(Redirected from Delerium)
There is little mercy to be found beneath the shadowed boughs of the Varushkan forests.


Click for audio version

The vale of Isember has a bad reputation, and deservedly so. There is something about it that attracts ne'er-do-wells and scoundrels. Ruined during the liberation of Karsk, the remains of the town and the land around have been claimed as a vale by a self-style boyar named Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch. This boyar has been gathering outlaws, bandits, and brigands to his cause along with the worst kinds of wagon raider and sell sword. The dregs of Varushkan society, bolstered by scoundrels from as far afield as Temeschwar and northern Dawn. These bandits have been demanding "protection" from caravans passing through Karsk, robbing those who refuse to pay their illegal road-tolls, and generally complicating the settlement of Ossium.

The final straw comes before the Spring Equinox, when a vicious band of thieves launches an armed raid on the town of Kosti in Kopevnosti. They fail to penetrate the high walls, but only due to a combination of chance and Vigilance. Enough is enough. The robber-boyar - and the ruined town itself that lurks like a canker at the heart of Karsk - have to go. The Varushkan Assembly are in agreement - they join their voices to those of the people of Karsk, calling for the problem of Isember to be solved once and for all.

Storm of Eagles

Following the Spring Equinox, nearly seventy military units commanded by Imperial captains descend on Karsk. While many are warbands of Varushkan warriors, the majority, surprisingly, are from Dawn. Knights and yeofolk alike flocking to the woods of Karsk to put a stop to banditry and brigandage. Several of the latter reach Karsk by ship, crossing the Semmerlak and disembarking at the docks of Ivarsgard under cover of darkness. Other Imperial captains gather their forces at Kosti, and at Veresk in the shadow of the Broken Barrow. A number of mercenaries have also been drawn to Karsk - the Quartermaster General of the Imperial Armies has decreed that the Imperial Guerdon be offered to anyone who fights to remove the stain of Isember from Karsk.

Most of these independent captains work closely with the magistrates and the militia of Karsk. The magistrates have been tracking several of the bands of outlaws working with the boyar of Isember, and are able to provide valuable advice on how best take the fight to them. It seems as if half the magistrates in the north-western Empire have made their way to Karsk this season, ensuring that the raid remains on the right side of legal and offering practical support to those who will lead the raid.

There is another significant factor in preparation for the raid on Isember. The Ketsov of Ossium have been granted permission by the Imperial Senate to establish a vale at the Mir Mozga. While the Ketsov may have a reputation for selfishness, they also have a vested interest in supporting efforts to solve the Isember problem. The last thing they want are bandits with expensive tastes on their doorstep. While they don't have much in the way of actual military might, they have access to magic weapons and enchantments and make them available to the gathered captains who wish to take advantage of them. They also - grudgingly - delve into their own vaults to hire sell swords not drawn by the Imperial Guerdon to help bolster the raid against Isember.

Prior to the main attack, there are scattered engagements between individual military units and bandit gangs. It is remarkably easy to actually find the bandits - they are using the Iron Roads of Karsk both because that is where their prey is found and because Varushkans know better than to stray too far into the wilderness of Karsk. These initial sweeps serve two purposes - they thin the ranks of the outlaws and they send the survivors scurrying back to Isember.

The Battle of Isember

The assault itself begins a month before the Summer Solstice. There are enough warriors to surround Isember, to take control of all the roads into and out of the ramshackle town. It is clear that the self-styled boyar has managed to convince some of his followers to set up makeshift defences - barricades, lines of stakes, and the odd meandering stakepit. These defences prove to be woefully inadequate - suitable for dealing with roving bands of wolves perhaps, but offering little resistance to professional soldiers. The Imperial forces quickly penetrate the outer perimeter, and the bulk of the fighting takes place through the ruins of the town itself.

And a close fought battle it is. The outlaws fight like cornered rats - employing vicious underhand tactics and exploiting their close connection to the terrain. At first they are trying to kill the invaders, then when it becomes apparent that they are overmatched, they seek to escape. While the outer defences are weak, it soon becomes clear that there are additional ones within the town itself. A series of tunnels have been excavated beneath the ruined homes, connecting cellars and basements with a network of hidden passages. There are also a number of traps and deadfalls which the defenders know to avoid, but which it is all too easy for an Imperial soldier to wander into. Spiked pits, weighted nets, envenomed spears, and collapsing walls all pose a potentially lethal threat - made all the worse by the fact the outlaws take the opportunity of soldiers being occupied by a deathtrap to launch attacks of their own.

There is one other "feature" of the battle of Isember that the attackers - those who are not Varushkan at least - are often entirely unprepared for. It's one of the Navarr who first spots it, but many of the Isember bandits appear... ill. Sallow, with dark rings under their eyes, sometimes with blood crusted around their nostrils. They also prove to be relatively easy to kill - succumbing quickly to their injuries.

The import of this observation is not immediately obvious, but as the battle goes on, and the first outlaws begin to stand up again it becomes obvious that there is dark magic at work in Isember. At least half of the outlaws, when they are struck down, rise again as unliving husks. Shambling monsters, possessed of an insatiable rage. They assault the Imperials who killed them, gathering together into deadly, fast-moving packs that rush howling through the broken streets of Isember, hunting for invaders to kill. A few even fall on their allies, tearing into them... and bolstering their own numbers as many of those they kill rise in their turn.

Runners go out from the Varushkan warbands, especially those belonging to warden fellowships, bearing a desperate warning. The rumours that some dark power was present in the town have proved true; there is a plaguewulf somewhere in Isember.

The beast has obviously used its terrible, mephitic breath to infest the defenders of Isember with its abhorrent curse of unlife. Guided by the unseen creature's will, the reanimated bandits prove to be even more dangerous than they were when alive. It is as if they are possessed of a single mind; what one sees they all know. The packs cooperate silently, exploiting any crack in the Imperial ranks. As the day drags on, some of the Varushkans become nervous. If Isember is not conquered by nightfall, the situation may well become much, much worse.

As evening creeps closer and closer, the last defenders of Isember retreat back to the Sovereign's Heart - the old rebuilt inn that once stood proudly at the centre of town. It also, ironically, appears to be the centre of the dark influence that has fallen over the town. The shadows cling like cobwebs to the area, and the stench of death seems to rise from the soil itself. A low, dark mist coils across the ground, full of the magic of death and enslavement. Those who are exposed to the unnatural aura that surrounds the inn quickly begin to feel ill, and start to evidence the early stages of the same sickness that has infected many of the Isember outlaws.

While some of the raiders seem keen to press forward, wiser voices prevail. Rather than try to attack the Sovereign's Heart directly - and risk whatever darkness lurks within - the decision is made to move to the final step of the plan. Barrels of oil, torches, and lanterns are brought. With barely an hour to go before nightfall, grim-faced Varushkan warriors set fire to the Sovereign's Heart and the buildings surrounding it. Some quick-thinking captain suggests pouring some of the oil into the tunnels as well - both to spread the fire and the deal with any remaining outlaws or husks that have taken refuge below ground. A few of the more soft-hearted Imperials balk at this cruel idea, but there is little stomach for venturing back into the subterranean passages where the advantage surely lies with the defenders.

As the fire catches, a terrible bestial howling goes up from multiple throats, striking fear into the hearts of all save the most courageous (or virtuous) Imperial. The retreat is sounded, with the ruins of Isember blazing like an earthbound star throughout the night.

Illusion and Doubt

The threat of the Isember outlaws is ended and the raid has been a complete success. The majority of the outlaws were killed (in some cases two or more times), or taken into custody by the militia and magistrates. Those who are fit to stand trial are questioned, and tried. Most are executed for their crimes. Notable by their absence is the boyar himself - Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch. The boyar was certainly spotted during the raid - a few people having briefly engaged him and his schlacta - but they are certainly not among the prisoners and nobody can confirm with any certainty that they were killed. Perhaps they died in the fire?

As to the dark power - some of the outlaws noticeably bear the mark of the plaguewulf. They are reticent to talk, but a few are encouraged to share what they know in return for clemency before their trials. Whatever it is that lurks in - under - Isember is no typical member of the breed. Rather it seems to be an Elder of its kind. This is a matter for some concern - the elders are practically sovereigns in their own right, possessed of much greater power than those that anyone present has dealt with. It seems unlikely that a mere conflagration will have dealt with a creature of this power - and if Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch has made a pact with it, then it is no more likely that he will have perished in the fall of Isember.

With Isember destroyed, the Fellowship of the Black Goose (a warden fellowship) have appointed themselves guardians of the ruins. They plan to establish a fortified hall overlooking the scorched ground, to ensure nobody else tries to take up residence, and to ensure the ruins remain undisturbed until the dark Varushkan forests finally swallow them up.

Game Information : Isember

The outlaws in Karsk are dealt with for the foreseeable future, and Isember has been destroyed, but it was very close. If more than a couple of military units had gone elsewhere, if either the Ketsov or the Varushkan Assembly had not thrown their support behind the raid, it would still have dealt with the outlaws, but it would not have done so decisively. There was a real risk that Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch might have been able to escape the area with enough support to still pose a threat to Varushka in the future... but that outcome has been avoided.

As it is, the resolution of the bandit problem makes it very unlikely that anyone is going to try and replicate Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch's attempt to unite bandit gangs under a single banner - and in all honesty, there are now very few remaining outlaws in Varushka. As a result of Isember's destruction, trade and travel through Karsk has become much easier. Caravans will be able to travel freely along the Iron Roads to Ossium, supporting not just the establishment of new vales but also any large-scale building projects in the territory. Consequently, the Galath Fields have permanently lost their under-developed quality.

While both Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch and the monster of Isember remain unaccounted for, the Imperial prognosticators are keeping a close eye on the Sentinel Gate, watching for any sign of conjunctions in the vicinity of Isember that might offer opportunities to deal with these lingering loose threads.

Anyone exposed to the fetid aura surrounding the ruins of the Sovereign's Heart inn at Isember evidence disturbing symptoms equivalent to a traumatic wound. They are also obviously affected by the VENOM condition. While no player character has this wound, any character whose military unit took part in the raid and possesses the physick skill will receive a short report in their pack detailing the effects - and complications - of this wound.

Silent Forest.jpg
Out of the Forest of Ulnak, into the Echofell, the Druj are coming.

Out of the Silent Forest

While the Empire's heroes have struck decisively against the outlaws of Karsk, across the border in Ossium, an entirely different threat arises. Less than a week after the Spring Equinox, reports begin of a massive force of Druj emerging from the Forest of Ulnak into the Echofell. The first reports are confused - it's not clear quite how many orcs there are or whether this is just another raid by the orc guerrillas left behind in the eastern forest when the Druj were forced to retreat by the Imperial armies and their orc allies. Eventually, however, a scout manages to make it back with reliable information and, before succumbing to her wounds, warns that there are twenty thousand orcs in the eastern forests, marching straight for the Tower of the Scorpion.

Ossium is by no means undefended. First there is the Tower of the Scorpion itself, its garrison of Varushkan soldiers, and a handful of visiting Dawnish knights. Then there are the magical defences provided by Imperial magicians. A Wooden Fastness has been raised in the heart of Nearwald, and the Dripping Echoes of the Fen shroud the Drownbark Forest in confounding mists. These enchantments provide valuable sanctuary to the defenders of Ossium - the schlacta and warriors of the newly established vales of the south and west.

Nor is it just Imperials who defend Ossium against the Druj. As the Druj advance through the Echofell, a contingent of Thule warriors emerges from the Bonewood, led by a quartet of blue-robed warlocks from the fortress of Flajokep. The orcs make contact with the local vales, insisting on taking part in councils of war to ensure they can coordinate their efforts. They rub several of the boyars and wise ones up the wrong way, perhaps inevitably. Many of these people have only recently been freed from the yoke of the Druj - they do not react well to arrogant orcs demanding a seat at their tables. Despite teething problems, the Varushkans and the Thule manage to reach an accord. They march into the Echofell to support the garrison at the Tower of the Scorpion, arriving only just in time.

Plague of Sorrow

For their part, the Druj pour through the forests hardly bothering to hide their presence. At the forefront of the force is an army of Druj beneath banners depicting a red beetle wreathed in yellow flames. Their warriors stand out because many of them bear the scars of horrible burns, and even during the day, they carry burning brands which some of them use as weapons. At the heart of their advance are reported to be a half-dozen great covered wagons dragged by yoked blind slaves - it's impossible to say for sure what these wagons contain.

This lack of intelligence comes in part because anyone who falls into the hands of the Druj - human or orc - is slaughtered out of hand. The Black Wind are here - the army of orcs who once fought to defend the Barrens and then turned traitor and joined the Druj - and they relish every opportunity not only to kill Imperials but to make an example of them. Behind the advancing Druj extends a grim wake of severed heads, dismembered corpses, and maimed survivors left tied to trestles to suffer terrible ends at the teeth and claws of the beasts of the Echofell.

The Druj armies move like a plague of locusts - or a swarm of ants. The main body of the orc force forge a direct path to the Tower of the Scorpion. Around them surges a loose corona of raiders and killers who lay siege to the newly established vales. Luckily, most of the more prosperous vales are in the western part of the forest or clustered around the Tower - whether settler or former subject of the Druj, nobody has been keen to establish new homes too close to the border with the Forest of Ulnak.

Tower of the Scorpion

When the Druj draw close to the Tower of the Scorpion, they slow their advance. The skirmishers and raiders that have pooled around them are called back, and rather than immediately attack, the orcs begin to tear apart the forests around the Tower. By day the sound of chopping and sawing echoes through the woods; by night the woods burn with great bonfires raised by the warriors under the burning beetle banner. For three days this continues, this hive of frenzied activity, and the other Druj forces - both the Black Wind and those bearing banners depicting scorpions of one kind or another - keep any Imperial or Thule soldiers from approaching too closely.

At dawn on the fourth day, the army begins to move again and it becomes clear that the Druj have spent the last few days constructing massive war machines. Ugly siege towers, misshapen catapults, and two covered battering rams carried by scarred slaves. Without ceremony, the machines begin to rain fire, huge rocks, and diseased corpses onto the Tower of the Scorpion. To the horror of the defenders, the tormentors of the Black Wind bring out two dozen human prisoners wearing battered fragments of Dawnish and Varushkan armour. They are freed, urged with whips and spears to flee toward the Tower of the Scorpion as the Druj catapults storm the walls. Some refuse to run, facing the Druj and being cut down where they stand. Others run. The Black Wind marksmen wait until they are nearly out of bowshot before they loose their arrows. Not one of the prisoners makes it to the Tower gates.

The Tower holds out for nearly a week. After the initial barrage, the Druj employ their catapult shot more judiciously, but every night the garrison is peppered with blazing chunks of wood, barrels of oil, and viciously barbed wooden balls. The worst assault comes on the evening of the fifth day, when the orc siege engineers launch cages and jars full of venomous insects against the tower. The garrison does not just sit and wait to be overwhelmed - several attempts are made to sally forth and attack the siege engines. While the garrison and their Thule allies manage to take out one of the catapults, they cannot get near the others, however.

At the end of the week, the Druj lose patience, The siege towers and the covered rams begin to move forward across the churned up mud below the tower. Behind them comes the entire Druj force, howling and screaming. and pounding battle drums. Some, ironically, fall into the very same traps that the Druj built to bedevil Imperial soldiers. But not enough of them to make a difference. The siege towers unleash a flood of Druj killers onto the ramparts of the tower, providing a staircase that allows a tide of orc warriors into the fortification. The gates hold for two hours. By the time they are breached, there is scattered fighting throughout the castle as the Druj systematically slaughter the surviving defenders.

The damage to the tower is extensive, but it is not clear if it is the Druj or the garrison cause the fire that eventually guts the Tower of the Scorpion. The conflagration burns for two days, and the column of smoke that rises from it is visible across the entire region.

When the Tower of the Scorpion falls, the garrison falls with it. Half the Thule defenders are likewise caught in the fire - the remainder fall back toward the Galath Fields. The fighting continues through the Echofell as the remaining vales attempt to buy time for their people to escape south or west. Even though some of those new vales are still managing to hold out - as much thanks to the aid given them by the sellswords and Imperial heroes over the Winter - as the Summer Solstice approaches, it is undeniable that the Druj have conquered the Echofell. Their next target is the Drownbark Forest, but here the vales are protected by Imperial magic. The Druj are turned back decisively - there are a few minor skirmishes, but between the hard bitten defenders and the Night magic that infuses the marsh, they are unable to make any headway.

With the fall of the Tower of the Scorpion, and the loss of the Echofell, panic spreads across Ossium. The Druj are back. They are back for revenge against those who dared to stand up to them, who dared to invade the Mallum. The surviving Thule warriors withdraw back into the Bonewood; they make no bones about the fact that they do not intend to return unless there are Imperial armies in Ossium making a concerted effort to protect the territory from the invaders. "If we must face the Druj by ourselves," comes the message from the warlock who commands Flajokep, "then we will do it on our own terms and in defense of our own lands."

It is not all doom and gloom - some of the vales have so far managed to keep the Druj at bay. The Bone Hives in particular have managed to hold out against the orcs, providing a somewhat safe haven to some of those who fled their own homes but could not make it out of Echofell. Unfortunately, the news filtering in from the woodlands suggests that those warriors under the scorpion banners are systematically moving from vale to vale crushing the remaining defenders. While some settlements are far enough out of the way that they might continue to avoid Druj attentions for a few more months, few of the vales will be able to resist an entire season under the cruel dominion of the Druj.

Game Information: Ossium

Echofell has fallen to the Druj. One of the reasons the Druj were able to make headway so rapidly is that the Echofell possesses the under threat quality. Even if the Druj are driven out, that quality will remain.

The Tower of the Scorpion has been destroyed. It may be possible to rebuild the Tower, but it will be impossible to say one way or another until the Druj are driven out of the region. The opportunity to construct the Tower of the Manticore is likewise on hold. The chance for military units to Seek Glory in the Twisted Forest remains however for the time being - as it was the result of a mandate - but cannot be made permanent without the Tower of the Manticore.

It is notable that the Black Wind army engaged in a merciless assault while campaigning in Ossium, spreading terror and raising the threshold at which enemy armies would disband.

The information presented here details the background and objectives for one or more conjunctions of the Sentinel Gate. Details relating to the day, timing, gate size, and any additional information will be summarised on the Wind of War page for the event.

Sour Honey (Conjunction)

  • The Druj forces are advancing on the Bone hives, intent on destroying them
  • The newly elected Keeper of the Bone Hives will need to try and arrange for Imperial heroes to stop them

The Druj have returned to Ossium in force, seeking to reclaim their former home from the Varushkans. With only the garrison of the Tower of the Scorpion and their Thule allies to stop them, they have advanced rapidly. Now the scouts have identified a significant force of Druj heading for the Bone Hives. As far as they can tell the group intends to kill any of the workers they can capture and destroy the hives - a strategy they have employed with ruthless intent in Zenith and other parts of Urizen. The newly appointed Keeper of the Bone Hives will need to gather a force of warriors to help intercept the Druj before they can destroy the resource.

It will not be especially difficult for the Druj to destroy the individual hives. They will likely only have to spend thirty uninterrupted seconds smashing up each one of the tall structures to destroy it. If the Imperial heroes can defeat them before they manage that, then they will save the Bone Hives. There are four hives in total, the Druj would need to destroy them all to damage the site beyond all repair.

The hives contain a breed of particularly unpleasant buzzing insects. These noxious creatures will be hostile to anyone in the area when a hive is attacked - human or orc. Heroes attempting to keep the Druj from the Hives are warned that when swarming these insects can eat through living flesh with terrifying, lethal speed. A good supply of Marrowort is likely to be essential to ensure that everyone makes it back to Anvil to receive proper treatment.

Success and failure: The Druj will need to destroy all four hives to completely destroy the Bone Hives; if even one of them remains then it will be possible for the orcs who work there to carefully cultivate new hives using the remaining insects. However, each hive that is destroyed will prevent any production from the Bone Hives for a season. For example, if three hives are destroyed, there will be no production from the Bone Hives until after the Spring Equinox 385YE.

Isember skirmishes
Both Boyar of Steel and Dark Spirits will take place in areas where the foul taint of Isember has sunk into the ground itself. Every character who passes through the gate will receive a traumatic wound detailing the effects of exposure and should take a moment to familiarize themselves with it.

During these skirmishes, some of the dead will reanimate after a short time. There are many steps that you can take to protect yourself from this peril, but please don't disarm the dead. The unliving horrors of Isember are perfectly capable of inflicting serious injuries with their bare hands but bare handed combat is not part of Empire's rules. It is fine to SHATTER weapons with the appropriate call, but don't take the weapons away from downed monsters because in-character that would achieve little.

Likewise, there are no rules for chopping corpses up in Empire. Execution is one thing, but removing limbs completely is laborious and ineffective against the living dead. You will be wasting time pretending to chop arms and legs or heads off the fallen as this isn't going to stop them standing back up again. By all means use calls like CLEAVE and IMPALE to disable monsters in the fight, but please embrace the conventions of the scene and don't waste your time roleplaying chopping up bodies.

Boyar of Steel (Conjunction)

  • The Boyar of Isember has drawn his last guards around him to the Ashen Fields
  • Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch and his guards will fight to the death against any Imperials
  • Nisha Melinka Rupeilia Strazcovich the Boyarina is responsible for this conjunction

Isember has fallen, but the self-styled Boyar Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch is not among the dead. Without the small army of outlaws and ne'er-do-wells he had gathered around him, he is no longer an immediate threat. Except... people like Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch should never be underestimated. He is charismatic, cunning, organised, and ambitious. He's already demonstrated that he is prepared to deal with the dark powers of Varushka and while he has been rooted out of one haven it is likely that next time he rears his ugly head - and he will - he won't make the same mistakes. He won't move until he is certain that he is going to get what he wants. If it hadn't been for the greed of his own people, he might have continued to gather strength before attacking Kosti. If it hadn't been for pure chance and some Vigilant children, he might well have seized the walled town and things could have gone very differently. Best to deal with him now - plus of course it's likely that he'll have escaped with the best items looted by his followers from the honest folk of Varushka, so whoever deals with him is likely to come into possession of some serious loot.

The civil service prognosticators have identified a conjunction on the Sentinel Gate to the Ashen Fields - an area of open ground west of Isember. Sightings of Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch place him in the vicinity, no doubt preparing for the dangerous journey through the forests of Karsk to wherever it is he plans to go next. He has a cadre of his own elite troops around him - and apparently somehow the corrupt soil reported in the heart of Isember is travelling with him. The civil service suggest that Nisha Melinka Rupeilia Strazcovich the Boyarina who enacted the mandate that rallied the people of Varushka to deal with Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch could recruit a team to hunt the robber-boyar and deal with him once and for all.

Success and failure: If Alexi and the last of his guards are killed then any future threat he might represent will be dealt with. ideally, whoever deals with him will also be able to uncover what it is that is causing the "tainted ground" effect to pool around him - there is no sign of anything that might be causing it so it's possible that it is Alexi himself that is the source which might suggest he possesses other dark powers gifted him by whatever horror lurked in the heart of Isember.

If Alexi is allowed to escape the area he will disappear into the depths of Karsk but there is no doubt he will eventually reappear, possibly seeking revenge on those who ruined his enterprise in Isember, most likely having found a new horror to make a terrible bargain with.

Dark Spirits (Conjunction)

  • The dark horror that laired within Isember has withdrawn to the Whispering Glade
  • The civil service suggest the Guardian of the Maze of Zoria may be positioned to end the threat of the creature once and for all

Isember has burned, and with it the lair of the dark horror that laired in the depths beneath the Sovereign's Heart. Those who fought in Isember spoke of a terrible sourness to the ground, a grim emanation that poisoned the spirit as well as the body, and caused the dead to rise as fast moving horrors akin to those that arise when someone is killed with Virus Lunarae. The consensus among the wardens who fought in Isember is that it is most likely a Greater Plaguewulf. Such creatures are nearly impossible to destroy, but they can be rendered dormant - indeed there is conjecture that prior to Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch arrival the creature was bound in some way, and the so-called robber-boyar must have released it. Now the prognosticators have identified a conjunction in the vicinity of Isember - to the so-called Whispering Glade.

The Glade has a bad reputation - even the Isemberites avoided it - and all anyone seems to know about it is that there is a stone of some sort at the centre that was erected by the Ushka in ancient days. Some of the wardens of the Fellowship of the Black Goose have scouted the area and report that, like the heart of Isember, the place is foul with the fetid touch of death. The trees are warped and hateful, and the soil is sick with whatever malaise it is that the dark power of Isember is spreading around it. The area is teeming with the fast-moving, bloodthirsty husks encountered in Isember. They haven't been able to get close but there is something monstrous at the heart of the glade and a sense that "something terrible is imminent".

On the advice of Valya Sofyn Kosteva, the ambitious leader of the wise ones of Kosti, the wardens have asked that the Guardian of the Maze of Zoria to find out what the right questions are, gather a team of warriors, magicians, and wardens to brave the glade, stop whatever it is that the horror of Isember is doing, and if possible end its threat, if not forever then at least for the time being. Valya is confident that the inspiration of Zoria, who she refers to as The Namer of the Beasts, will help guide the Guardian to an effective solution.

Success and failure: It's not clear what the horror of Isember is doing in the Whispering Glade, but if it is allowed to see it through to its conclusion it is doubtful the result will be good. Facing an unknown horror in a place it has made its lair is always risky and the Guardian of the Maze of Zoria is encouraged to seek out whatever information they can find about the nature of the creature, the effects of the tainted soil, and any weaknesses it might possess. It is very unlikely the thing can be killed, but defeating its physical form will deal with the problem in the short term - although ideally a more permanent solution might be found.

Lost Wanderers (Conjunction)

  • The bandits of Isember have kidnapped a couple of Navarri and are holding them in the Wild Copse
  • The Navarri are believed to have a relic of the northern Terunael city of Emrys with them
  • The Dean of the First Voice Glade has a responsibility to ensure that Navarr history is honoured

Not everyone who was victimised by the bandits of Isember was a Varushkan; they were indiscriminate in their attacks. A week or so before the final attack on the cursed town, a small group of Navarr traveling the trods to Ossium was ambushed by some of Alexi Iskandrova Isembrioch's scoundrels. Some of the Navarr were killed and while the survivors managed to see their attackers off - that was not before they had captured a pair of thorns named Tryn and Rhain Sunstalker. The two were believed dead - but new information suggests they are still alive. The bandits who kidnapped them were apparently not in Isember when it fell - they were camped in a lonely, wild copse several miles to the north-east. Scouts from the forces surrounding Isember have reported their presence - and the presence of the two Navarr - but indicate that the bandits are about to break camp. If they do, they will almost certainly kill the Navarr - they've probably only kept them alive this long in the hope of ransoming them. Having heard what has happened to their comrades, they are unlikely to be in a ransoming mood.

Having discovered that their people are still alive, the Sunstalker brand Ellyan has asked that the Dean of the First Voice Glade mount a rescue effort. At first so specific a request seems peculiar, until Ellyan reveals that the two thorns were entrusted with a relic of ancient Emrys that the striding had discovered in the mountains near Sungold Pass Given the Dean is responsible for ensuring that Navarr history is honoured, they seem the best person to approach. Ideally Ellyan would like both Tryn and Rhain recovered alive, but if they cannot be saved then she asks that someone ensure that Turns the Circle is performed on their remains to ensure their spirits do not become enthralled by whatever evil shrouds Isember and its vicious brigands..

Success and failure: If the Navarri are rescued then their rescuers can keep whatever treasures the bandits stole from Sunstalker Striding, and the Dean will receive a dozen herbs in gratitude from their striding before the Autumn Equinox. More importantly they will be able to hand over the relic they were carrying. If Rhain and Tryn cannot be rescued, but their corpses are spared the horror of lying unattended in the Varushkan woods, the striding will be sorrowful but grateful, and hopefully the Dean will be able to recover the relic from their bodies.

Special circumstances: This location is not within the tainted land that surrounds Isember, but that does not mean the bandits won't be carrying the curse within them so caution should be exercised.