Harvestfall Revolution

From MicrasWiki
Jump to navigationJump to search
The Argophylacterist banner - with the enigmatic ampersand representing the city &zeter, the date of the uprising's commencement (Harvestfall 7th) and the white stripe symbolising the (ultimately futile) defiance of lichdom against the black finality of death.

The Harvestfall Revolution (so named for beginning in the month of Harvestfall) was an uprising of the middle-class undead of Minarboria, in response to the necromantic torpor of their ruling elite and its catastrophic effect on the functioning of Minarborian institutions. This torpor, and the revolution it provoked, would ultimately spell the demise of Minarboria itself.


Empress Lyssansa - arguably the most outwardly-combative of the Rossheim dynasty, but no less susceptible to its royal disease.
The irrepressible Royana Dolordotch, destroyer of bedchambers. Her assertiveness in the political field was less overwhelming.

The vulnerability of the Benacian undead to fluctuations in the flow of necromantic energy which sustained them had been known for generations before the rise of the Minarborian state. The most elite family of this population, the House of Rossheim, was particularly susceptible due to its accretion of genetic errors - rumoured to be from generations of inbreeding - and their effect on the co-resonant 'phylacteric field' which sustained each lich between crossings of the innumerable 'ley lines', an energetic network enchanted by a caste of necromancers known as 'Deathgivers' for the purpose of recharging the population. In vulnerable individuals, even small interruptions or mistunings of these ley lines could have a profound effect, rendering the subject motionless for up to years at a time before suddenly restoring them to a twitching, shuddering semblance of function.

Unwise circumstances, perhaps, in which to exert monarchial rule over countless millions of Benacians while refusing to blemish the splendid autocracy with adequate protocols for continuity of governance in the event of one's periodic de-animation. Yet this is precisely what the Rossheims did, first in Shirerithian Brookshire and ultimately in Minarboria as the twisting path of history dictated. The latter empire's monarchial climate of deference, the menacing hand of the Rossheims' own Lichnik secret police and most importantly the meekness of the sacred sentient shrub Minarbor, whose creed of inoffensive gentleness nudged the notion of vocal dissent into the realm of the sacreligious, all conspired to create an aura of denial around the predominantly-undead Minarborian elite that their animating force was anything less than immutable and eternal, despite repeated and direct evidence to the contrary.

For years the Minarborian bureaucracy, bred into the creed of their cherished Shrub, inferred, improvised, made do and quietly mended while their sovereign empress, the redoubtable Lyssansa, periodically keeled over in her chambers and took the empire's policy guidance with her. Her advisors and subordinate Arborists in the Sansabury Shrubbery, being at least well-counselled despite their lack of executive autonomy, were able to implement the will of their sovereign in a general sense and keep the daily functions of government in operation, even as the empress' collapses grew longer in duration and the ability of the empire to respond to non-internal events was crippled. But for all the Shrubbery's fine surface appearance, the halls within had become so scelerotic that only a small disaster would have been necessary to knock it into headlong paralysis.

In the end Minarboria was served with two - the first being a drain in the empire's necromantic ley lines which surpassed anything previous, and for the first time began to affect the wider undead population beyond the ruling house - most importantly the minimally-sentient 'zombots' on which Minarboria relied for almost the entirety of its menial labour requirements. The second disaster was the descent of the empire's Regent Interdum, Shyriath Farstrider - a living man picked for the role by Lyssansa, after much gentle suggestion, on account of his biological immortality and proven statesmanship - into a state of chronic dependence upon Tellian amaretto which left him more often comatose than not. With both he and Lyssansa incapacitated, the most senior imperial official remaining was one Royana Dolordotch, Third State Arborist responsible for Minarboria's foreign affairs. Being unwilling to step outside of her carefully-delineated remit - considered the most junior of Minarborian state - and at any rate unlikely to command the respect of a population well-instructed in rumours of her scandalous romantic dalliances, Dolordotch fled to her family estate in the foothills of the Octavian mountains and awaited news of her seniors' revival.

Uprising in &zeter

The prospect of their imminent demise turned the usually-sedate cityfolk of &zeter into a raging undead horde.

In those fiefs of Minarboria directly held by Lyssansa, the twee jollity soaked into the local population by her allied caste of Deep Singer clergy, along with the watchful eye of the Lichniks, prevented an immediate breakdown in civil order. The city of &zeter, however, had a different dynamic. Not only was it the seat of an autonomous Marquessate and therefore outside the Lichniks' jurisdiction, it also happened to be Minarboria's principal academic centre on account of its sprawling university. The local population, being more educated and thus better informed of the general state of the empire, had nobody to discourage demonstrations of mass discontent except for a semi-sympathetic unit of the Reapers, Minarboria's national police, and Lord &zeter's Hares - a local cavalry regiment of insufferably aristocratic pomp which spent the entirety of the ensuing uprising confined to its own luxuriously-appointed mess halls, awaiting mobilisation orders which never came. When the ley lines weakened enough for the liches of &zeter to start crumpling into heaps on the streets, the vociferous debates which had recently taken hold of the city's scattered university colleges finally broke out into a phenomenon hitherto unknown in Minarboria - public street protest, charged not so much by political conviction at that early stage, but rather the desperate compulsion of the strongest remaining liches to try something - anything - while they still had the strength.

The inclination to defy the 'Shrubly Peace' hard-won by the students' forebears was not universal - the Blue Hundreds, a student society nominally dedicated to the appreciation of Minarboria's blue-haired empress, followed their panicked peers onto the streets in opposition, hoping to shame them for their lack of faith in the Minarborian throne. Somewhat inevitably, shouted slogans turned to direct insults which turned to scuffling and outright riot - a tumult which would have tested the city police at its highest readiness, but the ley line collapse and its implications for police manpower overwhelmed any hope of keeping order and the entire heart of the city descended into chaotic violence. As if to add fuel to the fire, coverage of the riots on one of Minarboria's few remaining television channels inspired hordes of sympathisers on both sides to flock to &zeter from the surrounding country and join the fighting. Ultimately the fresh arrivals tipped the balance against the Blue Hundreds who were routed from the streets or else dismembered, retaining as liches the unnerving ability to haul or kick themselves away with as little as a single remaining limb or even headbutt their sundered torsos along the pavement until they reached safe bolt-holes, or else were finished off by the swarms of rebels pursuing them.


Albede Yastreb, principal ideologue of the revolution, during his medical service with the Regiment of Black Rangers. During the revoloution he would be violently, if briefly, re-acquainted with the uniform by his commanding officer.

Among those attempting to instil some ideological coherence among the desperate rebels in the hope of obtaining a progressive result, one lich emerged to prominence - Albede Yastreb, grandson of Royana Dolordotch who had long since settled upon the city of &zeter as a base for his forays into arcanism and engineering. Knowing through well-placed connections in Sansabury that the situation was probably worse than even the rioting liches knew, Albede took upon himself the initiative of constructing a New Minarborian Paradigm at which they could aim.

Thus was born the curious ideology of Argophylacterism, disseminated among &zeter's shuffling upstarts from circulated leaflets and prowling loudspeaker trucks. Its essential tenet was the engineered dormancy of the entire Minarborian state and society, in order to conserve the empire's failing reserves of necromantic energy. This, Albede insisted, would require an overhaul of Minarborian institutions so radical and absolute that it would be unrecognisable from anything else existing on Micras, accepting and embracing the irreconcilable difference between the atemporal outlook of the undead and the compressed 'Breather Time' on which the rest of the world operated. The stress of catering to Breather Time, Albede held, was responsible for the weakening of the ley lines and could only be overcome by a complete cessation of Minarboria's contacts with the wider world while it shifted to a lower vibration.

Suggested as it was to a desperately receptive audience, Argophylacterism immediately took hold as a unifying force among the rebels who, at Albede's instruction, began constructing barricades to defend the city against a possible counteroffensive by forces loyal to the old order. Their shortage of weapons was addressed by a formation of lich cossacks under the nominal command of Albede's father, Zemphirius Karymov, who was at that moment campaigning with the bulk of his forces in the Ashkenatzi west and blissfully unaware of the chaos in the Minarborian hinterland. The cossacks he had left behind to guard the family estate offered no opposition to the order from Albede - their commander's son - to raid the arms factories of the nearby city of Novodolorsk and supply their loot to the rebels in &zeter. Lyssansa's Lichniks, being just as afflicted by failing necromantic energy as the rest of their undead kind, were unable to stop the sudden onslaught of lich cossacks who, although similarly decimated in manpower, swept through Novodolorsk with the element of total surprise.

Mutiny on the Caifassi

A submarine of the Megalodon-class, to which HJS Caifassi belonged.

News of the uprising in &zeter was particularly disturbing to one Commander Glottis - second-in-command of Her Jolliness' Submarine Caifassi, a Megalodon-class missile submarine of Minarboria's blue-water naval force, the Shrubmarine. Sailing a deterrent patrol against Passio-Corum in the Sea of Storms, the Caifassi was some distance from any of the necromantic ley lines linking Minarboria's discontiguous territories and had suffered the de-animation of several well-respected members of the crew during the voyage. The intransigence of the Caifassi's captain in refusing a return to port had already irritated most of the submarine's officers - the faint radio signal from a civil radio station in Gerenian East Keltia, detailing the uprising in &zeter, was enough to spur Glottis to action. Backed by his fellow officers, he executed the captain at his periscope with a single pistol shot to the cranium while his co-conspiring Master-at-Arms rallied some ratings to take control of the whole submarine - killing its Deep Singer weapon officer who, upon hearing the initial commotion, had moved to permanently disable the boat's small stock of biological warheads.

The rest of the Caifassi's non-lich crew were cast adrift in an open liferaft while their submarine, now under Glottis' complete control, dived beneath the waves and set a course for the Minarborian heartland on Benacia.

The Intervention of the Black Rangers

Mors Nerrolar, ex-Shirerithian martinet (and Kaiser). Leader of the counter-revolutionary forces.

While the Minarborian General Staff in Sansabury were paralysed by the collapse of half their membership, their most distinguished field commander finally gave up waiting for orders and took it upon himself to mobilise against the &zeter rebels. The commander in question was was Colonel Mors Nerrolar, formerly Kaiser Mors IV of Shireroth and more latterly the soldier of fortune who had led the military element of Minarboria's initial colonisation at Lyssansa's behest. Now, with typical simmering rage, he stood aghast at the defiance of his sovereign empress by none other than Albede Yastreb, the grandson of his lover Royana Dolordotch. Resolving to teach Albede and his followers a lesson they would not survive to remember, Mors mobilised the less-languid half of his elite mechanised unit, the Black Rangers, to put down the rebellion in &zeter. Unlike Lord &zeter's Hares the Black Rangers eschewed ceremonial largesse in favour of competent and dogged soldiering, but their attempts to penetrate the centre of &zeter were halted by the sheer numbers and well-prepared barricades of Albede's militia, who had put the delay in opposition to good use and trained themselves in the use of improvised incendiary devices against vehicles in &zeter's tattered streets. Suffering heavy losses to fusillades of close-range gunfire and incandescent cocktails hurled from upper-floor windows, Mors was compelled to call back his forces, establish a line of containment and lay siege to the city until he could gather reinforcements from other units.

The Caifassi's Attack

Less cautious in his offensive approach was Commander Glottis of the Caifassi, which had eluded the creeping screen of attack submarines sent to look for him by the Minarborian Admiralty Staff and now penetrated the waters of the Cosimo Sea off the coast of Eastern Lywall. On the voyage toward Benacia, Glottis had been impressed by rebel radio broadcasts and resolved that he would assist their goal of detachment from foreign states by the most intensive means available to him. Although denied the use of the Caifassi's bio-tipped cruise missiles, Glottis nonetheless ordered the launch of the submarine's entire battery of conventional-tipped missiles against three targets on the Minarborian mainland - the bustling merchant port of Rothaven, the Third State Arbor diplomatic headquarters in Sansabury and its nearby seaplane terminal on the River Lichovina. The destruction of these targets, Glottis insisted in increasingly-deranged tones, would sever Minarboria's mercantile, diplomatic and transport links to the outside world and actualise the New Argophylacteric Order in a single decisive blow.

Although some of the Caifassi's missiles were shot down by loyalist surface-to-air weapons, all three targets were struck - the port of Rothaven and the Sansabury seaplane terminal being largely destroyed while the Third State Arbor was merely holed and set ablaze.

Wrath and Miracle

The Caifassi's attack sent Colonel Mors Nerrolar into new and fulminate depths of seething fury. Unaware of the unilateral nature of Commander Glottis' act, Mors took it to be the final abandonment of honour and civility by Albede Yastreb, whom he presumed to have ordered the strike. Albede had served on the Black Rangers' medical staff during the colonisation of Minarboria, and remained on the unit's reserve roll. This, more than anything else, drove home the sense of betrayal now consuming the Colonel who, presiding over a stalled siege, had little else to occupy his thoughts. From the recesses of his raging mind, an idea sprang forth.

It execution was rapid, devastating and consummately professional - a fast mechanised push at night through a single point in the rebels' line which drove deep into the city, stopping for nothing until it arrived at a cluster of university lodgings where one of Mors' surveillance drones had periodically spotted Albede pacing around a garden. Dragged from his study in complete surprise by Mors' troops, Albede was violently returned to that garden where Mors and half of his Rangers had assembled in formation, while the rest surrounded the lodgings and gunned down anyone who approached to investigate. Hurriedly clad in the Black Rangers uniform taken from his wardrobe, Albede was kicked to the ground before Mors himself, who drew a sabre and ritually cashiered him to the beat of drums, tearing off the uniform's trim and insignia right down to the silver buttons.

The story of what followed varies according to the source, as often occurs with events involving religious figures - the broad consensus states that Mors was preparing to finish off the ritual with a summary execution when none other than Lord Toastypops, the undead gift-bringer and Paragon of Jollity famed in Minarborian (and subsequently Kalgachi) folklore, materialised before them to the sound of sleigh bells - for the calendar at that moment was marking Lichmastide, the principal religious feast of Minarboria and traditionally a time for amity and generosity. Halting Mors with his miraculous appearance, Lord Toastypops is alleged to have gently denounced him for succumbing to an unseasonable fit of rage before offering a similar rebuke to Albede, for failing to consider the consequences of his rebellion. Being directly confronted by what amounted to a quasi-divine being, Mors was sufficiently unnerved to withdraw himself and his troops from Albede's presence, exiting the city at the same speed they had entered. Gone with him was Lord Toastypops, leaving the battered Albede in a state of bewilderment.

Duel at Lynik

Zemphirius Karymov, when he still had both arms.

The siege of &zeter resumed, the Caifassi prowled around the Cosimo Sea awaiting the Arcophylacterist victory and a protracted strategic quiet followed, marked only by an apparent slowing in the rate of collapsed liches. This was to last until Albede's cossack father, Zemphirius Karymov, finally learned of the &zeter uprising and the near-execution of his only son by Mors Nerrolar. Although unsettled by the actions of his son, Zemphirius considered the response unforgivable and did the only thing he could - in a terse but civil missive, he challenged Mors to a duel.

The field of honour was agreed upon neutral ground just outside the city of Lynik (previously Mitnik). The resulting engagement, carried out with high-calibre pistols, resulted in victory for Mors who shot Zemphirius' left arm clean off and was duly offered it as a trophy by his gracious, now-lurching opponent.

Arriving at the conclusion of the duel - rather too late to stop it as he had hoped - was Shyriath Farstrider, Regent of the Empire, having finally sobered up and surveyed the state of the empire with anxious horror, seized by a new-found resolution to atone for his dipsomaniac negligence.

Peace and Penance

Learning of the intercession of Lord Toastypops, Regent Shyriath concluded that only a further religious intervention could end the uprising and restore unity to the Minarborian people. For this purpose he sent Fleurette de Taniere Gaudin, the head of the Minarborian Church known as the Thoughtseeker to her Deep Singer kin. Until now her role in the uprising had been limited to consoling the distressed shrub-deity Minarbor against the tumult consuming his faithful followers, something to which he was notoriously sensitive and required constant reassurance about, lest his upset bring about the Garden's dreaded eschaton.

Having assured Minarbor that she would not be gone for long, Fleurette led a truce delegation into &zeter and met with Albede Yastreb. Ever a pious lich, even in in his rebellion, Albede was instantly and absolutely crushed by the simple revelation that Minarbor was upset by his actions. Consumed with shame at defiling the countenance of his beloved shrub-god, Albede offered Fleurette his instant and complete capitulation, begging her to spare him from eternal damnation. His final order to the Argophylacterists was that all the liches of &zeter be told the terrible news - it had no less of an effect among them, ending the rebellion at a stroke. Led away in shame and despair, Albede was committed to Shrubly Shade, a correctional colony run by the Church of Minarbor. He would later be joined there by the crew of the Caifassi who, upon learning of the revolution's failure and observing Commander Glottis' descent into creeping insanity, conspired to execute him and put ashore to surrender themselves.

Immediate Aftermath

The Harvestfall Revolution has been noted for bestowing a particular, almost divinely-ordained curse upon all who had been involved in it. Royana Dolordotch, after learning what Colonel Mors Nerrolar did to her grandson Albede, formally ended her relationship with him, plunging Mors into a fit of existential despair so profound that he resigned his military commission, abandoned his old comrades and went wandering into Tee-al country, never to be seen again.

Shyriath Farstrider initially emerged from the affair with the greatest initiative - although disdainful of the Argophylacterists' ideological vision, he had recognised the need for change and agreed constitutional reforms with Lyssansa's subordinate necrarchs whereby they would collectively govern the empire. He had also agreed in principle to a broader role for the Church of Minarbor as something resembling a 'parallel state' to run the parochial affairs of the empire when central government could not. The stresses of establishing the new order, however, triggered a relapse into his previous weakness for Tellian liqueur and he ultimately became too paralytic to chair the Necrarchs' meetings. He was last seen in Sansabury, bouncing between the walls of the city's elite Ouroboros Club in a pitiful drunken stupor.

Fleurette de Taniere Gaudin, in that very same club, succumbed to a sono-memetic virus known as 'disco' and allegedly went so far as to teach the sacred shrub Minarbor how to 'boogie'. The leaf-shuddering over-excitement of the entity at the centre of all Minarborian ley lines is thought to have precipitated their final, fatal haemorrhage which also extended to the parallel telluric resonance relied upon by Deep Singer biomancers to complete the more complex elements of their life-meshing art. The latter race, starved of animating gumption, was steadily consumed en masse by the hysterical urge to abandon their worldly occupations and burrow into the ground, whether or not they were bodily equipped to do so.

As the necromantic collapse accelerated and the last remaining liches began slumping over by the thousand, the remaining necrarchs of the empire were lost. The liches of the House of Yastreb were among the last to fall; Zemphirius Karymov ultimately conspired with Royana Dolordotch to free Albede Yastreb from the confines of his penal colony - which had been largely abandoned at any rate - and together the three fled north to the confines of a pre-prepared tomb in the Octavian Mountains where they hoped to 'sleep out' the collapse and re-animate in the distant future. Ultimately, however, the collapse was complete and their entombed bodies succumbed to the ravages of decomposition, the fields of their respective phylacteries completely de-energised and dispersed irreperably into the chthonic abyss.

Lyssansa Rossheim, the Minarborian empress, was last seen being conveyed half-conscious in a wheelchair around a nature reserve on the Corumese island of Sangun - not far from the burial place of her deceased siblings - during the beginning of the &zeter uprising. The island subsequently fell under the administration of Stormark and Lyssansa's ultimate fate is unknown.

The fate of the shrub Minarbor himself is similarly unknown, although one of the more popular theories has gained traction through the medium of Kalgachi cinema.


One individual who did not succumb to Minarboria's anaemic demise was Albede Yastreb's son, Xantus, who was born to Albede's Deep Singer wife (one Prethil Nal) through biomantic means after the uprising. Being the son of the empire's most notorious traitor, Xantus was confined with his father from birth and subject to an intensive programme of remedial education and indoctrination by one Celestine de Taniere Gaudin, mother of Fleurette and progenitor of the entire Deep Singer race. Xantus was eventually judged fit for release and began a life of mendicant ministry for the Church of Minarbor, his non-standard upbringing giving him an apparent immunity to the compulsion of his modified kin, upon Minarboria's collapse, to burrow until their fingers were bleeding stumps. Instead, it is rumoured, he went on to gather others of his type - those who would become known as the Perfecti - and establish the Garden of Kalgachia in the Octavian Mountains. His existence somewhere in the Kalgachi elite was later confirmed by his appearance and heartfelt eulogy at the televised funeral of Ilessa Aerit, Kalgachia's much-adored Pedagogue General, in his capacity as the husband of the deceased.

Whether through Xantus or other routes, the legacy of the Harvestfall Revolution upon Kalgachia is evident - Kalgachia can directly trace its rule-by-council, its promotion of the state church in provincial governance, the arcane bent of its theology and its almost obsessive fixation on the layered resilience of its institutions to the shortlived post-revolutionary order in Minarboria which, had it not been compromised by innumerable other factors, may have come to resemble something like Kalgachia as its bureaucracy matured.

The memory of Harvestfall Revolution has also worked its way into the highbrow and middlebrow elements of Kalgachi culture, being the subject of a frenetic symphony by the Laqi composer Ashuv Apyurbat and the penultimate instalment of the five-part cinematic epic How The Garden Was Grown.

The matter of what may have become of Minarboria had the Harvestfall Revolution succeeded, or if it had not been attempted at all, is condemned to be of one of the great unanswered questions of Benacian history. The collapse with which it is entwined, and the ultimate implications of that collapse, resonate through the entire continent to the present day and will continue to do so long into the future.