|Motto||Liberty or Death|
|Anthem||Martyrs of Audax|
|Head of State||None|
|Formal Name||Free Territories of Audax|
|Government||Quasi-stratocratic direct democracy|
|Legislature||Audax People's Assembly|
|Territories||City of Sforzando and much of the surrounding land|
The Audax Commune, known formally as the Free Territories of Audax, was a sovereign community that resulted from the Second Audaxian Revolution against the reigning House Valenco-Sforza. Though the Communard forces succeeded in taking the city of Sforzando and temporarily placing the Regent Baroness under arrest, their commune was crushed several months after the insurrection by loyalist-allied empires and its de-facto leaders were all either executed or forced into exile, paving the groundwork for the rise of the Kokushi and founding of the Knights Aperture.
The country of Audax had a history rich in art, exploration, and war. Once an important staging ground for the ancient Aquilan Empire, it was conquered by the seafaring Kingdom of Medriaas shortly after the Empire collapsed and devolved into a number of independent states forced to fend for themselves or be swept away by the tides of history as their precursors were.
As the Kingdom of Medriaas waned in power over the centuries despite great technological advances, it was forced to release many of its vassals and consolidate its power in its home archipelago continent of Occa. Audax and several other states were thus born, all with strong ties to the Medriaan House Valencia but ultimately enjoying complete sovereignty.
Audax was a small island continent but was rich with temperate forests, great mountain ranges teeming with emeralds and other precious ores, and countless miles of arable land that yielded in fantastic quantities the nation's signature crop, the carrot. Sforzando was to be the capital of the new Audaxian state, and quickly distinguished itself as the new center of the arts and sciences in all of Aquila, attracting countless intellectual minds from all corners of the world. For a time, Sforzando acted as a beacon of hope for a deeply divided Aquila where men and women of intellectual fortune could come to carve out their places in history.
However, Audax's legacy of incredible scientific and mercantile advancements stood under a shadow of equally remarkable sacrifice. Under the rule of House Valenco-Aluva, strong executive power pressed down like a steel boot over the feeble populace as the unfathomably wealthy commerce guilds were allowed to roam free not just in the nation of Audax, where their private labor camps worked penniless debtors to the brink of death, but across the world of Aquila, pressing numerous primitive civilizations abroad into slavery.
The First Audaxian Revolution, also called the Golden Rebellion, came as a surprise to none but the blindest mercantilists and was hailed as a day of salvation by a majority of Audaxians who had grown tired of living as little more than peasants under the feudalistic duopoly of the commerce guilds and the monarchy. Over the course of one spring month, all of the commerce guilds had been seized by the workers and House Aluva was ousted in favor of the Sforzas, who were seen as more sympathetic to the revolutionary cause. After taking power, King Milfon, first of House Valenco-Sforza, formally dissolved the commerce guilds and promised to begin the slow but necessary process of quelling the institution of slavery.
In the midst of his reforms, however, Milfon was deposed by agents of House Valencia of the neighboring Kingdom of Medriaas and immediately replaced by his sister, Monza. Monza was a schemer with a silver tongue and eye for gold, which the remnants of the former commerce guilds offered her shiploads full of. Monza reinstituted slavery in Audax and pursued closer relations with the imperialists in Providence, all the while establishing her clandestine secret police at the behest of King Puffin of Medriaas, who employed similar methods to prevent revolt.
Enter the Creepers, so-called because of their violent methods and distinctive masks which they used to conceal their identities. The Creepers declared open revolution against House Valenco-Sforza, demanding that Monza relinquish the throne back to her brother or risk a full-scale uprising; the Queen, enraged, declared all Creepers and their sympathizers enemies of the state. The Second Audaxian Revolution began one week after Monza took power.
Perhaps the most infamous Creeper, and their de-facto leader, was the firebrand Josef Furnace, known by the people of Sforzando as Slappy. Slappy was an outspoken anarchist and true revolutionary, and unlike his fellow Creepers never gave warnings to state apparatuses and wealthy factory owners before striking; his willingness to torch any establishment that didn't declare allegiance to the Revolution and openly assassinate rival revolutionaries led many of his contemporaries to fear what would happen if they won with him at the helm of their insurgency, but they followed him nonetheless for the terror and loyalty he inspired.
Recruited late into the Revolution was the chemist and intellectual Ben Holliday, the product of a long line of wealthy Audaxian aristocrats who held the city's poor for ransom with their exorbitant medicine prices after monopolizing the potion trade in Sforzando, even supplying the state's military with extremely potent strength and poison mixtures which they used to subject rebels and other enemies of the monarchy. Holliday earned Slappy's trust by presenting him with the formulae of his family's most treasured brews, which proved to be invaluable to the Revolution; in exchange for his services to the rebels as their chief chemist, Holliday was brought into the cause under the pseudonym of Lithium, and quickly became Slappy's right-hand man.
Three months into the revolution in Sforzando, the Creepers had decisively overwhelmed the royalist forces there and quickly seized the opportunity to cut the head off the snake; the rebels invaded Queen Monza's palace in broad daylight, blasting through the compound's still formidable defenses with the help of Lithium's explosive mixtures. Monza was arrested after a brief skirmish and was primed for execution for crimes against the people of Audax by Slappy when Lithium suggested that the Queen, at least for the time being, be kept alive and held for ransom, to be released into political exile in Occa should her allies pay a significant sum in hard currency, weapons, and an agreement of non-aggression. That day, the Audax Commune was born: a democratic society of total equality, in which all the farms, factories, and shipyards in Sforzando were owned collectively and none would live in poverty any longer - ideally. The rebels, having seized the capital of Audax, expanded their influence across much of the continent over the next several weeks, creating the sovereign and stateless Free Territories of Audax.
The Commune prospered for a time before severe disagreements took root among the Communards' military leaders, who, at least temporarily, guided most political action in the community. Lithium argued that the Commune should immediately focus on sustainability by expanding the crop fields and synthesizing new materials for medicine whilst maintaining the already decentralized nature of the collective.
Slappy, on the other hand, demanded absolute mobilization of the entire Commune, planning to conscript every able-bodied adult in the Communard Militia. Additionally, he believed that, despite their mercantile nature, things could be learned from the long-forgotten commerce guilds, envisioning a society in which the workers were organized into large trade syndicates whose motives were directed by a central workers' council. Lithium and other radicals within the Commune vehemently opposed Slappy's plan, which they viewed as overly authoritarian and not feasible for a still-unstable and young Commune.
However, political disagreements within the Communard structure were quickly swept aside as much more pressing matters became apparent to the rebels. They had made a fatal mistake in holding the Queen for ransom, as King Puffin immediately mobilized his fleet, led by the fearsome Knights Thash, to quell the revolt in Sforzando upon hearing that his cousin had been deposed. The Medriaan armada struck quickly and relentlessly, battering the city upon nightfall to destroy all Communard defenses and farms; the ocean siege persisted for several weeks until its commander judged the Commune as ready to be crushed by a land invasion.
Though famished and battered by weeks of shore bombardment, the Communards put up a fierce resistance against the imperials; still, not even armed with Lithium's brews could they defeat the intrepid Knights Thash, whose Grand Champion Triton singlehandedly carved a bloody path into the courthouse stronghold of the Commune. With a sword at the neck of Slappy, Triton immediately ordered the unconditional surrender of all Communard forces within the Free Territory.
Though he had been ordered to execute all rebels by his King, Triton showed their leaders mercy, believing that killing them would only sow more discontent among the already embittered populace. Slappy, Lithium, and several other Communard commanders were sent into exile far from the Audaxian mainland, and Queen Monza was reinstated as ruler of Audax - albeit under Puffin's tight leesh.
Lithium and several other officers were banished to the wilds of Kilran, where they were saved from the brink of death by the black riders of the Kokushi, led by a powerful sorcerer who claimed legitimacy to the throne of Kilran as successor to the Mad King. Lithium offered a similar agreement with the Kokushi as he did the Creepers, but enjoyed much more funding and autonomy under the Kokushi, whose cloaked ringleader only requested that he supply Kokushi raids and aid him in his supernatural war against the Empress of Tatha.
Elsewhere in Aquila, Slappy and other more hawkish lieutenants of the Commune were exiled to the frozen wastes of northern Sivistys, an untamed continent whose only real civilizations lay along the southern coast. There, in the savage icy deserts and harsh mountain ranges, Slappy and his few allies were granted no help, and were forced to fend for themselves.
From the remnants of his troupe in Sivistys, Slappy formed the Knights Aperture, a secret organization dedicated to finishing what was started in the Commune - this time without the burden of populism. Slappy found many allies in the mountains and quickly set about devising his grand strategy, beginning with the subjugation of Sivistys.