Illium Cromia is an island with an ancient and powerful civilisation. Forming part of the Western Isles, its once invincible legions conquered most of North Western Gaia. Now, centuries later, many a Dalatian, Slavinian and Aquatinian can trace their roots back to the Island.
This is not Troy, Illium was just a nice sounding name for the Isle of Cromia.
The largest and most densely populated island of the group simply known as the Western Isles, it is also situated far south of the other major islands. Indeed if Illium Cromia were any more distant it would not have een considered as part of the island chain.
Illium Cromia is also separated from the path that the submerged mountains, which form the rest f the island chain, follow. Cromia is unique in that its origins are volcanic, vis-à-vis, it is not formed from the peak of a submerged mountain thrust from the ocean by the tremendous pressures caused by tectonic movement. Being volcanic, is not only an older island, but is also growing relatively faster than the other main islands in the group: Valatia and Fornudia.
The volcanic origin of this island has led to it being a virtual paradise in places, with much of it covered in thick forests, which have risen from rich volcanic soil. Verily the only places on the island that are not covered in ancient deciduous forests are the areas where volcanoes are still active and lowland areas, which are the home to vast green meadows of various grasses and grain. The lowlands make for excellent farming and a large part of is cultivated, producing a wide variety of crops.
Due to its relatively remote situation off the coast of Gaia, favourable currents, warm climate and fertile soil, the people of Illium Cromia have never been lacking for food. Crops which practically raise themselves allow for hands to be employed in other occupations. Time that would otherwise be spent trying to survive from day to day could be spent on other activities, such as art, philosophy, invention and war. As such, Illium Cromia fast became a cradle of civilisation in the northern hemisphere. Over time the various tribes on the mainly human populated island were able to settle their differences.
Chieftains from the most powerful tribes set up a council that met annually to settle disputes. Ianjoora, a small town on the southern coast with no real value, was chosen as a neutral place to meet. As the decades wore on and the island prospered, a growing population demanded more of the council. Tribal leaders were replaced by representatives of burgeoning city states. The city states had their own agendas and were often in competition with each other.
Eventually, in order to preserve peace between the major city states, the council took a decision to disband in favour of establishing a formal government to whom the city states would answer. The government was first known as the Cromian Conference, after the extensive and turbulent talks which were common in its first few years.
Ianjoora had grown over the years and grew further when the Cromian Conference decided to govern from there. The Conference most notable improvement in structure over the old tribal council was to include a mix of representatives from the six provinces – thereby allowing fair representation for all the cities – as well as merchants, priests, guild masters and military within its ranks. Together they took an oath to strive for the betterment of Illium Cromia. Thus was the Cromian Confederation was born.
The Cromian military developed mainly from a need for an engineering corps. As the once barbaric population of the island slowly became civilised, warrior types found work as city guards and such. Each city had its own idea of what was required of its guard, different uniforms, styles of armour, weapons and pay. Local efforts to better city infrastructure were made, including the building of roads and bridges within their sphere of influence. Roads outside cities surrounds were non-existent however, making inter city travel an arduous affair.
One of the last big changes made by the council was to establish a central engineering corps. The Engineers Corps was tasked with formalising road links between the cities. As time passed, the engineering corps gained prestige. They were seen to be doing things, erecting marvelous viaducts and aqueducts to link the major cities together with stone roads.
With the advent of roads came the requirement for policing of the roads from bandits and wild animals. The corpse expanded its activities to include special policing units. Their splendid uniform and superior pay soon had many city guards transferring to them. The police units ranks swelled. The corpse enjoyed a large degree of popularity as a result. Being a member meant prestige, both to the member and his family.
It came to be that during the formative years of the Conference, the city state of Thejora, being by far the most powerful and feeling that the government was not acting in their interests, announced that it was not interested in being part of the Cromian Confederation. Relations between the Confederation and Thejora deteriorated rapidly and war erupted between the powerful city and the Confederation. Cities were hesitant to allocate their forces to the government, fearing that they would be left with no means of defense should the Thejoran army turn their way.
The only alternative was to make use of the engineering corps police. After a few skirmishes, a combined force of engineer corps police and city state guards defeated the Thejoran army at Etra, in the Agripinian province. A settlement was reached between the Confederation and Thejora, resulting in Thejora joining the Confederation.
As a result of the war, military representatives (being city guard captains and the chief of the engineering corps police), insisted on the formation of a standing army. The corps police were reinvented as the First Cromian Legion, taking a crossed pick and spade as their standard, a reminder of their engineering heritage. They also retained their blue uniforms and plate armour as opposed to subsequent legions who were issued scale armour and had green uniforms.
Seven legions were established in all, one garrisoned in each province while the First legion continued its duties of policing the extensive road network which eventually linked all the cities.
Having mercantile and military representation in government proved to be a big step for the Cromians. Eager to open new trade with neighbouring islands and the Gaian mainland, with whom there had previously been little contact, small vessels made their tentative way to foreign lands. While most trade envoys were warmly received and firm routes established, there were always exceptions. Shipyards came into being (notably along the coast of heavily forested Mungar Province) to meet the demand for bigger, faster and more seaworthy trading vessels started to receive orders from the military.
Illium Cromia used to be a far bigger island. Some five hundred years before, the island extended seventy kilometres further south west. A huge volcano, whose legendary eruptions would send earthquakes through the island and cause tidal waves along the coast of Gaia, marked the furthest extent of the island. Due to the volcanoes temperous nature, the population of that part of the island was minimal. This was fortunate, for one fatal night, Mount Kralium as it was known, bellowed outs its defiance to the world for a last time. Vast clouds of superheated rock and ash were spewed high into the atmosphere, while its slopes came alive with rivers of molten lava. Sometime near dawn Mount Kralium collapsed in on itself cracking the earth as it did so, to allow the oceans water to rush in.
The resulting explosion has become a part of legend, passed down from Cromian father to son. The earth shook with such force that whole buildings fell to the ground, galleys sunk in the harbour and a huge wave swept along the coast, washing away whole villages. Thousands died that night, not all of the Cromian for the resulting tidal waves had ravaged the coasts of all the western isles as well as western Gaia.
Within a day of the disaster, Cromian legions were marching west, while its navy, still reeling from the swath of destruction the wave had cut through its galleys, was working throughout night and day to sail west. What they found when they got there was so horrifying that some witnesses were driven mad. A whole piece of Illium Cromia had disappeared beneath the waves, hundreds of leagues of land had simply vanished overnight. The land that remained, between where Mount Kralium had stood and the Whitestone Hills had been seared clean of any life. Not a blade of grass or a buzzing insect remained.
In the five hundred years that followed, life would slowly return to what became known as the scoured lands. Yet the lands remain windblown, inhospitable and still for the most part, blackened rock with only the occasional clump of grass or low stand of stunted trees. The only sign of civilisation is Fort Kralium, erected in the coast to defend against any landing by Valatian forces.
The death of Mount Kralium has a resounding impact upon Illium Cromia. Until then, the isles navy and legions had held sway over the western isles and much of the Gaian seaboard. With its navy all but destroyed by the tidal waves, the isles remaining galleys were overwhelmed by those of the Valatian navy. The change of power was swift and had far-reaching effects.
Until then Illium Cromia had enjoyed dominance in the area for centuries. Trade and technology exchange with the Gissian Empire had provided them with far superior galleys, tactics and methods of arming their legions. As a result, their navy had never seen defeat against Valatia. As time went by, Cromia’s sons began to colonise Gaia, in what is now knows as Southern Dalatia and Slavinia while Valatia was blockaded, receiving little new technology. Envy grew to enmity which grew to hatred.
Subsequent to the Mount Kralium disaster the whole balance of power in the isles changed. While Forundis remained more or less neutral, the Valatians seized the opportunity handed to them and turned the tables on Cromia. Some disastrous attempts to invade and conquer Cromia followed. Numerous battles followed wherein the Cromian legions prevailed, but at a terrible cost. The loss of life was so great that some cities devastated during the war were abandoned and a whole portion or north eastern Cromia, where many of the battles took place, reverted to the wild as the populace was too diminished to tend the land.
Illium Cromia was first detailed on IX May MMIII