Reginopolis, the capital of the Kingdom of Empyros, has fallen to the armies of Sultan Fatih Suleyman IV. After a long and bloody campaign across Season IV: Blood of the Empire, the Sultan has claimed his birthright, righted ancient wrongs, and made the once-mighty kingdom a province of the Anadolou Empire. The seeds of Empyros’ destruction were sown nearly a century ago by a young, naïve, and greedy king whose reckless ascent to power seemed to offer much to many. The extravagant promises that gave him his throne, however, ultimately proved to be the undoing of him and his Kingdom. Join us as we delve into the events of the past, which will serve as an entry point to Season V: Legacy of Fire!
The Kingdom of Empyros was an ancient and powerful polity that held near-total control over the entire eastern seaboard of the Sea of Tranquility. The Empyrean people were literate, cultured, and the kingdom was revered for the might of their armies. However, their fundamental weaknesses lied in the lack of minerals and expertise necessary to manufacture gunpowder, and a fractious aristocracy whose bitter rivalries undermined the authority of the monarchy.
The reign of Andronikos XI Argyros was fraught with strife and open rebellion. As this king was ousted, the throne of Reginopolis soon welcomed a new occupant by the name of King John I Kainurgos. In the chaotic wake of his elevation to power, the young King John made good on promises to his supporters to lead his royal army in reclaiming lost fiefs around the capital. After this success, the king set his sights on a more ambitious goal: reunification with lost demesnes across the sea in Anadolou, a feat which would undoubtedly secure his place in Empyrean history forever.
Unfortunately for King John, his kingdom’s coffers began to run dry, and his troops were too few to launch such a huge and daring campaign. King John brooded on this for many days, until Duke Miklos, a powerful vassal of his court, whispered to him stories of ancient treasure houses and pagan temples that lay in Anadolou. With these forgotten treasures in hand, the advisor suggested that the Kingdom of Empyros could hire a mighty army to sail and march on Anadolou. If the campaign lasted longer than anticipated, the honourable chivalric orders the Duke had in mind could even be paid in land, a mere fraction of the realm the King stood to reclaim.
The king was swayed, and letters bearing the royal seal were dispatched to Grandmasters of every chivalric order, from Ostaria to Ungverija, to the lands west of the Greenpeaks, even as far as the sleepy green valleys along the Toutatis River and the great islands beyond the Whale-Road. A seemingly endless number of knights of the west, brandishing long-unused swords that yearned for war, marched into the Kingdom to capitalise on the renowned generosity of the Kingdom of Empyros.
A hundred banners, one from every order of knighthood, great and small, fluttered from the battlements of the Great Palace of Reginopolis. In the vast hall within, the king conferred with his generals. He informed the council that the knights had brought much wealth, and were only too happy to offer him great sums of gold to his cause at very reasonable terms. Some in the court were dismayed by this revelation, and wondered – silently, so as not to challenge the king’s authority – how these loans were ever to be repaid.
The reckless king revealed that he had already spent the loans on the services of alchemists and weaponsmiths to secure a supply of ‘hellfire’, a liquid incendiary weapon that would give the Empyrean navy a distinct tactical advantage, and allowed for the development of handheld flamethrowers and explosive projectiles for his soldiers. The king hoped that his new weapons would make up for the lack of numbers in his own Empyrean ranks, give them dominance over the foreign knights, and provide the edge in his campaign in Anadolou.
By midsummer, the great host that had assembled outside Reginopolis could grow no further. King John addressed the knights from a banner-strewn platform within the camp and praised them for their service, dedication, generosity, and good conduct. He then went on to promise that great wealth awaited them all across the sea. Once the cheering died down, the king declared every knight and common-born soldier who answered the call ‘symmachoi’, an Empyrean term for eternal allies of the kingdom. Henceforth, the western knights collectively referred to themselves as the Symmachean Brotherhood. Trumpets blared, the king saluted his makeshift military force, and the great host departed on a voyage for glory and treasure.
At first, the campaign was everything King John hoped for. The Symmachean Brotherhood obeyed their Empyrean superiors and sent all treasures found in the re-conquered lands to Reginopolis for evaluation. But as the knights advanced further east, resentment grew, resistance began to mount, and inevitably, so did the casualties. The Brotherhood sent for reinforcements from their homelands, and soon, the King’s own forces in Anadolou found themselves massively outnumbered by their increasingly assertive and demanding ‘symmachoi’.
The relatively meagre flow of treasures being sent back to Reginopolis ceased, while a massive armoured cavalry force stripped the land of food and fodder like a plague of locusts. Citizens of the ‘reunified’ lands were sullen and resentful of King John, who they saw as nothing more than a young tyrant hiding behind rapacious warmongers as he stuffed his pockets with foreign gold.
The Empyrean generals, in an attempt to intimidate the Symmacheans, arranged for demonstrations of their new ‘hellfire’ weapons to the unphased Symmacheans. Their antics only stoked a burning rage and deeper resentment in the Anadolou citizens as the fires tore across farmland, forests, and townships, leaving desolation in their wake. Within days, the officers overseeing the campaign in Anadolou were forcefully ousted from their posts and replaced with Symmachean nobles. Some fiefdoms were even captured and occupied by the Brotherhood, rather than being turned over to Empyrean control.
King John and his court, repelling demands to repay the loans he had already spent on his confiscated hellfire weapons, realised their inescapable predicament. If the Symmachean Brotherhood was driven from Anadolou by the rebels and steppe tribes, they would return to reclaim their loans by force. And while the Brotherhood fought to win back lost lands, the Kingdom of Empyros was at their mercy...
The story is in your hands in Season V: Legacy of Fire, coming soon as a free update to Conqueror’s Blade!