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They attacked those who had held them as slaves, and eventually word of their victories spread until they had amassed a great army. Iliana captured the port city of Lucenna, still small at the time, and from there she built her stronghold. The City of Lucenna has since been referred to as "The Heart of the Empire" due to its central location.
Following her conquest of Lucenna, she turned to Nejem. Unlike Lucenna, Nejem took many months to conquer, but once it fell, its sister city, Persad, followed without a fight.
Norvik, since removed from concern, refused to buckle under Iliana's new might. Now possessing true armies (and knowing that Norvik had caused these places many grievances), she razed the city to the ground.
However, destroying Norvik removed the barrier between the southern states and northern barbarians. Iliana turned her attention to the city of Zhaoshang at the same time that it came to be burdened by barbarian raiders. Despite this, the Zhaoshangese remained triumphant in their hardiness, and thousands perished.
It is said that Iliana possessed the divine right and destiny to rule, so the gods appeared to her in a dream to tell her how to conquer Zhaoshang. She cut them off from their trade routes, isolating it from medical supplies, weaponry, food, and other resources that originated mostly from the south. At last Zhaoshang succumbed and became the fourth city-state under her reign, and what became known as the Ilian Empire.
Each argued that they were the greatest: Nasim because he was the strongest, Isabella because she was wisest, Veda because she was fairest, and Huang because he was the most devout. They began to fight, and coming to no conclusion, parted ways to raise armies.
After many years, their lands had been ravaged by a war of blood, and many people were dead. Seeing the destruction that they caused, Isabella at last traded her pride for wisdom and suggested that their subjects should decide. Her siblings agreed, and a council of the greatest nobles in the Empire was assembled. They voted for a man and a woman, representatives of the god and goddess, to rule them on earth. From then on, no children of the emperor and empress inherited the title, but could only be elected from one of the four great families through which Iliana’s bloodline runs strongest.
April 473. Yao Ming Huyan leads the naval forces against the Persadians, although there is no clear winner. Aryana and Natanaele Corona bring the remaining land armies to Nejem. They meet initial resistance before the Nejemese barricade themselves within the city and hold Nijad's wife, Luciana Corona, as a hostage for leverage. The siege begins.
May 473. Persadian forces refuse to fight due to not wishing further cost or trade restrictions and withdraw their ships. Nejem, seeing no alternative, agrees to negotiate; the royal family has retreated after the city is taken by the Coronas. Nijad and Luciana are relinquished in return for a peaceful departure and continuation of the empire. Nijad is found guilty of murder and is executed.
June 473. Natanele Corona and Madhali Rana are elected Emperor and Empress of Ilium due to their good reputations: Natanaele's heroism and strategy, and Madhali's wisdom and peacefulness.