Why conquering Sartar, Prax, and the Holy Country?
Once the pacification of Sartar was accomplished, troubles in distant Aggar drew much of the Provincial Army away, but the tribes remained quiet. Local troubled citizens were succored by sympathetic Teelo Norri priestesses. Lunar overseers began to hire the disenfranchised instead of trying to grab them as slaves (although their lot was little better either way). Chieftains who stubbornly clung to their Orlanthi ways, sent tribute and kept the opinions to themselves. The Lunars gathered their grain and sold it, collected a few tolls, and tried support trade and exploration ventures. But the expected riches from Sartar never materialized. The empire had hoped that conquering Prax in 1610 would result in greater trade, but by 1617, it was clear to Lunar merchants that the Praxian venture was interesting, but an economic failure, the distance to Prax and then downriver to Corflu was prohibitive to anything but the luxuries and exotic goods useful to magicians and nobles, but not likely to bring wealth to more than a handful. Another, more economic, route to the sea was sought, and everyone who invested in trade at all knew that the Holy Country must be the target.
Would it be cheaper to ship out of the white sea assuming ice did not block the route? Ice does block the route. Ice, terrible winds, trolls, ice demons, the lot. The Kalikos rites have tempered the winters of Peloria, but aren’t enough to make the White Sea navigable.
Note that the Lunars aren’t looking for a southern port for military purposes. They are looking for a port for trade purposes. Sartar is valuable because goods from overseas go through Sartar to get to Peloria. Think the Silk Road routes. But those goods all come from the Holy Country – that’s the port. That trade dries up with the conquest of Sartar.
Corflu was set up to be an alternate port under Lunar control. But it failed. So the Holy Country is invaded so that the Lunar Empire can have direct control over Karse and Nochet
It seems odd that the Lunars decided that they would bind Orlanth and Ernalda in a massive undertaking to get more trade goods! That’s what happens when a perfectly straightforward war of imperialistic conflict gets managed by Illuminated magicians descended from the Sun God.