For as long as anyone can remember Vel Anir has been a city of war. This simple truth has stood out since the cities founding. There are dozens of stories as to why, a hundred explanations, but always it has been there.
From the beginning this martial prowess has set Vel Anir against the forces of the world. Elves, raiders from the plains, and even other Human settlements have long been at war with Vel Anir. Throughout these turbulent wars and battles the Anirians have honed their armies.
The Anirian Guard stands as one of the greatest military forces in the world, and has since nearly the beginnings of the city.
During the founding of the state however Vel Anir did not yet have Dreadlords, nor did it have a university for magic like Alliria or Elbion. Though some mages volunteered for military service, the truth was Vel Anir lacked a true arcance backbone.
This truth became more than apparent during the first Elven War.
When the first true King of Vel Anir Cinira Anireth invaded the edges of the Falwood his forces were swiftly swept aside by the power of the Elves magic. Their finely trained warriors backed up by Shamans and Elders utterly decimated the forces of Vel Anir. Within days of entering the wood, Vel Anir's forces were utterly decimated.
The Elves then pressed out from their home and scoured Anirian lands, blighting the good people of the Fortress City and setting siege to the foundling state before it could truly grow.
Eventually Ciniria Anireth managed to settle a claim of peace with the Elves. Though the details of this agreement are lost to history, the Anirians claim it was a mutual pact, while the Elves state there was naught but other capitulation.
After this defeat, Ciniria Anireth was able to see the missing link within his army. An edict was issued, one the likes of which Arethil had never seen before. Anyone and everyone with magical ability was to be drafted into military service. Whether they be peasant, merchant, or even noble.
All were called to serve.
Thus the Dreadlord's were created.
Despite protests from nearly every sector of life, the edict was followed. The people of the city gave up their sons, their daughters, their fathers and even grandmothers. Everyone with even a hint of magical talent went forth to serve the King and his army.
It was these men and women that founded the Academy. They were trained in the arts of war, pushed to flex their magical abilities, and integrated with Vel Anir's military. Within a generation these users of magic became fully a part of the Anirian Military, and Ciniria Anireth declared his edict a success.
Upon his eightieth year, Cinria Anireth broke his treaty with the Elders of the Falwood and began the Second Elven War.
It was during this conflict that the mages of Vel Anir earned the title of Dreadlords.
This second conflict was brutal, dark, and nearly lead to the burning of Fal'Addas itself. The armies of Vel Anir swept forward from the city and at their head stood the Dreadlord's. During this conflict the mages proved themselves, going toe to toe with the great Elven Sorcerer's and overwhelming them through their sheer audacious war-magics.
The conflict ended when Ciniria Anireth died. The old King passed away on his eighty sixth year, and with him went the desire for further war. After a brutal siege and much death within the Falwood, the Great Houses of Vel Anir agreed to a...somewhat amicable peace with the Elves and withdrew.
Now proven in a baptism of blood and fire the system which brought about the birth of the Dreadlord's cemented itself within Anirian Society.
Of course, as the centuries passed things became more and more twisted. Originally simply a part of the military the Dreadlord's managed to wrangle themselves out of the traditional hierarchy. Their importance and their power positioned them outside of the military command structure, and their strength made them important tools for the Noble Houses as they clamored for more power.
After centuries of service to the King and many wars, the Dreadlord's were eventually wrested away from the Monarch of Vel Anir. Much like everything else in the city, the Dreadlord's were swept up in the power struggle between the Royal Family and the Great Houses.
Though through this time there was very nearly several bloody coups, the Archons of the Dreadlord's eventually capitulated with promises of power and position. They like everyone else put their Loyalty with the Noble Houses, though of course still officially served the King.
This system stayed in place for nearly four hundred years.
The lives of many Dreadlords did not improve, and by all accounts actually became worse. Treatment at the Academy degenerated, and many Initiate's graduated as little more than broken fragments of human beings. Despite that the effectiveness of Vel Anir's greatest weapons could never be called into question, and over the centuries the cities power only grew.
As that power grew, so did that of the Great Houses. Over time the stranglehold began to tighten until whatever ruling Alliance was all but impossible to dethrone.
Of course this created a great amount of resentment, anger, and eventually; Revolution.
Though it is difficult to say when the anger truly overcame trepidation and who truly took the first step, elements both within the Dreadlords and the Anirian Guard began to plan a coup against the Great Houses and the King. Through careful planning and years of preparation a Revolution sparked within Vel Anir.
A bloody, torrid, and nearly fatal affair, the Dreadlord Revolution eventually overcame the forces of the Great Houses. Backed by the entirety of the Anirian Guard and falling upon the city after a siege those who ruled Vel Anir had no choice in capitulating. Though the fighting between Loyalists and Revolutionaries lasted for only a day, the destruction was nearly the ruin of the entirety City.
Nevertheless, the coup was successful and after many weeks of negotiation a new Republic was formed in the place of Vel Anir's old government.
Under this new power the Dreadlord system was slowly reformed. Though not entirely changed, nor abolished, a gradual shift for the betterment began to take hold. Many, however, criticize these reforms as little less than polish. Openly stating that while the tree might have been trimmed, it's roots still cling deep in the ground.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.