After Deicide

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

  1. J.A.M.

    J.A.M. Chieftain

    Joined:
    May 12, 2021
    Messages:
    17
    Hello, I'd like to join with a nation of Unocte.



    Name: Unocta, Exiles of the Sea

    Starting Location: Odra

    Starting Region: Caverns of Unocta

    Organization:

    Aztec Empire -esque, main city state in Caverns of Unocta with tributary villages and towns controlled by the hegemony of city states. Less direct rule, “more of a system of tribute than a single system of government”. Conquered lands have the previous elite restored to power in whatever city state is there, as long as they are willing and pay tribute.

    Exceptions notable are on frontier provinces where strategic provinces are maintained with constant military support and control.

    Conquered territories have town hall (or nearest equivalent) renovated with a temple to Liluri being the first sight to be seen upon approaching or entering. What happens after that is up to whatever local rulership wishes. Worship of other gods is encouraged, with the exception of Ursula.

    The hegemony is ruled by a massive council who are more or less efficient in deciding things with alacrity. The council is mainly composed of Unocts, though tributary towns and villages often form a decent proportion. Council politics are quite loose lipped, and those with a seat at the council are held accountable by their supporters. Each councillor is usually supported by several advisors, though most of the time the councillor has no major need of them as they are often elected to join based on their competency.

    The council has ever changing blocs, which unite to give grander voice to their ideals. Frontier towns and villages often have much different wants and needs than the more central areas, and common interests are, well, common. It is not uncommon for a councillor to be part of many blocs at once. Perhaps the largest bloc currently is colloquially called the Clergy, as they serve the interests of Liluri.

    The council is almost always in session and members join and leave quite often. It is a tradition for a conquered tributary to receive a seat, though the stresses and frequent information overload usually drives off the weak willed.



    Background:

    All hail Liluri, the Mountain, Keeper of the Old Lore, Mother of Inspiration, the Thrice Armored, Greatest amongst the gods. Deep beneath the waves there once lived a people of gills and webbed feet, sentient prey for the creatures of the Abyss, rejected offspring of the original fomorians. That changed when the Unocts, as they were called, banded together for protection. In time they shared grand ideas and built wondrous things in a marvelous city called Unocte.

    They cared not for worship of Ursula, instead deigning to spend their time building marvels in the name of beauty and progress. Seeing as the first age was ending, the interests of Ursula in other endeavours was at a low and the slight was not passed over. In a single hour, innumerable beasts of the Abyss devoured nigh all of the populace of Unocte, some spared to spread the tales of horror, and so too did the beasts destroy all that was wrought of bronze and stone.

    The survivors barely managed to escape the confines of the sea, and they passed from town to town begging on the streets and eking out meager livings by creating trinkets and toys. Some banded together in small groups, though most were fearfully individualistic, terrified of Ursula’s wrath being brought down on them near any body of water. Not few were the stories of small communities of Unocts being found drowned in placid ponds or washing up along the shores of streams.

    There were a few, though, that heard of Odra and its stark lack of liquid water in winter. These Unocts spread the word to their fellows. Soon a great migration started to the inhospitable heights where Ursula’s yoke was lightest. By this time, the cults of Mahat had indoctrinated many an Unoct whose belief in the order and marvels of ancient Unocte was as strong as their blood was weak. Not many survived the journeys, but those that did were a hardy folk whose blood was thick with the crimson of the mountain folk.

    There they built a few lean tos and huts to ward off the chill breeze, and they bred and built more and more until a thriving town was made. There they worshipped Mahat and were blessed with servitude in service of something greater. There the Unocts named their new home Unocta, in honour of their ancestral home.

    Some Unocts rebelled against the slavery, and built into the mountain to escape the constraints of pure order. This hidden pseudo cult floundered in secret until the fall of Mahat and thereby the walls of Unocta.

    Few survived the collapse of the buildings, but the caves in which the cult dwelled survived. Liluri quickly entered the dreams of the Unocts, promising knowledge of architecture and engineering beyond even what was seen under Mahat. Unocta was rebuilt away from the frigid exterior of the slopes and instead within the embrace of Odra and therefore the Thrice Armoured.

    The Mother of Inspiration’s promises were not left unanswered. The proudly traditional Unocts became enamoured with the art and knowledge Liluri brought, intent on restoring their ever present dream of returning to the glory of lost Unocte. Before long, the rebuilt Unocta was entirely devoted to Liluri and their arts and knowledge. This assimilation was aided further by the incorporation of some tenants of Mahat, especially those of productivity. All in all, the transition from a slave town under rule of Mahat to a craftsman’s paradise took less than a decade.


    Commanders:

    Earthblood Mirror-Shatterer, an enterprising Unoct with a penchant for always equipping their soldiers with the newest inventions. This has made him a favorite among the cult of Liluri, as gifting equipment to him is a surefire way to give a blueprint a thorough test run. This is not always an advantage, however, as Mirror-Shatterer is famous for always trying to use their new “toys” even when a hammer to the head would work better. He leads the army known as the “Wave Wreckers”, and is known to be very eccentric.

    Stonefoot Bear-Eater, an incredibly practical man. Instead of the usual colorful decorations that cover the soldiers of Unocta, Stonefoot’s men and women forgo the traditional tlahuiztli entirely. This often leads to confusion as new soldier cannot pick out Bear-Eater from a crowd, but the standardization makes their armor some of the most reliable in Unocta. His army, colloquially known as the “Gull Eaters”, is famous for their coordination and efficiency.


    Starting Armies and comp:

    Wave Wreckers: Always armed with the latest invention, the strategies of the Wreckers constantly evolve with whatever new device or weapon style Earthblood brings. They dress their tlahuiztli with motifs of scorpions and other chitinous insects. The lower ranking members usually have larger contiguous sections of their armor painted, while the higher ranking soldiers are often seen with smaller shells and painted sections. Mirror-Shatterer’s own Tlahuiztli is painted and sewn with hundreds of little carapaces. Their core is that of infantry, but pikemen are much less noticeable than the cart drawn Abyssal Piercers and their accompanying Deacon-Crafters.

    Gull-Eaters: With standardized equipment, Bear-Eater’s soldiers are a fearsome force, if not a very colourful or visually distinguished one. They are composed almost entirely of trained arbalests, but this is not to say they do not carry daggers and shields. Able to reload their crossbows on the move, every twelve steps backward a new bolt is let fly. Each soldier is organized into one of twelve groups, with each group staggering their shots. This creates a seemingly never ending stream of arrows that is usually enough to rout even the bravest enemy.


    General Military:

    Almost all Unocts use ichcahuipilli armor, a cloth armor padded with wool. A proper suit is traditionally soaked in brine water so the salt will crystallize inside of the armor. Instead of deflecting weapons, the cloth armor instead absorbs or traps the blow. It is also incredibly insulating, making it serve double purpose in the cold reaches of Odra.

    Tlahuiztli are the secondary armor of Unocta. Painted with dyes and covered in jewelry and animal parts, the tlahuiztli is worn over the ichcahuipilli. The tlahuiztli is a sign of status and rank, allowing the wearer to be distinguished from others. Rare is the suit of ichcahuipilli without its accompanying tlahuiztli

    Cuacalalatli are the helmets of the Unocts, made primarily of carved hardwood. This is usually reinforced with metal and lightly padded with wool. These helmets are very often stylized to show the motif of one creature or another. Mirror-Shatterer’s own helmet is in homage to the beetle.

    Most soldiers of Unocta carry rondel daggers, a deceptively simple sidearm for thrusting, and a hardwood shield. The more wealthy soldiers usually carry smaller crossbows. A trained arbalest usually carries a crossbow of much larger stock.


    Starting Units:

    Pikeneers: Usually seen guarding walls or buildings, these soldiers wear colourful tlahuiztli and are often called “Feathered Pikeneers”. They usually use long hafted wooden pikes with lethal steel tips, and these too are traditionally decorated from about halfway down with feathers. Pikeneers are a vital part of the defense of Unocta and its art, as a buried pike has much more stopping power to a charging beast than a crossbow bolt. These pikes are also used in day to day affairs especially in summer, where streams run down from melting ice and bowls and cups are attached to the end of the pike to retrieve water without getting too close. These soldiers make up the frontline of most armies of Unocta. As with most soldiers, they carry the usual complement of a rondel dagger and a shield as sidearms.

    Arbalest: The mainstay of most armies of Unocta, the bolts of these soldier’s crossbows are known to kill from hundreds of meters away. The largest crossbows are even rumored to be able to pierce a Knight’s armour from as far as 300 meters. Some of the wealthier soldiers even carry a spare, so as to be able to launch a second bolt soon after the first. As with all soldiers, they wear a thick ichcahuipilli and a colourful tlahuiztli. Their Cuacalalatli are usually fashioned in the image of a bird of prey.


    Starting Priority:

    Faith District, dedicated to Liluri, the Mountain, Keeper of the Old Lore, Mother of Inspiration, the Thrice Armored, Foremost goddess of Unocta, the Enlightener, She who will Rule. (Some buildings in the district are dedicated to the minor gods, except for Ursula.)


    Additional Starting Unit:

    Abyssal Piercer: The Unocts most dedicated to their storied ancestral home, and therefore the promises of Liluri, are often visited by trances from their goddess. In these trances they create wondrous inventions like the Abyssal Piercers, light producing machine towers that shine huge beams of light. These beams are high in intensity and can temporarily blind a person that looks directly at it. Particularly well supplied Piercer teams use flash powders to create irregular disorientating increases in light intensity, in addition to the constant beam. The standard design amongst Unocta is a cone like base and a ball at the top that swivels to point light wherever needed. Piercers are sometimes attached somewhat precariously to carts but they are usually disassembled and reassembled on defensive positions.


    Starting Spell:

    Work-Beast Automata: Seen by some as a blasphemy upon the natural, these automata are usually created in the image of large oxen or draft horses. Slow and clumsy, they are ill suited to combat, but in dragging carts, wagons, and ploughs they excel. Work-Beasts are used for military purposes mostly. With bags of food hung on as well, Work-Beasts are strong and tireless support for the armies of Unocta. They also serve a religious purpose, as they can usually awe townsfolk with the glory of Liluri’s craft. When not travelling, most officers put them to use digging trenches or aiding local construction efforts. Work-Beasts are attended by clergy of Liliuri, but they follow commands of trusted officers as well.


    Additional Details:

    While the enchanted salt spheres are the main currency in Unocta, the merchant class usually collects tribute from surrounding settlements in the form of valuable material like cloth or food. The merchant class also uses the currencies of other empires.

    Most espionage is conducted not through sneaking spies and hidden operations, but rather through a constant stream of intelligence that comes from the merchants and travellers to and fro. This is a double edged sword, as though the hegemony gains much information, sorting through it and discerning truth from exaggeration is often a hard task. Such bureaucracy is often left to the ruling elites of conquered territories, as the hegemony cannot spare nearly as much manpower as is needed otherwise. Depending on how loyal and trustworthy the tributaries are, vital information can be omitted or made up.

    While scarce, automata made with the secrets Liluri bestows upon her faithful do exist in Unocta. These are almost always followed by an attendant Deacon-Crafter who constantly try to figure out how they actually work, in between sessions of maintenance.

    It is a dream of many an Unoct to climb to the highest reaches of Odra in defiance of Ursula. This has never been accomplished before, as even though Unocta dwells in the mountain, it is nowhere near the top. The habitation of naturally insulating caves has made this dream slightly closer to reality.

    The culture of Unocta is at once both hydrophobic and hydrophilic. As long as Ursula lives, Unocts will never be safe near any body of water, but at the same time the history of their people demands that they return to Unocte.

    Unoctan armor (like most armor) is very much ill suited to long stints of being worn in almost any climate. In the cold reaches of Odra sweat freezes to the skin and in warmer climates the armor becomes almost unbearably hot if worn for long periods of time. This is why most of the time Unocts do not don their helmets and take off their gloves and belts. If not marching or on perimeter guard, soldiers are often found in the shade, drinking lots of water and chewing on salted meats.

    The Caverns of Unocta which is nestled a fair bit into the stone of Odra is very much the exception rather than the rule. Most settlements lie above ground, in the same state they were when conquered or incorporated.

    The Unocts, humans in all but history, are ill suited to life beneath the mountains. To this end they have built many a contraption to aid their dark lifestyle. Famous among these are the Abyssal Piercers, machines ranging in size from trinkets to towers that pierce the darkness with beams of light. These are most often used in conjunction with other non thermic lighting devices underground, so as not to reduce what precious little oxygen there is.

    Despite calling their home a place of “Caverns”, Unocts rarely dig more than twenty feet into the earth, as rock quickly becomes impenetrable and breathability rapidly drops off.

    Rock salt is common in the Caverns of Unocta, and is the main commodity of the nation. Compared to boiled sea salt or burnt organic salt, the creamy grey slabs of rock salt are superior in purity. Often kept on person, enchanted rock salt is the standardized currency of Unocta. By weaving spellwork into spheres of rocksalt, the deacons of Liluri have embedded themselves further into the heart of the nation. The enchantments are standardized, made to make the salt denser and purer. This does not change the edibility of the salt, and with a bit of elbow grease the balls can be ground down to use in culinary dishes or religious rituals.

    Unoctan weapons are often in more colourful guise than most of their contemporaries. Rondel daggers are famous for being the exception, painted dull colours that can nonetheless be considered art. In comparison, crossbows are usually bright feathered things covered with unobtrusive animal teeth along the shaft.


    I think it'd be about here on the map:
    Unocta.PNG
     
    Last edited: May 15, 2021
    Immaculate likes this.
  2. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,619
    J.A.M,

    Welcome formally to our little game. I'll edit the map and send you stats by end of weekend at the latest (probably earlier).

    Cheers,
    I.
     
  3. J.A.M.

    J.A.M. Chieftain

    Joined:
    May 12, 2021
    Messages:
    17
    Diplo for Turn 0



    To: The King of Ulmar

    Notes on Delivery: As with most directed messages, this scroll will be delivered in a well adored metal tube by a trusted and cordial merchant. Secrecy is not a strength of the council of Unocta, so it is expected the recipient makes adequate preparations to ensure a meeting and exchange occurs.

    The scroll will read as follows:

    Greetings from mighty Unocta! The people of our proud nation would like to extend an invitation to the King and his court. If you seek asylum from the ongoing war, join us in the Caverns of Unocta. You would be welcomed with a seat on the council, and your advisors would be put to good use aiding in our bureaucratic matters. Our council will provide the Wave Breakers to ensure your safety on the journey, if you so desire.

    In exchange for your safety and cooperation, the Hegemony will ensure the prosperity of your kin folk. In fact, as we speak Unocta sends a delegation to the Vaetti Jarls to ensure their cooperation and induction into the hegemony as tributaries themselves. Through this we hope to foster unity in Ulmar, increase the might of Unocta, and spread the faith of Liluri. ​


    To: The Jarls of Ulmar

    Notes on Delivery: The merchants of Unocta will provide these proclamations in the village squares of the rebel settlements. The glorified game of telephone may cause some troubles when the vaetti relay the message to their leaders, but the council has deemed this a necessary endeavour.

    The proclamation will cover the following points:

    I bring word from the hegemony of Unocta! Our council has deemed it necessary to know more about the Ulmaran situation before it chooses a side in the ongoing conflict. If it would please the Jarls of the rebellion, a meeting between all the Jarls and a delegation of Unocts is deemed necessary to insure the concise flow of information between the two regions. We have decided that the meeting should be held east of Wolfsheim and north of Dhognun Ivlock. We will likely devote at least two Abyssal Piercers to the occasion, so whatever place we choose will be well guarded and easy to spot.​


    To: Queen Athissa of the Emerald Empire

    Notes on Delivery: As with the message to the King of Ulmar, the usual adorned tube containing a scroll, delivered by a trusted merchant and their caravan.

    The scroll will read as follows:

    Greetings to the true Queen of Jormungand from the council of Unocta! Our folk have heard tales of your invasion of Don Ladur. We believe it would be wise to extend a formal invitation for the Emerald Empire to establish an embassy within the Caverns after such a show of strength. Of course, it would be folly itself to not address the elephant in the room; your people have not yet joined the Hegemony and will therefore not be granted formal voice at the council. We hope this will change in time. In the meantime, our merchants will continue their affairs. May information and goods flow freely!​


    To: The Fey Court

    Notes on Delivery: The lands of the fey are rumoured to be glamoured and impossible to pass. Thus the council has deemed it wise to provide the merchants trading with the fey to scatter scroll tubes around, and if they do sacrifice to Froede for safe passage through the woods they are advised to place the tube nearby as well.

    The scrolls will be identical in wording and will read as follows:

    May this message from Unocta find you well, dear fey lords of Froede! We appear to have a growing problem in Odra of beasts. We wish to not offend Froede by hunting them, yet food is in short supply and their hunts are akin to raids upon some of our villages. Many ideas have been brought up, from the aforementioned hunts to tributes, but they each have their own flaws. Hunting will undoubtedly offend Froede, and tributes may be seen as an attempt at domestication and would likely also offend. As we dare not offend the gods by communing with both Froede and Liluri for answers, the council of Unocte humbly asks for your advice on this conundrum.​
     
  4. Shirogane

    Shirogane Chieftain

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    51
    To: Unocta, Exiles of the Sea

    Greetings council of Unocta.

    I find the councils proposal of free trade and establish an embassy within the Caverns more then acceptable and a good first step in establishing friendship between our two nations, at that note Unocta are more then welcomed to establish an embassy them self in one of our kingdoms cities.

    May Lotahna Bless the council with good health
    Queen Athissa of the Emerald Kingdom
     
  5. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,619
    Updated with Unocta

    turn 1 political map.png
     
  6. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    To: The Council of Unocta
    From: The House of Towers

    You were right to beseech our wisdom regarding the vexing matter of beasts in your lands, for we are one with our land and a forsaken people accursed by their ancestral goddess would do well to hearken to us.

    We would beseech you to send tribute in gold or other things of worth to Ylanati that our fair prince might be propitiated and fain permit you to pacify your realm that your nation of exiles might be built up therein and prosper in peace. If you desire however to abide in His favour more than a trifling span of years a greater and more enduring offering would be best to appease the god. We urge you thus to hallow and consecrate the groves and holy hills which are dear to the Fair Prince and build up a temple unto his name, for indeed all who cleave fast to Lord Froede are not left wanting and meet in his embrace the fulfilment of their hearts desires such is his kindly mercy unto those who hold Him in reverence.
     
  7. J.A.M.

    J.A.M. Chieftain

    Joined:
    May 12, 2021
    Messages:
    17
    So Unocta has a colourful military. Just as an example, I usually imagine Automata as this:
    BeastBare.png

    But a Unoctan Automata is a piece of art, more colourful and beautiful.
    BeastReal.png

    I ain't a good artist, though, so I can't do justice to what I have in mind. Just imagine vibrant colours and elegant patterns. Some edge toward being intimidating, skull and bone motifs, others use spiral patterns, still more utilize almost alien assemblages. Whatever the case, Unoctan armies are the opposite of stealthy.



    Anyway, back to diplo:


    To: The Nemedian Councils of Nazca

    Notes on Delivery: As is usual, a simple scroll in a mildly ornate tube delivered by someone who has business in the region other than delivering messages. This will be delivered by a trusted and popular traveling sideshow. They have also been instructed to mention it and its contents wherever they go, so long as it doesn’t put them in hot water.

    The scroll will read as follows:

    Sovereigns of Nazca, the council of Unocta begets of you that you might join our hegemony. This would require your cooperation with our future demands such that they are not unnecessarily displeasing. It would also require the liberation of your population, which would likely entail a new government.

    Your settlements will prosper under our rule. Hopefully you will accept our offer to come to Unocta and found a college of magics or join our council as members or advisors; fellow followers of Liluri are almost always welcome. Further, protection from Unocta’s finest will be afforded to the region.

    Alas, we recognize that this might be a difficult situation for you to capitulate to. To our greatest displeasure, if push comes to shove, the Gull-Eaters will be deployed. I’m sure our two people will be able to arrange a flower war, so as to limit the casualties and destruction while still maintaining a militaristic competition.



    To: The Mountain Folk of Odra

    Notes on Delivery: As with the message to the jarls, this will be proclaimed in town squares.

    The proclamation will cover the following points:

    Greetings hearty mountaineers! We of Unocta have heard your beast borne plights and wish to aid in your struggle. While some of your villages are already tributaries, and therefore will definitely have the support of our garrison in eradicating the unholy spawn, others are more reluctant and may have to face the threat alone lest they offer a token tribute. We hope your elders will aid us in this most grand of hunts. We have also sent message to the Sidhe of Sijosalvar and expect their aid in the hunts to come.
     
  8. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    To: The Council of Unocta
    From: The Elder Council of Chamomble and the Princely Council of Greteaux


    Arrogant barbarians, your ignorance and wanton hubris cannot but invoke derision in our hearts. Indeed, such mirth resounded throughout our halls at the sight of your rustic little errand boy proclaiming your insolent edict, for we all saw his mouth agape at the splendor of our cities as compared to your dank little hole. Cooperate with your demands? Liberate the serfs? Abandon our lawful governance? Such gall for such a vulgar people. Hear our words, we shall not capitulate to the likes of savages and insignificant little humans blind to the affairs of the world and likewise we shall not suffer your ilk to squat upon our threshold.

    We reject your demands. You proclaim war is inevitable if we refuse, so be it. We rejoice in the prospect of burying your caverns beneath the earth and binding your kith and kin in chains until the end of days and the consummation of the world. Know that our two cities shall stand together against you and that we will relish with savour your inevitable defeat on the field of battle.

    ~ the Nemedians attach a proposed field of battle with their missive, should Unocta choose to accept it.

    To: The Council of Unocta
    From: The Lord of Bhir Boldahr

    Regarding our request for assistance against the outbreak of wild beasts in the high fells, we respectfully note that we have matters of greater import to attend too and are not in a position to provide military aid in any "grand hunt", not that second-hand assurances of the good-will of the capricious Sidhe could sway us to this end regardless.

    Putting this matter aside however, we wish to make one thing very clear to your council. Note well that we will not suffer your military to intercede in the maintenance of law and order in our lands, nor will we abide your council interfering in our domestic affairs. Consider this warning our courtesy, if you are so arrogant as to insist on meddling in matters that do not concern you we will respond appropriately and decisively to curtail your transgressions.
     
    Last edited: May 18, 2021
    J.A.M. likes this.
  9. J.A.M.

    J.A.M. Chieftain

    Joined:
    May 12, 2021
    Messages:
    17
    More Diplo for Turn 0!

    To: The Elder Council of Chamomble and the Princely Council of Greteaux

    Notes on Delivery: Same as before, but this time a merchant band instead of a sideshow.

    The scroll will read as follows:

    We will be at the hillside next summer. May Liluri find the most faithful victorious.




    To: The Sovereigns of Bhir Boldahr

    Notes on Delivery: Usual scroll delivered by someone that ain’t really a representative of Unocta, but is happening to travel to the region and hand the scroll off.

    The scroll will read as follows:

    Despite our correspondences with the Emerald Empire, the Council of Unocta assures you that they are not under our protection. Maintaining cordiality with other nations is important, after all.

    While we are currently unable to expand our trading district due to a limitation of resources, we are sure we can offer other means of mutually improving our two cities. Most notably, we are very much willing to lend our expertise on the proper training of crossbowmen to your people. This is not to say we doubt your ingenuity in crafting such devices, we are sure your masterful smiths are capable of such, just that our nation is well versed in stratagems and drills useful to such a brigade. Perhaps we might come to an agreement wherein we might trade such knowledge, time, and expertise needed to aid in the training of your own regiments for materials?

    If such a trade is unappealing, we are ready and willing to aid in your military might be leasing our Wave-Breakers to this endeavour. They will have to return after their time apart in approximately half a year, due to endeavours at home. Hopefully this lease will be enough for whatever your needs at the moment are. Many of our Council have sisters too, if the meaning is unclear.

    Nevertheless, if either of these are unappealing, we will be happy to allow an embassy within our city. Again, we hope that our cordiality and trade with the Emerald Kingdom is not too great a barrier for our two peoples to surmount.
     
  10. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    To: The Council of Unocta
    From: The Lord of Bhir Boldahr


    Your request for a military trade is denied, our resources are better utilised elsewhere. We have no need of your untested stratagems nor do we think it wise to harbour your agents within our walls under the premise of "training".

    Whilst the potential for military assistance is in some respects appealing, we find the restricted timeframe outlined in your missive wanting. Further we do not approve of your provocations against the Nazcan city states nor wish to jeopardise our economic relations with the same by entertaining your military ambitions. For this same reason we respectfully decline your proposal to establish a Svartalfar embassy within Unocta.
     
  11. Shirogane

    Shirogane Chieftain

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    51
    The Emerald Kingdom

    After the meeting with emissary of Froede, Queen Athissa was eerily quiet on the trip back to the throne room, not one word spoken, High-Priestess Vashj did not dare to ask what were on her Queen's mind.
    As soon they entered the throne room and the doors closed behind them, Queen Athissa started to laugh out loud as she walked to her throne to sit down. -My, oh my.. talk about overthinking a problem with such a simple solution, yet so complex at once.- Queen Athissa locks eyes with Vashj, who stands by the doors, somewhat perplexed by the situation and her Queen's words. -My Queen!- Vashj takes few steps forward before kneeling in front of her Queen. -I am at your service, what do you need of me?-


    Queen Athissa leans back in her throne. -you may not like what we need to do my friend, but it must be done for our kingdom none the less- Queen Athissa takes a deep breath. -We will be welcoming the faith of the Fair Prince Froede to our kingdom, and with that build the temple he so wish for-



    Vashj stands up in surprise of this news. -My Queen! You mu....- Queen Athissa stops her with a movement of her hand, - I know my friend, I truly do- She smiles to her friend – Listen to me Vashj, and listen well. We will build the temple for The Fair Prince, but – The Queen grins. - We will also build a grand temple for our beloved Lotahna, right here in Jormungand. The Fair Prince's temple will be build in the newly conquered city Don Ladur.- Queen Athissa stands up and walk over to Vashj and puts a hand on her shoulder. -The temples will be finished at exact same time- Queen Athissa with a hand on Vashj shoulder, start leading her to the throne room's doors. -Lets see how the God of Mischief will handle a little mischief him self.- Vashj feels much more at ease listening to her Queen's plan, and find her self grinning as well. - I will see to the plans for the temple for Lotahna right away.- Queen Athissa lets Vashj 's shoulder go. -Good, I will leave that to you Vashj, none are more suited for this job then you.- Queen Athissa wave over one of her guards My self got someone I need to have a talk with- The guard quickly approach and kneels in front of his Queen. - I wish to speak with Diviner Ekidona, bring her to the throne room as soon as possible, and send word for word for General Naz'jar as well - She waves the guard off . -At once my Queen!-




    Later that same evening, Diviner Ekidona enter the throne room to see Queen Athissa and General Naz'jar in discussion, standing over war map with several small figures on it. -My Queen- Ekidona Kneels in front of her Queen. - you called- Queen Athissa turns to Ekidona. -A yes, good to see you again Ekidona, it been far to long - Queen Athissa waves Ekidona over to where she and Naz'jar stands. - I got a task of grate impotence and challenge for you- Queen Athissa points at Don Lodur at the map. -we are building a temple for The Fair Prince Froede, here in Don Lodur, and with that I need someone I trust to take on them self to become the new high-priestess of Froede.- Queen Athissa looks at Ekidona. None is better fitted for this then you, Ekidona. None ells in the kingdom are more gifted in the magical arts of divination as yourself.- Queen Athissa looks back the map. - A gift, I believe will help the Kingdom understand Froede's will and his cryptic messages.- Queen Athissa smiles at Ekidona. - I do believe this will benefit yourself greatly too, yes? Seeing as Froede are the God of magic, where or whom you draw your power from.- Ekidona nods. -Yes, my Queen that correct.- Ekidona kneels again in front of her queen.- Thank you for this opportunity! I wont disappoint you, I swear on Lot... wait.. I swear in the name of Froede and my own life.- Queen Athissa chuckles. Go Ekidona, seek out the Tuatha for guidance in the ways of The Fair Prince Froede, I cant think of a better source of learning then straight from someone in his own entourage.- Ekidona gets up and with a big smile. At once my Queen- She says as leaving the throne room. -Now, where were we..- Queen Athissa looks at Naz'jar. - A yes.. the Vanir problem in the south.-
    She sighs as she and General Naz'jar go's back to war map and how to deal with the problems brewing in south.
     
    Jehoshua likes this.
  12. Shirogane

    Shirogane Chieftain

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2015
    Messages:
    51
    Diplomacy



    To Del Toduhr

    Greetings Ruler of Del Toduhr, its come to our attention that your settlement are struggling with raiders and “may” need help dealing with them.

    The Emerald Kingdom would like stretch out a hand to offer protection and future development to make the settlement of Del Toduhr a safer and better place for its citizens and its leaders.

    Accepting this comes with a price of becoming a part of The Emerald Kingdom, under our rule.


    Please choose wisely, for the sake of you people.
    Queen Athissa of The Emerald Kingdom





    To The House of Towers

    Greetings to the Sidhe lords of The Fey Court.

    We of The Emerald Kingdom have been granted the honor of meeting The Fair Prince Froede and his entourage in the flesh, and by his wishes we are building a temple in his honor and spread his name where we go.
    Seeing now as both our nations are under The Fair Prince's protection, I Queen Athissa of The Emerald Kingdom believe its in our best interest establish friendly relations in the name of Froede.


    I hope for a positive response from The Fey Court.
    Queen Athissa of The Emerald Kingdom
     
  13. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    To the Emerald Kingdom

    Hail Queen Athissa, Lady of Jormungand

    You beseech friendly relations as if we have been at odds but have we not for an age been good neighbours? Under the slain Mahat, may his name be forever accursed, were we not united in common accord against the reavers of Vanheim? Did not our armies stand together against the High Kings when they passed across the high moors plundering in pursuit of spoil? Do we not now continue friendly commerce even as you formerly entertained with the Svartalfar?

    Do not fret dear Queen, friendly ties with our Court shall endure for however so long as you desire that they remain so.

    But with that assurance be warned, do not claim honours you have not received for we know that not god has set foot in your halls and He has not deigned treat with thee in person as you suggest. He has passed by on the way as he toured His domain after a long and undeserved confinement it is true, but do not adopt pretensions that you bear his favour lest your fealty is found wanting. For even if you desire good ties with us, if our King and god casts thee from his sight than so too shall the Sidhe abjure thee.

    To the Emerald Kingdom

    Treacherous wench

    We trust not the words that come from the forked tongue behind your teeth, betrayer of our kinsmen. Long had our peoples abided in peace and mutual prosperity, and yet you forsook that friendship as soon as God Mahat was dead and his templars no longer held a sword above your neck to keep you in line.

    Come take Del Toduhr if you can, we are no strangers to suffering and hardship and the Great Mountain abides still with us. Our forces shall make your people pay a bitter price should they wish to obtain the victory you seek and we will see to it that those who remain of your hosts to man the walls will become food for the children of Tallai come the long night of winter.
     
  14. Seon

    Seon Not An Evil Liar

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2009
    Messages:
    8,128
    Location:
    Not Lying through my teeth
    Internal Communique,
    From the Council of Diligence
    To Sister Midnight, Second of the Communion

    Greetings, dear sister, and death to all kings. You will be pleased to know that the Council has come to its decision regarding the fate of demonologists in Pomaz. By 5-2 vote, we have determined that these heretics' worth to the Communion is nil, and that they must now be summarily liquidated. By unanimous agreement, we have determined that the magical reagents, property, and the texts of these heretics shall be consigned to the Order of the Red Star. You shall expect their agents to arrive with this message. You are ordered to treat them with kindness and respect--they act with the First's blessing.

    You are to aid in the construction of a new chapterhouse for their order, and to report upon their behavior to the Council. They are aware of our doubts, and you need not be discrete.

    We trust that these additional commands shall not distract you from your regular duties. When you return to Titan's Fall, you are to report yourself to the Council so that we may judge you on your labors and your diligence. As a new protocol, the meeting shall occur in the afternoon, after prayers.

    With the official matters of the state thus concluded, I shall reserve the rest of this letter to resolving the queries you have dispatched us since our last meeting.

    The First have proven to us, beyond our reasonable doubts, that he is indeed the Chosen of that red star who burns. I have observed, with many others as witness, a pillar of flame descend through the rib cage of the terrible beast and strike the temple to that passionate deity. Many others appear changed by this revelation, and some have taken to wearing His Red and waving a sword to preach to the people as the First once did. The few notes of dissensions who have doubted our purpose and holiness have gone entirely silent in the wake of this miracle, and the people have rejoiced knowing they, and not the Avvar kings, death to them all, are the beloved of a god.

    Remind yourself, dear sister, that the fickle devotion of the people and the attention of a god are ultimately mere distractions to our goals--to end all nights.
     
    Immaculate likes this.
  15. LordArgon

    LordArgon King

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2019
    Messages:
    838
    Gender:
    Male
    To: The So Called Lords of Nemsisouk
    From: Haverston

    Surrender and Die
     
  16. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    A reminder Orders are due on the 23rd May

    -


    To: Haversten
    From: Nemsisouk

    Than we shall fight.
     
  17. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    Winters Yoke

    -

    The King tossed and turned in his fitful slumber as the memory of the noose that bound him to the ancient tree in the days of accursed Mahat choked the breath from his throat. The gaze of the foul hierarchs of the god of order, eyes haughty, brows aristocratic and austere in his dreaming mind mocked him still in their sullen visages. Their head ordinator face long and gaze filled with condemnation rolled out his scroll and intoned his judgment.

    "You are nought but dust”

    His hollow voice decreed

    “To nothing shall your works amount. To nothing. To nothing. To nothing. . .“

    The priests chanted.

    At once the bright white light of the templars holy fires seared through his eyes and burned deeper and deeper into the black recesses of his soul as he writhed and twisted in the night, yet just as the part of him that remained lucid in the nightmare thought that the dream would progress as it always had into recollections of a thousand years of agony, the light changed.

    The Hangadrott King looked around the dream realm in a start as mists arose and the blinding glare of Mahat’s foul presence faded into a soft glow like that of the moon at twilight. The looming branches of the deadened tree upon which he had hung for a thousand years budded and brought forth a cascade of flowers as soft grass sprouted under foot and the song of nightingales replaced the condemnations of ancient priests long dead. Then the sound of footsteps upon the grass. The King turned and realised something quite unexpected.

    Into his dream had walked a god.

    “To what do we owe the honour of hosting the god of dreams in our tormented slumber?”

    Spat the king as he averted his gaze and began to pace the dreamspace like a wolf in a cage. For the Vanir still remembered, even more a living ancestor such as himself, what younger races had long forgotten.

    To look into the eyes of Froede was to become his willing slave.

    The god smiled in his own mysterious way as the laughter of unseen spirits tinkled through the flowering branches and the dream shifted. It showed the king a scene long ago when the world was young, when the Tuatha ruled the land and rejoiced in the company of their creator. They were dancing merrily upon the primeval mound untroubled by worldly cares and their gazes were filled with the twinkle of youth and their lips resounded gaily with the soft melody of laughter as they delighted in their peace. The scene shifted again, the scions of Froedes kingdom mated with the tempestuous human children of Mahat and other lesser beings and became the Sidhe and the Vanir, the god of order waxed strong and the chains of law were bound upon the world as laughter and merriment stilled replaced by the groans of those who bore the weight of imperial orthopraxy. The King beheld as the sun and moon cycled over head in an ever faster spiral whilst in time to their endless circuit the lineage of the Tuatha passed down through the ages before his eyes until at last he saw himself come forth as the fruit of seeds planted in ages past, his followers bowing down before him in worship.

    “You want our devotion, for you are our Ancestor God.”

    The hangadrott King brought his mailed hand to his chin and smiled wickedly as he secretly scoffed at the realisation. So the god had come like a little beggar hungry for worship. Oh how the mighty have been laid low under the shadow of his old foe.

    “Ah but you are also the god of deceit, why should we put our faith in your like?”

    The King wagged his finger in mockery.

    The scene shifted again to a town which from the appearance thereof the King recognised as the fortress of the Vatnar, for the reports by his servants and the eyes of his crows had long revealed to him the designs of this pitiful people which scurried upon the face of his realm hither and yon in futile defiance of their inevitable doom. Their scrying amused him still, the thought bringing a chuckle to his throat. Ah but what was this he spied, a circle of wizened crones whispering a warbling chant about an ugly stone idol....

    “Enough!”

    The King cried out as the vision faded.

    “We are no fool oh fair Prince, you wish to say that our foes will turn to the Great Crone that with her favour they might cast us down. But what do you offer us that can hold back the eternal night and lead us to our desire?”

    The god smiled a wicked smile and it was only then that the King noticed something that had escaped him until now as he furtively took a glimpse past the shining aura of the god. In the shadows cast by the great tree there lay watching, waiting, a thousand eyes and a twisting misshapen something like black smoke in one moment coiling and sputtering against the light, and like ink sucking in the brightness of its master, waiting, ever waiting to be unleashed, in the next.

    It was then that the god spoke, his voice like liquid gold sweet as honey to the mouth.


    “The brightest lights cast the deepest shadows”

    And his soul shuddered.

    -

    A vision came to the priestess as she listened to the witches drum echoing in the dark. She saw a great being, towering above trifling mortals, ascend the mountain as the shimmering lights of the aurora and the glinting sea of stars dimmed and became an empty void. As she ascended each step towards the mountains peak, which the priestess now perceived as a great throne, mighty giants bowed in reverence, cloaks whipping about their prostrating forms in the bitter winds as they adored their mistress. As she reached the top she turned and sat down and the priestess beheld at last the face of this great being.

    It was a brow without mercy, a face wizened and ancient beyond memory of man, her hair sparse and white like hoarfrost and her gaze withering with a piercing cold that chilled the spirit and heralded death to souls. Woe be to those who incur her wrath, for this is the Great Crone, the Queen of Winter and Empress of Endless Night. Behold Tallai the great goddess enthroned, for winter has come and now is her hour.

    So it was that from the east unto the uttermost west the chill winds of winter rushed forth from the farthest recesses of the south to torment the living and bestow death to the weak and the humble. Tarry not dear children when the cold winds rise, for this winter the shivering wraiths of winter bestow not blessings but an icy death on those found loitering outdoors come nightfall. Their wicked cackling like the cracking of pack ice on the southern seas now echoes throughout all the towns and villages of the south as mere mortals huddle ever more urgently about their seal-oil lamps and pray desperately for pardon.

    All save one that is.

    The Hangadrott King is a proud monarch, and a thousand years of agony at the hands of a divine torturer did little to imbue in him reverence for the gods. Nay, despite the season and despite foreknowledge of the dire intent of the tribes of the Vatn Confederacy he bid his army sally forth to Kjarnsvik that another pitiful nation might fall under his sway. Despite his hubris such confidence was not entirely ill-considered, for the army of Helheim waxed strong in these first days of winter as Vanir flocked to his banner and the spirits of the slain and other less savory things were beckoned forth to serve at his behest.

    However even as his army marched across the snows bent on conquest, the tyranny of winter did not hold back on the home front. The Crone was eager this year as her appointed time approached, as one would expect after a long imprisonment, and after washing her cloak clean from the grime of aeons in the maelstrom of despair that rose heavy across the lands in these days after the deicide, the frosts wrung from their folds in her enthusiasm were greater yet than any that memory could recall. Earlier and harsher than had yet been known was the touch of winter in Phlegra, and even as the end of the harvest beckoned a bumper crop the fields of golden grain withered under a heavy pall of frost. Facing hunger, and the malicious yoke of the notoriously cruel Vanir, many amongst the Hangadrott Kings serfs fled north to more clement lands. Pity that the labourers are made less ere the next harvest comes.

    The tribesmen of the Vatn Confederacy tried a different approach to quelling the worst of winter's icy breath, one more effective than stubborn obstinacy. Theirs was the way of propitiation, a tried and tested method, and by the decree of the glacier tribe the shamans made divinations with their whalebone trinkets and took augury to set the bounds of sacred sanctuaries to Tallai in the Vatn Steppe and in the newly incorporated lands of Fjoll, that they might fittingly offer bloody oblation unto the goddess in the snows. Phlegra is harsh and the land poor, thus the temples that soon arose on the consecrated permafrost were rustic and crude by the standards of civilised realms. Nonetheless they represented a great undertaking by the standards of the south and the small edifices of stone wherein the idols of the goddess were enshrined could be said to represent the pinnacle of Phlegran artistic achievement to date. Even the frozen heart of the Queen of Winter herself was not entirely unmoved by the Vatn confederacies obsequious gestures of devotion and soon the dark spirits of winter that brought benighted ruin on other lands came to abide in the confederacies sanctums and turn their baleful malice elsewhere as the winds abated and the chill became a little less bitter. In the long night that fell in the height of the polar winter these ill-omened wraiths swept across the land and descended upon the fallen and resentful dead, consuming the substance of their flesh and rising up as insubstantial yet not wholly incorporeal rime shades to wander the hills of Phlegra in the abiding darkness. The priests of the rime tribe soon found that their ancient prayers, long merely rote formulae kept only out of tradition, fell on attentive ears, and as they murmured incantations over their bloody offerings oft would a shade come in attendance to bear witness to their sacrifice, and hearken to their deprecations much to their foes regret.

    (Faith districts completed in Fjoll and Vatn Steppe)

    Auspicious indeed was the advent of these scanty boons for it was in these days of darkness that the workings of Vatne Steppe came to their fruition. The roads planned and dug into the hard stone were completed in good order and soon the watchtower network planned against the threat of Helheim was done in its appointed time with waystations and lodges popping up along the paths and frozen rivers to provide respite for travellers and a warm fire to avail the weary. Even more pertinently to the ambitions of Tiglikte and Iqalaq, fleet-footed scouts and the efforts of the seers had revealed to them in their initial furtive forays the weakness of Helheims defense and the absence of its dread king, and with him his mighty host, from his high seat. An opportunity yes.

    A daring plan was wrought in the icy recesses of the Clayr glacier, a plan which if executed well could cut the head off the proverbial serpent and put an end to the threat of Helheim to the Confederacy for years to come. At the direction of the seers of the glacier tribe, Iqalaq turns the Stalwart Walls scouting force from its wanderings and musters his men in strength for a raid on Helheim itself, cautiously marching her army up into the high country under the veil of a timely blizzard, lest her mens tracks be uncovered by the enemy and ruin the element of surprise. As it turns out however her foes, listening well to the whispers of the dead by obscene arts, knew of her coming and planned to ensnare her in an ambush at a certain vale, with the garrison of Helheim sallying forth under the Hangadrott Kings raven banner to meet her. It was here however that Iqalaq’s close collaboration with the hunters of the Tundra Tribe and cautious scouting in advance of this raid availed her much, as the enemy's advance was spotted well before they took position and their hopes of catching their assailant by surprise were dashed to nothing. Indeed it was Iqalaq who would lay a snare in wait for the hosts of her enemy.

    Thus under the cloak of a moonless night, Iqalaq watched as the column of Firbolg auxiliaries shuffled through the deep snow past her position .

    “Now!”

    At a command the tungalik gathered by her side rose from their position hidden amidst a stony conclave of glacial erratics and released a spell long held in reserve for this moment. A shivering cold rose forth from the snow as the firbolg cried out, their hearts seized in an icy grip as one by one they began to fall.

    “Where are the enemy Vanir?!”

    Iqalaq asked frantically as a scout hastened to her side to dispatch a report. However as providence would have it there was no need to receive his reply for even as their serfs were struck low by the tungaliks sorceries the sound of a great horn boomed down from a high hill overlooking the plain upon which her trap was sprung, answered by several lesser horns in turn. Whipping her head in the direction of the noise Iqalaq saw what seemed like a veil of mist descending the hillside, tendrils of precipitation clawing down towards her gathered ranks with dire intent as the Vanir cavalry sliced through the snow like shards of glass.

    “Damn glamour, Tungalik retreat, Snow Warriors forward!”

    The Tungalik retreated to the relative safety of the rocks as the Vanir hirdlings baying horns echoed all around, the magical mists concealing their refracting forms mounted atop white horses swift and fey and grasping quivering spears of bronze adorned with black tassels couched and ready for battle. As they approached the snow warriors unleashed javelin after javelin as they ran across the snow to get within targeting range, which the contemptuous vanir nimbly evaded whilst covering the slow retreat of their firbolg skirmishers, luring out their enemy.

    As the snow warriors exposed themselves the Vanir ceased their mocking showboating and turned in a wide circuit before charging headlong into the waiting throng. Widely dispersed and having already dispensed the greater part of their stock of javelins the snow warriors were easy prey as lances bore into man after man to the whooping cries of the servants of helheim, who wheeled about again and again in cycling charges in a majestic display of horsemanship.

    “Militia forward”

    The skirmishers of the confederacy turned tail for the rocks as militia flooded forth to cover their retreat. Here it was that the enemy erred and the numerical superiority of the Vatn Confederacy rang true. The Vanir horsemen overconfident in light of the success of their initial counter-attack and arrogantly dismissive of the power of “lesser races” rushed forward to smite the skirmishers regardless of the hordes of militia charging to meet them. True it was that the Vanir were greatly superior man to man compared to the Vatn rabble, but numbers have a quality all of their own and as the skirmishers retreated behind the militia line the Vanir horsemen found themselves encircled, their individual strength negated as they began to be separated from each other and beset by foes, five militia to each horseman.

    As a warbling note resounded from their horns, the Vanir in the face of this encirclement did not foolishly resist to the end, for say what you will of this cruel race they like all mortals feared death, even more so in the course of a battle they never conceived of losing. With a mighty charge the Vanir broke their encirclement with minor losses and thus with tails between their legs they ran for home.

    A jubilant cry rang through the Stalwart Wall as Iqalaq gave the command to charge forward and take the field. As Tungalik, Skirmisher and Militia rushed headlong across the plain without formation in their buoyant charge they fell upon the firbolg skirmishers left abandoned by the vanirs retreat. Whilst the tungaliks initial spell had done most of the work, the remaining forces who resisted their magics when faced with overwhelming force either surrendered, or for those who dared not revolt against the dread Hangadrott King even in the face of certain death, were dispatched with axes as they presented a futile resistance. The bloody massacre that was the result dyed the snows red, to the delight of the Queen of Winter. As news of this mighty triumph reached home, so did the people acclaim the might of the goddess, and renew their confidence in the confederacy and all it stood for.

    (Vatn Confederacy -2 firbolg militia, -1 snow warrior, +3 Vatn confederacy stability)

    Of course this initial engagement was not the end of the running battle fought between Helheim and the Vatn Confederacy. For as the Stalwart Wall, seeking to seize the initiative and ravage Helheim itself advanced into the hills it was met by running attacks by Vanir cavalry as the implacable forces of Vatn Steppe approached nigh even to the gates of Helheim itself. It was here however that their fortune failed them, for even as Iqalaq savoured the taste of victory and dared hope that she might behold the burning of Helheim itself in the moment of her attainment she looked over the horizon and saw what awaited her.

    A dark cloud like a wall, attended by wheeling crows, heralded by the sound of horns.

    The King had returned. Iqalaq was no fool, she cut and ran even as the first of the foul spirits in service to the enemy passed overhead lest her victory come to nothing and her raiding forces be laid waste. Thus did the raid fail in its grand objective of ravaging helheim itself, but nonetheless this was a mighty victory. For the power of Vatn Confederacy had been displayed for all to see and the garrison of Helheim was largely laid waste. Indeed the reports dispatched indicated that barely a quarter of the forces arrayed against her, almost all being Vanir, returned alive to Helheim to meet the Kings wrath. Furthermore this mighty triumph availed yet further gains to the confederacy as in the course of negotiations with Olafsvellir this testament of strength compelled the chiefs of that domain to join the confederacy and bend the knee to Tiglikte, where otherwise they would have likely resisted his beguilements.

    As for Helheim this setback puts a halter on the Hangadrott Kings conquests, for a time at least, as they lick their wounds and avail of the coming spring to rebuild their forces. The King himself is given much to ponder for in having his beard shorn by his irksome foe the power of Tallai is made clear as well as the vulnerability of his forces to the prospect of divine intervention. Perhaps he too should avail of a divine benefactor, namely one whose prophecy regarding what has transpired was clear and unerring. Whatever his course, the leaders of the Confederacy, if not the common people, know still that his army is unmatched and that much work remains to be done before the threat of Helheim is laid to rest beneath the snows.


    -

    “And don’t forget your rain cloak dear”

    A mother raised the hood of her daughters crimson raincoat as she sent her forth to with gifts to her grandmother. The village nestled in the clefts of Odra shuddered under the dreary skies, freezing rain spitting down even as the snows lay heavy under foot.

    “Yes mom!”

    The girl set forth, shuffling through the snows between the modest dwellings of wattle and daub, and the few better off timber houses scattered alongside the villages babbling brook that gurgled down the valley eventually to join with the great rivers and mires of Vaettiheim. She whistled a tune as she went, for despite the bitter chill peace endured in the merry little village in the valley, and she wanted nothing for food, shelter or those other trappings of civilisation that make for a contented life and uplift men beyond the lot of beasts. In due time she came upon her grandmother’s house, a quaint wooden shack, comfortable but ramshackle and with a red door emblazoned with a carven stag, on the outskirts of town, resting midway up a slope overlooking the village.

    In she went with a bound

    “Grandma!”

    The kitchen witch hanging atop the stove gave no reply as the house resounded with silence.

    “Grandma?”

    The little girl cutely tilted her head as she deposited her hamper of gifts atop a crocheted doily neatly placed atop a round table as she tentatively tip-toed through the house. The girl covered her mouth with her hands to stifle her giggles. As everyone knows, old people like to sleep, and so she snuck her way to her grandmother’s bedroom in hopes of giving her beloved nan a surprise. Coming upon the doorway she peered in to check if grandma was there to be surprised.

    Indeed she was!

    And atop her mangled corpse squatted an unshapely thing, somewhat like unto a wolf. Its blackness rippling with muscle as its claws dug into the poor woman’s chest to gather up delectable sweetmeats for its ravening maw to consume whilst its nostrils belched billows of steam in delight in defiance of the cold. Its many eyed head and the roiling shifting disorder of its physical form seemed designed (as it indeed was) to provoke revulsion amongst goodly ordered folk, and the burning malice in its eyes and unearthly cunning brought terror to the soul.

    Naturally the girl screamed and ran

    The beast whipped its hoary head, nine eyes pondering for but a moment before it leapt in chase abandoning its erstwhile meal for the flies. Alas the confines of the house hindered its pursuit as the girl turned a corner and scurried out the front door even as the creature scrabbled at the wooden floorboards. The beast howled.

    From the heights above the village a thousand howls bayed in answer.

    Meanwhile, the beast ceased it pursuit and pondered its next course (plenty of time for tasty delicacies later) even as it cackled at the prospect of playing with its quarry, the girl hastened to the village which by now was bustling with the kind of activity only induced by mortal peril.

    “Quick Anya, in here”

    A kindly woodsman cried out to the girl, spying the calamity of wolves falling down the valley walls like an avalanche behind her from a brick house. It was the only such house in the village, belonging to three merchant brothers who oft employed the man for odd tasks and entrusted him with care of the place when they were off trading. It was their best hope for refuge in the coming storm.

    As she swept through the door of the house like the wind, he slammed it shut in her wake and barred it with an axe and lodging a chair behind the handle for good measure.

    “Hush child’

    He whispered as he cradled her in his embrace

    “The brick walls will keep us safe”

    As they huddled the sound of baying and howling drew nigh as the “wolves” rushed past the house and into the village. Soon the echoing screams of the villagers joined the cacophonous chorus of the pack as the hunters fell upon their prey.

    “shh , shh”

    The woodsman put his hand over the girls mouth all the while stifling back his own terror as much for his own sake as for the child's.

    Something scratched at the door

    The girl cried out in fear.

    “It won’t get in, be still little one”

    His eyes darted furtively to the door.

    A cackling sound like a hyenas laugh followed and the woodsman sensed a great many of the beasts gathering beyond the barricaded portal, joined by something else, something far greater and more terrible than the thing that had in its scouting foray devoured the poor girls grandmother whilst she slept.

    Silence…

    A thousand howls again and in time to the sonorous clarion of the wild hunt a great wind burst the door and swept through the house, throwing furniture awry and disintegrating the bricks of the house like a thousand years of wind upon a pillar of stone as it tumbled down like so much chaff. The two huddling mortals then saw the dread visage of the one who had brought ruin to their tranquil home. A great wolf, third eye atop its head afire with the spark of divinity, its paws clawing at the earth which quaked at its touch.

    “Big…”

    The woodsman murmured, his mind only partly lucid.

    “Bad wolf!”

    The girl screamed, terror forgotten in her rising anger.

    “You killed my grandma! You big bad wolf!”

    The creature chuckled with malign cruelty, and turned aside to delight in the ruin of the rest of the village. From its shadow emerged a pack of beasts, cackling anew with the delight of fresh meat newly presented, each hulking creature slowly skulking forward to better savour the terror of the delicacies gifted unto them by their dread master…

    The last thing that passed through the mind of that little girl as she died, having had watched the woodsman be torn to pieces by the hounds, was the sensation of teeth grinding upon the bones of her skull even as the flesh of her limbs was being torn away. The darkness that awaited her was sweet relief by comparison.




    Alas, the tragedy of that little valley was but one note in a vast symphony of destruction as the great hunt which would soon be described in common parlance as the “Calamity of Wolves” swept down from the heights of Odra into Vaettiheim and parts of Ulmur laying waste to village after village and town after town as even cities began to fall before the inexorable hunt of Revna, god of the wild and enemy of civilisation. In Vaettiheim the crude Vaetti for whom the region was named were laid waste by the ravening hordes of beasts and savage Skaetti called forth from the wilds to serve their god. Only those who embraced the Lord of the Hunt, burnt their huts, and came to live as beasts with their wolves in the mire were spared and of these not a few were bestowed with Revna’s savage blessings. The implacable advance of the calamity was not entirely uncontested however, indeed the destruction was made worse by the raiding Jotun sallying north from Dovievel under the veil of winter who, together with those Vaetti who turned to Tallai their ancestral maker for succour in their tribulation waged battle with the beasts in the snows south of the great mere and made their redoubts in the regions of Dalzad Qurd and Obrar Gur here holding, for the time being, the hunt at bay. Thus did the gods make war against each other anew as they did in days of old as the bannermen of Tallai contended with the hosts of Revna for rule over the land.

    As for the wise and the fortunate, these fled north to Ulmur and even unto the marches Mavernus albeit they found little respite in these refuges. In Ulmur the Asangjar tribe which ruled in Groenstad and Groenwaard held off waves of beasts coming down from the mountains, sparing the rest of the Ulmuri Kingdom from the horrors that befell Vaettiheim at great cost in blood and treasure. Nonetheless they could only look on in horror as hordes of Vaetti armed and desperate migrated north in a great exodus from Vaettiheim and overwhelmed the kingdoms defence, already taxed from the civil war against the rebellious native Vaetti of the region who with a not a little satisfaction joined arms with their vagrant kin. Wolfsheim, Birspach and other cities fell before the barbarians before the King of Ulmur’s forces managed to regroup and hold the line at the fortress cities of Penzchaat and Regenschatel which resting upon the very threshold of the impenetrable forests of Asphode and had ever since the early days of the empire kept a wary watch on the woods and the servants of the unchained god. How long they can endure against the vaetti tide remains to be seen, however now that the Asangjar tribes relative power in the Kingdom has greatly expanded as a brute fact, whispers abound that the the Chief of the same may succumb to folly and seek to usurp the throne even while the battle yet rages on all sides.

    In Mavernus meanwhile the echoes of this calamity resound as the fleeing peasantry of Ulmur, beset by the equally fleeing Vaetti of Vaettiheim take refuge amongst the druidic circles at Tursina whilst other less fortunate souls find themselves enslaved by the remaining Avvite estates of the region or dispersed amongst the rebellious freedom fighters and nascent slave states, bandits some might call them, that afflicted the restive region. Some even made it as far north as Pomaz where the rulers of the Communion with great concern ponder the prospect of the Vaetti, or worse the Calamity of Wolves marching upon their gates whilst their forces are otherwise occupied…

    For indeed Goliath was not content with making do with the acquisition of Pomaz and sought to convert his initial successes in war to further conquests. The target of his ire was the Estate of Hebdebenu, a relatively minor Avvite principality on the verges of Asphodel that made its name in the old Empire as a bastion against the forest god. The avvites of this city, like those formerly of Pomaz are devoted to the blasphemous art of conjuring demons from the other place to serve their tyrannical rule over lesser races and were favoured by virtue of the greater demon which had offered their adepts its patronage with the power to conjure venomous imps whose foul breath spread poison on the four winds against which no shield or blade could defend. Inspired and newly experienced by virtue of his conquests, Goliath wrought a cunning plan to overcome this minor obstacle.

    Thus did the armies of the Communion spend weeks and months maneuvering on the marches of Hebdebenu seeking to entice the enemy commander to meet them in the open field. Every care was taken to minimise the risk of poison gas, camps were set on high hilltops not only so the communions scouts could spy any enemy approach but to set the army above any noxious fumes pooling in the vales below. The caution led to a back and forth exchange across the march of Hebdebenu and despite every effort Goliath soon learned a simple truth. It is hard to control the wind.

    The first major contact with the foe was the result of an ambush set off whilst the army was repositioning. An advance party of adepts and their conjured imps burst forth from a copse of yews and managed to overwhelm a unit of Dead Men in the vanguard, the men of which became newly acquainted with their own mortality as they died of asphyxiation, foaming at the mouth. Point blank envenomation at the hands of the cackling demons rarely ends well. Numerous minor engagements and skirmishes followed with several units of Clockworks being lost when they were caught out of position by the highly mobile demon conjurations dying in the same brutal fashion. Goliaths skill and more subtle groundwork however rang true and despite these initial losses further attempts to whittle down the Communions army largely failed to reap a substantial harvest in casualties, and indeed Hebdebenu’s attempt to attack in the field led to the loss of at least four units of slave infantry as well as a number of enslaved skirmisher units as their positions were uncovered and extirpated by Goliath’s scouts. Seeing that the Communion could not be bested in the field, and being wise to their own advantage on the defensive the remaining harassing forces of Hebdebenu retreated in haste to the city itself with the army of the Communion bearing forth in hot pursuit in an attempt to catch them in the open for a decisive battle before they made the walls and shut the gates of the city against them.

    Alas the Communion failed in this task, and Goliath was compelled in the face of his recalcitrant foe to set a siege of the city even as the demons rained poison from on high into his attacking army. Nonetheless his triumph in the field together with the timely demolition of the magic academy in Pomaz and its replacement by a cobbled together collection of alchemical establishments (which would prove of much utility in areas apart from war as will be seen) raised hopes at home that the march of the Communion would continue its relentless path of conquest for the glory of Ishat and the liberation of the enslaved. In the halls of power, hope too was kindled that the “Avvite taint” would soon be purged from Ashdod in purifying flame.


    (+2 stability Pomaz, -1 outrider, -2 Dead Men (Anathamant), -4 Clockwork Greatbowmen (Anathamant))


    On the other side of Ashdod the people of Haversten too entertained hope that the profane banner of the Avvite hegemony would be replaced. However the Drowner Cult would see raised atop the parapets in triumph not the fiery brand of Ishat, but the sign of a greater power whose depths and might were as vast as the boundless sea. Under their guidance the reavers of Yorvik planned their advance against Nemsisouk meticulously, sending forth agents to rouse the enslaved against their masters and turn them to the worship of Ursula. It was only then once the stage was set that their armies sallied forth in strength to put the final nail in Nemsisouks coffin and execute the priests genocidal plan to consign the cities people to the embrace of their goddess. The numbers that flowed out of Yorviks gate were vast, and like a flood Lothar’s raiders washed over the land and put to the sack the farms and villas of the Avvites almost entirely unopposed. However when they finally reached the walls of Nemsisouk itself, they found their opposition arrayed in might to contest them.

    “Harpooners loose! We outnumber them two to one. Let us offer their blood to the goddess!”

    Lothar savagely grinned as the first volley of harpoons careened across the wall, dreaming of the plunder that lay therein. As if to deny him this spoil a volley of arrows arced overhead in reply to the first attack piercing into the ranks of his impatient and lightly armoured harpooners, although doing little to dampen their enthusiasm. Ah but there was something else as well, a sonorous chant, each syllable like the ticking of clock and ripe with portents of doom as dark witcheries were pronounced and evil pacts invoked. Lothar squinted his eyes as he saw his ranks falter, faces grimacing and eyes twitching at first before at last some weaklings started to pant and cry out in pain to their eternal shame. For the vile words echoing from the peak of the foul tower wherein Nemsisouks witches practiced foul concourse with demons were writ in pain and suffering, and pain and suffering did they provide in full measure to those unto whom they were spoken.

    As if beckoned by the misfortune of his men and seeking to delight further in misery and pain, he spied a flock of imps carousing and twirling mockingly in the air and shooting from their lazily outstretched claws bolts of arcane energy pitch black like the void from whence they came. Weakened by the sorcerous words echoing in their ears, many amongst the host could do scarce more than whimper as they were reduced to ash and charred bone too unmanned by the sorcerous arts of the defender to raise shields. All the while as their shield-arms lay slack arrows continued to fall finding the sweet embrace of flesh as they reaped a red harvest.

    Lothar growled.

    “Linebreakers forward!”

    And just in time he secretly thought, allowing a moment of relief wash over his thoughts. For even as the sonorous conch of his herald sounded his command the gates of Nemsisouk opened in stately majesty to release a foray of slave soldiers led by an Avvite commander whip in hand. Undoubtedly they sought to take advantage of their initial successes he scoffed. This he did with no lack of cause for indeed as the slave soldiers clashed with the linebreaker front the numerically inferior serfs of the Avvites clearly proved they were no match for the devotees of Ursula, and with each slave felled a cry rang out devoting their bloody death to the Lady of the Deep. The slaves swiftly retreated to the gate, shamblers entangling any stragglers in flotsam to be hacked to pieces by Haverstens finest even as the gates slammed shut once more.

    An exchange of arrows commenced anew before Lothar impatiently issued the command for siege ladders to be sent forth. In this he reckoned on superior numbers overwhelming the defence and hoped to minimise needless losses from the damned witcheries of the Avvites.

    “Forth men, let us break these infidels!”

    Lothar rallied the troops as the raised shields of the linebreakers led to the first ladders successfully being brought up to the wall.

    “Charge!”

    The great warrior led his linebreakers for the ladders and was the very first to ascend, whipping aside the paltry arrows of the slaves even as a great battlecry was raised from the hosts biting at the bit to partake in the grand holocaust that was to be offered up to Ursula once the city was lost. Nemsisouk would fall, the sanctums of demons would be laid bare, the shrines of the unseemly pleasure cults of Ishat which of late had flourished amidst the foul palaces of the Avvite princelings would be smashed, their broken idols offered up to the waters.

    Lothar was a dreamer.

    A truly great man.

    Lothar looked up to the battlements at the timid eyes of the slaves as they shuddered in the face of death and pushed himself upwards, hungry with berserker fury to taste the blood of his enemies and slake his thirst upon the cries of a people despoiled.

    So it was that Lothar died.

    For even as his eyes were fixed upwards and his mind raised to dreams yet to be dreamt and conquests yet unconquered an imp, black furred and faceless with wings of shadow landed atop the parapet of the wall and suggestively reclined in mocking repose. The missives which would later arrive in Yorkik would attest to what happened next. The beast simply stretched out its finger and released a bolt of its foul magic, and Lothar like so many others, perished at its hand as the tide of battle continued its advance.

    It was nothing grand. Even as his half-charred corpse fell from the ladder to the wooden picket at the foot of the wall the linebreakers behind him continued their charge up their ladders spilling atop the walls as they began to batter down their pathetic foe and establish beachheads for the army to break through into the city-proper. Alas news spreads quickly, and as word of Lothar Spinebreakers unceremonious demise spread through the ranks morale quickly wavered. The defending Avvites let out a great cry and redoubled their defence and what beachheads so to speak were established atop the wall were quickly eradicated with the help of their accustomed witcheries as the waiting masses of Haverstens grand army failed to capitalise on their numbers in the absence of a commander. One by one the ladders in their turn were cast down, and with the final ladder being thrown to ruin upon the cold earth the slaves breathed a sigh of relief, whispering to the gods their hope and prayer all in one. “Not today”.

    For Haversten on the other hand It was a rout.

    The deputies of Lothar were hardly men of equal caliber to their fallen commander but nonetheless neither were they incompetent. Given their humiliating failure to take the seriously undermanned defences of Nemsisouk they could at least take solace in their relatively minor losses and in the fact that they managed to regain some measure of control and set up an imperfect siege of the city. Even as the Avvites sent word to their compatriots begging for aid and reinforcements, so did Lothars raiders hurriedly prepare messengers to carry word to the authorities in Yorvik of what had transpired and requesting new orders. What was implicit in their missives was a cry for leadership from anyone with the will to bear its mantle. May Ursula bless her champion, should one arise to answer this plea, for as plague begins to fester through the ranks and as Ashdod heaves and roils under the weight of its dead, her faithfuls ambitions may yet be foiled by disease more than their enemies even as the masked gravekeepers consign ever more corpses to purifying flame and as the the drowners back home in Yorvik are left to ponder this failure even as they dispose of ever more corpses to the deep.

    (Exeunt Lothar Spinebreaker, -1 harpooner, -1 linebraker, -3 militia infantry)


    -


    A messenger on horseback entered through the gates of Jormungand, spared but a passing glance by the citizenry conducting their daily business within the cities dull grey walls. Yet not unnoticed was his advent by the Queen on her high throne, for after presenting his credentials at the palace gates this emissary from afar had much to whisper in her ear. Whispers of pacts and profit, and what's this? Bhir Boldahr has mobilised and is marching to free Don Lodur from its conquerors. This must not be allowed!

    The response to this new information was swift, agents were sent forth into the hills to lay traps on likely paths and nemedian scouts in the form of ravens flew forth from the tower of phantoms to keep watch upon the stoney ways and thoroughfares of Odra, those golden roads which once filled with merchants and traders brought wealth and prosperity to the Emerald Kingdom and which now expected the march of iron-clad soldiers armed for battle and the spilling of blood.

    Despite the great boon of foreknowledge however, the first reports returned by these scouts boded ill. The phantoms, their pale nemedian faces betraying an unusual befuddlement revealed that the Svartalfar, on the unnervingly few occasions where they were spotted, seemed to be avoiding their traps as if they knew they were there.

    “Impossible!”

    The Queen exclaimed.

    But no matter, for the cunning way of her patron goddess was to lay plans within plans, thus did her contingency take effect. The Phantoms taking the forms of rodents, sparrows and other unseemly vermin sallied forth anew at her behest carrying with them the consecrated blessings of the mistress of decay. Slinking under the cloak of night they entered by some miracle unseen the city of Bhir Boldahr where passing unnoticed amidst the encamped hosts of the enemy they manage to infiltrate the granaries and infect the cities stores. Praised be the goddess! The following day the soldiery groaned with poorly countenance, their bile flowing freely as the actinic poison seared their bowels and introduced them to the corruption of the grave. If the Queen hoped that this would put an end to their ambitions of reconquest then she was sure to be dissapointed. For only so much damage could be done through trickery, and the hosts gathered to reclaim the Svartalfars lost property was mighty indeed.

    (Bhir Boldahr: -2 heavy infantry -1 unit crossbowmen)

    Thus did the Emerald Kingdoms army march forth in strength to besiege and conquer Bhir Boldahr hoping thereby to set the terms of the two powers exchange. The advantage, the strategists confirmed, lay with the enemy. The Svartalfar are natives to the mountain heights and given the numbers gathered were relatively equal and the foe armed in strength and incensed with the fire of vengeance this home field gave Bhir Boldahr every confidence of victory. The cold-blooded naga for their part shivered under winters yoke as they ascended the snow-laden slopes and prayed to their goddess that the magical prowess of the Emerald Kingdom would lead them to triumph and that the heady drink of victory might warm their bellies once they were past the svatalfar cities gates.

    The start of the battle would prove to be much earlier than they anticipated, with its beginning being sudden and entirely unforeseen.

    As the Emerald Kingdoms army trudged through the snowdrifts towards Bhir Boldahr the Svartalfar army emerged from a cavern in the mountain on a slope above the slowly advancing men of Jormungand and their crossbowmen, taking but a moment to line up in ranks. With mechanical precision they initiated a withering barrage felling many and ravaging the courageous serpent knights which took the initiative to boldly charge up the hill in a vain attempt to stall for time and enable the shaken army to take a defensive formation. The Serpent Archers for their part responded with counter-fire of their own, taking advantage of their greater range to strike back and claim heads here and there evenly across the Svartalfar line. The Svartalfars heavy plate and large shields availed them much however, and each volley from the Serpent archers was met with raised shields and the tinkling of fallen arrows, soon to be followed by mocking war cries. Mere arrows it was clear could not pierce the famed svartalfar steel with which their counterparts were arrayed. Such was Bhir Boldahrs initial advantage that it was only the mesmers efforts at healing the wounded as the Kingdoms front materialised that prevented this initial exchange from devolving into a humiliating rout.

    Nonetheless once the two sides were established in their positions in good order the svartalfar hopes for a swift victory did nought but fade like the mountain mists under the steady light of the sun. Seeing a gap in the withering crossbow fire, Naz’jar gestured and had her phantoms slip from between the ranks in the form of great cats, mighty snow leopards flying across the snow towards the Svartalfar shield wall and the scattered throngs of Firbolg mercenaries releasing javelins from the front even as others in the forms of diving peregrines descended upon the crossbowmen from on high in a two pronged assault. Claw and fang bit into the firbolg even as the crossbowmen were forced to divert fire to the diving nemedians. These nemedians were to the credit of the crossbowmen forced off lest they be overwhelmed and destroyed, their efforts doing little in this foray to quench the crossbows defence and granting the front line only a brief respite from their piercing volleys. The nemedians knew however it would not avail the Emerald Kingdom to sacrifice men needlessly in the face of this relentless foe, more opportunities would come later and in this took some consolation.

    Seeing as the initial forays and the prolonged ranged fire proved to be indecisive, both sides seemingly of common accord finally initiated a full frontal infantry clash, one which would last all day even until the sun declined below the mountain heights and the bitter winds of the angry night that hastened from the east chilled the flesh of the soldiery of both sides, claiming casualties as surely as any blade. The mesmer sorcerers proved their mettle in this battle reaping a substantial harvest through sorcery, but as the day carried on the cold blooded magi failed in the face of both the bitter cold and svartalfar endurance and the advantage turned towards Bhir Boldahr. Nonetheless in the early infantry exchange the Kingdom laid waste nigh the entirety of the mercenary firbolg the enemy city had gathered to aid them in their war of vengeance. their core forces of hardened and heavily armoured svartalfar, undeterred fought on and spilled a bloody libation to the snows through spear and sword even as they were eventually compelled to reluctantly retreated, still fighting a rearguard action all the same, beneath the rocks into caverns which the Emerald Kingdom, wisely, refrained from entering.

    The toll of this battle was bloody on both sides and its outcome indecisive. Even as they, for the purposes of propaganda, claimed a victory in the field causing despair and resignation amongst the conquered people of Don Lodur who finally realised salvation would not be near in coming, the Emerald Kingdom was forced to retreat back to Don Lodur lest they found themselves caught unawares a second time, and destroyed. Indeed in the secret chambers of the court, the strategists realised that it was only their ample preparations and heavy resource investment that led to this battle being anything other than a catastrophic failure on the Kingdoms part.


    (Emerald Kingdom: -10 Serpent Archers, -9 Serpent Knights, -2 Mesmers, -4 Phantoms, +5 stability in Don Lodur)


    (Bhir Boldahr: Heavy Losses)


    Ah but it was not all bad news for the Kingdom, no indeed. For the Cult of Froede and the Cult of Lotahna could rejoice in the raising of two great temples to the god and goddess of the Kingdom. Even as the svartalfar denizens of Don Lodur murmured against the imposition of a foreign faith and scoffed at the bizarre and mystical rites of the Lord of Dreams performed in the new temple built in their city, the adopted children of Froede came in pilgrimage from Jormungand and delighted in the favour shown them by their Lotahnic queen with their fears of oppression and the divine wrath of their god being appeased, for now. For the Cult of Lotahna’s part the raising of temple in Jormungand proved the Queens continued devotion to the goddess and the primacy of place their religion enjoyed within the spiritual hierarchy of the Emerald Kingdom. It was a political coup, one made even more triumphant by the completion of the two temples at exactly the same time at a most auspicious hour determined in advance by the court diviner, lest anyone say that the god and goddess were not equally first in the hearts of the Kingdoms people. Froede would surely wrack himself with garrulous laughter at this little jest although what mischief he may unveil in turn remains to be seen as does what the ill-pleasure of other deities slighted by the Kingdoms rejection may call forth.

    (Faith districts completed in Jormungand and Don Lodur, -5 stability in Don Lodur)


    At any rate, even as the drums of war echoed through the Emerald Kingdom north beyond Bhir Boldahr in Unocta, an equally freely chosen conflagration looked certain to arise. The Unoctans are a technologically advanced but culturally barbarous people of exiles, descendants of some half-remembered folk who met Ursulas divine displeasure long ago. Huddling in their caverns, they remained despite their token fealty to Mahat, little versed in the intricacies of old imperial praxis or the rules of diplomatic discourse. Seeing after the deicide an opportunity to emerge from their isolation however their grand councils immediate actions were to firstly demand fealty on the part of the great Nemedian cities of Nazca and secondly make representations to the Sidhe.

    The gall.

    Needless to say the great bastions of Nemedian civilisation did not take kindly to demands of submission from those they considered little more than chattel, and proclaimed war to subdue the upstarts and enslave their people, politely according to orthodox custom arranging a field for the two armies to meet and decide the outcome of their dispute. Yet even as Chamombles great army mobilised to meet the “unoctan rabble” in the field Unocta demurred with promises of meeting the field of battle come summer. Worse, Chamombles supposed brethren from Gretaux failed to commit arms to the cause, despite their flowery expressions of camaraderie and vociferous condemnations of Unoctan barbarism. Nemedian politics is a cut-throat game afterall and the elders of Chamomble well understood when the reports came in that they had held back their army in the hope that Chamomble might suffer a major loss opening the door for them to seize the advantage and claim hegemony over Nazca. Nonetheless the Chamomblois host marched on despite these setbacks for the sake of honour lest their good name be disgraced in the eyes of their rivals .

    They were received with an empty field.

    Perhaps realising how vastly outmatched they were in the face of Nemedian power and civilisation the Unoctan army, swayed by the auguries of their High Priestess who foretold that Nazca united could not be conquered, or perhaps simply holding to their councils will to not entertain the field of battle till winter had passed they simply failed to arrive. For their part for Chamomblois were content not to pursue the unoctans into the hills and to simply return home, honour and prestige much advanced and their rivals dishonoured. The lack of losses served to make the victory all the sweeter. The people of Unocta for their part feared that their bluff being called (and their reputation shamed) and the Nemedians being decisively turned towards hostility to their little nation boded ill for the future.

    (-4 stability Unocta)

    Fortune however did not entirely abandon them, for even as nemedian braggadocio sapped public morale, word came back to the city from the ambassador to the House of Towers in Sijosalvar. Met with what the unoctans assumed was warmth, the Sidhe Lords together with the Tuatha bard Syvarchia, an ancient being high in the favour of Froede who had taken residence in the court, much to the delight and acclaim of the Sidhe nobility, in service to her divine master, graciously hearkened to the unoctans request for advice regarding the proliferations of strange beasts in the mountains (which the mountain folk in error presumed fell under the rule of Lord Froede) suggesting a tribute to the honour of Froede, sent of course to the high court of Ylanati, would merit his divine aid in quelling the beasts, even more so if a temple was raised to the gods name.

    The Unoctan council cared not to promote the worship of a strange god (fearing rightly the envy of their own goddess, recently slighted by the raising of a temple to the same god in Don Lodur) and indeed their priests at councils prompting made a clear sign of their continued reliance upon Liluri when the state summoned forth three work-beast automata to aid in resource acquisition and other sundry tasks. Nonetheless seeing an opportunity to secure relations with a powerful neighbour in the face of political headwinds elsewhere, they did not disdain to send a grand tribute of gold and other valuable together with a magnificent vestment worthy of adorning an image of the fair prince to the Sidhe, nay the robe sent was worthy of even adorning the most sacred body of the god itself even if the Sidhe found unoctan tastes garish and overwrought.

    The House of Towers for their part, initially surprised at the magnitude of the offering, quickly took great pains to interpret it as a tribute paid upon their greatness by a “lesser people” who came in rags begging at their door under portents of ruin in order to quell the murmurings of certain co-ethnics who still held them as apostates to Froede due to their old service to Mahat. This being despite the fair princes magnanimous forgiveness. They could well refer as well in the face of these naysayers to the advancing dominion of Froede, whose influence despite the intentions of the Unoctan council spread to that realm much as it had to the Emerald Kingdom due to their efforts, as folk turned to the Lord of Dreams in pursuit of their hopes and ambitions all thanks to their whispers and diplomacy and under the shadow of their own fears. The light of hope quelled whatever unrest the councils craven refusal to meet the field of battle against Chamomble invoked amongst the people at least for now.


    (+4 stability Unocta)


    That is not to say the Unoctan military was entirely idle over the winter. Not at all. For as travellers and the occasional trader from the west filtered in to Unocta of the horrors that had unfolded in Ulmur of the calamity of wolves (emissaries sent to the same region failing to return, and presumed dead) the Council, who had seen the unoctan countryside being vexed for some time by revnic beasts saw fit to the send the army, and any foreigners who deigned to participate, on a grand hunt in the hill country to quell the beasts and erase some of the shame they had experienced in the face of Nemedian honour.

    Alas for their noble dreams the hunt failed to live up to grand ambitions. The heavy unoctan infantry were hardly suitable to hunting down, in rugged terrain no less, nimble beasts blessed by the god of the wild, especially in winter when the hills were covered with a thick blanket of snow which further slowed the advance. Bogged down, a unit of pikeneers was even so unfortunate as to perish from exposure during a mountain blizzards, with the remnants reporting their brethren being picked off by stray beasts, great wolves of many eyes and stranger things flitting like black shadows through the trees and staining the purity of the snows with their inky blackness.

    The veracity of these reports left much to be desired though, for few such beasts remained in northern odra given they had largely fallen upon the west in fulfilment of the commands of their god. Lacking suitable quarry, ill-contented with the inclement conditions, and not willing to shoulder further losses for little to no result, the armies “grand hunt” in the end was reduced to a glorified patrol of roads and borderlands. The villages were a little safer than usual this winter, and the rustic inhabitants were well pleased with the attention from the higher ups, but was it really worth it in the end?


    (-1 pikeneer, +3 stability Unocta)


    Efforts on the part of the Unoctan army to contain the Patalan plague also proved for nought, the ravages of pestilence continuing to reap a good harvest of souls even in the remotest and most ill-bred part of Nazca. Indeed in the absence of medicines such as the alchemical concoctions brewed by the communion, or of the divine blessings of Lotahna or even sufficient funding, it was simply impossible of the military to contain every travelling vagrant or waif from wandering the streets. At least the people appreciated the effort.

    To the east in Xerconia efforts to aid the afflicted were however better funded and in turn better received with the Axes of Danbalor tending to plague-victims and spreading the message of the Mahatic faith of the abbey far and wide. This charity, combined with good old-fashioned demagoguery on the part of certain clerics against the monarchy of Awharai’s lacklustre response to the pestilence resulted in increasing trust being placed with the order by the benighted peasantry and led to many new recruits gracing the abbeys halls come the advent of spring.


    (+3 stability Xerconia)


    Apart from charity and propaganda however it was a quiet winter of recruitment and training for Xerconia, with numerous pyromancer adepts and hedge templars being trained quietly and efficiently by their instructors under the abbeys auspices. Whilst interpreted by the commoners as a sign of the Abbeys commitment to public order given the unrest and instability of the region some in the royal court interpreted this military build up in other ways as a cold war between court and abbey seemed to build up out of sight under winters shadow.

    As for other lands to the north, Mani Akkitha and Xaru deep in the jungles of Patala in a tropical echo of Awharai’s tensions conducted a war of espionage and lobbed diplomatic daggers through the jungle even as the languid folk of that region got the occasional shiver from an unseasonably cool season and rejoiced in the power of Lotahna that saw the plague, finally, peter out in that land. That it simply joined the list of Patalas endemic diseases was par for the course naturally.

    In Lanun the pirate queen rested and built up her fleet anew after the losses earlier in the year even as a state of ennui overcame the Hollows, with the tribes remaining divided as to how to respond to the threat of piracy. Political deadlock led to a dangerous lack of action on the part of their leaders, one which would surely lead them into mortal peril once the seasonal storms blowing from the south open the way for Athanasia Grey to entertain further conquests.

    Elsewhere the Kingdom of Pythium saw its Kings authority largely renewed over the mainland holdings of the realm with the plague ebbing away due to his policy of propitiating the gods with the court beginning to contemplate the prospect of reasserting royal authority over the colonial outposts of the realm that had largely become independent in truth if not in name after the imperial yoke fell away.

    Meanwhile the savage lands to the north of Haversten largely continued as they always had despite rumours of Anathemant movements in the tropical deserts, whilst Emyur languished in ruin awaiting a future yet untold and yearning for deliverance from her tribulations.


    -


    The boy, ribs clearly visible through his sunken skin, dug with his stick into the hard ground. The winter had been hard, and with Emyur in a state of chaos famine stalked the fields as trade and the grain stores had run dry. Digging for what tubers had been preserved by winters cold was one of the only ways to gain some measure of food and live another day, well that and other more unsavoury methods...

    Determining that the spot he had been digging in was not likely to merit any reward, the boy shuffled on to another, slightly danker spot. Passing a family friend on the way he gave a polite salutation.

    “Good Morning Mr Debruyn”

    The decomposing body of his once-neighbour disdained to speak, his pallid corpse reposing languidly by the roadside. A worm lazily wriggled as it feasted in an eye socket as if in reply to the boys greeting .

    “Let’s see if we can find some more potatoes today!”

    The boy continued digging un-energetically, occasionally revealing a bit of vitality when he successfully found not one but two potatoes, a bit rotten but still edible, which he carefully stashed in a basket out of site in case of theft.

    “Time to go home”

    It was still early in the morning, but everyone knew that once day was well upon the land that the bandits came out. It was also the ideal time for flesh-hunters to emerge and seek their prey, whether they be the beasts that now prowled the plains and gorged themselves on the corpses of plague-victims and the starved, or those degenerates who endured through the consumption of living flesh, such sweet-meats being sold to those who could pay in ramshackle fleshmarts away from the public eye.

    The boy was scrawny and there was not enough meat on his bones to make a decent meal, but it was better to be safe than sorry.

    As he was walking he spied another boy, walking towards him from the west. He was sun-tanned, his eyes bright and green and his brown hair entwined with leaves. He looked like a street kid, but the boys discerning eyes detected no trace of famine on his face, and noticed that he was not one of the locals.

    “Who are you? You’re not going to steal my potatoes are you”

    The boy grasped his basket nervously.

    The other child quizzically looked upon him, before he continued on his way. As he approached, the boy raised his digging stick half-heartedly out of weakness, before the wayfarer did something very strange.

    He began to sing.

    But his song was not the song of men.

    From his throat emerged the singing of birds, something like a joyful lark and a mourning oriole all in one. Interspersed within it was the music of magpies and the twittering of sparrows and of birds unknown to mortals altogether. It was beautiful and the boy stood locked in rapture at the sound, stick falling to the hard earth as tears flowed down his face. The song echoed far and wide, as raiders and plague-victims, mothers weeping for their dying sons and desperate fathers eking little profit from their fields all turned their heads in wonder at the sound. For the song of this child echoed far across the land and all of Emyur stood enthralled at the music of it.

    The little wayfarer began to dance in time to the threnodies of his song, and with his footsteps the rhythm of life beat anew after the cold death of winter, sprouts of green grass raising their heads from the dust left after each light and winsome footfall. Waving in a warm breeze that swayed hither and yon to the melody new growth budded into being upon the branches of haggard trees awakening after a long rest. The cold winds from the south seemed to reel in a start howling in frustration as they fell away to be replaced by a comforting warmth, the chill of frosts being cast aside by the mantle of rain and mud and fertile earth. Death fled before his face replaced with life and joy.

    O blessed child, who casts aside the prison bars of death.

    O great and unconquered god, who bringeth forth a font of incorruption from the barren rock.

    The Herald of Spring continued his song, and the druids of Asphodel who had took residence in the land of Emyur exalted joining their own voices to His voice, their own footsteps to His as the little child's words in the language of birds extolled the end of winter and drove into the Crones cold spirit like a stake driven into the ice of a frozen lake. They cried tears of joy, for at last the free god had awoken from his rest and his words beckoned life and liberty. A renewal of that golden age long lost when man stood naked before the stars and before their gods and knew not death or the corruption of the grave.

    Spring has come, the turning of the season is at hand!

    The boy with his potatoes knew none of this however, seeing only the green eyes of the strange child as he danced his way joyously to the east even as ears of grain rose in the fields all about him and chrysanthemums bloomed all about the roadside where he stood and his body ravaged by hunger was renewed with each syllable that left the wayfarers lips.

    He knelt and cried out in wordless gratitude.

    For even little children understand when they have met a god.


    -

    Map

    pending

    Notes

    1) Stats will come Saturday (american time) I have it on good word.

    2) Apologies for getting this out relatively late :(

    3) Regarding Svartalfar prescience against the Emerald Kingdom, I won't note the cause but I will note that they obtained it in the previous turn.

    4) Haversten and some others got unlucky with their rolls, the gods are fickle.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2021
  18. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    NPC Diplomacy

    -

    To: The Council of Unocta
    From: The Elder Council of Chamomble


    -

    Craven!

    You savages make such haughty demands and yet then disgrace yourselves by refusing the field of battle we proposed. If that is all you amount too what gives you the gall to utter wild words from your wretched mouths?

    No matter. We Chamomblois are a gracious and generous people. If you pay suitable tribute we shall put aside your folly and permit your little city to continue in peace. Think well on this oh honorable councilors, your co-religionists in Bhir Boldahr will not hasten to your aid should you fall to strife, and you are fools to trust the duplicitous Sidhe. Perhaps you think the distant Ulmuri will avail you when the shadow of Revna is on them? We think not.

    You stand alone and it would do you well to swallow your pride. Or perhaps you will meet us this summer as you said instead of cravenly fleeing the field like the dogs you are.

    ~ marked with the great seal of Chamomble


    ---



    To: The Kingdom of Haversten
    From: Prince Saknutjer of the Ishatymes Estate

    -

    We demand you desist from your attempted conquest of Sepputenu lest we be compelled to intervene in your little quarrel. Do not think that you can face the might of our armies if the banners of war are raised between us, for the forces of one trifling little city state are not our match.

    ~ signed by the prince and sealed with the marks of numerous avvite lords
     
    Last edited: Jul 2, 2021
  19. Immaculate

    Immaculate unerring

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2003
    Messages:
    7,619
    here is the map:

    turn 2 political map.png
     
  20. Jehoshua

    Jehoshua Catholic

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2009
    Messages:
    7,225
    I have been told stats will be a little later than anticipated due to RL getting in the way, Immac will get them to you as soon as possible though.
     

Share This Page