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Alternate Alphatian timeline AC 1014

by Geoff Gander

Spring, AC 1014: Caradon Maras, leader of the Sons of Argonath, officially crowns himself king of Argonath, and makes an official declaration to all the people of Frisland, saying that the nation is no longer part of the Alphatian empire, but is a free state. All those who do not support Argonath in its bid for independence are asked to leave the kingdom in peace.

Elsewhere, the Frislander towns of Bogotus and Ubdazi pledge loyalty to Caradon. The past few years since northern Alphatia became highly destabilised have gone very badly for many isolated communities in what was once Frisland. Seeing Caradon and his growing army as a source of stability and safety, placing themselves under his rulership is far more preferable to the two towns than fending for themselves.

Upon hearing of the developments in Frisland, the Grand Council in Skyreach issues a formal note of congratulations to Caradon Maras, and it also warns him not to stray too far from the empire. As the weeks pass, no response is forthcoming from Caradon, and the wizards order the soldiers of Ambur, Floating Ar, and Foresthome to mobilise against Argonath. It soon becomes apparent how weak the Grand Council's influence has become - only Floating Ar fully mobilises its troops. Foresthome acknowledged the request weeks after receiving it, and has sent a token force, while Ambur has sent a mere 1,500 men. The remainder are apparently needed to aid in the distribution of food and in the sowing of this year's crop. The dust clouds have finally dissipated in the north, but much work needs to be done to bring Ambur to a level where it can sustain itself once more.

Weeks later, the central Frislander town of Okadia, until now a neutral territory, is seized by Council forces. The local militia, seeing the larger force sent by Skyreach, as well as its battle mages, decides to surrender peacefully rather than risk destruction.

Near Qeodhar-occupied Gowola, troops continue their march into the countryside to secure more lands along Fris River border with Floating Ar, and south of the town. Initially, no significant resistance is encountered, but before long, reports begin to come in of isolated patrols being attacked by shadowy monsters, and of carnivorous vegetation preying upon them. Over the following weeks, large tracts of forest and pastureland are put to the torch, in an effort to flush out or destroy the creatures thought to inhabit the region. Though many unwholesome beasts are killed, others flee further inland. Unsettled by the experience, the Qeodharians press on.

On the northwestern coast of what was once Frisland, the coastal town of Nasta is suddenly attacked by a large host of Ostlanders, marching southwards. Although the defenders are quickly overwhelmed, the defeated are not killed outright. A bold, imposing man, by the name of Eric, assembles all of the townspeople by the coast, and proclaims himself jarl of Nasta, to be renamed Grønmark. He tells them that, as his subjects, they will have his protection, but all able-bodied men must swear a blood oath of fealty to him, or die. Seeing how these men fought, no one refuses to do as Eric tells them.

Elsewhere on the Frislander coast, the port town of Igdor is invaded by a different host of Ostlander raiders. They storm the beaches, killing anyone they see, and rampage towards the town itself. Lacking defensive walls, Igdor falls to the invaders within an hour, and the victorious Ostlanders pillage the town. After a second day of drunken looting, the Ostlanders are brought by their leader, Leif the Bold, into some semblance of order. He orders the surviving town administrators to be brought to him, and when they are dragged to the inn that serves as his hall, he orders them to pledge allegiance to him, or die. Seeing that Leif is serious, they do so. After receiving their oaths of fealty, Leif proclaims to his warriors that the town of Sjøvard, as Igdor will now be known, is theirs, and that he will lead them as jarl. The assembled Ostlanders let out a throaty cheer, and proceed to plunder the taverns for what ale they still contain.

The representatives of Arogansa, Theranderol, and Randel meet once again in Idongor to discuss the fate of Eadrin. The representatives of Arogansa and Theranderol still cannot come to an agreement regarding the border between their new territories, and the Arogansan threatens his counterpart with war if he does not relent. The Randelian representative cautions the Arogansan against acting so rashly, and warns the representative from Theranderol that some concessions may have to be made to Randel, as well. Intense bickering ensues, and all three depart, disgusted.

On the Isle of Dawn, the retreating allied armies are given a reprieve - in the form of fresh troops from the three nations, as well as a small host of high-level Thyatian clerics. The empire had been receiving regular reports of events on the Isle, and had determined that a cadre of experienced clerics would greatly aid efforts in defeating the Thothians, not to mention reinforcements. Their numbers bolstered, the defenders are better able to hold their ground, and with the aid of the clerics, large numbers of undead are quickly destroyed. Thothian soldiers and clerics present in the invading force decide to retreat, and with them departs the much-reduced undead horde. The allies give pursuit for several days, harrying the Thothians and managing to kill several of their clerics.

After losing over half of its defenders to continued Thothian assaults, and suffering considerable damage from the frequent magical barrages of its attackers, Featherfall capitulates. King Dormin, knowing that what aid his allies could give to him was not sufficient to hold off the Thothians, agrees to the invaders' demands in the hopes of saving his people from further bloodshed. Aeria is to surrender unconditionally to Thothia, and accept a Thothian regent - appointed by the Pharaoh himself - as their ruler. King Dormin is to leave Aeria within two days, never to return. Likewise, those who swore an oath of allegiance to Dormin are under a similar obligation, unless they renounce that oath publicly. Disheartened, but at the same time seeing no other option, Dormin issues an order, to be carried throughout the kingdom, for all forces loyal to him to lay down their arms and submit to Thothia's authority.

Summer, AC 1014: Troops loyal to the Grand Council in Skyreach attack the Argonathian city of Mafertat, and are met with sound resistance. While a large host of Aran soldiers are tied down trying to take the coastal town, the remainder - composed of Arans, Amburians, and Foresthomers - penetrate deeper into the countryside, in search of towns to attack.

In the newly-renamed city of Argondor, King Caradon receives news from spies that not only are forces loyal to the Grand Council invading from the east; elvish forces are steadily advancing northwards. Some rumours brought to the king are to the effect that Shraek itself is under siege. Intrigued by this possibility, he issues a proclamation, ordering half of his forces to meet the apparently scant forces sent from the east, and drive them out. The remainder he charges with the task of "aiding Argonath in restoring its ancient borders, to reclaim those lands south of the Rainbow River that were lost to us so long ago." At his words, loyal followers cry out in joy, and anxious young men and women eagerly enlist in the growing army of Argonath. Many are refused, however, told that they must work to till the soils to ensure that Argonath will survive the coming winter. The matter of increased Ostlander activity along the western coast is also brought to his attention, but he decides to do nothing about it at the moment; far more pressing matters demand his attention.

In Blackheart, the streets of the capital city of Shraek bustle with panicking civilians, as word spreads that the armies of Shiye-Lawr have been spotted only two miles south of the city. Commoners load up those possessions they can easily take with them into wagons and carts, goaded by the chilling tales told by refugees from southern towns and villages, of how the elves spared only those who could run, and how they razed every settlement they came across. Within minutes, the streets around the northern gate of Shraek becomes clogged with screaming people, fighting to escape. Soon, it becomes apparent that those fevered tales are true, as pillars of smoke become visible around the southern gate, and the sounds of magic battles and screams echo throughout the streets. Despite their frantic efforts, however, the fleeing inhabitants of Shraek cannot leave in time. Soon, a force of over a hundred elves, mounted on warhorses, rounds a corner and charges into the crowd, casting deadly offensive spells at the massed people, and laying about with swords and spears. Before nightfall, the battle is over, and the defenders are vanquished. Only a thousand inhabitants remain within Shraek's walls after the last of the echoes die down, and there are forced, at swordpoint, northwards. As the last elves leave the city, plumes of smoke can be seen rising above the gutted buildings.

In Port Marlin, Esterhold, the brave attempts by the defenders to hold off the Jennite assault finally fail. After being under siege for almost six months, and holding off an enemy force more than three times its size, the town guards' morale breaks, realising that no help is coming, and they cannot win this war of attrition. Repeated blasts of horns signal the guards to abandon their posts, and they quickly form a rear guard as the last of the civilians are escorted to five ships, constructed from shipyard scraps, where they lay waiting in the harbour. The flight is fraught with peril, as Jennites scramble over the walls and rampage throughout the empty streets, trying to surround the fleeing Alphatians. Other Jennites open the gates from within, allowing hundreds of riders to pour into the abandoned town. As the civilians are brought on board, the last of the guards fight a desperate battle to hold off the invaders just long enough to allow the ships to pull up anchor and leave. Although the ships do manage to escape without any problems, the cost is high - of the roughly 150 guards protecting the refugees, only 70 manage to swim to the ships to join their families. As the tiny flotilla sails south for Notrion, the shouts and jeers of the victorious Jennites fade into the distance.

The citizens of the Bettellynian town of Sabetta are surprised to see a large force of Randelian soldiers march from the south, and surround them! The force's commander, under a flag of truce, approaches the town, and asks to see the mayor. When she is escorted out to meet the soldier, she is told that, in retaliation against continued rebel Bettellynian attacks along the coastal region, the town of Sabetta and its environs will be occupied until such time as a negotiated settlement is possible. He then informs the mayor that, so long as the locals do not resist, no harm will befall anyone. Realising what is happening, and knowing that there was a force of Bettellynian soldiers to the south - who must have been defeated - she agrees to surrender to the Randelians. Queen Llynara, upon hearing the news, orders a general mobilisation of the Bettellynian army.

In the Greenspurian capital of Eagret, a secret meeting takes place with representatives from Theranderol. Outlining the increasingly tense situation with their southern neighbour, Arogansa, the Theranderolians ask Greenspur to sign a pact of military co-operation, in the event that Arogansa decides to attack any Theranderolian positions. In exchange for this aid, Greenspur will the allowed a free hand in the western regions of Arogansa, and uncontested control over all territories that it manages to conquer. Feeling increasingly nervous about the military posturing of its eastern neighbour, Greenspur reluctantly agrees.

While allied soldiers force the Thothians into a slow retreat in southern Hillvale, a small flotilla lands just east of Ekto, and several hundred Dunadaler and Thyatian forces quickly take up defensive positions along the beaches. The Thothians send out a reconnaissance force to test the resolve of the allies, though few of these return to make a report, so efficient were the invaders. Seeing that their enemies are both resourceful and skilled, the Thothians decide to harry them with the occasional patrol, and cast offensive spells at them whenever they are spotted.

With the fall of Aeria to Thothian forces, King Heldeberan No-Man's-Fool of Aegos orders his son, Dromedon, to venture to nearby Furmenglaive, in the hopes of securing aid against the invasion he knows will eventually come. The Aegosian force that was sent to aid its ally was decimated by the enemy; only 150 of the 500 soldiers managed to return. With a population of only 5,000, Heldeberan knows that Aegos cannot stand long against Thothia's might, and that allies must be found. Thyatis, being a powerful empire, might be well disposed to aid the kingdom. On Gaity, Queen Timalta orders her recently-returned forces to make preparations to defend the kingdom.

Fall, AC 1014: The residents of Kirn, Theranderol, are shocked to hear the sounds of explosions, coming from the southern districts of the port city! Quickly, the city's defenders rush to uncover the menace, and come face-to-face with a small army of Arogansan soldiers. Immediately, a pitched battle erupts, as the Theranderolians try to push back the invaders, and the Arogansans cast spells of destruction against buildings, civilians, and anything else in their path. The defence is too little, too late, and within hours the defenders of Kirn are routed, fleeing to the north. With a raucous cheer, the Arogansans proceed to systematically loot the city.

In what was once Eadrin, Arogansan soldiers march against Theranderolian positions northeast of Archport, successfully pushing them northwards, while other divisions capture more territory to the east, towards the Randelian-controlled port of Nafertin.

Receiving messages by magical means that Arogansa has launched its offensive against Theranderol, the military commanders of the army of Greenspur give the order to attack Arogansan positions in Perponaz, Bluenose, and Avrads. Within hours, thousands of soldiers quickly cross the border, overwhelming defensive positions nearby, and laying siege to the cities of Avrads and Perponaz.

The force dispatched by the remainder of the Grand Council to conquer Mafertat manages to overcome the defences and assume control of the region. Many Argonathian soldiers, seeing that the Alphatians have the upper hand, retreat into the wilderness to conduct guerrilla warfare. Within days, it soon becomes apparent to the invaders that they are trapped in Mafertat. Those soldiers who venture outside the town's walls are ambushed and killed, and those mages unfortunate to show themselves are attacked by a hail of arrows, crossbow bolts, and the odd spell.

South of Mafertat, scouting parties sent by the Grand Council encounter not only hostile Argonathians; westward-roving patrols of Qeodharians clash with them as well. Though the battles with the Qeodharians are more of a nuisance than anything else (being inconclusive battles), they do pose a danger to Council forces in that they tie down troops who could be used for flushing out Argonathian guerrillas, or for relieving the defenders of Mafertat.

The camp of King Acroshiye, settled in the midst of the Ugly Wood, is disturbed by the reports of returning scouts. Apparently, there is a ragged party of elves, coming from the southwest, led by none other than King Drushiye of Limn! Quickly, Acroshiye dispatches an escort to bring the elves to his camp, where they may be looked after. Within the hour, the band of elves - twenty in all - is brought before Acroshiye, and greeted warmly. As soon as they are fed and made comfortable, Drushiye tells his tale of woe, from the siege of Trollhattan in AC 1012, to the expulsion of the survivors of that siege from what was once Limn a year later, and of the two-year trek up the western coast of Alphatia, and then eastwards through the Kerothar Mountains. Many of those present weep openly at the tale, and seeing the impact Drushiye has made upon his warriors, Acroshiye makes a solemn vow, that once Blackheart has been laid low forevermore, the Shiye shall turn their might against Stoutfellow and Stonewall.

In the Bettellynian rebel-held territory of Dmireton, troops loyal to Queen Llynara storm rebel positions north and west of Dmireton itself, quickly seizing them. They then proceed to assume control of the surrounding countryside. Occasional skirmishes between the Bettellynians and local Randelian forces erupt, most of these being inconclusive.

In Skyfyr, Esterhold, a lone Jennite warrior rides up to the city's southern gates, and requests, in Alphatian, a meeting with the rulers of the Kingdom of Blackrock. Intrigued, the Jennite is allowed, under heavy guard, to pass the gates, and is led to the palace, where King Xanthus is holding court. All conversation stops the moment the Jennite enters, and, assured that he has everyone's attention, the warrior issues the ultimatum he was ordered to deliver. He recounts the successive victories of the Jennites against the Alphatians, and of the often horrific acts inflicted upon those Alphatians who could not escape in time, saying that the oppressors are merely receiving due payment for the wrongs inflicted upon the Jennites. He tells them that the massed might of the free Jennites is "like unto the blackest sea, inundating all before it", and he says this: "The people of Skyfyr will be granted until the coming of the spring flowers to depart in peace from this land, and to never return, upon pain of death. Outlanders, this realm is no longer yours; we have fought your best warriors, and rent them asunder; we have lain your greatest mages low. We give you this one chance to leave unmolested, in honour. If you do not, the punishment meted upon the people of Rock Harbour, Faraway, and other places shall pale in comparison to those we shall inflict upon you for your audacity!" As his last word echoes about the audience hall, before anyone can react, he makes a bounding leap to the nearest window, crashing through the glass. A thorough, but fruitless, search of the city is begun afterwards; the lone Jennite is nowhere to be seen. Realising that his city is the sole remaining Alphatian holding in Esterhold, Xanthus decides to begin preparations for the evacuation of all civilians from Skyfyr, though he intends to remain in the city to the end, along with his soldiers, to fight the Jennites.

Once more, the allied forces of Thyatis, Dunadale, and Hillvale manage to push the Thothians back to the former border with Ekto, and their positions soon become entrenched. Despite considerable magical might being brought to bear against the defending Thothians, they have picked excellent positions in the surrounding hills and valleys from which to hold off their opponents. On the second front east of Ekto, the diminished allied forces who recently gained a beachhead are bolstered by fresh Thyatian and Hillvalian troops from East Portage. Having greater numbers, the force is able to lay Ekto to siege.

In Furmenglaive, Dromedon of Aegos meets with Count Phileus to discuss recent events in Aeria, and the Thothian menace to the region. Phileus listens patiently, and then explains to Dromedon that Thyatian forces are currently allied with those of Dunadale and Hillvale in an effort to repulse Thothian advances on the Isle of Dawn itself. Dromedon, not knowing of this, is surprised, and requests, on his father's behalf, the aid of Thyatis against the Thothians. Knowing that, if Aegos were to fall to Thothia, Thyatian holdings on the Isle of Dawn could be attacked directly, Phileus agrees to send the message to Thyatis City as soon as possible.

Winter, AC 1014: After many weeks of pounding at Avrads' walls with catapult boulders and magical spells, and of blockading the port with twenty warships, Arogansa's only port on the Aaslan Gulf falls to the massed might of Greenspur. Quickly, the soldiers rush into the city, ordering all civilians to remain in their homes, and all remaining defenders to lay down their arms. Scattered fighting persists in the northern quarter, but this, too, is silenced before the day is out. Once Avrads is fully under Greenspurian control, the general in charge of the assault assembles those city administrators still present, and informs them that, in accordance with her orders from the king of Greenspur himself, she is to be recognised as military governor of Avrads, with her orders carrying the weight of law. Seeing no chance of resisting at present, the remaining administrators recognise her authority.

In southwestern Arogansa, invading Greenspurian forces encounter many difficulties in their advance on Perponaz. Although their soldiers are highly disciplined, and many clerics are counted among their numbers, the defending battle mages of Arogansa are able to disrupt the advance sufficiently to induce heavy casualties, and to allow the defenders to regroup. Although the Greenspurians manage to get within a few hundred feet of the city walls, they are ultimately pushed back.

The Argonathian port of Mafertat is regained from the invading Alphatian armies after a prolonged period of guerrilla warfare. Demoralised because of their inability to break out of the Argonathians' blockade of the port, and by the ongoing campaign of terror conducted against any soldiers who ventured outside the town walls, the invaders surrender. In all, 960 Aran soldiers are captured. The governor of Mafertat then dispatches a messenger to Floating Ar, with the instructions to deliver a message to the Grand Council that their attempted invasion of Argonath has failed, and that King Caradon would be interested in discussing terms of a peace treaty with its eastern neighbour.

In northern Blackheart, a force of 1,500 men crosses the Rainbow River southwards, encountering no resistance. The movement south does not remain unhindered; within hours, the Argonathians encounter stiff resistance from humanoids in the employ of Blackheart's army. Despite their numerical superiority, they are poorly organised, resorting to massed attacks and disdaining stealth. The invading Argonathians, on the other hand, use whatever cover is available, and utilise hit-and-run tactics to draw the enemy into vulnerable positions, and then mount quick, brutal assaults before melting into the woods. After two days of this kind of fighting, the humanoids are demoralised, and flee. The Argonathians then resume their southward march.

A few weeks after the fall of Mafertat to the Argonathians, the Frislander town of Okadia reinforced with fresh troops from Floating Ar and Foresthome. Clashes with Qeodharian soldiers in the Fris River valley in recent weeks have inflicted some losses on Council forces in the region, and news of the loss of Mafertat has reached Skyreach. Having no wish to see their attempt to regain control of what was once Frisland fail, the Grand Council is trying to ensure that at least one significant settlement in the region will remain under their control, if only to serve as a safe landing point for their airships.

In Argondor, Argonath, King Caradon orders emissaries to Ostland and Thyatis, in the hopes of securing agreements for the shipment of foodstuffs and other essentials the newly-formed nation lacks. Royal officials have inspected all the granaries within Argonath's borders, and have reported to Caradon that there is enough food to last this winter, but no more. Without the trade agreements with neighbouring Alphatian kingdoms that kept Frisland from starving, Argonath will have to look farther afield in search of a means to sustain itself. Caradon also commissions those wizards remaining in the city to research a means of boosting agricultural yields, or of otherwise improving the climate.

In northern Randel, the rebel-held town of Dmireton falls to loyalist Bettellynian forces after several hours of intense fighting. It soon becomes apparent that several squads of crack assault troops were teleported into the town, who then managed to secure key positions. Those rebel leaders who were not killed in the assault are rounded up and sent to Citadel.

In Skyfyr, Esterhold, King Xanthus watches the last of the civilians board a ship bound for Foresthome. Once the ship is heading safely out to sea, he issues orders to his officers to assess the fortifications, and to ensure that food stocks are well-protected. He is well aware of the continuing turmoil on the mainland, and that there is little chance of receiving reinforcements, or support of any kind. The people remaining in the city are Alphatian soldiers and battle-mages.

Despite excellent defensive positions, the Thothians are forced to give ground to the advancing allied forces. The past several weeks of battle have seen fresh troops, most of whom are Thyatian, thrown against them, all the while reducing the Thothians through attrition. Making matters worse is the continued siege of Ekto. Defending units posted to the city have been unable to break the siege, and supplies are beginning to run low.

In Aegopoli, King Heldeberan receives a note from Emperor Thincol Torion of Thyatis, stating that, as Thyatis is aware of Aegos' precarious position, it would be willing to aid the island kingdom in defending itself from Thothian aggression. Several battalions have been sent already, and, if Heldeberan deems it necessary, more could be made available.