The factions gathered in the ancient forests surrounding Sanctuary, ready to drive the Southern Mempo from their lands. Despite warnings from Overlord Hart to kill any Mempo on site, the camps were visited by their delegations that sought to discuss terms for the inevitable conflict, and to arrange duels of honour with champions of the factions. It was believed that these visitations were a way for the enemy to gauge the strength of the assembled warhost’s, whilst conforming to their strict code of honour. Even with the war footing, and Hart’s threats, the Mempo remained true to their word and left the factions camps and pathways safe to travel.
The Capricious Queen, fallen Istar of the AlGaia, came to treat with the factions. She professed to have common ground in wanting to drive the Mempo from the woodlands and that she would aid the hosts in battle. Her approaches were met with courtesy, but many were suspicious of her true motives.
On the third day a force from the AlGaia, Lions, Teutonians, and the mercenary companies took the field against the bulk of the Mempo infantry forces. Whist the fighting was fierce, the Mempo had agreed to many terms of conduct on the field. Whilst this neutered the power of both sides it ensured that lives were not needlessly lost, and the Mempo maintained their honour. The Capricious Queen also sent her forest spirits to aid the AlGaia in the battle but her pet known as the ‘Devourer of Flesh’ became free of her control and ran amok between both lines. It transpired that malign forces had rested control of many forest creatures from their mistress and now held them in its sway. Eventually the warhost’s fought the Mempo army to a point where their general surrendered and committed seppuku; yielding the field rather than return in disgrace to his Empress.
During the fighting the AlGaia recovered a banner of their Goddess, the return of which was believed to hold clues to breaking the curse upon Hart’s Queen, the Amgea. The Bwana Nunda aided Oak in re-consecrating the land in return for the Capricious Queen’s continued assistance. However, she had other plans and turned on the AlGaia before retreating into the deep forest. Later that night the Lord of the Forest brought the AlGaia to a secluded glade where she had hidden. After time spent trying to reason with her, the warhost from the three kingdoms had no choice but to end the threat of the Capricious Queen and leave her body to return to the land.
During the time the factions were camped around Sanctuary a number magical stone fragments were discovered. The College examined them but even the finest minds of the factions were unable to determine their origin, or what they foretold.
Following the victory of the bulk of the Mempo, it became apparent that they were preparing for a final stand, and planning to use constructs to bolster their forces. The next day the Jhereg, Wolves, Steppe and FirCruthen assaulted a conclave of Kaladin troll thaumaturgists and ordinary soldiers. A bloody battle ensued, with powerful constructs inflicting a heavy toll on their attackers. Finally, the High Mage was attacked by a poisoned blade, offered his life he decided to leave in peace. Jubilant in victory, the factions had not only freed the people of Sanctuary, but also captured scrolls of knowledge from the Mempo.
A mighty warhost assembled in the forlorn Norscan region of Valdyrhamr- “Wolfs Lair” – to destroy Fimbulwinter, the dreaded werewolf who has plagued the allies throughout the war with the spirit of Fear.
Valdyrhamr has an ancient association with werewolves – many packs of the creatures have lived there for centuries in more or less peaceful coexistence, keeping to the wilderness in the hope their monstrous selves would not harm the innocent. With Fimbulwinter’s arrival these creatures were brought under his sway, and more beasts flooded into the area to answer his call. As the allied factions gathered to be rid of the terror, the wolves attacked and many of the heroes of the host became infected with lycanthropy. Fearing the curse becoming permanent, and falling under the enemies thrall the factions quickly sought a cure.
At length, a fast moving force of Wolves, Jhereg, Teutonians and others punched through to the beast’s lair. Certain Wolf alchemists had previously prepared a potion and this was administered to the downed Fimbulwinter allowing him to be finally slain.
Other revelations arose in the wood where the werewolves had concentrated. The Drunes, terrible creatures from FirCruthen lands, tainted by blasphemous magic’s, seem to have joined forces with the enemy; their corrupted slaves being seen fighting alongside Fear’s other forces. To make matters worse Empress Nigousan and Kuge Nakamura came from the Empire of the Golden Isles with even more fearful news: Emperor Heyami himself had sided with the enemy. A united force of Drunes and Imperials would be a terrible thing indeed. Will this be what the heroes of the combined factions must face in two months’ time?
Offers of aid came from an unexpected source. Fae of the Courts of Crimson and Gold came to invite all and sundry to join them in their usually hidden realms of Elvesham in Albion, where they will host a festival of games, tests and challenges. The winners will be granted the, often questionable, but always powerful gifts of the Fae that may be of great aid in the coming battle…
The Court of Crimson and Gold was always going to be a tricky situation for the allied factions to deal with. Two rival and isolated fae factions holding court in the enchanted forest of Elvesham, with the High Kings of Albion and the FirCruthen acting as hosts of a sort in their stead. Yet the potential was high – a chance to strike against the Drunes and their allies and gather favour ahead of the Renewal battles in Manx.
The Courts of Crimson and Gold were dominated and typified by their nobility – political Kings, regal Queens, their Jack enforcers and their Herald mouthpieces. They played with the factions as much as they themselves were manoeuvred by the canny and the foolish, all to court the votes of those present. For the factions had arrived at the prescribed Vote, where the winner would lead the Court of Crimson and Gold for the next 101 years.
Tests and tourneys, raids and competition punctuated the dance of hospitality and vote courting. The Fae proved true to their word though often tricky – some tests were riddled with violence and others catapulted contenders directly into the dangers of Manx with no preparation at all!
The Vote itself saw a great upheaval in Elvesham, as the factions rigged a 3rd entity to win. For the first time in millennia, the Court of Crimson and Gold would be ruled by neither house but by the legendary Morgaine le Fay. Both houses pledged their loyalty to their new ruler before she dismissed the combined warhost’s and the mists were called down again to hide Elvesham from mortal eyes. How their trickery will aid the factions against the Drune enemy was uncertain to many who travelled from the magical realm.
Nevertheless, the factions excelled and lost few, even in the most dangerous and surprising of raids, but at last the Drune allies fought through the Fae mists and into the camps. There the enemy succeeded, it seems, as they released a great and powerful force of legend, remembered only by the very eldest of the Elvesham Fae: Ouroboros. This formidable ‘King Sable’ seemed little interested in either the factions or its ‘saviours’ however and little fazed by even the greatest artefacts of legend – its mission is unknown and it disappeared before it could be fully challenged by the warhost’s.
It seems unlikely that the Drune Lords would have released such a creature without some plan of harm befalling the factions, but possibly they had miscalculated and Ouroboros was not to be so easily bent to their will.
King Cole of the FirCruthen rallied his friends and allies to confront The Drune Lords upon the Isle of Manx. The Drune Lords, having been released by the Fomori, had sought a war of conquest over the FirCruthen. Turning their backs on their ancient ally Cromm Ruadb they had forged an alliance with the forces of Terror who they had released upon the land. Whilst Terror and its forces were strong the Drunes had little to fear, but as the combined nations defeated the manifestation of Terror across the central continent, so the forces freed to fight the Drunes grew stronger. Local resistance and wise deployment of FirCruthen forces drove the Drune Lords and their control back until they only held the Isle of Bronagh their first conquest.
Knowing that facing the four Drune Lords – Redgar Lord of Death, Nysar Lord of Illusion, Brock Lord of Beasts and Feg the First of Drunes – would be no simple matter the FirCruthen greatly valued the aid given from all the nations of the continent. Once there had been five Drune Lords, but one had willingly sacrificed himself in a ritual, months before, to bind the remaining ones in an alliance with Terror. As the road to defeat Terror seemed to the Lords General to lie in victory over Terror’s allies, and the great circle on the Isle of Bronagh was deemed suitable for the performing of the Great Ritual of Renewal, the warhost’s of all nations made a landing on the cursed island.
Initially the gods smiled upon the warhost’s as little was seen of the enemy forces. In preparation to face the challenges ahead of them, the peoples of the Steppe Alliance gathered, and to mark this new beginning for them, signed the Steppe Treaty anew, which binds the disparate peoples of the Steppe together. It rededicated them to their common goals, beliefs, laws and structure and was witnessed by many from the other peoples. With the return of the first-born elves and rededication to their place amongst the united nations, the Steppe sought to prove their return as a force to be reckoned with by playing their part in the overthrow of the Drune Lords.
With Drune forces still seemingly absent from the local area the warhost’s took the opportunity of scouting three buildings constructed by the Drune Lords whilst occupying the land. Strangely they all seemed deserted, although it became clear that all three contained magical defences, including in one case an irregularly active ritual circle that at times was quiet but could suddenly turn into a source for terrible magical effects. The Merlin of Albion led several reconnaissance raids on the main Drune Fort, finding it at sometimes mundane and at others highly magical. Having noticed the arrival of the warhost’s, the Drunes began to assemble forces to harass them, while sending messengers purporting to seek only peace at the same time. None were fooled by the silken words and the diplomats were universally rebuffed.
Whilst raids on the encampments increased, so did their own scouting expeditions. From these it became known that the powers of the Drunes were linked to specific stones: should they be discovered and destroyed, then each Drune Lord would falter and the defences around their buildings at least be weakened. With this information, a council of war was held, and it was decided that the AlGaian, Jhereg, Teutonian and Kesh forces should take the fight to the enemy on the Sunday with the objective of at least neutralizing – and hopefully destroying – as many of these stones as possible, and if possible of killing the Drune Lords linked to the stones they targeted. Fortune again favoured the combined peoples as the stone linked to Brock Lord of Beasts was discovered during a scouting raid.
Armed as the raiders were with foreknowledge of possible ways to destroy the stones that had previously been divined, the stone was destroyed. Encouraged by this good fortune, the agreed force took the field and did perform great slaughter upon the enemy, including, in the end, Lord Jhereg personally attending to Brock’s demise. Despite this victory these forces were unable to make any further headway in securing a total victory over Terror’s allies.
Once the victorious forces had rested the peoples came together to perform the annual Ritual of Renewal. During this ritual a horn was produced that had been gained through combined efforts during the games devised by the Courts of Crimson and Gold. This horn when sounded was said to “wake the land” and many attempts had been made by Drune forces to gain it prior to it being used at the appointed time in the ritual. The note from the horn summoned a “warper,” a divine warrior, by the name of Bran.
Many factions deployed new magic’s, knowing the difficulties they expected to face in the battle. The FirCruthen created a “Death Walker,” the Wolves used the Ghodi Inks and the people of Albion called in a favour from Elvesham in the form of the Crimson Jack. Bran, together with the nations who had remained in camp the day before took the field of battle on Monday, but not before a raid was successfully completed in the morning to close a tunnel from the fort that would have allowed the enemy to redeploy secretly during the battle. The FirCruthen and their Steppe allies performed this raid whilst other groups performed a diversionary attack upon the tower with the corrupted circle.
This tower with Drune stones expected to be within it became the first objective of the forces taking the field. It had been advised that sinking finely crafted weapons into the circle surrounding the tower would neutralise the corruption effect on the circle, unfortunately the numbers brought failed to be sufficient to the task. It had been discovered by the Celestial College that the corruption was partially caused by alchemical liquids having been poured on the area, disturbing the magical balance. By quick reasoning a College member stepped forward and summoned a water elemental that washed away the corruption, completing the neutralisation of the random magic’s and allowing the tower to be taken and the stone within destroyed.
This left the final Drune bastion of the fort, which the factions then proceeded to attack. It was here that Bran proved his worth by breaking through a wall of the fort and doing great damage to the enemy within. This allowed the factions to pour in and defeat the enemy, including Lord Feg who died at that time. At some point in the fight, unseen to all, High King Hazel of Albion was cut off and killed whilst leading a charge against Drune forces that had attacked the rear of the warhost’s. Once the body of Hazel and those who fell with him had been recovered, and believing their work done, many of the Lions left the field. Nysar Lord of Illusion had however obscured his – and his forces’ – presence from the factions and, seeing them weakened in numbers, chose this moment to show his hand and reclaimed the fort. With his stone intact, the factions could not but fail in their several attempts to complete the victory.
Throughout the battle the mysterious figure of The Betrayer was once again abroad. Ajax of the FirCruthen, realising the outcome of the day relied upon defeating Nysar, made a deal with the Betrayer to reveal where Nysar’s stone could be found. A deal was struck and the stone was shown to have been hidden in plain sight all along. Once this stone was obtained and destroyed, Nysar’s fate was sealed and he was quickly overcome. As the battle drew to the end a collection of figures was observed to leave the field. Who they were and what, if any, threat they represent was unclear.
With the Drunes defeated, thoughts turned to the final defeat of Terror. The creature known as Story, Second of the Principality of Spirit, had once again appeared within the nations’ encampments and told a tale of a temple in the utter West, where the spirit of Courage was trapped by the beliefs of those who live there. He implored the peoples to hear his words and cross the seas to free Courage and thereby defeat Terror. Why the Second of Spirit was so engrossed and partial in the struggle of two of the great Principles of his master’s realm was made no clearer, and why the Betrayer was assumed to be playing an open hand in this was lost to many.
There were two further developments, one aiding Story’s proposed expedition, and the other reducing the peoples’ chances of success. The beneficial aid came in assurances from Empress Nigousan of her support for the project, and the practical help of supplying such deep sea going vessels as were required to transport the combined forces to the West. As a symbol of her goodwill, she promised to travel with the forces as a surety of a safe return. On the other hand, the death of High King Hazel was too much for the Merlin, who shed his form – not before destroying High King Goddard’s sword Excalibur, which he himself had forged and no other could remake.
Lord Hart was also lost to the AlGaia. In a desperate attempt to free the Queen Amgea from her slumbering curse, placed upon her by the Capricious Queen, Overlord Hart had made deals with dark forces unbeknownst to his people. Releasing himself from the bindings of his oaths to his lands, he usurped the power of a rite performed by Oak, Istar of the Goddess, and unshackled himself from the Hunter’s restraint. After a night of gorging himself on the fear of the people, his followers killing indiscriminately from the shadows, he now stalks those across all nations that he declares “heathens” with a band of sadistic hunters at his beck and call, his coming heralded by his chosen Spear, now a spirit bound to his will; the savage, brutal Ram of the Ael. What effect this will have upon that nation and all others is unclear, but cannot be seen by many as a welcome development.
Further troubles befell the warhost of Teutonia, whose celebrations on the recovery of the historical battle talisman of the nation, the Shrine to the Elder Gods, were cut short. An unknown entity appeared in their camp and, following a fierce, but ultimately futile, assault by the Teutonian warhost, teleported away, taking the Shrine and the Empress Callista Aurelia with him. With all that had been gained lost, the Teutonians resolved to embark upon a Winter questing to recover the Shrine and the Flaminica before re-joining the other nations to press the war to release Courage and defeat Terror.
1114- Nothing to report