The Rise of Caith
Caith’s natives primarily descended from a line of humans, elves, and dwarves who made up the original Empire of Caith—the horde of barbarians that ruled the coasts during the First Age. The sheer size of Caith’s horde was essential to the empire’s growth, so since its beginning, the society has been particularly inclusive of women and other races as long as they can prove themselves useful to the Empire. One was either a Sven, a member of the Empire, or nothing more than a curr. Outsiders could barely qualify as beasts. This outlook served Caith well as it quickly integrated useful members of the clans conquered by the horde. Though the empire dwindled in the latter Second Age (and moreso in the Third), Caith maintained its traditions and still referred to itself as the Empire.
At an early age (roughly 7 or 8 human years or the equivalent in long-lived races) a Caithian child enters its proving. Over a period of five days, the child must pass a series of gruelling challenges in one of the three skill-sets: Combat, Strategy, or Civil Service. The child must prove that it will be an ongoing contributor to the Empire, either on the battlefield or the homefront, or it is expelled from the community. Spectacular failures have sometimes lead to executions.
Warriors are prevalent throughout society, but many Caithians have shown an aptitude for magic, though nearly all native magic users draw magic from primal forces. These capabilities were expanded when the shadar-kai immigrated to Caith nearly a decade ago. These shadar-kai, who traveled from the frozen northwest of Antenora, now account for a significant minority of the population. They set up the order of arcanists known simply as the Witches, an organization of magically attuned women known for carrying out high-risk and high-pay missions outside of the Empire. The Witches were initially all shadar-kai, but as they integrated into the empire, the Witches became more diverse. Lady Morgan is an elf born in Caith who quickly became the foremost Witch in the empire.
Over the past three years, Caith has been coping with refugee bands who have managed to flee from demon-occupied Fife. Those not integrated immediately into the empire have been set aside in the recently conquered shielding lands between Caith and Fife. These refugees exist in a sort of limbo status, tangentially a part of the Empire but given little support from Caith itself. Refugees are tasked with protecting the border against demon incursions.