Epiphania stepped back to allow the line of Druj soldiers to pass down the corridor. The corridor was wide enough for four people to walk abreast, but she preferred to keep her distance. Not because she didn't trust the Druj not to find a reason to start a fight, but because she didn't trust herself.

The soldiers were a motley bunch, ill-equipped and roughly dressed even by Druj standards. Their armour was shoddily tied in place, their weapons dirty and rusty. They were almost certainly not Druj, one of their subject tribes more likely. The Druj gave their own people better equipment than this... just. She was no longer permitted to carry a weapon, none of them were, but a simple wand hung at her belt and for a brief moment she fantasized about paralysing one of them, seizing his weapon and turning in on the others.

As if sensing her desire, Julian placed his hand lightly on her forearm. "Patience sister... patience..." he whispered, "Better a little thing done perfectly, than a great deal imperfectly. We must seek the pivotal moment."

She raised an eyebrow in her brother's direction and then glanced down pointedly. His hand fell away, leaving a formless question to hang in the air between them.

His lips moved briefly but no sound emerged. "Soon." The single unspoken word echoed through the long halls. "Soon.... soon... soon..."

Armoured Cohort.jpg
Highguard fights shoulder to shoulder with Urizen in Zenith, but also pledges to fight alongside Dawn in the Barrens.... although perhaps with a slightly different implications!
Click for audio version


Highguard has stood shoulder to shoulder with Urizen, their soldiers bleeding to defend their neighbours from the Druj invasions of Zenith and Morrow. Now the moment has come to reclaim what was lost and three Highborn armies, united in Virtue and purpose, have returned to Zenith to drive the invaders out. Heedless of the dangers, the generals have ordered their armies to demonstrate the righteous virtue of the Empire and attack with unwavering Courage. At the same time, the Highborn national assembly has also become the only nation to pick up the gauntlet thrown down by the Dawn Assembly, declaring the greatest Cathleon the world has ever seen - a race for conquest in the Barrens. Finally, there is the matter of the winter spirits that have been fighting alongside the armies of Urizen, and of Varushka - they are no longer bound and show little interest in leaving the banquet of slaughter laid out before them in the foothills of Clypion.

The Assault

  • The crusading storm of the three Highborn armies has proved inspirational

In the previous season, the Imperial armies were beaten back by the strength of the Druj resistance but this time there is no resisting the inexorable advance. A tide of Imperial steel, seven armies march together into Zenith, with all three Highborn armies fighting alongside the Eastern Sky, the Wolves of War, the Iron Helms and the Citadel Guard themselves. Still, they face stiff resistance from the Druj who are dug in and determined not to give ground and are only reluctantly forced to give ground.

The core of this new assault has been the three Highborn armies fighting side by side, and united in virtue and purpose. Each of the three generals have ordered their soldiers to unleash a crusading storm against the Druj this season. This new tactic, draws on the commitment to Virtue that forms the bedrock of Highborn life - exemplified by the three extraordinary statues that guard the passes between Morrow and Zenith. These statues were created to commemorate the sacrifice of those Highborn soldiers who gave their lives fighting to protect Zenith from the Druj. How fitting that the very first virtuous crusade is launched under the gaze of the very statues that inspired it.

I am Asenath, daughter of Esther, sister of Ruth and general of the Granite Pillar. I call upon my sisters, brothers and siblings of the First Army of the Highborn to join me in Virtuous Crusade. The Druj bring their foul stench of Miasma, but you march through the Three Watchers alongside the Miracle of Asher. With bells and swords we will Liberate land, people and souls. In Virtue, for Highguard, for Urizen and for Victory!

Asenath, General of the Granite Pillar

Highborn, we launch our crusade, united as one. We fight alongside our siblings from the Pillar & the Pegasus. We fight alongside our Urizeni neighbours, to begin the liberation of Zenith. Tear down all that the Druj have built, take their lives, and cast them & their pillars down. Look at the watchers, remember what they stand for, remember what we fight for, Death to the Druj!

Cuth of the Shattered Tower, General of the Seventh Wave

When the Highborn armies are of one mind, it is with Loyalty and Wisdom we three, the Seventh Wave, Granite Pillar and the Valiant Pegasus will Virtuous Crusade into Zenith to aid our Urizen allies. With the virtuous we will withstand the Poisonous Druj miasma and bring death to Druj. With virtues we march, with loyalty and our Urizen Allies. Travelling under the Gaze of the Watchers as we travel, we are bolstered and our determination is strengthened

Lucifer of the Cohort of the Winter Bear, General of the Valiant Pegasus

The approach is not without cost and scores of lives are lost as the armies surge forwards, determined to overcome the Druj. This is the very first time the armies have engaged in a virtuous crusade and as a result everyone feels inspired by the Virtue. Not just the soldiers fighting in Zenith either, but every Highborn citizen feels their heart swell with pride when they consider the extraordinary sacrifices being made by those whose commitment to Virtue is unwavering.

Inspired by Virtue

  • Highborn characters who are anointed to one of the Seven Virtues receive an additional hero point while fighting in Zenith

As a consequence of this first virtuous assault, every Highborn player is Inspired by Virtue for the duration of the forthcoming event. Every Highborn character who is under the influence of an Anointing to one of the seven Virtues will receive one additional hero point while fighting in Zenith. This benefit is only available to Highborn characters and only while fighting in Zenith. There is at least one opportunity for characters to travel through the Sentinel Gate to Zenith to fight at the forthcoming summit.

A Little Thing Done Perfectly

  • The Urizen assembly, inspired by the Highborn armies, to urge folk left in Zenith to flock to the banner of the Citadel Guard

The Highborn believe that Virtue, like vice is contagious. They believe that those who witness true Courage will find it easier to gain the strength needed to act; that Loyalty inspires fidelity and honour in those who benefit from it, the Ambition lifts the goals of all those who encounter it. The true purpose of a virtuous crusade is not to defeat the enemy but to ennoble the self - and in doing so to act as an inspiration for those you fight for.

The inhabitants of Zenith have suffered gravely at the hands of the Druj. The spires that resisted were defiled, their treasures looted, their books stolen or burned. Those who dared to even think of opposing the Druj faced were made an example of. The lucky ones were taken as slaves, the less fortunate were tortured and broken to create the spectres that stalk the territory bringing terror to all. And every day the survivors laboured under the soul-sucking pall of the miasma - a horror designed to crush the spirits of everyone the Druj conquer.

For all the efforts of the Druj to oppress the people of Zenith, the spirit of the Urizeni has not broken. In the solitude of their spires, they have maintained their poise, never letting their emotions rule them, waiting for the Net of the Heavens to reveal the pivotal moment to act. Now the virtuous crusade of the Highborn has lifted the spirits of everyone who hears of it, convincing them that their liberation may finally be at hand. All they need is a little more encouragement to take up arms against the Druj...

The Urizen Assembly could take advantage of the crusading storm the Highborn have unleashed to send priests into Zenith. The mandate of the Assembly and a supply of liao would be enough to convince some of the survivors to flock to the banner of the Citadel Guard.

Do not fear to act; only be shamed by inaction. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to spread the word that the Citadel Guard has returned to Zenith. Let all who have the Courage to act join our banner - we will not depart this place until the Druj are defeated.

Synod Mandate, Urizen National

If this mandate is endorsed, then over the following season, Urizen sentinels, sword scholars, battlemages, and ritualists will flock to the banner of the Citadel Guard, increasing its effective strength by a thousand points. Some will be refugees who have fled to Morrow and Redoubt will take up arms to serve with the army, others will be those who remained behind, hiding in Zenith until the opportunity came to strike back. These are not raw recruits but experienced warriors and powerful magicians - their numbers are few but they will serve to swell the ranks of the Citadel Guard. Inspired by the virtuous assault of the Highborn, they will risk everything to defeat the Druj.

However, the Net of the Heavens teaches that the wise philosopher seeks the perfect moment to act, the point when all things are aligned. To convince people to swell the ranks of the Citadel Guard, the Assembly must convince them that now is that moment. They will only do so if they believe that the Citadel Guard intends to lead the Imperial forces to regain all of Zenith. If the Citadel Guard remain on campaign here until Zenith is retaken and no more land in the territory is under the control of the Druj, then the new recruits will gladly serve.

If the Citadel Guard abandons the fight, if they leave Zenith to fight elsewhere, or if the attack falters and is repulsed, then those Urizeni who joined because the virtuous crusade of the Highguard persuaded them that this was the pivotal moment to act will realize that they were utterly wrong. In that situation, the loss of morale would be devastating; the new troops would abandon their positions and the Citadel Guard would immediately lose a thousand points of effective strength. If that reduction took the remaining army strength below a thousand, then the army would break.

The conquest of the Barrens is near, possible and inevitable and we are encouraged by the Imperial Orcs' realisation of this fact. We send Tobias Field with 50 liao to urge every loyal Dawnish to offer succour to any force in the Barrens whose National Assembly accepts the following challenge: that the Nation whose armies take the most regions in the Barrens have the rightful claim to the territory.

Tobias Field, 383YE Winter Equinox, Upheld (Greater Majority 214- 0)

Bloodcrow Udoo and the Imperial Orcs have sounded the call, and Tobias Field of House Orzel and the rest of Dawn will no doubt soon throw down the gauntlet; a race to claim the Barrens from the Druj, and free the slaves held captive there. Highguard stands prepared to answer. Our Unconquered are a match for the soldiers of the Winter Sun, and our Cataphracts will match any Dawnish knight! In the name of the further extermination of the Druj, and in the name of the greater shared understanding between our nations, Highguard accepts Dawn's challenge, let the greatest Cathleon the world has ever seen commence!

Tabris, Son of Armisael, 383YE Winter Equinox, Upheld (Greater Majority 388 - 0)

A Contest of Spirits

  • The National Assemblies of Dawn and Highguard can respond to the Highborn announcement that they will take part in the conquest of the Barrens

While the Highborn armies are committed in Zenith, the eyes of some in the Synod have focussed on the rich prize that is the Barrens. Although this vast territory is rich in resources it has never been conquered by the Empire. Dawn has the oldest claim to the land by far, but though the border has moved back and forth often, they have never had the strength to claim the territory.

Now other nations have begun to take an interest in the territory's fate. First Bloodcrow Udoo declared the Ambition of their nation to take the Barrens for the Imperial Orcs. Rather than reject their claim, the Dawnish Assembly responded by issuing a clear challenge. They endorsed the mandate by Tobias Field stating clearly that the Dawnish would support any nation that invaded the Barrens, provided that nation embraced their challenge. Let the Barrens be claimed by whichever nation conquered the most territory!

The Imperial Orcs did not respond to that challenge, and no Dawnish or Imperial Orc armies move to attack the Barrens. But the Highborn Assembly did respond, supporting the statement of principle embracing the spirit of the Dawnish challenge with a greater majority. Their statement appears to be a clarion call for the Highborn armies to invade the Barrens - Tabris finishes his statement with a clear call to "let the greatest Cathleon the world has ever seen commence!".

Tabris' word speak to the heart of every Highborn citizen. The Highborn relish any contest, but the Cathleon is especially popular, a gruelling contest that requires competitors to match their towering Ambition with physical fitness and skill to win. So interest in the contest that Tabris proposes is strong. The territory shares a border with Highguard as well as with Dawn, Navarr, and the League. Varushka has five territories, why shouldn't the Highborn dream of taming the Barrens with virtue and learning?

As a result of Tabris' challenge and the words of the Highborn Assembly both Dawnish and Highborn armies will be able to travel through Dawnish territories to reach the Barrens without impediment and for the remainder of the year, either nation would gain an additional 20% natural resupply while in any Dawnish territory in the season immediately after campaigning in the Barrens. The Highborn Assembly could go further and pass a mandate instructing every Highborn citizen to support Tabris' challenge.

It is our manifest destiny to conquer the Barrens and bring the Way to all beings in creation. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge every Highborn citizen who can fight to compete in the greatest Cathleon the world has ever seen and to bring to the Virtuous.

Synod Mandate, Highguard

If the mandate is enacted then Highborn will strain every sinew to conquer the Barrens. Every Highborn military unit will receive the "Greatest Cathleon" effect, which adds a four rank bonus to their fighting strength while supporting a Highborn army campaigning in the Barrens. Any Highborn unit that does not support an army fighting in the Barrens will receive the "Vice is Contagious" effect, a two rank penalty that reflects the impact of their lack of Ambition to win this contest, their failure of Courage to commit to the cause and their lack of Loyalty for their nation's goals.

Because of the strong bonds forged between the assemblies of Dawn and Highguard, the Dawnish have also taken an interest in the words of Tabris, Son of Armisael, as well as those of Tobias Field. Both citizens have invoked something truly glorious - a contest between these two nations. The imagination of the Dawnish troubadours is fired up by such a thing, not just the thought of conquering the Barrens, but of competing with the Highborn to do so. The two nations have grown closer in recent years with a shared appreciation of faith and Virtue - who better to push the Dawnish to complete this most ancient quest?

To conquer the Barrens would bring glory that will never be forgotten in our lifetime, to beat the Highborn to the prize would be a tale so glorious it will echo down the Labyrinth for generations. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge every Dawnish soldier to embrace the greatest opportunity for glory they will ever have.

Synod Mandate, Dawn

If this mandate is enacted by the Dawnish Assembly then every Dawnish army will be able to issue the triumphant charge order while campaigning in the Barrens next season. If any Dawnish army issues orders to conduct a forced march, a triumphant charge or attack no matter what the cost, then the option to order a triumphant charge will be available next season.

By contrast, Elagabala has proposed that the General Assembly consider the following mandate:

The Courageous face unwelcome truths as boldly as a barbarian charge; Zenith needs the power of the armies and military units presently there to effectively establish a beachhead. We send {Named Priest} with 75 Liao to encourage those in Zenith to keep up the virtuous crusade begun by the Highborn and show that when strength is brought against weakness, victory is ours.

Synod Mandate, General Assembly

If this mandate is enacted the faithful will spread the message to all the Courageous souls fighting in Zenith. Any army that withdraws from Zenith to fight elsewhere in the coming season will suffer a 20% penalty to casualties inflicted and territory conquered or defended. The penalty reflects the loss of morale that will result from abandoning the Virtuous cause demonstrated by the Highborn armies and endorsed by the Imperial Synod. A mandate with this kind of wide-ranging impact across nations is only possible in the General Assembly.

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.

Cold Bones (conjunctions)

  • Freed Winter spirits are beginning a rampage in Zenith, looking to feast on mortal flesh regardless of whether it belongs to human or orc

As the season of campaigning draws to an end, the Winter magics that have bound powerful spirits to the Iron Helms and the Citadel Guard begin to unravel. As the energies of the Winter realm slip away, the spirits are free from the army and from the corpses - both Imperial citizen and Druj alike - that they have possessed over the last year. Some of the cadavers drop to the ground, inanimate. A few turn on the soldiers beside whom they had previously fought, while others scatter into the hills.

Now released from the bonds of the ritual, the winter spirits surge outward and find new bodies to inhabit. At numerous locations across Clypion spontaneous Winter regio burst with magic, withering plant life around them and sapping the strength of anyone nearby. Do the spirits create them, or are they opening to beckon them back to the Winter realm? Is there intent behind their appearance, or is this just the resonance of so much death and despair in such a small area? There are many theories but what is clear is that the spirits are drawn to these little regio - and in turn draw strength from them.

As the season turns these spirits seek out the recently dead of the campaign, fallen citizens, and the vile Druj. The bodies of the dead, committed to mass graves on the battlefield, lost on mountainsides, or in deep woodland, begin to crawl back to some semblance of unlife. And they advance in rapid, hungry packs towards the living soldiers of the armies in Clypion. Elsewhere, the soldiers hope that the Druj also face a similar threat and take a small solace that these ravenous creatures beset their enemies as well. Two opportunities have been identified that will allow heroes of the Empire to reach locations close to the spontaneous regio that are channelling the energies of Winter and sustaining the husks that beset Imperial forces.

Lutum Descent

  • A regio sustaining forces threatening Imperial armies has been identified and could be closed
  • The Civil Service suggest the Grandmaster of the Rod and Shield might be in the best position to organise the mission

The wide valley of Lutum Descent drops down from the high passes through the mountains and leads to both Iteri and into central Clypion. Beyond lies the foothills of Lutum and the ruins of Spire Calator. Here, as the combined might of the Imperial armies pressed forward into the Druj defenders in their efforts to take the Zenith beachhead, hundreds of humans and orcs fell in battle. Now, many of those corpses have risen, threatening the rear echelons of the armies pressing onwards into the territory. With the tenuous Winter regio empowering the spirits and sustaining the corpses they have animated, there is a growing concern that the armies of Urizen, Dawn, Highguard, Varushka and The League now face enemies on two fronts.

Druj miasma
Anyone who travels to Zenith will be under the effect of the Druj miasma. This means they will be under the effect of permanent WEAKNESS and experience a feeling of hopelessness and dread as long as they are in the territory unless they:
  • Expend a hero point upon entering the area
  • Are subject to an anointing
  • Overcome the supernatural dread using their Changeling lineage by becoming extremely angry
  • Are bonded to a magical item or have a ritual enchantment that mitigates effects like these
Note that as these conjunctions take place in Zenith, Highborn characters with an anointing gain additional benefits.

Seers attached to the Citadel Guard have located one of the spontaneous Winter regio that have been reported across Clypion. Their investigations indicate that the regio they have discovered could be depowered, weakening the energy of the Winter realm that flows through it and sustains the rapacious spirits that animate the dead. If a force could reach the area, fight through the ranks of animated Druj corpses, and then approach the regio, it would be possible to use ritual magic to sever the connection to the Winter realm. The regio is tenuous - the seers are confident that almost any disruption will cause it to collapse. Three rituals in Imperial lore would provide sufficient disruption to destroy the regio. Pakaanan's Iron Shutters may only last a short time but the regio is fragile enough that it would be enough to cause it to collapse. The Night magic ritual Align the Celestial Net would cut off the Winter energies sustaining the regio and cause it to turn in on itself, quickly fraying until there was nothing less. Finally, the Wind of Mundane Silence obviously has sufficient power to destroy the regio, but the seers suggest it would be like using a siege engine to crack an egg.

Success or failure: Fighting the dead is, to a degree, fruitless. Only destroying the regio will have a notable effect. If the regio is removed, the next time the shambling dead are slain they will be forced to return to the Winter realm or else be destroyed in turn. If the regio is not dealt with, however, then it will continue to stabilise and the Winter spirits will draw power from it. They will remain a threat to the Imperial armies in Zenith who will suffer an additional 250 casualties during the coming season spread between all the armies here.

Kyrinian Spring

  • An opportunity to drive Winter spirits into the path of the Druj armies has been identified
  • The Civil Service suggest the Winter Archmage might be in the best position to organise the mission

The Kyrinian Spring is fed by the meltwaters of the high peaks and the ice fields that lay across their backs. The water bubbles to the surface from the roots of the mountains, and runs cold and fast, yet those residents here have long held that the icy air has more than a touch of the Winter realm about it, not only does it chill the body, but it claws and drains the mind as well. Perhaps these stories hold some grain of truth, and the Winter realm is somehow closer here? If correct, it does provide a reason why a spontaneous regio might appear in the area as the region has become plagued by animated husks. Unlike the regio at Lutum Descent, the magical energies here are much more stable. It will take more than a simple disruption to stop the Winter spirits drawing power here.

A Varushkan cabal with the Iron Helms have made a quick study of the area around the regio at the Kyrinian Spring. They believe that the most effective way to deal with it would be to ward it using Hold Back Frozen Hunger. The same energies that empower the husks could be subverted to power the ward, meaning it would last significantly longer than normal - long enough to limit the flow of Winter magic into the region, and prevent the spirits from raising new husks in the area. Barring exit from the regio for even a short length of time would result in the spirits finding other sources of power to sustain themselves.. and the nearest regio are much closer to the Druj's armies than they are to the Imperial armies. One of the cabalists points out that as with the Lutum Descent, the Wind of Mundane Silence would also close the regio, with the same effect, but again the power involved is such that it would be wasteful to employ it where a less potent ritual would suffice.

Success and Failure: Successfully disrupting the Kyrinian Spring regio with a ward will slightly reduce the number of spirits able to threaten the Imperial armies, but will also mean that those spirits are driven to create husks near the Druj. Estimates suggest that as many as 250 casualties would be inflicted on the Druj armies in the coming season (coincidentally meaning they would not be able to benefit from resupply even if there were no opposing armies present). The skirmish will be complicated by the need to place warding runes or sigils around the entire regio before the ritual can be performed, meaning the heroes undertaking it will likely need to hold the regio for a time.

Failure to deal with the regio will not inflict additional casualties on Imperial troops - it's a simple matter to avoid the area of the spring - but would leave a lingering problem for the Urizen of Zenith in the form of an area infested with winter spirits and flesh-hungry husks.

If either the attack on Lutum Descent or Kyranian Spring is unsuccessful, and there are no Imperial armies in Zenith following the summit, then the Winter spirits will turn on the remaining Urizen population. The spirits are much more effective at killing civilians than they are armed soldiers and there would be significant loss of life among the remaining human population.

The effect of the winter spirits - the damage they cause - would be increased or decreased by Rivers Run Red or Rivers of Life as normal. This would mean that if there were winter spirits attacking the Urizen population the numbers killed would be dramatically increased (Rivers Run Red) or severely reduced (Rivers of Life).