The War of Betony (Daggerfall)
By Vulper Newgate
The history of the Iliac Bay, if told in its entirety, would horrify readers more than the most gruesome legend of the Underking. In comparison to the wars of the first and second era, our most recent appeal to arms, the War of Betony pales. The Siege of Orsinium lasted from 1E 950 until 1E 980 without a pause. A thousand years later, the Thrassian Plague coupled with the War of Righteousness slayed over half the population of the Iliac Bay. And yet, the War of Betony fascinates us, and not just because of its immediacy.
Ironically, Lord Mogref of Betony was seeking peace when he asked for Daggerfall's protection on the Isle of Betony. The island had long been independant, but as the piracy in the Bay increased, Mogref truly realized Betony's vulnerability. King Lysandus agreed to be Betony's liege, on advice of many, including his archpriest of Kynareth, Lord Vanech. While Betony is a prosperous fishing island and well-placed strategically, the vassalage of Betony was primarily an act of charity. Lysandus knew that if someone did not help Betony, it would fall to the pirates, if not to someone worse.
Unfortunately, King Camaron of Sentinel did not agree. Citing a two hundred year old contract, obliquely if not illegally written to suggest that Betony was a "traditional holding" of the Kingdom of Sentinel, Camaron declared war. The majority of his advisors, being warlords in a traditionally bellicose country, supported their king in this. The Chief Counselor, a woman called The Oracle, foresaw death and defeat in the war, but her wisdom was stifled and she was banished from court. Camaron should have listened to her.
A few scrimages of the War of Betony went to Sentinel, but the major battles were all won by Daggerfall. King Lysandus, his heir Prince Gothryd, and the general of the army Lord Bridwell were fine leaders and warriors as well, and the Battle of the Bluffs and the Siege of Craghold both went to Daggerfall.
The war might have been won with one more victory, but for an unusual domestic incident in King Lysandus' court. The king's mother, the dowager queen Nulfaga, had been uneasy about the war since its beginning, but she now began to have visions of cataclysm. She saw the death of her beloved son should the war continue. Ebullient by his success, King Lysandus refused to listen to her fears until Nulfaga left court. Lysandus then realized how certain she was about his impending death. He began to actively negotiate a peace treaty with Sentinel, using the neutral lordship of Reich Gradkeep as facilitator.
The Treaty of Reich Gradkeep was never to be. King Camaron was initially civil, as the losing side of a war is often civil, but when he realized that the proposed treaty would have included a formal declaration that the kingdoms of Sentinel and Daggerfall would share Betony, he flew into a rage. With no thought for the protocol of attacking a neutral peaceable lordship, Camaron order his army to riot through Reich Gradkeep. First the halls of the palace, and then the streets of the capitol ran red with blood. It was only with the support of the Daggerfall army that the chaos was brought under relative control. The Sentinel army fled to the Yeorth Burrowland, and the Daggerfall army chased them as far as the Ravennian Forest before making camp.
One week later, after each had a chance to send for reinforcements and plan their strategies, the armies met in the field that separated them, the flowering meadowland called Cryngaine Field. In the heat of the clash, an unnatural fog spread over the field, blinding all combatants. When the mist finally lifted, King Lysandus' body was found, his throat pierced by an unmarked arrow.
Daggerfall did not waste any time in mourning; young prince Gothryd, who had shown great bravery in battle and was very popular among the troops, was crowned King of Daggerfall just behind the battle lines, and he ordered the army onward. Perhaps it was the sight of the brave young warrior turned king appearing on the battlefield in full regalia that inspired the Daggerfall army, perhaps the battle would have turned regardless, Sentinel began to panic. King Gothryd met King Camaron before the Redguards had retreated, and the two monarchs fought. Both were excellent warriors, but Gothryd was a more skillful swordsman, and Camaron fell that day. Lord Oresme of Sentinel formally surrendered to Daggerfall, giving up all rights to Betony officially. He later commited suicide on the ship back to Sentinel.
Peace was a difficult process for the cities and towns on both sides of the Iliac Bay. As part of the formal peace treaty, King Gothryd asked for the hand of Princess Aubk-i, only daughter of the late King Camaron and the Queen Regent Akorithi. The request was intended to restore friendship between the kingdoms, and it was partially successful though many in the royal court of Sentinel viewed the princess as more a prisoner of war than a bond to Daggerfall.
The only surviving member of the ruling family of Reich Gradkeep was a sickly infant, so the councilors of state appealed to Lord Auberon Flyte, a cousin of Lord Graddock, to rule the lordship in regency. Lord Flyte accepted, and his strong, almost dictatorial style was just what Reich Gradkeep needed to restore order after the bloody Treaty of Reich Gradkeep. His subjects were grateful that when the infant heir died, they not only elevated his wife Doryanna and him from regents to rulers, they agreed to rename the lordship in his honor. Reich Gradkeep became Anticlere, named after his ancestral home.
The horrors of the War of Betony still live on, even in Anticlere. Whether Daggerfall and Sentinel will be able to use the marriage of King Gothryd and Princess Aubk-i as a symbol of peace rather than discord is something that only the future can show.