The unprecedented success of newly crowned King Eldrio Moro of Ismar in the year 54 A4 changed the political landscape of Caelon immediately. Word spread fast throughout the land that he had succeeded where Joske, lord of Iobina had failed, and had won sovereignty over the Torian rule. Although sentiment for independence had already grown among many of the lords of the land, the victory of King Moro served as a catalyst for the notion that by having blood of the First Son in their veins, that gave them the right to rule as kings. Wars on many fronts would soon be waged, an uncoordinated yet decisively effective turn of events that would prove impossible to stop. And so began the inevitable fall of the unified Torian Empire.
Pressing the Claim
Shortly after Ismar gained its right to be called a kingdom, it became evident that the kingdom would not survive for long without claiming more Torian-controlled land. While some lesser lords of smaller houses joined Ismar’s realm willingly in the hopes of gaining power alongside the newly crowned king, this posed a very tangible threat to Shalona, Ismar’s rival city.
Already in dire straits due to the collapsed relationship with primary trading partner Ismar, Shalona requested immediate aid and protection from the White Walled City. When word came back that the city would only be able to spare 150 men for their protection, instead of the requested 500, city defense officials became increasingly concerned and disillusioned with the might of the Torian Empire.
Meanwhile, the Torian Empire faced a growing threat of its own in the Southern Tribelands, against scattered tribes of men who continued to press north toward Caelon. The guerilla tactics of the tribesmen against the traditionally-trained soldiers embarrassed the Torian war command so much that it is said caused them to over-extend their armies in hopes of crushing a foe more ideological than tangible. Torian forces being spread too thin gave not only Ismar, but other cities with ambitious desires a chance to act.
A Second Kingdom is Born
While Ismar gathered strength in the west, another lord sought the victory that King Moro had won for himself and his line. Don Valenicus, another of the line of the First Son, and one of the first assigned lordship over a reclaimed city, loudly proclaimed himself King of Alestino, the city across the mountains directly north of the White Walled City, in the year 55 A4.
By cutting off the mountain path leading to the their city and fortifying it heavily with the bulk of his forces, he gambled against the concerns that Torian forces would muster a counter-attack from the North in their settlements. When the city was never attacked from the north, it became clear that the defense of the mountain pathway would pay off.
After successfully repelling Torian forces for several months, it was apparent that the mountain pathway was the greatest defensible natural structure, a lesson that would not be forgotten many, many years later when the Warathi forces ultimately began their northern push from the captured White Walled City. But that is a story for another time.
A Bloody End to the Ismar-Shalona Conflict
In the year 56, Emissaries from Ismar delivered a dire warning to Shalona: Either submit to the will of King Moro and willingly become a vassal of his kingdom, or be crushed by their forces. It should come as no surprise that Don Hannibal II would offer no such admission of defeat, instead digging his feet in even deeper. In preparation for his inevitable battle against Ismar, he sent his son Hannibal III to the nearby allied town of Riveni to muster support and seek refuge in light of the upcoming battle.
The governor of Riveni sent a measly group of 60 some men to aid Shalona. While Riveni was apparently supportive, they were certainly nowhere near as powerful as a major settlement like Ismar.
When Ismar came to Shalona’s door, they surrounded the city in an attempt to starve them out and press their surrender. This proved unsuccessful as Shalona refused to go quietly. From over the hills to the east came Torian reinforcements from Renia, and now the battle was able to be fought from both sides. Although Ismar forces outnumbered the joint forces of Shalona, there was no clear winner on either side for many days.
The second bloody day of the battle saw a North-South split of the Ismar forces, a major victory that caused the Ismarians to fall back on both sides of the city. Cutting them off from being able to regroup, the joint Shalona-Renia forces pressed the line at every attempt the Ismarians made to unify their troops. It began to look as if Shalona would stand tall against the onslaught after all.
And then King Eldrio Moro took to the battlefield personally. Using his gifts to manipulate the ground around him to crush their defenses, he sent them flying both figuratively and literally. The Ismar forces were rejoined on the western front on the third day, pressing the attack and once again surrounding the city walls.
A challenge was made by King Eldrio to Don Hannibal in order to put an end to the conflict. Citing the same right of duel that won him his kingship, he gave Don Hannibal the opportunity to stand up against him, that not one more life of his people would be lost. Stunning the Shalona forces and further breaking their morale, Don Hannibal turned down the challenge.
The remaining forces inside the city stayed there, quickly depleting their resources over the next few days. On the seventh day of the battle, a small group of riders from Riveni arrived from the North carrying a white flag. Among them was Hannibal III, who in place of his father attempted to put an end to the city’s defense. The group was permitted inside the city walls, where Hannibal III met with his father in an attempt to have him agree to terms of surrender.
Instead, Don Hannibal II ordered his sergeant-at-arms to execute Hannibal III by beheading and “display his head on a spike on the parapet so that King Moro would see that Don Hannibal is no coward and shall never surrender.”
After performing the act in disgusted subservience, the sergeant-at-arms retreated to his quarters. Within an hour, there was a total mutiny of the soldiers in the city, a descent into chaos that ended with the murder of Don Hannibal II by his own men.
And thus ended the conflict between Shalona and Ismar. The city of Shalona became a vassal lordship under the kingdom of Ismar on that day.