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Kings of the Iron Fist

Words and Gold might bring you far in the Greenlands but not here. Beyond the March the only thing that counts is strength. The North will never bow nor kneel. You can't control it. Only tame it through an iron fist.
— Chieftess Eseal
  On their own, the various tribes of the Far North pose no real danger to the defenders of the Northern March. For while they are all called Barbarians by the southerners and many think them all part of a single tribe, in truth there are dozens if not hundreds of different tribes with wildly varying cultures and faiths. They fight amongst themselves as savagely as they do the Vardanians, for land to settle on is rare beyond the March and good land even rarer.   Every few centuries however this situation changes dramatically. From beyond the norths ever swirling mists appears a man. Brutal, ruthless and driven by boundless ambition. One that will forge the warring tribes into a weapon to strike down the walls of the Iron Men and conquer the Greenlands. A king not by blood or council but by strength. A king that rules through an iron fist.  

Kings in the North

  The Northmen follow a rather simple hierarchy. A Chief is the ruler of a tribe which can encompass anything from a few longhouses to several towns. A number of those tribes follow a Grand Chief, who in turn is ruled over by the High Chief. They lead the great tribal federations, some several hundred thousand strong.   King is the title given to the supreme ruler, with a weight similar to that of Emperor or Elder King. Only those that have managed to subdue the north, beaten its chiefs and gathered them under their banner may wear the title. To declare yourself King is tantamount to a declaration of war on every ruler of the region. Few have ever dared to even attempt it. Even fewer have succeeded. Only the greatest have left a legacy.  

The First King and the Monster

  Ubar Sin:   In the decades after the Desolation the empty north remained of little concern to the people of Vardania. Ubar changed that. In 825 DA he led his people south evading the empty lands of the Sikirians like a plague. Raiding western Vardania for several years he was finally defeated by an alliance of the Gedari, Anari and the city-state of Aurasio in late 832 DA. Neither the largest nor the most devastating, his incursion alerted the Vardanians to the fact that people existed even further north than previously believed. As a result, several outposts were established along the river Ilin.   Enlil the Despoiler:  
The Despoiler
The most infamous of his kind the King of the Alevati came upon Vardania like a raging titan. A continent gripped by chaos in the wake of the 1st Hegemony's fall, there was nothing that could stop hundreds of thousands of savages storming south from 1497 DA onwards. A monster that flayed a thousand men and raped a thousand women his reign saw Vardania drown in blood. The Despoiler would find his end in 1508 under the hoofs of Feran Knights on the fields west of Verdal, his realm collapsing mere days after.   The Alevati invasion had been the final straw. Seven continent-wide invasions, fourteen major incursions and hundreds if not thousands of raids and attacks within 700 years. The Far North was not an empty wasteland like many had believed. Humans lived there.   Warlike, large in number, organized and armed. And they were coming south. Horde after horde, intent on drowning Vardania under a tide of bodies.  
A man? No, child. Enlil was no mere man. He was the wrath of the old gods given form.
— Highseer Ura

A divided Continent

  With monumental effort, the rulers of northern Vardania began to turn the Northern March from a series of watchtowers and small camps into a fortress that rivalled any in the known world. A task that took hundreds of thousands of workers and over 100 years. Finished in 1640 DA these walls withstood assault after assault. And while some where broken and overrun no northern King managed to set foot in the south for over 1500 years. Until a fateful winter in 3098.   Gimilkar the Breaker:  
by Dominika Mayera
A true berserker of a man, tall as a giant of legend and stronger than a dozen men. He raised the largest army the north had ever seen. The last report received from the defenders spoke of 300,000 men attacking and we now know that was less than half of Gimilkar's total force. In the winter of 3098, he did the impossible. He breached the great fortresses, overcame the highest walls and overran the Northern March. His armies swarmed the north, pierced the Reach and even attacked lands south of the river Sirryn.   Monstrous in battle he destroyed a dozen Tarquinnian Legions and slew Emperor Valerian IX. and his daughter and heir Amelia in combat. By 3105 he had conquered half the continent and threatened even the ancient metropolis of Tarquinnia itself when his life was cut short by a heart attack at the age of 61. His sudden death created a power vacuum, giving the battered Hegemony time to recover. It is generally seen as the beginning point of the Northern Kings and Southern Emperors Period.   Nin Kirgala the White Kraken:   The first and only female of the Iron Fist Kings was one of the most powerful rulers the north had ever seen. Brilliant, beautiful and absolutely ruthless she claimed the crown through manipulation and deceit. With her rivals in the north vanquished the young queen set about continuing the assault on the Vardanians. From 3202 DA on northern armies pushed further south than ever before, Caerne, Moira, the cities of the Summer Coast, no region was safe. However, from the ranks of the Hegemony, a rival rose to match her at every step. General Aleius Gerrin took command of the battered Imperial Army and countered Kirgala's forces at every opportunity. The war between the two would continue for over 13 years and rage across the entire continent.   After years of strife, Aleius triumphed in the Battle of the Carian Gate and captured the queen. She died a few days after the battle at the age of 37. Her realm fell to infighting and dissolved within a few years time.  

Last Stand

  Lugal Zare the Last King:  
Lugal Zare
Following the White Krakens death in 3217 the north remained in chaos. While five more Kings would rise over the next 70 years none of them would even approach the power of their predecessors. Constant power struggles weakened the Barbarians all the while the Hegemony reformed and regained its strength. Under Aemelian IV. the Imperial Army set about reconquering Vardania and in 3297 began to march north. During the war, a young chief named Lugal began to unite the tribes against the massive assault and in 3300 crowned himself King. Trying his best to stave off the attack he was ultimately defeated and killed in the titanic Battle of Anonara in early 3302.  
With Lugal Zare's death, the Barbarian realm collapsed. Imperial forces reclaimed the March for the first time in over 200 years. The remaining Barbarians were pushed into the lands beyond and those still settled in Vardania were deported en masse. Now behind restored walls, the south thinks itself safe again.   Safety, however, is not guaranteed. Vardania is in chaos following the Tyrants War and the defenders of the March are weakened. Furthermore the last decades have been the warmest in centuries and the people of the north have grown more numerous as a result. The fighting for usable land has intensified again and it may only be a matter of time before another warrior steps from beyond the mists, unites the tribes under an iron fist and sets his sights on the south again.
Pictured above Nin Kirgala the White Kraken. First and only female Iron Fist King.
Alternative Names
Kings of the North, Kings in the North
Divided Continent 3105 - 3302 DA
  End of the Kraken   The war between Nin Kirgala and Aelius Gerrin is largely forgotten in the south except among Archivars and other students of history. In the north however it is the stuff of legend and Gerrin seen as a mighty warrior and honourable leader.   When Nin was finally captured in 3215 DA she was to be dragged through the streets of Tarquinnia in golden chains, humiliated, tortured and finally executed. Such was the will of the Emperor and the Senate. However, Gerrin was not of the same mind. The night before she was to be shipped off to the capital he entered her cell and offered to free her. They both knew that her reign was over, the Northmen already fought amongst themselves and would never accept a beaten queen rule over them.   He offered to send her away from Vardania but she refused. Instead, she demanded that if she had to die, Gerrin had to be the one to do it. On the 12 of Iunis 3215 the White Kraken died, her heart pierced by a needle. He gave her body to one of the queens remaining loyalists who brought it north and spread the tale amongst his peers.  
Tarquinnia on its knees
  Aleius fate, however, was not much better. While none could disprove the claim that she had died of a fever caused by an infected wound, the Emperor's distaste for Gerrin only increased. A year later the man that had saved the realm was sacked from his position and banished from the Empire. The Hero of the Hegemony died five years later in a rhomeian colony, disgraced and forgotten.  
I can feel it in my bones Gerrin. This is my final night, be it by gods will or mens. And when I die it will not be as an animal, humiliated and broken to the amusement of bored fatling lords. It will be as a warrior, brought down by a worthy opponent.
— Nin Kirgala to Aelius Gerrin
  Jaws of a Wolf   Ahu Shanish was one of a kind among the northern Kings. Rising to power 20 years after Nin Kirgala had died his ambition was not to conquer the south but to unite the tribes into a stable and enduring realm. To this purpose, he married many of his children into other tribes and clans and in a grand feast intended to strengthen these pacts.   However, the chiefs of the north turned on him, broke the oath of peace and slaughtered the Laughing Wolf and all his relatives and children in a single night. Before dying Shanish's mother, cradling the head of her dead son, cursed the traitors.  
End of an Age - Anonara
  The Curse of the Wolf, named after the banner of Shanish's clan, would in time claim its victims. Losing themselves in endless feuds the traitorous clans were finally annihilated during the Northern Campaign with the last northern King, descendant of Clan Zare, which had instigated the massacre falling at the hands of Adeon Vargan Vardanias Iron Wolf.  
Eternal strife will be yours... Never to trust another again. A road of blood... and fire is what..waits for you... And at its end...the maw of a wolf.

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Elias Redclaw
16 Jun, 2019 17:04

Such an amazing article by you as always dark! I really just love how simple your articles are in formatting and BBcode and yet look so beautiful! I’d say that again, your expertise in the field of blending worldbuilding, storytelling and prose together combined with some amazing artwork really shows itself in this article! It manages to stay interesting from the start right upto the very end! I’d say that this is a very inspirational and amazing article! One that manages to capture the reader in without too much of a trouble. Congrats and keep up the great work dark!

16 Jun, 2019 19:03

Good work as always, Dark! Here's some notes I could find when reading through it. I hope you find 'em useful. :D  

They fight amongst themselves as savagely as they do the Vardanians, for land to settle on is rare beyond the March and good land even rarer.
  The latter part about land reads a little strangely. I get what you're trying to say, but it feels like there'd be a different way to say it that would flow more smoothly. I'm currently drawing a blank on it, though.  
And only the greatest of them have left their mark on history.
  This reads a bit clunky, starting with an "And". I might rewrite it into something like "The greatest among them carve a bloody mark on history" or something. :)   Formatting wise, the "End of the Kraken" side panel feel like it'd fit better if placed further down. If you read the main and side panel in tandem right now, we're a little lost as to who she is.  
A man? No no child Enlil was no mere man. He was the wrath of the old gods given form.
  I'd remove one "no", put a comma after it and leave "Enil was" as it's own sentence. It feels a little loose as it stands, if that makes any sense  
Tarquinnian Legions and slew Emperor Valerian IX. and his daughter and heir Amelia in combat.
  Is the period supposed to be there in Valeria IX?  
Warlike, large in number, organized and armed. And they were coming south. Horde after Horde, intent on drowning Vardania under a tide of bodies.
  I get that this is kind of the trope, but how do they amass those sorts of numbers if the lands they inhabit are so bad? How do they have enough food?   Also, second horde shouldn't have a capital H, unless its a named thing. :)   Hope that helps some!

Creator of Araea, Megacorpolis, and many others.
27 Jun, 2019 19:08

Great use of Inkarnate and pictures to demonstrate the article. I found the read to be engaging and well put together. I'm curious how you format your pictures so well without weird spacing. Do you edit their size elsewhere or is it code/formatting? If it is formatting, I would love to pick your brain on how you do so.   Regardless, one of the better reads on the site. Thank you for making it.

27 Jun, 2019 20:15

First thank you very much. Its great to know that people like to read my articles.   As for the pictures: I use BBcode for that.

- ignore the spaces, they are just for greater clarity.   The left/right is for which side of the paragraph you want to have the picture on. The size depends. I usually change it quite a bit, trying to see what looks best.   Just add the full command in front of the first line of the paragraph the picture is supposed to sit next to. If a sentence or two are in odd positions due to this you may have to move them down one or two lines. Hope I could help. And thanks again for the like!

27 Jun, 2019 20:55

I don't think the code went through. If it's the |left|200 (for example), I have tried that but it creates really odd spacing for me. It will make the picture smaller and position it to the left, but will not put the words beside of it, and instead will space it as if the picture was its original size.   When I get home tonight I would like to show you an example and get your feedback. Apologies for the hassle, i'm just inspired by your abilities. Thank you for your help.

27 Jun, 2019 21:05

Sure. And dont worry. I like to help.

27 Jun, 2019 21:06

Also yes I didnt notice that. Apologies.