LORDS OF THE EARTH CAMPAIGN 54
“LORDS OF THEEURTH”
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Turn Two Newsfax
(A.C. 2786-2790)Prince, being thus obliged to know well how to act as a beast must imitate the fox and the lion, for the lion cannot protect himself from traps, and the fox cannot defend himself from wolves. One must therefore be a fox to recognize traps, and a lion to frighten wolves. Those that wish to be only lions do not understand this. Therefore, a prudent ruler ought not to keep faith when by so doing it would be against his interest, and when the reasons which made him bind himself no longer exist.
If men were all good, this precept would not be a good one; but as they are bad, and would not observe their faith with you, so you are not bound to keep faith with them. Nor have legitimate grounds ever failed a prince who wished to show colorable excuse for the non-fulfillment of his promise. Of this one could furnish an infinite number of modern examples, and show how many times peace has been broken, and how many promises rendered worthless, by the faithlessness of princes, and those that have been best able to imitate them to have succeeded best.
But it is necessary to be able to disguise this character well, and to be a great feigner and dissembler; and men are so simple and so ready to obey present necessities, that one who deceives will always find those who allow themselves to be deceived.
– Niccolo Machiavelli –The Prince
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 five dollars or more 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. 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
6. 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.
7. One Leader block per Leader please.
8. Lords 54: Lords of Theeurth is not the same as the Theeurth role-playing game, particularly when it comes to recent events. The timelines are different and will grow more so as time goes on.
9. Raids (especially slave raids) are more effective if you raid where, you know, people live and stuff.
10. The Have Children order can be given without costing AP any time the King, Queen or Heir is in the capital (not the homeland) and issuing the following orders: Rule, Administer, Defend, React or Govern.
11. Please note that I have changed the required AP for casting spells. This is so that combat spells can actually be cast in a time useful for combat.
12. See the FAQ for some important tips on how armies react to danger and invasions.
|The Skane Jarldoms–
Ruler – Jarl Varaskald
Capital – Vanaheim
Dominant Race – Human
Jarl Varaskald called his oldest son, Otho, before him. The young man was a fine warrior, his father knew, but was too fond of women and wine. It was time for the men he would one day rule to know the qualities of their prince. It was also time, thought Varaskald, for Otho himself to know. Farming was now the way of the Skane, but a prince of the Skane must first and foremost be a warrior.
Otho went down to the sea with the pride of the Skane, ten sleek dragonships, loaded to the gunwales with 1,000 lightly-armed warriors. Sliding out of the fjords of Skaneholme, the ships sailed south, surprising both Tirgonian fishermen and Daeron merchants, each of whom had shivered as children when listening to their grandparents’ tales of Skane raiders. But neither the hard Tirgonians or the crafty Daerons were Prince Otho’s targets. His ships flew over the water, spray flying in a cloud around him, his prows turning southwest towards the Mahadran Isles.
These rocky outposts of Vatheria have been home to countless smallholds, herdsmen and pirates since time immemorial. But the pirate ships of Deleos were elsewhere at sea and the smallholders wisely fled into the hills at the first sight of the wild-haired northmen. Otho’s raids along the coasts of the Southern Mahadrans were remarkably successful, stripping the islands of every valuable the inhabitants had not managed to hide away in the hills. After months of this, the Northern Mahadran islanders had more warning, and the Skane were able to discover little of value on these rocky islands. Well satisfied with their loot, the warriors of the Skane returned home confident in the abilities of their prince.
Back in Vanaheim, Jarl Varaskald spent the entire five years closeted with the agents, scribes and druids who advised him of the extent and nature of all his lands. The Skane census was inscribed in runes on a tall grey dolmen outside of the city. He also caused granaries to be built in the Skaneholme countryside.
Varaskald’s henchman Bjornnen Bamsndvaerder proved himself an effective governor, cleaning up Vanaheim’s dock district and building a broad expanse of boatyards along the sheltered southern edge of the city’s harbor.
The Kingdom of Tirgonia –
Ruler – King Aramayne
Capital – Tirgon
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Duncrannoch [F], Cruachan [F]
King Aramayne returned his attention to the conduct of the Tirgonian census. This time, the great monarch spent an entire five years on this monumental accounting. At the end of this time, the scribes of Tirgon produced a beautifully illuminated tome called The Oaths of Men, which accounted for each farm, abbey, holding, village and fee in the nation.
In Alqualondë, tales went around the waterside dives of an island sighted by mariners off the coast where none had ever existed before. It was said to be inhabited, for all tales agreed that a single tower of dark stone stood on a height at that from this tower emanated an eerie glow.
It has been more than ten years since the disappearance of my daughter. Upon reaching her teen years, much consideration and thought began to focus upon her marriage. This event would be historic and start the new age of Tirogonia.
Evil has delayed this event. Evil has kidnapped the princess in an attempt to halt the progress of Tirogonia and the just cause we represent. I can no longer allow evil to think it has won. I will always mourn the loss of my daughter, but I will no longer delay the bright future for all my people.
It had been decided that my daughter was to marry Orion Flavious, who is now the High Constable of Duncrannoch. The evil events of the past have removed the wedding, but the results of this desired union I shall now make official. From this day forward High Constable Orion is known, will be known as Prince Orion, heir to the Tirogonia throne. He is now my son, as he would have been the day he married my daughter.
Prince Orion has remained in Duncrannoch to help transition his people as he begins the new phase of his life as Prince of Tirogonia. It is my hope this will bring Duncrannoch closer to the Tirogonia banner. After this transition is complete, Orion will return to The Crown Lands, and we will celebrate.”
Dukes Farionh and Alphendri continued to hunt and fish in the beautiful Estwilde countryside and develop a relationship with High Constable Orion of Duncrannoch, but it was hardly needful. The King had all but named Orion his heir, and the young man happily swore an oath of fealty to the sovereign. If there was grumbling from certain dukes about the High Constable’s low rank in the aristocracy, they did not reach the ears of the King. Orion traveled to Tirgon in 2790 and knelt with his hands between those of his king, and was named a Prince of the realm.
In Cruachan, Duke Priacles spent years in tough negotiations with Duchess Sethen of Sothwall but eventually the fabled fortress-city also swore its oath of fealty.
The Great archmage Graalman was seen scouring the Eastern March and asking questions about the disappearance of Crown Princess Ariane in 2774. All agreed that she had mysteriously disappeared from the roads west of Munarch, along with her entire retinue.
Duke Theros Lossian of Munarch tried his hand at governing the city of Munarch, but proved himself a fairly anemic governor. High Constable Orion proved worse in Duncrannoch, spending his time in lusty tournaments and melees, although he proved excellent at both.
A rising tide of crime heralded the return of Tirgonia’s longtime nemesis, the Shadow Hand. This ancient thieves guild has a long history, going back to the dawn of Conorrian power in the region. Stamped out many times, it always returns.
|The Iron Empire of Daerond –
Ruler –Bishop Morbanes
Capital – Aicherai
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Hinnom [FA], Naxarius [Un]
|Energetic as always, the Black Dukes entered onto a great many projects in their citadels of stone. A dueling arena, built of the native red stone arose in the heart of Aluirek, while in Hastaalm and Nivaan, many fine buildings were erected to replace those burned down by the Harkorian raids of a few years before. In Angaurek, a slum was leveled for what would eventually be The Manticore League, a hive of scum and villainy that would attract the finest adventurers in Daerond. In Lycia, the foundations were laid of a fortress called the Danaur citadel.
After reading the many letters sent to him by his colleague von Taurek urging the young man to invest in slave farms, Black Duke Elerek of Nivaan began the cultivation of his province.
A Royal Road was driven through the blowing dust of the Great Rift, all the way to the Nivaan border. It continued to wind its way through Nivaan as a mere postal road, though Elerek also began the process of grading and paving that would eventually create a royal road.
Black Duke Bishop Gethrick Morbanes
|In Lycia, Bishop Morbanes spent more than a year huddled with several apprentices in a demon-bound circle of stones, working up some foul enchantment. Fierce goblins patrolled the area, driving off or killing the curious or unwary. Though a great and pestilential wind blew from Lycia towards Himerium in the spring of 2787, there seemed to be little result other than some ruined dinners and the occasional restless spirit.
Though Morbanes dallied with a small harem of slave girls, no issue was had from this congress, and rumor began to spread that the Black Duke was too old to produce an heir. Certain others speculated that perhaps this was the true purpose of the long ritual in the stone circle.
As was his wont, the mysterious Bishop then disappeared from public view for more than a year, locked up in some Lycian cave or retreat was the speculation. When he reappeared, it was in the region of Hinnom, where his summary demand for fealty from the proud and stiff-necked orcs resulted in deeply strained relations. Though the orcs were too fearful (and perhaps even too wise) to raise a hand against the mighty sorcerer, their allegiance to the Empire was seriously weakened.
Taken from Origins of Life: A Young Mans Catechism, a chapbook revised by Dar Abdaurek of the temple school at Aicherai, Great Rift, Daerond:
Much has been told of Evaless, Mother of Monsters, of how she lay with Malbor and thus gave life to the less-loved races of the world.
Her first progeny were the first outworkings of her will – smaller, less adept than their later-born kin, many formed in strange ways and most of them shunning the material world that more earthly races enjoyed. Scorned as abominations and demonic forces by those who cleave to self-righteous judgment and false piety, adherents of the Church Enlightened know the First Born to be earnest servants of the will of Malbor and Evaless.
In Daerond they are referred to as the Evaless Kaeshan-do: the Children of Evaless in the Common tongue, or simply, Kaeshan. In this sense the term means less offspring (as is its general usage for children of a parent), and implies more the young of soul, the inexperienced, they who have yet much to learn. For this has been the hallmark of the Kaeshan, that they are not completely formed in conscience or the capacity for higher cogitation. They are and always shall be the fledgling offspring of the Mother.
When the Kaeshan had been brought forth, Evaless looked upon her fruitfulness and knew that she could bear greater, yet more brilliant creations. Other generations followed the First Born, each increasing in power and self-awareness, each capable of different or greater actualities in the world. And when the Mother desired to put a race upon the face of the earth that would be hardy and hard-striving, the first race that she created was that of the orcs.
The first orc was Garumas, a mighty personage well-formed of all qualities the goddess deemed appropriate to orcs. Evaless beheld her work and saw that it was good. She then took Garumas to her bed, and let him to father more of his kind upon her. This happened to the amusement of Malbor, who did not and does not interfere with Evaless dalliances. Thus, while the goddess is Mother of all darksome creatures, Garumas became Father of Orcs, and the first and greatest of his folk.
Garumas dwelt with the gods and labored with them to resist the exile imposed upon Malbor by his traitorous fellows. In his strivings, Garumas proved his loyalty and worth and was eventually honored by elevation to a status of lesser godhood in his own right. As this transpired, orcs that peopled the earth came to realize they had a deity of their own, and since the early days of existence of orc tribes, Garumas (known under various names in different dialects and tongues) has held primacy as the Ur-Father and leading god of these people.
In Daerond it is recognized that just as Garumas worked in partnership with the Dark Gods, so do orcs work best in partnership with men upon earth. Tales of orcish predations have no place in Daerond: in this enlightened land, orc works with man to serve the will of Malbor, and man respects orc as a child of the gods filling a vital role assigned by the Divine. In turn, men of Daerond fill an equally special niche, commanding the respect of orcs by their toughness, their hardiness, and their excellence in battle.
Those of other beliefs and attitudes often have a different, more acrimonious relationship with orcs than do the Daerondese. If so, it is a contention nurtured or aggravated by men of small understanding. They are to be scorned, for they lack the fundamental grasp of the origins and nature of orcs, and the role they have to play with others in service to the gods.
In Lycia, Daerond’s young military genius, Gerdt-Evan von Taurek took command of the swifter portions of the national army and marched through the Hills of Terror and Hinnom. He was joined by able feudal allies Gedhros Estechon and Daesh Long-Arm. Together, they launched a raid across the Narglaurith River Gorge into the Harkorian region of Odomenoros. There, they scoured the countryside for slaves, and met with no resistance at all. It seemed that no provocation would bring the Harkorian army out to fight. Sadly, Odomenoros is a howling wilderness in the best of times, and few slaves were gathered from among its dense forests and rocky uplands.
Elsewhere, Grishna Bloodfist, Lord of the Iron Hills launched a raid into the Southern Edgemoor mountains to avenge the raids by the upland orcs years before. Unfortunately for Grishna, the forbidding, snow-clad heights of the Edgemoors are a particularly inhospitable place for raiders. Moreover, his one thousand lightly-armed orcs chose to raid the gathering place for the Edgemoor clans, where Graulor Ten-Arrows, Zaas the Butcher and Azgon the Foul had gathered nearly ten thousand orcs, many of them heavily armored, and all well-prepared. A few hundred of the Daerons staggered back out of the mountains, but nothing to show for it but the memory of pain and slaughter.
|In the high summer of 2789, the fisherfolk of the Harkorian island of Naxarius were stunned beyond words to find in their midst a tall, eerie figure in black robes. His presence made all uneasy. “More than a damned sight queer,” was how one local described him. “And he smelled like fresh-turned earth,” said another. This was the Black Duke known as Null.
Null told the gathered Naxarians that the Black Dukes required their island (“your pitiful speck of ground”, he called it) as an outpost and promised wealth and good fortune to those local leaders who “bowed to the inevitable”. The Lord of Dhaur was accustomed to immediate obedience and was surprised by the vehement response of the Naxarians, who hounded the Black Duke off their island with jeers and insults and not a few thrown fish-heads. Naturally, Null marked them all for an excruciating fate.
Finally, in 2790, large bands of orcish refugees from Maekras made their ways into the Iron Hills and sought permission to settle in Daerond.
The Harkorian League –
Ruler –First Councillor Alastor
Capital – Cadares
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Naxarius [EA]
In the wake of the disastrous battle of Lycia, the Harkorians worked feverishly to defend themselves against the expected counterstroke. Alastor rammed through the Council a proposal to borrow large amounts of cash from the nation’s remaining merchant houses and to then use the money to hire two thousand heavy cavalry to augment the army’s thinned ranks and to train that cavalry with the lessons of Lycia.
When word came of the Harkorian incursion into Odomenoros, the men of the League steeled themselves for the final battle and prepared to make a stand in Himerium (despite the odd odors wafting across the river from Lycia.) But the hammer did not fall. Joined by forces from Archameos and Odomenoros, the national army watched in stony silence as the Daerons ravaged the northern woods.
Silver-tongued Councilor Clytheus arrived in Naxarius and was in the process of reminding the islanders of their brave part in the nation’s history when the wraithlike Black Duke showed up. A few words in the right ears and Clytheus was able not only to drive out the Lord of Dhaur but to secure an alliance with Naxarius.
Second Councillor Gadaxes proved himself a decent administrator by causing the wreckage left by the Daeron overlords to be cleared from Cadares’s ancient sewer system.
The Edgemoor Orcs –
Ruler –Graulor Ten Arrows
Capital – Zaramaka
Dominant Race – Orcs
||Having blunted the Daeron incursion into the heart of their territory, the Edgemoor Orcs were content. Nothing was better than when they didn’t have to march for days to slaughter their enemies.|
|The Brythnian Confederation–
Ruler – Queen Pharsalia
Capital – Carrenthium
Dominant Race – Taurid
Diplomacy – The Great Meadow [F]
|In the Spring of 2786, Queen Pharsalia transferred the balance of her household troops to Barakor Wildaxe and with no more than two elderly retainers, galloped off to the Great Meadow to negotiate with the centaur chieftain Lòlindr.
At the same time, Wildaxe and all of Brythnia’s war chiefs met under the command of Prince Clovenhoof and awaited the coming of their elven allies from the Whisper Wood. Nearly ten thousand taurids were encamped in the rugged hills, two-thirds of which were centaur cavalry with the balance made up of minotaur infantry. When an entire year melted away and the elves had not come, Clovenhoof spat in disgust and marched his troops east to meet their allies. (See “War of the Worldspine”, below.)
In the fall of 2790, Pharsalia’s long conversations with Lòlindr were rewarded with an oath of fealty as the Great Meadow became part of the royal dominions of Brythnia. Returning to Tathlann, Pharsalia entered heat and mated with a fine young warrior of an allied clan. By midwinter, she gave birth to twins, two fine young sons.
Princess Elianna, meanwhile, struggled to improve the city of Carrenthium. Though largely a failure, she did have some success in getting public ovens built in the poorest part of town.
Ruler –King Brandobaris
Capital – The Great Delve
Dominant Race – Halfling
Diplomacy – Dhalken [A]
||Tragedy struck the Royal Family as Queen Lyria died with her baby in childbirth in the year 2786. A dignified funeral was held on the grassy slopes above the Great Delve. Little Maia, the Princess Royal, was only three years old, and everyone agreed that she was very brave. The king received heartfelt gifts of canned goods, livestock and pipeweed from every district of the kingdom.
Grieving, Brandobaris threw himself into ruling over his peaceable kingdom. Under his guidance, new canals were cut into the hillsides of the Great Delve, allowing larger ocean-going ships to dock directly at piers adjacent to the merchant factors of the city. The small village in the South Downs continued to take shape.
He oversaw the completion of the golden domes of the Blessed of Eristemus, the Aelissian Merchant’s Guild in 2788, the opening of which was a grand event, attended by every member of the Moot and an honor guard of elite Aelissian Slingers.At the insistence of the Moot, Brandobaris made a speech before the finely-wrought iron gates of the Guild.
“Fellow citizens of Great Delve, and brethren from across Aelissia, I thank you for leaving your burrows to join us in the opening of this House of Trade, the Blessed of Eristemus. We hope it will facilitate commerce with the many peoples across the seas. We are truly blessed by the Grail and honor them by naming this Guild House after Eristemus, may he in turn bring us his blessings. Now, lets cut this band and start the party!”
Cheers and many drained mugs of ale met this proposal.
In 2790, Brandobaris became interested in naval matters and worked to improve Aelissia’s small navy, outfitting his sleek galleys with new ballistae and copper-plated rams.
Young Ortho Longacre traveled to the hills of Dhalken and spoke the independent halfling farmers of that half-wild region in the shadow of the Diron Peaks. Taller and more dour than most halflings, the scattered steadmen of Dhalken were reluctant at first to listen to the more citified Longacre. But he spoke with honesty about the threat of the alien H’rethek to the south and amid aromatic wreaths of pipe smoke, they nodded their slow agreement. They would become the allies of the king.
Ruler –Queen Armallia
Capital – Khairais
Dominant Race – Human
||Armallia the Warrior-Queen spent a blissful year at Khairais with her husband and children, awaiting the arrival of the Lorraine army and working hard in the service of her people. In that time, she doubled the number of castles and defensive works around Quesante, as well as building several armories along the paths to nearby regions. She recruited a thousand trained siege engineers for the army. But all along, plans went forward for invasion, for she coordinated a flurry of letters between Khairais, Armorica, Laedrus and Conorr.
Prince-Consort Tancred, meanwhile, took over the governance of the capital, and proved to be quite good at it, building a grand plaza for the assembly of the army and also a fine arena for bull-fights and bear-baiting.
When the Lorrainese arrived, Queen Armallia bid her family a tearful good-bye, donned her spear and breastplate and rode out on her roan mare at the head of her five-thousand man army alongside Lord Gunther of Lorraine. (See The H’rethek War, below).
Ruler –The Hive Queen
Capital – Kal Primus
Dominant Race – Har’keen
The Hive Mother stirred, the ruddy light of the glow-worms casting lurid streaks across the ebon chitin of her thorax.“More daughters are required. Send in drones.”This was done, quickly and efficiently. The drones swarmed the Hive Mother, crawling across her enormous body, their mandibles clicking in frenzied delight. Within days, the drones were dead, their purpose in life fulfilled. Their bodies made excellent fertilizer for the rich fungus farms. This ritual was repeated each season for five years. The Hive Mother birthed many hundreds of drones and warriors, but only one Brood Daughter, dispassionately named #4.
Meanwhile, the adult Brood Daughters (#1,#2 and #3) gathered their ravenous forces in the vast slave fields of Ehkek 7, quickly marched through K’chak and crossed the Sarronne unopposed into Garromais with more than 17,000 warriors, drones and fliers. (See The H’rethek War, below).
Ruler –King Aurelian
Capital – Armorica
Dominant Race – Human
King Aurelian sat upon his throne in the echoing Western Hall of Dragonshead Castle, warmed by coals in a large brazier. While his closest lieutenants went to war, and his allies watched the coasts, the old king’s backside ached with hour after tedious hour of hearing accounts and moving shipping. He moved many hulls from the coasts of Lorraine to trade routes leading to Tirgon and Aluirek. Towards the end of 2790, his scribes brought him a great book of rare parchment, describing all his lands. But to their sadness, they found it was just too late. The monarch had died in his sleep. King Artorius was crowned in Haversham Abbey the following week, amidst much pageantry and festivities. All agreed that Aurelian had led the nation to a new golden age, and that Artorius was the man to capitalize on that strength.
Meanwhile, back in 2786, plans were made for an expedition to Corland. Aurelian turned over his army and navy to the joint command of Artorius and Aurelian’s lieutenant, Gunther. After adding more than a thousand cavalry (including more than 200 Knights of the Golden Lance) and several hundred cavalry to their army, these two began a lengthy series of trips to the Corish coast, ferrying the army over bit by bit to the Oulenne shore. Then, Gunther struck inland and Artorius went off raiding. (See The H’rethek War, below).
The Whisper Wood –
Ruler –Queen Elevuil
Capital – Unknown
Dominant Race – Elf
Out of the Whisper Wood came…not a whisper.
The Neldorean Wood –
Ruler –King Edroessë
Capital – Melorias
Dominant Race – Elf
Diplomacy – Tiriya [F]
|Stoutly stood with his shield high-raised
the warrior king, as the worm now coiled
together amain: the mailed-one waited.
Now, spire by spire, fast sped and glided
that blazing serpent.
– Beowulf, Stanza XXXIII
Sun filtered down through ancient hornwood trees to glint off the golden roof of the Royal Palace and scatter in beautiful mosaics across the Pools of Memory in Melorias-that-was. Butterflies the color of sapphires adorned the trees like windows onto a perfect sky. Few kenned the doom that was about to fall upon one of most ancient and beautiful of all mortal dwellings. The Dragon was coming.
King Edroessë bent all his will and power into defending the seat of his people’s power. Hundreds of elite elven archers and spearmen were called up, and several hillsides were fortified in the manner of the warrior-elves of old. Fields of fire were cleared, and the northern border watched by keen-eyed elf-scouts, while Lady Senelra spent months summoning the Courage of the Firstborn, the animate spirit of the Neldorean people, a great blessing for the army of more than seven thousand elves that had gathered.
But the king also tasked his daughter, Nereil, to hire a team of adventurers known as The Black Banner, to hunt down and slay the dragon Urugall. After performing this fateful duty, golden-haired Nereil traveled to Tiriya and conveyed her father’s offer of her own hand in marriage in exchange for that land’s fealty. This was agreed, and a small but formal ceremony was held in Melorias, wherein the two were joined and Lothran of Tiriya became a Prince of Neldorea.
No tale tells of the encounter between Urugall and the Black Banner. It is not even sure that they met. What is certain is that once they left Melorias, no living man ever saw the adventurers again, and that on the very day of the Royal Wedding, the dragon descended in wrath on the elven capital.
Out of a clear blue sky came the ancient horror of the Stonehearts. Wreathed in fire and nigh-impervious to harm, it soared above the city, spreading terror and despair beneath it. Ordering Lothran to flee to the city of Elenuil with his daughter, Edroessë directed the defenses of the city, bringing all his eldritch might to bear. At his side stood the elf-lords Senelra, and Taralom, each arrayed in a rippling hauberk of shining mail and armed with a stout spear or sword of the elder days.
The army met Urugall on the wide avenue leading to the heart of the city. The heat of its passage caused trees and grasses to burn, and a cloud of clothyard arrows broke harmlessly upon its flanks. Death walked the streets of Melorias.
But the elves fought on, driven by their pride and the defense of their homes, as well as the magic that sung in their veins, thanks to Lady Senelra. Edroessë and Senelra called up enchantments to bedevil the wyrm and drive it back. But seeing the king, Urugall came upon him in a rush, leaving ruin in its wake. The two dueled in the plaza of fountains dedicated to the god Roldein. Three times the king wounded the wyrm with his spear, and when it was wetted with the black blood of the dragon the spear smoked and finally burst into flame in his hands. Then the dragon overbore the great elven king, and trod his body into the ground, slaying him.
At this the army burst upon the dragon in a mad rush, determined to recapture the body of their fallen lord. And this they did, at great cost, for many were burned or trampled. But the slaughter was too great, and the elves broke, running for their lives. They bore the body of the king with them, and it was later interred at Elenuil in solemn ceremony, on the same day when Nereil was crowned queen in a small and somber ritual.
Senelra fell under the spell of the dragon’s eyes and stood rooted in the plaza, unmoving. Around her the dragon tore down the city, toppling its graceful towers and uprooting its sacred trees. It washed its wounds in the sacred fountains, stopping them up and polluting the pools that flowed from them. It made a hill of skulls in the grand plaza, and gathered together the wealth of Melorias into the throne room of the palace, where it lay upon the hoard like a bed of gold. When it had lain there for weeks, it took to wing again, spreading its destruction across Neldorea, burning and fouling the land so that no elf and no animal remained there, and the only sound was the sighing of the wind in the dead and ashen trees.
Urugall returned to lay upon its golden bed and released Senelra from her long slumber. “Go,” it said to her with a voice like grating boulders. “Go and say this to the usurping elves. Now thou art indeed a vagabond people, and I am Lord of the Wasted Heath. Return not, for I welcome no beggars to my court.”
The Holy Empire of Ianthe –
Ruler –Chief Archon Ulolis
Capital – Narranthus
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Maicutis [F], Mocarre [-]
Ianthe experienced five more years of peaceful improvement. Ulolis ruled from the Crystal Throne, and at his command, the Archons raised up a cadre of elite Crystal Knights, as well as laying in crystalline lattices throughout Ianthis. Trade was commenced with most of the nations within reach of the merchants of Jarlhaven. Noticeable by its absence was any trade with Accolon.
In the summer of 2786, Ulolis married a sturdy, serious daughter of the Vamarask family in a ceremony that literally echoed in the minds of all who witnessed it. Ulolis and his bride, Deska, were elevated with their thrones by the sheer aureus of the assembled Archons, and bound in a crystal cocoon for seven days in the Ianthan tradition. And although the happy bride was soon gotten with child, she and the unborn babe perished on a winter morning heavy with sleet and hail. Ulolis would see no one for a month until he was brought forth by the command of the Archons.
Archon Athusian convinced the lord of Maicutis that his best interests were served by not opposing the full union of Maicutis and the Empire. However, Tug, the lord of Mocarre showed more spirit in politely declining the demands of Archon Mandarq that he do the same.
|The Exarchate of the Great Crusade –
Ruler –King Bleobaris
Capital – Pontezium
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Akasian Hills [F]
||In the White Tower of Pontezium, young king Bleobaris surveyed the detailed map of his realm drawn up on calfskin which his scribes had presented him. Bleobaris had some letters himself, but found it easier to have one of the many scribes read the place names to him. Besides, it wasn’t the names that mattered. It was the location.
His kingdom was a young one, but blessed with many advantages. A central location, excellent waterways, land in abundance. What it did not have was people. The plains of Acaris (now mostly forest) had been sparsely populated since the Mage Wars, and remained so now. Natives complained of odd occurrences and inexplicable lights and sounds. Some claimed that the world was worn thin here, that other worlds peeked through from time to time.
Take, for instance, the latest report out of Carrandis. Two small children were found, wandering in the woods, a boy and a girl. Both were completely green. Skin, hair, eyes, all green. And both spoke a language completely unintelligible to anyone. Such reports hardly raised an eyebrow in the Crusader States.
But Bleobaris believed that settlers would come if he built them places to live and work the land. So while the warrior king looked to the defenses of Querenia, he ordered that many important works be built. The walls of Regaldros, which had stood since his grandfather’s time, were torn down to allow for an expansion of the city (and, not incidentally, the city’s rich harbor). In the capital, Sir Maradoc was made governor, and he proved to be quite good at his job, constructing an elaborate sewer system for the growing city.
Among the strange tales which were so commonplace in the taverns of Pontezium, one stood out. A figure (everyone always called it a figure, as if unsure whether it was man or elf or god) had been wandering the back ways of Thelianis and Maenadia, speaking to local gatherings of farmers and merchants about a belief called The Way of the Sword. The Way of the Sword holds that Artorius is the one true god, and that all others are but his semi-divine progeny. The Way espouses martial readiness and decisive action, and so is very appealing to the soldiers and small-hold knights of the fractious Crusader States. The population of Maenadia has already taken to openly espousing this view.
The Holy Order of the Dawn –
Ruler –Grand Master Caius Androsius
Capital – The Akasian Hills
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Eatris [-], Caxonne[-]
From the far-off strongholds of Corland to the lush hills of Akasia, the Order went about the business it was made for: War. The practice yards and drill grounds of the Order echoed with the cadenced bootheels and enthusiastic oaths of young men and women from all across Vatheria. Second sons of noble houses rubbed shoulders with starry-eyed farmer’s sons, as identity and family were burned away in the forge of training, leaving only the steely- eyed killers of the gods.
Fourteen hundred Knights of the Golden Dawn were inducted into the order and, with a thousand men-at-arms and sixteen hundred cavalry, marched west under the banner of the Grand Master towards the pass of Mauredoc and the battle of Andelais. (See The H’rethek War, below.)
Fifteen hundred lancers rode out of the Akasian Hills headed in the other direction under the command of Master Marcus, bound for the forbidding heights of the Worldspine Mountains. (See War of the Worldspine, below.)
Efforts to establish new Order Houses in the Conorrian region of Eatris and the Corish port city of Caxonne came to nothing.
The H’rethek War
There dread tidings of inland pursuit came unto the
Agaleon, 2786 – Seventeen thousand har’keen under the command of H’rethek Brood Daughter #2 begin to bridge the Saronne river into Garromais. At roughly the same time, the first Lorraine troops land in Oulenne and are greeted with shouts of welcome by the Corish people. A tiny force of twelve hundred cavalry, they remain in Oulenne under command of general Gunther and the wizard, Myrddin.
Cleon, 2786 – The har’keen begin to pass unopposed into Andelais.
Daarlem, 2786 – The second third of Gunther’s force lands at Oulenne and he marches inland with twenty-four hundred cavalry and four hundred infantry. Kaidar Nemova, Strategos of the Llyran Republic, arrives with his fleet off the Dal*kor coast. The fleet cruises the waters of Roldein’s gate, occasionally stopping at Cassivelaunus or Elenuil to take on water and supplies. Strange lights can be seen aboard the flagship. Merchants and fisherfolk stay well away.
Northhale, 2786 – As the snows begin to settle over Corland, Gunther arrives at Quesante and the har’keen army has completed its march into Andelais. To the east, Grand Master Caius Androsius and the reinforcements for the Order of the Dawn settle into winter quarters on the east side of the Stoneheart mountains on the Valdori road while Master Brutus and the main Order army winter at Quesante.
Erdhonis, 2787 – The combined Corland/Lorraine army sets out from Khairais and heads east towards Garromais. The har’keen begin to bring Andelais under their merciless control. They also tear up the Andelais postal road. Grand Master Caius and the Order detachment climb the Mauredoc pass.
Maravis, 2787 – Prince Artorius of Lorraine lands at Oulenne with the final third of Gunther’s army and pushes inland to catch up with Gunther. After overrunning the puny har’keen garrison, Gunther and the Lorraine army begin to dig in and defend Garromais, while Queen Armallia leads the Corland army across the Sarronne and into Nnn*ta. Flavius Mentaurus, Patriarch of the Great Church, departs the Akasian Hills with an army of ten thousand soldiers, including more than two thousand paladins. He marches west towards Corland. Caius and the Order detachment march into Andelais, where the har’keen army is currently looting bare the rough countryside.
Cleon, 2787 –The Battle of Andelais. Caius and his scouts became aware of the har’keen long before the har’keen were aware of their little force, but rather too late to simply retreat. They were deep into Andelais before the first signs of har’keen passage were spotted by the Order’s scouts, but by then, it was too late. The hugely outnumbered force of fresh-faced young knights and weary old campaigners was detected within days. At first, the attacks came in small waves and the brave crusaders were able to fend them off. But by the end of the week, an ominous silence built. Men began to call upon Erdhon to deliver them and upon Agaleus to judge their souls with favor.
Out of the silent wilderness arose a greet keening, the shrieking, warbling, piping yells of the har’keen. It reminded many in the doomed army of the cries of the damned in the Pits of Azhran. The battle took less than an hour and there were no survivors to carry back the news. Only the sun-bleached bones of men and horses and the ragged banner of the Order was to give mute testament to the slaughter and the skies.
Northhale, 2787 – Queen Armallia begins the attack on the H’rethek region of Nnn*ta. The Patriarch and his ten thousand enter the pass of Mauredoc, where they will winter in the city of Rhavais. Prince Artorius of Lorraine enters Garromais and winters in the forest uplands. Brood Daughter #2 begins the process of enslaving the scattered towns and farmsteads of Andelais.
Agaleon, 2788 – Prince Artorius catches up with General Gunther and turns over the balance of the army to him. The Lorraine army in Garromais now numbers over four thousand heavily dug-in defenders. Many of Gunther’s subcommanders worry that a dense forest is not the best place for an army to operate that consists primarily of heavy cavalry. Queen Armallia successfully captures Nnn*ta, slaughtering the small har’keen population that does not flee before her. The Patriarch arrives in Niance. The strange lights aboard the Llyran fleet abruptly stop and that fleet sets sail for the Crimson Coast.
Strynod, 2788 – Artorius returns to the Oulenne coast. Queen Armallia’s Corlanders begin to loot Nnn*ta. They are harrassed by har’keen warriors from Quor’lek’s large fortress.
Maravis, 2788 – The Hive Mother sends out fliers to recall Brood Daughter #2. The Patriarch’s army arrives in Varbonne.
Cleon, 2788 – Prince Artorius returns to Andred. Queen Armallia attempts to lay siege to Quor’lek, but finds it’s walls and fortress to be too much for her army. She decides against an assault and begins to march back towards Garromais. The Patriarch begins to dig in and defend Varbonne. Three armies now form a line along the right bank of the Sarronne river – The Order of the Dawn in Quesante, Lorraine in Garromais and the Great Church in Varbonne. Their enslavement of Andelais complete, the har’keen begin to march on Lilloger.
Northhale, 2788 – The Second Battle of Garromais. Prince Artorius and the Lorraine fleet raid Kz’zk This is a great success despite Kz’zk’s fortress and field forts. The Hive Mother’s recall order reaches Brood Daughter #2 in Lilloger. Armallia’s army reaches Garromais and settles in for the winter.
Brood Daughter #1 and four thousand har’keen escorting the slaves of Andelais, return to Garromais, expecting to turn over the slaves to the har’keen garrison and instead find themselves hip-deep (thorax-deep?) in twelve thousand human defenders. The battle proved fierce and unrelenting.
Although outnumbered three to one, the power and fury of the H’rethek was like nothing most of the human warriors had ever seen. The bugs seemed to swarm out of the trees, the ground, the very air. Wherever they attacked, they cut a bloody path through soft flesh and bone. But their attacks were formless, without inspiration, while the humans occupied a well-prepared position and enjoyed superb leadership in the persons both of the Queen and of the Lorraine general.
The har’keen threw themselves on the humans in wave after wave of attacks. None could fault their bloody-minded intensity. But the defenders used ambush, flank attacks, heavy cavalry charges and deception, as well as a stubborn determination to defend their own. Myrddin the wizard called upon the power of the earth itself to aid the humans, throwing up breastworks or pits where needed or seeming to slide the trees aside from the path of the cavalry. In the late afternoon, the har’keen spirit broke, and the alien ant-men ran for their lives. The numerous human cavalry pursued and cut them to ribbons. The humans held Garromais with fewer than one thousand dead. Plus, they had freed the slaves of Andelais. Meanwhile, the fleeing remnants of the har’keen army sought refuge in the Northern Stoneheart mountains, where only fifteen hundred of them managed to rally. The human armies celebrate, believing they have destroyed the main har’keen army.
[GM’s Note: The First Battle of Garromais was last turn.]
Erdhonis, 2789 – Prince Artorius proves that Kz’zk was no fluke and that raiding is in his blood. His raiders enter Dal*kor and take everything of value, setting fire to the rest. Queen Armallia marches for Quesante.
Agaleon, 2789 – Brood Daughter #2 and the main har’keen force return to Andelais. Armallia and the Corland army return to Quesante and begin to defend it. Prince Artorius raids Q’klee. It seems as if there is no stopping the dashing young privateer. Far poorer than Kz’zk or Dal*kor, Q’kleeis nonetheless cleaned out.
Maravis, 2789 – The Third Battle of Garromais – The battered remnants of Brood Daughter #1’s force begins to trickle out of the Stonehearts and back into Nnn*ta on their way to Ehkek 7. Meanwhile, thirteen thousand chittering, clicking har’keen marched determinedly into Garromais and straight into the astonished Lorraine defenders, who never dreamed so many bugs could exist, much less come at them from the north a second time.
There wasn’t even time for heroism. The prepared defenses of the Lorraine troops and the determined leadership of General Gunther allowed them to take a relatively heavy toll on the har’keen, but the har’keen numbers were too vast, their leadership equally great, and the prowess of the individual har’keen warrior too overwhelming. Also, the alien invaders seemed to be protected by a sort of magical field that turned aside many swords and lances.
The screams of the dying and dismembered were utterly drowned out by the incessant clicking, whirring and chirping of their conquerors. Those few humans who survived the initial assault by fleeing were quickly taken prisoner by the many columns of har’keen that never saw combat that day. Among the prisoners was General Gunther himself. Myrddin escaped by taking refuge within a large elm whose dryad spirit he had been romancing for some weeks. Brood Daughter #2 left a few troops to garrison Garromais and returned to the Hr’ethek homeland of Ehkek 7.
Cleon, 2789 – Wintertide, 2790 – The H’rethek war subsided into a guarded peace, with armed camps in Quesante, Varbonne and Ehkek 7 each cautiously awaiting the approach of the others.
|The Airnim Horde –
Ruler – Tarl Wolf’s Paw
Capital – None
Dominant Race – Human
||Tarl continued his work of disuniting and eradicating the orcs of of the Hammersea. First, he contracted with the captains of ten mercenary warships to join his force. Then, he transferred ten thousand light cavalry to his trusty lieutenant, Maggen, and then marched into Dhurkun at the head of some seventeen thousand cavalry.
The horde systematically looted and burned the immense slave farms of the Broken Tooth tribe, and carried away the produce of the farms in hundreds of large wagons. Next, Tarl turned to the city of Kamajh, and with the aid of the mercenaries, laid siege to the former Maekras capital.
|The doughty orcs held out against their besiegers for six months, but at last hunger caused them to capitulate. The horde, kept at bay for so long, broke into the city like a furious tide, slaughtering and looting with unrestrained abandon. After stripping the city bare, they fired its buildings and tore down its walls, leaving the symbol of orcish unity a mere jumble of tattered ruins on the shores of the Hammersea.
Next, Tarl turned his attentions to Mahant and the city of Daram Ghend. Though Mahant was spared the fate of Dhurkun, its capital city was not. This time, the determined orcs held out for far longer, knowing the fate of their brethren. But no aid came, and hunger and disease rapidly sapped their will to resist. After ten months, they could no longer man the walls and Daram Ghend met the same fate as Kamajh.
|Wolf howled for its kin
Atop the mound of dead
Horse raced like thunder
Across the frozen ground
Bear was silent
One thousand of the great herd
Stone raised in winter storm
Meanwhile, in Mahant, Maggen and his horde constructed a series of huge furnaces over which the shamans prayed for weeks, sacrificing many animals. When all was in readiness, they gathered up the thousands of orcish weapons and suits of armor looted from the armories of Maekras and melted them all down, driving out the orcish dross and leaving only pure, hardened steel. In two years of mystic rites and the sweaty labors of smiths, the airnim forged new suits of mail and tall, crested helmets for the ten thousand riders of Maggen’s horde.
The Shadowed Realm of Ascarlon –
Ruler –Baron Gauros the Arisen
Capital – Denavine
Dominant Race – Human
Content that nothing could possibly go wrong with their master schemes, the lords of Ascarlon took time off to work on their evil laughter. Because what, really, is a villain without a good evil laugh?
The Worldspine Orcs –
Ruler –Grauthor, Scourge of Malbor
Capital – Mount Kauroth
Dominant Race – Orc
Grauthor knew that accursed Taurid had shattered his army, and that he needed time to rebuild. He ordered that great smelting pits be built in the Worldspine North, and that the armories be vastly expanded. Then he sent Vaurog Breakspear north to seize much-needed provisions from the humans of Vilcea…and to seize the humans too.
Vaurog, eager to slaughter something, marched north into Vilcea with 4,500 troops, including hundred of hulking ogres. The war leader snarled in disgust and refused to even unsheathe his magic spear Harrowheart. The token resistance of the few Vilcea hill tribes annoyed Vaurog with its very anemia. Where was the glory? Where the red stain of war? He would have sharp words for that fool Grauthor when he returned to Mount Kauroth. And perhaps something sharper than words.
The hillmen were herded together and whipped back towards the Worldspines. Meanwhile, the entire region was picked clean of foodstuffs for the starving orcs, however, it was nowhere near enough to fill their many gullets.
On his return to the Worldspines, Vaurog again tasted the bitter flavor of disappointment. Putting a knife into Grauthor’s belly had become a pleasant daydream, but the leperous old fool hadn’t had the decency to stay alive long enough. Grauthor had been slain by goblins in the dueling pit. Spitting his displeasure, Vaurog ripped the crown of the Worldspine Orcs from the hands of the shaman and placed it on his own head. Vaurog Breakspear was king.
Unfortunately, Grauthor had presided over a terrible loss while Vaurog was away raping the daughters of northmen. (See The War of the Worldspine, below).
In 2789, the lords of the Blue Peaks and of Orod Dhorn both died, the one of natural causes at 22, and the other of an arrow through the eye during a boar hunt. In 2790, Vaurog narrowly avoided death when observing ritual combat. The balcony above him swayed and collapsed suddenly, killing the slaves who had been tending him, but only breaking a few of the new king’s ribs. Careful investigation revealed that the balcony’s supports had been nearly sawn through. Many were tortured, but those responsible were never found.
|The Empire of Carhallas –
Ruler –Emperor Reor
Capital – Carcaroth
Dominant Race – Hobgoblin
Emperor Reor’s Personal Standard
First Spear of the Flayed Man Legion
The Emperor had two problems. First, the vast civil war that had erupted across his realm over an Imperial taxation edict. He fumed at the sheer indiscipline of his people. Were they not hobgoblins? The traitorous lickspittles behaved like goblins, like…like elves!
Reor’s second problem was one that pre-existed the civil war but was seriously exacerbated by it – the enormous expanse of grass across which his people were spread. When they were nomads, it was little problem. The sea of grass was simple to control for his distant forebears. But Carhallas was now a civilized nation, and the fractious chieftains of the hinterlands were not so easy to quell.
A growled command brought scribes scurrying out of their hiding places. They prostrated themselves on the marble floor, hiding their faces from the anger of their sovereign. “Take these messages,” he began with sigh.
First, Reor must rule, regardless of what that bastard traitor Daureg did in Borokoth, or watch his empire fall apart. So he placed his considerable army into garrison, and began to issue directives to his bondsmen and lieutenants.
|A postal road, begun years before, was made to stretch from Carcaroth halfway to Gothmaur in Elsend. A postal service was begun in Carcaroth itself, and 800 peltasts were raised and added to the Carcaroth garrison.
In the south, the Dukes of Lauroth, Mendhaur, Pukel and Adhrak gathered their armies in Jurath and fell upon the rebels of Laokon and Ogier. A series of small actions and bitter slaughters shattered the resistance there. The dukes gathered up the population and marched them towards Carcaroth in chains, though they pocketed the loot.
In the north, the Dukes of Jezul, Gromon, Zhagon, Cavakal and Golod rained down the same ruin upon the rebels of Orsha, and also delivered them to Carcaroth as slaves.
The rebellion spread to Adumar, Lauroth, Khrundu and Brolok, though of these, only Khrundu swore fealty to Borokoth.
The Reformed Empire of Borokoth –
Ruler –Emperor Daureg I
Capital – Ilkmaor
Dominant Race – Hobgoblin
Daureg faced many of the same problems as young Reor, though with fewer resources and less patience. One thing he did not lack, however, was soldiers. Daureg moved in for the kill. (See The Carhallas Civil War, below).
During these years, the University of Borokoth was founded. This amounted to merely an old, crippled goblin, the only one in Daureg’s vast army capable of scratching runes on a tablet and reading them afterwards. The task of this sad little monster was to follow Daureg and record his heroic exploits for the ages.
Sadly, Laokon and Naedru renounced their loyalty to the new Empire.
THE CARHALLAS CIVIL WAR
As Reor placed his armies in garrison at Carcaroth, skilled trackers began to report on the location of the rebel army. Before they could locate it, however, Daureg and most of his lieutenants and allies were in Emekh and already crossing the Manndaran river just a few miles north of Carcaroth itself! They rode at the head of an army sixteen thousand strong.
As Akratush of Carhallas scrambled to assemble the army from its garrison, Daureg and his army was quickly moving to secure strategic positions throughout Sauthor. The complete lack of field fortifications made this a light and easy job. Akratush marched out his twelve thousand well-armed troops to meet Daureg in battle at Vekresh, a farming village two day’s march from Carcaroth. And there, two of the best-trained armies in the world performed great slaughter.
As the two armies faced each other across the green fields of barley, the summer sun stood low in a particularly beautiful cloudless blue sky. Each army was laid out in the classic hobgoblin formation, a strong heavy infantry core with a screen of lightly-armed infantry in front armed with javelins or slings. Heavy cavalry stood in tight formation to the rear, with light cavalry extending the wings nearly half a mile in either direction. To this, the Borokothi added a light cavalry screen of goblin skirmishers.
At a prearranged signal, the Borokothi advanced as a single unit, their precise discipline matched by the perfect silence of their enemies. Halfway across the field, the Borokothi heavy infantry wheeled right and charged the seam in the Carhallas line between its infantry core and the cavalry on its left flank.
It was then that Akratush made his critical mistake, one he nearly paid for with his life. He can, perhaps, be forgiven the error, for the size of his army was such that it strained the capacity of a single leader to master effectively, while the Borokothi had a great many leaders present, each responsible for only a single unit. In any case, Akratush allowed the Carhallas center to advance forward, seeking to outflank the apparently overextended rebel center and enter the gap that now appeared in the center of the rebel lines. This was the very trap that Daureg had set for him, for as the Carhallas heavy infantry marched confidently forward, the Borokothi heavy cavalry charged its right flank, acting as a wedge and driving open a gap between the Carhallas center and right.
This challenge was answered by the surging Carhallas heavy cavalry which, though confined by the narrow space in front of it, fought masterfully to keep the Borokothi from breaking the Imperial line. On the Imperial left flank, the Emperor’s Own guards, life-long veterans with many battle-scars each, held the charge of the Borokothi center in a reckless but ultimately successful attempt to stop their own infantry from being surrounded. Nonetheless, with the Carhallas center surrounded on three sides, the battle was bloody and long, fought spear to spear and stirrup to stirrup amid a field of trampled grain that was increasingly slick with blood and treacherous with fallen bodies.
The action ended only when the night grew too dark for the combatants to tell each other apart. Neither side was truly sure which had won, for neither truly held the field. Under the cover of darkness, Akratush and his forces fell back to the safety of Carcaroth’s walls. The next day, Daureg retired back across the Manndaran. Unknown at the time was the fact that two-thirds of the Carhallas army and roughly one-third of the Borokothi army were dead, wounded or fled. Each side managed to rally stragglers over the next few months. Three months later, the Borokothi were back.
Undanted, Daureg led his forces back to Sauthor in the late summer of 2786 and laid siege to the capital itself, mighty Carcaroth. Impatient of victory, Daureg’s forces created great engines of war. Trebuchets, mangonels, espringals and scorpions pummeled the walls while below, miners dug a narrow passage towards the foundations of the city walls. These were detected by the city’s garrison, which flooded the cramped underground gallery with water from the city’s vast reservoir, drowning the dusty soldiers laboring there. In the end, the ancient walls themselves defeated Daureg, forcing him to withdraw his army before they battered themselves to pieces. Once again, Carcaroth had proved to be impregnable.
And so the war continues…
The Great Kingdom of Annvar –
Ruler –King Udoin IV
Capital – Varthane
Dominant Race – Human
The world rushed on, heedless of the frozen inactivity in the far north.
The Conorrian Heartland –
The Conorrian Empire –
Ruler –Emperor Varantius II
Capital – Echoriath
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Lidhinos [EA]
Emperor Varantius transferred command of his legions to his sons Arcalas and Selanus. Selanus, magister militum per Faloricum, took command of the twenty thousand scholae reserved for the praesantalis, the army in the Emperor’s presence. Arcalas, meanwhile, assumed command of the IX Legion, six thousand heavily-armed legionnaires in their shining panoply and a further six thousand auxillae, including lancers from Gistares and tough hillmen from Ceumum and Lagentium. Following Arcalas were a further three thousand foederati from the allied regions of the Empire. All marched under the ancient and potent symbol of the Empire, the Blood Eagle Banner. These marched to meet allies from Dhûnazhar, Brythnia and the Holy Order of the Dawn. (See War of the Worldspines, below).
Now aging rapidly, Varantius II, Hammer of the Hobgoblins, worried about the state of his empire. Though he had two sons, he labored to produce others while he energetically manipulated the ship of state. Sadly, his first (apparently unnamed!) wife died in childbirth in the year 2787. Married again in 2788, the Emperor was nonetheless given no further children. Many whispered that the time for such things was long past, for the Emperor was now in his seventies.
The Emperor was not without many less carnal successes, however. He set masons, engineers and a veritable army of peasants to work in the fields of Adoria, beginning a process of Intensive Cultivation there. He raised four thousand legionnaires for Arcalas’s army. He widened streets in Faloricum and created a series of wayside inns to serve the needs of the Empire’s burgeoning postal service (which everyone knew doubled as the Emperor’s eyes and ears).
Most interesting of all, Varantius gathered together some of the bravest and most experienced souls in the land, lavished funds and licenses on them and housed them within the grounds of the Imperial Precincts, thus founding the first Imperial Adventuring Company, named Imperator Aquilae. These worthy individuals promptly left the city under cover of darkness and did not return for three years. They reported directly to the Emperor.
Noting the personal qualities of Dominus, comes per Lidhinos, the Emperor sent one of his personal aides, senator Gaius Calos to woo the young nobleman into closer ties with the Empire. Several years of tense negotiations caused Dominus to agree, and Lidhinos tied its economic reins to those of the Empire.
Far to the northeast, the forgotten forest regions of Nida and Lascuta both revolted and slipped quietly from the Imperial reins.
The Great Church of the Lords of the Grail –
|Ruler –Patriarch Flavius Vares Mentaurus
Holy City – Conorr
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Armorica [CH], Osca [CH], Sabratha [CH], Eatris [CA]
The Great Church was busy. As was related elsewhere (See The H’rethek War, above), Patriarch Mentaurus led a large force to the aid of Corland. Before marching, he secured tithes from Corland and the Valesian City States (over the vigorous opposition of the Valesian Primarch.) Bishop Iacobus marched from Mynos to the Akasian Hills with a thousand young paladins and thousands of pilgrims eager to lend their labor to the cultivation of the hills. Iacobus and his paladins protected a large wagon train of gold all the way to the stronghold of the Order of the Dawn. Meanwhile, Bishops Asterius and Palladius spread out through the Conorrian heartland, renewing old churches wherever their paths took them.
Young chaplains, strong in faith and practical in the ways of the world marched with the Conorrian and Dhûnazharan armies that marched into orcish territory (See the War of the Worldspine, below) and blessed the troops, bolstering the morale of both armies.
What really had the priesthood fired up, however, was this new splinter cult in Maenadia, the Way of the Sword. The various orders, cults, chapters and brotherhoods that coexisted under the umbrella of the Great Church had always been fractious, but claims of absolute primacy threatened the Church itself, raised the specter of what the 19th-century heretic bishop Priscillian had called “the startling illogic of a single church for many gods.”
THE WAR OF THE WORLDSPINES
In the midsummer of 2786, four armies gathered in the Orc-infested hills of Ophialum under the overall command of Valand Dragonsbane, soon-to-be-king ofDhûnazhar. Arcalas of Conorria had brought fifteen thousand men, and Master Marcus of the Holy Order of the Dawn had brought fifteen hundred more, all mounted. Highlander Clovenhoof, minotaur general of Brythnia, brought ten thousand taurids, and Valand himself commanded nearly nine thousand sturdy dwarf warriors. Furthermore, the dwarves and Conorrians were bolstered by magic, including the blessings of the Great Church.
These thirty-five thousands of well-armed and magnificently-led soldiers now looked about them at the Ophialum hills with their thousands of caves and hundreds of shadowed valleys. They were being watched. They could feel the eyes of the orcs upon them. And something else. They could feel fear.
Like avenging angels of war, the pure and terrifying light of crusade in their eyes, the allied army cleansed Ophialum of all orcs, burning their villages, pulling down their sad little fortifications and tearing out their sparse farm plots root and branch. No prisoners were taken, and those orcs that fled were pursued by the Taurid and Order cavalry and cut to ribbons. The smoke of the pyres consuming orcish corpses lay thick over the countryside, as did the stench of that burning. No garrisons were left to hold the hills, however, when the crusaders left, sweeping north into the heart of the orcish territory. Many of the allied and associated troops marched home at this point, though the core of national armies remained.
The Worldspine South was far more difficult terrain, particularly for the centaur cavalry, though the dwarves seemed to relish fighting on below the treacherous, craggy slopes. There was astonishingly little resistance as the allies cut through a second swath of orcish territory. Unbeknownst to them, Vaurog Breakspear was off in Vilcea with no idea whatsoever that his future realm was being torn down around his ears. The orcs of the region fought bravely, even suicidally to avoid the fate of their Ophialum brethren, and many escaped into the Worldspine North. But they numbered only a few thousand, and were slaughtered by the murderous allied armies. The campaign had a tragic end, for two of the Taurid generals, were both slain in the closing weeks of the war. Highlander Clovenhoof, husband of the Crown Princess herself, was ambushed in a goblin cave. He was found dead, a dozen orcs hewn in half around him. General Celebrindal was crushed in a rockslide two days later. The two Taurids, minotaur and centaur, were buried side by side in a mountain pass under the rays of of the rising sun.
As the Taurid army (now barely under the control of Barakor Wildaxe) slipped west towards Brythnia, and the Conorrians marched south into Quaethos, Valand Dragonsbane was proclaimed king by his army (See “The Dwarven Realm of Dhûnazhar”, below). Shocked at this turn of events, and told by Valand that what must happen now was “strictly between dwarves”, Master Marcus marched his small army south in the company of the Conorrians.
The Dwarven Realm of Dhûnazhar–
Ruler – King Durokor Thundershield
Capital – Khelem Vala
Dominant Race – Dwarf
King Thundershield commanded the beginnings of cultivation in the rich hills of Phaedon. Then he raised a thousand of the massively-armored warriors known as the King’s Elite. He prepared defenses in the city of Khelem Vala while his cousin, Karrok Silverbeard sat atop the Iron Throne and ruled in the king’s stead. Karrok tried and failed to produce any offspring for the better part of five years.
By agreement with the Conorrians, a train of wagons pulled by teams of stout oxen drew south laden with gold, passing the wagons going in the other direction laden with grain.
Meanwhile, Valand Dragonsbane had marched towards Ophialum with more than ten thousand superb dwarven infantry (See the War of the Worldspine, above). Unfortunately for good king Thundershield, the talented young general was far more popular with his mighty army than the king. In the bloody passes of the Worldspine mountains, they had lifted him high on their shields and placed a crown of iron on his head, declaring him their king. The die was cast.
When word came that Dhûnazhar was without most of its army, Belhar, Prince of Junius forswore his allegiance and declared his tiny region independent of the king’s.
The DwarvenRebels of Nazarauk –
Ruler – King Valand Dragonsbane
Capital – Worldspine South
Dominant Race – Dwarf
Valand and his mighty army looked east with determined eyes.
A reading from the Neimaakos, the holy book of Maddari.
And in those days it came to pass that Jehail was full come into manhood, and was full of youth and strength. He was proud, and deemed himself of great might, so that he surpassed even Maddari, his mother. And he laid claim to the Great Tree, in whose branches lies all of creation. “I am master,” he told all who would listen, “and this shall I have for my own.”
“The Tree thou shalt not have,” cried his brother Enjil, “for have I not long studied beneath its branches, and plumbed its secrets and am I not thy twin and thy equal? Wherefore should I permit thee to possess it, when thou art but a lout and a braggart, with no understanding?”
Then the two men locked in mortal combat beneath the Tree. Jehail fought with steel and with sinew, while Enjil struggled with staff and spell. Their battle raged for two days, and shook the Tree and all within it. In the end, they strove with such savagery and unrestrained violence that they hewed the Tree, felling it, and also slew each the other. And as they lay dying, they cried out to Maddari for succor.
When the goddess arrived, she found both her sons and the Great Tree dead, and deep and inconsolable was her grief. She wept on her knees over all, and wetted them with her tears, as with a river, an ocean. And from her sorrow and pain, they were reborn at the touch of her tears, and a new Tree sprang anew from the stump of the old.
Kneeling before their mother, the twin gods sought her forgiveness for the destruction they had wrought. And with the love and dedication of a mother, she did forgive them. But not forget. “Thou must hereafter be ruled by me,” she told them. For thou art strong, Jehail, and thou art subtle, Enjil, but both of thee are betrayed by thy passions, and remain incomplete. Thou doth require the wisdom of Woman. Wilt thou submit to me?”
And, looking at the ruin of the old Tree, they both swore thereafter to submit to the will of the Mother.
Blessed be the word of the Neimaakos.
North-Western Vales –
The Llyran Republic –
Ruler –Constans Harko Marova
Capital – Tarrentica
Dominant Race – Human
The Constans turned his considerable skills to work on the economics of the Republic. At his command, the Llyran Mage Academy constructed giant magical waterscrews to draw water from deep artesian wells and feed the aqueducts of Mons Llyrae. Harko was just getting warmed up. He also found time to reorder the Llyran shipping routes. He spent much time with his wife, but remained childless. Finally, he spent the years 2788-2790 summoning a horde of small, pale-eyed furry homonculi, garbed in the livery of the Republic, who inspected and overhauled the aqueduct and sewer systems. Magical water purification systems were built on several reservoirs, each dedicated to a different god of the Grail.
Perhaps the most important development of this period was the groundbreaking ceremony for a new skyship yard. Nestled in a broad valley just northwest of Tarrentica, this ambitious facility will eventually house and launch the famous Llyran skyships. Constans Marova christened it “Kardev’s Aerie”, and dedicated it to the god Borlamnos and to his winged messenger, Kardev.
Kaidar Nemova, Strategos of the Republic sailed to Roldein’s gate and lent mysterious aid to the allies there (See The H’rethek War, above), then cruised the waters of the Crimson Coast, looking for pirates. He cooperates wtih admirals from Har’akir and the Valesian City States.
Caelan Bolusova, the Joraidan, watched the coasts with a critical eye towards defense. In the latter years, he indulged himself in a project to provide each of the towns of Camistella with a Spinning Servant, that magically spun wool at a furious pace.
Caliban Mistova, meanwhile split his time between the governance of Tarrentica, at which he proved moderately successful, and an ambitious but ultimately failed project to improve the drainage of city’s mud-prone roads by planting a species of semi-sentient willows along their paths. The willows proved dangerously overprotective of their territory and had to be removed, though several local magi transplanted some into their private gardens.
The Holy Matriarchy of Ahuran –
Ruler – Queen Beolann
Capital – Sedeskan
Dominant Race – Human
Queen Beolann established a large new palace in Sedeskan, solely for the use of the Royal Heir and her family. While this large complex contained chapels, living quarters, kitchens, stables, gardens and all the other amenities of Ahuran royalty, it was the eastern wing which would become the palace’s best known feature. Known as the Eidel Nahaar, or Grounds of the Royal Consorts, the carefully-manicured gardens are to become part of the engine of the Ahuran state. Within them sit an arena, a library and a theater. It is there that tests of tactics, debate, knowledge, music and the arts are held whenever a young royal seeks the position of heir, and whenever an aspiring young man would seek to become a royal consort.
It became widely known, through whispered tales in taverns and from those with palace connections that the tale of a plague cult in Sendorin, which was put about some years before, was not entirely the truth. There were rumors, quiet, but quite persistent, that something else entirely had been found in the buried city. One garrulous young squire told a startled group of Har’akir merchants in Ilduskan that royal engineers had discovered an ancient parchment which contained plans in Dhûnazh (dwarvish) for a kind of metal ship, but were unable to understand the details of the metalcrafting referred to. She had overheard her master discussing this with a scribe from the royal precinct. Neither squire nor knight nor scribe have been seen since.
Beolann and her daughter Jerzuul both retired to their separate palaces in Sedeskan, there to spend many months alone with their respective consorts. Jerzuul became pregnant almost immediately and gave birth to a strong baby girl in 2787. Beolann gave Jerzuul a baby sister in 2788 and a baby brother in 2789. The two women were happy and quite occupied with their young families, so that the affairs of state went on pretty much without them after the founding of the new palace.
A great gathering of the country’s greatest noblewomen were given a feast at the Queen’s palace in 2786, and then rode off into the hills. These included Jakartha Windworn and Trishka Hawkmoon, two of the queen’s companions, as well as the Staraams and Landresses of half of Ahuran. They returned in 2789, battered and weary, and bearing the casketed body of Lady Hawkmoon. Her solemn funeral, presided over by the Silent Sisters, was a national day of mourning. She was buried in the temple precincts with full honors, though because of the length of time between death and burial, there was no viewing.
Ruler –Sultan Mavoud Alouda
Capital – Mar Awas
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Dikhil [-]
||The sultan was not happy. Despite the enormous size of his turban, the mountain people of Adramagdus and the Kedit Wall had refused to do more than pay lip service to his prowess. They refused to even send more tribute than the occasional scrawny goat! Mavoud summoned his cousin, Emir-al of the Akir fleet, Feldar and ordered him to rid the mountains of these turbulent herdsmen. “Replace them with someone more tractable,” Mavoud insisted. “And make sure they know about the turban!”|
And so it was that Feldar marched into the mountains with five thousand troops (including those of the Emir of Har Jadme), while offshore, he was supported by the Har’akir fleet (consisting of some three dozen warships and more than a dozen transports). Feldar explained to the angry and sullen-eyed mountain men that they would be safely relocated to a more fertile region in the south. Though there were angry shouts and even some rock throwing, the men of the mountains agreed to leave their homes, for the priests assured them that they would be safe and under the protection of the Sultan himself.
The men of the Kedit Wall, however, did not prove nearly so easy to move. Knowing what had happened to their cousins in the Adramagdus mountains, the rifeem of the Kedit Wall moved their women, children and goats into high caves just below the snow line and gathered into bands to oppose the oppressors who would steal their homes The rifeem were exceptionally tough fighters who knew the mountains and caves with the certainty born of a hundred generations in the region. Feldar had a true fight on his hands.
Fortunately for Feldar and the Har’akir army, Khedit’s leadership was nowhere near as dangerous as its troops. Although nearly four thousand natives turned out to fight the invaders, chief Wal’hab himself insisted on leading them. Wal’hab, a preening fool with four teeth and a very high estimation of his own abilities did perhaps the one thing calculated to throw away the many natural advantages of the rifeem over the lowland Akirs – he met them in open battle on the flat ground of a river valley. Although the battle was bloody, it was not long nor was its outcome ever in doubt. The well-supplied and trained Akirs broke the Kedit line before Noon and pursued the routed enemy, cutting them down as they fled for safety. The Kedit women and children were packed off to exile, led away by the sultan himself. Soon, loyal Akirs (in truth they were mostly paroled criminals and the poor of Agazier and Mar Awas) began to march into the narrow mountain valleys to farm the hardscrabble patches of dirt recently owned by the dispossessed. Thereafter, Feldar set to sea, cooperating with the Llyran and Valesian fleets to enforce the peace.
When he had seen the exiles securely ensconced in camps in Har Mekelle, Sultan Mavoud set sail without any retinue whatsoever save an old retainer and, of course, his milliner. They arrived in the region of Dikhil, where the Sultan spent a year grouse hunting and occasionally impressing the locals with sumptuous feasts. None, however, were ready to swear fealty before he set sail near the end of 2790.
In Har Mekelle, Prince Sacheem ruled in his father’s name and fathered quite a small brood himself. In 2787, his wife gave birth to his second child, a daughter. In 2788, she produced two twins, a boy and a girl, and in 2790, she gave Sacheem his fourth daughter.
Beldar, brother of Admiral Feldar, traveled to Entelle, where he so charmed he Emir, that Entelle allied itself to the sultantate.
The Valesian City-States –
Ruler –Primarch Centorius I
Capital – Orcholus
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Vales [-], Euristi [-], Carres [F], Thymene [-].
It was in these years that the face of Ventas was changed forever. Miles upon miles of canals and locks were dug throughout the countryside, linking the towns and farms with the Via Azure, the royal road and the capital at Orcholus. The mind boggled at the inundation of waterways, and Ventas ever after was nicknamed “Land of the Thousand Canals”. Meanwhile, in the city of Vales, the merchants of the great city combined to enhance their prestige and influence, creating The Agora Eternal, a powerful merchant’s guild. A significant loan was taken out to finance much of this expansion.
Despite the vigorous opposition of the Primarch, the eloquence of the Grail Patriarch and the piety of the Valesian people combined to permit the Great Church to exact a 4% tithe from the City States. The Primarch railed against the corruption of the Church and passed an edict restricting the rights of the clergy to own property within the bounds of the Valesian state. This turned out to be a serious overstep. The churchmen stopped blessing the people, their animals, their boats and their children. Marriages were not performed and there were riots in the streets. In Vales, a large painting of Centorius, created just for the occasion, was burned in the city amphitheater. In the end, Centorius was forced to relent, and the Church was regarded with more favor than before by the people.
Centorius, an able administrator despite his distaste for the Church, completed a census in just over a year. He then went on a whirlwind tour of the nation. His haste prevented him from developing the necessary rapport for diplomacy in Vales and Euristi, but the busy merchant-princes of Carres appreciated his brevity and agreed to swear an oath of loyalty to Centorius. Though unable to secure the allegiance of the Euristi princes, Centorius did fall in love and marry his host’s daughter. Ten months later, she presented him with a son, Euristis.
Anaxes, Centorius’s brother, lived for three years in Thymene, but was never able to convince the people of that land to create closer ties with the kingdom. And though Anaxes, like his brother, took a wife in those years, she remained childless.
Archon Percelsus and Velisimil, Tetrach of Phalces marched south with Velisimil’s troops into the hills of Lametes and the wilds of Prohep in order to render what assistance they could to any Keferis colonists fleeing the destruction of their homeland. They were able to round up several hundred refugees and escort them back north into Ventas.
Trierach Antigonus set sail to cruise the Bardol Sea with two dozen warships, cooperating with the navies of Thariyya, Har’akir and the Llyran Republic under the protocols of the “Red Pact of Vales”.
Ruler –General Zsalvi
Capital – Thedelos
Dominant Race – Sathla
Diplomacy – Naqada [A]
Zsalvi roused himself from the warm balcony and examined his reflection in a burnished bronze mirror the slaves had hauled in. He preened for a few moments, then determined it was time to wed. Love is not an emotion often felt strongly by the Sathla, and still less by their supreme leader. But lust…now lust he understood all too well. But this was not carnal lust, such as would doubtless strike him during the mating ceremony. No, Zsalvi lusted for power, and the realm of Naqada had that in abundance, as well as nearly everything else.
The general had spent the previous year arranging the merchant affairs of Luxur, and now as the monsoons trailed away for another year, Zsalvi reflected on the wealth and status he had conferred on both himself and his nation. The irrigation projects he had started for Badar alone would bring great wealth and status. Soon, Naqada would be his and in the east that rampaging savage Ksonyos was poised to retake ancient Merwal, seat of their fathers for ten thousand years.
The negotiations in Naqada went well, if slightly less so than Zsalvi had hoped. In exchange for his marriage to Hessash, daughter of Nosstria, that worthy agreed to become the close ally of Luxur. Hessash and Zsalvi were joined in the traditional Sathla way, amid a jungle clearing surrounded by prostate slaves and to the hypnotic sound of piping flute music.
General Ksonyos had rehired the Sathla mercenaries that had served him well during the sack of Khafour and led them against the magnificent wealth of Habu. (See The Battle of Merwal, below)
Captain Ystuv, meanwhile, took control of the thousands of slaves from the fall of Keferis and marched them to Badar, where they were put to work clearing land for new rat and fowl plantations to keep the capital fed. Proclides, king of Keferis, and his two allies, were ritually sacrificed to the goddess Autumna in Thedelos. The priests fed on their flesh, while the souls were given up to the goddess. The blood of these three captives was preserved and treated with strange spices to make Luxur Blood Wine for the nuptials of Zsalvi and Hessash.
Ruler –General Proclides
Capital – Khafour
Dominant Race – Human
(See The Battle of Merwal, below)
THE BATTLE OF MERWAL
More than thirteen thousand sathla crossed the Artaxes and thundered across its neatly-ordered fields and farms. No army took the field against them, but in securing the region, Ksonyos found it necessary to reduce ten smaller castles and fortifications which the humans had raised up against him. This done, he threw his army against the mighty walls of Merwal, the ancient Sathla city now occupied by the humans of Keferis.
Alas for Ksonyos, his ancestors knew far more about siegecraft than he. The humans were well-prepared for the siege, having brought in a supply of grain and having hired two thousand human mercenaries to aid the three thousand regulars in defending Merwal’s impenetrable walls. Medrecorus of Chalmen lead the defense.
Ksonyos’s engineers built him engines of war with which to batter the walls, and in Cleon 2788, these actually managed to create a small breach in the walls. But it wasn’t enough. The defenders held firm and inflicted great damage on the sathla, who were shocked after their easy siege at Khafour. After two months of battle, the sathla were thrown back in a rout, and fell back across the Lethes into the forests of Kerma. The humans held Merwal and retook Habu.
Ruler –Sauressh Vaastassh I
Capital – Oroyon
Dominant Race – Sathla
Diplomacy – Gigalgudar [T], Naszgiri [C]
The Sauressh decreed many warm shallow bathing pools be created in the fields of Sia, as well as several communal farms intended to supply the poor with meat even in the event of famine. He then spent two years each wooing the independent-minded folk of Gigalgudar and Ikka, with only very moderate success. They modestly averred that they were poor, and that perhaps some of the wealth of Myekele might cause them to change their minds in the future.
Sishtreth spent the entire five year hearing the accounts of every shire, farm, village and town in the realm, and with the Autumna priests, assembling a record of the census. Jual’teth spent nearly two years each in Naszgiri and Kurgal, with little more success than the Sauressh was having elsewhere.
Heshtreth marched into the jungle with two thousand sathla infantry and from the depths of Vaaltoth, tried to raid the jungles of Gulanabat for slaves. This proved to be a disappointing enterprise. Sparsely inhabited jungles, it turns out, are lousy places to raid for slaves.
North-Eastern Vales –
|The Exarchate of Thariyya –
Ruler –Exarch Al-Beliryn Bezyron
Capital – Uls Fakhar
Dominant Race – Halfling
The summer of 2786 began happily with the announcement that the Exarch had fathered a child on one of his short but delightful harem. The court waited in breathless anticipation for a healthy heir. Meanwhile, Thariyya looked to her defenses,erecting strongholds throughout the newly-acquired lands of Hassar. Halflings were called up, young and old, to national service, and many a field lay fallow or shoal remained unfished in those years.
Admiral Al-Kadem Vahdin set out to sea with the fleet (including several newly-built hulls) to patrol the seas around Thariyya. The Admiral’s Right flag is a long red top-flag streamer flown from the main mast so that it is visible to all nearby vessels. The flying of this flag is accompanied by occasional horn blasts from the helm. This horn is from an Ibex and is decorated with gold. These ceremonial horns are also used in religious rights, to open government councils, by armies in the field and as alarms in times of trouble.
In Northhale, 2786, the Exarch closed the ports to Conorrian goods and laid a heavy tariff on the sale of Conorrian goods. A large shipment of grain was sent by packet ship to Conorr, however, for the use of the Great Church.
A squalling baby girl was born to the Exarch in the early morning hours of a day in early Northhale. Al-Beliryn smiled warmly as he held his lovely daughter in his arms, but that very night he was found dead in his chambers by a terrified member of his harem. The look of terror on his formerly handsome face was so pronounced and so frozen that he was buried without a public viewing.
Thirteen nights later, the newly-crowned Exarch, Al-Kadem Bezyron, was found dead in an Uls Fakhar alleyway. His head (which was found in a completely different alley) also wore an expression of terror. With the exception of the large-eyed infant in the palace nursery, the line of Bezyron had died out. Al-Kadem Vahdin, a Bezyron cousin, quickly raced home to establish order. There was grumbling in the countryside that the Uls Fakhar government was good for little more than lining its own pockets, but no rebellions broke out.
Ruler –Warlock Vardan the Necromancer
Capital – Dammarask
Dominant Race – Human
A great many military units were raised and spread about the nation’s garrisons, including warships in the cities. A small riverine fleet of fast, light craft was established at Dammarask and ordered to monitor river traffic. They were given specific orders to allow Maradorian traffic to pass unhindered.
Heavy rains throughout 2786 caused unprecedented flooding in the Merisri valley, destroying most of the region’s towns and villages. Accolon quickly responded and mobilized multiple work parties to effect repairs. Kunic Wolfson, Warlock of Arbelas also mobilized troops and accompanied the workers to provide security. With hard work and time the lush valley might eventually be returned to its former prosperity.
In Dammarask, Vardan attempted to re-equip several thousand infantry with coats of mail and shields, but the troops were simply unable to acquire the necessary expertise in the short time allotted. Thereafter, Vardan bent his energies to ruling his people. Despite his best efforts, however, the distance to the southern coast was simply too great. The region of Arbath revolted and threw off the chains of Empire. So, too, did the city of Nuradeem, taking with it all the trade that flowed across the Ymarian sea. There was a brief confrontation between locals and the military commander of the port, but when the townspeople began to pelt his sailors with rocks, he caved in, turning over the small garrison to the control of the people.
Epiphetes was busy as governor of Dammarask for many years, but produced not a single improvement to the city.
Nightshade the Abjurer set sail from Agharra in the spring of 2786 and did not return.
The Shadowed Primacy of the Dark Court –
Ruler –High Priest Gezz Half-Shadow
Holy City – Dammarask
Dominant Race – Human
Diplomacy – Hatti [CH], Teush [CH], Zamash [CH], Bis [CA]
Gezz Half-Shadow put all his not-inconsiderable energies into maintaining the influence of the Church throughout the lands of Accolon. Among other projects, he expanded the size and power of the Primacy’s city of Unaagh. A pair of monstrous demons were summoned that dug deep wells throughout the region of Haburah.
Despite Gezz’s attention, the Cathedral in Eumana (and the smaller church in Nuradeem) felt no need to kowtow to the distant hierarchy in Dammarask and so declared itself independent, creating the Divine Theocracy of Eumana.
Xodast, Initiate of the dark mysteries, consecrated a cathedral in Bis, while Bishop Yagrax browbeat the peasants of Hatti and Tuesh into building churches and providing for their priests. Elsewhere, a bishop was sent to bolster the Accolon bureaucracy.
The Divine Theocracy of Eumana –
|Ruler –Theocrat Kandoz
Capital – Nuradeem
Dominant Race – Human
Kandoz established his shiny new theocracy, took oaths from all the former Accolon functionaries, and generally let life continue as it always had. For now.
The Shadowguard of Marador –
Ruler –Queen Madariel Shadowfoot
Capital – Lantar
Dominant Race – Elf
Diplomacy – Tintillo [F], Khithi [NT]
Queen Madariel turned her attention to actively ruling her realm. She recruited eight hundred heavily armored men-at-arms for a new unit known as The Live Oak Guard. These she put under the command of her son and heir, Ilwendil, along with several hundred newly-recruited elven siege engineers.
The queen also dedicated the Mindon Calalumen, or Shining Light Tower, a slender spire of pale stone in the heart of Lantar, dedicated to the furtherance of eldritch knowledge.
Ilwendil governed the city of Lantar for four years, and had only modest success improving the docks and shipyards, spending the bulk of his time training with his troops and hunting in the forests.
Vaeril Fallingwater traveled to the city of Tintillo where her great personal charm dazzled the lord of that city,
|and he agreed to swear fealty to Queen Madariel and turned over governance of the city to Vaeril, who used her influence with the spirits of wood and water to grow several new Heart Trees for the city.
Lord Glorfindel of Beduina rode his white stallion into the wilds of Khithi and there came upon the chiefs of that wild land in council one with the other. He played for them upon his harp and sang of elder days when the elves were of one people. And it seemed to those that heard him that they might be in the presence of one of the Iluairi, the Celestials. And so they agreed to take Glorfindel’s queen as their sovereign.
In 2786, Amrod Ancalimon, lord of Jebelem, wandered into the deep woods and has not since returned.
South-Western Vales –
The Steaming Kingdom of Drormt –
Ruler –King Zhee’ka
Capital – Breeka
Dominant Race – Saurus
Diplomacy – Oihutu [NT]
|King Zhee’ka detached two thousand saurus warriors from the army and assigned them to build communal slime pools in Ululor for the relief of stress and dryness. These pools, the Slime Pools of Ibbil, were much admired and envied by the wild sauruses beyond Ululor and a great many came to settle there. Zhee’ka replaced these lighty-armed troops with four hundred massively armored Saurek Elite Guards. The King then crossed the Ulailai river and led his thirty-five hundred troops through Ree’ka to Oihutu on the coast, where the army sunned itself on the sands of the Nekinet Sea, each pretending to his fellows that his eyes were sharp enough to spy the distant coast of Weshtayo. The scaled chiefs of Oihutu were duly impressed by Zhee’ka’s show of force and agreed that his army could pass over their lands without hindrance. After a year or so, the army marched home where Zhee’ka puttered about with the government and entered into the mating ritual several times, to no avail.|
In the king’s absence, Lord Rurrga settled in to order the affairs of that city. He alternated between the sprawling Summer Palace on the banks of the Ulailai and the forbidding Monsoon Palace on a high cliff several miles away. Despite, or perhaps because of, his abrupt and demanding nature, Rurrga proved himself to be an outstanding administrator. The city’s main waterways were dredged for the first time in living memory, and a large arena was built at the bend in the river, so that all who plied the waters of the Ulailai would see this imposing edifice first of all.
Chief Aroshk and Keekrish led an army of three thousand sauruses over the Ulailai and disappeared into the jungles. They returned some years later, downcast and muttering. They brought with them a few scrawny captives, but nothing more.
Ruler –King T*ko
Capital – Nyange
Dominant Race – Human
|King T*ko and his allies rode out of Desiket and thundered through Aret and Maurix to arrive at the plains of Durudin. Sathla farmers scattered as the human riders spread out, mounted on their swift kankas, bipedal dinosaurs capable of great bursts of speed. Durudin was quickly subdued and garrisoned with thousands of kanka riders. Then the sendahlis, new to siege warfare, set a tight watch around the ancient sathla city of Ser Medhele and waited. The city withstood their siege for far longer than T*ko had hoped, for the sathla hated the nomads and dreaded their conquest. However, after nine months of disease and starvation, the garrison finally surrendered and the riders rode triumphantly in to claim their prize. After a three-day orgy of looting, T*ko garrisoned the city with infantry and siege engineers and rode back south.||
He drove a bloody arc around the western edge of his realm, enslaving the lands of Maurix, Sigesa, Koher, Kalesigur and Idhe. His lieutenants relieved him of the slaves after each campaign, freeing T*ko to continue his rampage. In the end, ten thousand slaves were marched into Desiket and put to work clearing the land for cultivation.
Ruler –Emperor Kobuto
Capital – Awayal
Dominant Race – Human
The Emperor transferred much of his army to his trusted lieutenant Warleader Bor’ufan, then set to work examining the scrolls brought before him by his scribes in an attempt at a census. All those treebark scrolls! Despite the boring and detailed nature of the work, the Emperor succeeded in creating a great accounting of his people, which he caused to be carved in stone (damned bark stains!) and set before the gates of Ayawal.
His son F’denge, meanwhile, was given the city of Ayawal to govern. Sadly, F’denge proved far more interested in riding his leatherwing and dallying with slaves brought in from around the Vine Sea. Ayawal was little improved. The story was much the same for F’denge’s cousin Wetenbe, whom the emperor had commanded to govern the city of Kaznuma. What was a leader to do with such men?
Meanwhile, two raiding parties went out into the jungles. Bor’ufan led one east into Yearrak, and raided the hated demon-worshippers there. A few farmsteads were burned and some pigs and chickens taken. A second raid went west into Pareshter under the command of Prince Amon of Garmazt. Again, the target was sparsely populated and so yielded little to the raiders.
South-Eastern Vales –
|The Dwarven Realm of Aurdrukar –
Ruler –King Norrim Forgemaster
Capital – The Brass Tower
Dominant Race – Dwarf
Banner of Aurdrukar
||The empire invested heavily in learning, knowledge and training, but most heavily in messengers, post riders and even an experimental messenger pigeon system to improve communication across the far-flung mountain realm. A system of reservoirs guarded by cliff-side watch towers was dug in the mountains of Mikoru, while several remote valleys in Ulhiya were flooded to create fish hatcheries and reserves for game and wild fowl.
The Emperor spent his days ruling the Empire from his throne room in the Brass Tower. He gave one of the priceless relics of the Empire to his son, Belak Shieldbreaker. This was the Iron Orb of Oaths, on which each vassal of the emperor swears his oaths of fealty. Belak took the Iron Orb and and a ceremonial guard of two hundred Aurdrukar Brass Guards and traveled to the jungles of Zaqhoqla, where dwelled unusual tribes of jungle dwarves. These were impressed with the Shieldbreaker’s words and fascinated by the Orb. They swore to become allies of the Empire.
||Belak then continued into the jungles of Qiya on the shores of the southern sea. The spirit-worshiping humans were harder to impress, but agreed to permit the dwarves access to the sea through their jungles.
Meanwhile, Lord Balkin traveled to Mikoru and spent five years there hunting and crafting with Lord Gimur. At the end of that time, Gimur agreed to merge his realm with that of the Emperor.
A great train of wagons wended its way down the western slopes of the mountains and through the fields of Kamandi, bringing fine steel armor and clever torcs of bronze to the men of Zikuyu, and retuned laden with grain, fish, and salted beef.
The eastern baronies of the Empire kept a close watch on the orcs of Torquas, who kept their oath of peace with the dwarves (“We won’t kill you today.”)
The Elven Empire of Sengkar –
Ruler –Emperor Valoril Greenshield
Capital – Ezrand
Dominant Race – Elf
The Sengkari elves practice a form of cultivation known nowhere else in the wide expanse of Vatheria. Each plot of farmland is centered upon a crystal monolith which only the elves know how to grow. Some of their oldest fields have monoliths as tall as six elves, and half that in width. These monoliths create an invisible pattern of healthful energy, and the crops are planted according to ritual which divines the shape of the pattern, and thus of the field. In this way, the farms and fields of Sengkar appear as strange and wondrous tapestries of different crops, seeming almost to be “woven” into the earth.
It was to plant hundreds of these silaruoma, or crystal monoliths that the Emperor ordered the treasury of the Empire to be opened. In addition, large sums were spent on Great Library, and chairs endowed for scholars and magi. This unprecedented largesse was spent entirely in the region of Sengkar, which caused a great many elves to settle there. To protect this newly-affluent region, the Emperor also recruited two thousand new elite elven archers.
The Emperor himself spent his days ruling over his wide domains. In 2789, he was married to a princess of Radhrost. The ceremony was performed by elven priestesses of Omara and of Valendria in the Great Glade just outside Ezrand and featured a nine-day festival and four days of tournaments which drew knights from all over Sengkar, Marador and even the Valraj and Kerendis. This marriage was arranged by prince Namaril the Hunter, who spent five years on Radhrost arranging the marriage for his father the king. His sister, Princess Gahaliel, always serious, spent her days conducting a valuable survey of her father’s realm.
Prince Bisaril of Jarende and Prince Janriel of Kyelepe each put forth the the power of the first-born to enhance the health and beauty of their realms. Bisaril was successful, but Janriel merely managed to grow bigger weeds.
The Valraj –
Ruler –Sultan Gulor
Capital – Muddakir
Dominant Race – Human
Like his northern neighbor, the Sultan of the Valraj spent a great deal of treasure on the improvement of his home province, causing large tracts of previously wild land to be cleared and laying out the precincts for several towns and villages. His son, prince Valoon of the White Knives, spent his days boar hunting and his nights attempting to get his young wife pregnant. Many boar were killed, but no children were produced, much to the discontent of all involved, especially the boars.
Jameel, one of the Sultan’s favorites, was given the city of Muddakir to govern, and asked to crack down on crime in the city. Unfortunately, no matter how many suspected criminals he hung or roasted on the rack, robberies and murders continued to plague the city. One bold thief even stole the governors prize peacocks from the Imperial garden. Jameel had anyone publicly flogged if caught wearing peacock feathers in the city.
The Kingdom of Weshtayo –
Ruler –King Okoumo II, Red-Feathered Lord
Capital – Khulank
Dominant Race – Human
King Okoumo II, the Red-Feathered Lord of Ssru, divided his army between cousins, Hakarome and Gamoray, the Black-Feathered Lords of Ulparahya and Tsu’u. He then called together the Medicine Men and demanded of them to account for the extent of his kingdom. There were a great many Medicine Men, and a great number of omens to be read. This took the king five whole years. Meanwhile, Nokrome, the Green-Feathered Lord of Khulank, and son of the king governed that city. He proved tolerably competent at this task.
Hakarome and Gamoray had other orders, however. The latter forged new arms and armor for his half of the army while the former worked on a mighty spell for nearly three years, which caused his men to become fanatically loyal. He was greatly aided in this by a strange natural occurrence, felt by sorcerers, priests and shaman all across Vatheria. The shifting lines of magical force converged on Weshtayo is such a way as to enhance the natural flow of magic, causing Hakarome’s spell to become quite powerful.
When these tasks were done, the two Black-Feathered lords joined forces and marched north into Bedraku at the head of four thousand troops, smashing the stunned and hitherto peaceful resistance of the lizard-men. They garrisoned that land with both warriors and sailors and marched into the rich human lands of Tresalet, on the Keferis border. Here they fought a bloody battle and came out victorious.
The Imperial Realm of Zikuyu –
Ruler –King Huwarra the Resplendent
Capital – Ivallkyu
Dominant Race – Human
From the balcony of his palace in Ivallkyu, King Huwarra the Resplendent surveyed her capital as eunuch slaves hurried to take away the remains of her sumptuous noontime repast. Then the scribes came in. The scribes! Gods, what a bore! With their prattling on about this or that godsforsaken corner of the realm. I mean, who -really- gave a damn how many pigs farmer Ikorlu out in the middle of nowhere was keeping? Still, she pretended to listen while the handsome slave with large eyes padded in quietly and gave her a manicure. Nine months later, she gave birth to a daughter, Seeyala. Three years later, another equally enchanting slave gave her a son, Zanwee. So truly, listening to these ridiculous accounts wasn’t a complete waste of time.
Also, the dwarves of Aurdrukar had sent her some rather exquisite suits of armor and (far more useful!) some beautiful jewelry. Of course, they couldn’t eat rocks, despite what the simple folk supposed. And it wouldn’t do to disappoint the Mountain Emperor, Huwarra knew. The dwarves simply had no sense of humor whatsoever, and were so very prickly. She made certain that several tons of preserved grains and fresh fruit were quickly dispatched on the paths leading north into the stern and forbidding hills.
In 2786, Huwarra gave command of much of her army to general Qeemoy. This broad, balding bear of a man was also an accomplished sorcerer and spent two years creating a charm that would bring woe to his enemies. Then he marched into Zhayku and M’bwene at the head of seven thousand troops, seizing those lands for his beloved queen.
The Despotism of Torquas –
Ruler –Despot Maugh the Wise
Capital – Torquas
Dominant Race – Orc
Maugh the Wise was pleased to have agreed to kill the Dwarf-Emperor later. Hopefully, it would be much, much later, he reflected. Maugh was not called the wise for nothing, and he knew his plan to forge a civilized orc kingdom would be endangered if he incurred the wrath of so mighty a king. Even if the dwarves were short, ugly and hairy. Besides, that freed him up to do something he liked far better: kill and enslave elves. Maugh spent a year re-equipping his cavalry with heavier armor and weapons, and then marched into Phoreya at the head of five thousand orcs. There, he pacified the region, then enslaved its entire population. This pattern was repeated in Kulahan and Xodaru. Eventually, six thousand elves were rounded up and whipped back into the fields of Torquas, where they were immediately set to work in the slave farms.
The Kingdom of Tas Dar –
Ruler –King Jharen
Capital – Lhoren Dar
Dominant Race – Human
King Jharen nervously eyed his larger neighbor to the north and promptly spent a fortune building castles, dikes, moats and other defenses throughout his tiny kingdom. Too, he hired Varook sai Desan, famed architect, engineer and painter to oversee the defenses of Tas Dar.
Rumors from Elsewhere –
The God-Emperor of Shanatar continues to spend extravagantly on adventuring companies. Rumors say he is searching for the fabled Chalice of Dust.
GM’s Tip #2 –
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 Gold (GP) to Aid Actions
Extra gold spent on most non-combat actions will give a significant modifier to the chance of success. Unlike time spent, it is not a linear function. The basic formula is: N = cuberoot(X)(rounded down) where N is the number of Support Dice to be rolled, and X is the number of GP spent. Thus, the number of support dice generated is as follows:
|GP Spent||Number of Dice||
However, more Support Dice isn’t necessarily better. For each Support Die rolled, an odd number is treated as +0. Each non-zero even number is treated as a +1. A zero is a -1. Each Support die therefore represents at best a 40% chance of a +1 to the roll. Thus it is possible for hefty bribes to do little to support the effort or even to backfire.
The correct way to add GP to an order is to write it like so:
Then, in the “Leader Action Costs” section of the order form, just below the investments, enter 9 GP (plus any spent by other Leaders.)
Page Created 13 March 2005
Page Last Updated 19 January 2006