Consequences of the Dural Civil War (1225-1229)
King Elkhorn Dural challenged his aunt High Queen Tabitha Dural for rulership of the Freeholds. The first military clash was in 1225, and in the fall of 1229 he assumed the throne.
This is a dangerous time in the freeholds. A powerful military could threaten the new High King with a coup before he consolidates his victory, and the military of the High Queen is disbanded, absorbed, or released with varying levels of threat with each option.
Now is a time for adventure! Now is a time to turn the skills and costly experience of war towards daring exploration and away from political intrigues; it is safer to enter a monster’s lair in search of its treasure than to bring yourself to the attention of the overactive spy network of either the High King or his deposed aunt.
A number of groups are struggling for identity and purpose in the wake of the vicious war.
The brute fortress of Grimstone was designed to repel dragons, and all the brute tribes gathered there during the ancient war of rebellion to do battle with the Dracolithic Empire. Since the establishment of the Freeholds, the brutes have held the eastern passes against incursion from the desert, where the Dracolithic Empire is still strong.
With the civil war, the trade routes were badly disrupted, and calculated raids rendered the brutes unable to tell human friend from foe. The brutes withdrew into their high rocky lands, but now find themselves hungry and with their trading lifelines cut.
Many starving brutes have traveled to the lowlands looking for money and food, or looking to reestablish severed trading relationships. They cannot be isolated in the mountains, or they will not survive when war comes upon the lands again. However, they lack the political savvy to know who to trust or what the situation among the startlingly changeable sky people might be.
The bloody civil war focused on the western territories, the Coriala Forests and the Dumell Plain. The elven tribes of the Coriala sided with the High Queen, and tense ill feelings with the High King followed when she lost.
A number of elves were in favor of involving the community in the civil war. They are no longer welcome in the oppressed community, and they are certainly unwelcome in settlements supporting the High King. Desperate, many are looking to earn approval through wealth or service, or sell their lives trying to find a welcoming home.
Under the High Queen, the influential elves at court passed several laws unfavorable to dwarves. One was a bounty on dwarf beards, for the space of a single awful year.
Marginally accepted because of their metalworking and stoneworking skill, no dwarf without the backing of a major guild was safe in human settlements. Even guild membership was no guarantee of safety; the system focused on organizations, overlooking actions on an individual level.
Dwarven gold, infantry, and siege machines turned the tide in the civil war. Dwarves are exploring beyond their cramped holdings for the first time in decades.
The Hearthstone Hollows were a merry boggie-infested collection of settlements in a perfect trade location, managed by boggies. Now the Hollows are a blasted battleground that saw the most intense mystic and military clashes of the war, contested territory that offered the advantage of mobility to the winner.
A number of boggie settlements are vying for the position of successor, but there is a deep psychic wound in these cheerful people with the loss of their home to such profound violence. Many lost everything, and are now looking for new opportunity in the wider world.
The High Queen had a fortress prison, Modosk. When the High King won, he realized that the prison was a symbol of her power. The records were not good enough for him to make decisions on which prisoners to release b ased on their crimes, so he allowed any who wished to go free to be turned over to the Guilder Council and given service assignments as appropriate.
Those who provide adequate service will be pardoned, no matter what their past crimes have been. One advantage these convicts have is that the standard prison uniform was tough leather, since there are so many vicious creatures that can dart into the cells in the eternal darkness. They are light-starved, toughened and hardened by prison, and ready to earn their freedom.
From political prisoners to hardened butchers of the innocent, the convicts keep their leathers as a testament to the power of the will to survive the endless horrors they faced in the everlasting darkness.
Intense military action raged for years. At the end of the war, many experienced conscripts and officers were released as the army shrank. The seasoned troops have seen and done things that make it difficult for them to sleep at night, difficult to accept the dreary lot of farmer, difficult to forget the rewards of battle. For those who do not want to become bandits or local law, becoming privateer explorer adventurers for Guilds or personal interests seems attractive.
The High Queen had a battalion of troops that she outfitted with the finest guns the treasury could buy. They were her agents and guards, a symbol of royal power. They almost won the war for her, with cannon and courage, with cunning and strength. Time and time again their political intrigues, brilliant military tactics, and speed almost defeated the upstart Dural.
His first act as High King was to disband the battalion and confiscate their weapons. In a daring raid, the musketeers stole the weapons from the fortress of the castle and removed their identifying marks. The High King did not dare to press the issue, not wanting to restart the war by hunting them to extermination. An uneasy peace between the former elite guard and the new High King is fragile; it seems good for musketeers to find something to occupy their time until things settle down.
Much of the war was waged with feints, political intrigue, theft, and assassination. The shadows who protected the flanks of the military, stole secrets from the enemy, and played a dangerous game of espionage in city and countryside find their services are newly dangerous to a fledgling regime eager to find and execute traitors.
Some cannot give up the wealth and power such skills promise them. There are only so many locksmiths a kingdom needs, after all.
The Order of St. Midrian.
The White Tower is a fortress in the northern reaches of the Hollburke Duchy. This fortified and stately temple of war and healing has protected the northern border of the Duchy for almost 700 years. Duke Hollburke is the primary war leader for the new High King, and the Alornites (including servants of St. Midrian) came out to oust the corrupt High Queen and place their champion on the throne.
Not everyone agrees that the Alornites should have been so militarily and politically involved in the unpleasantness; the other temples all backed away and did their best to be neutral, or minimize their role in the conflict. There may yet be consequences.
The Tower Guild.
The chapterhouse in Uleth, the capitol, was cornered in the conflict. As they tried to remain neutral, both sides were forced to use mercenary wizards and use outside allegiances. Finally the Yorak House betrayed the upstart Dural. He contacted the guild and told them that if they supported him he would double their holdings. At the same time, the High Queen contacted them and told them that if they did not join with her immediately she would banish their guild.
After twelve hours of deliberation, the Tower Guild came out in favor of the soon-to-be High King. They staged a relatively bloodless assault on the keep and captured the High Queen, surrendering her to King Dural.
The High King does not trust them, all things considered. The Tower Guild now must prove its loyalty. The Delver School adherents are sending their best and brightest to assist in any military actions the High King may desire.
The Other Guilds.
Guilds and the Guilder Council are in a difficult political position at the best of times; they have many connections with the Dracolithic Empire, and other lands, but they prove their usefulness domestically to quell suspicions about their loyalty. In a paranoid environment like a civil war, with divided loyalties, individual Guilders and individual houses in towns and cities took sides.
The Guilds are focusing on unity within their guild structure, retracting from the broader political loyalties. In many places, basic law enforcement, civil service, responsibilities of rulership, and sometimes even tax collection systems have broken down. The guilders have stepped in to hold the riven Freeholds together until the High King can consolidate power and restore the rule of law.
In an environment where many of the institutions of power have been pitted against each other, the Guilds are trying to prove their trustworthiness not only to rulers, but to the people that so desperately need help in these troubled times.
Draft. April 3, 2011.