The Midnight Watch

Holding on 'til the next shift.

You are not logged in.


S'a hammerin'.

#1 2020-04-22 18:12:56

Registered: 2013-05-16
Posts: 143

[LORE] A Brief History of the Europa Shard


    During the Age of Darkness, a powerful wizard named Mondain bound the world of Sosaria to the Gem of Immortality, allowing him to achieve godlike power. In the world's darkest hour, the Stranger (or 'The Avatar of Virtue') appeared and slew Mondain, only to discover that Sosaria had become inexorably tied to the Gem. Seeing no other alternative, he shattered the Gem of Immortality, freeing Sosaria proper from its power. This, however, had the unintended side-effect of creating a perfect copy of Sosaria within each and every one of the hundreds of shards of the Gem of Immortality. Furthermore, the shattering magically divided Sosaria's surface, with each facet of each shard containing one of the planet's continents. After the moment of the shattering, the history of each shard diverged wildly.


    On one such shard, a man named Cantabrigian British succeeded in uniting the city-states of Sosaria in the wake of Mondain's defeat, forming the Kingdom of Britannia. Under Lord British's banner, the remainder of Mondain's minions were decisively defeated at the Battle of the Bloody Plains, and the Kingdom was set to settle into an era of peace and prosperity. This came to naught, however, with the mysterious disappearance of Lord British a few short years later. In his absence, unrest grew in the northern city-states, culminating in the proclamation of the Republic of Vesper. Without the mutual threat of Mondain and deprived of Lord British's talented diplomacy, the Royal Council was unable to resolve the crisis peacefully. Unwilling to let the Kingdom disintegrate, an alliance of Vesper's Royalist counterparts mounted an invasion, sparking what became known as the War of the Crown of Thorns.
    As the war dragged on, Royalist demands for military and material support, combined with repeated trespasses by both Royalist and Rebel armies, eventually provoked the neighboring city-states of Cove and Minoc to enter the war on Vesper's side. This decisively tipped the balance of the war in the Republic's favor, and the Royalist Alliance withdrew from the region shortly thereafter. While sporadic fighting continued on the borders and no formal peace treaty was ever signed, the withdrawal of the Royalists from Vesper effectively ended the war. Vesper announced the incorporation of both Minoc and Cove into the Republic shortly thereafter.

    Peace in the north was short-lived. Seeing the weakened state of the northern city-states in the wake of the recent war, a horde of orcs gathered in the Glenmore highlands. Catching Cove at unawares, they overran the town, scattering the small garrison with ease. When a local Covian nobleman, Octiovus von Richter, approached Vesper to ask for aid in driving the orcs from his land, he was sent away empty-handed. Vesper would not risk her army to save Cove.
    Returning home, Octiovus rallied the Covian peasants and, assisted by foreign volunteers and mercenaries, decisively defeated the orcish invasion. By the end of the campaign, the new Covian Militia was a large and seasoned fighting force, vastly disproportionate to the civilian population of the village. Backed by his new army, Octiovus declared independence from Vesper.

    Over the next few decades, the "Royalist" and "Rebel'' city-states fought dozens of wars, great and small. Minoc changed hands between Britannia and Vesper no fewer than five times, while the Baron of Cove expanded his holdings by seizing the border provinces of Altmere, Blackwell, and Templewood. Shifting alliances, civil wars, and invasions by outside forces all combined to keep Sosaria in a state of constant warfare throughout the period. With the Royal Council unable to maintain order, the Kingdom's largest vassals - the Duchy of Trinsic, the County of Skara Brae, and the Protectorate of Yew - each pursued vastly different goals. At various times, individual Royalist provinces were even known to ally themselves with one Rebel city-state to fight against a common foe. On occasion, united by their shared Avatarian faith, Yew and Cove even found common ground under the banner of the Church, embarking on notable crusades against both Trinsic and Vesper.

    Shortly after the ratification of an alliance between Yew and Cove, the Republic of Vesper launched a preemptive invasion of Yew, fearing that the allies were plotting an attack of their own. After devastating the Yewish coastline the Vesperian attack was repulsed, and a Covian-Yewish attack on Vesper was similarly defeated the following month. Over the course of the war, each side launched attacks on the major population centers of the other, and each attack was decisively defeated. Vesper, however, was much less capable of absorbing the losses, and began to grow increasingly desperate for any advantage that could be gained over her opponents. By the time the war ended, Vesper had embraced a myriad of unsavory practices, ranging from Necromancy to Daemonology. In part as a reaction to this, Cove and Yew signed the Crossroads Pact, extending their alliance indefinitely and inviting Trinsic, Skara Brae, and Templewood to join them.

    The County of Altmere suffered greatly from the other northern powers’ infighting. The largely agrarian region was first annexed by Cove, its original ruling house being hunted down and exterminated. Altmere was recovered by the Kingdom a generation later following a bloody war against a Covian-Vesperian alliance, but this conflict left the province in ruin and squalor, and governed as a protectorate of distant Yew. After the War of the Great Combine, Yew ceded Altmere back to Cove, crushing the Altmerians’ hopes of eventual self-government and freedom.
    Outrage at this move boiled over quickly, and before the Covian Army could properly reoccupy the province, hastily-assembled peasant militias seized strategic locations and supply caches throughout the province. The first columns of Covian soldiers to re-enter the province were greeted by barricades, booby-traps, and sporadic hit-and-run attacks by bands of rebels who proved impossible to bring to battle. By the time the Covian Army reached the city of Altmere itself, tempers among the Covians had boiled over. Open dissent in the city was brutally repressed, public demonstrations forcibly dispersed, and a new Covian governor installed in the keep.
    Despite the principal settlement of Altmere having been occupied, unrest in the countryside continued to escalate. Attacks and reprisals were exchanged with ever-increasing brutality, until at last the massacre of an outlying Covian garrison provoked an act of stunning cruelty in retribution. A detachment of the 6th Arcane Company, under the leadership of Corporal Bersi, embarked on a campaign of destruction against farms and villages suspected of harboring rebels: in a single night, half a dozen hamlets were razed by Cove’s mages.
    The revolt’s momentum momentarily halted, the 2nd Light Company set about infiltrating resistance cells, tracking the culprits of hit-and-run attacks back to their camps, and blackmailing or arresting those merchants suspected to be assisting the rebels. Most notably, Redmond Carleton, an early leader and face of the rebellion, was captured and executed. In a matter of weeks, the combined actions of the Arcanists and Scouts had cowed the people of Altmere into submission.
    With Vesper and her allies effectively checked by the Royalist-Covian alliance, and the question of Altmerian sovereignty seemingly settled, the north found itself at peace for the first time in generations. Trade resumed between the northern powers, and many beat their swords into ploughshares. Some spoke of reunification between Cove and Vesper, while the Royalists turned their gaze inward and busied themselves with internal matters.

    The peace was shattered, as it so often had been, by the belligerence and ambition of the Baron of Cove. Following weeks of renewed squabbling with Vesper over border markings, trade, and even attempts to invoke long-invalidated treaties, the Baron recalled his general staff and ordered them to plan for war. Reluctant to attempt an invasion of Vesper itself, the Covians instead struck at Vesper’s trade network, suddenly and unexpectedly occupying the neutral island city-state of Nujel’m and ordering all exports to Vesper rerouted to Cove.
    Vesperian attempts to negotiate Cove’s withdrawal peacefully were rebuffed, and the Republic gathered her allies to mount a counter-invasion. The conflict was short and bloody, with the Republic’s forces initially gaining the upper hand, only to be decisively defeated when the fighting strayed too far inland for the fleet’s guns to lend support in dispersing Covian formations.
    The Army of the Republic withdrew to Vesper, and began fortifying the city in preparation for the Covian-Yewish assault that they thought must surely be imminent. But no such assault came, for events elsewhere demanded the allies’ attention.


    Wars among nations come at a steep cost in blood and treasure, and during their invasion of Nujel’m the Covian Army levied much of their food, horses, and manpower from the fertile plains of Altmere. For many Altmerians, the atrocities committed to suppress Carleton’s Revolt were still a recent and bitter memory, and so Covian logistics officers found themselves facing ever-increasing resistance while collecting the Baron’s due. As the campaign in Nujel’m drew to a close, and fighting seemed set to move to the mainland in a renewed push against Vesper itself, resistance became defiance. Members of the artisans’ guilds laid down their tools and refused to continue working until they received fair compensation for goods appropriated by the army, while opposition to conscription escalated into rioting and the murder of a Recruitment Sergeant. When the Covian governor responded by calling out the garrison to seize the supplies, his men were met by an armed mob. When ordered to attack the crowd opposite them, many of the Altmere-born soldiers mutinied, and the remainder retreated to the keep.
    There, the Covian garrison became effectively besieged in the keep, as disloyal factions distributed the captured materiel and struck hasty alliances. Instrumental in organizing these disparate groups into a united front was Orson Miles, a veteran of Carleton’s Revolt and author of the artisans’ petition to the governor. Using his experience from that earlier conflict, he moved swiftly in barricading the city’s east gate, and ordered the Templewood Bridge demolished to bar the approach of Cove’s Yewish allies: this time, the city of Altmere would not be so easily relinquished.
    Soon after the gates were barred, the first Covian units began moving into Altmere. The 4th Dragoon Regiment, rapidly redeploying from the Vesperian border, overwhelmed the peasant militias holding the road-forts and established a fortified camp there. The 6th Arcane Company began bombarding the city’s southern walls with spellfire from their base along the coast, setting the city’s orchards and outlying suburbs alight. Elements of the Scouts were even rumored to have infiltrated the city through the miles of catacombs and sewer tunnels beneath.
    Meanwhile, the Covian governor and a small number of loyalists held the keep, surrounded by a rebel militia barely distinguishable from an angry mob but for the leadership of Orson Miles and a handful of army deserters. Though competently defended, the keep’s defenders faced an insurmountable disadvantage in numbers. Though they could see the Covian relief force encamped outside the city walls, and they had ample supplies to last a long siege, they could scarcely man the ramparts, let alone organize any sorties against the rebels. To make matters worse, they could see the rebels training and drilling in the streets below, becoming a more cohesive force with each passing day.
    Numerous attempts to breach the city walls were made, both by magic and by conventional means, while guerilla warfare raged in the countryside. The Dragoons became infamous as they seized nearly every good riding horse in the province to deny them to the rebels, while the Arcanists used the threat of destruction to force farmers to supply the Covian forces laying siege to the city. In retaliation, Altmerian rebels in the countryside ambushed patrols, harassed supply lines, and attacked collaborators.

    As the siege wore on, the capabilities of the rebel forces grew. Fresh desertions among Altmerian-born soldiers in the Covian Army continued to bolster their ranks and bring experienced and knowledgeable men to the rebels’ side. These men were put to work training the militias into a force capable of facing down the Covian assault that must someday come. Meanwhile, freed from the gaze of the Church and from Cove’s universal conscription of magic users, many hidden mages came forward to assist the rebels - on the condition that magic users would be free, should Altmere prevail. These rebel mages were put to work bombarding the keep and deflecting Covian spells hurled at the outer walls. 
    Alarmed at this development, the Arcane Company sought desperately for a means of breaching or bypassing the walls. Magic had long been tolerated in Cove only for its military utility, and the Arcanists lived in fear that the protection the army offered them from the Church might be rescinded should their usefulness be called into doubt. As the bombardment of the walls grew less effective and pressure on the keep mounted, Army Command’s demands for a breakthrough drowned out those urging caution.
    Disaster was inevitable. No one can say for certain what happened, but on the eve of the rebels’ long-awaited assault on the keep, the region was shaken by a series of escalating tremors. A sudden storm whipped the southern coast with gale-force winds, and every torch and lantern in Altmere guttered and died, whether sheltered or not. Fleeting shadows cast by lightning-strikes seemed to move with minds of their own, and all eyes were drawn to the south, to the spire of the Arcanists’ Tower, as light flashed through the windows and spell-rent walls blasted outward. At last, there was a blinding flash, a deafening crack, and the Arcanists’ Tower folded in upon itself and crumbled into the bay. 

    The consequences of the destruction of the Arcanists’ Tower spread through the region like a shockwave. Fully two thirds of the Covian Army’s trained mages were gone, along with nearly every Arcanist-in-training. Recognizing that the loss of the Arcane Company meant no relief was coming, the Covian Governor surrendered the keep, handing himself and his battered garrison over into captivity. With the army reeling, fears of a Vesperian counter-attack surged, and it was deemed prudent to abandon the siege so that forces could be redeployed eastward. Over the following weeks, the Covian Army withdrew to the borders of Covianshire, abandoning all but a handful of strategic locations. For the first time in living memory, Altmere was free.


Board footer

Powered by FluxBB