Frontacian/Psycian War pt. 1
[This article was originally presented in the August 15,
1997 Issue of the Dragon Fire Chronicles, entitled "A Brief History of the
Frontacian/Psycian War" by Calondin Fflammdwyn.]
Some two hundred years ago, one of my less ignoble ancestors
traveled to the Spur and then into the world beyond it. In his later years, he spent
much time writing scrolls so that his knowledge may outlive him. I submit here one
collection of his works, detailing the history of our ancient conflict with the
Frontacians. This history is based upon his research into what has otherwise been
glossed over in the histories we are taught. It is provided for your edification.
I have included the preface he wrote for what are known as
the Scrolls of Calondin Fflammdwyn so that his writings may have some context. I
believe his intent was to bring greater understanding to the world through
knowledge. In keeping with that intent, I humbly submit his knowledge to you.
Some time ago, I spent a short duration learning my trade in
a violent little city called the Spur. Some of the events that I encountered there
led me to question our history as it has been taught to us. Given my newly honed
skills, I left the Spur for a voyage of discovery into the world. During this trip,
I learned many things not only about our race, the Psycians, but also about our history
and the history of our world. I have recorded this knowledge in these scrolls in the
hope that others may benefit from my research.
In service to Odarous,
Calondin Fflammdwyn, KOO, MP, OWF
The Time Before War
Any history of the Frontacian / Psycian conflict would be
incomplete without a background of the world at the time. I hope this scroll will
provide such a background.
This is the tale of a time long past, when the petty
conflicts of individuals mattered little in a world at large. This is a tale of a
world where magick had not been mastered and each race had its place. Specifically,
this is a tale of a mighty empire and one of its client states. This is the tale of
the Frontacian Empire and the Isle of Psycia.
The Frontacian Empire
As we all know, there was a time when the known world was
ruled by the Frontacian Empire. While there is no doubt that this is true, the name
suggests an imperial dictatorship when, in truth, it was hardly that at all.
Unlike their descendants, the Frontacians of old were not
aloof and uncaring as they are now. Well, actually, they were, but less so. To
a Frontacian, the most important things in life were the self, the family, the Empire, and
anyone else, in that order. This order of precedence led to the development of a
mighty but flawed empire, as individual and family struggles to gain dominance always
stood in the way of racial unity.
One may wonder how the Frontacians were able to build such a
mighty and encompassing empire. While it is hard to reconstruct the details of a
time so long past, the Frontacian power base was built on the control of trade.
The Frontacians were the mightiest traders of the known
world, managing and controlling the distribution of goods amongst the many islands of the
world. Perhaps it was because so much of the world was separated by stretches of
water that a trading empire could develop. Whatever the root, the Frontacians had
two major advantages above all other races when it came to trade, they had their magickal
bridges that allowed goods to be moved quicker than any sailing vessel, and they had their
Psycians to communicate needs across vast distances. By being able to instantly know
the needs of one community and then rapidly fill those needs, the Frontacians were able to
always beat outside competition, thus allowing them to charge premium rates and dominate
not only the world trade in goods, but the world trade in currency for those goods.
Such an advantage was sufficient to bring all races, at least in name, under the auspices
of the Frontacian Empire. Perhaps the other races understood that whoever controlled
the flow of goods had a good bit of control over their lives. Perhaps they had no
choice, understanding or not. The net result was, however, that all races paid duty,
literally and figuratively, to the Frontacians.
I have mentioned that to a Frontacian, family comes before
Empire. This degree of importance was no more visible than in the fact that the
Empire was not one great trading beast. Rather, within the empire, individual
families vied for dominance within both court and the trade centers of the world. It
is a fact that the name Empire was somewhat of a misnomer, for the Empire did not have an
emperor. Rather, it had a council of traders who managed the subject lands and
allocated monopolies to individual families or clans. The Council understood the
damage that could be done to their power if they allowed competition among the families to
create price wars. Therefore, they partitioned the world into areas, each controlled
by a different family. When trade involved more than one family, one where the goods
were needed, others where the goods were available, the families would work together or
against each other to cement the deal. However, only one family would be involved in
the final sale to the customers. This system allowed the Frontacians to maintain
their monopoly while continuing to vie internally. Often an upstart family would
undercut the competition to be the source of goods for a transaction. Of course, any
savings on the source goods were never passed along to the customers.
I mentioned the two factors that allowed Frontacians to
dominate trade. Each deserves more attention, as it was they that led up to the War
and eventually they that caused the fall of the Empire.
The first were the magickal bridges mentioned in the common
histories. These amazing feats of magick allowed the Frontacians to instantly move
not only individuals but entire caravans from one place to another. The value of
such a bridge was twofold. First, it allowed rapid delivery of goods in times of
need. Second, it allowed rapid deployment of warriors. My research suggests
that the standard procedure in Frontacian expansion was to build a bridge anchor, for a
bridge required a start and endpoint to function, and then use it to deploy warriors to
subjugate a newly discovered land, if necessary. This was not always necessary,
however, for some cultures were willing to give themselves over to the Empire willingly in
exchange for a bridge anchor being built. In either case, once an anchor was built,
the Frontacians had effective control, both militarily and financially, over the
The other major factor in the Frontacian trade dominance was
their employment of Psycians for long distance communication. There are those of
you, who reading this now will wonder about the need for this as any accomplished mage can
achieve the same effect. Simply put, the amber aura did not exist yet, nor did the
Psycians were employed by Frontacian trading families to act
as conduits for information. If one part of the world had a sudden need for goods,
perhaps a brutally cold winter or a drought induced famine, the Psycian communications
network was able to pass the information along rapidly. This allowed the Frontacians
to take advantage of the need and capitalize on it. In exchange for their services,
the Psycians charged a commission on the ensuing transactions. Although the amounts
involved were not insignificant, common history suggests that the Psycians were not
interested in dominance, so the moneys were not a threat to the Frontacian Empire.
The Isle of Psycia
The Psycians of this era were much as we are today, dedicated
to the pursuit of knowledge and the expansion of ourselves. Having always been
limited by our physical stature, we were ever more interested in finding intellectual
solutions rather than physical ones. Being dedicated to the Mind, the Psycians often
seemed to forget the physical world around them. This appearance, however, was far
from the truth.
It has been said that Psycians appear distant and are often best described as simply
professional. While both these descriptions are on the surface accurate, they belie
the heart of the Psycian. However, I seem to be digressing from my account. My
The Isle of Psycia was the home to all of the Psycian
race. Special properties of the soil there allowed the growth of the herbs that made
it possible for Psycians to venture out into the world without going insane from the
constant babble of untrained minds. Although, as with all races, there were those of
Psycia possessed of the wanderlust, most were content to live their lives peacefully
pursuing their studies and enjoying the joy of Unity with one-another.
The government of Psycia would best be described as a
democracy. Given the ease with which a Psycian can express opinions, it was
impossible for any sort of authoritarian government to take hold. Although nominally
a part of the Frontacian Empire, Psycia seldom had need of outside trade and, due to the
Frontacian need for the goodwill of the Psycians, was mostly left to itself.
During the age of the Frontacian expansion, Psycia was happy
to support the Frontacian Empire, as expansion brought with it knowledge. As I have
said, knowledge was akin to food for Psycians. It could be said that the
relationship between the Psycians and the Frontacians was parasitic, with the Psycians
living off the work of the Frontacians. Given what the Psycians gave in back to the
Frontacians, a symbiotic relationship would be more accurate.
The Stirrings of War
The End of an Age
The metaphorical symbiosis between the Frontacians and their
Psycian employees continued without trouble for a long time. However, eventually
this peaceful relationship started to stumble.
The Age of Exploration dominated by the Frontacians eventually came to a close, as the
known world was discovered, explored, and dominated. The Frontacian Empire had a
presence everywhere there was.
Soon after the exploration ceased, the energies that had been dedicated to growth and
conquering turned elsewhere. The Frontacians had become used to the ever increasing
gains of an expanding empire. However, once the expansion stopped, they found
themselves having to find other ways to increase their wealth. In their analysis of
the disposition of moneys in the Frontacian Empire, the commission paid to the Psycians
suddenly loomed large. It began to gall the Frontacians that they were giving moneys
to a lesser race. They soon started trying to find ways to exact service from the
Psycians, rather than purchase it.
Now it might be suggested that as a Psycian, I am biased against the Frontacians.
While it is true that I bear them some extensive ill will for what they did to my
ancestral home, as a historian it would be improper of me not to tell the whole
truth. Although it is true that the Frontacians started demanding more service and
got less forthcoming with their fees, the Psycians also played a part in what eventually
turned to war.
As I have said, the Psycians were happy to assist the
Frontacians in their expansion mostly to garner extra knowledge for themselves. When
the Age of Expansion ended, the Psycians of the time no longer had this extra
incentive. Furthermore, they soon realized that the Frontacians would turn elsewhere
for gains, once the expansion stopped. Having been supporters of, if not allies to,
the Frontacians for so long, it could be said that the Psycians had helped the Frontacian
Empire to become what it was. That they started having second thoughts once the
Frontacians were no longer of use to them is little excuse for the damage they helped
cause to other would be traders and the other races of the lands.
The turning of attentions from expansion into other areas
took many forms among the Frontacians. I have already mentioned the anger the
Frontacians started to feel towards the Psycians. However, what was likely the most
damaging to the Empire was the increased internal rivalry. Where before individual
families had co-existed, trading internally and monopolizing their own districts, now they
started actively feuding with each other, in order to expand their monopolies. Since
their world was not expanding, the only way for one family's wealth to grow was at the
cost of another family's.
Now this was by no means a quick turn of events. In any
large institution, change takes time. Thus it was with the Frontacian Empire.
The Age of Exploration gave way to the Age of Dominance over the course of many years.
At first, the changes were subtle. Perhaps the chief
factor of one family would suddenly fall ill and die. Perhaps the foods needed to
save a Pentathian city from famine would be withheld. One family would grow weaker,
while another grew stronger. Thus did the rivalries grow. Although it never
escalated to obvious warring between factions, the occasional assassination was not
unheard of. During all this time, the tension between the Frontacians and the
Psycians continued to grow. Due to their nature, it did not take long for the
Psycians to realize that a sudden death of one of their own in the employ of the
Frontacians was anything but accidental. Realizing that they were merely pawns in
the internecine feuds among the Frontacians, the Psycians sought to take steps to defend
Because of the long-standing relationship between the
Psycians and the Frontacians, the Psycians did not have the option of merely withdrawing
their services. Having never been a militaristic race, they were not prepared to
offer such a significant insult to the Frontacians. Therefore, unable to simply
withdraw from the situation, the Psycians decided to work against the Frontacians in
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