LORDS OF THE EARTH CAMPAIGN 54
“LORDS OF THEEURTH”
Turn One Newsfax (A.C. 2781-2785)
for a Muse of fire, that would ascend
The brightest heaven of invention,
A kingdom for a stage, princes to act
And monarchs to behold the swelling scene!
Then should the warlike Harry, like himself,
Assume the port of Mars; and at his heels,
Leash’d in like hounds, should famine, sword and fire
Crouch for employment. But pardon, and gentles all,
The flat unraised spirits that have dared
On this unworthy scaffold to bring forth
So great an object: can this cockpit hold
The vasty fields of France? or may we cram
Within this wooden O the very casques
That did affright the air at Agincourt?
O, pardon! since a crooked figure may
Attest in little place a million;
And let us, ciphers to this great accompt,
On your imaginary forces work.
Suppose within the girdle of these walls
Are now confined two mighty monarchies,
Whose high upreared and abutting fronts
The perilous narrow ocean parts asunder:
Piece out our imperfections with your thoughts;
Into a thousand parts divide one man,
And make imaginary puissance;
Think when we talk of horses, that you see them
Printing their proud hoofs i’ the receiving earth;
For ’tis your thoughts that now must deck our kings,
Carry them here and there; jumping o’er times,
Turning the accomplishment of many years
Into an hour-glass: for the which supply,
Admit me, Chorus to this history;
Who prologue-like your humble patience pray,
Gently to hear, kindly to judge, our play.
– William Shakespeare, King Henry V
1. PLEASE NOTE! A new Order Template has been uploaded to the website. It can be access through the Rules section, or HERE. It now accounts for Merchant’s Guilds and Thieves Guilds.
2. Links to player websites may be found on the CULTURES page.
3. Please note your account status and replenish it if empty. I will only process turns for those positions with $5+ in their account.
4. Please address any mistakes I have made as soon as possible. It gets harder to justify changes as time goes by and other players begin to rely on the information presented. It’s particularly important to tell me if I’ve forgotten to update the map in your favor. Other players rely on what’s on the map.
5. Please note two changes to your turnsheets:
a) Yard Costs. Somehow they disappeared. Now they’re back.
b) Those of you with Magic Ops (Magic QR) now also have “wizard” units in your capital. These do not move unless you move the capital. They are there solely to give the XStats program a way to account for the cost of your Magic abilities, much as it accounts for intel and religious support.
6. Don’t mix in movement AP with the AP for the next order. Put movement on one or more lines (one line for each region or sea zone) and the eventual order (combat, diplomacy, whatever) on a separate line. Otherwise, you won’t move, even if it made sense to you
7. Necromancy is a terrible sin in most religions. It is only acceptable to the Spirit Cults, The Dark Court, Aeolan and Nuree. Those of you whose populations are dedicated to the other religions, particularly the Lords of the Grail really ought to think very carefully about your investments in Necromancy. Mobs of angry peasants (not to mention churchmen, paladins and crusaders) will result. And if you think I’m just talking to you, nuh-uh. Most of your confederates secretly yearn to consort with the unquiet dead, too, apparently.
8. The Base Rules say that if an Allied Leader successfully uses Diplomacy, the region or city gains its new status in relationship to the ally, not in relationship to your county. There is just no way I’m going to keep track of that! So in L54, Allies cannot conduct diplomacy, period.
9) Important – The following major changes to the Magic Rules are now in force:
a) All nations now have a Magic Ops rating of least 1.
b) Sorcerers can no longer study to improve their abilities.
c) The level of power of the existing sorcerers has been upgraded to compensate. Read ’em and weep.
ow these are the mighty dwellings of Medarhos, O Prince. He that is wise will learn well their names and kinds. First among cities is Echoriath. Her wealth and might are unparalleled, and her walls mighty and immense. It is said that a Carhallas prince wept when he saw its strength. Mighty also is dread Aicherai, smoking citadel of the Black Dukes in Daerond. Twenty great towers it has, and upon its iron gates are set these words in the dark speech: “Upon all these have I set my mark.”
None others rival these two in size, though there are many others which must not escape thy gaze. Adamos, city of islands, lies amidst the swirling waters of the Esharias river. Thither repaired the court of the Emperors when the hand of the orcs lay upon the Empire. Callistus, city of towers, upon the banks of the Phaedon, is relic of the ancient days. Set upon its island, it is not broad, but very tall, for its towers sweep nearly a span into the sky, their tops lost among the clouds. Carcaroth, great redoubt of the hobgoblin emperors, is said to be impregnable, and that chariot races are run atop its wide walls.
Carrenthium, city of the centaurs, is in fact a city almost entirely of men, run in the name of the Priestess-Queen who dwells within its walls only part of the year. From its harbors, goods from the Successor States flow steadily westward down the via brythniaSpider-haunted Dammarask hulks above the slow-moving waters of the Mulgaunt, spinning its webs of intrigue. Foreigners are forbidden to live within its walls, and no map of its streets has ever been produced. Sirion, great city of Tirgonia on the green banks of the Aré, has turned back three Daeron invasions in the last two centuries.
Know ye also, O Prince, of two others. Not so great in size, but of note to a mighty Prince. Cruachán in Tirgonia has never fallen to siege. Its walls are a wonder to behold, built as they were by giants at the behest of the Conorrian hero Leontes. Last, my Lord, consider Kal Primus, city of the alien H’rethek. No man knows its size or strength, for no man has seen it and lived. Yet the oracles do say that it is mighty among the dwellings of Theeurth.
The Skane Jarldoms–
Ruler – Jarl Varaskald
Capital – Vanaheim
It was the dawn of a new age for the golden-haired Skane. The old days of blood and plunder seemed like little more than a distant memory, as the once-feared reavers turned to statecraft and governance. Or so at least it seemed to King Varaskald on the day his second son was born. As he walked the length of his fine oaken hall, he reflected that It was late in life to be a father again, but the prospect made the old pirate smile. His first son, Otho, had grown up to be a fine warrior and strategist, and had studied in Tirgon and Alqualondë. He would be a fine king. But this new boy owed nothing to the future, and Varaskald dreamed of teaching him the old ways, of slipping down the long fjords and sailing into the southern breeze once more.
Sadly, Varaskald’s wife died in childbirth the following year. There were to be no other boys to dote on in Varaskald’s old age. The king became grim and withdrawn, brightening only when the boy’s nurse would bring his grandson to see him as he sat in the grim hall of his fathers.
While his father brooded about the castle, Prince Otho was given two tasks: to bring his father an accurate count of the people and their wealth and to try to dig some wells around the city. Unfortunately, Otho was more warrior than accountant. He spent his days in the practice yard and his nights in pursuit of tavern wenches and bored merchant’s wives. Little got done. Happily, more could be said for the efforts of his two lieutenants, jarls Ivar Uglesne and Bjomnen Bamsndværder. Under their diligent and watchful eyes, gangs of men created log-paved streets, erected a shrines to the spirits and even dug Prince Otho’s wells. The Mayor of Vanaheim himself, having no name, could not find his way out of his bedroom closet.
Elsewhere, the old Skane ways were very much alive. Blithely ignoring orders from Skaneholme (just who did that dandified city boy Varaskald think he was dealing with, anyway?), Jarl Virstaag of Foldbjerg rounded up his men and went on a good old-fashioned raiding mission. Unfortunately, he chose as his first target the Aldwood. For millennia, the men of Foldbjerg had fished and hunted here, but all feared the Forest God. Virstaag would have none of that. Mere nonsense told by the men of the Aldwood to scare off gullible Skane. Or was it? Virstaag’s men never returned from the depths of the forest. The jarl himself staggered into his own hall in the winter of 2783, half-blind and all mad. Though he could eventually eat and drink on his own, forever after the only words that would escape his lips were “The eyes…my gods, the eyes.” His son quietly took over his father’s duties.
The Kingdom of Tirgonia –
Ruler – King Aramayne
Capital – Tirgon
Diplomacy – Duncrannoch [A], Cruachan [T]
In Tirgon, old king Aramayne summoned the merchant houses to his palace on the Brandel stream. Seated before a large fire, the Aramayne summoned them one by one and ordered that this or that shipping route be strengthened or moved. Grumbling, the merchants did as they were bid. Word came during this time of savage orcish raids on the steadings and farms of the east, but Aramayne well knew that the raiders would be gone before he could arrive, and stuck to his task of ordering the nation’s finances.
Dukes Farionh of the Greenwood and Alphendri of Tigelion paid a long season of visits to the city of Duncrannoch, where they hunted and feasted with the lords of that city. Before the snows fell in 2785, the subtle words of the Dukes had convinced the men of Duncrannoch to become the vassals of the King. Meanwhile, Duke Priacles of Sirion brought a horde of workers and settlers to the city of Cruachan, and that ancient city was much expanded. While there, he gave fiery speeches to the governor of the city, who agreed to pay tribute to the Tirgonians.
In Tirgon, the great archmage Graalman was given the task of taking a census of the people, and advising Aramayne of the extent and wealth of his realm. Bowing, the mighty wizard blithely ignored such as well beneath his dignity and instead spent his time in his lab and conversing with his peers at the Arcaneum.
In the late summer of 2782, King Aramayne took command of his nation’s army and moved south to the Ormswood, expecting trouble from those low curs the Daerons. Before setting out, he gave a speech reminding his men of why they must be always vigilant:
I have a lot to say before we begin our march to the South. It has been five years since the loss of my daughter, the crown princess. I still mourn every day, wishing she was back with her people. Her gentle spirit was similar to a mothers hand comforting and protecting a child. I found these words she wrote, just prior to her setting out for Munarch, never to be seen again.
The past is a road
At night the road inspires trepidation,
This road continues to stretch further on
Forward our steps shall be,
I could never express my thoughts as well as my daughter. We have such a long history of triumph to be proud of. These have also come with dark times. Our citizens have endured such pain and loss. I want a future all the world will be proud of. I am trying to find my daughter, but I will make sure her legacy doesnt die as well. Look at the events of our past.
2755 – The Black Dukes lead the Daeron army into Tirgonia, conquering everything south of the Dun Aerinn river, except for the fortress-city of Cruachan. The building of the fortresses of Hellsmouth Keep and Calasoth are both begun.
2756 – King Wolkriyë of Bekanor assassinated. Bekanai tribes attack Tirgonia, cutting off Antiphian valley.
2760 – Ice trolls invade northern Tirgonia. The duke of Antiphia and many of his sons are slain at the battle of Cold Landing. The Black Dragons defeat a Bekanai army at Tigelions Crossings.
2763 – Tirgonians defeat Bekanai in three swift battles, annex Bekanor.
2766 – Princess Ariane, sole heir of king Aramayne of Tirgonia, is murdered by assassins in Sirion.
2777 – Tirgonians recover lost territories from Daerond.
This past needs to remind us we have come from a time of war. Now is a time to push for peace.
We will not be blind in our future and home our enemies desire an age of prosperity as well. Our borders will be protected, our citizens will feel secure. I march now near the border of our ancient enemy, Daerond to ensure no dark forces shall enter our places of peace and worship. It is my hope to have peace with Daerond after so many years of conflict. I have already worked treaties of defense against those who share our faith that if Daerond should once again be aggressive, unity will be the foe she meets.
I want to make the lands of our kingdom closer. I will be sending forth resources and representatives to strengthen the relationship between our lands. As we grow stronger as a nation, we will become harder for forces which wish us ill-will to cause us harm.
|The Iron Empire of Daerond –
Ruler –Bishop Morbanes
Capital – Aicherai
Plans. Plots, his enemies liked to call them, and Bishop Gethrick Morbanes, feared leader of the Black Dukes smiled at the thought. Yes, he reflected, plots was a far more apt and entertaining word. His thin lips pressed together in that smile under his aquiline nose gave him the look of a hawk, and his pale blue eyes, considered quite handsome in his youth, finished the image thoroughly. Yes, the master of the Iron Empire had set in motion quite a few plans…plots…and now he meant to reap their harvest of fear, turning it to his own ends…and those of the Empire, of course.
Black Duke Bishop Gethrick Morbanes
He committed the resources of the Empire to a new aqueduct system running from the Great Rift to the vast cisterns under Aicherai, and a new “Archon’s Road” running west from Aicherai to the foggy woods of Nivaan. For months he kept the roads to Aluirek and Angaurek jammed with couriers, ordering the Empire’s merchant fleets to suit it’s political needs. By night (and often, during breaks in the correspondence), Morbanes resorted to his apartments where kept a harem, and particularly to visit a young and lovely favored Tirgonian slave girl by the name of Juliana Emrais. By the fall of 2781, she was with child, and the Bishop whispered to her of favored status as the mother of his heir.
The entity known as Null, acknowledged as the Black Duke of Dhaur consented to conduct a census of the Empire. As few were able to do more in Null’s presence than stammer out their abject terror, and as his demonic servants tended to leave those questioned quite unable to function, this census failed terribly. Whether in fury or amusement, Null retreated to his hillside fastness and was heard of no more for some time.
|Young Duke von Taurek was called upon to engage the equally young Duke of Nivaan, bringing the forest region into closer ties with the Empire. Such efforts were set back when Harkorian warships and a few hundred Harkorian soldiers raided Hastaalm and Nivaan, burning farms and carrying off livestock. What really put a stake in the negotiations, however, was the following missive, printed up in broadsheets in Tirgonia and smuggled into Aicherai and Aluirek:||
An Intercepted Letter
What was at first a simple mugging in a back alley of Aluirek netted the following missive from a now-deceased courier. The communication has found its way into confidential channels, though many question its veracity and provenance – not least of all because of the blunt discussion of secretive activities.
Pardon my mirth as I share this odd account with you. Of all people, you, my Brother in service, will understand the piquant irony of current events in Nivaan.
Our spiritual leader wears his secular robes more often these days than he does those of the clergy he heads. A necessity, of course, to pull this fractious land together. In his position of high authority in the Council, acting as High Archon he has dispatched the young and earnest von Taurek, Lord Landegol, to pay an extended visit to Nivaan.
The Warlord of Nivaan, a certain Vantos Elerek, is younger even than von Taurek, if that is to be believed. He is still an unbearded boy, though apparently respected enough by his elders and pugnacious enough, I hear to enforce some degree of unity in that province. I dont call him Duke yet, for he has not established that level of authority in that war-torn region. His predecessor was his late father, the Black Duke of Nivaan, who made his seat in Naudóreth a place that no longer exists, razed to the ground during our years of strife.
This is history, recently past, and surely you know it. What, then, stretches this grin across my face as I recount it? Simply this: the late Duke died by no enemy hand, as young Elerek believes, but by my own. It came in the form of a Tirgonian-fletched arrow, the tip poisoned, a shaft flying sure and swift through the dark even as Tirgonian raiders also approached the Dukes field encampment. My timing was perfection itself, and Lord Morbanes goals attained: the ever-dissenting Duke Nivaan was no longer an obstacle to unity, the civil war thus brought more swiftly to a close, and the Tirgonians, naturally, blamed for the deed. A sweet, well-rounded job, wouldnt you say?
But the piquant part is this: now von Taurek goes to play upon Elereks hatred of the Tirgonians, using their closeness in age to build a friendship, and to talk to the young lord of the advantages of binding himself more closely to the council of Archons. Certainly he is a member already, in title if not in practice, but the degree of his participation and closeness to the other leading Houses of the realm seems of particular interest to Morbanes, these days.
The whys of that are of no matter. What I find endlessly amusing is that von Taurek goes to weave a web to draw Elerek closer to the very man who ordered his father slain. Sweeter still: von Taurek knows nothing of those machinations, either, and operates in good faith with this as-yet friendless young man.
Wheels within wheels, yes? And this, Im sure, the least portent of what lies ahead of us. It has been some time since we were very busy on assignments, my friend. I suspect that is about to change, and it would be wise to speak in whispers to those of your network who have been inactive for some while.
Yours in camaraderie and anticipation,
Bishop Morbanes’s further plans were cut short in the early winter of 2781 when the news arrived of a massive Harkorian invasion of Lycia. One did not claw their way to the throne of Dyrethis by being indecisive. Morbanes quickly assembled his army of 6,600 (including several hundred ogres) and marched down the coast road to meet the threat. (See “The Battle of Lycia”, below.) Sadly, in the summer of 2782, Morbanes received word that his favored concubine and her baby had both died in childbirth.
The Harkorian League –
Ruler –First Councillor Alastor
Capital – Cadares
Diplomacy – Alaxos [NT], Maxis [NT], Saranthus [NT], Naxarius [FA], Erzerus [F].
|“Too long have we suffered under the shadow of Daerond. History shows us that our traditional methods of intrigue and economic policy have failed to preserve our liberty. Time and idleness favors evil therefore it is with heavy heart that I commit myself and the League to the armed liberation of the slave farms of Lycia and Landegol. No more shall humans labor for the glory andwealth of the Dark Court.”
– First Councillor Alastor before crossing of the river Narglaurith
Centuries of oppression weighed heavy upon the First Councillor’s mind. At night, they gnawed at him in the dark like a tomb rat upon the decaying flesh of the dead. The thousands dead, the thousands more who prayed for death. No more. No more. The First Councillor rammed legislation through the Council granting him the status of Dictator. His first act was to raise and equip thousands of cavalry and light infantry. Then, at the head of an army 12,000 strong, he marched towards the bridge at Erzerus. It did not take long to overrun the token forces left in garrison in Lycia, and within a few months, he was able to report to the Council that he was ready to march on Landegol. (See “The Battle of Lycia”, below.)
Meanwhile, Archimenthes, Councillor for Archameos, set put to sea and sailed north to raid Hastaalm and Nivaan. What minor forces they met there were no impediment to wide-ranging pillage and rapine. Unchallenged at sea, Archimenthes’s raiders were gone before the hapless Daerons could react.
Councillor Hanwiq traveled to the island of Naxarius. Between long afternoons on the beach and morning walks to the Long Strand to strain for sight of a mermaid, he managed to convince the Naxarians to bind themselves closer to the Empire. Councillor McCorralis traveled to Erzerus managed, by pointing to the army passing north over the Nauglarith, to convince the city fathers to agree to complete integration with the League.
THE BATTLE OF LYCIA
17 Northhale, 2782
Alastor and his 12,000 Harkorians were absolute masters of Lycia. Garrison troops were left behind and the cavalry sent on ahead to scout for targets in Landegol, when a young man galloped into camp on a gray mare with a wild look in her eyes. “The orcs are coming!” he shouted. “The orcs are coming!”.
A sober assessment of the dispatches from the young man’s officers indicated that while only a small minority were orcs, more than six thousand trained Daeron soldiers were moving quickly east through Landegol, reportedly flying the personal banner of Bishop Morbanes, as well as the Dark Tower Banner of Daerond. Alastor breathed deep the summer air, full of the smells of horses and mud. He smiled, knowing his force was twice the size of the hated slave master’s. Vengeance was at hand.
The morning came when the two opposing armies met in large meadow within sight of the Nauglarith. It was a crisp, clear morning that spoke of unblemished blue skies, a morning that betrayed nothing of the startling violence that was about to envelope the two peoples who had met there.
The Harkorian lines stretched for more than a mile and half, with squadrons of knights and mounted men-at-arms behind, ready to ride down the enemy. However, the host was a surging mass, lightly disciplined, and eager to be at the enemy. Morbanes smaller army used its cavalry to extend its right wing, and six hundred loosely-space ogres, hulking brutes bred for war, to extend its left. The orcs and men of Daerond stood in perfect, ordered silence as the morning sun painted their spiked harnesses a bloody red.
If any order was given to start the battle, no man recalls what it was. Suddenly, the Harkorians broke ranks and raced in their teeming thousands to overwhelm the hated foe. And for much of the morning, many observers might have said that the Harkorians had accomplished their goal. The Daeron line was broken by the sheer weight of numbers. But the disciplined soldiers, though they fell back, never broke or ran. Those Harkorians who broke through their lines were more intent on looting the Daeron baggage park than in turning the flank of their foes, and so Morbane’s army weathered the early onslaught, despite spirited and repeated assaults from the Harkorian spearmen.
By late afternoon, the mounting casualties began to take a toll on the undisciplined Harkorians. The sons of farmers and fisherfolk, they had not imagined how difficult and costly it would be to slaughter a trained army with decades of experience. Alastor, ever the canny leader, foresaw that his troops would break before Morbanes’s, despite their growing superiority in numbers. Rather than risk a total rout, he ordered his army to retire across the Nauglarith. Battered, exhausted and on the verge of defeat themselves, the bloodied Daerons let them go. Of the 12,000 men who proudly marched into Daerond, only 8,600 forded the river on the return. A mere 4,400 Daerons held the field of Lycia by end of the day.
Later, some were to criticize Morbanes for not pursuing Alastor’s force to the river. “Only because they were not there,” the Black Duke growled. “They did not see the mass of men come boiling across the plain, nor how they threw themselves at us no matter how many we slew. If they had not pulled back, we would have had to. Pursue them? We were lucky to survive. And consider this: Alastor did manage to pull back that teeming mob, and retire in good order. He is a very dangerous man.”
The Edgemoor Orcs –
Ruler –Graulor Ten Arrows
Capital – Zaramaka
Graulor grinned into the dying eyes of the last goblin. He had entered the pit with a half dozen of them, each armed with long knives. He himself had taken only his trusty mace. These six had made him do little more than break a sweat, and he tossed the last one aside contemptuously. Scrambling out of the pit on a lowered rope, he snarled at his gathered henchmen. “Enough of this,” he spat. “I want real battle. Prepare to die. Today we ride.”
Accompanied by three of his loyal chieftains and followed by an army of 8,000 orcs and several hundred ogres, he swept down in quick succession on the Daeron province of the Iron Hills and the Tirgonian provinces of Sothwood and the Purple Hills. Here, his orcs burned and pillaged their way through soft farms and lightly-defended frontier towns. Everywhere, they left destruction and death in their wake. No armies came to meet them, and the local garrisons proved only the most minor of irritants. From there, Graulor led his men east into the Wilding Vale and then down the long valleys into Dakhash, which they subjugated with fire and sword.
|The Brythnian Confederation–
Ruler – Queen Pharsalia
Capital – Carrenthium
Diplomacy – Brythnian Hills [F]
|Queen Pharsalia made two important decisions in the summer of 2781. The first was to secure the loyalty of the hillfolk (for so her centaurs referred to their neighbors the minotaurs) by marrying her daughter Elianna to their greatest chieftain, Highlander Clovenhoof. The second was to turn the unbridled fury and keen intelligence of her new son-in-law loose upon the orcs who had raided the ancestral plains of her people for too long.
Elianna accepted the marriage with good grace. It made perfect political sense, she thought. Besides, she liked the general, even though her mother thought of him as something akin to a sharpened and dangerous tool. In any case, such an arrangement would at least allow her to travel beyond the carefully-guarded plains of Tathlann. Her mother had to let her travel to her husband’s home, didn’t she?
As it happened, Pharsalia had no intention of sending her daughter to the Brythnian Hills just yet. After the chaste wedding night (minotaurs and centaurs do not interbreed), she summoned Clovenhoof to her audience hall in Carrenthium. As he strode into the marbled hall, the echoes of his hoof-falls sounding in the distant rafters, sunlight fell through a high window, blazoning him in a strong light, he seemed to the queen a living spirit of war, come to the mortal world.
When he left, his commission in hand, Clovenhoof summoned to him the queen’s army, and those of all her allies. When they had assembled months later at his home in the Brythnian Hills, they were 10,000 strong. Centaur lancers and archers, and minotaur axemen and spearmen. And they marched straight for the Lyodan river and Itherias, outpost of the Worldspine Orcs.
Back in Carrenthium, Queen Pharsalia busied herself with an accounting of her realm and all that was in it. She took great care over the next five years, leaving no stone unturned, and the census was a great success. Despondent, Elianna threw herself into the governance of Carrenthium itself, and had some success with upgrading its harbor.
THE BATTLE OF ITHERIAS AND
THE SIEGE OF ALKOTH
Meanwhile, in Itherias, Clovenhoof’s army swept aside the token resistance of the natives and set about systematically looting the province, taking everything that wasn’t nailed down and much that was. It was almost as though Clovenhoof wanted the orcs to come and fight him. And that, of course, is precisely what he did want. When they came, they came in great numbers, charging out of the misty hills in their thousands and falling upon the taurid army like wild animals.
For long moments, the orcs seemed to get no closer, their forms silhouetted against the mists. And then the two sides joined in deadly congress, matching ferocity for fury and giving no quarter. The slaughter lasted all day, and through much of the night. At morning, Clovenhoof stood with only a handful of his companions, ringed about with the corpses of orcs and taurids alike. He had no idea who had won, if anyone.
When the count was had, he had lost two commanders, smiling Elanessë and wise Fëfalas. They went to the afterworld with nearly 2,000 of their companions, and an untold number of orcs. But the taurids held the field. The orcs had routed sometime after midnight and were pursued by centaur archers in the moonlight. When the dead were properly buried and the orcs burned upon a great mound, Clovenhoof turned his attention to the orcish city of Alkoth. It withstood his siege for three months before surrendering at last. The taurids sacked the city and put it to the torch with many residents still inside. As the refugees straggled away north from their ruined and ghastly city, Clovenhoof snarled at them. “Give this message to your king,” he said. “Seek out Highlander Clovenhoof, if you dare. He laughs at you.”
Ruler –King Brandobaris
Capital – The Great Delve
Diplomacy – The South Downs [T]
||Times weren’t always sleepy and peaceful in Aelissia, but that was certainly the way its inhabitants liked it. Tales of the travails of the Big People did slowly make their way into the pubs and byways of the kingdom, but for most Aelissians they were little more than the rumble of distant thunder on a fine spring day.
That was the same spring that the Moot gave a new title to that nice Mr. Brandobaris, the Mayor of the Great Delve. They called him “king”, though no such title had ever been used in Aelissia before. The Councilors said that this way he would be taken more seriously by the big folk. Everyone thought it was a excellent idea, and an especially good occasion for a grand party down at the Seven Mile Meadow. There were cakes, ale, speeches and some of Mrs. Midgewallow’s blackberry pies, which everyone agreed were the best pies they had ever had.
In the winter of 2784, Brandobaris’s wife gave birth to a darling girl with silky blonde curls and big blue eyes. This, naturally, gave rise to quite a celebration, at which old farmer Mudwort danced a jig on the main table, much to the amusement of the boys and consternation of the women. Brandobaris spent his days counting sheep and cattle with the help of a few of his childhood friends, as no census had been done in Aelissia since the days of the Old Empire (and even then the Aelissians were fond of changing the numbers at whim, just to see the fits of the Big Folk bean counters).
Two of Brandobaris’s cousins and fellow members of the Moot, Harcourt Blackgirdle and Ortho Longacre, traveled all the way out to the South Downs to convince the locals to send representatives to the moot, as none had been had from that region since old Mother Curry was a lass. After much pipeweed and speeches, the residents of the South Downs agreed to send that young Mr. Rook, who’d been to school in far-off Khairais. Besides, he made them nervous with his Big People ways. They’d know what do with him in a place like the Great Delve.
Ruler –Queen Armallia
Capital – Khairais
The year 2781 began with a great celebration in Khairais. Queen Armallia took Duke Tancred of Garromais to be her husband and consort. A great parade was held, and the commoners began lining the streets before dawn in order to get a good look at their beloved monarch as she rode from the palace to the great Cathedral of the Font. Five months later, it was announced that the queen was with child. Corland would have an heir.
The very next day, however, the news came sweeping into Khairais on racing, winded horses. The har’keen had invaded Garromais! Confused reports indicated that thousands (one report said millions) of the marauding monsters had spilled over the Saronne river on a bridge made of their own bodies, and that they were locked in battle with the castles and keeps of that land, many of which had just been finished.
Tancred, now Prince-Consort, but still Duke of Garromais, informed his beloved queen that he would take the army and march immediately to drive out the invaders. “No, Tancred,” she said, softly but firmly. “You can’t. They are too great in number, and our forces are dispersed. We must bear this and hope that they will meet us here, in heavily-defended Quesante.”
“What?!” her husband roared, incredulous. “Armallia, my family is there! Those are my villages they will slaughter and enslave. I’m going, and that’s final.”
“No, you are not,” she said, icily, rising now to her full height. Her faded blue eyes were flat and hard, the eyes of a warrior-queen of old. “I am your queen, Tancred, lest you forget it, and in this I will be obeyed. We will call our vassals to bring their men-at-arms. We will wait for the troops being sent by the Order of the Dawn, and we will prepare a trap for the har’keen. But by the gods we will do it here. We will not run off to some glorious death, sacrificing all of Corland for Garromais!”
Aghast, her husband gave her a formal bow and stormed out of the room. She wanted to weep. For him, for his family, now her family, and for the doomed people of Garromais. But she had no time for such things, she told herself, wiping her hot eyes with the backs of her hands. She yelled for her chamberlain. She had a war to plan.
(See The Battle of Talloires, below)
[The chroniclers note that months after the battle, Queen Armallia gave birth to a baby boy. The following year she gave birth to a baby girl and the year after that, to triplets, all girls.]
Ruler –The Hive Queen
Capital – Kal Primus
Deep in the glowing pits of Kal Primus, the Hive Queen commanded, and her unnumbered children scurried to obey. The next phase of the pacification of this world would now begin. Ultimately, there was no doubt of the Hive’s eventual dominance. Thousands of races now lived in mild servitude to the greater good across hundreds of worlds. This one would be no different.
The Hive Mother quivered, pausing between feeding and egg-laying to command one of her brood daughters. <Cross the little water. Destroy the resistance. Bring us more servants of race 646AQ7. Test the defenses of their main nest.> The Brood Daughter returned those pheromones that signified immediate obedience, and in turn commanded her sisters to prepare.
A few short months later, Brood Daughters #3 & 4 crossed the Sarrone river into Garromais across a bridge made of drones, their jaws each clamped firmly on the carapace of the next drone. 16,000 har’keen followed the two Brood Daughters, including more than 10,000 of the deadly warrior caste.
The humans (for so race 646AQ7 called themselves) had thrown up fresh defenses along the length of the river, and the crossing was not without its costs. Race 646AQ7 had infested the land with defensive positions and redoubts (called “castles” by some of the captives), and had built an enormous strongpoint (a “fortress” they called it). This “fortress” had to be undermined by the drones and assaulted by the warriors, but the result was as inevitable as all of the commands of the Hive Mother. By the time of the first snows, the land the humans called Garromais was completely pacified. The Brood Daughter knew that 8.0514% of her forces had been slain, but what of that? There were more. There were always more.
Brood Daughter #2 crossed the river with a small force to secure the workforce. Thousands of specimens of race 646AQ7 were herded back towards Kal Primus. Those too old, weak or obstreperous to be of any use to the Hive were terminated without delay, but also without any malice. Tools were either useful or not, and not to be hated, or loved. Meanwhile, the main Hive army moved west, to test the defenses of the main 646AQ7 nest, designation: KHAIRAIS. (See The Battle of Talloires, below.)
THE BATTLE OF TALLOIRES
4 Strynod, 2783
(Bugs, Mr. Rico! Zillions of ’em!)
As soon as the snows cleared and the first cherry blossoms were in pink along the bank of the Saronne, the monstrous armies of H’rethek stormed into waiting Quesante. Armallia and Tancred had not been idle. They had assembled the forces of their vassals (those that could reach the capital in time) and had gratefully accepted the aid of the elite knights of the Order of the Dawn. Armallia had granted these the possession and use of the vast citadel of Tilly-sur-Saronne, and the Order had sent nearly five thousand knights and their retainers to occupy it and reinforce Queen Armallia’s host. In the months since the rape of Garromais, the assembled armies of Corland had fought the rising terror by digging, digging so hard that their tired brains had no time for nightmares. Their defensive positions were fully prepared, their ambushes set, the fields cleared for cavalry.
An extended and bloody campaign swirled scarlet spatters amidst the pink blossoms of Spring until at last the two forces met near the small farming town of Talloires, in Quesante, some miles east of Khairais. There, the combined human army numbered some 19,000, consisting largely of mixed infantry with perhaps 3,500 cavalry. Seeming to erupt out of the woods were more than 14,000 harkeen, consisting mainly of the hulking warriors, with their serrated forelimbs and nightmarish mandibles, supported by some 4,000 drones the size of large dogs and something new: the skies were abuzz with small, fast har’keen fliers.
Without delay, the har’keen charged their foe headlong. The Brood Daughters were not unmindful of the defenses that race 646AQ7 had obviously prepared. It was simply that immediate naked ferocity carried so many more battles than indecisive consideration. The apelike 646AQ7’s had hardened their shells and now the har’keen would simply have to crack them. Just as the first line of the warriors reached the human defenses, fires burst from hidden reserves, narrowing their approach, forcing them into a tight channel…and into a hidden pit. Archers leapt to the top of the pit and fired down mercilessly into the killing zone as more and more warriors poured in…and began to clamber over each other’s bodies towards the astonished archers.
Elsewhere, drones were stolidly removing submerged stakes from moats, ignoring the slaughter of their kind all around. Dive-bombing fliers drove a squadron of Corish spearmen off a prepared height, which was seized moments later by a thousand slavering warriors who chewed through the spearmen mercilessly (and literally).
Now, however, the har’keen had taken the field, and committed themselves to the slaughter. Armallia brought her cavalry to bear on the wings. 3,500 cavalry, including 1,000 of Corland’s Knights of the Sacred Font and 1,000 of the Order of the Dawn’s heavily armored knights, came charging into the enemy’s flanks with headlong abandon. They had sworn to hold the field or die, and many ultimately did both. Three times the cavalry charged, each time being repulsed by the now-battered har’keen force. A fourth time, and the har’keen lines broke at last. For the first time, humans got to see a har’keen army in retreat, and although Armallia permitted her cavalry to harass them, it was by force of will alone that she held the rest back from a suicidal charge after the still-dangerous foe.
Brood Daughter #3 was able to keep her forces in good order during the retreat, and was able to recover much of her scattered force over the next few weeks and months. In all, she marched back into H’rethek with 10,000 of her sisters. The Corish held the field of Talloires, and the land of Quesante, but at a high cost. Some 4,000 of their number were dead or missing, and brave Duke Alberic of Oulenne was found cut in two, still holding the standard of his house. After a state funeral in Khairais, it and he were returned home in honor.
Ruler –King Aurelian
Capital – Armorica
Times were peaceful in the green lands of Lorraine. King Aurelian busied himself with the merchant fleet, though no actual ships were moved about. He also caused to be built a new port village in Priamus named Roldeinsport, and dedicated to the great god of the Oceans. New fields were plowed in Andred with rows of golden Lorraine barley. Aurelian gave the command of the bulk of his army to his nephew and heir, Artorius.
Prince Artorius, when he repaired to the goodly city of Nasillia, was astonished find that it was full of Llyrans. The Llyrans thought that this was quite a reasonable state of affairs, as it was their city. Artorius retired instead to a family manse in Howel, and encamped his army near the Wood of Chormane. There, he watched the coasts and consorted with the local women. In the winter of 2784, a local beauty gave him a son, Mordred.
Myrddin, the great wizard, was given the task of digging wells and paving streets in Armorica, but disappeared for several years instead, and so nothing got done. Saric and Magnus, the lords of Lothian and Cassivelaunus were also commanded to improve the aspect of their cities, but instead Saric spent his time hunting and Magnus spent his chasing skirts and carousing with the town’s wealthy merchants.
The Whisper Wood –
Ruler –Queen Elevuil
Capital – Unknown
No word came forth from the Whisper Wood, and the world continued to leave it alone.
The Neldorean Wood –
Ruler –King Edroessë
Capital – Melorias
The world outside the elven woods had been growing steadily more dangerous. More human ambassadors had trodden the streets of Melorias in the past year than at any time in centuries. King Edroessë was not given to nervousness, but neither was he given to foolhardy optimism. He summoned his army and ordered them to strengthen the defenses of Neldorea. Who knew what new madness the Younger Children (for so he thought of humans) would visit upon themselves and upon his people?
His heir and daughter, Nereil the Wise, spent her days in council with princes from all over the woods, creating for her father a true and accurate account of all his lands and fiefs, to aid the collection of tribute and taxes. Her cousin, Senelra, was asked by the king to assume the task of improving Melorias, and this she did with diligence, if with only moderate success. A new statuary plaza was dedicated, and several temples renovated.
In the city of Elenuil, a young (by elvish standards) shipwright named Barandias developed a new means of joining the planks of the elven swanships, causing them to be both lighter and faster. A new era of elven warships had arrived.
Prince Taralom, Edroessë’s younger brother, was seen leaving Melorias in the company of several retainers one fine crisp morning in the Spring of 2781 and heading into the Stonehearts. He was not seen again for many years. When he did return, it was alone and much changed. Few recognized the bedraggled beggar that limped into the Golden Court in the winter of 2785, badly wounded half blind. It was whispered among those at court that when the king at last recognized his brother, he quickly moved to his aid, but Taralom whispered some urgent message into the King’s ear, at which the monarch went pale and ordered everyone from the hall.
The Holy Empire of Ianthe –
Ruler –Chief Archon Ulolis
Capital – Narranthus
Diplomacy – Hallianis [F], Maicutis [-]
Though many of its neighbors watched Ianthis with care, the Archons planned no wars this cycle and smiled in wry amusement at the consternation of their neighbors. Instead their minds turned to strengthening the ties of the Empire’s provinces, and to building an Ianthan port at long last. This, of course, would have to be watched with the utmost care, for it would be full of foreigners whose filthy and heathen ways must not be permitted to pollute the body of the Empire.
Chief Archon and High Priest Ulolis bent all his will into the ordering of his Empire, among other things, assuring that several new communal storage barns were built throughout the villages and hamlets of Ianthis.
Archon Athusian visited the lords of Hallianis, and through many crafty arguments convinced them to become fully part of the Empire. Archon Mandarq’s diplomatic expedition to the wilds of Maicutis were less fruitful, and the lords of that land remained Ianthan allies only.
|The Exarchate of the Great Crusade –
Ruler –King Bleobaris
Capital – Pontezium
||Peace was upon the lands of the Crusaders, and Bleobaris was not about to waste the opportunity. He conducted a thorough census of his lands and caused many old Conorrian buildings to be rebuilt throughout Querenia. During the evenings he and his wife labored to produce an heir. In the autumn of 2783, she produced a single child, a daughter.
Bleobaris also started a great project, clearing and cultivating the wild tangle of the Akasian Hills. Not only would this eventually bring the fertile soil into cultivation, it might bring more trade resulting from the ancient Iridian ruins there. The Knights of the Order of the Dawn sent 1,400 men to help with this project.
Merchants began to bring in spices and carpets from distant Har’akir and fine wines from Neldorea. The port at Regaldros had become fully loaded, so these merchants were forced to berth further up river at Pontezium. In Laedrus, Sir Galahant added much to the beauty of the drab city in the hills, paving its main street with cobbles and adding in a sewer system to drain those streets when it rained. But he was bested by the work of Sir Maradoc in Pontezium, who built the capital a new amphitheater, several new temples and a triumphal arch, marking the defeat of the Orc Dominion in the Great Crusade.
The Holy Order of the Dawn –
Ruler –Grand Master Caius Androsius
Capital – The Akasian Hills
Diplomacy – Saxetus [OH], Pontezium [OH], Faucrion [OH], Quesante [OH], Khairais [OH]
The Order was ancient, but small, still recovering from the trials of the Great Crusade two generations ago. But it was anything but passive. Grand Master Androsius ordered Master Brutus Arillius west with the bulk of the Order’s forces to aid the pious land of Corland against the ravages of the alien har’keen (see The Battle of Talloires, above). After that glorious battle, Arillius took control of the fortress Tilly-sur-Saronne in the names of Erdhon, Artorius and the Order. He also founded Order Houses in Khairais and Quesante.
Master Marcus Sagitus traveled east into the Empire proper with an honor guard of 1,400 lancers. He went along the via brythnia past Callistus, the city of Towers and into the wheat-laden fields of Faucrion. There he founded an Order House on the ruins of an ancient tower last guarded by his Order more than five centuries ago. Grand Master Androsius himself founded houses in Saxetus and Pontezium. Everywhere, the Order was welcomed with open arms, and every attempt to found an Order House succeeded.
|The Airnim Horde–
Ruler – Tarl Wolf’s Paw
Capital – None
||Tarl was old. No one knew exactly how old, but Maggen knew that his lord was older than Maggen’s own grandfather. Tarl had led the Airnim to the Great Wars in Maggen’s grandfather’s time, covered himself and the Airnim in glory and then simply brought The People back to the great steppe. There were those who said that Tarl was immortal, that he was the son of a god, or a god himself. Others whispered that in his youth, he had been bitten by a vrykolas, one of the undying, and that he himself had gained great longevity when he killed the vrykol. Whatever the truth, Maggen would ride through the Burning River for Tarl.|
For his part, Tarl had chosen Maggen for his lieutenant precisely because the young man was mostly free of the hero-worship that characterized his people. Tarl knew both the value and burden of being a symbol, and knew also that he needed a lieutenant who knew him to be a man, not the living god the singers had created.
Tarl gave Maggen 9,000 of his best light cavalry to work with. Maggen took the treasure of the Airnim, also provided by his lord, and re-equipped those troops with lances and long, slightly-curved sabers, making their traditional bows only a back-up weapon.
One morning while squatting around the small turf fire and drinking the bitter brew the old mothers had boiled, Tarl told his generals something that filled them with excitement. “I had a message from Wolf last night,” he said. “We strike camp and ride.” It was all he said, but something in his voice told those who heard him that when he said “ride”, he did not merely propose to make a new camp. No. The Airnim were going to war.
Wolf was one of the many spirits that watched over the Airnim. Everyone knew that Wolf spoke to Tarl, and protected him. Wolf was wise, but his judgments were harsh. No one spoke. No one questioned. All simply moved to make ready.
“Which way, Wolf’s Paw?” asked Maggen when the horde was mounted.
“Southwest,” said Tarl. “To Gwaelod Hen, where I was born.”
Maggen considered as he rode. “Did Wolf choose this course?”
“No,” said Tarl. “I did.”
“I would have thought, lord, that you would have ridden against Ascarlon, when you rode at last. Because of…” he faltered and pointed to the two small scars at the base of Tarl’s neck.
The lord of the Airnim frowned, rubbing that place without seeming to notice. “Someday perhaps, Maggen. Today we confront our oldest, best enemy.”
“Orcs,” said Maggen with a killer’s grin.
“Orcs,” agreed Tarl, his own teeth bared in smile devoid of humor. “Orcs again.”
The Airnim looted their homeland before they left. No sense in leaving anything to the scavengers. They then rode across the great Rhanalorian plains and anything that saw their passage hid or ran. 45,000 strong the riders came. They arrived at Gwaelod Hen at the end of 2783, and made a brief encampment there to wait out the worst of the winter snows.
Long before the snows had melted, the horde was crossing the Raethalas river into Dakhash, moving to avoid any local armies. In this way, they and the army of the Edgemoor Orcs completely missed each other in the vastness of the forests of Dakhash. From there, Tarl led the Airnim into Dhurkun, where he ran straight into the army of Maekras under Kodor Blackspear, who was marching in the other direction.
THE BATTLE OF DHURKUN
Kodor’s Last Stand
16 Strynod, 2783
Kodor’s scouts rode breathlessly to tell the Chief Councilor of the the vast force of mounted humans streaming out of Veddakh. They were uncountable! No fool, Kodor quickly summoned his generals and ordered a hasty retreat towards Thessol and Kamajh. However, most of Kodor’s force was painfully slow heavy infantry, and within a day, Tarl’s force was upon them, forcing the orcs to turn and fight at a little ridge some miles south of the river.
More than 6,000 orcs stood their ground defiantly, as storm clouds rolled in from the west and lightning shattered the dark sky in two. Outnumbered more than seven to one, Kodor’s last stand was brave, but futile. The Airnim horse archers tortured his disciplined troops with arrows and rode out of range before the orcs could muster much of a response. Thousands fell under the dark cloud of Airnim shafts. The shooting stopped when the rain began to fall in sheets and the ground began to turn into mud. Before this could happen, Tarl ordered Maggen and his lancers forward, and they swept the hill clear of orcs, riding down those who fled and herding the rest like sheep to the slaughter. Only a few hundred escaped to flee into the forests.
By nightfall, Tarl was able to assess his own losses as Maggen and his men created a vast mound of the slain and tried to set it alight in the now-fading rain. The Airnim lost roughly 3,000 troops. Tarl was more surprised than mournful. Orcs were usually undisciplined, fleeing as soon as they were outnumbered. These had stood and fought like trained soldiers. He shrugged as he watched the great pyre light up the night sky. These would never trouble the lands of men again. He only wished that his men had found the body of Kodor Blackspear.
|The Iron League of Maekras –
Ruler –Chief Councilor Kodor Blackspear
Capital – Kamajh
“I’ll kill you some day.”
|It did not feel like the last days of the brief-lived Iron League. Things were going very well indeed. Kodor had begun the process of making an alliance with the wild orcs of the Edgemoor Mountains. He had sold them grain, and they had sent a wagon-train of precious metals from their deep mines. Trade had begun with the hobgoblins of Carhallas, traveling across the Hammersea to Carcaroth on the Manndaran river.
Diplomats spread out to the corners of the League, wooing local chieftains with some success. Councilor Faulrok had taken a thousand orcs up the Hammersea coast in ships to raid the villages of the Blood Mire. Life was good.
But then came the terrible horsemen out of the plains, storming across the Raethalas and sneaking through the woods to take the peaceful and honest orcs by surprise. At Dhurkun, they had shredded the force that kept the Iron League together (because let’s face it, force was the only thing that could keep it together).
||In the wake of the Battle of Dhurkun, the Airnim went on to seize Dhurkun, Thessol and Mahant, driving the tiny garrisons before them. With the seizure of all of Maekras’s cultivated land and the disappearance of Kodor Blackspear, the outlying baronies simply dissolved their loyalties to the Council, hoping the horsemen would ignore them and grow soft. The cities of Kamajh and Daram Ghend, isolated and able to communicate only by water, declared themselves independent and bid the humans to look on their mighty walls with despair. So ended the Iron League.|
The Shadowed Realm of Ascarlon –
Ruler –Baron Gauros the Arisen
Capital – Denavine
Diplomacy – The Firefields [FA], The Sinking Land [EA]
In his chamber in the Tower of Khador, Gauros brooded over the dark majesty of his city, and of its eventual destiny. Long ago, he had walked the world as a mortal, and was driven with his brothers into hiding by the arrogant and corrupt Conorrians. The Ascar were developing language and philosophy when the Conorr tribes were still rutting in the mud and breeding with goats. One day soon, as his kind counted time, that upstart Empire would pay. Oh yes, they would pay. All of them.
But now, the dark lord assured himself, now was a time to build. He dispatched his sorcerous henchman Vilkhar, known as the Hammer, to the Firefields to demand the inhabitants’ submission to his will. He got it, and the Firefields became a feudal vassal of the Shadowed Realm. He ordered Vachik to first conduct a census, and then hie himself off to the watery forests of the Sinking Land to demand the fealty of the few men there. Despite their difference in language and religion, they agreed to tie themselves even closer to the dark lord.
Gauros himself never left his tower. Rumor has it that he spent years crafting a powerful spell of some sort. Many noted that the kingdom’s tax collectors were particularly able during these years, and speculated that this was the result of Gauros’s long incantations. Gauros also tried repeatedly to get a son on one of his harem. A pity that each one died in turn.
The Worldspine Orcs –
Ruler –Grauthor, Scourge of Malbor
Capital – Mount Kauroth
Things did not go at all as Grauthor had planned. Grauthor was not happy.
The king of the Worldspine had invested quite a lot into Itherias. Fortresses, wells, torture chambers, combat pits. The works. He had planned on a lovely few years of killing and conquest in Vilcea and the Firefields, followed perhaps by some casual violence against the dwarves. But, just as he had finished equipping 2,000 of his troops with heavy armor and swords, word had come that the taurids were loose in Itherias, and killing anything that moved.
Grauthor did what any wise king would do and sent his brother instead. Vaurog Breakspear was a fool, but he was an extremely violent fool who was good at getting others to be violent with him. These he sent down on the Taurids like Caravok hurling his boulders into the storm god’s hall. Unfortunately, the result was not quite what any red-blooded orc would wish (See The Battle of Itherias and the Siege of Alkoth, above.)
|The Empire of Carhallas –
Ruler –Emperor Reor
Capital – Carcaroth
Emperor Reor’s Personal Standard
First Spear of the Flayed Man Legion
|Some days you get the bear; some days the bear gets you.
Emperor Reor had had more than enough of the oh-so haughty elves of Celendor. The elves thought themselves clever, and Reor intended to beat them at their own game. He would beard them in their lair and bring them to fight on ground of his own choosing.
He dispatched four trusty chiefs and their retainers, under the command of the Chief of Lauroth, to move by secret paths into the woods of Dauros and Orodel, there to raid and plunder, and thus draw the elves onward. Elsewhere, he sent forces to loot and enslave the populations of Malfaric in the west and Toruk Khend and Rhundur in the south.
In Sauthor, Reor’s chief concubine gave birth to healthy baby boy.
In Celendor, the elves did not respond to the provocation, so the hobgoblins increased the insult. They attacked Orodel in general, rounding up its inhabitants and killing the leaders and chiefs wherever they could find them. This time, the elven king reacted, sending his son Voromë with 4000 elven archers and 5000 elite cavalry to destroy the invaders. This is what the hobgoblins had been waiting for, but they had not counted on the elves’ superior mobility, especially in the woods.
As the hobgoblins raced back towards the defenses of Elsend, the elves came at them from all sides, silent as death, the only sound the almost continuous whine of arrows in flight. Not one of the raiders returned to Elsend nor ever saw the light of day again. Nonetheless, Reor’s plan was fulfilled, for Voromë’s blood was hot and he disobeyed his father’s orders. Their bloodlust unsated, the elves left the forest and entered Elsend with murder in their hearts. They had seen the heads of their brethren on pikes, and the fury of the elves is not soon abated when roused.
|Waiting for them in prepared ambushes and hidden defiles were nearly 18,000 hobgoblins under the command of Barakon, lord of Jezul. The elves’ own tactic was turned on them – they were surrounded and their avenue of retreat cut off. Then the great slaughter began. From prepared pits and rocky ridgelines the hobgoblin legions seemed to materialize around and among the elves like ghosts. Voromë’s command of the elves never faltered, and he protected his many archers well with his elite cavalry, but the great numbers and discipline of the hobgoblins soon began to take its toll. By early afternoon, the elves were fighting behind a wall of their own dead. Suddenly, towards evening, Voromë launched a desperate effort to break out of the trap. His dwindling cavalry smashed a hole in the hobgoblin line, and the archers plunged through, running as fast as their weary legs would carry them.
It was a great victory for the hobgoblins. They had lost only 2,200 men. Meanwhile, nearly 6,000 elves lay dead and another thousand were taken captive and made into slaves. The emperor was well-pleased.
THE CARHALLAS CIVIL WAR
Branaeor 2783 – ?
So far, all had gone very well for Reor. That was about to change. In order to pay for his military buildup, the Emperor had raised taxes to a nearly ruinous level. His advisors warned him that he risked a widespread rebellion, but Reor waved them aside. The chance was slight and well worth the risk Except, it only seems that way if the risk does not materialize. Unfortunately for Reor, it did.
It began in Ruathkel, where a riot over the high taxes became bloody. Reports are confused, but all agree that the garrison killed a local warrior, a well-known rabble-rouser. The crowd became incensed over his slaying, and surged out of control. By the time the day was done, the garrison had been stoned or stabbed to death or simply torn apart by hand. Within days, a second rebellion in Orsha had begun and from there it spread like wildfire. By the summer’s end, the steppe was in flames. Fifteen regions were in open revolt, and in two more, the rising rebellion had been bloodily put down by the Emperor’s garrison. By a weird coincidence, all the forces that had seized slaves joined the rebels.
In Sauthor, the knives came out. Maugroth, Reor’s brother and heir, was murdered in the forum of Caravok. Many whispered that the murderer was either Daureg the Vile, or someone loyal to him. Rumors quickly spread that the next target for assassination was Reor’s newborn son. At this, Daureg, Kelgor the Old and Akrat, three of Reor’s most trusted lieutenants gave impassioned speeches about the abuse of the soldier’s traditional rights. Maugroth’s army joined them, and all fled the region for Hullumak. Once there, they proclaimed Daureg as true Emperor of Carhallas and the legions proclaimed him on their shields.
The Reformed Empire of Borokoth –
Ruler –Emperor Daureg I
Capital – Ilkmaor
Daureg became emperor.
The Great Kingdom of Annvar –
Ruler –King Udoin IV
Capital – Varthane
While his people huddled in nameless dread, King Udoin did the crossword puzzles from the Varthane Gazette.
The Conorrian Heartland –
The Dwarven Realm of Dhûnazhar–
Ruler – King Durokor Thundershield
Capital – Khelem Vala
King Durokor saw to his realm in a prudent, deliberate dwarven manner. None of your fancy-pants diplomacy or trickery for the dwarves! Fortifications were strengthened in Lenicum. Construction began on a wizard’s guild in Khelem Vala. A census was had (and painstakingly thorough it was – if it was worth doing, Durokor believed, it was worth doing carefully).
A thousand of the King’s Elite Guard were raised in Khelem Vala, as tough a force of infantry as could be found anywhere on the face of Theeurth. Their shining, tank-like armor and gleaming axes were enough to make any red-blooded dwarven lass lightheaded. And what beards! Like images of war god Artorius they were.
The dwarves had long grown used to the vile nature of the Worldspine Orcs, and looked with suspicion towards the hobgoblins of Carhallas. Those monstrous races served the Dark Court, as they always had, but that somehow seemed fitting, given their vile appearance and foul tempers. But now a new thing had come into the world, something the dwarves of the Kingdom Under the Mountain simply could not abide. In Endorwaith, the cult of the dark gods had spread…to dwarves! It was not to be borne. It could not be borne, and Durokor Thundershield meant to put a stop to it immediately.
He marched out through Dhûnazhar and into Endorwaith at the head of an army nearly 10,000 strong. There was some discussion of allowing young Valand Dragonsbane to lead the army, but Durokor was having none of that. He was a king, and by all the gods, he would lead his own army! He would have to keep an eye on Valand, he thought. Perhaps change the locks to the treasury.
Dwarven priests of the Great Church were present in the army, and these blessed the King’s troops in their holy task.
The dwarves of Endorwaith knew this day was coming, and they met the King with more than 2,000 defenders on a mountain road overlooking a near-bottomless gorge. Here, they knew, Durokor’s advantage in numbers could not be brought fully to bear. And there, in the pass of Khand-Namon, as a cold rain began to fall, dwarf fought dwarf in pitched battle for the first time in uncounted centuries, their steel ringing to the heavens, and the laughter of Caravok, god of slaughter, echoing off the mountainsides. No clever tactics were possible on the narrow confines of the road. It was a meat grinder, pure and simple, with the dead being unceremoniously trampled or shoved into the yawning abyss.
When the day ended, the defenders were slain or fled (for no quarter was asked or given) and Durokor’s forces had lost eight hundred slain. The leaders of the cult of the Dark Court were rounded up and executed by stoning, their names chiseled off every surface and consigned to the pit with their dark masters.
The Conorrian Empire –
Ruler –Emperor Varantius II
Capital – Echoriath
Diplomacy – Caprera [T]
The vast and unwieldy might of Theeurth’s greatest empire poured forth in an effort to make itself more efficient. Treasure houses were emptied to build both a Merchant’s Guild and an Adventurer’s Guild in Echoriath, and to send a bequest of gold to the Great Church, bride of the Empire.
While his son, Arcalas, learned the art of governance, Varantius II and most of his vassals watched the borders, ever vigilant. These were under no illusion that the Empire’s might made it impervious to attack. Varantius himself had been Emperor when the Orc Dominion was at last defeated and driven out of Conorrian lands. One needed only the most cursory understanding of history to know that, mighty as it was, the Empire was but the shadow of greatest size. Varantius II believed in eternal watchfulness, and emphasized this by raising up a scholae of 1,000 elite legionnaires.
However, during this time, there was a note of joy in the Imperial palaces. Arcalas’s wife had given birth to a healthy baby boy, Varantius’s grandson. The imperial line would continue.
Senator Pedrastes was tasked with improving the capital, and he lined the Campus Erdhonis with marble risers so that the city’s crowds could more easily observe the panoply of their elite troops at drill. Senator Gaius Calos ws sent to the island of Caprera to negotiate closer ties with the Empire. He made vague allusions to building a port city and perhaps even a marriage into the Imperial family. The locals were mildly starstruck and agreed to pay tribute to the Empire. Senator Flavius Sextus and a minor army of bureaucrats traveled the realm, counting every city, castle, bridge, road, farm, ship, hay wagon and corn field, down to the last pig and last grain of wheat. The taxes would flow, by the gods, or Sextus would know the reason why.
Finally, a confused report, ignored for some time in the bowels of the Ministry of Collections, was finally brought to the attention of the Comes Sacri Cubiculi, the Imperial Chancellor. It seems that a rather persuasive band of halflings had persuaded the people of Cyclados on the isle of Scythnus to align with them, rather than with the Empire. Surely some sort of sorcerous glamour had to be involved? Come to think of it, when was the last time an Imperial Quaestor had visited that benighted little town? (See The Exarchate of Thariyya, below).
The Great Church of the Lords of the Grail –
Ruler –Patriarch Flavius Vares Mentaurus
Holy City – Conorr
Diplomacy – Akasian Hills [CH], Calodunum [CH], Saxetus [CH], Adoria [CA]
The Church busied itself with building itself and supporting allies. New churches were built in both the Empire and in the Crusader States, and an immense cathedral was built in the lush countryside of Adoria. Hurried efforts to establish a monastery in Faucrion ran into trouble over the ownership of land, and the whole idea had to be scrapped. In Mynos, a scholae of one thousand of the Church’s Knight-Paladins was raised to guard the Holy City of Conorr. The entire region turned out to watch their first parade to their barracks, there to receive the blessings of the Patriarch.
The Church also helped others, sending a large wagon-train laden with gold and precious objects to the Holy Order of the Dawn. Priests were sent to bless Dhûnazhar’s troops on their mission to destroy the cult of the Dark Court in Endorwaith.
The cavern was dank and musty. The smell of it made the spy’s nose itch and reminded him of overripe fruit and hot metal. His boots crunched the bones of small dead things the shape of which he would rather not know. They were moving again. Pulling his heavy hood tighter, he held the candle in front of him, as they all did.
He could not see forward, his view blocked by the back of the man in front of him. The man was large, and smelled of onions and sweat. He was probably a farmer, or perhaps a farrier in the village. For all the spy knew, however, the big man was an important person, down here. They shuffled forward in the gloom. The spy could hear someone chanting, ahead.
They arrived, as he had suspected, in a large chamber, worked by hand and roughly shaped centuries ago. There was a large pit, as he had heard, in the middle of the chamber, it’s depths obscured in the eternal night of the caverns. The candlelight would not go so far, even though hundreds now burned in the cramped space. The he saw the altar, and his blood froze. The sacrifice…that was no goat. It was a woman, drugged by her movements, but still terrified.
He couldn’t let this happen. But…all these people…what could he do?
The spy began to edge toward the pit, his grip on the silvered haft of his father’s sword.
“In the name of the Lord of Frost, we come!” intoned the priest, triumphantly.
“See, Father, what we sacrifice for you!”
The spy tensed, ready to spring…
Know, O Prince, of the great cities of Vales, the Dark Continent. He that is wise will learn well their names and kinds. Greatest of all is Merwal, ancient capital of the Sathlas, at the confluence of the Artaxes and the Lethes rivers. Some claim that the dark god of the Sathlas dreams there in hidden vaults, one day to waken, though one must wonder why he would not have done so when the humans stormed his city and took it for their own. Dammarask is also ancient, built upon ruins of a city of old and wicked Numanthaur. City of the Spiders, it is called, and it is filled with both the eight-legged and two-legged kind. Great are its walls, adorned with the sigils of the Gods of Woe. Thedelos in the nation of Luxur is a vast pile of stone, dangerous unmapped alleys and fabulous storehouses of treasure. It sits dreaming in the Artaxes delta. Vales, after which the continent is named, is the birthplace of many of the greatest philosophers and artists in the human world. From its vast harbor, ships travel throughout the sea that also bears its name.
North-Western Vales –
The Llyran Republic –
Ruler –Constans Harko Marova
Capital – Tarrentica
Diplomacy – Vastium [F]
The Senate concentrated on internal affairs. The district of Mons Llyrae received some much-needed work on roads, fences, bridges, wells and barns. The shipwrights of Vastium, famous for constructing the fabulous Llyran Skyships, turned out a considerable number of more prosaic warships. The Joraidan, Caelan Bolusova took command of these and patrolled the waters around the Republic for most of 2781 and 2782, coordinating where possible with the Har’akir fleet under Emir Feldar. Magister Harko Marova and Strategos Kaidar Nemova both traveled to Vastium where they spent years in negotiation with the Mayor, Oguin Puertos, for the full accession of Vastium into the Republic.
Not surprisingly, however, most of the Senators’ time was taken up with casting spells. Most of these went unseen or undetected by the diplomatic community, but no one could mistake the odd things that seemed to occur around money. Businesses throve in no small way, and Llyran goods went for a premium in the markets of the world. This, observers were sure, was the work of the Magister, and quite probably the entire Academy of Mages.
The Holy Matriarchy of Ahuran–
Ruler – Queen Beolaan
Capital – Sedeskan
Diplomacy – Ilduskan [F]
Queen Beolaan sat atop her throne at the high end of the hall in Mahaaran, considering. The World of Men was far away, for once, and Ahuran free to plot its own course. Of all its needs, her realm most required a steady hand at the finances, she believed, and for the next five years, she dedicated herself to making her realm more efficient. Consulting with some of her most gifted advisors, she completely reorganized and recodified the tax system, removing old and anomalous laws that obstructed the flow of capital.
The Queen held a great synod of the priestesses of Ahuran, where discussion centered on how best the rules of Parmadaan might be best applied to the mercantile trade. The Queen herself spoke to note that riches and contact with outsiders were both strong temptations to fall from from following the code, and that ways needed to be developed to aid the merchants in maintaining their faith. To aid in this, she personally founded the Guild of the Azure Sails, a merchant’s guild in the port city of Ilduskan. To help ensure orthodoxy, she gave half the posts in the guild to retiring soldiers.
Crown Princess Jerzuul, meanwhile, led a delegation of four noble families, Staraams and Landresses of great note, to woo Teolide, the Staraan of Ilduskan, into closer ties with the matriarchy. The long negotiations finally ended when Jerzuul married Codriis, Teolide’s older brother in a huge ceremony, the talk of Ahuran for many years. As part of an tradition so ancient even the Ahurans do not remember its origin, their vows were spoken with Codriis kneeling and Jerzuul standing. All involved agreed that it had been a very beautiful affair.
As Jerzuul and Codriis honeymooned on the Royal Estates in Rarram, Jakartha Windworn and several of the leading women of the realm investigated a rumor of buried city in Sendorin, recently uncovered by an earthquake. Villagers nearby had requested help, complaining of bizarre dreams and the occasional missing livestock. Few spoke the actual words, but all hoped that it would be the legendary lost city of Meij. Instead, it was no buried city, but instead a large cave system. Jakartha and her party returned from their investigations months later, tight-lipped about what the had found. Landress Sen of Haalthor was injured (poisoned, some said) and had to be carried home on a litter.
Ruler –Sultan Mavoud Alouda
Capital – Mar Awas
Diplomacy – Damo [FA], Muzir [F], Akir [F], Qadras [T]
|The Royal family of Har’akir launched an all-out diplomatic assault on the regions and cities of their realm. The gods smiled upon their efforts, which enjoyed considerable success. Sultan Mavoud Alouda himself traveled to Entelle, Damo and Muzir, conferring with the Emirs there and coming to an understanding with the latter two. Mavoud married the daughter of the emir of Muzir, sealing the bargain.
He also ordered that fortifications be torn down in Damo, and rebuilt in Gon Bahar.
||Mavoud’s son by his first (now deceased) wife is Crown Prince Sacheem. The Prince spent the years 2781 and 2782 conducting a hurried but ultimately successful census of the realm. In Erdhonis 2783, he married the daughter of the emir of Akir, and by the following year she had given him a daughter.|
Emir Feldar put to sea from Agazier with dozens of ships, taking them to their permanent port at Muzir. From there, Feldar patrolled the seas around Har’akir in coordination with the fleets of the Llyran Republic. Contrary to expectations, the Valesians did not join this naval alliance.
Emir Beldar traveled to Akir, where he arranged the marriage of the Crown Prince and convinced the Emir of Akir to enter fully into the nation born of his region. Beldar then traveled to Qadras and convinced the Emirs there to pay tribute to the Sultan.
Finally, word has spread that in the region of Har Jadme, there is an oracle who can answer any question, though he is very difficult to find, and will only answer a single question.
The Valesian City-States –
Ruler –Councillor Centorius
Capital – Orcholus
We got lamb kebabs and ouzo. Who needs all that struggle?
Ruler –General Zsalvi
Capital – Thedelos
Zsalvi luxuriated on a sun-warmed divan on a balcony overlooking the huge city of Thedelos. He stretched out a clawed hand and scooped up a rat from a cage, flung it into his toothy maw and crunched, relishing both the taste and the squeal. Just so, he thought, would he consume the hated human invaders without ever needing to rise from his comfortable abode.
Zsalvi entrusted the Luxurite army to General Ksonyos. He had no time for such menial (and manual) work. He contented himself with whiling away a few more hours in the sun before calling his scribes to him and beginning the arduous but necessary task of conducting a census. Such was the life of a sathla dictator. But Zsalvi was no fool. He knew that when he eventually passed on, a leader of less than iron will could doom Luxur to civil war. So, he established a legal code, and thus began the slow process of moving away from a dictatorship towards empire.
General Ksonyos was pleased, but not satisfied. His army was strong. By the start of 2782, he had assembled a strong force at Pyrayus, but he needed more. Mercenaries were just the thing. He hired a further 2,500 sathla mercenaries at Pyrayus and was ready to set out. There was only one problem. The plans of attack called for a surprise amphibious assault on Keferis from the river, and Ksonyos now realized that he had no ships to carry his vast host. Determined not to miss out on his chance for glory, the General determined to march his troops to battle, and set about immediately crossing the Artaxes into Mekhet. He stormed through Lerope unopposed and found no defenders in Nemeher, which he quickly garrisoned.
(See The Battle of Khafour, below)
Ruler –General Proclides
Capital – Khafour
Diplomacy – Chalmen [NT], Osaru [T]
In the Spring of 2781, General Proclides married a local Keferis girl from a good family and set about ruling his young nation. Eight and a half months later, she died in a difficult childbirth, and the child died with her. Proclides believed that he had suffered the worst anguish of his life. He was wrong.
In early Strynod of 2783 came the news that a vast sathla army was marching through Nemeher. Proclides now fervently wished that he’d raised troops instead of investing Keferis’s riches in improving its public works. He called to him all his allies and feudal vassals, but few could arrive before the serpent-men. Proclides took command of his army and had just a little over two months to prepare defenses before the sathla host burst upon Keferis, bearing straight for the capital. The sathla had 14,000 troops. The humans less than half that.
(See The Battle of Khafour, below)
THE BATTLE OF KHAFOUR
6 Cleon, 2783
The humans of Keferis made their stand in front of the walls of Khafour, their capital. They had prepared their position with sharpened stakes and steep pits. They were as ready as they could be. Roughly even in number between archers and infantry, they formed two long lines in front of the city’s western gate. The Sathla made no mad rush. They took the entire morning to arrange and dress their lines. They were nearly all infantry, with a small contingent of cavalry (the sathla favor riding pankas, a bipedal dinosaur; horses and sathla do not much like each other).
The battle began with a strong rush of sathla infantry against the human center, supported by the pankas riding close behind. The human general Valles of Prophep distinguished himself as a brilliant leader and kept the human center from breaking by exhortations to king and country, and reminding them that they were all that stood between the serpents and their families. But it was all in vain. The sathla general Ksonyos was equally talented, and he had twice the number. Only a handful of human soldiers survived to flee into the gates of Khafour while the rest were slaughtered, dispersed or captured. The battle had cost Luxur a little more than 2,000 troops, which they could easily afford. 1,000 human soldiers were taken as slaves.
THE SIEGE OF KHAFOUR
Ksonyos set a strong watch on Khafour and set about enslaving the population. At this, the population rose up in defiance, and a second, more dispersed battle was fought. Keferis was prostrated, its citizens captive, and Ksonyos had lost another 400 men. By this time, the rainy season of 2783/2784 had set in, and Ksonyos’s troops entered their winter camps.
At the start of the dry season in 2784, Ksonyos transferred his slaves to Astalis of Aysiris, who marched them back to Luxur. Ksonyos then laid an active siege to Khafour. All of the human leaders had retreated into the walled city after the battle, and they now commanded its defenses. Khafour held out for three months, finally surrendering when Valles of Prophep was slain, shot through the left eye. During this time, Ksonyos’s forces suffered a total of 600 more sathla slain.
When the Sathla entered Khafour, they enslaved the population as before. Khafour was no more. As the brilliant flames leapt into the night, Captain Ystuv and 1,000 infantry marched the former residents out the front gate. They arrived back at Pyrayus just before the rainy season in 2785. Ksonyos put his army into winter quarters in the empty shell of Khafour.
Ruler –Sauressh Vaastassh I
Capital – Oroyon
Diplomacy – Ursurrnam [C], Ikka [C]
Sauressh Vaastassh was not about to let his northern cousins have all the fun. He raised 2,500 light infantry and with an army 6,000 strong set out to subdue the sauruses in the swamps of Gigirsu. The natives mustered some 1,800 troops. Amidst a sweltering swarm of biting insects, it was a scaly hit-and-run campaign, with ambushes from underwater and many a bloated, floating corpse. The attack, while ultimately successful, cost the Mykele army 1,000 dead or missing, and netted 2,000 slaves.
On his return to Oroyon, the sauressh tried unsuccessfully to drum up support for the construction of a new arena to be named in his own honor..
Elsewhere, Crown Prince Sishthreth failed to interest either Mikkulzim or Kurgal in an alliance. However, Jual’teth and Lisal’assh were able to establish Mykelean claims to Ursurrnam and Ikka, respectively.
The Steaming Kingdom of Drormt –
Ruler –King Zhee’ka
Capital – Breeka
North-Eastern Vales –
|The Exarchate of Thariyya –
Ruler –Exarch Al-Beliryn Bezyron
Capital – Uls Fakhar
Diplomacy – Cyclados [C]
||The Exarch was in no mood for delay. Peace had its uses, but the Small Folk could no longer afford to be passive. Caught like a nut between the jaws of two great empires (not to mention a third, just east of the Shattered Lands) the halflings of Thariyya could take control of their own destinies or be overwhelmed.
So it was that on a clear blue day in early 2781 that Al-Beliryn sent his son, Fezhir, 2,000 halfling archers and 800 pony-mounted riders marching through the Thariyyan countryside to secure the surrender of Hassar, on Thariyya’s southern border.
Hassar had never been unfriendly to Thariyya, in fact had a long mutual history. But the Exarch desired to make his nation one of the great powers of Theeurth, and the Hassarites mostly just wanted to live their quiet lives in pleasing obscurity.
Nazim, he dastir chosen to speak for the Hassarites stood at a bridge over a small and unnamed brook. The army of Thariyya stood arrayed in front of him and a large but untrained rabble of his neighbors stood behind. He and Fezhir conversed on the bridge for several minutes. Fezhir told him that the Thariyyans were not going to dispossess them Hassarites; they had in fact come to extend their protection to all of the Small Folk. Nazim told him that the Small Folk of Hassar needed no protection, except perhaps from Thariyya.
“You were once citizens of the Empire,” Fezhir told the old halfling, raising himself up to his full height of three feet, two inches. “And the Exarchate was given the task of securing the safety and allegiance of all the halflings between the Esharias and the Accolon border. You are therefore subjects of the Exarchate. Defy the Exarch and you become a traitor.”
“Is it treason to love peace and want to be left alone in our own lands? Go on, young fella. Go home before someone gets hurt. Halflings don’t spill the blood of halflings.”
But they did. Fezhir’s troops plowed through the waiting rabble like a scythe through summer wheat. Most fled after the first flight of arrows darkened the sky. The rest broken when Fezhir’s cavalry charged their flanks. The Exarch’s son recalled his cavalry as soon as he could, sickened by the carnage that had already occurred. He accepted the sullen surrender of the local dastirs and had the old man’s body (for he had died in the first volley of arrows) returned to his family with honor.
Back in Uls Fakhar, the Exarch formalized the tax and trade laws for Thariyya, allowing for a more efficient system of taxation. He and his wife were disappointed in their seeming inability to conceive a child. Healers from the Temple of Calandra were consulted, but they could discover nothing wrong with either parent.
The Exarch’s brother, Al-Kadem, traveled to the island of Scythnus, to the little town of Cyclados and there conducted one of the most interesting and creative harangues of the populace that anyone could recall. Despite their differences in both race and language, the fisherfolk found this small diplomat a genial and amusing fellow. He spoke to them of the values they shared, and of how the Exarchate was really part of the same Empire, anyway. Partly as a lark (because nobody thought it would really mean anything), partly as a result of some particularly potent Thariyyan wine, and partly because they were the backwater of the Empire and knew it, the townsfolk agreed to become part of the Exarchate, at least in name. So long as it didn’t interfere with the fishing, they said, they’d salute just about any flag the little man carried with him.
In the fall of 2784, tragedy struck the Bezyron family. Fezhir was found dead in his room. There had been two guards at every door to the house, and a servant who slept on the floor just outside the door. There was not a mark on the general, but his face was frozen in a terrible rictus of fear. The locals whispered that the old man’s curse had claimed the general’s life. The priests of Agaleus performed rites over the body and Fezhir Bezyron was buried in the land he had conquered.
Ruler –Warlock Vardan the Necromancer
Capital – Dammarask
Vardan tore himself away from his inquiry into the dark arts long enough to perform some tedious but necessary tasks. After terrorizing the scribes for month after grueling month of in-depth inquisition into the state of taxes, he spent more than a year whipping his army into shape. By the Spring of 2783, Accolon’s army was a hard, elite force of trained fighting men, inured to the depravations of the desert and fanatically loyal to the Warlocks. Finally, he dedicated a new academy for the study of the eldritch arts in Dammarask, known as the Ebon Tower. Thereafter, the Warlock disappeared into the depths of his own tower and was seen no more for many months.
Epiphetes the Diviner spent much of his time attempting to organize the sprawling city of Dammarask, and in particular to clean up some of the slums that infested the city’s margins. He had some small successes in this matter when he organized gangs of orcish thugs to set fires throughout one of the city’s most deplorable districts. The fires raged for five days, and many lives were lost, but quick destruction of certain offending buildings prevented the flames from spreading to more affluent districts.
Jordanes the Transmuter traveled to Nuradeem, but spent his days there fishing and building sand-castles with his niece and a few of her playmates.
Nightshade the Abjurer was appointed governor of Agharra, and built the Agharran hippodrome. Twenty thousand people packed its stands on opening day in 2783, and more than a million sesterces were wagered on the dozen different racing teams.
Kunic Wolfson, Lord of Arbelas, marched east with 1,500 men and raided the region of Hustaz. At nearly the same time, Anders the Red, Lord of Zamsh, followed a parallel course with 1,000 men and raided the region of Ziyata, not far from the Thariyyan border. Both of these small armies descended on small villages and desert caravans of the bedeen, semi-nomadic tribesmen of the desert littoral who are devout worshipers of the Lords of the Grail (indeed, the bedeen are some of the most fanatic Grailists in Theeurth). The raids left villages destroyed and scattered and gathered up several dozen sullen slaves each.
Reliable reports note that one of the Living Rock juggernauts has moved from Balbane into the Anvil of the Gods.
The Shadowed Primacy of the Dark Court –
Ruler –High Priest Gezz Half-Shadow
Holy City – Dammarask
Diplomacy – Elamen [CH], Hamsh [CH], Anur-Da [CH], Bis [MN]
Secure within the dank womb of Accolon, the Shadowed Primacy plotted its rise to spiritual ascendancy. This was to be a time of building. “Like a cancer”, thought Gezz Half-Shadow, the small man who was Malbor’s Chosen on Theeurth. Gezz was always known for his dark sense of the ridiculous, something which did not often endear him to his fellow prelates. Nonetheless, all knew it was dangerous not to laugh with the High Priest.
Gezz began by ordering 4,000 of his troops into the acacia forests of Haburah, where they were retired in place, given an ownership stake in good lands along the Mulgaunt, and told to build farms. These lands flooded twice a year and were capable of producing vast quantities of rice. Produce and sons were more important to the Dark Court right now than soldiers. When asked what they were to do in their isolated outpost, Gezz gave them this cheery sendoff: “Dig. Or die. Good luck. Despite his apparent disregard, Gezz had chosen wisely. The veterans seized this opportunity for advancement and built a small but thriving village on the muddy banks of the Mulgaunt. A local woodcarver even dedicated acacia statues of the Dark Ones for the town square. This village remained a religious preserve, not directly responsible to the civil authorities in Accolon.
Elsewhere, Bishop Xodast oversaw the dark rites of dedication for a the monastery of the Great Mother overlooking the bluffs above the sacred Mulgaunt in Bis. Bishop Yagrax exhorted the rural tribes of Hamsh and Anur-Da to erect stone temples to their dark gods.
The Shadowguard of Marador –
Ruler –Queen Madariel Shadowfoot
Capital – Lantar
Diplomacy – Hecaladon [F]
||The elves kept their ancient, sharp-eyed vigil on the Shadowlands, allowing none to approach on pain of death. Wizards and priests of the Shadowguard employed arcane means to search the spirit world for answers to the eternal question: Do the Shadows still sleep? Those guards on watch in the wild places around the edge of the accursed plain prayed in the dark that it was so.
Queen Madariel ruled serenely from her Liveoak Throne at Lantar. Near midsummer of 2783, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy. A great feast was held in the young prince’s honor.
Madariel’s heir, Ilwendil Swiftbow spent his days in careful consult with the various nobles of Marador, and created a large and beautiful tome, The Worth of the Shadowguard, detailing the possessions and responsbilities of each noble house and peasant cot in the nation.
Princess Vaeril Fallingwater traveled to the region of Hecaladon and spoke to the assembled leaders there of the great and terrible destiny which bound them together. They were much impressed and agreed to swear fealty to her lord and father.
Her cousin, Glorfindel of Beduina, had less success in Tintillo, which refused emphatically to wholly become part of the Shadowguard.
South-Western Vales –
Ruler –King T*ko
Capital – Nyange
The Sendahl nomads continued to range the pampas, almost completely unaffected by the outside world, though some merchants did arrive at Nyange from Luxur.
Ruler –Emperor Kobuto
Capital – Awayal
Emperor Kobuto enjoyed a lengthy state visit in Menrat, where the tribes, much impressed with his wealth, sued for the protection of the Empire.
Rumors from Elsewhere –
Far-traveled merchants report that the Kolyut hobgoblins are at war, possibly with Threns. The great lord of the Empire of Pearl, it is said, was visited in his court by four dragons. A new and mysterious citadel has arisen in the Antikki hills, south of the Dragon Reach.
GM’s Tip #1 –
Each turn, I will use this space to present a useful rules hint. Eventually, all of you will know what LOTE GM’s and experienced players know.
Using Action Points (AP) to Aid Actions
Extra time spent on most non-combat actions will give a significant modifier to the chance of success. For every 5 extra AP spent on an action, the chance of success is increased by +1. For this reason, it is usually better to have each leader attempt one or two actions in a turn, rather than four or five.
Example: Sir Bedivere decides to perform diplomacy in the land of Galahaud. Ordinarily, this would require 4 AP and would be based solely on Bedivere’s diplomacy rating. However, he spends 24 AP at the task, talking, cajoling and carousing, and gains a +4 on the roll (24/5 = 4.8, rounded down to 4.)]
Page Created 13 March 2005
Page Last Updated 14 December 2005