|Location: On the east side of the Great Lake and Port Sapphire, south
of the Swamp Fort, west from the ruins of the Dagger Fort, and on the southwest
side of the Hideout Mountains.
Name (short form): The SF
(The following stats are from the time before the two wars and the fall of the SF Fort)
Population: 72,000 people in the Fort; 65,000 in the outlying villages and subjucated territories
Military: Around 17,000+ soldiers
Government form: Monarchy (theoretically a Representative Democracy)
Leader(s): Lord Venari
Major Imports: Weapons, food, mercenaries, luxury goods
Major Exports: Weapons, sapphire gems
(The following stats are from the time after the two wars and the fall of the SF Fort)
Population: 2000 people in the Fort (the outlying villages are no longer under the SF's control, and their population is thus not included)
Government form: Anarchy (Ross of the FFF Fort has undertaken a reconstruction mission to the SF, intending to use his former position in the Sapphirian Court to his advantage and take control of the survivors, but it remains to be seen whether the people will accept him)
Leader(s), insignia, flag, imports, exports: None (but see above for
FFF Fort: They're a pain in the behind, always getting involved in our affairs and interfering with our plans to unite the continent. They must be conquered or, failing that, exterminated.
Justice Fort: They claim to be on the side of justice, but yet oppose our forces of law and order. Worse yet, they are allied with the 4xF, so their fate shall be the same as that of their ally.
Floating Fort: They declare themselves neutral, and maintain little of a standing army, instead relying on their strong trade ties to maintain their independence. We have bought many useful things from them, but so have our enemies. We shall leave them alone for now, but eventually they too must fall under our control, to hurt the economy of our enemies if for nothing else.
Moon Fort: They're almost an oxymoron: peaceful religious fanatics. They're not a threat to us.
Sun Fort: Religious fanatics, but expansionistic ones, seeking to one day re-absorb the Moon Fort into themselves. We're at friendly terms, and should we one day help them accomplish their goal, they would lend us their armies in other battles.
Shadow Fort: They worship dark gods, a practice which must be brought to an end eventually. Before that, however, they are ambitious and in unfriendly terms with the Forts in the region. They might join either side in the war - some luck, and they will assist us.
Golden Fort: Nationalistic bastards. They oppose anything that would in the slightest limit their independence; thus, they stand in our way and must be disposed of.
The Magical School: Unsurpassed in the hidden arts, they might have been a great aid to our mages, had they not turned against us and banned our students from studying their secrets. For this, they must be destroyed.
Swamp Fort: They oppose our rule, but their location makes conquering them nearly impossible for now, and they stay fiercely neutral from the alliances formed by the other Forts. Once the rest of the region is under our control, it will be their turn.
The Sapphire Fort was formed, like most other Forts were, from what remained of the cities in the region after the Great Burn, banding together for protection from bandits. The walls of the Sapphire Fort were erected approximately in 27 ATB (after the Burn), which historians consider the founding year.
In a period where the Forts wanted strong rulers to defend them from the perils of the outside world, the inhabitants of the Sapphire Fort made an unusual choice - they decided to have a ruler who was elected democratically in a popular vote, but for life. This, they figured, would give them a ruler who had been chosen by the people, but who would also be a strong ruler in a time where such rulers were needed. If this ruler would turn out to be a madman, or for some other reason had to be removed from office, it could be done with a four fifths vote.
The Sapphire Region, so known for its rich deposits of sapphires, had been the center of a sprawling megalopolis area, and continued to attract treasure hunters and miners even after the Great Burn. Many other settlements appeared in the area, out of which the Sapphire Fort was only one. The militaries of the different settlements would regularly skirmish with each other, the tension in the region always being high.
In the year 39 ATB, a powerful magician known only as Venari arrived in the region and was granted citizenship in the Sapphire Fort when he intervened in a battle between the armies of the Sapphire Fort and another Fort from the region, the Crimson Fort, almost single-handedly turning the Sapphire Fort's certain defeat into a devastating victory. He began to quickly obtain influence in the Sapphire Fort, using his powers and knowledge to help devastate the other Forts. In 63 ATB, the then-ruler of the SF, Verin Twing, died of old age and Venari was elected as the new ruler.
Under Venari's rule, the Sapphire Fort continued to conquer the nearby settlements, but unlike had been done under Twing's rule, even the more remote, less hostile Forts were occupied. When the Sapphire Fort's growing power became apparent, some of the other Forts tried to band together and create an alliance to stop the expansion of Venari's forces, but with clever manipulation and an efficiently executed strategy of divide and conquer, these alliances sooner or later all broke apart. In 94 ATB, everything in the Sapphire Region was under Venari's rule, but rebellions continued to flare up, and it took fourty more years before the area was brought to a relative calm. Resistance groups within the Sapphire Fort continued to form and operate, but due to Venari's powers, none of them could increase their memberhood enough to mount a coup without being found out and eliminated first.
Having secured his control of the region, Venari established relationships with the other, more far-away settlements, and in 108 ATB began a joint program with them to root out all dens of monsters and bandits within two weeks worth of travel from the Sapphire Fort. Lasting for over fifty years, the operation was finally declared a success in 161 ATB, having done much to make the area safer. Afraid of the purges, few bandits had the courage to enter the region many years after the operation had ended, and all the Forts in region - including the FFF Fort - had the opportunity to grow extremly prosperous.
As it began to become evident that the bandits had been defeated, Venari gradually launched a secret propaganda progam, intended to persuade the people of the Sapphire Fort that the only way to guarantee a lasting future peace was by unifying the continent under a single ruler. Of course, Venari, having achieved effective immortality, would be ideal for the task. It took a long time for this idea to become the popular opinion in the SF, especially since Venari himself gave his people the image that he disliked the thought, but in 168 ATB he finally pretended to give in to the popular pressure and began another series of conquests.
In a series of wars, the Sapphirian Army conquered many smaller Forts and cities on the east side of the Great Lake. Due to the small size of the settlements compared to that of the Sapphire Fort, nearly all of them eventually fell into Venari's control, with much of their population forcibly relocated into the Sapphire Fort. The only permanent defeat Venari's armies suffered was against the Swamp Fort, its surrounding terrain and formidable defenses making an outside conquest nearly impossible.
The continuing wars of conquest led to much protest from and tension with the other Forts, and in 199 ATB, the Sapphirian Army found their expansion effectively stopped, with an alliance consisting of the FFF, Justice and Golden Forts having signed mutual protection pacts against the Sapphire Fort with the Dagger, River, Swamp, Moon, and Sun Forts. Not willing to face the three powerful Forts in battle all at once, and with the southeast, the only direction not protected by the alliance being largely uninhabited, Venari chose to concentrate on pacifying the recently conquered regions for the time being.
Reluctant to depend on outside powers to guarantee its independence, the Dagger Fort began to seek ways to expand its own influence and protect itself against the Sapphire Fort. In 211 ATB, it began its own war of conquest on a sneak attack against the River Fort. In 213 ATB, the alliance against the Sapphire Fort collapsed completely when the Sapphire Fort signed an alliance with the Dagger Fort, agreeing not to move against it and supplying it troops for four years.
With the Dagger Fort's conquest endangering the stability in the region, the Justice and FFF Forts signed an alliance against the Dagger Fort in 214 ATB, telling it to cease its conquests and withdraw from the areas it had occupied, or else. The Dagger Fort did halt its conquest, but refused to let go of the areas already conquered. After repeated negotiations and threats with the Dagger Fort had failed, the two Forts finally declared war on the Dagger Fort in 217 ATB, a month after the troops the Sapphire Fort had supplied it had all withdrawn.
Still unwilling to face the Justice and FFF Forts in war, the Sapphire Fort decided to remain neutral, only monitoring the situation. In 219 ATB, the Dagger Fort unconditionally surrendered. The Allied Forts were content in removing the Dagger Fort's leaders from power and then leaving the region alone, but the Dagger Fort failed to recover from it and elect new leaders. In 221 ATB, after numerous civil wars had weakened and crippled the Dagger Fort, armies from the Sapphire Fort conquered it.
For four years, the Sapphire Fort continued to expand and grow stronger as it conquered the lands east of the Dagger and River Forts. Eventually, having conquered all of the land south of the Hideout Mountains, it was strong enough to finally take on those pesky Forts to the west of the Great Lake. In 229 ATB, Venari mounted an amazingly fast blitzkrieg, using a secret alliance with the Sun Fort to take over the Moon Fort and lay siege on the Justice and FFF Forts.
The FFF Fort, however, was a tougher nut to crack than Venari had expected. It managed to break the siege, with enormous casualties to the Sapphirian Army. In the six months that followed, it created an alliance with the other Forts in the region, liberating the Forts that had just been captured and in turn laying siege on the Sapphire Fort. Calculating that it would be better to gather his forces than to continue the fight, Venari surrendered the Sapphire Fort to the Allied Forts, himself fleeing to the Hideout Mountains.
The Allied Forts occupied the Sapphire Fort for only a few months before Venari managed to liberate it, employing a huge army of monsters, bandits and undead he had somehow managed to gather. This army, named the Retribution Army, managed to capture several Forts and completely destroy the Justice Fort before a risky mission to Hell by an Allied operative named Gaia made all the undead soldiers in the Retribution Army crumble into dust. In disarray, the Retribution Army had to retreat.
This might not have been the end, had not a Balance Guardian named Ross journeyed into the Sapphire Fort. There, he faced Venari, who had once been a Balance Guardian himself, and unleashed a powerful suicide spell. The spell destroyed the entire Sapphire Fort, only leaving a few city walls and buildings near it standing, effectively ending its existance.