A Brief History of the Trodden War

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A Brief History of the Trodden War  Empty A Brief History of the Trodden War

Post by CromTheConqueror on Thu May 10, 2012 6:51 pm

A Brief History of the Trodden War

Origin of War

The Trodden War marked the first major conflict on Ara'niel since the signing of the Conclave Accords at the end of the Great War. The war was fought between the armies of the Impereich and those of Eadhalion and her supporters. A brutal affair, it spanned nearly four years in length.

The origins of the war remain hotly contested. Those historians who favor the kingdom of the plains would point to the power hungry King Theoric III who sat upon the Wolf Throne and the militaristic nature of the Impereich culture.

Those favoring the Wolf Throne decry the cross-border raids carried out by Eadhalion nobles. The Sun Throne has continued to claimed these raids were merely the activities of hedge knights and bandits, well past the war's ending. They claim that the raids were merely a flimsy pretense for the Wolf Throne's invasion.

However any impartial analysis of documents attained at the Royal Palace would force one to conclude that the Sun Throne was at the very least in contact with the so called "bandits", if not outright complicit in their activities.

But the claim that the raids were mere pretense on the part of the Impereich is not far off. Theoric III's lust for power and simmering rhetoric against Eadhalion is well documented for those who care to look. The Impereich King consistently exaggerated the damage done by the raids and took any opportunity to rile his people into a furor against the plainsmen.

The Beginning

But regardless of who was responsible for the wars origins, the first major attack was in fact committed by the Wolf Throne. King Theoric III's elite Fangs infiltrated the unsuspecting border city of Dehlan. In the dark of night the King's Fangs stormed and captured the city's gatehouse, allowing nearly 5,000 Impereich soldiers to storm the city virtually unopposed. At that point the massacre began. Presumably under the direct orders of King Theoric III himself, the city was set aflame and its nearly 800 occupants put to the sword.

Eadhalion was shocked. Counselors and diplomats in Krak de Monutem had assured the Sun Throne time and time again that the Impereich would never attack because it relied on Eadhalion farmers for wheat and livestock to feeds its people. But unbeknownst to such counselors, King Theoric III had negotiated a secret deal with the Aldish States for food. His nation would not starve.

And so as the members of the royal court fell upon one another like rabid dogs, pointing fingers and bickering, the farmlands of southern Eadhalion began to burn. General Valkar, leader of the Impereich army, was not to remain idle as political discord enveloped his enemy's capital.

Eventually cooler heads prevailed in the House of Rule and a mighty host was raised by Eadhalion to crush the Impereich army. Numbering 7,000 strong, it was the single largest host assembled since the end of the Great War. What’s more it possessed over 1,000 armored knights, the most deadly host of warriors in existence. The House of Rule and the Sun Throne were both confident of an overwhelming victory.

Excerpts from communications between the Impereich army and the Wolf Throne suggest that general Valkar shared the Sun Throne's faith in the power of its knights. I have interviewed sources close to the Wolf Throne who suggest that Valkar even suggested retreat, though any official documentation of such a message has long since been disposed. Needless to say, the Wolf Throne remained adamant on holding the line. And so Valkar committed to the only logical course that seemed available to him. He went on the offensive.

Known as the Hero of Beobachter, general Derrick Valkar had gained fame for his aggressive tactics against the barbarian hordes of the south. He was known for ruthlessly pressing the attack, never allowing the enemy a moment of reprieve to regroup. He would employed similar tactics on the plains while utilizing the political weakness that he had observed as being so evident after the sacking of Dehlan. In a move dubbed only years later by military tacticians as "hand over fist", Valkar divided his army into five distinct companies. These "fingers" would advance across the plains in a scorched earth campaign. Later on they would converge in a "fist" that would crush the capital of Krak de Monutem.

In the decades following the war historian revisionist have attempted to label the move as overly bold and foolish. Had the Eadhalion army merely attacked the Impereich, they could have forced a complete retreat of Valkar's forces to guard the now defenseless homeland. But as I most firmly and respectfully remind my fellow historians; we were not there. And questioning the judgment of leaders with twenty-twenty vision and likely lacking in critical facts of the moment makes poor grounds for the historical objectivity we strive for. And for my part, I will merely suggest that the results may speak for themselves.

Instead of meeting a unified force the nobility compromising the Eadhalion army found their lands and fiefs being torched all around them. Political crisis again seized Eadhalion as nobles sought to defend their primary source of wealth and influence - the land they possessed. The same cool heads that had formed the host now fought to keep it from falling apart. It is possible that these efforts may have succeeded had the host been led by men of wisdom and persuasion but such was not the case. Most had been appointees that served as political puppets of the Sun Throne, put in place to ensure that the royal family would maintain control of the army, and not for their experience in leadership. It was a costly mistake that ensured the Sun Throne would have no army to command at all. Within a matter of weeks the once grand army of Eadhalion had disintegrated as nobles fled to defend their individual plots of land.

The War

At that point the differences between the Eadhalion and Impereich armies became glaringly apparent. The army under Valkar was experienced and bloodied from campaigns in the South. They possessed a cadre of experienced seniors officers who were used to being given a free reign under Valkar to get the job done by any means necessary. The ancient manufacturing plants of ages long past had been partially repaired by King Theoric III years earlier and the fires of blacksmith shops had burning constantly ever since. The men of the Wolf Throne found themselves well equipped and armored.

By contrast the army of Eadhalion had been composed of man-at-arms whose equipment relied wholly on the whims of their liege lord. Most had only been trained in sword yards and had never experienced real battle. The vast majority of foot soldiers were even worse off as thousands were mere conscripted peasantry. Men wielding whatever weapon was available to them. The thousand knights of the plain had served as a stiff back bone for the army and the true strength of the host. But divided and isolated across the nation, these knights no longer served as a an impregnable vanguard of destruction and most had little individual leadership ability.

Suddenly tales of small Impereich forces wiping out inexperienced but numerically superior Eadhalion companies became a commonplace. The assault on Dehlan had been conducted just as winter breathed its last breath but by winters return the Impereich army had advanced well into the heartland of Eadhalion.

General Valkar began planning a number of ferocious assaults that would be carried out as the armies of Eadhalion prepared for the coming cold. By Impereich standards, the winter climate of Eadhalion would be relatively mild. It would not be easy but the general of the Wolf Throne's army had no intention of letting down the attack and he hoped to be within reach of the capital by the season's end.

The elements, however, had other plans. A brutal series of winter storms overtook the plains, the likes of which had not been seen in decades. Some claimed it was of the result of Conclave sorcery. Others a sign of the gods condemnation for the soulless savagery displayed by the wolf men from the Impereich. Whatever the cause, the effect was the same. Attacks by Impereich soldiers were halted completely as men searched for whatever shelter could be provided to them.

By the time winter ended the odds had once again swung in the favor of the plainsmen. Support from the Conclave had finally arrived on the front lines of the battle field. To make matters worse the Sun Throne had been convinced to hire a mercenary army from the Sword States. They numbered only in the hundreds but they were all experienced soldiers. The remaining Eadhalion army was well rested having spent winter behind thick walls of timber and stone. The same could not be said of the Impereich troops who were left with little shelter but the ruins of the villages they had previously destroyed.

Eadhalion went on the offensive. The men of the Wolf Throne led a dogged defense and were eventually reinforced by the less experienced but large number of Impereich reserves. Tribesmen of various professions put to use the battle training that had been demanded by every one of them one by the Wolf Throne.

Over the next two years the tide of battle for both kingdoms would see-saw back and forth. Great battles and individual heroics would be committed by both sides but such occurrences will not be tallied here for sake of brevity. But the conclusion of the two years of war still left the advantage in Eadhalion hands.

The End

The Impereich began to suffer as men made for mining and crafting were pushed into war. Payments to the Aldish for food became increasingly scarce and so food to the Impereich became even scarcer. Some documents suggest that the Aldish had been reluctant traders with the Impereich from the very beginning because their trade relations with nations tied to the Conclave suffered dearly and that they had only complied because the Impereich had threatened war if they did not. And while most agriculture in Eadhalion had long since burned, supplies from the unscarred north and shipments from the Conclave continued to pour into the warehouses of the plainsmen.

Eadhalion generals predicted the war's end was coming quickly. In response general Valkar did what he always did when the situation became dire. He attacked. Crossing the Black Mountains and marching through the Great Wood he struck a surprise attack against the jewel city of Bordaeux. How Valkar managed to transverse the mountain ranges and the Great Wood so quickly and accurately remains a mystery. The fact that his army made it through relatively unscarred is an even greater mystery as both lands are known for their respective dangers. Such theories shall be discussed in later editions but needless to say the Eadhalion army was completely unprepared to defend such an unexpected front. To make matters worse the bulk of the Conclave fleet was docked at the port at the at the time of the assault and was caught defenseless during the merciless attack on the city.

The Rape of Bordaeux is a song known all across the plains and unfortunately its lyrical prose is not far from the reality. The Impereich army stole all the supplies they could get their hands on and then ravaged the city. It was Dehlan all over again but on a far greater scale. Over 3,000 plainsmen and their allies were slain. Children were not always spared and many women were raped before being left to burn. It's said even the iron hearted general Valkar was moved to tears after seeing the chaos he had unleashed on the jewel city. But such tales have never been firmly substantiated.

Tragedy aside the most important point remains that it turned the tide of the war back in the Wolf Throne's favor. The Impereich was now within reach of Krak de Monutem and the Royal Family possessed little to defend itself. The army in southern Eadhalion, which previously had been on the verge of victory, was forced into retreat with the wolf men of the Impereich snapping at their heels. Valkar's fist was finally beginning to form.

Soon the Impereich army had surrounded the lands near the plainsmen capital city. Fierce skirmishing developed as the wolf men pressed forward to converged with their northern army. The full frontal confrontation that the Sun Throne had so avidly sought was fast approaching but hardly on the terms they had desired. Instead of outnumbering the Impereich in the thousands near Dehlan, they would be fighting them on nearly equal terms outside their very capital.

The eve of the bloodiest battle since the end of the Great War was upon both kingdoms. And then the Impereich army retreated.

In a bizarre twist of fate still hotly contested by historians today, Theoric III young son overthrew his father with the support of several tribal leaders. The events surrounding the uprising and subsequent death of Theoric III will be discussed elsewhere but remain strange at best. As was the young Theoric IV decision to withdraw the Impereich army.

Many have questioned why general Valkar didn't just proceed with the battle as planned and seize the victory that was within his grasp. No one would have ever held it against him had he chosen to do so. He was the greatest hero in the Impereich and could have easily taken the Wolf Throne as well as the Sun Throne when it was over – making him perhaps the most powerful man alive. Some say it was fear. That he secretly feared the Eadhalion army, backed up against a proverbial wall, would defeat his forces and leave his nation defenseless. Some say it was compassion. That the event at Bordaeux had changed him and he was attempting to save as many of his men as possible. I would suggest that it was neither fear or compassion. It was loyalty. Theoric III was a careful man. Giving a man like Valkar the reigns of such a grand campaign could have spelled doom for his own dynasty. But he trusted Valkar would not return home to take his throne because his oath to the Wolf Throne was absolute. That was why Valkar, the great leader of men, acted as he did. Because he had sworn to obey.

A ceasefire was quickly announced as the Impereich army moved south. As the last wolf men crossed the border back into their homeland in the following months, an unconditional resolution of peace, brokered by the Conclave, was signed by the leaders of both nations. A fierce and seething hatred and rivalry had been born between the kingdoms. But the fact remained, as quickly as it had begun, the Trodden War was over.

- The Professor

Last edited by CromTheConqueror on Wed May 23, 2012 2:46 pm; edited 4 times in total

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