The Exalted Marches
The Exalted Marches
The Qunari (a strange race of white-haired, bronze-skinned giants) have been entrenched in Par Vollen for over a century, and from there, they strike against all the nations of Thedas. But their threat isn't only in their military might; the Qunari convert defeated peoples to the Qun, and those converts further swell the Qunari's ranks. A little over thirty years ago, the bitterly divided Andrastian Chantry of Orlais and the Imperial Chantry of Tevinter joined forces to declare an Exalted March and repel the infidels. Orlais and Tevinter agreed to preserve separate command of their own armies, but coordinate strategy and operations through a War Council composed of representatives from both nations. The first Exalted March made headway against the Qunari lines. The second Exalted March, however, ended in disaster for both Chantries, as the Qunari recaptured Antiva and Rivain.
The third Exalted March was called a year ago. Though the Llomeryn pirates rallied to the Chantry that year and won a number of battles at sea against the Qunari, the Chantries suffered a blow when the Qunari pushed into the Free Marches and conquered Kirkwall. The Qunari are now poised to strike at Orlais across the Waking Sea, a prospect that no Orlesian likes.
Ruler: Emperor Cyril I Valmont
Divine: Rosamund I
The lives and coin lost in the past thirty years have taken their toll on Orlais. The Great Game of the nobility goes on, as always, but food for the common folk is becoming scarcer. Refugees from Antiva and Rivain (and recently, the Free Marches) have increasingly fled to Orlais over the past few years, and factions in the nobility are bitterly divided about what to do with them. After the carnage of the most recent Exalted March, many nobles are reluctant to commit their full purses and best troops to the cause. The chevaliers have made fierce generals, but rumors of their corruption abound. The Circle of Magi have been given more freedom than they've had in centuries, as their magic is brutally effective against the Qunari, and this burgeoning independence leaves the Chantry and Templars wary. And even if Orlais and Tevinter are fighting on the same side, they're not always fighting very well together.
Emperor Cyril of House Valmont assumed the throne after the death of his elder brother, Freyan. Cyril cares little for governance, however, and leaves the ruling of Orlais to his wife, the Empress Lienne. Lienne is an astute player of the Great Game, and plots her moves on the battlefield as though she were in the halls of the Imperial Palace — much to the detriment of the Army of the Divine.
In particular, she chose to name Cyril commander-in-chief instead of her far more qualified brother-in-law, Stefan de Ghislain. She further split the military into three forces: the First Army, commanded by Crown Prince Alphonse; the Second Army, commanded by Duke Stefan; and the First Navy, commanded by her cousin Ser Ruth de Firmin. Many in the military blamed Orlais's setbacks in the third Exalted March on her mishandling, which only worsened Lienne's fear of a coup.
Her decision to seal Orlais's alliance with Tevinter by marrying Crown Prince Alphonse to Tamora Pavus, daughter of Archon Justinian Pavus, also caused an uproar. Though Tamora herself had no magical ability, many feared that she would taint the blood of House Valmont with sorcery. Alphonse had cultivated overwhelming goodwill in Orlais, and used it to calm the worst of the outcry, but the people's discontent remained.