Extollo

Period Overview



Life in 0 A.D. Anduruna paints an unflattering portrait of what the Silent Centuries must have held. Housing, sanitation, and sustenance were of a decidedly primitive quality. Except for the mysterious Outer Wall and district divisions, the most impressive structures were fortified stone towers in the center of every district. Even these crude rock fortresses were advanced when compared to the humble habitations of the populace.

Dwellings were simple: piled stone walls complementing wooden thatched huts, streets of trampled mud, no plumbing, and no running water. The unsanitary conditions and lack of insulation during the cold months meant disease and death were an everyday facet of life. Strangely, dreamkeepers living directly subsequent to the Silent Centuries had no method or custom for disposing of the deceased. More disease and death resulted before they developed burial and cremation techniques.

Subsistence was derived from simple agriculture and herding. The districts being sparsely populated, most of the land was used for crops and grazing. Animals raised included manekales, kerricks, knossus, and especially brambles, which were a staple food item.

Written language had, apparently, been developed for some time: but its application was cumbersome and rare. Text was used mainly for recording basic business transactions, ad-hoc legal declarations, or other practical applications. Most notes were used temporarily, and as such quickly scrawled tablets or bark-skin scrolls were the typical repository of writings. Permanently bound books and paper had not yet been developed.

Clothing was primitive - tanned hides and leather, rough hand-woven cloth wrappings, and braided cords. Life was toilsome, but using their powers and their wits these early dreamkeepers not only survived, but soon began to thrive.

The population grew swiftly, as evident rebound from centuries of controlled conditions. Although infant mortality rates were by all accounts sobering, the dreamkeepers of the time lived in exultation of their child-birthing freedom and safety. (The old myths had heavily featured nightmare baby snatchers.) Reproduction was rife not only as an expression of liberty, but as a pragmatic matter. Many children died before reaching maturity, and one never knew which children would grow up to develop a critically helpful power. In fact, certain powers could be valuable to the family in other ways, as the child could be loaned out to other districts that may have need of its abilities. This type of trade was one of the earliest forms of inter-district cooperation. Though the citizens of early Anduruna had humble origins, they had clear ambitions for their future. They had the desire for improvement, for a more stable life. The innovative among them began imagining systematic harvesting techniques, envisioned harnessing the flowing Eridan to bring water wherever needed, desired safer warmer homes, and organized constructive leadership.

Anduruna began to slowly pull itself up from the squalid conditions of the Silent Centuries, improving their agricultural techniques and living conditions rapidly. It was in the midst of this burgeoning revival that a foreign dreamkeeper culture brought conflict, and eventually, all-out war.


Timeline



0 A.D.: The dreamkeepers of Anduruna began recording history once again, after a mysterious seven hundred years of silence. Their living conditions were squalid, but through vigorous effort, began to improve.

Mid 1 A.D.: Hailing from an unknown and apparently more developed culture, clothed in exotic smooth garb, the ‘prophets’ arrived in the Anduruna region. They came with a message: that they were privy to the one true goddess of the world, and furthermore, all of Anduruna must worship her image or be forsaken. They had with them idols and images of their deity, and preached to all who would hear, urging conversion, loyalty, and worship of their beautiful goddess Serapis.

Most Andurunans declined, having no desire to worship another culture’s idols. The Sacrare religious followers were especially contemptuous, seeing no reason to abandon their healthy variety of deities for a mere lone goddess. The locals began to call the prophets ‘Extollo’, or ‘worshippers‘, with a derogatory connotation. The Extollo - calling themselves Serapeans - warned that any who did not worship Serapis would be destroyed. The Extollo were eventually ejected from the city.

Early 2 A.D.: The Extollo returned, in force. A multitudinous army of Serapean dreamkeepers completed a vast cross-continental march, arrived on the southern plains of Anduruna, and formed up against the Outer Wall. Extrapolating their relatively instantaneous arrival, it is apparent they were on the march even before their forerunning prophets were rejected. Their army was intimidating - massive in number, easily 200,000 soldiers. Their armor was polished and uniform, the soldiers armed, and every one of their number trained from childhood in the destructive application and mastery of their power.

Additionally, the Serapeans were raised in the belief that they could not be defeated. All-powerful Serapis was the source of every dreamkeeper’s power. She granted strength beneficently to her warriors, and could revoke the power of their enemies on a whim. The foes of Serapis were only granted power so that her warriors could have the singular opportunity to showcase their courage and attain glory in battle. Under this religious mindset, the Serapeans would risk any death and danger.

The Serapeans called out for the surrender of the Andurunans - the condition being the absolute worship of their deity Serapis, and slavery to those who refused. The Andurunans rejected the terms of surrender, in what one contemporary account described as a ‘rude and irreverent manner befitting mockery and the language of the uncouth’.

Shortly after this coarse rejection, the furious Extollo went to work unloading their mysterious caravan contents. Methodically constructing edifices on the field, some Andurunans wondered at first what these bizarre sophisticated structures could possibly be. Conjecture ceased, as the equipment tests made their purpose clear: the Extollo were building siege-works: rolling towers, ballista of all forms, and escalading equipment. Ironically, the Serapeans’ practiced siege preparations, lasting nearly a week, may have been the key to Anduruna’s initial survival. Those precious days allowed a totally unprepared city to muster for protection and stake defensive positions. Once the preparations were complete, war followed swiftly.

2 A.D. - 6 A.D.: The Outer Wall was the only barrier between the Andurunans and religious genocide. Built on a solid base of regenerating flo-wood, the stone battlements rose to a height exceeding eighty feet in most places. Although untrained and only somewhat familiar with their powers, the formidable Outer Wall enabled the Andurunans to repel the first furious assaults of the Serapeans. The superior organization, training, and power mastery of the Extollo would have spelled disaster for the Andurunans on an even field of battle.

Although woefully outmatched, the spirit and vigor with which the Andurunans applied themselves to war must stand as a testament to their passion for freedom. Aside from the wall, this powerful attitude of unifying defiance and courage is what allowed them to withstand aggression from a superior force.

Once used for construction and farming, dreamkeeper powers found entirely new application on the field of battle. Abilities once domestically useless became suddenly beyond value, and even the lesser gifted bent what ability they had towards the task at hand.

Strategic leaders and thinkers began to emerge among the Andurunans. The tactical decision was made to avert, avoid, and delay pitched battle whenever possible, making the war one of attrition. Since Anduruna grew and raised its food within the walls, this would convey them an advantage over the farmer-less Serapean warriors. The foreign legion sustained itself via food stores, raid attempts, and long, vulnerable supply lines to home.

Using the Starfall forests as cover, the Andurunans began launching sorties and harassing raids, targeting the stockpiles and stores of the Extollo, and sending guerilla bands to plunder Serapean supply convoys. The powerful Extollo were not to be easily weakened, however.

The siege warfare, raids, battles, incursions, and bloodshed continued for years, with the advantage wavering between the opposing sides. The Andurunans developed their powers as quickly as possible, and many became effective warriors in a short time span. However, the final determining factor of the conflict was not to be one of military superiority. As one historian coined, this was the first war to be won not by fighters, but by farmers. In the end, the Andurunans could feed themselves, and the Serapeans could not.

6 A.D.: Finally the Extollo army broke in starvation and disillusionment. They struck a retreat march, leaving victory in the hands of the embattled and proud Andurunans. Many of the Extollo were terribly disenchanted with their goddess. In defeat, they felt betrayed: as though Serapis had gifted their enemies with greater power. Many Serapeans lost faith and chose to abandon their former beliefs. Additionally, the defeated Extollo saw something in Anduruna that was utterly unknown within their own culture: individual freedom. Soldiers were faced with the choice of returning, defeated, to a theocratic slave regime or remaining to start anew. The end result was mass defection, with hordes joining the side of Anduruna - weakening the retreating Extollo ranks, and augmenting the victory.

Unwelcome within the city walls, refugee camps of defecting Serapeans sprouted up in the nearby plains.

7 A.D.: The first council of Anduruna was held, and deliberations ensued. Their enemy in retreat, the question stood: should they remain to rebuild, and trust the war was concluded - or should they pursue their enemies and finish off the threat for good? In the end the decision was made to trail and destroy the defeated Extollo forces. Volunteers were conscripted into the first organized Anduruna army. Although significant numbers of Serapean refugees volunteered, nearly all were turned down for fears of shifting loyalties. Only a tiny handful were conscripted to act as guides to the Andurunan incursion. Under the battle-tested general Dayraider, they set off across the world and beyond their borders into the unknown, following the trail of the Serapeans.

8 A.D.: Crossing through exotic and barren lands, the Anduruna army also came across various villages and outposts giving worship to Serapis. These residences provided ample opportunity for the Andurunans to raid and pillage, thus bolstering both their supplies and the ranks of disaffected Extollo.

The rumor began to spread throughout the wide-ranging kingdom of Serapeum that an opposing army was laying waste to the lands of their goddess. While some Serapeans became disillusioned with their faith, others resented the challenge and fortified their resolve against the Anduruna invasion.

9 A.D.: What happened next will stand as one of the bloodiest single conflicts in recorded history. The Andurunans, although weathered war veterans, were caught completely off guard by the tactics of the Serapeans. They had planned to besiege the vaunted stronghold city, Serapeum. It was assumed the Serapeans would wage war from behind their city walls, to minimize losses. The Andurunans were physically and mentally equipped to execute an extended circumvallating siege operation. They were shocked when, still days from the Serapean capitol, the landscape was shocked by a sudden earthquake. In the midst of the natural disaster, the Extollo army appeared from virtually nowhere, and immediately launched an all-out attack assaulting the Andurunans mid-march.

The settling landscape was open and utterly devoid of cover - the unprotected armies engaged in close quarters melee combat without a single factor to mitigate bloodshed. The losses on both sides were severe, as powers laid waste through ranks of bodies.

After grueling hours of bloodletting, the armies finally withdrew from one another in exhaustion. The 'Day of the Dueling Armies', as it is remembered, ended in an appallingly futile draw. Some records indicate that the casualties on both sides were as high as seventy percent.

History leaves no clear explanation as to why the Serapeans chose to expose their army to such devastating open conflict. Many historians have assumed that they were overly confident in their martial superiority, but others have conjectured that social-political motivations were involved. With their society based on theism, and the demoralizing impact of Anduruna victories in Serapean settlements, it is possible that the theistic ruling class feared the erosion of their religion following Anduruna victories within sight of the capitol city walls.

The armies withdrew to within sight of one another, and spent the next two days gathering and cataloguing their wounded, while making enfeebled attempts to appear formidable to one another through shows of arms. It is testament enough to their battered condition that, rather than exercise any martial stratagems, negotiations were turned to immediately by both parties.

The diminished Andurunan army was greeted by a Serapean messenger party. The Serapean dignitaries and Dayraider conferred for several hours, and as the story goes, reached terms for a peace between the two nations. A treaty was signed by both parties. Serapeum agreed to never again invade the Anduruna region, so long as Anduruna did not pioneer any new settlements beyond their 'Sky Road'. Exhausted after their bloody ordeal, the Andurunans accepted any agreement that ensured peace for the homeland. Treaty signed and truce officiated, they began the march back home.

10 A.D.: The remains of the Anduruna army returned, having paid dearly for the region's reprieve from war. They were welcomed back as heroes, and the city prepared at last for a future free of conflict.

11 A.D.: The celebrated military leader Dayraider of Norvondire, beloved by his soldiers and glorified by the populace, was unanimously declared the first king of Anduruna. Sadly, the peace in Anduruna did not long outlive his reign.