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 Bürgin 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.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Villainy and Cult of Personality

I'm not a big fan of the Schwarzenegger Conan the Barbarian, but there's a scene that sticks with me, even though I haven't seen it in over twenty years.  At one point, Conan is talking to James Earl Jones, who leads the cult of evil snake-hippies (or whatever was going on in that movie-- have I mentioned it's been twenty years?), and Conan is espousing his belief in the strength and power of muscle and sword.  James Earl Jones scoffs at this, and demonstrates real power.  With a simple, kindly spoken call ("Come here, child."), one of the snake-hippie cultists on a high balcony takes a step closer to him... and happily plummets to her death.

I bring this up because very few fantasy villains ever seem to truly deserve the to-the-death loyalty they often receive.  James Earl Jones in Conan is literally the leader of a cult, so it works.  Plus, he's James Earl Jones, so he's got that voice and charm.  It's easy to buy.  But other times, I really wonder.

Take, for example, the Grolims in David Eddings's The Belgariad.  They worship Torak, the evil god.  Now, at least in the world's beginnings, Torak (and the other gods) had a direct, physical presence, which can go pretty far in inspiring loyalty.  He's an actual god, and he's standing right there telling people what he wants them to do.  But in the time the series takes place, Torak has been asleep for centuries, presumed dead.  But the Grolims still act with fanatical loyalty.  More importantly, they have fanatical loyalty to the two heads of the Grolim Church: Ctuchik and Urvon.  (Zedar, in theory, is also one of the heads, but he doesn't seem to actively wield any political power, mostly due to disinterest.)  But how do Ctuchik and Urvon inspire such loyalty?  It's unclear.  Urvon, in particular, is depicted as a sequestered, babbling moron who couldn't inspire fish to swim, let alone get a cult of unswerving loyalty to kill and die at his command.

This is what I want in my villains, at least those that aren't lone psychopaths: some sense that they inspire people.  Even if those people are woefully ignorant and misguided.  But if your underlings going to have the kind of loyalty that transcends just-earning-a-paycheck, I need to understand why they have that unswerving faith.

Monday, November 7, 2011

November is Druth History Month

This will be the first of a few entries on the history of Druthal.  Here we have the pre-history, early communities and the centuries as protectorates of the Kieran Empire.


Various agricultural communities thrive throughout the central Druthalian area, particularly around what would be later called the Maradaine and Patyma River valleys .  These communities thrive and begin engaging in commerce and minor skirmishes.

Around 2300 BFE, a season of massive storms floods out the rivers, destroying many settlements. Several communities are forced to move to higher ground, and convene in one fertile, rich and isolated area.  After initial hardship and squabbling, they eventually integrate their communities to build a new city: Saranus.

After a few generations, Saranus becomes the most advanced culture in the area, progressive far beyond their neighbors in technology and mysticism.  The Sarani wall off their city, and isolate themselves, allowing no outsiders ("Kindrica" in the Sarani tongue) to come in or near their city.

Other communities in the area grow, but none reach the level of advancement of Saranus, as they would perennially raid and assault with one another.  Struggles for land, power and wealth ensue amongst the groups, and territories get carved out, each one typically ruled by the strongest, most vicious warriors.  This "War Prince" rule becomes the standard in the Kindric cities.

In approximately 2100 BFE one War Prince puts together a large army, gathered together from several communities, for the purpose of laying siege to Saranus.  Despite having the advantage of numbers, the siege was short, brutal, and ultimately a failure.  It did, however, increase the anti-outsider sentiment in Saranus.

The leaders in Saranus decide that the Kindrica must be handled somehow. Conquest and genocide are tried, but both tactics are abandoned; they lack the manpower to effectively slaughter their enemies, nor do they wish to devote resources to ruling the Kindric once conquered.  They then embark on a long-term plan of fear and misinformation, which most scholars believe is the earliest use of espionage in history.  The Sarani would go out amongst the other towns, disguised as "travelers", spreading rumors about Saranus designed to scare people away.  These spies would also keep an eye out for advancing technology and civilizations uniting together, and do what they could to quash it. 

This proved an effective strategy for the Sarani: most of the cultures stayed technologically and sociologically stagnant for centuries, never trusting each other enough to share technology or unite into stronger powers.  They each developed into small kingdoms led by a War Prince, which often made war on each other.  Also, they all gave Saranus a wide berth, fearing the wrath of the Sarani, and the legends of Saranus, over time, were enough to prevent any organized assault. Lastly, the kingdoms started to refer to themselves as "Kindric", not aware of the original meaning of the word.

Despite nearly constant warring with each other, the various Kindric kingdoms do manage to flourish to a degree, making improvements in farming and irrigation techniques, especially the cities of Inemar and Fencal. 

Around 1450 BFE, expedition parties from the Kieran Empire to the north start arriving and exploring the Kindric kingdoms.  Decades after that, the Kierans return, this time with full armies.  The kingdoms, divided and disorganized, fall one by one.  The leaders of Fencal try and organize an alliance, but the mistrust between the kingdoms is too strong, and some kingdoms make deals with the Kierans. 

The Kieran army marches across the Kindric nations, approaching Saranus.  They have heard the legends of the city, and prepare themselves for a massive battle.  However, the Sarani had long since grown decadent and weak. The city was decayed, with the mighty walls in disrepair, and the population was a fraction of what it once was.  The Kierans laid waste to the city entirely, only discovering the most mundane of the Saranic secrets.  The most useful secret the Kierans gained from Saranus were advanced techniques in ironworking.  Up until that point, the Kierans used primarily bronze weaponry.

Inemar and other western Kindric kingdoms, which had been hoping the Sarani would stop the Kierans, quickly surrendered to the Imperial Army.  Over the next centuries, the Kierans solidified their control over the Kindric territories, bringing in their own nobility to rule over the lands.  They also had roads built, and worked with Kindric irrigation techniques to make further improvements.  Under Kieran rule, the Kindric began to flourish, and the old divisions of the kingdoms began to be forgotten.

The Kierans expand southward to Futralia, and Kindric men are conscripted into that war.  The Kindric are allowed certain freedoms during this time, trained in using Kieran weapons.  The war with The Futralian Empire lasts for nearly a century, during which time the Kindric Territories provide not only soldiers, but also proves to be an invaluable resource in supplying food and metal to the war effort.

When the Kantari Imperial Dynasty ends (855 BFE), the Kieran nobles struggle for the throne. Duke Jutirio of Inemar, the most prosperous city in the Kindric territories, makes an attempt at the throne.  The Senate mostly ignores him since he is not an Archduke, and thus he is not eligible.   Still, Jutirio takes many of the legionnaires from his district with him to Vedix in an attempt to intimidate the Senate.  During this time, Inemar is almost ignored, and the populace stages a minor revolt, throwing the Kieran Lords in Inemar out of the city, and attacking merchant caravans coming in.  Legions quickly came and resumed order, and Jutirio was tried for treason.

In the center of the empire, the Kaylron Dynasty begins.  Most of this Dynasty is concerned with better defining this now vast empire, to better control the populace.  The original territories are referred to as the Imperial States of the Empire, and their nobility, the Archdukes, are the Great Houses of Kieran.  The Senate specifically represents the Imperial States.  Kelther, Kindrica, Arengi and Futralia are now called the four "Protectorates", which are broken down into Provinces.  The Dukes who rule over the Provinces are Kieran nobility, Lesser Houses, but these people come from families from the Imperial States. 

The next two dynasties, which are the First Vatali and the Second Luciex, are both short lived, but it is under these rules that the Protectorates are encouraged to thrive in their own terms, with the Kierans mostly ruling in an advisory method.  At this time, Kieran culture is considered to be at its peak, as all the Protectorates thrive under relative freedom.  Roadways are improved throughout the whole of the Empire.  Kindrica thrives immensely, as the citizens are given many freedoms, and advances in agricultural techniques are made. 

In 751 BFE, the Nenevar Dynasty takes control in the Empire.  Lasting 142 years, it is an extremely long dynasty, and is also one of the most brutal.  Nenevar I began his reign by promoting the idea, which flourished throughout the Imperial States, that the people of the Protectorates were not true citizens of the Empire.  Laws were drafted referring to them as "civilians", with very few rights or privileges.  "Kieran Purity" became a major driving concept during this time. 

It was in 696 BFE that Nenevar V, obsessive over the fact that the Kieran language now had many words of Kelther, Kindric and Futralian origins, began The First War of the Tongues.  The purpose of this "war" was to eradicate the non-Kieran languages, forcing the Protectorates to speak the Kieran tongue.  The first one was mostly concentrated on the Kindric Protectorates, where texts in Kindric were destroyed, children were separated from the parents and taught Kieran, and those heard speaking Kindric in public were arrested and executed.  By the time Nenevar VII took power, the Kindric language was all but wiped out.  The Emperor was satisfied with these results, and the war stopped.  He did, however, think that the Protectorates had too much of their old identity, and had the Senate redraw the maps.  From here on, the Kindric Protectorates were referred to as the Druthalian Protectorates.  Many provinces within "Druthal"  (named after the mapmaker's eldest son) also were renamed.

In the Province of Jarechna, the first sailing ships are developed.  The Kierans take full advantage of this development and put the Jarechnans to work building sailed ships to explore the western seas.  The Napolic islands, Bardinæ and the island of Corvia (which was completely uninhabited) were all discovered.

The Kierans start a war against the Hletrans on their eastern border, and during this time food supplies and other goods that are produced in Druthal are taken by Kierans and used in the war effort.  As a result, many in the Druthalian Protectorates go hungry.  Some try and organize a revolt, but the Druth morale is far too low for it to go anywhere.

Kieran control continues to be tested through the Miedikar Dynasty and the Third Kantari Dynasty.  This mostly takes the form of small revolts and uprising in single cities, or involving one Waish Clan.  While each one is dealt with, the Kieran military feels the strain of having to run all over the Empire putting out fires of unrest.  Stricter laws are passed on the civilians of the Protectorates, limiting their ability to meet and assemble.  Corvia is established as a penal colony for dissenters and rebels.

Near the end of the Third Kantari Dynasty, the Empire is visited by a delegation from the Tsouljan Regime, who are there to learn all that can be learned about the Kieran culture.  Kantari XVI welcomes these strangers with open arms, hoping to use it to further establish the empire in the east.  The Tsouljans have a profound influence over his son, and when Kantari XVII becomes Emperor, he uses his power to try and ease tensions in the Protectorates, by giving a way for civilians that demonstrate loyalty to be rewarded.  In doing so, he starts the practice of Civilian Governors in the Protectorates, whose main purpose is to ease the burden of day-to-day ruling of the civilians from the Kieran lords, and to show the civilians that they have a voice.  The Civilian Governors are, for the most part, puppets of the empire.  Also, he forms the Warlords and Vanguard, Orders for loyal civilians to learn fighting skills that they can use to defend the Empire and Protectorates.

The Dreciem Dynasty tries to hold down the unrest in all the Protectorates, which is growing greater and greater.  The nobles leave it to the military and Senate, who decide to enforce drafting all able bodied citizens into a number of years of military service.  They even offer citizenship to Protectorate civilians who swear allegiance and serve the Empire in the military.  Every city in the Protectorates becomes a military outpost. Domination from the military over all Protectorate provinces increases during the Anipar Dynasty, as civilians are often arrested and executed on minor charges, and many people flee to the forests, to form bands of rebels.  Civilian Governors and the Orders are called upon to hold the order together.

The last dynasty of emperors, the Second Gelmin Dynasty, ends in 35 BFE, when at a New Spring Festival held by Gelmin V ends in disaster, as a mass poisoning results in the deaths of not only the Emperor and all his heirs, but all the Archdukes of the Imperial States, almost all of the Legion Generals and most of the Senate.  The entire government structure of the Empire is thrown into chaos.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Worldbuilding: Calenders and Holidays

¡Feliz Día de los Muertos!  All right, it actually was earlier this week.  So was Halloween, which you probably paid slightly more attention to.  And it's Guy Fawkes Day in England in a couple days. 

Working out the calendars and holidays was one of those things that I got a little over-zealous about.  Did I need to come up with a whole 12-month calendar with month-names and matching the dates to the cycles of the two moons?  Did I need to come up with a slew of major and minor Druth holidays?  No, probably not.  But it was fun.

One thing that has crossed my mind was how so many holidays-- such as these recent three-- have a strong current of darkness they had.  Cultural have a strong need to use celebration in conjunction with the macabre.

Take, for an example from Druthal, the Feast of St. Jontlen.  The tradition of the holiday is to have all the children of the household (or ladies and young men, if there are no children in the household) hide in closets, under beds, wherever.  Then the feast is laid out on the table: traditionally roasted lamb, sausages, beets and berry pies.  As much bright red as you can get.  Then the master of the house, dressed in red robes, gets his hands in the pies, and calls out, "Free!  Free!" and the hiders all come running.  There is laughing and feasting and everyone is happy.

Of course, the basis for this feast is the story of St. Jontlen himself, traditionally depicted "red-eyed and anointed in blood".  As the story goes, Jontlen was a soldier who became a monk, and was in charge of an orphanage.  The orphanage was attacked by slavers, who took all the children to work the mines.  They had left Jontlen for dead.  But he came for the children, viciously slaughtering every single slaver in a one-man rampage that no one could have predicted.  When the last slaver was killed, Jontlen, red-eyed and anointed in blood, called out to the children that they were free.  And then dropped dead himself.

But that's just the story.  Now there's the feasts.