Sôrijan History 1 - The Birth of the East
The early Eastern Realms and the first war
Just after the foundation of Tark, the Sôrijan started to spread north east over the strip of land between the shores of Baitikar and the Hatara mountains. These were mainly farmers. With increasing population density, the first settlements, villages at first, later smaller cities developed as bases for trade and crafts. These were at first growing wildly. After some time Sôr, in disguise of Krin, the magistrate of Tark, wanted to get some more control over the growth and tried to install targeted exploration of inhabited areas and beyond. One smaller trading place named Zarhoka was fortified and got its own academy in 610bD. Two further places, Tsorak and Ronk followed in 520bD. and 490bD. respectively.
With the rise of these cities, the envy of the smaller towns rose as well, because trade started to concentrate in the cities and it quickly became palpable that a lot of wealth was drained from the smaller towns to the three bigger cities. First smaller caravans between the cities were raided, then traveling scholars from the academies were slain or held for ransom. In 386bD. the magistrates of the three cities met to find a solution. To protect cities and its inhabitants as well as travelers, the first army was installed. Quarrels arose about how this army was to be financed and controlled. The magistrate of Ronk suggested to ask for guidance from Tark, but Tukai, magistrate of Zarhoka, was able to persuade his colleague from Tsorak to vote for the army to be controlled locally with him as the prime commander. This meant virtual independence from Tark. Krin, i.e. Sôr tolerated this because he hoped for the freedom to be inspiring. This laissez-faire approach remained his main policy for centuries.
Inakja, the magistrate of Ronk threatened to leave this alliance of cities and in the future keep the fruits of their explorations between Ronk and Tark and not share them, if command was not handed over to Krin or shared between all three magistrates. When Tukai in return withdrew his soldiers from Ronk, though raids had recently increased in the region, Inakja made her threats become true. So, while all three cities together formed some sort of loosely tied entity outside Tark, this step turned both, Ronk and the alliance between Tsorak and Zarhoka, into independent political units. Also, Ronk was a large source for new knowledge and for the first time it was not shared with the other cities. When Inakja built her own army, mainly to protect travelers, this was almost seen as an act of aggression against the alliance, who hoped that Ronk would only shortly keep its independence.
All this happened only a few seasons after the scholar Shotarko calculated the first reckoning in 394bD. (a year which for long was seen as the year 0 and in some outskirts of the Eastern Realms still is). His success in research had never been seen before. He refined the known star charts and by surveying the changes over the year made first an estimation towards a year's length and finally calculated the length to 809 days. This made him the most renown scholar of his times. In 382bD. Shotarko and his convoy of guards vanished on their way from Tsorak to Zarhoka. Desperate, Tukai asked Inakja for help, but she declined. This caused many suspicions in Zarhoka that Shotarko was kidnapped by soldiers from Ronk. When the population asked for revenge, Tukai decides to liberate Shotarko by force. The first Sôrijan war begins in 381bD.
This step caused a further secession within the Eastern Realms, since the magistrate of Tsorak did not agree upon Tukai's decision. As a result he withdrew his soldiers from the army and declared neutrality. Still, the army of Zarhoka marched towards Ronk and besieged the city for many days before, driven by hunger, the soldiers of Ronk went into battle. Just amidst the most brutal phase of the battle, news reached the attacker's camp that the body of Shotarko was found buried close to a village that was known for its violence. It took some time to have the news spread over the battlefield, but finally Tukai walked out towards Inakja and knelt before her to ask for forgiveness. Thus the war ended.
The growth of the East
Shortly after that, Fárhon, magistrate of Tsorak, decided upon a political reformation. He installed the office of the legate, who ruled over the secular, political issues of Tsorak, while the magistrate concentrated upon the business of the academy. Consequently he left his position at the academy to be the first carrying this title. Shortly afterwards the Tukai and Inakja followed his example.
With the shock of the first war still palpable, the three cities tried to further the exploration of the land instead of quarreling with each other. Within a short span of time four more cities were founded, Jôk, Katarka, Supaij and finally Sirhapa. The latter were the most ambitious projects, both initiated by the new legate of Ronk, Kaôt. Both cities were far away from the original cities, Sirhapa was even situated on the other side of the Hatara mountains.
To ensure safe traveling, the legates started to make amends towards the villages in trading regulations. This calmed most of the smaller rural barons, while others went into hiding and tried to sabotage this new bond. The cities' legates agreed to protect the villages with their soldiers or with equipping a militia. Thus the protectorates were born, larger areas of land, controlled by the legates.
The situation changed when in 297bD. Fárhon died in Tsorak. Benki, the magistrate was chosen to follow as the new legate, but Pjane, Tsorak's governor in Katarka wished to do the same. With a large escort of her personal guards she marched into the protectorate's capital to demonstrate her power, hoping to force Benki to back down, especially since the magistrate was regarded as an extremely reluctant personality. To her surprise Benki proved to be just as reluctant to back down. Instead he ordered the city guards, outnumbering those of Pjane, to first arrest the unsuccessful usurper and later to throw her out of the city, not without ordering a young scholar from his academy to replace her as governor of Katarka. But Pjane had still a lot of influence in Katarka. Upon her return she had the new governor incarcerated and killed. His severed head was sent to Benki.
The second of the new cities to become independent was the ambitious Sirhapa. In 278bD. a extremely harsh winter struck the Hatara mountains. Even over spring and summer the pathways towards the coastal regions could not be passed. Only when the next spring came, being 273bD., the first caravans from Ronk tried to pass over the mountains but had to realize that in the meantime the old roads had vanished under numbers of avalanches and rocks. When the first explorers managed to get to the other side of the mountains in the summer, they were unable to locate the city. It was presumed to be lost. It was not until many years later that it was found again. Sirhapa had by then prospered and grown into a very rich and independent city.
Rise of the Empire of Katarka
Pjane had turned Katarka from a colony into an independent and confident protectorate in its own right. In the following years she expanded the city's sphere of influence So that the protectorate had the largest territory of all when Pjane died in 249bD. Her successor, Setan, continued this. In 220bD. his territory reached as far as close to Jôk in the north and almost as close to Tsorak. Benki, still legate of Tsorak, had by now grown old and tired. When it became obvious that Setan tried to expand the protectorate even further and possibly try to gain the power over Tsorak his predecessor had been denied, he handed his power over to the young Nagita. As new legate of Tsorak she decided to stop Setan's urge south. She mustered a great army to match the troops from Tsorak that patrolled the protectorate's borders. In return Setan sent messengers south to Zarhoka and Ronk, pretending to ask for help against what he described as an open aggression. The legates of the two southern cities did not know what to make of the situation and together they agreed to remain neutral in this conflict.
Setan then provoked several incidents along the borders to Tsorak, causing Nagita to strengthen her forces there and virtually closing the borders for any traffic north or south. The result was twofold. First, Zarhoka and Ronk protested heavily, since they could no longer reach the northern provinces of their protectorates in Supaij and Jôk. Second, the northern cities were still under the command of governors, but they did had to act mostly independent. Setan used this situation by arranging numerous strategically placed attacks on citizens and caravans from both cities, seemingly being committed by local rogue peasants. By 215bD. Jôk and Supaij had joined the protectorate of Katarka, without Ronk and Zarhoka knowing about it.
In 213bD. the pressure on Tsorak increased, when Ronk and Katarka signed a treaty of cooperation. Nagita was trapped in between two enemies. When the legate of Ronk desired to have larger troops pass through her area to support Setan's troops fighting against the rogue peasants, she even understood this as the attempt to bring Ronk's army close to Tsorak in order to attack the city. She not only denied, she even strengthened her borders towards Ronk. Unfortunately these military enterprises weakened the economy of Tsorak quickly. Nagita had to act and thus decided to attack Ronk. Of course the legate of Ronk asked for help from the new ally in Katarka, but Setan hesitated, claiming to fear loosing too many warriors helping Ronk and leaving his own protectorate defenseless. His claim was that his prime duty was the safety of his protectorate to which he has sworn an oath. Actually, Setan was strong enough to crush Nagita's troops. This became obvious, when the legate of Ronk secretly sent word to Katarka that they were willing to join Setan's protectorate if he was willing to help. Within less that a season, Setan's warriors swept over Tsorak and stood before the gates of Ronk. He was greeted in great triumph and when the legate of Ronk came out of the gates and knelt down in front of him, he threw the head of Nagita to his feet.
By 211bD. Setan had overthrown most of the Eastern Realms. This was the beginning of the Empire of Katarka.
Consolidation and downfall of Katarka
Setan did not last long as emperor. He died relatively young in 206bD.without having named a successor. Shanak, the magistrate of Katarka, was asked to either fill the position of legate or find a replacement instead. Shanak was an eager already old teacher of culture at Katarka academy. Some in the academy's council did not see him fit for serving as legate at his age, several, among them the young Kutanu, thought of themselves as better candidates. They feared, he would not last long enough to provide stability. But Shanak did not budge. Instead, when he learned that the council's majority was against him, he had them all killed after a meeting of the council. Only Kutanu, who was on a trip to Jôk at the time, survived. He went into hiding. After Shanak installed a reign of terror all over the empire, since now he feared that there were still forces at work to overthrow him. More and more military was drafted, something the empire could well afford at the moment. But Shanak also installed the Hapaki Son, the "invisible knights", a network of spies that tried to find every dissident possible. Many wrong accusations wee made, because in his blindness, Shanak rewarded everyone well whom he thought of as an ally. A web of distrust spread over the empire.
In fact Shanak missed to find Kutanu, though he kept searching for him. Many rumors went over the land where he might hide. These rumors quickly became legends of Kutanu scheming in secret to overthrow the usurper, though it was forbidden to tell these tales and the Hapaki Son were busy executing Shanak's will. In 164bD. these rumors became true, when one morning the mutilated body of Shanak was found on a stake in the central market place of Katarka. Kutanu and a group of faithful men and women had broken into the legate's palace and killed the emperor. Immediately the relieved population called Kutanu the new emperor and hoped that now the dark times were over.
They weren't. Kutanu started a bloody witchhunt on Shanak's men. They were all publicly executed. On the other hand Kutanu used Shanak's infrastructure wisely by taking over the Hapaki Son. The following seasons, the new emperor ruled the huge protectorate with much less paranoia that his predecessor, but with an iron fist. But it became more and more obvious that an empire this size was hard to rule and hard to control. In 128bD. Kutanu sat over a huge banquet with all governors of the empire, when suddenly he dropped dead, being poisoned by an unknown assassin. In the ensuing chaos, a small army of renegades from Jôk that had waited nearby picked up its arms and stormed into the city. The military was not only overthrown, relieved that the reign of terror had ended, they even helped to destroy the city that had grown to be the largest in the Eastern Realms. After less than ten days, the city of Katarka was virtually inexistent and the empire disintegrated into five independent protectorates.