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[top]Cruel fate weaves its web

The Hjalsone Massacre is a dark moment in the early history of the Anuirean Empire, one of its few despicable acts of commission (the empire frequently caused great hardship by acts of omission - failing to act or acting too slowly - but rarely deliberately carried out an atrocity).
Coming in 24 HC, soon after the Duchy of Boeruine aiding by the duchy of Cariele had launched ?reprisal raids? against Rjuvik (via Hjalsone, Stjordvik and Svinik) the Hjalsone Massacre occurred in a time when the new gods had yet to assert their power and many fervent believers of the old gods refused to accept the passing of their deity. Hjalsone as the only Rjurik realm then conquered by the Anuireans, was at that time the focus of the drive by the newly founded church of Haelyn to spread the word of their god to the heathen.
Lars Olaffsson, a druid of Reynir who had not accepted the ascension of Erik, feared for his people with the coming of the invaders. Desperate to contact his silent god he kidnapped Colier, son of Garth Andu, the governor of Hjalsone, and sacrificed the boy in the hope that the noble sacrifice would please the Hunter of the Wilds. (In the days of Aduria, human sacrifice was not unknown amongst several of the gods, but the rite was old even then and had rarely been used after the crossing to Cerilia).

[top]The massacre

Garth?s men discovered Lars in the process of burying Colier?s body and Garth had the druid burnt at the stake along with a dozen other druids who he deemed guilty by association. The local Rjurik rose in fury and were brutally crushed, a scene that was repeated across Hjalsone as the rumors of the burnings and risings spread.
Matters escalated rapidly with Garth cracking down ever more harshly on the rapidly increasing numbers of rebels in an increasingly desperate effort to maintain order. When Garth?s second son died in battle with the rebels Garth issued the infamous decree of the Wolf: "every Rjuven male, wolf and pup, that does not swear loyalty absolute to both His Royal Majesty Roele and Holy Haelyn should be put to death", the druids and jarls of Hjalsone were the first to be executed by Garth's legions under the order.
Roele received increasingly frantic missives begging for his intervention from Moerel of Haelyn, the assigned aide to Garth; however Roele's aide Ansen Boeruine considered the tales of the priest so excessive that they could not possibly be true, and hid them from Roele. Finally a skald, Birgitta the Fleet, traveled through the wild lands of the Blood Skull Barony to personally tell Roele of the unfolding horror. Roele returned to Hjalsone to find that Garth?s troops had run completely amok, looting and pillaging at will with at least half the male Rjurik population dead (some Rjurik skalds say as many as nine in ten had been slain by Garth).
Horrified by the slaughter, Roele challenged Garth under the ancient Andu law of Righteous Challenge and killed him. Humiliated and shamed by the actions of the Hjalsone legion, Roele ordered it decimated, and then sent it to the Giantdowns to aide the (doomed) pacification attempts. Determined to do 'the right thing' Roele not only accepted a severe Penance laid on him by Arch-Druid Leif Olafson to battle the dreaded giant of Lofkirdik alone (a task believed by the Arch-Druid's and Roele's advisers alike to be near suicidal) but also ordered Mhor Ruinil of Mhoried to personal oversee the 'rebuilding' of Hjalsone.

[top]Impact of the Massacre

[top]Hjalsone and Dhoesone

Roele issued a decree that the druids be considered sacrosanct and punishable only by either his direct order, or that of the Oaken Grove of Erik, the conclave of Druids in Stjordvik which had overseen the negotiations between the Anuireans and Rjurik and also mediated between his nobles and the Rjurik of Hjalsone to restore peace after the massacre. This decree and Roele?s willing penance convinced the remaining independent Jarls of the Taelshore to cease battle and join the empire willingly (Roele?s ready killing of the giant and the ease of the massacre itself also provided strong impetus to convince the Rjuven to accept the power of the empire).
In Hjalsone, Roele and the Mhor, concerned at the widows and orphans left to fend for themselves, pressed their veterans and other settlers to retire in Hjalsone and marry a Rjurik woman so that she might be supported by him. The Mhor also imported thousands of Anuirean craftsmen to build towns and villages for the Rjurik (who were in fact at the time mostly nomads). These two actions made the southern Hjalsoners settle and become Anuirean in all but name, and within two generations many of the ?Rjurik? were indistinguishable from Anuireans aside from a tendency towards red hair. Over the next two centuries the settled population grew far faster than that of the nomads and Hjalsone became known as Dhoesone and came to consider itself Anuirean.

[top]The faith of Erik

The Oaken Grove of Erik, the only druidic order authorized by the empire to punish or protect druids came to represent most of the druids along the Taelshore as formerly independent druids claimed its protection against knights or, more commonly, missionary priests of Haelyn and Anduiras (who were active in sizable numbers until nearly a century after Deismaar).
Moerel of Haelyn meanwhile, maddened with grief at the carnage he had witnessed (reputedly a river of blood caused by the mass decapitation of rebels in the now vanished village of Three Rivers ran so freely that it washed over his thighs as he knelt in frantic prayer for the souls of the slain) walked the wilds of the Highlands alone for three years, turning to the worship of Erik and the name Rainer. Some Anuirean scholars (those of the more traditional schools) believe that Moerel later founded the Emerald Spiral encouraging druids to embrace the purity of the wild and abhor the corruption and inhumanity of cities and all civilization.

[top]Law of the Empire

The Massacre also impacted the manner in which the Empire responded to its conquered lands, the rights and powers of governors over their lands were severely restricted, and all those who sought such a position were first taught the folly of Garth. Thereafter the Empire aimed to direct its subjects in certain areas ? mostly property rights, the bearing of arms, levying of taxes and other matters deemed crucial, but never again (officially) sought to change deep aspects of their culture barring those deemed abhorrent to Haelyn.
Roele decreed that it was forbidden by to demand conversion of another to Haelyn, or slander the worship of Erik or his druids and all citizens of the empire were to be considered Anuirean in the eyes of the law. While these decrees of Roele were interpreted to a greater or lesser extent in various realms down the years many scholars consider that the relatively light hand of the empire was the reason for its long survival - in the words of Orallus the Wise of Avanil "A horse yoked with iron will plow few fields before it collapses, the wise farmer knows that a lighter yoke will provide a better harvest."
The use by Roele of the ancient rite of Righteous Challenge meanwhile gave would-be kings a lawful method to challenge 'corrupt' rulers and although the right has since been heavily restricted it is still valid in some realms of Anuire today.

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