Lost in translation
He didn't look back, just kept his head down and ran like the wind. These slovenly city merchants wouldn't catch him! Nobody in his hall could run as fast as he could. Edda had told his father she was going to name him Windblown because he was so fast. If only she could see him now!
He slowed his pace but only slightly as he ducked into a side street. He could sprint for a good burst, but he could keep this gait up for hours. They were still pursuing him, but they were growing fainter, clearly tiring quickly. These city dwellers couldn't race if their lives depended on it!
After five minutes, confident that he had lost them, he stopped to get his breath back. He bent over, panting desperately trying to get air into his lungs. He wasn't exactly sure where he was but the smell of fish stink filled the air, so he knew he was somewhere near the docks. Every part of this cursed city had its own special kind of stink and he hated them all. Not for the first time he wished his father had never brought him here. A dreadful pang of homesickness hit him as he remembered what it was like to think Solvi was the biggest city in the world. His home was gone now - gone to the Orcs. But the storm would never break him!
Once he'd recovered he set off again, carefully picking his way through the city back to Red Dog Lane. It took him the best part of an hour to get there, but they were still there, right where he'd left them. They were crouched in the lee of the tavern for which the street was named, begging the patrons for a coin or a scrap of food as they left. They had that look in their eyes - the look you get when you can't sleep because the pain in your belly won't go away. Marko knew all about that look.
He glanced left and right as he walked towards them, one last check to ensure he hadn't been followed, and then beckoned them over. The three orcs crowded round him conspiratorially as he reached into his cloak and pulled out the joint of cured meat he'd purloined form the butcher's stall in the market place. They fell on it ravenously, barely taking time to pick off the paper it was wrapped in.
"Thank you! Thank you!" one of them exclaimed but he put his finger to his lips to quieten them. He'd got clean away but even so - best not to call any attention to what he was doing or they'd all be up in front of the magistrates. They looked at him with wide eyes, unable to understand why he was helping them.
Truth was he wasn't really sure himself. "All that is worthwhile" was all he could think to say. That's what Edda always used to say. He'd heard some preacher on the street saying it the other day, talking about how everyone should help those who had been slaves. It had made him think of Edda and of home.
This probably wasn't quite what Edda would have had in mind of course...
Flush with triumph the Imperial heroes who rescued the fighting slaves from the Grendel in the daring raid on Beoraidh. Those who showed an interest have been offered a home in Skarsind and given help to get there. Unfortunately the slaves that the Empire freed in their daring raid on Dubhtraig have not fared so well when left to their own devices.
The Dubhtraig Refugees
- Skywise Tulva encouraged the former slaves rescued in the Dubhtraig raid to find new homes in Skarsind.
- Unfortunately the attendant Senate motion was never raised, and so the majority of these former slaves are now scattered across the Empire.
- If something is not done they are unlikely to ever reach Skarsind, many will be forced to turn to begging or banditry to survive.
At the Winter Solstice, Skywise Tulva was given permission to enact a mandate to encourage thee slaves freed from the Broken Shore to travel across the Empire to settle in Skarsind. The judgement received strong support from the assembly, with only a handful of priests voting against it, and Tulva duly took the liao and the message of safe haven to the slaves. "Come north - those who choose to adopt our ways will be able to become Imperial Orcs in time."
For whatever reason, no member of the Imperial Senate ever raised a motion to authorize the civil service to distribute food and provisions to help the orcs on the difficult journey. Skarsind lies hundreds of miles to the north - it is a difficult and dangerous journey to attempt in good weather with appropriate resources and supplies. The refugees, unfortunately, are attempting the journey at the end of Winter despite having only the vaguest idea where they were going and having little in the way of food or resources beyond that donated by well wishers in the Brass Coast, the League, and Highguard.
Sadly, the results are almost as disastrous as the worst predictions. Progress is hopelessly slow, barely more than a few miles a day in most cases. Most of the orcs set off with the best of intentions but with no certainty where the next meal is coming from their thoughts soon focus on survival. Some are able to earn coins for food, but most are reduced to begging by the sides of the roads outside the villages and towns north of the Bay. Unfortunately, a not insignificant number turn to banditry, stealing whatever they can get their hands on in pursuit of survival.
By the Spring Equinox, the situation has become desperate. A handful, fortunate enough to fall in with merchant caravans or Imperial Orcs returning home, have made it to Skarsind. A few have managed to get as far north as Kalpaheim or Temeschwar simply by following the Blood Red Roads. The rest are spread across the Empire between Skarsind and the southern coast. There are even handfuls in out-of-the-way territories like Kahraman, Astolat and even Semmerholm - it is all to easy for these people, many of whom have lived almost their entire lives underground, to underestimate just how large the Empire is.
Many are only alive by the charity of Imperial citizens who have taken pity on them. Only the prescient actions of Eska Crowspeaker last summer have saved them from a worse fate. Without that action, some of these people would likely have died.
And they still might. Many people have dug deep to help those who have been enslaved, but now they have no more to share. Left to their own devices, perhaps as few as one in ten or less of their number will ever make it to Skarsind. The rest will end up scattered across the Empire, with many forced into lives of beggardom or banditry.
Escorting the Orcs
- Imperial military units may search for the orcs to try and help them reach Skarsind
- Any unit escorting the orcs will not receive any payment by default
The civil service report that a Senate motion is insufficient to help these people now that they are scattered across the Empire. What is needed now is direct action to find these people and get them to the Imperial Orc homeland before their situation deteriorates further. The best way to achieve this is for the Empire's independent captains to undertake the task of tracking them down and escorting them to their new homes. The challenge now is not convincing these people to travel north, but in tracking them down in the first place.
Any character with a military unit can contribute to helping these refugees get where they are going. The option to "Escort the Orcs" will appear on the scouting dropdown after the event. Magic that enhances a military unit's effectiveness when supporting a spy network such as Sharp Eyes of the Corsair will be helpful, but rituals that empower a warband to work with an army, or fortification, or to perform paid work (for example) will not help with this opportunity.
The degree of success will depend entirely on the amount of force contributed. The project is not dangerous but it is time consuming, and the more military units are involve the more successful it will be.
- If at least 10,000 military strength is assigned to support the action, all the orc refugees from Dubhtraig will be safely escorted to new homes in Skarsind. While few of them are warriors or soldiers, the influx of new citizens will still have a positive effect - every Imperial Orc who owns a business, farm, forest, or herb garden will gain one rank of production for two seasons after the Summer Solstice as the newcomers settle into their new lives.
- If at least 7,500 military strength is assigned to support the action, around three quarters of the orc refugees will make it safely to Skarsind. The remainder will either end up working as casual labourers, or begging. A few will turn to banditry, but the impact on the Empire is likely to be negligible. Those orcs who reach Skarsind successfully will begin new lives and the influx of new citizens will provide every business and farm with one rank of production for a season following the Summer Solstice.
- If at least 5,000 military strength is assigned to support the action, roughly half the orc refugees will be located and safely escorted north. The majority will be those orcs whose attempt to reach Skarsind has left them in the central Empire. Those orcs that have ended up in the outskirts - particularly places off the beaten path like Dawn and the Marches will likely never be found. Those who reach Skarsind will start new lives, and provide a valuable influx of new blood to the Imperial Orcs, but will be insufficient to provide any mechanical benefits.
- If less than 5,000 military strength is assigned, less than a quarter of the orc refugees will make it to Skarsind. The rest will be left scattered across the Empire. Some will be able to find casual work, eventually reaching Skarsind under their own steam, but many will be drawn into banditry, ending up in frontier territories and causing significant problems in the coming seasons.
This opportunity will be available only after the Spring Equinox; after that any remaining orcs will be sufficiently dispersed that attempting to find them will be impossible.
Locating and escorting the orc refugees to Skarsind is no easy task, but there is no intrinsic reward in doing so; it is very much a mission of mercy. However there are some options available to reimburse the military units that participate - or to make the task easier.
The Winter Sun
- The Winter Sun can support this action in the same way they supported the raid on Beoraidh
As with the raid on Beoraidh, the Winter Sun possess a powerful drive to help free those who live in chains - and that drive does not end once those chains are removed. It would not be difficult for the general of the Winter Sun to encourage their soldiers to offer aid, particularly not after their recent success on the Broken Shore.
If the general of the Winter Sun remains on the defensive in an Imperial territory for the coming season they may include in their orders encouragement to help round up the errant orcs. If they provide clear instructions to do so then half the military strength of the Winter Sun will be committed to the search for the missing orcs. The presence of enchantments on the army will not effect their contribution to the opportunity.
Any military units assigned to support the Winter Sun will provide its full military strength, including enchantments such as Raise the Standard of War that help when supporting an army, to the Escort the Orcs opportunity. Such military units will receive the same rewards as those who undertake the action itself.
The choice should not be taken lightly. If the army is engaged by enemy forces in the territory they are in while half the army is off searching for the orcs then their military military strength - along with that of any military units assigned to support them - will be halved.
Assuming the Winter Sun does not come under attack this season, it will still be eligible for natural resupply.
The Winter Sun cannot take both this action and the action required to support the foray into the Barrens; if the general attempts to do both neither will benefit although the strength of the Winter Sun will still be halved.
The Free Option
- The humans who are travelling the trods with the Great Forest Orcs have offered to help
The Great Forest Orcs are currently traveling the trods as part of their support for their allies in the Navarr. On their travels they are accompanied by a small number of humans. These people came with the orcs when they fled the Barrens when the territory was crushed by the combined efforts of the Dawnish and the Druj. Their heritage and beliefs are highly questionable; they are believed to be descendants of the people who originally left the Empire during the Freedom Heresy. They appear familiar with the Empire, and have been careful not to preach where any representative of the Synod can overhear them, but concerns remain about their beliefs and the threat they present.
They claim to be motivated by a desire to help the slaves freed in the raid. They are currently walking the trods with the Great Forest Orcs, but they are prepared to make a concerted effort to abandon the trods and assist the search instead. By themselves they don't have the numbers to make any difference, but working with their orc companions they could contribute an military military strength of 2,000 to the search.
They are concerned that any offer not be misconstrued. They are aware of concerns about spying and the other fears. Therefore they will not act without a clear statement of principle asking for their help and making clear that the act will be undertaken in good faith and treated accordingly. They will accept either a greater majority of the Assembly of the Nine or a simple majority of the General Assembly.
The Golden Hare
- If Conclave continue to grant amity to Irra Harah for a season, then the eternal will provide 2,000 military strength to support the action
- If the Conclave removes amity but does not apply enmity Irra Harah will provide 1,000 military strength to support the action
- Irra Harah will be unable to assist if the Conclave reasserts enmity towards the eternal
Shortly before the summit, a message is received at Anvil sent by Kaukana, an idealistic Suaq grimnir, called Broken Wing by the scops for his habit of healing birds and other injured animals he finds. He visited Anvil most recently to talk to the Winterfolk on behalf of the Feni of the northern Woods-That-Fell.
In the letter, Kaukana claims to speak on behalf of Irra Harah. He says that the eternal wishes to assist the slaves who were freed, to help them flee from danger to a place of safety. It is prepared to send heralds to the Empire to search for the missing orcs and help locate them. Of course it cannot act while it has enmity, but if the Imperial Conclave chooses to allow the amity it received at the Winter Solstice to last for another season it will be able to contribute 2,000 military strength to the task. If the Conclave removes amity, but stops short of enmity, then it will still offer what assistance it can, the equivalent of of 1,000 military strength.
In the interests of avoiding any potential misunderstanding, Papa Otec remains committed to ensuring the death of the remaining Imperial citizens who have drawn its wrath - the senator for Semmerholm Zadkiel de Coeurdefer and the senator for Feroz Chiara i Zayden i Riqueza - and nothing will change that.
- The Quartermaster General could choose to assign the guerdon to this action.
The obvious way for the Empire to reward those who took part would be for the Quartermaster General of the Imperial Armies to allocate the Imperial guerdon to the action. That would mean any Imperial unit that took the action would receive a share of the guerdon exactly as if they had supported an eligible Imperial army. It would require an announcement by the Quartermaster in the Imperial Senate. The downside is that that would mean less money from the guerdon would be allocated to units that were fighting elsewhere.
If the general of the Winter Sun opted to search for the lost orcs then the Quartermaster could also give the guerdon to any military unit that supported the army.
The Rewards of Virtue
- The Imperial Orc national assembly could urge their people to support this project and provide just rewards to those who support it.
The Imperial Orcs supported Skywise Tulva's mandate and could offer an incentive to encourage independent captains to help bring the orc refugees home.
The orcs freed from bondage in Dubhtraig are not yet safe. They have heard our invitation, and sought to reach us, but now they are scattered across the Empire alone and afraid. In the name of Prosperity, we send (named priest) with 25 doses of liao to urge every Imperial Orc to put their hand in their pocket to ensure that those endeavouring to bring them home to us receive the just reward for their labours.Synod Mandate, Imperial Orcs National Assembly
If this mandate is upheld and enacted, then every farm, business, herb garden, forest, mine, mana site, and fleet owned by an Imperial Orc will suffer a one rank penalty to its production following the Spring Equinox. In return, however, any military unit that supports the Escort the Orcs action will receive a reward, equivalent to half what they would have gained from doing Paid Work.