The Pact is a four-way treaty signed between the major powers of Occident about four and a half centuries ago. The historic accord is today recognized as the end of the Age of Conflict and the beginning of the modern age, and is the basis for the Occidental Calendar. The Pact was signed on the Fourth of Triember in what is now referred to as 0 OC.
Origins of The Pact
During the Age of Conflict, Occident was filled with kingdoms and duchies of various sizes, all at war with one another. Peace treaties and alliances were so transient that the idea of any treaty lasting for 50 years, much less four centuries, would have been laughable.
Every so often during that troubled era, one nation would experience a golden age. During these golden ages the country would grow its borders rapidly and advance beyond its neighbors in technology and culture. Unfortunately, no country seemed able to support themselves for very long under these circumstances, and would be torn apart by internal strife, temporary alliances of their enemies, or both.
This pattern changed when dragons took control of four empires at the same time in last few decades of the Age of Conflict. These four powers, located in four different parts of Occident, began conquering or incorporating the smaller nations around them with the secret help of their dragon rulers.
The natural state of things in that age was war. Most people assumed that the four empires would simply attack each other next once their borders pushed up against each other.
Instead, the dragon leaders of the four nations met to divide Occident amongst their four broods: red, blue, silver, and brass. The meeting produced a Pact that shocked the world.
The immediate result of the Pact was peace between the four empires of Arcland, Gard, Lasant, and Urst. This did not, as those uneducated in history generally assume, mean an immediate end to all war in Occident. The Pact originally defined borders between the four empires that covered the entire continent (except the neutral city-state of Gomina). This meant that the few holdout countries had to be subdued and brought into the empire it was assigned to.
The empires mostly completed this effort within 25 years of the Pact signing. However, some of the territory originally assigned to one country by the Pact was actually held by a different country. For example, the Lasani kingdom (now queendom) of Arfàn annexed much of the territory of Gomdar, including the city of Augnagar. All of Gomdar was supposed to go to Arcland according to the Pact.
These disputes led to several re-negotiations of the Pact. In the end, the empires could not reach a consensus on national borderlines, but they did agree on something else. For the first time in world history, people got laws of warfare.
Under the modern Pact, the four empires have fought various border conflicts. Hostilities have always been on a limited scale, conducted under Pact rules, and focused on disputed border territories only. The largest area of contention has historically been the Bellands, a fertile territory in the center of the continent whose ownership is disputed. Since the voyage of Boca Freemund in 315, the conflicts have also spread to the new world.
Because the signatories to the Pact were all secretly dragons, the document was written in Draconic. The public reason for this, since dragons were supposed to have vanished long ago, was that Draconic was chosen as a neutral tongue (Gardish not having been the Common Tongue it is today). Translations have since been produced in many languages, including Kamese.
One fact often lost in translation is the distinction between the Draconic words thadar and aryte. Speakers of Common would render both of these as “war”. In Draconic, thadar has the sense of a conflict where each side hates the other and is completely devoted to destroying its enemy. The word aryte has the sense of a long military operation involving tactics and strategy; it implies a longer struggle where the belligerents may have varying goals. Translations of thadar and aryte include “all-out war” and “limited war”, or “war of destruction” and “war of conquest”, but it takes a knowledge of Draconic to properly understand the distinction.
Provisions of the Pact
The Pact has five articles.
Article One: Signatories and Borders
Article One identifies the four powers signing the Pact, Arcland, Gard, Lasant, and Urst. In so doing, it set the borders between the four Pact powers. Most of this article is no longer in force, except for the very first part which identifies the names and original capitals and rulers of all four empires. The article’s effect in the modern era is to ensure that each of the nations diplomatically recognizes the others.
Article Two: Banning thadar
Article Two bans thadar (all-out war) between any of the signatories to the Pact. Since all of the wars of the Age of Conflict were considered thadar, this had the effect of preventing war between the Pact powers in the early years after the Pact signing. It is officially still in force, but it has been effectively superseded by Article Four.
Article Three: International Standards
Article Three sets several basic international standards to allow basic commerce and communication between the four signatories. It standardizes the Occidental Calendar and sets the date of the signing of the Pact as year zero. Weights and measures are standardized in this section, including standard weights of gold, silver, and copper pieces. This Article also establishes the city of Gomina as neutral territory.
Article Four: Rules for aryte
Article Four, written after the others, implicitly allows aryte (limited war) between the signatories by setting down laws for its conduct. These laws are numerous, but mostly straightforward. Violations of these rules are punishable by death. A diplomatic procedure by which one nation can petition another for punishment of rule-breakers is explained in this section.
Article Five: Arbitration
Article Five, written after Article Four, adds upon the laws of war developed in that section. It also revises the procedure for handling violations of these laws. Disputes about alleged violations are to be brought to a special arbitrator in Gomina. This arbitrator is empowered to investigate matters of fact involved in such allegations, and to pass the sentence of death upon proven violators. The arbitrator is not permitted to interpret the Pact, however.
The Pact Today
The rules of war set down in articles Four and Five of the Pact have, with one potential exception, been adhered to by all four major powers. Violations have occurred, although never by anyone too high in the chains of command. The arbitrator in Gomina is a dwarf named Kazmuk Hartyar, and he applies the law carefully.
A major issue in international law is a rule in Section Four prohibiting the attack of craft bearing civilian flags by military vessels at sea. Arcland claims that the use of privateers against its shipping in the Bocan Islands contravenes this rule. The other nations disagree. Some question whether the Pact applies in the New World at all. Arbitrator Hartyar is not authorized to rule on the matter, and the diplomats have yet to settle the issue.
Although the rulers of most of the world have been recently revealed to be dragons, as far as anyone knows, Arbitrator Hartyar is just a dwarf.