The attack had come without warning; great rending roots bursting from the ground around the gate tearing it assunder to admit a river of monsters. The thorns did what they could, but nobody had expected to be subject to such a savage assault. A wave of husks had washed over the steading, and for every one that fell two more seemed to shamble out of the woods. Just before she had gone down Tita had seen her brother Aubie and his wife fighting back to back near the cookhouse, rods dripping with magical venom, desperate to protect the children. She'd been trying to make her way across to them when she had fallen - a great beast half again as tall as she was , wrapped in vines with branching wooden antlers, had swept her off her feet and sent her cartwheeling against the wall of the wayhouse.

Now she lay on her side, breathing shallowly. She had no idea what had become of her brother and Korra; hopefully they had barricaded themselves with the children and would be able to hold out until help arrived... assuming any help was coming. There would be no rescue for Tita. She could not even risk calling out; even if one of the surviving defenders heard her, she would still have attracted the attention of the vallornspawn.

To die now was bad enough... but here? With the vallornspawn attack had come the miasma and all that implied. Every Navarr in Brocéliande knew the reality of their situation - that they risked death on a daily basis but even if it found them there was a chance that it would not "take". Like most of the steading she had assumed that the clean air of Elerael would protect them from the fate worse than death... but it seemed their optimism had been misplaced.

The worst of it was perhaps that even with the threat of eternal enslavment to the vallorn looming as her blood seeped out of her, the magic did nothing to mitigate the pain of her shattered ribs. Every breath was agony. She closed her eyes, trying to control the panic rising insided her. It would be easy to just accept it, to give in, and to let darkness take her. She wondered disjointedly whether she would be aware of becoming vallornspawn. Would she know what her flesh did once the inevitable happened? She hoped not.

She felt a shadow fell across her then, and opened her eyes. A young woman was leaning over her, her face a mask of pity and compassion beneath her voluminous hood. Tita did not recognise her, but for a moment she felt a surge of hope - cruelly dashed a moment later as her eyes took in the rest of the details of her "saviour".

The womans eyes were unnatural emerald green, and a delicate spray of thorns outlined either cheek, like razor-sharp freckles. What she had initially taken for spiralling tattoos on her face she belatedly realised were actually raised trails of dark brown bark. The briar had clearly sliced her own skin in intricate patterns, a mockery of the designs favoured by the Navarr.

"Don't be afraid," said the briar woman gently. "This is not death. You are becoming something beautiful.."

Tita turned her face away, but the briar took her chin fimly in her hand and made her look at her.

"This life of sorrow and iron" she said, gesturing to where Tita's spear lay just out of her reach. "This is the true death, and you are being saved from-"

She stiffened then, suddenly, her eyes becoming unfocused. Her jaw twitched spasmodically and then a river of thick red blood spilled out of her mouth and spatteredd Tita's face. The briar was jerked suddenly up and away, tumbling like a discarded rag doll. Behind her, where she had been standing, another stranger; one that nobody could mistake for a Navarr.

Hairless, its skin as black as the night sky, it towered over the fallen Tita. It wore an open robe that seemed to be fine green silk over a pair of tight red trousers. Its legs ended in cloven hooves, that pawed gently at the ground as it leaned forward, mirroring the action of the briar woman mere heartbeats before. The creature's face was halfway betwen that of a human and a deer, its eyes bottomless pools of darkness in which distant stars flickered. Sinuous lines snaked across its skin in a thousand gently drifting shades. In one hand it carried the seven-foot greatspear it had used to dispatch the briar woman. The tip of the spear was black with blood.

It studied her face for a moment, its doe-like ears twitching, and then it turned and let out a melodious bellow, like a stag in Spring. It leaned forward again, and laid a three fingered hand against the side of her face. The creature's skin was soft as silk and warm to the touch, and she felt unaccountably comforted despite the horror that surrounded her. Her breathing slowed, and she was dimly aware of a gentle pressure over her broken ribs.

A moment or two later, the pressure was released and she was aware of a woman pulling her jerkin aside and gently examining the wound beneath with delicate fingers before pulling out a pot of deep jade cream and starting to apply it liberally to Tita's chest.

"Stay still, be calm," she said absently. "You are safe now. We are here. You are going to live to fight another day."

As the physick worked, Tita could see another half dozen of the peculiar robed warriors fighting the vallornspawn between the remaining buildings. Over by the cookhouse, three crimson-haired warriors in heavy chain fought a great twisted tree beast, fending off its crushing blows with tear-drop shields and working in close harmony to ensure that it could only face two of them at a time. And everywhere, the quick moving forms of Navarr thorns pressing the husks back with spear and burning venom.

"You're safe now," whispered the physic again. "It's going to be alright."

Tita breathed out a great sigh, and let herself tumble down, down, down into a dreamless sleep.

Overview

  • The vallorn has been prevented from expanding its borders for the recent season.

The vallorn of Brocéliande stirs. In the thousand years since the fall of Terunael, the Navarr have managed to recover only two regions of the lost territory: Boar's Dell and Elerael. Now it seems the infestation at the heart of the eastern forest is reaching out to reclaim this land once more.

CitizenNation
Torr SplitrootNavarr
Eleri Bronwen's RestNavarr
Geraint Broad-BackedNavarr
Brennos BrackensongNavarr
Cerwynn BrackensongNavarr
WillaNavarr
AdeenNavarr
Alexi FarwalkerNavarr
BrendanNavarr
Bronwyn FoxdenNavarr
Rodric WorldscribeNavarr
Kalas Realm ReachNavarr
Lleu TarwNavarr
Hen Was SilverthornNavarr
Ieuan Fallow DeerNavarr
Bryn SplitrootNavarr
MaddocNavarr
Gryf Umbral PathNavarr
Bran HolmNavarr
TravidNavarr
NookNavarr
Karrow Strangers SongNavarr
Arthur MoirNavarr
DalthiosNavarr
KinothNavarr
Cador BlackwaterNavarr
Cadoc Artair SkölssonWintermark

A Slow Tide Rising

The Navarr will not easily let the vallorn take back what they have fought so hard to liberate. After the Autumn Equinox, cadres of thorns made their way to Eleri's Stead in Elerael and Greenstead in Boar's Dell. Their goal - to help the Navarr of Brocéliande slow the advance of the vallorn by whatever means.

The overwhelming majority of the warriors are Navarr - but a single Wintermark captain has also joined the battle against the vallorn. The more mundane forces are further supported by cadres of enchanted soldiers woven of Night magic. Gryf Umbral Path, Cerwynn Brackensong, Bryn Splitroot, Adeen, Eleri Bronwen's Rest, and Travid have each called the Conclave of Trees and Shadow, raising magical champions to fight in the defence of Greenstead and Eleri's Stead.

The first sign of the vallorn's approach is the mist that seeps through the trees bringing with it the choking miasma that not only hastens death but brings with it the curse of the Vallornspawn husks. Where the miasma touches, the forces of nature themselves are thrown into disarray. Peculiar plants sprout, some of them with animalistic, murderous intent. Others serve to anchor the miasma more firmly, allowing it to thicken like a blanket of living fog over the steadings along the borders of the vallorn claimed forest. The plants grow quickly - constant Vigilance is required to ensure that they do not take root and begin to spread. Worse, some of the vallon's magic infests farms, forests, and herb gardens and warps the plants that grow there into unnatural new shapes. All must be torn out and destroyed.

The relatively passive threat of the miasma and the aberrant vegetation are only the start. The miasma brings with it the husks of those who have fallen to the vallorn in Brocéliande. Infested with its malignant power, brought back from the brink of death by its unnatural touch, they serve as a vanguard that seeks to tear down what little civilisation the Navarr have managed to eke out in this dark forest. There are sightings of husks not seen elsewhere - great beasts that tower over even the hulks; terrible swift-moving assassins with claws like razors; magically imbued elder things most likely the product of ancient briars fallen to the miasma filled with terrible supernatural power. Some of these husks are very old indeed - perhaps even dating back to that first terrible flowering of the vallorn when it washed away the city of Terunael itself, its ruins now lost in the deepest part of the wood at the very heart of the infestation.

Venomous weapons serve the Navarr in good stead; some acquired from Honest Twyll's Gardening Supplies in distant Miaren, others woven from Spring magic by the vates and battle-magicians of the steadings. The husks will not leave the miasma, yet the miasma seems to follow them also - it is hard with any certainty to say which is bringing the other.

The husks are not the only threat however. From the deep parts of the forest come the ettercaps. As with those encountered in far western Liathaven, they seem possessed of a terrible new awareness, of working together, employing simple tactics, and even wielding makeshift weapons according to the most lurid accounts. They range out beyond the miasma, striking without warning and leaving none alive where they pass. Some of the most vicious fighting is between Navarr warriors and these abominable insect horrors.

Worse is to come. There are other powers at work here beside the vallorn. Spring magic has been used to provoke this spread, and there are signs that the magic draws on the power of the eternal Yaw'nagrah - something that can only be achieved with the creature's complicity. Like Liathaven, Brocéliande lies outside the borders of the Empire and whatever metaphysical weight the judgement of the Conclave may have to impede Yaw'Nagrah holds no sway. There are supernatural horrors among the vallornspawn; heralds and beasts of Yaw'nagrah's fecund realm. Living trees with snaking arms; undulating thorn-bushes that howl like hunting hounds; beautiful and terrible youths with emerald eyes that lure the unwary into ambushes before revealing their true wooden forms.

Some of the steadings in the heart of Brocéliande fall. Drowned in the miasma as they are there is little hope of escape or succour. The Broch comes under a concerted attack; a veritable army of husks and ettercaps beating against its walls. For now the steading holds - yet this has always been the settlement most at risk of being overrun and it seems unlikely that the defenders will be able to hold out for much longer against the renewed vallorn drive to consume the Navarr.

Two thousand Navarr, give or take, were needed to hold back the vallorn this season. In the end, a little over three thousand were able to raise their spears in Brocéliande and hold the vallorn back from Boar's Dell and Elerael. Yet the vallorn has not been defeated; only slowed.

A handful of the smaller steadings within the heart of the vallorn itself have been overrun. Their people have become food for ettercaps - or worse swollen the ranks of the vallornspawn husks that now press against the borders into the two liberated regions.

The Navarr have won a battle, but the war continues. As the Winter Solstice draws closer it becomes clear that the force of the vallorn is not slackening; quite the contrary it is increasing. Fighting a vallorn incursion is more about outlasting its fecund energy than killing the creatures it spawns. Whether the Empire does nothing and the vallorn is free to begin its slow spread into Elerael and Boar's Dell, or puts up a spirited defence, the green tide shows no sign of ebbing in the short term - it is a storm that must be weathered.

Participation

  • Navarr characters who took part in the Slow the Vallorn opportunity are eligible for a special encounter at the start of the event.

Any Navarr character who has assigned a military unit or forest to the "Slow the Vallorn" action this downtime or has their personal resource located in Brocéliande is eligible to participate in a special encounter at the beginning of the event. There is every certainty that you will be involved in combat as part of this encounter. It will also involve moving (possibly at speed) across rough terrain in the woodland. This encounter is not suitable for players wanting to avoid combat or who have concerns about moving over uneven ground. There is no requirement for you to participate and it is entirely fine to have traveled to Anvil as normal.

Further information about this opportunity can be found here.

If you do not meet the criteria above, please do not email asking if you can participate. This opportunity is only available for those players that meet the above criteria.

Stemming the Tide

  • The vallorn drive to expand continues this season

As before, an Imperial army in Boar's Dell, and one in Elerael, would hold the vallorn back in each region.

To achieve that however, a general would need to move their army to Brocéliande, a task made more difficult by the the presence of the vallorn. Boar's Dell can only be reached safely from Semmerholm (or in theory Drycastle, but the presence of the Druj makes that much less feasible). An army wishing to move to Elerael will almost certainly need to do so from Reikos - the only alternative would be for the armies to fight their way through several regions of aggressive vallorn, which would likely inflict significantly more casualties.

The civil service predict that an army striving to defend a vallorn-free region of Brocéliande will take around 200 casualties depending on the order given. - though the general could submit defending orders to reduce those casualties.

In the current political climate getting one Imperial army to go to Brocéliande would be a significant undertaking, much less two. But without them, the only hope to defend Brocéliande lies one again with the the Navarr thorns and vates.

Slowing the Vallorn

Any character with a military unit can contribute to the defence of Brocéliande. The option to "Slow the Vallorn" will appear on the paid work dropdown after the event. A standard military unit will contribute 100 effective force if assigned to support this action, plus an additional 20 force for each rank of upgrade or enchantment. Magic that enhances a military unit's effectiveness with paid work such as Merciless Wrath of the Reaver will be helpful, but rituals that empower a warband to work with an army, fortification, or spy network (for example) will not help with this opportunity.

As predicted, the strength of the vallorn's expansion is growing, and significantly greater force will be needed to counter it after the Winter Solstice. In addition to Elerael and Boar's Dell, the key steading of the Broch in Black Boughs is also at risk of being overrun by the vallorn.

  • If at least 5,000 force is assigned to support the action in the coming season, the vallorn will not only be prevented from expanding into Elerael and Boar's Dell, but the steading of the Broch will receive sufficient support that it can survive another season.
  • If at least 4,000 force is assigned support the action in the coming season the vallorn will not expand into Elerael or Boar's Dell before the Winter Solstice; the Broch however will be overrun by the vallorn. In this scenario however it will be possible to get the inhabitants to safety before it finally falls.
  • If less than 4,000 effective force, but at least 2,000 effective force is assigned, the vallorn will push into Elerael but will be held back in Boar's Dell. The Broch will fall, but at least half the people there will be able to make it to safety.
  • If less than 2,000 effective force is assigned, the vallorn's slow spread will go unimpeded. The Broch will fall and the majority of the defenders will be consumed by the vallorn. The vallorn will spread into Elerael and Boar's Dell, claiming a significant portion of both regions.

The Navarr of the steadings will support those prepared to help defend them, as they did during the previous season. Any military unit that takes this action will receive the usual income they would normally expect.

Summary

  • This coming season military units will be able to select Slow the Vallorn as a specific paid work action
  • If the Empire can muster a military strength of 2000 that will be enough to defend Boars Dell
  • If the Empire can muster a military strength of 4000 that will be enough to defend Boars Dell and Elerael
  • If the Empire can muster a military strength of 5000 that will be enough to preserve the Broch
  • The presence of an Imperial army in the territory reduces the military units required by 2000 but the army will suffer casualties
  • An Imperial army cannot be used to reinforce the Broch - its position deep within the vallorn makes this unfeasible.
  • Military units will receive payment in herbs from the grateful Navarr people who live here

Imperial Aid

  • The national assemblies of Dawn and Highguard may offer support to their neighbours in Brocéliande.

The Navarr are part of a mighty Empire; perhaps they need not face the threat in Brocéliande alone. In particular, the nations of Dawn and Highguard lie along the south, west, and northern borders of the ancient vallorn fastness. While there is no immediate threat of an excursion beyond the margins of Brocéliande, that is not to say that these two nations may not have an interest in the situation there.

Dawn : The Banners of Rucastle

Half a church of virtue; half an old fort built to drive the orcs from Semmerholm, Rucastle is one of the oldest settlements in the territory. Since its founding, it has had close relations with the Navarr; indeed knights from Rucastle helped to found Greenstead in Boars Dell, and fought to help free Boar's Dell from the vallorn in the first place.

The troubadours and Questing knights of Rucastle have offered what aid they can to Greenstead, but their resources are limited. Noelle de Boisver, the adventurous troubadour and veteran of numerous glorious adventures in the Navarr forests, has spoken passionately about the glory to be won facing the twisted beasts of the vallorn. She has placed a suggestion before the national assembly of Dawn.

The green forest of Brocéliande is a wilderness like few others; now the vallorn that lies at its heart rises against our friends among the Navarr. The opportunity for glory here cannot be ignored; nor should the people of Semmerholm and Astolat ignore the sacrifices the Navarr have made to protect them against the malign force of the power that dwells there. The Dawn assembly sends (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to encourage knights and witches to offer their aid to the Navarr fighting to stem the green tide of the vallorn. Let knights-errant and questing knights alike face the challenge of the dark forest, and show the abhorrent power of the vallorn the might of Dawnish steel!

Synod Mandate, Dawn National Assembly

If the Dawn national assembly passes this mandate, it will encourage encourage questing knights and knights-errant to seek glory in Brocéliande. At the same time, noble houses and villages in Astolat and Semmerholm alike will offer support to champions of Dawn who face the dangers of Brocéliande.

For the next year (until the start of the Winter Solstice 383YE) any Dawnish military unit (or magical warband that functions like a military unit) that takes the opportunity to Slow the Vallorn (or any similar opportunity if the situation changes) will receive additional rewards.

Highguard : The Blade of the Pilgrims

To the south of Brocéliande lies Highguard - both Casinea and Reikos border the vallorn-haunted forest. At great cost the Highborn have declared themselves the enemies of the vallorn. Pilgrims already tread the trods in great numbers, but in Brocéliande there is a chance for them to take direct action against the infestation, should the priests of Highguard be prepared to make further sacrifices.

The monstrous infestation that is the Vallorn is a danger beyond any other that now faces us. There is no sacrifice too great that we cannot meet it to defeat this terror. The walking of the trods will weaken the vallorn, but we must not be blind to the danger it poses to humanity. The time has come to raise sword and brand against it in defence of our allies - and to strike at the horror in Brocéliande before it becomes a threat to our own people. We send (named priest) with 25 doses of liao to urge the vigilant faithful of Reikos and Casinea to aid the Navarr in the defence of Brocéliande.

Synod Mandate, Highborn National Assembly

If the Highborn National Assembly passes this mandate, then the faithful of Highguard will take arms against the vallorn and cross the border into Brocéliande. For the next year, every congregation in Reikos and Casinea will suffer a one rank penalty, resulting in the loss of 1 liao and 2 votes in the Synod. For each congregation so effected 20 effective strength will be added to the Slow the Vallorn opportunity (or to any similar opportunity if the situation changes).

Alternatively, the Highborn national assembly could pass the same mandate but change the final sentence to read "We send (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to urge the vigilant faithful of Highguard to aid the Navarr in the defence of Brocéliande." In this case the effect would apply to every congregation in Highguard.

No Foolish Sacrifices

In both cases, the mandates assume that the Navarr are fighting the vallorn. If the Empire chooses to abandon Brocéliande to the vallorn, the effects of both mandates would end - and would not resume even if the Empire later returned to the Navarr forests.

The Aid of Llofir

  • The Eternal Llofir offers assistance to fight the vallorn in Brocéliande
  • An Imperial ally of Llofir has provided two arcane projections that allow soldiers to be called from herb gardens to fight the vallorn, which are available to be Endowed by the Conclave
  • If Llofir is granted amity by the Conclave it will offer direct assistance in Brocéliande.
  • If the Senate cedes the region of Tamarbode to Llofir it will send additional direct assistance and provide a copy of its arcane projection suitable to be codified and entered into Imperial lore.

The eternal Llofir infests Tamarbode in Reikos. That region lies across the border from Elerael. Inscrutable as the Rot Lord may be, it has recently declared its opposition to the vallorn. It is likely to be sending a representative to Anvil this season to meet with the Navarr and the Highborn - but it has also sent news of immediate aid in Brocéliande. Yet, as is the way with eternals, it seeks a degree of quid pro quo before it is willing to do its utmost to help.

OOC Ritual Note
The ritual Llofir is describing would function similarly to Carve the Crystal Guardian and Conclave of Trees and Shadow but it would draw on Llofir's power to temporarily transform a herb garden personal resource into a military unit of the same rank. The new military unit would gain a small bonus to its rank when assigned to support an Imperial army or perform paid work, and receive rewards based on the action it takes. The arcane projection would need to be codified at a College of magic if it was to be put into Imperial lore.

This effect would be impossible to create as an arcane projection without the assistance of an eternal such as Llofir. The explicit get-out clause that will cause the ritual to cease functioning permanently is if any Imperial force attacks Tamarbode, or the Conclave places Llofir under enmity.

Purely as a sign of good faith, Llofir is prepared to provide the Empire with a pair of arcane projections explicitly designed to aid in the defence of Brocéliande. Llofir has worked with the Kallavesi mystic Tremont of Cundahl to prepare the spells; the Wintermark magician has presented them to the Imperial Conclave in time for the coming summit. Each ritual will allow up to six members of a single nation to offer their herb garden to Llofir for a season to aid in the defence of the forests. The spell will invoke the eternals power within the targeted gardens, temporarily consuming the fertility and nascent magic of the herbs to conjure myconoid warriors from the Spring Realm to fight as commanded for the coming season.

Llofir does not consent to this magic being codified however, so it is not possible to turn either projection into a ritual text. Other than this, the Imperial Conclave are free to dispose of the arcane projections as they choose using a Declaration of Endowment.

To do more, Llofir claims it would need amity. If the Imperial Conclave chooses, it can grant amity to Llofir. In return the eternal will offer direct support to the Navarr in Elerael. For as long as the amity persists, Llofir will provide a small force of its more warlike heralds to help protect Navarr settlements in Brocéliande - the equivalent of five military units. According to Tremont, the eternal has two reasons for requesting amity. Firstly, it will allow Llofir to send some of its more powerful agents away from its garden in Tamarbode without difficulty. Secondly, while the amity is in place it would be a crime for any Imperial to attack Llofir's garden - meaning it is less concerned about a repeat of earlier hostilities. The eternal knows the Empire is suspicious, and swears that it will not use this amity to go anywhere it is not invited - it claims to genuinely be concerned only with Brocéliande.

The most powerful aid requires the greatest sacrifice - the region of Tamarbode. If the Imperial Senate cedes Tamarbode to the eternal, in addition to a Declaration of Amity by the Conclave then it will double the force it sends to Brocéliande - the equivalent of ten military units who will fight as long as amity remains. In addition it will provide a third simpler copy of the ritual to enchant herb gardens; with the understanding that the Empire could choose to codify this ritual if they wished.

The arcane projection could be codified at any college of magic and placed into Imperial lore if the Empire wished, but Llofir warns that the eternal would withdraw from the agreement if any Imperial forces attacked Tamarbode, or if the Empire declared enmity against it. Should the Senate cede Tamarbode, an agent of the eternal will deliver the arcane projection to the Spring Archmage by the next morning (OOC: Assuming the motion is passed on Friday or Saturday. If it is passed on Sunday the ritual will be placed in the Spring Archmage's pack at the start of the next event).

The Aid of Tharim

  • If the Conclave passes a Declaration of Concord allowing Tharim, the Bound King of the Thrice-cursed Court, to feast on the forests and herb gardens of Miaren, Therunin, and Hercynia for the next year, the eternal will send its powerful servitors to offer their direct assistance in Brocéliande.
  • Furthermore, any Navarr magician who is fighting in Brocéliande or Liathaven during the event may consume a dose of Heart's Blood to restore all spent mana at the expnse of a minor curse.

The eternal Surut has offered aid in Liathaven in the past, but the Burned Prince is not the only member of the Thrice-cursed Court with an interest in the Navarr it seems. The Bound King, Tharim has sent an emissary to offer his aid in Brocéliande if the Navarr desire it. He already enjoys Amity and so his ability to reach out to help the Navarr is commensurately greater.

Tharim possesses significant understanding of magic that hobbles, slows, impedes, weakens, and even paralyses others. The vibrant, fertile life of the vallorn intrigues him and he wishes, apparently, to feast upon it - but that is not all he is interested in feasting upon. If the Imperial Conclave passes a Declaration of Concord asking him to aid the Navarr he will do so, but he will exact payment of his own. Every herb garden in Miaren, Therunin, and Hercynia will suffer a loss of two random herbs and each forest will lose two resources for the next year. In return Tharim will deploy several of his powerful dukes and barons to support the campaign in Brocéliande for the same period. This will be the equivalent of 1000 force.

The Gift of Blood

Furthermore, the court as a whole are prepared to offer more concrete aid to the magicians of Navarr, especially those who are fighting the vallorn through the auspices of the Sentinel Gate. If a Navarr magician fights in Brocéliande or Liathaven during the coming season they may consume a single dose of heart's blood to regain all spent mana. Each character may only do this once. This boon will not come without a price however; any character that does so will suffer a curse, an inevitable side-effect of the power they have taken on. (OOC: if you use this ability while fighting the vallorn, you should speak with a referee after the battle or skirmish, to receive the curse details).

Note that as this power provides a full mana restoration, it will also replenish the special abilities of enchantments such as Unending Cascade of Blood's Fire or Hungry Grasp of Despair.

The Aid of the Great Forest Orcs

  • The orcs of the Great Forest tribe may be called to aid in the defence of Brocéliande
  • The orcs are concerned about the lack of progress made on the (now lapsed) construction of the fortification in Therunin.

The orcs of the Great Forest have been granted sanctuary in Therunin. They have warriors of their own, and have expressed some interest in learning more about the vallorn. Indeed th Navarr welcomed them as fellow-travellers on the trods, allowing them to see the Empire and visit the vallorn forests in all four corners. Relations remain reasonably positive with the orcs of Peytaht.

In the past they have offered to aid the Navarr in fighting the Druj - but Chief Valack has sent an emissary to tell the Navarr that his warriors are also prepared to help protect their homes in Brocéliande. If the Senator for Therunin sends a suitably worded Winged Messenger to Vallack at the Great Forest Encampment, Lower Tarn Valley, Therunin the spears will be raised and the orcs will cross Reikos to aid in the defence of Brocéliande.

The only grey cloud in Valack's message is that his people are deeply concerned about the status of the Holt of the Oak - the fortification in Therunin that the Imperial Senate commissioned over a year ago. Since the commission was approved, almost no weirwood and no money have been received by the orcs. Work has not even begun - while 10 wains of Weirwood were received from Cybi Farkas after the Winter Solstice 381YE, construction has not yet begun. The orcs of the Great Forest would be considerably more comfortable helping the Navarr defend their homes if they knew that their own homes were secure. As such Valack cannot promise that his warriors would raise their spears in any future season of war against the vallorn.

The Civil Service points out that as no work has been done on the fortification, the commission is considered to have lapsed. It would require a new Senate motion and use one of the available commissions to allow any further construction to be undertaken at all.

Let The Green Tide Rise

  • The Navarr could abandon Brocéliande with the intention of returning in force later to retake the ground lost to the vallorn.

The trod network is still active - the difficulties of walking through Sermersuaq and Zenith are somewhat offset by the recent addition of Skuld and Ossium. With thousands of Highborn pilgrims beginning to walk the trods, the weakening of the vallorn can only increase. Nobody is quite certain why the vallorn should have become active at this point, but most vates are in agreement that the vallorn is a threat to Brocéliande, but it won't expand into new territory as things stand.

Still the more pessimistic observers calculate that even a best-case projection suggests that the force needed to keep the vallorn from expanding will increase again next season - and again the season after - continuing to grow stronger until the energy driving this current surge is spent. There is a tentative suggestion that if the vallorn can be prevented from expanding into Boar's Dell and Elerael for a year - that is until the start of the Autumn Equinox 383YE - it will fall back into slumber just as it recently did in Liathaven.

Given that the vallorn won't expand beyond the borders of Brocéliande, the Empire could simply pull back and abandon the territory to it - at least until its strength wanes. The Broch will fall immediately - unfortunately its position is simply too precarious. But although the vallorn would quickly advance into the two threatened regions, it would take time for it to completely infest them. If the vates are right there would be a limited window to focus attention elsewhere for a season or two and still reclaim Brocéliande, but it is a serious risk. Depending on how quickly the force of its expansion increases - and it will increase - it would take anywhere between nine months and a year for both regions to be completely lost.

It would not be an easy proposition to root out the vallorn if it were to gain ground in Brocéliande however. While independent captains can fight to keep the vallorn from claiming territory, it would require an attack by an Imperial army to actually reclaim any land surrendered to the vallorn.

One further glimmer of hope; if the regions are lost, it may take years to make the forests as impregnable as the vallorn's heart. There would be painful consequences for Navarr living there, but a determined Empire could still try force a beachhead at Boars Dell or Elerael to retake what was lost when the time was right. The longer the vallorn exerted uncontested dominion over the territory the harder that victory would be to achieve, of course.

Summary

  • The force of the vallorn to expand will continue to increase, requiring more effort to resist its advance each season
  • If the territory were given over entirely to the vallorn, the personal resources of Imperial citizens living there would be subject to the conquered territory penalty.
  • A tentative prediction suggests that if the vallorn can be held at bay until the start of the Autumn Equinox 383YE its urge to expand will die down again.

Evacuation

  • The Navarr assembly could call for the people of Brocéliande's steadings to abandon the territory, minimizing loss of life.

It is painful, obviously, but evacuation may be an option. The Navarr are a nation that prides itself on its ability to walk away from untenable situations - and return later from an unexpected direction. The Navarr national assembly could urge the remaining population of Brocéliande to leave their steadings and relocate - at least for the time being. Unfortunately, the Slow the Vallon opportunity would also be lost - without the support of the local Navarr there is little that can be done by military units to stem the flow of vallornspawn into Boar's Dell and Elerael.

The Empire is beset on all fronts; sacrifices must be made. Brocéliande cannot be defended while barbarians attack us from all sides. The Navarr national assembly sends (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to urge the people of the steadings of Brocéliande to take to the trods and leave the territory until we are ready to return in force.

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

If the Navarr national assembly passed this mandate, they would encourage the people of the territory's steadings - especially in Elerael and Boars Dell - to seek new homes in Miaren, Hercynia, Therunin, Semmerholm or (depending on the Senate's decision), Ossium. Some would stay behind but the loss of life due to the vallorn's expansions would be significantly reduced.

If the assembly chose this approach, it would also reduce the costs the Empire incurs from supporting Imperial citizens in the Brocéliande and potentially see a small rise in taxation from the territories the Navarr moved to.

One likely effect of such a statement would be encouraging the rest of the Navarr to offer aid and succour to residents of the territory who wished to move to an actual Imperial territory. A direct consequence of this would be that any Navarr character who wished to leave Brocéliande and start a new life elsewhere would be able to change territory without the usual 2 crown administration fee.

Until the Bitter End

An alternative mandate was proposed by Corey Brackensong.

The Empire is beset on all fronts; sacrifices must be made. Brocéliande will not be one of those. The Navarr national assembly sends (named priest) with 25 doses of liao to urge the people of the steadings and stridings of Brocéliande to find the Courage in their hearts to take up arms against our ancient enemy and stand firm in the face of such horror. The Navarr are coming to aid you, remain firm till we arrive, we will hold it back.

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

This mandate is very different to - and competes with - the evacuation mandate. If it is upheld and enacted, it will have two effects. Firstly, the people of Brocéliande will fight to the bitter end - there will be no retreat and future statements encouraging them to do so would be much less likely to result in mandates. Secondly, any military unit based in Brocéliande would suffer a two rank penalty to their strength for all purposes if they undertake any action other than resisting the vallorn here, for the duration of the current crisis.

This mandate could also be presented with the phrase "steadings and stridings of Brocéliande" replaced with "steadings and stridings of Navarr". In this case, it would require 50 liao to enact but the penalty would be spread to every military unit owned by a Navarr character who took any action other than to fight the vallorn in Brocéliande.

Resolution

During the Winter Solstice, both the Dawn mandate and the Highborn Mandate were supported by their respective National Assemblies. Both Ranae de Rondell and Hazelponi of the Shattered Tower provided liao and enacted these mandates; there have be additional effects for the knights of Dawn and the congregations of Highguard.

The aid of Llofir was roundly rejected by the Imperial Conclave - indeed that eternal is now under enmity. By contrast, the aid of Tharim was accepted by the Conclave meaning that Tharim will send his powerful dukes and barons to support the defence of Brocéliande.

Details of the outcome of the defence of Brocéliande will be included in the Spring Equinox winds of fortune.