Age of Strife

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The Age of Strife was the period in which the kingdom of Great Kourend was ruled over by the mage Xeric, starting only a few days after the death of King Shayzien VII during the Battle of the Concourse late in the 37th decade (1,040 years ago), and lasting for a hundred years in Kourend's timeline, when Xeric was dethroned as a result of Byrne's Revolt in the 47th decade.[3][4] After killing the rulers of the five cities, Xeric used both the powers of the Dark Altar and his army of lizardmen in order to consolidate his position and exert dominance of the kingdom, marking the beginning of what would be called the Age of Strife.[5][6]

Xeric's reign left a deep mark on the cultural memory of Kourend, and is recounted as a notoriously brutal one by the citizens of Kourend to the present day, characterised by its authoritarian control over the populace and arbitrary acts of violence.[7][8] A compilation of testimonies that together bear witness to the Age of Strife can be read in the Chronicles of Xeric.

History[edit | edit source]

Xeric's Conquest[edit | edit source]

Only a few days had passed since the previous monarch was ambushed and killed at the Battle of the Concourse, when a person said to bear significant likeness to the late king first appeared in Great Kourend, going by the name of Xeric. It is speculated by some citizens of Kourend that this newly-arrived mage was none other than King Shayzien VII, who was presumed slain in the ambush set for him by a regiment of his own soldiers, yet whose body had never been found.

Soon after Xeric first manifested, he set out to conquer Great Kourend. Relatively little is known about Xeric's first conquest, other than it occurring swiftly, his power greatly overwhelming the forces that opposed him, and the methodological way in which he eliminated the structures of authority that preceded him. Hosidius and Lovakengj were the first ones to fall, their lords swiftly presumed lost to the conquering mage.[9] The Lord of house Piscarilius initially avoided confrontation and hid from the invader, all the while attempting to organise a general evacuation of the citizenry, by funneling them towards the docks of Piscarilius, and urging them to leave the kingdom.[10] It is unknown in what manner the cities of Shayzien and Arceuus resisted Xeric's advance, though given that in the end all cities were brought to their knees, with all its lords slain, their resistance proved to be in vain.[11]

Seeking refuge south-west of the kingdom, beyond the Kebos Lowlands, the refugees eventually founded the kingdom of Varlamore.[12] It is not known if Xeric sent forces to pursue those fleeing the kingdom.

Xeric's Army[edit | edit source]

One curious aspect of Xeric’s war on Kourend is the army he waged it with: it is as of yet unclear who could be counted among the Xerican forces, or in fact whether Xeric mobilised one at all. It is well established that Xeric used a large host of lizardmen to enforce his rule during his time in power, and although it is revealed that these creatures had already been conceived at the behest of King Shayzien VII, there is also reason to believe they were not deployed as soldiers in Xeric’s initial struggle against the kingdom.[13][14] In the fourth text of the Chronicles, a young sailor gives an account of his first sighting of a lizardman while sailing past the coast skirting the base of Mount Quidamortem, and from the great perplexity that resulted from his brief gaze upon the creature it could be concluded that the species was unknown to the broader population of Kourend.[15] This account dates from well into the 38th decade of Kourend’s timeline, years after Xeric’s conquest had concluded, as he ascended the throne already in the 37th decade.[16] Two of the other chronicles could be seen to point to the same conclusion. In a court martial’s report similarly dating from the 38th decade, the soldier that is reprimanded is distinctly human (bearing a common name and being capable of refusing orders, in contrast to the lizardmen), and the same applies to all others that figure in the transcript.[17][18] This would point to the military’s structure still being composed of Shayzien armed forces in the first decade of Xeric’s reign, and not the reptilian constructs of his own design. The second hint is given in the first documented presence of a lizardman within the borders of the realm itself: on the very first day of the 39th decade, an abduction is recorded to have taken place three days prior, carried out by “the lizard creatures”.[19] This somewhat vague description being given to the abductors could indicate that the term ‘lizardmen’ was not yet commonplace, implying that the threat was possibly of a current origin.
If the above is taken to mean that the lizardmen only enter the scene years into Xeric’s reign, this would beg the question why Xeric made no use of them to bolster his invading forces, despite already having them at his disposal as King Shayzien VII, at least to some extent. One explanation could be that the lizardmen simply weren’t fully developed in the time for Xeric to deploy them on the battlefield. An extract from King Shayzien VII’s journal dating from the 37th decade claims that his experiments were met with success, prompting him to begin mass production – but given that he was deposed soon after, he may not have gotten the opportunity to realise his ambitions.[20] As a result, it might be asked what soldiers he did manage to assemble if not the lizardmen. There is evidence for Xeric having at least some amount of manpower at his command: reference is made to ‘his followers’ helping him thwart death after the Battle of the Concourse, indicating he could still count on some base of support at that time, moreover, Lord Piscarilius seems to refer to an army when he warns his citizens that "Xeric's forces will continue to advance".[10] His supporters may well have consisted of soldiers from the Shayzien Army who once again pledged loyalty to their resurrected king, despite the fact that dissatisfaction with King Shayzien VII had been high among at least some of their ranks, leading to the treachery of the Elder Warrior. Nonetheless a scenario could be considered in which a large number of Shayzien troops switched sides after an initial staggering display of Xeric’s new-found powers, choosing to ally themselves with the invader rather than face his wrath. Although little is known about the political structure of Kourend immediately before Xeric’s arrival, it is conceivable that a power vacuum resulted from King Shayzien’s assassination, and internal division made it alluring for the house of Shayzien to pledge allegiance to Xeric, possibly in the hope of maintaining the political prominence they had enjoyed ever since King Shayzien III's Coup d'État. There is also indication that the mage Vasa Nistirio aided in Xeric’s ascendency, meaning he could likely be counted among Xeric’s followers prior to the full conquest being achieved.[21]
Another possibility would be that Xeric conquered Kourend on his own, or at least during the first phase of the campaign, aided solely by the new powers granted to him by the Dark Altar, and the new incorporeal form in which he emerged from his rebirth. Some textual evidence can be found in support of this notion. In the last verses of the poem the Killing of a king, the emergence of Xeric is narrated as the rebirth of the assassinated King Shayzien (“Upon the blood field / A spirit did raise”), after which emphasis is placed on his personal power and form, to which his victory over Kourend is attributed (“His power that day / It grew and grew / He won the battle / With his body new”).[22]

Xeric's Reign[edit | edit source]

After ascending to the throne of Kourend, Xeric imposed an oppressive regime on its citizens, leading to his reign being described as even more vicious than the already violent reign of King Shayzien by the chief historian of the kingdom, who refers to him as ‘the tyrannical mage’.[23] The severity of his rule, characterised by incessant violence and conflict, has lead to the entire extent of Xeric’s time in power being given the name ‘Age of Strife’.[24]
In order to enforce his authority, Xeric had multiple instruments at his disposal. Chief among them was the Dark Altar, which not only extended his life – and by extent his rule – far beyond the usual bounds of mortality, but also continued to be the source of his great sorcery.[25] Next, he had command over a large swarm of lizardmen, who where speculated to be genetically modified in the aim of instilling within them an unwavering loyalty to the sorcerer king.[13][18] And finally, he also maintained a human contingent of forces, primarily composed of Shayzien soldiers, as demonstrated by a report of the ‘Office of Armed Forces’ dating from his reign.[26] At the head of this contingent stood the Vanguards, three officers that were promoted from the ranks to command Xeric’s armies, each possessing mastery over a distinct form of combat.[27]
The status of these human forces however is an ambiguous one: while it can be inferred that Xeric did make use of them, it also well-established that he was reluctant to do so, and maintained a distrustful attitude with respect to the level of fealty mankind was capable of.[28] While Xeric likely made use of human forces early on in his reign, as set out in the section above, they may have been gradually phased out as the lizardmen became to be produced in ever increasing numbers. Another possibility is that their role progressively shifted towards internal rather than external security: the three aforementioned vanguards are described as performing duties usually associated with those of a political police, that is to say the forceful and unchecked repression of internal dissidents. While the brute strength of the lizardmen could be employed to kidnap citizens, the vanguards could be counted on to surveil, arrest, and interrogate any presumed internal enemies.[29] These duties of internal policing however had already been assigned to the human armed forces early in Xeric’s reign: the previously mentioned report concerns the court martial of an insubordinate officer, who had refused to carry out orders some years prior, likely just after Xeric’s takeover of Kourend had been completed. It would thus seem that even in the first decade of his rule, Xeric endeavoured to employ his troops to weed out sources of internal dissent, thereby consolidating his rule.
Xeric regularly ordered his troops to abduct his subjects, so that he may perform experiments on them in vivo, facilitated by the powers of the Dark Altar.[30][31] While it was previously thought that the goal of these experiments was the creation of the lizardmen, after it is uncovered that these creatures were already successfully brought into existence by King Shayzien VII, the intent of this large-scale experimentation becomes less clear.[32] Some may have just been performed to satiate Xeric’s sadism, as claimed by Ektheme, though others may have been intended to satisfy the Dark Altar’s yearning for sacrifice instead.[33][34]

Xeric's Dissidents[edit | edit source]

However high the repression imposed on the populace, and however severe the consequences, still acts of resistance were carried out against Xeric’s reign of terror. On the 3470th day of the 37th decade, sergeant Yan Mattin and his unit were ordered to round up civilians and transport them to Lord Xeric’s private residence, likely never to return.[35] Mattin however defied to assist Xeric in his schemes against the populace, and chose to disobey his orders, inspiring the men under his command to do the same.[36] Yan Mattin was later court-martialled under charges of gross insubordination, to which he plead guilty. He was sentenced to execution by firing squad, to be carried out by soldiers of the twisted archers regiment.[37]
In addition to individual acts of resistance, organised resistance groups sprang up later on in Xeric’s reign with the explicit goal of undermining his grip on power, and topple his regime. One such group was Humans Against Xeric (also known as HAX in its abbreviated form), who endeavoured to depose Xeric at the very height of his grip on power. On the 2007th day of the 43th decade, two hundred members of the resistance stormed the Tower of Magic, in a desperate bid to take out the tyrant sorcerer.[38] Their assault went up against a structure specifically built to last the ages, imbued with powerful enchantments meant to conceal its levels and litter it with traps, in addition to the mage himself and whatever retinue escorted him.[39] The defiance of the HAX ended in ruin; none of the two hundred assailants that stormed the tower that day would survive the encounter.[40]
The kingdom of Kourend would have to endure four more decades before being liberated, during the seven days of uprising known as Byrne's Revolt.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "It is written that Xeric killed the rulers of Kourend's five cities and claimed the kingdom as his own."
  2. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric is currently sweeping through our great kingdom, decimating all authority within."
  3. ^ Imerominia, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric ruled Kourend for more than ten dark decades using an army of lizardmen. This time period was known as the Age of Strife."
  4. ^ Timeline, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric: 37th - 47th."
  5. ^ Gnosi, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "The Dark Altar was the key to Xeric's power. Because of it, he was able to rule Kourend unopposed for nearly a hundred years."
  6. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Lizardmen are loyal creatures and would do as he commanded without question. With them at his disposal, the people were powerless to resist his authority."
  7. ^ Istoria, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "The King himself died a few years later and was succeeded by Xeric, a tyrannical mage who made the King seem meek in comparison."
  8. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric used the citizens of Kourend for many experiments, as well as for his own sadistic pleasures."
  9. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Lord Hosidius and Lord Lovakengj are missing and presumed lost in battle to Xeric."
  10. ^ 10.0 10.1 Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "You must evacuate Great Kourend. Xeric's forces will continue to advance; you must abandon your homes and head for Port Piscarilius in the hopes of finding transport elsewhere."
  11. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "It is written that Xeric killed the rulers of Kourend's five cities and claimed the kingdom as his own."
  12. ^ Imafore's betrayal, Old School RuneScape. "The Kingdom of Varlamore was formed in a very similar way to Kourend, by those fleeing the Age of Strife."
  13. ^ 13.0 13.1 Imerominia, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric ruled Kourend for more than ten dark decades using an army of lizardmen."
  14. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Originally, we believed that Xeric created the lizardmen. However, recent discovieres[sic] suggest they were actually created during the time of King Shayzien VII."
  15. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Summary: A cabin boy records how he saw a lizard-human-like creature while sailing near Mount Quidamortem: I don't believe what I've just seen. I can't believe it. They looked like lizards... but they were acting like humans!"
  16. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Source: Sailor's Journal. Author: Cabin Boy Horacio. Date: 2,949 - 38."
  17. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Sergeant Yan Mattin is found guilty by plea of gross insubordination. Sgt Mattin refused to follow orders pertaining to the acquisition and delivery of civilians to the chambers of His Lordship, Xeric, on the day of 3,470 - 37."
  18. ^ 18.0 18.1 Ektheme, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "However, we assume Xeric genetically altered [the lizardmen] to enforce that their duty is to serve him."
  19. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "It happened three days ago during the most recent gathering by the lizard creatures... we were ploughing the fields as we heard them approaching. I was able to get back inside and hide but Morta was too far away... they snatched her before I could do anything."
  20. ^ Phileas Rimor, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "The experimentation is proving successful and we will soon be ready to mass produce."
  21. ^ Nistirio's manifesto, Old School RuneScape. "Our lord Xeric has made full use of my gifts; I dare say that my power was instrumental in his ascent to greatness, and he rightly rewarded me by appointing me as his High Priest."
  22. ^ Killing of a king, Old School RuneScape.
  23. ^ Istoria, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "The King himself died a few years later and was succeeded by Xeric, a tyrannical mage who made the King seem meek in comparison."
  24. ^ Gnosi, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "His reign was so dark, it became known as the Age of Strife."
  25. ^ Gnosi, "Tale of the Righteous", Old School RuneScape. "The Dark Altar was the key to Xeric's power. Because of it, he was able to rule Kourend unopposed for nearly a hundred years."
  26. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape.
  27. ^ Vanguard Judgement, Old School RuneScape. "The most prominent commanders of Lord Xeric's army were known as the Vanguard, three elite officers who rose quickly through the ranks." Though not explicitly stated, the three vanguards can nonetheless be presumed to be human: on the one hand due to their betrayal during Byrne’s Revolt, which the lizardmen are not thought capable of, and secondly due to their known skill with regards to the interrogation of presumed internal enemies, which likewise can be assumed to require a higher faculty of speech than lizardmen tend to be capable of.
  28. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric was undoubtedly powerful, but he couldn't rule the people singlehandedly, nor could he rely on human informants. He needed an army he could control."
  29. ^ Vanguard Judgement, Old School RuneScape. "Whenever traitors muttered against our Lord, his troops would ravage their homes in the dead of night, arresting anyone suspected of disloyalty or rebellion. Under questioning by the commanders, who were empowered to use any interrogation techniques they deemed necessary in Lord Xeric's service, the traitors would inevitably reveal more suspects for the troops to arrest."
  30. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Sadly so, though we're not exactly sure how he did so. Xeric used the citizens of Kourend for many experiments, as well as for his own sadistic pleasures."
  31. ^ Gnosi, Old School RuneScape. "When he ruled Kourend, we know Xeric performed experiments on the living, using power drawn from the Dark Altar."
  32. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Originally, we believed that Xeric created the lizardmen. However, recent discovieres[sic] suggest they were actually created during the time of King Shayzien VII."
  33. ^ Ektheme, Old School RuneScape. "Xeric used the citizens of Kourend for many experiments, as well as for his own sadistic pleasures."
  34. ^ Ricktor's diary (7), Old School RuneScape. "I continue to grasp the basics of the language I am seeing but the message still alludes me. One word keeps appearing in all of the text I read, sacrifice."
  35. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Source: Court Marshall[sic] Report. Author: Office of Armed Forces. Date: 1,479 – 38. Summary: An official court marshall[sic] report detailing how a soldier refused orders to gather civilians and deliver them to Xeric."
  36. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Sgt Mattin refused to follow orders pertaining to the acquisition and delivery of civilians to the chambers of His Lordship, Xeric, on the day of 3,470 – 37."
  37. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Sgt Mattin pleads guilty to the charge of Gross Insubordination for which the sentence is execution by twisted archer."
  38. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Source: HAX Group Letter. Author: Unknown. Date: 2,007 – 43. Summary: A Letter to the members of a resistance group at the height of Xeric's reign."
  39. ^ Pagida, Old School RuneScape. "Unfortunately, we don't possess full understanding of the Tower of Magic and its many enchantments, so we often discover remnants of traps. (…) I have dedicated my life to studying the powerful enchantments that conceal the many levels of the Tower, though it proves difficult at times."
  40. ^ Chronicles of Xeric, Old School RuneScape. "Our recent attempt to storm the Tower of Magic and defeat Xeric resulted in the loss of all two hundred members involved."