Gyongyos was a kingdom in far western Derlavai. A geographically varied nation, Gyongyos had a long and ill-defined eastern frontier with Unkerlant through the Ilszung Mountains that alternated between brushfire wars and uneasy peace, while to the west Gyongyos faced the Bothnian Ocean and incorporated several offshore islands. Its capital was Gyorvar and it was ruled by Ekrekek Arpad during the Derlavaian War.
Situated at the far western end of Derlavai, ancient Gyongyos developed under the Thokoly Dynasty in isolation from the Kaunian-influenced east.
Gyongyos was the only nation "not of eastern Derlavai" to maintain its own traditions and culture throughout the Thaumaturgical Revolution. While the capital Gyorvar became a modern city, in the more rural parts of Gyongyos many people continued to live in a clan-based society, knowing and caring little for the outside world.
When the Derlavaian War erupted amongst the eastern kingdoms Gyongyos was already fighting two simultaneous but separate brushfire wars. To the east Gyonysian and Unkerlanter soldiers fought over territory in the Ilszung Mountains that Gyongyos had taken during the Twinkings War, though this conflict ended shortly after the main Derlavaian War began. Out in the Bothnian Ocean to the west, Gyongyos had already been fighting Kuusamo for the past four years over various islands. Two years before Algarve marched into Bari, the Gyongyosians drove the Kuusamans from the island of Obuda near Kuusamo itself.
The war with Kuusamo escalated around the time that the main Derlavaian War erupted. The Kuusamans redoubled their efforts and introduced dragon carriers that allowed them to deploy freshly-rested dragons. Despite ferocious resistance from Obuda's garrison, the Kuusamans successfully reinvaded the island, and the Gyongyosians were eventually reduced to isolated bands of holdouts before losing the island altogether.
Soon after Algarve invaded Unkerlant, Gyongyos began another conflict with its eastern neighbor, effectively joining the main Derlavaian War. Though hence formally aligned with Algarve, Gyongyos was simply too distant from its ally for either party to offer meaningful aid. Assistance between the two nations came largely in the form of clandestine shipments carried by leviathans.
As Unkerlant was forced to concentrate its forces against Algarve, the Gyonyosians were able to eventually break out of the mountains and into the forests of Unkerlant's vast hinterland. However, by the fourth year of the war Gyongyos' advance into Unkerlant had stalled and it was losing the conflict over the Bothnian Ocean. The Kuusamans were successful enough that Gyongyos' leaders desperately instituted their own version of Algarve's "Special Magecraft". Unlike Kaunian or Unkerlanter victims, however, the Gyongyosian sacrifices were soldiers who had volunteered for the duty.
The use of blood magic failed to halt Kuusamo's advance, though Gyongyos continued to fight on after Algarve's final collapse. Gyongyos' war was finally ended through a combination of two factors. Having crushed Algarve, Unkerlant was now able to amass its armies in the west and delivered a crushing defeat to Gyongyos, forcing its soldiers back to the prewar frontier. Even worse, Kuusaman mages destroyed Gyorvar with a new form of magecraft, killing Ekrekek Arpad, his entire family, and much of Gyongyos' government. Smarting from this unprecedented disaster, Gyongyos surrendered unconditionally after Marshal Szinyei appointed himself Ekrekek and assumed rulership of the kingdom.
However, the destruction of Gyorvar - considered the ultimate sacrilege in terms of Gyongyosian culture and religion - left a heritage of bitterness and deep hatred towards Kuusamo, which promised to bear bitter fruit in later generations.
Society and People
Gyongyosians (slanginly "Gongs") tended to be large people with tawny hair that grew in curls. Gyongyosian men sported heavy beards which, combined with their hair color, gave them a leonine aspect. They bore a slight resemblance to the Kaunians of eastern Derlavai - when Unkerlanter soldiers marched in Eoforwic, Forthweg at the beginning of the Derlavaian War, some of them wondered what Gongs were doing there.
Despite sharing a continent with several other kingdoms, Gyongyos had developed a unique culture. While the kingdoms of eastern Derlavai believed in the "powers above" and "powers below," Gyongyos institutionalized star-worship. The Ekrekek of Gyongyos was held to be the only individual capable of communing with the stars, who were venerated as divine by all Gyongyosians.
In the mountains on the mainland, Gyongyosians lived within family-based clans that constantly fought and feuded with one another. In the capital Gyorvar, by contrast, an individual was free to make his own destiny without being weighed down by his family history. Regardless of their origins, Gyongyosian soldiers were deeply imbued with their homeland's strong warrior ethics.
Gyongyosians also believed that eating the meat of a goat made one ritually unclean. Those who partook of goatflesh were generally deliberate outcasts and criminals; when caught, they were buried alive or otherwise tortured to death.
Gyongyos plays a similar role in the Darkness series to World War II Japan. It begins the series at war with Unkerlant (with which it shares a border) and with Kuusamo over the Bothnian Ocean's islands, paralleling the Soviet-Japanese Border Wars and the Pacific Theater of World War II. That Gyongyos was able to maintain its traditions through the Thaumaturgical Revolution parallels Japan attaining technological parity with Western Europe while maintaining its cultural traditions.
Gyongyos' role in the series departs from the real-life World War II in a couple of ways. Its invasion of western Unkerlant - a vast, heavily forested and sparsely populated region - after Algarve's stunning assault is equivalent to a Japanese invasion of Siberia after Operation: Barbarossa; in real life this option was considered but not undertaken by the Japanese. An even greater departure from World War II is the destruction of the Gyongyosian capital, a place which has deep cultural and religious importance as well as political status. It is in effect the equivalent of the US in 1945 destroying Tokyo, with the entire Japanese Imperial Family in it, rather than Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Gyongyosian names and language are based on Hungarian. Gyöngyös is the name of a city in Hungary.