Into the valley
- 1 Three Long Years
- 2 A Steel Causeway
- 3 Game Information
- 4 As the Water's Dripping Down (Battle)
- 5 From the Forest (Conjunction)
- 6 A Poisoned Chalice (Conjunction)
- 7 Troubled Waters (Conjunction)
- 8 A Sudden Flood (Conjunction)
Three Long Years
Soldiers of the Pride! We return to the Barrens once more. Let us carve our way south through the Druj to give us the opportunity to support anywhere on the front we are needed. We assault Carmine Fields and seek to push through and rendezvous with Imperial Forces in Hope's Rest. Should we encounter less resistance than expected, then we assault Bitter Strand.Garravaine De Rondell, General of the Gryphon's Pride
We march on the Carmine Fields to drive a causeway south that we may honour our loyalty to the people in Zenith. Let us push through the fields - a steady conquest towards our later goals.Tancred De Coeurdefer, General of the Hounds of Glory
Glorious Citizens of Dawn, the time has finally come back into The Barrens. We go in song and virtue, in Glory and Love. We go to fight the Druj and drive them before us. Break them under our Grinding Advance. We try to punch through them to open a route to the south to connect Dawn to the south of the Empire. Allowing Dawn to join the Eastern Sky in Zenith to liberate it for Urizen.Zoran De Orzel, General of the Golden Sun
It's been three years, more or less, since Imperial armies fought in the Barrens. Three years since Druj treachery saw the Towers of the Dawn fall, and the orcs of the Mallum spread their hegemony once again across the deep forests and the bloody fields. Now, the Empire has returned. From the north, from out of the Morass in Holberg, come the Golden Sun, the Gryphon's Pride, and the Hounds of Glory with their Varushkan allies, the Golden Axe. From the south, up through the Tarn Valley, out of Therunin, come the other Varushkan armies - the Iron Helms and the Northern Eagle. With them are the Wolves of War supported by a great many Varushkan wagon raiders and sell swords, as well as Temeschwari bravos keen to wrest some profit from the war against the Druj.
Their strategy is simple; to "cut the Barrens in half" by seizing both the Carmine Fields and Hope's Rest. If they can take both regions, then the Druj will find it difficult to hold Dawnguard, Murderdale, and the Heart of Peytaht. Their armies will be restricted to the eastern half - to Bitter Strand and Saltmarsh and the Untrod Groves; to the Bleaks and the Plains of Teeth.
Soldier, we are needed south in Zenith. We march through the Barrens while our cousins march to meet us. We will Take the Land of the Druj We will make them suffer and bring freedom to ZenithSigismund Vladislav Kestovia, General of the Golden Axe
It is a risky strategy, however, for any number of reasons. It requires the Imperial forces to establish not one, but two beachheads in the territory. Until one force conquers their target region, they will be unable to help the other. Each must contend with the defences of the Barrens alone. Worse, the entire territory labours under the influence of malign Druj magic. Not the familiar miasma of dread that infests other territories under the control of the Mallum orcs - but the equally familiar curse that infests all water in the territory with sickening, pestilential Spring magic. The rivers in the Barrens are choked with poison, and even water carried by the invading armies quickly acquires that slight crimson tinge that marks it as accursed. Injuries fester; wounds that might otherwise be serious but not life-threatening quickly drain out the life of those who do not receive immediate treatment.
The Empire has its own magic; the soldiers of the Gryphon's Pride and the Hounds of Glory fight with supernatural clarity that allows them to make and execute strategic and tactical plans more effectively. The Wolves of War - as always - find it easy to incorporate the mercenaries and independent captains that fight under their banner to their common cause. Those two thousand additional soldiers operate much more effectively under the guidance of the League captains than they might alongside any other armies.
And this season at least, it appears that the Imperial armies are the only ones in the territory. When the first Druj turn up - several thousand swift moving warriors with leather masks and curved spears - the initial assumption is that they represent a true army. It quickly becomes apparent that they are just the vanguard of the garrison of the citadel that rises in the east of the territory. The Towers of Dusk, as the Empire christened them long ago, were destroyed by thunder and lightning and the bravery of Imperial heroes. They have not only been rebuilt, but extensively reinforced. Cruel battlements, studded with spikes of metal and shaped bone, glower over the Plains of Teeth, and in their shadow nothing grows.
Iron Helms, we are not ones to sit and wait for progress. We march on the Barrens. We will rip and tear into the Druj. Our Merciless Onslaught upon Hope's Rest will make us the Hammer, and the armies coming from the North the anvil.Alderei the Fair, General of the Iron Helms
Northern Eagle, we march to the Barrens. We must soften the pressure on our Urizeni Cousins, and we can see Dawnish Loyalty repaid. This will be a reunion, for we march with the Iron Helms to meet the Golden Axe in the Heart of the Druj. Greet them warmly as we all will have killed for this moment of kinship.Jaromir Ostrovyn Kostka, General of the Northern Eagle
We must keep pressure on the Druj. Hit them where it hurts - in their homes and in their treasuries. Force the Druj to come north to face us and next season we can cut their legs out.Gabriel Barossa, General of the Wolves of War
These Druj are further supported by the enchanted defences the orcs favour. The forests of the Barrens are fat with deadly insects of unnatural size. The trees are inhabited by hateful spirits drawn from the realm of Spring, and with dreadful beasts that strike from the shadows without warning to carry away anyone who strays within their reach. For the Empire, travel through any overgrown area is impeded - the vegetation shifts when there is nobody to see it - while the Druj move effortlessly through even the densest undergrowth.
If the forests are bad, the marshes are even worse. Scouts report that the stagnant pools and salt flats of Saltmarsh teem with stealthy flesh-hungry lizards, with pale lambent-eyed orc spirits that mesmerise the unwary and lure them to their death, with shifting quagmires, and with a dreadful low-lying fog that misdirects and confuses. Again, anyone who strays too close to marsh ground in the Barrens risks falling afoul of these night-woven protective enchantment.
A Steel Causeway
There are over thirty-five thousand Imperial troops in the Barrens and while the garrison of the Towers of Dusk take every opportunity to use the advantage offered by their defensive enchantments, they are absolutely no match for the Empire. The problem for the Imperials is that they rarely, if ever, allow themselves to be lured into a open battle, striking suddenly and then melting back into the Untrod Groves and the Bleaks almost before the Empire's armies know they have been attacked. The weakness in their tactics is that they are only effective at slowing the Imperial advance, not stopping it. When a Dawnish soldier suddenly stumbles and falls, a barbed arrow sunk into their shoulder, there is a Varushkan physick at their side almost before they hit the ground. When a League scout falls afoul of a deadfall, there are two yeofolk on hand to drag them back to safety and ensure their wounds do not have time to fester.
It would be a different matter if the Empire was fighting in the woods or the marshes... but the Carmine Fields are fertile grasslands, and while there are plenty of wooded copses in Hope's Rest, a little caution ensures that they are unable to claim Imperial lives. The frustration of the Druj becomes almost palpable as the Summer Solstice nears; there are some deaths, but casualties can be counted on the fingers rather than tallied in the kind of grim butcher's bill that is so often the price of war against the Mallum.
Despite their growing anger, though, the Mallum forces are still able to make the Empire fight for every foot of land. The rough terrain in the south slows the advance and while the strategies employed there are effective, they are not focused on claiming territory. While the Wolves of War plunder the Druj garrisons and strike against the scattered orc settlements in Hope's Rest and the nearby forests, the Iron Helms methodically make examples of every Druj warrior that falls into their hands. They are merciless, seeking every opportunity to trap and dispatch the orc warriors, and the Druj know it. By contrast the Northern Eagle take a more cautious approach, eschewing risky tactics and ensuring that they carefully conserve their strength. The individual armies are tactically effective, but their splintered focus means that it slowly becomes clear this strategy will not be enough to capture the region; by themselves, the three armies would have failed to claim Hope's Rest.
Fortunately, they are not by themselves. The northern faction of the Empire's forces fight in open ground - the kind of fighting the Druj loathe - and the Dawnish armies remember this territory well. With the Gryphon's Pride and the Golden Axe in the vanguard, and with the Hounds of Glory and the Golden Sun grinding steadily forward, the Empire's advance proves irresistible. Defended camps are established across the region and then the armies continue to push. The Druj defenders are caught between an anvil to the south and a steel hammer from the north and left with the choice of being crushed, or retreating.
As the days become longer, and the nights become shorter, and the Summer sun rises triumphantly over the forests of the Barrens, the soldiers of the Northern Eagle and the Golden Axe greet one another in the foothills of northern Hope's Rest. The Druj have failed; Empire has driven a steel causeway right through the centre of the Barrens.
The Empire's risky strategy has been successful. The Imperial forces have conquered the Carmine Fields and Hope's Rest. As per their stated intent, this means any of the armies in the territory at the moment can leave to either the north or the south - into Holberg or Therunin - should they wish to do so.
The only Druj forces in the territory have been those provided by the eastern fortification and the enchantments they raised in the woods and marshes. As a consequence, despite the presence of the Rivers Run Red curse, there have been no appreciable casualties among the Empire's armies.
Two of the armies involved in the assault undertook particularly notable orders. The Iron Helms have undertaken a merciless assault in the Barrens; this strategy is obvious both to their Imperial allies and to the orcs of the Mallum. The Wolves of War have undertaken the plunder action; the general will receive the gains thereof in their pack prior to the event.
Thanks to the mandate enacted by Tobias Field, during the Summer Solstice any Dawnish general can issue the triumphant charge order while campaigning in the Barrens. If any Dawnish army issues orders to conduct a forced march to reach the Barrens, or issues a triumphant charge or attacks no matter what the cost, while fighting here, then the option to order a triumphant charge will be available following the Autumn Equinox as well.
As the Water's Dripping Down (Battle)
- A major conjunction has been identified in the Barrens
During the Summer Solstice, it seems that there is a major conjunction connecting the Sentinel Gate to the vicinity of Dourfell Keep in the Barrens. Details are light at the moment, but it appears it will allow access to a Night regio that, with some preparation, the Empire might be able to manipulate to perform some powerful enchantments or curses that could affect the Barrens. Perhaps more significantly, there is also an opportunity to secure the Imperial presence in the Barrens - whether the Empire's armies intend to remain or not - and possibly even to mend some broken fences and cement an alliance aimed at liberating the Barrens from the Druj once and for all.
- If the Great Forest Orcs conduct a ceremony of reconciliation with the Dawnish generals at Hope's Rest the orcs will begin to forgive them for the conquest of the Barrens
- If successful, the Spears of the Pines, the Great Forest Orcs military force of a thousand strength will fight alongside any Imperial army liberating the Barrens
- If successful, the Great Forest Orcs will guide Imperial army moving through the Forest of Peytaht, allowing them to travel into or out of the Barrens safely
- If attempted, the Great Forest Orcs will establish a free spy network in the Barrens for the Empire to use for the coming year
There is a major conjunction in the Hope's Rest area, to the site that was once the home of the "freedom Briars" - the descendants of survivors from the ill-starred attempt to start a secessionist haven in the Barrens for those who embraced the malign spiritual force of anarchy. The centre of their community was Dourfell Keep - a fortified haven in the hills of the southern Barrens. It was destroyed in 380YE during the fall of the Barrens. Whatever happened to it was quite catastrophic in nature - the keep was utterly destroyed along with the Druj who were attempting to storm it. All the defenders died - the only survivors were those who fled south with the Great Forest Orcs before the Druj attacked.
Located somewhere in the expansive woodlands is a small shrine. It was built by the Dourfell Keep briars to commemorate the first meeting with the orcs who would later go on to rise up against the Druj. The Dourfell Keep briars were instrumental in uniting the defenders of the Barrens - the independent orcs who originally drove the Druj out of the Barrens for that brief period of time before the Empire and the Mallum orcs split the territory between them. Driven by their commitment to Freedom, they provided neutral ground for the rival septs to meet. That meeting ultimately lead to the alliance between the Great Forest and the Rhavin sept of orcs that broke Druj power in the Barrens.
The Great Forest Orcs blame the Dawnish for the return of the Druj, the subsequent collapse of their alliance with the other septs, and the deaths of thousands of their people. However, more than anything else the Great Forest Orcs wish to return to their traditional home beneath the Eaves of Peytaht. The Steel Causeway presents a glimmer of hope - that the Druj might again be driven from the Barrens. That the orcs will be able to return to their homes. When they first emerged from the woods they offered to help the Navarr fight in the Barrens; yet in the years since many of their number have explored the Empire among the stridings. They understand how large the Empire is and how varied its people are.
With that in mind, Chief Valak of the Great Forest Orcs and Galahad Weaver of the briars present a possible route to put the past behind them and focus on the future. If the Empire will escort three Great Forest Orc elders and Galahad to the shrine where the first alliance to drive the Druj from the Barrens was sworn, they will perform a ceremony of reconciliation. This is a traditional ceremony among the Great Forest Orcs in which people lay aside the desire for hate and vengeance in the name of the greater good. It involves each participant accepting the accusations of the other, acknowledging their wrongdoing, and pledging to create a better future. It was this particular ceremony that formed the first part of the original alliance. Conducting a new ceremony at the historic site would provide a basis to overcome the conflicts of the past.
Performing the ceremony is apparently quite straightforward, but it will require representatives of each of the Dawnish armies who took part in the original invasion of the Barrens to be present and to wholeheartedly take part. Each participant must bring flowers - it is part of the ceremony for all aggrieved parties to decorate the area with flowers as a symbol of new beginnings. It will also need the shrine to be protected from the Druj while the ceremony takes place. If the ceremony is successful, then the Great Forest Orcs and their allies will not forget their anger for the Dawnish, but the wounds will begin the heal.
This will remove an obstacle that stops them being wholly committed to driving the Druj out of the Barrens. That means that the Spears of the Pine will muster and make ready to assist in any battle in the Barrens where the Empire fights the Druj regardless of which armies are involved. Even if the attempt to reach the site and carry out the ceremony fails, the hunters and rangers of the Great Forest will leave the Tarn Valley and establish a spy network in the Barrens - supporting Imperial scouts as they gather intelligence about the Barrens. The Empire would need to convince military units to operate the network but there would be no cost to the Senate to establish the network or to pay for the upkeep.
Finally, if successful, the elders of the Great Forest Orcs will stand ready to aid any Imperial armies who wish to move through the Forest of Peytaht, either into or out of the Barrens. The Druj will not expect an attack from this direction, nor expect that Imperial troops will be able to move between Eaves of Peytaht and Reikos.
The Staff of Conviction
- The Dourfell Keep Briars are looking to recover the Staff of Conviction from the area
- The staff is protected by a powerful monster that the Druj have set to guard it
- If the Staff is returned to them, they will provide support to all Imperial attempts to liberate Hope's Rest while it is under Druj control
Galahad is an old priest of the Dourfell Keep Briars and one of the original participants in the alliance to free the Barrens. He wishes to accompany the Great Forest Orcs; his intention however is to recover something from the area; the Staff of Conviction, a powerful relic hallowed to the malign spiritual force of Anarchy by the Freeborn sutannir Crescencia i Marusa i Riqueza using a stolen dose of true liao.
The Staff used to be kept in the shrine, but during the fall of Dourfell Keep it was wielded by one of the briar defenders. While scouting the area, the staff has been located in one of the glades in the woods - thrust into the ground no doubt by the wielder when they died. By all accounts there is some kind of powerful monster guarding it. The creature doesn't appear to be chained up in anyway, but it doesn't leave the glade. The Druj bring it fresh meat every day, so it appears that it is either a trained guardbeast, or else bound with magic to the glade in some way. It might be possible to defeat the monster, or possibly to distract it while the staff is recovered - assuming it can be moved. It seems strange that the Druj have not relocated or destroyed it themselves. But determining exactly why it is still there will have to wait until Imperial heroes can reach it.
If the Staff is returned to the briar friends of the Great Forest Orcs, then they will do more than let bygones be bygones; they will work with their allies to establish a permanent presence in the woods of Hope's Rest. They were able to avoid the Druj for more than five decades, and they do not doubt they will continue to be able to do so. Along with their Great Forest Orc allies, they will provide support to any Imperial armies in the Barrens. As a result, Hope's Rest will gain the allied insurgents quality - meaning that if Imperial forces attack it it will always be considered a beachhead while the region is under Druj control. This is similar to the situation the Druj have created in Ossium - but it will benefit the Empire rather than presenting a risk to them.
The staff could be handed to Galahad directly, before Imperial heroes pass through the Sentinel Gate. If it is brought back to Anvil, then the civil service will be able to arrange to have it delivered to the Lower Tarn Valley - assuming it is handed over to the Herald of the Council before the end of the summit.
Shadows and Nets
- There is a potent Night regio near the edge of the forest
- The Empire could cast Night rituals at the regio or use Align the Celestial Net to perform rituals of other realms
On the plains near the edge of the forest, there is a powerful Night regio, which the Druj have been making use of. Any regio on a battlefield in an enemy controlled territory represents a potential opportunity - since it gives the Empire a chance to cast rituals in that territory that would not otherwise be possible. Unfortunately Night magic is dissonant with many of the themes of war, like destruction or strength, making it very difficult to use a night regio to aid the Imperial war effort.
However, one of the Navarr prognosticators, Drustan Brocs Guard, an experienced and well-travelled vate and a practitioner of Night magic, points out that it could be made useful through use of Align the Celestial Net. A single casting of the ritual could easily align the net to either Spring or Summer - and in theory multiple castings could align it to allow several rituals of both realms to be cast. Hope's Rest is an ideal location to raise a Frozen Citadel of Cathan Canae if the regio were aligned to Summer; alternatively the regio could be used to unleash any number of Spring magic curses into the Barrens if the Empire plans to withdraw. Or both! Drustan knows that the ritual has been used by heroes passing through the Sentinel Gate before - and that there are a lot of practitioners of Night magic in the Empire who might be able to study the ritual ahead of the Summer Solstice.
- The forest is under the effect of a powerful aura
Every character who enters the main woods on the battlefield on this conjunction will experience the following roleplaying effect:
You feel a profound sense that you can only reach your true potential if you are absolutely free. You feel an urge to take command of your destiny and do whatever is necessary to secure your freedom.
While most Druj give the Dourfell Keep area a wide berth, there are certainly orcs here. By all accounts they belong to the Emerald Harvester clan - a minor clan of Druj originally from Sarangrave whose symbol is a delicate green spider. They have a higher-than-normal number of vikari among them, and their leader is believed to be a former apprentice of the ghulai Greenmask. The Druj are here for two reasons - to keep an eye on the area in case the Empire returns, and to study the peculiar aura that hangs over the woods with an eye towards destroying it. Imperial scouts report that they are being reinforced by warriors from the garrison of the Tower of the Dusk. There are too few of them to provide much threat to the Empire's armies, but they will certainly try to stop Imperial heroes interfering with the regio or the forest.
Imperial heroes who fight the Druj are familiar with the horror of the Druj miasma. Those who have fought in Spiral know about the unique oppression that hangs over that territory. A powerful aura likewise hangs over the forest that surrounds the ruins of Dourfell Keep. Those who have experienced it talk about experiencing a need to be completely free - to be in complete command of their own destiny and to be prepared to do whatever it takes to secure that freedom. It is perhaps no wonder that the Druj tend to avoid the area. The Emerald Harvester orcs apparently make use of potions that allow them to ignore the urge to turn against the authority of their leaders, but even so they limit their exposure to the forest. Only the presence of the Imperial armies has driven them into the woodlands at all.
The aura has an additional effect on any briar or cambion who embraces the aura. The FIRST TIME a briar enters the forest they immediately regain all expended hero points and gain an additional temporary hero point that remains available as long as they roleplay resistance to authority and the need for personal freedom until they return through the Sentinel Gate to Anvil (similar to the effect of a Elixir of Exalted Puissance). Similarly, the FIRST TIME any cambion enters the forest they immediately regain one spent hero point. These benefits only apply if the briar or cambion experiences the roleplaying effect of the aura - if they are anointed for example they will gain no benefit.
From the Forest (Conjunction)
- Druj ghulai have released a horror from the Spring Realm to attack Imperial forces
- Countless Imperial lives will be lost before the creature can be stopped
- It is the responsibility of the Knight Protector of Spring to ensure such threats are dealt with
Deep in the thickly wooded Bleaks is an area of forest called the Lupine Arbour. According to Dawnish legend, it was once home to a vile beast, some kind of terrible wolf (or possibly pack of them, the stories are unclear). The creature was defeated by Ser Guinieve, a glorious Dawnish questing knight who was pursuing a Test of Ardour to marry her lover, the enchantress, Elayne du Riviere. Guinieve could not kill the beast however, but she was able to drive it back into the Spring realm, banishing it from this world forever.
Now the creature may be back. A band of Druj ghulai seem to have found a way to release it, so that it is once more roaming the Lupine Arbour, attacking anything it can find. The prognosticators believe that if it is not stopped then it will roam further and further afield until it encounters one or more of the Dawnish armies currently stationed in the Barrens. When that happens, hundreds of Imperial lives are likely to be lost before the creature can be stopped - which is undoubtedly exactly what the Druj had in mind when they sprung this trap.
It is the legal responsibility of the Knight Protector of Spring to be first to stand against any threat that might issue forth from the realm. As such they are expected to arrange a group of heroes to track the monster to its lair and defeat it. Scouts report that the heroes should be careful, there are apparently Druj forces still in the area, although they are allegedly behaving "very oddly".
Success and failure: Defeating the horror roaming the Lupine Arbour, or driving it back to the Spring realm, will neutralise the Druj trap. If the beast is not dealt with, then it is estimated that it will inflict three hundred casualties on the Dawnish armies over the next few days (before the armies have a chance to move).
A Poisoned Chalice (Conjunction)
- The Druj have arranged a trap for the Wolves of War, they are bearing a poisoned treasure towards the camp
- If the treasure is not destroyed then the Wolves of War will suffer scores of casualties and be unable to issue the plunder under for over a year
- The General of the Wolves of War is responsible for the Imperial army they command
Scores of mercenary wagon raiders have been plundering the Barrens on the orders of the General of the Wolves of War. These elite troops often range far ahead of the main force, with orders to seize any wealth the enemy are holding. Unfortunately this means that some of them have fallen pray to a cunning Druj trap. The orcs of the Mallum have been deliberately leaving treasures for the wagon raiders to loot - treasures trapped with some kind of curse. Many of the wagon raiders hired to fight in the Barrens have fallen ill after returning with treasure they have taken from the Druj. Their condition is critical but the physicks supporting the Wolves of War are at a loss for how to treat them.
The war scouts have identified a large conjunction to the Red Plains in the Carmine Fields in the Barrens. Many wagon raiders near this area have been affected, and the prognosticators believe that there is a group of Druj bearing some of the cursed treasure. If the Empire can find the Druj, and take the treasure from them without triggering the trap, they can bring it back to Anvil where it can be examined by the best magicians and physicks in the Empire. Hopefully they can find a cure for whatever is ailing the mercenaries.
Success and failure: If the Empire can't recover the cursed gold, or they recover it but can't find a way to break the bane, then it seems certain that many of the wagon raiders hired by the Wolves of War will die. The army will lose the equivalent of two hundred and fifty strength. Furthermore it will take time for the wagon raiders numbers to replenish and as a result no general of the Wolves of War will be able to issue the plunder order before 386YE Winter.
Troubled Waters (Conjunction)
- The driven Golden Axe have been pushing forwards contesting control of the Barrens with the Druj far ahead of their supply lines
- The Druj have fallen back, attempting to strand the vanguard on the far side of the Singing River, hoping to wipe them out
- The orc plan relies on a ritual team destroying a key bridge that crosses the river, trapping the soldiers in enemy territory
- The General of the Golden Axe is responsible for the Imperial army they command
The Golden Axe have embraced the legacy of the Vard and look to conquer what land they can in the Barrens. Driven as they are, they have been able to seize the advantage from the Druj by pushing far ahead of their supply lines to maximise the territorial gains of the Empire. Now though, the Druj have found a way to make them pay for the risks they have been taking.
The Druj defenders have fallen back across the Singing River, a fast flowing torrent that flows out of Hope's Rest down to the Barren Sea. The vanguard of the Golden Axe have pursued them but have run into surprisingly stiff resistance on the other side of the river. Now the Druj are looking to spring their trap by destroying the only bridge that crosses the Singing River for miles in either direction. With the bridge gone, the vanguard will be trapped on the other side of the river. Out of position, they will be easy pickings for the Druj and face certain death.
There is a powerful Spring regio in the area, called the Circle of Falling Trees. The Druj are bringing a dozen ritualists into position to perform the magic needed to destroy the bridge. They plan to make use of the astronomantic conjunction to bring the river into flood so swiftly that the bridge is swept away. They will have guards with them of course, but there is a conjunction to the area, which means the Empire has a chance to stop them. If they can kill enough of the enemy ritualists, then they won't be able to perform the ritual and the soldiers will be able to fall back in good order.
Success and failure: If the ritual team is defeated - if fewer than ten of the ritualists are left alive - the Golden Axe troops will be able to make it back to Imperial lines without further trouble. If ten or more of the Druj ritualists escape however then they will destroy the bridge, trapping the Varushkans on the wrong side of the river. If that happens, approximately three hundred Varushkans from the Golden Axe will be killed in the next few days (before the army can leave the territory).
A Sudden Flood (Conjunction)
- There is an opportunity to seize a Spring ritual site near the Fangs to call on the power of the recent conjunction to flood the mines
- The area is heavily defended, but success would prevent the Druj from gaining any mithril from the mines for the next six months
- The occupants of Spiral Castle have created an arcane projection and asked the Archmage of Spring to arrange a group to travel to the Fangs to use it
On orders from the General, scouts from the Gryphon's Pride have pushed into the Bitter Strand to assess the level of Druj resistance there and see if there was a chance for the Dawnish armies to gloriously conquer yet more territory. In the end they stopped just short of taking the fight to the Druj there, but the scouts did identify an opportunity to strike against the Druj and weaken their forces here in the Barrens.
The Fangs are a series of nearly a dozen massive rocky columns that rise out of the coastal waters of the Bitter Sea. The pillars contain rich seams of mithril that are mined by the slaves forced to work there by the Druj. The whole operation is crude and poorly developed with rickety rope and wood bridges linking each of the Fangs to each other or back to the mainland. The heavily exposed nature of the works leaves the entire operation vulnerable to the threat of flooding. All it needs is a little push...
The magicians of Spiral Castle propose a plan to take advantage of the astronomantic conjunction to do exactly that. They have created an arcane projection using Spring magic that they have dubbed "Dark Clouds Gather". This is a magnitude 24 Spring ritual which would call on the power of the conjunction to bring storms and floods, raising devastating typhoons, water spouts, and crushing waves from the Barren Sea and ravage not only the Fangs but also the fens of Satlmarsh. The Druj rely on the eastern marshes to raise one of their magical fortifications - if the ritual is performed then most of the Saltmarsh will disappear beneath the hungry waves making it impossible to raise the Dripping Echoes of the Fen there for some time.
From talking to some former slaves of the Druj liberated by Imperial heroes in the Summer of 383YE, Dawnish witches have located a strong Spring regio near the Fangs called the Saltmaw. It is guarded by the Druj, but their numbers are stretched and a determined group could drive them off for long enough to perform a ritual (or maybe two). Spiral Castle have asked the Archmage of Spring to try to gather a team of sufficient enchanters and war witches to perform the ritual and enough glorious knights to get them to the ritual site and keep them safe while the magic is cast. Of course the Archmage might try and attempt a second ritual - or even decide that a different ritual might be a better goal. Spiral Castle are content to leave such decision to the Archmage, confident that they will know best how to take advantage of the opportunity offered by access to the Spring regio.
Success and failure: If the regio is used to perform the arcane projection, the coast will be pounded by the angry sea making it impossible to gain any mithril from the Fangs for at least two seasons - and possibly longer depending on whether the Druj are prepared to divert resources to deal with the damage caused to bridges, settlements, and roads by the magical storms. It will inflict even more damage on Saltmarsh. The region would lose the "marsh" quality and instead gain the "coastal" quality - as great stretches of the fens disappear underwater. This will prevent the Druj from using ritual magic to raise a magical fortification there for the next year before enough of the flood waters finally drain back into the Barren sea. If the arcane projection is not used, it will become useless: it draws its power the current astronomantic conjunction.