--- A Proclamation made by the Emperor of the Holy Aquilian Empire, rallying his subjects for total war against the dragon hordes that have ravaged the realm. In the face of the atrocities perpetrated by the dragons, culminating in the murder of the beloved crown prince by one of the beasts, the call was soon answered by the entire empire, its people now thirsting for vengeance against the hated monsters.
"You started the fire, dragon. Now BURN with it."
--- High Constable Jaegar Iron-Heart, before executing the last Great Wyrm in the Empire's territories, Rakdon the Ravager, in the name of the emperor and the gods of Aquilia.
The long struggle in the Holy Aquilian Empire ended with the Empire's total victory over the dragons; after all the other dragon elders were slain, Rakdon was the only dragon powerful enough to lead the dragon hordes; his capture and death effectively broke the remaining dragons' morale, leading to the eventual complete defeat of all dragons from the territory of the Empire.
The ill fortunes of dragonkind did not end there, however; witnessing the 'miraculous triumph' of the Empire over the dragons, other kingdoms took up arms against the dragons terrorizing their realms. First the Human kingdoms, and then a hundred other races – from the Dwarves, the Orcs, the Mer-kind, the Gryphons, the Wyverns, to even the aloof Elvish realms were dragged into the greatest conflict of their time, one that would engulf the lands of Elyssia.
By the time the dust of the resulting conflicts, the 'Hundred Years of Fire', finally settled, the dragons were either exterminated or expelled from the continent as well, the survivors fleeing to the four corners of the greater world; some went eastward to the Oriental lands of Lin and Gao, others went south, to the hot desert lands of Al-Arakai. Some even flew west, across the Narrow Seas to seek refuge in the uncharted wilderness of the New World, and remained there undiscovered until the arrival of Dwarven and Human pioneers many generations later.
The Aquilian-Dragon War and the other dragon conflicts would have profound effects in the history of Elyssia:
- Although victorious, the Holy Aquilian Empire was too severely weakened by the conflict to remain coherent, and collapsed less than decades later with the death of the last emperor.
- Over 2/3 of all of Human population (as well as much of Dwarven, Orcs, Elven and other populations) were killed in the fighting, the subsequent famines and plagues, and the release of dark magic, leading to the weakening of feudalism in the kingdoms and empires on the continent.
- The wars led to a massive stimulation of development in both magic and sciences as the mortal races rediscovered old ways and invented new ways to slay the dragons, support the war efforts and cope with the bloody aftermath of the conflicts. These knowledge would spread partly through the out-flux of artisans, craftsmen, scholars and sorcerers from the collapsing Holy Aquilian Empire.
- The event completely upset the state of affairs in Elyssia, breaking what historians called the 'Medieval Stasis' that held Elyssia in its grasp, leading to people to start questioning the status quo that had remained in place in Elyssia for thousands of years. The effects would be felt in the form of political, cultural and religious reforms or revolutions that would transform the societies of the various races and realms, and wrap Elyssia in turmoil for centuries to come.
The combination of these factors would lead to an artistic and intellectual flowering known as the Reawakening (Or the Renaissance, as some scholars would call), bringing Elysia out of the Medieval Era and into the Early Modern Era, with it the beginning of a new age of exploration and innovation.
Above all else, dragonkind failed to recover from the war, which broke their power forever – never again will the dragons rise in great numbers to terrorize the mortal races. And thus, it could be said, as their lasting legacy, the Holy Aquilian Empire is credited in bringing forth the dominion of man...
[Sorry, a re-post, to correct some errors, add new things and make some edits]
"... and here on our left, is a painting by Otto Von Düster, 'An Empire mourns their martyred son', one of the most notable artwork of the Aquilian-Dragon War one thousand years previously. While the painting have a vibrant, vivid background of a city devastated by dragon-fire, the dead soldiers and innocents, and the emperor’s entourage and bodyguards, the artist had drawn it so the most immediate attention would be focused upon the central figures, Emperor Ingrimm and Prince Edel; the former is shown here on his knees upon the scorched ground, cradling the body crown prince Edel...
... In contrast to most artwork of its time, which depicts the Emperor as a great warrior who led the empire to victory against the dragons, head held high, here he is portrayed in a tragic light as a father who had lost his beloved son, his head low and face buried in the chest of Edel as he weeps. He is placed by the artist as the stand-in of the entire Empire, at the time still reeling from the dragon hordes and sent reeling further by the murder of crowned prince. The Emperor’s regalia armor, with the insignia of the Holy Aquilian Empire, is stained by ash and the prince’s blood, which symbolizes the black stain of dishonour the dragons had marked all of Aquilia with their barbarity...
...Prince Edel meanwhile is dead, limp in his father’s embrace, yet his figure still shines as if with light, which emphasizes him as a hero blessed by the gods. He was the crowned prince, universally beloved by the whole empire, and who in his last breath had died a noble death defending the city of Stadtheim with his soldiers from the ravaging dragon hordes. His perfect figure is scarred by all kinds of dragon attacks, which symbolizes the carnage and destruction the dragons had wrought upon Aquilia and its people. The painting is all in all unique for its portrayal of the death of Edel and burning of Stadtheim as a personal tragedy, not just for the Emperor, but all of Aquilia, with the heroism of both the Emperor or his Son, usually found in other paintings depicting the event such as ‘Prince Edel’s Last Stand', entirely absent...
... and here on the right, is the famous Statue of Victory, Johann Eckmann’s masterpiece, commissioned by the Aquilian Republic to commemorate the 800th anniversary of the Aquilian-Dragon War, and by extension, all peoples of Elyssia’s victory over the ravaging dragons. The statue shows a knight, clad in Aquilian armor, with insignia of the Empire, standing over the head of a decapitated dragon. He is based upon High Constable Jaegar Iron-Heart, who led Aquilia to victory under the Emperor over the dragons...
... His arms are held wide and high, and in the traditional Aquilian victory pose, on his right hand, an enchanted steel sword, symbolizing the might of Aquilia, the might of man, had prevailed over the dragons, usually a symbol of nature’s wrath. And on his left hand, a sceptre, which represents the sovereignty of Aquilia as granted by the Great Gods of Aquilia, which symbolizes the survival of the realm from the ravages of the dragon, that man have stood their ground in the face of a seemingly implacable enemy and had won their right to exist, free from terror and destruction...”
--- An elven Tour Guide describing the art depicting the Aquilian-Dragon War in the National Art Museum of the Aquilian Republic, a member state of the Dominion of Man, a modern economic and military alliance/union which includes a number of Dwarven City-States, the High Elven Commonwealth, the Tribal Federation of the Orcs, and other nations.
Of course, Alex or Trooper924 would end up writing subversions if they ever find these paintings...]
"There is a blight upon the land. A disgusting, vile mob of animals called 'Man'. Look at them! Crawling around in the mud with their perverse ma-sheens and gad-jits. Look at their arrogance and how they hold themselves superior to every other living creature in this world.
If left unchecked they will destroy us all.
This is what we must do: we must kill them. My brothers, if we wish for our children and our children's children to live freely, we must exterminate humankind and all those who aid them! Incinerate them! Devour them! Crush them underfoot! Show them no mercy, for you will receive none!"
---Final speech of Rakdon the Ravager prior to his capture and eventual execution.
The execution of Rakdon was a cause for celebration for many races, but in others it provoked outrage.
Amongst the collection of species known as "the Pariah"--consisting of the trolls, the gargoyles, the goblins, the roks, the vampires, the snake-men, and the fallen elves--the Great Wyrms and the dragons were considered dieties and the mass slaughter of them was heresy on an unfathomable scale. Rakdon's death was the final straw that spurred the Pariah into action.
Some took a passive approach to resisting the empire by smuggling dragon eggs to safety and nursing wounded dragons back to health. Most, however, took up arms, orchestrating ambushes and hit-and-run attacks against Imperial dragon hunters, but it was not until the Battle of Dramosu did the resistance truly take shape. The fallen elf, Thanatos and his army of a thousand strong seized control of the fortress-city and there, he united the various Pariah factions under one banner: The Rakdon Alliance.
The Alliance and the Empire would war on-and-off throughout the centuries until the latter's dissolution and the signing of the Treaty of Ar-Mmum immediately beforehand. Today, the Alliance remains a powerful and influential force in Elysia, controlling the majority of the western half of the continent. Tensions remain high between them and the Dominion of Man.
Dominion of Man = USA/NATO
Rakdon Alliance = Soviet Union/Warsaw Pact
I wonder what the magical equivalent of the Cuban Missile Crisis would look like...
Love the colors!
Must have taken forever!
Great work, but you already know that.