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Latheria Song-of-Stars leant heavily on her staff, radiating skepticism. The heralds with whom she spoke - azure skinned with emerald hair and too-wide smiles - were gesturing animatedly as they talked.

"It's something to do with Terun," said Tita quietly to Ardha. While they were not involved in the discussion itself - this was a matter for the vates - it was impossible for the gathered Navarr not to pick up the odd word or two. The heralds' enthusiastic voices tended to carry. "Wait, was that something about... onions? What have onions to do with Terunael?"

"You must have misheard," replied Ardha. Then she considered for a moment. "Or maybe not. Do you think they think we have special onions?"

"Who knows what those kind think." Tita realised she was whispering, but there was no chance the heralds would hear what she had to say. They were too busy talking over each other in conversation with Latheria Song-of-Stars and Wildest Longcloak.

Tita glanced back at the wagon they had dragged in with them. It contained something large, covered with a sea-green tarpaulin and secured with thick golden ropes. She idly wondered how half a dozen heralds had managed to get it through the vallorn-infested woods of Black Boughs to the Broch, but then remembered that Ardha had said something about an escort. She glanced over to the wayhouse, where a Dawnish banner hung slightly incongruously in the mid-afternoon sun.

Her speculation was interrupted by a sudden cheer, and the sounding of a horn. Her instincts - still on edge from her recent patrol - caused her heart to pound and it was all she could do not to drop into a crouch and prepare to fight. The heralds were celebrating. Wildest Longcloak shushed them, and they started apologising in very loud voices, beaming all the time.

Latheria Song-of-Stars addressed the gathered Navarr, her voice pitched to carry even over the noise the heralds were making.

"These emissaries of Bottlenose are our guests," she said. "And we should make them welcome. They have brought a marvellous treasure with them, and if it does what they say it does... I would very much like to speak to any brands who have time to discuss the matter with me."

She paused, and a number of complex emotions warred on her face.

"We are also going to need quite a lot of onions." She spoke as if she did not quite believe what she was saying. "And also as much garlic as we can muster."

She looked at their blank faces, and immediately her expression became stern.

"You heard what I said. I'll explain to the brands and then... we need to start making preparations. I think we are about to have a great many visitors."
Brocéliande is the largest vallorn within easy reach of the Empire, and somewhere, at its very heart, lie the ruins of the ancient capital of the Terunael empire.
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During the Summer Solstice the Empire undertook a number of dangerous operations and adventures; the raid on Skallahn, the attack on Chalonsion, and especially the installation of the Red Iron Door. Furthermore, the Senate approved the establishment of the Greenwood Market in Dawn, intended to support adventurous knights exploring the green and terrible deaths of Brocéliande. This demonstration of the Empire's adventurous spirit has attracted the attention of Queen Rhianos, the Regent of the Eternal Sea.

While they are most often associated in the minds of Imperials with the ocean, their real interests lie in encouraging adventure, risky endeavours, and excitement. Signs of Rhianos' increased interest in the Empire have been apparent for a while - they very nearly won the patronage of the Icy Crag, they are offering to sponsor Dawnish champions on dangerous quests, and they are apparently even interested in offering their favour to the Eastern Sky. But a fortnight before the Autumn Equinox, their heralds turn up simultaneously across Highguard, Dawn, and Navarr bringing news from Foamfollower of a most ambitious proposal.

The Cauldron of Gold

  • Rhianos proposes a grand adventure - delving into the depths of Brocéliande and attempting to reach the heart of the ancient city of Terunael itself

Rhianos has in their possession a cauldron of gold that grants whoever drinks from it the unassailable vigour of youth. According to the herald, Rhianos was given the cauldron by a mariner on the Sea of Fate who took it from the Isle of the Doomed, the last inhabitable island before the sea plunges off the edge of the world. Given that everyone knows the world is round, this is either a metaphor, a strange location in the Summer realm or a preposterous story. Whatever the truth of the story, what is not in doubt is that the cauldron is a very old artefact. So old in fact that its power is almost depleted. Bottlenose intends to offer its magic to the Empire for a "last hurrah", one final opportunity for an extraordinary adventure before its power is finally gone.

According to legends, anyone who consumes a bowl of food prepared in the Golden Cauldron (onion soup is traditional) gains an overwhelming sense of their own immortality. While this is arguably quite a dangerous quality, the boon also grants protection from all venom, infection and sickness. And that, according to the Regent of the Eternal Sea, includes the horrible effects of the vallorn miasma...

Thus Queen Rhianos proposes to place the golden cauldron right at the very centre of the newly reinforced Broch, the fortified steading in Black Boughs in Brocéliande. The cauldron is not to be used by the Empire's armies, Rhianos has no time for those who simply follow orders, but every heroic band of soldiers in the Empire is invited to come to the Broch so that they can "take part in a grand adventure and delve the depths of the darkest forest in the world..."

Once they have consumed the cauldron's bounty, Bottlenose's heralds will join them in finding a way into the very heart of the vallorn - Rhianos will accept nothing less than a mighty quest right into the darkest depths of Brocéliande to explore the ruins of the city of Terunael itself!

Danger and Reward

  • The Cauldron of Gold provides a unique opportunity to press into the vallorn without being harmed by its venomous miasma
  • The Explore the heart of Terunael action will be available in the independent action dropdown
  • Military units that take part will receive special rewards in place of their usual production

Military units who wish to participate in Rhianos' grand adventure will find the Explore the heart of Terunael option on the independent action dropdown. Enchantments that support independent action such as Shroud of Mist and Shadow or Merciless Wrath of the Reaver will increase the effective strength of a military unit taking part in this action.

Rather than their normal production, military units that participate in the grand adventure will receive specific rewards. A standard military unit will receive four random measures of forest resources, and six random herbs. An upgraded or enchanted military unit will receive proportionally more. There will also be additional rewards for some or all of those that take part - the more military unit strength assigned the greater the rewards.

For every full 5,000 strength assigned to support Explore the Heart of Terunael every military unit will receive an additional random forest resource and an additional random herb. These represent treasures taken from vallorn infested areas, seized from the Druj, found in ancient ruins, or gathered by the side of monster-haunted lagoons.

In addition to the individual rewards, a pool of Bourse resources will be created that will be shared randomly among all the military units; who is lucky enough to grab a Bourse resource will be entirely random, some citizens will get lucky, and some won't. Every full 5,000 strength assigned will add 5 wains of weirwood and 2 rings of ilium to the pool, to a maximum of 50 wains of weirwood and 20 rings of ilium - there are great riches in Brocéliande that have been untouched since the fall of Terunael and this grand haul represents that.

Finally, at certain thresholds additional rewards are available - some will reward every military unit and some will be assigned at random. One special reward will be relics taken from the vallorn infested areas - these will be unique ribbons distributed at random. We won't be providing the phys-rep for these items; that will be up to the player character. These won't be powerful artefacts - they're much more likely to be expired magic items or objects of archaeological or historical interest. If you've received one you'll be able to see the ribbon in your inventory when downtime is processed, and that will tell you what kind of item it is so you can source a phys-rep.

The banners of the Regent of the Eternal Sea invariably depict sea creatures - both mundane and fanciful.

The Shadows of Black Boughs

  • The results of the special action will depend on the total strength of military units assigned

This adventure ought to be certain death, but the Cauldron of Gold provides protection against the vallorn miasma, as well as greenlung, parasitic infestations, venomous stingers and bites, and so forth. In addition, Brocéliande is still under the effects of the powerful Winter curse Wither the Seed, which makes the vallorn itself sluggish and slow to respond. While the opportunity to attack Dark Ranging is no longer available, the vallorn of Brocéliande has not yet recovered to full strength since the recent business with the heirs of Terunael. As a result, such an attack just might be possible - assuming that those who are interested can gather significant support.

This adventure of Rhianos' is not a simple proposition. The vallorn of Brocéliande is the largest outside of Visokuma in Axos, and the entire sweeping forest, apart from Boar's Dell and Elerael, is infested to a degree that absolutely dwarfs even the vallorn of Liathaven. It is the most powerful vallorn in the vicinity of the Empire by a considerable margin and the risks involved are considerable - but according to Rhianos that just means the rewards will be all the greater!

While Rhianos' heralds don't know where they are going (that would take all the suspense out of it apparently), by their very nature they have an instinctive sense of where really grand adventures are to be found. With their assistance, the Empire, they are certain that they will be able to guide the Empire's heroes from one extraordinary adventure to the next.

Into the Hungry Forest

The success thresholds on this action are larger than they have been on earlier downtime actions partly because we've standardised the reward pool at 5,000 strength increments and partly because the adventure into the vallorn area requires very high numbers to be absolutely successful. In character this represents the dangers involved; out of character it is a reflection of the fact that as the game grows in size there are many more military units available to the players (as well as forests and mana sites that can function as military units with the right magic).

The adventure will barely get started
Less than 5,000 strength
While some brave adventurers turn up to the Broch to take part in the grand adventure, there are simply too few people to make the endeavour a success. The last magic fades from the Cauldron of Gold, there are some glorious fights with orcs and vallornspawn, but ultimately nothing of significance is achieved.

Brocéliande is secured
At least 10,000 total strength
The explorers have a series of adventures in Brocéliande. The remaining Druj are cleared out of northern Brocéliande before they can cause any problems. The borders of Boar's Dell and Elerael are secured, and watches established to warn of any attempt by Mallum orcs to sneak across them. The Navarr are able to secure routes between the steadings, ensuring that anyone who needs to do so will be able to reach the sanctuary of the Broch, or the safety of Boar's Dell or Elerael in a pinch. In the process the adventurers will have many encounters with vallornspawn husks, who will have to be dealt with. In the process they will be able to recover historical relics from Imperial heroes lost in the woods. Ten characters selected at random will receive relic ribbons - items associated with Imperial explorers and adventurers lost in Brocéliande (especially Highborn, Dawnish, and Navarr).

Husks and Heirs
10,000 - 20,000 strength
The adventurers will uncover the hidden - and abandoned - Heirs of Terunael base in Brocéliande. The Heirs of Terunael have gone, but the heralds of Rhianos say there is "a dreadful horror that lairs there, something not of the vallorn, but similar enough that it perhaps makes no difference". The adventurers will be able to defeat the guardian and loot the base. This will provide some additional information for the advisor on the Vallorn about the defunct Heirs of Teruael and their understanding of the vallorn. At the very least this will reduce the amount of time needed for the Great Library of Hacynian to research the weakness of the vallorn - if it is built - by three months. Ten characters will receive relics of the heirs of Terunael - ribbons related to their magical practices or giving insight into their strange beliefs.

Gardens of Abomination
20,000 - 30,000 strength
Pressing deeper into the more dangerous vallorn-infested locations, the adventurers will be able to explore what the heralds of Rhianos call the gardens of abomination. These locations are apparently steeped in the sickly, fecund power of the vallorn. Every explorer will receive a unique consumable gathered from the "vallorn gardens". Another twenty random characters will receive an additional consumable. It's not clear what the "fruit of the vallorn" will do - farmers in Astolat, Casinea, and Mournwold have spoken of eerie plants and flowers steeped in Spring magic that grow in places the vallorn has touched.

Sanctuary of Trees
30,000 - 40,000 strength
The explorers will be able to reach a location the heralds of Rhianos call the hidden sanctuary under the vallorn's nose. From everything they are saying, this is a grove of living weirwood trees somewhere near the ruined city of Terunael. As with the grove uncovered in Liathaven, it seems that living weirwood resists the taint of the vallorn which will allow the grove to serve as a temporary "base camp" for the final push into the city of Terunael itself. The heralds of Rhianos say that the grove is also the location of a unique treasure they call "the last singing stone, protected from the years and the malice of the vallorn by the voices of the trees."

Walls of Terunael
40,000 - 50,000 strength
The heroes are able to penetrate the ruined walls of Terunael. While they will ultimately fall short of the vallorn heart itself, exploring the outskirts of Terunael will allow magicians to gain a greater insight into the complex power of the vallorn - sufficient that when the notes are written up it will reduce the time needed for the Great Library of Hacynian (if it is built) to research its special project by another three months. Another ten ribbons will be randomly distributed among the military unit commanders taking the raid, representing relics of the Terunael civilisation.

Heart of Fallen Empire
more than 50,000 strength
The explorers will reach the depths of Terunael - and come into the presence of the vallorn heart. They will be unable to harm it - even under the influence of the Winter curse it is impossible to inflict lasting damage - and they will ultimately be driven out of the city. But the heroes become the first people to look upon a vallorn heart in three-hundred-and-fifty years (since the destruction of Miaren) - and likely the first people ever to look on the evil that coils at the centre of the fallen Terunael empire and live to tell of it.


One Day

  • The Navarr National Assembly could call for every thorn that is able to join the adventure in Brocéliande

Even with Rhianos' cauldron protecting the adventurers from the worst of the vallorn's venom, the endeavour in Brocéliande will be incredibly difficult. It is very unlikely that the Navarr will be able to do it alone, even if they rouse the forests themselves. Even with the entire Navarr nation committed on the adventure it will be touch-and-go - and if the nation is not committed then it will likely be impossible. With that in mind, and following on from the words of Iniska Ashwood, the Navarr National Assembly may choose to support the following mandate.

No Navarr has looked upon the heart of Terunael since the city fell and lived to tell of it. Rhianos' Cauldron of Gold presents an unmissable opportunity for us to learn about our foe. We send (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to urge every captain who is able to support this endeavour and delve into the woods of Brocéliande

Synod Mandate, Navarr National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted then until the start of the Winter Solstice any Navarr military unit that takes any action other than Explore the Heart of Terunael will suffer a -2 rank penalty reducing both its effective strength and production.

Spears of the Pines

  • The Great Forest Orcs will join the adventure if they are invited by the Senator for Therunin or Imperial Consul
  • If the Imperial Conclave is prepared to give them access to Imperial Lore they will help locate and recover weirwood

Some of the Great Forest Orcs of Therunin are familiar with the vallorn of Brocéliande. Once upon a time, they lived in Boar's Dell, before the liberation of the Barrens by the independent orcs lead them to return to the Eaves of Peytaht. While the Military Council chose not to attempt a ceremony of reconciliation, the Imperial Senate made a commitment to help them regain their homes. With this statement, the guests of the Navarr have renewed their own commitment to aiding their hosts in their endeavours.

Chief Valack is the warchief of the Great Forest Orcs and may be contacted by Winged Messenger at the Great Forest Encampment, Lower Tarn Valley, Therunin

If the Navarr Senator for Therunin or the Imperial Consul asks them to, the Great Forest Orcs will send the Spears of the Pines to Brocéliande. This will add 1,000 effective strength to the action. All that would be required is a Winged Messenger said to Chief Vallack in the Lower Tarn Valley

When they first came to the Empire, the Great Forest Orcs asked for permission to study with Imperial magicians. Their request was rebuffed; they received copies of two ritual texts (Blessing of New Spring and Rivers of Life). Once again, they have made the request that the Imperial Conclave make a Declaration of Concord granting their magicians access to Imperial lore. They say they have already demonstrated their willingness to use the ritual magic they have to help their Navarr allies during the rise of the Heirs of Terunael, and with access to the full wealth of Imperial lore their ability to aid their friends will be greatly increased.

In the event that the Navarr are able to persuade the Conclave to offer access to Imperial Lore to the magicians of the Great Forest Orcs, they will throw their full support behind the project, adding another 500 strength to the adventure in Brocéliande. Furthermore, they have demonstrated a connection to the magical weirwood unmatched in the Empire - with the support of the Great Forest Orcs for every five weirwood generated in the adventure, two more will be added to the pool.

Blades of the Pilgrims

  • The Highborn National Assembly could extend the Blade of the Pilgrims by one last season to support the expedition

For the last two years the Highborn Assembly has been supporting the fight against the vallorn with the Blade of the Pilgrims. Proposed in Winter 382YE to help deal with the threat of the Heirs of Terunael in Brocéliande, it was raised by Josephine of Adina's Charge and enacted by Hazelelponi of the Shattered Tower. In Autumn 383YE, Hazelelponi urged the priests of Highguard to not be complacent and continue to aid in the fight against the vallorn.

The effect of the most recent mandate has faded by start of the Autumn Equinox - but Rhianos' proposed grand adventure has incited some interest among the congregations of Highguard. The vallorn still presents a threat to the Empire, and the more that can be learned about it the more likely a solution can be found. Wisdom and Vigilance alone suggest the Highborn should consider their role in the attempt to reach the heart of Terunael (and of course someone should keep an eye on the heralds of Rhianos to make sure they are not leading Imperial citizens into iniquity).

The Highborn Assembly calls on the faithful to be alert to all dangers. We send (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to encourage the priests of Highguard to support the attempt to reach the heart of Terunael. Let us uproot this danger before it overwhelms us all

Synod Mandate, Highguard National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, then the Blade of the Pilgrims will be drawn for one final season. Every congregation in Highguard will suffer a one rank penalty, resulting in the loss of 1 liao and 2 votes in the Synod. This will add 1,000 strength toward the success of the action.

Alternatively, the Highborn Assembly might go further - encourage the priests of Highguard to throw major resources behind the adventure in Brocéliande. This will reduce the congregation sizes across the nation, but send many more pilgrims into Brocéliande to provide martial aid and spiritual guidance.

The Virtues demand that we face the greatest spiritual threat faced by the Empire at this time. We send (named priest) with 75 doses of liao to urge the priests of Highguard to support the attempt to reach Terunael whatever the cost. Let us pierce this black heart and thwart its malice.

Synod Mandate, Highguard National Assembly

If this mandate is enacted, then every Highborn congregation would suffer the loss of 2 liao and 4 votes in the Synod, but their sacrifice will add 2,000 strength to the Explore the Heart of Terunael action.

These two mandates are in competition with one another. In both cases, if the named priest chosen to enact them is Hazelelponi of the Shattered Tower, the amount of liao needed for the mandate is reduced by 25. In many peoples' minds Hazelelponi is inextricably linked with the idea of the Blades of the Pilgrims.

Greenwood Questing

  • Construction of Greenwood Market and Greenwood Manor has just been completed
  • Some Dawnish knights may wish to adventure independent of Rhianos
  • Those knights who join the adventure will receive a bonus rank for determining strength and rewards

Last season the Imperial Senate commissioned Greenwood Manor and Greenwood Market-fayre, supporting Dawnish knights in their exploration of Brocéliande. The knights of Dawn may choose to quest independently of Rhianos if they wish - selecting Quest Against the Vallorn action will provide them with the guaranteed rewards but will not contribute strength to Explore the Heart of Terunael. However, any Dawnish knight that does choose to support the attempt to reach the heart of Terunael will receive a one rank bonus to their military unit both for purposes of their effective strength and the rewards they receive.

OOC Note: Dawnish characters will need to be careful to pick the correct option if they wish to go to Brocéliande this downtime. Quest against the Vallorn is an action representing independent adventures; Explore the Heart of Terunael is the action they want if they are planning to take part in Rhianos' quest.

Further Reading

Related Topics


Winds of War and Fortune

  • Into Béantal Dol - Spring 386YE report from an expedition to Bendol in Sarangrave
  • A thousand years of longing - Winter 385YE wind of fortune about the findings of the Great Library of Hacynian
  • Rain king - 385YE Spring Wind of Fortune detailing aid offered against the vallorn by the eternal Ossegrahn
  • The bones of what you believe - 384YE Autumn Wind of Fortune detailing the opportunity to expand the Great Library at Hacynian
  • One last song - 385YE Winter Wind of Fortune detailing the adventure into Brocéliande
  • The city asleep - 384YE Autumn Wind of Fortune introducing the adventure into Brocélieande
  • Whither the seed - 383YE Winter Wind of Fortune about the use of Wither the Seed on Brocéliande and Liathaven
  • Rise of Terunael - 383YE Autumn Wind of Fortune regarding the plans of the Heirs of Terunael
  • Comes a time - 383YE Summer Solstice wind of fortune relating to the future of Seren
  • Blood for poppies - 382YE Summer Wind of War detailing the victory over the Liathaven vallorn
  • Immolation - 382YE Spring Wind of War detailing the fight against the Liathaven vallorn

Click Expand to see a summary of the important pages related to the vallorn.