Formation and Expansion ~ From Ambiguity to Empire
The Dominion of Rhineland had the most humble of beginnings, a far cry from its current glory. Starting as a confederation of noblemen and women in the Rhineland region of the Heartlands continent, led into unity by the noble house of Gearheart; officially due to their shared faith in the Church of Aloisia but they reality was that matters of power and advancement were on the forefront of the minds of most.
Over time they nation slowly grew. Its leaders did not care for the method, only the result. Invading smaller countries, fabricating claims on foreign nobles titles, marrying sons and daughters in political marriages, falsifying threats of aggression against them in order to justify war; no act was deemed beyond them in order to expand.
However the truly pivotal moment in the state’s fate was the period of global conflict referred to as the Unification Wars. The political map of the world of Belamun had been changing rapidly in the run up to all out conflict, several country’s steaming ahead of the rest, several distinct superpowers forming. These gradual land grabs and conflicts over borders escalated into all-out war, due to in most part, the confidence of many that they were the strongest nation. While many have different views on when the war actually, some territories viewing it as a century long conflict, others as a mere decade, the official date was of course decided by the victors, the fifty year period starting at 1849; when the leaders of the Dominion declared that they would not be part of petty land squabbles, rather they would unite the entire world under the glowing eye of Aloisia.
While no insignificant little nation at this point in time, it was much weaker than many of the main players in the eyes of most but had many facets to its war effort that set it apart and indeed ahead of many others. Firstly there was the Inquisition, the enforcers of the worship of the cult of Aloisia. It was believed that as part of a church that was, while not the only major religion but indeed global that they would not take a side in the conflict. However they did indeed side with the Dominion, based in the land where they and indeed the Church was founded. Not only had that but the Church as a whole risen to the call of Rhineland. Unsuspecting countries suddenly found battalions of Inquisitorial Stormtroopers, chapters of holy knights and sisters of battle taking to arms against them in their borders. In addition to these mighty warriors, the best on the planet, the Inquisitors themselves were by in large, some of the strongest magic users alive.
The most recent addition to the Dominion prior to the Unification Wars was to prove one of its most valuable. The great forge city-state of Sibicus, home to the Tech Union, a religious group that worshipped Aloisia as the ‘Machine Goddess’, who fused their body with mechanical augments and made machines that were decades ahead of any other nation on Belamun. The Dominion waged a bloody two year war against them for their ungodly fusing of man and machine but with no end to the conflict in sight, a peace treaty was signed. Sibicus would join the Dominion as a client state with a great degree of autonomy while providing the Dominion with machinery and the men and women to maintain it. When the time for war came the armies of the Rhine marched to battle with great bipedal war machines and advanced aerial battleships at their side along with countless other advanced weaponry.
The final and perhaps greatest weapon in the Dominion was not the armies of the Church, the mechanical legions of the Tech Union or even not the professional regiments of the regular army but the manner the Dominion held itself. This was not a war of conquest or patriotic defense but a religious conflict. Their land was the home of Aloisia’s church, where she dwelt on her time on Belamun and their very nation owed itself to her actions. They were her inheritors, her stewards. It was their divine right to rule the world, the duty to spread their faith and way of life to save the souls of their fellow humans. Its men and women under arms fought with a zeal like no other armies did, even if they died, they would be rewarded in eternity. A remarkable facet of the period was that so many conflicts were crusades, not wars. On the surface this was part of the believe of their divine right to conquest yet more skeptical people would hazard a guess that the leaders of the nation understood more citizens signed up and fought harder under the banner of religious conflict than under the forced service of conscription and rhetoric about duty.
Through all this and more the Dominion triumphed though it was not an easy road. For the first few years of conflict it often looked like Rhineland would be over, mitigated to the status as some other states territory yet they overcame the initial intense times of strive and started to win battle after battle, for more of the period there was a constant rapid string of conquests. In 1899 victory was formally declared, the Dominion standing as the single, global spanning nation, lord and master over all.
Transition and Consolidation ~ A True Coming of Age
The Dominion had Belamun but after fifty years of total war, Belamun was not the prize it once seemed. It resources had been seriously depleted by the conflict and now the Dominion had to govern the entire planet with this lack of sources for supplies. The economic boom that had been enjoyed by the constant spoils of war during the Unification Wars trickled to a halt, economic stagnation now an encroaching reality.
Now that the smoke had settled the less than pretty reality of the Dominion had become more than evident. Slums in the major cities like Ironvale, the rights of employers leading to a strong economy despite the problems starting to wrack it but leading to a lot of hardship for workers and the oppressive system of strict militaristic law and enforced religious doctrine.
Yet these problems were secondary to these issues of the planets dwindling resources. The high nobles that governed the land decided that the only solution was to look skywards. The Dominion would have to begin expanding into space; the first target for colonisation was Belamun’s moon of Erebus which initial survey had shown to hold much mineral wealth. Rhineland geared itself towards this, training and preparing eagerly for the next chapter of their conquest yet another matter would arise that would at first delay but eventually double the efforts to drive the empire into space.
A computer virus named ‘Scrap Code’, more demon that programme leaked into the central Rhineland region of the Dominion from the depths of the immaterial plane of existence known as the warp, disabling and taking over machinery across the land. Via its host of Magos Casignator, it held off Dominion forces attacking its portal to Belamun until Marquis Wilhelm Rothschild led the army to victory over its defences. Yet angered by the lack of action over a clearly falsified decree that he was a heretic and a traitor by the Dominion’s governing council, Wilhelm acted when he was arrested due to the simply standing by, wondering who would get what when his great house was disgraced.
Escaping his arrest with the help of the Scrap Code and the Casignator, who swore allegiance to him, he made this negligence public, declaring himself Emperor. He had not been idle, already much of the nobility and military secretly agreeing to rise up at his call. Even more rose up to join him following his Dominion wide speech, lord and peasant alike spurred on by the promises of this young man of faith, in many cities citizens and police readied to fight before realizing they were both on his side. The Church, Inquisition and the Tech Union also mostly sided with him, what loyalists there were fleeing into space and to this day have not been heard of again.
Yet even then the Dominion could not yet look beyond Belamun. Chaos, the demonic pantheon that held sway over a large part of the horrors in the warp, showed it was not simply a young and small force among many, exploded in the word of man. Demons and the simply pervasive influence of Chaos was led into the world by the fallen daughter of the Emperor, Flandre Rothschild, using a weakness in the wall between planes of existence in the port town of Keavos, created by her panicked rush into the warp and subsequent rescue after she fled the cruelty of her mother Viera, who was banished for her actions. [:Information Redacted: Ordo Hereticus: Empress: Expunged:] Raising its heretical head at the wedding of the Emperor’s cousin Isolde, Chaos declared war on the Dominion and mankind itself.
The Chaos Hersey was a long and bloody affair. It spread across the globe but it was in Rhineland that it was most deeply set. Lead by the Warmaster Arghast and the Sorcerer Sindri and the Temptress Adrastia, this host of demons and heretics ravished the land, burning towns and villages to the ground, taking forts and castles and breaking entire regiments. However its spread lost wind quickly by the harsh decrees issued by the Emperor on the issue of heresy, laws that were once harsh grew even more so, prisoners in jail on the charge of heresy were taken out of their cells and burned alive despite already serving punishment and even being suspected of heresy could get one instantly executed. Slowly the swift tide of the new cult was bet back, first around Belamun, then Rhineland itself, right to the gates of Keavos, the first town to have fallen to the Chaotic horde. Most remaining cultists either fled with the Warmaster and his retinue to space or were killed there and then.
First Tests ~ New resolve and Inter-planetary War
The Dominion’s first true test as a united Belamun came after a resounding testimony to their right to embark on interstellar conquest. Emperor Wilhelm had been previously stripped of his powerful magic powers by the Angel of Judgement in order to more truly experience seven trials she set out for him to aid him be the idle Emperor. Yet on the second task, to kill a child running for heaven, matters changed. Learning that the child was the angel’s and that of a dark spirit, he refused to harm her for simply acting in an immoral manner due to her mother’s rejection. Calling her out, she conceded to how she had wronged the child and instead asked for her forgiveness. Wilhelm’s powers were restored but whether the trials go on is unknown.
The Emperor had the authority to stand against a senior figure of heaven, clearly the true steward of the Goddess on Belamun. The certainty of their cause was clear yet it seemed they did not need to take to the stars; the stars would come to them. Sneaking past the Dominion’s orbital fleet and defences, an unknown force suddenly assaulted space ports across the globe. Their motive and their origin at first were unknown. They seemed determined however to destroy as many spaceports as possible to group the Dominion fleet. The invaders were an odd mix of humans and what appeared to be human like xeno with long rabbit ears. Port after port was destroyed until the assault was halted at the spaceport of New Haven. The foe fled, back to Erebus where it was now assumed they came from and the Dominion wasted no time in pursing them, vengeance in their eyes.
When the Dominion sent fleets out to the moon there was oddly no resistance, no sign of the fleet that has so recently Blitzed them. They were able to come into orbit with the iced over moon and land without not so much of a gunshot. The reason why became clear after a few days of trying to find the lunar dwellers. All that was found of them were ruins and frozen corpses and what had down this too them. The other natives of Erebus, various species of aggressive ice-based creatures, who pursued destruction and violence with a terrifying animal ferocity, were driving them to extinction. Prisoners had finally given in and told of the slow struggle to survive, how only the capital, hidden in a mountain valley, still stood. They had assaulted the Dominion as they feared they would divide their remaining armies and led to them being overwhelmed by their more natural enemy. Not an act of hatred or aggression but one of fear and desperation. This, coupled with the fact that the Lunarians as they were called, were not two species but one, those with rabbit ears completely human bar the ears, a simply deviation caused by evolution in the face of the dangers of Erebus, something only forty percent of the population even had, led to a much different ending to the Lunarite War.
Emperor Wilhelm requested to treat with the Lunarite leader, Princess Kaguya of the royal house of Houraisan. She accepted, expecting the far superior Dominion to demand unconditional surrender but he offered something much more different. Erebus and its Princess would have to bend the knee to the Emperor and become a part of the Dominion yet she would retain her titles and her Principality a large degree of autonomy and in addition, the Dominion would make every effort to wipe out the native savages and rebuild Erebus. Most importantly the Lunarians with rabbit ears were to be seen under law as human and not xeno. The Princess agreed to these terms there and then, kneeling in front of Wilhelm who surprised all her court when he merely smiled and took her hand to kiss, calling her kin.
The ensuing months spent pacifying Erebus were a slow and bloody slog, the cold killing more than the natives. In order for reconstruction to be successful after the end of the campaign, the Dominions arsenal of powerful orbital weaponry, nuclear arms and viral bombs could not be brought to bear. This coupled with the harsh conditions meaning machinery often stopped working or could not pass through the harsh terrain meant that Belamun’s first extra-terrestrial conflict was fought by the most primitive of means. Yet victory eventually came, the Lunarian’s home regained and the path to the stars now fully open.
The Greatest Endeavor ~ Our Continuing Story
While the Dominion now stands at twelve colonies, not including Erebus or Belamun, it would be wrong to conclude that all focus has shifted to its galactic endeavors. Indeed, the most important part of any Empire, fledging or established, is its homeworld. After all, Belamun has not been united for that many years. The Dominion must remain vigilant to maintain the unity and prosperity of the planet. One region of note in this cause is the Flying City of Lilith, a great floating metropolis, formally a sovereign city state and one of the jewels of the Dominion. With rising political tensions over the extent of federal control and a hidden religious war between those loyal to their native faith and the Inquisition slowly spilling into a more public arena, it is a city that bears watching. If the Dominion fails to keep one of its main cities under firm control, how well does it bode for its hope of further expansion?