The War of Succession

The War of Succession was a civil war with heavy influence from outside powers that rocked the Holy Thorian Empire. To scholars, despite still managing to get back to its feet for a while longer, the conflict is considered the fatal blow that spelled the end of the Empire. The war started with the death of the old King Merlo Lunaio, the Fatherless King. Merlo was a pious ruler who enjoyed a long life – until his late seventies – and a peaceful, regarded-highly tenure as monarch. However, his popularity dwindled as he grew older, with his nickname became to ring truer and truer. Never having sired an heir that lasted past five Springs of age, the king left the Empire in a precarious position. After his wife died, Merlo went against the advises of his counselors and never remarried, neither took concubines or consorts, preferring to remain pure to his wife’s love even over the sake of his people. In his later years, especially once he was taken abed due to illness, his most powerful and influential subjects scurried in a frenzy: should the king die, the high number of candidates made a civil war almost certain. While some factions prepared for the coming conflict, others searched for any strategy that could avert a violent resolution for the impasse.

Assassination by dem888
Forces in the shadows started moving and positioning themselves to act long before the king’s passing. Rumors were spread. That a war of assassins and spies was already being fought. That armies were being amassed and mercenaries paid for. That a long list of candidates to the throne were readying their claims and just waiting for the old monarch to kick the bucket. That the king was not as the pious man as thought himself to be, having sired a bastard he immediately dumped in Maakaan. That the queen was a demon that feasted on the offspring of Merlo in front of his eyes. The worse the King’s health deteriorated, the more outlandish the rumors. These spread like wild fire in all levels of society, and understandably so: even the uneducated masses understood the risky nature of the razor’s edge. In the end, the good king passed away, with ninety days of mourning issued by his closest advisers. It was an abnormally long time, that the crown labelled as “befitting the heritage and memory of the Great Shepherd“. In fact, this was a desperate last gamble,  to throw and extended lifeline for a bit longer to stop the rampant hostilities. Their efforts were valiant, but not the outcome: the body was not even cold and the many next-in-line factions had already started bickering viciously. From there to inflamed threats, it was but a heart beat. From there to military aggression, not a day over the mourning period.

House Tyrell Bannermen by Tomasz Marek Jedruszek
While the initial number was much higher – in the dozens, before King Lunaio’s death – the Empire was fragmented into seven main candidate-holds quite quickly before the hostilities began. Would-be claimers were swayed with propositions made by more powerful candidates: offers of riches, positions of power, trade deals, or old grudges to be resolved on their behalf. Nevertheless, not all offered enticing chances of improving the standing of lower competitions. Some were bullied into subservience, with their loved ones used as hostages and bargaining chips, with the occasional assassin putting a more definitive end to the discussion. The infighting within the banner men and those loyal to the rivals was intense as well, especially when luck began to frown rather than smile at them. “House cleaning” was often performed with the faction leaders to guarantee loyalty, met with favorable results, but once it failed, it failed miserably, as Lord Feros Veles would find out. The family native to the southeast region of Ambelas was betrayed by the their vassals, the Velveder, during a final battle of the war. Lord Cassaro had just seen his brother and niece killed by Feros a few months before the decisive clash, over a land spew. Bitter and crossed, his forces would help trap the Veles army in an exposed gorge, allowing for the enemies to dispatch them quickly. Although not confirmed, the rumor still persists that Lord Cassaro himself delivered the Veles leader the final strike, effectively ending the war.

One of the strongest contenders was Faero Alloriel, the grandson of King Merlo’s aunt from the mother’s side. The young man had the financial backing of south Thorian families, like the Malapernsa family, from the city of Tirina, and the Vetes family, who controlled the Island of Maakaan and its trade. Having the economic superiority boosted Alloriel’s claim, as his supporters outbid and countered the actions of other candidates. The biggest stroke to Lord Colno’s aspiration, for example, was when the Malapernsa family out-paid the Kodokunan mercenary army and deprived the bordering-Niqesse nobleman of his biggest trump. However, from the unexpected small port city of Touqeer came the savior of the Alloriel coalition. The young Lady Laverna led a reckless Charge of the Scarlet Dawn against the surprised Niqessi army who were laying siege to Tirina, breaking their lines and routing them. This decisive battle protected the south border of the Thorian Empire, while capitalizing on the advantage provided by the invading army’s action, which had cleared many strongholds and towns under the banner of the opposition. Despite criticism among his (male) generals, Faero seized the momentum and self-proclaimed himself king and honored the Maiden of the Morning as “General Protector of the Empire” and had her the lands between Niqesse and the Azzopardi. The strong final push, with many of the new King’s backers buying off the support of the other contenders (like with the Velveder), ended the War of Succession, leaving King Faero Alloriel as the new monarch and the first of his dynasty.

Cover picture:

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