Pileus was an ancient empire, established in the Second Age, about 9000 PN. It was founded by Pileus the Wise, a Cloud Giant Diviner.
Much of Avantarra was peopled only by monsters, and those Giants who were still finishing the world. Pileus realized his work was finished, and led his clan of Giants to build themselves a beautiful city in the center of Avantarra. Many other Giant-folk joined Pileus during his long and peaceful reign. Every kind of Giant built their own city around Pileus' city, but his own people - Cloud Giants - gathered in far larger numbers than any other folk.
After 7,000 PN, the Skosian and Naduumian peoples were scattered around the many lands. Thousands came to Avantarra. At first the refugees were welcomed, but they demanded homelands of their own. The Emperors of Pileus tried to push the newcomers to the frontier, but few wanted to settled the hard lands at the edge of civilization. The began to settle where they wished, and conflict broke out when they tried to move them.
The Giants of Pileus tried to keep order; and managed - barely - for almost four thousand years. Races were moved and moved again. Many passed beyond the border of the Empire, or settled on the edges as the Empire shrank around them. Steadily, the power of the Giants waned.
The greatest tragedy occurred in 3801 PN, when the last Emperor, Garus, attempted to move a million Dwarves from the heart of the Empire - where they were over-hunting the game reserves - the outer boundary. Frost Giant guards were used to herd the Dwarves, and the cruel drovers marched half of them to death. They became foes of the Empire and Giants in general, settling in distant mountains, holding hard grudges.
This caused other races to violently rebel rather than be force-marched. Overwhelmed by the magnitude of the tragedy he had ordered, Garus committed suicide, and the Pileusian Empire fragmented. Besieged on all sides by more numerous smaller races, the Giants slowly retreated to remote enclaves, or were driven away from Avantarra altogether.
The Pileusian Empire covered most of Avantarra at its height. The terrain varied greatly over time, as the giants altered it to suite their purposes; raising mountains, cutting valleys, moving rivers, and forming lakes.
In the north winters are savagely cold, but in the south, mild. The opposite is true of the summer heat.
The Pileusians cared little for the sea, as it was the domain of their cousins, the now rare Sea Giants. However, many of the other races came to the Empire to trade, so there were a few massive port cities.
The most common folk of the Empire were Cloud Giants, though all Giant races were represented (including many who have not been seen in many years). Ansvar were the second most common Giant, often living in the country while their larger cousins build massive cities.
Pileus was a loose association of families, governed by Patriarchs. These Patriarchs formed Councils, which sent a single Speaker to the Capital to the Conclave of Speakers. One among the Conclave would be elected Emperor upon the death of the previous ruler.
The Pileusians dressed simply; togas, sandals and laurel wreaths. Simple fabrics, with gigantic furs for cold weather.
Giant (Avantarran) is very common because of the great influence of the Pileusian Empire.
Worship is almost exclusively devoted to the Elemental gods.
Temples and other structures are of course quite large, and often had amazing features, such as actual waterfalls or active lava vents in them. The Giants of Pileus could shape the world while it was young, and did so out of reverence for their creators.
The most signifiant religous figure was Magnumordus, Chosen of Ulf. He died about 5550 PN, but not before writing 'The plan of settlement' which convinced the current Emperor to settle many of the smaller races in the lands they still dwell in today. He was seen as a good Giant and is still spoken kindly of in the history of most races, even Dwarves, who claim he was not a Giant at all, but Thwrm, the Avatar of Ulf himself, sent in disguise to protect them.
Pileus was governed by an Electoral Empire; representative of the loal Giant folk. It was a very stable system, lasting for nearly seven thousand years of slow decline.
Speakers, or Patriarchs governed local affairs, while protection was afforded by the warbands of the Patriarch's family.
The Giants of Pileus were isolationists. They had made paradise, and wanted to be left alone in it.
Pileus was defended by family warbands. Each major family fielded its own armed bands of Giants, called a Thunder. Many Thunders together were called a Storm. Pileus never needed more than a single Storm.
Many Giants can do magic themselves, and as world-shapers they were intimately familiar with magic.
Arcane and Divine magi was very common, and quite powerful. Elemental magic especially.
The most reknowned mage of Pilues was Alamadea, Witch of the Winds. She was a powerful Witch who lived at the fall of the Empire. It is said she veiled the last of the beautiful Cloud Giant cities behind mists, to hide them forever.
Most of the major cities of the Pileusian Empire are long since fallen into ruin. Since they *made* good city sites, lesser races came after them and built on the foundations the Giants left. So many important cities in Avantarra are build on Pileus' foundations.
That said, the Captial of Cirrusol was never found by the lesser races, and Cloud Giants are said to dwell there still, among its deep cold lakes and forested hills.
The ten cities surrounding Cirrusel were each the home of a different tribe of giant - Frost, Fire, Storm, Stone. The remnants of these cities still exist, and are the strongholds of their kind on Avantarra to this day. They are scatted around central Avantarra.
The Giants were always uncomfortable with the smaller races. The Sea Elves they liked best, because they stayed to their seas and ships and did not bother them overmuch. The Dwarves and Humans were always a problem - unruly and demanding. Orcs were the worst, for in those days they were all violent and untrustworthy. None of the other races were well liked by the Pileusian Empire.
Building was the most admired skill in the Empire, with fighting and magic only serving to protect what they had.