Seagulls shrieked and swooped, their shrill cries echoing off the mountains. Eagles soared, rising to towering heights on their vast wings. Their voices rang from the sea, to the towering walls of the fortress of House Numitor.
Evening fell, and the birds returned to their nests. One Eagle however, still stalked the world.
Numitor stamped up and down, wearing a infinitesimal path into the stones beneath his feet. The grim faces of his advisers were motionless, as they sat along a long table, awaiting his decision.
“I have followed Gaius in good faith for many years, despite all the decisions he made, to the detriment of the common folk. Allowing that pompous despot, Ardashir to trample over the land, letting the Roklavs go unpunished.” He turned sharply, and stood in front of the fire. Waves crashed onto the shore, the surf booming.
"Felix…he was like a son to me. A son I never had. And Gaius took him from me!!"
He turned to the second in command of the Tenth Legion, Felix’ own unit.
"What is the mood in the camps, Primus Pilus?"
He was answered. "They are seething sir. The men loved Legate Mehemii, and hearing of his arrest and execution are ready to rise."
Numitor considered. "Then combined with the 3rd, 4th, and 6th, that makes some 20,000 men total. Any word from the more southern Legions?"
The lead intelligence officer for the Castrum Valkorium responded. “Word has it that they are still loyal.”
“I see. And the fleet?”
“Somewhat split, those units in the capitol are loyal, our own vessels here are solidly behind us. Gaius overall has more ships, the older sail-powered ones. Luckily, Lucius Balbus, who started this whole debacle, has taken his fleet to sea, all the ironclad vessels with him. It appears he’s staying neutral, for now. The Ultorii family also controls the drydocks, so we can’t take over construction of our own battleships without bring down Lucius on us.”
Numitor walked over to the wall where on his greatsword hung, and stared at it for awhile, before pulling it down and drawing it.
“I swore a sacred oath to uphold Valkoria, and protect it against all adversaries. I never thought that I would go to war with my own nation, but such is the time, such the circumstance. If such be the fate my house, so be it. Muster the legions. And send word to Lavande, Eurwen and Oribel will need to be warned that Gaius cannot be trusted, let us hope our men reach them first.”
The messengers sped from the castle that very night, carrying their messages of doom to all the bases in the north. For two days, all was deathly still. Then in the morning, a grim look upon their face, the Tenth Legion arrived, their desire for vengeance written clear upon their stalwart bearing. They were soon followed by the remaining Valkorian troops stationed nearby.
Numitor spoke to them, placed his sword upon his back, and led his army south. Pacing at their head, he uttered a prayer to Neptune. *If Felix is alive, let him stay far away from here. Lord of Seas, watch over him, in life…or in death. And keep us safe from harm in this war, for truly, alea iacta est.
Elsewhere in Valkoria, more winged beast shrieked their cries, but in the capitol, Valkora, it was deathly still. Smoke still hung over the city, and few stirred from their homes.
In yet another room in that towering pillar of grey and white, a second council of war was taking place.
"The Mehmii fund us, there is little love lost between the father and the son. The Ultorii are undecided in this war, they mean to reap the spoils after it is over. The Lucii have sided with Numitor, along with the 3rd Legion. The Balbii are with us as well, but they bring much advice, but few soldiers, sire."
Gaius stroked his chin. “The Ultorii can wait, I’ll deal with them later. This war will not be fought at sea, but on land with sword, spear, and the iron fist of the cannon. I shall lead our army personally in the field, and meet Numitor” he got up, and tapped a spot on the map spread out before them, "here, by the river."
A general brought up a question many of them were thinking about. “What of the other nations? Lavande is closer to Numitor, and could provide a valuable ally, or dangerous foe, given our current strength. In Kaveh, the cruiser that visits our garrison there monthly saw a great many lights on its return trip. The captain turned around immediately, and found that a Keelish ship got into a altercation with the garrison. I sent it back the minute it arrived here, to defend our interests there, but the other kingdoms of this world show a great interest in Kaveh.” Gaius answered. "Send a diplomat to Lavande, order them to stay neutral. If the cruiser is there, Kaveh is fine. Do not, under any circumstances, send anyone to the Iron Concord. They are too power hungry to side with us, and would gobble up the winner in an instant. "
Echoing Numitor’s gestures from 3 days before, and hundreds of miles away, he stood up. "You have your orders. Let us crush this rebellion, and turn our attentions elsewhere. That is all."
The men stood, and saluted. As he walked out, Gaius paused to look around the room. Lucius played me like a fool. I AM a fool. This war will drag on and on, and Valkoria is doomed.*
The Dreadful cut a smooth path through the waves, undisturbed by eagles, seagulls, or any other birds. Alongside her, carving their own watery contrails through the ocean waves, was the Valkorian fleet, a few battleships, cruisers, and a handful of destroyers. Steel gleamed from the shining hulls, and towering superstructures, highlighting the great guns and turrets with which Lucius Ultorii could fulfill his desire. To rule Valkoria, as Emperor Ultorius, the first in a millennium.
So Gaius, you are now feeling the web I have drawn around you draw tight. If you win, I win. If Numitor wins, I win. And the kingdom that I have served for so long shall be MINE.
The ships continued on their course, sailing towards the naval base, and the Ultor home, on the eastern side of the Valkorian peninsula.
The royal army met Numitor near the place by the river. Instead of winning the war in a crushing royal victory however, Gaius was forced to try and dislodge Numitor, who dug in on the opposite bank. A series of fearsome battles took place, as both sides struggled for control of the river. Finally, on the third day after the battle began, Numitor fell back to a more defendable position, leaving ten thousand dead Valkorians behind him, strewn all around both sides of the river. As Gaius slowly followed him, burdened with his wounded, Numitor ambushed him with the Tenth legion, and hurled the royal army back in rout.
Unfortunately for the rebel Lord, Gaius in turn ambushed the victorious northerners, leaving both sides exhausted, weakened, and with no true winner.
After several months, in which both sides regrouped, the war continued, with ambush and escapade, siege and sortie, death, and defeat. Several years passed, and the tides of Alluran diplomacy passed over the once proud kingdom, with outside nations occasionally interacting with one side or another. No true winner emerged, only constant war, until the legions on both sides, except for the Steel Guard, and the Tenth, threatened to quit.
Luckily for Valkoria, Gaius, Numitor, and Felix, Lucius slipped up. After 8 months of devastating war, he could no longer restrain his men, and fell upon Valkora, the capitol, laying waste to it in minutes. He then marched the Ultor army north, rolling up Gaius’ rear as he went.
Faced with this new foe, bent on conquering all, Numitor put away his grief and rage, and allied with Gaius once more, leading to a war with House Numitor, and House Caesarii on one side, and House Ultorii and House Mehemii on the other. The other great families secluded themselves, sometimes allying themselves with one side, now the other.