Wrath & Gunfire: The Barvan Campaign
History of the War
A hundred years ago or more, the war between Teischer and Barva began. No one knows exactly what happened. The Teischens claim that on the way to an annual meeting between their two countries, their diplomatic envoy was ambushed by Barvan sharpshooters and brutally savaged, with only one small serving boy escaping with his life. The Barvans claim that at the same annual meeting, as they waited for the Teischens to arrive, the Barvan group was attacked by a column of Teischen knights and similarly massacred, with, again, only one servant girl escaping with her life. Both sides claimed to have proof—a Teischen shield with the coat-of-arms of the Teischer royal house on it, broken arrows fletched in the manner particular to Barva.
Relations between the two countries had been strained before that point, over a border dispute that seemed unending, but they had still existed in relative peace. This incident, though, was the breaking point. Barva began conscripting her army of hardy peasants trained in weapons from childhood, and Teischer marshalled her knights, who had also trained from childhood and were mounted and armored in full plate, as well.
The first battles were a draw. When the terrain favored the Barvans, such as a ravine where they could ambush from above or a forest where they could hide and shoot from the trees, the Barvans won. On a more open field of battle, though, the Teischens prevailed, with their strict military discipline and regimented troops overwhelming the Barvans’ independent tenacity. But it was never a complete victory for either side. Teischer’s honor demanded total submission from those who had so cravenly attacked her diplomats, and Barva was too stubborn to ever surrender—even if a general could have been so foolish, the soldiers themselves would never quit.
For almost thirty years, the fighting continued in this way, with various surges and retreats on both sides, victories and defeats, Teischen villages sacked, Barvan villages burned, soldiers and knights dying in equal numbers. Both countries wearied of the war, but every tentative offer of parlay and peace was eventually rejected by the other side. There were more ambushes, more betrayals, these fiercely claimed by the side which had committed them.
At last, Teischer developed a “scorched earth” policy. They marched on Barva’s capital, burning and looting as they went. The Barvans fought them at every step of the way, and finally mounted a defense on the walls of the city. But Teischer had brought a most potent weapon. Magic.
Using techniques no one in Middian had ever seen, the Teischen sorcerers, wizards, witches, and warlocks summoned fire itself. They set the city ablaze. The Barvans, shocked and perplexed, scattered at last, withdrawing into the wilderness. What had once been the Singing City, a bright center of civilization full of music, became the Smoking City, forever ruined by war.
The Teischens expected a surrender then at last, a confession of the wrongs Barva had done, a submission and return of peace. But proud Barva would not bend her neck, even burned and bruised as she was. The Barvan royalty retreated to their remote fortress, the Eagle’s Nest, and the Barvan armies reassembled. Having destroyed the city, the Teischens had no reason to stay, nothing to rule, and they eventually retreated to Teischer to wait and plan.
Ever since, the war has been one of attrition. Each winter, the armies retreat, make their schemes, gather their strength. Each summer, they battle again. Every now and then, an ambitious Barvan general will make a foray into Teischer, trying to strike back as Barva was struck, but they never make it far. At similar intervals, some Teischen squadron will try to find the last Barvan fortress, but will be turned away before they even get close. Every year, more villages are destroyed, more lives ruined.
The greatest victory Barva can claim is the assassination of the Teischen king, killed ten years ago. It seems an out-of-character act for the straightforward Barvan people, but as soon as it happened, some Teischens declared it to be the work of their foes, and some Barvans declared their responsibility gladly. Other Teischens doubt it, though, and other Barvans are disgusted by the suggestion that Barva would do such a thing. There is no proof either way, but the incident has done nothing to help the relations between the countries. After a brief interlude of surprise on both sides, the fighting continued.
Locked as they are in an eternal stalemate, it seems that only outside intervention will now be able to make a difference in this terrible war.