Rihanna swung back to the left, feet skating the granite surface, like she was gliding across a frozen lake in the deep midwinter. The militia below continues to shout and wave. Her friends - part of the distraction - were shouting and gesticulating themselves. They knew their roles - outraged students from Holberg performing a piece of subversive art. She couldn't help but smirk as she imagined the chaos they were causing.

She placed the roller against the the wall, and with deep breath began to run while simultaneously pulling on her harness. It seemed a lifetime ago that she had run the roofs and towers in Holfried, but her body remembered. A smooth upward stroke. A crossbow bolt struck the granite ten feet to her left. She knew it was just a warning shot. Nobody was going to shoot to kill for a bit of petty vandalism.

"It's alright! she shouted at the tope of her longs. "It's all part of il Volpe's new project! Don't worry!"

It was a lie of course, but it would add to the uncertainty. She collected herself, balanced, refreshed the roller, and began to move back the way she had came, descending at a smooth angle as she did so. The first shape - two lines and two dots she peripherally recognised it as one of the Wintermark runes - had been difficult but this one was simply three sweeping lines.

She glanced below for a moment. The shouting seemed to be be coming more intense. Wilhelm was trying to get her attention. Still, only one more movement and then she'd be done and she could go down, be arrested, maybe be roughed up a little, pay a small fine... and then she and her team would be away and free to enjoy the considerable fee they had been paid for this little stunt.

As she readied herself for the final run - back to the right and up, in a movement that would take her to the top of the plinth and the feet of the statue of Lorenzo, she idly wondered what this was all about - but worrying about the games of Merchant-Princes rarely lead to a happy life to such as she. The great and the good would play their games at Anvil, the pawns just went where they were told.

Rihanna ran then, cinching her harness again, the roller playing out behind her as she painted the last stroke of the rune. At the last moment she lost her footing, fumbling - the rope suddenly taught when it should have been loose trapped on something above. She dropped the roller, and nearly lost the paint pot as well. She swore, and pinwheeled her arms for a moment. She managed to get one hand onto the lip of the plinth and then the other and pulled herself safely up.

She lay for a moment breathing heavily, and then peered over the edge. The last thing she needed was for the paint pot to have brained someone.

But there was nobody below. Not the militia, not the members of her team, not the small crowd of amused onlookers who had sculled their little boats over to take in the theatrics. It took her a moment to work out why and when she did she started swearing again, desperately coiling her spare rope around and checking the pitons that held it in place.

A ship was coming. A massive merchant vessel, sails billowing madly, early afternoon sun glinting along the edges of the great metal-reinforced ram on its prow. On collision course with Rihanna - and with the Colossus of Sarvos.

Overview

The Sentinel Gate allows opportunities for heroes to travel to places around the Empire to intercede at key moments in significant events. In some cases, the egregores become aware of these conjunctions; in others civil service prognosticators divine them with their magic. Each summit, only a fraction of the possible conjunctions are divined in advance, but wherever possible the civil service let people know what they have uncovered.

Ramming the Colossus

  • The Colossus of Sarvos has been attacked.
  • Magistrates are bringing the apparent perpetrator of the attack to Anvil for trial as he has asked for clemency from one of the Bishops there.

Only a week or so before the Winter Solstice, an attack is launched against the Colossus of Sarvos. A League merchant vessel, equipped with a makeshift battering ram, collided with the plinth causing significant damage to the mighty structure. The attack seems to have been well timed - everyone intending to attend the Winter Summit has already left, in some cases weeks earlier. Winged messengers are dispatched to il Volpe, and to Magistrate Karkovitch. The egregores of the League are able to confirm what few concrete details are known.

The vessel, the Child of Thunder, was unmanned except for the captain, Artur di Sarvos. The crew had set the rigging and escaped in two life-boats - magistrates are still looking for them. The captain - clearly not expecting to survive - was pulled out of the waters of the harbour by the militia. He did not deny his involvement, but refused to answer any questions. Rather, he demanded to be allowed to speak to one of three priests: Bishop Cesare Enzo Di Trivento of Sarvos, Bishop Erasmo di Tassato, or Bishop Vitor di Mestra, so that they may make make a plea of celemency on his behalf.

After some discussions, and aware that at least one of these priests would be at Anvil, the magistrates agreed to send Artur to Casinea with a small escort. He is under instructions to deliver himself to Magistrate Karkovitch, and is expected to arrive on Friday evening.

The extent of the damage to the colossus is unclear - but it is believed to be significant. An engineers report is expected to be with Magistrate Karkovitch on friday evening.

The Sealost Dead

  • The drowned dead are attacking East Floes in Sermersuaq
Conjunctions
WhereWhenSize
Kuujjuaq, in the East Flows18:30 Friday25 people
Puvirnituq, in the East Flows19:00 Friday25 people
Akulivik, in the East Flows19:30 Friday25 people

Over the last three months, there have been concerned reports from small villages and towns across Sermersuaq. The first few reports are strange, but seem isolated. Animals that have been found drowned but on open land. The reports start to be more worrying as an elderly icewalker is found drowned in their sleep, then a few children and then a thane of a small hall in the East Flows. Word is sent to grimnirs asking them to investigate the strange occurrences. Although all investigation seems to show that they cause of death is drowning, there is no sign where the water has come from.

The week before the Winter Equinox there are more reports, groups of bloated husks rising from the East Floes and heading towards a few small fishing villages. Some of these groups are stopped easily by local heroes or bands of hunters, but the larger groups are too much for isolated halls to deal with. Perhaps more unsettling are reports that many of the champions who try to face down the dripping abominations are said to develop symptoms of unnatural drowning - some of them fatally. With the Jotun in the west, and sea-claimed unliving horrors rising in the north, it is surely a grim time to be in Sermersuaq.

In a few places there are reports of clashes between these bloated husks and unknown warriors wrapped in sealskins - it is believed that whatever is causing the drowned dead to rise from the waters, the hylje are as much at risk as the people of Wintearmark.

The Wintermark egregores are aware of three small conjunctions to the East Flows on the Friday evening of the equinox. Each opens to one of the settlements in East Floes - Akulivik, Kuujjuaq and Puvirnituq.

The Pillaging of the Coast

  • Grendel raiders are abroad in Lightsea, in Madruga
  • Three conjunctions to Lightsea have been identified; one to aid beleaguered Black Thorns warriors and two to intercept Grendel raiders
Conjunctions
WhereWhenSize
White Cedars, in Lightsea20:30 Friday25 people
Plains of Lightsea, in Lightsea21:00 Friday25 people
Plains of Lightsea, in Lightsea21:30 Friday25 people

The Navarr egregores have reported that heavy Grendel troops are hunting down Warriors from the Black Thorns, retreating before the coastal assault that saw Quzar sacked. Prognosticators note a conjunction to the White Cedars will allow heroes to engage the elite Grendel soldiers in the vicinity, hold ground against their foes, delay the moridun troops, and give Navarr soldiers hiding in the area time to flee their pursuers. If successful these forces should be able to return to the army in the coming weeks.

The Civil Service war scouts have tracked two warbands of Stone Born moridun troops returning to their vessels across the Plains of Lightsea. These two forces have raided the local area, ransacking paradors, looting smith's warehouses, and turning out the coffers of avocado farms along the coast. Two conjunctions have been identified that present opportunities to intercept the Grendel looters, hold up their progress to the coast, and recover the treasure they carry. The Brass Coast egregores can assist with preparations and will likely be able to advise on how any recovered property can be dealt with.

The Reaving of the Woods

  • Druj skirmishes are scourging the forests of Semmerholm
  • Seven conjunctions have been identified that allow the fight to be taken to the Druj
Conjunctions (Semmerholm)
WhereWhenSize
Old Wood18:45 Friday20 people
Lacuve Weald19:15 Friday25 people
Lacuve Weald19:45 Friday25 people
Lacuve Weald20:15 Friday25 people
Castle Rock16:15 Saturday20 people
Ax Glades, Golden Sun camp21:00 Saturday25 people
Ax Glades, Hounds of Glory camp21:30 Saturday25 people

The Dawn egregores have directed the war scouts to investigate seven conjunctions in the territory of Semmerholm. Two are in Axmure, to the Old Wood and Castle Rock; three are to the Lacuve Weald, the deep green forest that stretches from Axmure to the coast at Lacre; and two lead close to the Dawnish camps of the Hounds of Glory and the Golden Sun armies in the Ax Glades.

In Axmure there are reports of a Druj relief force heading for the Black Wind army, they are not affiliated with any Druj group known to the Empire, but are believed to be affiliated with an unknown Tepel. One heavily armoured group is making for a camp and lookout point at Castle Rock, while the other skirmish group is chasing down yeofolk in the Old Wood and are attempting to capture prisoners who have escaped the barbarian orcs.

In Lacuve the Druj have avoided the watchtowers and keeps of Lacre, and are instead focusing on harassing the yeofolk who dwell in small hamlets and isolated manors across the region. Three groups of Druj raiders have been identified by the war scouts: the first are attempting to destabilise the economic happenings of Semmerholm, targeting businesses and raiding farms; the second are intercepting supplies destined for small military units and the berths for fleets belonging to the citizenry of the territory; while the third group is have been raiding shipments of raw and processed goods leaving the territories' mines, forests, herb gardens and mana sites. Fear is growing among these yeofolk that nobody is safe from the eastern invaders; and panic is likely to spread across Semmerholm if nothing is done. Failing to stop any of the these forces will reduce the production or effectiveness of the aforementioned resources in Semmerholm by one rank during the coming season.

Druj Chikad have closed within eyesight of the Dawnish army camps in Axmure pose a grave threat to the night pickets, yeofolk foragers and those visiting the latrine trenches, slowly picking off the unwary and wandering among the food stores of the common soldiers. With every valiant charge rallied to drive them off, the Druj skirmishers slink off into the ancient woodlands, disappearing into the shadows. Already several wagons of bread and wine have been tainted by Druj poisons and other unmentionable waste. Unless the two bands of saboteurs are dealt with then they will hamper the effectiveness of the Hounds of Glory and Golden Sun in the coming campaign season, limiting the number of casualties they can deal by one tenth.

Riders on the Plateau

  • Grendel forces are outflanking army positions in Screed, in Spiral
  • Two conjunctions have been identified that will allow the Grendel to be intercepted
Conjunctions
WhereWhenSize
Calvar Field, Screed14:30 Saturday25 people
Gethern Expanse, Screed15:30 Saturday25 people

As the main Grendel armies are pushed back across the Black Plateau, elite moridun troops make daring attacks on the flanks and rear echelons of the Imperial advance. It is evident that the southern barbarians have sent forces to hamper the future effectiveness of the Wolves of War and Iron Helms.

Where the grim Varushkan schlacta have erected stakes to hang their victims outside their camps the Grendel in turn have snuck close to hang the corpses of their own kills, staring back at the Varushkan camp. Among the scattered mercenary camps of the Wolves of War there have been rumours that a group of hired hands have been offered princely sums to abandon the Imperial cause and take the coin of the Salt Lords.

Failure to stop the Grendel's attacks on the Iron Helms will limited their effectiveness to deal casualties by one-tenth in the coming season. If the Grendel skirmishers who are meeting with the sell-swords that travel along with the Wolves of War are not intercepted, then the League army will lose their ability to call on mercenary soldiers for one year (until after the Autumn Equinox 382) as their Loyalty is assured and replacements recruited.

Offerings to the Maelstrom

  • Grendel skirmishers are threatening Green Shields patrols in Apulus, Spiral
  • A conjunction has been identified that allow investigation of the missing patrols
Conjunctions
WhereWhenSize
The Bluehaven, in Apulus16:00 Saturday20 people

The Wintermark egregores have reported that fast Grendel skirmishers are stalking soldiers of the Green Shields. Imperial prognosticators have identified a conjunction to The Bluehaven, Apulus, that will allow heroes to strike at Grendel troops in the vicinity and discover what has happened to the lost patrols.

The Sentinel Gate will permit passage at four in the afternoon on the second day of the solstice.

Feni March

  • Feni bands are raiding small communities in Wood Heath (Hahnmark) and Birchland (Upwold)
  • Two conjunctions have been identified that will allow heroes of the Empire to intercede against the Feni
Conjunctions
WhereWhenSize
Bjarwood, in Wood Heath14:15 Saturday15 people
Markwood, in Birchland14:45 Saturday15 people

Across the four weeks leading up to the Winter Solstice, there have been scattered reports of attacks by various halls in Wood Heath in Hahnmark, as well as Marcher households in Birchland, Upwold. These reports are consistent: citizens report being ambushed at dawn or dusk by bands of Feni warriors, striking by surprise and stealing what food, valuables or other resources they can.

Such attacks have always occurred from time to time, but seldom in these locations at this frequency. The Civil Service are quick to collate the reports, and identify that this is the work of a few Feni warbands - each roughly equivalent to a military unit. At least one appears to be active in each of Wood Heath and Birchland.

Prognosticators, examining the stars and tides of magic for upcoming conjunctions, identify two opportunities at the upcoming summit for Imperial Heroes to make use of the Sentinel Gate to travel to these locations. All signs point towards a chance to strike back directly against these raiders, likely as they least expect it.

Feni warbands have been raiding small communities in Wood Heath (Hahnmark) and Birchland (Upwold). If your character’s resource is located in either of these regions, you are free to roleplay how you have been attacked by bands of Feni skirmishers in the early morning or late night. They attack suddenly, often making use of a ruse or distraction, and melt away into the forests almost as quickly. In all cases, they seem more intent on taking valuable resources than slaying Imperial citizens.

Two conjunctions of the Sentinel Gate have been identified - these will allow participants to travel to these regions and take the fight directly to the Feni. Individuals interested in either of these opportunities are recommended to contact the egregores of Wintermark and The Marches respectively.

Fire!

The urgent cry resounded throughout Wymarc’s Hall, shaking Tolan into consciousness.

Fire!

Joints protesting at the sudden movement, he pushed himself from the side of the bed and rushed to the window, throwing open the shutters.

Outside, snow blanketed the hills of Southridge and hung in the branches of the trees of Wood Heath. The murky, overcast sky at dusk gave the world a hollow, drawn-out feel. No snow fell, but the wind blowing was biting and fierce.

Through the fog of newly-arrived consciousness, he made it out - the barn in the fields, the storage-place for winter firewood - a plume of smoke guttering from the other side of the building, a grim beacon against the clouds.

Tolan took a step back, and leapt.

A roll on the other side kept his momentum, and he scurried over towards the water-butt. With strain and a kick the spigot began to spew forth a trickle, then a stream of ice-cold water, which began to pool inside an old oaken bucket.

Looking up, Tolan saw familiar figures - Wymarc, his Thane, great axe across her back, dragging open the door of the barn, barreling aside the snowdrifts. Sunn, his cousin, nearly slipping on icy cobbles, bringing across more buckets.

Seizing the full bucket beneath him, Tolan ran over to the barn, and rounded the corner.

Near-instantly, he felt a surge of pain, and his body went limp.

The clattering of the bucket on a protruding rock - and the spilling of its precious contents onto his leg - brought Tolan back to focus. His frigid fingers made out the shape of a wooden haft - a spear - leading to a sharpened tip embedded in his shoulder.

From the shadows of the trees, from the undergrowth - seemingly, from under the snow - came wild-looking warriors, hurling spears and javelins. Perhaps three dozen of them in total, surrounding them - some charging into the fray.

He saw Wymarc swing her axe, and one foe fall to the ground in two pieces. He saw the flash of blades and spray of blood stain the ground.

Strength left him, and the world went black.

After an uncountably long moment, he was shaken awake. Above him stood Wymarc, her strong hands binding his wound and hauling him to his feet. Around him, he saw carnage - the snow stained pink with blood. Three of his own hall he counted amongst the fallen - plus five of the foe, humans all, faces covered with strange swirling patterns.

But Wymarc was shaking him.

“Tolan. Tolan Wymarking. Can you hear me? They’ve taken the harvest, Tolan. They’ve taken it all.”

Tolan stood there, staring at his Thane, fingers white with cold, and felt a shiver right to his core.

Note about Sermersuaq and Segura

In the Winds of War we mentioned that there was a Winds of Fortune element to the Jotun presence in Wintermark and the Brass Coast. We have since reconsidered that position. All information pertinent to these two situations will be included in the brief for the generals.