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An Incomplete History of River's Rest: Part III

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Turamzzyrian Annexation of Torre
As suggested by their ability to impede the spread of piracy, the power of the Turamzzyrian Empire continued to grow significantly. Town after town, kingdom after kingdom, tribe after tribe of barbarians fell to the mighty Turamzzyrian Empire.

The early kings of Torre vowed to resist any Turamzzyrian attempt to conquer their kingdom. Over time, however, it became clear the empire did not rely exclusively on the force of arms to conquer their enemies. Trade restrictions and economic sanctions proved to be as powerful as the Turamzzyrian military.

By 4417 M.E. emissaries from Emperor Jasdurel approached King Yamaus of Torre with an offer. In exchange for allowing Torre to be annexed by the empire Jasdurel would appoint Yamaus governor of Torre and permit him to retain his personal fortune. All economic sanctions imposed by the empire on Torre would be immediately lifted and advantageous trade arrangements would be negotiated. Unconfirmed rumors suggest Yamaus was informed that if he declined the emperor's generous offer and forced the empire to take Torre by military means, he would be gutted and his corpse hung upside down over Fairport's main gate.

Yamaus, ignoring the exhortations of his military advisers, gave in to the inevitable. He had the gates of Fairport opened to a caravan of Turamzzyrian merchants accompanied by a large and heavily-armed military escort. The Kingdom of Torre, after nearly two centuries, ceased to exist.

The change of government had a radical effect on River's Rest. The island's population at that time consisted primarily of malcontents, outcasts, brigands, smugglers and river pirates. They had largely been ignored by the kings of Torre, who had larger problems to concern them. Under the more structured and efficient Turamzzyrian bureaucracy, however, River's Rest attracted governmental attention.

A new survey and census conducted in the year of the annexation determined the population of the island was large enough to provide the customary imperial tribute and to contribute personnel to the Torren militia levy. Although the Turamzzyrian empire maintained a standing army, territorial militias were commonly used as support troops.

An imperial tribute collector was assigned to routinely visit River's Rest and exact an appropriate amount of tribute from the islanders. In addition, they were now required to provide the governor of Torre with 16 foot soldiers for a period of one month each year. The soldiers were expected to be properly outfitted and equipped, including a supply of food sufficient for their month of service.

The people of River's Rest accepted the fact that they were required to pay tribute to the king; they understood that the powerful always take from the weak. However, they deeply resented the requirement to serve in the emperor's militia. They sent the required number of foot soldiers to serve in the levy, but conspired to keep their best young men and women out of imperial service. The levy from River's Rest were invariably underfed, uniformly stupid, consistently sullen and hostile, and entirely hapless in the military arts. The commanders of the Torren militia came to expect little from the recruits of River's Rest.

The Turamzzyrian Resettlement Program
One of the easiest methods of incorporating a recently acquired territory into an existing empire is to settle the area with loyal citizens. In the early 4490s M.E. the Turamzzyrian empire instituted a resettlement program in the coastal lands around Maelstrom Bay. Imperial citizens were encouraged to relocate to these lands by offers of land, low interest merchant loans and imperial commercial contracts. Most of the newcomers settled in and around Fairport, the provincial capitol of Torre. Others with more entrepreneurial spirit chose to settle in River's Rest. Aware of the island's glorious past as a center of art and commerce, the new settlers were determined to restore River's Rest to its former greatness.

This plan did not find much approval among the island's existing inhabitants. Not only were they resentful of the fact that they had no voice in the matter, they knew it spelled the end of life as they knew it. The arrival of loyal imperial citizens and merchants also meant the coming of tax collectors, overseers, sheriffs, regulators. There would be no place for their casual lawlessness and freebooting.

Although a small resistance movement was formed by some of the more impulsive islanders, it had little effect on the resettlement program. For the most part the resettlement of River's Rest went smoothly. The river pirates, brigands and smugglers slowly abandoned the island and established themselves in smaller settlements in nearby coves and marshes. Many of the islanders who elected to stay found themselves evicted from their homes. The newcomers had been allowed to purchase parcels of property on the island and arrived bearing titles and deeds. The existing inhabitants had seen no need for such legal niceties; they had simply built shacks and shanties where they found room.

Gradually a new town began to grow. Because of its unique location River's Rest was the ideal location to transfer goods from river boats to seaworthy craft (and vice versa). Docks and warehouses sprang up. Homes and municipal buildings were constructed of stone instead of wood. Regular ferry service to and from the island was established for land travelers. Schools were built.

Although the newcomers remained a minority, they quickly established themselves as the leaders and power-brokers of a revitalized River's Rest. The old inhabitants, often derisively referred to as 'river rats' by the newcomers, found themselves shunted to the marshy edges of the island or into tiny alleyways. Perhaps the only benefit of the resettlement program realized by the "river rats" was that they were relieved of their part in the annual militia levy. The new ruling families of River's Rest saw the levy as an opportunity for their sons and daughters to make important contacts in the Torren military establishment.

River's Rest and the First Elven War
The conflict between the Turamzzyrian Empire and the Elven Nations was fought far to the east of River's Rest. Nevertheless, some islanders played a minor role in the war. Not surprisingly, their role was largely criminal in nature. During the war a small faction of elves, half-elves and sympathizers smuggled supplies, material and information from outside the empire up the Tempest River to the fringe of the Wyrdeep Forest.

Some smugglers were, of course, only in it for the money. Others were concerned with helping the Elven nations. Regardless of the motives of the smugglers, it was dangerous and risky work. A great many smugglers died playing their secret role in the war. In 4605 M.E. five smugglers were captured. Three were slow-gutted then hung upside down. The remaining two were not so fortunate. They were taken to be questioned under the direction of Emperor Krellove's personal Inquisitor. The questioning, said to have taken three days, was singularly loathsome and effective. Based on information provided by the smugglers Krellove dispatched a punitive force to River's Rest. The weight of the punishment fell almost entirely on the 'river rats.' Several homes and buildings in the Khan'kel Bazaar-a known haunt of malcontents-were destroyed. The troops seized all the men between the ages of 16 and 40 from the Bazaar and lined them up in the town commons. Every tenth man was beheaded.

Aid to the Elven Nations was radically reduced.

The Vicalle Mestyr Rebellion
The year 4715 saw the Turamzzyrian Empire in chaos. Emperor Feadros Rysus died and his heir was assassinated before he could be crowned. Vicalle Mestyr, the Countess of Torre, laid claim to the crown. This put her in open contention against Cassolus Chandrennin, Duke of Elstreth, the other prominent contender for the crown. Countess Vicalle called upon her loyal subjects to fight for her.

The Mestyr rebellion sparked a great deal of acrimony among the imperial citizens of River's Rest. Most supported Countess Vicalle, but few were willing to risk their lives or fortunes in joining her. Only five of the loyalist families openly supported her. In order to raise troops these five families offered enlistment bounties to the "river rats".

The "river rats" were entirely disinterested in the affairs of the imperial royal houses. Nonetheless, many of these adventurers, scoundrels and ne'er-do-wells saw an opportunity. Not only would they draw a regular stipend from their officers, war always offered a chance for profit to those with quick wits and few scruples. At the very least, they realized, there might be a chance for booty and plundering. Consequently the River's Rest Volunteers were formed. A troop of about one hundred and forty of the island's young men and women, led by officers from the five families, set off to Fairport to do their themselves, if not to their Countess.

The River's Rest Volunteers served with distinction in campaigns against Count Greythane of Trauntor (although two of the Volunteers were hung by one of Vicalle's quartermasters for unauthorized looting). However, the war turned into a stalemate. In 4717 the stalemate was broken when Vicalle was assassinated. The rebellion collapsed.

During the chaos following the discovery of Countess Vicalle's body, several of the River's Rest Volunteers abandoned their officers and sought out the quartermaster responsible for hanging their comrades. They took his keys and his life, and returned to River's Rest with their revenge and seven wagons containing supplies and a portion of the Countess' own spoils of war.

Shubai Dupril and the Kezmon Isle Incident
In 4790 M.E. krolvin corsairs staged a surprise attack on Kezmon Isle. Although this event had no direct impact on River's Rest it proved to have a significant effect on the island's history. The presence of Shubrai Dupril on Kezmon Isle in the spring of that year had far-reaching consequences.

The half-elf Shubrai Dupril was a descendant of one of the River's Rest Volunteers who made a fortune by murdering the quartermaster and stealing supplies during the Mestyr Rebellion. Although he ran a legitimate small trading company, Dupril remained true to his "river rat" heritage; the imperial tax collector believed him to be deeply involved in smuggling untaxed goods. It is rumored that at the time of the krolvin landing on Kezmon, Dupril was in Kai Dusque, a small port on the northern coast of the isle, delivering a shipment of untaxed Krestle whiskey. Dupril, in his later years, would only admit that he was visiting 'friends' on Kezmon Isle.

Regardless of Dupril's motives for being there, it was well for the town of Kai Dusque that he was. After the town council fled before the krolvin, Dupril organized the defense of the town (a fact which supports the smuggled whiskey theory; Dupril was well-known for his reluctance to abandon property before he'd been paid). Even more remarkable, Dupril sent riders to report the situation to officers of the Imperial Navy who were in port at Kai Toka.

Those officers, aware of Dupril's reputation, were skeptical about the report of a krolvin invasion. Why would a known smuggler from River's Rest request the aid of the Imperial Navy in defense of a town not his home? They assumed it was a ruse or a trap of some sort. Still, they had an obligation to investigate and so dispatched a brig and a sloop to Kai Dusque. When the sloop returned to verify the invasion the Navy responded with alacrity. As a result Kai Dusque was saved and only three villages were despoiled and sacked by the krolvin.

Shubrai Dupril was handsomely rewarded for his conduct both by the citizens of Kai Dusque and by the Duke of Kezmon himself. This incident established a warm relationship between the people of Kezmon Isle and those of River's Rest, a relationship that would eventually draw some of the residents of River's Rest to a violent death.

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