A brief history of Vens

The relationship between Marrephilahd and the Venial Empire is somewhat bizarre. The city, as befits a community that lives on trade, has little to no ambition for empire. Vens, on the other hand, was in its youth (2500 SF) an aggressively expansive empire with global ambitions. Vens was based out of the city of Vens on the interior, and expanded out towards the coast. After eating up a collection of coastal duchies, it ran into Marrephilahd (in 2120 SF) and spent the next 100 years either fighting, trying to subvert, or diplomatically pleading to try to take the city over. This didn’t work, but it managed to distract and weaken the city.

This by itself wouldn’t be enough to force an alliance, because Marrephilahd was well enough intwined in the trade routes to live on coastal trade. Instead, there came one of those rare times when an intelligent troll was born (trolls, as befitting 8-9 foot regenerating high-powered creatures, don’t go in much for cooperation, or subtlety, or, for that matter, intelligence - however, there is the occasional exception.) This troll - (?) - managed to gather together a small army of trolls, arm and armour them, and get a dozen or so magic using trolls. She then attacked Marrephilahd, and in quick order had overrun the peninsula, occupied the harbor, and laid seige to the city. Did we mention that the trolls used magic, too? Magic, when used without restraint, resembles nuclear weapons. Magic was, in this instance, being used without restraint. (*)

(* there are extensive ruins around Marrephilahd on the land side - extending up to 10 miles inland from the existing city. These ruins date from this war: Before the war, Marrephilahd had a population of about 6 million people with a very low population density (the city had ourgrown its walls a good thousand years earlier, and the walls were almost all gone.) After the war, the population was down to about a million people, all within the current walls of the city.

There exists the equivalent of the Geneva treaties on this world: the Protocol of Combat includes a section restricting magic in combat to personal-effect spells. This section was added to the Protocol after the trolls war)

Pressed as they were, the city government sent diplomats to each and every surrounding government they could find. The various sea trader tribes promised aid, but since it was all naval aid it was restricted to fighting in the harbor and on the open sea. There was only one land-based government within reasonable distance, though: the Venial Empire. Vens agreed to send an army, but on one condition - an alliance. Marrephilahd agreed (*), Vens sent a large army, and, after a long war, the trolls were defeated. And, per the agreement, Marrephilahd became part of the Venial Empire, as an semi-independent state (2234 SF - Alliance Day)

(* it was more complicated than that, actually: Vens demanded an unconditional surrender. Marrephilahd counteracted with threats to ally with the trolls and go after the empire. After much slanging, the agreement became “an alliance”)

Years after that, the situation was reversed: The Empire had, after decades of slow but steady expansion, grown about 3000km west, absorbing various states and making agreements - like the one with Marrephilahd - with others, and was beginning to expand into the Mage’s Wilderness. A legion then encountered one of the high-power mages that live out there, challenged him, and was destroyed by him (in 2967 SF). Further legions were sent out (2968, 2971, 2972), along with increasing numbers of diplomatic and magical aid, until this mage got annoyed and fought back. (Some background here: The Mage’s Wilderness is named as it is because it’s large and contains mainly magic-users. The nature of magic is that, as you gain knowledge, it tends to affect your mind. One of those effects is to desire solitude, another is the loss of mental control. So, as mages get very high level, they tend to drift into the Wilderness so they can practice magic in peace and quiet, and without annoying interruptions that they end up frying. This was not known at the time of the Venial expansion into the Wilderness.)

Vens found out that the mage was annoyed when the city of Vens - and everything within a 3kilometer radius sphere of it - was turned into a rapidly expanding cloud of plasma. Vens found out that this mage was capable of doing it again when two frontier cities had the same thing happen to them. We won’t detail the ensuing war, aside from commenting that you don’t need a nuclear bomb to have nuclear winter, and that if you annoy a bunch of high-level mages, they will be as likely to blast each other as they will you. This war - which is now known as the Mage War (2972 - 2973 SF) - was resolved when Marrephilahd (as a autonomous state, it still had a functioning government) sent it’s magic using forces out to protect the Empire against the lot of extremely annoyed mages while sending a collection of extremely apologetic diplomats out to beg most abjectly for peace, which was done with a treaty promising that Vens would never attempt to annex even one inch the other side of the Sea of Marius.

(The result of this war: Venial casualties ~15,000,000; loss of the three cities; 5 years nuclear winter and famines for the next century; a few barren wastes that still exist and which nothing will live in; after digging out a survivor of the royal family, Venial government restored and relocated to Marrephilahd, then relocated inland to (?) after extreme disapproval of a royal presence in the city; Mage casualties: 1.)

After the Mage War, the magical abilities of the Eye of God became apparent. For recorded history, there had been reports that occasionally people would sail out of the Eye who were not of this world. After the war, there were several large migrations from the Eye: from 3000-3010 SF, a large migration of fishermen who brought along the Hindu religion, and which pushed the Cinnabar barbarians off their home islands and to the mainland; from 3710-3711, Naissa traders and warriors, who fought a long losing battle against the other inhabitants of the archepelago and ended up on the mainland. From 4023 to 4089, there was a steady stream of human and orcish ships of all sorts, many of which perished. Finally, from 4821-present, a large wave of emigrants who brought, among other things, gunpowder and the Islamic religion.

In the years 3191-3205, orcish rebellions ripped through the northwestern corner of the Venial Empire. They were crushed, but soon after that, rebellions broke out in the Shield and Spear mountains, when the Black Dwarves broke with the empire. This rebellion was broken, but at the cost of granting the Black dwarves a limited autonomy, which over the next 500 years became de-facto independence (the Dwarrel was granted freedom from the Crown in 3899.) In the early years of the 3500’s, Cinnabar barbarians began to settle in the northeastern corner of the Empire, and Naissa colonization of what is now Nerol began in the late 3700’s.

In the 4200’s, massive rebellion ripped the empire; The provinces along the Sea of Marius broke away from an Empire they correctly perceived did not have the enthusiasm nor resources to fight the appropriate battles. In 4306, The Khanate of Nerol was declared; in 4309, the Southern Territories (the Wild Lands) ripped into a thousand little duchies; and in 4384, an Akzar rebellion began in what is now the Demos of the Horde.

In 4399, a peace treaty was signed with the alliance of states that were along the Sea of Marius in return for their aid in battling the Khanate of Nerol. In 4460, the Khanate of Nerol defeated the combined armies of Vens and the states around the Sea of Marius in a decisive battle at (?); in 4461, the Empire grudgingly signed a treaty with the Khanate. The Akzar rebellion was largely defeated in the 4490’s, with the Akzar leadership withdrawing into the Shield mountains and forming a shadow government - the Demos of the Horde - there.

The Wild Lands resisted any attempts at pacification. The northern edge of the Wild Lands contained a large number of Goblin tribes, most of which were (and are) quite adept with magic. This, combined with the large number of little duchies and states, made it quite difficult to progress against this rebellion. Sporatic fighting persisted here for the next 150 years.

In the 4500s, there was peace. The (now) Cinnabar majority in the Northeastern provinces began to ask about independence or autonomy, but did so nonviolently, and were met by (now war-weary) Venial lords. Also during this time, great scientific advantages were made in centers of learning: steam power was developed by the Khanate of Nerol in 4468. The first steamship was launched in 4501 at Marrephilahd. The steam cannon was developed by the shadow government of the Demos in 4580, as was the armored steamcarriage. In 4630, the first steam-powered railway was opened in the Dwarrel - by 4680, railroads connected all major cities in the Empire, and were being built between the balkanised states and the Khanate.

In 4632, rebellion broke out again. The shadow government of the Demos of the Horde had been, for the past 20 years, stockpiling steamcarriages; Now they used them. The Empire was not caught completely unaware, but it still didn’t anticipate the extent of the rebellion; by 4639, it had been beaten back into the foothills of the Shield mountains and the (?) hills around the city of (?), but by then the Demos was being supplied with covert aid from the Khanate and the balkanised states, so was able to hold its own from its strongholds and keep control over about 30% of the disputed provinces. Seeing opportunity, the northeastern provinces combined together into the state of Cinnabar and sent diplomatic requests for independence to the Imperial capital at (?)

During the previous 100 years, the empire had been attempting to recapture the Wild Lands, with little success. The new threats overwhelmed the defenses of the Empire, with the result that of all hostilities against the Wild Lands were stopped and most of the troops were withdrawn to the north to fight against the Demos. The Cinnabarian request for independence was stalled until it became apparent that the new state would go to war unless the demands were granted. In 4653, Cinnabar was granted independence, in return for signing a mutual defense treaty with the Empire and assisting the Empire with the war against the Demos. This was not enough. As time went on, the Dwarrel was pulled into the war on the side of the Demos, and the balkan states began to supply massive amounts of supplies to the Demos. In 4701, with the Demos controlling 55% of the northwestern territories, and the empire tottering under the cost of maintaining a three-front (Wild Lands, Dwarrel, Demos), peace was made giving the Demos of the Horde all of the land they controlled, plus large cash reparations.

Now, the side-effect of this was that the empire was driven to the point of bankruptcy. For the next hundred years, Vens became heavily isolationist and spent most of its resources on rebuilding and research. In 4710, the (?) Iron Company on the border with Dwarrel developed the first blast furnace, using a hydraulic blast mechanism. In 4735, the Imperial Navy demonstrated their first steam turbine frigate during spring exercises off the coast of the Demos. In 4741, major shipping companies in the Khanate, Vens, and Cinnabar launched their first steamships. In 4751-4753, there were intermittent skirmishes along the Imperial/Khanate border, which ended when the empire ceded the contested land to the Khanate.

By 4790, the Empire had crept far enough away from the verge of collapse to start thinking about recovering territory. The northern edge of the Wild Lands had stabilized into a clutch of small emirates in the preceding 140 years, and two of them had developed enough of an economy to be tempting targets. In 4791, the (?) emirate was invaded and annexed by the Empire and the Duchy of (?) was attacked and forced to cede territory near Marrephilahd (the Imperial Concession.) In 4792-4793, inconclusive attacks were made on the Emirate of Gobleland; in 4794, Gobleland counterattacked and managed to invade the city of (?) and a good 15 miles up and down the river (?), breaking all trade linkages from the coast to the baltic states & the Khanate of Nerol. In 4794-4795, the Empire and Gobleland fought fiercely, exchanging territory on both sides of the river, and in the spring of 4796, a peace treaty was signed with the Empire and Gobleland both officially quitting all claims against each other’s territory.

In 4821, another wave of emigrants began to appear from the Eye of God. These emigrants carried a wonderful invention - gunpowder - with them. Reports started coming into the mainland in the fall of 4821 reporting the overrunning of small cities on the archepelago by ‘swarms of magic users’; by the summer of 4822, half a dozen trading ships had returned to Marrephilahd with samples of gunpowder and the first emigrant ships were seen at the major ports along the east coast of (?).