The Kentian Era
Of the great powers, Kent was the first to modernize and form a true nation state. King John “Black Jack” Kent unified the various duchies in the present day Kingdom of Kent and centralized rule under an absolute monarchy. Kent had been expanding at a slow, but steady pace for several centuries now, but with the policies of King John II, the Kingdom quickly began to surpass all of its other rivals, including long time rival Pravoka. Pravoka which had been close to unifying under a single Kingdom for centuries, but unable to due to internal issues followed suit less than a year later, with the Kingdom of Lefein and the Kingdom of Gatrea adopting constitutions six years and sixteen years respectively.
After these initial Kingdoms formed, many other smaller entities began to take shape, including the Free City of New Castle, the Federation of Melmond, the Duchy of Jeuno, and the nation of Altair.
The Confederation of Greater Aldi
Within the first century of the Kent Era, the four great nations dictated the policy of all nations on the continent through their intricate web of alliances and treaties. Consistently, of all the nations on the continent, Lefein lagged behind both Kent and Pravoka. Lefein possessed neither the disciplined and formidable soldiers of Pravoka, nor did Lefein possess the fertile farmland and resources that Kent could muster in a war. Even Gatrea commanded a greater presence on the Aldan continent thanks in no small part to its vast territories and manpower that it could bring to bear. It seemed in nearly all ways that Lefein could not compete against the other powers.
By the middle of the fourth century the situation appeared especially grim for Lefein. Coming off of a long and arduous war against Pravoka, Lefein’s borders were reduced to their smallest state since the Kentian era began. King Erick I knew that if drastic action were not taken, the nation of Lefein could very well have been swallowed up in his lifetime. So, he decided to pursue a path of diplomacy with some of the neighboring smaller nations, some of which Lefein had tried to conquer unsuccessfully less than a century earlier.
First, he approached Melmond who had similarly lost territory to Pravoka. Melmond had a low population and wasn’t very defensible, relying on mercenaries to make up roughly half of the standing army, but it made up for these deficiencies with its food production and world famous magic schools. On paper the two were very nearly a perfect match: Lefeinian ingenuity and steel married with Melmondian goods and magic. The issues arose in the goals of the two governments. Lefein preferred a strong, centralized government that listened to a single authority. There was no parliament in the Lefeinian constitution, only a selection of monarch appointed councilors to advise the King on matters of state. Melmond on the other hand put a greater influence on a council of nobles and heads of the various magic universities to decide on policy. Additionally, like Altair and Pravoka, Melmond was the seat of an Archbishop who also held great power in the dealings of the country.
It was clear from the start there would be no way to unify the two states into a single political entity diplomatically. Instead, King Erick proposed the idea of a Confederacy, in which both countries act as one in military and foreign matters, but were free to pursue what ever domestic policies each felt was best for their nation. The King and the Archbishop would discuss foreign matters and come to an agreement before any action could be taken. It took nearly a decade of diplomacy and saw two different archbishops negotiate the deal after Archbishop Alexander II died towards the end of the accord, but finally the two countries had been brought together.
One of the stipulations that Melmond added to the formation of the confederacy was that the nearby nation of Altair would also be invited to join. Like Melmond, Altair was run by a council of priests, the leader of which would be granted the status of “Archbishop”. They also possessed a single university for magic, and had very competent soldiers, though their army was only just barely larger than Melmond’s. Food production in Altair met the demands of the populace but would not contribute towards Lefein’s needs, however Altair possessed a wealth of other resources such as lumber, leather, and medicinal herbs which Melmond and Lefein lacked. Perhaps most importantly was how defensible Altair was. Altair was situated deep in a dense forest, with the main roads into the city very narrow. The Altairan military was also trained to be very mobile and work in small groups rather than as a whole entity, making them ideal for defending the territory directly around their home.
With long time ally Melmond joining the confederacy, Altair decided to follow suit, and in two short years all of the details of its membership had been worked out, permitting it to become a full member. With the three nations united, Lefein had finally become a dominant force in world politics once more, and set out to reclaim the territories that it had lost to Pravoka in a series of successful wars.
God King Mathis
In the early fifth century Gatrea underwent significant change as the monarchy that had ruled since the beginning of the Kent era was overthrown by the nephew of the King, Mathis. After taking the throne, Mathis ordered the execution of every member of the royal family including his parents. Many of the military officers and nobles of Gatrea lived in fear, as any individual that was seen as dissenting against the King was executed. During the first few years of his rule, Mathis had earned the nickname “King of Ruin” from his ruthless methods to maintain peace within his kingdom.
Mathis was remarkable for his mastery over a relatively obscure form of magic – Summoning, and is widely believed to be the first Summoner. With his magical prowess, Mathis was able to reinforce his comparatively small army with monsters that he conjured. The number and volume of monsters summoned into the world as a result of Mathis is so great, many monsters today are believed to have a descendant that was brought into the world from Mathis. Some Beastmen tribes were entirely derived in this way, while others still have sharp divides over their true lineage.
During this era, and even today there exists a growing movement to unite the Aldan region into a singular political entity. As the Palacardian Empire began to rise in the east, so too was the dream for an Aldan Empire to stand against it. Mathis was the first of such rulers to try and unite the continent through conquest. The invasion strategy was generally the same: Send a force of monsters to occupy a region and terrify the local populace prompting police and military effort to drive them out of the territory at great cost. Then, as the government was unable to secure the dangerous border regions, the Gatrean military would secure the area and the monster attacks would vanish. They would push on deeper into the host country’s territory until they gained enough momentum to launch a full scale invasion. Then, after dismantling the local government, the annexed territories would be immediately integrated into the Gatrean nation.
Gatrea’s expansion began with many of the smaller nations in its immediate sphere, including a few neutral nations that acted as buffer states for the Confederation of Greater Aldi. Pravoka and Kent both watched Gatrea’s expansion with a wary eye, but it was Lefein who threatened war with Gatrea should they continue their ambitions. Rather than back away from the warning or try to force Lefein’s hand, Gatrea decided instead to declare a war of conquest on the Confederation. The Lefeinian forces ultimately proved to be insufficient to mount a proper defense. By the end of the year, sizable portions of Altair’s territory was lost, Melmond had been completely occupied, and Lefein’s forces were committed to defending what ever territory they could manage to hold onto. It seemed all but certain that Lefein would soon fall.
Pravoka and Kent had watched the war between Gatrea and Lefein with great trepidation. Pravoka had traditionally been a rival of Kent’s, and as such diplomacy between the two countries was a delicate matter. Each nation, fearing that the other might attack them should they join the war against Gatrea kept their fears to themselves, but by the time Gatrea had occupied Melmond, the diplomats on both sides began to express their fears of a Gatrean invasion. As the stalemate drew on between Lefein and Gatrea, Kent too, began to see signs of an imminent Gatrean invasion. Monster attacks began to occur with increasing frequency in border regions, and the Gatrean offensive against Lefein seemed to stall as they dug in and also took defensive positions. All of the warning signs were present, and given little recourse the Kentian king, Malcolm III traveled to Pravoka to discuss terms of an alliance with King Destin in order to contain the Gatrean threat.
Gatrean Containment War
As monster attacks became more and more frequent in the Kentian country side, so too had the urgency of the diplomatic talks between Kent and Pravoka. The Kentian military, unwilling to wait for the alliance to be signed had already begun to recruit soldiers and mobilize its forces. Although this preparation would pay off, ultimately it would prove insufficient. Days after a formal alliance had been signed between Kent and Pravoka, Gatrea launched a surprise attack on a Pravokan military outpost on the border of the Confederacy – Garlaige Citadel. Malcolm III rode off to help relieve the citadel with a combined force of Kentian soldiers and some of Pravoka’s best officers.
Initially the battle had seemed to go in favor of the allied forces, but when Gatrean sappers detonated an explosive from within the citadel, clearing a breach for their armies to assault the holding, the battle plan quickly became unraveled. King Malcolm sought to flank the assaulting force and catch them in a pincer attack, but were instead caught off guard by a Gatrean reserve unit and became flanked themselves. Cut off from the rest of the allied forces, the Kentian unit attempted a desperation charge to break through the Gatrean lines and rejoin the main force. King Malcolm and half of the unit was killed in the process, with the other half too exhausted and demoralized by the loss of their King to continue fighting once they returned to the main column.
Sensing the battle had turned against them, General Valaineral R Davilles ordered the remaining forces to create an escape route for those still trapped within Garlaige Citadel with the intention of retreating afterwards. The Pravokan and demoralized Kentian forces made three attempts to beat back the Gatrean forces from Garlaige Citadel, but failed with every attempt. The enemies number and morale was too high to manage an effective counter attack, and with a heavy heart the general was forced to order a retreat. Those stationed to defend Garlaige Citadel were killed to a man, the battle becoming one of the seminal tragedies of the Gatrean Containment War.
After the battle of Garlaige, allied morale was at an all time low. The young Prince Cornelius ascended to the throne of Kent. All across the kingdoms, the allied forces were losing battles and territory, with one small exception. A band of adventurers under the banner of Kent had managed to recruit a small army of ill-equipped farmers, and rout an Imperial encampment in Western Kent that was previously unknown. In the process they managed to capture war material and intelligence vital to the war effort. This victory, as small as it may have been at first became the turning point in the war. The leaders of that assault force were given awards for their service and King Cornelius founded the new order of Mythril Knights specifically for these heroes.
The Mythril Knights would go on to fight Gatrea, both on the front lines, and in secret operations to strike at vital points in their organization. The four of them had managed to blend the best qualities of a soldier with those of a special operative, and thus the Mythril Knights became the first dedicated special forces unit on Aldi. Their reputation had become such that in an effort to stem allied morale, Mathis ordered a retaliatory strike on the hometown of the members of the Mythril Knights. The strike only served to steel the resolve of the allied forces, as well as result in the loss of Gatrea’s General Leon in the process.
As the tide began to turn and the allied forces were able to liberate much of Lefein, the confederacy joined with the alliance, along with the formal support of New Castle who, before this, had only covertly supported the alliance with goods and loans. The allied forces used the momentum they had gained and descended upon the Gatrean capitol with all of their strength and met the enemy in the Gatrean plains. At the same time, the Mythril Knights were tasked with infiltrating the castle and capturing, or eliminating Mathis. There the four confronted the God King, fought, and killed him, bringing an end to the war.
Aftermath of the Gatrean Containment War
In terms of casualties, the Gatrean Containment War was the second bloodiest war fought on Aldi, with the current Great War having surpassed it. Such was the loss significant, that the old rivalries between the various nations seemed to melt away. Pravoka and Kent entered into a formal, permanent alliance, while Lefein also sought to improve ties with the other nations. Kent revoked the claims it held on New Castle’s territory, and an Aldan alliance seemed close at hand. All that remained was the question of Gatrea, bereft of a ruler or even heir apparent.
In the end, the nations decided to end the occupation of Gatrea and allow it to decide on its own future. With its military shattered, and the rest of the continent in an alliance, Gatrea had essentially been reduced to a non-entity in Aldan politics. Furthermore, Gatrea devolved into a series of succession wars as the remaining military leaders and influential nobles fought for control of the country. This left Gatrea in such a weakened state that in 449 K.E. Gatrea was conquered in a relatively short war by the Palacardian Empire, giving the empire a foothold onto the Aldan continent.
Rediscovery of Terra
With the new found alliance, the kingdoms of the Aldan continent were free to pursue more peaceful endeavors. One of these endeavors was exploring the Terran continent and excavating the continent for artifacts from the old empire. The Palacardian Empire to the east had already begun to do so decades before and their technology had seen a sharp increase in complexity and capability in such a short time. Already behind, and especially after Gatrea had been conquered, the Kingdoms knew it was vital that they modernize or risk being swallowed by the far superior empire.
Technological and magical advancements began to circulate between the kingdoms with the increased flow of knowledge, and before long Queen Keavy of Lefein took the steps to industrialize the nation in an attempt to keep up with Palacardia. However, the gains from investigating the Terran continent were far less than anticipated, due in large part to the withholding of information from General Garrick Caddell who sought to use the technology and knowledge found in Terra for his own ends. The dream of a Terran Empire had been born, and over the next few years that dream would erode the stability of the world’s governments.