Shattered Lands Broken Men
Forty years ago through present:
King Hacon’s youth:
Some 40 years ago,King Halicen II, begot his son, Hacon IV. Hacon was an erudite as a child, a joy to his tutors; a quick study of the entirety that he applied himself to. He did not just stop at history and tactics, his joy was the classics, philosophy, and music. He was most adept in the sword. Some viewed these activities as frivolous for a Prince learning to become a King. Royalty did not need to play music, there were bards for such. Nor did they need classics; they needed pragmatic subjects such as civics that would give them the tools to rule the realm. They had men at arms that have sworn their swords to the King’s defense; he need not be able to swing himself.
He spoke of self-government, choice and upward mobility. Other nobles were nervous by these assertions. Most, however, were endeared to Hacon by these qualities. He was amiable when he interacted with his subjects, he did not act as if he was above them. Many projected a great hope upon him; he could foster a new type of monarch, not so much a totalitarian sovereign but one of amongst the people. His father, Halicen, was the Authority, unmovable and pragmatic to a fault, rarely taking time to consider his surroundings. They were merely distractions.
Hacon’s favored tutor was his Master at Arms, Carom Eltin. Carom was a commoner by birth, his own father serving as a guardsman within the castle. Carom’s father worked his self to captain, opening the way for Carom to promote. Carom for his merits and time was elevated to Master at Arms at Eberhold, putting his self in position to be the Prince’s martial teacher. Master Eltin instructed Hacon in warfare history, strategy and tactics. He also taught him to wield a blade alongside with his own son Castor. Castor was of age with Hacon, they considered themselves to be near brothers. The relationship was viewed with much condescension amongst the noble families and attributed for some of Hacon’s eccentric views.
New Gehan-Neven Tensions:
The Gehan began sending envoys to Eberhold in hope of peacefully opening up trade. The Gehan needed access to the rich ores to supply their Western armies in good steel. They knew it could take a long hard fought campaign to take it through force. King Halicen was not a cooperative partner. He rejected every endeavor. The Gehan began plotting, hearing that the young prince may not be like the father, they thought he may be a more palatable to the negotiations. The Gehan ambassadors poisoned Halicen. They succeeded in the kill, but not in discretion. Their culpability was discovered. Hacon learned of the Gehans’ motivation, it rocked him, he was distraught; his father was dead because their enemies saw him as a weaker foe.
He executed the ambassadors and prepared for war, declaring to lead himself. The nobility insisted he take a bride and conceive prior to departure. He was married to Seanna Nestra, Lady of Seamarch.
In the passing weeks he obsessed over the coming war, keeping long nights with his generals and with Master Eltin. He only came to his queen in the late eve to do his husbandly duty, otherwise she was left alone. When she toured the city she was guarded by Castor.
Eberhold was a dark place, buildings made in hallowed out mountainside. The masonry was not extravagant; little attention was made to décor. The mountains cast large shadows and the skies usually ran overcast. Eberhold was a martial place, in direct contrast to the effervescent city of Seamarch. The exception, when there was a clear sunrise the reflection off of the stoneware of the castle was inspiring, though in a darker sad way.
Nearly two months past when King Hacon’s seed finally quickened in his Queen’s womb. Unblocking Hacon’s path to war, he quickly departed.
The Great Gehan-Neven war:
Hacon took the long siege at Collis, with Carom guiding him. While Jahndreal, a noble general, took the main expeditionary force further west to Montis via Stepp. Castor, much to the chagrin of the nobles, was charged with his own force.
He led south to cut off the Gehan coast from receiving reinforcements from the outlands by sea. Castor proved to have learned much from his father’s teachings. He routed through the countryside and took Port Easole with a swift brutal blitz. It was no kindness but the shore was secured and would see no threat landed there.
The main force marched first on Stepp. The armies at Stepp laid in keep for siege. The Neven force proved up to the challenge, breaking the Gehan walls. Stepp was conquered, looters in the city caused fire leaving much of its gates and buildings in ruins. Jahndreal with little time to linger moved on to Montis. There he faced a whole other challenge; the armies there met the Neven force in the field. The battlements were set blockading the cavalry from engaging. The pike were not enough to break through. Jahndreal’s advance was halted. Gehan re-enforcements moved from the west setting the Neven army into flight.
Skirmishes broke out as they were pursued, bleeding off even more of their strength. Jahndreal was attempting to regroup his men back at Collis with Hacon’s siege. Hopefully with enough strength to fight back the pursuit while maintaining the siege on the Gehan Eastern capitol at Collis. With each days march more men fell, some to the elements and others to the skirmishes, even more to exhaustion. Then, when still a week’s march out from Collis, Castor intercepted. He commanded Jahndreal to make a stand. Tension was high but Jahndreal had little choice but to swallow his pride and comply. Even worse, Castor took the lion share of the cavalry that remained. He led his men out into the mountains, seemly abandoning the remnants of Jahndreal’s force.
He commanded his men to set a line of pike with the better part of his lingering strength. He did not know what Castor’s plan was, but he knew that even if he made it back to Collis now, it would only be bringing doom to Hacon’s siege. At mid-day the advancing Gehan came on them 20,000 strong. The line held better than he could have ever hoped but as he already knew it was futile. By evening fall his forces were broken. It was then that Castor came from the flank with the full forte of his own army and Jahndreal’s only enduring cavalry. Castor had with intent waited for the line to be broken and the Gehan to be certain that they had taken victory. In the muddle of the attack, Castor’s ambush prevailed. Castor was forever then known as the Ghost of the Mountain, honored widely for his feats and acrimony whispered about his cold heart.
Castor marched on to finish Montis, leaving little there in his wake before returning to Collis to back Hacon’s siege. Collis, under the full onslaught of the Neven army fell in short order. Hacon had his victory.
What came next depends on whom you have asked.
Hacon returned to Eberhold just days after his Queen gave birth to their son, named for his own father Halicen. Seanna, only knowing her husband as the dark tempered brooding man that was grief stricken, hoped it would help uplift him. Hacon was indeed pleased, he no longer felt haunted by the motivation of his father’s assassination and he did indeed prove strong enough to extract vengeance on the Gehan. He could add a son to the many reasons to be happy, and not least he could now come to appreciate his wife. And he did, almost as if he met her for the first time. In a way it was, he could look at her without the annoyance of distraction that she was for him then. The next few weeks they were always together, his son, his queen. All she could have hope of a King, and was not before, he was now.
Unfortunately plague followed. Dragged back by the returning soldiers, the peoples of Eber own isolation working against them, as the foreign disease wrecked through the population. Many heroes of the war returned to celebration, only to be the one to infect their family. Castor, the King’s most trusted friend and champion of the conquest, died of the ailment. Hacon’s own Queen and child fell ill, and died as well. The terrible events kept coming; Hacon delivered Seanna’s remains for internment at Seasee, a temple near Seamarch, at Seanna’s family request. Hacon would not stay. No one would see or hear from a guest at the funeral again, they all perished in a fire.
Many felt empathy for their King, as these cursed times were no kinder to them as well. Others wondered, “How could the scion of god, have such tragedy befell him?” Some say Hacon spiraled into madness. Some went further, openly blaming him. Whispers formed, dark accusations followed. Eventually plague subsided; people could start to reform their lives. But it did little to repair how many now viewed their King. Hacon was once seen as a great hope for the commons, was now openly detested by many such. The nobles, whom had doubted him so, were largely pleased. Hacon rarely mingled in the undertaking of government. He was inattentive, deep in morose; his own court would go months without. The nobles could run the realm as they saw suitable.