The Holy Griffin Empire, originally the Holy Falcon Empire, is a vast Human empire located in the northern regions of Ashan, and is the main theatre of Heroes V itself. It is a fertile land of forests and plains, and is rich in mineral resources. The empire is by far the strongest human nation in the world, and as well Elrath's largest centre of worshipers, making it the main target of the Inferno's invasion.
The Empire comprises six provincial Duchies. These are the: Bull Duchy, Unicorn Duchy, Stag Duchy, Greyhound Duchy, Raven Duchy and the Wolf Duchy. In the center of the empire there is a seventh region called the Imperial Province, a demesne of the imperial crown, which includes the imperial capital city, Talonguard.
A feudal Holy Empire, the strongest realm of Ashan. It is a kingdom of medieval knights and monks, with prevalent access to 'Light / Life' Magic and 'Angelic' elite troops. The Empire chose the Griffin as its symbol. Tamed griffins are used by the nobility as 'flying hounds', and sometimes as mounts. On the battlefield, Haven troops are known to be extremely resistant, relying more on the mighty power of brutal force than on the delicate art of magic. The heroes of the Haven faction will develop skills and abilities to support the hurricane of steel and fury that will rush into the enemy's rank.
After Falcon's Last Flight in 843 YSD (when the city of Falcon's Reach was destroyed by a Sheogh Demon army and the Falcon dynasty became extinct), the ambitious yet honorable Duke Ivan Griffin strove to maintain law and order in the war-torn empire in a series of bloody battles with rival nobles, most notably the treacherous madman, Duke Seamus of the Stag Duchy. Soon a decade civil war, the Ten Year War, nearly brought the empire to ruin. Victory in these conflicts won Ivan the imperial throne, which he ruled thenceforth from the Griffin family seat of Talonguard, the Empire's new capital. In doing so, the Empire was rechristened as Holy Griffin Empire itself.
Fires of Grimheim Edit
After five years of rebuilding, Emperor Ivan was able to stabilize his kingdom from a decade of civil war, tensions began to rise with the empire's northern neighbor, the dwarven kingdom of Grimheim. Though the emperor was prepared to go to war once more to protect his people, he knew that another global conflict could bring an end to the empire. Soon, Vilma "Stoneshield" Bjornsdottir, leader of the Sudgerd Dwarves, came to Ivan's court as an ambassador, hoping to prevent such an escalation.
Vilma explained the situation to Emperor Ivan, she claimed that the Dwarven King, Tolghar, didn't want a war either and the attacks came from independent Warbands. The reason why Tolghar hadn't denounced the rogue dwarves was because then he would be admitting his own weakness in controlling them, something a dwarf would never do. Vilma recalled the tale of Tolghar's predecessor, Hathor, and his actions that led to this moment, hoping that Emperor Ivan would come to understand Tolghar's predicament. Vilma's tale of Hathor stretched back to the War under the Mountains with the Dark Elves. Though Hathor led the Dwarves to victory and rose to become King Under the Mountains, his rule was fierce and iron-gripped, refusing to parlay with allies and instead take what his people needed. His philosophy of the strongest ruling led to conflicts with the Elves of Irollan and the Holy Falcon Empire, conflicts that neither kingdoms have forgotten nor forgiven.
As Hathor's rule continued, the Sacred Fires within the Temples of Arkath slowly died out, leaving the lands of Grimheim a frozen wasteland. Many understood that Arkath was angry with his children but didn't know why. Some believed it was because of the dwarves' weakness, but a few believed it was Hathor's ways that enraged their god. Those who believed the latter were exiled. Soon enough, rebels united against Hathor but found an even greater threat. A demon plot that sought to break open the largest gate to Sheogh with the aid of the Dark Elves under Sylsai, of which Arkath was attempting to warn his children. Hathor was assassinated, as he possessed the runic key to the gate, leaving the dwarves leaderless. Vila, Kari and newly allied Tolgahr joined forces to stop the Dark Elves, succeeding in doing so as well as killing Sylsai. For his heroism, Tolghar was named king but those who still believed in Hathor's ways refused to acknowledge the new king, leading to the formation of the rogue Warbands, led by Hathor's daughter Aslaug. Tolghar didn't want to confront Aslaug because doing so would plunge Grimheim into a horrible civil war.
Now knowing and understanding the problem Tolghar was facing, Ivan agreed to meet with the Mountain king on his terms to discuss a treaty. During the travel, Aslaug launched a surprise assault to control or destroy the resources Ivan needed. Gathering allies and earning their trust and respect, Emperor Ivan begins to dismantle Aslaug's armies and drive her back. In the final battle, Aslaug, refusing to surrender and admit defeat, commits suicide, leaving the Warbands leaderless and defeated.
With the rogue Warbands finally defeated, both Tolghar and Ivan agree to share the lands resources for the betterment of both kingdoms. Before returning to her home of Sudgurd, Ivan thanks her for her support in preventing a disaster. Peace, at last, returns to the Holy Griffin Empire.
Return of The Demons Edit
In 951 YSD, an inevitable war erupted between the Empire and the demonic Sheogh hordes. The result was that the Empire, along with the nation of Irollan and the Silver Cities, forged the Gray Alliance to counter the threat. Under the leadership of the Emperor Alexei Griffin, the Allies routed the demons from their respective nations and pursued them into the very underworld of Sheogh to inflict upon them a final, crushing defeat.
Whilst the emperor perished in battle, the legendary knight Tieru succeeded in rescuing the emperor's soul and safely containing it in a powerful artifact, a ruby pendant called the Heart of the Griffin. From that point onwards, the pendant would serve the imperial monarch as a powerful artifact for use against the forces of Sheogh. Alexei's heir, Nicolai, who succeeded his father at age 6, wore the pendant throughout his reign, and in his last moments bestowed it upon his appointed successor, Isabel.
The hard-won peace of the previous war, unfortunately, did not last very long. With the coming in 969 YSD of the Sixth Eclipse (a key part of the plot of Heroes Might and Magic V), the forces of Sheogh renewed their offense against the Empire, with a successful surprise assault on the very church in which the young king, Nicolai, was about to take Isabel, the Greyhound Duchess, to be his wife and queen. The attack struck at the heart of the Empire, throwing it into chaos, and separating King Nicolai and his bride-to-be.
Griffin's End Edit
The ensuing conflict, later known as Queen Isabel's War, would not only severely disrupt prosperity of the Empire and their allies during its duration, but would ultimately extinguish the Griffin dynasty itself.
With another change of dynasty, the Empire will likely now be rechristened again. Having no children of her own, Queen Isabel has abdicated the throne and declared Freyda, the Unicorn Duchess, as her principal heir, along her spouse, Duncan, of the ducal House of Stag, who is rumored to be a distant descendant of the old Falcon dynasty. Following imperial custom, the Empire should now be renamed the Holy Unicorn Empire. Isabel's choice of heir may also signal that henceforth the primogeniture will be matrilineal.