Thursday, December 29, 2011

Plans for 2012

I did accomplish a lot of things in 2011, but on some level I always feel like I could have done more.  So here are my Unrealistic Goals for 2012:
1.    Get a book deal for Thorn of Dentonhill.  On some level, this is out of my hands.  I would really like to say 2012 is going to be my year for this to happen.  But the industry moves slow, and I need to be patient.  But fingers crossed.
2.    Finalize Holver Alley Crew, make that book deal as well.  Because we should either go big or go home, right?
3.    Final draft of Maradaine Constabulary.  Have Mike approve that and start selling it.  If we can get the hat trick with the book deals, all the better.  But that might be pushing, even in the dreams department.
4.    Finish Rough draft of Way of the Shield.  Because I need to have the new project working as well.  Move or die, just like a shark.  And with that, I’ll finish all four planned Heroes of Maradaine first books.
5.    Finish worldbuild and outline for Banshee and Starcrossed.  Knocking out a first draft wouldn’t suck, either.
6.    Outline/Worldbuild for one or more of the unnamed YA/Heroine/Steampunk projects.  Because I’ve got stuff rattling around in my skull that wants to get out.

In addition, I’ll be attending Boskone (just as an attendee, not as programming) and ArmadilloCon 34, including the Writers’ Workshop.  And there will probably be a few short plays written in that time as well.
So, that should keep me plenty bust for the next twelve months.

Monday, December 26, 2011

2011 in Review

This has been a good year for me, in terms of growing as a writer.  Honestly, I think every year since 2007 (which is probably the year I knocked the training wheels off an got serious about I'm Going To Be A Writer) has been an improvement.  But 2011 was a year with a few notable highlights:

First and foremost, there's acquiring Mike as my agent.  This has been such a joy and relief in my life this year.  I really am quite happy to have him in my corner.  Getting an agent has become such a huge (and sometimes insurmountable-seeming) step in the path to publication, I really can't express how glad I am to have moved up to the next step. 

And while I did have an excellent time attending the DFW Writers Con this past year (and would recommend the experience to those seeking agents), I'm glad I don't have to do that again.

This year is also when I decided to be diligent and post here on the blog every Monday and Thursday.  It's a project that's sometimes challenged me (I almost forgot that today was a Monday), but I've been pleased with the results.  It's built the regular readership, and driven traffic to my blog.  So that's been a good thing.

This was also my first year at ArmadilloCon in a panelist/professional capacity, as well as a coordinator and teacher for the Writers' Workshop.  This was a fantastic experience, and I do owe a lot of it to Stina Leicht.  She's been a fantastic source of moral support on this journey.

What else?  This year I have Thorn finished and shopping, Holver Alley Crew redrafted and (hopefully) ready to shop.  This year I also finished the draft of Maradaine Constabulary and will hope to have the revision ready to send to Mike in just a few weeks. I wrote a couple short plays, including Entropy, produced by Austin Scriptworks.

So it's been a pretty good year.  Fingers crossed for 2012 being even better.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

It's Thursday already?

Since 2011 is almost over, time for an update on State of the Writer.

From my last update:

  • Thorn of Dentonhill (Book 1 of Veranix series): Shopping.  I know it's at a few publishing houses right now. 
  • Holver Alley Crew (Book 1 of Holver Alley Crew series): A new finished, polished draft, based on notes from the agent.  I'll be sending that to him, plus synopses for potential second and third, in the near future.  
  • Maradaine Constabulary (Book 1 of Maradaine Constabulary series): Working hard on the second draft, which includes a significant change in one of the two main character's living/family situation.  I've decided if Minox comes from a long line of Constabulary men, then he needs a sizable amount of family who are either in or somehow adjacent to the city constabulary.  That includes tweaking an existing character to now being his cousin.
  • From Star to Star (Book 1 of Banshee series): As said before, I scrapped my old "USS Banshee" concept to something a bit stranger, and I like it, but I'm still in the plotting/outlining/worldbuilding phase of things.
  • The Way of the Shield (Book 1 of Vanguard series): I still have a full outline, and I've done some more detail work, and some initial writing.  I've hashed out the problems with the main character that were eluding me, so once I finish the aforementioned Maradaine Constabulary rewrites (mid-January, allergies willing), I'll be off to the races there.
Now, what else is there? All the previously mentioned scraps and ideas are still out there (Starstruck, Zodiac 13, Untitled YA Project), plus another high-fantasy big-picture idea that I'm only beginning the worldbuilding on, and the Untitled Steampunk/Spaceopera/Can'tDecide Project.  And, of course, Crown of Druthal is in the trunk.  Don't think it'll ever come out.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Interstellar Worldbuilding: You are who your neighbors make you

My space opera stuff is all still in its building and outlining phase, but every once in a while I do a big push of figuring stuff out.  And when I do, I always get a sense that the scope STILL isn't big enough.  For example, I've roughly defined the area within a 100ly radius of Earth (roughly 4.2 million cubic light years), which includes 4660 stars.  Off those, 1568 stars have planets, 361 of those have life of some sort, and 153 of those have intelligent life.  And of those 153, 71 have achieved interstellar travel by the year 2373. 

(Excel spreadsheets and some extreme dorkiness on my part are responsible for all this information.) 

One thing I asked myself is how one can apply the lessons from Guns, Germs and Steel on an interstellar scale.  It's a challenging thing to speculate, as how can you tell what resources will really make a difference on an interstellar scale?  Do germs really matter at all? 

But one thing that became clear as I mapped stuff out was this: who your interstellar neighbors are matters.  Because the technology difference between "capable of interstellar travel" and "not capable of interstellar travel" are so extreme, it would make Pizarro's defeat of the Incans seem like a balanced fight.  Once interstellar travelers come upon a planetbound species, what they decide to do defines the entire encounter.  If they're genocidal conquerors, then the planetbound species will be eliminated.  If their imperialists, then the planetbound species are now part of the empire, full stop. 

So I decided, for things to make sense to me, Earth's neighbors had to be preservationists.  They had to be of the mindset that when you encounter a lower-tech society, you might do a little clandestine research for the sake of science, but you otherwise leave them the hell alone.  Perhaps even a step further: they had to have just enough militant in them to draw a line and defend a defenseless species from an invading force. 

Using that knowledge helped me define our immediate neighbors, as well as humanity's role on the interstellar scene (which is more or less like a teenager who is smarter than he's wise on his first internship). 

Of course, the same logic applies when two interstellar species clash.  If you have one species with no respect for alien life who will commit acts of genocide without a moment's hesitation, then the species they come in contact with must devote themselves to defense.  They have no other choice. 

But it's more than just wars and genocide, of course.  You want alien species to work together and cooperate, or at least trade.  Because if you don't, how else can you get a cool cantina scene?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

All the Tools in the Box

I was reminded the other day about all the "rules" people like to quote at us, as writers, of how we should (or more often, should not) be writing. 

The "should not" is the crucial bit here, because far more often than not, these rules tend to be things not to do.  Which is all well and good, but I've noticed that rules that ought to be phrased "try to avoid too much..." or "be aware of..." become gospel from on high: THOU SHALT NOT.

Sometimes I love hearing people spout these "rules", because then it means it's relatively safe to discount other things they have to say. 

1. Thou shalt not use passive voice.  On the whole, this is sensible advice.  However, more often than not, the person giving it does not know what passive voice actually is.  Here's a hint: it is not when the gerund form of the verb is used (as in "the boys were walking down the street".) Or anything to do with verb tense or helper verbs.  Here's passive voice in a nutshell: when the object of the action is the subject of the sentence.  Take "the boys were walking down the street".  What the subject?  The boys.  What's the action?  Walking.    Who was walking?  The boys.  The subject is doing the action.  Active voice.  Passive voice would be, "The street was walked upon by the boys."    Subject?  The street.  But the action is done by the boys.  Got it?  Good.

2. Thou shalt not use 'to be' in any form.  I've heard it said that using forms of 'to be' is "weak writing".  But you know what's really weak writing?  The kind of convoluted verbal cartwheels I've seen to avoid a simple "to be" sentence.  Sometimes it pays to be concise.

3. Thou shalt not use 'said'.  I'm of the school of thought that 'said' is an invisible word.  People don't get caught up in its repetition.  True, if you have a two-person conversation, their dialogue should be distinct enough that you don't need to indicate the speaker at every line.  But when you do tag, 'said' is nice and innocuous.  I'd also rather tack an adverb onto 'said' every once in a while instead of having characters chortled, exclaimed, exuded, implied or, god forbid, ejaculated.  I do like, when appropriate, asked, answered, whispered, muttered, murmured and shouted.  But on the whole, said gets the job done.

4. Thou shalt not use adverbs.  Yes, sometimes adverbs can be over done, and using an adverb is used where a stronger verb would do a better job, but adverbs are a useful tool, and they are part of the language for a reason.

Here's the thing: I'm against any rule that's about keeping the tools stuck in the box.  The words and tools are there, used them.

Plus, can you actually name a book you love that REALLY follows these rules?

Monday, December 12, 2011

Worldbuilding: Cultural Perception Filters

My current worldbulding/research read is "Spice: The History of a Temptation" by Jack Turner.  It's a fascinating look at how the search for spices drove European exploration, as most of what we consider "spices" come from India and the Orient.  (This may also be a factor in why most Asian civilizations, while as technologically advanced as Europe, were not as interested in exploration: they already had the spices Europe was seeking out.) 

But something that captured my attention was this bit regarding Vasco de Gama's first voyage to India:

In his report to the king, de Gama painted a somewhat distorted picture.  Even now he was convinced that Hinduism was a heretical form of Christianity. After two months in the country, he seems to have concluded that the unmistakable polytheism of Hinduism was some sort of misconceived Trinity.

This fascinates me.  The idea that de Gama was so focused on Christianity being the only true faith that he couldn't even comprehend a culture having a truly different belief system is rather eye-opening.  I think this is an element I've not quite incorporated into my worldbuilding, at least not entirely.

I mean, I have plenty of examples of one culture seeing something another culture does, and thinking, "Well, that's ridiculous" or "That's heresy!"-- but it's another thing to be so deep in one's own blinders that they literally do not understand what the other culture does.  And that's a great tool to use, be it in fantasy or sf.

A great example is in Orson Scott Card's Speaker for the Dead.  It begins with a group of aliens doing something to a human being that is unspeakably horrific.  It's more than murder, it's purely gruesome.  But we find out later in the book, from their perspective, they were doing a great honor, and makes perfect sense given their biology.  They just didn't get that it works differently for us.  Nor does our way for them.  Card does interesting things with the ideas of "hierarchy of foreignness", definitely worth checking out. 
I've got a busy week, and indeed the rest of the year, ahead of me.  So off into the word mines I go.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Impatience: The Writer's Worst Enemy

I've written before about how e-publishing comes off as too easy, but what it really comes down to is impatience.

We're at the beginning of December, which means that NaNoWriMo (aka National Novel Writing Month) has just ended.  I don't have any figures or statistics, but I do know that agent querying spikes in the beginning of December, as people who have JUST FINISHED their sprinted masterpiece immediately try to put it to market.  And I would bet a minor appendage that e-pub "indie" books spike right around now as well.

And this is because people are impatient about getting their book "out there".  "Out there" now is more important than getting it right later.  And I know why.  You can't write a book without it being a labor of love, and then you have this thing that you have such deep and abiding love for, and you want to share it.  Right away.  Whether it's ready or not.

I get it.  A few years ago, I would have declared Fifty Year War or Crown of Druthal "ready", and had my impatience not been tempered with a strong desire to succeed via the traditional publishing path, I might well have forged ahead and gone straight to the indie publishing method.  And I would have failed with those, because those books were not ready.  They are now deep in a drawer.

Most of the time, when I read books for critiquing, I can tell they aren't ready, on a fundamental level of pure craft.  And I know of two that have been indie published recently, both times because the author insisted that they "didn't want to wait any longer". 

Added to this is what I call the "cult" of Indie Publishing.  There are success stories in indie/e-publishing, but then you get these proselytizers who insist since someone has succeeded doing it, that EVERYONE should do it and throw away the traditional publishing industry.  I'm just not on board with that.  But these cultists feed the beast of impatience.

But you know what?  Prove me wrong.  If you've got an indie/self-pubbed book that you think is FANTASTIC and will turn me around that this person was right, they didn't need to wait and grind the book through the system, than show me.  Let me know, and I'll give it a read, and talk about it on here. 

Monday, December 5, 2011

POV: The Ignition Timing of the Writing World

I should preface this entry by saying I know very little about auto repair or automotive engineering.  I probably could, say, change my oil or a possibly a spark plug, but beyond that, I'm at a loss.  If something's wrong with the car, I'll open the hood and look inside, by mostly that's to make sure that the engine is still there or there isn't a family of squirrels nesting inside or some other "THIS IS OBVIOUSLY THE PROBLEM" sort of situation. 

I say this so you all can understand, when I'm talking about ignition timing, I don't really know what it is.  Even though I looked it up and everything.  But that's kind of the point: this is technical stuff that is going on under the hood of the car that I just don't get, and neither do most people who drive their cars.   And they don't want to know, really.  They want their cars to work, and they care when it doesn't.  And sometimes they can even tell when something isn't quite right, but they don't know what... and the what is the ignition timing is off.  Possibly in minute ways that a layman like me can't quite put our fingers on, but we know something isn't right with how the engine is running.  But mechanics are probably very aware of it.  (Maybe.  It might be that most mechanics couldn't care less about it either.)

Point-of-view in writing, I think, is kind of like that.  Writers talk about POV a lot.  They worry about it, sweat over it, freak out if someone gets it wrong, etc. etc.  But I bet it's something readers who aren't writers don't notice all that much.

I mean, I'm sure the average reader knows and notices the difference between first-person and third-person POVs.  (Or in rare cases, second-person.)  But do they really notice-- or care all that much-- between third-person limited, multi-third-person-limited, or third-person-omniscient?  Do they notice when those POVs get violated?  And what is a POV violation, anyway?  I've had some critique readers ping me for that just when the POV character has too much insight on someone else's emotional state.  (Is there really any difference in POV from "Jane was angry" and "Jane's face was full of anger", for example?  The latter, of course, would be strange in Jane's POV, but either would work fine in, say, John's POV.)

At the same time, I do think readers notice something is wrong when your POV is done poorly, or breaks established rules.  Take for example, the Harry Potter books.  For the most part, the books are in limited third-person POV, namely Harry's.  There are a few times, notably in the early chapters of many of the books, where the POV is intentionally focused on someone else.  (My personal favorite being the Muggle Prime Minister in Half-Blood Prince.  I think it's a damn shame the movie version didn't have that scene, possibly with Hugh Grant reprising his role from Love, Actually.)    But there is one chapter-- the first Quidditch game in Sorcerer's Stone-- where the POV hopskotches between Harry and Hermione, and I've heard from plenty of readers that they knew something was off there but couldn't quite figure out what.

I'm, personally, a big believer in multi-third-person-limited.  I like having a broad canvas of whose head I can get into-- protagonist, villain, sidekick, underling.  Only in Maradaine Constabulary did I intentionally limit myself, only allowing the POV to be Katrine or Minox.  Though I didn't force that into a structure, always alternating each chapter or such.  I don't think I could have pulled that off.

Speaking of, I'm in the process of editing and re-writing that, so back down to the word mines I go.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Now December is Upon Us

Which means no more Druth History Month.  We hadn't actually reached the end of Druth History-- there's still 215 more years to go.  (Thorn of Dentonhill, Holver Alley Crew and the rest of the Maradaine stories take place in the year 1215.)  However, I've come to realize that I need to do a serious overhaul of the Eleventh and Twelfth Centuries, especially with the Reunification.

See, in Druth history, 1009 is a Pretty Big Year, like 1066 for England or 1776 for America.  The splintered kingdoms come back together as one nation, Druthal, but in the history as I currently have it written, I gloss over that process somewhat.  And I don't want to gloss it over. 

Part of that comes from the ideas I have for Vanguard, as Dayne (the protagonist) is a Druth History buff.  And an early action sequence takes place at the opening of a new museum by the Royal Historical Society.  (Yes, it will be exciting, even if it takes place in a museum.)  The point is, the finer points of Druth history, especially regarding the Reunification, needs more detail work.  And in some places, just plain rewriting.

In other news, I've finished the Holver Alley Crew rewrite, and once my beta people give it a once-over to make sure I didn't keep writing "through" when I mean "threw" (a sloppy mistake I make far too often-- it's totally a writing-on-autopilot thing), then I'll send it off to the agent.  I'm now working on the re-write of Maradaine Constabulary, which is going well enough for now.  I'd love to have that done before the year is over-- especially since January cedar pollen tends to turn my brain into tapioca.  And then I can devote the beginning of 2012 to finishing the rough draft of Vanguard.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Druth History Month, Part 4

Previously, under the incompetent reign of Shalcer, Druthal splinters into several smaller nations, including the democratic Acoria, and the nation of Oblune under the ruler of Warlord Merit Terkin

Now, the Eighth through Tenth Centuries

Eighth Century
Shalcer focuses all his attention on the lands closest to Maradaine, and as a result Southern Druthal gets ignored in all respects.  Many lords realize that Druthal is no more and see opportunity they make a grab for power and land.  In 700, many of the counties secede and form new nations, grasping on to old cultural identities: Shielik, Nalat, Limarra, Oscina, Tivark and southern Ciolsan become Scaloi; Siltana, Briyon, Jierre and Henitan become Monim; Cijana, Amalade and northern Ciolsan become Linjar; Nirado, Stalakae and Resechet become Yinara.  Kesta, like Brellin, becomes its own state.

In 704 the Kierans call a meeting of Trade, realizing that most of their treaty and trade agreements are signed with Druthal, and are therefore void for all intents and purposes.  As a Trade Convention, it is a dismal failure, being nine new nations represented and quite a lot of bad blood between them all.  Kieran politicians use this to their best advantage, pitting the various new leaders against each other, who have no idea that they are being used, but rather think that their new Kieran “friends” are helping them.  Warlord Preceptor Korit Hiekar discommendates Terkin from the Order, which results in Terkin declaring war on Monim (as Hiekar was from Vargox).  Acoria declares war upon Patyma; Scaloi upon Linjar.  Shalcer declares war on all the new nations, saying he will reclaim Druthal, and pledges that the Orders will help him.

The Preceptors are wary on committing themselves to Shalcer, as they know that their members owe allegiance to various different kingdoms and lords.  When the Preceptors and Grandmasters meet in private, it is decided to not involve the Orders in these internal wars.  Vanguard Preceptor Alamarkin states, "In these dark years ahead, We shall be the ties that bind the Trade Nations together.  The Orders must place themselves in light of the greater good, and we must place ourselves above any nation, any king, any emperor and even any God who strives against the light.  Each man of the orders shall decide for himself which fights he lends his arm to, as his honor decrees, but our pledge is to the Order first."

Thus in 705 the Wars of Possession, possibly the bloodiest period in Druthalian history, begin.  The first stage of this is The River Wars. The rivers, specifically the Maradaine and its source rivers (The Waish and the Oblune) controlled the land, Shalcer and others reasoned.  The mouth of the Maradaine was controlled by Druthal (or Druthalia Proper, as Shalcer had dubbed it), and Shalcer imposed an embargo on all ships trying to go further inland, seizing their contents, as well as ransacking any ship, armed or not, that came from inland.

Also, the rivers formed most of the new borders, and as many of these new kings and lords were feeling expansionist, to push ones border one must have control of the river.  Therefore, many battles were fought on the water, which required boats and ships.  For both Oblune and Monim, this was a considerable problem, as neither nation had an appreciable shipyard.  Their boats were rather poor, and their tactics were limited to ramming the enemy, which usually resulted in both boats involved sinking.

In 706 an army from Waisholm landed on the north shores of Patyma, and made a march directly for Maradaine.  However, the Patymic army tore apart this invading force, whose single-minded march made them extremely vulnerable.  The army wore no colors of clan and the Waish king and Clan Lords denied all knowledge of it.

In 712 Ian Acorin dies, and the Republic elects Mikael Canar to the seat of Republic President.  Canar is an effective administrator, who craves peace above all else.  He sends emissaries to Patyma to end their war.  At this point, the body count of the River Wars is enormous.  However, no one nation is in any better of a position than when they started. 

Shalcer dies in 719, heralded as "Shalcer, Idiot King of Druthalia Proper".  His only son, Malceen, is complete moron, barely possessing the ability to speak in complete sentences, let alone to rule.  What remains of the royal court sequesters Malceen away and places his second cousin Cedidore on the throne.  King Cedidore (719-754) was brilliant and efficient as a ruler, but was regrettably quite insane.  He has no interest in reclaiming Druthal or making war with the new nations.  He did, however, begin a massive campaign of conscription and mobilization, to the end of completely sealing the borders of Druthalia proper.  King Alasar of Kesta declares neutrality in the Possession wars when it becomes clear that Oblune, Monim and Yinara had been eyeing Kesta as a means against each other.  King Terkin II of Oblune heads a massive assault on Vargox, which is almost completely burned to the ground.

In Druthalia 722, Cedidore begins "cleansing" his nation by executing any non-Druthalians found.
This is also the year of "The Salt War".  Convinced that Kestan neutrality is a lie, and that Kesta is truly allied with Oblune, Monic forces march through the salt flats into Kesta.  The Monics have superior numbers in the fights, but when they meet the Kestans they are weakened by their march through the hostile climate.  There are five battles total, during which both sides almost completely destroy each other.

By 723 Cedidore decides that Corvia is not worth protecting or having, as it has little of value and is too separated from the rest of Druthalia.  Four ships leave Kyst for Corvia, filled with refugees.  Once they are gone, Cedidore declares that no more ships will leave Druthal ever, nor will any dock again.  He seals the border-- no trade, no entry or exit for any reason.  Thus begins The Quarantine.  The true degree of Cedidore's insanity is clear, but to the dismay of potential usurpers, he is too prepared for anyone to be able to remove him from the throne.  He is oddly charismatic, and he has manipulated the army so members of it are fanatically loyal to him.  Druthalia Proper is now a militant state.
In 728 the Pathfinder and Underbrush clans both start a war with Acoria.  Acorish President Canar tries to send emissaries to the clans rather than fight.  This proves ineffective.  Canar tries to give lands to the Waish to appease them.  The Waish take the lands, and start to fill them up with soldiers, primed to move forth.

The next year King Yar of Brellin notes the ease in which the Waish took the Acorin land.  He takes his forces into Acoria up to the Waish River, slaughtering thousands of Acorins.  Canar tries offering money to Yar, which he takes, but the Brellic forces do not leave.  Canar sends word to any allies Acoria may have to help him.  The Kierans send relief troops to Acoria to help remove the Brellic forces from Acoria.  The Kierans will not help remove the Waish troops, since Acoria ceded that land to the Waish. 

In 732 Canar dies in his sleep.  Some Acorin officials suspect foul play, but it is never followed up on.  Rafael Parrin becomes President.  Parrin is not the peacemaker the Canar was, and he pushes retaking the territory lost to the Brellics.  Acoric and Kieran troops march against the Brellic troops.  The Brellin Army is joined with forces from Jastam.  The Waish clans move in as well. The assaults are brutal, and in the end, the city of Talite is burned to the ground. 

The Kierans follow strict adherence to the Trade Nations Treaties, and refuse to send any troops into Brellin.  As the Acorin troops march into Brellin, the Kierans enter Jastam, since their violations give the Kierans right to enter their territory.

Meanwhile, a refugee from the Opiskan territory in Druthalia Proper has reached Yin Mara, having escaped the Quarantine.  He reports that food supplies are all rounded up and brought to the major cities, while thousands starve in the countryside.  He begs for help for Opiska to be free from Cedidore’s tyranny.  These pleas were mostly ignored except by a Vanguard named Lotain.  Lotain convinced the Yinaran King that he would sneak into Opiska, observe the conditions, and give an objective report for the King to base any decision on.

At this point, The wars between Linjar and Scaloi continued unabated. 

The Acorins lay siege on Gorivow in 737.  The city holds for a short while, but soon the defenses fail.  However, before the Acorins can enter the city, a diplomatic contingent of Kierans arrive asking that they not further assault the city.  Rather, they will arrest and try King Yar for War Crimes.  The Acorins balk at first, but the Kierans remind them that they enjoy good relations with the Kieran Empire due to their abiding by the tenets of the Trade Nations Treaties and the Rules of War.  The Acorins relent, and King Yar is tried and found guilty.  Brellin is forced to pay reparations, and Brellin and Jastam are considered “Dominions of the Empire”, as terms of the trial.  Kierans leave an “Administrative Force” behind to govern the regions.

In 740 Lotain returns to Yinara from Druthalia, have barely escaped.  His report of the horrors under Cedidore’s rule (which is graphic and thorough) shocks, astounds and horrifies the Yinaran court.  People are starving, arrested on a whim, tortured and executed for little cause.  The king of Yinara, Essa, decides to try and free the Opiskan territory from Cedidore.  The Yinaran forces mobilize.

For ten years, the Druthalian/Yinaran War progressed no further.  The Yinarans attempts to occupy any part of Opiska last for only a few days before they get pushed back again.

The northeast settles down, with a Kieran “peacekeeping force” (which very carefully never violates a single treaty) keeping the Waish in line. During this time, Acoria flourishes.

The Scallic/Linjari War rages on, with no sign on the horizon for settlement or victory.

Kestans break their neutrality and join the Yinarans in freeing Opiska in 754.  Cedidore himself, while being almost 70 years old, rides to Opiska to “Show the fools how to fight!”  It’s clear that he is quite insane, but he is a capable warrior.  He leads the charge against the combined Kestan and Yinaran force.  The Druths are beaten, and Cedidore is killed.

His eldest son takes the throne, and the title Cedidore II (754-787), claiming that the Cedidores are the “New Maradaines of a New Druthal”.  He is just as charismatic and fanatical as his father, but he sees a hopeless cause for what it is.  Cedidore II also has five brothers, whom he gives key positions and titles to, helping to secure his place in the government.  He withdraws from Opiska, and begins building the “Druthal Wall”, a forty-foot high wall that surrounds the entirety of the nation (even though most of its borders were marked with great rivers—Cedidore II also has the bridges destroyed).  This project is finished shortly before the end of his reign.

The nation of Free Opiska is formed, with the aid of Kesta and Yinara.  The three nations sign a mutual alliance pact.  The Kierans also send aid.

The Druthal Wall being well underway, the other nations see fit to leave Druthal well enough alone.  By 765, the western part of what once was Druthal settles down into a relatively calm area.  The Kierans sense an opportunity, and send out emissaries to the various new nations, offering to make trading agreements, build and repair roads, and send in “Peace Patrols” to protect the roads and trade caravans.  Kesta, Yinara and Free Opiska accept these offers.

The east begins to settle as well, as the war between Monim and Oblune cools, but does not end.  Both sides line the Oblune River with soldiers and siege engines (which the Kierans sold to both sides), so that any attempt to cross the river is fatal.  This effectively ends active hostilities.  The city of Monitel, high in the Briyonic Mountains, is isolated by these actions, having relied on the river to ferry its mined goods to Vargox and Marikar.  Although Monitel was technically part of Monim, when goods stop coming from there, it is virtually forgotten.

When Cedidore II dies in 787, his son takes the throne as Cedidore III (787-792).  Cedidore III is a raving lunatic of a tyrant, however he is completely lacking in charisma and therefore destroys the loyalty from the military that his father and grandfather built up.  Without this protection, the other Druthalian lords remove him from the throne in short order and execute him.  In an effort to retain some royal continuity, they give the crown to Lord Mishral, grandson of Cedidore by his third son. 

King Mishral (792-799) seems to lack the madness that ran in his cousin’s line.  His short reign concentrated on rebuilding the damage done by the Cedidores, improving the condition of the common man.  Unfortunately, while personally visiting a particularly devastated farming village, and mob of angry peasants, blaming him for their situation (for they only knew that the King had done this to them, and he was the King), attacked the King’s train and stoned Mishral to death.  His son, Mishral II (799-808) continued to work for his father’s goals.

By the end of the eighth century, the Scallics and the Linjari were still fighting their war.  The war had gone on for five generations, and the original goals of the war had long been forgotten, both side now possessing an intense blind hatred for the other.

Ninth Century
Mishral II had never been healthy, and over the course of his reign he almost never sets foot outside the royal palace in Maradaine.  He also proved unable to father a child.  When he finally died in 808, his successor had already been chosen.  Mishral took part in the choosing, though many lords found fault in it.  The new king was Duke Halitar of Delikan, who was eligible due to being Cedidore’s great-great grandson (by Cedidore’s fourth son).  When historians point out that there had already been a King Halitar, he takes the throne as King Halitar II (808-815).

Both he, and later his son, focus one rebuilding what is left of Druthal as a strong nation.  Halitar III (815-831) has Druthal build ships again, contacting those on Corvia.  To a limited degree, he re-opens trade routes, as Druthal still controls the best source of wool.  Some of those prime wool sheep are raised outside the city of Erien, near the border of Patyma.  As it is a valuable commodity, the Patymics send their army in, trying to claim all the wide pastureland that the Druths control north of the Patyma River.  Halitar III leads the Druth army against them.  Starting in 826, the Druth and Patymics gain and lose control over Erien, the city crumbling around them, for several years.  Then in 831 the king is killed defending the city.

Halitar III had no sons, and the various lords were primed to pick a new king, and several candidates began politicking and backstabbing to gain the throne.  Some thought they could increase the legitimacy of their claim by marrying Halitar’s daughter, Mara.  Mara was not interested in any suitors, and announced that she would claim the throne for herself.  Some lords considered this a joke, but Mara, who had learned the art of swordplay from her father, showed the lords that she was not to be laughed at by disemboweling several of them in the Council chambers.  The rest quickly crowned her Queen Mara (831-838). 

Mara pushed the authority of the crown to its limits, as she herself took charge of the Druth army at Erien.  The soldiers were at first reluctant to follow her, but she showed that she also had a keen tactical mind, and under her command, they routed the Patymics.

Her rule did get her many enemies though, most notably Lord Ferrick of Abernar.  Lord Ferrick, at first covertly and then openly, attacked the legitimacy of her rule.  He did this, though, by challenging the legitimacy of Halitar II’s claim to the throne.  Ferrick himself also descended from Cedidore, through the second eldest son (though it was not a straight male line), and therefore by all rights his family should hold the royal position.  His supporters grew, and eventually rose up against Queen Mara.  Mara refused to give up the throne, fighting to the last.  According to legend, she defended the throne room in the Royal Palace, killing twenty knights before she was slain, and she died on the throne still holding her sword.

And thus Ferrick (838-861) was made king.    Despite the bloody beginnings of it, his rule was quite benign and enlightened.  Druthal’s peaceful relations with the power bloc of Kesta, Opiska and Yinara allowed for increased trade.  Druthal also negotiated with various Fuergan and Imach traders, creating diplomatic enclaves at the harbors of Kyst and Maradaine, which made those ports more attractive for foreign ships than Lacanja or Yoleanne.  The shipyards of Kyst worked to build up a strong Druth Navy.

The situation in the east began to become active again.  The Ringfire Clan of Waisholm claimed that Acoria was their ancestral home, and since a Ringfire now sat on the Waish throne, the clans
all came together and attacked Acoria.  The army of Acoria was in no way prepared for the full might of Waisholm, and the entire country was overrun in 845.  Several hundred refugees took to fishing vessels to escape the Waish, traveling along the northern coast and then turning south until they eventually landed on one of the northernmost Napolic islands, where they formed New Acoria.

The Kierans then declared war on Waisholm for these actions.  They pulled out all of their “peacekeeping” legions from the west and Kellirac to attack the Waish in Acoria.  The Waish responded to the Kierans, and soon the two nations were fully at war with each other.

Through the 850’s, the Scallics and the Linjari became unable to continue their war, as both sides were so utterly drained of resources and men from the effort.  The border between the two was called “The Wall of Bones”, for it was literally a barrier made of eight generations of their dead.  Acserians send relief to both nations in exchange for a cessation of hostilities.  The two nations agreed, and the Acserians came with relief, food, and the word of God, all of which they spread throughout the two nations. 

By the reign of Ferrick II (861-883) the Acserian church had taken a strong hold of the Scallic people.  It had also spread into southern Monim, as well as into Kesta and Yinara.  In Linjar, in didn’t take as strong a hold, as the Linjari loved what the Acserians would call “sin and hedonism”.  Eastern trade is disrupted when the Tyzanian Empire falls apart, throwing its entire continent into turmoil.

It was during the reign of Ferrick III (883-903) that the institution of slavery (as is allowed by Acserian doctrine) came back into fashion in Scaloi and the southern parts of Monim, usually using Linjari for slaves.  The people in northern Monim were appalled by this and in 892 they broke off from the southerners, creating North Monim.  Since a majority of the Monic army was northern, they were able to effectively create and guard the border.  They declare the practice of Acserianism to be illegal in North Monim.

Tenth Century
Acserianism has a hold on all of the people of the west, with the exception of Linjar and Opiska, when Ferrick IV (903-915) comes into power.  The real test of this comes in 907, when Allynum, an extreme member of the Fundamentalist side of the Church, is elected Rei.  He passes a number of anti-magic and anti-tolerance laws in Acseria, and a number of the Druth nations follow suit.  Druthal itself does not, as Ferrick IV is not a believer in Acserianism.  A large number of the Druth people are amongst the faithful, though, and there is a growing feeling that the king does not speak with the voice of authority since he has no faith in God.  The people rally around Kellith, second cousin to Ferrick, and a vocal proponent of the Acserian faith.  Faced against this, Ferrick abdicates the throne and exiles himself to Corvia.  Kellith takes the throne and the people rejoice, although later most historians would call him Kellith the Cruel (915-934).

Kellith immediately declared that Druthal would again be a whole nation, starting with the heathens of Opiska.  The Druth Army thundered into Opiska.  Both Kesta and Yinara then declared war on Druthal, although they did not ally themselves together.  Opiska became the burning battleground for their three-way war.  Kellith also would take any opposition to his orders, even to the point of slight disagreement, as a challenge to his power, and since he was on the Druth throne by the divine right of God, it was a challenge of God, and therefore heresy.  Heretics, by his decree, were to be tortured and crucified.  The Druth nobility quickly took up the policy of staying quiet.

Since the Druth attention was focused in the south, Erien and the surrounding countryside was left undefended.  In 919 the Patymics moved in on this opportunity, capturing the territory with almost no resistance.  Patyma, Oblune and North Monim also signed a mutual defense treaty, as the Waish/Kieran war had now spilled over into Brellin and Kellirac.  The Kings of these three nations also affirmed that the Rei of Acseria would get no foothold in their countries, and the northwest became the only safe area for free thinkers and practicing mages.

In 934 Kellith and several of his close advisors die during dinner, which was obviously poisoned.  His son takes the throne as Kellith II (934-938), and various lords persuade him that he is needed on the war front.  He goes, giving the group of lords who were plotting against the line of Kellith some latitude.  They wished to remove him from the throne, but needed a suitable replacement that the people would accept without hesitation.  As they discuss in secret, a breakthrough is reached when Baron Culathain casually mentioned the differences between the Acseram and Kellith would quote and the one he possessed. 

Some of the other lords examined his copy, mostly out of idle curiosity, and found it to be almost a millennium old.  Culathain explained that the book had stayed in his family for all these generations, noting the record of births that had been written in the back of the book for the past centuries.  This record revealed (unbeknownst to Culathain) that this Acseram was given to the first King Maradaine by Galena as a gift, and the lineage it marked was Maradaine’s—Culathain was a direct descendant of the first king of Druthal!  Knowing they now had the strongest possible claim to make on the throne, this discovery was announced to the populace.  It was met with skepticism until Kanna Ishien, the Church’s representative in Maradaine, verified the authenticity of the book.  Kellith II got the news and rushed to Maradaine to find himself neatly deposed, and Culathain being coronated Maradaine VII (938-964).

Maradaine VII quietly ceded the war in Opiska, pulling Druth troops out.  The Kestans quickly moved in and annexed the area.  Neither the Kestans nor the Yinarans gave up on fighting Druthal, though, as both armies began to push at the southern border, forcing Maradaine to keep the bulk of his troops there to defend it.  By 940 these armies stop trying to invade Druthal, but keep their forces at the border as well.

The next few decades are marked with a “quiet, uneasy peace” in which most countries took up an attitude of isolationism, as it seemed the slightest misstep might trigger a new war.  The only contact between nations was through the Acserians, who had missionaries and ambassadors throughout the Druth Nations.  All nations began to build their armies and hoard as much gold as possible, knowing that some great war was coming.  The lowest classes suffered the most from this, as they were heavily taxed. 

Druth ships started traveling east again during the reign of Maradaine VIII (964-988).  In the wake of the fall of the Tyzanian Empire, the territory known as B├╝rgin had become a major power, showing dominance on the oceans.  Another major power in the midst of several petty kingdoms was Lyrana, which seemed to be holding on to several Tyzanian traditions.  Neither country seemed to be worth trading with, however. 

As Maradaine IX (988-1009) came into power the tension between the nations was intense.  All borders were closed, except for between Patyma, Oblune and North Monim. 

Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Latest in Self-Publishing Scandals, aka The World vs. BookCountry

"You remember when I said how I was gonna explain about life, buddy? Well the thing about life is, it gets weird. People are always talking ya about truth. Everybody always knows what the truth is, like it was toilet paper or somethin', and they got a supply in the closet. But what you learn, as you get older, is there ain't no truth. All there is is bullshit, pardon my vulgarity here. Layers of it. One layer of bullshit on top of another. And what you do in life like when you get older is, you pick the layer of bullshit that you prefer and that's your bullshit, so to speak."
                                               -Bernie LaPlante (Dustin Hoffman), Hero

Last week BookCountry launched from public beta to being fully open.  They also launched their self-publishing services.  This second aspect has gotten a lot of attention in the author blogospheres, especially from successful self/indie publishers.  Here and here are two prime examples.  There are plenty of others.  The main argument being made is that BookCountry's self-publishing services are charging MUCH TOO MUCH for what they offer, and therefore are a scam and a rip-off.

You know, that may be.

But so is every other self/indie-publishing service, to one degree or another.  The successful self/indie authors out there who are trying to get everyone to Join the Movement (or Cult, depending on your POV) might want to pretend otherwise, but that's the basic gist of it.  Every self/indie service wants to make money off of you selling your writing.  That may be with an upfront fee, or a percentage of sales, or both, but that's what they want to do.

And that is all right as well.  Of course all these services want to make a profit.  I don't begrudge them any of them for doing that.

Before I continue, some disclaimers.
  1. I have been involved in BookCountry since early in its private beta, specifically in its primary function as a peer review site.  In that capacity, I think it's quite excellent and I recommend it.  
  2. I have had several exchanges with Colleen Lindsay at BookCountry, including testing out their self-coding-for-ebook instructions.  My main purpose in doing this was helping them confirm that their instructions were clear and easy to follow.  My main take-away is that Colleen Lindsay is a good egg in this business who genuinely loves books and wants to help writers with tools to succeed.
  3. I, personally, have little-to-no interest in self/indie publishing.  I currently have no intentions for doing it myself, nor do I begrudge anyone who decides that it's the best choice for them. 

What I find kind of fascinating is why some of the Indie Pub Pushers consider BC more of a scam than their Self-Pub methods of choice.  To which I say, eh.  I don't see Amazon or Smashwords operating on altruism. 

The premium package at BC (the one that gets their dander up the most) offers hand-coding of e-book/printed book layout and distributing it to various sellers.  Apparently, all you have to do is send the MS Word doc, and they do the rest.  The argument against, made by the Indie Pub Pushers, is that everything they are offering are things you COULD do by yourself with a minimal investment of time and money.

I can see their point, but on some level it's the Auto Mechanic argument.  Yes, I COULD save money by taking the time and effort to change my own oil and filters and rotate my tires.  But I don't want to do that.  I'd rather give it to a professional and pay him and not worry about that.  There are some that would say that's a bad attitude about car maintenance, and I should be more self-reliant.  But that's not for me.

Does BookCountry charge Too Much for it's particular form of Indie/Self Publishing?  Possibly.  But I find it kind of funny that the argument against is more or less, "Their rip-off is horrible.  You should use the rip-off I use.  It's much better."  Find the bullshit you like, and leave others to their own.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Druth History Month, Part 3

(Previously in Druth History: Druthal frees itself from the rule of the Kieran Empire, and starts the slowly, painful process of self-rule.  Weak central government leads to squabbling and infighting amongst the Druth counties, and the southern countries of Yinro and Scaloi engage in all-out war.)

Now: The Third through Seventh Centuries.

Druthal, by counties, in the Fifth Century

Third Century
In 204, the King, Falsham II, develops a degenerative sickness.  Many of the counts feel that his son, a cruel and pompous fool, is ill suited for the throne, and while Falsham is in the throws of fever, they organize a quick hearing and declare his son incompetent.  Falsham dies shortly thereafter, and his nephew Thalin becomes king.

Thalin (204-227) ends the isolationist era for Druthal.   Thalin was in league with a number of lords (which was why he was elevated to the throne), and these lords were interested in improving opportunities for trade and business.  Under his leadership, Druthal starts building merchant ships, and sending out diplomats.  These diplomats went out to every Kieran duke, Waish clan chief, Kellirac lord and Acserian prince, as well as the kings of Monim and Yinro and the queen of Scaloi, with purpose of opening up trade routes for Druthalian merchants.  By the end of his reign, there were agreements throughout the former entirety of the Kieran Empire, and the treasury of Druthal was overflowing with trade revenue.

When his son was crowned King Halitar (227-243), he took control of a Druthal that was now thriving.  Halitar’s greatest success came through fortuity rather than skill, as it was during his reign that a fleet of merchant ships from the Fuergan family of Giowen made harbor in Lacanja in 237.  Up until that point, contact with any of the Fuergan families had been extraordinarily rare, reliant upon travel across Kieran.  Knowledge countries and cultures in the east had been nothing but fleeting rumors.  Through the Giowens, Druthal now had a new source of trade and solid information about the eastern world.

Halitar’s reign is not without tragedy. In 238 his son, Prince Fultar, falls in love with Princess Demea of Pelkin in Acseria.  While courting her, however, Lord Kuvar of Kellirac marched a unit over the mountains into Acseria, storming Galena, kidnapping the princess, and taking her to The Keep.  The Prince of Druthal appealed to King Halitar for troops to take her back with, but the King refuses to commit any troops to a protracted conflict in Kellirac.  Prince Fultar gathers a few close friends, and attempts to rescue Demea himself.  However, in the attempt, all but Fultar are killed.  Fultar is captured by the Kelliracs, and thrown into the dungeons of the keep.  King Halitar begins an assault on Kellirac to rescue his son.  Upon hearing this, Fultar and Demea (who refused to marry Kuvar) are executed. The Druthalian army, badly beaten by the weather and the forces of Kellirac, return home, ashamed.  The agreements between Druthal and Kellirac are destroyed, and massive military installations are constructed along the Druthalian/Kellirac border, so Kellirac is effectively sealed off from the outside world.  This event, years later, served as the plot for Demea, a famous Druthalian opera. It also left Druthal without a crown prince.

As Halitar neared death in 243, there was much debate over who should be king.  The various lords of Druthal argued hotly over it, until the arrival of the preceptors of the Warlords and Vanguard.  These groups had remained reclusive for two centuries now, but had stayed in strong contact with each other, and now intended to take a role in the current politics in order to maintain the rough peace that Thalin’s trade treaties had created.  They declared that the best choice for king was Gelmin, Halitar’s grandson by his eldest daughter.  Gelmin was only ten, so the Preceptors took it upon themselves to act as his regents.  Some of Druth lords were enraged at the idea that men of “common birth” would serve as regents and advisors, until Callum Tor, the Warlord Preceptor, pointed out that the preceptors of the orders served as advisors to King Maradaine, and would it not suit Gelmin to have the same advantages, and be as great a king?

Gelmin was officially crowned at the age of fifteen.  The Kierans reacted warmly to him taking the title King Gelmin (248-278), as this name was a Kieran one.  Gelmin would give the Kierans no preferential treatment, though.  The preceptors of the four orders became his close friends and advisors, and through them he had access to the orders, and therefore had better information as to what was truly going on in the kingdom.  Several barons had their private injustices brought to light during Gelmin’s rule.

Gelmin also shocked the royal court by forming a military alliance with Yinro, solidified by marrying Princess Isabeau, daughter to the Yinrite king.  This alliance enraged both the Monics and Scallics, who both respond by regrouping their forces and engaging in a unified assault upon Druthal and Yinro, with Yinro taking the main focus of this.  Gelmin does honor the alliance and sends relief troops, including some members of all four orders.

King Fendrick (278-310) takes the throne at the age of fifteen when Gelmin dies suddenly.  Some suspect use of poison or magic in his death, but no investigation is made.  He continues with fighting the war against Monim and Scaloi with Yinro.  In 284, the two Yinrite Princes (Donclaude and Pondaux), who were serving as generals in the war, are killed.  Old King Orjean of Yinro was devastated by the news of this, and died two years afterwards.  The chiefs of protocol in Yinro and Druthal both studied the situation, and all came to the same conclusion that the man with strongest claim to the Yinrite throne was, in fact, Fendrick.  In 287 he was crowned with that title.

Burdened with two crowns, Fendrick decided that he would end the situation with Monim and Scaloi once and for all.  Monim, in particular, was targeted, due to its long-standing use of work camps and slave labor, practices that Scaloi had instituted as well.  Both nations used Druths and Yinrites as slaves.  For the sake of both his nations, Fendrick committed the full might of his forces upon their enemies.

The Druth nobles were not particularly interested in aiding Yinro or righting moral wrongs, but the thought of getting control over Monim—land rich in gold and silver and other metals—was motivation enough to lend their full support to the war.

Against this commitment, neither Monim nor Scaloi could hold their ground.  The Druth force swept like wildfire southward, led by Fendrick.  While he, the heads of the Orders and the most loyal of the Druth nobility are in the south, treachery brewed in Maradaine. In 295, the Royal Lord Chamberlain Maxwell, once he is sure the King is safely away, dismisses several Counts and lords, and replaces them with loyal followers.  Then, he names himself commander of the Maradaine militia (the defense force left behind in case of surprise attack on the city).  Any militia commanders who disobey he has removed from duty and executed.  Lord Chamberlain Maxwell was a powerful enough and trusted enough advisor to do this all with little trouble.  He had the Prince sent to a Kieran academy, and the Queen sent to a nunnery.  In just under few months, he effectively seized the throne with next to no bloodshed.  Chamberlain Maxwell declares himself King of Druthal, as the King of Yinro (the emphasis he makes in his speeches) has been too busy for Druthal, and has been ignoring his own people.  Surprisingly, the Druth people largely agree, and support this "new King".

Leaving an occupying force in the newly conquered south, Fendrick and his lords make a frantic march north.  Maxwell manages to meet their forces in Jarechna.  Fendrick pulls his forces back to the city of Lacanja, while the Preceptors of the Orders keep Maxwell’s forces busy.  In Lacanja, soldiers are loaded onto ships that sail north and then down the Maradaine.  Fendrick and his allies are able to pin Maxwell within Sauriya.

King Maxwell (295-296), unable to fight a war on two fronts, pulls back to the city of Kyst, his birthplace, and sight of his proposed new capital, for a valiant, but insane, last stand.  His forces, outnumbered by at least seven to one, dig themselves into defensible positions, and manage to hold the forces of the Fendrick for nearly a week, before surrendering.  King Maxwell was captured, hiding in a wine cellar, crouched in a pool of his own urine.  During his trial for treason, his obvious mental instability kept showing up, as he defied the authority of the royal courts up until the end.  At his execution, his final words were "You cannot kill me!  I'll have you all arrested!"

King Fendrick begins a massive purge of his corrupted government.  In the end, he has people on every level of the government, from the Dukes right down to the petty officials, removed from power, and replaced.  Beyond that, he now has massive amounts of new, conquered territory that needs to be controlled.

Fourth Century
In 302 Fendrick announced his new plan—he literally redrew the map.  He declared that what was Druthal, Yinro, Monim and Scaloi would now be one nation—Druthal.  The entire country was broken up into new districts with new names, and those who had been loyal to Fendrick and proven themselves with valor received titles corresponding to the new districts.  The southern areas in particular had been broken up into small groups to end any previous sense of national identity.

Fendrick shocked the rest of Druthal one more time by stepping down and ceding the crown to his son before he died.  King Meltin (307-329) ruled unobtrusively, focusing on repairing trading relations with Acseria, Kellirac, Waisholm and Kieran.  For the first time in Druth history, the Counts of Druthal had the means and motivation to encourage and sponsor artists and thinkers, so a number of great works came about during this time.

The reigns of Santral (329-348) and Bintral (348-372) proceeded in much the same way, and Druthal prospered.  Even the once shattered and demoralized southern territories began to recover.  Bintral wanted to improve education in Druthal, but his advisors had no idea how to go about it.  Requests for assistance in this matter were sent to Kieran and Acseria, but only the Acserians responded, sending traveling missionaries to go to Druthal, from town to town, teaching basic skills such as reading and writing.  They did this with their holy texts, however, so this resulted in several Druthalians, especially the rural ones, being exposed to the Acserian faith, and many began to take up its beliefs.  Faith in the Acserian religion grew particularly strong in southern Druthal.

This reached the point where King Fendrick II (372-398) declared his own faith in the Acserian religion, and ordered that churches be built throughout Druthal, and encourage his citizens to attend, and for some to become ordained as priests of the faith.  His advisors grew worried that Fendrick’s decision making was completely centered in his faith, and he would often not take action without first consulting with members of the Kannan Assembly, if not the Rei himself.  They took steps to circumvent the king from as many major decisions as possible, making sure that people in key positions in the royal court did not share his faith.  When Fendrick announced his intention of a vow of chastity and celibacy, his advisors did nothing to discourage this, so when Fendrick II died, the government of Druthal was primed to place a man on the throne that had been long groomed for this position.

King Haldrin (398-413) had only a tenuous claim on the throne—he was the great-grandson of Santral, and any expert in protocol would be able to point out three or four men with stronger claim than he had.  When Haldrin was crowned, though, none of these men stepped forward to challenge it, having been bought or bullied by Haldrin’s supporters.  Haldrin was quickly able to form strong ties with the neighboring areas, partly because he claimed affinity with each one; his ancestry could trace a Waish Clan-Chief, an Acserian Prince, a Kieran Duke and a Kellirac Lord.

Fifth Century

Haldrin and his aides decided that Druthal needed a stronger presence in international politics—even to the point of arguing that Druthal had the right to rule over what had once been the Kieran Empire.  Haldrin, with his mixed heritage, could bring legitimacy to claims he might make within the other countries.  Citing the trade agreement that Halitar had made centuries before, he sent notice to the other nations that the five nations were now “The Trade Nations” and he was now the “King of Trade”, the Overlord of them all, and the Druth army had the might to enforce this.

In 403, Haldrin was proven quite wrong, as the Kieran Legions and Waish clans swept into Druthal with a deadly fury.  The Druth army was overwhelmed, and Haldrin was forced to concede.  The Acserians kept the armies from completely overrunning Druthal, and it is Rei Trofilian IV who suggested that some of Haldrin’s ideas were not without merit.  At this point, a treaty is drawn up between Druthal, Waisholm, Kieran, Acseria and Kellirac, which does not necessarily bind them to peace or alliance, but opens up the opportunity for trading between all five nations, and thus is called the (First) Treaty of the Trade Nations.

Haldrin’s supporters made themselves scarce as the other counts brought him to task.  Haldrin was sanctioned by the Counts, and as a result the power of the throne was greatly diminished, and there now existed the Council of Counts.  This noble council held great amounts of power in Druthal for some time to come.  Haldrin spent most of the rest of his reign in seclusion and study.

For the next decades Druthal both thrived and regressed.  Druthal thrived because the Treaty of the Trade Nations allowed for increased trade and reduced tariffs at the borders.  The Counts all had their hands it various merchant enterprises and everyone thrived.  Druth ships even traveled around Acseria to the eastern nations such as Mahabassa, Fuerga, Tsoulja, Mocassana, and the Tyzanian Empire.  Druth wool and leather in particular were popular goods in the east.  It regressed, however, because while kings like Falsham III (413-437) and Haldrin II (437-468) sat on the throne, they wielded very little power.  Under the Council of Counties, Feudal traditions returned. The king no longer held control over Druthal’s forces.  The Counts, and even the lesser lords, had their own soldiers.  In addition, members of the Orders took up the tradition of serving a specific lord, often as a close advisor and captain of their forces.

As would be expected, the Counts began to argue with each other, and since they had fighting men at their disposal, would do battle upon each other.  The Council laid a series of rules for these battles (on top of the Kieran Rules of War which the Trade Treaty imposed upon them) to keep them honorable.  Part of this was that the attacking Count, to have a fair and legal attack, must write up a series of grievances against the Count he was attacking, and the King must acknowledge the grievances.  As far as the Council was concerned, if the King had received them, they were acknowledged.  During these years Druthal suffered several score of these private wars, some of which were no more than an excuse for the lords to practice their training of tactics.

During the reign of Haldrin III (468-494) some attempt is made on the king’s part to formalize these conflicts into tournament—using less fatal skill-at-arms challenges (such as jousting) to settle the grievances.  To an extent this works, as the tournaments become a greatly enjoyed social event, but it in no way replaces the actual battles. But Druthal was so disjointed that almost no one had noticed that Kellirac had united under Gerfurt, who had been named “Dudrican”, the Kell equivalent of king.

In 483 Gerfurt took an army of Kelliracs and sacked the city of Gorivow in the county of Brellin.  While the Baron of Gorivow fancied himself an excellent tactician, he was in no way prepared for the full fury of a Kellirac assault, and Gorivow fell.  The Kellirac army then pushed west, wrecking its way through Maquisa, Keonia and Prenkaw, until the combined forces of the Counts of Itasa and Kesta met him at Torest to hold him at bay.  Gerfurt is forced to more his army into the city as they lay siege on it.  Haldrin III put out the call to arms, and many Druth lords quickly responded.  Several Waish Clans, notably the Arrowflights, came to aid the Druths, mostly for the chance to fight the Kellirac.  As these forces unite, Gerfurt breaks his army through the Itasans and Kestans and heads up the river to Maradaine.

Gerfurt’s forces are met by the combined Druth and Waish forces at the city of Delikan, and he is unable to get a foothold in the city to use as shelter.  After a long and terrible battle the Kelliracs are defeated and Gerfurt is captured.  The Druth and Waish are eager to execute him, but emissaries from Kieran and Acseria are on hand to point out that by the treaty of Trade Nations, he must be tried, and being of noble blood, he must be treated with a degree of respect.  A court is assembled (upon which sits Haldrin III), and a proper punishment for Gerfurt is decided upon.  He is exiled to Bardinae, but allowed to take a small force (no more than 200 men), and given the title "Emperor Gerfurt of Colthinwia".  Colthinwia is a small, inhospitable island off of the Bardinic coast.

While Druthal puts its efforts into rebuilding, a new version of the Trade Nations Treaty is written, in which it is decreed that Kellirac will be permanently divided into four parts of equal power, and never allowed reunification.

In 494 an older, bitterer Gerfurt attacks Maradaine by sea with his new Bardinic army.  He manages to take the Druthalians by surprise, and occupies the city.  He has Haldrin III executed, and himself named King of Druthal.  He then sends his Bardinic fleet upriver to attack Delikan and further Druth cities.  Three months later, he is turned out by Prince Caldrais, who declares that since Gerfurt has had a trial and violated the court’s decision that no more trials are necessary and has Gerfurt executed, and his generals tortured. King Caldrais (494-513) is a harsh ruler, bitter over his father's death.  Under his rule, the Council of Counties submits to his authority.

Sixth Century
Druthal spends the rest of Caldrais’ reign repairing and rebuilding.  Trade with Druthal’s neighbors diminishes as the borders are more tightly controlled.  Overseas trade with the east all but disappears as The Great Eastern War begins in 511.  Some Druth soldiers and members of the Orders travel east to join up as mercenaries in the war, but otherwise the Trade Nations stay uninvolved in the whole affair.

After Caldrais’ death, the authority of the throne once again diminishes as the Council regains power.  The reigns of Gelmin II (513-524), Falsham IV (524-549), Gelmin III (549-557) and Gelmin IV (557-581) are only remarkable in how unremarkable they are.  Once again the Counts fall into the pattern of small wars and tournaments.  The Counts pushed for more power, and increased the taxation of their lands.  The poorest class, the serf, which had before been merely struggling, were now in a state of oppression, as the taxes crushed any chance they had at making more than the merest subsistence living.

It was Haldrin IV (581-602) who showed a degree of cleverness in playing the Counts against each other.  Realizing he had little power at his disposal, he created havoc in the social circles of the nobles by using one of the few authorities he had left—the granting of title.  He announced that Count Otherin of Rinaser was now a Duke, the first Druth to bear that title.

Immediately the court of Druthal was astir—Counts scrambled to curry Otherin’s favor, or Haldrin’s, or to plot against them both.  Haldrin treated it all as a game, and when the game got boring for him, he would name another Duke (sometimes one of the ones plotting against him), and the lords would all pounce again.  The political scheming and backstabbing reached a new high in Druthal, which Haldrin never took seriously, because for him it was merely entertainment.

Seventh Century

When Haldrin IV died in 602, approximately half of the former Counts were now Dukes.  Haldrin V (602-617) was no where near as clever or as easily amused by these games.  Unable to play the Counts the way his father had, he was quickly pressured into naming the rest of them Dukes.  Their new titles now secured, the Dukes of Druthal went back to their political intrigues against each other, using the throne as a tool in their games.

This line of kings, originating with Haldrin in 398, was the longest in Druth history.  The line was beginning to suffer from too much intermarriage as the bad traits continued to surface.  Fendrick III (617-629) was not very clever, nor was Bintral II (629-652).  The both held the throne well enough for the needs of the Dukes, however.  It was during the reign of Bintral II that the Orlikan Plague stuck.

Believed to have come from the east through the Fuergans, Orlikan (from the Fuergan for “Slowing Breath”) attacked the lungs, making it harder and harder to breathe until one was too weak to breathe at all, and then died.  Unfortunately, it would take months to notice it happening, but then only a few days to die.  When the Druths started to notice the increase in deaths in Lacanja, the city where it seemed to have started, they decided to quarantine the city in 649.  At that point it had been too late, the disease had long since spread throughout the country. There are massive deaths, and whole communities become empty from it.

The plague, spreads like wildfire throughout Druthal, as well as Waisholm and Kieran, and wipes out large amounts of their populations.  Farmland lays fallow for years.  The king himself dies from it in 652.  Kellirac, being somewhat isolated geographically, is virtually unaffected by the plague.

Bintral III (652-674) inherits a wounded, bleeding kingdom.  By 670 the plague dies down, but the aftereffects are serious.  Druthal is struck with famine, as well as economic depression.  Serfdom is no longer viable, since the lowest classes were struck the hardest by the plague and the serfs are almost completely wiped out.  Since good workers become a valuable commodity, the Dukes and lesser lords are forced to sell land and hire yeomen to work the land.   When Bintral IV (674-684) becomes king, Druthal is only starting to mend itself.

In 684, King Bintral IV dies, and his son Shalcer (684-719) takes the throne.  Due to the fact that most of the Dukes and Lords are occupied with their own concerns, few notice that Shalcer is an incompetent fool.

Duke Malcor of Rinaser, financially devastated by the effects of the plague, tries to crack down on taxation of his populace, which do not respond well.  In 687, Ian Acorin, a rich landowner, leads a middleclass revolt against Malcor and the rest of the nobility in Rinaser.  Malcor discovers his resources are quite depleted, and he is unable to mount a defense.  Acorin and his followers gain control, and Malcor and many of his barons are executed.

By 689, Acorin was moving north and east with his "Banner of Freedom", which appeals to the overtaxed middle and lower classes.  They effectively extinguish the noble presence in the region.  Rinaser, Weisa, Wenika and Erytina unite and declare themselves seceded from the Druth throne.  King Shalcer, too mired in financial problems to do anything about this, lets the lands go.  The Free Republic of Acoria is formed.  The Kieran Empire sends diplomats to Acoria, much to the annoyance of King Shalcer.  Ian Acorin gladly accepts the emissaries, which gives his new country more credence.

Following Acorin's lead, an ambitious Warlord named Marit Terkin (who recently had a failed bid to be Preceptor) takes control over Prenkaw in a rather bloody coup in 692. Terkin moves east with his ragtag army and takes Keonia and Maquisa.  He declares himself the Lord of Oblune.  Shalcer attempts to marshal his forces to reclaim the lost areas.

By 697 the Druthalian army is moving against Oblune, but Shalcer suffers hideous losses against Terkin's armies. While this is happening, the counties of Forleon, Drikam and Pital secede, forming Patyma, a monarchy, placing Duke Parlik of Drikam on the throne.  The main reason for secession was stated as "intolerance of Shalcer's gross incompetance."  Shalcer concedes the complete loss of the Northeast.  The county of Brellin, cut off completely from the rest of Druthal, decides that it must be its own autonomous state.  Shalcer does nothing to discourage this.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Space Opera vs. Steampunk

A friend of mine sometimes refers to writing as "going into the word mines", which is a very nice metaphor, if I do say so myself.  Not only because it conjures up the image of hard, grueling work to bring up a few precious gems, though that is a key reason.

Part of why it works for me is the image of the mine itself: filled with large passages and twisty tunnels.  I like to think, when I'm working on a specific project, like I'm supposed to be right now, I'm going down that specific tunnel.  So, right now, the Holver Alley Crew tunnel is the one I'm supposed to be working on.  I've gotten almost all the words out of there, and then it's just a matter of putting and polishing and putting them to market.  (Go with me on this metaphor, will you?)

However, when I go down into the mines, I make some discoveries.  I've found a whole new vein of words in the Maradaine Constabulary tunnel, so once I've finished in Holver Alley, I'll have plenty to do there. 

(And there are, of course, the tunnels that dead end, that turned out to have no words to mine.  We won't get into that.)

But then there are the times when you find a whole new tunnel.  One that might have thick, rich veins of many shiny, sparkly words.

The ground shifted on me while heading down to Holver Alley, and I saw a shaft leading to a whole new tunnel.  I peered down, as you do.    I wasn't ready to go down and start working, of course, but I wanted to know what might be there.

I saw a ship, and a crew.  A crew of rough-but-decent-hearted privateer types.  On some level, the crew and the ship were completely clear to me.  I knew exactly who they were and what sort of adventures they could have.  In my Space Opera timeline they could fit right in, cruising around the asteroid belt and the outer planets on a solar-sail ship in the early 22nd century.

Then I looked again, from a slightly different angle.  The same basic crew, a very similar ship, but... not quite.  Suddenly they were a Steampunk crew, cruising around the uncharted west of North America on a sailed-airship in an alternate 19th century.

And I felt a bit of panic.  I really could go either way with them.  Except I don't have a Steampunk setting that I've done the worldbuilding for.  Not yet, anyway.  But this crew might inspire the idea that I need to. 

So, that's the thing to figure out: are they Space Opera, or are they Steampunk?  Not sure yet.

In the meantime, I've got to go into the mine to finish the Holver Alley re-write. 

Monday, November 14, 2011

Druth History Month, Part 2

(Previously, the area known as the Druth Protectorates was under the rule of the Kieran Empire.  A catastrophic mass-assassination sends the entire Empire into chaos.)

Now: The Rebellion, and the first two centuries of the new calendar (The "Free Era".)

The Rebellion

Duke Rizari of Inemar survives the poisoning incident, and flees to Inemar to raise support for himself.  He confides in the Inemar Civilian Governor, Oscana, to assist him, but Oscana misleads him.  Oscana was secretly a member of a resistance movement, and manipulates events to stage a rebellion to liberate Inemar.  He kills Rizari and takes control, defeating the local legionnaires with his small army, liberating Inemar.  Oscana is aware, though, that Inemar won't be able to stand alone once the Empire turns its attention back to them; he seeks allies in other Druth provinces.  Over the next several years, his influence grows through northwestern Druthal, as he and his allies  force out the Kieran presence.  By  31 BFE, Clwythnn Strongtree of the Waish Clans and Galena of the Acserian Church (the growing religion in the Futralian Protectorates) contact Oscana, and these three leaders form an alliance to free all the Protectorates.

In 27 BFE, after some minor victories in all three Protectorates, the three armies unite for a major victory in taking the city of Fencal away from the Kierans.  The toll is high, as a majority of the Acserian zealots are killed or injured (having led the first charge). Oscana's eldest son is killed as well.  Shortly after they take the city, they learn of an enormous Kieran Army marching south to reclaim the Futralian provinces.  Oscana pushes the army to intercept them and the Kieran legions are slaughtered in what is called the Battle of Blood Lake.  The Rebellion Army, however, is greatly weakened by these two victories.  Meanwhile, the province of Monim remains under Kieran control, and the civilian population is placed into work camps and many are executed.

As more years of fighting continue, the rebellion forces had pushed the Kieran front further back. Based on loose intelligence, all three leaders make a push for Mal Arengi, The Keep in Kellirac.  Other territories are sacrificed to allow a majority of the Rebellion forces to push into Kellirac.  In 21 BFE, the three forces lay siege to The Keep, and eventually take control of it, defeating the legions that were there.  The Kierans had been using it as a staging point for the next major invasion, so the victory was a major setback for the Kieran offensive.

Oscana and the other military leaders of Druthal return to Inemar, the center of the rebellion, to find a number of rich men who played no role in the war making claims on being the new Druth Nobility. They try to take control over the new nation, and attempt to remove Oscana from any seat of power. Their attempt fails, as the loyalty he has earned keeps the military forces on his side. He knows, however, that he needs their money to succeed, so he integrates these New Nobles into his plans for a free nation.

Tensions flare as the new Count of Thaneil pushes a patrol into the territory of the Ringfire Clan. The situation is very tense as members of the Warlords, specifically the Preceptor Mastak, steps in to cool it off.  Almost as soon as the situation is resolved, a Druthalian caravan near the Waish border that carries some of Thaneil's relatives is attacked and destroyed by an unknown band of raiders. Conflict between Thaneil and Ringfire explodes, and the Kierans hear word of it and takes advantage of the confusion to move into the area with troops.  They quickly establish dominance in the area, slaughtering the Ringfire Clan.  Clwythnn comes to the area to try and save as much as he can, but is forced to take a stand to delay the army (with only six other men by his side) while villagers escape.  Clwythnn is captured and executed by the Kierans. The Kierans begin a full assault on Druthal, using ships now to assault the northern and western coast, squeezing away the area that the Druth control.

The efforts of the Rebellion continue, albeit poorly, in Druthal and Waisholm.  The Acserians do not give very much support at this time, as the Kierans are mostly ignoring them.  Oscana is lured into an ambush in an effort to contact rebels in the strongly occupied province of Monim. He is captured and executed.  Upon hearing this news, the Druth resistance begins to crumble.  The Kierans offer a cease-fire to allow the Druth leaders to agree to a surrender that would give amnesty and power to the new Druth Nobility.

In 14 BFE, Oscana's youngest and last living son, Maradaine, takes control of the situation in Inemar, lambasting the Nobles for considering the Kieran deal. He unites the people, and, citing the vicious, immoral, murderous tactics of the Kierans, whips the people into frenzy. The Druthalians, now with Maradaine as their ruler, vow to crush the Empire completely.

After five years of several battles, the Druthalians and Waish, thrilled by their many victories, push deep into the heart of the Kieran Empire, to set up a crippling assault on the Kieran city of Vedix. Once the city had been reached, the invaders realized that they had stretched supply lines too thin, and discover a serious weakening of morale. The Acserians calmly encourage their allies to pull out of Kieran, which they do. The retreat stops at the Waish/ Kieran border, and the Rebels wait for any sign of aggression from the Empire to renew their efforts. After a time, a contingent of Kieran diplomats comes to Maradaine, Galena, and Luthan Kinslayer with a treaty. After a quick period of deliberation, the treaty is signed. The Kierans immediately pull out all legions from the area to deal with a crisis on their eastern border.

A council of nations is established that respects national boundaries and sovereignty, but establishes them as a unified power. The council, however, discovers too many problems of culture to successfully integrate. The situation nearly erupts into war, when the council decides to save their fragile unity by dividing into separate nations, held together by a treaty. This solves the military problems, and the three nations begin to normalize relations.

Druthal spends many years determining structure of their own government, with long debates regarding the nature of independence and whether or not the various Druthalian Provinces should be united or separated. The end result is the documents known as the National Accords of Druthal, which lays out the framework of the relationships of the Provinces (now called Counties) to each other, the laws and regulations they must all adhere to and their fealty to the king, whomever that would be. There are many debates upon who should be king, but eventually Maradaine is chosen.
Parwyn Greyhilt, the Waish king, and Maradaine marry sisters, Rhyshel and Rhyshan Whiteground (daughters of another who stood with Clwythnn), hoping to strengthen the relations between the two kings.

First Century

Maradaine is crowned king, and the official declarations of powers, borders and titles in Druthal are made.  Maradaine proclaims that this is “The First year of a new, Free Era.”  Consequently, the Druth start a new calendar, and  Waisholm and Acseria follow suit.  The most surprising development is the arrival of Kieran emissaries who offer the official congratulations of to the new king.

The new nation of Druthal did not encompass all of the former “Druthalian Provinces”, as four of the southern ones which did not participate in the Rebellion establish their own tenuous independence.  Scaloi and Yinro both designate themselves as free kingdoms with their own rulers (Queen Adisala in Scaloi and Chancellor Deljean in Yinro).  Maradaine, eager to prove to his other lords the importance of respecting freedom, makes treaties with both nations.  The small province of Trelesca, south of Scaloi, is mostly ignored, as it has fallen into almost complete anarchy.  A handful of greedy, disenfranchised Kieran lords scramble to gain control over it.

A far more troubling situation brewed in Monim, which had never been relinquished of Kieran control, specifically by Duke Breialli and his legions.  Breialli was disgusted by the Kieran surrender to the Rebellion, and declared Monim to be the new seat of Imperial Regime, and himself as Emperor.  The local population had long since been imprisoned and enslaved in work camps.  Several imperialist nobles and deserting legionnaires left Kieran for Monim to become leaders in this new nation, with the region’s rich deposits of silver and gold being an added incentive.

Several years pass with little incident, as all the various nations rebuild and reorganize.  Farming and mining operations in Druthal slowly return to normal as the population builds back up.  The new nobles and landowners of Druthal prosper, as they hire the freemen (the title of respect given to the peasantry) to work their lands.  Slowly, prosperity comes to the nation.

The quiet of the early years of Maradaine’s reign did not last.  The Empire of Monim had focused its resources on building up its army.  By the year 13, the Monim army was ready to make its move.  They placed their great catapults and ballista along the shores of the Oblune River, their northern border, and sank every vessel in the river.  The various Counts in Oblune were unable to do much besides cease using the river (effectively decimating their trade routes.)  Word was sent to Inemar (and thus King Maradaine) requesting aid.  As these messengers were sent, the Monics marched into the counties of Kesta (formerly Fencal).

Maradaine put forth the call to arms to raise troops to defend Druthal.  The army had been all but disbanded, with each Count and Baron responsible for his own men.  Most of these lords felt the troubles from Monim were not their problem, and therefore sent no troops.

With the authority of the crown being tested, Maradaine sent every soldier in the counties of Inemar to the border of Monim.  The Warlords and Vanguard still held loyalty to the crown, though their numbers were now small.  This force pushed the Monics back to their border, and then the War Mages, who had also come out of seclusion on Maradaine’s behalf, cast dire enchantments on the border that would prevent armies from crossing it.

Maradaine tried to have the unhelpful lords arrested, but found that every one of them had acted with the bounds of powers and responsibilities that had been agreed to.  The only option Maradaine had was to form the Army of the King, a special force whose purpose was to “defend all of Druthal.”  The lords protested this as a violation of the spirit of the agreements of powers, although it did not violate the letter of them. 

The years passed, and Maradaine found that his principles often ran contrary to the realities of what necessary to rule, as he had to struggle to keep the power-hungry lords in check.  In 38, knowing that his son lacked the intelligence or character to rule, Maradaine declared his close advisor, Corinath Baldas, as his heir and successor.  Maradaine died just a few months afterward.  Baldas took the throne, and the name Maradaine II.  He also declared that in honor of their former king, Inemar would now be called Maradaine.

Maradaine II (38-69) did not hold the principles of pure freedom that Maradaine did, and ruled harshly, shifting Druthal to an absolute monarchy.  His harshness was directed at the nobility, rather than the commoners, concentrating his efforts on reining them in.  Most of note, he instituted the Title Tax, which forced the nobles to pay annually for the privilege of their title.  Maradaine II was a skilled politician, so the nobility spent these years plotting against each other in an effort to curry his favor.

During his reign, Monim began its war with Yinro.  This results in a protracted stalemate; while the Monics had greater numbers and resources, the Yinrites had the advantage of terrain, knowing how to use the swamps to their advantage.

Maradaine III takes the throne upon his father’s death in 69.  While he tried to play the same politics as his father, pitting the lords against each other, his ambition was too naked and he lacked the skill to accomplish his goals.  Nor did he inspire loyalty in his advisors.  In 73, a group led by Count Blackshire of Hechard sent their forces into Maradaine and ousted the king.  Maradaine III fled to Kellirac.  Blackshire then formed a ruling council with eight other counts, in which they all held equal power.

After several years of the council government, the varying political agendas of the Lords of Druthal threaten to tear the nation apart, with counties waging war upon one another constantly. Desperate for a unifying figure, the council sends men to search Kellirac for King Maradaine III, in order to reinstate him as King.  However, they find that he had been killed. Unable to agree on one of their own number, they finally agree upon Lord Mastile of Sauriya, cousin to the former king.  In an effort to help re-establish Druthalian unity, he takes the name Maradaine IV.

Maradaine IV (79-97), feeling secure in his position, ruled harshly, even more so than Maradaine II. He put forth the idea that all lands and forces of the nobles in Druthal were actually the king’s, and the nobles merely had stewardship.  “All soldiers serve the king,” was his decree.  Under his rule, the orders of the Vanguard, Warlords and War Mages became reclusive, not wishing to be considered part of that service.  While no wars were declared during his reign, Druthal became prepared for it: increasing trop sizes, strengthening defenses along the border, building siege weapons, raising walls and garrisons.  Upon his death, Druthal was a nation ready for war.

Second Century

It was during the reign of Maradaine V (97-127) that the situation reached its boiling point.  In the year 100 an army from Kellirac began its march on northeastern Druthal.  The Kelliracs fought viciously, and the broil spilled over into Waisholm, drawing them into the fray.  Soon afterwards, the Kell forces withdrew, leaving the Druth and Waish fighting each other.  Druthal pushed hard into Waish territory for two years, until the Waish clans had a coup, resulting in a new king, Ullen Kinslayer.  King Ullen made concessions of land to Druthal to end the fighting.  Secure in this victory, Druth forces then concentrated in protecting the southern borders, as the war between the Monic Empire and Yinro continued unabated.  Scaloi annexes Trelesca with almost no resistance.

Maradaine V’s reign ends quietly with his death in 127, and his son becomes Maradaine VI.  Unlike his predecessors, Maradaine VI was a rather unassuming king, concentrating his efforts on improving roads and travel conditions.  Maradaine VI (127-140) also established diplomatic ties with the Kieran government. A number of treaties are signed between Druthal and Kieran, allowing trade and establishing ambassadorial envoys to be stationed in each other’s capital.  This gives the king the opportunity to send his son, the crown prince, to Vedix for a well-rounded education.  However, an incident involving Kieran dissidents results in the young prince being captured and killed.  Upon hearing the news, Maradaine VI closets himself in his private chambers, where he reportedly died of grief.  After deliberation on the part of the lords of protocol, the throne goes to Count Nerainu of Itasa, who decides to break with tradition and keeps his name as king.

King Nerainu (140-162) closed the Druth borders to Kieran trade.  He, as well as the two following kings of his line, Falsham (162-187) and Falsham II (187-204) ruled Druthal in a quiet, unassuming fashion that focused on building up cities and roads, protecting the borders and isolating Druthal from its neighbors.  During this time the south continued to be enflamed, as Scaloi joined in the war between Monim and Yinro.