It was an early spring day in 2013 when the world as we know it ended. We had some warning of it but not enough. The comet C/2011 L4 collided with the Earth, breaking into pieces on impact with the atmosphere and several large pieces of the comet hit the oceans and the continents.
Several hits were registered in the Atlantic Ocean, triggering a tsunami that wrecked the Atlantic coasts of Africa, Europe and the Americas. The impact triggered earthquakes and volcano eruptions. Parts that hit ground in the Americas, Europe and Asia caused widespread devastation.
The impact of the comet caused what we would call nuclear winter, which meant a year without a summer. Starvation was a fact immediately when we realized that there was not going to be a harvest that year anywhere. Faced with this grim fact, the surviving governments quickly ended up waging war on another, until someone took the fatal decision of trying to win through nuclear weapons. Only months after the comet impact, the birds were in the air and many of the surviving great cities were in flames.
Who, why and whatfor eludes the people of the 24th century. It eluded the survivors in the 21st century as well. All they knew was that they had gone from a bad situation to a even more horrible one. In the Baltic region, Stockholm, Göteborg, St Petersburg, Helsinki, Copenhagen and Oslo all went up in flames after being targeted by someone’s nuclear missiles.
Some governments survived but not for long. The Swedish government apparently stopped existing when an unknown military force took over the last government continuity site, the Finnish government dissolved itself after realizing that it consisted of a few surviving ministers and their staffs inside a bunker. Attempts at regaining control failed. Attempts at reconstruction failed.
There’s no meaningful way of describing in words what happened during the fall and winter of 2013. Radiation sickness, disease, exposure and famine killed off most of the survivors. However, some people had prepared themselves for the event and in some cases this was just barely enough. Gotland started recovering almost immediately after losing contact with the Swedish cabinet, a few survivor communities based on previous municipalities in Southwestern Finland managed to keep a semblance of order and even helped Swedish refugees resettle in the Archipelago Sea. Due to the limited amount of nuclear attacks in the region and the fact that the Baltic Sea was sheltered enough to limit the effect of the tsunamis, fishing and hunting managed to keep a significant amount of the survivors alive.
The first 20 years after the destruction were characterized by a shellshocked population trying to survive somehow in the ruins of the past, without electricity, running water, medical supplies or appropriate housing. Banditry was rife, with almost everyone with a rifle trying to become a warlord of king. The Beastmen emerged from the ruins and raided the survivors. It was the time of the last gasps of the old world.
Around that time, Henrik Lassinanti was born. He forged an alliance with the local swedish-speaking population of the Archipelago Sea and the Swedish refugee community, he gathered an army and invaded the mainland. For years, his forces fought to control all of what had been Southwestern Finland, until he died of pneumonia and his daughter made peace with the state that later became Hanö Republic. Henrik I was a bloody-minded conqueror who had never known anything else but the shantytowns of the refugees, the rusty rifles of his father and the tattered books and newspapers he saw his grandmother read.
His legacy was better, though. Through his wars, the Kingdom of Peimar was founded and various communities rallied to his banner, or the banners of those who opposed him. Henrik had also supported the scientific community of Jurmo, helping to found the Polymaths. His campaign of conquest had dispersed the bandits and the highwaymen. His armies had fought back the beastmen of the ruins.
Though fire, blood and misery, the Age of Lions began.