Algarve was a kingdom located in eastern Derlavai. Bordered by Jelgava and Valmiera to the east, and Forthweg, Ortah and Yanina to the west, it was ruled by King Mezentio throughout the Derlavaian War.
In ancient times the Algarvic tribes inhabited south-central Derlavai when the Kaunian Empire dominated the eastern half of the continent. While scorned as barbarians by the Kaunians, the Algarvic tribes eventually caused the decline and fall of the Kaunian Empire, carving out several nations from the ruins. The three modern successors of these tribal nations were Sibiu, Lagoas, and Algarve itself. The latter kingdom was divided into several smaller nations until some time during the Thaumaturgical Revolution, when Algarve proper was unified.
The Six Years' War and after
During the Six Years' War, Algarve fought a coalition including Unkerlant, Valmiera, Jelgava and Sibiu, joined late in the war by Lagoas. Eventually defeated, Algarve was forced to cede territory to its victorious foes. The Marquisate of Rivaroli and the Duchy of Bari were separated from Algarve, with the former being annexed outright by Valmiera and the latter being constituted as an independent Duchy with a puppet government controlled by the Kaunian kingdoms. Forthweg, which had been subsumed into Algarve and Unkerlant for centuries, emerged as an independent nation once more, built partly upon many of Algarve's northwestern provinces.
Over the next generation, the Algarvian people burned with resentment at their defeat and territorial losses, and thus eagerly anticipated a new war to redress these perceived wrongs. Under the new king Mezentio, Algarve rebuilt its military might and adopted new and improved doctrines for employing behemoths and dragons.
When Alardo, Duke of Bari died without an heir, Algarve annexed the Duchy of Bari and sent in its army to enforce its claim. Despite the Barians' enthusiasm for reunification with their Algarvian brethren, Sibiu, Valmiera, Jelgava, and Forthweg all declared war on Algarve.
Despite facing four enemies at once and fighting on three fronts, Algarve proved more than capable of meeting the challenge. Algarve concentrated its strength on Forthweg first, yielding ground to half-hearted invasions by Jelgava and Valmiera while the Forthwegian advance into northwest Algarve was blunted. Between Algarve's counter-offensive and Unkerlant's invasion from the west, Forthweg was smashed and divided once more between its two neighbors.
Early in the next year, the Algarvians used a fleet of old-fashioned sailing ships to bypass Sibiu's navy (which had been concentrating on the ley lines modern ships were confined to) and seized the islands in a short and successful surprise assault. However, the conquest of Sibiu prompted neutral Lagoas, with its greater power and resources, to join the war against Algarve.
Meanwhile Valmiera and Jelgava's offensives into eastern Algarve had stalled before Algarvian fortifications, giving the Algarvians time to prepare their next move. A surprise invasion into Valmiera through the rugged country of the north ended with the routing of the Valmieran army and the ejection from Derlavai of the Lagoans. The Marquisate of Rivaroli was returned to Algarvian rule, and Valmiera itself was occupied by the Algarvian army.
Jelgava, the last of the kingdoms which had declared war on Algarve, did little to avert its coming defeat. A large-scale airborne offensive, with Algarve's dragons ferrying large numbers of troops over the Bratanu Mountains that divided the two kingdoms, cut off the Jelgavan army in Algarve from its homeland, and soon Jelgava was defeated and occupied.
By the end of the first phase of the Derlavaian War, Algarve had emerged triumphant and dominant over eastern Derlavai. All of the territory surrendered after the Six Years' War had been reclaimed, and the four nations which had forced war upon Algarve had been crushed and occupied. Only Lagoas still opposed the Algarvians, and the island nation alone, isolated across the Strait of Valmiera, was not powerful enough to threaten Algarve.
The Invasion of Unkerlant
With Algarve now dominant over eastern Derlavai, and encouraged by the poor performance of Unkerlant's army against Zuwayza, King Mezentio began planning the destruction of his western neighbor, an old enemy and the one remaining power capable of seriously threatening Algarve. Accordingly, the full might of the Algarvian army was assembled on either side of neutral Ortah, in conquered Forthweg to the north and Algarve's new ally Yanina in the south.
The summer invasion of Unkerlant successfully caught the Unkerlanters off-guard and was initially replete with Algarvian triumphs. King Swemmel of Unkerlant had ordered his generals to prepare his own invasion of Algarve, and so the Unkerlanter army was unprepared to wage a defensive war against Algarve's more timely offensive. Skillful Algarvian use of behemoths and dragons allowed them to encircle and annihilate whole Unkerlanter armies, and the northern and southern prongs of the invasion were able to link up west of Ortah and form a continuous front. In the north Zawayza joined the war against Unkerlant, and many locals in the Duchy of Grelz, which had once been an independent kingdom, welcomed the Algarvians and enabled Mezentio to resurrect the Kingdom of Grelz as a client state.
By mid-autumn, however, Algarve began to experience problems of its own. While Yanina had contributed troops to support the invasion, it was also facing utter defeat by Lagoas in the Land of the Ice People. Accordingly, Mezentio had to divert an army of dragonfliers and soldiers from Unkerlant to assist his ally, weakening the already-overstretched Algarvian forces. Algarve's advance in Unkerlant had stalled by this point, and in response Mezentio authorized the introduction of "Special Magecraft". The slaughter of Kaunian prisoners taken from Forthweg gave Algarvian mages substantial amounts of life-force energy which they harnessed to rend holes in the Unkerlanter lines.
The use of "special magecraft" allowed the Algarvians to advance to the outskirts of Unkerlant's capital Cottbus just as the fearsome Unkerlanter winter was beginning. But the Algarvian offensive was halted and driven back. In addition, the Seven Princes of Kuusamo, disgusted at the mass slaughter of Kaunian prisoners, brought their nation into the war against Algarve.
By the end of the winter, Algarve's strategic position had worsened substantially. It had failed to knock out Unkerlant in a single blow, thus ensuring that Algarve would face a long and draining struggle with its giant neighbor. Algarve also had to disperse its military strength between a long front in Unkerlant, a distant war on the austral continent, and occupying several hostile kingdoms that were situated near the growing strength of Lagoas and Kuusamo.
Sulingen and Defeat
Despite now fighting a war on multiple fronts, Mezentio and the Algarvians were confident that they would still defeat their enemies, and initially this confidence seemed justified.
The Unkerlant front had stabilized with the coming of the spring mud, as the Unkerlanter roads and countryside turned into an impassable morass for both sides. The resulting lull in the fighting allowed the Algarvians to replenish their forces and prepare for a new offensive aimed at the Mamming Hills, Unkerlant's chief source of cinnabar. With their dragons thus strengthened by the expected windfall of cinnabar, the Algarvians hoped to bring the war in Unkerlant to a successful conclusion.
The frontline stabilized before spring. The roads and plains of Unkerlant became a hopeless morass of mud, impassable by troops and behemoths alike. This hiatus in the fighting enabled the Algarvians to stabilize their front and mass new reserves. The Unkerlanters struck the first blow in the summer campaigning season with an attack on the city of Aspang, near the border with the Duchy of Grelz. Although at first stunned, the Algarvians swiftly rallied, cut off the Unkerlanter army moving on Aspang, and destroyed it, inflicting heavy losses on the Unkerlanter army. Unkerlanter forces retreated southward, toward the Wolter River and the city of Sulingen.
Concurrently, the war in the Land of The Ice People escalated, with the Algarvian-Yaninan army driving the Lagoan force out of the Yaninan colony. When Kuusaman dragonfliers and soldiers joined the Lagoans, the war on the austral continent turned into a stalemate. The Algarvians sought to break the deadlock by using a shipment of Kaunian captives to create the same destructive spell they had used in Unkerlant. Angered at the blood sacrifices, the gods of the Ice People turned the destructive energies back upon the Algarvian army. With its forces on austral continent wrecked, and no troops available to form a new army there, the Algarvians conceded defeat in the Land of the Ice People.
Meanwhile, Algarve launched a massive assault on Sulingen. Knowing that the Algarvians would be unstoppable if they crossed the Wolter River, the Unkerlanters fought more ferociously than ever, forcing the Algarvians to fight building by building. Despite the heavy casualties his army was suffering, King Mezentio refused to countenance any action other than final victory in the city.
As a result of its heavy casualties, Algarve was forced by this stage of the war to turn to foreign sources of manpower; Plegmund's Brigade was created with Forthwegian recruits (most of them criminals and rogues) and dispatched to Grelz to release Algarvian troops there. A regiment of Sibians was also raised and deployed straight into the fighting in Sulingen. More Algarvian units were diverted to the city as well, leaving the poorly equipped Yaninans to hold Algarve's flanks on either side of the city.
As a result, when the Unkerlanters launched a winter counteroffensive they were able to easily pierce the Yaninan lines on both sides of Sulingen and cut off the Algarvians there. Subsequent relief attempts failed, the last Algarvians there surrendered, and after another round of fighting the front stabilized with Unkerlanter forces having retaken Durrwangen.
Durrwangen, Grelz and Sibiu
With his enemies gaining the initiative, King Mezentio decided to stake everything on a massive summer offensive to cut off the "Durrwangen salient". Unfortunately for Algarve, its buildup of dragons and behemoths on both sides of the salient was prolonged enough - and obvious enough - for the Unkerlanters to prepare their own defenses thoroughly. Combined, the Algarvian assaults on the Durrwangen salient from both north and south resulted in the biggest behemoth battle in history. Though the fighting was fierce, Algarve's attack ultimately failed and her last reserves of behemoths, men, and dragons were expended to no gain.
In the autumn and winter, Unkerlant switched to the offensive and drove the Algarvians eastwards
, liberating most of Grelz and its capital Herborn by the end of the year. Mezentio's cousin Raniero, who had been appointed duke of the region, was captured and boiled alive.
On the other side of Derlavai Lagoas and Kuusamo did not remain idle. Their dragonfliers escalated nighttime raids upon southern Algarve and occupied Valmiera, causing increasing amounts of damage. Late in the year, the islanders unveiled a new weapon of war: Habakkuk, an iceberg that served as a massive dragon carrier. With the aid of this new vessel, a joint Sibian-Lagoan-Kuusaman task force liberated Sibiu from its diminished garrison and further exposed southern Algarve to the islanders' dragons.
Defeats West and East
The first half of the year saw little change for Algarve on either front. This respite did not prove to be a blessing for Algarve, however, as the combined efforts of its enemies saw Mezentio's armies driven back to Algarve's borders during the summer and autumn.
The northern half of Unkerlant had remained fairly quiet for the past two years, but a massive summer offensive mounted by Unkerlant drove the Algarvians back into prewar Forthweg and cost them heavy casualties. Zuwayza, now isolated from its Algarvian ally, sued for peace and exited the war. In the south, the Unkerlanters finished driving the Algarvians out of Grelz and advanced into Yanina. That country successfully defected and began attacking the Algarvian troops as they withdrew toward Algarve itself.
In eastern Derlavai, a successful ruse led the Algarvians to expect Lagoas and Kuusamo to invade Valmiera. Having fortified that nation's coastline, Algarve was completely wrong-footed when the islanders instead landed a massive invasion force in Jelgava. Unable to muster any effective resistance, the Algarvians were driven back to the Bratanu Mountains. Valmiera had to be abandoned as well by the end of the year, and the Algarvians were left with no realistic prospect of driving the islanders off the continent again.
Algarve's Final Downfall
In the final year of the war Algarve was simply overwhelmed on both fronts; even the deployment of new sorceries (some of them drawing from malevolent Powers Below) did not turn the tide.
An Algarvian winter counterattack into Valmiera ended in failure, stopped cold by the islanders' superior strength and numbers. Unkerlant conquered the rest of Forthweg and drove through southern Algarve before its northern and southern prongs linked up at Trapani. Algarvian civilians suffered greatly at Unkerlanter hands, with gang-rape of Algarvian women becoming a common practice. A final Algarvian counter-offensive aimed at the northern force failed utterly, and Trapani was encircled and reduced to rubble.
Refusing to be taken alive by the Unkerlanters, King Mezentio ordered Sidroc, a member of the Algarvian-aligned Plegmund's Brigade, to kill him. With Mezentio dead, his brother, Mainardo, reigned long enough to surrender unconditionally to the allies, ending the Derlavaian war in the east. In the immediate aftermath, Algarve was effectively divided between the victorious powers, with each half becoming a puppet state of its occupier. The Unkerlanters installed an Algarvian noble unrelated to Mezentio in West Algarve, while Mainardo served the Kuusamans as king of East Algarve.
Society and People
Algarvians were red- or sandy-haired people, most with green eyes, and were generally given to excitable and emotional temperaments. Algarvian men were circumcised at puberty (known as the 'ritual mutilation') and wore elaborate moustaches where possible. Algarvians of both sexes wore kilts, supplemented with leggings in cold weather.
Algarvians held mushrooms in disdain, in contrast to Forthwegians and Kaunians. While the country inherited much of its culture from the Kaunian Empire, many Algarvians despised the Kaunians, perhaps out of an inferiority complex. At the time of the Derlavaian War, a popular diversion for most Algarvians was reading trashy novels set in ancient times that depicted heroic Algarvian barbarians beating inferior Kaunian men. While many Algarvians viewed their country's genocide of Kaunians as just vengeance, others were appalled and believed the massacres to be senseless cruelty.
Algarve was an absolute monarchy, but it exhibited less autocratic characteristics than many of its enemies. Algarve had a powerful nobility, like its Kaunian counterparts, but the commoners were not oppressed. While commoners did not usually ascend to officer's rank in the military, it was not impossible for them to do so.