The Dragon's Eye
The people known as “The Vel” are a lineage of settlers that inhabit the Central South of Aspartame. They originally hail from the distant Southern Continent of Eskeegar, purportedly fleeing a war or famine in their homeland. The original settlers arrived in Aspartame in (3994 Y.R.), landing on the coast of the Farúhnan province of Mephar. The Vels immediately attempted to carve out a kingdom of their own, and began raiding towns and besieging cities across southern Mephar. However, they were quickly defeated by the veteran legions of Farúhn. The last Velen King, Gosric, surrendered his people on the condition that they would be settled together in Mephar, this decision allowed the Vel to maintain the traditions and culture of their homeland, solidifying the Vels as a permanent, separate racial group on the continent.
For the next six and a half centuries, the Vels became the preeminent social group in Mephar, becoming the political and military leaders in the province. From this position, the leaders began to plot their rebellion, a secession into a unified Velen state, the “Velstat”. Their opportunity came when war broke out between Farúhn and the Yolgen Imperium in 4625 Y.R. This, the second war between the two empires, was a bloody affair. For 67 years, Farúhn held off against relentless Yolgen attacks, both sorcerous and otherwise. The attrition of generations peeled away the local populous’ loyalty to Farúhn, and amidst the chaos of war, the plotting Vel leaders made their move. The coup was completed in less than a month and consisted of a systematic set of assassinations and seizures of key buildings, as well as buying the loyalty of the local garrisons. With the Western Front’s Legions completely cut off from supply routes, and the threat of a united Vel alliance with Yolgen, a peace was quickly negotiated.
In the aftermath of the war, the remaining Vel leaders found themselves with the war-torn ruins of a third of an empire. As well as winning Mephar, the Vels found themselves with the province of Heran under their control as well. With the initial Vel leaders stretched far and wide, the dream of a unified Vel empire soon fell into ruin. Infighting split the region apart, warlords established petty kingdoms, while the wealthier cities formed city states in an attempted to maintain security. So began Velen war of unification (4678 Y.R. – 5072 Y.R.), a sporadic set of campaigns that was conducted by the Velen Nationalists and the neighbouring petty kingdoms. The Nationalists were an organisation based on the Farúhnan legion, comprised of mostly former legion soldiers and commanded by the once Legate Keerag Manst and his heirs. The Velen nationalist’s territory grew slowly, few warlords would willingly capitulate their wealth of land and soldiers, but as the century wound on, it became clear that the only stable country in the region was the nationalists. By 4940 Y.R., Holfred Manst finally created the Kingdom of Velstat, with the Manst dynasty being the rulers. Meanwhile, a Dwarvish collective in Heran had united many of the states there and had established the Heranese League (later Heranese Republic in 5112 Y.R.). A short campaign was fought by Velstat over the territory, but eventually an accord was reached in 5072 Y.R.
At last, the united Vel nation of Velstat emerged from centuries of conflict to find itself a rather minor power on the continent. With a relatively stable Farúhn and a Yolgen at nearly its zenith, the Vel had to transition their war-like ways into a sustainable peace. A renaissance of Velen culture was manufactured in order to achieve this. King Yofran Manst arranged for those of Vel blood to be taught the nigh extinct Vel language and the Velen histories before Gothric, as well as promoting them to a higher status than the natives of the country. Mephar customs and the Farúhn language were phased out, much to the dismay of the Mephar themselves, who garnered a growing resentment to the upper class of the Vel. The newfound Vel unity managed to establish a decent economy, allowing them to take advantage of the diminished Farúhn trade in the 5400’s. With the arrival of refugees from central Aspartame during the third Yolgen-Farúhn war, Velstat found itself with a large workforce, and soon transformed much of its forest and plains into farmland. After the Laegar disaster of 5470 Y.R., Velstat became the major supplier of grain to Farúhn. Asides from minor skirmishes with Heran and pirates from Sidle, the next 500 years were the most peaceful in the country’s long history.
In 6013 Y.R. the Yolgen Imperium began a campaign against troublesome barbarians along its southern border, the Zolta. The various tribes of the Zolta fled the Zoltan plains when the merciless Yolgen legions attacked their villages. The tribesmen were forced to move south into Northern Velstat. The Velstati assembled an army to meet the horse-warriors, but when they arrived, the tribes surrendered to the Vels, seeking refuge. The Vels decided to protect them, and in turn resettle the Zolta in the relatively sparse Northwest of Velstat. Shortly thereafter, a large army of Yolgen, lead by their Emperor himself crossed into Northern Velstat. Three of the Velstati border companies fought several running battles against the invading force. The inferior Vel armies, in a valiant effort, managed to stall the Yolgen advance. Although decimated in the act, the companies bought time for a fully staffed legion to arrive. After four days of sporadic fighting, the two countries entered conference. The Yolgen army retreated behind the border, and the Zolta would remain in Velstat forever more. The Zolta populated the plains in North West Velstat, and quickly returned to their tribal life, though some decided to integrate with the Vel in the few cities in the region. The Vel relationship with the Yolgen would never truly recover from the incident, remaining icy for millennia.
The arrival of an entire culture of fierce horse warriors put the neighbouring Heran in a state of panic. Along with a failing economy, scattered droughts, and a growing scare of famine, this panic placed Heran in a sea chaos. This chaos spurred the election of an emergency dictator, a venerable Dwarf Warrior named Holdger. Holdger solved all his problems with one swift pre-emptive war with Velstat. In 6310 Y.R., Heranese Dwarves marched into Velstati land, winning quick victories against the undermanned border forts. Holdger decided to consolidate his gains by constructing the grand castle (named after himself of course) on the southern slopes of the Dragon’s Eye Mountains. Holdger used this castle as his base of operations, conducting his rather successful campaign for another year, conquering Yodobe’ah, and besieging Eryias in the process. A successful campaign that is until the dragons grew tired of the ceaseless parade of Dwarves marching through their desert. Late in 6311 Y.R. the dragons emerged, and in one fell day, burnt four entire legions of Heranese troops, killing Holger himself. The war ended five days afterward. Heran yielded all their gains beyond the desert, unwilling to give up their investments in Holdger’s castle and High Chapel, though within five centuries, both would be abandoned.
The Fourth Farúhn-Yolgen war broke out in 6587 Y.R., and although Velstat would play little part in the conflict, a huge proportion of their trade was disrupted. Not willing to risk war with Yolgen, Velstat was forced to cease trade with Farúhn. Despite the famine in Heran, Velstat simply couldn’t move enough grain to sustain its economy. This recession disproportionately affected the native Mephar and Zolta populations, as they made up the majority of the lower classes in Velstat. When the war finally ended and trade resumed (though diminished) in 6597 Y.R., Velstat found itself with two separate movements of secession spreading through their workforces. Like most social movements in Aspartame, it spread slowly but steadily through the populace, and within a century, civil disobedience was common in both the far north and the far south. Riots, clashes with soldiers, and political assassinations wracked Velstat for decades, until it finally came to a head, and a rebellion began in the Southern City of Alzon in 6722 Y.R. lead by Mephar republicans. This sparked a wave of revolution in the southern cities on the Mepharan peninsula, with Aphal, Evad’id, Kosberg, and Lothal rising up against their Vel oppressors. The Velstati army found itself stretched thin in addressing the guerrilla tactics of the rebels, forcing them to occupy the old Holdger’s Castle to protect supply lines. After a year of fighting the Vel desperately requested for reinforcements from the Zolta. The Zolta, however, refused to aid the Vel, refusing even to send trade to the kingdom’s heartland. Without the expected reinforcements and the majority of the navy in the hands of the rebels, Velstat had to face the eventuality of the rebellion being successful. The army retreated from the siege of Kosberg and instead focused on defending the city of Vullen from the rebels. They aptly defended the city from the land and the sea for six months, until the momentum of the rebellion ran out. Finally, the Vel sued for a peace, and the Maritime Republic of Mephara established itself in 6775 Y.R., encouraging any native Mepharans across Velstat to emigrate there.
Velstat was in a state of ruination, and the people blamed the Zolta. The tribesmen had refused time and time again to send their warriors to aid the Vel, and they had ceased to send their grain to the heartland. Despite the weariness of the Army, the King sent them into the Zoltanian province to exact a campaign of retribution in late 6776 Y.R. Faced once again by the wholesale slaughter of their people by their overlords, the Zolta were forced to face the Vel in open war. The beleaguered Armies of Velstat found themselves facing the might of combined Zoltan cavalry on tribal lands. In 6777 Y.R., after a succession of grevious defeats, the Vel retreat, effectively abandoning the Zoltanian region. The gathered Zolta army conquered and raided the sparsely populated land from the plains to the sea, and thereafter constituted themselves into a rough state of Zoltania in 6790 Y.R. Much later, in 6979 Y.R. a formal royal family was established, and the capitol city of Zola is founded, allowing for a formal treaty with Velstat to be signed.
The subjugated peoples of Velstat had seceded, and the Vel found that majority of their working class had gone with them. From the 6800’s to the early 7000’s, Velstat was unable to support their infrastructure adequately. Minor famines and outbreaks of plague were common in the smaller Velen communities during this time. The military command structure faltered as wages were routinely delayed, and the strain on the economy caused many municipal buildings and constructs to fall into disrepair. Banditry and outlawry abounded in the countryside, with many former soldiers falling into criminality. This situation was only exasperated by the influx of refugees from Farúhn during the great plague. Initially, this caused an even greater rate of violent crime, but in time the poor Farúhnese filled a vital role in the hierarchy of Velstat, becoming the much needed agrarian class. The economy began to recover, slowly but surely, but just when it seemed that Velstat would recover from the chaos of the previous centuries, the ruling class created a crisis.
In 7152 Y.R., the King of Velstat, Wolfgang Manst III, a childless and aged king, declared his beloved pet hawk as his heir. This decision caused an uproar that spread from the palace and matured into a riot in the streets of the capitol itself. It was clear that an heir must be selected, and two men stepped up to the task: Canarus Tavar, the high general, and Prian Loreg, a respected nobleman. After the two announced their intentions, the various factions aligned themselves with their preferred candidate. The merchants and landowners threw in their lot in with Prian Loreg, whilst a large portion of the army and navy supported Canarus Tavar. The King was still alive, however, and despite his addled mind was able identify treason when he saw it, and gathered the remaining loyal factions and declared war on his potential usurpers. And so the Velstati war of succession began in earnest. Canarus gathered his armies at Rís castle, and prepared to seize the capitol to end the war in short order. Wolfgang however, fled to the West and holed up in Holdger’s castle while his legions secured the cities of Yodobe’ah, Viasca, and Alienna. Prian left the capitol, and from his estate in Dasreg he hired several mercenary groups, the largest being the newly founded Vipers, and the venerable Crimson Company. With these armies, Prian seized the majority of the East, as well as all the port cities. Canarus found himself with his army camped in Eeryas, surrounded by enemies on three sides. Canarus faced at least ten city sieges ahead of him, so instead of attacking, Canarus made a deal with Mephara, and ceased all trade for the duration of the war, he then moved his armies and navy to blockade every major city. This tactic worked incredibly well, forcing practically every city to capitulate within the year. The only major battles of the war were the siege of Dasreg and the battle of Holdger’s Castle, both of which Canarus Tavar won easily. The war officially ended when Prian Loreg was put to death and Wolfgang Manst III was exiled. Canarus Tavar was crowned early in the next year.