The land is called Gias, though nobody knows why, or how that name spread to all the people upon it, from the frozen tribes of the north, weathering the harsh winters and spilling south in the summers to raid the warmer lands to the scorching south where only the hardiest survive, proving their strength through ritual conflict and blood feuds that have run on so long that not even the antagonists know why they hate any more.
The Middle Lands, the least harsh of all the climes, however, are a more "civilised" people. Or they were, at one point, the whole area being ruled by a single Empire that pushed it's borders to the furthest reaches of Gias, stopping only when their people could no longer tolerate the extreme weather. It was not a perfect existence for many of it's subjects, especially since one particular group of people, the men and women of the founding city of the Empire, the Epurians, as their ancient tribe was called, looked down on the many tribes they subjegated, using their military superiority to crush any rebellions and forcing the various peoples to adapt to life under Epurian rule. From the wood-stalking Briguns to the mighty horsemen of the Scyarthian Steppe, all were first conquered and assimilated into the Epurian Empire, who adapted their army after those they had conquered, adding agile cavalry from the western plains, fierce skirmishers from the eastern forests and the mighty phalanxes from the southern mountain range alongside their disciplined heavy infantry from their central position.
That time of unification and power was many, many years ago however. Plots and revolutions have weakened the Epurian's to the point of collapse, and their once mighty armies are being defeated by mere barbarians from across the frontiers. The legions begin to pull back, closer to Epuria, heart of the Empire. But that too is crumbling, with the various nobles squabbling for power while the seemingly unbeatable Barbarians pour from the North and South, while a strange new threat has landed in the West, leaping off their boats and carving themselves a kingdom. The people, abandoned by their former protectors, desperately cling to whatever protection can be offered, and in the west, where the might of the Empire has been shattered, small kingdoms erupt as people pledge themselves to whomever looks to offer the best protection from the invaders.
The East holds on, though the fabled city of Epuria is sacked by Northern raiders and the capital is moved to a safer location where the battered Legions can hold off the raids. The Epurian Empire is shattered, though the Epurians themselves still believe themselves to be atop the world, they are a mere shadow of their former selves. However, the petty kingdoms of the West are in no position to threaten the Empire, but neither can the battered legions of the East assert any sort of control over the West.
That fracturing too was many years past. The Western kingdoms have more or less solidified their borders, some of the unlucky or weak being swallowed up by the strong or lucky. They are still too weak to challenge the Empire though as mutual jealousy and paranoia stop them from working together for too long. The East too has regained it's balance, and looking to reclaim lands thought to be theirs. That is put on hold however, when the old tradition of plotting rears it's head in the East. A young bastard by the name of Iohan believes himself to be the rightful Emperor, and traveled to the West to raise an army of mercenaries to fight for his throne. He found many recruits and raised an army thousands strong to march on Nova Epuria. It looked as though Iohan would conquor, for the Epurian Legions were not what they once were, and poor leadership had doomed many Legions to destruction.
However, Iohan did not count on a brilliant young general named Belisuvus to rescue the Epurian Empire. Belisuvus was intelligent, daring and most importantly of all, loyal to the throne, and he led the Epurian Legions ( though they would have been laughed at by the Legions of old, and barely recognisable as well) in a lightning campaign that broke the invaders in a series of stinging attacks, using the cunning light infantry of the forests to peck away at the morale and numbers of Iohan, before gathering the mighty phalanxes of the mountains to crush Iohan in a mighty battle that lasted most of the day, only ending when night fell and men were too exhausted to keep killing. Iohan was dead, killed near the end of the day by an unfortunate javelin, and all that is left of the once mighty army is a band of fugitives, less than one hundred of the thousands who marched east. Now they are trapped in a hostile country, hundreds of miles from home.