Pexate and Layyia, the “warring brothers” or “squabbling sisters,” were once both part of the great Crimson Empire. As imperial power crumbled, Pexate was the first to be abandoned, while Layyia was close to the imperial heartlands and remained loyal to the Emperor until the final collapse nearly a thousand years later. That lengthy separation led the two kingdoms, of otherwise similar size and climate, to take sharply divergent paths.

Guarded by the mountains that form its border with Layyia, Pexate developed an independent streak with a great deal of power concentrated in the hands of the nobility. In Layyia, however, the kings were much more successful at imposing their will on their nobles. Perhaps this was because of their (supposedly) direct descent from the last of the Crimson Emperors; in any event, Layyia remained secure under a number of strong kings until the Layyian Plague, which saw five monarchs in five years succumb, including the infamous “year of three kings” in which King Fraen V reigned for only 88 days.

The death of so many senior claimants to the throne, and plague’s privations elsewhere, kept the Layyians from interfering in the affairs of their neighbors for some time–they never attempted to invade during the ten years of Uxbridge’s Anarchy, for instance, nor did they attempt to end the Most Serene Republic of Pexate which followed. Rather than regional barons asserting their authority, the various dukes, marquesses, and earls of Layyia instead backed a variety of candidates to the throne in an ongoing hot-and-cold civil war.

Chroniclers have called these claimants the “Lights of Layyia,” often depicting them as candles in a candelabra. This was both because the claimants represented some of Layyia’s brightest stars, and because they had an unfortunate tendency to be snuffed out.

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