Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Western Baronies of Marikuhl: The War of Vengeance


A century of easy peace and prosperity passed for the Marikuhlian Empire, its various provinces holding on to their colonial identities with pride and their noble families ruling well and with light hand. After the heavy-handedness of the old empires before the secession, no one wanted to risk public ire again by putting too much pressure on their people or their resources. Expansion halted as population growth slowed; without a constant influx of new settlers from Ovidium, the need for more land abated.

All of that ended in an eyeblink when a huge war fleet landed in Medrach Province and overran the provincial government within a day. From their beachhead at Medrach, the invaders made known their intentions: they had come from the Old World, newly united under a single ruler, and they intended to take back what they saw as theirs.[1]

The early weeks of the War of Vengeance were a bloody and futile affair, with the Marikuhlian forces beaten back time and again before the sheer size of the Ovidian army. More ships landed every day, and things seemed grim for the young empire.

An increasingly desperate emperor turned to his greatest advisors and generals for answers. At first, none were forthcoming, and it seemed that the empire must fall before their enemies. However, from obscurity came a cabal of sorcerers who offered their aid to the emperor. Magic, long a feared and reviled force in Ovidium, had flourished once more on Galatea, out from under the heel of oppressive and fearful governments. While Marikuhl had never officially sanctioned arcanists, neither had it persecuted them. This cabal, the Ordo Astra Lyceum, revealed to the emperor and his court a way to turn the tide of battle—though the cost would be terrible.

With heavy heart, the emperor accepted the cabal’s bargain: in exchange for a century of human sacrifice, the order’s patron, a mighty demon-god of the sea[2], would turn the seas against the Ovidians. Without the aid of their navy to speed battles or to allow reinforcements, the Marikuhlians would have time to organize a suitable defense. As well, the cabal would grant their services to the army itself. While magic was of little use against large numbers of men, its aid in destroying key personnel and facilities was invaluable.

The empire turned its significant resources to the manufacture of weapons and armor, the production of siege engines, and the indoctrination of soldiers. With a year of stalemate guaranteed by the emperor’s terrible bargain, the Marikuhlian Empire returned to the war in a far better position. The fearless Marikuhlian soldiers, fighting not just for their homes but for their way of life, harried the depleted Ovidian forces across the southern provinces of the empire, finally rooting them out of their last strongholds and sending them scrabbling for the deadly embrace of the sea.

It took nearly three years, but the Marikuhlians were at last successful. The expulsion or death of nearly every Ovidian invader was not enough to sate the newly awakened Marikuhlian bloodlust, though. The people cried out that the War of Vengeance would live up to its name—that they would have revenge upon those who would attempt to usurp their sovereignty. The nobles heard their cry, and a massive effort was put forward to build an invasion force. Within six months, with the aid of the demon-god of the sea and a massive building effort, the Marikuhlian fleet made their way across the Atlantean Ocean and back to the continent of their origin—where they would be victorious.

The end of the War of Vengeance was as one-sided as the beginning, but no salvation made itself known to the embattled Ovidians. Any empire that aided in the invasion was cast down, its leaders slain, its army shattered. Those that had not been complicit in the War of Vengeance were given a simple message: stand aside or share in the same fate. Since most of the remaining empires were losers in the Ovidian Ascension Wars of the previous century, and thus barely recovering themselves, the choice was easy.

Within five years, the empires of Ovidium were no more, and the Empire of Marikuhl had made its supremacy in world affairs known.[3]


[1] Yes, this is intended to be a fantasy version of the War of 1812, turned up to 11.

[2] Cthulhu, basically. In later stuff about the Marikuhlian Empire, I make the Lovecraftian stuff a lot more clear.

[3] Like I said, dialed up to 11. The War of Vengeance starts off as a fantasy version of the War of 1812, but sort of ends as a fantasy version of World War I: "America gets big and goes to Europe to stomp all over everybody." Of course, the Marikuhlians are invaders this time around, and that ties in neatly with some of the themes of the setting, particularly about how barbarism saves civilization, but also condemns it. Giving in to violence is the only way to protect yourself from violence, but it also turns you into the thing you're fighting.

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