Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Vala's Notes on the Fall of Fianna

Note to readers: Vala Softwhistle is a halfling from Nordest who's acutely interested in songs, stories, and poems from every culture. Tan Asil, a barbarian outcast from the Saline Basin beyond Nordest, became her fast friend during the end of the Elven War, when they both played a role in overthrowing Prime Minister Orestes. Since then, they have been travelling from university to university, and spent a lot of Autumn 1109 in Pezane, digging through its ancient and extremely disorganized archives.

Note to self--I dictated this journal entry to Tan, I figured he could use some practice writing quickly. I think he's got the hang of it now. Vala Softwhistle, third day of the third week of Fallow, halfling reckoning, archived

I've been doing some study on the fall of Fianna while I have free run of Pezane University. The troubles seem to be over for the moment, though it's never long between them, it seems. Anyway, I thought I'd get thoughts down on paper with my friend Tan Asil's help so I don't forget them--tomorrow I'm going to finally start looking for some old music and poetry on the subject.

Fianna's troubles started way before Emperor Martius' III's invasion. From the looks of things, they had been busy making their neighbors frosty for a long time. They'd angered the Brecan when they didn't intervene against the Boar King, people suspect that was around -400 ER. It had to have been at least 500 years after the Hillfolk (they used to live in Tintagel and the Brittanwood mostly) had made their peace, or no one would have been so mad. Anyway, about a century after that they brought Elven druidic magics into their groves and stopped taking in a lot of the supplies they'd been getting from Pezane, They still have a saying here I think, they call somebody who suddenly loses interest in doing business a "Grover". But that's beside the point.

Anyway, the groves themselves--that's Taliesen in the southwest, Arianrhod in the southeast, Olwen in the northwest, and Ceridwen in the northeast, and then the Dannan region under Daione rule. I hope we get a chance to go back to Daione someday, need to brush up on my elven before I dig through that library though. Not real sure how excited I am to be that close to a Spire again either...anyway, the groves got really independent, and the Archdruid didn't have any real power to speak of. They had skirmishes against each other on occasion over rites and territory and such, but nothing serious, they just didn't consider themselves one nation anymore. They'd meet every year where Caer is now at the turning of the year for a big ceremonial games. I've heard at that some of the grove circles, especially ones in Taliesin and Olwen, are starting to grumble about how Caer's right in the middle of Imperial territory now so they can't really have their ceremony, but Erinn is dead set on letting them have it, and not just to be nice. I'll never forget how she complained about people thinking she was cute! I have the same problem, but I can't really complain about it, it gets me in places I've got no business being, right?

So when the Nereneans--I suspect Senators Caphrius and Maxinius were probably the masterminds, but nobody knows for sure anymore--got Martius III's ear and started their program of investigating Elven Sedition, Martius had already been looking at a weakened Fianna as the next great frontier. Some people had been advocating an eastern passage to Nordest and thus access to trade with the eastern dwarven clans, but Fianna was rich with resources, magic no Imperial had ever seen, and it was just sitting there blocking the Eracian manifest destiny to rule the whole bloody continent. Except for inconvenient places you know, like the Grey Moor. Yes Tan, I'll get to the point, I'm sorry your hand hurts. No, you DON'T have to write all that down. So when Martius got it into his head to confine all the urban elven enclaves to certain areas and monitor their activity extensively, and then he sent Ambassador Aelethindra home (although she's back on the job now!) and broke off all diplomatic ties with the Elves before moving against Fianna. It was a wise move too, it kept the elves from being able to warn the Fiannans that there was an invasion coming. After that, Martius was just looking for an incident to hang a war on, and he got it when a trade delegation (which was larger than was legal, by the way) was waylaid during some very rowdy festivities in what's now Caer, and one wagon driver and a mercenary guard were killed. Martius found out those responsible were from Arianrhod Grove, north of the Centaur lands, and demanded absurd reparations from them. When they refused, he said he couldn't march through the Centaur lands and demanded permission to move troops through Taliesin Grove--which of course they absolutely refused to do. So the Legions attacked Taliesin.

The war was brutal, and even though it lasted a long time, it should have been over right away. All the Groves had to do was ally and turn back the invasion, but it didn't happen. They were too far separated, and none of them could agree on terms, despite the archdruid--a very, very old human named Ondessa--constantly pressing them to capitulate. Then HE died in Ceridwen, Olwen and Arianrhod blamed Ceridwen Grove for his death, and it took the Elders three years to find a half-elf to sit the Daione Chair. By then it was too late. The Eracians had burned down enough of Taliesin to destroy its ecology, forced a capitulation from Arianrhod that kept them AND the centaurs out of the war. And then they settled in for a long and bitter war, building Caer where it is now and using any violence against it as an excuse to move in more and more troops from around the empire. But even though they'd been willing to sacrifice Taliesin, they didn't want to touch the resources hiding in the northern forests, and though Olwen and Ceridwen were firm allies by this point, and were calling on troops from the Wold and the Dannan Sea islands, and even though Arianrhod was fighting as best they could, the Fiannans just couldn't hold back the tide. In 622 ER--right? Right--they forced the other groves to sign the Treaty of Taliesin, which put all of Fianna under Imperial rule, technically. It wasn't explicit in the treaty, but the Empire had no interest in holding on to anything north of the Dannan shore, and never really pushed for it. Which was probably a mistake, looking back.

Okay, yes, I'm done now! Tomorrow we're going to look for some songs from the time, from an Imperial perspective. Pezane was a major launching point for the first invasion, and was the main channel for troops coming by sea from the west for most of the war, so there should be SOME record of the songs they were singing, and what they thought of Fianna. Yes, I'm actually done!

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