When Antorio Casse emerged from Baegnolia into the southern reaches of what is now known as Nordest, his only allies were two mule drivers, sick from poor weather, and a headstrong but powerful priestess of Inanna, Azira. Now that he was certain he'd made his way to the lands of his dreams, he allowed himself a moment to rest, and the four travelers found shelter in the rocky badlands of the south for the night. Unfortunately, during their trip through the desert the weather had warmed, and Casse found out that Nordest had at least one thing in common with Baegnolia: a hearty hobgoblin population.
The group managed to evade the hobgoblins by moving north and west, away from the mountains and down toward a grassy plain, a hasty trip that took only days. Looking out at the vast expanse of grass with no hiding places to speak of, Casse despaired, knowing that there were at least twenty or so goblin and hobgoblin scouts on their trail. But soon Azira noticed that there were signs of human life here as well. Moving them quickly north, Azira found more and more signs of nomadic humans--but she was almost too late in her deduction. The goblinoids had followed them onto the plain.
Casse would later tell an embellished version of this story that grew more colorful over the years, but ultimately the doomed party was saved by Moren grasslander scouts who had been stalking the goblinoids. Peering up suddenly from the tall grass, the Moren struck the goblinoids down in one swift attack. They extended a hand of help to the newfound humans, though the nomads seemed puzzled by the newcomers. Unable to communicate in any meaningful way, Casse and his hirelings found themselves bound in service to a small tribe of Moren, and remained their servants for several weeks. They were fed well and their maladies were healed by an herbal genius who went from clan to clan. The tribe traversed the grasslands, allowing their goats and sheep to graze while foraging for late winter plants and marking their territories and passage. Azira began to document the signs that the Moren used to signify their passage, and to interpret the messages left by other tribes. Meanwhile, Casse did his best to study the Moren language, and by the beginning of Spring he was finally able to have a very basic conversation with them. Now that the nomads knew Casse was not an invader but rather an explorer, they were welcoming and offered to take him to a trade meet.
Southwest of Casse by perhaps a day's ride, there still sits a trading post where Moren tribes meet several times a year. It was here that the tribe's leader, Katha, brought Casse's group. He stayed there for weeks, a free and healthy man once again, and learned all he could about the lands. He was disappointed to find that there were no precious metals that anyone was aware of, as they did not venture off the grass. He did learn of the Saline Basin tribes though, and of the dwarves who traded with the tribes from the north. He was immediately thrilled to hear of dwarven activity, and when he was able he left the two mule drivers behind to convalesce and made his way north with a group of Moren who wished to trade with several tribes who operated a trading post on the site of what is now Nord. In many ways, Nord was the first city established as a result of the Expedition, as the dwarves there were pleased at the notion of doing business with Imperials.
It has been speculated by many that Antorio and Azira entered into a romance during their travels north, as these sections of Casse's journal have been destroyed. It's also extremely possible that she initiated him into the mysteries of Inanna. Whatever the case was, by the time they had reached Nord, Azira was both frightened and furious at the man she had worked so closely with, and the two parted ways. If the annals of the Furnig dwarven tribe are anything to go by, it was an explosive exit on her part, equal parts angry and fearful. Azira's departure seemed to take the wind out of Casse's sails, and when the dwarves arrived he arranged passage via teleportation back to Caer, the city the Imperials had built within Fianna to wage war against its inhabitants.
When Casse returned to Emilia the following month, he was hailed a hero by everyone except the members of the Consigliere who had bet against his success. Soon, a road was built north across Baegnolia, and it wasn't long before the new settlers discovered precious metals in the foothills of the eastern mountains. It also wasn't long before they found themselves in conflict--with elements of the Moren who disapproved of having their lands invaded and farmed, goblinoids and their orcish masters, and with the mysterious human barbarians who lived in the forests and mountains to the north of the province. The settlers persevered, and the Imperial army built Forts Alus and Saline--one to protect against the hobgoblin tribes that had harried Casse, and the other to protect the land from the hearty human raiders in the north. The army also helped build Casse, a city they used as a staging ground for an invasion into the Ceridwen grove and the Dannan coast which helped force the capitulation of the Fiannans.
Many words have been written about the Moren role in the settling of Nordest. It is hard to say to what degree they suffered or benefited from the Imperial settlements and mines. By the time anyone thought to document it, they had already been living alongside the settlers for over a century. The Basin Moren are a different story entirely of course--they've always limited their contact with other humans, including the Grassland Moren. It would seem they're difficult to make an impression on.
Casse returned to Nordest several times over the course of the rest of his life, but eventually settled down on an estate somewhere in the Sharkmaw Isles. Rumors still persist that there are strange artifacts from Baegnolia in his mansion, wherever it is. As for Azira, she returned to her life as an itinerant priestess, and eventually settled down as matron of the temple in Nalcira. She refused to speak of her time with the expedition, or what had driven her away from the man she had worked alongside.