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The Zenith War

Long was the war between angels and demons,
Between man and brother,
Between woman and daughter.
Long was the war that claimed human souls,
And when it stood completed,
The demons' very sun lay felled.
  • Cadreun, god of angels
  • The Conflict

    Prelude

    Before the Zenith War began, there was the North Pelagian War, which began as a simple move on the part of Embercrypt to claim more territory. Centuries before, the kingdom of Arcsiseus had been mysteriously decimated, left a wasteland with only the island dubbed Remnant left as a bastion of its populace. This was an economic boon to Embercrypt, as it meant that they controlled the only functional bank of the Keye River, the inlet into the Pelagian Sea---and therefore a powerful trade route. However, in 563 NS the Emberean sovereign Queen Regis XI decided to launch an expedition to explore what remained of the Arcsisean mainland, with the intention of claiming it in the name of Embercrypt.   Remnant, under the rule of Queen Amadeus XIV, did not take well to this foray. The North Pelagian War broke out between Embercrypt and its allies (Bryaer, Taverkand, and Wightslend) and Remnant and its allies (Selente, Montaignes, and Cordenza). However, as tensions mounted between the largely Voltenist first party and the largely Beovene second party, and holy sites were desecrated, the war swiftly became a matter of religion. It lasted three years before the gods chose to intervene, bidding the religious allegiance of all humanity on the matter, and so the North Pelagian War ended inconclusively and the Zenith War began.

    Deployment

    As the war grew and more allies, religious and otherwise, were drawn into the conflict, two sides formed: Voltenist and Beovene. Only Imperitus and Mirel were neutral; the rest of Pelagia plunged into brutal war. Secund and Megistar were nominally involved as Beovenes and Voltenists respectively, but due to distance, they never became as embroiled in the war as the Pelagian countries were.
  • Embercrypt - Even as the war grew, Embercrypt remained the most prominent figure of the Voltenist powers; some would even describe Embercrypt as the leader of that side. With the end of the North Pelagian War and the beginning of the Zenith War, Embercrypt was no longer fighting for Arcsisean land but in order to maintain religious freedom and preserve their way of life, as well as to honour their god.
  • Bryaer - Bryaer was always an ally to Embercrypt under Voltenism, as the two countries were united in their desire to preserve tradition and the old ways, as well as to maintain faith under Rexuin. However, given Bryaer's small size and population, it had always relied on Embercrypt for protection more than the other way around. Still, it lent its aid both in the North Pelagian War and in the Zenith War.
  • Taverkand - Taverkand, too, was a Voltenist nation, but the main reason for its allegiance to Embercrypt was more practical. With the forbidding North Sea on one side and the Embercrypt-controlled Pelagian Sea on the other, their surest way to both practise and benefit from trade was to remain on good terms with the trade giant. However, the Taverkind were not without religious fervor and believed strongly in protecting Voltenist ways.
  • Wightslend - As Taverkand's sister nation, Wightslend shared both its allegiance and its motivation. It relied on Embercrypt for trade, but also had a long and proud Voltenist history to honour and uphold. More barren and rural than Taverkand, it had less to offer in the ways of supplies and manpower, but the weapons it produced were indispensable.
  • Castbern - At the beginning of the Zenith War, Castbern was neutral. However, due to its Voltenist history and the aggression demonstrated against it by the Beovene nations, Castbern chose to ally with Embercrypt in exchange for a lucrative trade deal promised to last the next century.
  • Asundre, Terigioni, Rosenta, and Silveux - These four small island city-states chose to ally themselves with the Voltenist powers largely because that was the side they believed would win due to Embercrypt's wealth. Having the weakest armies and the loosest ties to the cause, they quickly folded and surrendered---all except for Silveux, which managed to simply withdraw from the war without reprisal.
  • Saratar - As Embercrypt could be said to lead the Voltenist side, so did Saratar lead the Beovenes---only in a more direct fashion, thanks to the leadership of the Papal Bride at the time: Innocenza II. While Saratar was not involved when the war started, it became the core of Beovene morale due to its history and Innocenza's role in the war.
  • Remnant - While Remnant began the North Pelagian War, Amadeus XIV understood quickly that it was becoming something greater than the initial conflict and pivoted brilliantly, leveraging religious feeling to retain land rights to Arcsiseus. Despite Remnant's small size, its army has always been admirable, and Remnant played a large part in many key battles through the war.
  • Selente - Selente's navy was its strength, and in battles at sea they often won the day, taking out many supply routes to Voltenist nations and helping the Beovene side take control of the Pelagian Sea. For this Selente was rewarded with a palace built for public enjoyment and to host the Papal Bride, becoming the only country other than Saratar routinely blessed with her presence.
  • Montaignes - Once a Voltenist nation itself, Montaignes had converted to Beovere some centuries before. As a result, there were old alliances and ties between Montaignes and Taverkand as well as Wightslend, but these bonds were broken in the Zenith War as Montaignes' sovereign, King Ludovico, declared that it was time to burn the heathen past on the flames of war. The wounds caused by such betrayal outlasted the Zenith War itself, and the two sides have been cold to each other at best ever since.
  • Cordenza - Cordenza, being so close to Imperitus, faced much pressure from the related nation to remain neutral in the war the way that Imperitus did. However, a largely Beovene population that had immigrated from Montaignes created greater pressure for Cordenza to defend the faith, and so it entered the war on the side of Beovere.
  • Daltenze - Being so far from the main action, Daltenze was not as deeply embroiled in the war as some other countries were. However, it still sent its young men overseas to fight on the northern shores of the war, which would forever reshape its culture as they brought back new customs and ideas. Daltenze benefited economically from the war, as it suffered the fewest losses while still gaining from participation and the needs of other countries.
  • Lilipette, Aqui, and Tresille - These three city-states entered the war rather late, as the tide was turning from the Voltenist side to the Beovene. As a result they were seen as rather mercenary, and indeed mercenaries were their greatest output, letting them pad the ranks of the other countries more invested in the war.
  • Battlefield

    The Zenith War was fought in all involved countries except for Daltenze, and as the Voltenist side began to suffer greater losses and retreat back into the home fronts, the Beovene armies followed. As a result, the war was largely concentrated in the north, as well as the major countries in the south, although the south suffered to a lesser degree. This became both a cause and effect of Voltenist losses in a vicious cycle of increasing weakness. Many important sites in the northern countries of Pelagia were destroyed, as well as examples of infrastructure such as the Emberean aqueducts, resulting in illness and death of civilians.

    Conditions

    The greatest unspoken casualty of the twin wars is the soldiers lost to Arcsiseus. While no one truly knows the conditions under which the ruined country now lies, those who ventured there both on the Emberean expedition and on the Remnant counterattack most often did not return. Those who did return rotted where they stood, their flesh peeling from them, and had to be isolated to keep the strange plague from extending to others. This was a great relief to their caretakers, who reported that all too often the victims would speak the nurses' innermost thoughts aloud as though they were not their own but written upon the air. Those who cared for the diseased also reported a loss of spiritual peace and a difficulty making peace with their respective gods for years after the diseased had already passed on.   Other than that, the war dealt with the usual conditions of Pelagia---the cold in the north, the wind in the south, the rain everywhere. Victories at sea were hard-fought and hard-won, or else some of the bitterest losses put to paper. The spread of more mundane disease was also a concern, with many losing their lives to unfamiliar illnesses or parasites from countries they had never set foot in before. The involvement of angels and demons also brought new concerns to the field, such as the enemy or even allied forces feeding off of the souls and memories of the soldiers, but this controversial subject has very little recorded material in the halls of historians.

    The Engagement

    Artillery played a major role in the Zenith Wars, as firearms had gained prominence in the sixth century ni-Seguis. Muskets, rifles, and cannons were often deployed in the first rounds of a battle, serving to pick off the enemy ranks from a distance before the melee clash of swords and polearms. Volley fire was a popular tactic on both sides. Armies were larger than ever due to the introduction of firearms, with the average foot soldier receiving much less training than her officers, and the average officer received less battle experience as a result.   The war became further complicated with the introduction of angels and demons to the battlefield, which most consider to be the moment of change from the North Pelagian War to the Zenith War, as angels and demons did not become involved until 566 NS. Angelic marksmen using flight to choose vantage points played a huge role in the eventual victory of the Beovene side. Firearms allowed them to keep enough distance between themselves and demons that the demons' superior physical prowess and shapeshifting abilities did not matter. They could pick off demons at range, outgunning their healing powers. Demons took on defensive tactics as a result, bringing out shield formations that had been out of favour for over a thousand years, as well as taking shelter where they could to force the angels into a stalemate that could eventually be turned to their advantage. However, these were only stopgap measures---especially after Saratar introduced bombs---and the angels and Beovenes won the day.

    Outcome

    Thanks largely to angels specialising and focusing on artillery, gunsmanship, and bombing, the Voltenist side of the war was defeated. Saratar led the peace negotiations and got every Pelagian country to agree to Beovene conversion with the exception of Embercrypt. Embercrypt, like the nations of Megistar, signed a non-aggression treaty instead. As a result Embercrypt became known as the "Valley of the Devourer," a safe haven for the demons that remained in the Second Realm, and many demons migrated there. Beovere became the official religion of the most populous continent in the Second Realm, making Cadreun that much more powerful by dint of his new followers.

    Aftermath

    The Zenith War has, in many ways, defined the 7th century ni-Seguis. No country that was involved has been wholly unchanged by it. A larger cultural shift towards Beovere has, over the years, meant a rise in ideals ranging from conservative to puritanical, as well as an increase in the prevalence of matriarchy and certain other Saratari Beovene traditions, Saratar setting as it always has the tone for Beovere in Pelagia. As a result, Beovene oral traditions are more widespread than they were, patriarchal systems in certain nations have grown more egalitarian, and polyamorous relationships have lost legal recognition in some others. The continent seeks to remake itself in a Beovene image, specifically, that of Saratar. Saratar has become a greater world power than ever.   This, of course, means that lines between Beovenes and Voltenists are deeper-cut than ever. This led to increased economic pressure on Embercrypt as Pelagia at large became less willing to do business with a Voltenist nation, which eventually led to the conversion of Embercrypt from Voltenism to Beovere. This led to much unrest among the demonic population, much of whom were driven to Megistar across the sea. It also led to upheaval among the human population as conversion was resisted and the Emberean way of life was greatly changed.   However, the First and Third Realms were affected as much as the Second. The Highest experienced unprecedented wealth and prosperity as a result of the new conversions in the Second Realm; this led to a measure of class friction as the lower classes of the angels realised that the money was not flowing where they felt that it should, although Cadreun sought to rectify this. Demons had it worse: their god withdrew from public life almost entirely, save for extremely exclusive gatherings and the most important of holy rites. This left demons with grief that would traditionally be managed in Rexuin's presence, their spiritual needs going unmet. It was as though they had been abandoned after such a massive loss.
    Conflict Type
    War
    Battlefield Type
    Land
    Start Date
    566 ni-Seguis
    Ending Date
    574 ni-Seguis
    Conflict Result
    The Voltenist forces were defeated, leading to widespread Beovene conversion
    Location

    Belligerents

    Voltenists

    Led by

    Beovenes

    Led by

    Strength

    Healing capabilities; brute strength and incredible speed; unflinching mindset and resilience; economic power
    Flight capabilities; advanced military technology; group tactics; greater numbers

    Casualties

    865,301 humans
    503,299 demons
    786,208 humans
    422,530 angels

    Objectives

    To crush the angelic Beovene forces, drive them out of Pelagia, and make Pelagia a Voltenist continent
    To annihilate the demonic Voltenist forces, rid Pelagia of their influence, and establish Beovere throughout the continent

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