The two oldest of the Verdant Kingdoms are Càrceres and Lyria and it’s hard to say which of the two came first. Lyria became a kingdom when most of the other current kingdoms were still warring, bickering tribes and clans. It was born from the necessity of uniting the different regions against the threats pouring from the rifts caused by the conjunction of planes.
The Age of Peace
During the Time of Peace, the first humans settled themselves along the northern coast of what is now known as the Lyrian Gulf. They found the land to be fertile and verdant with a predominantly temperate climate. They quickly started to explore and spread in all directions.
They were quickly introduced to the elder races, who had been living in what would become Lyria for aeons. The dwarves of clan Thoradun and the Aen Canell elves were infatuated with the curious and precocious humans. They took them under their wing and introduced them to the lands, its inhabitants and its creatures.
Relations with the elder races were very warm and under their guidance, the humans started to settle all long the gulf and further inland. They worked the land, fished the streams and hunted in the woods. Eventually, they were self-reliant enough to start exploring the rest of what the lands had to offer.
The Age of Fear
When the Conjunction of Planes happened, the Age of Fear started. The elder races had retreated to their mountain and forest sanctuaries, leaving the humans to fend for themselves against overwhelming evil. While under siege from the evil that poured out of the rifts that opened up across the lands, the humans grew bitter and angry. Their innocence and precociousness made place for impulsiveness, selfishness and greed. Some of the elder races would later claim that it was merely the corruption that the demons brought, while others claimed that the corruption had been there all along, and that the demons had just lured it out of the humans.
The Knights of the Silver Crusade
Eventually, the human started to come to terms with the idea that if they wanted to survive the onslaught, they would have to fend themselves. No longer could they rely on the protection afforded by their association with the elder races. Groups and organisations started to form which actively sought to protect the vulnerable and put up a resistance against the monstrosities from beyond the rifts.
One such group called itself the Knights of the Silver Crusade. They found some success when they discovered the demons to be susceptible to the lyrium ore they had found around the rifts. It took a generation for them to learn how to work the rare metal so that it wouldn’t lose its special properties, but once they mastered it, their ability to strike back at the fiends multiplied. With every victory their notoriety grew and more men and women lined up to join their ranks. Their losses were great, but with every victory their ranks swelled, their understanding of the fiends grew, and they harvested more lyrium from around the rifts.
When humans finally started to harness the arcane arts and establish divine connections to an extent that they began to understand where the fiends were coming from and the nature of their home planes, they started to understand the war they were involved in.
The wisest and most talented of these human came together to exchange information, spells and research. Initially they supported the Silver Crusade and its knights with the knowledge they had gathered, but soon they were actively fighting alongside them, banishing demons and closing rifts. They also aided the knights with enchantments, spiritual guidance as well as their rods and staves. Closing and sealing rifts became essential. Not only did it restore peace to the surrounding area, it also allowed for the priests to purify the corruption that had crept forth from the rifts and into the lands and surroundings, and the subsequent mining of lyrium.
Eventually, these men and women became known as the Senhadrim and they were an essential part of the Silver Crusade.
The Founding of Lyria
At the height of the Age of Fear, when the battle against the rift fiends was at its peak and the Silver Crusade was at its strongest, the populace cried out for a leader. The tale of Sir William Garamond, first of his name, was known along all of the gulf. The direct descendant of the fabled Sir Marcus Garamond, the mythical founder and leader of the first generation of Knights of the Silver Crusade, Sir William stood at the helm of the Silver Crusade. He was well respected by all knights, had earned the respect of the Senhadrim, was the founder of the Order of the Gryphon and famously wrestled, broke, saddled and flew the first of the griffons the order became known for.
With the support of the knights, the Senhadrim and the rest of the Silver Crusade, Sir William Garamond was proclaimed king of the gulf. King of Lyria, named after the strange ore they had fashioned their tide-turning weapons from.
Eventually, after generations of struggling against the fiendish onslaught under the leadership of the Garamond dynasty, the frequency of the opening rifts plummeted. When the Senhadrim declared the conjunction of planes to be over, the Silver Crusade came to an end and the knights renamed themselves the Knights of Lyria.
The elder races started to reappear from their sanctuaries and found that the world they had turned their back on had changed. They humans they found were more adversarial than the ones they had left behind. The land had changed as well. It now bore the scars of the Age of Fear. The elder races had changed, too. They might have protected themselves by turning away, and perhaps they weren’t as defenceless as the humans were when the conjunction began, but they were by no means spared.
The time of high magic was over and slowly the potency of magic started waning. All but the most dedicated scholars and arcanists lost their grip on the most powerful magic. Even the Senhadrim. Like a muscle, it needed to be exercised lest it wither away. Artifacts were retired, grimoires were stored in great libraries and nobility hung their magical swords over the seats in their great halls.
Just like with the arcanists, people of faith found that they lost their grip on their connection with the divine as well. While fervent prayers were still being answered, the extent to which the priests had been able to perform miracles had been greatly diminished. Church attendance dropped off over generations and the clergy lost much of their influence.
Eventually, the Knights of Lyria became an institution, the Senhadrim lost their prominence and appeared to be dissolved, magic became rare and divine miracles even rarer. People spread across the lands and new kingdoms sprang up. The memory of the conjunction, the rifts and the demons began to fade. But before everyone had completely forgotten, all of the twelve kingdoms that had sprang up during the waning decided to commemorate the new age of peace by agreeing upon a common, shared calendar. They declared it year zero.
War With Cypria and Càrceres
While there was peace, it was a relative peace. For generations Lyria only saw some border wars and some escalating internal conflicts. There were wars in the north, between Helmark and Daerlan, to the east, between Silesia and Mazuria, and to the west, between Cypria and Arroya, which got so bloody that Beauclair ended up stepping in to stabilise the conflict, taking large chunks of territory from each of the nations.
Lyria always remained relatively conflict free. It was seen by the other nations as the birthplace of human civilisation in the Verdant Kingdoms and a good ally to trade with. It was only when Càrceres started to become a powerful trading nation in its own right when things started to change.
Due to its sunnier and more arid climate, as well as due to some breakthroughs in irrigation techniques in the early part of the eight century, Càrceres was able to produce fresh fruits which quickly became delicacies across the kingdoms. While apples, pears and berries of all kinds could be found in many of the kingdoms, Càrceres quickly cornered the market on citrus fruits, which they quickly began exporting to Cypria, Arroya and Beauclair.
Cyprian merchants made deals with Càrcerian producers to become their primary trading partner. It was an unexpected decision that surprised Lyrian merchants. Cypria started trading fruits to the more northern kingdoms in exchange for furs, ore, gems and other goods. It was a mutually beneficial agreement that made both Cypria and Càrceres quite wealthy.
Lyrian merchants felt snubbed and started to try and find ways to outmanoeuvre Cyprian merchants. Their purchasing power was significantly larger than that of the Cyprians, and so the Cyprians quickly found their trade routes drying up. The only thing they could trade their citrus fruits for was coin, which would not have been bad, if the goods they wanted to trade their fruit for had not been bought up by Lyrian traders who started charging extra for goods to Cyprian merchants.
Eventually, Cyprian merchants, with the full weight of the Càrceres monarchy behind them, started to consolidate their power; their fruits were of great value in the northern kingdoms, where winters were long and the health benefits of the citrus fruits were undeniable. Lyrian merchants found that northern merchants would no longer sell their goods to Lyria due to the deals they had made with Cypria.
It did not take long for Lyria to start making threats toward Cypria and in particular towards the Càrceres court. The Lyrians knew full well that Càrceres was the real power behind the southern alliance. Cypria made payments to pirates and freebooters to harass Lyrian merchant vessels and eventually Lyria had to respond by sending out their fleet to secure the southern sea.
Càrceres had anticipated the Lyrian response to the pirate threat and had started to build an armada of war galleys in secret. Fortunately for Lyria, Arroyan spies had discovered the Càrceres production. Arroya, ever the bitter enemy of Cypria, decided to inform the Lyrian court about the Càrceres plan to use their armada to attack the Lyrian fleet.
The surprise that Càrceres had planned did not unfold as they had anticipated. On the second day of the first ride of Spring Storm, in the year 872, they fought a vicious naval battle along the Darkshore against an ever retreating Lyrian fleet. When the Càrcerian armada neared the Lyrian Tooth, they were set upon by fresh Lyrian ships, aided by the Order of the Gryphon, and the armada was destroyed.
After the remaining Lyrian ships blocked the Càrcerian harbours for two years, Càrceres was economically weakened enough for them to sue for peace. Càrceres agreed to break their exclusivity agreement with Cypria and also start dealing with Lyrian merchants. In no time Càrceres was back on their feet, but it took Cypria much longer to recover, and even longer to forget who caused them such hardship.
To this day the second day of the first ride of Spring Storm is remembered by Lyrians and Càrcerians alike. The Lyrians celebrate their victory and the Càrcerians their hubris.
The End of the d’Aragon Dynasty
In the month of Autumn Twilight, in the year 941, when King Phillip d’Aragon, third of his name, became gravely ill, he decreed that from that day onward, until the end of Lyria’s days, men and women would be equal in the eyes of the gods and under the law, in all matter of inheritance.
King Phillip loved his daughter, princess Síle d’Aragon, first of her name, very dearly and saw in her a better leader than in his younger son, prince Estienne d’Aragon, third of his name. Princess Síle had already married to the popular Beauclairois marquess, Tristan of house Valois, and had begotten her father a grandson, prince Tristan, of house Valois, second of his name.
The law instantly became highly disputed, but King Phillip lived long enough to see to it that it was implemented in all of the regions of Lyria. When he finally passed away and the princess took the throne as queen, and with her the Valois name.
There were a great many rumours that the Valois family had ensorcelled the dying king. Many of the nobility disobeyed the new laws of succession, especially in those areas furthest removed from the capital. There was talk of a great rebellion against the new ruler, but it never came. It turned out that the old King Phillip had chosen his successor wisely, for the Queen was an excellent diplomat and monarch and knew how to demand loyalty and keep her subjects happy.
Within two generations most people had gotten used to the Valois name, but there were a few places where cups were raised in honour of the d’Aragon name.
Occupation by Beauclair
On the day of the Greengrass celebration in the year 1064, after months of diplomatic friction between the Lyrian and Beauclairois courts, the king of Beauclair, Palmerin le Septième, sent his younger brother, prince Guillaume de Launfal, marching down the Beauclair Boulevard to invade Lyria.
The host was forty thousand footmen, fifteen thousand lancers, eight thousand knight-errant and two hundred eagle riders. The prince sat astride a mighty Gorgon and his personal guard consisted of seven paladins and four wizards, all riding specially trained unicorns. At the same time, the Elder Foothills and Westershire were invaded by smaller hosts, less impressively outfitted, but still formidable.
The speed with which the host moved from Sanségal to the border was unprecedented, and before the Lyrian court could mobilise the nobility the host had invaded Ashenvale and were marching on Blue Harbour while keeping the Westershire men busy while simultaneously holding the Tiverton Glades at sword point.
From the moment prince Guillaume de Launfal crossed the border, it took less than two rides for Kingsport to be in control of the Beauclairois. King Phillip, of house Valois, second of his name, had fled the capital and had retreated to the east. Prince Guillaume was declared regent of Lyria in name of King Palmerin le Septième de Beauclair.
The reason for this act of aggression was “a long history of arrogance, rudeness, cowardice and a lack of honour.” Lyrians were considered direct, brash, arrogant and too concerned with mercantilism. If the Lyrians were surprised at the invasions, so reasoned the Beauclairois, then that was simply evidence of their complete lack of social graces.
Meanwhile, the exiled King Phillip was rallying support in order to drive the occupiers from Lyria. The Lyrian Knights had pledged their support from the moment the Beauclairois had invaded. They, too, had been surprised by the attack, but had thick walls to hide behind and were not routed from their fortresses easily. The king found sanctuary in Gryphon’s Roost and the Silverpines became the centre of the resistance.
On the first day of the third ride in the month of Winter Eve, 1068, on Midinváerne when scholars say that the Darkmoon was at its fullest the fortress of Gryphon’s Roost was shook by the violent intrusion of a group of five szygani assassins, out for King Phillip’s blood. A dozen crownsguard and a veteran court wizard paid with their lives to bring the five assassins down. While the king got away with only minor wounds, it appeared that the szygani had coated their blades with poison, and several priests of Pholtus were called in to bring the king back to health.
Although there was no evidence that the prince Guillaume de Launfal was behind the attack the resistance eagerly spread that rumour. This hypocrisy by the Beauclairois was exactly the thing that was needed to truly galvanise the Lyrian nobility into action. Feelings of patriotism were further deepened and hatred for the szygani rose to an all-time high.
Though the Beauclairois distanced themselves from what they proclaimed a cowardly attack, and there was no proof of the complicity, they couldn’t shake the implications that they were somehow involved in the assassination attempt.
Eventually the situation became too costly for the Beauclairois to continue their occupation and they called for King Phillip to enter negotiations, arbitrated by the Daerlanian court. In the end it was agreed that reparations would have to be made by Lyria to the Beauclairois court to “mend the damage Lyrian lack had respect had caused the people of Beauclair over time” and in return there would be a full and unequivocal retreat by the Beauclairois and they would return sovereignty to the rightful monarch of Lyria; King Phillip, of house Valois, second of his name.
The Courtenay Rebellion
In 1262, Queen Isabella, of house Valois, second of her name, sits the throne at the tender age of sixteen. She has sat the throne for the past four years, after surviving an attempt to usurp the throne by house Courtenay in what has since been called the Courtenay Rebellion.
Isabella’s father, King Augustine, of house Valois, first of his name, was assassinated by a group of foreigners and House Courtenay tried to take advantage of the political unrest to lay claim to the throne. Lord Charles Courtenay could never be proven to have sent the assassins for King Augustine, and while house Valois was vulnerable an attempt at retribution would have been unwise.
Lord Charles Courtenay’s claim to the throne dated back hundreds of years. The Valois dynasty started from the ashes of house d’Aragon, the previous dynastic rulers of Lyria. When king Phillip d’Aragon had decreed that the next in line to the throne would follow the eldest female line, the throne ended up Queen Isabella’s. Had the throne passed the eldest male line, it would have ended up Lord Charles’.
While chaos was spreading across the capitol of Kingsport, it was the Lyrian Knights who kept the young princess Isabella safe. She was crowned at the age of twelve. Her uncle-by-marriage, Lord Gabriel Valois-Antille is the current Steward of Kingsport and councils Queen Isabella on all matters.