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Dragon's Gate

Jacquelin Dupree

Kyshra Sorrowfell
Angelica Takashi
Calondin Flammdwyn


Frontacian/Psycian War pt. 2

[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.]

The Hidden War

There was a long period of well hidden hostilities between the Frontacians and the Psycians.  This period was filled with small scale violence and various depths of subterfuge.  There were too many episodes for me to detail each one here.  Perhaps Bards rather than historians should do the telling of individual tales.  That being the case, I will limit myself to recording the key events during this cold war that led up to the catastrophic conclusion that ended not only the Isle of Psycia, but also much of the Frontacian Empire itself.

Shortly after the Age of Expansion ended, the internal structure of the Frontacian Empire was forced, by the lack of new frontiers, to change.  While the basic format of a Traders' Council did not change, the next level in the hierarchy did change dramatically.

For centuries, the Frontacian Council was made up of an elite group of families.  Membership on the Council was given only to those invited in by the Council itself.  Given that those on the Council were not keen to share the power, the rare family that managed to get added to the Council did so by applying sufficient pressure to the necessary majority of the Council to receive the invitation.  At the end of the Age of Exploration, there were twelve seats on the Council filled.

Now, these representatives of twelve families hardly were enough to represent the interests of the myriad of Frontacian trading families.  However, due to the near pathological rivalries that existed between families, the Council never united sufficiently to grant the elite families all the power and exclude those not represented.  The reality was quite the opposite, as those on the Council constantly sought to undermine the positions of the others on the Council, often in retribution for some age-old slight.  Surprisingly, the constant jockeying for position and strength within the Council allowed the smaller families to flourish, at least to some extent, in the expanding empire.  Of course, when the Empire stopped expanding, this turbulent balance was bound to change.

Change it did.  The influx on new lands, and with them new markets, had brought the Frontacians an ever-growing economy.  When this source of growth evaporated, the Frontacians, as I have mentioned, turned to other means to increase their wealth.  The most dramatic method, at least internal to the Frontacian Empire, was that the Council agreed to agree long enough to parcel out the known world amongst the families represented on the Council.  The lesser families would be under the authority of the greater family to which they were assigned.  While this new hierarchy did bring greater wealth to the elite, it did so at the cost of the lesser families who were none too pleased.  They, in turn, grew more competitive with the other families in their caste, vying more and more for a bigger slice of the proverbial pie.

Aware of the discontent caused by their machinations, the Council saw fit to start creating opportunities for wealth.  These opportunities could take many forms, be it a poor harvest in one area or the eruption of a battle between neighbors.  Whatever the form, there was always room for an enterprising trader to make a profit.  While it is true that the Council, aware of the upcoming need from the manufactured opportunity, could profit the most itself, they allowed lesser families to play a role, thus giving them a share in the profits.  Now I am not suggesting that every border dispute or famine or assassination that took place during the Age of Domination was the result of Frontacian meddling.  However, you will find a Frontacian factor or emissary close at hand to many of that period's violent episodes.

Needless to say, those who were aware of the Frontacian manipulations of the other races were a bit disconcerted.  Primary among these were the Psycians, who belatedly discovered some guilt for the role in keeping the Frontacians in power.  This realized guilt, along with the lessened benefits from working with the Frontacians led the elder Psycians to start machinations of their own.

Initially, the Psycian efforts where primarily focused on the dissemination of information to the other races.  On more than one occasion, a Frontacian plot would be foiled by a word or two put in by a Psycian.  The Psycians, however, did not limit themselves to simply working against the Frontacians among the other races of the world.  The Psycians' underground rebellion against the Frontacians in power was also taken into the Frontacian homeland itself.

The Psycians who made up the communications network for the Frontacians had always had as their mandate that they would forward information only to the specific persons requested by their Frontacian masters.  This control of information allowed the Frontacians to direct who would profit from a famine, for although many families may have interests in food resources, only those contacted would know to put their interests for sale in particular areas.  This control was not, of course, limited to foodstuffs, but was valid for any commodity for which where was a sudden need, be it weapons, wool, or whatever.

One of the goals of the Frontacian Council had always been to maximize profits by limiting free enterprise.  However, their change in structure at the end of the Age of Exploration created sufficient unrest among the lesser families that the occasional leakage of information from one Psycian to another brought on a surge of price competition among the families.  It could be said that no greater blow was made against the Frontacians way of life than that of the Psycians releasing to general circulation their inside information.  Suddenly, many families were vying to be the source of goods in trade deals.  The birth of a free enterprise economy in the Frontacian Empire terrified those on the Council, for wealth and control were their foundations.  However, because the entire Frontacian trade mechanism relied on the Psycian ability to communicate over vast distances instantly, little could be done in direct retaliation.  Given that the Frontacians could not simply kill all the Psycians, the anger at being played that was not given vent started to fester within their souls.

The efforts of the Psycians were not the only source for anger to the Frontacian Council.  Not only were there reports of Frontacian families undercutting each other, a previously unheard of thing, but also of mysterious traders of other races seeming to appear out of nowhere, selling needed goods and vanishing.  Somehow, it seemed to the Frontacians, there were traders who were reacting faster than the Frontacians themselves to emergency needs.  Perhaps because of their aloof superiority, the Frontacians simply could not fathom how anyone without the aid of the Frontacian magickal bridges could bring goods to remote locations so fast.  This inability to believe that they were being beaten at their own game of instant trade, the Frontacians grew steadily more frustrated and started turning to their military for enforcement of their monopoly.

The Psycian Subterfuge

Any history of the conflict between the Frontacians and the Psycians would be incomplete without a discussion of the role the Psycians played in the development of war.  The tight grip in which the Frontacians held the rest of the world's races makes it easy to blame the Frontacians for all the harm that was done.  However, it would be unfair to the truth not to acknowledge that the Psycians played a significant role in increasing the anger and frustration that eventually led the Frontacians to violence.  An altruist may say that it was the very arrogance of the Frontacians that was the root of their violence.  While that is a valid point, it forgets that such arrogance is the very nature of Frontacians.  To dismiss this would be akin to blaming the Secians for giving aid to those being hunted down for the crimes.  The justice of the world may demand the death of those who kill for pleasure, and it may be true that a Secian healing one such and thus allowing him to kill again is in part guilty of abetting the further crimes.  However, we cannot blame the ensuing deaths caused by the criminals on the Secian who healed him simply because it is the nature of the Secian to heal.  Likewise, while me may abhor the atrocities committed by the Frontacians, that they were driven by their very nature explains their behavior, even if it does not forgive it.

I say all this because, as a Psycian myself, I expect the revelations of the next few passages will focus on me some of the unbridled hatred my own kind has for the Frontacians.  Those who suffer the most like to believe they were innocents abused by some great evil.  I do not deny that the loss of our home and most of our race was a horrific disaster.  That perhaps we brought it on ourselves, at least to some extent, is not a popular suggestion.  However, popular or not, it is true.

The Psycian effort to weaken the Frontacian Empire hardly stopped at promoting free enterprise through the dissemination of information.  There were, among a rare group of the Psycians, those with extremely rare capabilities.  These Masters of the Mind were enlisted to promote trade among the other races in a way that rivaled the trade of the Frontacians.  Specifically, these Psycians were able to transport people and occasional items much like they could transfer information, instantaneously and over great distances.  This allowed trade in small items faster than even the Frontacians could manage.  Additionally, since it was Psycians themselves who controlled the flow of information, the knowledge of needs could be forwarded to the Psycians' own traders before the Frontacians.

The subject races of the Frontacian Empire were initially startled to discover that others could provide their solutions to their trade needs.  After generations of relying on the Frontacians, it was unheard of to have outside sources.  This revelation struck at the very foundations of the control the Frontacian Empire had over the other races.  If the Frontacians could be beaten in their area of mastery, trade, in what other areas could they be beaten?  With this question, the other races of the world began to push at the boundaries of what their Frontacian masters would allow.

Finally the Psycians put their abilities to one other, ill considered, use.  Using their new influence with the lesser families they had aided in competition, the Psycians started feeding the more militant and discontented Frontacian families with what cannot be described as anything less that suggestions for assassinations.  By listening in on the planning of the Trade Council and then locating their messengers, the Psycians were able to foil many of the plots the Council hatched.  Often this was accomplished by beating the Frontacians out directly.  However, in some circumstances, the Frontacian plan was thwarted by successfully suggesting to a lesser family that they could profit by killing this envoy or detaining that one.  It would not be overly harsh to suggest that the Psycians were trying to encourage a civil war among the Frontacians as a means of toppling their power.  Considering themselves immune to retribution due to the Frontacian reliance of Psycian telepathy, the Psycians of the time were brash and often foolish.  The very arrogance that they used as reason to work against the Frontacians was becoming present in themselves.  Had the Psycians of that era not thought themselves safe from the Frontacian wrath, it is possible that the final outcome of the coming war would have been much different.

The Chain That Binds
The Age of Dominance

The Psycian arrogance that the Frontacians could not afford to harm them held true, for a time.  It was not long before the Frontacians discovered their underhanded tactics.  However, as I have mentioned, the Frontacians could do little.  At first, the Frontacians tried taking as prisoners the families of the Psycians in their employ.  They were startled to find that the Psycians did not seem to care about imprisonment.  Apparently they did not understand that to a race that follows the way of the Mind, the location of the physical body matters little.  Accounts of these prisoners suggest that they merely took their incarceration as an opportunity to reflect further on the Mind.  Some even thanked the Frontacians for taking them away from the daily chores that would otherwise have distracted them from their mental pursuits.  On the rare occasions that the Frontacians sought to punish an employee by the murder of his family, the prisoners would be found missing.  Although a few of the prisoners were indeed killed, the majority simply vanished from their cells.  This inability to dominate their Psycian underlings festered in the Frontacians and led to even greater anger.  This anger, however, remained unsatisfied, leading to greater frustrations.

Since the Frontacians felt they could not survive without their Psycian communications, they turned their increasing frustrations out into the world.  Where before they had been satisfied to dominate trade, they now sought to purely dominate.  While they still dominated trade, their control was not complete.  Apparently their desire for dominance was sufficiently threatened to warrant the application of physical domination.

The armies of the Frontacian Empire, bolstered by mercenary companies of various races, spread through their magickal bridges across the world.  Since at this point the known world was already effectively part of the Frontacian Empire, the presence of these armies served little purpose.  The Frontacians, however, apparently felt a need to reaffirm their position of power.  These regional armies were set to excising taxes and ensuring that any and all learned to fear the sight of a Frontacian.  The few who rebelled and challenged the Frontacians in battle quickly found themselves facing three times their number as reinforcements appeared through the magickal bridges.  In the Age of Dominance, none stood against the Frontacians and survived.  None except the Psycians they could not afford to estrange.

In every corner of the world, the Frontacian Empire made its presence felt.  Local guilds paid homage to their Frontacian masters.  Even the thieves of the world paid their dues to the Frontacians who suffered their existence.  The Age of Dominance was an unhappy time for the world.  It did not last long, as ages go, but the sheer brutality of it warrants the title in the annals of history.   Where there were those who spoke against the Frontacians, there were savage beatings and death.  Where there were those who told tales of Psycians aiding merchants, those who spoke were shunned by the fearful residents or simply disappeared.  In a world where Psycians exist, it is not possible to police the thoughts of the world.  However, the Frontacians certainly did try.

The Frontacians held the world, bound by the chain of their might and their magick.  Yet even as they did so, the presence of the Psycians, that all the world knew were working against the Frontacians, nicked away at the links of that chain.

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