Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Leopold

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: Leopold the Tyrant

Leonard’s son Leopold started off his reign as a direct continuation of his father’s footsteps as King. However, his main preoccupation soon had to shift to stability and centralisation of power in the Kingdom.

The steam engine changed much of the industrial landscape of the Kingdom… This, along with the vast resources coming from the newly discovered colony, all gave rise to new powers. Not all of these new powers were satisfied with their newfound wealth, and some wished to secure even more power.

Add the proliferation of the press, and you have a Kingdom filled with various ideas. These ideas, when left unchecked, could unravel the Kingdom itself. This is perhaps what Leopold feared most- the undoing of his predecessor’s life’s work.

And so, for fear of being usurped, and to secure his hold on the Kingdom, Leopold tightened his grip. He slowly transformed the royal newspapers into a mouthpiece of the monarchy. In his later years, he also funded a secret spy network that operated throughout the Kingdom.

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Leopold the Tyrant

But as more animals saw their wealth and health diminish in newly-found harsh industrial conditions, resentment rose. Combined with Leopold’s non-diplomatic approach to many of the Kingdom’s issues, his end seemed nigh. He was finally deposed in a rebellion led by his younger brother, prince Lav. A small consolation, at least.

The reign of Leopold, “The Tyrant King”, was over 30 years ago, but the Kingdom still resonates from the consequences of his reign. Be sure to tune in for our next blogpost and read about the current king – Lav!

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Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent the Scholar

Kings of the Animal Kingdom: King Valent the Scholar

As we wrote about Michaël the Zealous in our previous lore article about the Kings of the Animal Kingdom, today we are continuing the saga with King Valent the Scholar who cherished the science and exploration during his ruling.

Prince Laurent was oft ill and short-lived, and so he died before he could succeed to the throne. His son, Valent, took on the Kings mantle at a very young age, and was thus the longest-ruling king in historical memory, being known as The Scholar King.

King Valent the Scholar
King Valent the Scholar

Even as a child, King Valent was tutored by Master Dabrovit, and fell in love with science and exploration from an early age. He funded many great expeditions to all sides of the Kingdom during his long reign and remade the kingdom in the image of science.

He funded academies in every regional capital, and built the largest library in Blackbark, holding copies of every book found in the Kingdom.

His biggest legacy, however, is finding the southern continent, a huge unexplored region whose location across the sea was lost in history.

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Ark Lore Tuesday: The Lynx Rebellion

Ark Lore Tuesday

The Lynx Rebellion

In today’s Ark Lore Tuesday (check out our other Ark Lore articles) we want to talk about the Lynx Rebellion. This is an event that took place hundreds of years before the game takes place and therefore does not feature in the game (bar a few history books and fireside tavern songs). However, the event is one of the bedrocks of the current social order of the Kingdom and has shaped the Kingdom into what it is today.

The relative autonomy

While the Animal Kingdom is a monarchy ruled by lions, the other noble families still have a degree of control over their own territories. This relative autonomy came about hundreds of years ago as the aftermath of the Lynx Rebellion. This rebellion started after a series of imposed regulations and levies in the Kingdom by the lion king Red.

The lynxes pushed back on this, declaring complete autonomy from the crown and thus a long struggle ensued, sometimes called The Third Northern War. In the beginning, King Red believed the rebellion will be squashed soon and gave it no thought, but similar rebellions were soon beginning to spark in other regions of the Kingdom as well. That’s why Red decided to send his son Nathaniel to help the royalist soldiers squash the rebellion.

Healing a broken paw

As the story goes, Nathaniels carriage broke down near the battlefield so he never made it there. He stayed at a northern village nearby for the next few days, healing his broken paw. When he healed, the battle was already over and the lynxes had won yet again.

Instead of regrouping and continuing the fight, Nataniel decided to solve the problem in a different way. He rushed back to Blackbark and, having learned much about the northern problems in his brief stay in the northern village, he told his father about their problems and how the policies and regulations imposed by the crown are hurting them.

A new system was born

Advised by his son and heir, King Red started a series of reforms, which his son finished, which transformed the unitary nature of the Kingdom into a more decentralized structure.

Thus a new system was born – in which the local royal cats have more autonomy over regional issues and established permanent embassies in Blackbark for each noble family where their envoys can discuss grievances over issues pertaining to the entire Kingdom.

These Embassies have since moved to the new capital Pride but serve the same function since they were introduced – to coordinate and adjust the kingdom rules to the specifics of each region.

Nathaniels wise decision to use diplomacy and lenience instead of war is hailed by historians as a very intelligent, compassionate and prudent move by the lions, and the wisdom and wits of lions in this situation is one of the many legends immortalised in folk songs and sung throughout the Kingdom by royalists.

However, those who oppose the crown believe that this peace was a squandered opportunity for ending the lion’s rule.

Bonus content: How Snowy Wasteland came to be

A sketch
Work in progress
Final scene
Animated scene

New Year in the Animal Kingdom

The Animal Kingdom counts years from the day of the Ark Fantastic marooning on land. This is an event that signalled the end of a great flood and of course holds a big significance in their society and mythology.

The years before the flood are lost to everyone and unmentioned even in the oldest tales, but in art and literature it is usually portrayed and referred to as an idyllic heaven-like state where animals lived in harmony as there was no conflict and everyone knew their place. The game begins in 1883AA (After Ark), which is 1883 years after the flood subsided and the animals founded the Animal Kingdom they live in today.

You can read more about the day of the New Year in the Animal Kingdom in our blogpost about the Day of the Bells here!

The Day of Bells

While the counting of years and the year of the Ark myth is firmly established, the exact date when the Ark was found is based on pure speculation, and therefore the date of the new year is calculated purely based on ceremonial reasons.

Usually, it is the birth-date of the current king, but there are a few instances in recent history when this wasn’t so – during King Michaël, the date of the New Year was set to the discovery of Ark Island (corresponding to our mid-June), and the current New Year coincides with Pride’s Day of Bells.

This day marks the beginning of the Lav rebellion, and is a holiday festivity across the Kingdom, in celebration of Lav’s victory over tyranny and oppression. It corresponds to our own late September.

There are no Santas or Christmas decorations in the Animal Kingdom, however, there is one tradition held for over three decades now – the Day of Bells is celebrated at noon by ringing all the bells in the entire Kingdom, which you will be able to experience yourself in the game (be careful about the volume on your earphones though!)

The Day of the Bells refers to the start of the rebellion when Leopold’s emissary arrived at Pride. Usually, when royalty is at the door, the gate bells ring three times (and twice if it’s nobility, and once if it’s a non-noble delegation). When the bells end their ringing, the gates open. But the beller at Pride knew that something was wrong, that Leopold must have heard of Lav’s quiet plot to overthrow him, and that opening the gate would probably lead to his imprisonment. So he rang once, twice, thrice… And just kept ringing, so the doors never open.

The royal delegation had not expected such a defiance, and, faced with a closed gate, turned back for Blackbark, while Pride armoured up for war. This day is thus considered the start of Lav’s Rebellion, and the beginning of the end of Leopold’s tyranny.

The Lav Rebellion

A score ago, the rebellion ended. Leopold the Lion, also called The Tyrant King, was overthrown by his brother Lav. Like his father Leonard, Lav is a gentle and enlightened monarch, versed in the sciences as well as the nuances of politics. 

The rebellion was led by Lav, a lion, but it was a rebellion that included all castes of society. After years of war, a vast alliance of animals finally reached Blackbark, Leopold’s capital. The capital was well stocked and could endure many years of siege, giving it enough time to regroup and defeat the rebellion. When they were besieged, Leopold had sent all the citizens not in the armed forces out of the city to flee, knowing that Lav would have to take care of them and lose food and other precious resources. Lav decided to send them all to Pride, the hometown of the lions, and enter the city by force, thus ending the war then and there. 

What isn’t common knowledge is that a famous scholar of the time, Herbert the Hedgehog (father of our protagonist Charles) was instrumental in ending the rebellion. It was he who devised a way to enter the city through a back entrance – researching old scripts on Blackbark’s architecture, he found a way to enter the city through the sewage system, and thus enter the cities defenses.

In the ensuing battle Blackbark burned to the ground, and Lav decided that all the animals who left for Pride could just stay there. He opened up these ancestral homelands of the lions to all the animals and declared Pride the new capital of the Animal Kingdom. 

As King, Lav ushered in an age of freedom and reason. This had the adverse effect of making the divides of the kingdom more pronounced. The noble cats gained a political and economic foothold that they are now using to spread word of reform, and the lower castes are even speaking of anarchy. Will the rebel king’s rule end in rebellion as well, or will he find a way to placate unrest? This, and more, will be at stake in the game.

The Myth of the Ark

It’s the first #ArkLoreTuesday! We decided to share a bit of game lore with everyone every week, starting today!

The centrepiece of the Animal Kingdom is the myth of the Ark Fantastic. Thousands of years ago, the lions built a sturdy ark that housed all the animals and saved them from a giant flood. 

As the myth goes, the lions built it, the noble cats administered it, the strong animals protected it, the weak ones worked hard on keeping it afloat, and only the untrustworthy vermin had no role but destruction and chaos. 

This myth has provided the mythological basis of the caste system in place in the Animal Kingdom for millennia – the lions on top as kings, the noble cats governing over provinces, the larger animals as guardians of the land, the commoners as hardworking freefolk, and the vermin as slaves and serfs.

This myth has legitimised the role of Lions as Kings for centuries, but as the Animal Kingdom has modernised, fewer and fewer animals believe in it, opting instead for reforming or even breaking the caste system.

The story of “Trip the Ark Fantastic” starts with Lav, the Rebel King, sending Charles, an esteemed scholar, on a journey to find the remnants of this mythic vessel, in a hope to maintain his seat of power.

Here is part of the myth in its modern form:

As the entire land was covered in water, there was only the Ark housing all animals.

The Ark was kept safe by the lions who ruled over all with compassion and much wisdom.

Below them were the great noble cats, they too were wise and benevolent rulers, carrying out the will of the lions for the benefit of all.

Under the noble cats lived the guardians, responsible and loyal animals. For their duties in protecting the Ark they were later given the responsibility of keeping the dry lands safe. 

All the other animals worked hard on keeping the Ark afloat under the diligent instructions of the guardians and for that they enjoyed the privileges of carefree life.

In the crooks and bowels of the Ark lived the vermin, lazy and mistrustful beings. For the good of the Ark, these animals were not allowed to roam free.

It was only due to the leadership and wisdom of the lions that the Ark did not collapse nor fall to anarchy and finally, when the waters receded, the Ark stranded and the animals spilled forth and came across the northern place we now know as the Animal Kingdom.