Directly following the flight of the lordlings described in Part II (Part I here), panic fell upon the House of Alren in Shalona. With no hint of the whereabouts of 13 year old Magia Moro of Ismar, who was betrothed to Hannibal II, the lord of Shalona, as well as Hannibal II’s third son of 15 years, Hanin, the situation quickly grew tense. What would follow in the wake of their disappearance would ultimately lead to the feuds that would fuel the fire of what we now know as The Gifted Wars.
A Fruitless Secret Search and an Irate Lord
Even though the settlements were still new and were much less populated in this time, this did not exclude the budding civilization from the crimes that stem from the greed of men. Thus, the initial thought after the disappearance of the young lady of Ismar, was that she had been kidnapped for a high ransom. When several days had passed and no word had come of any such demands, the thoughts turned to murder, perhaps a kidnapping that went wrong. Although the truth was not to come out immediately, it is thought that Don Hannibal likely had his suspicions as for the true cause of the disappearances.
Finally, the time had come for Don Eldrio, lord of Ismar, to arrive at Shalona to finalize the terms of the betrothal and to prepare for the ceremony that would see his young daughter married to the lord of the keep. When he was not immediately allowed to see his daughter, it is said that he was upset, but understanding. As the next day came and still he was not allowed to see her, sources say that he became frustrated and demanded that she join him for dinner that night. When dinner came and the seat was empty, Don Eldrio stood up and excused himself loudly, beckoning his guards to his side.
The lord of Ismar and his guard stormed through the keep to find the ladies’ quarters. When he was met with resistance at the door, he demanded the men there step aside or risk the wrath of his men. Outnumbered, the men guarding the door stood aside. When Don Eldrio found the quarter empty, he demanded answers from the men there, who said they were forbidden from talking. The man was sent to fetch the lord, and the truth finally came out when Hannibal II arrived.
A Tarnished Relationship and the Beginning of Feuds
Though Don Hannibal II explained that he, also, was missing a child and that the intention was for the two noble children to be returned home as soon as possible to avoid worrying the lord of Ismar, Don Eldrio was furious that the man was not simply straightforward with him. Don Eldrio departed, leaving his guard captain behind to keep tabs on the rescue effort in the city.
After two weeks’ time, the guard captain returned empty handed to Ismar, bearing the grim news that after such time, the two had either run away or had died, and that in either case, they were not likely to be found. Because of this, as well as the withholding of the truth, the lord of Ismar was left with no choice but to report to the Torian High Council of the gross incompetence of the lord of Shalona, demanding his immediate removal.
Because of the severity of the demands and the unprecedented nature of it, the Torians did not grant him what he sought. Instead, they assured that an investigation would be conducted and that, in time, the truth would come out. Unhappy with this response, but unable to challenge the enormous force of the capital, he returned to Ismar to await their response. When word of the demands and of the official misconduct investigation reached Shalona, it was not received well by the lord.
It would not be long for the relations between the two cities to come crashing to a halt.
While the investigation was underway, a decree of embargo was placed upon Ismar by Don Hannibal II. Since the two cities had always been primary partners in trade, this caused an effect on the economy of both places. Within a month, there was a noticeable increase in crime, which quickly became a problem for both cities. The civil unrest continued to grow for some time, until new solutions were discovered by each House.
In an attempt to restore economic stability, Shalona reached out to the next largest nearby settlement of Renia, which was 100 miles away. Striking a deal with them with the promise of a new potential betrothal when Hannibal II’s youngest daughter Lonla came of age, it seemed that relief was in sight for Shalona. For a few weeks, conditions improved, crime waned and things were beginning to get back to normal for them. Ismar, however, had not found an acceptable solution at this time and was still struggling as time went on.
What’s more, was that the Torians completed their investigation and found no wrongdoing on the part of the lord of Shalona.
It can never be known if the attack was sanctioned by House Mago, but one of the large caravans travelling to Shalona from Renia was attacked by raiders, killing all of them and stealing their goods. Ismar denied any involvement in the raid.
This continued a few more times in the following months, attacks coming randomly and from different directions each time. Eventually, all caravans had to be protected by an escort of guards in order to maintain the trade route. It was during one of these raids, when the group of merchants being attacked was actually some of the lord’s top guards in disguise, that the tables were turned on the raiders.
Bloody combat ensued, and though several of the Shalonian guardsmen died in the skirmish, their attackers were ultimately routed. It was at this time that one of the raiders was identified as a member of the city watch of Ismar. Bringing this news back to Shalona, Don Hannibal II was finally armed with ammunition of his own to address the situation.
While Don Hannibal II prepared for war, Renian noblemen reported the attack to the Torian High Council. What would ultimately occur next would be the next widescale battle in the Gifted War, significantly worse than the first rebellion that was thwarted.