Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Excerpt 2: Miles and more Miles

Since this is what I'm working on at the moment and because its consuming every spare moment of my time, this is what you guys get to see. Today, it is Hamish writing about the history of Miles.

Ancient History

Miles was originally settled in the late 3rd or early 4th Age by southmen fleeing from the jungle-land of Zesh. The first settlers founded their hilltop town on what is now Pillar Hill. The artisanal class from Zesh built the original Faberlaine wall which girdles the central hill.

In those days it was the only city for rods and rods around, and it commanded a view of the river-fords as well as the great Gigantine lowlands. The original city was very small, composing only the narrow lanes of the hill. It wasn’t until the middle 4th Age that it began to expand, spilling its boundaries. It was during that time that the Tour Wyrmais was built. If you can believe it, this ancient Milean tower was constructed on a hill outside the city, though it is now well within the outermost set of walls.

As the city spread her influence spread with her. The heartland became her periphery, supplying the early settlers with food, cloth, and links to the greater world. It was during the time of the city-states that Miles truly bloomed; the raising of the Pillar marked her entry into the world of the ancient powers. Chimeron, Llernea, Byblos, Mercantis, and Vaer all became sudden foes and competitors on the world scale. Towards the end of the Sword Age, Miles had ceased to compete and simply stood victorious over them. This was the beginning of the First Empire.

Taking over the great alluvial plains surrounding the Inner Sea, including territories that had once belonged to Mercantis, Miles became the center of culture and civilization in the heartland, drawing all men into its orbit. Of course, we smallfolk had never heard of the city in those days, wandering as we were across the wild northlands, but elves and even dwarves by then had come to Miles.

The city served as the seat of imperial administration for centuries until the great Civil Wars which threatened to unravel the empire. When they were concluded a new capitol was founded at Bataille, the so-called Field of Battle. Miles entered a long decline, a slumbering dark age.

For centuries her population fell. After the final end of the Second Empire, she served as the capitol to much reduced kingdoms, growing less and less magnificent as time went on. The ancient monuments were mined for stone, the old buildings fell into ruin and many of the grand streets began to clog with new construction as the old ones became uninhabitable.

This was the dark age of Miles; the city contracted greatly, most of the people that were no longer supported by the old grain doles scattering off to other places. The aqueducts stopped working and in many places there was flooding. Whole buildings began to sink or fall over, and the roads were overrun with weeds and small woods grew up on the hills.

It wasn’t until the coming of the Galoen kings that Miles began to be restored to its native glory, the glory that has evaded it for so long.

Modern History

The modern history of Miles begins in the year of 103 in the Ninth Age (IX.103) with the accession of the steward of Miles to Theron Elsoín (r. IX.103-51), the rightful king. Theron was crowned in the summer of that year and subdued the renegade county of Noranor but failed to capture the powerful independent kingdom of Mermarche to the east of Miles.

He was followed by Armena Elsoín (r. IX.151-79), his younger sister, who was supposedly a member of the Black College. The College was an evil group of sorcerers long since expunged from the city that had a powerful grip on many of the nobility in those years. Queen Armena destroyed the Lords of Serpentis and declared it a county of the Kingdom of Thyrnesse but she herself was killed by an assassin from Mermarche in IX.179.

She was succeeded by Olander Elsoín (r. IX.180-215), who was called “the Good.” He was a wizard like his mother, but was a peacemaker instead of a warmonger; a much more noble pursuit! He solidified a lasting peace with Thyrnesse’s neighbor of Avaria and publicly tried and executed many of the members of the Black College.

His own successor was his daughter by his second wife, known as Saint Evelyne the Pious (r. IX.215-70) who built up hundreds of Hieriean, Avaunite, and Eleian temples in Miles and the whole of her kingdom. She nevertheless lost the isle of Crestley to the kingdom of Paix and the county of Serpentis to Mermarche.

Evelyn was childless, and her great-nephew Tarsus the Bookfriend (r. IX.271-96) succeeded her. He eschewed public policy for the life of the monastery. He lived in a Quilian library in the city (which you can still visit! It has a whole wing built by Tarsus!) during almost all of his reign. His steward (and supposedly his lover), Regardine, administered his kingdom.

The years IX.297-300 represent an interregnum by Regardine the Seneschal; upon the death of King Tarsus, the seneschal assumed complete control of the kingdom and effectively imprisoned the heir-designate, Olanthus, in the Red Palace. Upon reaching his majority, young Olanthus staged a coup that ended with Regardine’s death.

Olanthus Elsoín “the Reclaimer” (r. IX.300-1 and IX.312-345) was dethroned on New Year’s Day of IX.301 in a counter-coup by the Regardine’s son, Colinus, who had the aid of Mermarche behind him. For an eleven or twelve year period the kingdom effectively ceased to exist, becoming an appendage of Mermarche. It wasn’t until Olanthus stormed Miles (capturing the Faberlaine Wall, as the Outwall was too big to be manned in those days) that he could be re-crowned.

In IX.346 his crown passed to Cormorans Elsoín (r. IX.346-65) who married Elanda of Mermarche, ending the ancient war between the two kingdoms. He made Horos Amvor, one of the old king’s vassals, Duke of Mermarche—a title that the good Amvors have held ever since.

Cormorans was unfortunately succeeded by Tagmus the Kinslayer (r. IX.366-408) who was possessed of an insane paranoia, perhaps brought on by too much wine or capre seeds. He is remembered today only for purging his house of so-called traitors with the aid of his elvish allies and assassins.

Orldus “the do-nothing king” (r. IX.409-66)  and Therus “the Unprepared” (r. IX.467-515) are hardly remembered at all save for their military disasters against Avaria.

Histar Elsoín (r. IX.515-627) ended the Ninth Age with his suicide. Childless and heirless, the Elsoín line collapsed, leaving the kingdom in a dynastic crisis for which she would suffer (and suffer badly) for the next four hundred years.

With the passing of the Elsoín, the throne of Miles was left open for any contender with the power to hold it. Astrologers proclaimed the Ninth Age over with Histar’s suicide, ushering in the Tenth. In those early years, the creature known as Myrea the Depraved (r. X.3-87) claimed the ancient seat.

Myrea built several fortresses across the Thyrnessan heartland and ruthlessly persecuted the Faiths, levying the first taxes they had ever been subject to in imperial history. She was famed for her work projects and the condemnation of mass groups of peasants to royal slavery to work and die on the great fortresses.

In X.87, Myrea was slain by the man who would become her successor: a Duke of Paix, Kadagus (known as the Despot, r. X. 88-102) claimed the crown and scepter and badly mismanaged Thyrnesse for his entire tenure as king. There were apparently widespread beliefs that he himself was a Black College sorcerer, but those rumors proved to be unfounded upon his death.

He was succeeded by Roland the Wise (r. X.102-215) also called Roland the Sorcerer-King. Under King Roland, Paix and the western half of Thyrnesse was lost again; the sons of Kadagus founded the kingdom of New Avaria, which would become a constant thorn in the side of Thyrnesse.

Roland himself appointed his own successor, a Count of Noranor named Sorvial (r. X.216-53) who passed the scepter to the Auruxol Dukes.

Caldus Auruxol ruled in my own childhood (r. X.254-307) and his son Polinus succeeded him (r. X.308-37). In rapid succession followed Agardus (r. X.338-77) and Queen Thebera (r. X.378-412).

I was still a young gnome when the Auruxol line was brought to an end by the Conclave. In an attempt to reunite the brutally warring heartland, they destroyed the Peppinids of Avaria and gave the throne to the  son of the Watchmaster of Tourons, the rulers of the kingdom of Westreth. This knit together Westreth, Avaria, and Thyrnesse into a cohesive whole beneath a cadet branch of the Galoen house.

The first Galoen King was Aras Galoen (r. X.412-49) who created the new Thyrnessan coinage and began the reconstruction of Miles.

He was followed by his son Tamerin (X.449-53) who planned to pass his throne to his own son (also named Tamerin) who died as a young boy. King Tamerin died without issue, leaving his brother Velas to inherit the scepter.

Velas (r. X.454-77) named his own son Tamerin III after the dead child, and it is Tamerin Galoen himself (r. X.478-present) who rules the empire. Of course, it’s worth noting that Tamerin changed his name when he declared himself an emperor instead of a king—he is now Tamerin Elsoín the First, rather than a lesser Galoen scion, though he still recognizes his kinship with Prince Balduen Galoen of Westreth.

In the year X.501, Tamerin (who was still a king of Thyrnesse in those days) went to war with Byrne, Meirenia, and Colona against the wishes of myself and the rest of the Conclave. The king’s reasoning was simple enough to follow: each of those lands was a former imperial holding and he, as the king of Miles, was entitled to rule them. Over the course of a summer he fought and won his battles against the three nations, bringing them to heel. After a failed assassination attempt, he declared himself emperor of Miles and decreed the foundation of a new empire. Since that day, he has revived old imperial custom and acted much in the manner of the emperors of old: building public works, showing largesse to his people, and constructing great projects in the city of Miles.

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