A banner of Thorns
"You know he's totally mad..." The first said, trailing off.
"You say that," retorted the second. "But we're finally here. At least he's doing something. That's my kind of mad. I'd take that over sane any day."
"Oh, I'm not saying I wouldn't follow him into the darkness, and back, if I had to." said the first, taking a quick swig form the bottle. "No-one denies he gets things done."
The third took the bottle of cider, and took a larger swig. She put the bottle down and addressed the others.
"He's crazy, and probably stupid. He took a risk, and right now it looks like it's paid off. That's it. But, you're right. He did something. We didn't swear our Thorn oath to watch our people get slaughtered. They say he's cursed, and he'll probably take us all with him... but I'd rather die trying."
"You think we'll die then?"
"Everyone dies Alaw - what matters is the manner of your going not the day."
The Black Thorns fight to liberate Liathaven. The remaining resistance fighters and survivors of the Jotun purge - many of whom have survived thanks to the assistance of the heroes of the Empire - flock to their banner.
But the fight for Liathaven has only begun. While there are no major orc forces in the south, there is no news from West Ranging, Liath Ring, or Liaven's Glen in the north. There are major Jotun forces in Kahraman and the Mournwold to the east, and unknown numbers of orcs in Hordalant to the west.
The Black Thorns are fighting alone, and at any moment the Jotun might send forces east or west (or north out of the Lasambrian hills) to crush them.
It may be time for desperate measures.
There are several opportunities for the Navarr that concern the situation in Liathaven.
The Banner of Thorns
The Black Thorns banner is drawing survivors and resistance fighters to fight beneath it. For the first time they have hope that their homes may finally be liberated and the Jotun driven off for good. Yet the call to arms extends beyond Liathaven; soldiers from across the Navarr nation are drawn to aid the war in the south-west.
These additional thorns, as well as volunteers from all walks of life, are making their way via the trods to join the battle for Liathaven. The Imperial Senate may take advantage of these volunteers to commission the enlargement of the Black Thorns - (or the Quiet Step if they move into Liathaven this season). However if they wish to exploit this opportunity they must begin immediately.
If they take advantage of the current opportunity then the final cost to make the army large will be 100 mithril and 25 thrones, and require two seasons. The first season of work may begin with a payment of 50 mithril and 15 thrones. To benefit from this opportunity, however, the army must continue fighting in Liathaven for the next two seasons.
The Hammer and the Anvil
The Black Thorns are currently engaged in the conquest of southern Liathaven, while the Quiet Step are in the Mourn. Important as the liberation of the Mournwold is to the Marchers, there is a strong feeling among many Navarr that the time is right to strike against the orcs in Liathaven. A great many Navarri have died at the hands of the relentless Jotun, and more will die the longer the territory remains in their hands. Those deaths must not go unanswered.
A call for unity could focus the attention of the entire nation on the goal of freeing Liathaven. The Navarr National Assembly or the General Assembly could pass a suitably worded judgement to encourage the Navarr to retake Liathaven as swiftly as possible. This will not require a named priest and the expenditure of liao, merely a clearly worded Statement of Principle.
The statement by itself will have no effect. However, if the Quiet Step then joins the Black Thorns in Liathaven, and the generals of both armies take attacking orders, then any Navarr military unit that chooses to support one of these armies will receive a significant bonus to their fighting strength (the equivalent of three additional ranks).
This opportunity may continue to be available in future seasons while the campaign in Liathaven continues.
The Dark Beneath the Trees
The Jotun do not like fighting in forests. They seem to have a superstitious dread of the vallorn woods in particular. For all that, the orcs have engaged in a campaign of slaughter against the Navarr of Liathaven - and there are many who are keen for the chance to enact a particularly bloody justice against them.
During this season, the general of any Navarr army engaged in Liathaven may choose to issue the "An Enduring Example" attacking order in place of their normal order.
- The ability of this army to capture territory is increased by a three-tenths
- Casualties suffered by this army are increased by a fifth
This order will increase the speed with which the army will be able to liberate Liathaven, but have the side effect of causing some of the fleeing Jotun soldiers to reinforce orc armies outside Liathaven.
This order may continue to be available in future seasons while the campaign in Liathaven continues.
The Paths of Lan Thúven
One of the problems the Navarr face in their liberation of Liathaven is the presence of the vallorn, which stretches across the middle of the territory cutting it in half. The Black Thorns in the south cannot assault the northern regions without passing through the miasma... and drawing the spawn of the vallorn in great numbers to defend their territory. While there is nothing to stop the Navarr fighting their way through the vallorn, there will be many deaths if they attempt it - and the vallorn is not weak enough for any land to be claimed from it at this time so they would need to create a second beachhead on the far side.
But the Navarr are not without options.
In Western Scout, on the very edge of the vallorn miasma,stand the crumbling pillars of an old gateway. The Gate of Lan Thúven dates back to pre-Imperial times; it may even be Terunael in origin. No stories remain to say who, or what, or where Lan Thúven might have been. Only the gate remains - this one, and a second gate in West Ranging on the far side of Liathaven.
Between them, according to refugees from the Jotun-burnt Hidden Walk steading, there is a path through the vallorn. A hidden way, following the route of an old Terunael road, woven with potent Night magic that blinds the eyes of the vallornspawn. The insular Hidden Walk used this route to travel deep into the Westwood, and to keep contact with their cousins on the other side of Liathaven at Silent Stand steading.
The Jotun seized both Hidden Walk and Silent Stand. The steadings were destroyed - but the gates that mark either end of the hidden path still stand. The orcs clearly realise that the gates are valuable, but treat them with the same superstitious dread they show towards anything associated with the vallorn.
Indeed, for the Jotun, the hidden path is effectively useless. They may pride themselves on their heroism and bravery, but the vallorn eats the brave and the heroic as readily as it devours all other fools. It requires a great deal of finesse and experience to traverse the vallorn, even with the protection of a hidden route through its depths. Regardless of what they know or suspect, the orcs have left warbands behind to protect each end of the hidden path. While large, neither warband is well supported - and the one camped near the ruins of Hidden Walk in the south is particularly isolated.
If the Navarr were to launch a surprise strike against one of the gates - either Hidden Walk or Silent Stand - then they would be able to bring the Paths of Lan Thúven under their control. The survivors of the fallen steadings have already agreed to demonstrate how to use the gateways to find and traverse the hidden route between the two.
Navarr vates have already detected a significant conjunction of the Sentinel Gate that provides an opportunity to strike at Silent Stand, in West Riding. It is currently set for 21:30 on Saturday, but conjunctions sometimes move unpredictably. Any magician can determine the current state of this conjunction using the normal method.In the event that the Navarr are able to take control of one of the gates, the concealed road between them could be accessed. This would allow Navarr armies (and only Navarr armies - although smaller units from any nation could still accompany the larger Navarr forces), to treat Western Scout and West Ranging as if they were adjacent for purposes of establishing supply lines and moving back and forth - avoiding many of the difficulties presented by the vallorn that occupies the middle of Liathaven.
During the Summer Solstice, the Navarr liberated the Paths of Lan Thúven allowing their armies free passage between the northern and southern parts of Liathaven.
While Corey Brackensong lead the Navarr national assembly in a call for unity in the face of the Jotun threat, the Quiet Step and the Black Thorns were engaged in different territories during the following season. Regardless, the Imperial Senate passed a motion to provide support to those Navarr warbands who wished to reinforce the Black Thorns more permanently, and the two-season process of enlarging that army has begun - although 50 wains of mithril and 10 Thrones will still need to be provided after the Autumn Equniox, and the army will need to remain in Liathaven during that time, if the opportunity is not to be wasted.
Finally, during the three months after the Summer Solstice, General Ulric Y'Basden of the Black Thorns instructed the troops to become the dark beneath the trees, and fill the hearts of the Jotun with terror. You can learn further details of the recent campaign in Liathaven here.
The Navarr National Assembly recognises the sacrifice needed by our armies to retake Liathaven and the Pride retaking Liathaven will bring to the nation. We urge the entire nation to unite behind our generals and ensure the fight is as swiftly as possible taken to the Jotun barbarians. Those who sacrificed their lives at Alwin's Stand and places unremembered must be honoured and we praise the Loyalty of Navarri who have the Courage to fight alongside the Black Thorns and the Quiet Step.The Navarr Assembly of the Imperial Synod 380YE Summer Solstice