The atmosphere in Caelon in the late 50s and the entire decade of the 60s A4 became more and more tense as the idea of there being an inherent right to ascend to royalty by possessing the Holy Blood of the First Son. After King Moro won his rite to secede through combat and Queen Casli claimed her queendom through diplomacy, the land was abuzz with the spark that would enflame the land in revolt against the strict rule of the White Walled City. While some governors would try to win their titles through combat, and be denied the opportunity, the majority of the regional leaders at this time wanted to talk their way into royal status the same as Queen Casli. All would fail to do so, leading to the bloodiest chapter of the Gifted Wars – called “The Refusals”.
In the East, where Queen Casli ruled, many of the regional governors there did not take well to a woman outranking them. Still, several of the local lords defended her as their queen, first through words and then through warfare. As is the case nine Centuries later, most of the conflicts in this time were fought by bands of raiders as opposed to all-out warfare. Skirmishes were a part of life as many of the local lords fought to take from Queen Casli what she had earned through more peaceful means.
Now forced to defend her title, she created a large court of lords that not only included her most loyal subjects but also her most outspoken critics. It was a bold strategy that angered many of those who had not threatened her rule and had stayed by her side the whole time. Still, turning enemies into allies proved mostly successful to stave off much of the potential conflict she would have otherwise endured. That strategy would only work so long without conflict, however.
Queen Casli’s minister of coin, her longtime friend and ally and one of the first appointees to her court as she established her rule, attempted a coup against her. Fifteen men hired by the lord stormed the queen’s quarters one night, only to find men armed with holy relics waiting for them. The men were either slain or arrested, and the ones who had been put in chains spoke out against the minister of coin publicly for a less harsh sentence. The minister of coin was executed by forced ingestion of poisoned wine from his own vineyard, so that, in the words of Queen Casli, he might “taste the full harvest of that which he had sown.”
The Queen was able to predict the movements of the minister because of the word from a one-time former outspoken critic, Don Felix, who pretended to be in cahoots with the minister of coin. Because of this, Queen Casli extended the proposal of marriage, giving him the title of consort and Duke, one of the most powerful seats to be given to a man who was not monarch.
The conflicts continued through the second decade of the Gifted Wars, but none would come as close to overthrowing the rule of Queen Casli as the minister of coin who had attempted her murder.
In the years that passed since Eldrio Moro was crowned king of Ismar, the kingdom struggled to thrive. Cut off from the resources of the White Walled City and in poor standing with the area’s lords, Ismar had a hard time becoming self-sufficient. While not barred from trading with Ismar’s realm altogether, Torian-controlled holds were penalized for doing so in the form of extreme taxation. It was no longer very profitable to trade with Ismar or its newly conquered sister city of Shalona, so once thriving trade routes suffered immensely. It became apparent that the existence of the kingdom would be constantly in jeopardy.
To make matters worse, King Eldrio Moro got debilitatingly sick in 66 A4, becoming bed-ridden and exhausted to the point of not being able to rule the kingdom. The rule then fell de facto to Eldrio’s first son and heir, Dirion Moro, albeit with vocal pushback by Eldrio’s second son Mago. Dirion had been lack in his duties for much of his adult life, focusing more on the pleasures that his position afforded him. Much of the princely duties that should have been handled by Dirion were instead picked up by Mago. This caused a rift in the family, especially when at their father’s absence the court appointed Dirion the voice of the King.
Mago fell in line regardless of the pride that burdened him at seeing his brother rightfully take his position as head of the realm. He wrote often in his private journals about how unfair life had been to him, first to take his beloved daughter Magia away from him, and then to give his contentious brother position over him. What infuriated Mago even more was that Dirion seemed to be entirely too forgiving to the bloodline of Don Hannibal Alren of Ismar, the house that was largely responsible for the disappearance of Mago’s daughter.
Mago had been told years before by his father that he would inherit the city of Shalona, a prize that Mago refused in anger. Now that he had grown and seen his brother rise up as leader ahead of him, his mind had changed about the inheritance. Except now, his father was not in the right state to make any such decree for the benefit of Mago, and his brother was entirely too friendly with Hannibal III, the new lord after he deposed governor was slain.
Tensions between brothers became more evident as it became more and more apparent that Shalona would not be granted to Mago but instead be retained by the Alren line. It is said that Mago approached his father demanding to be granted the rule as duke of Shalona, but was met with a blank stare as his father’s condition had reached a terrible state. Angered by his brother’s actions in trying to undermine his authority, Dirion warned his brother that his misplaced pride would be the end of him. In a very public manner, Mago humiliated Dirion by calling him a drunk and a womanizer, hardly material for a king.
The very next day, Dirion made two bold moves in retaliation against Mago. Dirion, through the full support of the court of Ismar, proclaimed his father ineligible to retain rulership and thus pronounced himself king. His very first action as king was to break apart the realm by pronouncing Hannibal III Alren the rightful heir of Shalona, giving the hold its own portion of the realm to be kept as a new kingdom. He decreed that because Shalona and Ismar were born together as siblings, they should always stand together as equals and no longer as one kingdom dominated by another. The irony of the proclamation was not lost on Mago, who had reached his breaking point.
Mago, who showed considerably more power in his blood inherited from the First Son, knew that he could easily defeat his brother Dirion in a duel. Dirion was not said to have retained any of the gifts of his lineage. When word came to him that Mago was to challenge Dirion for his position at the start of the coronation of King Hannibal III, Dirion went into his brother’s chambers to discuss the issue with him. The night was short, as Mago threw him out and refused to meet with him again.
It would be the last time Mago would be seen in his right mind. No one knows exactly what happened, but Mago did not come out of his quarters for several days. Word soon came that Mago fell ill, bedridden and unable to talk or move without great struggle. Exactly what befell him cannot be known, but the uncanny resemblance to the illness that befell his father has caused many in the days and years that have passed to believe that neither one of their causes of what befell them were natural.
All that is known is that shortly after, Shalona and Ismar were once again equals, sister cities that had become sister kingdoms, two of the greatest in the early Age of Kings.
The General’s Return
The drums of war beat out across the land, as more and more of the governors sought to claim their prominence through the Rule of Gifted Birthright, as Queen Casli had done. All over Caelon, the Torian rule crumbled and gave way to the early kingdoms of the Age of Kings. But the rule would not be opposed without a struggle, and now the great General Tonsior and his army had been recalled from the South to quell the uprising at home. Soon, the peninsula would be brought into the bloodiest conflict seen since the Fall of Man as the last act of the Gifted Wars was about to commence.