History of the Kurathene Empire
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Once the grandest and largest nation on Avlis, the Kurathene Empire is now a broken shell of its former glory. The history of the empire is generally divided into four periods: The Early Period, The Mortal Period, The Kurathene Period, and The Dark Period.
The Early Period, 500 Pre-war thru 200 Pre-war
When Mikon created the humans of Avlis, they managed to spread out on the planet very quickly. One particular people, called the Romini, were particularly good at spreading. When they reached the plains of what would be the empire, they found a land with fertile soil and wide open spaces, populated with all kinds of grazing herd animals which they would eventually domesticate.
These people found that making a living on this land was relatively easy for larger populations, and in two particular areas, one in the center of the landmass and one towards the south, there were large rivers coming out of the mountains to the east, and these served as a means of sustenance as well.
Over a relatively quick period of time, roughly 100 years, these humans were able to spread over most of the area, even into the far northern tundra. At the same time the humans were spreading through this area, another race was also making its way there, the dracon. The humans and the dracon immediately set off on a peaceful relationship upon meeting. The dracon were hard workers and very organized worshippers of the god Toran. The humans were very hardy and intelligent worshippers of Mikon, though they were not nearly as steadfast in their religious ways as the dracon. Together, the two races began to create settlements throughout the area.
During this time period there was no major overlying organization to these peoples. They did not see themselves as a nation, but rather as a collection of related peoples living over a wide plain.
The Mortal Period, 200 Pre-war thru 15 Post-war
For a time, these peoples lived in peace without the need for greater organization, however with the beginning of the Fairy War that would change. The Fairy War was a strange war as far as they go, because the fairies of O'Ma and Titania did not have any particular country or land area that they each lived in. Fairies are indigenous to all areas of Avlis, both on water and on land, and they spread even faster than the humans when all of their species are taken into account as a whole. So when this war began, every country in the world found itself stuck with large clashes between the two kinds of fairies right in their own backyards. Many innocent bystanders among the humans and dracon perished in this clash before anything was done about it.
However, finally something was to be done. The dracon of this new land insisted that all of them unite and organize against the fairies, as their other dracon brethren had done to the south in what is now known as Toran Shaarda, the land of the dracon. Not being the type to want to lead, if they could help it, the dracon wanted to organize under a human leadership which would systematically put an end to the fairy conflicts on their soil. Reluctantly, the humans agreed. A large gathering of all the towns and settlements of the plains was formed, and after a long discussion aided by the dracon, they agreed to unite into one entity for the purpose of protecting themselves against the fairies. There was some disagreement about how long this unity would last. Some thought that they were actually forming a nation, while others believed that the unity was more like a mutual protection pact that would expire if and when the Fairy War ended. That disagreement was glossed over, and the humans picked a leader named Tomil Kurath, and he received the title of Overseer.
Tomil Kurath's job was not easy. From these loosely aligned peoples and species, he tacked together an army, which he had trained by the dracon. He also founded a new settlement towards the center of the plains area, where he could base this army and have them respond rapidly to any threat. For 20 years he reigned as overseer, and in those 20 years he became very highly regarded for his work. Fairy clashes were almost non-existent in his lands at the end of his reign, and the peoples of the settlements were all thankful to call him their leader. Like all men, Tomil Kurath became old and passed away at a ripe age, yet the Fairy War still raged. 25 years was the blink of an eye to those longer lived races, and the war still had to be dealt with. Thus, Tomil Kurath's son, Mantith, came to power.
Mantith was actually elected and condoned by the settlements, for he was the next most qualified person for the job. Over his reign, he took measures to increase the rapidity of repsonse of the army to situations by building roads out of his father's settlement, now called Centerpoint. The glory of his reign lasted another 15 years, until he died an untimely death while intervening in an attack by the O'Ma fairies on a Titanian settlement. To this point, the Kurath's had ruled for 40 years, and the word "Overseer" was disappearing from the short memory of the humans and dracon. Most people just called their leader "The Kurath", and by the time two more Kurath sons had succeeded their father, the leader was simply given the name "Kuras".
The Fairy War went on for another 60 years (and 6 Kuras leaders) after the death of Mantith. The only reprieve came at the beginning of the Great War, which started when the orcs assaulted the fairies of both sides. The Great War was somewhat of a nonentity for the reigning Kuras, because it was brewing on the opposite side of the continent. In reality, its outbreak was seen as a good thing in the newly formed Kurathene Republic, which formed during the same year. Upon the first agressions of the Great War, the fairies immediately stopped fighting one another, and this produced a calm over the entire plains nation, for they no longer had to deal with keeping their land free of bloodshed. This marked a golden era for that country because it gave them time to form a new government and to grow their economy and culture. They were no longer a struggling mass of settlements trying to keep safe from two factions that warred around them. They were now a nation with a well-established and well-trained army, and they were ready to grow out of their defensive war mentality.
The Kurathene Republic blazed new trails in government for its day. Up to that point, each settlement had no real say in matters of the whole, because everything was dealt with militarily. Those settlements that produced more soldiers had more say, so long as it did not go against the orders of the top military commander who was the Kuras. Now things were different. There was peace, and each settlement began to see its own small identity as a part of the whole. They desired to help steer the direction of the new Republic so its resources could be maximized and they could be at their best. From this idea came a new system whereby each settlement picked a leader to represent them, and all of those leaders sat on the Kurathene Council, which worked closely in deciding matters alongside the Kuras himelf. In addition to the Council, the Church of Toran became an influential power, for as time went on, control of the military shifted from the Kuras, to them. Essentially, the Church of Toran was made to run the military and report directly to the Kuras, instead of the Kuras having to run it all himself, because there was little time to run both the military and the Republic.
For about 50 years, and 4 Kuras leaders, this system was allowed to develop into a solid government, and it was now looking as if many of the Council positions were becoming hereditary, a trend that would continue in the years to come. This organization of government peaked right at the time the Great War reached the borders of the Republic. The new nation would now spend the next 150 years trying to keep that war out of their borders. They remained a neutral party throughout, and catered to both sides in trade, which made them very rich.
75 years after the war began, there were many minor skirmishes with the orcs and the other races involved in the war. People in the Republic were getting a bit tired of the fighting, but their sense of neturality prevailed by a thread, mainly because of the worship of Mikon by the humans. Mikon saw the war against the orcs as unbalanced, and when he created the evil dragons to smooth out the sides a little, the humans of the Republic were blamed for it by the elves and dwarves. This made for even icier relations with their neighbors.
Around this time, a new Kuras came to power, and his name was Joral Kuras. Joral was a great warrior, and took every chance he could get to wade into battle wherever it was found within his borders. For a few years, he reigned effectively and managed to preserve the order of things in the Republic, but his distaste for the Council was well known. He saw them as an obstacle for organization rather than an aide.
Then disaster struck. The orc mages, who were now all concentrated in an area just south of the Republic, decided to make a last ditch effort to save their people from being driven into the sea by unleashing an evocation spell of great power. When the spell backfired and caused an explosion unlike any other seen on Avlis before or since, the effect on the Republic was devastating. The landscape was scarred, and tens of thousands of citizens of the Republic were incinerated or worse.
Joral Kuras was wounded in that explosion, but he survived. However, the chaos that was to follow within his realm was not as easy as what just happened. A large number of the southern and eastern province leaders were engaged in a party that day, and the explosion wiped them out. This sent many of the provinces into anarchy. Many blamed Joral for not stopping the explosion. Others just wanted to know why he did not catch wind of it and warn people, even if he couldn't stop it.
Through a long series of events, most of those leaderless provinces broke away from the Republic. This instability led other provinces in the North and West also to secede. Joral Kuras was left with nothing but a small concentration of powerful provinces around Centerpoint. This confusion also had a bad effect on the dracon, for they were unsure which way to go, and which side to take. They weren't concerned so much about who was right or wrong. They were just confused as to what action to take for their armies and how to divide them up.
Joral Kuras was determined to reunite the Republic, but in his own way. His first step was to placate the dracon. He did this by taking on the worship of Toran, and publically declaring Toran, and not Mikon, to be the god of HIS nation. All of the dracon now had a rallying point, and many of the humans, who were very angry with what Mikon had let happen, were also convinced to follow Kuras for this. Joral renamed Centerpoint, calling it Kuras, after his title, and he declared it to be the new capitol of the nation he was about to build. Those who followed Joral on this crusade adored him, and took up his rallying cry.
Slowly, over the next 15 years, Joral reconquered the entire former area of the Republic. His armies of dracon and humans swept through the meager defenses of the provinces. Each conquered province was placed under the control of a vassal who was loyal to Kuras and Kuras alone. The vassals swore fealty to Kuras, and vowed to uphold his rule.
When it was all over, Joral Kuras was an Immortal who controlled the entire plains, and he declared himself Emperor of the new Kurathene Empire, with Toran as its patron god. Thus begins the Kurathene Period.
The Kurathene Period, 15 Post-war thru 1825 Post-war
The Kurathene Period is too lengthy to go into here. In short, Emperor Kuras was the sole immortal ruler of the Empire, and he stayed in power the whole time. As a leader, he was very stern, but not oppresive. He allowed people their freedoms, but he insisted that they be loyal to him. Vassals became full nobles in this period, and their hereditary lines were preserved as best as possible. Kuras always made sure that he let them accumulate their own wealth and power, while still remaining his underlings. At various times, noble families were replaced when they got out of hand.
Meanwhile, Kuras tried to gain power for himself. He was disturbed that his lands were surrounded by nations that were too well-entrenched to take over, however, he also was wise enough to realize that owning those nations would not get him anything but a group of unwilling citizens for the most part. So Kuras did not venture forth much out of his own lands, and instead concentrated on personal power by collecting valuable objects of art, magic, and assorted treasures.
One particular artifact which he obtained after great adventure was a sceptre of immense power. Its name was Godslayer, for it was rumored to have the ability to banish a god's influence from the land. The sceptre became his right of office, and his most prized possession.
Unfortunately, such a powerful artifact is not without a price. The magic of his artifact only served to increase his lust for power, and to ascend himself to a position alongside the major gods.... or even above them. Many of the gods were concerned about this, though only O'Ma was brave enough to send an avatar to retrieve the sceptre from Kuras. Unfortunately, O'Ma lost the encounter. In the fight that ensued, Kuras hit O'Ma withe sceptre and drove his influence from the world, driving the fairy population and O'Ma's faithful into darkness.
The chaos that followed that event alerted many people, and one of them was a very powerful mage named Nemeril. It is not known where Nemeril came from, or even if he was of this world, but Nemeril was able to slay Kuras and take the sceptre. Along with the sceptre, he took Kuras' throne and declared himself Emperor of the Kurathene. Thus ended the Kurathene Period.
The Dark Period
The Empire was under Nemeril for maybe a day and a half. For owning a device of that magnitude gains one many powerful foes. In that one day, Nemeril fought no fewer than 5 opponents who would have the sceptre. The last one was a powerful mortal named Angadar. The limits of his power were not certain, but it was known that in addition to his formidable magical ability, Angadar was possessed with substantial mental powers, as well as some peculiar dragon-like qualities that no one was certain of their origin. Nemeril and Angadar fought in the City of Kuras, and the battle brought down the Palace, levelling it. In the end, Angadar was victorious and claimed the sceptre as his own.
The retainers around him then declared him Emperor, for they were leaderless and needed someone to follow, however Angadar refused the throne. He did not want to be an Emperor... he had other plans.
The Empire now had no leader, and no one strong enough to ascend the ruined throne. Squabbling between the provinces erupted for Kuras had no heirs. Soon, all out war broke free, and the fiefdoms of the Empire split into smaller vassallships.
These independent fiefdoms still vie for control of the empire to this day, but none has been strong enough to unite them once again.
As of 2160, the Kurathene Empire is still recovering from the effects of the Third Tri-Fief War a decade earlier, and as such the peace that currently exists remains fragile, as the various lords maintain their armies and slowly rebuild after the devastating effects of several large scale fey conflicts within their borders.
The Third Tri-Fief War had a devastating effect upon the fey enclaves that had appeared sporadically in Kurathene over the past two centuries, notably the ones found in northern Cytheria under the care of the Lomar Dynasty and amongst the forests of Trenium and the plains of Arvanos. To a greater extent it also showed many of the limitations of modern Kurathene armies and their tactics, which are primarily geared towards field engagements rather than engaging in putting out brush fire conflicts within their own borders.
As a whole the greater urban populations of Kurathene did not particularly suffer during the last war, though the effects of the conflict were profound for the rural areas. This has meant that much of the traditional strengths of Kurathene lands, that is their agriculture had suffered relatively heavily during the conflict, and several regions, most notably the northern Cytherian Frontier and much of the Braccien Champagne are still in the process of rebuilding their farming settlements and communities after the war. Thus the output of Kurathene farms has fallen somewhat over the last ten years and is only recently recovering to its pre-war levels, leaving many of the traditional land-owning classes with leaner wallets.
The current major powers in Kurathene are: Arvanos, the Principality of Calazeria, the Crullathian Empire, the Kingdom of Cytheria, the Grand Duchy of Julaspium, the Barony of Medec, the Kingdom of Osannia, the Duchy of Pylatea, the Barony of Servator, Trenium and the Valorian Kingdom. In addition there are approximately forty-eight smaller independent principalities and independent cities-states that exist around the city of Kuras and in scattered locations around the Empire.
Consisting primarily of the signatories of the Third Imperial Constitution (notably Trenium and Arvanos), the Loyalists maintain cohesion as the Empire’s remnant, though it has suffered perhaps the greatest setbacks during the last war. It currently includes Arvanos, Trenium and Servator. They are considered both internally and externally to be the last remaining vestiges of the old Empire and thus are either reviled or respected for their survival despite the fate of their cousins. Formally the Loyalists also included the Kingdom of Cytheria under the Lomar Dynasty, in addition to ruling Caliaze through a puppet government, but the events of the Third Tri-Fief War have forced them to relinquish influence in both regions.
The Loyalists essentially operate as three pillars, with Arvanos providing the manpower and grain, Trenium the gold and naval expertise and finally Servator providing military training and expertise as well as crucial domestic metals shipped through the contested Methran River.
Arvanos remains the leading power of this triad, holding the greatest amount of territory in south-western Kurathene, holding the entrance of the Methran River and retaining one of the most powerful and well-trained units in Kurathene in the form of the Imperial Company of Musketeers. However, out of the three Loyalist powers, Arvanos is one of the most fragile internally, having lost a great deal of its internal coffers paying for the previous war, losing a large portion of its fertile land to fey magic, and more recently with the death of Lord Joral Arvanos VI and the succession of his young grandson Joral Arvanos VII as Prefect. In addition to the change in the head of state, Arvanos also is in the midst of a generation shift within both its political and military spheres, signifying a dangerous time with the old guard, a bit too long in the tooth to remain on the front lines, and the upcoming generation who lack wartime experience. Currently, much of Arvanos’ state funds rely upon Trenish gold to continue operating, though more recently Arvanos cotton merchants have begun to capitalize on the explosive growth of Trenish textile manufacturing. Overall the population of Arvanos is roughly equal to pre-war levels, though it has had a slight decrease in overall wealth.
Servator is a wild card in this arrangement as they have only come into being as a result of the Third Tri-Fief War’s chaos. They maintain one of the largest standing armies of any Kurathene fiefdom, though this comes at the cost of being barely subsistence level in production and practically no manpower outside of its armed forces. Where the other fiefs are fiefdoms with armies, Servator itself is closer to an army with a fief. They primarily funnel metals and at times funds through Andarran merchant ships along the Methran River while receiving food shipments from Arvanos through the same contacts, which are maintained primarily by the merchant houses of Trenium. Servator, though powerful, is checked by the presence of Crullath to its immediate flank, and due to its lack of overall manpower is generally unable to maintain a large offensive like the other fiefdoms.
Trenium, though the most stable of the three powers, experiences several major problems of its own. Most notable is the massive amount of damage done to its shipping interests during the Third Tri-Fief War by Titanian Nixies, where nearly a third of its naval forces and a quarter of its merchant marine were sunk, taken or destroyed in some fashion by fey attacks. Given the limited amount of ship-grade timber that comes into maturity annually (much of this was made worse when Trenium lost access to the Cytherian Firs grown in northern Kurathene with the fall of the Lomar Dynasty), the dual-strain of building new ships and maintaining their fleet has taken a toll on the Imperial Navy, and only know after a decade of rebuilding has it come near pre-war levels of ships and equipment. Though Trenium has maintained the robust manufacturing and trading economy it had created since the fall of the Empire, and in fact has actually increased its capability during the war, the burden of maintaining the Imperial Navy and helping to finance much of Arvanos’ armies during the same period, in addition to the near bankruptcy of Arvanos with the poor harvests after the war and the massive naval rebuilding program have forced it to maintain (at least by historical Trenish standards) a high amount of taxation, including an income tax which has many of the influential mercantile houses in a state of discontent.
Overall the Loyalists are still more than a match for their Crullathian rivals, but are currently hampered by the lack of direct land routes between their territories and by the burdens of rebuilding from the last war,and reestablishing their infrastructures from the losses incurred during the Second Fairy War. There is some disagreement amongst outside observers as to whether the Loyalists are stronger today than before the war, particularly in relation to Crullath, but overall the shifts in power have been so minor that the two major rivals continue to maintain a tenuous but stable status quo.
The Crullathian Empire
The Crullathian Empire technically ceased to exist after the Third Tri-Fief War as the Imperial territories it held in Eastern Kurathene were lost to the Loyalists of Servator. However, it retains both the name and nominal title of Emperor, both as a result of its great strength amongst the powers and the prestige offered by its diplomatic recognition by both the nation of Brekon and the Kingdom of Dubunat.
Though Crullath did not gain any territory during the Third Tri-Fief War (in fact in addition to Servator, it lost a small amount of territory to Arvanos), overall it has come through the conflict as a more powerful entity, as it has managed to rebuild much of the naval force that it had lost during the war thanks to protection from Brekon, and has increased the sheer volume of its slave trade with Brekon, Dubunat and Drotid. Further where once the Loyalists ruled the entire western quarter of the old Empire, Crullath has managed to oust the puppet regime installed in Caliaze and instead has managed to put a more neutral form of governance through the Bloodsaik regime of Calazeria.
Internally Crullath is currently in the midst of a transitional period, as several factions vie to control the next generation of Crullathian politics. True to their Valokian roots, the machinations and maneuvering by each of the factions is both complex and intricate, as each curries favor with Crullath’s traditional allies the Church of Valok in Brekon and the monarchy of Dubunat to increase their voice in national affairs. Largely divided these are: the old human Kurathene nobility, the new orcish slave-owning nobility, the military and the Church of Valok. The current Emperor Devon Crullath III has been incapacitated since the late fall of 2158, and in his absence his sons Severin Crullath and Revel Crullath have secretly fought over the regency of the Crullathian Empire, with Severin holding the most influence amongst the old nobility and the military, and Revel holding most of the influence with the new nobility, touching off a potential conflict with the Church of Valok as the wild card, wielding the majority of actual power within the fiefdom.
Overall Crullath is still considered the most powerful of the fiefs, given by virtue of the immense political, economic and military support that it receives from Brekon and more recently from Dubunat. Though its nobles and clergy are often derided by the Loyalists for being usurpers and rabble, they have slowly gained more support amongst the other Kurathene fiefs as the traditional families have been replaced by upstarts with no more lineage than the Crullath family has claim for the Empire. It remains to be seen if Crullath can shake the image of being a puppet of the orcish nations and instead assert its own identity as an independent state.
Making up the remainder of the Kurathene Empire is the so-called "Third Kurathene", consisting of the remaining fiefdoms and principalities that dot the map. While there is little distinct between large and small powers in this categorization (indeed for this reason the Loyalists call them "rabble" while the Crullathians call them "sheep"), they present the ground upon much of the future shape of the Kurathene Empire will be built.
Largely speaking the other fiefdoms can be divided into two camps: old nobility and new nobility. Of the former are fiefs such as the Kingdom of Osannia, the Duchy of Pylatea or the Barony of Medec, each having established lines that stretch back several generations, and having a more socially conservative bent to their establishment. The newer powers include the revitalized Grand Duchy of Julaspium, the new Kingdom of Cytheria, and the Principality of Calazeria. These are less traditional in their establishments and are significantly less restrained by the social norms held by both the Loyalists and the old nobility, instead implementing novel ideas ranging from new religions to forms of government. Generally any one of these fiefs is on their own comparable to any of the Loyalist fiefs, though as they are unaligned this tends to cut down slightly upon their overall strength compared to the two major factions. However, their volatility and neutrality actually help them maintain their independence, as both the Loyalists and Crullathians understand that any aggression taken on one fief will generally result in the alignment of the other fiefs of Third Kurathene against them.