AC 959: Early in the year a group of Thyatian smugglers are captured in Sundsvall, found violating the strictures of the trade treaties signed between the Empires. After severe torture (all soon die as a result of their experience), several claim that Emperor Gabrionus V sent them, hoping to destabilize Alphatian society. Tylion IV sends a message to Thyatis with this information, demanding an explanation and compensation for violation of the treaties. Gabrionus V sends a reply saying he had no knowledge of, nor anything to do with the smugglers, decrying their rough treatment but calling for a peaceful resolution. Tylion IV is enraged - Thyatian smugglers had become an increasing problem during the last thirty years, and he doesn't believe Gabrionus V. Actually, Gabrionus V is telling the truth - the smugglers were acting privately, without the knowledge or control of the Thyatian government. But they are a sign of the increasing disregard for the law and growth of corruption within Thyatis during Gabrionus V's reign. Unsatisfied by the Thyatian response, Tylion IV declares war. Most Alphatians, especially members of the Grand Council, believe he is over-reacting. Alphatian armies strike suddenly on the Isle of Dawn, and win quickly. So long as the war is successful, few in Alphatia object openly to the war. The Thyatian armies, having experienced over four decades of neglect during the reign of Gabrionus V, are ill prepared and ill trained. Newkirk, Kendach, and West Portage are quickly overrun. The Alphatians send their fleets around the Isle of Dawn to embark soldiers for the invasion of Thyatis itself, while other Alphatian troops secure Helskir and the northern third of the island. As the Thyatian navy is severely understrength, many of its ships having been left to decay due to lack of funding for maintenance, the Imperial Admiralty drafts many merchant ships into naval service, mobilizing the fleet outside Port Lucinius.
AC 960: The Alphatian fleet sails from West Portage towards Thyatis as soon as the spring weather permits, meeting the Thyatian fleet at Port Lucinius. The result is a debacle, as the trade ships have little knowledge of how to fight fleet engagements, being better at facing off pirates, and experienced, trained naval ships are few. While they struggle bravely, and sink a number of Alphatian vessels, they are soon defeated. The Alphatians sail up Vanya's Girdle to the City of Thyatis. The Alphatian Spike Assault reaches Thyatis City. The Order of the White Drake, charged with protecting the City from the air, does not arrive to perform its duty, critically weakening the defenses. The siege is short and cruel, the Alphatians shielding their advance with captive Thyatians, making the defenders reluctant to fire at them. The Alphatians batter their way through the gates, and an Alphatian strike force enters the city. They reach the palace to kill Emperor Gabrionus V and murder most of his family. The Alphatian troops then cast discipline aside and begin an orgy of rapine and looting, before finishing the task of securing the City. At the time the most popular man in The City is Thincol the Brave, a famous gladiator. He organizes the surviving gladiators, mercenaries, Knightly Orders, and troops, then leads a counter attack against the Alphatians. They enter the palace area by travelling through the sewers and tunnels under Thyatis. There they witness the aftermath of the slaughter of the Imperial Court. But the Alphatian troops are caught by surprise, having turned their attentions to pillaging and committing various unspeakable acts against captives. Thincol and his band enter the palace itself, discovering the Emperor dead. The Alphatian commander is found in the Imperial quarters, with a young woman, her gown torn open. The Alphatian throws her out in front of himself, intending to use her as a human shield, but Thincol deftly throws a dagger into the man's throat, slaying him and rescuing the lady. She is found to be Gabriela, and is the sole surviving member of the Imperial family. The Alphatian forces, now dissipated and disordered, are still scattered around the city, their minds on destruction and rapine. Thincol's forces continue the counter-attack after securing the Imperial Palace, smashing the Alphatian army and capturing many of its ships. The survivors are forced to retreat, fleeing back to the Isle of Dawn. The severe losses the Alphatian's best troops suffer in this defeat brings into question their ability to keep their conquests on the Isle of Dawn as well. Tylion IV responds by drafting more people to replenish the devastating losses that were suffered by the army in Thyatis. Facing a choice between being attacked by the Alphatians itself or forswearing the Empire, Oceansend decides to become independent during the time when the Alphatians are attacking Thyatis. In the aftermath of his victory, Thincol kills several of the disgraced Thyatian commanders for their cowardice and incompetence, and gets the rest to see things his way. He purges the Order of the White Drake, disbanding it, exiling the traitors and incorporating the remnants into the Retebius Air Fleet and Knights of the Air. He and his generals begin whipping Thyatis' surviving forces into shape, and start building up a fleet to retake the Isle of Dawn. During this time Thincol woos Gabriela. He convinces her that the Empire needs as strong, forceful man to rebuild Thyatis. His charm and good looks infatuate her, and by the dashing way he rescued her, and persuaded by his arguments. She consents to marry him, and the Senate confirms him as Emperor. He is crowned on 1 Klarmont, AC 960. Thincol tacitly allows his home city, Oceansend its independence, and concentrates on recovering Imperial territories on the Isle of Dawn. Back in Alphatia, grumbling against Tylion IV begins to grow. Gabrionus V was unthreatening and passive, but the invasion of Thyatis has become a disaster. Tylion rationalizes that if Alphatia manages to retain their gains the Isle of Dawn, the war will have been worth it. But many begin to think that Alphatia needs a new Emperor.
AC 961 - 962: Thincol and his generals build up Thyatis' forces, constructing new warships. The men of Port Lucinius, chagrined by their failure to protect the capital, work especially diligently. Tylion IV sends more re-enforcements to the Isle of Dawn and sends more ships to its western side, planning on staving off the Thyatian counter-attack. But the Alphatian navy is crushed at sea, though the Thyatians lose a number of ships as well. Troops are then landed near Redstone Castle, besieged but untaken by the Alphatian army. Their forces outside Redstone are defeated and forced to retreat. Soon, Newkirk and West Portage are recaptured. The fight for Kendach, early in 962, is exceptionally hard-fought, but it too falls back into Thyatian hands. The levies drafted by Tylion IV are smashed and routed back towards East Portage and Dunadale. Following this string of defeats, Tylion IV is deposed and replaced by his daughter Eriadna. Eriadna sues for peace, and the western half of the Isle of Dawn is returned to Thyatian control by the second anniversary of Thincol's reign. With the Thyatian merchant fleet having suffered severe losses on account of the war, the traders of Minrothad take advantage of the situation to expand their dominance of the sea trade. In AC 961 Empress Gabriela gives birth to their first son, who is named Eusebius.
The Reign of Thincol
AC 963 - 970: The fighting in the aftermath of the Spike Assault, though victorious for Thyatis, further strained the Empire's still understrength military. Thincol spends the first decade of his reign rebuilding it, whipping it back into fighting shape. As the strength of the Thyatian military is restored, improved tactics, unit formations and equipment, and training methods are devised. Efforts are devoted to researching new magics, to both counter and defeat Alphatian forces in the future. This takes considerable time and effort, and progress is slow but continuous. Triella Tien-Tang, a sorceress who had aided Thincol in repelling the Spike Assault, is rewarded with the title of Baroness and the island of Mositius. She has discovered how to control the strange mists of the island, and turns it into a tourist resort. Over the following decades, as income from her dominion grows, helping to refill the Imperial treasury, Triella and her dominion are elevated subsequently to County and then Duchy status. On the Isle of Dawn itself, Thincol awards Westrourke to a fiery relative, a man cut from the same cloth as himself, Donegal Firestorm. Firestorm is Thincol's nephew, and is given the status of Grand Duke in AC 970 and ordered to rebuild the region's defenses. Thincol also renews the treaty of alliance with Ostland. Some Ostlanders are encouraged to settle in the northern part of the Isle of Dawn. As a result of this, and due to Thincol's own half-northman background, many of the Alphatian's in this region change the names of their villages. This is an expression of their trend-following nature, and Antalian-derived names become commonplace in the northern part of the Isle of Dawn. The portions of the City of Thyatis which were damaged during the Alphatian assault are repaired during this period as well. But Thincol demands that some areas of the Imperial Palace continue to display the scars of the Alphatian assault. Though the worst-damaged areas are rebuilt, he wishes to leave some evidence of their deeds. This is intended to be a reminder of the barbarism of the Alphatians. But most importantly Thincol means it as a warning not to let the Empire fall into such a condition and allow its enemies to pierce its walls again.
AC 970 - 980: Stefan Karameikos, an old friend and drinking buddy of the Thincol, approaches the Emperor with a proposition. Stefan had recently become ruler of the Duchy of Machetos on the death of his father. But Stefan is an impetuous young man, with boundless ambition. He is discontented with the prospect of dutifully ruling Machetos, and dreamed of molding a nation in his hands. He offers to trade his birthright, the Duchy of Machetos to Thincol in exchange for the dominion of Traladara. Though Thincol knows that Traladara is steadily growing in prosperity under the protection of the Empire and has great potential in the long run, at the moment it still costs the Empire almost as much to patrol and garrison it as the treasury receives in taxes. The wealth of Machetos is more immediately at hand, on the other hand. Thyatis is still short of funds for finishing the rebuilding of the military. Knowing his first responsibility is to the welfare of the Empire as a whole, Thincol reluctantly agrees to his friend's proposal. Stefan gains control of Traladara, which he will rule as an autonomous Grand Duchy of the Empire (essentially independent). Stefan immediately renames Traladara for himself and replaces the native rulers with his own cronies and distant relatives, precipitating a revolt against him and several assassination attempts almost immediately. That revolt is crushed, and Stefan assumes control over the area. Thincol strips Machetos of its wealth, selling the Karameikos family slaves in the markets of the City of Thyatis and selling the lands, using the funds to finance further military improvements. He then appoints one of his generals, Callastian Jowdynites, as Duke of Machetos, giving the man the responsibility of rebuilding the Duchy's economy. That same year, 970, Thincol's second child is born, Stefania. After restoring the military, Thincol spends the next decade attempting to reduce corruption in the bureaucracy and judiciary. Though Thincol gains a reputation as a stern, even deadly ruler, he also earns a reputation for wise administration and impeccable fairness in applying Imperial Law. Under his leadership the Imperial family sets an exemplary example, with no extravagant expenses and wasted resources. The famed efficiency of Thyatis, which had lapsed during the long rule of Gabrionus V, is restored - in part. Though the Imperial government is run with competence and effectiveness, corruption in the upper reaches of Thyatian society proves harder to root out, with many wealthy families still conducting themselves with disrepute. The solid, average Citizens do take the fine example the Emperor provides to heart, however, and Thincol's energetic leadership helps reverse the decline and bring the Empire back to prominence. Even the Empire's aristocracy jumps when Thincol calls, for though loved among the common citizenry, Thincol knows well the old adage that it is better to be feared than loved. He insures that those who must obey him fear his wrath more than any other possible fate, and his orders are followed diligently as a result. The Imperial family continues to grow as well. In AC 979, Gabriela gives birth to another daughter, who is named Asteriela.
AC 980 - 990: Though Thincol is an excellent, contentious Emperor, he is a less than sterling family man. He takes many mistresses, generally scandalizing the court and depressing his wife, Gabriela. He grooms Eusebius to follow him to the throne, but shows no real emotion or fatherly concern for him - the care of Eusebius is mostly entrusted to servants. At the age of 18, Eusebius enters the army, becoming a cavalry officer. Thincol treats his daughters with even more disregard, viewing them as pawns to forge marriage alliances through. In AC 984 he pledged Stefania's hand to an Ostland prince, intending to further cement that alliance. In AC 987 she was compelled to marry him, but kills him in their wedding bed, prompting Thincol's first real outburst of emotion over his family. He protects his daughter from King Hord of Ostland's demands for vengeance, and the Emperor's skillful diplomacy soon smoothes over relations. Thincol ignores Stefania, pretending she doesn't exist for six months, until she runs away from home, becoming an swordswoman, adventurer, and heroine in the Duchy of Machetos. Also around AC 985, the Savage Baronies assume roughly their current borders, with nine fairly stable but disputatious states in existence. That same year Alphatia demonstrates their expansionistic tendencies, initiating a conquest of Norwold. They rebuild a city on the peninsula of Alpha and attempt to claim the entire region. Oceansend and most of the rest of the communities in Norwold ignore their claim. By AC 988 Thincol believes the Thyatian military is strong enough to face the test of battle. Fighting will temper the force and give it much needed combat experience. For almost a century Thyatis has been trading intermittently with the inhabitants of the northern coast of Davania. Thincol now sends troops to secure part of it, an area occupied by four warrior tribes, for the Empire. Progress is slow but steady here, and soon the coastal areas are under Imperial control. Thincol makes sure to rotate units through the region so all will gain experience, and Thyatian forces are soon penetrating the interior. A strong fortress is built, Fire-Height, as a command post for these efforts. Soon a city, Ravenscarp, grows up around it and efforts are made to assimilate the Hinterlanders into the Empire.
AC 990 - 1000: The incident with Stefania taught Thincol a couple things: first, not to treat his children as chattel, for they were as strong willed as he. Second, he discovered that he loved them when he found himself missing Stefania. He still disregarded Gabriela for the most part, and he guarded his feelings towards his children, not often displaying them in public (lest someone use that against him). But he occasionally tried various means of making Gabriela happy, for the sake of his children (these did not work, and Gabriela became even more withdrawn). When Asteriela likewise spurned the match he made for her, he was much more patient and considerate. Throughout this he discretely sought the whereabouts of Stefania. When he found her in 996, he convinced her to return to the Palace, and pretended nothing had gone wrong. Though disapproving of the affair Stefania soon began with Anaxibius, the most popular gladiator of the time, he did nothing to stop it. Throughout the decade there was continued progress in the Hinterlands and occasional skirmishing with the Alphatians on the Isle of Dawn and in Norwold. Though these are minor confrontations conducted largely through proxies and with second-tier formations, they confirm the fact that the Thyatian Empire had recovered. By the millennium, Thincol had rebuilt the empire's military machine to pre-eminence and restored the efficiency of Imperial administration. During the millennial celebrations, an Alphatian plot to assassinate Emperor Thincol on the Thyatian Millennium is foiled by a band of heroes. Thyatis seems to be entering a new era of strength and prosperity. Thyatis enters the Empire's second Millennium, the third millennium of the Thyatian people, with confidence. Alas, this was not to last. Events soon unfolded to undermine the Empire, as its Emperor and its leaders fell prey to their weaknesses and hubris. But this is a tale for another time, covered elsewhere...
Copyright (c) 2000, James Ruhland and Giulio Caroletti. All rights reserved. Used by permission.