The Vaelthranni Compact
The Vaelthranni Compact is the formal title for an alliance of city states currently ruled over from Drosvenar, by a council of members from each state. The members include Drosvenar, Kuzvak, Kaldaron, Aetheria, and Alqualonde.
The Compact itself, originally simply known as the Triumvirate, comprised only three city states - Kaldaron, Kuzvak, and Aetheria. While not the oldest cities within the compact, their close proximity meant that any form of aggressive expansion would ensure the destruction of all three, and thus after many years of bitter negotiations (compounded by the events of the Third Ascension War) the Triumvirate was tentatively founded in 2057PRY, promoting cooperation and peace between all three cities, in an attempt to prevent any more bloodshed.
From this point, written records are patchy at best (caused by the destruction and havoc of the First Shire Civil War - many of the artifacts from this period were looted from the city by unknown assailants, speculated to be Rogue Sammichian Agents) but from what remains, it was pieced together that this was a golden age for the Triumvirate. Safety and security increased, poverty was all but eradicated, and trade income was boosted dramatically as unique goods were bartered between each city. An age of enlightenment dawned over the three, with massive leaps forward in the classical arts of literature and painting, mining techniques, architecture, and the art of fine dining (the much-celebrated invention of the Falafel is believed by Aetherian Scholars to have occurred during this era).
Three Becomes More - Contact with Outsiders
The Triumvirate thrived for almost 200 years with no outside influence. Its unique geographic location, in modern times easy to access thanks to years of technological advancements and artificial landscaping, was originally almost impossible to reach - secluded in a large valley and dominated by a large ring of encircling mountains, the Triumvirate had no outside contact with any other city or civilisation. This notable period ended in the year 1876PRY, when a small expedition from the Triumvirate's celebrated Institute of Gyrostaticiary (another victim of the Shire Civil War), exploring the lands outside the vast mountain ring during early Summer (the passes through the mountains were closed in winter due to heavy snowfall) encountered a military survey expedition from Alqualonde. After much deliberation and confusion, the Triumvirate Expedition opted to forcibly bring the survey team to the Elder Council of the Triumvirate, to determine what should be done with the outsiders.
The Alqualonian survey team were in no fit state to argue - malnourished, weak, and extremely lost after a freak storm destroyed their camp and killed all but one of their commanding officers (the final officer, Captain Merryk Veldon, became a hero for his lonely, long journey home to Alqualonde after being separated from his team), they had no choice but to be led before the council in an Emergency Session.
The council, at first furious at being awoken at 3am on a Sunday, had their anger quickly give way to a mixture of awe and fear. Never before had outsiders been seen so close to the borders of the Triumvirate, much less communicated with, and so, much confusion arose. A small number of Council Ministers, notably from kaldaron, wanted to make an example of these Outsiders - execute all but one of them, and then set the survivor free, to return to his home with a warning of what transpired.
Fortunately, this movement of Council Ministers were crushed under the remaining majority, who elected to first learn to communicate with these outsiders (while holding them in comfortable captivity) and then, return them to Alqualonde, with a delegation offering peace and friendship, and a chance to join the alliance. This effort took the remaining year, and it was only in late summer the following year that the peace delegation could set out for the mysterious outsider city.
The perilous journey to Alqualonde, contrasting the difficulty faced by the disastrous Alqualonian journey north, was peaceful, serene, and rapid. By early November, Alqualonde could be seen glimmering by the waters edge, and within a week, the Triumvirate Ambassadors were meeting up with the People's Parliament in their Meeting Plaza, discussing terms for their joining the alliance. It took just one hour for the assemply to vote by popular opinion to formally join the union, and in so doing open up new trade and new advancements between the different civilisations.
After this monumental event, it was decided to rename the Triumvirate - they were no longer three cities, after all, but four - and so the Triumvirate officially became the Vaelthranni Compact was in 1868PRY.
The Founding Of Drosvenar
Several decades of peaceful cooperation between the cities followed, although due to the vast distances involved, trade was an arduous, if extremely profitable process, for those that made the perilous journeys between the original Triumvirate cities and Alqualonde. After much deliberation, it was decided to found a new settlement, to facilitate more effective travel between the cities of the Compact. Due to the distances involved, it was agreed that Aetheria, Kuzvak and Kaldaron would supply much of the materials and bear the costs of the new construction, and Alqualonde, being a coastal city, would send forth a contingent of ships carrying their foremost experts in the art of sailing, shipbuilding, and the construction of ships, who would remain in the new city to train the populace for the foreseeable future.
The new city, named Drosvenar (translated to hope in the ancient language of the Alqualonians) officially began construction in the year 1678PRY, with the central plaza and most of the underground housing completed by late 1896PRY. The remaining original districts of the city, including the port, were completed in short order after the arrival of the Alqualonian experts, in 1665PRY (The Embassy district and the Council chambers at first was not part of this original layout, as at the time of its' completion, no other hints of civilisation had been officially discovered, much less ambassadors welcomed - the only rumours of civilisations came from Alqualonian sailors, who often formed exploration teams to seek out new treasures across the world).
After the city was officially finished, many of the workers from Aetheria, Kuzvak and Kaldaron elected to remain in the city, having considered it by many to be their crowning achievement and, arguably so, the most beautiful city existing in the world. However, there were seeds of tension amidst the peace and happiness. The Alqualonians, as decided during the founding of the city, were installed as the leaders of the new city, and many of those workers who lived and built the city were unhappy to be led by people who, seemingly out of nowhere, arrived, built a port and some ships, and were elected rulers over the people. There were protests, civil uprisings, and much of the art lovingly constructed within the city's walls was destroyed, particularly on one fateful evening known as " The Valdron Tragedy" - a peaceful protest, making its' way to the heart of the city, became a riot after a cart was accidentally set on fire. Accusations spun wildly into all out violence, and the streets were the site of a bloody free for all. The military arm of the city eventually locked down the entire city, and enforced marshal law for the next 3 months.
This incident was the final straw for the leading council of The Vaelthranni Compact. Unanimously, they decreed that the city of Drosvenar, formerly a Protectorate of the Compact, would become a fully fledged member state, with all the permissions that came with it - but the Lords of Drosvenar would no longer be entirely Alqualonian, but an equal proportion of peoples from each city would take places within the Lords, and be fully elected, not hereditary (as was the previous method of governing). While this at first flared up tensions within the city, rapidly peace dawned, and the streets over time became as peaceful and bustling as the other cities of the Compact.
Drosvenar became a center of dramatic leaps forward in transportation and art over a great period of time, with peaceful relations lasting for many generations, realising the dream the Vaelthranni Compact. Their most prestigious and crowning achievements, as well as their unique ocean vessels, was the eventual creation of the airship, which dramatically changed the way exploration and trade was achieved between the Cities of the Compact. It became possible to make rapid air travel between Drosvenar and Alqualonde, and, after some deliberation, it was decided to begin working on vast reductions of the mountain ranges surrounding Kaldaron, Kuzvak and Aetheria, using experimental technology to warp the land to allow even more rapid transportation, and in the year 192PRY, construction began on the airships that would carry this technology.
The Great Collapse
This effort to reshape the world came at a cost, however. In 0CE, great power was expended to warp the environment, and an unfortunate side effect of this was a vast earthquake. While the three cities within the mountain range were all unaffected, due to the expertise of the construction (the architects of Kuzvak and Kaldaron were experts in underground building and shoring up constructions against natural disasters) The entire mountain ranges surrounding the cities were destroyed, and thus the unique protection afforded by the mountains were removed with it. The City of Kaldaron was almost washed away, and were it not for the heroic efforts to stop the flooding and save two thirds of the city, it may have been wiped entirely from the face of the land.
Much was changed in the cataclysm, and many airships were sent out immediately as a matter of great urgency to explore and map the new world. Particularly of note was an incident corresponding to the change in the land, in which a large, strangely shaped object was seen blasting through the sky towards the northern reaches of the world. Fearing that the technology they used had caused an incident of cataclysmic proportions, it was decided to immediately send teams north to observe the situation, but with strict orders not to interfere, unless clear threat to the world was evident and inaction would result in destruction.
The Journey Northward, Strange Observations
The journey north took many months, and due to the hostile, frozen nature of the lands, travel through the storms was dangerous and difficult. It was several years before the final 3 survey ships reached the isolated, treacherous region where the object was projected to have landed, and, due to their pledge of non-interference, they could only survey the area from a distance. However, what they discovered shook them to the core - a sleek, glassy object, located above a waterfall, a seemingly self-contained paradise within layers of shining glass and soaring gardens. Open-mouthed, the scientists aboard the vessel surmised (correctly) that what they had discovered was unrelated to their own terrestrial experiments, but a craft far more advanced than anything they could imagine, and so, from a distance, they continued to observe from the safety of their vessel, high in the clouds.
The object they had discovered, although they did not know it, was the City-Ship Luce Futura, now known as the city of Modaora. Observing and maintaining covert communications with the high council of The Vaelthranni Compact, it was decided that they would remain in this area for the next several years, and determine whether the people aboard this vessel were a threat, or a potential ally.
As the years slowly crept by, it was noticed that strange-garbed outsiders were passing among the people of the city-ship, seemingly as friends, from a deep, unexplored cave system nearby. These were the Flamewry, and, carefully, the survey team observed the city and the new developments within its' gleaming walls with unabated interest (tinged with sadness - they were far from home, and it was unlikely they would ever be able to return, but this was their sworn duty, and they would stand by it to the last).
One day, strange noises were reported from the city-ship. After a time, as the surveyors watched, the Flamewry were quietly reinforcing groups surrounding the entire city. Little did they know, they were watching the unfolding of one of the greatest crises to befall the people of Modaora. The people of Modaora were seemingly unperturbed by this - whether due to not noticing, or being captives, it was unclear. No fighting was seen within the city, but there were flamewry on every floor and at every access point that the survey teams could see from their observation point, and heated arguments started to take place, between those who wished to try to intervene and assist the Modaorans, and those who wished to err on the side of caution, maintain the following of their orders, and seek to understand the situation before making any rash decisions.
Sadly, mere days later, on the darkest night seen by the people of the ship, the fears of those wanting to intervene were proven well-founded; the Flamewry, posing as protectors for so long, declared war on the city. The Modaorans seemed not to realise their peril, and there was little the Drosvenari surveyors could do other than maintain their surveillance (The insiders' view of this incident can be viewed on the history of the Laurelian people). After several hours, fires and shouting, the clashing of weapons, and screams began to erupt from the City-Ship, and strange, otherworldly glows began to pulse at a distance around the walls. Fearing some dangerous, hitherto unknown weapon or storms, the 3 survey ships retreated to outside of the eerie blue pulses, ashamed to leave the Modaorans but incapable of saving them. Their decision to move was well founded; the flamewry tragically executed the Modaoran security forces (a tiny number in comparison) and mere minutes later, a vast wall of shimmering energy erupted around the city, vaporising many of the flamewry and seperating the bulk of their forces outside the walls. Weapons were launched ineffectively by the Flamewry, and although no sound escaped from within that rippling shield, figures could be seen fighting, ethereal beings tearing through wave upon wave of Flamewry, blind with blood and rage and extinguishing every life they could even as they fell.
The crew of the ships, fearing for their own lives, retreated ever more distant, still in observable range but far enough away that they would be safe from any further incidents. The fighting continued, throughout the night and into much of the morning; bodies were everywhere, fountains ran red with blood of Modaoran and Flamewry (mostly Flamewry) and stores and walkways smoldered, partially collapsed and smoke rising into the sky only to vaporise on the shield. Silence fell outside the walls. The Flamewry watched, waited. Eventually, they began to mobilise, moving toward the shielded City-Ship and preparing to assault. Suddenly, a vast, swirling storm whipped up circling the city, lightning blasting through the sky, and as the survey ships fought to keep away from the pulsing shield, a bright white shockwave erupted outward from the base of it, vaporising every tree, every flamewry, every hint that anything ever existed in this area. Once the blinding light cleared, the crew stared down in disbelief - the entire city was gone, a vast crater in its place with a blasted, broken device, 3 stories tall, and a small, heavily damaged bunker left behind, and the entire region, as far as the eye could see, frozen solid. trees were left lifeless and barren, animals stood frozen where they were stood, instantly killed by a wave of cold, and no trace of the Flamewry ever having existed, much less been here.
The survey teams were aghast. The cataclysmic change to the environment, and the near-mythic power of the technology used, was terrifying and incredible at the same time. As they watched, a paltry group of survivors filed out of the ruined bunker, and huddled together in the frozen wasteland. The survey teams aboard their ships were unsure of how to proceed. Nothing had prepared them for this kind of event - and so, it was decided that one of the three ships would return to The Vaelthranni Compact Council and report all they had seen, while the remaining ships would stay, and continue to observe, and, if it was deemed wise, to make contact with the survivors. The ship remained high in the air, staying within clouds to remain as hidden as possible, while observing the survivors journey across the snows. Much debate occurred between the two vessels over the following hours as to whether to assist covertly or not - until a small child, while the surviving adults talked, stopped to look at something. Using their survey equipment, they watched, as this tiny child saved the only living thing aside from them within the snows - a small flower.
As the survey team watched in disbelief, the others gathered around, and, together, they carefully took the flower with them, keeping it alive as they proceeded to continue their path. This moment of unity, of mutual survival within the Modaorans, gave the survey team all the reason they needed to assist them from afar. One of the ships traveled ahead of their path, far enough that they were not visible but close enough that the supplies they began to drop would be found - these anonymous drops were the first real interaction between the peoples of the two nations. Over the next fortnight, preparations were made to meet with the Modaorans, and reveal themselves, trusting in their hope that their experience with the Flamewry would not cause them to attack on sight.
Meeting the Laurelii, an Alliance Born
A delegation was formed from between the crews of the two vessels, and, boarding one ship, descended from the skies ahead of the procession of refugees. Flying their banners, along with white flags of peace, the vessel landed carefully, and the small group of 6 surveyors descended, unarmed, and stop before the people of the Laurelii. After months of observing them, even before the fall of their city, a grasp of their language was achieved, and, slowly, in very deliberate sentences, they made their first overtures of peace to a determined, suffering people. The Laurelii stood stony-faced, some angry, some fearful, and understandably so - all except one. The same child as before, the one who carried the flower, ran forward, smiling, and hugged the elderly leader of the survey team. Quietly, the man returned the gesture, tears running openly down the cheeks of all the surveyors from the profound sorrow they felt for the Laurelii, and, after a pause, the remaining refugees came forward - peace was decided, and as much aid as possible was given to the survivors.
The surveyors, touched that a people who lost so much could still be willing to make peace and friendship after suffering so much, offered the Laurelii transport further outward to the nearest clear region - However, they politely refused. They were the survivors of a terrible tragedy, and never again would they be seperated from each other. The surveyors, at this moment, unanimously pledged to assist them in their journey to find a new home, and the second ship immediately departed, flying ahead to survey the lands to ease the burden of their travel. The first ship to land remained above the Laurelii, supplying them with equipment and food, as often as they could, until they found a place to found their new home, the free city of Laurelian.
This chain of events, while infinitely important to both peoples, was decided to be kept secret to all others; for the protection of the Laurelii, and to prevent the abuses the Flamewry inflicted upon them ever occurring again, noone outside of the survey team, the refugees of Modaora and the Rulers of either civilisations would ever know of the depth of the Compact's involvement in the Fall of Modaora and the Founding of Laurelian, only that they had both discovered the other and made peace. Since this time, the two civilisations have gone from strength to strength, becoming firm trading partners and long-term allies, and due to their vast expertise in safeguards and security, protectors of much of the Compact's rarest artifacts and vast amounts of the wealth it holds, in return for which the Compact supplied maps of the southlands, sailing vessels and crews, and most importantly, several unique airships. The Laurelii, strong allies as they became, were the first (of many) to hold the unique distinction of being an ally to The Vaelthranni Compact without actually being a member state themselves, and this alliance lasts to this day; if one is threatened, the other is called to arms immediately to rally to their defense.
The rediscovery of the World to the Present Day
Meanwhile, far away in the homelands of the Compact, strange rumours were spreading - new oceans, new lands, and odd, unknown vessels were becoming increasingly common sights around Kaldaron, Kuzvak and Aetheria. Other civilisations were known to exist by the Alqualonians, and information regarding this was passed to the leaders of The Vaelthranni Compact, but so few ever ventured far enough north to reach the other cities, that it was kept quiet from the populace, in case fear began to spread throughout the people.
This period heralded great expansions into defenses, and as more civilisations came before the Compact, it was decided that Drosvenar, having been founded by all 4 other cities, would be recognised as the de facto diplomatic capital of The Vaelthranni Compact, and so embassies were constructed to facilitate this process. Ambassadors from nearly every major nation were welcomed to the city, and a new order of guards were set up - ostensibly to protect the Ambassadorial district, but also to ensure that no harm would come to the populace from anyone within the Ambassadorial Districts (While nothing of this sort ever happened within The Vaelthranni Compact, fear of a similar event to the Flamewry's assaults crystallised into this defense force). Trade routes were opened between many of the civilisations, with the notable exception of Fulfwotz - the formidable reputation of its sleazy nature, and absolute dictatorship, while loosely allied with The Vaelthranni Compact, was enough that no trade would ever be permitted, in case of any "undesirable" artifacts.
Venice was also subjected to heavy restrictions, due to the monopoly many companies (like Costa Copy) held across much of the trade between the nations of the shire, the level of corruption present, and their overwhelming reliance on non-renewable transport resources, particularly the vast networks of railways just within their own borders; the only Costa Copies permitted within the borders of the Vaelthranni Compact lie within the Venezia Nuova Embassy building, and the railway station that was heavily subsidised by their nation (Several Drosvenari officials were later forced to retire following very public investigations into their accepting of bribes, all of which were later found to be true).
Oranjestad, while distant, would remain an ally, although observed consistently; the strange nature and colossal size of the bureaucracy and sheer expanse of land controlled by their government ensured a bemused, but alert observation from the leaders and security forces of the Compact - much consternation arises from the strange and almost Propaganda-like news broadcasts periodically broadcast from within the nation, particularly when any mention of their distant leader is mentioned, or expansion into new territories surrounding the cities.
Places of Note
- Aetheria: One of the original cities of the Compact, renowned for its peaceful, vibrant atmosphere and benevolent royal family
- Kuzvak: The second of the three original cities within the Compact, most famous for it's vast mining and refining of precious metals, along with its' location within a vast, carved out mountain
- Kaldaron: The final of the three original cities, it is most known for the strange graveyard within and the great flood that almost wiped out the city, as well as its (mostly empty) prison
- Alqualonde: The first city to officially join the Compact from outside, it is the oldest city within the group, and famed for the unusual system of government - any single person can voice an opinion and have it universally discussed by all born within the walls. This peculiarity only extends to the people of The Vaelthranni Compact, for the protection of its interests and its people.
- Drosvenar: Considered by many to be the greatest achievement of the Compact so far, this city was constructed originally as a means to expand ocean trade and transportation, but has since become the thriving heart of The Vaelthranni Compact, and is famed for its tunnel network, its shipyard, and the airship construction yards towering above much of the city.