The failures of leadership manifested by the Kalirion Dynasty, led by Kaiser Ayreon IV, whose administrations lent undue credence to Elianist ideologies, left the vast and sprawling Benacian empire of Shireroth singularly ill-equipped to contend with a series of calamities including the Elwynnese Civil War, the White Plague, and the emigration of a large portion of its former ruling classes, particularly from the territories of Modan. Shireroth, having invested heavily in financing a global military-industrial complex and the largest armed forces of any of the remaining great powers of Micras, for the purpose of resisting Jing and Bassarid aggression during the years of confrontation, and burdened with a sclerotic and overly hierarchical system of governance, effectively a neo-feudal and corporatist abomination of a command economy, was unable to pivot adroitly towards the reforms and reorganisation that would be necessary for peacetime development.
The inability of the ruling classes to continue operating the machinery of state with any measure of precision or alacrity was finally exposed by the feeble response of the Imperial Government to a minor but bloody rebellion in Shireroth's Inner Benacian puppet state, which had cost the lives of countless Imperial bureaucrats and "advisers", most notable of whom was Lady Cherokee, a prominent Elianist and member of the high nobility. The decision to meekly accept this atrocity, and Inner Benacia's repudiation of the Raspur Pact, and to limit retaliation to economic sanctions and the sealing of the frontier, left Imperial garrisons trapped in Inner Benacia, and merely served to embolden the Laqi insurgency to the point where it became a low intensity "holy war" against the Imperial Republic.
The situation in 1671 AN
Having survived the White Plague, and having formally suppressed the last remnants of the moribund federal system, the Imperial Republic was, on paper, a highly centralised polity, with vast powers accrued to the Imperial Advisory Council and the Steward, over whom the Kaiser exercised only the power of appointment and dismissal. The ruling Steward's authority was enhanced by coalition majorities in the Folksraad and Adlesraad, the bicameral legislature of Shireroth's multi-party democracy, while at the same time the presiding committee of the high nobility - heir to the ancient title and dignity of the Landsraad - was quiescent following the departure of most dissident lords with the Modanese Migration.
Control over the tumultuous and perpetually squalid capital, Shirekeep, was ensured by the Shirekeep Garrison, a composite force built around the Palatini Corps, the elite imperial guard which consisted of eight heavily reinforced legions supported by auxiliaries, that was largely independent of the administrative control of the army and outside the operational jurisdiction of Benacia Command. Because of the chequered history of the Palatini Corps, a strong security apparatus, answerable only to the Imperial Household, was set up to protect the sacred person of the Kaiser and other critical officials (Sentinels) and to monitor office holders with an open mandate to purge where necessary (Crypteia). The city's contingent of cudgellers (police) - the City Guard - had also evolved to become a paramilitary force answering to the Prefect of the city. This latter force, notorious for skirmishing with the garrison, had been tamed somewhat by incorporation into the Imperial Constabulary answerable to the Ministry of State.
The Ministry, formed during administrative reforms of the late 1660's out a merger of the Ministry of the Interior and the Ministry of Military Affairs, exercised administrative direction and oversight over the so-called pillars of control which allowed the metropolitan centre to exercise control over the vast imperial periphery, these being:
- Control of Force (Imperial Forces / Imperial Marshals)
- Control of Finance (Office of Bounties and Factorage)
- Control of Information (Panopticon / Imperial Postal Service / Benacian Data Network)
Officers of the Ministry of State were represented at every level of these pillars of control, creating an integrated "power-vertical" through which the Imperial Government could make its influence felt even down to the bailiwick or village level.
With the dissolution of the states the top tier subdivision of the Imperial Republic was the dominion, an agglomeration of counties, bailiwicks, and cities, within a distinct and usually contiguous territorial jurisdiction. Dominions, headed by a Viceroy, enjoyed strictly limited autonomy but in practice were entirely dominated by the structures of the power-vertical - the size of provincial militias being formally limited to 6,000 men-at-arms meaning that even the most independently minded viceroy would be hopelessly outgunned by the Imperial garrison within his dominion. Moreover Viceroys had become subject to a further administrative oversight, which over time had come to look more akin to direct control, by Lieutenants of the Golden Mango Throne (Lord Lieutenants) appointed to each of the subdivisions by the Steward. Lieutenants had especial responsibility to oversee the local implementation of of Imperial Law and Policy and had received a detachment of Crypteia, supported by personnel seconded from the Palatini Corps, around which to form a rapid reaction force with which to crush any instances of dissent or sedition discovered within their jurisdiction. Under these conditions the remaining Viceroys, with the notable exception of dissident Verionists in Elwynn's high north, had become timid ciphers, capable of only working within precisely defined and narrow remits whilst being wholly terrified of undertaking any action not expressly sanctioned by higher authority, lest the dreaded accusation of disobedience be levelled against them, followed swiftly by a sudden and nocturnal tribunal held before the inquisitors of the Judex.
The independence of the judiciary from the mechanisms of central government, although theoretically still upheld in the Charter, had largely ceased by this time, mostly on account of slow drift of legally trained professionals from the inns of court towards the chambers of the bureaucracy where the pay was almost as good and the threat of assassination by discontented plaintiffs was markedly reduced.
Across much of the Imperial Republic the continuing loyalty of a given dominion or county was determined well in advance by whether the appointed Lieutenant, designated Imperial representative to the subdivision, had remained at his post or absconded during the months preceding the moment at which the fracture of the state apparatus had become undeniable. In the county of Malarboria, a vast region encompassing the old Minarborian provinces of Lachmeren, Lywall, Novodolor, and Porolia, the situation had begun to unravel almost immediately upon the success of the Inner Benacian revolution becoming widely known. Under these circumstances, the Lieutenant, having endured much in the way of abuse, resentment, and outright resistance from the preceding regime, was amongst the first to depart Sansabury for the east, departing with a retinue of the Imperial Constabulary trailing in her wake. The restive, and ever watchful Lach, quiescent in the province since the repressions of the Prince of Modan, took this as their opportunity to renew their struggle for independence. It was under the cover of confronting this new insurgency that the General Staff began to concentrate reliable personnel, equipment, stores, and command & control assets, around Sansabury, Merensk, and Šlomxala between the fifth and eighth months of 1671.
Between 18.XIV and 06.XV of 1671, Benacia Command deployed four legions in an action intended to open up a land corridor connecting Pact Loyalist forces in Lachmeren-Lywall and the main airfields, depots, and manufacturies of the continent in Mishalan. This entailed the full occupation of the western portion of Malarboria, as far north as Gloomburg, and the dispatch of raiding forces into Inner Benacia to disrupt any insurgent groups or tribes, such as the warring Black and Red Laqi hosts, which might be tempted to intervene. The occasion was also used to cover the withdrawal of the last Pact Loyalist assets from around Stonetree, where they had been effectively marooned ever since the unilateral withdrawal of Inner Benacia from the Pact set the whole process of fracturing into motion.
As the legions were not to be wasted on counter-insurgency operations and policing actions, the Black Legions were withdrawn from around Gloomburg with their exterminating frenzy being then replaced by the more low-tempo and lackadaisical brutality of "Inspectorate-Troops" (auxiliaries and cudgellers drawn from garrisons in Mishalan and Alalehzamin respectively), whose main remit was to keep the towns quiet and the roads open by whatever means necessary.
In an effort to secure strategic and operational depth, Benacia Command mandated the Black Legions to concentrate on securing the former Area of Operations of the Central Banner Group and ensuring their incorporation into the temporary martial law administration known as the Unified Governorates of Benacia. Accordingly therefore the dominions and counties within that region form the "Zone of Immediate Interest" to Benacia Command.
Elsewhere Benacia Command established working relationships with other successor states so as to ensure continued freedom of movement for its forces and or access to strategic resources in return for material aid and guarantees of assistance in defending the territorial integrity of the successors. The Banner Groups therefore are acting as Military Missions in support of the fellow successor states as follows:
The Eastern and Northern Banner Groups found themselves in an interesting quandary whereby they were both supporting rival parties in a territorial stand-off concerning the control of the western portion of Wintergleam, a territory often contested by Elwynn and Goldshire. Although the Military Mission in Elwynn gamely sought to avoid the conflict by focusing its attentions on supporting the UDF expedition against the Boreals in Cape Farewell, and the Military Mission to the Sovereign Confederation made plain that it would not cross into Wintergleam unless in receipt of positive orders from Benacia Command to engage the UDF, the possibility of a "black-on-black" friendly fire incident remained.
The Western Banner Group, based on New Blackstone in the Madison Isles, was quite removed from the affairs of mainland Benacia, instead focusing on defending Shirerithian, Natopian, and, to a certain extent, Batavian commercial shipping against the depredations of USSO-sponsored global piracy.
The Black Legions remain actively involved in supporting the efforts of Drak-Modan to evict the Yardistani from the isles of So-Sara. Hotheads amongst the General Staff talk of going further than merely re-establishing control over the former MoMA naval stations in the isles but rather of scouring the entire Khaz Modan island chain of every last trace of the Yardistani and confining their ilk to Novi Nigrad.
The rise of the Guttuli Protectorate, formed by deserters from the Riverine Army, is a cause of considerable concern to Benacia Command. Controlling the eponymous islands in the delta estuary of the Red Elwynn, the southern third of Lunaris, and most importantly of all the strategic port of Musica, the Protectorate is in a prime position to dominate the river trade up to Shirekeep, they also managed to secure a greater haul of the Imperial Forces collection of surface-to-air missiles than planners on the General Staff are entirely comfortable with countenancing. The "Guttulins Uihmanz", formed from the VII Corps of the Riverine Army, has shown scant enthusiasm for reintegrating into the allied command structure; indeed hostile rumour depicts the Protectorate Military Council as being a fanatical junta of hard-line and dissident officers who go so far as to speak Præta in their private and everyday conversations - eschewing Istvanistani altogether - pointing to the possibility that their intent is solely focused upon fostering a Brookshirian national revival.
Meanwhile, emboldened by their success in liberating the Mandated Territories, the Tellian nationalists began to push into the eastern reaches of Malarboria, seeking to link up the scattered exclaves and restore the boundaries of the Tellian Confederation to an extent last seen prior to the country's annexation by Ashkenatza in the previous century.
Sanilla and Amarra
The disarray and power vacuum during the Kalirion Fracture presented an ample opportunity for the Sanilla and Amarra Liberation Army for Democracy to seize power. Working from a base of operations in Nee, the SALAD quickly took control of the coastal regions of Amarr, including Fatehpur Sikri and Thanatos island. Encountering little to no resistance, and with support from the local oppressed classes and castes, the SALAD-controlled territory expanded northwards. Its stated nationalist goals for Sanis and Amas gave it a power base within the majority population. The SALAD faced its first real opposition when it reached Base 3-C close to the border with Highpass. Instead of attacking the base head-on, the SALAD encircled it and cut off all supply routes. The base was also hit by numerous desertions from native personnel. Heavily decimated and cut off from supply and communication with Shirekeep, the base surrendered within weeks. All personnel were allowed to leave. In southwestern Lachmodan and on the islands of Z and Azarea, local uprisings among the Sani and Ama populations led to those areas passing under the control of the SALAD.
On 12.VIII.1671, the leadership of the SALAD declared independence from Shirekeep under the name Democratic Federation of Sanilla and Amarra.
The Sovereign Confederation
The rapid fracturing of the Duchy of Modan & Malarboria, a gift from Ayreon IV to Natopian Emperor Nathan II, prompted the Emperor to make a direct claim to the core territory of the duchy and areas of significance to both his family and Natopian history. The entire duchy split apart at its seams almost instantly: the RIB encroaching in the west, the Black Legion asserting control in Malarboria, Laqi revolutions in Amarr, and the sudden resurgence of Yardistan's thirst for annexation. The Duchy of Modan & Malarboria was thought to be a secure and personal investment in the prosperity of Shireroth, Natopia's longtime ally. Natopia had come to rely on Shireroth's military acumen and tradition. The sudden loss of almost all of the duchy, and the possibility of a dramatic or total reduction of Shirekeep's power, was a direct threat to Natopia's security and Nathan II saw the independence of Lachmodan and So-Sara as the only viable solution to maintaining the strength (or at least some semblance of it) of the Raspur Pact's military hegemony over the western hemisphere, which is the cornerstone of Natopia's defense strategy. Remnants of the ducal militia, under orders from the duke quickly secured population centers in Lachmodan, as Nathan II issued a public declaration in Drakorda calling for the peaceful and mutual independence of Drak-Modan from the rapidly fracturing Imperial Republic. The newly self-proclaimed King promised the residents of Lachmodan and So-Sara security and prosperity as a closely allied and supported state of Natopia. The islands of So-Sara are disputed with Yardistan.
(placeholder: chaos in the aftermath of the assassination of the Kaiser)
Following the downfall of the Shirithian nation, and the power vacuüm that was left after the death of Kaiser Ayreon IV, the city of Shirekeep remained under the tight control of its Prefect, Titus Morvayne, deeming the time ripe for increasing his power, Morvayne had himself elected Kaiser by the Landsraad. Although the City Guard, as well as the Apollonian Guard, supported his claim, he was unable to convince the leadership of the Palatini Corps. This saw Shirekeep being thrown into disarray, with the Imperial Forces located in the Keep containing the Verionists who controlled the largest part of the city.
The initial lack of success of what had been deemed a "coup" by the supporters of the Regent caused the Verionists to withdraw from Shirekeep. Within the year that followed, Kaiser Verion's supporters left the city. Verion himself moved to the Skyla Islands together with the largest group of his supporters, where he continued his claim on the Imperial Mango Throne.
In 1674, a deal was struck between the Imperial Regency and the Verionists. The Verionist Republic officially ceased their claim on the entirety of Shireroth, and in turn received recognition of the territories hold: Greater Elsenar and the Skyla islands. Being a hub for the Iron Company, the republic experienced an economic boom following the political stabilisation of the territory.
Khaz Modan Isles
(placeholder: narrative about about Yardistan overrunning the isles)
(placeholder: So-Sara dispute and Operation Massive Wedge)
On 16.VI.1672 the Yardistani Island Council dissolved following their failure to creatively counter Natopian, Drak-Modani, and Black Legion moves against their positions in So-Sara. Having specifically forsworn militarism, the Yardistani government faced a fundamental crisis when confronted by opponents who did not share their scruples concerning the use of force.
A provisional government, composed of hard-line republicans took power in Novi Nigrad and began to explore ways in which the Yardistan Police Agency could be expanded and transformed into a paramilitary force. The prospect of Yardistani extremists spreading their revolution to neighbouring islands caused considerable alarm amongst the feudal lords and civic authorities of Amity, Mirioth, and So-Sara, who, desiring to fall neither under the military dictatorship of the Black Legions, the Natopian hegemony established in Drak-Modan, nor risk the restoration of direct Imperial rule at a time when the new government was unproven, swallowed the bitter pill instead of extending an invitation to Azardokht al-Osman to accept the title of Emira of the Isles. The hope of the nobles and the burgess' was that bringing in an Osmanid princess with a connection to the isles would ensure a measure of sympathetic rule whilst, on account of her blood and familial connections, ensuring that the Raspur Pact would respect the rights of the islanders to home-rule. Unfortunately, as they gathered in Nordagaat to make their declaration, they were unaware that the first wave of a Black Legion invasion force had already slipped out of their anchorages and were on course for the island of Mirioth.
Main article: Amokolia
Because of the great unrest after the murder of Kaiser Ayreon IV, the areas that would form the Kingdom of Amokolia turned out to be insufficiently controlled by the Shirerian government. The Amokolian Highlanders tried to get the areas under control. Because the areas were separate from Shirekeep, the military council ruled that it was better to continue independently. But the areas could only be controlled to a limited extent and were susceptible to incorporation from the other Vulture States. The help was brought in from King Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy, king of Batavia. He had access to the Tassity Mansabdar and was warmly welcomed by the population.
The independence of the Kingdom of Amokolia was declared on 21 VI 1672, sometimes referred to as West Amokolia. Arkadius Frederik Gustavus des Vinandy was crowned king of Amokolia. The areas under the flag of the kingdom were stabilized, but terrorism was a burden. To curb this, the Amokolian Highlanders invaded neighboring Mishalan. But the Black Legions and Elwynn were present in that area, where a division was agreed. The goal of combating terrorism was achieved, but the Elwynn River was not reached except for a few kilometers.
Main article: Ransenar
As the hold of Shirekeep deteriorated throughout the Shirerithian Empire, the Imperial Democratic Party took control of the counties of Ran and parts of Ynnraile and Lunaris. During the nadir of Iron Company influence in Elsenar, the IDP reached high levels of support due to its well-established electoral strength and organization across all of Goldshire.
As an emerging center for a large majority of Golshirian politics, the IDP built a political machine in Goldshire led by Sean O'Callaghan and a cabal of several Goldshirians from Ynnraile and Lunaris. As the IDP grew in strength across the Empire, its base became centered around Goldshire, Shirekeep, and Brookshire. The IDP came to command the support of a plethora of political interest groups, corps of supporters, and businesses. The IDP also built a vast network of local clubs that appealed to social activists and politically-minded people. O'Callaghan consolidated the latent power of the stricken Goldshirian masses and used it to force into being a disciplined program for rejuvenation. It later became a wonder of a world looking for the means to lift peoples from the stew of poverty and demagoguism, which has become so characteristic of Goldshire. He was the creator, as much as one man could be, of a new status for a whole people and a new relationship among political entities.
The IDP at first emphasized loyalty to the rightful Kaiseress Salome, which meant remaining in the Imperial Republic. As Shireroth unraveled and the Guttuli Protectorate and the Iron Company expanded, the IDP called a series of Ransenari Congresses. These Congresses began preparing legislation and regulations to begin organizing a new Goldshirian order. The first Ransenari Congress met in Goldfield. The next two Congresses met in Goldshire Hamlet.
Concerned about its vulnerability to the growing threats from the Guttuli Protectorate, the Iron Company, and the Revolutionary Army of Crisco, the 3rd session of the Ransenari Congress voted to proclaim the Kingdom of Ransenar, with Kaiseress Salome as a powerless figurehead, and a Lord High Steward as head of government selected by a popularly elected Ransenari Congress as its legislature. In 1673 AN, the long session of the 3rd Congress ratified a Constitution, inaugurated a Provisional Government and local militias. Ransenar joined the Raspur Pact, obtaining support and recognition by the Sovereign Confederation and the Black Legions.
Ransenar entered an agreement with the Black Legions to guarantee the security of Ransenar and provide a garrison for the kingdom in return for 20% of the harvest for the next twelve years. The right to establish anchorages and aerodromes for its maritime and aerospace forces within the territory of Ransenar was also included.