I didn’t name my previous post on this subject “Part 1,” but that’s mainly because I thought “that was that.”  I have since decided that this next conflict is essentially a continuation, much as some history buffs (though not actual historians) insist that World War II is a continuation of World War I.  Then again, come cynics like to say that “peace is merely that brief period between wars when both sides are busy re-arming.”

There have many attempts since its split to revive the Rhûnnish Empire.  In fact, that is part of the plot of The Nine Empires to begin with.  The first attempt, in fact, took place shortly after the mighty empire initially split in half.  Upon Fëdor Karamazov’s death, he was survived by his third wife, the tsarina, and three sons, all from different wives.  In his will, he left the throne to his middle surviving son, Ivan.  However, his widow had been grooming his youngest surviving son, Alexei, to inherit the throne.  Meanwhile, his eldest son, Dmitri, assumed that he would get the throne the whole time.  No-one saw Dmitri as fit to rule, not even his own father, who was not a particularly good ruler himself.  Nonetheless, he managed to get the support of Sergei Dondarovski, who became patriarch of the family after Boris’s death.

Every noble house had ulterior motives for supporting one of the half-brothers Karamazov.  The Dondarovskis believed that they could easily wrest power from Dmitri, were he to win the Crystal Throne.  Since the tsarina was of noble blood, unlike the mothers of the other two half-brothers, her claim was taken most seriously.  Ivan, meanwhile, fled to Fell Springs and began gathering an army.  Most of the noble houses believed that he was already out of the picture.  Meanwhile, Arkady Annastashchenko decided that he could once again seize power from the up-jumped Karamazov family.

Nikolai Votavko’s daughter, Empress Anastasia, proposed to marry Alexei Karamazov and re-unite the Rhûnnish Empire.  However, the tsarina did not trust her, and kept delaying her response.  After the third letter came to the White Keep, Alexei finally found out, and agreed to the match, but his mother told him that her mind was not yet made up.  Furthermore, she argued that a formal alliance was no longer needed, since Drachanian forces had already been sent to their aid and solidly stopped the Annastashchenkos’ advance toward Skharnograd.

Following the major setback that he suffered because of Alexei Karamazov, Arkady Annastashchenko finally swallowed his pride and contacted Ivan, proposing to join the loyalists.  Ivan agreed, but told his commanders to keep the two armies as far away from each other as possible.  Ivan knew that he could not trust his new ally, and needed to secure a trustworthy one as soon as possible.  He immediately thought of the dwarves, though he knew that his father’s will meant nothing to King Tuhur.  Therefore, Ivan Karamazov would have to be victorious in battle first.  He had his opportunity when he learned that Arkady Annastashchenko had already betrayed him and sent his daughter, Arzhafena, to Skharnograd to propose marriage to Alexei.  Ivan’s forces descended upon the party and slaughtered them all, then sent their heads to Trenatia, with a warning that treason would not go unpunished under his rule.  Word of the brutal deed travelled far, and the dwarves soon joined forces with Ivan Karamazov.

Seeing that Ivan was the real threat, rather than Dmitri or even Empress Anastasia Votavko, the tsarina sent her son with a massive army to crush the loyalist forces and dwarven legions.  After that, they were to continue south and deal with the troublesome Arkady Annastashchenko, who seemed to be throwing alliance proposals around as if he were playing darts while blindfolded.  Drachanian forces moved toward Trenatia as well, though Empress Anastasia’s orders simply were to sack the city and dispose of “those treasonous, yellow-haired shitheads.”  The plan changed, however, after Alexei was killed in battle and his forces lost to the loyalists, who then turned north.

Empress Anastasia visited the tsarina on her deathbed, declaring that it was her own damned fault that her son was killed, and that she should have agreed to the wedding much sooner.  Not taking kindly to the Empress’s discourteous behaviour, the palace guards seized her.  They decided to hold her hostage and keep the tsarina’s death a secret until they could agree on another claimant.  Knowing what they did about Dmitri Karamazov, they proposed that the Empress marry him instead.  On the positive side, he was already on his way to the capital.  On the negative, he had a Dondarovski army with him, and they might not agree to this arrangement.  Even worse, Ivan Karamazov was also closing in, and it seemed unlikely that the capital would stand long enough for the Annastashchenkos to attack him from behind.  As it so happened, Dmitri got there first, and Sergei Dondarovski conspired with Empress Anastasia to wed the two, kill Dmitri, and then wed her himself.  Thus both houses would get the Crystal Throne and the Rhûnnish Empire would be re-united.  However, ambitious though she was, Empress Anastasia had the sense to flee once Ivan Karamazov attacked.  She knew, from his brutal treatment of House Annastashchenko, that he would not agree to an alliance with her.  She returned to Krivs, and ordered all of her forces to return home.

During the final showdown, the Battle of Skharnograd, Ivan’s forces laid siege to the city, the Dondarovskis brought in reinforcements to outflank them, which were quickly intercepted by the advancing Annastashchenko army.  Though the dwarves were already with Ivan’s forces, King Tuhur sent yet more reinforcements.  The Dondarovskis, Annastashchenkos, and dwarves continued fighting outside the city, even once Ivan’s forces had prevailed and taken the Skharnograd Kremlin.  Fearing execution, Dmitri agreed to go into exile, and the war ended.  Though Arkady Annastashchenko had been served humble pie thrice since Ildar Skharnov’s death, his house still did not accept the rule of “might makes right,” and made a number of attempts to usurp the throne over the next three centuries.  Their reasoning was the silly sentiment that they were once monarchs themselves, while both the Karamazovs and Dondarovskis were mere kulaks that been up-jumped far above their station by the Skharnovs.

My next few posts will be on the subject of Rossberan politics and wars as well, though in an earlier period, and outside of Rhûn.  Hopefully I will be able to provide a background on each of the Nine Empires before going into detail about the oddities of daily life and all the interesting technology that they use.  In other words, it will be some time before I introduce more models.

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