In the aftermath of the Three Zarodesses conquests in the first half of the 1600s, Mureios Rafil I of Arcellus was forced to find ways to pay for the expensive war waged by his mother and aunts. His solution would lead to a war that made him the undisputed ruler of the Ashanzu world.
Repaying the Debt
Mureios Rafil I took the throne of Arcellus when his mother died in 1657. Mureios I was a brilliant strategist who had studied as a Millile Leader before his elder brother passed away from a fast progressing, unknown disease. Crippled by the costs of the preceding decades of conquest, slave rebellions, and wars with Redoga, Mureios was increasingly pressured by the merchant class. The debt had grown back to 5 million gold pieces and the administrators of Werex reported yearly deficits in the Zarod's finances.
In 1661, Mureios Rafil I announced an aggressive policy of trade posts across the world, where small bastions of Arcellus land would allow him to claim taxes on most of the world's trade. He hoped this would help deal with the persistent debt from the conquest of Kavees and Ijhier. For the first few years the plan proved very successful, and Mureios was able to fund expeditions to create settlements of Ashanzu land in southern Borava with the hopes of one day establishing a presence in Podia.
The Three-Gods Alliance
Zarodess Daria II Rafil of Ijhier and Zarod Dondorius Rafil I of Kavees met with Supreme Commissar Ruha in Darwemin Seridiufure at the temple of Feyus. They agreed unanimously that Arcellus would not have its way, and formed the Three-Gods Alliance in Darken 1664 after Patron Deities Zarodossa of Ijhier, Lesellia of Kavees, and Feyus of Morata. The Cellian Wars had begun.
The Jarrisa War
The Three-Gods Alliance began to raise a fleet of ships on the Ijhier coast to challenge the Crimson Sails. The fleet was named the Silver Armada and by 1666 it had 300 warships, as many as the Crimson Sails. The ships were stationed across the coast of the Jarrisa Sea, and attacked Cellian ships that tried to enforce the trade policy of Mureios.
Identifying the threat posed by the Silver Armada, the Crimson Sails responded with attacks of their own. Multiple docks were blockaded and attacked separately by the Crimson Sails. In 1666 at Nomimin Bankaarmadiu, over 100 ships were captured intact when they were baited into attacking a blockade force while the rest of the Crimson Sails hid in a nearby bay. The Silver Armada ceased its raiding tactics, and united its remaining 150 vessels at Darwemin Seridiufura.
The Crimson Sails could not sustain a blockade so far from home, so when they arrived, Venificors on the decks of a ship conjured a powerful storm to wreck the over-crowded harbour. The Silver Armada was crippled, and the Crimson Sails entered the harbour to burn what ships remained. By the end of the 1667, the Silver Armada was extinct and much of the shoreline and ports in Ijhier were flying red flags.
The Three-Gods War
Meanwhile on the land, Dondorius I Rafil of Kavees marshaled his army of 25,000 poorly trained infantry. They were mainly peasants with light armour and improvised weapons, with a small core of elite Vasten raiders. He planned to attack along the rivers where the Crimson Sails could not help resupply the Cellian army. In Lesiken of 1666 he occupied Mi Fuval but failed to draw the Cellian army away from the capital that year.
Mureios was able to use a small force of ten Milliles to keep the army of Kavees occupied while he ordered the Crimson Sails to set out for Ijhier with another 20,000 men. Ijhier's factionalized leadership was only able to draw 8000 soldiers and had to withdraw from Darsuesmin Bankafia when Arcellus landed in 1666 (unopposed by the weakened Silver Armada).
In response to the landing in the north, Dondorius I moved further westward and took the rich silver mines of the Callian Rise. They were looted and then flooded so that even when the Cellian Army returned to them, they were useless for years. Minor skirmishes broke out on the Callian Rise but neither Zarod was willing to commit their forces. Dondorius waited for young Mureios to overreach, Mureios stalled until his northern army finished with Ijhier.
The Fall of Ijhier
Darmimin Bankaarmabeau was assaulted from the sea in 1670 and fell without resistance. Zarodess Daria II suffered from her mother's inability to subdue the local armies. The Chiefs threatened to depose Daria II when she insisted on fighting the disorganized Cellian army to protect the town – a move which may have worked but would have wiped out the Ijhier army. She relented, and the town fell. Supreme Commissar Ruha heard of the disaster and gathered the Sun Knights to protect Darwemin Seridiufura. When Arcellus moved in 1671, the chiefs once again abandoned Daria II who was captured and executed by Mureios. Only the Sun Knights fought, and their force of 1000 was completely wiped out by Arcellus' army.
Hearing his opponent's valiant defence, Mureios offered the Sun Knights a plot of land in Werex Bankasorabeau if they would make peace with him. With such a shock to the ranks of the long-lived people, Ruha accepted, though they had no army left. This defeat was a major cause of the subsequent Fall of Morata. Only Dondorius remained against Mureios.
The Siege of Werex Bankasorabeau
Meanwhile, the Callian Rise had seen bitter fighting in 1671. Slaves in Suwemin Bankaclotta revolted against Mureios' poor enforcement of his mother's slave policy and were quickly funded by Kavees. The Cellian army turned downriver and wiped it out in 1672, but were unable to advance against Kavees for another year.
They still had equivalently sized armies, but the discipline, skill, and equipment of Arcellus meant that a final battle would inevitably favour Mureios I. Dondorius lost control of the coastline in 1673 and the Zarod set out on a desperate mission to eliminate the southern army of Arcellus even if it meant abandoning his home. They set out in winter 1674 and by Spring 1675 were at the gates of Werex Bankasorabeau. Rather than meet for a battle, Mureios had his army march behind the Betalium Wall and force a siege. Lacking any form of siege engines, the attackers instead pillaged the countryside and gathered food for the coming winter.
The Massacre of Southtown
With the Crimson Sails in total command of the Jarrisa sea, food started to arrive from elsewhere in Arcellus, especially from Papiska. The two-year siege ended and now Dondorius was trapped deep inside the Cellian Rise with the enemy army reinforcing inside Werex Bankasorabeau's Betalium Wall.
Mureios did not wish to have to pursue, so he had the Crimson Sails move the army from the city to land south of it while keeping a handful of archers inside to prevent an assault. The besiegers were herded into the cliffs and were either butchered or drowned as they swam for safety. Arcellus was the sole ruler of the Callian Rise, and indeed all of Vasta. Dondorius was captured and he too was put to death.
Mureios then began a long campaign to conquer Kavees itself and faced no resistance as he added its land to his own. By 1685, all the Ashanzu west of Vasta flew red flags.
The Ghidovian War
At the same time as the wars against the Three Gods Alliance, Mureios also antagonized Ghidovia. Zarodess Sonya Norsom started the fighting in 1661 by seizing Vastasuesmin Bankaarma in defiance of Mureios' attempts to restrict Ghidovian control of trade there. Rather than a commercial war like in the west, Ghidovia was drawn into what they saw as a continuation of the revolt started so long ago – it was their sacred duty as servants of Zarodossa to overthrow the dynasty which froze Old Ghidovia City and restore law and order to Altus.
Between 1660 and 1671 it seemed that Ghidovia had won. Merchant ships continued to visit and pay taxes to Ghidovia and honour Sonya. In 1671 Arcellus began pitting Vasten Raiders against Ghidovia. From their base in Vastasuwemin Bankaluma, these raiders intensified centuries of pillaging the sparsely defended northern border of Ghidovia. After two years of failure, Sonya gathered the Ghidovian Army and set out to stop the raiders. They marched west in 1673 and burned down the town and stole much of the wealth housed within. An expensive series of rituals allowed the Ghidovian to teleport home before the Cellian army could help.
In 1679, Mureios struck back. His Nephew, Andurial Rafil, arrived with the Crimson Sails and retook Vastasuesmin Bankaarma from Ghidovia. They landed two milliles of soldiers from the Callian Rise and won many consecutive battles against the Ghidovians. "The Hammer of Ghidovia" became Andurian's title, and he earned a reputation as a ruthless yet effective Millile leader. Andurian mobilized eastwards and occupied the Ghidovia River in 1680 all the way up to Donoughen Post. Andurian offered Sonya surrender terms where she kept her life Mureios was granted the Zarodom, but the Zarodess refused. In 1681 Andurian tried to stamp out the defiant Zarodess but his army was unable to advance in face of the Archmages of Ghidovia, who could easily wipe out hundreds of soldiers with single spells. He withdrew and consolidated his control of the coastline instead, locking the two nations in hostilities that would continue for decades.
Empai of the Cellian Empire
Mureios I had conquered or defeated in battle the armies of the entire civilized world save for Redoga in only twenty years. His magnificent achievement earned him the title “Zarod of Zarods.” Grand statues were carved in his likeness along the Royal Hills facing Vasta as a reminder to the raiders of the power of Arcellus. His name became a battle-cry and his image was reproduced on the first minted gold currency within the united lands. To ensure that his conquests would never be lost, Mureios created two new titles: Empai, which he held himself, and which allowed him to rule Ijhier, Arcellus, and Kavees as one single Zarod would. The other title was Loro, which he bestowed to appointed leaders who ruled conquered lands in the name of the Empai.
His son, Mureios Rafil II, took note of Redoga's destructive civil wars. In order to ensure the same kind of loyalty from his Loros, Mureios II took the help of human Architect Benjamin Aumar. In 1701, they laid the foundations for three fortresses ringed in stone walls with towers and an inner keep.
Eskep Loro and Darwekep Loro were handed to Loros trusted by Mureios II. Their defences would ensure that local rebellions could never fully expel the Cellian Empire, and would provide easily accessible bases for the Cellian army. The largest fortification, Wekep Empai, was made with 3m thick and 10m tall walls built on a hill adjacent to the Betalium Wall, allowing easy access to the city in case it fell. There were also many other smaller towers built along the interior of Arcellus and along the frontier of Kavees to protect against bandits and raiders from Vasta.