Great Civil War
A conflict that destroyed the Old Verdacian Kingdom between the armies of the King and the rebellious merchants of Bridgetown. Lasted for 30 years, ending with the destruction of Highpeak Castle and the Dodek Accord.
The conflict that would come to be called the Great Civil War had its beginnings in the rapid expansion of the Old Kingdom to the eastern expanses of the Langsam River Valley. The founding of the city of Bridgetown was a historical turning point- the literal distance from the capital grew into an ideological distance. Fueled by trade from beyond the valley, Bridgetown grew rapidly, and the merchants of the city grew more and more powerful.
Things came to a head when then King Willum IV attempted to levy heavier taxes on Bridgetown in order to help bolster the depleted coffers of Castle Dodek (recently emptied by Dashing Dale). The heads of the Five Merchant Families conspired together to storm Ripper’s Keep, capture Lord Talbot Aims, put him on trial for the crimes of the crown and hung him from the largest bridge. Most historians cite Talbot’s Trial as the ignition point of the war proper.
For many years, Bridgetown fought a defensive war using hastily assembled armies of mercenaries against the poorly armed, but better organized armies of the king. Fighting like this continued for 5 years with little progress made on either side. It wasn’t until Adall Haberkit brokered a deal with the inhabitants of the Midnight Wood that Bridgetown’s forces were able to extend its control west to the town of Forkshire.
Sensing this shift in the tide, King Willum made a desperate plea to the College of Wizards for assistance. This was a bold plan, as arcane magic users had remained largely neutral for their entire history in Verdacia. However, due to the fear of the King’s proximity, then Headmaster Darius Thorrn agreed, arming and training a battalion of war-wizards.
The Battle of the Crimson Plane
Strategically leaked information about troop movements led the armies of Bridgetown into the cunning trap laid by King Willum’s generals. In the peaceful farmlands to the south west of Bridgetown, the mercenary armies met the king’s men. After a few hours of normal skirmishing, the forces of Bridgetown found themselves suddenly surrounded by squadrons of cloaked figures. Reports from that day indicate that the attack was brief and deadly.
In mere moments, nearly two-thirds of the Bridgetown army was decimated in a wave of fire, ice, lightning, acid and pure arcane energy. Though there was very little blood from the attack, as most were simply vaporized, this attack earned the battlefield the nickname: Crimson Plane
After this battle, the forces of Highpeak marched to the gates of Bridgetown where they set up camp.
The Siege of Bridgetown
For the next 7 years the forces of the king laid siege to the city of Bridgetown. Not wanting to damage the city too much, the use of catapults was forbidden. The generals of Highpeak decided that the best way to win the war was through starvation, since no other cities had joined the rebellion and no reinforcements were on the way.
The lands taken by Bridgetown after the Midnight Wood barbarians were slowly retaken by the king’s armies. Though the barbarians, along with the militia of Forkshire made it a lengthy process.
Meanwhile, at Bridgetown, the history of trade in the city had been a great boon to its people. The reserves of food and supplies had lasted a great while. However, this wouldn’t last forever, and the Merchant Lords knew it. Their last hope lay with a small party sent to broker a deal with the Elves of the Shandhal Forest.
House Lasunn and the Fall of Dawson
Reaching Lightpool, the Bridgetown envoy was received warmly. The elves were tired of the tyranny they felt under the yolk of the Hunter Family and jumped at the chance to win their independence. Using the fact that Castle Dawson was lightly defended due to the war, the elves descended in force, led by the renowned swordsman Oriel Lasunn.
This unexpected rebellion forced some of the besieging army around Bridgetown to move back west. This allowed the remaining forces within the city to launch a surprise attack, aided by the barbarians of the Midnight Wood. The combined might of both sides were able to drive the king’s armies back across the Crimson Plane, retreating to the Hook Tower.
It was here that the Bridgetown army met with the elven army to lay waste to both the king’s army and the outpost at Hook Hill. The few survivors fled back west toward Castle Dodek, and the forces of Bridgetown returned home to regroup.
For the next 3 years, both sides licked their wounds.
At Bridgetown, a new governing body was created consisting of the Five Merchant Families, primary among them being the Haberkit family. It was during this time that the mercenary band House Lasunn was founded. Elite elven warriors from this band were used to train raw recruits, forging the well-armed (if shaky) First Army of Bridgetown.
At Highpeak the king had grown frustrated with his generals, having them all executed. Trusting now only the council of Headmaster Thorrn, he spent his remaining funds on training a new army of mages. It was also at this time that the lords of Samhill sent word that though they did still support the king, that they would no longer be sending soldiers south to Highpeak due to increased Gnoll activity in Myron’s Swamp.
Angered by this news, King Willum sent for the most powerful lord of Samhill, Martin Sams, to his court at Highpeak. When he finally arrived, the new Council of Mages banished him to the farthest planes of reality never to be seen again. This act cemented Samhill against the king, leaving him to his eventual fate.
The 6 Year Storm
What followed was 6 years of open warfare. Armies of heavy cavalry and mages clashed with mercenaries and Bridgetown’s newest secret weapon- the Alchemists. The battles raged across the southern valley, from the banks of the Timjaw River to the Highpeak Mountains. Both sides took heavy losses, but with the help of the Lasunn elves, the forces of Bridgetown drove the enemy deep into the Seven League Hills.
Thinking they would be received by Lord Alistair Bourne of Castle Dodek, the kings armies instead found the keep doors shut tight. The battle was bloody and fierce, rivaled only by the Crimson Plane. Even the king’s own men attempted to gain access to the castle keep, if only to escape the burning bombs rained down on them by Bridgetown’s forces. But the walls never fell. After the battle, the victorious army simply moved around the castle like a river around a stone.
In the second year of the storm, the rebels finally came to the foot of the Highpeak mountains. What followed was far shorter siege, as the mountaintop castle did not have as easy access to provisions as Bridgetown. However, in the end, it was not hunger that won the day, but greed. An agent was able to infiltrate the castle, bribing several guards into opening the gates when the army advanced up the mountain. The sacking of Highpeak Castle left little but a smoking ruin and a proud banner of Bridgetown blowing in the wind.
53 years have passed since the end of the Great Civil War and the Langsam River valley looks quite different.
The death of King Willum marked the end of the Amberone Dynasty, and the Kingdom of Verdacia. The southern holdings of Samhill, Dodek, Landsfar and Lightpool became city-states, only loosely allied. In the north, Bridgetown has become the de facto capital of a new nation, holding dominion over settlements at Forkshire, Forsberg and Dunhill.
The Highpeak Wizard College was also destroyed, scattering the remaining students. In the northern settlements arcane magic is outright banned, due to the old wounds inflicted by the Council of Mages during the Storm. In the south, it is merely seen as taboo.
Many old military holdings have been abandoned, and have attracted a new violent element. The old tower at Hook Hill has become a refuge for vicious Bandits. There are even whispering that an ancient outpost deep in Duncan’s Wood has been rediscovered by a tribe of Orcs.
Nobody can say what the lasting effects of the war will be. Some speculate that the old traditions of Samhill and Dodek will fade with time and be replaced by a strong merchant class, as in Bridgetown. Others postulate that the nature of a market driven society will crumble due to backstabbing, and that the people will desire a stronger rule of law once again. There are those, however, that feel a divided valley is the most dangerous state of all. They look beyond the swamp of tears and wonder what outside threat could take advantage of this newly fragmented land…