1024 - 1299 KTR (Tiberium Rising Supplement)
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Humanity's faith in the Church is tested by a ground breaking discovery. Many abandon the faith, and wars erupt between the heretics and the faithful. Nearly all are embroiled in the battles of belief.
By 1024 KTR, the Church's influence was unquestioned. Virtually all humans took it on faith that it was solely by Lord Cuthbert's grace that civilization was founded. Priests and clerics were universally admired, and it was unimaginable to allow any unaffiliated with the Church to do anything so important as running a town, organizing a militia, or teaching children. As the Church grew in strength, the other sentient races were willing to work with them, or at least would not dare defy their will.
Soon, the Church began to explore the world outside of Remia. The freshwater oceans of Vasuda are a breeding ground for harrowing storms without warning, and enormous sea beasts were sighted often, blamed for the deaths of those who did not succumb to the weather. It was not until 1024 KTR that any were willing to or capable of braving the seas. The Church began funding the construction of massive ships, meant to carry steadfast knights, clerics and civilians to the distant lands divined by the Order of the Star. The dream was to find new lands for the faithful to prosper, and even to find populations of savages without the Word of Lord Cuthbert to bring civilization. The first destination was the Isle of Heraklion, located just over 300 miles off the coast of Remia. Even this comparatively short distance required immense planning, as mages and engineers set to develop a craft strong enough to fend off the creatures of the oceans, and survive the brutal storms.
Arriving on the coast of the fated island after a journey of three nights and days, the explorers arrived on its desolate shores. Fauna was non-existent, with only a low layer of grass covering the ground. No signs of civilization greeted the visitors, and they prepared to stay for only the night, conducting a more thorough survey of the land before departing to tell of the rigors of marine travel, and the void of life outside of the shores of Remia. However, it was upon this closer survey they discovered a lone sign of civilization, one nearly dismissed as a trick of the eye: a yawning cavern, ringed with stone far too smooth and symmetric to be the result of any natural process.
The first explorers who discovered the cavern were baffled: the scriptures of their god had prepared them for nothing like this. An unsettled, unexplored region with evidence that it had been previously occupied was beyond conception in the minds of the faithful. After all, they were the first civilization; nothing could have existed before them, at least not with in the confines of the Church's worldview. As the clergy of the Stars and the Rose debated the importance of the discovery, the Knights of the Templar did what they did best: act. Four knights volunteered to brave the abyss, and search for meaning in its darkest recesses.
Nothing emerged from the pit for seven days and seven nights. At the end of the week, as the rest of the expedition's members prepared to return to the mainland, a lone knight, John Crete emerged, his armor shed, weapons lost, and tunic in tatters. At first he refused to speak, even as clerics tended his wounds and sought to heal his mind. Partway through the voyage home, he finally spoke, telling tales of unfathomable horrors and walls that shifted before their very eyes, of cloying fog and maddening whispers. Upon reporting to the Church in Parsé, he immediately demanded to found a fort on the island to contain the foul beasts within. Thus, the Cretan Guard of the Labyrinth was formed.
The Heretic Empire
The discovery of artificial structures on the island of Heraklion sent a ripple throughout the Church. A religion that claimed to hold the records of all civilization, and the first organization to fund a voyage across the treacherous seas, discovered something that could only have been built by man or dwarves. The discovery was relayed to the Church's elders, and despite attempts to keep the news sequestered, it spread like wildfire amongst the clergy. Even as initial probes into the cavern suggested it may have been of extraplanar origin, the fact there was nothing in the Word that foretold the cave shook the faith of many, now convinced that civilization is not only founded by the grace of Lord Cuthbert.
Foundation of Rebels
Many fled the fold of the Church, fearing reprisals from the clerics of the Order of the Stars. Those who fled, particularly leaders of large parishes and cities, realized they could form their own nation, free from the Word. Together in the center of Remia, they formed the Aipeon Empire, centered around the city of Antion. The Empire seized prime farming territory, and inducted nearby farmers as citizens. This was an affront to the Church's authority, and impudence of this magnitude was unheard of in all of history.
The next 90 years were characterized by mounting military and economic tensions between the Aipean people and the Church of Lord Cuthbert. The Church denounced the heretics, while the Empire lambasted the Church as being built on an edifice of lies. Lord Cuthbert's teachings were not welcome in the Empire, while the Church fought ardently to contain the Empire. Over the years, many were swayed to either side, and humanity was almost evenly divided between the two. Many did not join the empire out of religious disillusion, but out of hope for a new beginning in a nation not governed by the Word.
Non-humans were dragged into the affair, despite attempts to claim noninvolvement. Halflings, as the face of most sentient trade, were forced to choose between either faction, as trading with one necessarily meant a boycott from the other. Many continued dealing with the Church, partly out of its firm economic structure, partly due to habit. A few, particularly the halflings closely tied to dwarves, traded with the Aipeon Empire, in part to continue the destabilization of human dominance, and also to see if humans without a central Church would be more amenable to other sentient races.
However, near the turn of the century, the Empire slowly became more fanatical, and dedicated to power for power's sake. One of the most shocking moves of the Empire was to begin razing the Brocton forest at the southern tip of the newly christened Imperial Isthmus. They began building a city to rival Parsé in beauty and grandeur, all while driving out the elves who had originally called the forest and its groves as their home. This move began to push opinion against the Empire, as it was seen to be obsessed with power, not the original intention of acting as an alternative to the Church.
War and Rebellion
By 1113 KTR, most humans could not remember an era without the Aipeon Empire. The strife between the Church of Lord Cuthbert and the Empire was a fact of life for them, and hostile attitudes were ingrained in the members of the nations. In the summer, the surmounting tensions from the Empire's seizure of the Imperial Isthmus, finally reached a boiling point, as a knight of the Church was executed for sabotaging farming on the outskirts of Antion. The ensuing war was the first true conflict between nations, and the appointed generals fumbled in the newfound art of battle. The war lasted for nearly 150 years, with alternating periods of détente, siege and combat, each faction taking periods to regroup, rebuild, and renew their onslaught. Non-humans found themselves taking sides in the war, in fear that if they had no ally, both sides would see them as hostile.
Battles raged for decades throughout Remia. The Church started with the upper hand, since it already had a strong military in the Knights' Templar. The Empire was swiftly driven out of the Imperial Isthmus, leaving behind a half-built citadel and a devastated forest. However, the Empire halted their progress on the outskirts of Antion, where the lines stayed drawn for nearly 100 years
The war was decisively concluded during the Siege of Antion, in 1257 KTR. The Knights' Templar, now thoroughly experienced in war, had surrounded that city, drastically reducing its food stores and access to fresh water. After 4 weeks into the siege, the beleaguered civilians of Antion had finally had enough. They were tired of war, tired of others dragging them into ideological conflicts they had no stake or interest in, and tired of following those who would never fight themselves. The Antian people rebelled against the Empire swiftly, and brutally. Whereas the Church held trials for the heretics and offered them a chance for atonement, the Antians held no mercy for the leaders that ordered drafted soldiers to their deaths.
The Free State of Antion
The brutality of the war left the people of Antion leery of leaders. In the place of the monarchy of the Empire and the hierarchy of the Church, they instead formed a democracy, where citizens of the city and surrounding environs would all vote directly for any state decision. They made it clear they would never tolerate another attempt to rule them. While they would trade freely with all sentient races and factions, it would be on their terms, and their terms alone.
Many downtrodden farmers, weary from decades of war, flocked to the city state. By 1275 KTR, Antion was home to virtually all farmers, and incredible amounts of territory surrounding the land were devoted to agriculture. They held a near monopoly on agricultural goods, but were never organized enough to take advantage of the fact. Food was always sold at appropriate value, never more, never less. While Antion has the capacity to cripple the world, they are content to live, and let live.
Survival in Silence
Many in the Empire occupied a middle ground; they believed the Church did not know all of history, but they respected it as a moral authority and as one of the first agents of civilization. They fled the more fanatical elements to live in the southern tip of Remia, and as the war ended, they quietly settled into the crumbling citadel left behind over a century earlier. There, they hid, living quietly out of reach of the Church, attempting to make amends for the Empire's treatment of the nonhumans impacted by the wanton destruction of the forest. Slowly, the Empire's survivors became allied with the elves, halflings, and even a few dwarves. As these alliances grew, the Church caught wind of the survivors. They let it go, deeming the effort necessary to apprehend them a waste of now-depleted resources.
These descendants of the Empire began to form their ideal government, without the strict restrictions of a religious order bearing down upon it. However, though they were happy to be left in peace, they still did not trust the Word, and slowly became convinced that something was wrong with a god caring about who ran the government. This conviction slowly grew into a quiet desire to build an Empire that would rival what the Church considered it's ordained right. It was no longer a matter of conquering the Church, but instead leaving such an attractive alternative, the Church would lose its grip on governance.
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