more powerful weapons of iron. The Uwulhang, Gagnein, Orm and Vangga tribes amongst the Hillsmen revolted first, mostly border territories, around 694 BCE. The Nuhnimn army was stretched thin trying to prevent all of them from seizing too much territory. Then the humans began rebelling as well, with the Xhovian Gallxha and Vel peoples uniting with the non-Xhovian human Kol and Lennirsu to take back Kassa, and later the entirety of the lake (NAME) area.
Agwa, City of Iron
In 690 BCE, brought in by waves of human refugees and others fleeing from the east, that actually braved the mountains, Agwa was given the secrets of ironwork. The proximity to both the mountains and the rive allowed for massive quantities of iron to be mined and shipped throughout eastern Agwa, quickly turning into a surprisingly sophisticated production line, as Agwa fully embraced the new technology, upgrading tools and weapons, but also starting to develop and design new iron weapons and armour. Their military quickly benefited from this, naturally, and the border stalemate with the Empire of Inner Xhodiar stopped being such an issue, as Agwan troops marched over, taking land, and looting settlements. This started a new war with the Empire, one which Agwa looked set to win. However, by 676 BCE, though the Empire had had its lines pushed back effectively to the coast, Agwan governors and other regional authorities saw the chaos as a shot at power, and declared their independence, seizing either Agwan, or conquered Inner Xhorial lands, and claiming them as their own, usually around the cities. These local leaders also had access to their cities' treasuries, and so were easily able to pay soldiers, either of the city, or of the main army, which with the revolts and treachery, had had any semblance of a command shattered.
Haven in the Bay
The Marching Kings, those generals from former Agwa and Xiaz, who had successfully turned most of the land betwixt what was left of the Empire and the broken Agwan state into a battlefield, with constantly fluctuating lines, had created an outwards flow of refugees. Some went west, some east, but a not insignificant group of them fled North, into the area of the modern day Jugian Bay. The fish in the bay provided ample food, and the soil was fertile, so these refugees found themselves quickly flourishing, building settlements and cities along the coast. by 648 BCE, they had carved out a not insignificant home for themselves, and given themselves a name, "Yhael". They became traders primarily, but also represented, at the time, the northernmost settlements of Xhiuists, and it was from them, that the Settians and even the Szezk tribes acquired the faith