Kingdom of Cygnar
|Other names:||Jewel of the Iron Kingdoms|
|Other languages:||Llaelese, Ordic, Rhulic, Khadoran|
Cygnar, officially the Kingdom of Cygnar is a parliamentary monarchy in western Immoren.
The name "Cygnar" originates from the Cygnus standard used by the Kingdom of Caspia during the rule of Benewic Govant, later King Benewic I of the Kingdom of Cygnar in 203 AR. His banner was a golden swan on a blue field, which remains in use as the official flag of Cygnar. 1b
The first Menite city was established in 6500 BR at Icthier. The legendary Priest-King Cinot founded and ruled the city for four centuries. It remained the center of Menite civilization long after his death. In 5500 BR an expedition departed Icthier under the leadership of the priest Geth to spread the Menite faith in the uncivilized lands to the north. 2b
In 4000 BR the people of Icthier were forced to abandon their city because of drastic changes to the environment. This disaster is recorded as the Time of the Burning Sky. The Menites found refuge in the lands along the Black River. In 2800 BR Valent Thrace united the Menites and built a new city called Calacia at the mouth of the Black River. Calacia had stone walls which led to it being called the Shield of Thrace. 2c
Priest-King Golivant I led the army of Calacia against the worshipers of the Devourer Wurm. Golivant I attacked and burned a number of villages west of Calacia. Horfar Grimmr, a trollkin chieftain gathered various Molgur tribes for an attack on Calacia. Golivant I successfully defended the city and defeated Horfar Grimmr in personal combat. The Molgur withdrew after the death of their leader. 2d After ten more years of war the Calacians defeated the Molgur in 2200 BR. 2a
After Golivant I died his heir Golivant II was unable to keep the Calacians unified. Golivant II was killed and the kingdom disintegrated. His son Golivant III reunified the Menites of Calacia in 2051 BR.2d In 2050 BR he expanded the city and consecrated new fortifications to Menoth. Golivant III renamed the city Caspia. 2a Caspia became known as the City of Walls for the new defenses raised by Golivant III. 2d
Thousand Cities Era Caspia
The defeat of the Molgur in 2200 BR allowed Caspia to prosper amongst the south kingdoms in Western Immoren and ushered in the Thousand Cities Era as fortified towns sprang up and engaged in trade, alliances, and war. 1a The constant flux of peace and war between neighbors made war profitable for freelance soldiers and would give rise to the Charter, the rules and structures that all mercenaries operate under when taking on contracts and negotiating warfare to avoid conflicts of interest. 3a
The numerous city states around Caspia formed shifting alliances but over time these alliances settled around common customs, dialects, and trade alliances to form the major human ethnic groups that would define Cygnar.
North of Caspia, a loose confederation of city states allied with one another into the nation of Midar around 1850 BR. Along the coast west of Caspia, Thuria was established with the unification of clans around the Bay of Stone. 1c Thuria was a nation notable for its philosophers, orators, unified military, and expansive navy. Their singular advance northward by land and the sea was challenged when a hundred castellans formed Tordor and ended with the Tordoran Conquest around 1322 BR. 1a
The nations which would later constitute modern Cygnar; Caspia, Midar, and Thuria, were devoted to the worship of Menoth with the exception of Morrdh. After the Time of the Burning Sky some of the descendants of Cinot founded the kingdom of Morrdh north of Caspia in what would later be known as the Thornwood Forest. With the defeat of the Molgur the Morridianes stopped their worship of Menoth and began practicing necromancy, infernalism, and entered an alliance with the dragon Ethrunbal. 4a
After the ascension and widespread worship of the Twins in 1894 BR, a final conflict with Midar in 1500 BR ended the reign of Morrdh. 1a The conflict created a diaspora of Morridianes into the rural regions of Cygnar and left a cultural scar upon the Cygnaran people. Morridianes are still addressed with suspicion and the profane evils that took place in the Thornwood during the time of Morrdh still compels profound wickedness to occur there.
After the ascension of Thamar and Morrow, the Menite leadership began reasserting their faith in the Creator and the rule of priest kings onto the Caspian populous. In 1882 BR, the Keeper Laertes Prado hide the original Enkheiridion before he was publicly tortured and executed by scrutators. This persecution forced the worshippers of the Twins to adopt isolationist policies. Copies of the Enkheiridion were preserved and spread across Western Immoren by priests who fled the Caspia while congregates hid their reverence from the watchful gaze of scrutators behind closed doors.
The isolationist policy adapted by Morrowan would be manifested in the Divinium, a vast monastery constructed under the direction of Nolland Orellius in the Wyrmwall Mountains. Nolland Orellius was Morrow’s first primarch and during his life would receive the gift of future sight through dreams. After Orellius’ death and ascension into Morrow’s first archon the inheritors of Orellius’ position would continue to receive prophecies delivered by Morrow. After the reoccurrence of this phenomenon Morrow would begiven a new name my his following. They would refer to him as The Prophet.
While the Thamarites have always depended on secretive and disparate sects, the Divinium allowed the Morrowans the preserve the centralized authority necessary for their faith to organize and survive.
The spreading worship of Thamar, Morrow, destruction of Morrdh, and the rise of scions and ascendants brought about the prosecution of Thamarites and Morrowans in those areas that were dominated by devotion to Menoth. While the scions of Thamar and ascendants of Morrow, such as chaplain alchemist Solovin and potentional plague doctor Remel performed miracles 1e 1f witnesses were scarce. Menoth’s scrutators questioned the validity of Thamar’s and Morrow’s divinity until they convened with Morrowan leaders at the Divinium, their holy place of worship. 1f
Before the leaders of these two faiths meet to usher in an era of good feelings, an assassin and Thamarite, Khorva, received visions. These dreams foretold a path to ascendancy paved with the attending Morrowan primarch's murder. When ascendant Katrena; patron of valor, knighthood, and nobility, manifested and slew Khorva, Thamar herself appeared to claim Khorva while Morrow protected Katrena from Thamar's wrath. This event proved the divinity of the Twins to the scrutators and abated their prosecuting gaze for a time. 1f
This temporary peace would bring about an era of innovation known as the Clockwork Renaissance.
The Clockwork Renaissance in Cygnar
Clockwork Renaissance Humanity began its endeavor into intellectual exploration when the Gifts of Menoth (the Flame, Wall, Sheaf, and the Law) were revealed to and implemented by the priest-king Cinot. Technological development up to the Clockwork Renaissance was marked with periods of sparse growth. Kielamandes made significant advancements in mathematics, formal logic, astronomy, and architecture. The Twins were not only an upheaval to the spiritual realm of Urcaen but them and their subsequent ascendants and scions provided moments of advancement. Morrow was a prodigy in natural philosophy and mathematics and Thamar showed an interest in astronomy and was a linguistic genius.5a However, wars with the Molgur, Morrdh, and Menite persecutions also brought stagnation.2f
After the destruction of the Molgur, fall of the Morrdh kingdom, and reconciliation of Menite and Morrowan faiths the time for discovery was possible. Glasneagh of Ceryl invented an algorithm to isolate prime numbers, Tolonia of Caspia advanced trigonometry into an early form of precalculus, and a Thurian group known as the Cloutsdown Enumerators developed analytical mechanics.5a Together they brought about the Clockwork Renaissance. During this period the following contributions would be made.
• In 1100 BR Voldu Grova, an Umbrean apothecary, applied quantitative experimentation to testing and categorizing alchemical compounds.2f • Janus Gilder from Mercir invented the printing press.2f • Drago Salvoro, a Khardic engineer, invented the steam engine.2h • The ascendant Angellia founded a great library in (blank), recovered and translated the original Enkheiridion that the Twins produced and recovered many other lost works.2f • During the Time of the Long Sun starting in 822 BR the Morrowan monk Gordenn refined breakthrough agricultural and irrigation techniques.2h • And architectural genius Sambert designed and oversaw the construction of the Archcourt Cathedral.2h • Copolius applied Grova’s methods and condensed his discoveries into the Crucibilus Synthetatus in 753 BR. Widespread use of Gilder’s printing press allowed for the practice of alchemy outlined in the Crucibilus Synthetatus to become distributed amongst the public and also established a unification of knowledge within the field.2h
The Clockwork Renaissance further expanded clockwork technology into almost every aspect of life from time to telescopes. Despite these advancements there were other dire developments with consequences for the Immoren mainland that would not yet bear fruit. The self-declared “God of Caen” Toruk the Dragonfather entered the Scharde Islands in 1000 BR to establish the Nightmare Empire of the Cryx.2g In Ios the elven deities of the Divine Court departed from their fanes to find a path back into the Veld and prevent their gradual decay.2h
Ogroth Occupation Era in Cygnar
When the black ships of the Ogroth crossed the Meredius with the help of infernal magics, none of the Thousand Cities would imagine their lasting impact upon the entirety of Western Immoren. Even those who lived in the wilds and borders of humanity were touched by the threat they embodied to the body and soul of nations. The gods who reside in Urcaen could not ignore them and in the end would intervene. The presence of the Ogroth lasted for 800 years and is broken into three eras. The initial 200 years of horrific conquest, 400 years of occupation, and 200 years of conquest.
You are ours. Your women, your children, they are no longer yours. You belong to us, your every breath, every drop of blood, every inch of skin. Every tear, every laugh, every broken bone, every drop of sweat is ours. You are the chattel of this land made fat by your own weakness. That I deign to speak to you this once is a warning. Your bodies in life are ours; in death, your souls shall also belong to us. – Ogroth warlord Kolegzein IV
The regional division of the Thousand Cities era and the religious reconciliations that lead to the innovations of the Clockwork Renaissance would prove vulnerable to the unity of the Ogroth and their infernal technologies.
The shores of the Khardic Empire were the first to receive the Ogroth invaders and they were the first to fall. The horse lords of Khard and Umbrea, brought the greatest military land force that the Iron Kingdoms had witnessed, up to that point, to bear against the Ogroth but they were only rewarded with vast bloodshed. Without sorcerous aptitude and only relying upon divine miracles the horse lords could not match the war witches who commanded green fire and rained blood from the sky. Nor could they match the soldiers who wielded Fellblades and armor forged from fragmented souls that bore the visages of the damned. Alongside the Ogroth marched terrifying constructs, dreads, composed from tortured corpses and twisted iron. As causalities were inflicted upon the horse lords, the souls of the dead were visibly ripped from their bodies and pulled into large spiked cages. These souls were stored as sacrificial offerings for distant, alien godlike creatures known as Infernals.
Desperate the Umbrean horse lords resorted to necromancy. After many human sacrifices and desecrations, the old princes imbued the Black Crowns with the ability to raise their slain soldiers to serve once more, but even this was not enough to save them. Even though, the attempts of the horse lords to save themselves, their people, and their culture still leaves scares in the wilds of Umbrea where kurgans still conceal vast catacombs where deathless princes, animated by force of will and ancient necromancy, haunt lightless subterranean halls.
The other nations, jealous of the Khardic Empire’s scope and power, never mustered a unified defense. Instead, they were satisfied with the removal of a rival.
When the black ships sailed south, Todor sent their vast Dirgenmast Fleet to destroy the invaders but the fleet was never seen again. The great ships of the Dirgenmast fleet could not prevail against the black ships. The vast technology of Todor galleons could not match the knarrs of the Ogroth. After their decimation, freebooters whispered of long ships with oars that never tired and sails that bellowed from unseen winds. The ancestors of the Cygnaran people attempted to stem the Ogroth’s push into the interior after the total collapse of Immoren’ s western coast with paddle steamers sailing along riverways. However, wherever the Ogroth’s conquered they enslaved the population to shape indomitable fortresses, infrastructure for logistics, and industries to manufacture unmitigated warfare. The late rearguard actions of the Thurians and Caspians were not resilient enough to stop a complete domination of Todor, Thuria, the Khard Empire in 569 BR, and Rynyr in 542 BR.
After 200 years of facing the Ogroth war machine, Caspia was the only human kingdom that arose during the Thousand Cities era to retain its own diminished sovereignty. By 433 BR Caspia only existed within the labyrinthine curtain walls of its capital. These walls that had been fortified and refortified for over 2,000 years before the Ogroth invasion by both Menite and Morrowan hands kept the Caspians safe from Ogroth intrusion. Behind the vast tracks of stone and mortar, Caspians faced starvation, population decline and bottlenecking, and complete cultural isolation for 300 years to retain their freedom. Until the Rebellion, Caspia’s last contact with the outside world would be with the Ogroth warlord Kolegzein IV after he deceived Primarch Gallumus and Heirarch Sadron IV into leaving the city walls under a flag of peace. The warlord cut their throats and drank the warm blood of these two pontifices to prove to the Caspians that the gods of humanity could not save them.
The first two centuries of the Ogroth occupation were exceptionally brutal as they focused on grinding down resistance and building the infrastructure for empire. More extreme than even the Nightmare Empire of the Cryx, the Ogroth’s labor force consisted entirely of slaves and the reanimated dead. Through blood, exhaustion, and a holocaust of humanity the Ogroth forced the construction their massive black fortress cities and vast paved network of roads. While the black fortresses lie buried deep in wilderness areas the cities and roads built during the Ogroth occupation are still in common use today.
Even though the Ogroth appeared human in appearance they treated the humans of Western Immoren as insects or tools to be stored and disposed of when broken. In these death camps it was not uncommon for the undead to reside next to the living. Many families were also broken as people were sorted and shipped across the Meredius to never be seen again. The impact of this holocaust left a deep genetic and cultural memory upon all the humans of Western Immoren. The practice of slavery is still seen as taboo by all its people even in modern times. While the Ogroth’s subjugation was brutal they enforced a strict practice of segregation. Sexual intermingling between the human Ogroth and Immoren population was very rare and if the Western Immoren’s complied the Ogroth did not interfere with local customs or religions. Many of the settlements decimated during the invasion were rebuilt during the occupation.
The Ogroth’s devotion to conquest to gather resources for their infernal masters was so focal to the Ogroth’s strange and alien culture that they designated governance to appointed local collaborators. Much of the technology developed during Clockwork Renaissance was dismantled and forbidden however, trade and commerce between former city states was allowed. Communication and travel during this time was heavily restricted with city states being grouped into districts. These bureaucratic divisions would consolidate the cultural distinctions that would later grow into the nations of Iron Kingdoms as they are known today.
The Ogroth’s non-involvement policy that was driven by the fear of contamination by the natives of Western Immoren allowed for the Menite, Morrowan, and Thamarite faiths to persist. Ascendants and scions appeared during this area and each subverted the Ogroth in their way. The their and grave-robber Aiden gained notoriety by escaping captivity twice and only through his trusted lieutenant’s betrayal were the Ogroth able to kill him in 344 BR. Aiden’s soul would escape them when he ascended as a Scion of Thamar at the time of this demise. Some ascendants would come from unlikely origins. Rowan was born from a wealthy family of Ogroth collaborators and matured into adulthood unaware of the suffering experienced by everyday people under the shadow of the occupiers. Once she left the gardens walls of her home and witnessed the days of people whose lives were barely worth living, she renounced all wealth and dedicated her life to the physical and spiritual treatment of the general population. The Menite faith declined during this period as the priest-kings complied with the Ogroth occupation and Menoth did not visit any miracles upon Immoren. No one knows why Menoth did not interfere with the Ogroth invasion. Maybe in a twisted fashion the Ogroth provided order by threatening the agents of the Wurm, or the faith itself was able to exist under compliance, or Menoth as a god who only demanded obedience and expected his faithful to rely upon their own strength (as they did against the Molgur and he did against the Wurm) to overcome adversity perceived the struggle itself as a form of worship.
The permanent occupation of the Ogroth appeared inevitable however for reasons unknown the slave ships ceased sending Immorens back across the Meredius to the Ogroth homeland and the black ships stopped migrating additional Ogroth populations onto Immoren’s shores after 190 BR. Once it became clear to the Ogroth who had spent generations on the continent that Immoren was going to be their permanent home they began taking a personal involvement in the daily life of their chattel. This would trigger policies to repress and potentially extinguish worship of the human gods from the Iron Kingdoms. It was at this time that the Gift emerged, and humanity could perform magic for the first time. The pride and fear of the Ogroth would be the catalyst to ally all three of the human gods against them.
Founding of Cygnar
In 202 AR the Corvis Treaties were signed establishing the modern Kingdom of Cygnar, a nation stretching from the Thornwood and the Dragon’s Tongue River in the north to the Broken Coast and the Gulf of Caspia in the south. This new kingdom encompassed fertile farmlands in the northwest and east but also hundreds of miles of trackless wilderness, including the vast Wyrmwall Mountains, the Gnarls, and the Thornwood Forest. During this time Cygnar enjoyed a golden era of peace and prosperity.
Colossal Wars and Trollkin Uprisings
However this peace did not last long, despite being newly established nations the people of Khador and Cygnar had been bitter enemies since the wars of the old Khardic Empire. Cygnar's fourth king Woldred the Diligent, was immediately hurled into war upon the death of his father, King Benewic II in the Colossal War against Khador, whose severed head was paraded before the horrified Cygnaran lines. During the first year of his reign, Woldred led a coalition including Ord and Llael to end the Khadoran invasions. Khador was decisively defeated and was forced to accept the harsh terms of the Disarmament Conferences of 257 AR, which included the dismantling of the north’s mighty constructs and the establishment of the Colossal Guard. This significantly hindered Khador’s capabilities to wage war and allowed for four decades of peace. In 286 AR Woldred would voluntarily give up Cygnar’s colossals as well when a series of skirmishes with trollkin populations in the interior demonstrated the inherent vulnerabilities of these hulking machines. With the extreme costs of maintaining the great machines, the Colossal Guard proved unsustainable, leading to the birth of the first warjacks, smaller yet equally formidable constructs that could better negotiate the hazards of the battlefield and fight alongside infantry and cavalry.
Woldred’s last act was the establishment of “Woldred’s Covenant”, which stated that each king could abdicate the throne on his own terms and choose his successor to avoid “kin of bad quality.” Primogeniture would apply only if other terms were not provided. The Temple of Menoth which had clung tenaciously to its standing as the state religion despite dwindling numbers—supported the contract only under the condition that their priesthood retained the exclusive right to witness and notarize each king’s terms. Though the Morrowan faith was already dominant among the wider population, Menites remained a major power in Cygnar’s capital.
When Woldred died unexpectedly in 289 AR, his terms of succession could not be found, despite Menite priests insisting they had been drafted. Within a fortnight his nephew Malagant had seized the palace with a force of five hundred soldiers and claimed the throne. When the Temple of Menoth refuted Malagant’s right to rule, Malagant ordered over two hundred Menite priests to be arrested and hung, earning him the epithet Malagant the Grim. In 293 AR, Malagant declared the Church of Morrow as Cygnar’s official religion and dissolved all Menite authority within the government with strong public support.The growing strife had consequences abroad, Khador’s Queen Cherize initiated a border war with Cygnar in 293 AR that lasted until the queen’s sudden disappearance two years later. King Malagant died shortly thereafter. Ill omens and superstitious rumors surrounded the loss of both sovereigns.
Queen Ayn Vanar V, a girl of just five winters, was crowned in Khador. Too young to rule, she was represented by Lord Regent Velibor, who initiated an aggressive campaign to expand Khador’s borders and reclaim territories once held by the Khardic Empire. Under his guidance, Khador deflected an army of barbarians from his borders to those of the nation of Ord, intending to weaken its defenses before sending in the Khadoran Army. Intending to dispatch his own forces to follow in the wake of the barbarians and fall upon the weakened armies that stood against them, Velibor hoped such tactics would allow him to reclaim territories once held by the Khardic Empire, including swaths of northern Cygnar. However this failed due to the actions of Captain Markus Graza, an Ordic champion of Morrow who single-handedly turned the tide and humbled the northern barbarian chieftains.In the wars that followed Khador enjoyed some minor successes against Ord, most importantly claiming the Ordic city now known as Port Vladovar. Even these events did not unite Khador’s enemies. Llael and Cygnar sealed a formal alliance after the border wars, but Ord remained neutral, believing Khador had seized enough to satisfy its hunger for expansion.
First Cygnaran Civil War
For the next hundred and fifty years, Cygnar faced an ever-rising tide of religious animosity and many died in in these various clashes. However these were nothing compared to the rift that would tear Caspia in half starting in 483 AR. Their charismatic and vocal leader, Visgoth Sulon, called for all Cygnaran Menites to rally to him. Tens of thousands of Menites made the trek, coming from all corners of the kingdom to Caspia's eastern city portion across the Black River which had been a haven for the Menite minority. As the masses gathered, Sulon proclaimed himself hierarch of the faith and seized control of the portion of Caspia that lay east of the river, pushing out any non-Menites who lingered. Believing a riot was imminent but unaware of the organized and incensed nature of the Menites, the Caspian city watch tried to disperse the crowds and thousands of pilgrims rose against the Cygnaran militia and slew over three hundred guards in a frenzied revolt igniting the First Cygnaran Civil War, which raged from 482–484 AR. Zealous Menites nearly razed the river districts on the west bank of the City of Walls in the extensive fighting and the fate of the capital might have been sealed if not for the timely fall of Sulon. His death dealt a great blow to the morale of Menites and opened the doors to negotiations. High Prelate Shevann, head of the Morrowan Church treasury and a woman of spotless reputation, stepped forward. Serving as spokeswoman for King Bolton Grey V, she entreated Sulon’s successor, Visgoth Ozeall, for an end to the violence. After protracted discussions that elicited concessions on both sides, the Protectorate of Menoth was created as a means of ending the religious strife.The Menites were ceded land east of the Black River and the entirety of eastern Caspia, which they renamed Sul in honor of Hierarch Sulon. The Protectorate was allowed to govern their people without interference by the Cygnaran throne, with the understanding that they were still nominally part of Cygnar and subject to disarmament and taxation.
King Grigor Malfast who was crowned in 489 AR, five years after the end of the civil war, led the nation into an era of growth. The once depleted Cygnaran coffers filled with coin and Steamjacks became more common. Archduke Vinter Raelthorne II, Malfast’s most trusted vassal was instrumental in transforming the king’s grand schemes into reality. The Raelthorne bloodline was already inextricably woven into the Cygnaran court. The first Vinter Raelthorne had been a king decades before and their bloodline even traced back to ancient kings of Caspia and Calacia. However, the Khadoran King Ruslan Vygor was also setting his sights upon Cygnar.He gathered the largest war host yet seen in the north and executed a wild scheme. In late 510 AR, he sent a portion of this force, including the bulk of the renowned Khadoran cavalry to the borders of Llael. Cygnar’s king sent warjacks and riflemen led by Vinter II north to beat back the impending invasion not knowing it was only a ruse. King Vygor personally led an even larger force of warjacks and the full might of Khador’s heavy infantry into the forest, driving south to take undefended key Cygnaran territories. His army chopped straight through the Thornwood, razing a path two hundred miles long that later came to be called the “Warjack Road.” However, scouts from Fellig discovered this secondary force. Soldiers were hastily gathered from Corvis, Point Bourne, and Rivercleft. The force met the Khadorans at the Dragon’s Tongue even as the main army previously rushing to aid Llael turned back in a desperate forced march to intercept the Khadoran advance. The Battle of the Tongue, in early 511 AR became one of the bloodiest clashes in Cygnaran history. The Thornwood War lasted for four months and ended with Vygor’s demise on the blade of Vinter Raelthorne II but It took decades to replace and repair the warjacks destroyed during the battle.
A few short years later, King Malfast fell ill. He handed his crown to Archduke Vinter Raelthorne II under the Woldred’s Covenant in his deathbed. Thus in 515 AR, Cygnar entered the Raelthorne Era, Vinter II ruled with prudence, valuing the utilitarian over the frivolous. Typically found deep in thought over matters of state, he was called the Stone-Faced King. He survived two assassination attempts and developed a reputation as both an opponent of unregulated sorcery and a man suspicious of leaders who relied on religious sentiment over common sense. In 539 AR the crown passed to his son, the stern Vinter Raelthorne III, who filled the kingdom’s coffers through burdensome taxes and used the money to secure the western sea lanes rife with pirate vessels by bolstering the navy and funding privateers. Despite his successes against raiders along the Broken Coast, many people hated him for his rigid demands and he earned the name the Stoneheart. He claimed to be surrounded by self-interested bureaucrats and concluded he could trust no one, and he had no use for priests, whether Menite or Morrowan. He had debtors toil to work off what they owed rather than waste away in prison. Many died, but the kingdom prospered.
When Vinter III died suddenly in 576 AR, the kingdom fell to his elder son, Vinter IV, since no other instructions were found. Vinter IV was paranoid and tyrannical, a king of dark demeanor and a violent temper. His father and grandfather had been suspicious of religion, but Vinter IV had an illogical hatred of the Church of Morrow. Vinter IV suspected enemies everywhere and transformed his father’s discreet network of spies into a merciless system of judges and executioners that became known as the Inquisition, and with their assistance Vinter ruled by terror and murder. His opponents disappeared, never to be seen or heard from again. The targets of the Inquisition were alleged witches and sorcerers accused of practicing fell magic and consorting with dark powers. However most of those targeted and convicted were innocent of any crime. During King Vinter’s reign Cygnar was battered by a series of coastal assaults known as the Scharde Invasions. From 584–588 AR, Cryxian blackships emerged from the mists, raiding, slaughter and pillaging unsuspecting villages and towns. Graves were despoiled, and slain soldiers were dragged away to feed the industries of the Nightmare Empire. Counterstrikes against the Scharde Islands resulted in great losses. During these battles tales of King Vinter “the Elder” Raelthorne IV leading Cygnaran forces in battle and the valor of his brother Leto “the Younger” spread across Cygnar and were praised along the coast. Both brothers led armies in this war, and eventually the Cryxians were driven from Cygnaran shores. While such heroics made the people far more ready to accept the extreme measures by which King Vinter enforced the peace on the mainland for sometime ,over the years due to brutal treatment and harsh taxation praise of Vinter began to wane. As rumors of torture and barbarity at the hands of the Inquisition persisted, many began to doubt their king’s sanity.
Unlike his father and brother, Leto had been a devout Morrowan. Primarch Arius, then the leader of the Church of Morrow was his mentor and spiritual advisor, and in his youth, Leto had nearly entered the clergy. After the Scharde Invasions, Vinter named Leto his Warmaster General. When Leto’s strong convictions led him to remove his tyrant brother in the Lion’s Coup in the winter of 594 AR, he paved the way by carefully managing the army’s senior officers and taking the most pious into his confidence. These individuals were instrumental in the coup, which was led by prominent officers and royal guards who could no longer endure their sovereign’s orders. Vinter was cornered in the Castle Raelthorne but Vinter was an unparalleled swordsman and with the sword of his grandfather, the Kingslayer he cut down scores of Leto's men. In a final battle Leto and Vinter dueled, despite Leto's skill at the blade he could not match Vinter and was dealt a fatal blow. One moment Leto seemed defeated, but in the next he had disarmed his elder brother and his own injury had miraculously vanished. Some who witnessed this event said the arrival of Primarch Arius preceded this fateful moment. They claim the primarch served as a conduit for Morrow’s divine intervention by which the seemingly invincible tyrant was rendered helpless.
Leto declared himself king and Vinter was imprisoned. However, Vinter's allies in the Inquisition took Lady Danae Cresswell, Leto’s beloved wife hostage and demanded Vinter’s release. Leto agreed, but Vinter escaped with Lady Cresswell in an experimental airship at the top of the palace and drifted east over the Bloodstone Marches. Danae Cresswell was never seen again, and a grief-stricken Leto was crowned king in a solemn ceremony before the Royal Assembly. That same assembly later conducted a trial for Vinter IV in absentia, stripping him of his titles for his crimes and reaffirming Leto the rightful heir of Vinter III. Soon the Inquisition was disbanded and in the years that followed the remaining agents of the Inquisition and all those who had committed crimes in the former king’s name were hunted down. Vinter’s supporters innocent of the most fiendish crimes were offered amnesty, this offer was also extended to many military officers found guilty of nothing more than obeying their king. However, many loyal to King Vinter remained hidden, scheming to overthrow the usurper. Under King Leto Raelthorne the kingdom experienced almost ten years of growth, flourishing trade, and the harmony and efficiency seen as the hallmarks of a fair and just government. Leto fostered mechanikal innovation and advancement that brought his armies formidable new weapons. While he worked to better his people the dark clouds of war began to approach the kingdom.
The first foreshadowing of what was to come arrived in 603 AR with an attack from an unexpected source. From across the Bloodstone Marches came a strange inhuman race called the skorne, bent on conquest and domination beginning with the northern city of Corvis. Witnesses identified Vinter Raelthorne IV leading them, and it became clear the former king had done the impossible: he had led an army across the impassable desert to strike at Cygnar. With new, cruel allies, he intended to seize back his throne, using Corvis as a staging point for a greater invasion. However, his plans were thwarted when dead Cygnaran heroes rose up in defense of their nation, and the attackers were repelled.
Between the escalation of Cryxian hostilities on the west coast and the Protectorate clearly preparing for war on their eastern border, Leto’s war council was ill prepared for Khador to hatch new plans of conquest. The northerners massed their full might against the small nation of Llael, counting on Cygnar to be too preoccupied by other potential threats to aid its longtime ally. The Khadoran Army penetrated Llael’s western border in days, and later attempts to shore up interior garrisons proved futile. Cygnar rushed to Llael’s defense and was quickly caught up in a series of increasingly desperate battles. With the collapse of Llael’s western defenses, the soldiers sent to the northern front proved insufficient to blunt Khador’s momentum. Through several months of fighting, the Khadorans pushed forward inexorably, seizing more and more territory. Soon they besieged Merywyn, the capital. Cygnarans fought bravely alongside their Llaelese allies but were forced to withdraw as Khador attacked the Thornwood, threatening to cut off vital Cygnaran supply lines and threatening the northern borders. After the Cygnarans withdrew, the Llaelese soon surrendered. To celebrate her great victory, Queen Ayn declared herself the first empress of a new Khadoran Empire. While Cygnaran soldiers were dying on foreign soil, the Protectorate of Menoth rose up in full defiance. They laid siege to the gates of Caspia and infiltrated the land with saboteurs. Hierarch Garrick Voyle called for a crusade against the Cygnaran people and sent his forces abroad, striking wherever the nation was most vulnerable. At the same time Cryx sent its forces to prey on the living. The Thornwood— Cygnar’s greatest natural barrier against Khador—became riddled with walking dead and foul necrotite-burning machines. Cryxian forces assaulted Highgate, intercepted trade from Mercir to Ceryl, and harassed coasted defenses, keeping the Cygnaran Army and Navy occupied.
Only the careful planning of previous kings and Cygnar’s tremendous wartime reserves prevented an immediate disaster. Thanks to the foresight of Vinter II, Cygnar’s four armies were prepared to fight on separate fronts, and the vital railways served to hasten the movement of supplies, so long as the rails could be protected from saboteurs. Lord Commander Coleman Stryker was given special authority by King Leto to root out potential Menite insurgents hiding within the kingdom’s own communities. He set a number of former inquisitors on the trail of the Menites, whom he gathered into barges and sent to be imprisoned on Bloodshore Island. Several dramatic reversals occurred during the Caspia-Sul War that followed. First, Cygnaran forces led by Lord Commander Coleman Stryker breached the walls of Sul and initiated an invasion of the city, forcing the Sul-Menites to rally in defense of their most sacred holy sites. Religious fervor gave the enemy desperate strength, and a bitter year of street-to-street fighting followed. With Cygnar’s army unable to seize a quick victory, the Menites regrouped and repelled them. The situation then became dire when Cygnar’s Second Army was forced to make a hasty retreat back to Caspia.
Hierarch Voyle led a massive crusade into Caspia to annihilate the capital. King Leto was grievously injured when he marched to rally the defenders and confront the enemy directly. It was not until the Menites were at the gates of Castle Raelthorne that the tide turned. Like Sulon in the Civil War, Hierarch Voyle was struck down by the defenders of the City of Walls. But this victory arrived only after Voyle had carved a path of destruction through the ancient capital. Caspia would need time to recover from this campaign, which had taken a heavy toll on Cygnar’s Second Army.
Despite the slim victory in Caspia, Cryxian vessels continually battled the nation’s navy and raided the shores. After years of fighting trench-to- trench along the northern border, Khador toppled Northguard, a previously impregnable bastion. Khador then took the Thornwood, and its soldiers advanced to the gates of Corvis and Point Bourne along the Dragon’s Tongue River. The skorne returned to test the eastern border, and trollkin tribes in the interior rose up to seize lands and beset Cygnar’s railways and roads.
Eventually Khador slowed its advances to consolidate its gains, amassing forces within the Thornwood and across the new border under a brief cease-fire. The Sul-Menites returned to their lands to mourn their fallen hierarch. Cygnar rebuilt what it could during this window of peace, bolstering its strength to hold off enemies that threatened every border. The military reallocated resources and recovered, but it rushed the construction of new defenses on the northern side of the river close to the Khadoran forces, leaving a concentration of Khadoran firepower able to reach vital cities like Point Bourne.
Tensions boiled over early in 608 AR when a small strike force of Cygnarans attacked a Khadoran outpost being built in the Thornwood Forest north of Point Bourne. Hostilities bloomed into outright war around the city of Point Bourne and along the banks of the Dragon’s Tongue River. Khadoran infiltrators secured control of the city locks, forcing Cygnaran defenders into the military quarter. Without this rash attack and the proximity of the Khadorans, however, Cygnar would never have survived one of the greatest horrors ever perpetrated on a Cygnaran city. Capitalizing on the chaos of battle, Cryxian infiltrators on the mainland flooded into city, pushed the Khadorans back, and began the systematic slaughter and harvest of Cygnaran citizens.
The full scope of the Cryxian threat eventually led to an unlikely and unauthorized alliance between high-ranking Cygnaran and Khadoran officers. Working together they purged Point Bourne, driving the undead legions back into the Thornwood, where they had built an immense necrofactorium. The allied forces underestimated Cryx’s strength, and the first strike at the necrofactorium failed when they encountered Cryxian colossals. Afterward, King Leto and Empress Ayn traveled to the region and formalized the alliance during a historic meeting in preparation of a second assault. King Leto was sincere in his desire to work against greater evils, but the scheming empress had no intention of preserving the alliance once they dealt with Cryx.
Prior to the second assault on the Thornwood a small, elite Cygnaran force seized a mystically shielded vault from the Cryxians and sent it farther into Cygnar in order to secure and study its contents. On the way the vault was discovered to contain a dragon athanc—the heartstone of an unknown dragon—that the lich lords were delivering to Lord Toruk, their master. Before it could be properly secured, the athanc attracted a host of ancient dragons and Toruk himself, an event that had not been seen in sixteen centuries. They clashed over the skies of Cygnar, and Toruk slew at least one dragon before being driven off. Damage to the Cygnaran interior was considerable; the cities of Ironhead and Orven suffered the worst from this “Dragon War,” enduring considerable loss of life and destruction of property. In the aftermath, both dragonspawn attacks and reports of blighted ailments among the population increased across the region.
While short-lived, the brief alliance between Khador and Cygnar to drive Cryx from the Thornwood was largely a success, demonstrating that mortals could contend with the undead seeking to eradicate them. The combined Cygnaran, Khadoran, and Protectorate forces managed to uproot the necrofactorium controlled by Lich Lord Asphyxious. The accord between them did not last beyond the declaration of victory, however, as the Khadorans demonstrated their perfidy by turning on Cygnar the moment Cryx was defeated.
Second Cygnaran Civil War
Taking advantage of the chaos in the aftermath of this conflict, Khador sought to cement its hold over the Thornwood. The Khadorans conducted punitive attacks against eastern Ord and launched a renewed invasion into Cygnar, hoping to use Stonebridge Castle as their gateway into its interior. This offensive was forestalled by an unexpected counterattack: Vinter Raelthorne IV, with the support of northern nobles and the Fourth Army, reclaimed the fortress demonstrating his prowess to the disgruntled northern nobles, including the Duke of Thuria and the Archduke of the Southern Midlunds, who had conspired against Leto and joined in this treacherous uprising. This maneuver was part of Vinter’s opening bid to reclaim the throne and the beginning of the Second Cygnaran Civil War.
Vinter’s conspirators seized control of many regions in the north, contested by those still loyal to Leto. It became difficult to discern who was on which side, and some nobles pursued old grudges against neighboring rivals. Disorganized skirmishes erupted throughout Cygnar, concentrated in the north. Vinter’s central army focused their efforts on cornering King Leto. With the aid of his Protectorate allies, Vinter pinned down his brother in Fharin, leading to the largest battle in the war. Leto’s position was tenuous, with only a small portion of his supporters able to reach him in time. The king’s men fought valiantly and employed exceptional tactics against the superior force, keeping Leto alive.
Reign of King Julius Raelthorne
Vinter’s victory was assured until the unexpected arrival of a third party—Vinter’s bastard heir Julius, at the head of a sizable mercenary army led by Asheth Magnus, an outcast Cygnaran warcaster and former military officer. Magnus had taken the boy under his wing years before, training him to be a leader. Magnus and Julius had amassed the mercenary army to be loyal to the king’s bastard. Under their joint command, the mercenaries tipped the balance of power away from Vinter and his loyalists. Vinter was defeated and slain during the battle and having lost their king, leaders of the Vinter loyalist army supported the claim of Vinter’s son. King Leto surprised all present when he embraced his nephew, declaring his claim legitimate and subsequently abdicated the throne and passed his crown to Julius, hoping to save the kingdom from years of potential strife. Most of those who had fought against Leto were pardoned in the interests of preserving the nation.
Young King Julius Raelthorne remains untested, though both the people and the nobility are cautiously optimistic he is ready to face the challenges ahead. Crowned in the aftermath of a civil war and set at the head of one of the greatest nations in western Immoren, he is shrewd and intelligent, but he has shown a temper that worries some. The young king has shown political acumen, negotiating a treaty with Khador to bring Cygnar a much-needed peace. It was the first of Julius’ victories as king but won't be the last.
Cygnar is the most centrally positioned country among the Iron Kingdoms of Western Immoren. Ord, Khador, and Llael are neighbors along Cygnar's northern border.
The badlands of the Bloodstone Marches, which once nurtured the former elven empire of Ios now, form a natural barrier of vast deserts along Cygnar's eastern border. This desert east of the Dragon Tongue river is also home to the Protectorate of Menoth, a province of Cygnar that has seceded from Cygnar and is now a hostile theocracy.
The archipelagos of the Scharde Isles that run along the western and southern coast host the Nightmare Empire of the Cryx and various pirate holds. These islands also provide a natural barrier between Cygnar and the violent storms that plague the Meridian due to the planet's three moons.
Law and Order
Science and Technology
- 1 Iron Kingdoms: Kings, Nations, and Gods
- a: Page 8
- b: Page 10
- c: Page 252
- 2 Iron Kingdoms: Core Rules
- a: Page 17
- b: Page 18
- c: Page 21
- d: Page 22
- e: Page 27
- f: Page 28
- g: Page 29
- h: Page 30
- 3 Forces of WARMACHINE: Mercenaries
- a: Page 26
- 4 Forces of HORDES: Legion of Everblight
- a: Page 16
- 5 Forces of Warmachine: Convergence of Cyriss
- a: Page 23