Crusade Years 1-3 (1761-1764): The Liberation of Toulmore
While Tok had no king, there was no denying that Alykinder was the de facto ruler of the nation. He traveled widely, officially continuing the work of training and reorganizing the army, but also speaking to throngs on the core Crusader ideology: That the Long War would end when the First Families no longer used the lives of ordinary quar in their machinations to remain in power.
Each one of Alykinder’s speeches were printed in the underground presses of Toulmore, and no matter how often these subversive writings were intercepted, new presses sprang up to take their place. Young Toulmorese quar ran away to join the Toulmore Volunteer Brigade, now almost an Army in strength. In addition to the idealism of the Crusade, they were also driven by another factor: War was brewing again between Maer Braech and Craesil.
The Toulmorese city-states of Yprol, Marzol, and Parth had strong economic connections, though Yprol lay within Craesil’s sphere of influence and Marzol and Parth were subject to control from Maer Braech. A war between Craesil and Maer Braech would be fought between these cities, with considerable damage to the verdant farmlands and infrastructure between them. The native Toulmorese had no control over the situation, and despair was growing as armies began to mass.
In Tok, Caerten Kee of the Toulmore Brigade sought a private audience with Alykinder. After their day long, closed-chamber session, Alykinder announced that he would address the Parliament and people of Tok.
In this speech, Alykinder proclaimed that the ideology of the Crusade could not end at the border of Tok. The situation in Toulmore was an abomination, created by the rulers of the kingdoms of Maer Braech and Craesil and paid for in innocent blood. Alykinder called on the people of Toulmore to rise up in rebellion, and asked for a declaration of war against both Craesil and Maer Braech. He famously declared that it was the first day of a new age, the age of the Crusade, and the government of Tok famously declared that the calendar would begin on this day, the start of the Aerg Croesgadwr —the Age of the Crusade.
The speech was met with wild applause, and with great patriotic fervor in Tok. Within days of the speech, it was circulating throughout Toulmore, where several revolutionary groups set aside their differences long enough to launch a coordinated uprising.
A complete description of the military campaign would be beyond the scope of this essay, but vignettes from it have been recorded famously in song, tale, and art. Airborne Marines dropped into the three city-states to support the popular uprising. The Crown Prince of Toulmore, descended from its most famous First Family, was given an is-Caerten’s commission in the army of Tok, famously saying he would rather die as a free Crusader than live as a chained king. The “Lost Company” of the 3rd Tok Guards took an entire Craesillian catrawd prisoner. The 2eme Toulmore Marines broke the 12th and 15th Maer Braech Grenadier Guards to link up with the uprising, and liberated the capital. The Coftyr Border Army attempted to storm through the Tokish Army, and their elite formations were unable to break a handful of line Catrawds.
By the end of Crusade Year 2, Craesil’s army had surrendered unconditionally to the Tokish Army, and the Toulmore armies were pushing back those of Maer Braech and Coftyr. Peace negotiations concluded ten days after the start of Crusade Year 3. The Toulmore Republic was created, with its borders extended to the area of the old Kingdom. Craesil was to become a constitutional monarchy on the line of Tok, with the First Family of that nation to enter into exile in Maer Braech. For the first time in generations, an enforced peace was to be kept between Craesil and Toulmore.
This year also marked the first use of the phrase “Iron Regime” in reference to Tok and its allies and vassal states. It was created by exiles of Craesil, who used it in reference to the obstinacy of the Crusaders and their leader.