Hutarkans and Traladarans.
Invasion by the gnolls and retreat of the Hutarkans into the Lost Valley.
Eventual fightback by the Traladarans led by
The Thyatians had always had an interest in the heavily forested lands to the west, but a combination of other routes of expansion and the difficult terrain meant that this was not a concerted effort at invasion and colonisation. Instead the Thyatians were most interested about the sea route that led past Traladara and to the rich and fertile breadbasket of the Darokin plains, which were the main focus of Thyatian colonisation in the west. Intervention in Traladara was mainly limited to ensuring that local chieftains were co-operative, or were replaced with more co-operative ones if they were not. Those that were favoured were often helped in their struggles against the forest humanoids as well.
Gradually Thyatian power in the west started to wane, especially after the series of catastrophic civil wars that ended the rule of the Dark Dynasties. Peripheral regions like Darokin and Irendi either rebelled against the policies of the Dark Emperors, or slipped out of direct imperial control while the imperial armies were too focussed on the struggle for the throne and the core provinces. During this period Traladara became even less important to the Thyatians, as there were no longer any western trade routes to protect. There was more small scale colonisation of Traladara however by Thyatian nobles and soldiers fleeing the endless purges as faction replaced faction in the core provinces.
With the end of the civil wars and the establishment of the Dalaseenian dynasty, the Thyatian empire started a long period of recovery. As this progressed, eyes once again started looking outwards, but war with Alphatia meant that the east was to be the focus for Thyatia for many years. The former provinces of the east were allowed to continue their independent ways, although the emperors satisfied themselves with extracting token submission from the assorted kings, princes and republican leaders that now ruled. Traladara was virtually completely ignored at an imperial level, although ambitious local dukes still occasionally attempted to increase their provinces at the expense of Traladaran lands.
Then in 901, the Thyatians attacked and took Marianlev, the largest town in the Traladara, and renamed it Specularum. This was the first part of a new policy, under the new emperor Gabrionus IV, to try and retake the old western provinces, since war against the Alphatians in the east had ground to a complete stalemate. The expected easy conquest of the rest of the country from Specularum never took place. Traladaran towns and villages on the coast quickly surrendered to Thyatian naval forces, but armies sent inland were never able to bring Traladarans to battle. Instead they melted away into the trackless forests, and reappeared when the Thyatians moved on. The Thyatians would burn any Traladaran homesteads they found, but the Traladarans would do the same to any Thyatian settlers. Eventually the whole invasion just petered out as imperial attention moved on. An abortive attempt to subdue the Kingdom of Irendi just reinforced the impression that this was going to be a lot harder than it had originally looked, and also denuded the imperial fleet, making it more difficult to hold the coastal territories that they had already taken. An imperial procurator was installed in Specularum, but his remit didn’t run very far beyond the city walls. What influence he had, was once again the product of Thyatian gold carefully allocated to buy the loyalty of local chieftains.
This policy ended with the death of Gabrionus V and fall of the Prothemian dynasty in 960. In the messy civil war that followed, a former gladiator turned soldier called Thingol climbed his way to the imperial throne as various other noble and military candidates fought each other to exhaustion. Thingol’s grasp on the throne is tenuous as he has no claim other than military might, and a tenuous marriage to the youngest daughter of Gabrionus V, the last emperor of the Prothemian dynasty. In this situation, Stephen II of Machetos, a small but wealthy duchy, was a critical kingmaker. He had already married his son, Stephen III (born 948) to the eldest daughter of Gabrionus V in 959 at the age of 11 (she was 8 at the time), as Gabrionus V desperately sought to shore up his shaky position. Stephen remained loyal to Gabrionus to the end, and then sought to try and keep out of the civil war that followed, but his position made that difficult. The civil war ended in 964, but troubles rumbled on. After a major rebellion in 967, Thingol executed a number of prominent dukes that he felt were implicated in it, including Duke Stephen II of Machetos. Stephen III, only 20, realised that his own position was very precarious. He was likely to lose any claim on the Machetos province, and his link by marriage to Gabrionus V made him a focus of rebellion. At the same time he was a popular and successful general, which made it difficult for Thingol to have him executed as well, without provoking another rebellion. In 968, the duke and the emperor came to an understanding born of necessity. Stephen would renounce any claim to the Duchy of Machetos or the throne of Thyatis, and in return he was granted the Duchy of Karameikos, elevated to a Grand Duchy. Stephen was still nominally a vassal of Thyatis, but Thingol was convinced that Traladara would prove too difficult a territory to subdue to allow Stephen to use it as a platform to try and take the imperial throne.
Thingol’s reasoning was clever by actually unnecessary. Stephen was clever enough to realise that the imperial throne was literally a poisoned chalice, and had no desire to occupy it. The Grand Duchy of Karameikos has given him enough of a challenge over the last 32 years, and he feels satisfied with the job he has done in forging a new nation out of the union of Thyatians and Traladarans – one that is stronger than either on their own, and will soon be capable of starting to drive back the humanoids from their lairs in the dark forests of Karameikos.