The Promised Land Campaign
The Promised Land Campaign refers to a prolonged period of armed and magical combat that took place in the mid-2010s. The battle was between the forces of the Queendom of East Mercia and the Hycathic forces of Al-Murooj. It was part of a two-year conflict over a special cultivar of seed developed there.
It was the final military action of King Richard IV of East Mercia, and it had important consequences for the future of his Queendom. The battle also saw the disappearance and presumed death of champion archer Robyn Loxley, 11th Duchess of Huntingdon.
Al-Murooj had been consolidated as a refuge and new spiritual centre for Hycathism after the Second Hycath War, which had caused great numbers of Hycathae to leave or be driven out of nations the world over. It was founded by a deputation from Europe that was in possession of the Phoenix Stones. These stones are the Reckoning Holds of Ragna, Ylva and Ingeborg Blomgren, the instigators of the war. The deputation used Ylva’s hold, the Green Phoenix Stone, to fertilise the desert land of the Adrar Plateau in Mauritania. The concentration of Hycathic magic and science in Al-Murooj was a boon for the new city, helping it to thrive while other countries struggled during the Change. In particular, a new cultivar of seed was developed in Al-Murooj that could grow on saltwater, providing the country with an important food resource.
The Anglia Isle had suffered greatly from the Change, seeing many of its coastal lands flooded and several acres of arable land destroyed. The Queendom of East Mercia, located at the northeastern coastline, was severely decimated and became wracked by the Long Famine. Knowing of the existence of the new seeds in Al-Murooj, East Mercia opened diplomatic negotiations with them in 2014 in the hope of securing a consignment to cultivate on their now seawater-ridden landmass. By 2015, however, negotiations had broken down, and after securing the support of the populace, King Richard IV undertook to lead the East Mercian Army to Al-Murooj. Champion archer Robyn Loxley joined their number, to great public fanfare. Richard installed his niece Marian – also Robyn’s partner – as regent in his absence.
Almost a year after the Army’s departure in 2015, Marian Fitzwalter abdicated the regency of the Queendom. John Fitzwalter – Richard’s brother and Marian’s uncle – had assumed the post while morale was still high. However, the unexpected continuation and escalation of the conflict in Al-Murooj placed increasing strain on both the morale and the finances of the Queendom in Richard’s absence. John found himself increasingly faced with a public whose opinion was beginning to sour. Political opposition to Richard’s campaign grew in several areas of Nottingham society, and agitators such as Greenwood’s Will Scarlett stepped up their efforts during these years.
John identified that the distress and unrest of his people stemmed from a need for security. He sought to make a bold statement of that by impressing clear defence installations on the city of Nottingham. A Wall would be built, separating the more affluent and metropolitan centre – to be designated the Inner Circle – from the more suburban and agrarian outskirts – the Outer Circle. Many sympathised with John’s vision of a more protected capital, and plans were approved by 2017, as the Army fought their final months in Al-Murooj.
The survivors returned later that same year and brought with them the rumours of Richard and Robyn’s deaths in battle, a demoralising blow for the Queendom. John’s Wall, under construction by this point, gained support in the wake of these events. He made a further pledge of stability by officially declaring both Richard and Robyn dead. This done, he immediately ascended to the throne of East Mercia as King John II. He continues to rule the Queendom and is expanding on his plans for a more stable and self-assured Nottingham through ecological means.
The initial intention of King Richard’s forces was to put pressure on the Hycathic elders of Al-Murooj to reopen the deal originally sought through remote communication. They were unwilling to change their position, standing firm as diplomacy hardened into threats. For six months, the East Mercian Army remained camped outside the city, though their attempts at laying siege would have been no match for the city’s self-sufficiency.
Once it was clear that outside influence would be of no use, King Richard ordered the East Mercian Army to attack Al-Murooj, instigating a war in earnest. However, Al-Murooj had the protection of the Red Phoenix and, as tenaciously as they fought, the East Mercians could not overcome its power. After eighteen months, during which both sides sustained heavy losses, East Mercia was defeated in 2017. Those not taken hostage returned to Nottingham. Both King Richard and Robyn were unaccounted for, and all that the survivors knew were the rumours that they had perished on the battlefield.