The Unification

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[4000 DA – 0 AT]: The Dragon Age
[0 AT – ~500 AT]: The Age of Man
[422 AT – 620 AT]: The Uplift
[538 AT – 901 AT]: The Unification
[650 AT – 700 AT]: The Orcish Exile
[699 AT – 800 AT]: The Iron Rebellion
[800 AT – 1209 AT]: The Golden Age
[1209 AT – 1212 AT]: The Neverwar
[1212 AT – Present]: Aftermath of the Neverwar

[538 AT – 901 AT]

The Imperial Plains sandwiched between the Rampart Mountains to the north and the Neck and the Blackwood Swamp to the south were heavily populated by humans and a few of their elven cousins for centuries after the Torpor took its toll. While large swathes of the country were heavily forested, the central and northeastern regions remained both incredibly fertile and easily traversed.

This led to both heavy and constant conflict among the peoples of the country. The ordered warfare of the Dragon Age quickly gave way to a brutal culture of raiding, pillaging, blood feuds, and massacres. The people of the Imperial Plains took up the practice of building walled cities surrounded by farmland in order to protect themselves against their neighbors, forming into individual city-states. By the mid 300, these city-states had expanded at the expense of their neighbors, and kingdoms had begun to develop; for most lords, the feudal system seemed natural after the many millennia of draconic dominion.

In 538 AT, there were five major kingdoms on the Imperial Plains: Drakenheim, the Dunvales, Reino del Bosque, Hochland, and Ostermark. Each of them fighting constantly, managing a web of cultures and alliances, and doing their best to turn their land to their own advantage. Little did they realize, the greatest threat to their power wasn’t each other, but a small party they had overlooked.

Sanctuary

There was a place in the center of all these mighty kingdoms that remained steadfastly neutral. It was called Sanctuary, and while sometimes it did not live up to its name, it was known far and wide as a place where peace was kept; at the point of a sword, if need be.

Sanctuary was located on a tributary in the Great River, and it served as a maritime trading hub for much of the central plains. This gave it unprecedented access to distant regions, and gave it a degree of multiculturalism that was simply not present anywhere else nearby. There was one thing that set it apart most of all, however, and it served to make all that cooperation possible: the local cult.

During that time, many still worshipped the Dragons as the ultimate divine entities, even as the truth of the Dragon Age faded from memory. Each kingdom and city-state would worship the icons of their old Dragon, sacrificing and warring in the name of a silent god. Clerics in that time were rare, though each one was treated as proof that a given deity was watching over them. The exception to this rule was Sanctuary. It had a cult, like every other city-state, but this one screamed defiance at the Dragons. They believed that the Dragons were tyrants and devils, monsters that must be opposed in the name of the true gods. Any who would walk the streets of Sanctuary and sample its bounty would have to abandon their old gods; there was a ceremony and a massive temple on the docks, so that visiting merchants could forsake their Dragon. At least for the duration of their stay.

This served to unite people from all over; the creed was universal, regardless of origins, and the contests between Dragon Cults were abandoned in the port of Sanctuary. It gave them access to goods that were wildly different, and the melting pot of language and culture served to create its own identity: that of a strong and defiant people, brought together to seek a higher path.

Then, in 538 AT, it was put to the test.

The Unification

It began with a famine.

The Kingdom of Drakenheim fell prey to a blight that killed most of its crops and scoured the land. Revolt began almost immediately, and the panicked King of Drakenheim searched desperately for a new target of their ire. Drakenheim had been agitating Sanctuary for generations by that point, as they were close neighbors and Kings dislike neutral parties. The healthy city-state would serve well to replenish Drakenheim’s failing coffers. The King of Drakenheim declared a holy war (for all wars at that time were holy) for Sanctuary, and promised riches and plenty for the ones who breached the city’s mighty walls.

Normally, the Kingdom of Drakenheim could field three times the soldiers of the puny city-state, but Sanctuary had not been affected by the blight, as it could obtain food from distant lands. When Drakenheim marched on Sanctuary, they discovered not a hapless enemy hiding behind their walls, but a massive and disciplined force, supplemented by foreign mercenaries.

The battle was short.

In the aftermath of the battle, as Reinhardt Bross, the Master of Sanctuary, surveyed the captured slaves, he was told of the terrible plight of Drakenheim, and he conferred with his priests. Many things were discussed in that chamber, and many prominent citizens were brought in to speak with Master Bross, as well as the more erudite of Drakenheim’s captured slaves.

When they emerged the next day, Master Bross announced he had experienced a Divine Revelation: the people, and the faith, of Sanctuary were superior to those of the dragon cults all around them. Those foreigners must be saved, from themselves if necessary. They must be saved from heresy, they must be saved from decadence, and they must be saved from their own weakness. They would be saved, or they would die so that their inferior ideologies would not infect others. He declared himself Emperor Reinhardt Bross I, renamed their city to Hauptstadt, and ordered the men to prepare to march on Drakenheim.

The Holy Falcon Empire was born, and thus, the Unification began.

The war lasted for centuries. The conquests were nearly perpetual, as the burgeoning Empire did its best to try and expand with every passing ruler. They were opposed at first by armies, as they fought to unite all the kingdoms between the Rampart Mountains to the north and the Shiverspines to the south. Few relented without a fight, and the cost in lives was incredible. To accelerate this process, a treaty was created called the Pact of Unification, and it was so valuable that it is this treaty from which the Empire’s era of conquests gets its name.

The Pact of Unification was a contract between a lord and the Emperor, in which the lord swears fealty and allegiance to the Empire in exchange for peace. It had its roots in the tradition of forcing merchants to forsake their deities; only now, it was forcing lords to forsake their cultural identity. In general, the earlier the surrender and the less offensive the culture, the more they were allowed to keep in the face of Unification.

The next thing that opposed the Empire was heresy. Old Dragon Cults infested the conquered regions, and a tool was needed that could root them out. The Holy Order of the Radiant Falcon was founded to produce Paladins: judges and executioners of the vile heresies that abounded in the conquered lands. These Paladins would eventually become their own creatures, but that was much later. At the time, they were effective in ensuring that the Imperial Sept was adhered.

Eventually, finally, the Empire was opposed by itself. The permissive nature of the Pact of Unification allowed for endless infighting and greed amongst its vassals. Civil wars were fought, independence movements crushed, and the unrelenting politicking of the landed nobility brought the war machine of the Empire to a grinding halt.

It wasn’t politics alone that did it, however. There were other Influences.

The Unification

Alsara: Requiem and Revolution Serathen Serathen