Burning of the North
|Burning of the North|
|Event Name||Burning of the North|
|Dates and Times||May 15th to July 25th 305 AC|
|Location||Drixagh, Regalian Archipelago|
|People Involved||Regalian Empire|
The Burning of the North was a devastating event to the Velheim population and culture of Drixagh in the Regalian Archipelago. Enacted on the orders of Charles Montagaard, the Undercrown (Chancellor) of the Regalian Empire at the time, the event saw the Lordship’s few urban regions destroyed, thousands of defenders from the School of Skaggers killed in combat, citizens horrifically executed using ancient methods reserved for heretics, and an attempt to install settlers from the Calem regions in the area. This failed to break the spirit of the locals, who have since taken great strides to recover these devastated regions. It has also since been revealed, though to little fanfare, that the Undercrown manufactured the initial rebellion which led to the Burning. In the wake of this revelation and other perceived mistreatments by the Regalian Empire, many Drixagh leaders have ceded from the Empire, dividing the Archipelago’s north.
Drixagh had, for years, been one of the more problematic and complex Lordships of the Empire. Their role as the “Menace of the Archipelago” is an old one from the days of the Skagger Horde’s dominance in the region. Following the force’s withdrawal, the locals largely continued living as they had for years, though they had new leaders both from their own people and from elsewhere. Over time, these outsiders caused problems, the Velheim chafing under the rule of foreigners and their role in trying to push Unionism on the largely Old Faiths populace. But still, the Velheim of Drixagh served a purpose; like those of other Northern peoples, their levies and military leaders often served with distinction in Regalia’s wars. Additionally, while largely tundra, the mountains and dense forests of Drixagh provided troves of material resources for the Empire, who in turn employed the locals in extracting these. By 305 AC, though, regional politics became destabilized. House Santorski in the west had recently been absorbed into House Howlester of Gallovia, Highlanders and Velheim on both sides irritated that these traditional enemy cultures were unifying and, in the southeast, the Calem regions bristled at the war victories of the distant Kingdom of Nordskag. They wanted their own glory and many began to tie such glory to defeating the Velheim menace.
The First Rebellion
For a moment before the Burning, things had seemed to be going the Velheimer’s way. The Twelfth Creed, enacted on the 14th of May, made the worship of the Old Faiths legal again (among others) and there was a surge of Velheim pride in the Empire. It was now Charles Montagaard’s machinations began to appear. Using a variety of tools at his disposal, he had sent orders to officials in Drixagh to make the Velheim feel as if they were not part of the Empire, religiously or culturally. They were quite successful in these efforts, and the celebration of the Twelfth Creed soon became a swell of Velheim nationalistic sentiment. A small rebellion began, and many local non-Velheim Barons found themselves ousted from control. Regalian military forces arrived to try and quell the situation in a show of force. However, the summit between the Barons, backed by the Empire, and the local peasant leaders led to a surprising conclusion. One of the military leaders, a Velheim, was seen by the locals as their best possible leadership option and so they swore their fealty to him. This lone Count was now the largest landholder in the North and the Barons were incensed. However, there was little they could do as it seemed that the rebellion was now over and done with. The Regalian Empire’s detachment of troops, now not on any assignment, broke from strict military protocol for what became almost a service holiday and events seemed to calm.
Rejection of Rule
But Drixagh soon became a mess once more. Immediately upon being affirmed in his position, the Count started mass producing weapons and siege equipment locally. Then, he spent large quantities of cash for food, especially to feed the more remote villages and people up in the north. His crucial mistake, however, was announcing his rule was only temporary, stating that the Barons would be handed back control over their land after the war. When news of this got out, an angry mob surrounded the Count and beat him to a pulp, sending him back to the capital with a broken leg. Also immediately, once again like a domino effect, the tribes revolted one by one and rejected his temporary rule as just another one of those Northern traitors licking the bootheel of an Imperial oppressor. The rebellion was now back on and, worse yet, due to the Count’s drive to produce weapons and siege equipment, they now had more effective weaponry to actually pose a threat to the surrounding lands. Nobles in the Calem regions immediately voted unanimously to raise the Calemberg Standing Banner as more and more tribesmen started moving toward the southern border, supposedly threatening to invade the Hinter Calem region for the re-establishment of a greater Velheim state extending south. However, this seems to have largely been a product of New Regalian propaganda as it is incredibly unlikely any such invasion could have successfully taken place.
Soon after this, Emperor Cedromar I reshuffled the army to fit the needs of the Second Songaskian War better. This reshuffle also allowed the Undercrown to seize control of an Imperial Navy fleet as well as an entire army detachment. The fleet was sent north to bombard the coastal villages of the rebellious northerners while the army was combined with the Imperial Standard Army (which normally defended Regalia) in a military campaign against the locals in the north. In complete contrast with the previous actions of the Empire, the Undercrown declared total war on the Drixagh locals and began a purge. Orders were given to trample fields, loot granaries and burn villages. In the lacking of granaries and fields in Drixagh however, the soldiers instead started killing livestock and focusing most of their efforts of destroying settlements. Village after village was put to the sword and the repression was absolutely ruthless as hundreds were summarily hung from trees until the landscape of the many isolated tribes became macabre and desolate. Worse yet, the Undercrown ordered the punishment of Justifixion, an old Unionist practice of cutting birch tree logs, strapping criminals onto them, raising their arms above their heads and nailing their wrists and ankles to the pole while they were still alive. The poles were then raised in a line around towns which had been repressed as a lasting reminder of what the state inflicts upon those who would rise up in rebellion. All crude artillery made under the Count’s orders was burned on large pyres. Original orders were to seize it for state property, but local commanders were of the opinion that old-age artillery such as catapults were too crude for the Regalian Army and, as such, they were simply destroyed.
The Northern Rebellion had no hopes of actually beating the two combined armies, primarily since the Imperial Standard Army was professional. Many of the locals fled into the hills, mountains, and the forests, but hundreds of Skaggers were slain and their sacred halls of teaching were defiled by disrespecting Regalian soldiers who often urinated on edifices of the Old Gods. The repression of the Northern Rebellion turned more and more into a cultural warfare where the intention, at least of the soldiers, seemed to be completely about rooting out the inferior wild barbarians. The Northerners which did not support the Rebellion and who nominally supported the state with Imperial loyalty became uncomfortable at the harshness employed on their rebelling brethren. The lesser Barons, in particular, wrote an open letter to any Velheim family in the capital to aid them, but even this failed. Many of these loyal Velheim nobles turned on anyone in their group seeking to end the Burning, as the Undercrown would supposedly only do so if he received increased taxes and more support for the war effort from these nobles who did not want to support the government. Due to this paralysis, no help came from them that could prevent the final humiliation. Arless Johanna Uëxkulla, the Shieldmaiden of Drixagh, one of the only female military leaders of the North, fell in battle trying to defend Ensomtreby, her capital out in the Drixagh tundra. This center of Velheim culture, trade, and religion was brutally sacked by Calem region troops. Following this event, what little resistance remained surrendered as the rebelling locals desperately sought to save their mere existence, but there was no mercy. The loyalist lands, small in number watched on in sadness and horror at the sights around them. The North had been burned.
In the immediate aftermath of the Burning of the North, hundreds of colonists from the Calem regions moved north into the recently cleared land. This had been a pre-planned arrangement between the Undercrown and the nobles from these areas in an attempt to decrease Velheim land, power, and population even further. It was only a temporary measure as, silently, all of the colonists vanished. The Velheim seemingly got some revenge, though some colonists did not “mysteriously die” and instead simply moved back to their homes in the south upon realizing what a nightmare Drixagh had become in the aftermath of the Burning. As for the wider effects of the Burning, the Velheim of Drixagh were permanently scarred. Their personal form of combat, the School of Skaggers, lost thousands of warriors with ravaged home lodges and forts only recently rebuilt to any level of acceptable. The regional economy was ruined, Ensomtreby’s destruction serving as a ripple effect to end what sophisticated trade existed in the region. Finally, though, there were the political ramifications. For the Velheim people themselves, many loyal to the Empire survived (the majority of loyal regions weathering the conflict with little harm) though their faith in the institution was deeply shaken. Ultimately, what had started out as a falsely generated feeling of separation from the Empire turned into a genuine separation from the Empire. In 306 AC, many Drixagh lands split with their longtime owner in response to the truth of the Undercrown’s actions becoming known, alongside many other longstanding problems involving the worship of the Old Faiths and the general treatment of Velheim society in the City of Regalia. The Burning has become a symbol of Regalian oppression to the Velheim and northern lands of Aloria, Nordskag citing the event as a reason for their own withdrawal from the Empire in common with Drixagh. But for the Calem regions, it was a great victory, a purging of a dangerous enemy which needed to be dealt with before they could become a threat. This surge of anti-Velheim sentiment continued into the following year when a large wall called Hadrian’s Wall (after a patriarch of House Typhonus) was built as a physical expression of the Calem regions’ rejection of the Velheim people. As this is one of the more recent events in Regalian history, it is likely more effects and problems will be generated down the line from this horrific and savage event.
- The forest fires caused by the Regalian Empire’s armies has actually had a detrimental effect on the forests of Drixagh. With such frozen ground, growth is hard and so the normally rejuvenating effects that follow a fire within the next few years has only left black, open gashes in the picturesque landscape.
- The Undercrown’s reputation suffered so little from the truth of these events that a rumor has started alleging that everyone involved in the event, from the Regalian Military and the Regalian Bureaucracy to the Regalian Nobility, knew of the Undercrown’s behind-the-scenes meddling yet did nothing to stop him out of hatred from the Velheim.