Rise and Fall of Arela
30 year war
Prior to the actual hostilities, relations between Kharlin and Shivar had been growing strained. A slave revolt in Kharlin had hurt the economy in the region and required a massive build up and expenditure in the Kharlin military. The slaves were put down rather easily but the economic damage was done. With an inflated military and emptying coffers, High Lord Branthus sought to negotiate a lowering of the tariffs and taxes for shipping goods through the Shivar Docks as a means to recuperate some losses. Septum Gantor, the ruler of Shivar, was less than sympathetic. Septum and Branthus had a known dislike for one another, and Septum openly and fervently opposed the slavery practices of Kharlin. Unfortunately Septum underestimated Branthus during the negotiations and did not expect him to be willing to go to war over the issue.
Branthus, in a rage upon the refusal, put several Shivar citizens within Kharlin, most of which were merchants and tradesmen, to death. These men and woman are considered to be the first casualties of the 30 year war. Upon hearing this news Septum instituted sanctions against Kharlin goods. He could not cut off trade from Kharlin entirely, as several other inner cities of Arela sent their commerce through the Kharlin Great Causeway. Instead he instituted higher tariffs for goods from the Kharlin causeway, and refused entry to any merchants who traded solely in the ore and agricultural goods originating in Kharlin, their primary exports.
From this time Kharlin and Shivar were in a defacto state of war. Tension built for some time, and eventually Banthus would strike with the full might of his military down the great causeway. The Shivar military had not been ideal in this time and was prepared for the assault, all be it in less numbers and strength than Kharlin. The first Battle of the Causeway was a bloody ordeal fought near the midpoint between Shivar and Kharlin with no clear victor between the two, but thousands dead and maimed.
This shook Branthus’ confidence of a quick and decisive conquest of Shivar, which with Shivar‘s reputation as easily conquered Branthus could be forgiven for assuming. Septum and his family had been particularly effective in organizing and administering Shivar, and in particular strengthening Shivar’s military capabilities since they came to power. Septum was determined that Shivar would stand as a nation for centuries to come under the watch of his family name, and the days of constant conquests and changes in rulership were over. Septum had spent a great deal of trade taxes, and his own family’s wealth, rebuilding the ancient Shivar siege walls and restoring the ancient causeway fortifications that would later become Fort Justice and Fort Vigilance. This coupled with an agreement with the House of Cirrus, the ruling family of Ceres, for food and supply shipments for the duration of hostilities gave Septum confidence that they could weather the war and emerge victorious.
For two years Kharlin and Shivar fought skirmishes along and around the causeway, neither side gaining clear advantage. Each side also sought to send expedition and cavalry units to harass the outskirts of the others city, but in both cases these were largely ineffectual. The first major change came when Troy, whose own economy had been hurt by the conflict, entered the war as an ally to Kharlin. With the trade route from Kharlin to Shivar closed, Troy had been forced to use some of the less extravagant ports to the east, or take their goods around the north mountains through Ceres. In either case this was expensive, and after 2 years the population was impatient. It was believed by entering the war on the side of Kharlin Troy would be able to force a peace between the two.
Instead, feeling Shivar’s cause just, Ceres increased its material aid to Shivar while also warning them of an Army coming from Troy in the West. Shivar in turn was able to bribe and buy several kobold and orcish tribes in the west to attack and harass the Troy army. Troy soon saw its villages and towns to the east, exposed and outside its own ancient siege walls, under vicious attack from Orc tribes hoping to collect on the bounty Septum had offered on the Troy military, not knowing the difference between the villages and military encampments. This had the effect of slowing the Army from Troy in joining the war to the East, but also galvanized Troy’s entrance to the war. They saw the bribing of the barbarians a cruel and treacherous act on the part of Shivar, unaware that they never paid them to attack the villages. Troy then found themselves in a general guerrilla conflict with the Orcs and Kobolds west of the Kharlin mountain range.
The war continued like this for another 3 years before Partha, similarly feeling it could intervene and force peace, announced its intent to march an army on Kharlin if they did not come to negotiations. Branthus famously replied “Send your Army, I could use the slaves.”
Unknown to all, Branthus had a plan in the works from the first battle of the causeway which was close to execution. Almost 7 years into the war, the first major reversal would take all but Branthus by complete surprise.
Branthus had been ordering his secret order of spies and assassins, the Kharlin Blades to infiltrate the city of Shivar. They had been from the beginning sending intelligence and planting false information. Though known to most of Arela, few outside Branthus’ inner circle truly appreciated how powerful and deadly the Kharlin Blades had become. On the Night of Red Tears the Blades would complete their orders, and nearly 200 deadly assassins and spies would strike at the heart of Shivar. In a single night, Septum, his top military leaders and battle commanders, and the entire ruling family would fall to the blades. By dagger, poison, dart and bow they fell in one night of chaos. To instill fear and disrupt public order in the city other Blades poisoned wells, burned public markets, and attacked the Shivar Docks, killing hundreds of dock hands and damaging several ships. Both the captain of the city guard, and the commander of both defensive forts were also killed, as was the battle commander and his staff for the Shivar Army on the Kharlin Causeway.
Branthus, knowing the timing of the assault, advanced his Army up the causeway, personally leading the attack with his high advisory and battle mage the slave elf Oraltow at his side. In the chaos of the night the Kharlin Army was able to rout the Shivar causeway Army and advanced quickly towards Shivar. Branthus force marched his Army to what would become Fort Vigilance, arriving much faster than anyone had expected even with the great causeway, and using a mass of goblin and hobgoblin slaves as fodder took the fort in a single night.
By the end of the 8th year Branthus had taken Shivar and put many of its nobles to the blade. He declared himself King of Shivar and announced his intention to take tax and tribute from all those wishing to use the Shivar Docks. Troy, believing this to be the end of the war, began withdrawing it’s army almost immediately, it being battle needed to help with the Orcs back home. However, this would not be the end of this war.
What remained of the Shivar Army fell back towards Ceres. Gaius Cerris, ruler of Ceres, issues a proclamation demanding Branthus leave Shivar at once, and that he would not stand to see Kharlin in control of Shivar. Branthus ignored him, and Ceres officially entered the war. Gaius Cerris, in front of his assembled court, handed his own Great Sword Light Bringer to his son Octavian, a sword passed down the ruling line of Ceres and a symbol of Command of the Ceres Army. “Go, bring light to darkness and peace to this land. Free Shivar from the cruelty of Branthus of Kharlin.” And with that, at age 18, Octavian Cerris was given command of the Ceres Army to wage war on Kharlin.
Octavian split his force in a move hotly debated by tacticians to this day. One such force would head south, to venture through the North Mountains and attack Kharlin directly. the second, lead by Octavian himself, would campaign to Shivar to liberate the city.
After 3 years of hard fighting the South Army had not yet reached the Kharlin Walls, and had instead been trading ground in the mountains back and forth in a strategic stand still. Octavian’s force however had managed to take what would become Fort Justice, and had held North Shivar in siege. Growing impatient with the progress he was making, he ordered his forces to attack the Shivar siege wall directly from Fort Justice, while he and a small group of his own personal guard worked around to the North Gate of the city. There he attacked in such small numbers the Kharlin soldiers on the wall assumed it was nothing but a probe of the defenses. Octavian however had designated his small force of about 30 of his best men as the “main offensive” when describing his plan to his military advisers. The exact order of events is confused at this point, as there were few witnesses and each accounting seems less probable then the last, but somehow with Light Bringer in hand Octavian made the walls and took the Northern gate. At his signal, the whole of his cavalry circled around to the North Gate and poured into the city of Shivar. By the time word reached the Kharlin Forces at the causeway gate it was too late, and the fighting was within the city. Octavian took the city 2 days later, and fully a third of the Kharlin Army garrisoned in Shivar as prisoners.
Octavian spent the next decade directing the war from Shivar as Branthus attempted to retake the city. The city’s walls were poor defenses compared to the mighty walls of Ceres, or even those of Kharlin, and Octavian held onto the city by cunning and bravery alone. During the next decade Troy would once again enter the war, sending an army to assist Kharlin at its city walls. Meanwhile the southern army Octavian had sent through the Northern Mountains was met by an Army sent by the city of Partha, and together they broke free and reached camp just north of Kharlin’s own walls.
It is then that the Kharlin Blades would strike again, trying to recreate their success of the Night of Red Tears. An attempt on the life of Octavian failed, but several high officers were killed and a yet unknown force from Troy was successful in reaching the south of Shivar undetected and threatened the south gates. At the same time pressure on the Kharlin causeway gate made Octavian fear for the city’s loss, and he made preparations for the retreat of the Ceres forces to the north. Within days of the arrival of the Troy army, Octavian withdrew from Shivar and the city changed hands for the third time since the war’s beginning.
By now most of Arela was consumed in the 30 year war, and armies and battles took place all throughout the country. Meanwhile the undead menace and Kobold, Orc, Goblin and Hobgoblin tribes pillaged small towns and villages. Octavian again campaigned to take back Shivar, as Partha and Ceres armies attacked the Kharlin wall for 3 more years. Eventually there all grew tired of war, and a meeting of representatives from Ceres, Kharlin, Troy, Partha, and a Merchant who would represent Shivar gathered to discuss peace.
Negotiations took 2 years to come to fruition. All were in agreement that of upmost importance was maintaining the integrity of the Shivar Docks, and open access to trade for all. This lead to the striking of the Arelan Compromise, which officially ended the war 30 years to the day following Branthus’ execution of the Shivar citizens in Kharlin.
After the signing of the agreement, Branthus gave the throne of Kharlin to his son who had lived his whole life until then under the war. Octavian similarly returned home to be crowned High Lord of Ceres, and keep Light Bringer as the symbol of his rule.
Per the Arelan Compromise, Shivar did not return to being a sovereign state, and instead is considered a protectorate of all Arela. A direct result of this was the formation of the Free Shivar Movement, and the rise of the Shivar Merchants Guild as the primary political power in Shivar.