So he can change shape, that explains the earlier question. "That's how your magic works, then? Different powers for each shape?"
"As for the war... You currently stand on Cialin territory." He leans over the table, brushing the world map and local map to the side to reveal the map of Cialin, pointing to the location of the fort, "This is Fort Kiat," he says, "And this is where the battle you came upon was," he taps the rough spot. "This map shows the current borders, though really our claim goes to here," the borders cover perhaps a quarter of the largest continent, but the line he makes with his finger covers over half of it.
"Independent nations used to cover all of Cian, this continent, but anyone who is free of the Empire has turned to Cialin for protection over the past few centuries. The Empire stretches over the western continent, Tor, and most of Cian. They've also been making headway in the Island Alliance to the south," he taps the huge archipelago to the south of the sea between the two continents on the world map.
"The background here is... about thirty years after the reemergence of magic, which happened 300 years ago, the Empire formed and began conquering surrounding territory. The first Emperor was a straightforward conqueror - as far as history and those alive at the time can tell us, he simply wanted to control the world, and had the power and charisma to make the attempt. He took most of Tor in his lifetime.
"Some of his successors have been conquerors as well, and some peacemakers, but none were as successful as the first or the current one.
"We're not sure why the current Emperor began conquering territory again," he says, "He was peaceful for the first five years of his rule, focussing on politics mostly. Then he very suddenly started mounting attacks on the borders and taking land as quickly as possible.
"We do our best to defend our borders, but the Arming Empire is so large and populous that it's not an easy task."