The Mercenary Queen
The city of Ivory Bay sits forty miles north of Port Ashen. It is a free city bordering The Kingdom of Dasan to the south and The Fury’s Shield Mountains to the north. It loosely borders the lands of The Republic of Tipshaw which has been known to try and claim the whole region and is constantly struggling with Dasan over territory. As to Tipshaw’s claims of sovereignty, the Five Princes don’t have any forces in the area, nor do they have any means of enforcing such claims, so Ivory Bay remains a safe and independent city with good relations with Dasan.
Ivory Bay is the capital of the Free State of Ivory. It is the largest city in the area, boasting a population well over fifty thousand with a transient population that increase the city’s population to over one hundred thousand. Ivory Bay is the primary transportation and trade hub for the northern territories, allowing access to the Fury’s Shield Mountains and the various wilderness villages and populations that live there. This has made Ivory Bay grow wealthy in a short period of time. Ivory Bay is also the central headquarters of the Army and Navy of the Free State of Ivory. Neither is very large and both focus on the defense of the realm and enforcing trade regulations.
In the days of King Melaus the Third of Dasan, before the rise of the Republic of Tipshaw, there was a small fishing village that rose in the shadow of Caer Folsom, the northern most defensive position of the Kingdom. Here resided Duke Ivory Hanar, first cousin to the King and defender of the northern marches. Duke Ivory was a just and pious man who believed in the good of men who were give the freedom to pursue their own happiness. It was and still is a radical notion. While the maintained the laws of the land, he took a much broader interpretation in their enforcement. While he collected taxes from his subjects, Lord Ivory did not bleed them dry. Nor did he demand all that was within his right to demand from them. Instead he asked for a tenth of their produce to ensure that he could grant his own responsibilities to King and Country. Anything in excess he and his servants needed he paid for. This, in his mind helped to stimulate the economy of the village and help it to grow. In point of fact it did just that. The people, knowing that they would be paid the fair value of their produce worked harder, produced more, and even were able to export some of their goods to other communities that were within Duke Ivory’s control. This in turn helped those communities to prosper and grow as well.
The growth and prosperity of the region caught the attention of others, drawing adventurers and refugees alike looking for a place where they could prosper. The small fishing village quickly grew, adding artisans and skill laborers to their numbers. With the growth came more attention, specifically that of Prince Zaer Dasan. He was surprised to see the northern marches becoming so wealthy, so he sent spies to discover the reason why. If there was some reason for the sudden shifting of the region’s prosperity, he wanted to know it’s source and exploit it. When he learned that it was his cousin’s economic policies and his less than strict adherence to the King’s commands, he began to poison the King’s ear against Duke Hanar.
Unfortunately for Prince Zaer, the conflict with Tipshaw would raise it’s ugly head. Duke Ivory was called home, leaving Caer Folsom and his territories int he hands of his daughter Lady Fiona Hanar and a handful of his armsmen. The people of the villages rallied their young men and sent a contingent with their Duke to ensure he would have adequate force to fight the battles to come. Those that remained behind worked even harder to ensure that the lands were cared for and secure. Fiona sitting in her father’s stead had nothing to worry about. The villages formed a militia to protect the passes and guard Caer Folsom under the guidance and direction of Sir Mal Turek. Fortunately for them, Prince Zaer was sent to war as well.
The first wave of Dasan’s forces would face defeat trying to assault the city of Justaen. Admiral Matheus Kern’s navy would be torn to shreds by the Tipshaw fleet. When the remnant of his forces met up with those under the command of Duke Hanar, the Duke chose to change the assault location. He landed his forces with the support of Kern’s fleet north of Justaen and laid siege to the city from the land. Tipshaw’s navy made resupply nearly impossible, devastating Dasan’s fleets every time they came near. Duke Hanar sent to the King, informing him that without more troops, it would be impossible to force a resolution.
In the end, Duke Hanar did the only thing he could do, he retreated his army overland, raiding as he went to ensure the supplies his men needed were secured. He sent the remainder of his own fleet north to Folsom to await their arrival. Once he reached the Strait of Folsom he summoned the fleet to carry the army back to Ivory. A discouraged and harassed army returned to Dasan. None of the commanders or soldiers said one thing against Duke Ivory, declaring to the King that he had saved them from certain destruction. Prince Zaer on the other hand had run from Tipshaw seeking shelter in the islands of Caer Effelas. As the Prince had not yet returned from the siege, the King could not substantiate the accusations. Duke Hanar said nothing with regard to the Prince’s cowardice. Instead, he merely stated in his report to the King that the conflict had been difficult and had it not been for the effectiveness of the Tipshawan Navy, it might have turned out differently. He did say that because of the Tipshawan Navy, Dasan was in danger and more consideration needed to be given to bringing their own forces up to par. The King relented and allowed Hanar to return home under the guise of ensuring the northern land approaches were secure.
What was unknown at the time was that Prince Zaer had been captured by the Tipshawan forces. His captivity would not be known until after the abysmal failure of their land army to force a way through into Dasan. Duke Hanar and his forces not only withstood the siege of the Tipshawan Army, but actually managed to repel the Tipshawan Navy from their port, ensuring that some support could still arrive by sea. The stalemate finally drove Tipshaw to sue for peace with Dasan. Part of the agreement guaranteed the return of Prince Zaer and granted Tipshaw the right to be a free nation.
Zaer stormed and raged about those who dared to call him a coward, even though it was confirmed he was captured trying to flee the battle. He blamed all the commanders, including Duke Hanar for his disgrace, but all this did was anger King Melaus and make him exile the Prince to the Eastern Province of Trinar to serve as govern of the area. Crown Prince Ariel would eventually convince his father to bring his wayward brother back, but Prince Zaer would not regain the King’s confidence.