For the past two hundred years the Nations of the Sun have been one of the few nations to avoid internal conflict. Oddly, the long-lasting peace had its roots in a conflict that occurred shortly after the Great War. Originally, the various nations were drawn to each through worship of the sun and the fact that the pyramids figured so highly in their cosmology. Despite this, they did not always see eye to eye on all matters. Misunderstanding and miscommunication were common.
One major miscommunication plunged the Egyptian and Aztec empires into bloody war. This famously occurred when the Aztecs sought a bride for their god, Tlaloc. The Egyptians thought that one of the Pharaoh’s daughters was to marry an Aztec prince. Believing this would bring the two nations together, Pharaoh Teti readily agreed.
Upon receiving news that his daughter was actually ritually sacrificed, the Pharaoh’s wrath was absolute. He quickly summoned his armies, which had grown quite weak after suffering heavy losses during the Great War. Those that were still alive, however, were exceptionally skilled. To bolster his numbers, the Pharaoh hired sell-swords, cut-throats, and adventurers of all kinds. Then he moved swiftly into the heart of Aztec territory and left a trail of death and destruction that came to be known as the March of Blood.
Villages and cities were burned. Their inhabitants slaughtered or enslaved. The Aztecs were surprised by the suddenness and ferocity of the attack, but soon started putting up a solid defense. They were aided greatly by the jungles of their homeland. Unused to such terrain, the Egyptians soon started to sustain significant losses. Sell-swords were tempted away with Aztec gold, and the Egyptian war machine began to struggle.
“The Aztecs reached out to their Incan and Mayan neighbors,” explains Ada-Kar University’s Military History professor Dr. Christopher Husten. “While they were certainly not friends in the world before Valhalla, they at least shared a similar experience. A root language and base cosmology that tied them together. The Aztecs were sure that the others would heed their call.”
As it turns out, none of them trusted Axayacatl, the Aztec King. They had been allied with him against the Technophiles. They knew what kind of man he was and wanted nothing to do with him. Neither did they want to side with the Egyptians, whom they hardly knew. They were just starting to get over the Great War and had no desire to be dragged into another.
The Mayans then contacted the INSL and asked them to intervene. What became known as the Coatepec Peace Accords was the testing ground for the INSL’s ability as a body politic. Successfully navigating that conflict gave the INSL the respect it needed to broker future treaties.
The major provision of the truce had Azayacatl sacrifice his eldest son, Eztli. Through a joint ceremony, the Aztec son and the Egyptian daughter would join in marriage in the afterlife and become gods. Likewise, Phetthre, the Pharaoh’s eldest living son would marry the Aztec’s eldest living daughter, forging the Phetthre bloodline.
“Suddenly you have these two kingdoms coming together and really mingling in both a physical and metaphysical way. These bonds suddenly become the focal point of both cultures. It gives them a shared past.”
Their progeny would become a separate class of society. Not able to rule directly through the male line, the women from the bloodline could and did often marry royalty of either the Egyptians or Aztecs. The Phetthre clan would also be called upon as ambassadors between the two nations, and eventually with other nations. In time they became advisors to Pharaoh and King alike.
“The Phetthre were to act as conduits between the two peoples throughout eternity,” Dr. Husten explains. “In this case, eternity lasted about two hundred years.”
The current crisis had its roots in an incident from six years ago. It was then that Pharaoh Thutmose II died unexpectedly. The dead Pharaoh’s son, Thutmose III, was next in line. Since he was only three years old, however, a regent was named to rule in his stead until he turned of age. The regent, however, proved to be a mere pawn for Menes, a particularly clever member of the Phetthre bloodline.
Over the next few years, Menes assumed more and more power. He shifted authority and privileges to himself that his class had not previously been allowed. Menes began to influence others within the Phetthre bloodline and sought ways to extend his clan’s interest with the Aztecs as he had with the Egyptians.
“In this matter Menes overreached,” explains Dr. Husten. “His counterpart with the Aztecs, Teplitzin, was young and inexperienced.”
Three months ago a power play was planned whereby Tepiltzin would claim many of the rights that Menes had already assumed. Most prominent among these was the right of the male line to claim the right to rule should the current bloodline be severed.
The Aztecs were informed of this plan and Tepiltzin was captured and brought before the king. He did not refute the charges, but claimed that the rain god Tlaloc demanded these changes. Unconvinced by his arguments, the king decreed that Tepiltzin’s heart should be removed from his chest for one minute and then replaced. If he survived then the king would adopt the amendment.
Tepiltzin did not survive the ordeal and the remainder of the Phetthre clan in Aztec lands quickly distanced themselves from Tepiltzin’s schemes. Even so, there was a series of arrests and sacrifices made over the following months that all but crushed the clan.
Infuriated by the assault against his clan, Menes has instilled a number of economic sanctions that have stopped all normal trade and relations with the Aztecs. Rhetoric from the capital has been heating up as well, and there have been calls for troops to assemble.
“This is the closest these two cultures have come to war in almost two hundred years. The very clan that brought them together for so long has become the engine that is tearing them apart,” frets Dr. Husten. “There is now the very real possibility of war between the Egyptians and the Aztecs. Should open war be waged, both sides will suffer greatly. Both sides are strong, the Egyptians probably the more economically powerful, but long years of relative peace have left them unskilled in war.
“The Aztecs, on the other hand, have very few dealings with the outside world though their land is rich in gold and other valuable metals. Their most valuable assets are undoubtedly their warriors. They have retained their warrior skills and attitudes. Raiding parties into neighboring lands are common. All able-bodied men are required to spend time in the Aztec army and many of them join the Adventurer’s Guild to gain experience.”
Whatever happens, it seems unlikely that the two countries will be able to escape bloodshed. It is also unlikely that the INSL will step in to stop the violence unless it begins to spill over the border. It is yet another sad reminder of the tenuous peace that runs throughout Valhalla.