Revision as of 20:13, 6 September 2022 by Matt (talk | contribs)
(diff) ← Older revision | Latest revision (diff) | Newer revision → (diff)
Beyond this dark house.jpg
This is Varushka; it is a dark house with a welcoming hearth.
Click for audio version

Empty Echoes

Amid thunder and lightning and torrential rain, the Gryphon's Pride, the Northern Eagle, and the Iron Helms arrive in Ossium to meet the Thule. Two armies of orcs march cautiously out of Otkodov to defend Ossium alongside the garrison of Flajokep. While the northern orcs take up defensive positions to ensure the invaders claim no more land, the Imperial armies push into the Echofell to face the Druj.

They find that the Druj are already gone. The armies that tore down the Tower of the Scorpion have left behind only ruins and the broken shells of their siege engines and disappeared back into the shadowed depths of the the Forest of Ulnak.

Soldiers of the Pride! The Druj come with blade and poison to terrorise the citizens of Ossium. This will not stand! We were first across the Golden Bridge to liberate the Sand Fishers and others and we will not allow the Druj to return. We march to aid the Varushkans and must be aware that the Thule may march against the Druj as will. Drive them back into Ulnak, for what we take, we Hold!

Garravaine De Rondell, General of the Gryphon's Pride

Soldiers of the Eagle, Ossium calls us home. The evil of the Druj refuses to be banished easily, but the easy road is not for us. Make for the gloom of Drownbark, and claim its hidden places for your own. We shall strike from the shadows, cunning and merciless, to keep the foe from our homes. This land is ours, and we ward it with steel.

Jaromir Ostrovyn Kostka, General of the Northern Eagle

We shall not allow more Varushkans to fall to slaughter and slavery due to inaction. The Iron Helms attack Echofell to drive back the Druj Infestation. Our loyalty to our nation is absolute.

Alderei the Fair, General of the Iron Helms

As the Dragons will it, we shall offer aid to the armies of the southern humans against the eastern people. But do not needlessly throw your lives away, for these are not our lands we defend.

Vilborg Guðmunds, General of the Cry of the Highest

Eastern Ossium is not entirely free of threat, of course. There are still raiders and guerrillas lurking in the Drownbark Forest and the Echofell, leaving the territory under threat of their return. Yet these scouts and ambushers and saboteurs present little threat to the two Imperial armies; they flee back to their hidden sanctuaries and wait in the darkness for the armies to depart again. It is a simple matter for the Imperial armies, aided by the magical defenses raised in the Drownbark Forest, to mop up the less cautious raiders and quickly bring Echofell back under Imperial control.

With the territory as secure as it can be while the Druj still threaten the eastern borders, the Thule return to the Bonewood, and uneasy peace settles over the Varushkan lands once more.

Game Information

The Druj have left Ossium; the Echofell is quickly brought back under Imperial control.

During the Summer Solstice, Druj forces attempted to destroy the Bone Hives - to deny their bounty to the Varushkans. Thanks to the action of Imperial heroes, their bitterly destructive scheme was thwarted. Unfortunately, the orcs were able to destroy some of the hives - enough to prevent the Keeper of the Bonehives gaining any of the unique drugs that they produce for six months (i.e. they will receive no production until the start of the Spring Solstice 385YE).

Tower of the Manticore

  • Lise de Lionsgate has put forward a new proposal in the wake of the Tower of the Scorpion being destroyed

During the Spring Equinox, veteran Dawnish siege engineer Lise de Lionsgate presented a proposal to rebuild the now-ruined Tower of the Scorpion as the Tower of the Manticore. She has not given up hope of a permanent base of operations up on the borders of the northern Mallum from which questing knights and knights errant might adventure into the dark lands east of the Empire. Unfortunately, with the tower in ruins, the cost of constructing the Tower of the Manticore has risen to 130 wains of white granite, 70 wains of mithril, and 50 thrones. However, she still believes that the work can be done in only a year.

Once work were completed, the Tower of the Manticore would be a rank two fortification protecting the eastern borders of Ossium. The plans still expand upon and extend the original cruel metalwork the Druj favour, replacing it with razor sharp mithril and concealed trapdoors that will mean the fortification increases all casualties it deals during a battle by a half. Finally, with a new garrison supported by Dawnish knights, the tower would be used to drive the orcs out of the region and permanently remove the under threat quality from Echofell.

As a place for Dawnish knights and Varushkan raiders to quest into the Mallum, the Tower would also support the Seek Glory in the Twisted Woods action available to military units. This special downtime action is currently temporary but as long as the Tower of the Manticore is commissioned before the end of the Winter Solstice 384YE, it will remain available either permanently once the construction is complete or until it is clear the tower is not going to be finished.

This Fragmented Total (Conjunction)

  • A conjunction to Petka's Path provides an opportunity to prevent the Druj destroying some of the vunlnerable roads and bridges in the Drownbark Forest
  • If the Druj are not stopped, then Drownbark Forest will become contested, reflecting the Empire's weakening control of this region
  • The General of the Northern Eagle is expected to arrange a suitable party to defeat the Druj given the presence of their army in the area

The Drownbark Forest was the last area of Ossium brought under Imperial control and now lies at the very edges of the Empire, wedged between the Barrens Sea, the Druj-held Forest of Ulnak, and the scantly populated woods of Echofell. Many fell beasts still dwell in the area, and rumour has it that a score of the Druj's tortured souls stalk the dark marshlands, fallen knights captured during the fall of Dawnguard. Yet the people of Varushka are a hardy, enduring and stubborn folk, eager to make prosperity their own in a harsh land. Some dour-faced pioneers are doing what they can to forge a small part of the Empire out here in the wilds.

The eerie quiet of the late summer is broken on Petka's Path, a newly driven road of logs and rammed earth that links the southern coast through to the Nearweald. A force of Druj appear from, well somewhere, sweeping west along the road, breaking the surface, and pulling down any bridges they find across small streams and the twisting fingers of the marsh. Evidently, the orcs have come prepared as sappers and demolitionists, not for a siege, but to break the very fabric of civilisation that binds Varushka together.

Panic sweeps fast as warning gives way to rumour, some fear the Druj have returned once again, and numbers are misjudged, then inflated. By the time the civil service is alerted a better understanding of the situation has been reached. This is just a small band of orcs, operating alone, not an invasion force; however, the raid demonstrates the threatened and isolated nature of the Drownbark Forest.

Fortunately the Northern Eagle are already in position, actively pursuing Druj insurgents in the area with hit and run tactics. They are well placed to see off the Druj, but that would require the army to remain here for the coming season, merely to prevent the Druj from carrying out their sabotage. That can be avoided - a conjunction to the area offers opportunity to engage the Druj in the swamps and thick woods of the Drownbark. It will require fast-thinking and quick warriors to hunt down the skirmishers and lay them low, breaking their willpower and forcing them to flee. If that happens however, their sabotage will be stopped in its tracks.

If the Druj are not driven off, the Empire would eitther have to station an army in the Drownbark Forest to oppose the insurgents (which would stop the army resupplying) or it will have to take the decision to let them continue to sabotage the infrastructure, allowing them to block roads and collapse bridges. This will further undermine Varushkan control of the region, replacing the current under-threat quality with a new contested quality. Any region that is contested counts as being under-threat but only requires five victory points to conquer rather than the normal ten.

Further Reading