After Deicide

Discussion in 'Imperium OffTopicum' started by Immaculate, Mar 28, 2021.

  1. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

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    Which of these points is 'The Hallows'? (main island only please since you don't have a military district that allows ships -yet)

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  2. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

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    Which of these is 'Titan's fall'?
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    Last edited: Apr 2, 2021
  3. thomas.berubeg

    thomas.berubeg Wandering the World

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    Location:
    Ft. Lauderdale
    Rightmost on the big island.
     
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  4. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

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    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    Bottom center between the small lake and the big river.
     
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  5. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

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    I edited the formorians a bit to make then associated with storms more. I wanted black clouds to be associated with them.
     
  6. Crezth

    Crezth 話說天下大勢分久必合合久必分

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    Location:
    北京皇城
    The Holy Order of the Dominion of Xerconia
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    Starting region name- Xerconia
    Organization- The Holy Order is administered by a Grandkeeper, whose lieutenants are a council consisting of three Keepers of the Flame, a Keeper of the Keys, and a Keeper of the Gospel.

    This organization is relatively new. It is an adaptation of the organization that prevailed in the living days of Mahat, which was just an abbey.

    The Grandkeeper presently is the last former Abbot, a bald man of good age and a long gray beard named Winfor of the Glens.

    The Keepers of the Flame are drawn from the senior ranks of the Hedge Templars of the abbey. They are responsible for administering the rites to the God of Fire, who is considered to be the one God redeemed by Mahat's sacrifice. The others are pretenders. Keepers of the Flame were once great sorcerers of Mahat's magic, but now cultivate pyromancy.

    The Keeper of the Keys is the grand secretary of the Grandkeeper's office. Most of the daily functions of state are administered by the Keeper of the Keys, as delegated by the Grandkeeper. The current Keeper of the Keys is Jhugash the Scribe, who manages business professionally.

    The Keeper of the Gospel is Sister Gillian Stormrow, who is seniormost responsible for guiding rituals and worship. She is a serious woman without qualification.

    Background- The Holy Order was formed by the former administrators of an abbey, which was called The Abbey At Trenoma. This abbey also had an organization of loyal warriors, which did not function like a normal templar order. The pejorative "Hedge Templar" came to describe templars that, for whatever reason, encountered shame and walked away from the illustrious positions that most templar strove for. Some templars, whether out of a sense of defiance or disillusionment, therefore came to the abbey and joined their humble ranks of hedge knights.

    As a result, the abbey of Upper Awharai* astride the small lake settlement of Trenoma grew into a city, and the abbey grew into a formidable institution. In these highlands, it became an authority - not unto itself, of course, but unto Mahat.

    That was until Mahat fell, and the church was thrown into chaos. The abbey was no exception. Had their religion truly fallen?

    Unique among many, perhaps, this abbey determinedly answered that question: "No." The responsibility to keep the faith Mahat had granted them still lay with them, even though Mahat himself is gone. What was the point of the Lawgiver's teachings if law was so fragile as to be shattered the instant his gaze left his flock? Moreover, the abbey - asides from the magic, which of course was a miraculous gift - had never particularly relied on the affirmations of the imperials' country. Now punished with the lack of magic, the abbey reaffirmed its commitment to Mahat, and in the wake of the collapsing world drew up its manifesto of Law under the Holy Order, a Dominion of Xerconia to be a bastion of the faith..

    *a region also called Xerconia (as opposed to the coastal lowland region, Lower Awharai, which is Bakudivia).

    Commanders-

    Danbalor the Brave,
    a Keeper of the Flame, man of square jaw and straw-colored hair. Although a formidable fighter and a passable enough tactician, he naturally fosters camaraderie with those around him and that is his true strength. It must be said he is not particularly bright, but he's not that stupid either.

    Yndolin the Keeper, another Keeper of the Flame, a farmer's daughter who was raised as a man to obscure some indignation. Once a great sorcerer in the service of templars, now cultivates pyromagics. She is perhaps one of the first great pyromancers alive in the world today. Although gifted at magic, she has some enduring illness that saps her energy.

    Starting army names and composition-


    The Axes of Danbalor - A primarily infantry army specializing in ambush and melee weaponry. They are equipped to siege small or exposed fortresses.

    The Holy Banner Army (of Yndolin) - A small army of mixed forces and many former templar. Many light cavalry with horses from the plains also distinguish this unit. This is an army with a lot of heavy armor. Yndolin herself administers the success of the army with pyromagic support.


    Starting military units-

    Holy Zealot -
    A detachment of loyal adherents of the Holy Order, armed generally with blunt instruments or forestry equipment and lightly armored. Many of the officers and more advanced adherents are also drilled in the use of fire magics to augment their offensive capabilities. They are shock troops and generally seek to lead charges.

    Hedge Templar - A detachment of Hedge Templars, former sorcerers who now only study the blade. Well-compensated (ironically) and thus equipped with good quality warhorses and heavy armor and weaponry. Hedge Templars like to decorate their helmets with decorations that lionize humility. Stag horns are very popular.

    Starting priority-
    Let's get our tier 1 Mana district going.
    Additional starting unit(s)- n/a
    Starting spell- Fireball - It's a fireball, baby.
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
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  7. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

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    7,225
    NPC ENTRIES


    Asangjar Tribe

    Description: A vassal tribe of the hereditary king of Ulmar. The Asangjar have cultivated faith in the Mountain and stand at the front line of the ongoing civil war in Ulmar between the royalists and rebel Vaetti tribes. The tribe is well known for its blacksmiths and its seat at Groenwaard in the days of the Empire was a key stopover of trade between Odra and the western provinces.

    Leader: Urs Bohn

    Capital: Groenwaard


    Ishatymes Estate

    Description: A newly independent Avvite estate that has seized control of a portion of Ashdod under its fearsome warlord. The estate retains a large population of slaves under submission to a substantial garrison. While the Avvites have stabilised their control here, their authority is still less than secure.

    Leader: Saknutjer

    Capital: Sepputenu


    Great and Felicitous Armada

    Description: A loose collection of pirate captains united under the leadership of the ‘Pirate Queen’, the armada has of late greatly vexed the shipping route from Patala south to the Fey Lands and had the audacity to claim sovereignty over Lanun. Possesses a significant navy which any foe will need to overcome if they wish to cast down their forces.

    Leader: Pirate Queen Athanasia Grey

    Capital: Innsmouth


    Kingdom of Helheim

    Description: A powerful Vanir state ruling over the south of Phlegra and claiming hegemony over most of the native tribes, Helheim openly aspires to conquer and rule over the entirety of Phlegra and its military might, blasphemous magics and fearsome Hangadrott King are greatly feared across the entire region.

    Leader: Hangadrott Age

    Capital: Helheim


    Kingdom of Fomoria

    Description: The Kingdom of Fomoria rules over the eponymous region uncontested and is the primary hegemon on the high seas across the east of the realms. Embracing faith in their ancestral goddess, their ships pass unmolested across the waves preying on vulnerable coastal settlements and their armies are aided by the mysterious denizens of the deep making Fomoria inaccessible to any foreign invader.

    Leader: King Chananga III

    Capital: Uafafa


    Awhari Tribal Confederacy

    Description: A confederation of Awhari tribes under a hereditary king. The kingdom now suffers instability due to famine and disease with the balance of power between the tribes shifting based on changing circumstances. The King claims hegemony over all Awharai and will undoubtedly seek to rein in, with force if necessary, all threats to his sovereignty.

    Leader: King Ivan IV

    Capital: Svopyeyvysk


    Legation of Machaka

    Description: An imperial successor state formed out of the legation that ruled southwestern Machaka and maintained imperial suzerainty over the whole province in the days of the Empire. The power of the Legate here is maintained by a substantial garrison of the imperial legions, its insulation from the chaos in Emyur and its economic importance. Indeed the food supply in Xerconia and much of Awharai is dependent on trade managed by the Legation and the state is in a good position to take advantage of its position in years ahead.

    Leader: Legate Mahashanazzar

    Capital: Lalikele


    Mani Akkhitha

    Description: Mani Akkhitha is a rump-state, the remains of a formerly much more extensive naga polity that ruled Patala in the days before the Empire and was reduced to vassalage with the imprisonment of the gods. Never quite forsaking faith in their divine mother, the Kingdom now seeks to restore its former greatness and resume its hegemony over the younger inhabitants of the region.

    Leader: Nagaraja Avruykt the Jewelled Serpent

    Capital: Lonnaghar


    The Fey Court

    Description: The Fey Court, also known as the Court of Twilight or the House of Towers is a league of Sidhe lords that controls the majority of Sijosalvar and proclaims the sovereignty of the god Froede over the fey. Formed out of necessity to expiate Froedes divine wrath at the sidhes collaboration with Mahat in the previous age, divisions still remain between various factions of the court regarding foreign policy and regarding the extent to which the Sidhe should adopt theocratic modes of government. All however agree that the Sidhe should suffer no outsiders to rule in fey lands.

    Leader: The Court Council (ostensibly in the name of Froede)

    Capital: Ylanati
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
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  8. Ekolite

    Ekolite Deity

    Joined:
    Sep 15, 2007
    Messages:
    5,451
    Name: Xaru

    Starting location- Patala

    Starting region name- City of Xaru

    Organization- Xaru is an ancient city, which rose to prominence in Patala late in the third age as a major administrative centre of the Empire. For centuries, during the third Age, it was ruled by a High Priest of Mahat, but after deicide the priest was assassinated and the Imperial Cult overthrown in revolution. A council known as the Council of Knives was established to oversee the city and choose a new ruler. Since then the city has lurched from crisis to crisis as it’s people seek to establish a new order.

    Background- Throughout history many great cities rose and fell across Patala, and historically Xaru was far from one of the greatest. In fact Xaru was largely insignificant until the Third Age. When Patala fell to the Empire, Xaru was chosen to be their regional capital, due mainly to the rich veins of iron ore which surrounded the city to the East and South. This metal was unknown to the Patalians, who traditionally used flint or bronze weapons, but the Empire established great mines and filled them with slaves captured from Patala and beyond. Xaru swelled in size and population, and took on a cosmopolitan culture which fused Imperial and “traditional” practices.

    Commanders-


    1. Legate Orzamandion - Commander of the Imperial Garrison at Xaru. Orzamandion is of mixed Patalian and Imperial descent. Most Imperial forces were withdrawn from Patala in the chaos following Deicide, and since then the Legion has further reduced in power and numbers as native Patalians have deserted en mass. The Legion is a shadow of it’s former self, but still a significant force in Xaru politics. Though Legate Orazamadion was not a participant in the revolution, he stood aside and allowed the Imperial Cult to be deposed, and since then he has been welcomed as a member of the Council of Knives. Orzamandion is known as a cautious and almost secretive man.

    2. Flarah - a princess of the Ruvalah Palace, from the neighbouring city of Renop, who was taken by the Imperials as a hostage following a rebellion of a number of city states subject to Xaru. Flarah was treated as a honoured guest by the Imperials, and as an adult joined the Imperial cult. She was one of the conspirators of the revolution and one of the nine assassins who slew the High Priest. Since then she has been a leading member of the Council of Knives and has publicly renounced her Imperial religion. She now works to restore the old ways to Xaru and Patala.
    Starting army names and composition-

    1. Legio Patalicus - the imperial garrison of Xaru and Patala province. Greatly reduced in number. They are armed with iron weapons, and their soldiers are primarily drawn from the Patala population (the Imperials saw the Legio Patalicus as little more than barbarian turncoats). They do not wear the traditional iron plate armour of the imperials due to the punishing humidity of the Patala rainforests, and are largely light infantry in composition.

    2. Blood Moon Banner - An armed force which was formed to oppose the Imperial cult and fight the revolution. These are street fighting natives of the city of Xaru, known for using the hidden networks of the city to ambush and assassinate their enemies.

    Starting military units- As above. One unit of light infantry specialised in operating in the rainforest and mountains of Patala. The other a city-based recon/espionage unit.

    Starting priority-


    1. Tier 1 Military District- Imperial Fort

    2. Tier 1 Magic District - Moon Temple

    Additional starting unit(s)-


    1. Shadow Adepts - adepts skilled in the magics of illusion.

    Starting spell- “Setango” - a military unit is turned invisible for a short time.
     

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    Last edited: Apr 10, 2021
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  9. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

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    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Update 0 - Empire’s End

    -

    A certain city, a certain kingdom, in a forlorn alley overshadowed by the washing-lines of the poor tenants that made the rickety townhouses that lined the byways of the slums their home, the rats squabbled over a shattered pomegranate left to rot upon the sodden ground, the leftovers of some streetboys ill-gotten feast. Beneath the fluttering rags that wetly slapped overhead in a languid wind, yet still within earshot of the muffled calls of the nearby hawkers peddling their wares upon spicers avenue which between the city gate and the palace cut like a knife through the the cities labyrinthine streets, sat a wan girl bedecked in rags, head in hands.

    If any of the rotund merchants that plied their wares in the market were to pass by (if one so esteemed was to be found in such an unseemly lane) and cared to look upon her with his appraising eye he would spy upon her pallid limbs the marks of shackles and on her face the wicked scars of the lash. A slave. For here was a girl used and broken, tossed aside like bones were tossed to dogs at noble banquets after their masters had had their fill of meat and had no more use for such vulgar morsels as remained to fill their bloated bellies. Yes, she had been cast aside to rot and meet her end awaiting the fate of all worthless goods that had lost their value...

    “Poor thing”

    The girl looked up and saw an old woman, her limbs swaddled with rags, her teeth yellowed with age and reeking of mingled decay and spiced wine as she smiled sympathetically towards the waif who sat before her in the muck.

    “Leave me alone”

    The girl averted her gaze, her nose wrinkling with displeasure at the smell and her own sorry state.

    “Ha, you don’t look like one who should be tossing away the charity of others little girl. Oh how callow are the young, they all say that no one suffers more than they, as if the world revolves around them.”

    “What would you know?” the girl spat.

    “I know what it is like to be a slave dear girl” the woman leaned closer, her voice sharp like a schoolmarm and loaded with the gravitas of age.

    “I know what it is like to suffer and bewail your fate and cry out in anguish, only to know in your soul of souls that no one will hear your cry. But now I am free, we are both free dear child and we have the burden of life that we might make of it what we will. Now what will you do, will you sit in vain and foolish lamentation here in this squalid alley, to die, to achieve nothing? Or will you seize destiny with your own two hands? I know I will live another day and savour this sweet liberty, tell me though, what do you want to do?”

    “I don’t want to die…and I want that man to suffer as I have suffered and as so many thousands of others have suffered! ”

    The girl rose to her feet and cried, perhaps for the first time since she had first been riven from her mothers breast and sold to the master, her voice tinged with the hatred and anguish of a lifetime. Yet perhaps surprised at her own honesty she quickly slumped back against the ground and wrapped her hands around her knees as her weak resolve shattered and she wept.

    “Then live, and you will see your wish fulfilled.”

    The girl looked up and gazed into the kindly eyes of the stranger, and the old woman's compassion seemed to her to flood into her soul like rain falling in a desert.

    “To you, girl, I bestow my gift”

    The old woman touched her head, an old sign of blessing, with her swaddled hand and gave her a gold coin, before she walked along the alley turned the corner and was gone. As the lane returned to its sordid repose amidst the muffled sounds of the nearby market the girl examined the coin and bit it to test for purity. Pure gold, her eyes widened in surprise. The girl pondered the old woman's words and decided after a little while that it was no use to her to sit in the alley doing nothing but wallowing in her misery, the least she could do was buy some half-decent clothes and a little food with the money the stranger had given her. Who knows, perhaps if she looked like a normal commoner girl and was lucky she could get a job in some tavern as a barmaid and make a decent living.

    So it was that she lifted herself up from her vanity putting aside the consolation of regret and walked out of the foetid alley in which she had sat into the brightness of the open day. Here the noise only dimly heard in the slum erupted into a great clamour as the girl took in the bewildering sight of merchants hawking their wares in their technicolor silken robes, of travellers and locals alike perusing with suspicious stares the stalls laid out under a canopy of crimson cloths and all laid about with silks, spices, goldwork and piles of fruit near man high as nearby a coterie of snake charmers and a bright naga shaman resplendent in his beaded golden vest and glimmering emerald scales bewitched a delighted crowd of children with a show of sorcery and skill. Then, as the rats continued anew their quarrelsome dispute behind her, the girl passing through the midst of them went her way.


    -


    The First Year since the Deicide, the Epitaph of the Third Age and Birth-cry of the Fourth.


    God is dead! The cry rang across the realm in an exuberant cacophony of joyous exultation, despairing lamentation and calamitous regret all mingled together in a great heaving groan of terror. For he who was the Most High was slain, and the throne of heaven now lay empty. The collapse of the crystalline spires of His temples in all their sublimely mathematical precision and monolithic beauty was shocking enough to the horrified masses, even before the truth was fully known. The messages sent out of what remained of the imperial government in Emyur after a great many of the hierarchs of the temple perished together with the golden capital in its demise were more traumatic still. The chained gods long ago subdued by Lord Mahat to bring order and peace to the world were free, the age of chaos had come again! But the true comprehension of the reality of what had transpired came with what happened next. Anarchy.

    All throughout the realm as the pure unadulterated shock of what had come to pass faded, the clarion of revolution rang from every hill, with slave rising against master and vassal against liege, blades in hand. With the centre of power now vanished like a ghost from the face of the world and the once fearsome mystical might of the templars now utterly void with the loss of their divine patron, the imperial legations lost the raw power that enabled them to enforce the Temples strictures over the Empire. Thus it came to pass that with no effectual strength to back up their decrees and with the imperial infrastructure gutted in the fall, the authority of the regional magistrates and templar-legates simply collapsed in a heap to be swept away like the dung of a pythian elephant from a market square, lest the stench of its festering mass offend the sensibilities of the noble lords and high merchants who might chance pass thereby. The difference between this market and those stately institutions of Pythium however was that the goods that were available for barter in this new age insolvency sale were nothing less than power and dominion over the lands and the rare, heady drink of liberty that for an age had lain, locked and sealed, in the wine-cellar of the God of Chains out of reach of common folk and bearing a price tag beyond all reckoning. Alas, once a sample had been uncorked at the auction house and the beguiling odour of its draught had wafted through the waiting milieu to tease them and their pocketbooks with its bewitching scent, the prospective buyers simply went quite mad.

    So did the world writhe in the coiling pangs of hope and shudder like a harlot with the cry of “liberty!”. The heart of the empire, a great swathe of land sweeping in a great arc from Emyur to Mavernus descended wholeheartedly into an orgy of violence and social disintegration followed shortly after. Tales soon spread far and wide of templars being rent asunder by angry mobs and priests of Mahat meeting yet worse fates in hidden cellars and lonely thickets, their entrails being left to hung stretched between the lamp posts of ruined towns. Oh how the wretched fools would soon be reminded of the truth that in the absence of order the state of man is nasty, vulgar, brutish and short, for worse was to come. Amidst the shattered husks of the ruined temples and the confused chaos that arose like dust from their fall, the wretched slaves that were the backbone of the imperial system rose up in revolt to seize the prize of freedom from their erstwhile masters. This rebellion amongst the labour supply might have been suppressed along with the general disorder if the hierarchs had not perished in the fall or perhaps if the templars retained some modicum of Mahat’s consecration in their veins, however in the absence of these their loss from the equation of governance precipitated in the anarchy a cataclysmic failure of the the complex systems that supplied the heaving masses with food and maintained key infrastructure both magical and mundane across Emyur. Thus following the red horse of war the spectre of famine came baying at its heels like a rabid dog and this hunger further established a diabolical feedback loop of looting and brigandry as the ravenous people resorted to even the most debased of methods to ensure their survival, futile though such methods were. Emaciated corpses soon lined the waysides sharing space with beggars and wild beasts and forming a fertile seedbed for all manner of pestilence. The downfall of law and order in Emyur was thus nearly total.

    Yet the problem of slave revolts was not confined to the homeland of humanity alone for the neighbouring province of Ashdod too groaned under the weight of those yearning to be free and lit up in the flames of discord, despite the herculean efforts in both sword and sorcery of the Avvite nobility to keep their blood chattel and bondservants in check. Through obscene magical rites best hidden from more sedate sensibilities and other more mundane means, namely the twin instruments of the whip and the sword, the imperial Avvite legates and their noble vassals managed to retain their control over most of the province, at least temporarily. Yet the tired, poor, huddled masses of humanity yearning to breathe free did earn at least some reward, for a novel sect of firebrands led by Goliath, an Anathament ex-officer of the enslaved regiments of the Imperial Army succeeded in cutting out a slice of territory from the Avvites and placing it under revolutionary control. Goliath claimed the gift of prophecy and in the initial days of the anarchy had raised aloft, side by side, the banners of the god of fire and the goddess of metal, casting down a number of estates around the Titan’s Fall (a region so named for an ancient event only dimly remembered) in their name. Bidding the wholesale destruction of the old order that the world might be fashioned anew, the prophet and his crack Anathemant units have struck terror into the Avvite nobles. Ironically this seemed to inspire much amusement in the eyes of Ishat, All-consuming Flame and Father of War. This deity upon release from his long captivity found much to arouse mirth in the cockles of his divine heart, for in a world grown hot in the fires of revolution the god could dip his chalice into the sea of bloodshed and drink deep of the ambrosial essence of sedition and destruction at his leisure. Yet in “The Communion” he found particular delight, and to these willing votaries and their formerly false prophet, he made known his desire.

    Elsewhere in Ashdod however another deity found purchase in the souls of the people. In the Free and Imperial City of Yorvik, a governorate of the Empire nowadays reverted to its old pre-imperial name of the Kingdom of Haversten the sailors and merchants of the wealthy town (which lay with harbour on both sides of the aptly named Isthmus of Haversten and controlled a key trade route) quickly came to the conclusion that if they did not propitiate the newly freed goddess of the seas, Ursula, their merchant marine and accustomed freedom upon the waves would swiftly be scuttled by the temperamental deity. So they did what any rational authority would do and founded a cult. The Drowner Cult as it was called quickly seized all real political power in the city and after surreptitiously (And appropriately given the cults name) drowning a few naysayers and conducting a little incitement of the cities warrior class, the old king was deposed and the people acclaimed a new King, crowned of course by a drowner priest, who pledged in solemn tones to return Haversten to the ancient ways of reeving and pillaging. He also made good on a promise to build a new and grand temple to Ursula, a thank you to the priesthood for their trouble and perhaps a plea to the goddess for her favour in a world gone mad. With the tribes of Malaka and Sauromatia newly liberated from the imperial yoke and with rumours of wandering Malphasim in the far north and plotting witch-covens lurking in the jungles lapping across the cities docks, the aid of a higher power may prove critical in the days ahead.

    To the south in Asphodel however there was no need to search for a divine patron, for here Malakbel was King with the Unbound God abiding in quiet repose deep within the forest's heart much as he had always done. His druids however, more attuned than their god to mundane events, found in this new world order much to savour, for with the Empire’s fall the annual autumn scouring of the forests margins with fire and sickle failed to materialise. The regrowth that inevitably followed once winter was vanquished by the Herald of Spring quickly overwhelmed the ashen borderline that marked the front between the Domain of Malakbel and the civilised world. Better yet from their perspective the farmers and shockingly even many of the imperial administrators along the margins of Asphodel who had hitherto persecuted the druidic circles adopted openly the cult of Malakbel, offering up libations and sacrifices in the name of the Orchard Keeper in the hope of a good harvest, comprehending that in the land of the Rampant Green, to turn to any other god would be nought but folly.

    Even in neighbouring Mavernus where Avvite nobles, vastly outnumbered by their human slaves, found themselves victims of cruel retribution, namely being burnt out of their homes and put to the sword in the name of liberty, the druids found opportunity and cause for joy. Every void must inevitably be filled, so the wise men of the forest understood. Meeting in conclave under the boughs of ancient trees, the Brotherhood of the Free Father, a circle of druids devoted to their god as patron of liberty and taking good stock of his status as the father of agriculture endeavoured to set out from the deep forest to establish themselves in Mavernus in the hope of restoring that land to its ancient state, namely that of a druidic theocracy subject to their god. With Mahat dead their prosperity gospel would surely be well received and already their green mantles of woven leaves can be espied amongst the ruined villages surrounded by eager listeners.

    Such opportunity had yet to avail in Ulmar though, here the fragile kingdom set up in vassalage to the Imperial theocracy in the previous age quickly became ensnared in racial divisions, throwing the land into the tumult of civil war. The Vaetti tribes, distrustful of humans and their hereditary King quickly rose up under their own chiefs, seizing control of much territory along the southern border with Vaettiheim (whose tribes continued in barbarism much as they always had) in the process. As the year went by the sphere of Vaetti dominion extended even further, with most of the eastern border with the wild marches of Odra being wrenched from royalist control. The royalist humans for their part maintained control of the west and north of the Ulmar and by summer’s end human armies had rallied from their initial losses and were engaged in constant skirmishes with Vaetti war bands amidst the trees. Their position remains tenuous however, their kingdom is isolated from other bastions of civilization by anarchy and barbarians on the one hand and the impenetrable forests of Asphodel on the other. Furthermore, chill winds from the south forebode a long winter and a poor harvest leaving the Kingdom's prospects, barring divine intervention, to herald ill.

    The chill grip of winter was felt even more keenly to the south in the tundra wastes of Dovievel and Niefelheim. Here beyond the haunted mires of Vaettiheim the resident giants and the nomadic tribes of fisherfolk and reindeer herders dispersed along the frozen shores huddled together for warmth around dim whale-oil lamps in their frozen tents as the presence of Tallai became known. Indeed all throughout the southern part of the world, where once the imperial presence was but lightly felt and now not at all, the return of the Queen of Winter heralded long nights and portended a lengthier winter, perhaps a winter that might one day never end. The booming laughter of the Neifling lords in Neifelheim echoed across the ice as they revelled in the frosts, for being attuned to the cold they were perhaps the only beneficiaries of the return of the goddess. Rumours soon filtered north that the Nieflings had raised up undying servants from those who perished in the snows all the while singing paeans to Tallai’s name.

    The Vanir too felt the tingle of winter in the misty breath emanating from their nostrils upon the high fells, albeit the moors and glens of Vanheim were always chilly come winter and remained not so hostile as to cause much disturbance to the natives. Here the Empire never truly ruled, and the Vanir clans together with their Firbolg and Myrkalfar vassals and their ample stock of captured slaves continued their timeless feuding even as their High King sat uneasily upon his lofty throne of riven stones upon the royal hill. Niefling raids were particularly vexing in this first year of the fourth age but were turned back to their barren wastes as usual by the border jarls. More disturbing than they to the King as he sat immersed in waking dreams as revelry filled his oaken hall all strewn with straw echoing all around him to the merriment of his jarls were the visions, and the reports coming back from his jarls of strange music from some unseen pipe accompanying the rush of tinkling streams through lonely glens on moonlit nights. Stranger yet were reports of omens and unseasonable phenomena tantalising the credulous under the forests trembling boughs. No need for worry, no need for worry, did his thoughts console even as his soul knew otherwise.

    Such thoughts did not enter the heads of the people of the Vatn Confederacy, across the sea from Vanheim on the Isle of Phlegra. A mutual association between nine tribes of Vanir and their Firbolg clients, the confederacy not only felt keenly the bitter winds of Tallai rushing from the south across their savage land like a storm of blades, but they also took note of the disturbing ascent of the Hangadrott King of Helheim. This figure is one of an ancient hero of the insular vanir who was hung upon a sacred ash tree in days of yore, his spirit bound in eternal agony by Mahat in punishment for some defiance erased from memory by the imperial inquisition. This was a poor jest in hindsight now that the King found himself freed upon the god’s untimely death. Revered as a living ancestor by the local tribes, who for an age had taken up in secret the worship of their ancestors even as Mahatic overseers compelled open obedience to temple doctrine and ritual forms, the Hangadrott King was soon hailed as the paramount sovereign of a great many of the Vanir tribes of Phlegra, claiming much of the isle for his own and holding absolute dominion over its southern heights. The Confederacies chieftains were left to fret and wring their hands at the thought of their near neighbour, anticipating what horrors he might unleash. They prayed that their renowned sorcerers, skilled in the mystic lores of frost, might hold at bay any shambling husks that might come careening down the mountain heights unto their holds.

    Returning back across the sea unto the centre of feydom on earth, namely Sijosalvar, the Sidhe, brethren and oft times enemy of the Vanir found themselves subject to the same mysterious phenomena as the Jarls of Vanheim. Yet more than they, the Sidhe, who had embraced the lordship of Mahat and made themselves his servants in abandonment of their ancient god found themselves afflicted by portents of doom. Their dreams echoed with the downfall of their slender towers, of their desires being lost in billowing mists and their worldly delights transforming into ashes in their mouths as their finery and pomps crumbled into dust all around them. Compelled, the frightened sidhe lords gather together atop the highest and most ancient of their towers under the light of the stars to scry the meaning of these signs. The eldest of their number, born directly from a Tuatha sire in days long passed and resplendent in a star-bespangled mantle glimmering with the splendor of the constellations, revealed the bitter truth. “Our god is returned to us, and if we do not repent of our apostasy we will be punished”. Thus did the proud Sidhe lords come to a consensus, “that the days of division shall be at an end and all shall be subject to one lord and god, namely our Fair Prince”. Hence as the sidhe sang haunting songs of repentance, not entirely sincerely, to beg the forgiveness of their god, their neighbours for their part trembled in hearing of the establishment of the Court of Twilight and wondered at what it might portend. For in the house of ballads where the mysteries of the Lord of Music and God of Dreams are writ large upon the waking world, mere mortals fear to tread lest they find themselves lost forever in the mists.

    The Emerald Kingdom, a minor imperial protectorate in the days of the Empire which lay on the border of Vanheim and Sijosalvar, found greatest cause for concern by these events. For here the people were significantly composed of immigrants from far off Patala who, in secret, had long maintained the covert worship of the Consolation of the Sick and Lady of Mercy, a faith which now at long last could emerge into the open. The cruel Vanir were one thing, but a united Sidhe court if they decided to act in force under the banner of the Lord of Desires could pose an existential threat to their kingdom. Their Queen wisely saw fit to strengthen the military power of the land and fortify the gates of her realm against invaders in case of this eventuality and perhaps, just perhaps, to take advantage of any opportunity that arose to subdue those amongst the Sidhe march lords who out of sentimentality and misguided individualism had yet to submit to the newly arisen Court. Yet not everything portended peril to the kingdom, no their skill in metalwork led to good relations with their kindred spirits in the Svartalfar Kingdom in Odra and a thriving transit trade in raw metals from the mountains in return for foodstuffs and fey trinkets passed across the moors from Jormungand and up into the high peaks unabated by the unfolding chaos elsewhere in the realm. The Queen took note to take care however, a freudian slip or moment’s distraction as the affairs of the world passed the Emerald Kingdom by could lay it low in the days ahead. She must carefully steer the ship of state across the azure realm and take regard of the sweeping whirlwinds that hushed in grim repose across the far horizon. Otherwise the saga of her kingdom would only end in ruin.

    Yet unknown to the people of the Emerald Kingdom the Svartalfar of Odra were vexed by their own problems. While largely unaffected by the chaos of other lands, the wilds and the scattered villages and tribes of the sheer valleys of the Odran wilds, which had hitherto provided the Svartalfar with much of their food, became greatly afflicted by the predation of wild beasts which in both numbers, savagery and intellect had reached far above their former state. Wise women amongst the Vaetti and Firbolg farmers and trappers made divinations but every man, woman and child already knew what their witcheries would unveil. Revna. The only solution was to propitiate, and so it came to pass that each full moon, at the witching hour when the night was darkest, sacrifice was made on bloody stones high up in the vales where the screaming of the slain would echo across the mountains. Only when the sun arose in the coming dawn did the wild-men return to their hamlets to continue as they always had, clinging on in secret all the while to a primal terror of the Lord of the Hunt.

    North in Nazca a more civilised and sporting kind of hunt was kindled in the flames of the empires fall. Here the nemedians has long dominated the land and this remained so, yet the absence of central authority spurred competition for power and facilitated the rise of a number of powerful warlords, the elder councils being relegated to advisory functions as they battled across the plains of Nazca and dreamt great dreams of a united Nemedian kingdom ruling over all the realms. With Emyur to the north in anarchy, perhaps now was the time for Nazca to become something more than a mere tributary to a greater power?

    Eastward in the lands of Machaka and Awharai, the Awharai Kingdom and the Machakan tribes endured the chaos of the Empires fall. Indeed in southwestern Machaka the imperial legate even managed to maintain authority over the Svartalfar and Firbolg farmers of the region even as imperial control slipped away elsewhere. Yet the area was not immune to wider geopolitical changes. While the self-sufficient Machakans could suffer the loss of trade resulting from Emyurs anarchy with little detriment, the Awharai Kingdom had under the imperial yoke become highly dependant upon trade in goods from Emyur and Pythium, the most important of these imports being grain which had enabled the population of the area, under the empire, to expand far beyond the lands normal carrying capacity. With Emyur fallen into ruin, and trade with Pythium, the other great agricultural region supplying Awharai, being heavily impacted by piracy in the eastern seas from Lanun and the resurgent Kingdom of Fomoria (which seized back independence with a vengeance under the banner of Ursula), the region swiftly fell into famine.

    This collapse in supply has resulted in a degradation of royal authority such that the Kingdoms rule over its peripheries has begun to fray. Indeed the border region of Xerconia has already gained de-facto independence under loyalist clergy of Mahat where, under the leader of the local abbey, the new Holy Order of the Dominion of Xerconia seized the organs of power in a silent coup. Here Abbot Winfor cannily utilised his connections with the legates in southern Machaka and the Sidhe Lords to the south to guarantee a supply of food to Xerconia, providing much needed humanitarian charity to the peasantry from the abbeys stores even as his templars gradually took over state military and policing functions in order to preserve order in the region and protect the people from raiders from neighbouring tribes desperate for food.

    Cleaving fast to Mahatic doctrine the Order paid lip-service to Ishat as the sole “redeemed deity” amongst the liberated gods, perhaps to ward off divine retribution and assuage the superstitious, and established institutions for the study of pyromancy (already a locally prominent school of magic) to negate the loss of divine power formerly wielded by the abbey’s templars and secure their independence from the King of Awharai, who still claims sovereignty over the area. Yet the Order like all the authorities in Awharai faced another threat than famine, for pestilence followed quickly on famine’s heels and by the end of the year almost a third of the population of Awharai lay dead. Even in Xerconia where the bite of starvation was held at bay by the Orders trade policies, the influx of refugees and pilgrims desperate for sustenance brought disease into the abbeys walls, and as of years end the abbeys hospice was overwhelmed by the numbers of the afflicted who came begging their services even as countless others groaned and clamoured at the gates.

    The plague did not however originate in the starving tribesmen of the savannah. No, its origin could be traced north, to the land of Patala. Here the people were divided into a series of city states together with a rump naga kingdom in the deepest jungles under the reign of their enigmatic Nagaraja. Boisterous and colourful, the markets of Patala were prosperous and served as a wealthy entrepot of maritime trade between Awharai and the Fey lands to the south and the prosperous Kingdom of Pythium to the west. It was in the melting pot of the city-state of Amunekamam that the symptoms first appeared. It started with a fever and perhaps due to this the people first mistook the Patalan Plague for one of the endemic diseases of the region, the Red Death perhaps, or Summer Fever. But in due time after its initial stages passed and sores started to appear, putrescent and weeping vile ichor that reeked of decay and oozed down the limbs of the afflicted in steady torrents, they knew otherwise. It ended with the eyes weeping blood as the inner organs of the sick turned to rot, their minds by this stage far gone as they lashed out at any and all in a savagery more reminiscent of beasts than men. The only mercy their carers could give them at this point was a swift death.

    As the rampant plague took hold and spread from Amunekaman to Lamuqam, Shingsopadhoo, Paolserang, Xaru and beyond, reaping a savage toll, the people and authorities panicked. Quarantine was initially implemented, to no effect, as spread perhaps by foul miasma and the unhygienic state of the Patalan cities it continued its march across the population unabated. High lords and slaves died as equals in its embrace and in the end in desperation they turned to the goddess. Solemn processions of newly wrought idols were taken in solemn state upon the backs of caparisoned elephants and on great chariots topped with gilt umbrellas through the cities to repurposed and re-consecrated shrines of the dead god where overlooking high altars piled with expensive offerings and rich adornments, libations of milk, wine, honey and sweet water were poured out at the feet of the images in the name of Lotahna. Here newly appointed priestesses beseeched the goddess for mercy in exotic rites, and she replied. The sick who beseeched the goddess sincerely for healing found their symptoms abated, their wounds closing up and their vapid eyes reclaiming something of the sanity of those who remained whole. In time they would recover. The Cult of Lotahna had a new birth and the harvest of faith and adulation was breathtaking in scope, never mind that by the end of the year a full half of the population of Patala had fallen to the grave.

    In addition to the toll in lives, the political cost of the plague in Patala was substantial. In Xaru, an ecclesiastical fief of the priesthood Mahat, the plague saw the ruling Hierarch, whose authority was already on a knife-edge after Mahats death, overthrown in a coup-d'etat with the city lurching into anarchy. While a loose council of political collaborators has emerged to run the city and provide a semblance of order even as the corpses of the dead and dying are sprawled untended by the waysides, the city appears doomed to further turmoil in years ahead. Naga power stirs in the deep jungles of their rump-state and elsewhere other city-states fall into anarchy and disorder even as the rapidly growing influence of the Cult of Lotahna threatens the authority of the traditional social hierarchy. More insidiously, great swathes of fertile agricultural land lie untended, the peasantry having died or fled threaten to portend famine and war as the plague continues its merciless course. So it is that the four horsemen ride together in Patala.

    The isles of Lanun were similarly afflicted by this calamity, the plague spreading here on captured ships and returning pirates. Here the Great and Felicitous Armada had under their charismatic “queen” gathered together a substantial fleet to harass shipping as well as numerous brigands and vagabonds to seize territory on the isles. Like the Fomorians further south, the Armada acknowledged Ursula in order to appease the roiling waves as the goddess made her presence felt, although their piety compared to the former remains sorely lacking. They were the first to notice the rising tide of pestilence, their captains soon met in court to determine how best to control the outbreak and whether to take advantage of Patalas weakened state on the side, to seize the riches of that lands great cities.

    The people of The Hollows too noticed sickness in their ranks. A union of three peoples, the first known as the Bahatakada descended from slaves brought to the Patalan slave marts from Sijosalvar in the latter days of the Empire. The Bahatakada had in the Empire's fall escaped to the hollows with the aid of Spirit Walkers, a magic-wielding caste bearing minute traces of Sidhe blood and maintaining something of their magics and a certain Dunding captain who saw potential for mutual benefit in proffering his aid. Here in a hidden haven established long ago by transient Cosabrodla merchants from far-off Emyur, they signed a covenant establishing a tenuous union of their peoples under the guidance of Aisha of the Mists and took measures to propagate and preserve the magical arts of the spirit walkers to better maintain the secrecy of their sanctuary in perpetuity. How long this union and its secrecy will last remains to be seen however, for with the seas becoming less friendly by the day, with pestilence already claiming almost a fifth of the population of Lanun and with the relationship between the three peoples being fragile from the start and maintained only out of necessity, the Hollows must tread carefully if it is to endure and establish a lasting fellowship between its subjects.

    We pass now lastly to Pythium, greatest of all the independent realms to emerge from the fall. Here too the Patalan plague bit deep and by years end up to fifteen percent of the population had died. Yet the Kingdom remained one of the most stable in all the realm, for Pythium had always been a subject state to the Empire under its own king and when the templars lost their power and the coercive might of the central state shrugging off their overlordship was as simple as shrugging of a cloak. Cosmopolitan, wealthy and proud, the people of Pythium encompassing as they did diverse nations and tribes brought together from all the four corners of the world saw fit to cultivate the restored worship of the old and now new gods much as they cultivated business, namely with profit and mutual-benefit in mind. Here alone in the realm you could find the like of temples of Lohtana milling with the sick praying for mercy and Groves of the Orchard Keeper side by side in a way nigh blasphemous in other lands even as singers extolled the praises of the Mother of Inspiration to crowds of mingled Avvites, firbolg and humans just beyond their gates. Perhaps this was foolish, for to serve all the gods is to serve none. But again perhaps it was wise, for to serve one god exclusively could invite the jealousy of others, and in the new calculus of divinity where no one god held the throne of heaven perhaps hedging bets was the most religiously prudent manner of course. Regardless, with the anarchy of their neighbours and the destabilising influence thereof causing troubles on the borderlands and with the Patalan Plague only beginning to reap a dread harvest in this part of the world, the King of Patala saw in the cultivation of the gods only one of a number of methods by which he could preserve his realm from the anarchy that reigned elsewhere. He could only pray that war and famine, the two horsemen yet to touch his Kingdom would by these measures be held at bay.

    Thus does the realm abide at the start of the fourth era, anarchy and confusion abound and liberated deities make sport with the souls of mortals even as they keep watch over their brethren beyond the sight of their puerile playthings. Be it in the shattered fields of Emyur or high up in the wastes of distant Dovievel the people of the land suffer and must make the best of the numerous challenges that await them. For Mahat is slain, order and civilisation have been laid low, and the age of chaos bays at the heels of a world reeling after deicide.


    -


    The soldier sat atop a farmers dry-stone wall, its rustic stones all mossy and damp with drops of dew, as he stared out in contemplation across a tumble of rolling moors adorned with flowering heather and the occasional hawthorn, oblivious all the while to the flight of moths reveling above his head in a moonlit dance.

    “Damn Naz’jar, sending us on watch at this ungodly hour. Nothing ever happens this time of night’

    “Quiet Eoin, we don’t want your petty complaints to reach the generals ear do we?”

    The soldier teased his companion, as Eoin, a young firbolg recruit to the Serpent Army, grumbled while huddling under a warm woolen blanket. The nights had been getting colder as winter beckoned and the soldier noticed the boy's breath coming out in puffs of mist as he stamped his leather boots in discomfort, armour rattling, as he kept sentry duty.

    “Besides you heard the briefing, same as I, the Sidhe are gathering together like never before now that Mahat is dead and gone. Who knows what mischief they may be plotting in their high towers. We must be ready for any tricks they might pull.”

    “Those sidhe give me the willies”

    Eoin shuddered as the soldier laughed

    “That’s because you never see them for what they really are. Still, better the Sidhe than being made a slave of the Vanir”

    “True that”

    The soldier made a gesture of warding under his cloak. The Vanir were legendary for their cruelty and the Empire had never fully subdued them throughout all the long centuries. Praise Lotahna that they were a quarrelsome people and but rarely came together to attack their neighbours. A clan coming down from the high moors at the behest of their jarl for cattle and slaves was one thing but a whole army under the banner of Vanheims High King was another altogether. He remembered being briefed about them as well back in Jormungand and frowned. The Kingdom was surrounded by damn fey and while he wouldn’t admit it to Eoin or his fellow soldiers he was afraid of them. How could you truly know something when you couldn’t trust your eyes? Well as the boy said, nothing would happen this time of night and besides his country had stood for three hundred years now, it, and his family, would survive no matter what happened.

    “Hey, where did this mist come from?”

    Eoin asked quizzically, snapping the soldier out of his reverie to notice a bank of fog sliding down the hillside across the way like slick oil over water and across to their position.

    “It's the moor boy, there’s always fog”

    The soldier scoffed as the fog silently rolled up and coiled about them, the water vapour in the air tangible in his nostrils. The waxing moon above illuminated the cloud with a mysterious light and obscured his sight. A shame, the borderlands were quite beautiful at night his thoughts wandered again as they were want to do.

    “What’s that!”

    Eoin’s shrill voice ripped his attention back to the present once again.

    “Stop your games boy, as you said nothing….”

    He saw it and his voice fell silent, a strange light descending the hill. Soon after he heard it in his ears and felt it, whatever “it” was, throbbing in his very soul. A strange music on lilting pipes accompanying a melody of unearthly voices in solemn chant. A choir rejoicing in their king as in procession they made their straight way along the narrow road. He shuddered oblivious to Eoin falling to his knees by his side.

    As he watched with rapt attention “they” passed by on the way and it was then he saw them clearly for the first time. At their head was a young boy head wreathed in hawthorn leaves, his hair lay in curls of spun gold and his robes were white and radiant all about with light as he played a silver flute, his feet dancing to the tune. Behind him followed a sequence of what seemed to him lords more noble than any of his own people with each more noble than the last. Their brows were high and visages aristocratic and sublime such that he could not help to avert his gaze even as their lavender eyes were radiant with joy and their song tinkled with the echo of laughter like a sweet caress. Their robes were adorned with radiant gems and were lined with gossamer and silver filigree, in their hands were banners gleaming white and at their waists were fine brazen swords with gleaming diamonds for pommel stones radiant like rainbows in their own bedazzling light.

    “Tuatha...”

    The Firbolg boy to his side whispered, his voice lost in the mists as he crumbled to the ground.

    The soldier compelled himself by a supreme effort of will to turn his face once more to the procession passing ghostlike by his sentry post, resisting the urge to shield his eyes from the beauty they beheld. Offering a silent prayer to the Lady of Mercies that he might not be bewitched by the sylvan maids that spun airily amidst the horses of the noble lords as they danced upon the dew-laden grass like fleeting mayflies over the Lake of Jormungand on midsummer's eve, he endeavoured to inscribe what he saw in memory.

    It was then that he saw it. A great white stag being led on a golden rope by a woman of the Tuatha naked beneath the stars save for a sash of silk, pure white, that by some trick of the wind covered her modesty. It was what was on the back of the stag however, alight in a silver saddle and attended all about by a score of fey maidens, that snared his sight.

    A youth, scarce fifteen summers, caught out of the corner of his gaze. He was oozing with majesty as a sovereign beyond compare and light clear and fair radiated from him like the sun. He was beautiful beyond all telling, limbs clean and smooth without spot, his gaze was serene and his golden hair captured the light that emanated from his flesh and radiated with a holy splendor about his head like a crown as he played the panpipes in playful accompaniment to the music of his votaries. His beauty made the Tuatha maids that doted upon him seem like poor scullery maids in comparison and the moths that revelled under the moon hastened to him as to a flame, careening wildly in an ecstatic circuit about their king in answer to his visitation.

    He could not help but kneel.

    The stag stopped for a moment as the Tuatha continued their procession alongside the stationary epiphany, blurring away it seemed while the soldiers eyes were fixed in rapture upon this paragon of perfection. He espied the boy upon the stag lower his pipes and turn his gaze towards him and slowly, and with a kindly countenance, look upon him and smile.

    His soul was lost.

    The boy then pointed down the road with a silver rod that materialised from the mists, its tip festooned with a golden pinecone, its shining stem bedight it seemed with a ribbon of light glimmering as it fluttered in the unseen breeze. It was pointed towards the Emerald Kingdom.

    It was then, as the moths sped away at their masters' direction, that the soldier remembered, yes remembered, the identity of this golden child, this fair prince who had seized his soul and made it theirs.

    “Froede”

    -

    Map

     
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  10. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Special Messages

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    @Seon

    -

    You toss in your sleep, overcome with visionary ecstasy.

    A great plain of ash rolls out into eternity before your minds eye, cinders flickering as they rise up upon the air currents simmering skyward from the searing ground. As you look around in bewilderment you find yourself seized as if by an unseen hand and the world flies away beneath your feet in a haze. You stumble, reeling, headlong in prostration before a great horned altar raised on steps and adorned with graven daffodils illuminated in stone by a rising sun. It is set open to the sky in a stately court amidst the crumbling stones of a ruined temple, the rough ashlar cast like seeds across the field in scattered ranks. Upon the altars height is enthroned a blazing, roaring inferno which you perceive to rise up endlessly like a pillar of light uniting earth to heaven and joining indivisibly with the celestial fire that burns eternally as it makes it circuit through the firmament. It is a living flame.

    As you kneel, entranced by the fire, you notice a golden trowel forlornly abandoned at the bottom of the altar steps lying by your feet. As you pick it up in your hands and turn it about, straining your mind to uncover its possible significance, you behold the stones dispersed around the altar twitch, and marvel as the dust and stones rise up of own accord and reassemble themselves into a noble cloister restored to magnificence around the altar court, the rough ashlar made perfect in the rising. Its walls are adorned with noble reliefs of warriors in battle and upon the capitals of its pillars are inscribed scenes that make even a world-weary warrior such as yourself blush. As the temples inner sanctum, lofty and sublime, rises phoenix like behind the altar all resplendent in gilt finery its brazen gates set in state between twin pillars of purple porphyry topped with golden braziers open wide.

    You perceive priests, obsidian knives in hand and ashen-cowled, rising shade-like from the whirling ash, ensconced in their embrace. These unyielding hierophants process into the court leading with golden chains ghostly rams black as soot and bullocks red of hair to the altar, accompanied by acolytes swinging gilt censers billowing with fragrant incense. Here before the altar steps they draw their blades and with swift strokes cut the throats of the living oblations into brazen bowls before they cast the warm blood upon the four corners of the altar in libation. Then, each in turn, the cowled priests ascend the steps and offer up the flesh of the oblations to the living fire in fitting holocaust and pleasing savour. As they continue their solemn rites, out of the corner of your eye you spy in annexes set into the cloister the comely ghosts of temple hierodules in vermillion veils and consecrated slave boys leading virile warriors armed for battle into secret bowers illuminated by the crimson light of golden lamps. There they seize the fruits of victory and ignite the secret fire that burns within all the living in honour of the Lord of the Flame.

    It is then that Goliath jarringly awoke, and called upon his advisors in urgent tones as he sought to understand the meaning of what he had seen. For he understood one thing above all else, this was no simple dream. The god has given him a task.

    -


    @Shirogane

    -

    My Queen,

    I attach a report from the Serpent Legion of a dire portent witnessed by one of our soldiers while on sentry duty at the border, details are enclosed in code with this report to preserve confidentiality.

    I beseech Your Majesty to consult the High Priestess to divine the meaning of this sign and determine how our Kingdom will respond to it. I’m afraid Your Majesty that I am ill equipped to understand the language of gods, for the symbolism in which they inscribe their will is obscure and their intellects lie far beyond our mortal comprehension. My insight will not avail thee in this task.

    Nonetheless take heed, the reports of unnatural occurrences in our territory only increase as the days pass by and the people grow restless. The smallfolk well understand that this land is not our own and that we abide here not entirely as welcome guests. We must not neglect to act in a fitting manner in response to these strange and untimely prodigies lest we be cast out like common squatters.

    May the goddess preserve us

    General Naz’jar.

    -

    @Crezth

    -

    To His Beatitute Grandkeeper Winfor of the Glen

    By divine ordinance of Mahat, Heavenly Emperor and Lord of the Worlds, our ancestors, in perpetuity and unto their heirs forever, were bestowed lawful jurisdiction over all Awharai and undoubted suzerainty over the tribes and towns thereof in fief to the throne of heaven. We therefore, lawfully and in accordance with imperial writ and tribal custom command the collection of tribute in the form of grain or a fitting substitute from the Territorial Abbey of Xerconia and attendance in Svopyeyvysk of a representative of the Holy Order of the Dominion of the same Xerconia in the tribal council there to pledge humble obeisance to our rule and continued fidelity to the law.

    We have heard Your Beatitude that the Holy Order of the Dominion of Xerconia maintains fidelity to the doctrines of Mahat, the Great Lawgiver and Master of Man, and professes obedience to his holy precepts in all things. We therefore with great pleasure look forward to your representation to our court in recognition of our lawful authority and to fruitful collaboration with the holy order in quelling unrest and restoring prosperity in the wake of the scourges of pestilence and famine that so afflict this world for the sake of its unspeakable sin against our Lord.

    ~ King Ivan IV of Awharai

    Sealed with the royal seal and co-sealed by the Chiefs of Iskikavka and Belenomyssk
     
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  11. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Notes

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    1) the gods ways are not those of mortals, they oft speak in signs and symbols and reveal their will through prodigies and omens. Work hard to interpret these, for if you err in your understanding it will not bode well

    2) Immaculate will provide stats in due course, don' t worry

    3) secret reports on your neighboring districts will be forthcoming in due course.

    4) A list of some important NPC actors proximate to your nascent polities has been edited in to replace the deadline post (saving precious space :p )
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2021
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  12. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,619
    Due course has arrived!

    You should all have gotten stats (which include your spy/scout reports) via direct message in discord. Please advise if you have failed to receive your stats.
     
  13. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    8,128
    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    To: the druids of Zobrzych
    From: Goliath of the Communion; Prophet and Champion

    I am bringing my forces into Mavernus this summer, so that I may liberate the people of Pomaz and put its Avvite master to the sword. I shall burn whatever nobility of Emyur that's left in the city out of their homes and impale their skulls to the walls as a warning to others.

    I do not request your aid nor do I request your permission. This is merely a courtesy, for you too fight against the Emyurians and I do not wish to needlessly alarm you with my sudden and monstrous appearance.

    Do not impede me, and I shall save my, and your, people from the Avvites and the Emyurians once and for all.

    That shall be all.
     
    Crezth and Immaculate like this.
  14. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    To: The Prophet of the Communion
    From: The Circle of Zobrzych

    -

    Do as thou wilt under the sovereignty of Lord Malakbel, The Unconquered and Unconquerable, for all who sup from the waters of liberty are doing so from His cup.
     
    Immaculate likes this.
  15. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,619
    Orders are due Sunday at 18h EST.
     
  16. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Update I - Divine Kindling

    -

    The Beast ponders, his black spirit ruminating fitfully as it paced back and forth in the dank hollow of a grizzled old tree. Now is the time of bounteous increase, the time to drink deep of the waxing moon, the time to unlatch the stores of vengeance long gathered and cherished in the dark as he gnawed in anguish the chains of humiliation that bound him and raked his claws in desperation on the prison walls that entombed him in the time before he was free. So it is in a certain twisted tangled dell, deep in the cracks of Odra where not even the wildest men of that wild land dare tread that the beast did cackle as he poured out his essence. It splattered through the hollow in steaming gouts, and the twitching, quivering blackness that was brought forth shuddered, before it started to gather like tar in great pustules rising rhythmically in a perverse symphony as like some grotesque slime mold it oozed across the roots and scattered bones as the Beast watched sullenly from a corner, amber eyes lit bright like lamps in the gloom.

    The heaving mass began to congeal, gather and change, becoming a writhing turgid mess of flesh and blood and bone as each pulsating pustule started to beat with its own life all wet and slick. The red meaty things that were the result slopped, slathered and slithered along the floor towards the beast in plaintive obeisance to their father mewling in adoring whines before twitching limbs sprouted like twigs from their seething sides allowing a more efficient mode of locomotion. As they prostrated their churning forms rapidly gained in size, bubbling like billowing magma as they took shape. Hair like fungus grew from their newly fashioned hides in waves, rippling across their forms as they at last took recognisable appearances. When the working was nigh finished, their eyes, cruel and terrible, finally opened.

    The Beast snorted condescendingly, the steam from his nostrils shrouding his hidden lair with dank mist as he surveyed his handiwork. A coterie of beasts, beasts of fang and tooth and claw, wolves and bears and stranger things cunning and loyal to their sire stood before him. Yes, he murmured to himself, yes indeed, new generations of beasts will be begotten more readily from this stock. They will be stronger and less easily swayed by those who would bind them under yoke, would bind Him under yoke, and they would be better than those who were born never hearing His voice and would serve well his grand designs.

    Revna laughs, his barking cry echoing in delight across the mountains as spittle escapes his maw and drools down his hairy neck in the throes of his delight.

    “Go”

    He gestures with a haggard claw, regal in austere majesty as his amber eyes squint, peering far beyond the horizon.

    “Be fruitful and multiply”

    His husky voice seethes. The creatures hiss with malice towards the focus of their Lords dire intent.

    “Pour out my will upon the land and cast down the conceits of mortals raised up to my despite”

    The creatures howled and spewed forth from the mountain and down upon the unsuspecting world.


    -


    It began at noon

    The enemy’s advance is sudden, heralded only by a murder of crows cawing raucously as they circled overhead in cackling anticipation of what was to come. As the first glints of metal emerged from a forest some league from the walls, frantic yells of Firbolg auxiliaries awakened the soldiery as they rushed to man Don Lodur’s crumbling ramparts. So too did they dispatch scouts to assess the threat, scouts who soon returned with the report. The Emerald Kingdom is here, and they are many.

    It is a teeming throng that confronts them, for the gates of Jormungand have been unlatched and the city emptied of its arms, for all the swordsmen, archers and even militia of the city have been sent forth like a great flood of gleaming quicksilver to lap at the base of the mountain and rush up the yellow road that links Odra and the Kingdom like a swift and gurgling torrent. They must be quick and decisive, so they were briefed, for they are there to seize the Svartalfar town for the glory of their Queen and the Kingdom is terribly vulnerable in their absence. As they formed ranks and array themselves for war in unhurried serenity, the fearsome sight of the host and their serpent banners all glinting green and gold in the mountain wind compels the Firbolg captains to bark orders to their subordinates and dispatch a report to the garrisons commander. Too late, when the reporting officer was forced to barge open the locked door of his office and saw what lay within did the defenders realize their dire state. Their commander was slain, his throat slit by nemedian shapeshifter. His body was found slumped in his curule chair, accompanied by those of his two chief officers splayed upon the floor, their glassy eyes dull and etched with the shock of betrayal as they stared blindly towards the heavens.

    In the field Naz’jar smiled, surveying her conquest to be as they milled about in confusion atop the parapets. She stands resplendent in armour of gilt scales bedecked in an emerald green tabard wrought of fine Patalan silk and bearing a spear of the finest svartalfar steel (oh the irony). The High Priestesses deputy soon followed, calmly walking to her side and raising aloft the serpent standard of the Kingdom as she whispered prayers to the goddess under the shade of her linen cowl. The garrison of Don Lodur feels immense pressure at the sight of the gathered might of the enemy, for they know that the desires of the enemies general are simple and direct. To serve the Queen whom she loves with a love that will never waver, and to partake of a thirst for battle that can never be slaked. She will be a terrible foe.

    Naz’jar waves her hand languidly and Queen Athissa’s army advances forward, horns braying. The tactics are simple, a human wave of militia rushes forward supported by a hail of arrows interspersed with teams in box formation shields raised and carrying a baker's dozen siege ladders to scale the walls. The auxiliaries of Don Lodur, bereft of their commanding officers steel themselves, remembering their training, and return fire with their own re-curved bows of bone and sinew. Their cunningly wrought bodkins of finest Svartalfar steel slip between the gaps of the militiamens minimal armour even as the local militia throw stones and boiling oil down upon the ladder bearers and the gathering foe pressing against the base of the wall. They reap a red harvest and there are many casualties. The sight of the slain breaks the resolve of many and the greater part of the militia cut and run for terror. Naz’jar hisses, glaring sullenly towards the defenders, “go onward”, she commands, gesturing forcefully to an adjutant who conveys the command with his tin clarion. The serpent knights advance, spiked shields raised up as a cabal of mesmers in their scintillating form-fitting armour slithered forward close behind and the serpent archers, eyes squinting, redouble their assault.

    The archer fire begins to take its toll on the defenders and as the real soldiers of the Kingdom advance and reinforce the militia Don Lodurs morale begins to waver. The hypnotic gaze of the Kingdoms mesmer elites and the venomous sting of their blades opens gaps in their defence which the soldiers of Athissa eagerly exploit. The garrisons archers change their focus to their enemy counterparts, seeing that unless the constant arrow fire is suppressed the walls will be scaled and the town conquered and to their credit the serpent archers fall one after the other to the keen aim of auxiliary bowmen. But it is not enough. For each soldier of Athissa’s that falls or is carried back to the rear for treatment, another takes their place and a great many still wait at ease in the rear for their turn to take the front. Soon one ladder, then another is raised, and the knights taking advantage of the enemies cacophonous disarray scramble up the bars to seize the breaks even as the enemies light infantry gather in force in an attempt (a vain one) to close the gaps in their faltering lines. To their regret, they failed, for tens, then hundreds of soldiers soon ascend the walls pushing the defenders into an unseemly retreat to the towns keep. Don Lodur is soon overwhelmed and the gate seized by the jubilant knights, accompanied by the now uncloaked nemedian phantoms of the Kingdom.

    “You insult the Queen with this pitiful defense”

    Naz’jar mutters as she rides through the gate, an honour guard of phantom assasins standing either side of her way, saluting in welcome arrayed in their grey-green mantles. The remainder of the Emerald Kingdoms armies march uncontested through the gate close behind, spears aloft in triumph. Not that the town did not resist. No they fought admirably, for when the walls were taken a fighting retreat was made house to house and street to street, with the arrows of the stalwart defenders picking off the Kingdoms soldiery even as the loyal servants of the Svartalfar Kingdom were ground down and overwhelmed by sheer numbers. It was only when the gates of the keep were battered down by a makeshift battering ram and all hope of enduring until reinforcements arrived from the high mountains of Odra was lost that the soldiers unceremoniously surrendered. Don Lodur was conquered. It was a truly lopsided battle. Naz’jar spat at the ground in disgust.


    ( -3 militia infantry, -2 serpent archers, no other losses. Captures Don Lodur )


    As the reports of victory filtered back to Jormungand Athissa exulted, for the success of the expedition was one good tiding amongst a flood of less auspicious missives that reached the throne. The ill omens began as rumours, flying from house to house in hushed whispers like swiftlets dipping between eaves. People visited their cousins, neighbours, friends and colleagues and shared tidings such that all too soon the taverns murmured with the news. As what had occured became common knowledge, devotees to the goddess gathered in shrines to pray for deliverance and for protection for what they interpreted as a portent of doom. Yet others amongst the citizenry adopted another course, for the good god had been seen within the Kingdom and those who were wise took to leaving offerings of milk and honey-cakes on their windowsills each night for the god as they whispered pious supplications in the twilight hours when the divide with the spirit world was at its weakest. The rash and mad gathered together in choir dancing and singing strange hymns whilst unashamed they offered libations in exotic fey rites under the boughs of the ancient trees of the city parks in broad daylight. This scandalised those of good social standing who gawped aghast at the sight of such open superstition. At any rate these people were the ones who, whether wise or rash and already uneasy at the emptying of the cities garrison which had albeit temporarily left the city vulnerable, took solace in the cult of the god whose essence infused the land in every dale and dell and whose presence hung overhead like a sickle writ in the stars.

    Perhaps their obeisance to Lord Froede saved the city, for despite the pall of doom that hung overhead the cities flowers were no less fresh, its waters no less clean, its blacksmiths no less sooty for it. Better yet the hosts of sidhe and vanir that some feared might cross the hills under the banner of their ancient master in some grand crusade did not manifest themselves as the prophets and doomsayers who frequented the public squares on certain days supposed. Nonetheless petitions began arriving at palace and temple alike from vexed nobility and city administrators begging the Queen to suppress the public offering of impious devotions to a foreign god, petitions which when left unanswered by legitimate authority, led to public demonstrations by traditionalists outraged at the crowns supposed godlessness. The Queen was frustrated, she had attempted to keep the matter secret to avoid just such a situation. The matter became so disruptive however that she was in the end compelled to confirm the veracity of the rumours in order to maintain public order.

    “There is no cause for alarm, indeed now is the time to rejoice, for what more auspicious tiding is there than the appearance of a god? Keeping faith in Lady Lotahna, may her name be praised forever, let us welcome Him as a guest should he come...”

    City magistrates and noble barons kneeling before her in the throne room were assuaged in calming tones that yes Froede was seen, but the peace of the Emerald Kingdom was assured. Athissa pointed to the success of the expedition as a clear sign that divine providence was in their favour and that even as the Kingdom would, should the god fain appear in Jormungand, welcome the Fair Prince in a manner worthy of his divinity, the Kingdoms faith in the goddess was unassailable, and she, its queen, would continue to devote itself to the Consolation of the Sick in all things. Later, behind closed doors the High Priestess, summoned by the Queen, was instructed in stern tones to seek out this foreign god wherever he might be, if he might even be found, that his purpose might be revealed and the Kingdoms continued sovereignty assured. For at least one aspect of Froedes epiphany had been understood even as the true meaning of this prodigy remained obscured to a priesthood yet unused to the the interventions of living gods. His judgment hung over the Emerald Kingdom.


    (-5 stability Jormungand)


    Judgement. Such a dangerous thing. For while the High Priestess, head bowed as she scurried off to fulfil her Queen's command had no knowledge of it, another series of ill tiding had by the autumn reached the throne. While not threatening to their conquest, not yet anyway, svartalfar raiders in the mountains like shadows began to attack the invaders supply lines and Kingdom scouts under the veil of night vexing Naz’jar greatly as she tried to maintain the supply of ore to Jormungand and maintain control of the newly conquered land. While the general had sent forth her phantoms and mesmers to track down these trifling nuisances, each time they came close to the scent the foe seemed to melt away into the stones, walking on hidden ways and through the deeps such that their best efforts were confounded and some suggested that it was the work of something unnatural. Regardless, it seemed that the Svartalfar would not be surprised by the Kingdom again.

    To the south Vanir scouts were seen to probe the Kingdoms borders before retreating under glamours whence they came. Rumours also filtered north that the High King of Vanheim was gathering forces for some unknown end and indeed scout reports indicated substantial forces gathered by the nearby Jarls. The Queen shuddered as the image of her people being enslaved by the foul Vanir as visions flickered crossed her mind. For she understood well that to all who they deemed inferior the only consolation under the Vanir yoke was a quick death.

    The worst news however came from the north, For here merchants of the Kingdom were greatly confused when confronted with a strange phenomenon. For when their wagons entered the lands of the Sidhe they found themselves travelling through the glades for hours as mists rose up about them. To their shock they exited where they entered after mere minutes had passed. Others reported being lost in the bewildering mists as the woodland roads seemed to shift and change all about them ominously. Some entered never to be seen again. The priestesses were at a loss but the few devotees of Froede who left on trade caravans and saw fit to offer sacrifice to the fae god when entering his domain found the way forward opened to them and when they reached Ylanati and other centres to the Sidhe found the answer. At first they were befuddled, seeing most unexpectedly that they had stumbled upon a great festival. Each slender tower of white stone was bedecked with swaying banners of every hue and in their courts dancing women singing paeans to their god circled great oaks ribbons in hand while elsewhere young men and children all garlanded with holly attended stalls in sprawling fairs laid out across mesmerising meadows all bedight with daffodils, bluebells and flowers of every kind in a dazzling display of colour. All those present exclaimed.

    “Froede has forgiven us, and has laid his mantle over us as he did of old. Praise to our father who doth cover the nakedness of his children! Praise be Him forever!”.

    Indeed the god’s presence lay heavy over Sijosalvar, and it was at the same time as an expedition from the High Priestess to find Froede was turned back, finding nothing, from the heart of feydom by the bewildering space and time distorting enchantment that now lay over it that a lone rider on a white horse, carrying a banner of golden spider-silk and bearing a coronet of gold with a great amethyst upon his brow approached Jormungand’s great gate.

    -

    Whispering mantras filled the tent as the sorceress sat and meditated in the magic circle deftly inscribed in chalk upon the earth. The light of three slender seal-fat candles illuminated her wizened face and cast flickering shadows upon the furs of seals, ice-bears and other such beasts that bedecked the walls. She resolved herself and drank the sacred snow-lily wine as she listened to the attending priests intone prayers to Tallai, that the dread goddess might not waylay her soul as she journeyed on the way. She hearkened as they chanted the prayers to Froede, that her soul might be protected from evil and not lost to the world of dreams and memory. She even dared entertain some feeble hope as they muttered prayers to Liluri, that she might find what she sought and that nothing might remain hidden from her sight. Then it was time.

    “Fly my soul, like a bird”

    She whispered in an ancient tongue, and with the utterance thereof her head fell down onto her chest as the candles flared, and she was gone.

    While her body remained where it was to her vision the world of chanting priests and crude hides bubbled away into nothing as she fell into the state of dual consciousness, becoming like a hunter who enters the dreamtime and sends his spirit-self seeking seals or other animals across the frozen sea. Before her soul, now freed from the confines of her body, the land was laid bare. It was a vast plain glittering like an endless sheet of gold. She gazed outward looking for the horizon of this brilliant new world. But there was no horizon. Neither was there a sky, only a harsh white light glaring like the snows under the gaze of the noonday sun.

    Arbitrarily she called the direction that she was facing north, while behind her was south. The east was to her right and her left hand was held out against the glare of the western plain. She turned slowly in a circle to reverence this new world, no matter how surreal or strange it seemed. It was an elementary lesson, one must always show respect to the greatness of the worlds and of the gods. Then she listened for her prey.

    After some time in silence she heard it, a knock. Like stones tumbling down a mountain echoing from afar or perhaps like a droplet of rain dispersing across a placid lake. The sorceress wished to move more quickly that she might reach the source of this noise reverberating in the distance, and with that wish she found herself fluttering like a moth above what she supposed was the ground. She began to fly to the west, slowly at first but then faster and faster as a goshawk might race through the clouds. The wind blew fiercely at her face whipping her long white hair behind her. It was cold. She murmured a prayer to Tallai in thanks, for without this cold wind she could not have sensed that she was moving, for the plain below remained an endless sheet of gold and it bore no features by which she might measure the distance she had traversed. She felt she was flying too slowly and suddenly she began to accelerate, streaking across the golden plain like a meteor across the spiritscape splitting the firmament like lightning with her passing. The wind was now almost like a solid wall against her face, and she remembered the chill blizzards of her youth that had frozen her face and almost killed her, and found herself wishing that there was no wind.

    And there was no wind.

    Then she noticed it, far off in the distance a slight dwelling in the golden plain. It was as if the glaring light of the sky had caused the ground to melt and buckle. Soon she flew over this swelling and there were others like the domes of igloos. As she flew they grew higher and higher like great golden volcanoes before at last they began to melt away revealing in the shimmering gold a white field of snow.

    There she saw her target at last and with it the source of the reverberations that echoed across the spirit world. At the sight her heart leapt for fear. For it was black. It was like a humanoid shadow or ominous cloud riding a black fey horse, for the glamours that lay over him veiled her sight and what remained for her to interpret seemed in her soul’s eyes to be nothing more than a great gash ripped into the fabric of the world, a door to endless night. It was unnatural, oozing from a place that must not be like ink blotting over paper and she shuddered in revulsion at the sight of it. It, no He for she discerned that it was male, turned sharply to face her and, eyes shimmering like a burning heat and searing cold in the inky void, pierced her soul. He saw her.

    She felt the sensations of scoffing and mockery as a rictus grin split apart the empty visage of the entity in derision. He then turned his back to her moving towards what she had termed the west and continued on his way. As he rode on she saw those who followed him emerge from the falling snows like phantoms. A great army, a mighty host of skirmishers and infantry alike herded forth on the march by scintillating beings that distorted and refracted in the light like so many shards of glass. These were attended on high by dark wispy things flitting like black ravens through the blizzard as other beings shrouded in black robes and bearing talismans of blood and flesh and bone trailed behind in dour procession.

    The woman gasped and like a drowned man being lifted out of the waters she was dragged back into the world of furs and tents and chanting priests.

    “What did you see?”

    Her attendant asked. His hand wiping the sweat from her brow.

    “The Hangadrott King, and a great host with him. Send word to the tribes, we must prepare”.

    The menace of Helheim permeated the days of the people of the Vatn Confederacy like the stench of a rotting whale carcass beached in high summer and Iqalak of the Snows was quick to respond. Instructing further scrying of the confederations surroundings and dispatching spies, she hastened to gather levies from all nine tribes and organise the raising of defences. She deemed it most unwise to permit the army of the living ancestor rush down the mountain and lay upon the people unawares and thus presuming (rightly) that a mere palisade would not avail should the worst occur, the leaders of the confederacy in council resolved themselves to invest their resources into building a network of crudely camouflaged watchtowers stretching in the direction of Helheim and connected by communication paths carved into the barren Phlegrean rock. Through these the tribes would obtain advance warning of any invasion and be able to prepare a suitable response and the fears of the people somewhat put at ease


    (+2 stability)


    Not content with these preparations however, Tiglikte of the Storm, the elder of the two prominent chiefs of the Confederacy, travelled north atop her sturdy snow pony to conduct a diplomatic visit to Fjoll. For the old world-wise woman, like Iqalak, received reports regarding Helheims fearsome might and had intuited that the unification of as many tribes as possible would be required to resist them and ensure the peace of her people. Her face was grim, she was to offer military protection to Fjoll, the troops by her side handsomely arrayed in the furs of snow bears and bronze scales being evidence of Vatn’s capacity in this, lest they be overcome by the Hangadrott King, and the extension of the nine tribes tower network north to ensure they would be forewarned of any attack. A good offer she thought. Thus resolved to put on the best impression she entered the ramshackle town, gifts in hand, and sat down with the chieftains to present her proposal.

    Fjoll refused.

    Tiglikte smiled at the chiefs of Fjoll who bluntly rejected the confederacy. Hiding her thoughts, she continued the ceremonial banqueting and offered polite pleasantries to assuage them of the Confederacies good will before she, demurely, withdrew... for a time.

    Seven days later Tiglikte’s army was spied by Fjoll’s watchmen near at hand and positioned atop the heights surrounding the town. For long foreseeing their foolish pride Tiglikte had long prepared for a takeover of Fjoll by force. Spies had in secret discerned Fjoll’s strength (negligible) and scouted out secret paths by which the armies of the confederacy might approach undetected. Surprised, outpositioned, outnumbered, it was over with the first few javelin volleys and clinched with a display of fearsome ice magic. Recognising the futility of resistance and already receiving disordinate casualties at range due lack of preparedness and their own abject poverty (even compared to the low standards of Phlegra) the people of Fjoll surrender before melee is even met. Thus Fjoll is made subject to the Vatn confederacy. Back at home, Iqalak upon receiving the report is well pleased, for winter is nigh and the silence on the southern border remains a disconcerting thorn lodged in the centre of her thoughts.

    (no losses - gains the region of Fjoll)


    -


    As time continued to take its inexorable toll, the scourge of the patalan plague which heaven has imposed upon the world for its manifold sins continued to reap a dread harvest even as it finally at long last began to abate (at least in some areas) whilst bestowing on others the first taste of pestilence. In Awharai where famine and pestilence travel hand in hand and another tenth of the population lay dead or dying in field, ditch and temple refectory alike, Grandkeeper Winfor was amongst those most particularly vexed by this difficult and intransigent problem.

    Perhaps due to a desire to maintain order and seeing an opportunity to repair the crumbling edifice of Mahatic faith in the chaos, when the King of Awharai, seeking to consolidate his rule as his kingdom teeters on the precipice of dissolution demanded fealty Winfor saw fit to submit. The Grand-keeper, face placid and eyes seemingly vapid (his mind was not) signed in triplicate and sealed with his ecclesiastical ring the oath of fealty. It was a wise choice, the destructive capabilities of foolish kings are well known and when the population base of willing votaries (and taxpayers) has been culled like unwanted stock in a Vanir slavemart a further diminution of the peasantry through the instruments of war would be folly. Besides the King is content to leave things much as they are, all the dominion need do is acknowledge suzerainty and pay the annual tribute and it may then proceed according to its own devices unmolested. A win truly, and better yet his forces can now operate against lawbreakers and bandits with the authority of the crown, truly an opportunity sent from Lord Mahat. It is wise too for the King of Awharai, for in the willing ex-abbot of Xerconia he gains a new source of income and of trade with the Machakan legation and the enigmatic Sidhe of Sijosalvar and his legitimacy amongst the tribes is strengthened by the simple fact that they acknowledge his overlordship. How delightful, let the people of Awharai rejoice in their wisdom in averting the scourge of war. The Grandkeeper was even more delighted when reports returned to his personal monastic cell that bandits had been cleared by The Orders forces, and minor losses aside the roads and many of the more substantial settlements on the steppe were now secure.

    (-100 materials, -1 militia unit, -1 zealot, +5 stability)

    Ah but what was not wise was what happened after the celebratory banquets when Xerconian physicians, who had been sent forth to tend to the sick across Awharai in those areas most benighted and despoiled by pestilence were invited to the King’s court in Svopyeyvysk. Yes it was most unfortunate and unwise when certain ecclesiastical notables of the order were discovered slandering the King and perusing state documents not meant for their eyes. The scandal of Xerconia’s two-faced treachery soon spread throughout court and beyond to the tribes of Awharai and while hasty diplomatic exchanges and a disavowal of the offending clerics actions preserved cordial ties between King and abbey and ensured Xerconia’s charitable work in the region can continue. The King's favour has surely passed them by even as their standing amongst the tribes has diminished, and the representatives of the Holy Orders access at court has been quietly and decisively curtailed.

    -

    Athanasia Grey, tricorne atop her braided hair, her hawk-like gaze staring implacably north, stood atop the prow of the Grey Whale as it slipped its moorings under a cloak of darkness accompanied by the four great flagships of her fleet. The captains of ships... of these we shall make mention at another time perhaps, needless to say however that the armada needed wood if the Lady Grey’s ambitions were to be fulfilled and Timbercove possesses this most necessary of maritime amenities in abundance. War was inevitable.

    "Prepare the sacrifice"

    The pirate queen ordered her crew with an imperious scowl. She herself cared not for the whims of the gods and scoffed at the pious imprecations of those who devoted themselves to them. But she was no fool. She wisely foresaw that placating the mistress of the abyss was a necessary chore to ensure the success of her endeavours. No ship can sail on an unfriendly sea.

    The first mate, a burly man, nodded and went below deck with heavy stomps before swiftly emerging with a boy, bound with rope, hobbled with a stone and gagged that his cries might not sully the solemnity of the occasion, struggling and screaming soundlessly in his arms.

    "Bring him here"

    The first mate dragged the boy as he screamed into the cloth lodged in his mouth and struggled against his arms to the ship's prow as Athanasia drew a gold coin from her pocket.

    As he was held fast over the water, dangled over the figurehead of a sperm whale that graced her personal ship by his captor, she uttered these words which echoed across the waves in a loud and clear voice.

    "Mighty Ursula”

    She cried

    “Most beautiful and greatest of the gods to whom all mariners give worship and whom no shackle can bind. To you we offer this sacrifice and payment for passage across your realm"

    As her voice faded and silence reigned over the waters she nodded...

    And the boy was promptly cast overboard.

    "Now off we go"

    Athanasia smiled and flicked her coin behind him and into the depths.

    As the sacrifice sunk into the unfathomable depths and to a fate unknowable to mere mortals the Grey Whale cut north like a knife, untroubled and unmolested, across the sea. Of its companion vessels sent ahead in anticipation of the invasion only two of the three ships sent emerged from the mist to meet her as they came upon Timbercove some two days later, the captain of the Golden Cup being a little too spendthrift in his tokens of obeisance at the cost of all hands. Athanasia spat, another ship to be replaced and yet more men would need to be shanghaied to man the oars. No matter Athanasia thought, best to focus on the matter at hand.

    "Crows Nest, any ships in port?"

    "None Captain"

    The boy atop the mast shouted as he scanned the port of Timbercove.

    “Good.”

    The Hallows were too concerned with their own navel-gazing it seemed to bother aiding the templars who still governed the town to resist her advances. The fools, what use is mysticism and worthless prognostications when the time was ripe to seize the tools needed for power and dominion in this new age after deicide, gods be damned.

    "Now men, let's liberate these land-lubbers and let the men of Emyur share the fate of their god"

    With a hearty cry the black flags of the armada were raised aloft and at Athanasia pointed her cutlass dead ahead they sped to the unsuspecting port...

    ...

    "Lady Aisha, Timbercove has fallen to Athanasia Grey"

    Aisha waved in response to the bureaucrat and uttered a single word

    "Leave"

    As he left she began to pace her office and furrowed her brow. The last six months had been most vexing for the Hollows. Efforts to set up a quarantine had failed miserably, with funding deficiencies and political squabbling between the three peoples greatly hampering and finally aborting attempts to establish quarantine facilities whilst smugglers and traders ignored border controls at will, aided by corrupt and incompetent local officials more intent on gaining profit through bribes and advantage for their own people than on the common good of the whole community. Thankfully heaven saw fit to see the plague wind down in Lanun, a side effect perhaps of rampant piracy hindering normal intercourse between communities and the efforts of roving Lotahnic clerics.

    ( -2 stability)

    This latest trouble however portended ill for the Hollows. Without lumber and the infrastructure to build ships there could be no additions to the Hollows fleet, and gaining an ample supply of lumber near at hand and the expertise to work it to this end would be... difficult, without Timbercove in her possession or at least allied to her. She bit her lip as she realised that the three peoples were effectively trapped on Lanun unless this problem could be resolved...

    "Such a conundrum"

    Optimism should be a salve to heal her malaise yes? Look on the bright side, the magical capacities of the hollows have advanced leaps and bounds thanks to ample resources being poured into the mist-weaver and thunder-walker fraternities. Indeed their new conjuration looks like it would greatly enhance the military power of the Hollows in an emergency. The development of the town also has advanced greatly despite the debacle and political scandal of the matter of quarantine.

    Furthermore the spies of the pirate queen had been uncovered before they could report anything of use back to their mistress and so she would remain in the dark about the Hollows true capabilities. This could buy her time, precious, invaluable time.

    Aisha smiled.

    -

    A short journey across the sea in Patala a smile did not grace the faces of the members of the Council of Knives despite the plague subsiding as a result of the grace of the good goddess Lotahna. For word had come from Lonnaghar that the Nagaraja had raised up anew the ancient walls of that mysterious city and raised a mighty army of men assisted by the adepts of the goddess Lotahna. The evidence was undeniable, the ancient naga race in the absence of Mahat was working to restore their ancient domination of the land and Xaru in its appointed time would suffer the suffocating yoke of Avyukt’s coils.

    Something had to be done.

    Thus emissaries were sent, sacred white elephants adorned with golden trinkets and laden with gifts and grain (to ameliorate the scourge of famine) in their train, to Amunekamam and Paloserang to negotiate common cause against the serpent king. At home on the other hand shrines formerly consecrated to Mahat were repurposed and re-consecrated in lengthy rites, as priests of the goddess of mercy recited melodious mantra and dashed libations of holy water against the stones to cleanse them from Mahatic taint and by devotion to this new goddess, whose power so efficaciously consoled the sick and purified the land of pestilence effect auspicious tidings for the city.

    Whilst immediate benefits appeared lacking such that some proposed propitiating a less widely revered deity in hope for a more favourable response, these rituals seemed to have fulfilled the cities intent for when the emissaries of the city returned from their assignments they brought word that the kings of both Paloserang and Amunekamam had accepted their proposal of alliance against the Nagaraja of Lonnaghar that by their brotherly endeavours peace might prevail in Patala and the serpent folk kept at bay. That said the council was disappointed that their proposal for a confederation was politely albeit firmly declined. A shame they thought that the cities were so proud as to not come together as one.

    A shame indeed…

    For in the bowels of Lonnaghar the Nagaraja of the great kingdom of Mani Akkitha foresaw the folly of the Patalan princes as they luxuriated in their bathhouses as was their want and concerned themselves more with the pleasures of the flesh and their own vanity than with the cold truths of power. The gates were unlatched and the army Xaru’s agents had unveiled marched forth to Paloserang and in haste assaulted the walls. Casualties were heavy but the city fell, its nobles fleeing to Xaru like scurrying rats to take lodging in other men’s palaces. The Nagaraja’s army soon returned to Lonnaghar, perhaps in preparation for a counter-assault from Xaru, save for a garrison left behind to man the walls and quell the restive populace. Nonetheless the Avyukt is confident that the priests sent forth from Lonnaghar can sway the people with the aid of Lotahna, for gratitude is surely the certain outcome of benevolence, and what if not benevolence is healing the sick and maintaining a light touch over those of his new subjects who desist from futile resistance?

    Thus did all Xaru bewail this inauspicious subjugation of their all too brief ally at the hands of their future foe. But look on the bright side ye sons and daughters of the city, the princes of Paloserang fretting like butterflies at dusk in their silken brocade all soiled and sullied by their hard journey bow before your princes as they recline upon their high thrones and pledge with sycophantic grace eternal fealty if only Xaru restores their city unto them and casts the serpent back into the darkness of the deep jungle where it belongs. Sweet catharsis it is indeed that the mighty have fallen so low and that they who reigned as Kings now hold company amongst beggars.


    (Paloserang falls to Mani Akkitha)

    -


    The ragged lines of Pomaz's slave army stretched out through the orange orchards as far as Goliath could see. The evil sound of their drums boomed rhythmically without cease, as if they were the heartbeat of a single organism sprawled under the shade of the trees. Over the drumming—and between curses directed alternatively at the dead men's outriders, vanguard and logistics officers—Goliath heard the first commander of the outrider cavalry telling his officers that the army they were facing was somewhere between thirty and forty thousand strong. Goliath tried to find some relief in the grizzled old cavalryman’s apparent lack of concern at the legion being matched man for man and outnumbered counting demons into the mix and focused on counting the number of Avvite legionnaires in the enemies centre from his perch atop a hill ensconced in the midst of his army.

    The enemy lines were only about eight hundred paces away from the legion’s front line, but the drums, the shrieks of the crudely armed slaves, the growling and howling and screeching of the imps careening overhead, and the occasional shouting of the men behind him made it surprisingly hard to keep track of the number. The fact that the slaves were not arrayed in tidy, disciplined lines, but in a seething mob in constant movement only barely restrained by the avvite whips rendered it more of an exercise in estimation than an actual count. He glanced back toward his own centre and saw the standard of Ishat rising high. He grinned wryly, glad that he wasn’t the object of the god's ire even as he secretly entertained displeasure at the gods wicked sense of humour and inscrutable signs.

    Wrenching himself from his recollections he mused that the Avvites had arrayed their forces much as his advisors had predicted they would, although there seemed to be rather more demons lined up on the flank facing the Outriders than on the other side of the battlefield.

    “How many imps, deputy?”

    Goliath demanded.

    “I make eight hundred, perhaps eight hundred twenty, Your Holiness.”

    “David and I both count nine hundred. Still, that’s not bad.”

    Not bad that only six hundred outriders held the right flank against nine hundred enemy demons and a throng of slaves? It wasn’t exactly what he would be inclined to describe as good, either. But he held his tongue. His deputy was not a man known to appreciate wit at the best of times, and this did not seem to be a wise moment to try his temper.

    As if in response to the demons snarling before him, Goliath’s stomach growled. Today marked his first actual battle. While he was a veteran legionnaire of the Empires army, mere police actions could hardly compare to the real thing. Ashdod had always been fairly peaceful unlike the marches of Vanheim or so he had heard in his younger days when he was a fresh-faced recruit in Emyur, and he knew that the reality of war was unlikely to match the glorious accounts of the imperial annals. He drank to wet his throat and handed the flask to his page, then pointed at the enemy lines.

    “What are they doing down there?”

    Below them, a group of slaves on foot was beginning to emerge from the shadows of the orange grove followed by a cabal of avvites in black robes intricately embroidered with scarlet sigils each black-cowled giant being accompanied by a bevy of unarmed human slave-attendants. Closer to the front, each slave soldier facing the vanguard carried little curved objects that looked much too small to be proper bows, but it wasn’t until they stopped about twenty paces from the base of the hill and began to shoot from the quivers slung on their backs that he realized that was precisely what they were supposed to be. The deputy was quicker on the uptake.

    “Clockworks, front and centre!” His voice was loud enough to drown out the avvites drums, which, up close in the vanguard, was nearly deafening.

    “Shields ready!” Goliath called, his bugler bursting out the command in a steady rhythm.

    He'd already learned in the early skirmishes of the campaign against Pomaz that the slaves' bows had little range, and he also knew their archers would have time to loose only a few shafts before the Communions Anathemant bowmen would force them to retreat with their superior range and firepower. Without thinking about it, he began to count the archers. There were two thousand of them in all. He was relieved to see they were raising their bows high and to the right, to shoot for the cavalry, rather than aiming them directly at him and the Vanguard at the fore of the line. The slaves released their first volley.

    “Shields up!”

    A moment later, he heard a loud clattering sound from the right flank as the arrows began falling on the upraised shields of the outriders, followed by the terrible, gut-wrenching shriek of a wounded horse screaming in agony. While their rider’s shields guarded their vulnerable eyes and their saddles protected their backs, the horses’ naked haunches were still exposed to the falling arrows.

    Fortunately, the clockworks soon responded, and he grinned with satisfaction as the air resounded with a series of whip-like cracks. With the ease of long-practiced experts, the elite Anathement bowmen hurled their bolts at the slave archers below in synchronous volleys. A good twenty enemy bowmen collapsed immediately, followed by an Avvite slavemaster, who fell clutching a shattered knee. The remaining slaves managed to loose one more haphazard volley, in which most of the shafts fell well short of the Communion lines. Then another piercing round of bolts drove them back to the safety of their own lines.

    The black-robe adepts then began to whisper sonorously and draw wickedly serrated knives from beneath the folds of their vestments. Goliath turned his head as he spied an evil-looking haze rising in their midst and latch on to each slave chosen for the rite by the adepts from amongst each members accompaniment of attendants.

    "What is that?"

    he asked his commander.

    "Demonic adepts, blood magic by the looks of it"

    he replied with disdain.

    "Damned stupid of them too, they ought to have saved their spells for the assault, used them to blast a hole in our line for their soldiers to enter"

    "Don't discount them just yet"

    Goliath secretly cursed.

    Their chants seemingly reaching their conclusion the adepts in single movement slit the throats of their chosen slaves. In concert an equal number of crack dead-man infantry collapsed in the centre, blood pouring from their mouths as their eyes bulged.

    "see what I mean".

    "Centre advance!"

    Goliath gestured as the bugler rang

    As if incited by the advance of the Communions legion, within the enemy ranks a great cry rang out as a great number of slave soldiers rose up and took arms against the Avvite legionnaires disrupting the cohesion of the enemy ranks and causing them to falter in setting up a defensive line. Goliath secretly praised the work of his agents who had long sowed dissent amongst the Avvite slave pens. A fairly simple task he presumed given the uses the slaves were being put towards.

    Time passed, and the sun rose higher. Based on its height, Goliath guessed it was about an hour before noon. The air was heating up, and the last vestiges of the cool morning breeze had vanished some time ago. He was beginning to feel the first sense of perspiration under his arms as the battle lines began to unfold. The vanguard chanted battle rhymes, the slaves shrieked, and the horses whinnied. Finally, after another round of spells from the demonologists had brought to heel the slave revolt the enemy infantry moved forward to hastily engage its Communion counterpart. Then the air was filled with the clashing of metal on metal and the cries of the combatants.

    He glanced right to the outriders, and this time he saw a flock of imps cackling as they hurled dart-like spines down upon the retreating outriders below, their re-curved bows of little use against the agile abominations careening above their heads in delight as the bodies of men and horses fell to litter the hillside. Meanwhile in the centre the adepts continued to cast maledictions upon the Communion vanguard sowing confusion and fear upon the front which Goliath saw wavering for fright and allowing openings for the enemy forces to exploit.

    Another bugle, and the Clockwork archers turned right and loosed volley after volley amidst the demons dropping the things as the bolts ripped through their scaly hides, their corpses evaporating into an unclean haze upon their demise, their soulless spirits returning back to whatever hell they had been conjured from.

    “They’re trying to draw our riders off the hill”

    His deputy exclaimed in realisation.

    "They don't dare to come to meet them for fear we'll charge them while they're climbing the slope. Those slave archers didn't bring us down to them so now they're trying demons. Once they're down they can break our centre with the help of those foul spells"

    Goliath harrumphed

    "We just need to break their line and kill those damned witches then, dead men advance in the centre!"

    The Anathement heavy infantry reserved behind the vanguard raised their swords in answer as the phalanx split to allow them to pass. A great many enemy slaves ran at the sight while those forces that resisted were cut aside by the whirling maelstrom of swords like wheat before a farmers sickle. Soon the Vanguard reformed and advanced to impale the pieces left behind by the whirling Anathemant dervishes in their hunger for Avvite blood.

    "Get the outriders back on the flank"

    The outriders, newly liberated from the demonic assault charged down the right flank towards the milling slaves shooting their arrows into the throng taking full advantage of the enemy confusion as the day turned decisively towards the Communion..

    In the end the assault of the elite dead men was too much for the forces of Pomaz. Few of their mighty host were left to rout, both due to the predation of the demonologists and the barbs of demons who impaled any and all deserters and wildly shot into the melee without care for friend or foe. The field was left a bloody mess of corpses as the crows descended to glut upon the bounty of battle.

    (-2 militia infantry, -1 vanguard, -2 outrider, -2 deadmen, -1 clockwork)


    If Goliath expected the siege of Pomaz to be an equally bloody affair than he was pleasantly surprised. For when his army, diminished but intact, approached the gates he found the way opened to him and his arrival heralded by rapturous applause. Under the light of the noonday sun ranks of spears gleaming row after row marched behind the banner of the Ashen King and to the uncouth melodies of bawdy hymns through the gates, even as the corpse of the local princeling hung aloft from the parapets, dangling obscenely from his own intestines overhead whilst a white crow plucked a glassy eye from its socket for his own reward.

    It was here in Pomaz that the fruits of the communions sedition, and it was whispered the workings of the Free Father, stoked a general slave revolt. With the armies of Pomaz crushed on the battlefield, the remaining garrison was simply too undermanned to stave off the human wave assaults of the local serfs leading to the avvite courts capture, execution and butchering by their rebellious chattel. Goliath chortled when he saw the loot gathered together in a handsome pile in the palace court of the erstwhile avvite prince and bid it be returned to Titan’s Fall as an offering to the god who bestowed upon the Communion this triumph, Ishat.


    ( Pomaz captured )


    Here, in the heart of the Communion did Goliath raise up in truth what had heretofore been seen only in the mists of dreams. With care and patience did he command his acolytes each assigned and blessed to fulfil that very purpose to lay each foundation stone of the divine sanctuary with tenderness in ground consecrated with the blood of rams, black and vital. Verily as the stones rose up to heaven and the people cried out with religious fervor as each was set in place and in the rising Goliath glimpsed something the hidden truths manifested to him by the god and which initially he had failed to understand, for truly the trowel of brotherhood and love makes flat divisions and earthly discord and cuts mortals into a new shape that they might be worthy of becoming living stones in God’s Temple.

    At last as the temple swiftly rose and its capstone was put in place, the priests gathered in the temple court to consecrate it fully and set it apart for the service of god. It was far from done, much carving remained to be completed upon the walls and the temples auster dignity was but a skeleton, a foretaste so to speak of the gilded splendor revealed in the prophets dream. Nonetheless it would be set aside for worship as planned, for the people were in need of a focus for their devotions and with fitting tribute gathered and ready to offer up to the god what better time was there to offer up this sacrifice to Him than when they were flush on the giddy drink of victory?

    The chanting was slow, rising and falling like waves each syllable pregnant with power as time ticked down to the appointed moment. The high priest led before the altar a red cow fat and fertile with a golden chain as the mantras echoed even unto the secret sanctum which lay empty and unfilled. He whispered invocations and raised aloft a knife of black obsidian, and as the chant ceased and everything was still in the great silence of the gods did he plunge his knife deep into the inmost parts of his victim.

    Oh great mystery, even as the lifeblood of the holy sacrifice bled out upon the altar steps did a wonder beyond all telling occur. What truly happened cannot be spoken of, for what words could describe the inconceivable? what voice repeat the threnodies that resounded forth from heaven into the hollow minds of those there gathered? Nonetheless we can describe the rumours that filtered out to the common people…. They say even as the first drop of the cows blood fell upon the ground, did a pillar of fire descend from on high and smoke flow forth and abide even in the very deepest sanctum of the holy sanctuary. They tremble with fear and jubilation alike for they understand a simple truth. The temple is the house of god.

    Regardless of what transpired, a procession of priest upon the onset of the next days dawn entered the courtyard each in time and presented offerings unto the Lord of the Flame, that they might be set aside to be transformed in fire from mundane trinkets of little worth into the holy instruments of god. Indeed little mortal, see how the mighty have fallen before the god, wonder at his care for his votaries and be astounded that the powerful who trampled upon the meek were cast down by his hand through his servants. Rejoice ye peoples and proclaim this truth. His Prophet’s holy words shall come unto all peoples and their utterance shall bring solace to their weary spirits long suffering under the yoke of tyrants and petty lords. Rejoice even more and shake for joy even as lightning shakes the firmament that in Communion with each other and with the god you might find salvation for your souls and victory over your oppressors.

    Thus did the people have confidence even when the news arrived that Sepputenu and the Ishatymes Estate had cowed the Lords of Tadjefu and compelled them to swear fealty. Let them build up their kingdom of deceit and oppression, their time will come and their princes shall meet a reckoning at the gallows like unto that of their fellows.


    -


    North in Haverston the rise of Sepputenu as a major regional power caused concern amongst the drowned priesthood and the royal court. It is perhaps because of this rising power to their south that their gaze was fixed on Nemsisouk, lest this Avvite stronghold in a like manner to Tadjefu fall under the yoke of the Ishatymes Estate. The drowned priests gathered upon the beaches and poured libations beseeching the favour of their goddess before dispatching Lothar’s raiders to reeve and pillage that the power of Jorvik might be impressed upon the Avvites.

    When reports arrived at Nemsisouk that their countryside was being put to the torch and their chattel taken to serve other masters they responded with admirable force. An army of slave-soldiers aided by demonologist adepts was gathered and sent north to compel the raiders to meet them on the field in pitched battle lest the various raiding parties be picked off one by one. In this they were only partly successful, for while the summoned demons, spiteful little creatures of darkness who hurled bolts from on high put to flight many isolated groups of Haverstons soldiery it soon became apparent as they gathered together in force that their numbers and armaments were superior to the force the avvites had assumed would be sufficient to deal with a mere pillaging party. Thus did it come to pass that the pitched battle the lords of Nemsisouk originally desired never came to pass as their own army sedulously avoided coming to the field against the heavy linebreakers and fearsome harpooners of the foe. Nonetheless they made a fighting withdrawal and their imps made good work of the linebreakers before they were driven off, whilst their presence just as much as Haverstens own desire to limit themselves to plunder rather than conquest preserved the fighting strength of Nemsisouk mostly intact, as well as keeping its sovereignty secure.

    (-1 harpooner, -3 linebreaker, -1 militia infantry, -1 development Nemsisouk, +233 material)

    -

    All this turmoil in Ashdod blinded the quarrelling princelings to an ancient and more inscrutable power lying in quiet repose deep in Asphodel. Sensing opportunity for the first time in an age slowly, like an ancient tree putting on its green raiment after a bitterly cold winter, the druids acted. Vexed by the haughtiness of the Communion, the gaze of the tree shepherd's turned to Emyur. Like sparrows flitting tree to tree, the green-clad missionaries of the God of Liberty and Lord of Abundance hearkened to the huddling starving masses liberated from Mahat’s yoke and proclaimed to them a simple gospel. Adore Malakbel and the earth shall yield unto you its bounteous harvest and you shall live, reject him and you shall perish in your abjection and be made subject to crueler masters than the one that has been slain. Many grasped at this life-bestowing truth like drowning men gasping for air and these, these lived as the scorched earth yielded to the touch of divinity. Strengthened, they were the least affected of the plague in that benighted region where the scythe of pestilence reaped another harvest all together, with another third of the population perishing by the wayside to be made the food of savage beasts that grew ever more numerous and more cunning as nature reclaimed the heart of civilisation.

    Elsewhere tidings were less dire, rumours travelled north from Ulmur that the King had subdued one or another Vaetti tribe in the ongoing civil war therein for instance and tales of Malphasim continued to filter south from Machaka amongst a thousand other tidings truthful and otherwise. Of the plague in Pythium, new centre of the world with Emyurs continued descent into anarchy and a brutish state of nature the Kings efforts to quell pestilence seemed to succeed much to the relief of the erudite and well-informed, with the death rate falling over the previous year mostly due to the efforts of the Lotahnic clergy, and this likewise appears to be the case elsewhere in the realms. But fear not dear children, the wise sense a change in the wind and listen to the whispers of the stones and proclaim that great change is near at hand. For the plague continues its long march west even as it abates in the east and even now it laps upon the shores of Ashdod even as winter beckons and the cold winds rise from the uttermost south. Know too that above it all in the darkness the gods stand watching, waiting.

    -

    MAP

     
    Last edited: May 17, 2021
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  17. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Special Messages

    -

    @Shirogane

    The Queen accompanied by the High Priestess rode out the city gates to treat with the fey rider who approached, for perhaps at last the god Froede had come and anything less would be a slight should this terrifying prospect be the truth.

    As they drew near, the High Priestess announced their names, bid welcome, and asked his purpose. This was his reply.

    "Foolish Queen

    Thy servants seek my Lord as if they could seize the mists and and contain the waters of the sea. Such hubris is thine that thou seek to touch divinity and bind he who wears mantles of flesh as mortals wear clothes to treat with thee.

    It matters not.

    We come at His behest to convey a simple truth. As thy people acknowledge His lordship over the land, thus shall ye who seek Him out hold Him first in reverence. Know that He shall suffer not to beg at thy table for the scraps of the treacherous Lotahna, thus shall ye consecrate to His name a sanctuary before all other gods where His votaries may rejoice in their King. Deny Him at thy peril."

    The queen replied.

    "Will your lord suffer us to abide here if we do this"

    "So long as sincere devotion endures"

    The emissary responded.

    "Tarry not serpent Queen, the choice is thine, His signs already manifest to thee the nature of the choice thou must make, if only thy priestess had the wisdom to undestand"

    As he smiled mists rose up around the hillock and with the smell of magic the emissary vanished leaving queen and priestess to ponder their negotiation.

    -

    @Crezth

    You spy returns, sans one eye, with a message which you read after he relays to you the results of his failed espionage mission.

    -

    To: Grand-Keeper Winfor

    The King is pleased at your fealty and thus expects the Order to offer up fitting tribute by years end. Failure to do so will be considered a violation of your oath of fealty in light of the indiscretions of your ambassadors in the capital and will meet a suitable punitive response.

    Be consoled that His Majesty desires continued good relations between throne and altar and would delight in your continued service, for your aid to the common people is well appreciated in court. Nonetheless do not strive beyond your station to his despite, for the folk of Awharai do not take kindly to those who promise good on the one hand only to work deceit in the other.

    regards,

    Court Herald of the Kingdom of Awharai.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2021
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  18. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Notes

    -

    Orders due Sunday 23rd May

    -

    1) RP contributions on the thread are greatly appreciated and will merit bonuses, they also incentivise your GM's to hurry things along

    2) Some people got bad luck on the rolls, others got particularly lucky (A certain lucky player can thank any god he wishes that he rolled a 1 on the plague roll given a certain measure was left unfunded in the orders...). Whether good or bad it was nothing personal.

    3) Stats and private reports will be supplied by Immaculate in the customary manner in due course.

    4) Player controlled areas are shown on the map, however given the chaos following the deicide you will need to discern the state of things through your intelligence reports and diplomacy when it comes to NPCs at least initially.
     
    Last edited: May 12, 2021
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  19. Kyzarc Fotjage

    Kyzarc Fotjage Rise Up

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2009
    Messages:
    1,183
    Gender:
    Male
    Location:
    Western Washington
    Worship among the Vatn
    Spoiler :
    Before the Lawgiver came and forced her cults underground, Tallai was the foremost god worshipped amongst the tribes of the Vatn. All tribes paid tribute to her and would give offerings on the equinoxes for a mild winter and that her fury might be directed at the cruel Vanir-dominated tribes with whom they were constantly raided by and whom they counter-raided. When Mahat bound her in the moon and the Legions came to enforce his laws her worship, while still widespread, quieted and many of the festivals were adapted to give them a veneer of Mahat worship, though their true meaning was passed down the family lines of the various tribes. By the time of the Deicide the majority of the Vatn were half-heartedly worshipping Mahat, but few carried true faith. With Mahat’s downfall and the liberation of Tallai most are returning to the old ways with startling ease, aided by knowledge of the original rites held in trust by the Glacier tribe until they could be practiced once again. The only ones to outright refuse their cousins’ aid are the Rime, who had kept their rites largely intact themselves over the centuries, practicing them in secret.


    The Snow, as befits their role as the most typical of the tribes, worship Tallai in much the same way as the rest of the world and are the norm from which the other tribes deviate in minor ways. They primarily worship her in her aspects as the Winter Queen, Lady of Frost, and the Raging Blizzard, holding festivals praising her at the equinoxes, the Autumnal to request a swift winter and the Vernal to thank her for restoring the sun. Similarly prayers are generally offered up during both dawn and twilight, though many only pray at twilight, seeing that its more important to butter her up right before they enter her domain. Blizzards are sent by her and those lost in blizzards are said to be taken into her embrace. There isn’t a hierarchical priesthood, with the shamans of each tribe viewing each other as ostensibly equal after they complete their apprenticeship, though in practice younger shamans are expected to defer to their elders in most matters. Offerings given to her are buried in the ice, later consumed by the enterprising foxes and wolves who serve as her messengers. If no scavenger takes an offering it is seen as deeply ominous and a sign that something more drastic is needed, with the truly desperate presenting offerings to her directly during a blizzard, a risky endeavor.


    The Tundra supplement their worship of Tallai with Revna, worshipping him in his aspect of the Lord of the Hunt, offering prayers to him before moving to their summer hunting grounds and favoring him during the summer months. Offerings taken by foxes are said to be taken by Tallai, same as the other tribes,those taken by wolves are taken to Revna and guarantee a successful hunt. The hearts of their prey are left out on the full moon to be shared between the two gods when their domains intersect.


    Similarly, the Storm worships Ishat in his aspect as the Father of War, whose open enmity with Tallai as a fire god is seen as a point in his favor. The conflict of these opposing deities ignites into massive brawls on the equinox festivals as their worshippers beat each other into submission. The Storm, the most violent of the tribes, see the eternal struggle between summer and winter, day and night, as being an inherently good thing that should at all times be encouraged, for strife brings strength and passivity only weakness. Besides the brawls and dawn prayers, they also burn offerings to him before battle and momentous dealings.


    While the Glacier shared their knowledge of the rites of their cousins, they did so at the behest of their own mistress, the Lore Keeper Liluri. Insulated deep in the Clayr Glacier, they inscribe prayers into the ice and entrust her with deep secrets so that they may come out when they’re needed. Their smiths and metalworkers are the best of the Vatn in large part because of Liluri’s aid and each piece they forge is done so in prayer.


    The Sea naturally pays homage to Ursula, not being foolish enough to deny the Lady of the Deep in her own domain. Most tribesmen try to walk a tightrope between the two goddesses, offering their whole undivided adoration to whichever they believe to be watching them at that moment. While at sea frequent stops are made at icebergs to leave prayers to Tallai, promising her that she is the sole devotee of their heart and begging her not to send a terrible storm, while on land they will go out in kayaks to drown small animals as an appeasement to Ursula and assuring her that they will soon return to her domain.


    The River and Lake, while largely being devoted to Tallai, also offer small sacrifices to Lothanna, thanking her for slow currents and bountiful catches. They know that, for all that the Storm and Sea love and fear Tallai respectively for her great strength and raging blizzards, she is also the goddess of tranquility and the stillness of a frozen pond. While not soft, as long as respect is given she need not necessarily be feared and small indiscretions can be forgiven. As such they feel comfortable offering fresh-caught fish to her and give trinkets to Lothanna, placing them in small carved boats that they might be carried to her on the currents.


    Rime’s worship of Tallai differs from the rest as they worship her in her aspect as the Lady of Secrets and Nightmother to an equal extent to that of the Winter Queen. They claim it was she who taught them the secrets of necromancy centuries before, and that through their secret worship that she was able to break her bonds and cast down the cruel Lawgiver. Their rites are shrouded in mystery, taking place on the little-trod Skeletal Coast during the darkest depths of winter, and are rumored to include human sacrifice and blood offerings. These rumors are largely untrue, the sacrifices are all animals and the bodies used are the faithful who died during the previous year, though it is unfortunately the case that some do kill themselves (or seek to die, the difference is minor) in the weeks prior to the ceremonies that they might pass on quickly to their deserved place amongst the honored dead. The chief of these ceremonies takes place over three nights ending on the solstice with an entreaty to have mercy on her disciples and allow the sun to escape the bag she keeps it in. Thankfully these ceremonies have worked for over a thousand years, with Tallai releasing the sun and winter inevitably retreating, though there have been some close calls with winters that’ve dragged on for weeks or even months longer than they ought.
     
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  20. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
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    Hello everyone,

    Your stats have now been distributed. If I have made any mistakes, please feel free to inform me (gently).

    Cheers,
    Immac.
     

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