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Rise of the Fourth Hegemony - War of the Furies

Let them bawl and rage, in the end it matters not. The time when politicians and speeches shaped this land is long past. Iron and blood will bring the changes.
— Alexiana Severa, First Empress of the Hegemony
  Respect your enemies, but fear those of your own blood. An old Vardanian saying that many a ruler would do good to heed. It was not by chance that many of the most devastating conflicts in Vardanian history were civil wars fought by dynasties. It was not by chance that the 3rd millennium DA would begin and end in such strife.  

Rise of the Severans

  Ever since it had risen from the ruins of the Tiberian Empire in the late 26th century DA, the Severan State had been a force in Vardanian politics. Bane of many a Vitrian Warlord, founding member of the Third Hegemony, few events of that era occurred without Severan participation. When the Sinarean Dispatch enabled it to conquer northern Vardania in 2926, the Severan Kingdom was one of the strongest states on the continent.   But to its rulers that was not enough. The easy conquest of the north and the lack of response from any of the other powers had proven the rest of Vardania weak. One by the one, the remaining states of the continent fell or knelt.   By 2931, the Severan realm stretched deep into the Reach, the Western Provinces, and the Heartlands. With even the old metropolis of Tarquinnia under her banner, Alexiana Severa decided to underline her triumph by crowning herself Empress of the Fourth Hegemony on the 21st of Ianis 2932 DA.  

The Furies

  There was just one problem. Technically Alexiana was not the sole ruler of the realm. Since the death of her father in 2921 DA, Alexiana had shared power with her two younger sisters:  
Alexiana the Iron

  • ~ 95.000 Soldiers
  • Power Base:
    Lavranian Provinces
    Northern Heartlands
    Helenia Province
  • Advantages:
    Largest Army
    Controls Economic Core
  • Disadvantages:
    Large Territory
    Dispersed Forces
Maria the Silent

  • ~ 40.000 Soldiers
  • Power Base:
    Aedes Ceranis
    Ilin Province

  • Advantages:
    Loyalty of the Acie
    Strong Defenses
  • Disadvantages:
    Small Army
    Poor Territory
Lucia the Mad

  • ~ 75.000 Soldiers
  • Power Base:
    Reach Provinces
    Old Rhovar

  • Advantages:
    Veteran Army
    High Popularity
  • Disadvantages:
    No Legitimacy
    Unruly Provinces
  For over a decade, the three had ruled as equals. Alexiana's coronation had shattered that fragile balance. It was clear that she desired supreme authority over the entire realm. And for a while it seemed like her sisters accepted the new order of things. Maria remained in the north to govern the old Severan lands and Lucia indulged her bloodlust on campaign, driving her army deeper and deeper into the realms of the Reach.   To those that knew the sisters it was obvious that this "peace" would not last. A cruel twist of fate had given each of the sisters a brilliant mind and ruthless deposition that combined with their boundless ambition made a war for the throne a near certainty.  
Each on her own could have been an Empress to found a new Hegemony, to found a realm lasting half a thousand years. But the gods enjoy carnage more than anything.
— Amelian IV., Emperor of the Hegemony
 

War for the Throne

  The exact order of events is unknown as many records of the era were lost in the chaos of following centuries. Wherever it was Alexiana ordering the arrest of her siblings or one of the others acting in rebellion cannot be said with certainty. Most historians attribute the outbreak of hostilities to the youngest of the three. Wherever she was provoked or not made no difference. The outcome was the same. On the 9th of Apris 2932 DA, Lucia Severa was declared Empress by her army. An act which would unleash half a decade of war upon Vardania.  

Dance of the Furies

  Over the course of the next two years, the oldest and youngest of the Furies would dance across central Vardania. The Heartlands were especially hard fought over, the city of Chaironea alone saw five unsuccessful sieges at the hands of Lucia's army. In late 2934, her forces withdrew into the Reach, intent on drawing Alexiana out into the open plain. It worked and on the 11th of Decem, the Iron and the Mad met near the village of Alnea for what both planned to make the final battle of the war.   Betrayal at Alnea   It was not to be. When both sides were in the midst of bloody battle, forces under the banner of the Northern Army struck from the flanks. Maria had officially entered the war. In secret she had moved her forces south and shadowed her sisters' armies, ready to strike when both were fully committed and destroy them in one fell swoop.   Why exactly this failed is unknown. Some claim it was due to treason others that incompetence by one of Maria's commanders was to blame. The result was the same. Both Alexiana and Lucia managed to escape with their armies intact and Maria now found herself confronted by two armies that each outnumbered her own.  
Northern Campaign

Alexiana retreated east to rebuild, but Lucia was out for revenge. True to her name she pursued Maria in a mad dash across the northern Reach. For a while, Maria managed to hold at the Rhovian Gate, but even that fell to Lucia in mid-2935. The Northern Army was nearly annihilated in three consecutive battles and eventually, Maria was forced to flee east with but a small band of followers. Lucia led her go and laid siege to the old Severan stronghold of Aedes Ceranis. The small garrison proved stubborn, however, and soon news arrived that Alexiana was on the move again.
Second Strike

While her younger sisters were fighting in the north, Alexiana was rebuilding her army. In her absence several cities had attempted to separate from the Hegemony inviting the Vitrian Tsao'Jie Dynasty to take control. Alexiana quickly pacified the unruly cities and smashed a Vitrian army near Aurasio. In late 2935, she turned back north with an army one hundred thousand strong. Making her way toward Aedes Ceranis, she defeated two smaller forces led by Lucia's subordinates. Hoping to box the youngest sister in, she laid siege to the Rhovian Gate in early 2936.
  The Mad Fury was not so easily beaten, however. Having left a small force to continue the siege, Lucia had marched her army east, crossed into Helenia Province and taken the Carian Gate before Alexiana's vanguard had even begun to siege the northern passes. The 4th of Maius 2936 DA, saw her arrive before Chaironea.   How Lucia managed to take the city on her sixth attempt is not exactly known, but the involvement of a turncoat is likely. After capturing Chaironea, the Mad Fury proceeded to viciously sack the city that had so stubbornly refused her. Some sources claim that it lasted for seven days and just as many nights.  

Fallen Fury and Savage Army

  This would be the last of the Mad Fury's victories, however. After being stalemated just outside of Tarquinnia, Lucia attempted another daring campaign to avoid her older sister's encroaching army. Her luck seems to have run out by that point as her army was caught and destroyed by Alexiana's larger host. Lucia narrowly escaped.   At this point the available sources cause confusion as some claim that Lucia managed to destroy several smaller armies send to capture her afterwards, while others state that she ceased to be a force in the conflict following her defeat. Certain is that on the 17th of Septem 2936, she was captured by her other sister, Maria Severa.   Having been driven from Aedes Ceranis, Maria had fled to the Northern March a year earlier. There she had built a new army and entered into an alliance with the Odiscari, a tribe from beyond the Northern March. Over 30.000 Odiscari warriors entered her service in exchange for the right to settle in Vardania once the conflict ended.  

Endgame

 
Maria's resurgence proved disastrous for Alexiana. Her recent victories, including the capture of Aedes Ceranis on the 15th, had come at horrendous cost and the conscription needed to maintain her vast armies proved increasingly unpopular among her subjects. Maria on the other hand needed to gain ground, her reliance on mercenaries and Barbarians making her vulnerable in the field. Both knew that the war would have to be decided soon, lest it completely destabilize the young Forth Hegemony. As spring dawned in 2937 DA, both armies launched their final attacks.
 
Once again, a lack of sources obscures the full picture. Some claim that there were half a hundred battles fought in the north in that year. Others that there were merely two. In one version Lucia was executed by Maria shortly after being captured. In another she serves her older sister as a general and dies during a charge in the climactic battle.   At times, Maria wins due to treachery. Sometimes due to skill. Fact is that a bloody campaign culminated in late 2937. Fact is that Aedes Ceranis burned and Alexiana Severa with it. Fact is that when the sun dawned on the 1st of Ianis 2938 DA, Maria Severa was sole Empress of the Hegemony.
 
It is not the brash and proud ones you have to be careful with. They make their attentions loud and clear. Beware those you would discard at first glance. The grey blurs you ignore until you feel the knife between your rips.
— Hastharis Durma to Alexiana
Conflict Type
War
Start Date
2932 DA
Ending Date
2937 DA
Conflict Result
Consolidation of the Fourth Hegemony. Decimation of the Severan Dynasty.
by Darkseid
  Casualty Numbers  
  • Civilian: Minor. Destruction of a series of regions in the Northern Vardania. Total number estimated between 30.000 and 45.000.
  • Military: Major losses for all participants. Estimates range from ca. 500.000 at the low end to over 1.000.000 at the high end.
  Blood of the Soldier  
Comparatively few civilians died during the War of the Furies. Outside of a few occasions, notably the six sieges of Chaironea, the conflict was largely decided by field battles far away from densely populated areas. Large scale raiding or raising of regions did not occur, largely on the direct orders of the Furies. Each of the three was well aware of the shaky foundation they had built their realm on.   None of them wanted to experience a reign like that of Seron the Red, who had inherited a dying empire. In keeping the worst of the war away from the larger populace they hoped to prevent such a thing from happening to them. The same could not be said for the soldiery, however, and the battles fought in those years rank among the bloodiest in Vardanian history.
    Enemy of all Vardanians  
There are precisely three mentions of Hastharis Durma within the records of the era. One names him as Alexiana's chief general. Another is only half preserved but mentions him as the perpetrator of some deed. Third and most damning of all, his death sentence carried out by Maria Severa for "most sever crimes against Vardania and its people", the declaration as "Enemy of all Vardanians" and a subsequent damnatio memoriae.   While the latter is not uncommon in Vardanian history, the other aspects certainly are. Not even characters as reviled as Dhion Hi, Adrek Adrel and Nikriskar Sarmadu have received such a title when they were caught and executed by Vardanian justice. At the same time, he was not nearly important or influential enough to warrant a denouncement of such a scale which makes a political motive on Maria's part unlikely.   A possible hint is found in the first source mentioning Hastharis. Other than being Alexiana's main commander, he is also named "Legate of the Corps of Engineers for Advancement in the Ways of War". Combined with mentions of "poison causing mass death on the field of battle" it could explain how he came to his title.
 
Such a frustrating period of history to research. We know so much, but never enough to get a full picture.
— Henrik Nestian, Archivar
  Northern Fury  
The people of the Far North had been barred from Vardania ever since the Northern March had been erected. When Maria Severa invited the Odiscari, it marked the end of an era. Ever since, Vardanian states have begun to employ northerners as soldiers. With far reaching consequences.
  The Furies  
Alexiana, Maria and Luciana Severa. All three blessed in terms of mind and body. All three ambitious, vicious, and ruthless beyond belief. The oldest with an aura to make even the strongest warrior bow. The middle sister with a face of ice and a mind of steel. And the youngest, a force of nature in battle with an endless thirst for blood.   With the death of their father in 2919 DA, they came to rule the Severan Kingdom. Rather than battle for the throne, the three allied and ruthlessly crushed anyone that could even think of opposing their rule. A combination of effective rule, ruthless powerplay and propaganda made sure that when Alexiana declared herself Empress any thought of rebellion against the sisters was not only considered suicide but heresy of the highest order.
 

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Cover image: by Ismael

Comments

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15 Aug, 2021 04:23

This is the level of content, balancing both information and style, I hope to achieve. This be cool stuff, Darkseid.