The Armies of Arc

The Protectorate of Arc has not been to war in thirty years and the last time Droskun Arrand sent his generals into the field the result was ignominious defeat. In the winter of 264, the forces of Arc, determined to control the routes to the east through the Arching Mountains took pre-emptive action against the Iron Army, laying siege to its fortresses during the deadly cold of the mountain winter and withdrew in the spring, diseased, frozen and starving. It was a dreadful humiliation for Arc and one that delighted the rulers of Dran, who covertly helped the Iron Army. The siege, known in Arc as the ‘Black Winter’ resulted in the permanent loss of status for the protector, who was forever more blamed for the loss of thousands of soldiers and the shaming of the Protectorate. It did not help that so few of Arc’s friends and allies across the Arclands viewed the siege as justified or even rational. This article is an introduction to the three armies of the Protectorate, known as the Three Banners.   The Three Banners   Arc’s forces are divided into three main armies:  
  • The Banner of the West, or the Army of Dancare.
  • The Banner of the East, or the Defender of the Arclands.
  • The Banner of the South, or the Army of the Southern Covenant.
  Each of these three armies has a history that is intimately connected with the history of Arc itself.   The Banner of the West   The western army of Arc was initially the force that patrolled the western limits of the Arc Empire which ended at the Straits of Dancare. The army would be deployed further westwards in order to keep what is now the Mill Lands and the Molvar Peninsula in line, but would rarely occupy these territories for long. The Banner of the West was primarily associated with the city of Dancare, and as well as being used for ceremonial duties (a company of the Banner of the West is permanently deployed in the city as an eternal watch over the tombs of the Emperors, Protectors and other lords of Arc), it defended access to the straits, garrisoning the northern and southern shores of that narrow waterway.    The Banner of the West originally established a small garrison at what is now Mirrorvale, though the town was originally called Myrfal a High Vannic term meaning ‘seat of Myr’ (General Thraeus Myr being the founding father of the western army). The Banner of the West was ordered to retreat during the Khul’s siege of Wardenhal, and was stripped of its colours for seven years when its generals refused. General Landar Latraeus crossed the straits with 12,000 troops and provided the Wardenhalers and the Firg with a crucial window of opportunity when they attacked the Khul’s army from the rear, destroying its supply train and trapping them between the Loradin Downs and the sea. During the battle that followed, the Khul was horrifically wounded by the sword Y’Kantulis and she awaits the opportunity to have her revenge against the Banner of the West.   The Banner of the East   The Banner of the East was the second of Arc’s armies and was primarily designed to defend the Arc Empire, and then the Arclands in general against invasion from the East. When the eastern lands were colonised by Ghotharand and Veska, there was a deep suspicion among the city states of the Greater Arc Sea that new, martial peoples had settled and would seek to cross the mountains and encroach on the Arclands themselves. The Skalds of Ghotharand have long recorded in their song that the creation of the Banner of the East was a huge deterrent for Ghothar Kings and their Veskan rivals.    The Banner of the East was not simply a defensive force, and the Iron Army in the Arching Mountains had always guaranteed the Arclands Eastern borders anyway. The Banner of the East has traditionally been a force under the Arc Empire of westward expansion, and its motto is ‘from the sea to the ocean’, referring to the Greater Arc Sea and the Sanderon Ocean (though this is an ambition now unlikely to be fulfilled). The Banner of the East has been led, before the fall of the empire, by aristocratic generals with large estates who saw expansion into the east not simply as a duty to the empire, but as a means of personally enriching themselves. On the occasions that the army crossed east of the Arching Mountains, soldiers settled in what is now Veska for generations, and Veska has benefitted from Arcish towns and fortresses built across its landscape, which were long vacated by retreating Arcites before they were occupied by Veska.    Soldiers of the Banner of the East who did cross the mountains developed a dread of Gorins and a small few learned the skills needed to destroy them. The attempt to defeat the Iron Army three decades ago was Droskun Arrand’s misguided attempt to revive the glories of the past and have his favourite of the three banners cross the mountains. It was evidence that the power and the reach of Arc is not what it once was.   The Banner of the South   The collapse of the Arc Empire was the direct result of the loss of Del’Marah. The great southern province of the Arc Empire which provided the emperors with much of its wealth broke away in the year -900 KB. The Banner of the South, or the Army of the Southern Covenant is part of this complex history. Initially, the incorporation of Del’Marah into the Arc Empire was more of an imperial merger than an aggressive conquest. Dalah Tarin, the Del’Marahi who governed the empire in -2093 KB, was a weak ruler whose inability to control his own borders and deal with the frequent famines the empire had experienced for nearly a century led him to negotiate with the powerful city state, whose borders spread inexorably southwards. In return for food shipments, Dalah ceded elements of royal sovereignty to the Arcish throne, which was a move of epic folly on his part, as Del’Marah became a net food exporter within a generation and stayed as one for the following thousand years.    Even when Del’Marah’s emperors realised they had made a mistake by swearing fealty to Arc, the Janakhah, or the ‘younger sons’ of the empire (a term that has come to mean ‘the middle tier of society) saw that they had much to gain. Noble families in Del’Marah whose second or third children will inherit very little, have a vested interest in exporting their offspring and countless thousands left Del’Marah for civil or military service across the Arc Empire, making a deep connection with Arc very popular among the Janakhah. The Army of the Southern Covenant originally was the product of these political dynamics, Arc’s emperors, realising how valuable Del’Marah was, needed to create powerful inducements to keep its emperors (now emperors in name only) happy.    The Southern Banner was filled with Del’Marahan officers and soldiers and when, in the decades leading up to the year -900 the Janakhah as a social class became less powerful and the emperors employed a policy of Okhromo (the connection between the throne and the street), whipping up an angry populism against Arc and purging the Janakhah with brutal violence, the Army of the Southern Covenant intervened. The result was effectively a Del’Marahan civil war, as the sons of the Janakhah who fought under the banner of Arc slew Okhromo mobs in the streets. The Arc Emperor Toun a Dryn looked on in despair as anarchy reigned in Del’Marah, and when the Army of the Southern Covenant eventually withdrew, concluding that the situation was hopeless and fearing the possibility of being cut off by the Dranian Legions that now marched to assist their Del’Marahan allies, the thousand year covenant between Arc and Del’Marah ended.    The Southern Banner withdrew to the Askentian forts in the foothills of the southern end of the Arching Mountains, a hundred miles from the Del’Marahan border. In order to placate the Janakhah who had survived the Okhromo purge and to restore order in the newly independent empire, Kraesus Kahare, the Del’Marahi, allowed them to send their sons and daughters northwards to serve with the Army of the Southern Covenant, confident that it would not cross Del’Marah’s borders again. This proved to be an astute decision, as it allowed tensions within Del’Marah to be released and it sent generations of potentially troublesome subjects far beyond Del’Marah’s borders.
Type
Military, Army

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