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The War of K'atharan Succession was an armed conflict between various fiefdoms of the Kingdom of K'athar, each laying claim to the Kingdom's vacant throne, following the death of King Saik Eda'ain (and the end of the Eda'ain dynasty) during the Fourth Russian-K'atharan War. The Kingdom had no written constitution, and the normal protocol following the end of a dynasty was for all of the nation's fiefs to meet and elect one of their number to become the new King.
However, partly due to the influence of European empires, the fiefs were fiercely divided, and war broke out between them. The two principal claimants to the throne were Aiano Ma'tar, the 21-year-old maternal cousin of the previous king, who was studying at the University of Augusta in Grahamland, and had partial backing from the United Kingdom; and Shi'mok Se'leiy, a southern warlord who had converted to the Russian Orthodox Church and had extensive Russian backing. So'len Etey, a lesser fief from the western isles, was backed by Denmark, a nation which had yet to establish any Antarctic colonies.
Since 1834, Russia's Antarctic colonies had been engaged in sporadic warfare against the Kingdom of K'athar, which escalated into a major conflict, the Third Russian-K'atharan War, in the 1870s; reducing K'athar to around half of its former size.
In 1890, King Saik Eda'ain, following the beliefs of the millenarianist At'aiy Movement, engaged in what he believed was a "holy war" that would rid K'athar of the Europeans — the Fourth Russian-K'atharan War. This ended disastrously, as Russia had considered K'athar to be little more than a vassal state; and cracked down ferociously on the uprising, killing King Saik in the process. This left the kingdom weakened, and created a power vacuum, causing numerous fiefs from around the kingdom to lay claim to the throne.
Shi'mok Se'leiy was one such fief, whose domain was close to the Russian border. Se'leiy had converted to Russian Orthodox Christianity years before, and was on good terms with local Russian authorities, who nicknamed him "Chief Yuriy". Funded and armed by Russia, Se'leiy mounted his own campaign for the throne, but was fiercely opposed by traditionalists who resented his ties to the Russians.
Though most of Britain's colonial efforts in Antarctica were focused across the continent from K'athar; the British Empire also maintained control of the bordering colony of Grahamland. Historically, Britain had avoided conflict with the Kingdom of K'athar, preferring to use it as a buffer state with Russia, as a part of the Grim Game.
However, during the various wars between Russia and K'athar; Grahamland had frequently provided weapons to the K'atharans in secret, to avoid a direct conflict with Russia; and had developed something of a relationship with the House of Eda'ain. In the years leading up to the War of Succession, many members of the K'atharan nobility were educated at the University of Augusta in Grahamland — including Aiano Ma'tar, a cousin of King Saik, who had the most legitimate claim to the K'atharan throne. Britain backed Ma'tar in his campaign for the throne, and provided him with weapons and funding, but did not directly provide any troops to the conflict.
Following the establishment of Maudland by Sweden-Norway in 1889, Denmark was eager to attempt establishing its own Antarctic colonies. Frederik Heinesen led a diplomatic expedition to the Kingdom of K'athar, and was welcomed into the court of So'len Etey (transliterated into Danish as "Søren Ettej"), a minor fief from the western isles.
Following the death of King Saik Eda'ain, Yuri Makov's troops remained in K'athar for a short period, to quell any further At'aiy resistance; but did not attempt to actually conquer the kingdom, as its position as a buffer state between Russian Antarctica and Grahamland meant that a Russian invasion could have sparked a war with Britain.
In a circumstance where a King died without any children, the K'atharan custom was for the nobility to hold a summit to decide on a new King (unlike in many Western monarchies, where the crown automatically passes to another relative, often a sibling, cousin or nephew). Therefore, as the Russian troops withdrew from K'athar, the kingdom's various fiefs began forming their own plots to take the throne.
At the time, K'athar was facing more threats than it had ever faced before: the encroachment of European empires; missionary activity and westernization; internal factions which were feuding against each other. It had lost much of its land and power over the last few decades, and it was clear that the nobles would never reach an agreement peacefully.
Three principal divisions emerged among the K'atharan nobility: those who supported a closer relationship with the Russians (generally southern fiefs who had trade interests with Russian colonists); those who favored the British (mostly northern fiefs, whom the British had been supplying for years as an attempt to gain influence in the K'atharan court); and the traditionalists who staunchly opposed westernization, many of whom were members of the At'aiy Movement. Other than these three groups, there were also many lesser fiefs who mounted their own campaigns for the throne.
The Russian authorities selected Shi'mok Se'leiy as their "candidate", and encouraged their other allies in K'athar to support Se'leiy's campaign, rather than start their own. This unification of several fiefs behind a single candidate changed the situation dramatically, as it gave Se'leiy a major advantage over his divided rivals, which was amplified by his Russian-supplied weaponry. However, it also sparked the beginnings of the armed conflict, as both the pro-British and the traditionalists were horrified at the thought of a pro-Russian fief becoming the most powerful claimant to the throne. Se'leiy faced attacks from all sides, as his detractors were determined to weaken his forces before they reached the palace and he crowned himself king.
Meanwhile, Aiano Ma'tar, a cousin of the former king and a student at the University of Augusta, was gaining support among the traditionalists as the closest living relative of King Saik — despite living in Grahamland and showing little interest in the war whatsoever. British authorities decided to capitalize on this, and convinced Ma'tar to make a claim to the throne. The other pro-British fiefs were disheartened by this, as many of them had hoped to be backed by Britain, which caused some of them to break rank and start their own campaigns — though most of them simply pledged their support to Ma'tar in return for promises of increased power if he became king.