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  1. THE ORIGINS OF ARPECH Scriptum Anno 1957 THE FREE COSSACKS OF ARPATIA L I B E R V M C O S A C I A R P A T I E N S I ☩ ☩ ☩ WHAT IS A COSSACK OF ARPECH? To begin telling our history, you must begin with explaining who we are. The men and women who follow the House of Arpa are those who adopt our ways or hail directly from the Steppe of Arpatia. They dress in the traditional Ruskan garbs, live life as free nomadic men and women loyal to the Host and no other. The faith, culture, and our way of life we believe is taught unto us by Father Vlad. CHAPTER I - THE STEPPES OF APARTIA Upon the vast steppes of Apartia there is no room for compassion nor weakness, only the strong and cold-hearted thrived upon this plains of grass whilst the weak were culled. The peoples of this steppe were fractured, splintered into several various nomadic tribes competing for dominance over the blades of grass which covered their homeland. Raids, banditry, kidnappings were a common occurrence against their rivals, taking their livestock and people as slaves. Warfare was common on the steppe yet was not the only means of life. Apartia was a land predominantly covered in grass, trees being a rare sight due to the hot and cold nature of the steppe. In the summer it was boiling hot whilst in the winter the entire plains would be covered in snow. This left most of the steppe too dry, not enough water in the ground to support the growing of trees, the only trees growing being trees around creeks and rivers. Those who lived in Apartia had great understanding of this dynamic which made them adopt a nomadic-livestock-raising way of life. This was the homeland of the Cossacks of Arpech, having been molded by this unforgiving environment to be natural and cold killers for that is what was required of them to thrive if not survive on this frontier. It birthed a warrior culture among all those who resided on the steppe. The Cossacks of Arpech were among the less dominant tribes at the time. The tribe almost consisted of men only, all being from various backgrounds and cultures (although predominantly Raev) from this steppe yet united by the common goal of thriving and dominating Apartia, to gain glory and wealth. They hungered for more yet lacked solid leadership to do so. CHAPTER II - PAPA VLAD’S TEACHINGS It was during this time whilst the Cossacks of Arpech was but a small sapling that the man that would come to be known as Papa Vlad came into the picture although not named Vlad just yet. He and his companions, a handful of men and a black priest, came one day, riding upon mighty white steeds into the encampment of the Cossacks of Arpech, blade in hand as he called to the young men of the Arpech tribe to issue their Hetman a challenge. Not a challenge for leadership but rather for membership within their group. The cossacks laughed at Vlad for he and his companions were foreigners and had wandered in demanding a fight as if they were escaped asylum-inmates yet their Hetman soon obliged to the challenge of righteous combat although the men Vlad had brought with him had to do the same with over cossack men. Open space was given for them in the middle of the encampment, enough space to fight and maneuver. Sabres clashed and garbs were cut open as a strike drew too close yet not close enough to pierce skin. The duel concluded in a draw, both parties too tired and too battered to continue. Whilst Vlad had gained a place among the men of the tribe, slowly integrating and becoming an influential and respected member among them for he had shown his worth time and time again, the same can not be said for all the companions he had brought with him which included the priest. With Vlad having gained a new home with the cossacks, he put aside his old name and took a new one, that name being Vlad. Many years passed as the sapling Vlad had found soon began to grow into a little bush, having prospered and grown stronger with the years although the time had come to elect a new Hetman. A new leader to their tribe of cossacks. Votes were cast to two people in specific. Vlad and another man. Both had aided the tribe greatly, having brought great wealth and prosperity through their own prowess and initiatives. The voting soon began and the cossacks gathered around. The crowd cheered for the other man but the crowd cheered louder for Vlad, the vote concluding with a Vlad victory, making him the new Hetman of Arpech! With Ivan as their new Hetman came a great amount of change to the tribe. Papa Vlad took on almost a fatherly role to those of Arpech and converted them to the ways of Aurelian, a branch of canonism who elevated Emperor Aurelius of Man to the station of prophet instead of Owyn and Sigismund. Arpech and its cossacks grew strong and mighty in Apartia under the leadership of Vlad, soon enough coming to dominate it yet it was not enough to satisfy the hunger of the Cossacks. Ivan told them all of a land beyond the sea, a continent filled with kingdoms and massive stretches of stone tents. The cossacks showed interest in this new land and called for Papa Vlad to show them the way to this land and soon enough they set out on their journey towards this rich land ripe for the taking. CHAPTER III - THE JOURNEY TO AEVOS There was one problem the Free Cossacks of Arpech faced. The sea. It was the one thing that stood between them and the rich land Papa Vlad had spoken of. Their people had no access to wood for the steppe lacked the right conditions to let them grow and if there was wood then there was not enough. They had only one option if they desired to cross the vast body of water and that was to find boats or rather take them. There were no cities in the steppe although past the steppe of Apartia there were small city states, forgotten colonies of empires of old. These cities held respectable fishing and commerce ships, allowing them to navigate the seas. The Cossack Host rode out towards these small city states, crushing whatever tribe they came across and stealing their herds of cattle and horses in the hopes of being able to trade them for ships. They left a trail of blood and destruction behind them as their travels concluded before the golden gates of one of these cities. The guards hailed them yet did not grant entry, wary of the cossacks' intentions for they had heard of the brutality which plagued Apartia. Vlad tried his best to negotiate with the guards to let only him and his kinsmen in to negotiate a price yet they were rejected once more. The cossacks of Arpech took this as a grave insult and began raiding their countryside, burning down their farms and slaughtering their villages before vanishing. The city mourned the destruction and great slaughter that they had been made victims of and on their holy day, they all gathered to pray. It was during their holy communion that the cossacks struck them after having gone into hiding nearby, scaling their walls and killing the garrison before plundering the city for all its worth whilst securing the ships that were in their harbor. It was during this sack that they captured several slaves that would come to be vital to their journey across the sea. They captured a captain and several sailors who the cossacks would force to sail their ships although there was one slight problem. There were not enough ships to fit all of them which prompted them to go sack more cities on the coast to capture more ships. It was an endeavor which took time yet would soon pay off, finally having enough ships to ferry them all across to the rich lands beyond the sea. They had left a trail of blood and destruction from the heart of the steppe all the way out onto the coasts and up and down them before they took to the sea. CHAPTER IV - ARRIVING ON AEVOS The sea was a new phenomenon to the cossacks, having never sat foot on a ship before which made them uneasy yet when they looked to their Hetman, Vlad, all their worries were put to ease as he showed these deep waters no fear for he had traveled across them once before. Weeks and months of sailing and soon enough they were greeted with seagulls above their heads and the distant shores of a land unfamiliar to all but one man.. Vlad who had returned to his own homeland. To the place where his own kin resided so that he and his new family could carve out a place for their own. They sailed their ships up the mighty rivers until they ended up in the Midlands of this strange new world called Aevos. They roamed around, learning the land and the language which they spoke before their cossack roots started to manifest. They soon began banditing the nations within the Midlands, taking whatever valuables the unfortunate souls that crossed paths with them had yet this was not enough to soothe their lust for wealth and glory. Whilst banditing and intermingling with the populace of this new land they found out about a continental war which was taking place. The Aevos Coalition War. Sensing the great opportunity for wealth and glory by picking a side they all gathered together in a Rada to discuss which side they should join in on. There was no need for a Rada in the first place for there was no voice of opposition. Everyone wanted to side with the numerically inferior side, the side of Veletz. Some due to the fact that realm known as Haense were claiming titles which were rightfully their people’s, another group wanting to defend Veletz due to the good relations they had fostered with the locals whilst another group, Vlad included, wanted to fight for Veletz and its allies due to sharing blood ties. The Free Cossacks of Arpatia joined the war on the side of Veletz, fighting alongside them in each major clash of arms. During the Battle of Winburgh the cossacks rallied in the defense of the veletzian capital just to end up routing the covenant force alongside their allies which lead to the capture of the hyspian monarch. With the failure of the veletzian government to negotiate a separate peace with the hyspian monarch, Vlad and his kinsmen were given custody over the monarch. Some of the kinsmen had issues with the monarch after having been banished for granting one of the hyspian women a love gift in the form of a cat heart and its pelt after they said they liked cats. The cossacks decided to throw the hyspian king into a brazen bull with the intent of boiling him alive. The hyspian monarch was not the only royalty they had captured for during one of the many cossack raids upon the city of whitespire, they managed to capture one of the princess’s which they soon brought back to veletz before having them send a letter to Aaun alongside a message of their own, mocking their cowardice as they fled to the top of their tower instead of facing them. As the war dragged on the Cossacks encountered new kinds of warfare which they were unfamiliar with. Feudal sieges. Their unfamiliarity with the concepts of war when it came to such lead them to be an ineffective fighting force during the sieges of Breakwater and Brasca yet once the fighting took to the fields of Westmark they showed their true expertise. They rode swiftly and struck down each soldier of the covenant they came across without mercy. When the covenant forces tried to meet the Cossacks with their own cavalry they were decimated. When they tried to attack them with their infantry they were showered with arrows as the cossacks kept distance until there was no covenant soldier left standing. And now the host seeks a place to call their own, a place to settle at last.
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