The blood ran cold in Hugh's veins the moment he heard the screaming. He frantically glanced back and forth trying desperately to work out what was happening but it was so dark he could barely make anything out. They'd made it almost all the way back to the border - only to be discovered at the last minute. There were more screams and then howling, presumably from whatever was attacking them. Something had gone horribly wrong, but what?

Then, from out of nowhere, a squat heavily-armoured orc charged him. The brutal creature's face was contorted with rage as it swung a heavy flail wildly in his direction. He flung his shield up, just in time to intercept the blow, but the heavy tip swung round the edge of the heater, smashing into arm. He screamed in pain, but despite the shock he continued his own wild swing with his sword. He tried to connect with the creatures head, but the creature only ducked and stepped back, readying the heavy weapon for another strike.

Time seemed to slow down. He was going to die here - in this glory-forsaken hell-hole - he knew it. When Katrina had given them their orders, he'd imagine this would be his big chance for glory and renown. He'd pictured himself rescuing some some tall graceful Urizeni magician. He'd be so grateful he'd gaze longingly into Hugh's eyes...

... he screamed again. The orc had lashed out, kicking him in the leg. His armour held, but he staggered under the force of the blow. It followed the kick up with another wild swing. Instinctively he raised his sword to parry, only realizing his mistake at the last minute as the chain links wrapped round his weapon and the steel tip crashed into his skull.

Dazed and deafened by the force of the impact he staggered back, his vision lost to blackness and stars. He'd never see Oldheart again. This whole crazy plan never had any chance of succeeding. Now the orcs had caught up with them, they were all doomed.

Something slammed into him, with the force of a charging bull, knocking him from his feet. He crashed to the ground, finding himself breathless just as his daze lifted and his vision returned. Just in time to see the orc stood over him, flail held high in both hands, ready for the killing blow.

For the briefest of seconds it paused. He willed his arms to save him, to raise up his shield and protect his skull, but the thing wouldn't move. Too late he realized the orcs boot was planted firmly on top of his shield, as if trying to crush the winged lion device emblazoned there.

The beast lept out the darkness, a gigantic monstrosity of fur and teeth. It was damn near the size of an oxon, or so it seemed to Hugh, but with a jaw filled with canines, thick as iron bars. The orc took the brunt of the impact on the chest, flinging it to the ground and freeing Hugh in the process. The monster landed on top of the orc and lunged at him, its savage fangs tearing at the exposed flesh of his face and neck. The orc's scream was cut chillingly short as the thing tore out its throat, blood spraying in all directions like a wave crashing against the rocks.

Desperately he tried to pull himself to his feet, looking left and right for the sword he'd dropped earlier. It was led on the ground... half way between the monster and him. He stared at it in horror, realizing he'd never make it in time.

The huge wolf stopped tearing at the dead orc's face and sat back on its haunch. It held his gaze for a moment, staring at him with clear contempt, red eyes filled with deep malice. Then it leaned back and howled again, so loud the noise roared in his ears. From elsewhere there were more howls, so many that the echoes filled the night. He realized then, that the screaming had fallen silent.

The creature gave him one last glare... and then turned and loped off into the night.


A determined effort by several hundred Imperial heroes has triumphed in rescuing more half the remaining occupants of Zenith who were enslaved by the Druj. The majority of the forces were from Urizen, Dawn, Highguard and the League but there were three bands from far-away Wintermark and Varushka. Together they crept over the border into Druj occupied lands and carried out a series of daring raids to rescue soldiers and civilians taken prisoner by the evil orcs of the Mallum.

The Highborn soldiers that were rescued have returned to their respective armies. The big question that remains is what to do with the civilians that the heroes have saved. Their homes lie over the mountain passes in Zenith - but that land labours under Druj control and who knows when it will be freed? No-one in their right mind would choose to move to Spiral anymore, but are they better to wait in Morrow until they can return, or should they consider settling in Redoubt? What of the offer from the Highborn to take the refugees in?

The decision ultimately depends on what the Urizen intend to do next. Will they seek to consolidate the recent gains made in restoring Morrow and look to blunt the Druj advance into Spiral. Or will they throw caution to the winds and commit everything to retaking Zenith?

Throw Caution to the Wind

Many of those who have been rescued from Zenith have lost everything. Their spires have been destroyed or despoiled, their memory of home drowned in thoughts of the brutality and violence unleashed on them by the orcs. These people are faced with a brutal choice - to remain ready to return to Zenith at the first available chance or to seek a new life in Morrow and Redoubt. The matter is of particular concern for the soldiers of the military units who risked their lives to bring these people out of Zenith.

An appropriately worded Synod mandate by the Urizen National Assembly would have a significant impact.

No person in Urizen will rest until Zenith is freed from the vile taint of the Druj. We send {named priest} with 25 liao to urge every Urizeni to commit everything possible to the immediate liberation of Zenith.

Synod Mandate, Urizen National Assembly

The mandate appeals to Urizeni Ambition and Courage, and would inspire the nation's soldiers to throw themselves into the fray, holding nothing back. The Citadel Guard would be eager to take the fight to the Druj in Zenith. They would generate 10% more victory points while fighting on offence in the territory, but would suffer an equivalent penalty if attacking or defending in any other territory. Any Urizeni military units that supported the Citadel Guard in the attack would receive a boost to morale (equivalent to one additional rank), but they would suffer the equivalent penalty if they took any other action.

The effects would last for a year - or until the Druj were driven from Zenith.

Seek to Consolidate

The alternative is to encourage those who have lost the most to settle in Redoubt and Morrow. It will take a concerted campaign to drive the Druj from Morrow and with the recent attack on Spiral it is far from clear when the Empire will be ready for such a campaign. Wiser to acknowledge the reality of the situation, consolidate the victories that have been won, and wait to reclaim Zenith when victory is assured.

Again this situation would benefit from a suitably worded judgement by the Urizen national assembly.

No-one knows when Zenith will be liberated, we must help those who have lost everything, until the time comes to fight back. We send {named priest} with 25 liao to urge everyone to take in the refugees and help them build a new life in Morrow and Redoubt.

Synod Mandate, Urizen National Assembly

This mandate appeals to Urizeni Wisdom and Vigilance. There is no way to tell when Zenith will be retaken, it may fall quickly but it could take years. Better for people to start again, somewhere they can build a new life, and thereby help Urizen prepare for when the day comes to reclaim Zenith.

If the mandate is endorsed, then refugees will travel Redoubt and Morrow looking for somewhere to settle. While the territories will struggle to cope with so many displaced people, by sharing the load between them there will be homes for everyone. With people able to start a new life among the spires here, they would then be in a position to add their experience and expertise to support the Doyen of the Spires.

At present, the Doyen is able to coordinate the efforts of the inhabitants of Morrow, Redoubt, and Spiral at a cost of 15 thrones a season. If the refugees from Zenith settle in Morrow and Redoubt then they would be in a position to support the Doyen exactly as if Zenith had been recaptured. The costs would increase to 20 thrones but the speed of research would likewise improve. Obviously there would be no further gain when Zenith was reconquered, but it would mean that the Urizen could gain the benefits of their people's scholarship now.

This mandate is in competition with the mandate above, if both mandates are submitted, whichever mandate achieves the greatest majority would succeed.

Protect the Helpless

Almost a year ago, the Highborn national assembly passed a judgement encouraging their citizens to throw open the doors of their homes to the Urizen.

We remember well the suffering inflicted by the Druj. The Highborn Assembly calls upon all citizens of Highguard to remember the Virtues of Prosperity, Loyalty and Pride. To throw open the doors of their homes to our cousins from Urizen and offer them safety and succour for as long as their homes lie in the hands of the Barbarian.

Highborn Assembly, Spring Equinox 382YE, Able of the Shattered Tower, Upheld 550 - 0

At that time, the judgement was considered a gracious and loyal gesture but not something that was fully needed. Urizen was able to support those who had escaped Zenith, albeit under difficult conditions. However now there are a great many refugees who are in desperate need of shelter and protection but who realistically are not able to support the effort to repulse the Druj. The children of Zenith, and those displaced by the invasion of Morrow, many of them orphans could be temporarily evacuated to Reikos. The frail and sick, and those wounded in mind and body who might never recover from their ordeal, could take refuge there. Reikos is a long way from the fighting in Morrow, Zenith, and Spiral - those who went could live in safety until Zenith is reclaimed.

All that is worthwhile is shared with those who deserve it. Let us open our doors to those Urizeni who have lost everything and give them a home until the day comes when they can return. We send {named priest} with 25 liao to bring those who have lost everything to Reikos where they can be given succour the Druj meance is no more.

Synod Mandate, Highborn National Assembly

This mandate appeals to Highborn Loyalty and Prosperity. Orphans and other children, and those like them who have no role to play in the war against the Druj could dwell peacefully in Reikos until the day comes when they can return home in safety. It would be a significant burden for the people of Reikos to support the refugees, these are difficult times to take on extra mouths to feed, but it is one they would willingly bear if asked to by the nation.

This mandate is not in competition with either of the previous two, it could be carried out alone or in tandem with one or the other of the Urizeni mandates.


The Urizen national assembly endorsed the mandate urging refugees to resettle in Morrow and Redoubt.