Joukahainen swung the yoke onto his shoulders and set off back to the hall. The buckets he had filled from the well swung beneath the wooden beam as he turned. It was better if they hung straight, he knew it, but he let them swing anyway.

It was his third trip to the well this morning. Four more were still needed, and that was just to water the Jarl's cattle. Likely he would be called on again before the day was over to fetch water for the hall. As a youth he had trained to fight with an axe in each hand. But the shoulders that had once marked him as a warrior to be feared now bore the strain of a thrall's load.

His thoughts followed the same bleak path his feet traced out on the route back to the hall. Every day was the same now - it became ever harder not not to dwell on that fateful moment.

The choice, they called it, a bitter irony all things considered. They had flipped for it. Tossed a coin to the air... he'd called heads... she'd called rings. Now she was gone to the Labryinth and he was left carrying buckets of water for an orc too lazy to water his own cattle.

As he reached the hall, he caught sight of Kaarina playing with one of the Jotun children, sticks clashing as they fought. He smiled at the mane of blonde hair that fell down his daughter's back to her waist. The scops had named her mother a lioness for her mane of gold. Kaarina was all her had left of her.

He tipped the buckets into the trough. The bloody cattle had drunk half of it already. He would be at this all morning. He smiled at the back of his daughter's head as he set off for the well once more. Someone had to stay... that was all there was to it.

Overview

At the Spring Solstice the Wintermark National Assembly passed clear statements on the subject of heroism and the skein of the winter folk. The Crows reminded the people of Wintermark that the Jotun notion of "honour" is not the same as the heroic ideal that has inspired the three people since before the Empire was forged. Heroism takes many forms; a clever Suaq who outwits an Eternal in a battle of riddles or a wise Kallavesi surgeon whose herb-lore saves a dozen lives are both heroes. Other statements urged folk to look beyond the battlefield for heroes and to seek tales of their ancestors to better understand the many forms that heroism can take.

The Assembly also made clear that those Suaq who have become thralls of the Jotun are Frayed, implying that the heroic path would have been to fight on, even to certain death.

All the statements that achieved a greater majority were disseminated throughout the territories of Wintermark, from Kalphaheim to Atalaq, to Rundhal and along the Pilgrim's Trail.

Of late people have been talking of "honour" as if it is a synonym or substitute for the Heroism of Winterfolk. As if joining the Jotun in battle in broad daylight in a clean shield wall is the ONLY way of our people. Have we forgotten the Wisdom of the Kallavesi? The Cunning of the Suaq? We must be cautious of this embrace of "Honour" and look to celebrate ALL the attributes of our people, not just the Steinr.

Alfmund Forwinsson, Wintermark Assembly, Spring 383YE, Upheld (200 - 0 Greater Majority).

Cunning of the Suaq

The Suaq who retreated from the invasion of Sermersuaq have a plan, a way for the guile of their tradition to get results. They plan to raid the Pride of Ikka's Tears. It would require at least five thousand strength in military units to achieve anything, but if successful it would help to free many of the Suaq who are held as thralls there and demonstrate to the Jotun that the cunning of the Suaq is something to be wary of.

Henriika Ikkasbane, one of the many Suaq who retreated from the Jotun advance in 382YE, has drawn on her experience climbing the Face of Ikka, and the lands around it, to devise a plan. Her stratagem relies on cunning and stealth: an expedition could journey from Atalaq across the vast lake of Atkonaroq which appears to be only lightly guarded, and arrive in Suaq Fount. It would be essential to escape detection by the Jotun for as long as possible - thus the goal is to avoid battle wherever possible, to focus on reaching the target undetected.

If the raid can reach Ikka's Tears they will be able to recover some of the mithril that the Jotun have stolen from the Mark. More importantly they will be able to free those Suaq who have been taken as thralls and sent to work the mine. The freed Wintermarkers can be escorted back to Kallevesa and Hahhmark along with any wealth that the raiders are able to make off with.

Raid on Ikka's Tears

  • Wintermark military captains can participate in a raid on the Pride of Ikka's Tears in Sermersuaq
  • This is a stealthy raid, only enchantments that make a military unit more effective for scouting will be of benefit
  • There are no rewards available to any military units taking part in this stealthy raid.

During the coming season, there will be an additional scouting option accessible through the scout an area dropdown menu - Raid on Ikka's Tears. The expedition will be relying on stealth as much as possible, so only enchantments whose effects include making a unit more effective for scouting will be of benefit. The nature of the stealthy raid means that it will not be possible for any military unit assigned to the raid to gain any loot or payment; the only possibility for direct payment would be if the Quartermaster General chooses to assign the guerdon to the action.

Currently Henriika Ikkasbane is the individual responsible for guiding the expedition, but she has suggested that the Wintermark National Assembly should submit a statement of principle naming a Wintermarker as Warden for this raid. They would have the responsibility of recruiting for the raid, and would receive any mithril recovered to distribute as they see fit.

The outcome of the raid will be determined by the total military strength allocated to it, but whatever happens the raiders will be able to liberate 50 thralls for every thousand points of strength committed to the attack. Whatever happens, the Jotun are certain to increase patrols within the conquered regions of Sermersuaq, making any future raid on the territory by Imperial captains impossible.

Up to 5000
The raid will not be strong enough to reach the mine. Rather than a carry out a futile expedition, the raid will focus on attacking minor halls in Sermersuaq that are occupied by Jotun jarls allowing them to free Suaq thralls held there.

5000 - 15000
Those partaking in the raid will be able to attack the Pride directly. They will be able to capture the mithril which has been produced there this season and free the thralls forced to work the mine.

Over 15000
The raiders will be able to completely capture the Pride of Ikka's Tears, allowing them to rescue all the thralls forced to work there as well as any mithril produced. They will have time to block up the mine, meaning that the Jotun will need a season's work to reopen it before it can be worked again. The raiders will be able to use their position to prepare the area for a full military assault, so any Imperial attack into the region of Suaq Fount before the Winter Solstice 383YE would not suffer the usual penalty for a beachhead.

Farsighted

  • The general of the Fist of the Mountains could issue an order supporting the raid

The Fist of the Mountains could offer their aid sending along a cadre of mystics and icewalkers, along with a force of warriors, to support the raid.

The general of the army must remain on the defensive in an Imperial territory for the coming season, and must include in their orders a clear encouragement to support the expedition into Sermersuaq. If they do so then half the military strength of their army will be committed to the raid on the Pride of Ikka's Tears. The presence of enchantments on the army will not effect their contribution to the opportunity, nor will any military unit assigned to support them.

The choice should not be taken lightly. If the army is engaged by enemy forces in the territory they are in while half the soldiers are on an expedition in Sermersuaq then its military strength - along with that of any military units assigned to support them - will be halved.

Assuming the army does not come under attack this season, it will still be eligible for natural resupply.

Recognition

  • The Wintermark National Assembly could choose to pass a mandate recognising this heroic act of cunning and guile

The civil service will publish a list of the names of every Wintermark captain whose military unit takes part in the raid of Ikka's Tears after the raid is complete. If the Wintermark Assembly chose to enact an appropriate mandate endorsing the heroism of those engaged in this clever raid then they will be lauded as heroes throughout Wintermark.

The Wintermark National Assembly applaud the cunning and guile of every brave Wintermark hero taking part in the raid on Ikka's Tears. Let all look to those who partake of the raid as exemplars of heroism. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to support the scops and the stormcrows in lauding the boldness of those involved

Synod Mandate, Wintermark National Assembly


If this mandate is endorsed, every Wintermark military unit that takes part in the expedition will receive a boost in courage and morale equivalent to two additional ranks for the next two seasons.

Wisdom of the Kallavesi

  • This season, the Imperial Senate could use a commission to rebuild the aviary at Ishal

In southern Skymark is Ishal, the furthest of the three settlements round the lake at the heart of Kallavesa. According to the tales of the scops, this is where the wise go to read the future in the flight of birds and the night skies. It’s a place for learning - of the future and of yourself. For many years the mystics of Ishal have studied the omens and worked together to decipher them. In the light of this statement by the Assembly they have come forward to offer their services to the wider nation.

Total Money SpentMagpie Infusion
55 Rings1 dose
120 Rings2 doses
200 Rings3 doses
Total Money SpentRavenwing Infusion
112 Rings1 dose
250 Rings2 doses
410 Rings3 doses
Total Money SpentGoosewhisper Infusion
120 Rings1 dose
260 Rings2 doses
420 Rings3 doses

There is an opportunity for the Empire to rebuild the crumbling aviary at Ishal. The Kallevesi mystics use a bewildering array of divination methods to unravel the skeins, but the flight of birds is favoured when it is available. A suitable structure would require 20 wains of weirwood, 10 wains of white granite and 60 crowns. Once complete it would serve as a focal point for Kallavesi heroism - stressing the essential role of those whose wisdom and insight allows them to serve as guides to the people of Wintermark. The building would include precious herb gardens whose bounty would support the training and practice of the heroes dwelling there.

If the commission were complete it would create a new Imperial title, the Raven Seer. This would be a national Wintermark position serving for a year, and the mystics at Ishal have asked for it to be a Senate appointment with the understanding that the senators of Wintermark will take conference with the Kallevesi mystics and appoint the title based on their recommendation. In particular, the people of Ishal are insistent that the Raven Seer must be a mystic and should be a Kallevesi. The civil service advise that as a Wintermark national position, only a Wintermark citizen can hold the title, but that no constitutional method exists to restrict the title so that only Kallevesi may stand. It would be down to the electors to respect the wishes and traditions of the people of Ishal.

The Raven Seer would receive a bounty of 5 doses of goosewhisper infusion each season to use as they see fit. In addition, they would be able to purchase up to nine additional infusions from apothecaries who dwell at Ishal at the prices listed opposite.

The mystics at Ishal possess a text for an old ritual developed over a century ago during the reign of Emperor Nicovar. The text is for a relatively simple Night ritual of eighth magnitude called The Parliament of Owls. If the ritual is performed correctly, it allows the caster to communicate a question to the mystics at Ishal and to all those who have studied there. If the mystics are asked an appropriate question, if they are asked to look into some issue of current affairs that affects Wintermark, then they will study the omens and report what they can find on the matter to the Raven Seer.

The mystics can only study the omens pertaining to one event each season. If the ritual is performed more than once a season then they will ignore any casting not performed by the Raven Seer. If the Seer is foolish enough to cast the ritual more than once, then they will ignore all castings of the ritual. The mystics are not historians or researchers, they can only study the omens that are abroad in the winds of magic. They have neither the means nor the inclination to perform historical research and any request to look into matters of historical record will be ignored. The mystics can only read the omens that they can see in Wintermark, so they can only look into matters that are currently affecting the nation in some way.

Given the unique nature of the Ishal aviary, it would require a Senate motion, it could not be constructed with a wayleave. It would require a season to complete, but would have to be commissioned this season or next to take advantage of the interest in Kallevesi traditions of heroism following the recent statements by the stormcrows, otherwise the mystics at Ishal will resume their previous cloistered life.

Wintermark are a heroic people but Heroism is not found only on the battlefield. We should celebrate heroism in all its forms. Aethelric the Grounded showed heroism in his actions at the field hospital in Zenith, a sworn grimnir he helped save hundreds of lives at risk to his own. Eska Crowspeaker worked with others on the ratification of the Liberty Pact, changing the world in which we live. We should celebrate our heroes and their actions in all their forms.

Saavi Aanasottir, Wintermark Assembly, Spring 383YE, Upheld (208 - 0 Greater Majority).

Chronicle of Heroism

  • The Senate could create a Chronicle of Heroism, that the Wintermark national assembly could add to
  • This would require a senate motion

The people of Wintermark have a deep, cultural respect for heroes and those who exemplify Heroism. Scops tell tales of those heroes of the past who have worked to better the life of their hall, of their people.

As recent statements have made clear, Wintermark heroism is very distinct from Jotun notions of honourable combat and battle in particular forms only part of it. Heroism is often easiest to notice in battle, but many noble qualities or outstanding achievements demonstrate heroism. A clever Suaq who outwits an eternal in a battle of riddles or a wise Kallavesi surgeon whose herb-lore saves a dozen lives are both heroes. Steinr legends celebrate those who create beautiful and inventive things whether they artisans, scops or smiths.

Most Wintermark citizens do reject the cruel ways of the Varushkans or the brutal tactics of the Navarr believing that real heroes will disdain such methods. The Suaq are cunning folk who laud those who use guile and trickery to outwit their foes. But the deeds they celebrate are clever stratagems that allow an enemy to be beaten in battle or an eternal to be tricked into aiding the 'Mark. There is nothing clever about the use of murder, butchery or poison in Wintermark history, rather such evil deeds risk fraying your skein.

To remind every citizen of the 'Mark of the importance of heroism, as well as the nature of it, the Suaq stormcrow, Hati Vitnison, has suggested that the Wintermark senators arrange for the Imperial Senate to authorise the creation of a chronicle that the Wintermark Assembly could use to identify and record the heroic deeds of the scions of the storm. Their idea takes inspiration from the assembly of Prosperity, and their Roll of Benefactors to suggest the creation of a Chronicle of Heroism.

The Imperial Senate could use a Senate motion to commission the Chronicle of Heroism. This would allow the Wintermark National Assembly to add a name to the Chronicle by raising a statement of principle, which must pass with a greater majority. The judgement should include a clear description of the heroic deeds being chronicled, these would be added to the record along with the heroe's name. As always with a statement of principle that receives a greater majority, there is some potential for additional effects.

Wintermark has a rich oral history, and is a nation of people with a depth of knowledge from those who came before. It has been raised in Dunhearth that priests and stormcrows should encourage people to look to their ancestors for what knowledge lies in their history.

Pherrin Luca Dunning, Wintermark Assembly, Spring 383YE, Upheld (140- 0).

The Voice of the Past

Although it did not receive a greater majority, more than a few people note the judgement raised by Pherrin Luca Dunning that suggests that the stormcrows and priests of Wintermark should encourage people to look to their ancestors for knowledge. The scops of Wintermark do keep many tales of the heroes of old alive by recounting them from one generation to another, but there is also a rich store of history recorded in many halls in Wintermark. Nicovar may have burned the central libraries, but there are still old legends and tales that can be found by those who make it their business to search for them.

The work is laborious and expensive however, so it requires significant resources and organisation to carry out effective historical research. To produce useful results quickly needs the backing of the Imperial Senate, either directly or under the auspices of one of the two titles they have created to oversee the efforts, the Minister of Historical Research or the Advisor on the Vallorn. Either of these two titles can deliver an announcement in the Senate to instruct the civil service to conduct historical research into the specified topic.

Sadly the Empire has only limited resources available for the study of historical records. As a result they can only carry out two pieces of historical research each season. In theory scops could persuade either the Minister or the Advisor to submit a piece of historical research on their behalf or one of the two Wintermark senators could use their motion to request it.

In practice, the most effective way to enable the people of Wintermark to study their history would be for the Imperial Senate to create a new Imperial title, a Wintermark national position, with the power to conduct historical research and a responsibility to look into the tales of Wintermark heroes of old. The title could be appointed by Wintermark senators in a similar manner to the Advisor on the Vallorn, or it could be appointed by judgement of the Wintermark National Assembly.

The folk of Wintermark have little to offer to support the creation of such a title and those experienced in the ways of the Senate suggest that it might well be more difficult than it appears. However there is no doubt that if Wintermark wanted to ensure that the nation could truly look for what knowledge lies in their history then convincing the Senate to create the title would be the best way to do it.

The stormcrows of Wintermark recognise that for Winterfolk, accepting the "choice" to become a Jotun thrall is not heroic. Those who become thralls are torn from our egregore and subsequently Frayed. We urge those fighting the thralls to spare their lives, so that they may come home.

Usko Argonnin, Wintermark Assembly, Spring 383YE, Upheld (206 - 22 Greater Majority).

The Fate of the Frayed

In addition to the judgements passed by the Wintermark Assembly emphasising the important of heroism, one judgement has called attention to the behaviour of the inhabitants of Sermersuaq who have accepted the choice to become thralls imposed on them by their Jotun conquerors. The judgement states that their actions are not heroic and declares everyone of them to be Frayed. The judgement is controversial producing consternation and disagreement among many who hear it.

The most hostile reaction comes from those stormcrows who regard the idea that a priest can declare someone frayed to be odious. In their mind the decision to become frayed is one taken by a hero or heroine. It is a choice made in recognition of past misdeeds, committing the penitent to restore their skein through an act of supreme heroism. Their view is that a stormcrow may urge a hero who confesses their misdeeds to acknowledge their failure and choose to become frayed but it is not the role of anyone to declare someone to be frayed. In their mind the purpose of becoming Frayed is to commit yourself to that path to redemption, they claim it makes no sense to mark someone as frayed against their wishes since you cannot force them to pursue atonement. Their claim is that the proper role of the stormcrow is as confessor - not a magistrate.

Others are still concerned, but take a different view. They point to the traditional role of the stormcrow in dealing with the indiscretions of individuals in their hall. It is the job of the crow to discover the truth of someone's behaviour and then to lay a penance on that individual if they consider their actions fall short of the heroic ideal. They accept that a stormcrow might declare someone frayed - but take the view that that is a terrible judgement to be pronounced on an individual - and only after close inspection of them and their skein. Is the Wintermark Assembly seriously claiming to have considered the individual skein of each and every denizen of Sermersuaq - to have judged their actions in light of the situation each one faced?

Some question what message the Assembly is trying to send to the people of Wintermark. There have been statements making clear that heroism takes many forms of which courage in battle is merely the most obvious. Many people ask if the Assembly is really saying everyone should have fought to the death; the Steinr vision of heroism is one of bold, daring action taken to attempt to achieve a victory over an enemy. Is it heroic to simply die fighting when all hope of victory is gone? A few scops sardonically allege that mindlessly throwing your life away in a mad charge against an enemy might be glorious, but such a gesture is only heroic if it achieves something - or at least had the potential to do so. What would be achieved by the people of Sermersuaq fighting to the death? That might be what the Jotun would do... but that's their honour, their culture, not ours.

That said, there is an acceptance that there must have some inhabitants of Sermersuaq who chose to preserve their lives rather than face the Jotun before all hope was lost. At present too many people in Wintermark oppose the idea that every person living under Jotun rule must be condemned for cowardice to allow a mandate to be spread. But the Assembly could compromise and pass a mandate that encourages those who took the choice to consider their skein.

The Wintermark National Assembly condemn the cowardice of every denizen of Sermersuaq who put down their weapons before all hope of victory was lost. Those who lacked the cunning and the daring to fight with heroism against the Jotun should consider the damage to their skein. We send {named priest} to Sermersuaq with 25 doses of liao to urge those who fell short to become frayed.

Synod Mandate, Wintermark National Assembly


This mandate would encourage all Wintermarkers who took the choice to consider if they should become frayed. Many will choose to embrace that fate, the consequences of that are likely to be far-reaching but are difficult to predict. Endorsing this mandate will also bolster the argument that anyone who accepts the choice damages their skein and by extension that any surrender in the face of defeat by the Jotun must be questioned.

The judgement concludes by urging "those fighting the thralls to spare their lives, so that they come home", but this part of the judgement produces only bemusement. Nobody outside Anvil is aware of anyone fighting the thralls - indeed the Jotun are known to do everything in their power to protect their thralls. The point of the choice to become a thrall is that your life is spared.

Resolution

During the Summer Solstice, the Wintermark national assembly named Raknar Ravenstorm, Eyes of the North to lead the raid on Pride of Ikka's Tears. The general of the Fist of the Mountains, Kindra Edasdottir, sent half of their warriors to assist in the raid.

Also in Summer the Imperial Senate voted to commission the rebuilding of the aerie at Ishal, and to create the chronicle of heroism.

The priest Usko Argonning raised a mandate to encourage all Wintermarkers who took the choice to consider if they should become frayed, but the judgement was withdrawn at their request without being enacted.