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War Without Rivals

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The War Without Rivals (4687–4693 AR) was fought over competing claims to the Dragosvet Plains, which are found in the eastern regions of the country of Ustalav and range over three counties of that nation: Ardeal, Barstoi and Varno. Unfortunately, squabbling over these claims led to the start of this terrible civil war in 4687 AR.[1]

Chronology

4687 AR: Invasion

In this year squabbles over the Dragosvet Plains turned serious when Count Aericnein Neska of Barstoi accused his opposite number in Ardeal, Count Olomon Venacdahlia, of wantonly wasting the potential of the Furcina region in the east of Ardeal, part of the Dragosvet Plains. Neska claimed that the currently fallow land was indeed rich and should be utilized much more productively for the whole country's benefit. In his anger, and banking on the inexperience of the young Prince Aduard Ordranti III in Caliphas, Neska invaded Ardeal to seize Furcina and so started the War Without Rivals. Venacdahlia responded by requesting aid and justice from Caliphas against Barstoi. Unfortunately, for Ardeal, only political wrangling was forthcoming and Neska's gambit seemed to be successful.[1][2][3]

4689 AR: Trench Warfare

After having their fill of political stalemate at court in Caliphas, and tiring of Neska's demands that Furcina be ceded to Barstoi, in 4689 AR the nobles of Ardeal decided on action to end their embarrassment in Furcina. Venacdahlia gathered an army of his nobles, supplemented with conscripted peasants from Ardeal and Varno, which outnumbered Barstoi's forces. Their counter-attack was met with stiff opposition from Neska's troops who were much more experienced, including knights of House Graydon who fought intelligently and loyally.[4] Additionally, a new tactic was adopted by the defenders: trench warfare. The soldiers of Barstoi dug miles of fortified trenches and were able to stubbornly maintain their positions against the larger army of Ardelians. Thus started four years of seemingly interminable, grinding warfare: hundreds of lives would be lost for the gain of a paltry few yards.[1][2][3]

4693 AR: Desolation

After four hard years of civil war, by 4693 AR the politicking in Caliphas had turned in favour of Ardeal; Neska was forced to admit defeat, withdraw his troops and grant Furcina back to Ardeal.[1][2][3] Even in his own ranks Neska found dissent: Cilas Graydon, Margrave of Sturnidae, an infamous and successful military commander during most of the war, was convicted of treason for denouncing Neska as a tyrant.[5]

Neska was not going to give in so easily, however: he issued orders for the retreating troops to burn and salt the villages, fields and forests of Furcina, that had already suffered four years of war. This despoiling of hundreds of square miles of land left nothing but a haunted wasteland which became known as the Furrows.[1][2][3]

Legacy

The lasting legacy of the War Without Rivals is the blasted wasteland now known as the Furrows, which was once the bountiful Furcina Plain. Today, the land is haunted by the ghosts of the soldiers killed in the war and much worse. The royal Prince Aduard and the court at Caliphas eventually managed to force Neska to pay reparations to Ardeal, though the sum was insufficient and only to be paid in instalments over decades.[3]

As well as the loss of men, reparations and face, Barstoi also has a longer legacy of suffering associated with its war: when the wind blows aright, a pall of grey ash from the Furrows is blown over the town of Sturnidae; it lands on the fields tainting the crops and the food with decay. Furthermore, locals report seeing visions of the war in the clouds of dust, such as marching peasant soldiers and charging knights.[6]

References