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Succession Crisis and Velarian Campaign

Following Emperor Eugeron II.'s last will, I hereby declare Metachares Valerian Emperor of Vardania, Lord of Interra, Anidara and Scetia, Protector of Rhomeia and Guardian of the Northern March. The Emperor is dead! Long live the Emperor!
— Imperial Regent Miera's Declaration
  Vardanias Golden Age had come to an end. After nearly five centuries of undisputed rule over the world, the ageing realm found itself at a crossroads. A titan standing on feet of clay, the end of the proud realm would come from within.   Civil War had become inevitable. Eugeron had put too much power in the hands of his family, left too many Valerians with competing claims in command of vast armies. And worst of all had done nothing to prepare the realm for his eventual demise. And a mere day after he had taken his last breath Empress Miera set the world ablaze.  

Imperial Declaration and Rise of the Pretender

  At the time of his death, Eugeron had three surviving sons. Gordian, Eugenius and Metachares. However the former two were both out of the capital, a chance Empress Miera was not going to waste. A mere day after Eugeron had taken his last breath, on the 28th of Decem 2209 DA, the Empress officially declared her son Emperor citing the last will of her deceased husband.   Miera herself assumed the role of Imperial Regent and took to ruler the realm in the name of her two-year-old son.   It didn't take long for a response to form. Gordian, citing his position as firstborn son of Eugeron, declared the Empress' actions a usurpation and his younger brothers claim null and void. Gathering his forces, he marched south from his base in Illin Province.   When the news reached the Imperial Capital, revolts in support of Gordian erupted. The Imperial Regent, shocked by Gordian's swift action called upon Votarian, Prince of Tarquinnia to defend the throne. The son of Eugeron's younger brother Adeon had been a long-standing rival of Gordian, the formers Vitrian heritage a thorn in the eyes of the later. Taking up arms in the name of the rightful Emperor he marched west.   A mere month after Eugeron's death, Vardania was once again in the claws of war.  

War in the West

  The first month of the new year 2210 had seen sparse fighting outside the Imperial Capital. Gordian was unable to capitalize on his opponent's slow reaction, slowed down by loyalist resistance.   Although he managed to defeat Octavius, Imperial Warmaster and cousin of Emperor Eugeron, north of the river Kerin his advance soon stalled at the city of Neris. While the siege dragged on, Octavius retreated south to regroup.       Returning to the capital he began to systematically root out Gordian's supporters and beat them in the Battle of the Golden Gate on the 15th of Febris. In the east, Amelian "the Younger", son of Amelian "the Elder" and governor of Remis, declared for Gordian and began to move against Votarian's territories.   Sending his nephew Helias to deal with Amelian, Votarian arrived in Velaris on the 28th of Febris. In the resulting purge, most of Gordian's remaining allies were dispersed. Continuing on north he forced Gordian to abandon the siege of Neris. A few days west, the two met in the Battle of Aeteris. While it ended in a draw, Votarian had taken severe loses and returned south to regroup.   Around the same time Helias defeated Amelian in the First Battle of Aurasio and drove him south. Amelian, however, surprised him, took his army west and broke into the imperial heartland. Lacking the forces to attack the capital, he instead began to raid along the banks of the river Sirryn. Emboldened, pro-Gordian forces rose in revolt throughout the west. With Gordian recovering and Votarian having to restore order, the war stalled.  
So the boy has thrown with Gordian. Well, he can't help himself, the boy wants war, the rush of battle. Let him earn his scars if he so wishes but he should pray to not end up opposing me. Of my blood or not, a traitor deserves only one thing, death.
— Amelian the Elder upon learning of his son's support of Gordian
 

Revolts in the East

  Sensing weakness Rodait Coaris, ruler of Caria Province declared independence on the 6th of Apris, soon joined by dozens of others across Vardania. To deal with this new threat, several major governors and generals of the Hegemony declared themselves neutral in the succession conflict.   This proved a mere formality, however, as some of the supposedly neutral parties began to intervene in the war. Eugenius, Prince of Helenia, backed his older brothers claim and secretly send a Legion (25.000 men) west. In the Heartlands, Adeon, the Prince of Moira threw his support behind the Imperial Regent and send forces to restore order in the area.  

Calm before the Storm

 
Fall of Neris
by Tyler Thull
With the war being confined to raids and skirmishes, the following months saw the loyalists slowly regain control. Votarian began to attack Amelian and while the wily general managed to evade his opponent time and time again, he was forced to retreat further and further west and in the east, Adeon managed to restore order to the cities of Tarquinnia (12.07) and Aurasio (15.07).       The war ramped up again on the 16th of Quitil when Gordian renewed his offensives with over 120.000 soldiers. A few days later he smashed Octavius before Neris, the city falling a few hours later. The way toward the capital was now open.  
Battle of Anadera
by lovingit2
When Votarian learned of this, he turned his army around to march north. On the 22nd he was ambushed by Amelian who defeated his rearguard and before Votarian could fully grasp the situation, raced west again to lay siege to the undermanned city of Nikoria. While his loses had been minor, Amelian's actions had put him in a dangerous position.     The capital was in danger, but much better defended and Nikoria controlled the entrance to the Sirryn, potentially giving Amelian control over all lands between Velaris and the coast. Leaving a cavalry detachment under Ormian to deal with this threat, Votarian began to march north.   Gordian, intend on removing his greatest enemy before marching on the capital attempted to counter him. The two armies met again in what became known as the Everian Dance. Over the course of an entire month, their campaign devastated Everia Province west of the capital. Although they met in three battles and over a dozen skirmishes, the campaign ended in a stalemate.  

Geare and Anadera

  This campaign culminated in the Battle of Geare, when Gordian outmanoeuvred his opponent and crushed Votarian's army, leaving more than 30.000 soldiers dead on the field. With his enemy fleeing south, Gordian turned on the capital and slowed down by Octavius arrived before Velaris on the 14th of Septem.   With both Regent and Emperor still in the city, Octavius prepared for a desperate last stand against Gordian's overwhelming numbers. The siege lasted for nearly thirty days, the defenders beating back assault after assault until the attackers managed to breach the walls on the 11th of Octor. Gordian's forces flooded the city and Octavius had to retreat to the Imperial Palace itself.   Gordian was on the verge of victory when Votarian returned and attacked his army in the rear. Fires went out of control during the chaos and turned the battlefield into a hellish inferno. The Battle of the Burning City saw tens of thousands of soldiers slaughter each other among the burning suburbs. After hours of close-quarter fighting Gordian retreated, half his army dead among Velaris's soldering rubble.   Velaris was the turning point. Loyalist forces continuously assaulted the retreating pretender and on the 17th Votarian caught up with Gordian. The Battle of Anadera saw Gordian defeated for the last time, the First of the Seven Princes dying during a final cavalry charge. His army was destroyed, remnants fleeing in all directions. Victorius, Votarian returned to the capital.  

Balance of Power

  While the great battle had been won, the war was far from over. Amelian was still about taking Nikoria on the 28th of Sextil and destroying Ormian's forces a few days later. But while Votarian and his army prepared for the next campaign, tensions between him and the Imperial Regent began to rise.   While he supported Metachares claim to the throne he saw the influence and power of Empress Miera as a threat, the woman as a negative influence upon the young ruler. Miera, on the other hand, feared the generals growing power and influence.   When Votarian marched to deal with Amelian, Miera again wasted no time. On the 20th of Novem, with both the Prince and his army a safe distance away, she declared him a traitor to the realm, accused him of planning to take the throne for himself and called upon Amelian "the Elder", Prince of Sigrea for aid.   At the same time Eugenius, had begun to marshal his forces, intent on removing the corrupt Regent and her puppet from the throne. The younger Amelian backs his claim and begins to gather new forces. A few days after being declared a traitor, Votarian was assassinated on his way back to the capital. Without a leader, his army broke apart leading to what became known as the Revolt of the Three Centurion's.   Helias took command of the remnants of his uncle's troops and fled north and allying with Eugenius began to rebuild his army in Ilin Province. Warmaster Octavius took to the field against the Three Centurion's , defeating them in the Battle of Makrin on the 8th of Decem.   While the war began to calm down toward the end of the year, it was clear that this was once again merely the calm before the storm. Enemies of the throne were gathering on all sides, loyalist forces weakened and the Western Provinces in uproar. Metachares reign looked to be over before it had even really begun.   Then on the 18th of Decem, a message reached the Empress. Prince Amelian, having campaigned against rebels along the Summer Coast had received her plea for aid. Seeing Eugenius's rebellion as an opportunistic power grab in the wake of his brother's failed revolt, he had entered the war on the Emperor's side. His army was already marching north.   The War of the Seven Princes had only just begun...
Conflict Type
Military Campaign
Start Date
28.12.2209
Ending Date
13.12.2210
Conflict Result
Revolts break out across the Empire. Death of Gordian. Eugenius rebels against the Crown.
 
Say what you will about Miera but she knows how to play this game. She is far more dangerous than you realize Gordian. I know that you act in righteous fury brother but please head my words and beware. Her words are more dangerous than any sword.
— Taken from a letter Eugenius send to his brother
  Legions of the Hegemony   What made the various claimants to the throne so dangerous was not the ownership of the realm's provinces but rather the military power attached to them.   Since before the First Hegemony rose, Vardanian realms stationed a large part of their armies in the provinces surrounding the nation's heartland or powerbase.   They served as an extra layer of defence against foreign invaders and rebellions alike. The outer territories may burn as long as the economic/political core was protected.   Each of the Seven Princes commanded between three and six Legions or anywhere from 75.000 to 150.000 soldiers. Together they constituted more than half of the Hegemony's total military power.  
Each alone the various Valerian governors, later known as Princes were a serious military force. All of them together held over half of the Imperial Army under their command.
— "Fall of an Empire" by Darius Keseidis
  The Fires of Rebellion   Vardanians had never been able to shake the image of foreign conquerors, no matter how many benefits and riches the Hegemony brought to other shores. Even during its Golden Age, there had been a sense of unease in the realms outer territories, created by cultural and religious differences.   Voices arguing against the Hegemony had always existed and during the misrule of the 22nd century, they had grown louder and ever more numerous. While Eugeron's reign had restored a sense of stability, it was only the unbroken might of the Legions that kept the natives of Scetia and Anidara in check.   While the War of the Seven Princes is usually remembered as a Vardanian affair, it saw fighting break out across the known world. Following the example of Rodarit, governors and kings from Illigara to Themyra began to revolt.  
Assault
by Dominika Mayera
  Familial Relations   Ambition, ruthlessness and charisma are traits commonly found within royal dynasties, some say prerequisites for a good ruler. Historians, however, can not help but wonder at the sheer amount of larger than life personalities within the late Valerian Dynastie.   As is the case in most families, things did not always go well. Rivalries were common, most infamous among them the rift between Gordian and Votarian. Combined with the power handed to them during the late 22nd and early 23rd century it is a wonder that the realm remained peaceful for nearly two decades.     There is no doubt that it was Eugeron that had kept his family together, had kept his kinsman's ambitions in check. The Historian Amelius Cailus is not wrong when he says that: "The Hegemony truly fell on the day that Emperor Eugeron took his last breath."    
Votarian is hereby declared a Traitor, all his titles void, all his possessions to be confiscated. Anyone allying or cooperating with him shall surrender immediately or will hence forth be seen as an enemy of the realm.
— Imperial Edict

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Cover image: by Donglu Yu

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