The Uneasy Truce
In today’s lecture we return to the discussion of our history, and we look at the early reign of the Demon King. We will start by looking at how each of the human kingdoms dealt with the Demon Kingdom, and then how one human kingdom was moved to action. This was a trying time where the fate of humanity was uncertain.
The Early Reign
By 1024, after the crushing defeat at Nendar Moor, the military might of the human kingdoms was broken. The majority of the Imperial Army that laid outside of the Demon Kingdom, formerly Arelean, died in that gruesome battle. Those soldiers not fortunate enough to escape Arelean had been taken to the Demon Forge and converted into Demon Soldiers.
The Winter of 1024 was uneventful. The Demon King, content with the defeat at Nendar, made no overt military moves. Instead, the Demon King focused on building an infrastructure that would move ebon ore from Stammiglin to the Demon Forge. This consisted of a waterborne trade route that connected Stammiglin, Monatobe, and the Demon Kingdom together.
With a flow of ebon ore, the Demon Forge began to run night and day. Humans were transformed into Demon Soldiers, and their soul energy was collected. The influx of Demon Soldiers and soul energy allowed for creation of the higher castes of Demons, the Knights and Lords.
By 1025, there would be a need for more humans, and the Demons would create the dreaded Harvest to conscript humans for Demonization. This is a topic we will discuss in the next few weeks, which will include a guest lecturer.
Let us look at life in each of the Four Kingdoms, starting in the north and heading south…
Like most things in Elhal’s history, Vaasari was the least affected by the Demon King. Queen Rothrak signed the treaty between Vaasari and the Demon Kingdom, but she was not pleased. For now she had peace, and she focused on making sure her people were provided for through the winter. Without the Empire and its trade routes, her largest concern was feeding her people.
She reached out to Kotkala, and King Therion promised that trade would continue between the two kingdoms. Kotkala shipped grain and wood to the north, to help them through the winter.
The people of Vaasari, the least influenced by the Empire, are content to go about their normal lives. They viewed the Demon King as just another ruler looking to exert control over the kingdom, seeing the Demon King as a replacement for the Emperor. This lack of concern will be a detriment for Queen Rothrak, in the years to come.
Kotkala was not as calm as their brothers to the north. The Demon Army was on their eastern border. To the southwest, Stammiglin had fallen into civil war and came under the control of allies of the Demons, and to the south Monatobe was occupied by the Demons. In addition, there was an influx of refugees who escaped Arelean coming into eastern Kotkala.
I was one of those refugees. I escaped Arelean and went to Inkala, then the capital of Kotkala. I was taken in by the University of Inkala, and remained a scholar there until Kotkala’s fall. But that is getting ahead of the story.
While the Kotkalan army was weakened, it was not toothless, and King Therion deployed them to guard the southern and eastern borders, leaving the north mostly unguarded. Instead, he made a pact with Vaasari to feed them through the winter, in hopes that would eliminate any threat, and possibly gain an ally.
What Kotkala had was food, and the other kingdoms were in need. Therion was able to trade grain to the Denos clan for iron ore. They traded vegetables and crops to Monatobe in return for inks, cloth, and other goods produced in the south. Kotkala’s willingness to trade kept the other kingdoms from considering war.
The civil war was at its height by 1024. It bogged down in the winter, as the clans retreated into the mountains to survive the cold. In the spring the fighting continued, and with the aid of the Demons and Giants the Denos clan swept through the major cities of Stammiglin during the summer and fall. By 1025, the Denos clan controlled Fenalin and a number of other larger cities.
Individual clans came to realize the value of ebon ore, and moved into central Stammiglin to help mine it. Those who did were rewarded well by the Demon King. While many of these clans were not enthusiastic about the Demon King, they were able to acquire monetary wealth and safety, which kept them compliant.
The Denos clan, as the unofficial rulers of Stammiglin, were able to broker a deal with Kotkala for much needed grain. This grain gave the Denos clan additional political leverage, solidifying them as the ruling clan. This deal cost them iron ore, but the price of iron was down as the demand for ebon rose, and the clans were happy to offload their iron in return for food.
With the removal of the Sea Kings, the Demon Princes had little problem controlling the coastal region. The major port cities all now had a demon presence and were either under the direct control of a Demon Prince or a Demon Lord.
Shipbuilding and trade continued under the Demons’ rule. With the increase in ebon shipments coming from Stammiglin, the coastal ports boomed.
The central desert was impossible to control due to it’s size and sparse population. The nomadic population moved through the region without any interference from the Demons. These people formed a link between Kotkala and the southern coast. They acquired goods from the south, traded them for foodstuffs on the Kotkalan border, and then returned those to the south.
In the Winter of 1024, the Demons walled off Ceradome. Pilgrims continued to travel towards the structure and prayed outside the walls. To undermine this symbol of faith, the Demons planted Ebon Flowers on the grounds outside the walls, to grow Fiendish spiders for the Knights.
Inside the wall, the First Father and the Mayor of Ceradome continued to rule, cut off from the world. We will find out more about the fate of Ceradome in a future lecture.
A Growing Discontent
While there was a general discontent with the Demon Kingdom in all four kingdoms, nowhere was it felt stronger than in Kotkala. The combination of being surrounded by Demons on its southern and eastern borders, and being full of refugees from Arelean, made Kotkala a hotbed of discontent. The people wanted some kind of action against the Demon Kingdom.
King Therion was a wise man. He knew that the Demon King would invade at some point in the future. The Battle of Nendar Moor had proven to the Demon King the efficiency of his troops over the humans. He would take the kingdoms eventually. Therion needed to strike first, but was not prepared.
Therion was fortunate that it was not only farmers and scholars who fled to Kotkala. A number of Mages, Imperial Military Officers, and Curved Daggers also arrived in Kotkala and were taken in by Therion.
Therion’s Grand Plan
Within the Palace of Inkala, under heavy guard, Therion met with his senior advisors as well as those advisors from the former Empire. There they began a plan to resist the Demon King.
The plan had two parts. First, there were intelligence needs: information about the Demons, their powers, their movements, locations, etc. Second, they needed weapons and armor, and new soldiers would need to be trained.
The Curved Daggers were dispatched to the south to sneak into Stammiglin and let it be known that Kotkala would take in any refugees. This lead to a small exodus of trained blacksmiths into southwest Kotkala. Those blacksmiths would then use the traded iron ore to start producing weapons and armor.
At the same time, an emissary was sent to Vaasari and a pact was made with Queen Rothrak. Vaasari would join Kotkala’s resistance. In support of the resistance, Vaasari would provide ships, people, and lands between Vaasari and Kotkala to be used for raising and training an army.
The Curved Daggers in Kotkala reached out to the Brotherhood of Steel to coordinate with them on collecting intelligence. The Brothers lead several daring raids to capture various Demons which were then studied and dissected by a combination of the Daggers, Mages, and Scholars.
This plan came together over six years, starting in 1024 and ending in 1030, when Therion launched his plan. But that will have to wait for next week.
The six years after the rise of the Demon King were a surreal time. The world had been profoundly changed, and yet within the human kingdoms things were just familiar enough to provide some sense of comfort. In truth, there was no real comfort, but rather denial. We humans did not want to believe that the Empire ended, nor did we have the faith and strength to resist the Demon King.
We would have to fall again and suffer more, before our faith would be shown to us.
Next lecture we will discuss the Kotkalan rebellion, and how it was a success despite its military outcome.