History of Java, 30-year war
The most recent historical event of note is the 30-year war. The 30-year war started when Java’s western neighbour, Verdance, was attacked by its southern neighbour, Kasteel. It took about 18 years for Kasteel to fully conquer Verdance. During the final years of that offensive campaign, many Verdanians fled their home country, and headed either for the Confederacy, in the west, or Java, to the east. Some emigrants settled in their new countries, becoming citizens therein, but most considered themselves exiled. Java, which was suffering a labour shortage at the time was happy to receive them, but was also alarmed that Kasteel might have designs aimed at conquering them as well.
The then reigning king, Gregory Williamson III, wisely decided to activate all regular army and navy reserve units, put out calls for volunteers to serve in the Crown Army directly, (which was dubious, given the labour shortage,) and suggested that all nobles do the same with local volunteer militias, and to activate any inactive mercenary groups in their own service. The king also stepped up military training of existing and newly activated units in the regular service. The response to the call for volunteers was initially meager, but as the occupation of Verdance continued, volunteers continued to trickle in. The king’s idea was that a stronger military posture would serve as a deterrent sufficient to keep Kasteel out of Java.
At the full conclusion of the Kastellian conquest, the Kastellian top field-martial, General La Primme, was bent upon capturing and executing all of the Verdanian royal family. Unfortunately for him, at least two members of the Verdanian royal family managed to escape, along with their own royal retainers, and a small band of mercenaries, who, due to certain circumstances, decided to fight for, and escort the two surviving members of the royal family out of Verdance. They headed for Java. After a long and gruelling march and game of hide-and-seek with the Kastellian army, they finally made it. Once inside Java, they assumed false identities, and used magic to conceal their locations from divination. Their goal was to make it as quietly as possible to the city of Java, and ask for King Gregory’s and the Parliament’s aid in taking their country back from Kasteel, or, if that were to be impossible, to at least grant them political asylum and sanctuary in Java. When they arrived in the capital city, and presented their case to king and parliament, they were promptly refused on both counts, and told to leave, citing that Java did not have the military means necessary to secure Verdance, and, since Java’s military ability was only then just building, that should Kasteel be made aware of their presence in Java, that Kasteel would see that as ample opportunity to invade Java. The Parliament did, however, suggest that they attempt to make the same case to the Confederate government, since they were in a political and military posture sufficient to actually consider such a request. Parliament also decided to pay for their passage on an independently operated merchant-marine vessel all the way to the Confederacy, which they accepted with great gratitude.
Meanwhile, in Verdance, La Primme was busy turning half the kingdom upside-down looking for the missing royal family members, Verdanian army stragglers, court officials, and record-keepers, along with the usual types of things which would constitute war-loot. After an entire year of searching, and mostly threatening the locals, he finally became satisfied that the missing members of the royal family were not in Verdance, and decided to continue the search elsewhere. Attempts at scrying and other divination failed, (as usual.) La Primme then sent letters, one to the Confederate government, and one to the Java government, asking them if they knew anything about the missing royals. Both governments denied knowledge of such people, which La Primme took as solid evidence that even if neither of them had a hand in the royals’ actual disappearance, it meant that either or both nations were either harbouring them now, or did so at some point.
He surmised, (incorrectly,) that the two split up, that one went to Java, and the other to the Confederacy in order to maximise their chances of the bloodline’s survival. He then sought permission from his king to begin an invasion of Java. The Kastellian king initially refused, citing that Kasteel needed time to fully absorb and make use of the vast tracts of farmland which were gained by the invasion, since that was the original goal. The king wanted to support and strengthen the supply lines, being concerned that the Confederacy would use Kasteel’s further advances into Java as an opportunity to invade Kasteel from the south and west, given that the Confederacy had successfully used similar strategies before. La Primme responded that he had enough troops to not only fortify the supply lines to and from Verdance, but also leave a force behind in Verdance strong enough to put down any potential uprisings, and also successfully invade Java. The king was sceptical, but approved La Primme’s battle plans about a month later.
Three weeks after that, La Primme began his march into Java. His initial attacks were met with better resistance than he had anticipated. He was not expecting the Javan defence forces to be prepared. He won none the less. The Javan defenders in many cases were outnumbered by a good margin. The defenders also had a very wide range of experience levels, and although generally well prepared to face the Kastellians, did not have the time to build very strong working bonds. The Kastellians had been given a steady diet of war for over 20 years, and those chosen to go on the new offensive were all veterans, had superior morale, and had been proven to work well together. In spite of the overall good defence, La Primme won battles and skirmishes with minimal losses. Soon after, Parliament officially declared war on Kasteel, and asked the king to mobilize the standing troops.
At this time, Kasteel had taken all land west of the River Walking, and was planning to vouchsafe a bridge or ford for continued belligerence. The Javan nobles began to take the king’s earlier suggestion concerning militias and mercenaries seriously. Many of them began offering contracts for security and defence work. The price of weapons and other defence related supplies sky-rocketed. Most of the people who agreed to fight for the nobles did so on the condition that they would be treated with respect, both during and after the war. Small mercenary bands soon began forming and training in earnest all across Java. If Kasteel was to invade the whole of Java, they would have to pay dearly for it.
La Primme’s next target would have to be the River City of Gallionne, the best place to cross the River Walking. La Primme and only two companies managed to take the western side of the city in two days. The defenders, however managed to fortify the other side quite well, and halted the Kastellian advance. The halt was only temporary, though. Three weeks later, the defenders had either died, or regrouped at Toadsuck, and La Primme had gained a strong foothold in Javan territory, as well as secure supply lines with moderate losses. From the Kastellian viewpoint, it was worth the risk and price.
By the fall of Gallionne, the king had fully mobilized all active Javan regulars, and had trained all recruits as could be found to workable standards. Mercenaries, (including one instance of a full battalion, and also the Company of the White Raven,) who wished to accept the Crown as an employer, were standardized into unified auxiliary cadres. The king reinforced the fortifications in and around the capital, and went with the rest of the army to Hector’s Pearl. There, he began fortification efforts, and the construction of garrisons for the army, mercenaries, and all the volunteer militias which the nobles had raised after the first call for service. All totalled, the nobles managed to collectively raise as may troops as the king alone. All totalled, they were evenly matched with La Primme’s forces in terms of numbers, but not even in terms of experience and training, nor in terms of equipment. Java’s weapon-smiths and armourers worked feverishly with an even deeper labour shortage than before, but made up for it by increasing production efficiency tenfold. Java’s shipyards continued operating at full steam, buying timber from the elves in the east, and steel from the dwarves in the south.
In spite of Gregory III’s desire to make Hector’s Pearl and the surrounding area essentially unassailable, he realized that time was of the essence, and that he needed to at least keep La Primme west of the River Winding. This meant five things:
- Burning or otherwise destroying all bridges along the River Winding, except for those he could positively keep control over.
- Increase boat patrols in the Swamp of Lost Souls to the point where La Primme’s ability to manoeuvre troops through it would be essentially impossible.
- Fortify Toadsuck
- Evacuate all persons, livestock, grains, seeds, and anything else of any material value from west of the River Winding, to any place east of the river winding. This was in preparation for…
- Scorched-Earth Policy. Everything which could not be evacuated and saved was to be destroyed.
The king managed to implement this within 2 weeks, using only 1/3 of his total resources. This was good, since winter was approaching a bit faster than usual.
La Primme, still dealing with the final details of securing Gallionne, heard of this and realized that he had grossly underestimated the Javans. He re-evaluated his battle plans. He decided that his original plan of securing important places across the countryside was infeasible, since there wouldn’t be much of value to use for his troops, and the upcoming winter would make fighting much more difficult. Instead, he sent only light scouting parties to look for anything the Javans might have left behind accidentally. (What they did find totalled to a small wagon-load of minor supplies.) He then made camp at Fort Plinnel, (which was in extreme disrepair) and set to re-building it. He sent scouts to collect salvageable bricks and wood from destroyed buildings for the task. This gave his troops and engineers something to do during the winter. He also called for reinforcements, with the expectation that they should arrive by spring.
La Primme also had other tasks for some of his troops to keep them occupied during the stagnant period. One of them was in relation to the dead mage known as Thaddeus Dexter. Dexter was rumoured to have had some kind of library or laboratory somewhere in the area. La Primme decided that a minimal investigation of the rumour would be worth the effort, banking on the possibility that there might be some artefacts or research which would prove useful for the war effort. After about a month of searching, La Primme’s scouts found something that looked promising. They found an entrance to something which led underground, but was blocked by large stone doors, which would not open for any amount of effort applied to them, including all the common magical spells for such a purpose. La Primme understood that this would take time, and was patient.
By the final two weeks of winter, Fort Plinnel had been almost completely rebuilt. La Primme put most of his troops into intensive training for a week, 3 days of rest, then 3 days of light training. They were set to sortie two days later. The plan stipulated that all but about 10% of his forces were to engage the enemy at Toadsuck, while those left behind would guard the rear, and await the arrival of the reinforcements. This was a good plan, but it didn’t work that way. When La Primme arrived at Toadsuck, he saw that just as he had been diligent in rebuilding Fort Plinnel, Gregory III had been equally diligent in fortifying Toadsuck.
La Primme considered alternative means of and locations for crossing the river. He made a quick reconnoitre of the west side of the river. All of the other towns which had bridges had either razed all bridges, save 1, and retained the means of quickly razing the remaining bridge, should the situation warrant it, or had otherwise been fortified like Toadsuck. Since there were no truly good choices available, La Primme went with the choice which was least bad. Since it was the closest city to his newly fortified position at Fort Plinnel, the choice was Toadsuck. The battle ahead would be costly, but worth it, if successful.
The battle for Toadsuck was fierce. Although they were outnumbered, the defenders were not outnumbered by a great margin. The Kastellians took their time, and were well disciplined. The Javans suffered from an overall lack of experience. Java lost a few here, and a few there; such losses were unnecessary, and would never have happened if it weren’t for the lack of experience. In spite of their deficiencies, the Javans made a good show for themselves, and fought like heroes. It took La Primme a month to take full control of Toadsuck. Gaining it was difficult; keeping it would more than likely prove to be equally difficult; by this time Gregory III had arrived with the bulk of the Javan army, which then absorbed all the stragglers.
La Primme had only a day or so before Gregory III could take action. He decided to borrow from his enemy’s play-book. La Primme made expedient repairs to the fortifications on the east side of river which had been used against him, drew most of his troops into the fort, made certain to secure his rear section, and then torched everything east of the river which was not within the fortification. He would not allow his enemies to have roofs if he could help it.
In spite of his victory at Toadsuck, La Primme had a serious problem, which would require rectification if the victory was to mean anything; his reinforcements were four weeks late, and still had not arrived. They were in Lessaliia, former capital of Verdance, hung up on bureaucratic nonsense. La Primme would need them if he was to hold Toadsuck. Knowing this, he left Brigadier General Monroe in charge at Toadsuck, and teleported to Lessaliia with a sabaton destined for the ass of whoever it was that halted his reinforcements. Incidentally, this little trip back to Lessaliia allowed him to be present at his brother’s wedding.
It was then that something extraordinary happened. From the perspective of the Kastellians, it was a minor disaster, from the Javan perspective, it was a minor miracle. The cadre which had been sent to investigate Thaddeus Dexter’s library / laboratory / whatever had finally made some progress. They had managed to open the door and were able to proceed into the underground labyrinth. They then sought La Primme’s instructions. La Primme answered,
“Do not push any buttons, pull any levers, turn any dials, or otherwise activate any contraptions of any sort until the arrival of the specialists which I am sending you now. Do reconnoitre the area, being careful of traps, and keeping written records of layouts, the locations of any buttons, levers, dials, and contraptions you happen to see, and anything else you think is important. Collect books, and teleport them back to Lessaliia.” Then he gave the command which undid everything, “Apart from that, proceed at your own discretion.”
About three days after that, there was a soundless flash of blinding light, as a colossal sphere made of the same, gouged out a massive chunk of, and scoured with flame, a great portion of the Blue Forest, thus leaving a massive crater. The light was clearly visible at Toadsuck, and obvious to anyone who happened to be in a tall building at Hector’s Pearl, and Lessaliia. What happened next was even more astounding. The sphere gradually began to reduce in size until it could no longer be seen from Toadsuck, except as a distant twinkle. Then, two great barriers of light, each, many miles wide stretched north, east, south, and west. They only just barely missed Gallionne, and only just barely covered fort Plinnel. They stretched north up to the Swamp of Lost Souls, and south, to the edge of the Blue Forest. They stretched west across the River Walking, and east, all the way up to, and jut barely missing, Masterson’s Tower, but also covering three of the riverside towns and their defenders. They stretched so high into the sky that airships could not fly over them. Every living thing unfortunate enough to be caught in the barriers perished.
At first, no one was quite sure what to make of it. Many Kastellians believed that the Javans had somehow secretly manoeuvred behind their lines and deployed some kind of weapon or spell. Many Javans believed that the Kastellians had taken Toadsuck as a distraction, allowing them to deploy a doomsday spell, defeating several defenders along the southern section of the River Winding, thus allowing a much cleaner path into Java. Both were wrong. To this day no one truly knows what happened or how. The crater left by this incident is the subject of many rumors, along with much hearsay and conjecture, but very few facts.
After the initial shock and awe wore off, both sides assessed the situation. All Kastellians east of the River Walking were dead, and those in Toadsuck cut off from their supply trains and commander. All Javans south of the southernmost point of the eastern barrier branch were somewhat cut off from the rest of Java. (Supply lines cutting through the hill country would have been difficult, but not impossible.) Gregory III assumed, (incorrectly, but safely,) that the Kastellians might possibly be immune to the boundary, and sent a company south to investigate. La Primme assumed, (incorrectly, but safely,) that the barrier was permanent, and that with no cost-effective way of resupplying or reinforcing their position at Toadsuck, his troops there would be eventually picked off one-by-one until their numbers were so thin that Java could defeat them with minimal losses.
Over the next two weeks, La Primme began evacuating his troops from Toadsuck to Gallionne via teleportation. There were a total of three mages in Verdance capable of casting teleport, and only two at Toadsuck, thus, La Primme could only take a few handfuls of troops per day. The remaining Kastellians at Toadsuck were clever, though. They would cast illusionary spells “replacing” their escaped comrades, and when that was inadequate, they made scarecrows, and dressed them up to look like Kastellians. The decoys were effective, and the Javans didn’t catch wind of it until only 2 Kastellian companies remained, who, by that time, had retreated to the gatehouse on the western side of the river. A day later all the Kastellians were gone from Toadsuck. Javan reclamation and rebuilding began the next day.
The Javan southern defenders made it safely to Alright by trekking through the hills. Then Gregory III decided to militarily abandon the isolated towns. He sent messengers stating that families could evacuate via teleportation over the period of a few months if they were patient, or, that if they had supplies for the journey, they could also trek through the hills. Those that could, opted for the journey. Those who remained were evacuated within a month and a half.
This situation left about 1/3 of western Java either uninhabitable, or otherwise in Kastellian hands. The barrier made land passage either impossible or otherwise impractical for military purposes. This made the situation into one large stalemate. Each side took the opportunity to regroup, reorganize, and rearm. In spite of the loss of Gallionne, and a large chunk of farmland, this gave Java time to catch up in terms of equipment production.
Kasteel, having achieved all its original war aims, put out peace feelers towards Java, desiring to not risk loosing what it had won. Java responded that if Kasteel returned what it had taken, and agreed to cease all hostilities with Java for at least 20 years, then the war could be ended amicably. The Kastellian king considered this to be an acceptable solution, but had his own greedy and ambitious generals to deal with, and needed to keep them on his side if Kasteel was to enjoy what it had won. They ultimately convinced the king to reject the proposal, and continue the war.
Although no one knew it at the time, the barrier was not permanent. About 6 months after its initial manifestation, it slowly began to reduce in size and strength. About a year later it disappeared entirely. By the time of the barrier’s fall, Java had completely caught up in terms of equipment, had every soldier fully trained, and ready to sortie. During the barrier’s final days, Java had reconnoitred all of the land which had previously been dead. Java then took the initiative. They struck Gallionne in full force.
The battle to re-take Gallionne was long and difficult, but ultimately worth it. La Primme had spent the better part of a year fortifying the city, reinforcing his numbers, and honing their skills to perfection. Although the Javans outnumbered the Kastellians 4 to 1, the Kastellians were almost all battle-hardened veterans. Although this worked much to La Primme’s favour, the Javan desire to oust them proved to be decisive. In 64 days, La Primme sought terms for surrender. He was required to surrender all of the heaviest weapons he had on hand, but he and his soldiers were allowed to keep their armour and side-arms, and march back to Lessaliia with honour, provided that they each took an oath to never again fight against Java. La Primme was also required to pay reparations to the kingdom of Java in the amount of 50,000 crowns.
Many believed that this would be the end of the war; they were wrong. The displaced Verdanian refugees convinced king Gregory III to march west into Verdance, as a punitive action, an action to regain Verdance for their people, and to secure a stronger position at the bargaining table for future dealings with Kasteel. Somewhat overconfident with victory at Gallionne, the Javans marched west into Verdance.
As Gregory III began taking places of value in eastern Verdance, he also ordered his naval forces to attack Kastellian forces in northern Verdance, and to land all his additional troops in as safe a manner as possible. This was phenomenally successful, since Kasteel had virtually no experience in handling maritime affairs. Within 3 months, Gregory III was able to lay siege to Lessaliia from both the southeast, and the northwest, with the intent to take the city as soon as his forces could link up.
During the battle to take Lessaliia, Gregory III was hit by an exceptionally well-placed arrow, and mortally wounded. Three days later, he perished. The loss of their king had a significant psychological impact upon the Javans. In spite of their commander’s best efforts, for a day and a half, the Javan army ceased to function as an army. They wildly rampaged, looted, and generally burned almost everything they could see or get their hands on.
The Parliament then temporarily elected General Ordallia Atakscha to the throne, since she was well-respected by all Javan military units, and had proven herself at the battle to re-take Gallionne. Four days later, Lessaliia completely fell to Java. After another year of fighting, Java secured most of eastern Verdance, and all of northern Verdance, except for the fishing town of Poy, which wasn’t considered important enough to be worth the risk of attacking.
Soon afterwards, the king of Kasteel formally requested terms for a peace treaty sufficient to end the war. Parliament agreed. The king of Kasteel sent a delegate and entourage to Loquille, capital of The Confederacy to negotiate the treaty. Ordallia and her advisers also marched to Loquille under a banner of parley.
According to the terms of the treaty of Loquille, Kasteel was allowed to keep all the land they still controlled on the conditions that they allowed the Verdanian refugees to return to their homes, that they would return all property to any Verdannian who claimed it, that the Verdannians would be treated with respect, that no lawful travellers would prohibited from passing through Kastellian occupied Verdance, that Kasteel would agree to refrain from engaging in belligerent action against either Verdance or Kasteel for at least 20 years, and that the Kastellian Crown should pay war reparations to the Verdannian Crown in the amount of 1/2 million gold crowns. The parts of Verdance which were under Javan control would be returned to the Verdanian royal family, and that the Javan military would quit all of its positions in Verdance proper, and the Javan army would issue a formal apology for the barbarism inflicted upon Lessaliia on the evening of Gregory III’s death. In exchange for all of this, a three-way trade agreement would come to pass between Kasteel, Verdance, and Java.
The treaty’s result was that the kingdom of Verdance was split in half, from the northwest to the southeast. Kasteel managed to gain farmland and a fishing village, which it did not have before, but paid a hefty price for it. Java lost its king, and an estimated 800,000 people, but reclaimed all lost territory.