Fireborn: Dark Phoenix
Treaty of Grelda
The Treaty of Grelda in 927EI was the single largest turning point in Elven-Uruk relations in the full history of Taan.
The Elves, shortly after first contact with the Uruk, sent delegates to a major naval confrontation between the Empire and the Arbina Alliance, with the aim of brokering a peace. Their naivety was clear in hindsight; none of the Uruk present had ever seen an Elf (or their ships), and there was a war on – the Elves came under fire, though the circumstances and chains of events differ from eyewitness to eyewitness. Most of the emissaries were killed.
The Elves spent nearly 4 years in careful deliberation over how to respond; but finally their Elders made a decision. Envoys were sent to all Uruk nations that they then knew of with an invitation to a conference on the neutral island of Grelda. Most nations did not bother to respond, or sent trade delegates, unsure what to expect.
There, the Elves – unfamiliar with the very concept of warfare and feeling threatened for the first time in their histories – said that they had decided to take the attack on their emissaries as an act of war, but to be ‘merciful’. They wished peace talks immediately so that actual hostilities could be averted.
As far as most Uruk were concerned, the incident was already a footnote of history, and at first thought the declaration a joke; but as the Elves began laying out their ‘non-negotiable’ terms that all attempts by all nations to expand borders into the ‘natural realms of Taan’ cease immediately, it became clear that they were serious.
The conference broke down into a near riot of confusion and anger – most Uruk nations had no hand in, or firsthand knowledge of, the incident of the emissaries’ deaths, and could not understand the Elves’ response.
Within days, colony vessels from Encyronia were met by Elven ships shortly before making landfall, and warned to turn back before they entered Elven-claimed waters; they ignored the warning.
The last 2 surviving Uruk vessels surrendered, and were allowed to leave. War spread quickly from there; five years of naval battles passed, with the Uruk fleets proving no match for Elven magic. The Encyronian navy was destroyed in an attempt to invade Leataana directly; and soon after that shocking victory, the Elves sent a second summons to Grelda. This time, no nation dared refuse.
The Elves opened the second Grelda Conference citing their nonviolent ways and stressing that the Uruk’s actions had ‘driven’ things to this level, pointing out that the Elves had defended and enforced their previous demands, but not launched attacks of aggression (A matter which proved divisive and highly contingent over what one considered ‘aggressive’ – Elves debate to this day whether their one and only war was morally correct or not).
Negotiations proceeded for a year; but the core of the Elven demand was met – borders of all nations were strictly demarcated, and no expansion beyond them was to be permitted; though the Elves reluctantly permitted the ‘internal’ changes of borders, allowing for new nations to secede or to amalgamate, as long as this did not involve the Uruk race as a whole gaining more territory.
During that year, messages were sent to various colonies around the wild borderlands to force the rapid and panicked establishment of tiny villages in the middle of nowhere, just to demarcate borders more fully. Claims over islands in Goralia, Pelargossia, and in North Encyron, became the topics of fierce competition. The Elves stopped many such efforts to ‘set’ new borders before the conference could conclude; but not all.
Finally it was agreed and signed; peace between the Elves and the Uruk and between all Uruk (even non-signatory nations); a ban on further land grabs (including non-signatory nations, the Elves refused to discriminate); protections for nature and the world; and a full review in a millennium’s time. (Amongst the dropped clauses were absolute caps on resource extraction and population, and the abolition of slavery).
The Elves’ vessels have patrolled ever since. Firing on violators is rare these days, but Elves using magic frequently appear and give warnings, or sometimes even forcibly relocate efforts at colonising, though individuals are sometimes able to traverse large swathes of land without interruption, and slaves (except those in violent rebellion) are frequently permitted to wander freely, though legends say some are offered safe passage to the Enclave, an island claimed by the Elves and dedicated to ex-slaves.
As at 1932EI, the Treaty is overdue for a reappraisal, and rather than war with each other the two great superpowers – one half a century old, the other two millennia old – are preparing for diplomatic struggles with the Elves and with each other, over rights to new swathes of land they anticipate being able to bargain for. But the Elves have thus far ignored calls for the review, deferring to a ‘better time’ – the vagueness of this has worried a great many Uruk, who fear the Elves plan to delay or decline to renegotiate, and do not see the growing resentment amongst the new, technologically powerful Uruk nations…