Chaos, and the stillness of it
Bloody cough. Bloody phlegm. The air round here wasn't fit to breathe. He didn't know how the Navarr could stand to live here This bloody vallorn thing was in the air he was sure of it. He'd been talking to the bonesetter last night - said he could taste it with every breath. The woman had told him he was imagining things, but he wasn't, he bloody well knew he wasn't. Ever since that vine sliced his leg open yesterday, he'd been able to feel it in his mouth and in his lungs. Just breathing it in made him feel sick. Bloody thing.
"I hate this place. Why anyone would want to live here?" he announced.
"It's their home isn't it." BloodBilge Vok responded in that tone that Rak found so annoying. "This fight is who they are." He paused for a moment and then continued. "If someone was putting Imperial Orcs in chains... how hard would you fight to stop it?"
Rak stared at his partner. "That's different" he protested... but his voice died away. Just thinking about what Vok had said made his blood boil. Espeically when he noticed the bloody Navarr vate was still staring at him. Somewhere he could hear someone shouting at him to stick his axe through the human's face, but he pushed the voice away.
He coughed and spat again. "I wish Ziek had never sent us here. I hate this place."
The last bit came out a little louder than he intended. He only meant to curse loud enough for Vok to hear but it looked like one of the Navarr had overheard him and was about to make a fight of it. The one who had been staring at him was coming over with a face that said he didn't like what he saw.
Vok squared up for the confrontation, but rather than sounding off, the Navarr just straight out struck him. An open palm strike, hard, but straight to his chest. It immediately set his coughing off again, his lungs burning like fire. He covered his mouth instinctively, as he hacked up yet more phlegm, cursing as he felt it flood into his hand.
Before he could strike back, the vate had grabbed his hand and pulled it open. Mucous covered everything, not just his fingers and his hands, it was all over his wraps. It didn't look good either, shot through with blood.
They both looked up and locked eyes but this time it was the Navarr who spoke. "Get off the wall - NOW. Get to a physic. Not your bonesetter. See one of ours. If you don't get this treated with bladeroot in the next few hours... you are dead. Go!"
Something about the look in the human's face told Rak that he was deadly serious. Besides it was in the air... it was in him! He could feel it moving in his chest... feel it growing inside him... He sighed and turned to go. He hated this bloody place.
The Navarr and their allies continue to face the growing peril posed by the thriving vallorn heart in Brocéliande. The force shows no sign of abating, indeed it continues to grow in intensity. It must reach a peak soon... but that point has not come yet and old Thorns who have been fighting the vallorn for decades say even this season may not be the last.
You can read more about the defence of Brocéliande here.
Wall of Thorns
- The Navarr and their allies could continue to hold one or both of the beleaguered regions but it will be a significant challenge.
- This coming season military units will be able to select Slow the Vallorn as a specific paid work action
- If the Empire can muster a military strength of 4000 that will be enough to defend Boars Dell
- If the Empire can muster a military strength of 8000 that will be enough to defend Boars Dell and Elerael
- If the Empire can muster a military strength of 10000 that will be enough to preserve the Broch
- Military units will receive payment in herbs from the grateful Navarr people who live here
Any character with a military unit can contribute to the defence of Brocéliande. The option to "Slow the Vallorn" will appear on the independent action dropdown after the event. A standard military unit will contribute 100 military strength if assigned to support this action, plus an additional 20 force for each rank of upgrade or enchantment. Magic that enhances a military unit's strength with these actions such as Merciless Wrath of the Reaver will be helpful, but rituals that empower a warband to work with an army, fortification, or spy network (for example) will not help with this option.
As expected, the vallorn’s urge to expand grows stronger. As before, the amount of force needed has doubled over that required last season.
- If at least 10,000 military strength is assigned to support the action in the coming season, the vallorn will not only be prevented from expanding into Elerael and Boar's Dell, but the steading of the Broch will receive sufficient support that it can survive another season.
- If at least 8,000 military strength is assigned support the action in the coming season the vallorn will not expand into Elerael or Boar's Dell before the Summer Solstice; the Broch however will be overrun by the vallorn. In this scenario however it will be possible to get the inhabitants to safety before it finally falls.
- If less than 8,000, but at least 4,000 military strength is assigned, the vallorn will push into Elerael but will be held back in Boar's Dell. The Broch will fall, but at least half the people there will be able to make it to safety.
- If less than 4,000 military strength is assigned, the vallorn's spread will go unimpeded. The Broch will fall and the majority of the defenders will be consumed by the vallorn. The vallorn will spread into Elerael and Boar's Dell, claiming roughly half of each region.
The Navarr of the steadings continue to support those prepared to help defend them. Any military unit that takes this action will be paid in herbs - the full income they would normally expect.
Currently, the Navarr have secured the aid of the congregations of Highguard (who provide an amount of strength based on their number of congregations but should be at least 500), from the Great Forest orcs (providing 1,000 military strength), and from the eternal Tharim (providing another 1,000 strength assuming he retains amity).
The Bitter Line
- Two Imperial armies could effectively oppose the vallorn this season, provided one was set to Boar's Dell and the other to Elerael.
As before, an Imperial army in Boar's Dell, and a second one in Elerael, could hold the vallorn back in each region - but only just. The vallorns strength has risen to the point that even an imperial army would be barely capable of keeping it at bay. Any army assigned to defend one of the two regions contributes its military strength to the requirements above up to a maximum of 5000 effective military strength. Any strength contributed by armies to the defense of a region above 5000 would be wasted.
To count, a general would need to move their army to Brocéliande. The territory is not easily accessible thanks to the presence of the vallorn. Boar's Dell can only be reached safely from Semmerholm (or in theory Drycastle, but the presence of the Druj makes that much less feasible). An army wishing to move to Elerael will almost certainly need to do so from Reikos - the only alternative would be for the armies to fight their way through several regions of aggressive vallorn, which would likely inflict significantly more casualties.
The civil service predict that an army striving to defend a vallorn-free region of Brocéliande will take around 500 casualties depending on the order given - though the general could submit defending orders to reduce those casualties. The army will benefit normally from any enchantments or military units assigned to help - but the limit of 5000 military strength will apply to the total force brought to bear by that army.
The limit means that it is likely to be wasteful to send two armies to defend a single region - the only advantage would be that casualties would be spread between all the armies defending that region as normal.
- Dawnish military units continue to receive additional rewards.
- Highborn congregations continue to support the defenders in Brocéliande. It is difficult to predict precisely how much aid they provide but it is likely to be at least 500 military strength.
- The Great Forest Orcs have sent 1,000 military strength to support the fight against the vallorn.
The Navarr do not fight alone. At the urging of Ranae de Rondell of Dawn, knights come to the greenwood. The nobles and yeofolk of Astolat and Semmerholm continue to cheer those who seek glory in the fight against the vallorn. At the same time, the call of the Josephine of Adina's Charge echoes across Highguard, and the congregations answer sending much needed aid in the form of soldiers, and supplies.
Finally, the call has gone out to the Spears of the Pine. Cybi Farkas, Senator for Therunin, has called the Great Forest Orcs to send their warriors to help protect Brocéliande. It has taken them some time to mobilise, but now perhaps as many as a thousand orcs come to fight the vallorn. They are obviously somewhat concerned to leave their people defenceless against the malice of the Druj, but now that work has begun on the Holt of the Oak they seem less worried. They will stay until the job is done - provided their people do not have greater need them of course.
The Aid of the Bound King
- Tharim continues to support the Navarr in Brocéliande to the tune of 1,000 military strength.
The Imperial Conclave has given leave to the eternal Tharim to feast on the herb gardens and forests of Navarr in return for his aid. The feasting of the Bound King is unsubtle. A black frost strikes herb gardens across Hercynia, Miaren, and Therunin, withering herbs and draining the essence from trees and creatures alike to satiate Tharim's endless hunger.
Tharim's assistance provides a force equivalent to one thousand military strength to the Slow the Vallorn opportunity - as long as he keeps his amity and continues to feed on the vitality of the three Navarr territories.
The Bound King is aware that the strength of the vallorn has increased, and his heralds have delivered news that he is prepared to offer further assistance if the Imperial Conclave wishes. If the Conclave passes a Declaration of Concord giving him permission to extend his feeding to the herb gardens and forests of Highguard, the Brass Coast, and the League he will be able to increase the number of barons, dust witches, and bound guardians he sends to Brocéliande sufficient to add a total of 2,000 force. Every herb garden in those nations will suffer a loss of two random herbs and each forest will lose two resources for the next nine months (until the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE). He understands that this is a significant payment, but laments that few individual nations can match the Navarr in terms of herbs and forests - even together these three entire nations will barely match the delicious bounty he has claimed from Hercynia, Miaren, and Therunin.
The Aid of the Master Strategist
The eternal Zakalwe has been the beneficiary of amity for several years now but has rarely intervened in Imperial affairs. With the situation in Brocéliande becoming more desperate, however, he has sent a pair of heralds to offer his aid to the Empire. In the Autumn last year, the Empire entered a ritual into Imperial Lore originally codified by Callus Strategos, Dean of the Lyceum in the reign of Empress Brannan. Called Find the Best Path it is a potent Autumn ritual that allows an army to move swiftly across great distances. In Zakalwe's opinion the ritual would be ideal for either getting an army into position to help defend Brocéliande against the vallorn, or more strategically to get an army into Sermersuaq to free the Black Thorns to make the move themselves.
Having assessed the situation, Zakalwe has prepared a boon to be delivered to the Grandmaster of the Rod and Shield shortly before the start of the Spring Equinox. The boon takes the form of a crystalline gem, imbued with resonances of focus and mastery that can be used to aid an entire coven in performing the complex Autumn ritual. The gemstone can be crushed to provide a potent enchantment to a single coven. The next time that coven performs Find the Best Path, every member of the coven gains a bonus of +2 ranks of Autumn lore (following the normal rules for ritual lore), and may employ the option to substitute weltsilver for crystal mana as if they had mastered the ritual. Zakalwe warns that exposure to the crystal will have lingering effects on those exposed to it but that he considers them neither harmful nor particularly long lasting.
All Zakalwe asks in return is that when the boon is used, at least one Imperial army fight to protect Brocéliande in the coming season. The gem will retain its potency until used, or until the end of the Summer Solstice - by which time the eternal considers the matter of Brocéliande will be resolved one way or another.
The Aid of Llofir
- Llofir has withdrawn his offer of aid.
Rather than accept its offer of aid, during the Winter Solstice, the Imperial Conclave declared their enmity for Llofir. The eternal has subsequently withdrawn its offer. Tremont of Cundahl, the Kallavesi mystic who prepared the arcane projections offered to the Conclave during the Winter Solstice has reclaimed them from the civil service and presumably returned with them to his home in Kallavesa.
Farther Afield : Liathaven
- The Jotun have invaded Liathaven.
Time is running out to take advantage of the Liathaven vallorn, and with a significant Jotun force in the territory it will be even more difficult to try and reclaim Westwood. Assuming the Jotun can be prevented from completely removing the Imperial foothold in West Ranging, the Empire would need to apply sufficient force to conquer West Ranging in a single season while being opposed by the orc barbarians.
A truly monumental task - one they will have to perform without the aid of the Knight of Ashes. The eternal Surut has made it clear that his offer of aid was contingent on the Conclave granting him amity during the Winter Solstice, something they have not done. He apparently wishes the Navarr well in their future attempts to reclaim Liathaven from the vallorn.
Farther Afield: Hercynia
- The Feni in Hercynia appear to have disappeared.
The Feni of the Woods-that-Fell active in the north have all but disappeared. The band,exiled from their home in the south by the Great Northern Sinkhole, their numbers swollen by some of the tribes of Southridge, entered Hercynia following the Autumn equinox. They engaged in two months of raiding and then, roughly a month before the Spring Equinox, all but disappeared. Their raids were quite successful, a moderate haul of both food and supplies and crystal mana stolen from Navarr mana sites. Then, on the night of the half-moon, the raids abruptly ceased.
Navarr scouts report no sign of the Feni anywhere in Hercynia. Nobody seems to know where they have gone beyond that they retreated into the deepest woods of northern Old Ranging. It is not impossible that they have moved into Deer's Folly - the dark heart of the vallorn of Hercynia - but there is surely no way they could have done so by accident.
Regardless, the raids have ceased. It appears this unpleasant chapter in the history of the north may conceivably be at an end.