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Alphatia - the Suppression Wars (AY 774 - AY 1515)by Geoff Gander
From a lecture on Alphatian history at the University of Wendar:
"Though it is true that Alphatia is a mighty empire, and that it has dominated the east for many centuries, there are certain...aspects...of that empire's history that its rulers would rather remain unknown, for reasons that will be clear soon enough! I am not speaking today of evil Immortals, or of the even more powerful "Outer Beings", said by some in hushed whispers to exist outside of known space and time, and in the vaults between the stars. No, for we have already discussed the horrible fate of Orzafeth in a previous lecture, and your assigned readings are more than clear on that score.
"What I am going to discuss today is a little-known chapter in Alphatian history, of a time not long after the Landfall, some two thousand years ago. While the diplomats and expatriates of that proud empire go to great pains to portray their nation as strongly individualistic, but unified in purpose, culture, and government, recent investigations and research have shown us that life on the Alphatian mainland has not always been so harmonious. Note that I speak not of Bellissaria, populated as it is by the more conservative elements of Alphatian society, but of the motherland, Greater Alphatia. For is it not true that the varied kingdoms of that island continent are distinct from each other in ways that are lacking in many areas settled much later by the Alphatians?
"Not long after the initial settlement of the island continent of Alphatia, and the indigenous Yanifey peoples were driven north and west by the advancing Alphatians, a splinter group developed within Alphatian society. This split was quite similar to that which developed between Kerothar and Aasla not long after Landfall, which led to the founding of the "twin capitals" - Aasla and Sundsvall. Led by a charismatic Alphatian wizard named Jarastharram, a great number of Alphatians left the newly- founded city of Sundsvall for greener pastures up north, where, they believed, they might live free from the tyranny of the growing empire.
"Jarastharram, you see, was an idealist in every sense of the word, according to known records. He followed the individualistic credo of the Alphatians to the letter - in fact, he preached anarchy as the ideal system of government, with the people coming together in times of need not because they were commanded to do so; but because they honestly cared for their fellows. Whether or not his ideal government would truly have been an anarchy will remain a matter of conjecture, but these are the facts as they stand. He was also an opponent of the long-held belief that only wizard should rule. Though a spellcaster himself, he believed that all people, no matter who they might be, or what their talents were, had something to offer. He had thus determined to found his own realm beyond the borders of Alphatian-held lands, so that he and his followers could lead the lives they chose.
"Regardless, it was roughly 500 years after the Alphatian Landfall, or BC 500 by the Thyatian calendar, when Jarastharram led his followers north, beyond what is now the Elfripple River which marks the northern frontier of reclusive Shiye-Lawr, which had been settled by those elves a mere 250-odd years at that time. Though the darkened woods that would become Blackheart they crossed, losing no one, for those woods had not yet become the Ugly Wood, and were still under the rule of the elf-prince Illashiye, of whom we will speak at a later date.
"Finally, the followers of Jarastharram, or the "Jarasthamites", as they called themselves, came upon cold, damp plains, broken only by the Kerothar Mountains to the west, and scattered forests and lakes. This land would one day become Frisland, but in that time it was the last stronghold of the Yanifey on the island continent. Surviving accounts say they were a people fallen on hard times. Hunting was poor, and many were suffering from disease. Taking pity on the people who had been wronged by the Alphatians, Jarastharram ordered his followers who were proficient in magic to tend to the wounded, and to see to it that their lives were made easier for the time being. Using their powers, the wizards made small stretches of land bloom with fruit-laden trees, so it is said.
"Years passed, and many Yanifey soon joined the newcomers in their efforts. Small towns were built across the plains and in the hills, and the island of Qeodhar to the north was discovered, though it was already inhabited by fair-skinned people of Antalian stock. This island kingdom, Ystmarhavn, made peace with the Jarasthamites, and traded with them. Thus it was that, in the Alphatian year 686, as little-known records in Sundsvall have it, Jarastharram proclaimed the kingdom of Argonath.
"It was purely by chance that I came across those records in a small library in Sundsvall, but their sheer level of detail made it clear to me that they were not to be doubted. The Alphatians of the south, after hearing this proclamation, spied on Argonath continuously. I came across detailed maps of that kingdom, which at its height stretched from modern Frisland in the west to Ambur in the east, along with a sizeable piece of northwestern Foresthome. Its capital, Argondor, lay where the city of Shiell in Frisland does today, though of that older city no trace remains. So an uneasy peace lasted from Argonath's founding in AY 686 to the outbreak of war in AY 774.
"The actual causes of the first war are unclear. Whether it was territorial dispute in modern Foresthome, or accusations of raiding that led to a pre-emptive strike on the part of Alphatia, the one fact that remains clear is that some 35,000 soldiers crossed the Rainbow River in AY 774, and proceeded to loot and burn many frontier villages. The journey had been made all the easier since the fall of the elvish realm of Ilmaryl in AY 734, when Illashiye was killed under mysterious circumstances, leading to a panicked abandonment of that land for Shiye-Lawr. No known records exist to explain to departure of those elves, none of whom explained the reason for their flight. The only known fact is that with the fall of Ilmaryl, the one buffer state between Argonath and the rest of Alphatia was no more.
"Within weeks, the massed force had ringed Argondor, and it was only through a concerted effort on the part of the defenders that the siege was broken, though it cost them dearly. In the aftermath, Argonath sued for peace, for it had lost some 15,000 people in that conflict, according to fragmentary records. In exchange for withdrawing, Alphatia was granted the Argonathian province of Seratha, now a part of Foresthome, as well as all territory south of the Rainbow River. It was in the wake of this treaty that the kingdom of Blackheart was formed.
"Though it is rumoured among some historians that Alphatia would have invaded once again in AY 804, the goal of weakening the northern kingdom was made all the easier with the disappearance of Jarastharram in that year. None knew where he went, but afterwards the kingdom lost much of its cohesiveness. Some began to feel that the Alphatian menace had passed, and others thought they should rule. Over the next 100 years, a series of minor civil wars wracked the faltering kingdom, after which two strong rulers emerged, Orondor and Saldamara, who divided Argonath into two.
"Orondor ruled the fledgling kingdom of Assambura in the east, roughly comprising what is now Ambur and northern Ar. His was a warlike kingdom, which, according to existing reports, frequently raided the Alphatian settlements to the south. Saldamara, the eldest daughter of Jarastharram, ruled the much-reduced kingdom of Argonath in the west, comprising the remainder of the territory. So an uneasy peace existed between the two northern kingdoms, but such it was not to remain.
"Orondor has apparently made secret deals with the Alphatians, that, in exchange for ceasing his raiding, he would not interfere if Alphatia invaded Argonath - on the condition that, so long as his family lived, Assambura would remain independent. Alphatia readily agreed to this, and proceeded to make deals with the jarls of Ystmarhavn to trade with Alphatia instead, in exchange for better trade goods. Thus, by AY 971, the stage had been set for a final push to conquer much of the north.
"The actual invasion took place in AY 977, when a force of 80,000 Alphatian soldiers, as well as 20 skyships, crossed the Rainbow River to lay waste to Argondor. In this they were successful, for the entire city was razed in the bombardments, and almost all of the survivors were driven north. Having established a safe landing point for their forces, the Alphatians massed their troops there and fanned out into the countryside, conquering towns and villages, and interrogating those they captured for any information about the Argonathian battle plans. The forces of Argonath fought back, but they were simply too few. Outnumbered four to one, many surrendered to the invaders, and were in fact treated rather well.
"It is a matter of conjecture whether or not the Alphatians were overly brutal in their conquest, though the information I have acquired seems to indicate that they were not. Suffice it to say that after two years of pitched battles followed by guerrilla warfare, Argonath once more sued for peace. In a surviving copy of the resulting treaty in AY 980, Argonath ceded what is now the southern portions of Ar and Frisland, and renounced all claims to mining rights in the Kerothar Mountains. Saldamara still lived, though she ruled her fallen kingdom from the new capital of Ydroyas.
"During this time the warriors of Ystmarhavn were not idle. Over the years they had traded more with the Alphatians, and they saw them to be the rising power of the region. Losing respect for the weakened Argonathians, they proceeded to raid Argonath's northern ports around AY 1000, bringing back a great deal of plunder with them, and further driving Argonath to despair in the process. Assambura to the east was not idle, carrying out minor border wars of its own against Argonath.
"Life for the Alphatians in the newly-conquered northern realms was not easy. The newly-established kingdom of Frisland was plagued by monsters from Blackheart to the south, and scattered bands of Argonathian rebels. Many homesteads were put to the torch in those days, and soon the people of Frisland walled themselves in fortified towns, seldom venturing far from home.
"By AY 1200, Assambura itself had fallen on hard times, riven with internal strife and suffering from raids by Ystmarhavn, who had become indiscriminate in their raiding. When the last surviving descendant of Orondor was killed in AY 1213 in just such a raid, Assambura fell into anarchy. Refugees fled the kingdom, spreading tales of woe. Few people protested when Alphatia, in AY 1215, sent 20,000 soldiers into Assambura to bring order to the region, and fight off the Ystmarhavn raiders. The following year Assambura was annexed to the empire, and it was divided into the kingdoms of Ambur and Ar. Ar was given a stretch of imperial territory that once belonged to Argonath, thus giving it its present shape.
"The last of Argonath fell to Alphatia in AY 1405, when, on the orders of the emperor, the territory of that kingdom was secured against further incursions from the Ystmarhavn raiders, who had by this time become a considerable menace. This invasion was also carried out ostensibly to protect the people of Argonath, who were still of Alphatian blood, and were no less deserving of the empire's protection. It was from these newly-acquired lands that the kingdom of Frisland assumed its present borders in AY 1432.
"Guerrilla activities did not cease in Frisland, though, until AY 1515, when a young bandit leader by the name of Almarath was captured, and deported to Esterhold. Almarath, until his death in AY 1572 of natural causes, claimed to be the last heir of Argonath.
"And now, students, you know something more of the history of Alphatia. I trust you found it interesting, and I shall expect some of you to write some interesting papers on this topic. Very well, you know your readings - class dismissed!"