Spring and the Barrens.jpg
Before something can begin, something has to end.
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Soldiers of the Sun, the Liberation of the Barrens was begun with the Causeway. Now we go to tear down their monument of terror and control. The Spires of Dusk will fall to the Empire and flags of our nation shall fly high on those walls inspiring all that the Druj can be overthrown. From a steel causeway shall rise a tower of Pride.

Zoran De Orzel, General of the Golden Sun

Gryphons Pride, I call to you to march deeper into the Barrens than ever before, break down the gate, conquer the Spires of Dusk. Show the Druj your courage, that we do not fear to act. The Barrens is my home and I will see it back in Imperial Hands once more!

Archavion Wolfborne, General of the Gryphon's Pride

Eastern Sky! Grab your tabards, we're going home! We are racing the other Dawnish armies back to the Barrens and to prove our dedication to virtue and our people we will be raising our banners - Orc and Dawnish - at the towers of Dusk. This will be a hard fight but we have to keep marching - take the motivation inspired in you by the people of Zenith and Shine all the way. Last ones there buy the first rounds.

Dame Aurum De Castellan, General of the Eastern Sky

When has a force like this been assembled in recent years? An ocean of bright plate and well-worn chain, of star-kissed mage armour and war robes, of gold suns and blue skies and crimson wolves and sable towers? On the Steel Causeway they gather. Eleven Imperial armies, and thirty thousand champions of ten nations, and warriors drawn from the realms of Summer and Winter. A sea of swords, a sky of storms, a promise of war.

Last season, the Empire and the Mallum crashed together, and virtue and spite were evenly matched. Listen, though, and in that clash you can hear the sound of ruin, and of worlds ending. The Iron Helms and the Valiant Pegasus have withdrawn, but in their place come a host of Imperial soldiers, fresh to the fray. The armies of Dawn are gathered together in one place, with one ambition. The Wolves of War are joined by the Towerjacks, fresh from their triumphal procession through the streets of Holberg, eager to apply what they know to the destruction of the Spires of Dusk. In place of the Iron Helms come the Golden Axe, and with the Northern Eagle they will teach the orcs of the Mallum that there are more things to fear than them in the world. As the Valiant Pegasus withdraws, the Seventh Wave slips quietly into the Barrens, making the shadows beneath the trees their own, Vigilant against the foe.

As the Imperial armies assemble on the Steel Causeway, two new forces come to join them. From the north, from Ossium, come the Imperial Orcs of the Winter Sun, eager to shatter the chains of the Druj's slaves. From the south, with Zenith freed if not healed, come the Citadel Guard, bringing the cold fury of the winter storm against the orcs of the Mallum.

Eleven armies, draped in the enchantments of the Empire's magicians. Alongside the Varushkan armies fight crimson-armoured schlacta drawn from the Fields of Glory, their helms forged in the fearsome visage of wolf, or bear, or snarling lion. With the Citadel Guard stand a still legion of lithe elfin spear-dancers, draped in scarlet and gold, and no matter how deep the shadows of the Barrens, they seem always to be wreathed in sunlight. The knights of glory seem eager to meet the Druj in battle, to test their bright fury against the dripping malice of the orcs.

They seem almost as eager to test their mettle against the other warriors, drawn from the realms beyond. Thanks to the sacrifice of the witches of Dawn, a cohort of silent knights bound in sable steel fight with the Hounds of Glory. Bound warriors of the Chained Throne, they have a very different idea of what constitutes a good fight than the knights of the Summer Queen.

Thirty thousand Imperial heroes, warbands and captains and lone champions, join the armies. They are drawn to the Wolves of War – their long-lasting enchantment of harmony is well known – and to the more ephemeral magics wound around the Seventh Wave and the Hounds of Glory. The League and Highborn armies have their numbers swelled almost double by this support; the Hounds of Glory though... beneath those blue-and-gold banners are gathered well over ten thousand additional troops. The majority are from Dawn, of course, but there are respectable bands from Navarr, League, Urizen, Varushka, and Wintermark with them. The magic of the realm binds these disparate forces together, united in their ambition to drive the Druj from the Barrens once and for all.

Finally, when they arrive from the north, the Imperial Orcs of the Winter Sun bring with them a light rarely seen in the Barrens. They have driven the Druj invaders from Ossium, but they are here in the south with a different ambition. To break the chains that bind the slaves of the Druj. To free all those bound in servitude, whether they will choose to be allies of the Empire or not. “Never again,” they say, faces grim. “This will end.” Their focus is not on conquest, but on liberation, and thanks to the powerful spells of the Coven of Barabbas they possess the supernatural insight to know how best to go about their tasks in this unfamiliar land.

The Druj's reign of terror must be brought to an end, but not at the cost of the Empire's Souls. Salvation is our mission, not Annihilation! We shall show them their conquered peoples that there is a better way. Find the Vendarri for me. We shine the light of Virtue into the Dark.

Barachel of Adina's Charge, General of the Seventh Wave


Unfortunately, it is not just the Empire that has brought new warriors to the ruinous storm that swirls across the Barrens. Last season there were half a dozen armies of Mallum orcs in the Barrens; this season there is nearly double that number.

Trying to count the extent of the Druj is futile, but the Seventh Wave are able to make an accounting of what is here. The vicious banners of the Hunting Scorpion and the Jagged Claws; the ant-standard of the White Lion; the sickly yellow serpents of the Arrow Viper and the sanguine saurians of the Red Lizard; the twining brambles of the Thorn Born and the blazing mandibles of the Flame Beetle; the Hidden Widow and the Deadly Blade. The jealous eyes of the Tainted Basilisk glare from a dozen mismatched flags, the ghulai and vikari of the Druj eager perhaps for another chance to strike against the Citadel Guard.

And everywhere, the empty banners of the Black Wind flutter. The orcs who once sought a Barrens free of the Druj, have been broken and twisted, made into what they hate. Their anger and their pain is turned against the Empire they still believe betrayed them, robbed them of their ambition. They are without mercy – worse they have gone so far from it that they have turned their suffering into a weapon all its own. Wherever they have the opportunity, they torment and torture any human that falls into their hands. They spread fear with their very presence, and it seems at points that they wish to out-do the orcs of the Mallum with their vicious spite. Their mark is on the Spires of Dusk, alongside that of the Mallum orcs. They cannot forget, and they will not forgive.

They have magic of their own, the Mallum orcs, and they have never been shy about wielding it in the Barrens. The forests twist and writhe at their command, creating safe havens for the Druj warriors to strike from but turning against any Imperial whose foolish pursuit takes them into the Untrod Groves, the Bleaks or Farweald. They have brought the deadly power of the Spring realm with them into battle as well; heralds and beasts of the Centipede General fight alongside them, and seem to take especial pleasure in gleefully ambushing fey knight and bound warrior alike. Where these heralds pass, the blades of the Druj drip with unnatural venoms, unknown in the mortal realm, that wrack even the doughtiest warrior with agony, a fire in the blood that no water can quench.

Not that anyone would seek to use the waters of the Barrens to quench anything, much less an envenomed wound. The Rivers Run Red, again. The darkest curse of Spring magic hangs over the Barrens again. The bitter sea froths with a diseased pink sludge; the fens of Saltmarsh burst with bloated venomous insects even in the depths of Winter; every mouthful of liquid tastes of salt and despair and there is no respite anywhere from the sickly sweet stench of rot. Any wound that is not immediately treated turns sour, and many who might otherwise have recovered from their injuries will have their life drain out of them despite the best efforts of the chirurgeons and the physics.

Here now I invoke the Loyalty of you fine professionals. Here now I recognise the reckoning we owe the people of Dawn in restoring and defending Holberg alongside us. Here now I call up the light mercenaries, let's lead the way to those hateful towers. Bound together let us take them. Come with me now.

Jean Di Sarvos, General of the Wolves of War

Clash and Fray

The Barrens, then, is a battlefield. It begins on the shores of the Bitter Sea and quickly becomes apparent that, just as with the last season of war, both sides are on the offensive. The Empire seeks to conquer the Bitter Strand and the Saltmarsh and bring down the Spires of Dusk on the Plains of Teeth. The Druj seek to shatter the Steel Causeway and decisively drive out the trespassers who have dared to try and seize their territory.

The Hounds of Glory and the Gryphon's Pride lead the way; the knights and witches and yeofolk of Dawn are a spear point aimed at the heart of the Druj. They are indefatigable; the Gryphon's Pride cannot help but remember what it means to falter against the orcs of the Mallum, and if every they stumble the Hounds, and the Sun, and the Sky are there to catch them. The might of Dawn is a beacon in the Barrens, drawing the other Imperial armies with them into the night.

Almost immediately, the Wolves of War find themselves in a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with the sinister Hunting Scorpion. Both armies seek to outmaneuver their enemies; companies of light infantry from the Marches and from Tassato clash repeatedly with fast-moving chikad in engagement after engagement. Where the League has the aid of Imperial warbands, the Druj orcs are supported by the venom-drooling spawn of Arhallogen. Neither side can quite claim the upper hand over the other as they skirmish back and froth across the Barrens.

We push forward into the Barrens. Draw from our loyalty to the Empire and our ambition to free the people of the barrens from the fear of the Druj. Steel guard our bodies. Virtue guard our souls.

Natalia 'The Falcon' Barossa, General of the Towerjacks

Even on the offensive, the Druj seek always to lure their enemies into traps and snares. Thanks to the unceasing vigilance of the Seventh Wave, however, the Empire's forces are able to pierce the subterfuge of the orcs and pick their own battlefields. Even with their keen-eyed scouts and tireless unconquered – many of whom remember Exile and the bitter lessons of underestimating the Druj learned in Reikos – there is a limit to what they can achieve. Between them the Deadly Blade and the Hidden Widow in particular claim many lives, using their ruthless herblore to poison, weaken, paralyse, and ultimately destroy any who stumble into their barbed webs.

For the most part, the Druj attacks are more cautious than those of the Empire. More committed to conquest than they were before the Winter Solstice, but these are the orcs of the Mallum, not of Kalsea and Narkyst. They balance the desire to kill Imperial soldiers against the desire to preserve their own lives, to let the Empire blunt its strength against their defences.

Heroes of the Winter Sun, we have fought the Druj back from the borders of Ossium and now we pursue them into the Barrens to Break the Chains all the way to the plains of teeth to tear down the Symbols of oppression upon the Spires of Dusk. Instead let us raise banners to inspire all those denied their chance to discover their virtue and earn their worth with a shattering of chains. Three years ago we asked our ancestors "why do we fight?" and it is time to embrace that revelation so march now with their song burning bright within you and let the Barrens ring with the strengths of our conviction as we declare "never again".

Skywise Rykana, General of the Winter Sun
Imperial to the Core.jpg
Some of the Winter Sun swore oaths to ensure that the evil of slavery is wiped from the earth.


The first major engagement takes place at Bitter Strand and is a blood-bath that turns the seawater red. Fighting rages back and forth for days across the shores of the Bitter Sea, but turns decisively in favour of the Empire when the orcs forced into servitude at the Fangs rise up in rebellion. Disguised as slaves, the Winter Sun Imperial Orcs manage to get inside with bundles of weapons. There they find the scattered remnants of the Rahvin clan, who once sought to free the Barrens, the same orcs the Empire was unable to aid during the Winter Solstice. Armed, and supported by the Imperial Orcs infiltrators, they attack the Druj from behind, inspiring the rest of the mine slaves to rise up alongside them. Chaos spreads through the Druj ranks, torn between the need to fight the Empire and to suppress a rebellion among their own subjects.

The Fangs fall, and the Druj retreat, and the cost is counted. A grim wit from the Northern Eagle quips that it would be possible to walk home to Ossium on the backs of the bodies floating in the surf. Few save the black-armoured knights of Tharim find her words amusing.

The Winter Sun infiltrators re-join the main bulk of the Imperial forces and bring mixed tidings. The mithril mine and the settlement that surrounds it is now under the control of the rebellious slaves... but they refuse to allow the Empire access.

There on the rough black sand, a quick meeting of captains and commanders takes place to discuss what to do about the situation. While some call for an immediate strike to seize the mine – there is no chance the slaves could resist eleven armies no matter how zealous they might be – the decision is ultimately made to stick to the plan.

Isn't this what we wanted, after all?” argues one passionate captain who goes on to cite the mandates of the Imperial Synod regarding war in the Barrens. “The slaves freed, and fighting the slavemasters?” Not everyone agrees, but there are more pressing matters. The rebels are not yet a threat to the Imperial forces, and the Saltmarsh is still in the hands of the Druj.

And if some soldiers donate food, and dry clothes, and weapons, and healing potions to the Imperial Orcs and ask them to make sure they go to help the orcs in the mines? Why, most commanders have other matters to occupy their time than worrying what their troops choose to do with their spare blankets...

Sentinels and sword scholars of the Citadel guard, Zenith is liberated. Let us make it secure. As we march into the Barrens, towards the Spires of Dusk, none of you will fall. Those who the Druj thought beaten will be a shining beacon of Courage and Pride, we thank the loyalty of the Empire, who support these orders. We will endure. And the septs will see there is a brighter future. With our Knights of Glory, with our banners high, bring light to the Plains of Teeth. Make me Proud.

Nicassia Avicia of Phoenix Reach, General of the Citadel Guard

Salt and Shadow

When the Spring Archmage brought the tempest down on the northern Barrens, the assumption was that the waters would have receded by now. They have not. The Saltmarsh remain sodden, flooded. Winterfolk, and Marcher, and League soldiers familiar with the fens offer their advice to their comrades as how best to navigate the deep bogs, deceptively shallow pools, and sucking quagmires, but it is slow going. The Druj have no such problem; many of them at home in the marshes.

The dreadful blight that hangs over the the Barrens is so much more apparent here than it is anywhere else. Clouds of blood-sucking insects compete with the water bound leeches to see who can bloat themselves more quickly with orc and human blood. Sickness is a constant threat here. Physicks begin to see cases of trench-foot, the cold and the soaking conditions exacerbated by the Spring magic. There are even a few recorded outbreaks of what seems to be the Reikos flux; fortunately they are quickly identified and treated before they can spread.

Battling the Druj in the Saltmarsh is a miserable, soul-destroying experience. The curse, the cold, the water, and the Druj themselves. Their drums rarely cease their mocking thunder. They know the marshes and every time they attack and disappear as quickly as they came they leave dead soldiers behind them. Worse, stories begin to surface that there are tortured souls among them – knights of Dawn wracked and broken and made into the image of hate, their heraldry still recognisable beneath the mud and the blood that cakes it.

But there is no Druj miasma here. What sorrows come are mortal sorrows, the sorrows of war and being far from home. The Empire lights fires to drive away the mist of despair before it can truly settle. The troubadours who fight with the armies of Dawn, the priests of Highguard of the League, the grim humour of Varushka, even the bright banners of the Summer Realm, all combine to keep Imperial forces focused on what matters. The liberation of the Barrens. The defeat of the Druj.

Something in these conditions... it brings out the best in people rather than the worst. Common soldiers look around them and realise they are sharing a billet with a knight of Dawn, busy scrubbing the mud from their tabard just as they are. They see an Urizen sentinel, untouched by the rain and the stinking morass around them, ready with a quiet word of encouragement. It shouldn't work, but it does.

Cleave to your virtue, Schlacta of the Northern Eagle, and march to advance our line. Ambition calls us to liberate the Barrens, and we will answer without doubt. There will be a price in blood; courage ensures we pay it gladly, as our scars shall bring a better age. Manifest our bright future! Go forth with Pride!

Jaromir Ostrovyn Kostka, General of the Northern Eagle

While the bulk of the Imperial force holds the attention of the Druj, the Winter Sun and the Seventh Wave are busy. These are the lands of the Vendarri, and while they cannot be trusted, they do not precisely like the Druj. Nobody does. They simply question whether the Empire represents a better proposition. Orcs and Highborn manage to arrange meetings with them, with emissaries of the Vendarri, and while they cannot convince the orcs to fight alongside them, they agree not to aid the Druj, either.

The last battle of the Saltmarsh campaign comes with the Spring Equinox a little over a month away. An ambush is laid by the Thorn Born, the Hidden Widow, and the Deadly Blade on the shores of a dark lake the local orcs call the Shadowmere. The Citadel Guard, it seems, have fallen out of position, following the clever lures of the orcs beneath the banners of spider and briar. Under cover of a light mist, the combined force of three armies' worth of hupul unleash a withering hail of arrows onto the Urizen, while the pincers of two massive bands of Pakkad snap closed around them.

Golden Axe, I have the joy and honour to lead you once more, last time we took Ossium and now we move with our allies from the Summer Realm into the Barrens. We will join the other Imperial Armies We are tasked with tearing down this symbol of Druj oppression. Let us drive across Bitterstrand, Salt Marsh and Plains of Teeth. We will rid the Druj from the Towers of Dusk under our Grinding advance.

Belakov Zakharovich Prochnost, General of the Golden Axe

A triumphant cheer goes up from the Druj... that dies new-born in their throats. The Urizen are untouched; not a single one of them has fallen. Not one has more than superficial cuts. Nor are they taken by surprise; the Pakkad find a force of sentinels and battle-magicians ready and waiting for them, and while the Druj attention has been focused on the Citadel Guard they have missed the Towerjacks, and the Eastern Sky, and the Golden Axe moving to flank them.

In disarray, the three armies bent on slaughter are forced to battle on an equal footing. Hundreds die on both sides, and when the Northern Eagle and the Gryphon's Pride arrive to join the fray, the Druj cut and run, fleeing south towards the Plains of Teeth.

Between the spy reports of the Seventh Wave, and the hints dropped by the Vikkari, and the Winter magic of the Citadel Guard, the Empire is able to turn what could have been a crushing defeat into a victory that leaves the Saltmarsh in their hands. There is a muted celebration in the Imperial ranks. Muted, because the task is not yet finished. Muted, because of the cost of victory. Over the course of a day of fighting, a thousand Dawnish and Varushkan and Highborn soldiers lost their lives, paying in blood for the victory. Not one Urizen though...

The knights of the Summer realm have likewise sustained many casualties, but rather then grieve they celebrate wholeheartedly. The bodies of their fallen are placed on rafts cut from the stunted marsh trees, and set afire as the sun sets, with a majestic fire that no dank rain or sodden marsh can quench. They offer a place on these floating pyres to any of the mortal warriors who have fallen fighting alongside them against the Druj. Some are offended by the idea; others welcome it as a chance to honour their fallen comrades, to spare them the indignity of the swift decay the tainted waters will bring.

Not one Urizen has fallen during the battle of the Shadowmere. Not a single sentinel or magician has been claimed the Druj. Not here, and not at any point during this campaign in the Barrens. They are injured, or forced to retreat, but none of them die, none of them succumb to their wounds, none of them are caught by a precisely-loosed orc arrow. After Shadowmere, gossip and rumour run through the Imperial armies. When news of their miraculous protections reach the ears of the cold-spirited warriors of Tharim, the heralds of the Winter realm laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

Stay or Go?

As dusk gathers, as the funeral flames catch and leap on the surface of the Shadowmere, the emissaries of the Vendarri arrive to speak with the Winter Sun and the Seventh Wave, to discuss terms for surrender to the Empire.

As the dawn breaks, and the ashes of the Summer knights and their allies mix with the black waters of the lake, the captains and commanders come together on the shores to discuss, again, what to do next. Bitter Strand and Saltmarsh are theirs. The Golden Axe and the Golden Sun will quell the last pockets of resistance, grinding them down with force of arms and grim ambition. Surely that is enough? Nobody could look at what has been achieved here and consider it anything other than a victory. The price has been steep, so very steep, but everyone in these armies knows that one cannot fight the Druj without paying the Reaper their due.

The knights and captains of the Hounds of Glory listen, silently. They nod as wise arguments for stopping and regrouping are made. They agree when courageous arguments urging the need to continue are put forward. They weigh each point, but as soon as the sun is above the horizon, they stand, as one, and leave the council, taking the captains of the warbands with them, and they form up, and they march south towards the Plains of Teeth.

The Spires of Dusk are our goal,” they say. “Where the Druj have sown fear, we will make flowers grow.

In the Teeth

If the Empire thinks that the fighting has been vicious in Saltmarsh and in the Bitter Strand... they have learned nothing about the Druj. The orcs of the Mallum will not allow the Spires of Dusk to fall to the armies of the Empire. They will not countenance such a defeat, not on the heels of their retreat from Zenith. They will not cede another inch of the Barrens to the Empire.

The plains are flat, and empty. There are settlements here, but they are few in number. It is as if the shadow of the Spires of Dusk sours the land around it; few crops grow here. The trees are pale and sickly. The water choked with filth even apart from the Spring curse. The whole region, tainted, unwholesome. This isn't the first time Imperial heroes have trod this soil. Years ago now the champions of the Empire brought a great stone head through the Sentinel Gate to the Plains of Teeth and brought down a devastating hammer of Spring magic against the Spires of Dusk, shattering the ramparts to dust. That was the old fortress, though, a fortress that is but a shadow of what the Druj have built to replace it.

It dwarfs the broken Tower of the Scorpion in far off Ossium; it brings to mind the echo of the walls of Temeschwar themselves, or of the citadel of Exile in Reikos, or of the Silent Sentinel itself in Casinea. Where those white-stone forts rose from virtue, thought, this is a twisted monument to cruelty squatting at the end of the Barrens. It is built as much of weirwood as of granite, the echoes of the Holt of the Oak in Therunin visible to those Navarr who have joined the campaign here. A profusion of Druj banners dangle from the nested walls, studded with spikes of cold iron and splintered bone. It is a symbol of Druj domination, grinning triumphantly across the forests toward the broken Towers of the Dawn.

Is it coincidence that the Druj never rebuilt the Towers of the Dawn? Surely a castle on the western borders of the Barrens would serve to secure them against the anger of the Dawnish? Or could it be that the masters of the Druj relish the fact that the Towers have been torn down, and gain more satisfaction from their rubble ruins than they would from any “security” or “protection” a new fortification could provide?

The armies of the Empire press the Druj back, into the shadow of that terrible citadel. Two weeks of fighting that sees the dry earth of the plains ploughed to red mud with blood and tears. Every mile of the advance across the Plains of Teeth towards the Towers of the Dusk is paid for thrice over with death, Imperial and Druj, human and orc, each step it seems costing someone, somewhere their life.

Yet whenever it seems Imperial advance might slow, might grind to a halt in the face of the Druj, the Hounds of Glory are there. Larger than life, indefatigable, undefeatable, a fire that will not fade, strength that seems incapable of weakening, a blazing ambition that will not falter. A sword against the dark, a shield when one is needed, with the triumphant blare of the horns echoing with all the power of the people of Dawn, quelling the fearsome drums of the Druj.

It comes at last – inevitably – to the Towers of Dusk and there one more cruelty, one more desecration to add to the pile. At first it seems that the walls of the citadel are garrisoned by knights and soldiers of the Empire... but the illusion quickly fades. Like some butcher birds of the arid savannah, the Kallad of the Black Wind have taken every prisoner captured in the Barrens, this season and during the forging of the Steel Causeway, and impaled them on the spikes and spines that stud the walls of the castle. All are dead, and if there is any mercy it is that they seem to have died quickly. The Druj have not wasted their time torturing them, knowing that the Gift of Kaela might rob them of their trophies. Their flesh is ruined by the carrion birds that flock around the towers, but their heraldry, and the signs of their vales, and the marks of their guilds, are untouched. One more pointless, hateful, merciless cruelty, one more example of why, ultimately, the Druj cannot be allowed to continue to taint Creation with their presence.

There is no siege; the Druj do not favour a siege when they are the ones behind the walls. In their arrogance, in their pride, they throw their gates wise and the host of the Mallum pours forth and the Battle of the Dusk begins.

The Battle of Dusk

As the defenders of the citadel pour forth, as the archers turn the sky black with a relentless hail of arrows, the rest of the Druj armies strike from the south and the west. The forces scattered as the Imperial armies forged their path across the Plains of Teeth have regrouped in the shadows of the Bleaks and the Untrod Groves and now they return, ravening, ruinous.,

The orcs of the Mallum are not foolish. They sally forth not for glory, but because they think they can win. They have done the cold calculations of war and concluded that the Empire has stretched itself too thin, that their reach has outpaced their grasp. After the Bitter Strand, and the Saltmarsh, the Plains of Teeth are a step too far and for them to try and seize the Spires of Dusk? The Druj love overconfidence in their enemies, and they love to punish it.

The Black Wind is everywhere, across the entire battlefield, and more so than in any other battle the Dawnish are their targets of choice. They hate them with a force that is almost palpable, almost a physical thing, and those who fall below their knives, and their spears, and their bows do not die easily or quickly unless they call on the Gift of Kaela. The Black Wind revels in the slaughter, in every little victory over one of the hated Dawnish, and a ripple of fear begins to spread through the Imperial soldiers.

At first the Empire holds, stands fast against the charge of the Druj. But the torrent is unending; the strength of the Druj too great. When a knight, or a schlacta, or a bravo stumbles the Druj pounce on that weakness and turn the misstep to slaughter. The Druj warriors only have to be lucky once. And when someone falls, the Druj thrust talons into that chink in the enemy lines, forcing it open. The Empire has come too far. The tide turns, the Imperial soldiers forced to fight defensively, to take first one step and then another back toward the Saltmarsh.

The field before the fortification is littered with the dead and the dying, Imperial and Druj alike. Soldiers slip in the blood, stumble over the fallen. Unless the order to retreat is given it will be a rout, a bloody, disorganised flight with the Druj snapping and tearing at the rear and...

… and then the Hounds of Glory are there. Banners raised, and the first halting lines of the Flowers of Auvanne, barely heard in the din and the chaos. They create a wall of steel between the Druj and the Imperial lines, shields raised, swords singing in the late afternoon sun. Bolstered by the champions of the Empire, the warbands and the captains, they stand against the orcs and refuse to take a step back. In the precious minutes they buy for the Empire, the other armies rally, regroup, reform, behind that wall of steel and glory.

The price is ruinous, but they pay it gladly.

And then the horns roar with glory, and they step forward, the Hounds of Glory almost as one take a step towards the castle. And then another, and another, and before the Druj know what is happening the knights of Dawn are smashing through their ranks toward the Spires of Dusk. A futile gesture, a foolish gesture... but they are not alone. The rest of the Imperial forces have rallied around them, following in their wake. The Het stumble over themselves, trying to react to what is happening, to this suicidal charge into the heart of the maelstrom of death.

So confused are they by that charge, that decision not to retreat but to fight, that the order to close the gates, to drop the portcullis, comes far too late. Before the orcs of the Mallum know what has gone wrong the Hounds of Glory are inside the keep, and the other three armies of Dawn are right behind them, and suddenly everything is falling apart.

And the Hets of the Druj know that while today is indeed a lesson in the perils of overconfidence and hubris, it is they who are to learn it. Because the Hounds of Glory are inside the Spires of Dusk and they are coming for them.

And after that, after the hours of slaughter and glory that follow, as the afternoon turns to evening, the banner of the Hounds of Glory is raised over the walls of the Spires of Dusk and those Druj who have survived are fleeing back to their boltholes in the forests to the south and the west.

But the cost... the cost...

Ambition! The Spires of Dusk have long stood as symbol of their oppression. This is our goal and a price we may pay. From the spires hang banners celebrating every contribution to this Triumph. Where they have sown fear we will make flowers grow. Where their symbol stood for oppression our will stand for Virtue!

Tancred de Coeurdefer, General of the Hounds of Glory


The sun sets over the field of war, quiet now save for the dull croaking of the carrion birds. The battle raged for an entire day, only a single day, from dawn until dusk. Countless acts of virtuous heroism, of glory, of sacrifice. Countless acts of ignoble cruelty, of cowardice, of slaughter. The bards of the Empire will surely see that this day, this single day in the Barrens, is never forgotten.

The Druj have fallen back, back to the magical wards of the Bleaks and the Untrod Groves. All told, this season, more than fifteen thousand orcs of the Mallum will not fight again, though. Dead at the hands of Imperial soldiers, at the talons of their own magical blight. Those who survive, have fled the field, to lick their wounds, and plot, and scheme, and brew their hate and their malice into a thick poison. They have not quit the Barrens; they are defeated but not beaten.

If the bards of the Empire ever dare to forget, the troubadours of Dawn will remind them. They will make certain that this day, this single day in the Barrens, is never, ever forgotten. Not this day and not what this victory has cost Dawn, and the Empire.

Here I see the banners of the Hounds of Glory, hung above the gates where the leading line of knights laid down their lives to keep passage into the keep open long enough for the gatehouse to be seized. Here I see the pennants fluttering on the battlements where so many died in close combat with the Druj archers, stemming at last the rain of arrows harrowing the field before the castle. Here I see the banners, raised in the halls of the Het, where the heart was ripped from the Druj defence and they orcs of the Mallum were taught to fear the children of Dawn.

Here I see row after row of the Dawnish dead. Noble and yeofolk, indistinguishable in death, covered in cloths, and cloaks, torn tapestries, and the banners of their enemies. Covered as the green grass and the flowers will cover the bodies of those who can be brought home one final time to Astolat, and to Semmerholm, and to Weirwater.

No dawn without dusk.

Above the Spires of Dusk, I see the pennants of the Hounds of Glory. Blue against the darkening blue sky, flapping and dancing in the wind from the west.

The pennants of the Hounds of Glory, raised by their brothers and sisters, their siblings and cousins, the knights who knew them best, who fought beside them, who celebrated with them in the halls of Dawn.

The banners of the Hounds of Glory in the place of Pride. Honoured for this victory they bought so dearly. For the Empire. For Dawn.

For Glory.

Game Information

The Empire has been victorious in the Barrens, but the cost of that victory has been the Hounds of Glory. Their decision to take the Plains of Teeth and the Spires of Dusk whatever the cost secured an unequivocal victory over the Druj, but at the cost of their own lives. While some soldiers survive, the army itself has been destroyed. The most significant factor that caused the army to disband was the order, but a number of other factors also played into this result, including the Merciless Onslaught of the Black Wind, the Rivers Run Red curse, the redistribution of casualties suffered by the Urizen, and the impact of the Imperial Synod mandates urging the armies to focus on rousing the orcs of the Barrens rather than killing the Druj

The Empire has captured the Bitter Strand, and the Saltmarsh. And thanks to the sacrifice of the Hounds of Glory they have also taken the Plains of Teeth, and captured the fortification known as the Spires of Dusk. This gives the Empire control of five regions of the Barrens. While the Druj still control the territory, they are very much on the back foot. While they still control the forests, the loss of the Spires of Dusk represents a monumental blow to their control of the territory - especially now it is in Imperial hands.

They have technically captured the Fangs – the mithril mine that stands on the shore of the Bitter Sea – but it is currently in the hands of independent orc insurrectionists led by the remnants of the Rahvin sept. The Vendarri sept have technically surrendered to the Empire, but are in discussion with the Highborn as to the disposition of Saltmarsh. More information will be revealed as part of the Winds of War.

Participation: Harm

Every commander of a military unit who fought in the Barrens this season alongside an Imperial army will receive a lingering wound in their character pack as a consequence of this savage campaign.

Any character whose military unit supported an army in the Barrens, and the generals of those armies, may choose to start their next event terminal, to represent fatal wounds received during the campaign. The assumption is that they have been brought to Anvil by their comrades, can engage in some appropriate roleplaying with friends and family, and then pass away with suitable drama.

A character whose military unit (or resource enchanted to act as a military unit) took part in the campaign may choose to roleplay that it was wiped out at a key point in the battle. If they e-mail plot@profounddecisions.co.uk they can exchange their military unit for a different, non-military unit, personal resource anywhere in their nation without the normal costs involved. If their military unit was upgraded, their new resource will have the same number of upgrades.

These options are not open to characters who supported the Citadel Guard; they were protected by the powerful Winter magic and have emerged from the campaign unscathed.

Participation: Spirit

Finally, any character whose military unit supported an army in the Barrens or the general of one of those armies may have been touched by a spontaneous aura – whether they are human or Imperial Orc. This is not an automatic effect, and requires you to email plot@profounddecisions.co.uk. Along with your CID, you will need to pick one of the following four choices that describes your in-character feeling about the campaign in the Barrens, which will flavour the spontaneous spiritual aura you receive.

  • Death to the Druj!
  • All slaves must be freed from their chains
  • I did what I know to be right and gladly paid the cost
  • I grieve the lives lost in this war

If you email in but don't specify one of these options, your aura will be chosen at random. The auras will be both strong and durable. Bear in mind that a character can only have one personal aura (including anointing) with the highest strength replacing any lower strength auras. This may be particularly important to characters who have a durable aura from the Rachensgrab raid last event.

This opportunity lasts until midnight on Wednesday the 24th of May; emails received after that will not result in an aura.

Battle Opportunity

A single major conjunction of the Sentinel Gate have been identified that will allow heroes of the Empire to reach Dawnguard during the upcoming Spring Equinox. Details of the conjunction have been prepared by the civil service and can be found here.

Old enough to face the dawn (Conjunction)

  • Zortog Ashtouch is withdrawing from the Barrens to coordinate with the ghulai in the Salt Flats of Sanath
  • A herald of Zakalwe has requested a targeted strike at Ashtouch
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 20:00 on Friday to the Blooming Grove in the Bleaks
  • The Polemarch of Highwatch is responsible for killing Zortog Ashtouch

Homados the Archon has made a request to the Polemarch of Highwatch to disrupt the schemes of the ghulai of the Salt Flats of Sanath. Zortog Ashtouch, a tepel bearing a mantle covered in the symbols of the arkad, is retreating from the Barrens with a list of regios aligned with the Master Strategist intended for a coven of the secretive ghulai who make their home in the port of Leen.

If the Polemarch is able to acquire the list and uses the operate portal spell at the Imperial Regio whilst invoking at least three of the common sobriquets of the General of Day to return the list then Homados the Archon will provide the Polemarch of Highwatch with a single dose of Radiant Transcendence.

The warband is made up of a combined force of troops drawn from the arkad. Given that this is a direct request from a herald of Zakalwe to the Polemarch of Highwatch the responsibility for this conjunction lies with the current Polemarch; Leo.

The tears of the day (Conjunction)

  • The Imperial Orc reavers, the Bronzehoard, have uncovered a stockpile of Druj goods
  • A Druj warband sent by Raguk Chainforger is on their way to recover the stockpile
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 20:30 on Friday to the Steadfast Pines in Saltmarsh
  • The Four Seasons' Boneweaver is responsible for looting the stockpile

The Bronzehoards are one of the many groups of reavers that have been working to supply the Weavers' Market since it was established in 381YE. This past season they accompanied the Winter Sun into the Barrens to seek out goods to sell to the orcs of Skarsind. They managed to uncover the location of a stockpile of Druj goods that has, as yet, been unclaimed.

Raguk Chainforger is renown amongst the Druj for their wealth, equal to the richest of the merchant princes of Holberg. The het is rumoured to have stockpiles of wealth across the Barrens, perhaps in fear of it being claimed by other Druj. With the loss of Saltmarsh to the Empire, Chainforger has sent one of their warbands, accompanied by one of their Goldarms, to recover a stockpile before others can claim it. The Bronzehoards are unable to stand against the warband, but if the Four Seasons' Boneweaver can then they will be able to return it back to Anvil.

The warband is made up of a combined force of troops drawn from the arkad. Given that this represents an opportunity relating to the Weavers' Market it is the responsibility of the Four Seasons' Boneweaver: Dayus.

Won't be blinded by the light (Conjunction)

  • Ortgut Spirebreaker has sent raiding parties to recover salvage from severed Druj supply lines, and engage Imperial looters
  • The largest of the het's warbands is heading for a cache of mithril abandoned in the rout
  • If they are driven back, a nearby group of wagon raiders associated with the Iron Tower will be able to secure the mithril
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 21:00 on Friday to the Jagged Stream in the Untrod Groves
  • The Bargainer of the Iron Tower is responsible for this seizure of rare mithril

Druj "siege engineer" Ortgut Spirebreaker has lost control of their supply lines following the defeat in the Barrens. Entire cartfuls of food, water and healing herbs have been found by advancing Imperial scouts, many of them befouled and poisoned. But mithril cannot be so easily tainted.

One of the groups of wagon raiders who occasionally sells mithril to the Bargainer of the Iron Tower has reported a cache of the rare metal in a lightly wooded area along the Imperial armies' path east along with a warband sent by the mithril's former owner, the het Ortgut Spirebreaker - named for toppling a number of spires in Morrow and Zenith. If the warband is defeated then the wagon raiders will be able to recover mithril, of which 3 wains will be sent to the Bargainer before the Summer Solstice 385YE as payment.

The warband is made up of a combined force of troops drawn from the arkad. Given that this represents a threat to those who support the Iron Tower it is the responsibility of the Bargainer of the Iron Tower: Vladimir Sasha Volkov.

If the Empire is able to both recover Chainforger's stockpile and help the wagon raiders recover the mithril then this will encourage the reavers, sellswords, wagon raiders, mercenary companies, and the Dawnish into raiding the Druj and would create a new adventure available to military units; Plunder the Mallum that would 8 drams of random herbs and 6 measures of random forest measures. The adventure would only be available to the Imperial Orcs, the League, Varushka, and Dawn.

No strings to bind your hands (Conjunction)

  • Venomclaw, herald of Arhallogen, is leading a force of Druj to deliver poisons to a cult readying an attack on a group of physicks
  • Killing Venomclaw and the rest of the heralds of Arhallogen will stop them targeting physicks in the Barrens
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 17:30 on Saturday to Spinner's Retreat in Bitter Strand
  • The Medical Officer of the Pegasus Respite is responsible for killing the heralds of Arhallogen

Over the last season the scouts of the Seventh Wave have been advancing through the Barrens in their attempt to reach out to the Vendarri. Whilst seeking out the elusive sept of the Saltmarsh a patrol of unconquered have managed to uncover a cult of the Spider King that are attempting to enact a plan to target a large group of physicks. The cult are only waiting for the arrival of Venomclaw, a herald of Arhallogen, to spring their trap. Once Venomclaw and the other heralds have met up with the cult then they will be able to slaughter dozens of the physicks with poisons gifted by the Queen of Scorpions.

If the plan goes ahead, and the physicks killed, then this would prevent Imperial armies in the Barrens from using the steady conquest order until at least the start of the Autumn Equinox 385YE as more focus is put on protecting the physicks of the Empire. Any army that received the order to take a steady conquest would instead default to balanced attack. Jedediah of Hannah's Guard, one of the unconquered physicks who does field work as part of the Pegasus Respite, has called on the Medical Officer to proactively deal with the threat posed by the heralds of Arhallogen by murdering them before they reach the cult.

There will be a stiff resistance from the Druj group; a combined force of troops drawn from the arkad and accompanied by heralds of Arhallogen. Given that there is a direct request to the Medical Officer of the Pegasus Respite, the responsibility for this conjunction lies with the incumbent; Felix

Love can't bind your heart (Conjunction)

  • The Druj are escorting the Amaranthine Devourer, an Agramant herald, through Semmerholm
  • If they are not stopped then they will arrive at the Pits of Brychel shortly after the summit
  • The Sentinel Gate will open at 21:00 on Saturday to Melusine's Fields in Axmure
  • The Knight-protector of Winter is responsible for killing the Amaranthine Devourer

The Druj from the army of the White Lion have once again made a bargain with Agramant to draw a servant from the Howler's realm into their service. A small force of the eastern orcs entered Axmure moving towards the Pits of Brychel, and are expected to arrive shortly after the Spring Equinox. It is uncertain what the Druj are hoping to accomplish at the Pits, there isn't enough of them to threaten Arnet and pushing further into the territory would likely only leave them cut off and surrounded.

There is some suggestion that the Druj are enacting some master plan three years in the making, drawing on the information extracted from the taken researchers, but can the orcs of the Mallum really be expected to hold off on a plan that could cause some measure of misery to people?

There will be a stiff resistance from the Druj group; a combined force of troops drawn from the arkad, the Amaranthine Devourer, and a number of cultists of Agramant. Given that the group is escorting a creature of the Winter realm the responsibility for this conjunction lies with the current Knight-protector of Winter; Aranel Mortere.