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A Tale of Two Empiresby James Ruhland
[Note: the below rant is adapted from a screed penned by one of my characters in Solmyr's Mystaran Birthright game. I decided it might be of interest to some of you (while for others it might just serve as a nice little sedative if you have insomnia). So I revised & extended it a bit (removing some purely M-Birthright related bits and adding some clarifications and the like). Anyhow, here is a "revisionist" History of the two empires. You'll note that no where (that I know of, though point it out if you see any place) does it differ from "Canon" *factually*, but it puts a quite different slant/interpretation on events. That bias should be familiar to those who've read other screeds written by me.]
Alphatians come not from Mystara, but from an alien world. On that world, the Alphatians were both aggressive and despotic, conquering all of it, exterminating in campaigns of genocide most of the other nations of that world, save for one. The Cypric people they had some admiration for, so rather than simply slaughtering them, they first enslaved the Cypri, and then absorbed (and were assimilated into) the Cypri culture. After conquering the entire world, there was a (brief) period of peace. But the Alphatian dominate was based on aggression and destruction. With no external force remaining to direct these energies against, the Alphatian elite began to direct their maladaptive behaviour inward, against each other, in a escalating series of petty disputes (which passed for "philosophy" among the Alphatian ruling classes). These culminated in a violent "debate" between followers of Air and followers of Fire. This "debate" resulted in the destruction of the Alphatian homeworld, survivors going elsewhere rather than attempting to rebuild what they themselves destroyed.
> As the Player's Guide "official Alphatian History" puts it, "Knowing their world was
> ruined, and could never be the thing of beauty it once was, the surviving leaders of
> the Air Wizards sought out another world to live upon. . .[T]he Air Wizards. . .
> [p]ouring their power into a single spell of destruction, evoking a huge windstorm
> that would cover the whole planet for years and smash it into numberless pieces. . ."
> In other words, they damaged their world to a degree to which it no longer
> suited their aesthetic sensibilities, and instead of attempting to rebuild it they
> wrote it off, finished what they had started, and moved into another world.
> Excuse: Laziness and lack of a sense of responsibility and stewardship.
These survivors arrived on Mystara, and proceeded to conquer the lands of others, in emulation of the same behaviour that proved so unwise on their previous world (some Alphatians can learn from mistakes. I think I can, and have. But it seems that Alphatia as a culture, society, and civilisation cannot). They proceeded to replicate the very process that led to the destruction of their old homeworld: rather than cooperating with the native people of Mystara who had legitimate right to the lands the Alphatians wanted, the Alphatians simply either exterminated them or enslaved them. They spread outwards over the centuries from the continent now known as "Alphatia," their war machine grinding down all resistance, their economy based on stripping other lands of their resources (yes, the Alphatian economy is "strong because of magic:" they use magic to teach a lesson to any who resist the plundering of their resources, killing them or forcing them into servitude with charm magics).
Approximately 200 BC the Alphatians sent their armies against a small portion of Brun where the tribal inhabitants had been resisting the Alphatian advance through naval raids (really mere pinpricks against the Alphatian juggernaut). More important than ending these rather harmless (to the Alphatian despotate) raids was the fact that in the lands of these tribes there were significant gold mines. Always on the lookout for rich areas to plunder, the Alphatians struck. Though these tribes resisted valiantly, they could not hope to prevail against the mighty and ruthless Alphatians. For two centuries the Alphatians occupied this small corner of Brun, forcing its native peoples to work in the Alphatian mines, enslaving them to strip their own land of its natural resources in order to feed the insatiable Alphatian plunder-economy.
After two centuries of this treatment, the tribes rebelled, in cooperation with other peoples who were discontented with Alphatian rule. They managed to throw off the oppressive yoke of Alphatian occupation, and create a new Imperium dedicated to opposing Alphatia's spread, and the spread of other similarly destructive and entropic forces. While some of the details of this war of liberation are in dispute (some claiming Zendrolion was a hero, some saying he was a self-interested murderer), what is not in dispute (because it is evident to this day) is that all the founding portions of this new Empire remained loyal to it and dedicated to its principles. This cohesion is a result of Empress Valentia's enlightened policies, which extended citizenship throughout the Empire. Valentia released Ochalea and the Pearl Islands from Thyatian service, then offered them re-admittance under the terms of her Citizen's Proclamation, and they rejoined willingly. This act created a new Empire. A Mystaran Empire dedicated to order, law, and ruled by the express consent of the governed.
This Empire, the Thyatian Empire, has stood as a bulwark against Alphatian expansionism down to this day. Nations shielded by the Thyatian Imperium prosper as free nations because of Thyatis' strength. There is an Oceansend because Thyatis founded it as part of its bulwark against Alphatian's grasping expansion into Brun. When the Oceansenders decided they were strong enough to rule themselves, they gained self-government under their own King with the acceptance of Thincol.
This may (or may not) have been an error, for while the Oceansenders are strong enough to keep their own freedom in the face of Alphatia's expansionism, the rest of Norwold was not so lucky: Eriadna sent her son, and his relations (such as Lernal, who's competence as a ruler is evident for all who want to visit Landfall), to absorb Norwold into the Despotate. Ericall now rules Norwold, his sole claim of legitimacy being "my mommy told me I could have it for a present," and the Antalian natives better not complain audibly about being suddenly dispossessed by foreign overlords. Norwold is now being systematically stripped of its resources in a way not dissimilar to that of Esterhold, though the iron fist is hidden behind the friendly facade of an innocuously inept ruler appointed solely because Eriadna didn't know what else to do with him.
Alphatia's insatiable need for conquests remains its most prominent characteristic. Only a force strong enough, and dedicated enough, can resist it. Only a State willing to bear the disfavour and unpopularity of its neighbours can prevent the doom of Mystara. This sometimes requires that state to bear a burden of ruthless efficiency bordering on expediency, for that state is outmatched by the raw power of the Alphatian Empire. But the people of the bulwark bear their responsibility willingly.
That force, that State, is the Thyatian Empire. Its people are the Thyatian people.
The Alphatians have not and seem incapable of learning from their past. They are attempting to replicate on Mystara the "glories" of Old Alphatia, still fondly remembered. But while the Alphatian Kleptocrats look back on that as a golden age, Mystarans do not want their world turned into Old Alphatia. Enlightened Alphatians do not want to see their new world turned into Old Alphatia. We do not want to see Mystara transformed into an asteroid belt.
Vivianna Romanones, academician and Magestrix.
Thyatis City, Thyatis, Eirmont 1007 AC.
About the Author: our Author is a Thyatian citizen of Alphatian heritage (from the Isle of Dawn), a dual-classed Fighter/Mage (in D&D terms a powerful Forester). She is well travelled and read, but given to polemical excess. A more (or less) complete description can be found at: http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Olympus/7211/Thyatis/VR/Vivianna.html