A Dark Moon Rising
Ankarrah is one of the oldest cities on Estya. It’s original founding on the western shores of Thesca dates back more than 4,000 years, when it was Ag’Ra, a port town built by the Tor-Minar to house their eastern fleet. It’s strategic location along sea lanes connecting 3 continents, however, caused it to become one of the first cosmopolitan cities. The Tor-Minar ruled the city with a light hand when they governed it at all. Viewing their home primarily as the sea, they were largely unconcerned with what others built so long as it did not impact their ability to dock their ships and house their own people. They maintained minimal standards of order, but created few other restrictions on behavior.
The original city was sacked and burned to the ground by pirates some 400 years after its initial founding. Following the Tor-Minar retaliation against the pirate fleet — where every ship in the assaulting fleet was sunk and nearly every hand aboard those ships was killed — the city was rebuilt at a new location that was more easily defensible, on a large island that divides the mouth of what is now known as the Garin River. Once more, the city grew as it regained its status as a hub of trade.
About 500 years later, Yar Kordin was at its height. They had pacified large swaths of the wilderness in western Kandar, though border wars still periodically erupted with Jerekim in the east. They had also founded settlements on Delghor, and were in the process of pacifying the Dwarves there. Inspired by their successes elsewhere, the Empire decided to annex Thesca as well. Knowing the strength of the Tor-Minar in an ocean battle, the Urukin forces landed on southern Thesca and marched north to the city instead. It’s landward defenses were then somewhat scant, and the city fell to the Uruk army in a few weeks.
Fortunately, the actual damage to the city was minimal, and the Uruk army immediately set about fortifying the island to prevent a repeat of their own success. Sturdy walls were constructed around the edges of the island nearly everywhere there was not dock, and the fort that guarded the mouth of the river on the northern end of the isle was expanded into a fortress.
Nevertheless, the Urukin underestimated the Tor-Minar retaliation. Rather than attempt to retake Agarah, as it had come to be known by this point, the Tor-Minar declared war on the Urukin navy. Although the Urukin developed tactics to defend against these assaults, the losses were nevertheless devastating. The continued diversion of resources to counteract the Tor-Minar assaults also contributed strongly to the Empire’s weakened position worldwide.
Over the following 200 years most of the Urukin Empire collapsed through a combination of over-extension by their forces and resistance from conquered lands. Thesca itself was lost in a coup d’etat by local agitators who assassinated the military governor in charge of Ankarrah and subverted half the local garrison. The loyalist forces were captured and deported to Tharad, a city in western Delghor that was then still under the Empire’s jurisdiction.
The leader of the coup, a human named Thanis Varonian, crowned himself Prince Thanis I and became the founder of the Varonian Dynasty, which ruled Thesca for the next 600 years. Finally, the last Prince, Roland III, was nearing death without a clear line of succession. Political maneuverings by contending heirs and other powerful individuals grew increasingly ugly until a rash of assassinations eliminated all 5 of the strongest candidates over the course of a month. To cap it all, Prince Roland succumbed to his illness within two days of the 5th assassination, without naming an heir.
The city descended into chaos as various factions all tried to stake their claim to the throne at once. There were pitched battles in the streets, actual military engagements in the countryside, and extensive rioting. Finally, after more than 6 weeks of this, the Commander of the city guard, an Uruk named Vorg Dadrak, through a combination of ruthlessness and charisma, regained control of nearly all of the surviving guardsmen, declared martial law, and began to restore order by force. During the course of his campaign he gained or forced the support of enough of the various factions to gain a firm grip on power. Once the island was pacified, he declared himself Prince and took the throne. Prince Vorg’s reign was never an easy one—he fought off a pirate assault less than a year after his reign began, and foiled 2 invasion attempts by the city-state of Hapsburg later in life— but he maintained his grip on the crown and passed it to his heir, thus creating the Dadrak Dynasty, which ruled Thesca for 300 years.
One of the first laws Vorg passed once he became prince was one designed to ensure there would never be a repeat of the chaos he had just ended. In the event that there is no clear line of succession, the reigning Prince must name an heir within 1 week of being crowned. If he does not do so, or is for some reason unable to do so through incapacity or death, then the Conclave, a body of advisers composed of representatives from the various powerful factions in the nation, must select one, and the heir may not be from among their own number. Thanks to this statute, when the last Dadrak Prince, Shakag, died without issue, the ascension of Ildalis I of the Aecwyn Dynasty, a powerful Lelthalan merchant, was fairly orderly and entirely without bloodshed, if not extensive rumors of bribery.
While Ankarrah had been a center of trade nearly since its foundation, it was under the Aecwyns that it became the global hub that it is today. Aecwyn policies made Ankarrah a financial powerhouse essentially unrivaled by any other city in the world, though it also made it a hotbed of intrigue, corruption, and crime. Still, the Aecwyns maintained their grip on power for more than 900 years, despite another attempt at conquest by Hapsburg, during the reign of Ildalis II, that nearly succeeded. Prince Moralyn II, a notorious hedonist, was assassinated at his 250th birthday party only 5 years after ascending the throne, reputedly over the matter of another’s wife. His younger brother, Radelyn, was shot by a crossbow bolt in the eye during a parade less than a year after his own coronation, supposedly due to unpaid gambling debts. Fardyl, Radelyn’s cousin and designated heir, broke his neck falling off his horse in the ensuing chaos. There is some debate among historians whether these assassinations were as prosaic as they appeared— The Aecwyn Princes had been funding a proxy war in southern Kandar at the time— but regardless, it put an end to their dynasty.
The Conclave selected one Cirril Sorend, a human whose claim of direct descent from Thanis Varonian figured prominently in his campaign for the title. The Sorend Dynasty has remained in control of the crown for the past 116 years. Thus far, their rule has been characterized by being neither as corrupt as the reign of the Aecwyns nor as rigid as the Dadraks. The current Prince, Roland VI, is a popular leader with a promising reign ahead of him, having shown a keen political instinct, but his time on the throne has so far been brief, having taken the crown only two years past.