The Western Provinces are the sparsely-populated military frontier of the empire of Rephsis. Arid and difficult to defend, these underdeveloped lands are under threat from barbarians.
The area was originally uninhabited aside from a few barbarian tribes. Its coasts, however, were rich whales. Trade outposts were established around 750 BC, but were generally unprofitable due to barbarian raids. The region became prosperous when the Seven Western Provinces military frontier was established in the fourth century BC, and the province's cities experienced a boom in their population.
When the whales disappeared from the oceans the provinces fell into a steep decline. In 20 AD an envoy sent by the emperor in Rephsis found that not only had the cities ceased to exist but that there was no trace of their existence. Villagers of the surrounding areas were ignorant, and it was determined that they had no knowledge that there had ever been cities in their area, even when they should have been only five miles away.
With no cities and no financial base, the Western Provinces were put under the command of a High Protector, appointed directly from Rephsis and reporting directly to the Emperor. After seven hundred years the current High Protector is Tertullian, a celebrated Corrinan legionary commander who served in the Revolt at Thiuginaz.
Tertullian is a stern man, loyal to a fault to the Empire - although not necessarily to the Emperor himself. Years of defence against barbarian incursions have left their toll on the frontier, and the lands he rules directly lack the dense population required for its upkeep. As such, the High Protector requires a steady stream of manpower from the rest of the Empire. Too high and Tertullian may feel like using his force on other targets, but too low and the borders of the Empire itself will be in jeopardy.