For several hundred years, Aulonia was a relatively peaceful kingdom. To the north are the frigid wastes, populated by only a few nomads who seek solitude. To the west are the great Shiverpeak mountains, home of the dwarves who have their own independent underground kingdom named Brechnuum; further west is the Palloc ocean, across which there are other small, sparsely-populated kingdoms that engage Aulonia in trade. The only threat to Aulonia has been the barbarian hordes across the sea to the east, who assault the kingdom infrequently over the years. The last major attacks were two hundred years ago, and twenty-five years ago.
Three years ago, King Balric became ill. His wife, Queen Kamal, withdrew more and more from her duties in order to tend to her husband. After two years of almost no royal presence, and rulings coming down from an increasingly frustrated council of elders, the people grew restless and resentful. The council felt they had no choice but to declare martial law as a precaution, but the ever-present knights and soldiers only increased the unrest and made the populace feel oppressed as well. Crime and (sometimes violent) political demonstrations increased in frequency.
During this time, because the soldiers and knights were busy dealing with crime and minor uprisings, there was no one to defend against outside threats such as monster attacks. A relatively minor noble, Count Duncan, raised an army and patrolled the kingdom, dealing with the threats that arose.
Duncan’s fame and influence grew, and many of the soldiers renounced their military titles and joined Duncan, in the hopes of peacekeeping by example, rather than by force. After a few months, the royal military presence had dropped so drastically that a full-scale rebellion was launched in Cordell, the capital city of Aulonia. King Balric died during the rebellion, and Queen Kamal was stripped of her position. After it was discovered that Duncan had kept his lineage hidden—he was the unknown heir of Kratos, and hence a direct descendant of Erikko, both legendary heroes of Aulonia’s past—the rebels demanded that Count Duncan be instated as king. Initially he refused, but soon accepted as a means to restore peace to the kingdom.
Once Duncan had returned order to Aulonia, word began to spread of a plague that affected any with magic in their blood. Duncan immediately ordered all magic-users and magical beings to gather for testing in community centres. But there was no testing, and no plague; they were all killed in cold blood by Duncan’s royal guard. Magic, and magical beings of all sorts, were outlawed from the kingdom on pain of death. Duncan’s elite, the Brigadiers, swept the kingdom in specially crafted suits of armour that repelled magic, killing all who broke the law with their existence.
When Duncan’s true nature was revealed, his antimagic campaign began in earnest. His soldiers and knights abandoned him in droves, but he had amassed such a loyal following that plenty remained, and more joined. Some of the defectors in higher-up positions revealed that even before he was made king, Duncan had been going out of his way to destroy small communities of dragonborn, elves, eladrin, and tieflings, leaving the humans, dwarves, and halflings untouched; at least until he began his full campaign and started killing magic-users. There are plenty of theories as to why Duncan wants magic gone (from racism to insanity) but none of them are perfect.
Magical beings and Duncan’s defectors alike fled when they could. The western ports were mostly shut down, and few escaped across the ocean. The dwarven kingdom of Brechnuum and all of its great citadels closed themselves off, relying on their powerful defences and their rights as a separate nation to remain insulated, but Duncan intends to breach the dwarven defences and eliminate their magic. Most of the refugees travelled to Ravenshore, an independent island city-state to the south.
However, Duncan’s historians are searching tirelessly for any possible loopholes in Ravenholm’s Treaty that would allow Ravenshore to be annexed into Aulonia; and if they cannot find one soon, Duncan may simply invade.