|Event Name||Vampire Wars|
|Dates and Times||42 - 110 AC|
|People Involved||Skagger Horde, Dorkarth, Hedryll, Regalian Empire|
The Vampire Wars, referred to as the Hidden Wars by some scholars, were a series of conflicts fought by the Vampires of Dorkarth against the weakened Hedrylli Empire, which ultimately attracted the attention of the Skagger Horde and soon after, the Regalian Empire. The end result of these wars saw the Vampires’ hold on Ellador crushed and much of their population scattered across the lands of the Regalian Empire while the Velheim empire became the much smaller nation of Hedryll. This event is well known to traditionalist Vampires, who glorify it as the greatest time in Vampire history, but those Bloodlines more recently developed merely snort in derision and view the Wars as a weak time, when rather than spread wide, Vampire-kind got bogged down in cultural attachments and almost destroyed themselves.
Some claim that Vampirism is older than the Cataclysm but the truth of this is unknown. What is certain though, is that the first Vampires to emerge following the cataclysmic event did so in Ellador. Whether they were willing people, who let themselves be turned in order to fulfill their deepest desires for power or unwilling and cruelly afflicted people, the end result was the same; a new and savage Affliction for Aloria. These first Vampires roamed Ellador and eventually came to settle the lands that would later become known as Dorkarth. The early years of this conquest by unnatural beings reduced the local Ailor population already reeling from the Cataclysm into a cowed and afraid people. They accepted their new overlords with little resistance and fell into their service. Soon, the Desprinces of Dorkarth ruled over the region absolutely. History records five as it relates to the Wars, those being Stian Levir, Åastan Båandaveia, Hanz Wenzelstein, Petril Åaskilsta, and Sovbjorn Ytrehaug. They latched onto the Fornoss faith and emphasized the ideals of Vampirism that they had developed and embodied, claiming themselves to be a new generation of demigods sent from on high. Over the following years, the unnamed wives they married and bore children with, as well as the enslaved population, produced a nation of fanatics bent on spreading themselves across the north. These plans were interrupted when Hedrylli vessels arrived, exploring the new world in the name of the weakened but still significant Hedryll Empire. The crews of these vessels were promptly either turned, or killed, and the Princes now had a target for their first invasion.
The First War
The first of the Vampire Wars is called by some as the False War, because it wasn’t much of a proper war. It was also false in its intentions, as the Dorkarth Desprinces had no intention of full-on invading a nation they knew relatively little about. Instead, they engineered a conflict using the newly arrived ships and their turned crews. They birthed a false rebellion, and sent the vessels back to the Empire to wage war against it in 42 AC. The Hedrylli king was not a fool, but his nation had been weakened by the Cataclysm, with a number of coastal regions devastated by the turbulent tidal forces of the sea, and so he let it go on for a time, sure that this uprising would lack support in places already hard-strunk and focused on rebuilding. Besides, they were all Velheim, and people of honor, surely these traitors couldn’t inspire the same disloyalty. But to his great anger, they did, and so he was forced to sail out and battle these turncoat sailors. This support for them though, was largely generated by infected individuals, who started to spread themselves across the Empire. When these enemy raiders finally fell, their leader executed, peace was joyously declared. But no one knew that their borders had been infiltrated, and at the fringes of the Hedrylli Empire, conclaves of Vampires now existed and worked to infest the very heart of the nation.
The Second War
The Second War is exalted by Vampires as their time of greatest triumph, when they were truly ascended and at their peak strength in the old days. Over the following decades, they infested hundreds, and then thousands of Hedryll’s citizens. It ultimately reached a point that Hanz Wenzelstein, one of the Desprinces himself, was able to move to the Hedrylli capital. He became The Pale Whisper, seducing almost all of the King’s council to his side, or into greed and weakening practices. But this could not continue forever. Finally, loyal Hedrylli noticed the Vampire threat and sounded the alarm. The ruler at this time was King Rickulfr, and he was young and brash, perfectly uncontrollable and able to resist the terrible council of his largely corrupted nobility. He ordered investigations, and by his adulthood in 75 AC, the threat this insidious infection presented was all too obvious to him and those of clear mind. But his advisors dithered and distracted, before finally, he pushed past them and declared the truth of the Vampires to his whole nation. He called upon everyone of true spirit to rise up, to find the Vampires, and purge them as a vile plague against all the just and powerful gods of the Fornoss faith. He then rallied his forces upon hearing of massing Vampires, and moved to engage them on the field of battle in 77 AC. However, The Pale Whisper had done his work, and Rickulfr was betrayed in the middle of the battle. He and his retainers were all cut down with his crown given to the Dorkarth Desprince in charge of the enemy army, Petril Åaskilsta. The Vampires moved swiftly, but the late king’s wife and several children slipped from their fingers, reaching the western lands of the Empire. The eldest, Eivind, was crowned king by the haggard but desperately determined loyalists and he personally burned with the desire to avenge his father. For now though, the Second War was over as the Dorkarth Princes fell into squabbling over treasure and land due to personality differences. Local petty nations beyond Hedryll's borders were also over-run after this victory, and those loyalists left feared for the future.
The Third War
The Third War saw the only major offensive action taken by the now Kingdom of Hedryll in the entire period of the Vampire Wars. With his father dead, and much of his nation in chaos as Vampires and loyal, unturned citizens did battle while Vampiric raiders began reaching further afield for their slave populations, King Eivind sought to rebuild his nation and formed a daring plan. In 80 AC, he assembled his new small fleet and set out on the waves, while his younger brother and a smaller portion of the army moved into Ellador to reclaim territory. The Vampires focused on this group, convinced the King was with his kinsman and best generals but suddenly, back in Dorkarth, there was chaos. King Eivind had landed and besieged the ground fortress of Marerittpalass. Within days, his forces had broken through and killed the youngest of the Desprinces, Stian Levir, before collapsing half of the coastal fortress into the sea by weakening its engineering. The Vampires were enraged, rabid for vengeance, and Sovbjorn Ytrehaug, the greatest and most physically imposing of the Desprinces, vowed revenge for “the plucking of our youngest immortal flower.” For several years, King Eivind played a game of chess with his pursuers, raiding Dorkarth, slipping away, and always keeping one step ahead of the major Dorkarth hordes. Instead, he picked off smaller groups, and intercepted Dorkarth raiding ships, even reportedly destroying one of their flying fortresses with Dwarven explosives. He was supported by Velheim from Northbelt, who were determined to get rid of the hostile forces raiding them for slaves, and in 87 AC, he again landed on mainland Dorkarth. He torched whole settlements and killed thousands both turned and not, but he was finally caught by Sovbjorn Ytrehaug. The Vampiric vessels came down from the rear, destroying Eivind’s own ships, and ultimately the young king died. However, he didn’t go down without a fight, and it is said he faced Sovbjorn personally as battle swirled around them and successfully killed the vile Desprince but at the cost of his own life.
The Fourth War
Eivind’s younger brother was now crowned as King Jorstig, and the young man was wracked with paranoia and fear but was desperately determined to save his kingdom. He sent pleas out far and wide, to nations big and small over the course of his early reign, seeking aid. The first to come were the Skagger Horde, answering the call of their cultural brothers to help put an end to the foe which now raided so far afield as to reach Corontium. The Dwarves also came to help Hedryll in greater numbers, disgusted with the Vampires and their expanding mining operations. It is also said the Isldar did more to harry and force the Vampires from their lands, though they did not join with the Ailor and remained distant. Far stranger allies are said to have arrived around this time too, with Giants coming to aid the Hedrylli alongside Ogres and other such creatures. Yet, all of this aid was not enough, and still the alliance struggled. This final chapter is the most obscured, because while publicly the Regalian Empire decried the Kingdom of Hedryll’s calls for assistance as a Skagger plot, some elements of the government seemed to think the total opposite.
The Hidden War took place here, with Regalian troops led by Wirtem officers and Regalian ships forming an expedition and landing in Ellador in 100 AC where they then fought alongside the Velheim and their allies. What exactly happened in this nearl-decade of warfare is unclear. Velheim stories often extoll the Velheim role in smiting the Dorkarth foe, great warriors slaying the final notable Desprinces, Åastan Båandaveia and Petril Åaskilsta, before returning home victorious. But, there is evidence that it was only in this final stage of conflict that the outside world became aware of the dreadful Queen Atiëliv, and rather than push the offensive against a Mage equal in power to a god, the Hedrylli heeded Regalian advice, and retreated to the only defensive position they had left. This is a hotly contested reading of events however, and many Velheim insist it is untrue. Whatever the case, and whatever the method, the Hedryll Empire became a mere kingdom, and the massive Frost-Throne Wall was raised to defend them from land-based Vampire incursions. In 110 AC, the Vampire Wars were declared as complete, with the alliance disbanding. Hedryll had lost much, but mass populations of Vampires wouldn’t rise in the north or indeed anywhere else for another century.
The Vampire Wars had many effects which echo even to this day. The most immediate, and constant, was the dismantling of the once great Hedrylli Empire into the kingdom that now rests on a singular peninsula. Their control over a vast track of coastline, countless islands and outposts in lands across northern Aloria vanished with first the Cataclysm, and then this disaster. Nordskag eventually rose to fill this gap in regional power, but Hedrylli culture remains a high watermark in the Velheim artistic community today, and their population is one of the most anti-Vampiric in the known world. As for its effects on Vampires, the Wars were a mixed bag. Four of their most notable Desprinces died, and their homeland was raided multiple times, causing significant destruction and a loss of their own local cultural artifacts and sites. These attacks also saw survivors flee Queen Atiëliv’s realm for other lands, founding the range of other bloodlines which now populate the Ailor world, a negative aspect for the Regalian Empire which was not foreseen at the time. The Wars are also now often glorified among Vampire society as a period of slaughter, experimentation, and cleansing, for while the Desprinces who perished are beloved, they are also seen as fools to have turned the conflict personal against the Hedrylli royal bloodline.
But now, there is the Regalian role and the impact the Wars have had on them. The entire conflict is sometimes called the Unspoken War or Hidden War in Regalian circles, though more and more the term is only being pinned on the obscured, and difficult to understand Regalian involvement in the fourth conflict. Who ordered the Regalian expedition and why remains unclear, including who even fought with the force as no named commander, officers, or soldiers have ever been identified in the scholarly community. In fact, it was practically illegal until 300 AC to write about Regalian involvement in the final war, papers on the mystery finding no traction and academics being pushed into other fields or directions by the institutions they worked for. Today, most chalk this up to the power of the Crimson Inquisition, the Vampire hunters founded in 160 AC to deal with the rising Vampire population in Corontium who were well known for their more extreme actions and beliefs. It is held that they sought to suppress any idea of the Wars to prevent their knowledge being used to inspire the next generations of infected, but the issue remains a mystery today.
- The Pale Whisper himself was never confirmed killed, the greatest regret of Hedryll today. However, many believe that Queen Atiëliv killed him for his failure, as he has never once been heard of since these events over 200 years ago, and some in Hedryll take comfort in this idea.
- Stian Levir and Sovbjorn Ytrehaug are said to have been lovers, which is why the normally stoic and dispassionate Sovbjorn burned with such hatred and a desire for revenge in the wake of Stian’s death. It is also used to explain why Stian, an immortal being, only had a single child in his 100+ years of life.
- The role of Giants in the war is a strange topic, for conventional academics believe Giants went extinct prior to the Cataclysm, and many believe such beings are misidentified Ogres due to the links between those two creatures. However, modern Velheim insist Giants survive in the far north of Ellador beyond the reach of most mortals.