Shepherd of Fire
The Revolt of the Snakes
The Revolt of the Snakes is the name of a rebellion which occurred in Vesperia in 861 C.E. led by Duke William Helmsley. The rebellion lasted seven years, though small bands of former rebels still wander the countryside.
In 858 C.E., Duke William Helmsley expressed his discontent with King Tostig’s decision to purchase the region of Cithara from the kingdom of Caetha. Tostig noted that William’s territory of Mahon had also been purchased two hundred years ago. It is believed that William made an off-color remark; whether it was under his breath or said out loud is unsure. In either case, Tostig ordered William to send some troops to defend the area. Enraged, William stormed out of Heliod and returned to Mahon. He complied with the King’s demands in the end.
To help build his army, William used spies and saboteurs to create dissension in other regions. These agents would burn crops, murder livestock, and poison water supplies. Blame fell upon the nobles, who in turn tried to place the blame on the king. With people crying out for answers and change, the nobles turned to William, who was noted as having none of the problems of the other nobles. With the support of the armies of a dozen other regions, William began his rebellion.
Battle of Tannen Bridge
William’s rebellion began subtly, starting off by completely annihilating small patrols and legions traveling from one settlement to another. In one such attack, a sizable number of soldiers managed to escape with their lives. They had been attacked by soldiers from both Duke William and Baron Corbin Westcott. King Tostig sent messengers to both nobles for an explanation. With William’s region of Mahon being closest, his response was the first to arrive. He sent his own messenger, carrying the head of the man sent by Tostig. The King summarily executed William’s manager and rounded up some soldiers.
William had received word of the impending soldiers who were to be arriving at his castle. Wanting to make the first strike, he sent a small brigade to defend Tannen Bridge, the only bridge which connected the mainland to the island his castle sat upon. The brigade, numbered only five hundred, was prepared to face an army six times its size. However, Tostig had neglected to send any archers. William’s men, on the other hand, were made up mostly of skilled archers.
The battle began with William’s men firing upon Tostig’s soldiers, quickly killing bannermen and cavalry soldiers. The men leading Tostig’s army, General Sid Copeland, was killed in the second volley. Down sixty-four men, the army decided to push on. When the first man reached the bridge, one of William’s wizards set the wooden bridge ablaze, killing those who set foot on it. With the bridge disposed of, the archers’ volley eliminated dozens more. Tostig’s soldiers decided to try and swim across. However, the river they needed to cross was twenty feet deep and many drowned trying to swim across. While archers shot at the men on land, infantry made short work of those trying to reach shore. After two hours of fighting, Tostig’s men had suffered over one thousand losses. To make matters worse, more wizards had arrived and were bombarding the army. Tostig’s men retreated, handing the victory to Duke William’s soldiers.
After the victory at Tannen Bridge, William’s rebellion was unleashed in full force. 12 of the 19 regions of Vesperia were on his side. The rebellion raged on for seven more years, finally ending at the Battle of Vanguard’s Peak. William Helmsley would be killed when a silver dragon lifted him into the air and launched him off of the mountain. His body was found eaten by several large wolves several days after the battle had ended. Reasons for William’s failure were numerous.
The first, and possibly largest, was that despite the major victory at Tannen Bridge, William was unable to secure such a dominating victory again. He was not present for Tannen Bridge. The man who led his army at the battle, General Jaegan Reaver, died only two weeks after the battle when he was killed by a bulette. William himself was not a brilliant general, often leaving flanks undefended and falling for traps.
The second was that despite having more nobles on his side, William was unable to gain the allegiance of the most powerful nobles. Therefore, despite having a large army, he had few resources. To make matters worse for himself, the churches and mage circles within the regions loyal to him would not give him any assistance. Conversely, the churches and mage circles within regions loyal to Tostig were more than willing to help.
Third, Tostig had become extremely paranoid. He initiated a massive purge of his court. His purge resulted in the torture and deaths of twenty men and women, twelve of whom admitted to being spies for William while four others were discovered to have been spies after they had been executed; the rest were innocent.
Fourth, Tostig was able to garner the help of a silver dragon. The dragon owed a debt to the kingdom which it made three hundred years ago. Tostig asked for its assistance five years after the rebellion had begun. The dragon helped Tostig with his strategies, eventually leading to William dragging his men to Vanguard’s Peak into a trap.
The nobles who remained loyal to Tostig were given land based on how much assistance they provided. Tostig’s paranoia never wore off. He remains to be paranoid at an unhealthy level. He constantly wears his armor even when it is not needed. Standing at his side are two powerful warriors entrusted as his bodyguards. When dealing with nobles or other people who need to speak with him, he has his steward hear the subject’s words and reiterate them to him. He then tells his steward his response.
The rebellion became known as the Revolt of the Snakes. The name was given due to Tostig’s tendency to call William and the other traitorous nobles “snakes.” Before then, it was simply called William’s Rebellion. Nobles who betrayed King Tostig were executed, their land divided and given to other members of the nobility. Vesperia now has over thirty regions rather than only nineteen.