To understand the cause of the War for Preservation, one must first understand the ruling philosophies behind The Unified Duchies of Lachland (most commonly known as simply Lachland or The League) and the Alundrian Empire (Alundra being the capital city-state under whose banner all duchies were united).
The Unified Duchies of Lachland are a group of quasi-independent duchies, each governed by a duke or duchess owing allegiance to the High Chancellor of Lachland. The High Chancellor is elected, chosen by the dukes, duchesses and their closest advisors (think of the election of a Pope for a frame of reference). Perhaps the only restraint to each duchy’s independence is the limitation of military forces – no duchy can have its own military beyond border defense forces. Each duchy pays a tax to Lachland, which in turn provides military protection for the entire league. Duchies join the League upon a vote – none are annexed by force.
The Alundrian Empire, by contrast, is run by an absolutist monarch who rules from the capital in Alundra, as it has been for the past 250 years. Prior to the days of the Empire, the lands that would eventually become annexed were poverty-stricken fiefdoms, subject to raids from neighboring lands and from those beyond the Dragon’s Spine Mountains. One particular city-state, Vell, began allying itself with neighbors to fight back raiders. Over time the allied duchies began to refer to themselves as Alundra, named after the great mythological hero. One by one they annexed nearby fiefdoms until the original seventeen duchies were under one banner.
Of course, one would argue that life in an absolutist state would be undesirable, since freedom is limited and laws are given by the crown without vote or consent of the ruled. However, poverty within the Empire is non-existent, war is a distant memory and the people are very pleased with their lot in life.
The War for Preservation began three years ago when Hestis, one of the borderlands of the Alundrian Empire, declared independence, desiring to be a part of Lachland. Practically overnight, Empire soldiers that were stationed in Hestis were imprisoned (some were killed) as a militia formed. Upon hearing news of the rebellion, the Queen immediately dispatched the army to quell the unrest. Once the army arrived, they were surprised by a large faction of the Lachland military. As fighting began, the neighboring duchy of Archadia declared independence.
Both Lachland and Alundra are taking the actions of the other as aggression – The Empire believes that Hestis and Archadia were provoked into rebellion by neighboring Lachland duchies. The Hestis rebellion was quelled, but Alundrian forces marched beyond the border into Grell, seeking to annex them as reparation for provoking the rebellion. Now, both sides are embroiled in a war along the entire border, with Lachland forces aided by local rebels in an attempt to push back the Empire.
The Empire has slightly maintained the upper hand in the conflict, sending out their mercenary force, The Red Hand, to strategically strike various targets to turn the tide of the war. However, with each battle that the Empire wins, another borderland duchy rebels.
And now, as you are aware, the Red Hand has gone rogue.