Where Do We Draw The Line?
The marshes of Bregasland are quiet. Perhaps too quiet. There is no clash of metal-on-metal to disturb the water fowl and the frogs, no iron feet splashing in the dank ponds, no blood spilled for the hungry flies. Yet the silence is still disquieted, with whispered ripples spreading across the still surface of the western Marches. People are talking, and while their voices are quiet now, there is a real risk they may become louder and louder in the months to come.
The Jotun armies have hunkered down in North Fens and the Grey Fens, laying down palisades wherever they can find solid ground and watching their own borders for signs of an Imperial assault... that never comes. Only the Yegarra of Mathilda Fisher are especially active, with messengers under flags of truce spreading across the marshes and speaking to the Bregas about the evils of the Empire and the ambitious future where Bregasland is independent of orc or Imperial.
The only Imperial army in Bregasland this season is the Strong Reeds. Many of these soldiers are good Bregas folk, and this season sees them putting their knowledge of the deep marshes, and the hearts of the people who live here, to the test. Not for the Strong Reeds the relative comfort of dry beds and warm food enjoyed by the Tusks, currently billeted in neighbouring Upwold. Rather they make do with bivouacs, concealed tents, out-of-the-way camps, and all the freezing mud and hungry bugs they can tolerate. The army has been ordered to lie low - to resist the Jotun where they can but to prioritise stealth over combat. If the Jotun armies in Bregasland had gone on the offensive, the Strong Reeds would have slowed their advance without risking direct confrontation - but the orcs and their human pawns do not attack. Instead they are regrouping, focusing their attention on protecting the land they have taken, seemingly convinced that the Empire would continue their attempt to liberate the territory that they began in the wake of the Autumn Equinox last year.
Lay low. Loyalty to our neighbours means we must stand alone in Bregasland. Lie low, and we strike back next season.Jack Flint, General of the Strong Reeds
During the Winter Solstice, Imperial heroes brought a large number of Jotun orcs and their Yegarra to battle at Miresend. Their raid recovered a portion of the equipment intended to arm rebels in Bregasland. That cache is put to good use, replacing and repairing weapons and armours for the Strong Reeds. Not all of these weapons and armour were recovered, however. The remainder is used to arm misguided Bregas who listen to the propaganda of Mathilda Fisher and take up the Jotun-backed cause as their own.
Yet the decisive actions of the Imperial heroes have dampened the impact of Mathilda's words. There are only a comparatively small number of Bregas, primarily in the western fens, who are listening, and have become enthralled by her plan for an independent state between the Jotun nation and the Empire. Those who are prepared to fight are being armed, and openly supporting the invaders. They do so for any number of reasons; some are tired of being Imperial citizens. Some are sick of the ribbing they receive from their neighbours in Mitwold and Upwold about how "strange" they are. Some have a strong family tradition of bloody-mindedness, and never wanted to be part of the Empire in the first place. Others are simply ambitious - they see a way that they can turn the current confusion to their advantage, perhaps intending to play both sides against the middle. There's no doubt that given enough time however this persuasive speaker could win more and more people to her cause.
... the generals of the Military Council and the sorcerers of the Conclave aren't fit to manage a farm much less a war. Their Empire wouldn't spare a stale barmcake for the people who make it up. Worse, they don't care about the land that feeds them – prepared to poison it with Spring and Winter magic when it suits them. They've done it before, and they'll do it again, and it won't be generals or sorcerers who have to gather the harvest they've sown.Mathilda Fisher
Scouts - clever Bregas beaters in service to the Strong Reeds - report that there is no sign of Steven of Sarcombe in Bregasland. He and his Mournwold Exiles seem to have quit the territory in the week following the Winter Solstice. They also report that Mathilda Fisher has brought in more of her own people, perhaps to replace the Mournwold bill block. They can't be precise but agree that several hundred more human folk whose attire suggests both the practical stolidity of the Bregas and the leather-and-fur of the Jotun have crossed the border out of Hordalant. They arrive in the first month after the Solstice, and there is a very guarded estimate that they have swollen Mathilda's warband to half again its former size.
Illusion and Dream
It is not just Jotun and Yegarra in Bregasland this season. The barbarian armies are supported by warbands of laughing golden-haired knights of elfin mien, conjured from the Fields of Glory to fight alongside the orcs. It seems likely that the Jotun had planned to continue expanding their control of the territory, but only if they were assured of support from the local populace. Denied that certainty by the raid through the Sentinel Gate, they have instead fallen back to defensive positions to see how the situation develops. Rather than chafe at the lack of combat, the fey warriors amuse themselves by hosting tourneys and banquets among the reeds and meres of the northern marshes.
Are you lost? Come, my lantern will lead you home. See how it dances! Is my lantern not beautiful?Pip o' the Yeth, weird little marsh person
The Empire has its own supernatural supporters; Ottermire and the Rushes are woven with strands of Night magic that make the marshes themselves resist the Jotun and the Yegarra. This season sees multiple credible reports of weird little creatures abroad in the fens - round-headed, round-eyed, lanky figures with glowing lanterns that cluster around the Jotun camps at night seeking to lure them into the bottomless lakes and sucking quagmires of Bregasland. When they encounter Marchers, they doff little brown-and-green caps of woven rushes, offering in piping voices to lead them to safety. For all their friendly words, few Bregas take them up on their kind offers.
All in all, the season is quiet. There are a few minor altercations when Jotun patrols encounter Strong Reeds camped in the fens, or when the latter see the opportunity to harry the former into the fens and quagmires. Yet all is clearly not well in Bregasland. There is a sense of foreboding, especially between the households of the south and east some of whom are at great pains to remind everyone how loyal to the Marches they are, and those of the north and west who are at best quietly contemplative, giving careful consideration to the shape of the future.
With no fighting on either side, the situation in Bregasland has not changed. The Jotun still control North Fens and Grey Fens (although their hold on the latter is somewhat shaky thanks to the Imperial assault after the Autumn Equinox).
The Strong Reeds have been making use of their special lay low order, and received emergency resupply. They were not able to benefit from natural resupply due to the presence of enemy armies in the territory. Unfortunately, this means that the enchantment that had been placed on them - Brotherhood of Tian - which is contingent on natural resupply had no effect.
The human Yegarra that fight under the banner of Mathilda Fisher are being bolstered by dissatisfied Bregas. It is estimated that perhaps 250 or so former Marcher citizens have openly embraced the cause of independence for Bregasland. This number would have been easily doubled if the proposed meeting and mithril dissemination had taken place after the Winter Solstice. If nothing changes then each season that Mathilda (and potentially Steven of Sarcombe as well) are openly recruiting in Bregasland will see more people drawn to the banner of the independent Bregasland. If sufficient force is gathered to see the human forces reach an accumulated total of 5000 strength, then with Jotun assistance they will transition from groups of champions into a full-blown campaign army.
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 Fortune conjunction page for the event, usually one of the last of the winds to be released.
For most conjunctions we've suggested Imperial titles that might be most fitting to take overall responsibility for ensuring that an opportunity is organised. Whilst the named individual has been deemed the most appropriate by the Civil Service, there is no legal requirement for them to coordinate a response or travel on the conjunction. They may delegate oversight to another individual of their choosing. As always, Imperial war scouts will be on hand at the muster point by the Sentinel Gate to provide further information to any citizens wanting to know more.Sometimes it is necessary to make small adjustments to the timing or size of skirmishes, owing to delays or availability of crew that arise between the time of publication and when an encounter runs at the event. Details will be finalised on Friday afternoon of the event before time-in. Please do check the details of a conjunction you are interested in before using the gate to ensure that you have the full and up to date information. You can check a conjunction by casting Detect Magic (Discover Conjunction) on the Sentinel Gate in the presence of a ref.
Up Here on the Hill (Conjunction)
- There is an opportunity to counter Mathilda Fisher's propaganda by defeating a Jotun warband
- The civil service suggest the Senator for Bregasland might be in the best position to organise the mission
It seems that a group of Jotun operating as a picketing force for the Fist of Ulven has been observed moving through the Grey Fens. As with the defensive actions of the Jotun armies in Bregasland this season, they are cautious, expecting an attack at any time. Whenever local beaters or small levies led by Strong Reeds' soldiers have raised arms, the force has retreated, slinking away among the willows. There isn't much to be done against an enemy that won't commit, so the stalemate continues...
This stalemate plays into the hands of the hands of Mathilda Fisher. She and her firebrand secessionists are quick to stir up trouble; using the failure to counter these orc patrols as evidence of the Empire's contempt for Bregasland. For a few, it is a convincing yarn, and one that gets more than a few disgruntled citizens nodding in approval. The Empire have withdrawn their armies, the Strong Reeds are lying low... is this some clever stratagem, or has the Empire abandoned the marshes as Mathilda claims?
To others though, it only galvanises their desire to act. The village of Dank Mere have had enough with the Jotun, the war and most of all the Fishers. Old grudges long remembered, are dusted off and then sharpened over a few pints of ale. It is well understood why the Strong Reeds have been billeted across the area, and why they haven't sought to drive off orcs armies that outnumbered them five-to-one is evident for all. But if the Empire did act, well then, that would really show everyone that Mathilda's words are just as hollow as the Old Hollow Willow down by the Long Drain!
The monks, mummers and alderman of Dank Mere have reached out to the Marcher egregore with a proposition. If the band of orcs can be dealt with, if an example can be made of them, then the village will spread word of the Empire's actions, and try to discredit Mathilda's lies that are currently spreading like a fungus through a granary. Be it at high water, under blazing sun or driving rain they will gladly speak to every last bloody Bregasfolk from Rushring to Graven, Ottery to Sallow, and put an end to Mathilda the likes that haven't been seen in over four hundred years!
Success and Failure: The residents of Dank Mere need the Empire to rout or kill the Jotun warband, so that they can point to the victory to prove that Mathilda is wrong, that the Empire will defend Bregasland and that its remit still runs here. If the heroes are able to engage the Jotun warband and convincingly defeat them then that will undo any propaganda benefits that Mathilda has gained from the Empire's recent withdrawal. Any gains she has made this season trying to win over the hearts and minds of the Marchers who live here will be lost.
If the Empire fail, Dank Mere will have nothing to point to, to rebut Mathilda's claims that the Empire's rule here is coming to an end. If the Empire are defeated or routed by the Jotun then that will be a further propaganda win for Mathilda.
Last season, as the Jotun and the Empire clashed in Bregasland, the human champion Mathilda Fisher sent messengers to every village, market town, and steward across the territory. Approaching under a flag of truce they brought word from Mathilda, and urged all Bregas to quit the Empire. This season those messengers have been active again, and the content of their messages have spread beyond the borders of Bregasland.
Mathilda Fisher is the champion of a large contingent of human warriors who fight alongside the Jotun. These human warriors are called Yegarra by the Jotun. Mathilda claims to be a descendant of the Fishers of Greywater, a Marcher household who once laid claim to much of western Bregasland, back before the Cousin's War. She says she has returned to liberate Bregasland from the Imperial occupation and claim it as its steward. She claims that the orcs of Narkyst are here fighting to support her claim, rather than seeking to press their own.
There is no doubt that the Fishers were once a powerful household who opposed Marcher involvement in the Empire. They fought against Tom Drake and the pro-Imperial houses during the Cousin's War, and while they were defeated they never surrendered. Old Bregas histories say that they retreated west into the marshes of Hordalant. Mathilda claims that her household has dwelled there for the last four hundred years or so. Now they are back to reclaim from the Empire the land that was once theirs.
The Empire is Bad
Mathilda's ”household” have fought alongside the warriors of Steven of Sarcombe, although there is no sign of him or his Yegarra in Bregasland this season. A deadly master of partisan and pike, he and his supporters were born or grew up during the Jotun occupation of the Mournwold. They have spoken passionately about the horrors visited on the people of the Mourn by the people who allegedly were there to protect them. Not one person fighting under Steven's banner came out of the calamitous curses that struck the Mourn with all their family. This more than anything else is what drove them to follow the Jotun when they retreated from the Mournwold.
They claim that the callous actions of the Empire prove that it does not actually care about any of the individual nations that compose it. Worse, they don't care about the land – prepared to poison it with Spring and Winter ritual magic if it suits the generals of the Military Council or the sorcerers of the Imperial Conclave.
Mathilda echoes and amplifies these claims, warning that it is only a matter of time before the Empire does something similar again – perhaps even in Bregasland. The Jotun would never curse their own people – far from it. Protecting those who work the land is the highest calling of the western orcs – the epitome of their honour – and likewise the calling of the Fishers and the Mournwold Exiles.
Mathilda Fisher is here to reclaim her ancestral land – the land she says belongs to her household. She counts North Fens, Gray Fens, and Ottermire as Fisher land – or land that belonged to the smaller households that fought under the banner of her ancestors.
Yet there is more to her strategy than just claiming the Western marshes. She intends to “free” the whole of Bregasland from the Empire. The Jotun have agreed a treaty with Mathilda and her household. They will recognise Bregasland as an independent nation allied with the Jotun. They have little interest in marshes and swamps, after all.
There is no reason the Empire could not do the same. Those Bregas who wanted to do so would still be able to visit Anvil and trade there. Unlike the hated Tom Drake, conniving Henry of Meade, and the cursed Brigit Dourfen, Mathilda has no interest in forcing hegemony on the people of Bregas. She claims it was the Empire's drive to dominate the Marches and force them to combine under a single flag that prompted the Cousin's War. Her messengers seem to firmly believe that the First Empress intentionally engineered a civil war in the Marches. The reasons they give sound like wild conspiracies but revolve around the idea of weakening the Marches so they would have no choice but to submit to the rulership of the Empire (lead, of course, by its Dawnish queen).
Rebellion and Secession
Mathilda is preaching rebellion and secession. Leave the Empire to the squabbling families of Upwold and Mitwold – the same households who tore the Marches apart in the Cousin's War. Take up arms and fight alongside the Yegarra, and once Bregasland has been liberated the Jotun will help to keep it free of Imperial occupation.
Any Bregas who wishes to do so will be welcome to come fight alongside the Jotun armies in the coming season.
If the Empire – or even just the Marches – recognises the independence of Bregasland, and withdraws their troops, then the Jotun will agree not to pursue their claim to the lands of their ancestors currently occupied by the Marches (Mourn, Mitwold, Upwold) for the next five years or until the Empire moves against Bregasland. It will not be a peace treaty, as such, but a commitment by the Jotun to leave the Marchers to their own devices for a while.
Don't Take the Battlefield
To those still listening to her messengers, Mathilda has one last message. She knows about the Sentinel Gate, and how it allows Imperials from Anvil to reach different parts of their Empire. She urges anyone with influence at Anvil to discourage the Military Council from using it to interfere in Bregasland. Go elsewhere, and deal with other threats.
Mathilda likewise has one last thing to say. She doesn't particularly enjoy fighting Marchers – neither does Steven – but she will if she has to. She sends thanks to those who were able to convince the Military Council to pull their forces back out of Bregasland, minimizing the amount of Marcher blood spilled. She calls on them to do so again, to keep the Imperial armies out of Marcher business and let Bregasland go its own way.
The Bregas Rebellion in Play
During the coming season any military unit owned by a Marcher character will be free to fight alongside the Jotun; you can find the option to "Support Bregasland Rebellion" in the paid work dropdown, although it provides no production.
Taking this option will involve fighting against Imperial forces if there is a battle in Bregasland, and will constitute treason. There is no easy way however for the Empire to recognise Marcher military units fighting with Mathilda Fisher.