The Kandar Dilemma is a treatise on the decline of Kandarin written in Year One of the Sixth Age by the author Soulus. It is an in-depth volume which largely covers the period between the relinquishment of the throne by Oliver Cleeves and the present day. Using the chronicled histories, empirical studies, and a mixture of inductive and deductive reasoning, The Kandar Dilemma attempts to discover how Kandarin fell from glory.
The Kandar Dilemma: A Treatise on the Decline of Kandarin
Oliver Cleeves was the man credited most with the formation of the kingdom of Kandarin as it is today. Shrewd, skilled, and lucky, Cleeves inherited a kingdom with a troubled past and divided allegiances and forged it into one of the largest and most powerful kingdoms the world has ever seen. And yet he did so with a mixture of both noble and dubious tactics, preferring a favorable outcome over the ethics of the methods used, sometimes neglecting his own people to pursue what he felt was a greater good. Nonetheless, by the time Cleeves relinquished the throne to Brock Avery, Kandarin had grown to its zenith, encompassing much of the known western world, and extending its hegemony from Asgarnia in the east to the Arandar Pass in the west. Its army was as formidable as any that had been seen since the Third Age and its people were strong.
Yet the end of Cleeves’ reign marked a turning point in the vast kingdom. Its borders haphazardly crisscrossing the boundaries of the known world, its unity and strength threatened constantly, the dictatorship was pushed to its very limits, and began to recede and decay thereafter. The decadence and decay prevalent in the days before Oliver Cleeves once again began to eat away at the enriched kingdom, and by the time of this writing has reduced Kandarin to little more than its holdings in Camelot, Ardougne, and Khazard. Kandarin’s people grew complacent; the treasury was emptied to pay for increasingly burdensome military expenditures, and the once-great hegemony was finally crippled with corruption and hardship.
This tome will examine the decline in Kandarin as a whole, using a mixture of deductive and inductive reasoning as well as empirical measurements and historical chronicles to discover how Kandarin fell from glory.
The Decline of the Kandar Economy
Throughout Kandarin’s long and bloody history, its economy had largely been socialist in order to assure a safe supply of gold and resources to sustain its constant military buildups and various projects commissioned by various rulers. This system was largely successful for a portion of Kandarin’s history, allowing the dictatorship to allocate wealth to whatever project or expenditure the leader desired to finance.
In the end days of Oliver Cleeves’ rule, however, the Kandar economy already showed signs of stagnation and recession. Costly wars were draining an already depleted treasury that had been steadily shrinking since the days of King Silva’s appointment of Drazker Vekon III as general of Ardougne. Indeed, by the last days of Cleeves it can be shown that armies of Kandarin were largely supplemented by the personal fortunes of its nobles, dividing the loyalty of its soldiers to those who could bring them great wealth.
Cleeves accelerated this decline in the economy by further equipping the military and by relinquishing the hard-won province of Asgarnia without taking compensation for the expenditures of his country. Brock Avery further aggravated the plight of the Kandar economy by relinquishing the profitable region of Eastmarch to Asgarnia. Thus the Kandar’s defeated enemies had come out on top in the end, and a military campaign that conquered a good portion of the world was conducted in vain. This form of wasteful vanity would eventually come to define the dictatorship, furthering its fall from glory.
Although the final days of Cleeves’ rule and Brock Avery’s reign had sufficiently reduced the Kandar economy to a quivering mess, the worst hardships came under the king who succeeded Avery, Vectis Vekon. Under Vectis, the military’s expenditures grew enormous and unbearable, as can be attested by a series of economic reforms designed to support such things as the issuing of Adamant weaponry to the Kandar Marines and the replacement of Steel armor in the armies with Mithril armor. So drastic and unpopular were the reforms that rumors that the kingdom was completely bankrupt circulated alongside real and imagined rebellions against the throne.
While debated amongst historians and experts, it is very possible that the kingdom of Kandarin has at least one time in its history been completely devoid of money in its coffers. Attestations to this come in the form of Vekon’s seizure of Brock Avery’s extensive properties and assets in Kandarin in an attempt to enrich the beleaguered and poor kingdom.
Yet Vekon’s Seizure and other dubious projects, while momentarily successful, were absolutely disastrous for Kandarin in the long run. The vast mines, shipyards, fields, fisheries, and other industrial areas that Vectis Vekon confiscated in Kandarin were not put to good use. Rather than enriching his kingdom, Vectis discovered that when the employees of these vast industries fled the dictatorship along with their employers, he was left with large, unusable areas of land which Kandarin had neither the resources nor the manpower to make use of.
Thus, although the Kandar government continues to this day perpetuate the myth that their treasury benefits from the vast resources of their kingdom, the kingdom in fact suffers from their lack of ability to make use of their resources, brought about by a lack of skilled labor, inept government seizure of private industry, and dwindling manpower within the kingdom.
Kandarin’s economy further experienced decay and ruin under Vectis Vekon and his successor Violet Vekon through their lack of ability to effectively collect taxes. Indeed, reports exist showing that kingdom-wide, efficient tax-collection has not been viable since the days of King Greyson Val, who himself realized that the kingdom’s finances were dwindling and effectively cut funding to several groups within Ardougne, including the Mourners. At the time of this writing, the ineptitude has grown so dismal that almost no one in the kingdom even understands how much tax money they are supposed to pay, let alone pay their taxes. Increasingly noble families are left to pay for projects and soldiers’ wages that were once paid by the government.
Another factor contributing to the decline of Kandarin’s economy is the leadership’s tendency to waste massive amounts of money on unnecessary projects, such as the palace in Arandar which has seldom been used and encompasses an area almost as great as Ardougne itself. The palace, commissioned by Vectis Vekon in his later days as king, cost the economy untold amounts of money, virtually bankrupting the kingdom on its own with its hurried, luxurious construction and reconstruction, all in vain.
Despite the vast amount of evidence which demonstrates that Kandarin is completely spent economically, the official government view under Violet Vekon is that the kingdom is prosperous, and has enjoyed prosperity in such “peaceful” times as outright war with other kingdoms, notably Asgarnia and Rellekka in Oliver Cleeves’ day, and even through downright ridiculous times such as the period of strife that accompanied Greyson Val’s reign. Unfortunately for the Kandar government, however, this denial of problems that face them has not kept them from suffering numerous problems in this and other aspects, such as the decline of the population of Kandarin.
The Decline of the Kandar Populace
Throughout most of Kandarin’s history, a statistical lack of manpower has always plagued the kingdom, reaching low points during times of plague, famine, and war, such as the plague which swept through Ardougne during the reign of Greyson Val. Under Queen Syvlari, the Genocide of the Druidic People occurred, a little-known incident in which it is estimated that between one hundred and 10,000 of the druidic people were massacred in an undisclosed location. Even in Oliver Cleeves’ time the population was threatened, a direct effect of the Thorvald threat upon the kingdom. Yet when Oliver Cleeves emerged victorious over all others, the kingdom of Kandarin had a population in the millions, with Ardougne itself numbering about 400,000 inhabitants.
Kandarin’s glory in this respect was short-lived. Under Brock Avery’s reign the population of Ardougne stagnated while the outlying villages and provinces began to shrink in population. This population dwindle was due in part by the people’s choice to flock to the cities, which were more populous, and by the succession of important allies such as Eden Syvian and Yanille, and later Aralyn Aren and Yanille. There exist reports showing that Eden Syvian, upon leaving Kandarin for the kingdom of Monvallis, took with him a great fortune and an army equal in size and formidability to the rest of Kandarin put together. This army and fortune were later put to use fighting Kandarin, further contributing to population decline.
Under Vectis and Violet Vekon, this population shrinkage reached epidemic proportions, and in recent times even the larger villages such as Catherby and Witchhaven have either been reduced to ghost towns or are occupied almost entirely by foreigners. Under Vectis Vekon, the Edict of Extermination was issued, specifying that any non-human species were to be massacred with the exception of werewolves, who the king was employing at the time to supplement his army. It is thought that at about this time the massive decline in population was noticed by the dictatorship, which took steps to allow the integration of outsiders into the kingdom. Vectis Vekon went back and forth on the merits of this policy, it seems, and at times murdered foreigners in order to secure himself against real or perceived threats to his rule.
Under Violet Vekon, this policy of allowing foreigners to use Kandar lands has been reinstated and furthered to include (in some cases) military service, in order to supplement a fragile Kandar population. It is worth noting that these foreigners are not Kandars in anything except the ways they are exploited by Kandarin, as evidenced by a tendency of Vectis and Violet Vekon to toss alliances aside in times of peace and then come to them in times of need, assuring promises which are seldom fulfilled.
As a result of numerous negative factors, chief among them Vectis Vekon’s reign of terror, the population of Kandarin is currently at an incredible low point. It is estimated that the population of Ardougne alone has shrunk from around 400,000 to between 65,000 and 80,000 people, which is smaller than the army alone under Oliver Cleeves. This lack of manpower, as has been discussed earlier, has contributed to economic hardship in the nation alongside other hardships such as the complete and total state of disrepair the Kandar infrastructure finds itself in.
The Decline of the Kandar Infrastructure
It is unclear precisely when the infrastructure of Kandarin became unmanageable. Certainly, by the time Lord Lucius burned down Camelot the prioritization of certain projects had been arranged to allot for the disparity between the sheer amount of structures and utilities needing repair and the relative lack of skilled labor capable of maintaining government and private structures. Although by the time of Oliver Cleeves the majority of repair in Kandarin was conducted by Avery Enterprises, this arrangement was destroyed by Vectis Vekon, who in his first year as king caused Avery to flee Kandarin upon seizing and shutting down his industries there.
It is suggested that from this time on the infrastructure of Kandarin has been in shambles at best. Its roads and bridges rarely receiving repair, the inhabitants of Kandarin resorted to other means to travel across the vast lands, such as teleportation. Projects on canals were scrapped, hospitals across the land and in West Ardougne in particular were shut down, and utilities such as water supply and communications were at times completely ignored. Instances of public housing, such as the shelter and orphanage in West Ardougne were abandoned in favor of militarizing the district, and public education has not existed in Kandarin in almost a generation.
This obvious lack of a functioning infrastructure is severely downplayed by the Kandar government, who rarely acknowledges there is a problem with such things as sanitation at all. The Kandar government notes things such as the disappearance of the plague as evidence that Kandarin’s infrastructure is healthy, while many of its court members rarely travel outside the castle itself, and even fewer realize the sheer improbability of a working class man being able to afford a healer’s services or receive such treatments as a dose of Saradomin Brew.
The Decline of the Kandar Military
There is, however, one area where lack of good infrastructure reigns supreme and cannot be denied, and that is in the area that is affected by each of the previous issues: the decline of the Kandar military. The Kandar military grew to its height under Oliver Cleeves and under the early days of Vectis Vekon, at one point including almost 100,000 men. As Vekon’s reign of terror proceeded unchecked and citizens and subjects fled, however, the military steadily shrank in size until it was scarcely more than a shadow of its former self.
To combat this decline in military manpower, Vectis Vekon reformed and reinstated a permanent draft of all Kandars into the military, and formed the Vectori as his personal bodyguard. His attempt to turn Kandarin into a nation of soldiers became wildly unpopular as time went on, and in the end he was forced to seek alliances from outsiders like Elizabeth and her predecessors had done before her. As Vectis Vekon’s policies became increasingly harsh and unpopular, however, and as the Kandar army was diminished in battles such as the Battle of Burthorpe, he was forced to threaten allies into alliance with him, notably Sultan James Craven and the men who followed him.
When Violet Vekon ascended the throne, she radically reduced her father’s impossible military expenditures in hopes of solidifying her fractured economy and cementing her people under a stable rule. The amount of Vectori was decreased, the equipment of the Armsmen was changed back from Mithril to Steel armor and from Adamant or Mithril weapons to Steel weapons, and the army was downsized even further in hopes of harnessing allies to do the fighting for them, as it were. The general policy of demilitarization is thought to be the definitive beginning of the decline of the ability of the Kandar Armsmen, who by this time had to be greatly supplemented with outsider forces in order to be effective. Further declines in the military occurred when such groups as the Royal Kandar Infantrymen, the Royal Kandar Grenadiers, the Royal Navy of Kandarin, the Royal Marines Corps, and the Royal Artillery Corps were abolished. The failing economy, lack of available manpower, and general decline in infrastructure are all thought to have contributed to the decline of the Kandar military, which by the time of this writing is outnumbered by its allies and especially by its enemies.
Since the ancient times of Emperor Russia of Ardougne, corruption has plagued and run rampant throughout Kandarin. In the time of Alexander Aerendyl, the king attempted to improve this situation, reforming the government and seeking to improve the everyday lives of his people. After a kingdom-wide riot, however, Aerendyl abdicated the throne, and one of Kandarin’s greatest hopes for reform and justice was crushed. In the time of Silva, Saewyyn, and Maximillian, corruption reigned supreme. After Maximillian’s assassination by the Kinshra, however, Kandarin once again had a chance for justice and purification under the reign of Greyson Val, who ascended after the Kinshra forces are defeated. Greyson, however, experienced a deeply troubled reign and was eventually forced to abdicate the throne himself.
With his abdication, the last hope for an end to Kandar corruption was lost. From Silvari to Oliver Cleeves, dubious and corrupt actions were conducted by the government on a regular basis, and justice took a backseat to tyrannical politics. Vectis Vekon best exemplified this trend of increasing corruption, attempting to genocide several peoples and arranging all manner of nefarious political deals in order to solidify his power. The corruption which eventually drove Kandarin to near-ruin was perpetuated by Violet Vekon, who reigns until this day and continues her father’s policy of ruling with a cruel iron fist coupled with a complex game of cloak and dagger that could largely be blamed for the widespread distrust of Kandarin amongst outsiders.
The widespread corruption prevalent throughout Kandarin’s history and rampant in its recent and current histories has led to the formation of a dictatorship state, where freedom is an illusion perpetuated by the government to further their own interests.
Kandarin as a Dictatorship
The nature of Kandarin as a dictatorship is often debated. While some natives say Kandarin is an example of freedom throughout the world, most outsiders agree that Kandarin is, in fact, an absolute dictatorship. Some have gone so far as to state that Kandarin is the cruelest dictatorship that has ever existed. This section attempts to analyze several ways in which Kandarin is a dictatorship, and is designed more as a list than as a chapter in a tome.
1) The government withholds massive amounts of information from the public, while feeding the public and outsiders false information. Examples of this include false reports on the status of the economy, of the motives and actions of the military, and of the nature of the aristocracy.
2) There are no official elections within Kandarin of any kind, nor are elections encouraged.
3) Rights of the people are generally nonexistent. The populace is made a slave of the aristocracy, and any disobedience usually results in imprisonment and torture, execution, or banishment.
4) The trial of citizens is conducted by the reigning power and verdict is subject to the whim of the oppressor. The people are given no right to defense of themselves, nor are there any safeguards to prevent the tampering of evidence or the bribing of a ruler to a particular cause.
5) The Kandar government has at many times usurped undelegated powers for the purpose of perpetuating autocracy. This is typically done under the guise of some threat, but when the threat fades, the tyrannical ruler of Kandarin does not give up their emergency powers.
6) The Kandar government seeks to monopolize the use of armed force, harshly punishing any who dare to so much as bring an extensive bodyguard with them into their lands. Done under the guise of furthering public safety, when it doesn’t work, the increased violence provides the Kandar government with more excuse to take away more and more rights and weapons from its populace.
7) The law enforcement of Kandarin is completely militarized. The army is called into the capital and elsewhere to deal with such things as an unruly protestor, and is often used as a deterrent to criticism.
8) The Kandar government maintains an incredibly strict surveillance policy over the peoples it controls. This especially includes groups designed for reform or that could potentially pose a threat to the aristocracy.
9) The Kandar government often uses corrupt law enforcement policies to eliminate competition. Chief examples of this are assassination, a word closely associated with the kingdom of Kandarin.
10) Elimination of a possibility for reform is usually managed by the Kandar government by appointing its strictest supporters to positions of interest, while sidelining or executing those who disagree with the current regime.
11) Kandarin has long created a class of citizens who are above the law and immune to all prosecution, both within their dictatorship and without. This includes the military and the aristocracy, who are often forgiven for charges a common man would be tortured and executed for.
12) The Kandar government, in particular the government under Vectis and Violet Vekon, has forcibly increased the dependence of the people on the government in order to control them more directly. They force their subjects to be compliant with their rules and whims in order to receive things which were taken from them by the very same government.
13) The populace of Kandarin is ignorant of their civil and military duties. They do not voice their opinions as in the old days, nor do they serve their country or people above their tyrannical leaders.
14) Acts of staged terrorism and violence have often been staged by the Kandar government in order to blame the situation on their political opponents and justify increased powers for the dictator. Chief examples of this include the capture and imprisonment of Lord Courval of Misthalin under Vectis and the attempted assassination of James Craven under Violet Vekon.
15) The government of Kandarin under Vectis and Violet Vekon have converted the already few rights of the people into privileges. The people are required to request such basic rights as freedom of speech or assembly, and are subject to harsh governmental response if they deviate from the acceptable.
16) Individuality and freedom of thought and speech are discouraged by the Kandar government. From the very beginning the majority of leaders of Kandarin have rewarded their strict supporters and punished or ruthlessly oppressed any opposition.
Although a general illusion of freedom and prosperity is projected by the Kandar government and its leaders, the truth is quite the opposite. As we’ve examined, its people live largely in a ruined economy dominated by the aristocracy, its population is greatly depleted from its glory days, its infrastructure is virtually nonexistent, its military is relatively weak and almost totally reliant on allies, and it is a corrupt dictatorship ruled with an iron fist of oppression. Kandarin is a ruined state that is guarded solely by the terror of its ancient name, and has shrunk from its height as the largest kingdom on earth to an overextended city-state scarcely larger than Varrock. Broken and faded, Kandarin waits for one of two things: either a reformer to bring light to a darkened kingdom, or a conqueror to usher in a completely new era.
Author's Note~ 11th Bennath, 2nd Year of the Sixth Age. The City of Ardougne fell today, and with it, the Kingdom of Kandarin. It greatly pains me that the Kandarin of my forefathers is no more, conquered by the very group of Zarosians they had betrayed. Oh, how history repeats itself. When I saw the smoke rise above the ruins, my heart wept and I cried out. The city that had conquered the whole world was itself, conquered.