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Randel History:by Alex Benson
Following the arrival of the Alphatians to Mystara, several of the Magist Generals of the Followers of the Air's Armies were given the task of exploring the continent. The great general Zarthurastram was given the honour of exploring the eastern half of the continent.
To do so, he issued a call to the men and women that had so served under his command during the war. It just so happened that his forces were the remnants of his Corp sized unit that had driven through the Fire Wizards' defences and laid siege to Emperor Alphaks and his remaining supporters at the Alphatian capital.
This veritable horde of powerful men and women believed in Zarthurastram's leadership ability and remembered his promises in pre- destructive times of "lands to rule as their own". The people fully expected that their efforts would be rewarded in the form of lands of their own.
Under the guidance of Zarthurastram, they thoroughly and methodically explored the eastern portion of the continent. Along the way, settlements were established. Each community hoisted the Banner of Zarthurastram's Corp as their flag. Their progress was swift. Even swifter than Zarthurstram expected. Before it was fully realised, his people had explored and laid claim to present day Eadrin, Randel, Bettellyn, and a goodly part of Foresthome.
Concerned about the rapid expanse, the Emperor summoned Zarthurastram to appear before him and the Grand Council. The wily general knew what he was wanted for. Yet, he felt ill at ease to tell his people to stop or to relinquish their holdings. So, Zarthurastram ventured to his appointment accompanied by a contingent of his most powerful subordinates.
The Emperor apocryphally "grant the General a domain for his services" to prevent any loss of face and to prevent any unpleasantness. Yet the mage wanted and expected more for his and his followers' efforts not only concerning the exploration, but also their contributions during the war. Zarthurastram suggests that he and his followers be given the lands that they had laid claim to. He rationalised that it was their right.
Emperor Kerothar and the Council debated over this. Their general had much bargaining weight. His followers were considered the pride of the Air Mages' forces and could be easily considered the finest fighting force in Alphatia's history. They had repeatedly proven themselves in battle against the Flaems. These forces occupied a goodly portion of the Alphatian continent.
Not wishing another inner faction war, but also not wishing to provide the Imperial Court with a rival, they partially conceded to his demands. They offered Zarthurastram a domain that essentially was the combined present day kingdoms of Randel and Bettellyn.
Zarthurastram knew that this domain was about as good as he could hope for land wise. He still used his position to propose other means to assess authority and power. The general managed to get additional concessions. First his domain would be autonomous in rule. Second, he could appoint the ruler of the region that would become Eadrin. Zarthurastram suggests General Thraeliol who commanded his 5th Army during the war. There is no opposition to this nomination. Thirdly, he would retain command of his Armies.
Undaunted, the Emperor approved these measures but tacked on his own terms. The new domain must establish a system of schools to train the other peoples of Alphatia. The Empire would subsidise this school system. Zarthurastram and his descendants had to give up any and all future claims to the Imperial Throne. And finally, the ruler would not only swear allegiance to the Empire, but the armies would swear allegiance to Imperial Throne. This last point was slipped past the negotiation weary Council.
Zarthurastram agreed with the terms and the proper papers were signed. These terms suited his needs. He named the new domain after himself, and the Kingdom of Zarthur was born. The new king established his capital at the thriving town of Quanfax. Abiding by the terms, King Zarthurastram establishes the more fertile northern areas of the kingdom for his agricultural base. The southern portion, with its rough soil, will concentrated more as the sites for the military schools. In his opinion, such a vast university of arms should be spread out among the southern settlements instead of centring on one or two cities.
Decades passed. In the north, the forests were cleared away to make room for farming as well as provide lumber for construction. In the south, the military schools progressed efficiently. They quickly grow in size as other Alphatians enrol to learn their trade. The schools are officially named the University of Arms. Overall, the kingdom is prospering.
After a time, it becomes quite noticeable that the northern and southern portions begin to separate in terms of attitudes. The north favours a more settled down lifestyle. The southern portion focuses its interests toward the military schools and maintaining the armies.
After ruling his kingdom for almost 200 years, King Zarthurastram contracts a mysterious ailment which devastated his body and left him utterly helpless. The northern provinces had begun to view their king almost as an Immortal. They kept his ill health a secret for as long as possible. The thought of their once strong king in such a decrepit condition filled them with dread and discomfort.
Word of his ill health reached the southern portion. The southerners, being more practical, mourned their leader's ill health, but took it as a part of life. They did puzzle over the cause of the illness. Most suspected foul play, probably from the Imperial Throne or Grand Council. The notion of such treachery coming from one of Zarthur's nobles was not even contemplated as it was preposterous.
The people of Zarthur watched in horror, as their king grew worse as his health faded. Attempts by both clerical and magical means to heal him had been quickly exhausted. The King himself seemed resolved in his fate and ordered that they be stopped. As expected, Zarthurastram soon after passed away. His son, Randel, succeeded him as King.
King Randel is an image of his father, both physically as well as mentally. He does lack the experience of his father. The Grand Council and the Emperor attempt to manipulate the young King into a more passive ruler. They are sadly mistaken as he uses the very documents and oaths to assert his position. The father had prepared the son well for the day when he succeeded his father.
King Randel does much for his kingdom. Under his rule, expansion in the northern province increases. Towns are a priority of his. He initiates measures to encourage growth in the agricultural and manufacturing fields. A wave of artistic architecture prevails there. Cathedrals are designed and constructed to properly praise the Immortals.
In the southern lands, the King encourages growth for the University of Arms. He expands the curriculum to include other aspects of warfare. He also has want that the south be known for other things beside the schools. As such, he commissions mages to experiment with the harsh soil and discover what can be done to make them fertile and productive. It is discovered that through magic, the soil can be made to produce domestic crops. Due to the cost, only crops of high market value are to be grown on these lands.
Efforts are initiated to cultivate the soil along the banks of the Randel River. Later, similar experiments are made on the foothills below the Grey Mountains. King Randel has these lands surveyed and laid out in tracts. He offers free land to those who wish to settle it for cultivation. Several families migrate there to do just that.
It is found that a good cash crop is a variety of grape. With magical assistance the grapes did well in prepared soil. Other crops such as various fruits and grains were found capable of growth. Farm owners usually focused on the grapes and fruits, as their market value was greater than grain. This mattered little at the time, for the farms in the north provided an ample supply for domestic use.
The kingdom then went through a succession of Kings and Queens. Each ruled the land fairly and wisely and added a bit to what their predecessors had offered them. The University steadily grew in size and attendance. The farms of the north established themselves to meet the ever- growing demands of the growing populace. The northerners also proved themselves capable in regards to architecture. All was well for centuries, that is until the split.
The split occurred after the Alphatian war against the Thyatians in AY808. As customary, the King led his troops in combat. Then King Cycleriol abided by this tradition, leading his forces into the Thyatian capital himself. Completing the conquest, King Cycleriol sent the bulk of his forces back to Zarthur, leaving only a few regiments to supplement other Alphatian units as occupation forces. The dreaded zzonga fruit had left the Empire wanting for properly qualified governors. Emperor Kerothar IV asked Cycleriol to remain as governor until a replacement could be found. He obliged and served for three years before stepping down as king and placing his daughter Myssrael into power. Myssrael took the name of a previous ruler as her own and was crowned Queen Randelia II. Emperor Kerothar IV appointed a new governor.
A series of governors were used after the abdication. In AY996, King Randel II was ordered to the Thyatian lands to supplement the occupation forces. Upon arriving with a dozen regiments, he found the governing body a mess. Zzonga fruit and debauchery had permeated the occupation forces as well as the governing mages. Randel II went about the task of whipping the armed aspects into shape.
During this period, some trouble manifested itself in the northern lands of Zarthur. Crews cutting timber in the western woods are assaulted. A small logging community is completely depopulated by what appears to be unicorns. With the King out of country, the kingdom is unsure as to what to do. The southern nobles propose "sending a few regiments in to show the horned horses who the masters were". The northern nobles are more cautious as their Immortal patrons offer no solution. Word comes from Quanfax that the locals should take care of the problem. Local militia is sent to quell this erratic behaviour. None return. The fear spreads as woodcutters throughout the northern lands refuse to go to work out of a fear that they too might be attacked.
Now concerned, a northern aristocrat, Councillor Grakathan, takes charge of the situation, declaring the north in a state of emergency. With his authority, several groups of adventurers are hired and sent to investigate. Like the militia, none return.
In AY998, the Thyatians revolted slaying many of the Alphatian wizards. King Randel gathered his few troops and fell back trying to hold off the Thyatians. He and his troops were pushed back to the coast and besieged by the Thyatians. Outnumbered and supplies running short, he sent a message back to Zarthur ordering troops to be sent to his aid.
The south mobilised quickly and had forces enroute almost immediately. The majority of the nobles in the south had accompanied their expeditionary force. The forces of the northern lands are slow to respond because they were ill prepared and preoccupied with the unicorn threat.
This is further hampered as Grakathan takes temporary command of the kingdom. His first priority is to resolve the matter in the north. He feared little and was confident that the southern forces would arrive in time to aid the King. Grakathan hires a group of female adventurers to venture into the woods.
Weeks later, a single female member emerges from the forest riding a unicorn. Approaching the nearest town, the rider informs the populace that the woods are sacred and under the protection of the unicorns. She then decrees that 99 female warriors must enter the forest and join her in the sacred cause of protecting the forest from intrusion.
She warns the populace that any man that enters the woods will be slain outright. If any women, other than the 100 special women warriors, then she too will be assaulted. However, she shall not be killed, only maimed to display to others that the unicorns are serious.
Back on the continent of Brun, things went badly for King Randel and his troops. By the time a relief force landed and broke the siege, most of the Zarthur troops had been slain. Among the dead was King Randel II, his body destroyed while engaging several Thyatian magists. The expeditionary force retrieved many of the bodies of their fallen comrades, fought their way back to their ships, and returned to Zarthur.
Back in Zarthur, there was much finger pointing as someone was sought to bear blame for the loss of the King. In the south, the northerners were seen as acting too slow in mobilising. Perhaps they even used the uprising to attempt to seize control. The fact that a northerner, Grakathan, has assumed the role of ruler supported the south's theory.
As the debate became more heated, Councillor Grakathan, removed himself from the temporary title of King in hopes of halting the disputes. This did little, for the two sides had already engaged themselves in a confrontation based upon fact, rumour, and sometimes spite. The two regions had grown too far apart over the years and the King's death brought this all to light.
Since Randel II had no heirs, the south rallied behind the dead king's cousin, Jandor, and prepares to march north to assert their authority by placing him on the throne at Quanfax. The southern nobles crown Jandor as their king. In response, he takes the name Randel III. King Randel III sends word to his half sister, Queen Maytteola of Eadrin, to send aid. She sends a token force.
The northern citizens were much too slow to rally behind a single ruler. The withdrawal of the most popular ruler, Grakathan, had caused a power vacuum. However, with the armed forces of the south marching steadily to the north, they found solace with, Karamor, a Paladin of Alphatia.
Karamor sends messengers to the approaching forces with the hopes of a peaceful solution. However, actions on both sides made peace unattainable. The paladin soon realised that "peace through conquest". This move gained him much support and insured his role as the north's chosen leader. Karamor rallied his forces and prepared to move out to meet the forces of the south.
The two armies met at a dry riverbed south of Quanfax. The two lined up and prepared for a battle. But there was to be no battle. Great damage had already been dealt to the Empire due to the Thyatian revolt. Such civil strife would do little to remedy Alphatia's situation. The newly appointed Emperor Alphas VI dispatched a contingent of Imperial Troops aboard Alphatian Skyships to intervene. The force was small, but neither side wanted to fight the Empire. As such, a truce was established while negotiations were begun.
Through negotiation, it soon became apparent that neither side would give up rule of the kingdom to the other short of war. Because of this, the matter was resolved in a non-conventional means. According to the Treaty of the Hills, the Kingdom of Zarthur would be split into two separate kingdoms. The border the two kingdoms shared would be the valley that each had drawn their forces to. That way, neither side could be said to have given ground to the other's army.
After the split, King Randel III named his kingdom Randel. Not only to honour himself but it also honoured the two previous King Randels; Zarthurstram's son and his own predecessor, King Randel II.
King Randel then drew his advisers and nobles together to construct the future of the kingdom. Agriculturally, the land was poor and of need of magical assistance just to be prepared to grow crops. The process would be huge and expensive. And the kingdom's populace was not one of farmers. Its citizenry were soldiers, and not complacent to tilling the land. There was not nearly enough willing citizens to justify an expensive process of preparing the land for cultivation.
It was decided by King Randel that the new kingdom would continue with its pursuit of the military arts. Its facilities would be broadened to encompass more of the Empire's military. The facilities for military education and training were already well established and the military was something the people of Randel readily knew.
King Randel knew that other forms of income would be needed. More importantly, the kingdom did have need of a base to provide food. In the past, this food source had come from the lands to the north, now called Bettellyn. The kingdom could import grains for the time being. King Randel did not envy having to depend upon outside sources for his people.
Means were initiated to relieve this problem. Small tracts would be prepared to grow crops to suit the current number of citizens willing and able to tend to them. In time, these tracts would be expanded to meet the added number of farmers. Since bulk agriculture production was not an issue, the advisers suggested that high profit crops be grown as a priority.
After some debate and investigation, the immediate question of a viable cash crop was answered almost by accident. A native variety of wild grape was discovered that thrived in the rough Randel soil, particularly around the Randel River. But grapes alone did not prove profitable. It had always been known that the grape had been grown by some troops and fermented into a rudimentary, if not drinkable wine. The process was studied and refined. Within a year, the famous Randel wines were born. This refinement continues even to today, as there are many vintages of wine derived from this grape.
Urged by his advisers, King Randel set his eyes upon a new seat of power for his fledgling domain. The King had grown up in Quanfax and spent most of his adult life with the military, travelling from post to post. The old capital of Quanfax was lost to the south as it lay within the boundaries of northern Bettellyn. A new capital was sorely needed to not only oversee the kingdom, but to offer the citizens of Randel something to unite around.
The problem was that most established settlements already had a ruling baron. King Randel did not wish to split his kingdom by imposing upon his allied nobles. The only viable options lay precariously close to the shared border with Bettellyn.
It is decided that a small fishing village and port at the mouth of the Randel River to be used to build the capital upon. The former noble of the settlement had been a allied to one of the noble families in the north and had fled north when the split occurred.
King Randel gathered his advisers and retainers and journeyed to this town. With a great deal of assistance from the Imperial treasury and Grand Council, the small town grew to be more demonstrative of a capital of a kingdom. King Randel decided to name the new capital Rardish. No one is sure why he chose this name and the king went to his grave with it.
The Kingdom of Randel has since maintained a strong military. The Imperial Court as well as the Empire often calls upon the Randel Armed Forces to act as a show of force. Whether the Randel Armed Forces act as a vanguard force, a singular force, or a spearhead force they have participated in most if not all of the Empire's expeditions.
Prior to the split, the forces of Zarthur had always been a vital aspect to any expansionism on the part of the Empire. Since the split, the role has altered. Sure the Randel Armed Forces figured predominantly in the landings at Norwold. They even factored heavily in the landings and drives into Esterhold. And there are the rumoured deployments to bolster the Isle of Dawn forces during border skirmishes. But the main avenue of use has come from a blatant show of force to the Imperial Territories and non-mainland kingdoms. It is fairly common for a naval contingent to make a periodic tour of the Empire. In times of strife and discontent, a Regiment or two are dispatch to "perform war games in that land". In truth, they are a display of force and resolve from the Imperial court.
The Randel oath to the Emperor was strained during Halzunthram's campaign against the Flaem in AY 1788. At first, the Randel monarch, King Zaruthrast II, was a bit insulted at not being asked to partake in the expedition against the hated Flaem. By having these "amateurs" take precedent over the more professional Randel troops, the King and his people were greatly offended. They felt vindicated when Halzunthram's expedition failed.
The Randel Armed Forces were dispatched in force during the war against the Thyatians in AY1959. The Randel troops spearheaded drive after drive, pushing deeply into the lands of the Thyatians. They marched across the Isle of Dawn and eventually into Thyatis City itself. Once in the Thyatian Capital, they were relieved and drawn back. The fighting had worn down the men and women of Randel. A well-deserved rest was allowed.
When the Alphatian Spike was stopped and turned, the Randel Forces were rapidly called to the front to hold off the Thyatians. Several regiments were able to arrive on scene and serve as a delaying force to allow the beaten Alphatians to fall back. The chaotic nature of the fighting made counterattacks unreliable and difficult to organise. Still, the Randel elements were able to master a strategic withdrawal. Several counterattacks were initiated, but logistics were not available to take advantage of these gains and they had to be quickly given way. Still, these counterattacks bought precious time. They were particularly useful in holding a coastal foothold to allow the evacuation of Alphatians back to the Isle of Dawn.
After the war, the Randel Armed Forces were quickly mobilised to intercede on the behalf of Emperor Tylion. Rumours had quickly spread that the Grand Council were actively seeking the Emperor's removal. King Zaruthrast IV dispatched an expeditionary force to travel via skyship to Sundsvall and took up defensive positions at the capital. Though he himself was at odds with the Emperor due to past differences, he was bound by his oath. The King also was ill at ease to allow the Emperor to be removed for something that he was not directly to be blamed for.
The effort was recognised by the Grand Council. The wizards called for other military officers to come and offer thought on the matter. Most were ill put to go against the Randel troops. Their own numbers were weakened from the fighting against Thyatis. Many Alphatian units were still deployed abroad to strengthen the Isle of Dawn. Many just straight opposed fighting against the men of Randel for professional reasons drawn from training as well as fighting alongside them against the Thyatians.
Physically fighting the Randel troops was as unenviable as duelling the Emperor. But the Grand Council was persistent in its want to remove Emperor Tylion from power. The wizards weighed their options carefully to prevent the Empire from sustaining further decay and possibly civil war. The matter was resolved by the means of Tylion's daughter, Eriadna. After Tylion stepped down, the Randel troops swore allegiance to Empress Eriadna and the change of power was made official.
However, King Zaruthstrast was a bit of a male chauvinist. The idea of swearing allegiance to a woman was not to his liking. The Randel King used the subject matter to cede the title to his eldest son, Verothrics. So two days after Eriadna assumed her father's position, King Verothrics assumed control of Randel. His first act of reign was to travel to Sundsvall and personally swear allegiance to the Empress, not only for himself but also his kingdom.
Under King Verothrics, the diminished armed forces of Randel were steadily rebuilt, even surpassing the pre-war numbers and equipment quality. The King and the Empress have a special relationship that spurred on rumours of romantic involvement. Despite this, their friendship is wholly plutonic and based on common interests. Verothicus still reigns supreme in Randel.