The Discord of Dissension: The Crown of Marduk
Marduk is an Island. This fact has shaped it’s history immeasurably, and made it a politically and geographically isolationist kingdom. For as long as recorded history has been around to tell the tale, and if you are to believe them, the ærun have been the ruling species of Marduk. Every King or Queen of Marduk, from Thraeso the Beloved on, has been an ærun, tracing the lineage back at very least 35 millenia, to the dawning of the age of creations… The ærun royals have been just, kind, logical to a fault, and this has led the common peoples and to respect and love their royals, and no one has ever had a problem with the ærun running Marduk.
In this, the fourth age since the age of creations, the ærun have had many a difficulty regarding the kingdom. Marduk has arisen as a powerhouse in naval technology. Their ships are neither large, as the ships of Vhygor, nor are they particularly well armored, as are the members of the Euthropanian fleet; rather Marduk’s ships are fast, one might say damned fast, they are maneuverable, and they are well armed with light cannons, heavy ballistas, medium catapults, and even the occasional fire drake. In fact, the naval prowess of Marduk is so well established, and so well earned, that not an enemy boot has ever set foot on the island, even though invasions have been attempted at regular intervals throughout history. Roughly 350 years ago, in the year 1202 of the fourth age, the political climate of the realm of Qopith began a radical and painful paradigm shift.
To the southeast of Marduk, in the small kingdom of Spania an elfish rebel leader overthrew the rightful King of his land, and supplanted him. This new ruler, refusing to call himself a mere King, began referring to himself as God-Emperor Iramaya. He gathered the peoples of his newly acquired “empire” and, recognizing what he considered the superiority of the elves and halflings, he began wholesale genocide of the other races of Spania. When his army had thoroughly destroyed all non-elfish and non-halfling inhabitants of Spania Iramaya set his eyes on conquest, first moving to the east, pillaging the kingdoms which he found there, and continuing his genocidal pursuits, choosing, when he encountered the human throngs of the east, to enslave them. These humans became workers in the smiths and fields which fueled Iramaya’s war machine. In the east, a few subterranean races were overlooked in this rape of the lands, those races include the Mites and the Jotun, and this mistake would not be repeated. Once the forces of Spania had reached the eastern shores of their continent, all focus was shifted to the kingdom of Euthrope, a gigantic kingdom just west of Spania with a mixture of races, famous for their great and beautiful human cities. After four long decades of fighting, Iramaya and his forces finally succeeded in taking hold of Euthrope’s capital. This led to a drawn out period of murder, genocide, and torture of anyone not considered racially pure. Mixed breeds like half-elves were dismembered in public, and humans were continuously enslaved. Other races were tortured and forced to give up the locations of those hiding in Euthrope. Once the God-Emperor had taken control of Euthrope, he renamed his continent spanning empire as Euthropania. It looked as if he’d be unchecked as he marched his way across the entire realm of Qopith, “purifying” everyplace in his path, that was until he set his eye on Marduk.
In 1254, Iramaya decided to turn his entire naval focus on the island of Marduk… within a single day of his first assault on a marduki ship, Iramaya had no a single naval vessel still afloat anywhere near Marduk. His primary invasion forces of nearly a million halfling troops, hidden on the ships, were forced to attempt to swim to shore, not a single one made it back to an Euthropanian shore! The King of Marduk, Ghoxu (pronunciation: Go-SHU) the Kindhearted, ordered his Royal Forces to protect his shores, as he declared war on Euthropania. This began what historians refer to as the Two Century War. Battle after battle was fought between the two powers, Marduk never having the strength to do much on the ground, but Euthropania never having the naval prowess to do much at sea. The one exception to this was in the fall of 1450, when Iramaya began a naval battle for which he had been preparing for over a decade. His new ships proved to be more resilient than those previous, and this led to a battle of attrition at sea, which lasted for the better part of five years. When Marduk came out ahead, still having a strong enough naval force to lead a bombardment of an Euthropanian city, Iramaya began to doubt for the first time whether he had what it took to take Ghoxu’s Marduk. And though the war continued for a while, it became increasingly evident that this was to be a stalemate.
In 1455, as both sides were ailing and looking for a way to end the hostilities, Ghoxu made a tragic choice. He decided to gather his Royal Mages and begin the long and involved process of casting a spell to strike at the heart of the enemy. The target was to be the city of Heese, former capital of Spania, and the bread basket of the war effort, not to mention the largest conglomeration of troops not actively in battle on the continent. The spell to be cast was a defilement spell; a disease was to spread through the flora of Heese, through the ranks of the elves, and ignore any slaves they found. The spell, once started could not be stopped without risking a feedback event which would probably kill most of Marduk. A spy for Euthropania got information to the God-Emperor, and evacuation was completed well before the spell hit. In the place of the troops, Iramaya had placed every captured Jotun, every Mite, and all of the available prisoners of war. When the spell hit, an event known as the Great Defilement, those who survived the impact were unharmed, though many starved to death as the food supply turned to ash and spores which the winds spread to the next field. Both sides decided this was enough, and late in the year, a ceasefire was signed.
Ghoxu, decided he would make two major changes at this point; changes which made him the most love marduki King in millenia. The first thing he did, was to invite the Jotun and Mites who were affected by the Great Defilement or who could escape Iramaya’s grip to come to Marduk, and receive full citizenship, along with the seven races already peacefully sharing Marduk. This act was called the Founding of the Nine Allied Races, and the only caveat was that the Jotun, who had always owned the Mites, give up their slaves, as slavery is not legal in Marduk. The second act, called the Act of Shared Power, was so unexpected that most thought it was literally a joke at first. Ghoxu decided, there wasn’t an easy way for him to fully comprehend the plights of his people, hence he formed the Royal Council, a group who would help him lead, democratically, and whose members as accurately as possible represent the political, social, and racial breakdown of Marduk as a whole. With the Council in place, the people found that their opinions mattered, and that justice and fairness were easy to come by. The power of the church began to wane as the people turned to their rulers to help them better their lives.
It is now 1550 of the fourth age, and after years of peace and prosperity, Marduk finds itself on the brink of catastrophe. Ghoxu, the first ærun who, as King, ever decided to have more than one child, the beloved marduki King, has died. At the reading of his will, an event at which only the oldest and youngest sons, the queen mother, the heads of the Royal Hidden Forces, and the majority of the Royal Forces hierarchy were present, it came as a great surprise to the vast majority that Shoyu, the youngest son was named the heir. Shoyu was much like his father, and this made the decision make sense, but it was still a shock. It was decided, as a sign of mourning, that the official announcement could wait until after Ghoxu’s funeral. Before Shoyu could be named heir and have his coronation, his mother and his oldest brother Yhuria went before the people, announcing Yhuria as heir before the people. Yhuria, while in no way evil, truly believes he should be the next King of Marduk. He believes the best way to control the populace is with increased hold on his people, needless to say, this is why his father chose Shoyu. Therai, the other son, the middle one, has long been an emissary to Engstraat, and though he loves his homeland, has no interest in ruling Marduk. As this tragedy befalls Marduk, Iramaya sees it as a moment of weakness in which to attack! He is unaware of the storm clouds gathering, but the death of his old foe has him excited for his chances now!
Now as the people hear one story and the Armed Forces hear the truth, it lands on you to help restore Shoyu as rightful king, preferably before Yhuria can complete his coronation which would lead to full scale civil war. And at the same time, you need to make sure Marduk avoids capture by Euthropanian invaders. Who will be the next King of Marduk?