The current political situation with brief explanation of origins.
First Calpheon-Valencia war
The trade-oriented Republic of Calpheon has a long held animosity - some even call it a more or less open, endless war - with the science and arts focused Kingdom of Valencia. There are differing accounts on how this conflict started, but one claims that the merchants of Calpheon tried to push their king, Lord Eddric, to invade Valencia and so expand their area of influence. Balenos and Serendia agreed to supply Calpheon with necessary goods in case of an armed conflict as they are dependent on the Calpheon trade but otherwise choose to remain neutral. The merchant council of Calpheon is very powerful but could not persuade Lord Eddric to invade a country separated from the Calpheon-Balenos-Serendia alliance by the desert of Media and Valencia for mere gold.
Soon after Eddric's decision was clear, traders from Calpheon were robbed at a large trade event and it was found that magic from Black Stones was used in the attack. The knowledge of how to use the Black Stones magic was considered long lost and very dangerous so Eddric was very worried about that new threat. There had been rumors that the miners of Media had found the Black Stones and a young Valencia alchemist, Mansur, had experimented with them and found a way to unlock their power. Indeed the council presented evidence to their monarch that the attackers came from Valencia.
Another account claims that the Calpheon-Valencia war was started due to an aftermath of an inner Valencia conflict. The ancient Aakman Tribe had settled in the area of Valencia long before the Valencians fled from Selenarea and refused to become part of the kingdom. The tribe considered themselves the guardians of the remains of the Ancients. In 233 of the Ellon calendar the clashes between the tribe and the army of the kingdom culminated under the 4th Valencian king, Imur Nesser, when the latter commanded his army into a one-sided massacre of the tribe after the had refused numerous attempts of negotiation for their submission. The tribe did not yield but disappeared - but at the same time a horrifying plague started abruptly in Valencia.
The "Black Death" as it was called because the flesh of victims turned black and rotted away, proved extremely contagious and swept not only through Valencia but was brought by Valencian traders to the other provinces as well - including Calpheon in 235. The death toll was immense and weakened the grip of the priests of Elion on the suffering poor in Calpheon. The poor and working class lost faith in their deity and priests and saw that the nobility was not protected by their titles or claimed divine birth. This worried the ruling class greatly so to ensure their status they supported the priests who claimed that the plague was a curse on Imur Nesser for his atrocities against the Akman. In another version the priests accused Imur of being a demon who used the magic of the Black Stones to unleashthe Black Death on the world. The priests and nobility urged the king to occupy the desert to prevent Valencia from access to the Black Stones.One way or another it was enough to convince Lord Eddric of Calpheon to
march against Valencia in 236. The plague disappeared as quickly as it had started but the war was still fought on. The campaign was not successful since the Calpheon army was not sufficiently prepared for the desert. King Eddric had died in the desert and Dahad Seric was named the new king of Calpheon. He kept the campaign going for 30 more years until a massive sandstorm, in which ten thousands of soldiers died, ended this campaign against Valencia.
Because of the countless casualties king Imur named the desert the Red Desert.
Crumbling of the Calpheon Alliance
During the Calpheon campaign against Valencia Media had managed to negotiate with the alliance members to pay their war debts and provide metal and weapons in exchange for Black Stones, claiming they burned them the stones to melt metal.
When Calpheon and the other alliance members realized that there was more to the Black Stones than being a mere fuel source, Media had become a prosperous town with much advanced technologies. The alliance members scrambled to mine for Black Stones in their territories and secure their power by gaining access to the same technologies. But it turned out that Calpheon had no Black Stone deposits.
The son of Dahad, Guy Seric, had meanwhile been proclaimed king and attempted to bring the Serendian swamp under their control which was found to contain highly pure Black Stone deposits. On the way to Serendia they subjugated Olvia. When they arrived in Serendia they attacked its capital, Heidel, and captured king Crucio. The king was released after a year when Serendia agreed to three conditions: they were not allowed to amass a significant army, all trade of Serendia had to go through Calpheon channels and all Black Stones of Serendia belonged to Calpheon. The tension or outright hate between Serendian citizens and Calpheon traders is very clear to the day.
Second Calpheon-Valencia campaign
Once the Serendian Black Stone supply was secured, Guy Seric planned a second campaign against Valencia to conquer the largest source of the stones in 278. Once more the war-tired population of Calpheon was driven by priests who claimed the Black Stones had to be removed from reach of the Valencian alchemists and their magic. But the coffers were empty from the previous campaigns and without the alliance the Calpheon army greatly lacked in man power. Sedric decided to bolster his forces with mercenaries and fund the war by rising taxes significantly. This was the last straw for the population already suffering from the previous wars. He even went so far to tax the priests - and experienced a quick death by poison in 281. Calpheon became a republic with a parliament comprised of senators from each class ruling it.
Nevertheless even today the forces of Calpheon and Valencia - referred to as the "Army of the Black Desert" and the "Army of the Red Desert" - clash still in the desert.
Invasion of Mediah & Surrounding Territories
This is a rather recent conflict, which is starting to emerge in Balenos from the influx of Mediahn refugees being found in the area of the Cron Castle. Balenos tries to throw the Mediahns out of their territories again but the reasons for this stream of people leaving Mediah are not going to disappear. The sandstorm which ended the initial Calpheon campaign against Valencia was followed up by countless other natural disasters affecting Mediah and surrounding areas and ravaging the lands.
The tropical regions are turning to deserts, the coasts affected by tidal waves, the highlands hit by hurricanes and heavy rains. This caused other creatures to push into the remaining temperate regions of Media where humans live. The Nagas were displaced from the Serendian swamps by the Fogans. Orcs and Ogres are migrating in large numbers and savage tribes settling in southern Mediah started ravaging the areas. No ways of communication between the latter and the province citizens exist yet.