Daines is a human empire which has, for most of its history, occupied a large amount of the continent of Onidia. Its story begins with Dainar, one of the city-states formed as part of the Garf-Teljek Treaty at the end of the Third Squid War. Its first emperor was Giltem the Fierce, who pioneered the use of guerrilla warfare and developed a number of innovative tactics now used by most armies in the area.
Giltem was ambitious from the day he was born. The illegitimate son of Duke Marren and a maid, he was sent to be trained as a gladiator in the neighbouring city-state of Kelignar hope that he would be killed in the arena. Unfortunately for Marren, a few of the other gladiators adopted Giltem as a mascot and trained him well; notable among these were Ngingu, who went on to become governor of Argai, and D'shan, about whom certain stories have been told. Giltem eventually made a name for himself as a mighty warrior. One day, at the age of 15, he was assigned to fight in a special match as part of the entertainment at the birthday party of Narmos, duke of Kelignar. However, after a few minutes, all the gladiators rebelled against Narmos under Giltem's leadership. Narmos was killed and Giltem attempted to declare himself duke; however, just a few days after the coup, Narmos' son, Naradai the Intelligent, beseiged the royal house with the entire Kelignaran militia. Giltem, unable to stand against the much greater force, was forced to flee.
Giltem and his gladiators headed to Dainar's capital, Stormhaven, where Giltem challenged his legitimate half-brother, Kaj the Dead, for the crown. Kaj agreed to a Duel of Righteousness, which Giltem won; he then married Kaj's wife to cement his rule, and placed some of his allies from the arena in charge of the Dainar militia.
Dainar then attacked Kelignar and, despite a smaller force, successfully defeated Naradai's forces due to superior tactics. Naradai, known as a skilled diplomat, was successful in persuading Giltem to allow him to star as governor of Kelignar, and the two would eventually become friends. However, the militia of Kelignar would be merged with that of Dainar, and Naradai would be allowed no military authority.
With this newly swelled militia, Giltem attacked and swiftly conquered Semnar city-state, killing Duke Arlax the Fat. Semnar possessed highly productive iron and copper mines as well as more advanced weapon and metalworking technology; however, under Arlax's largely incompetent reign, this was going to waste.
At this point, the other city-states in the region became concerned about Giltem's ambitions and declared an alliance against him. Giltem defeated the alliance in three years, one city-state at a time. The most popular belief is that this was all due to Giltem's incredible battle tactics and Naradai's unexcelled diplomatic skill; however, scholars are generally of the opinion that the alliance was too embroiled with infighting and internal power jockeying to ever pose a serious threat. When Giltem attained victory, he built a new capital at Yeres and declared himself King of Daines. He also remodelled the various militia into a standing army based on tactics used by the Starborn, adapted for humans. Giltem was crowned in Yeres on his 24th birthday.
With this accomplished, Giltem turned his attention south to Argai, the lightning kingdom. Daines faced trouble here due to the Argaians' use of chariots and pikestaffs, weapons as yet unknown in greater Dainar. However, Giltem and his generals were eventually able to reproduce these weapons and use them against Argai. Argai's greater numbers and familiarity with fighting in a wetter environment meant the fight didn't advance beyond a stalemate until Naradai forged an alliance with the moon king of Nahao, in the west. Nahaoan reinforcements allowed Daines to conquer Argai within two years, and Giltem decided to rub the people's faces in it by dragging Sultan Nitla naked through the streets of the capital. General Ngingu, who had trained Giltem as a gladiator, was installed as governor; despite a sincere effort to rule well, he was never able to remove the Argaians' disgust and hatred of Daines.
Giltem, now aged 28, prepared to advance on Zurrut, which bordered Argai on its eastern border. This brought him into conflict with the Chung nation, who were also expanding into an empire. The Zurruti initially welcomed the Dainesans as saviours; however, when it became apparent that Giltem intended to rule over both Zurrut and Chung, they were not so happy. Eventually, the Zurruti decided that Giltem was the lesser of two evils, and voluntarily merged their own country with his. Loyalist Zurruti within the Chung-dominated segment of their land subtly undermined Chung, weakening it sufficiently for Daines to finally take the capital. The Zurruti leaders, Brictem and Hiltem, were installed as governors over the new Zurrut and Chung provinces, respectively, of the newly named Daines Empire.
Giltem spent much of the remainder of his life consolidating his power. A large number of Chungite rebels travelled to Argai, with the result that a massive rebellion against Giltem broke out there in his 43rd year. The rebellion was quashed within three years, and a programme of ethnic cleansing instituted which was still ongoing when Giltem died of old age, at 56.
Giltem's reign, though despised by the Argaians and Chungites, saw the greatest peace the region had known in a long time. Most of the neighbouring countries were too afraid to risk fighting against an army the size of that of Daines, and were rightly fearful of Giltem's tactical skills.
During this time art, philosophy and science flourished. This period saw great refinements in metalworking, the invention of archery, and the most beautiful buildings of the entire empire built. Wind-powered mills were also invented and used extensively.
Giltem was succeeded by his son, Temnar the Blind. Temnar completed the subjugation of Argai, though at great cost. He then extended the empire through the western nations of Breld, Vrisl, and Arpanzia. These countries were rich in resources, and their annexation brought considerable new wealth into Daines. However, this resulted in the army being spread too thinly, meaning that rebellion soon broke out in Chung. The Chungites declared themselves independent, and helped the Arpanzians and Breldans to do the same. The Vrislim, however, preferred Dainesan rule, and resisted 'liberation'.
After the death of Temnar, the empire passed to Acrim the Incompetent. Acrim, to say the least, earned his title. Under his rule, a new generation of Zurruti broke away from Daines rule, and Nahao revoked the two countries' long-standing treaty. Hostile kingdoms conquered increasingly large swathes of the old empire, and by the time Acrim died, Daines had been reduced to Yeres and a few surrounding square kilometres.
Temnar's son, Kreldem the Great, spent his early life studying the career of Giltem the Fierce. As soon as he took the throne, he invited the leaders of the kingdom's enemies to his castle to discuss a peace treaty. However, this was actually a ruse to poison them. With the enemy leaders dead, Kreldem sent assassins to eliminate the imperial families of the immediate aggressors and put the blame on Chung and New Zurrut. He then took advantage of the confusion to greatly extend his territory, using new tactics and newly invented firearm technology. Kreldem was the first military leader to extensively use guns, cannons and camoflage in battle. He was thus able, with considerable effort, to retake much of the old empire as well as Nahao, thus restoring and expanding the glory of Giltem.
The army of Daines is divided into a number of companies, each named after a different animal and specialising in different tactics. They are:
* ''Dragon:'' The emperor's personal bodyguard, elite soldiers who form the core of the army during major military campiagns. All members are recruited from the other companies after showing great skill and gaining considerable experience. Members use the weapons and armour they used in the regular army.
* ''Tiger:'' The most highly trained and dangerous infantry company in the regular army. During Giltem's reign, they were armed with ram daos; after Kreldem's improvements, they began carrying large rifles.
* ''Wolf:'' Light infantry, split into two main colour-coded groups. Grey wolves are the more heavily armoured, and generally use zhanma daos to fight enemy cavalry; after the Kreldem reformation, they adopted heavy rifles. White wolves wear lighter armour, and generally fight with falchions or scramaxes; since the Kreldem reformation, they tend to be armed with pistols or light rifles.
* ''Horse:'' Light cavalry, generally armed with sabres.
* ''Unicorn:'' Heavy cavalry, again usually armed with sabres.
* ''Pegasus:'' Chariot infantry, generally armed with spears or javelins.
* ''Spider:'' Spies, informants and assassins, well trained in unarmed combat. To avoid suspicion, they usually travel unarmed, but may use a dagger on occasion.
* ''Scorpion:'' This company originally consisted of archers, but after the Kreldem reformation, it shifted to long-range rifle combat. Tend to be well armoured. Due to the scorpion company's ability to kill enemy soldiers from a considerable distance, members are highly values by generals; however, most soldiers look down on them as being unable to face 'real combat'.
* ''Monkey:'' Snipers. Wear little to no armour, and are generally armed with a bow and arrow or light rifle. Looked down on even more that the scorpion guard.
* ''Elephant:'' Artillery. Members wear no armour and carry no weapons other than combat knives. Their role is to operate ballistas, catapults and trebuchets. The obvious power of these machines has earned members of the elephant company a grudging respect from other members of the army.
* ''Dove:'' Medics. Rigorously trained for endurance, concentration, and bravery, Doves, unlike other companies, are not centralized, but dispatched to other companies after they complete their training. They are allowed a lot of autonomy on the battlefield, and they answer only to their commanding officers. Doves are usually unarmed, but their brute strength can save their lives in a pinch.
Presiding over each company is a High Commander. Each one is granted the title of baron upon their appointment, but people usually name them after their company's sigil, for example, the Light Infantry High Commander is just "The Wolf". Below them are Strategists, who are in charge of fellowships, of which there are four in each company. One rank down are Bannermen, in charge of bannersquads, so named because they are the smallest unit allowed to have their own banner, which can only be flown below their fellowship or company flag, at least officially. Each fellowship has twenty-four bannersquads. The next rank down are Tacticians, who command Dispatch Regiments, or dispatchments for short. Each bannersquad consists of four of those. Below Tacticians are Field Tacticians, usually just called Fields. They command chains, of which there are five in every dispatchment. The second-lowest rank is Tactical Fighter, abbreviated Tac, in command of a link of five Fighters, who are the lowest rank. Each chain consists of ten links.
Rank is usually displayed by the borders around the insignia soldiers wear over their hearts. For example, a Fighter's insignia has no border around it, while a Field's has a dark grey border. Additionally, the insignia border is also sewn in a circle on the right sleeve of every soldier (except Fighters, of course).