|Aragis the Archer|
|Appearance(s):||Prince of the North;|
King of the North;
Fox and Empire
|Nationality:||Elabonian Empire/North Elabon|
All others unnamed
When the Empire withdrew from the northlands, the lords of the various fiefdoms abruptly found themselves to be sovereign monarchs. They quickly began competing among themselves, and Aragis built a name for himself as one of the region's great powers, expanding his territory at the expense of his neighbors. Within five years of the breakdown of imperial rule, he was one of four or five Elabonian lords who had come to rule territories so vast that he felt the title "baron" no longer did him justice. He therefore promoted himself to Grand Duke. One of the other ascendant lords, Gerin the Fox, who had claimed the even loftier title of prince, considered Aragis the ablest and cleverest leader in the Northlands with the possible exception of only himself, and believed Aragis was his most dangerous adversary . However, history would keep providing him with more dangerous adversaries still, adversaries who would often force Gerin and Aragis to see each other as allies.
The first such adversary came in the form of man-beasts who escaped from a dungeon under Biton's temple at Ikos during an earthquake. The man-beasts spread throughout the Northlands and provided a constant menace to the feudal economies of the various baronies (duchies, principalities, and so forth). In the northern end of the province, the man-beasts made common cause with the Trokmoi to attack Gerin's principality, and the threat their combined forces provided was so strong that Gerin was forced to request assistance from Aragis. Little did Gerin know that Aragis had sent an embassy north to make a similar request. Aragis's ambassadors, Marlanz Raw-Meat and Fabors Fabur's son, encountered Gerin's, Rihwin the Fox, on the road, closer to Fox Keep than to the Archer's Nest.
Gerin and Aragis agreed to pool their military resources for an open-ended period of time, with the alliance to dissolve at any point when either the prince or the grand duke wished to withdraw from it, and to remain in force as long as both sides wished it. When their combined forces operated north of Ikos, Gerin would be the force's overall commander, and when they were south of Ikos, Aragis would assume command. (The latter clause was proposed by Aragis; Gerin admitted that he'd not thought of so neat an arrangement.)
One month later, Aragis arrived with most of his retainers at Fox Keep. To cement the alliance, he brought to Gerin two presents: his four-year-old son, who had been kidnapped some months earlier, and the severed head of Duren's kidnapper, Tassilo. Tassilo had attempted to sell Duren to Aragis so the grand duke could use his rival's son as a hostage. Instead, Aragis ordered Tassilo executed for his crime against his ally, though he allowed the execution to be swift and painless as a reward to the kidnapper for not mistreating the child.
Aragis's and Gerin's forces went into battle side by side, attacking the combined forces of Trokmoi and man-beasts at the keep of the Trokme lord Adiatunnus. They defeated Adiatunnus, but at great cost. . Aragis then expected Gerin to lead their combined armies to the Archer's Nest and relinquish command to him for a campaign against the man-beasts in the south. Instead Gerin proposed they seek the assistance of the gods Mavrix and Biton, a plan which Aragis reluctantly accepted with serious reservations. However, if Gerin's plan failed, and Aragis's holdings were sacked for want of a military presence to defeat the beast-men, Aragis would consider Gerin to have reneged on their alliance and would go to war with the prince.. The plan did work, and Aragis's scouts reported to allied command that the shrine of Ikos had been miraculously restored and that the beast-men had vanished. Gerin and Aragis then peaceably dissolved their alliance, leaving open the possibility of fighting as allies again at some point in the future, but also leaving open the possibility of Aragis seeking other allies to contain Gerin, whose prestige and power had soared as a result of his victory over the Trokmoi.
Aragis and Gerin remained at peace for many years, but they also remained suspicious of each other. When Gerin's victory over the Gradi ten years later allowed his prestige and power to soar to greater heights still, Gerin promoted himself from prince to king, ushering in a new political order in the northern half of the Northlands, and effectively pacifying all the lords in that area under his kingship. Aragis, fearing that Gerin's new title might lead him to claim Aragis as a vassal, dispatched Marlanz to inform Gerin that Aragis would absolutely refuse to accept such a claim. Gerin assured Marlanz that he intended to press no such claim against Aragis, and that it was his earnest wish to continue to live at peace with the formidable grand duke. Marlanz told Gerin that he had earned Aragis's respect, and Gerin responded that Aragis had earned his, with each monarch taking this as high praise from the other.
Though Aragis had no such dramatic victories to his name as Gerin's triumph over the Gradi, he continued to expand his grand duchy throughout the southern reaches of the Northlands until he and Gerin were the only real powers remaining in the former province. Aragis, feeling the need to remind Gerin that he was as strong as the King of the North, also started styling himself as a king within a short time of Gerin's assuming the title. The two kings' ruling style was very different: Gerin sought to earn his subjects' respect, while Aragis maintained discipline through fear. This, along with Gerin's greater commiment to maintaining and developing upon remaining imperial infrastructure and innovation, led many Northlanders to consider Gerin's kingship preferable to Aragis's.
This became a significant problem when Aragis attempted to force Balser Debo's son, one of the last remaining independent barons in the Northlands, whose holding shared borders with both Aragis' and Gerin's kingdoms, to swear allegiance to him. In response, Balser asked Gerin to accept him as a vassal instead. Gerin agreed, and Aragis dispatched Marlanz to inform the Fox that he would not allow Gerin to annex Balser's holding, on pain of war. Gerin replied that he was bound by Balser's oath of loyalty to fight to protect the fief from invasion, and that he fully intended to keep to this agreement. War loomed, a war which would leave only one of the two kings in power and would determine which of the two men would have uncontested rule of the entire Northlands.
However, a Gerin-vs.-Aragis war was averted (for the time being) when the Empire attempted to reconquer the de facto independent northlands, making the two northern kings allies of convenience.
Notes[edit | edit source]
- Tale of the Fox p 733 et al
- Wisdom of the Fox p 224
- Wisdom of the Fox p 225
- Wisdom of the Fox p 452
- Wisdom of the Fox p 462
- Wisdom of the Fox p 464
- Wisdom of the Fox pp 511-513
- Prince of the North ch 11
- Wisdom of the Fox pp 568-570
- Wisdom of the Fox pp 588-589
- Tale of the Fox pp 368-373
- Tale of the Fox p 381
- Tale of the Fox pp 470-474
- Tale of the Fox, pgs. 381-390.