The Seeds of the Imperium Take Root

If it seemed as though only a few weeks had passed since the squabbling city-states of Forkanza had become a warily united realm under the watchful auspices of a newly reformed “Fourth Imperium”, it was only natural. Hardly any time at all had gone by. It was only at the beginning of the spring season when seemingly out of nowhere King Soccorso III of Lombardia unleashed an unnaturally large army aligned to the powerful ancient noble Andolinni family against his neighbors, all of whom were allied to or directly controlled by rivals of the Andolinni clan. In furtherance of this goal King Soccorso III was benefited by several factors. First, there was a decree issued by the Supreme Pontiff of the Holy Imperium Church, Callidus Magna, that all true believers should take up the cause of King Soccorso III in uniting all people under the banner of the Fourth Imperium. Second, the vast army at Lombardia’s disposal was being led by one of his adopted children, a person of foreign birth who had proven themselves superior to all of their own rivals inside and out of the power elite in the Andolinni as a strategic and tactical genius. And thirdly, all of the city-states controlled by the Andolinni family would join the cause as soon as they were given the option, adding their own military prowess to that of the Lombardians.

The first city-state to fall was Trentino-Alto Adige. Although aligned to the Stragesta noble family, the lord of this domain heeded the call of the Supreme Pontiff and voluntarily joined Lombardia when the massive army of his neighbor showed up at the border on the first of March. The Fourth Imperium had its first bloodless victory, and the united forces became known as the “Semi dell’Impero”, or “Seeds of the Imperium”. A new banner was revealed, and it was under this flag that they turned their attention to their next target.

At the beginning of April, the army of the Semi dell’Impero marched to the border with Savoy in northwestern Forkanza. This area was allied closely to the ancient noble family of Vandocci, and the Savoy had no intentions of backing down or heeding a religious decree and joining their enemies. The fighting was intense and despite the relatively small size of the lands being fought for it was an entire month of battling before the Savoy were overwhelmed. Some of their forces decided to switch sides after the fighting ended, and the Semi dell’Impero added their numbers to their growing army. This early move proved to be unsettling for the Fanolanians with whom the Savoy shared a border in the west. Even the notoriously slow-to-respond elven hierarchy of Fanolania began to suspect that they had trouble brewing with the Semi dell’Impero.

At the beginning of June the city-state of San Marco, aligned with the Andolinni family, opted to join the Semi dell’Impero and committed themselves to the next target. This was the tiny domain of Piccola, controlled loosely by the Vandocci family. Piccola realized that it had no viable recourse but to accept the decree issued by the Supreme Pontiff and reluctantly joined the Semi dell’Impero. A number of Piccola’s most prominent citizens slipped over the border into Fanolania rather than submit to this new reality, and while Piccola didn’t add much to the strength of the Semi dell’Impero it was one less area for them to have to worry about.

On July first the Semi dell’Impero swung to the northwest and confronted the state of Guiliana. Faced with the overwhelming forces being deployed against them Guiliana surrendered immediately. This opened up an unhindered land corridor connecting the Semi dell’Impero with the lands controlled by the Diosian Lodge. As if on cue five legions of elite undead warriors formerly under the command of the Ash King were delivered via this route to Callidus Magna’s personal army. It was a troubling development that the Diosian Lodge was working hand in glove with the Semi dell’Impero, and the Council of Schönbrunn alerted their respective governments with a proper sense of alarm. It was readily apparent that the Fourth Imperium was going to start off not only with a united Forkanza but with a large presence in Greater Sikilia as well.

In August the forces of the Semi dell’Impero moved back across Forkanza to the western coast and threatened the city-state of San Lorenzo. Due to it being August, the Vandocci family ordered their vassal San Lorenzo to stand firm against attack. However, the ruler of San Lorenzo decided that his navy wouldn’t help him one bit against a massively superior land attack, so he opted to heed the decree of the Supreme Pontiff. This contributed greatly to the Semi dell’Impero’s naval capacity and made them even more of a threat to the peace and security of Fanolania. The city-state of Ancona which was one of those allied to the Andolinni family also stepped in and helped to seal the deal by throwing their weight behind the Semi dell’Impero. At this point the forces being rallied by Callidus Magna fielded seventy-one legions and no fewer than nine fleets. With a new border that spanned all the way across Forkanza from east to west the Semi dell’Impero was poised to make even greater gains.

Normally by the beginning of September fighting grinds to a halt as armies return home to harvest crops and tend to business in preparation of winter. However, the Semi dell’Impero doesn’t show any interest in following these rules or any others. The city-state of Calenzano was the base of operations for the Stragesta family’s naval power and possessed a sizeable army of their own. They heeded the call of their clan to fight the Semi dell’Impero, and by ignoring the pleas of the Supreme Pontiff to stand down they invited invasion. The Semi dell’Impero complied and after a short siege on land and a blockade at sea the armies of the Semi dell’Impero assaulted the whole of Calenzano and brought it to its knees by the end of the month.

This would not be the bloodiest of the fights, though. The following month the Semi dell’Impero struck into the city-state of Perugia which had decided to resist at the urging of the Vandocci family because it was the last area to stand in defense of the ancient province of Gothartus, the capitol of the Third Imperium. This seems to have angered the powers that be and after successfully trouncing Perugia in battle the citizens of the realm were rounded up and executed. Men, women, and children all fell to the sword, axe, or were crucified along the roads and in the town squares. Piles of rotting bodies were left in the elements as the armies of the Semi dell’Impero moved inexorably to the southern border and began preparing to move into Gothartus.

And this brings us to the start of November. Confronted with overwhelming odds and an increasingly insistent Supreme Pontiff, the three noble families of Andolinni, Vandocci, and Stragesta met together and agreed to support the ascension of Callidus Magna as the Grand Imperator of the Fourth Imperium. Newly focused on enemies outside of Forkanza the families and their allies began to bring together their forces in order to reassert themselves once more as the most powerful entities in all of the known world. Over the next month the remaining Forkanzan city-states pledged their loyalty to the new regime and a new way of life settled in over the land. Those in lands surrounding Forkanza and Sikilia would begin to plot a defense for themselves because nobody expands as quickly as the Semi dell’Impero and then stop fully satisfied. There is a growing concern that this is merely the beginning.