Falcon in winter
The Imperial Orcs were coming.
No more would Skarsind be part of Wintermark, now it was a place for orcish ancestors and orcish children. Skarsind would no longer be a place of Stormcrows, hospitality, and runesmiths. Now it would be a place of shamans, pit fights, and objects of "worth".
The skein of Skarsind had been snapped. Its history had been discarded.
This was not about ownership or property, it was about history, about tradition, about the sacrifices made to tame this land. About the debts owed to all those who had died to build Skarsind.
Dogri did not hate the Orcs; he understood too well what it felt like to live at another's whim, to be told you had a place in the Empire, but it was not truly your place. The bile in his gut was for those who would give away his lands - not for those who had been given them.
Why not Holberg? Why not Karsk? Too much money and too much influence was why. No, let Wintermark give up their lands. Wintermark the loyal. Wintermark with its broad shoulders could carry this burden. But even the strongest oxen could be given a load too heavy to bear.
"Sir?" The messenger was young. She looked worried.
"I said that out loud did I?" Dogri chuckled. He looked at the messenger properly. She was very young. To young for the scars that marked her face - barely old enough to be away from her parents, but old enough to be marked forever by the Thule war. She was young in years, but her eyes were old. The eyes of a veteran like many here, like many who understood the cost of loyalty and pride. He could see in her eyes that she had the courage to stand up for her traditions, for her ancestors' traditions.
"Tell them to collapse all passes except Pioneers Way, and send the message to Anvil. They may pass what laws they like, but this is a place of Loyalty, Pride and Courage. The Orcs may have the rest, but Crows Ridge is Wintermark still. As long as we draw breath, it is Wintermark still."
Not everyone is celebrating the establishment of the Imperial Orcs' homeland.
Ever since news of the relinquishment reached the north, there have been angry voices that claim Skarsind has been part of Wintermark for two hundred years, and that the rest of Wintermark has betrayed their traditions. They say that their voice has been taken from them. They say that they will not submit to orcs, whether they be Imperial or Thule.
The self proclaimed Skarsind Loyalty Congregation, under the leadership of the war hero Thane Dogri Thulebane, have claimed the region of Crow's Ridge, and entrenched themselves in the small fortress of Crow's Ridge. The message they have sent to the Empire is that "Crows Ridge is part of Wintermark, it is ours, stay out. We will maintain the traditions of Skarsind here and we will never bow to orcish overlords."
In the last month or so, a number of dissatisfied Skarsind residents have begun making their way north to join the citizens there. They are leaving their farms, mines, and businesses to the Imperial Orc settlers, but they are refusing to leave the territory their ancestors shed so much blood over.
The orcs have not yet pressed the issue, and so far there has been no violence. Crow's Ridge is high in the south-eastern foothills of the Silver Peaks, isolated up on the north-western tip of Skarsind, isolated up on the border with Otkodov. The people there have taken steps to isolate it even further, collapsing two passes and destroying one bridge over a deep gully.
There has been no violence yet ... but the people on Crow's Ridge have made it clear that if the Senate or Military Council try to poke their nose into their business they are prepared to fight to the last breath.
Crows Keep has declared itself separate from Skarsind, and still part of Wintermark. They have said that any Imperial Orc who comes into their territory will be provided with sufficient supplies to return them to Pakaanan's Pass or Skogei Glen and sent on their way.
This region is not considered to be under the control of the Imperial Orcs. This does not prevent the Imperial Orcs from returning a senator, nor does it effect the situation regarding the production of Wintermark personal resources.
In some ways, Thane Dogri and his followers are simply the most obvious symptom of the problems in Skarsind, however. If his rebellion is ignored it will continue to slowly gather force. The longer Dogri and his followers are left alone, the more disgruntled Skarsind inhabitants will flock to his banner. Whether he has any intention of violence at the moment or not, if he receives support from Wintermark it is not clear how far he might be prepared to go.
Thane Dogri and his followers are in a highly defensible location. The local magistrates can see no easy way to arrest them; if they try to resist there would be bloodshed on both sides.
The defenders of Crows Ridge are stubborn, but they are no match for an Imperial army. Any general could move an army to Skarsind and order their troops to remove Thane Dogri Thulebane and his supporters, opening the region to Imperial Orc settlers. This would be impossible to do so without loss of life - potentially significant loss if the Winterfolk refuse to leave.
The Senate does not have the legal power to declare war on their own citizens. The people of Crow's Ridge are still Imperial citizens, bonded to the Wintermark egregore. As a consequence, sending an army to oust them from their homes would be a criminal act. The general who gave the order and any captains who assisted the army would most likely be charged with murder.
While attempts by the Senate or the Military Council to act in force would have to overcome armed resistance, it is possible for the Wintermark national assembly to influence the outcome. Doing so would require them to take a definitive stand on the situation in Skarsind.
If the Wintermark assembly passes a statement of principle that the people of Wintermark should withdraw from Skarsind and find new homes in Hahnmark, Sermersuaq, and Kallavesa, then many of the people being drawn to Dogri's banner would be deterred. While this will not solve the immediate problem represented by the rogue Thane and his followers, it would stop any more Winterfolk rallying to their banner.
It would also likely encourage a burst of prosperity across Wintermark as the exiles found new homes, resulting in a small increase to the production of every personal resource (including fleets and military units over both the next season, and the season after. By contrast, the penalties to the production of Winterfolk - owned resources in Skarsind would increase to a half, rather than a third, to reflect the confused situation there. This penalty would also last for six months while the remaining Winterfolk negotiate their new positions among the Imperial Orcs.
However, this statement would be entirely meaningless - and ineffective - unless it is clear that the civic leaders of Skarsind are following suit. Specifically, Wulfric Kelvinsson, Kali of the Saker, and both Govannan Seppa and Kellua Itsepainen of the Sussivari Oathsworn Fyrd, would all need to give up their claim to the spoils they received after the liberation of Skarsind.
These spoils of war would need to be formally turned over to the Imperial orcs, either by a direct trade or with the assistance of the civil service. If they are still in the hands of Winterfolk, then the statement of principle will have no effect.
There are six relevant spoils of war in Skarsind; the Clattering Gulley; Goeki Expanses; Solvihill Beggarwood Barrens; the Wells of Janon; Crimson Peak Mining; Four Seasons Market; Southpine Southbound; and the Hall of White Ravens. If the statement of principle is made, the six spoils of war will need to be either vacant or in the hands of an Imperial Orc by the end of the event or it will achieve nothing. It is up to characters involved what they wish to do; they can of course choose to keep their resource; they might trade it to an Imperial orc; or they may speak to a civil service about getting a new resource in another territory. In the latter case, the civil service will auction the spoils of war as they might any other upgraded personal resource.
The warriors of Irontongue Hall have expressed their intention to make their own arrangements regardless of what happens with Thane Dogri Thulebane. The House of White Ravens is already in the possession of Atla of the Imperial orcs, and Rust of the Renwaerd has surrendered control of the Clattering Gulley.
Alternatively, if the Wintermark national assembly passes a statement of principle in support of the people remaining in Skarsind and asserts their right to call themselves Winterfolk, this would bolster Thane Dogri's position. Many more Skarsind folk would rally to his banner, swelling his numbers dramatically and making it more difficult to remove him and his supporters.
At the same time, it would help to mitigate the current problems all Wintermark resources in Skarsind are experiencing, but at the cost of a similar reduction in the production of all resources owned by Imperial Orcs.
The Skarsind Situation
- Skarsind is now an Imperial Orc territory. This means that any Wintermark character whose personal resource is in Skarsind will lose a third of their production.
- Any Wintermark character can arrange to take control of a basic resource of any type (most likely in another territory by going to GOD and paying an administration fee of two crowns. They can sell their existing resource to someone else in the process, or leave it vacant.
- The Civil Service will auction any upgraded resources abandoned in this way in the public Bourse auction
- You cannot "move" a resource - you are welcome to roleplay as you wish, but any upgrades on your existing resource are lost if you gain a new one in another territory.
- Characters whose personal resource is in Skarsind can continue to participate in the appointment of the senators of Sermersuaq, Kallavesa, and Hahnmark, but there is nobody to represent them directly.
- All of this applies to military units and fleets as well as other resources.
- The Brilliant Shore is now an Imperial Orc national Bourse seat. It is no longer a Wintermark national Bourse seat
- The civil service has raised an administrative motion before the Imperial Senate to determine how to proceed regarding the remaining tenure of the Steinr who currently controls it.
- If they choose to transfer control of the seat immediately, then the Imperial Orcs will be free to elect the seat.
- If they choose to let the current holder finish their tenure, they will continue to receive the white granite until they die, step down, are revoked by either the Wintermark or the Imperial Orc assembly, or until the Summer Solstice when it would normally be reappointed.
- Joakim (the current holder) will not receive his white granite at the start of the event as normal; if the senate chooses to transfer the seat immediately then the White Granite will go to the new holder. If not, it will be given to Joakim once the senate decision is made.
- The Will of the Wintermark is still a fortification. Over the next six months the Wintermark garrison will naturally be replaced by an Imperial Orc garrison. At any point the Imperial Orc synod can raise a statement of principle to change the name of the fortification if they wish.
- The Gildenheim Runeforge is still there. The ruined runeforge recently discovered under Gildenheim is still there, and the opportunity to rebuild it still remains. Now, however, if it were rebuilt and designated a National position it would belong to the Imperial Orcs rather than Wintermark for obvious reasons.
- The Sylvihrafn crystal henge remains a Wintermark national sinecure. While it is rare for a national sinecure to be in a territory controlled by a nation other than the one that appoints the title, it is not unknown.
While the Wintermark National Assembly made a judgement in the Synod that "Whilst we commend the courage and conviction of Dogri Thulebane and his fellows, we cannot condone the gathering of forces. We discourage people of Wintermark from travelling to join Thane Dogri and encourage them to settle in Wintermark lands. We are seeking an amicable agreement with Dogri, the Imperial Orcs, and all peoples of the Empire, which will keep the Wintermark traditions of Skarsind alive. "
Despite this judgement however, the Four Seasons Market remains in Wintermark hands. The owner maintains that as no Imperial Orc came to discuss the Market, there was no-one to give it up to. As a result, the Synod judgement has not had the desired effect.