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Osran's words trailed off. Everyone in the room was looking at him a little strangely. He swallowed his fear, and in a voice with only the slightest quaver repeated his last sentence.

"So let us turn aside from a campaign of brutal violence, and instead rally the slaves and survivors of the Druj's campaign in the Barrens to our cause!"

It didn't work the second time, either. Nobody said anything. It was becoming very awkward indeed.

"The orcs of the Barrens killed three of my friends when they attacked the Towers of Dawn." The voice was flat. Not threatening precisely, just... flat. It was not the earl who had spoken, but one of the knights at the table to her right. She stood up, a little ponderously, leaning both closed fists on the table before her for support.

"The Imperial Synod is concerned..." began Osran but the knight ignored him and continued speaking.

"In the gardens before the house," she continued, "There are five white stones. You will have passed them when you arrived. Did you look at them, at all?"

Osran had not looked at them. He'd seen such stones in his youth, when his striding had passed through Weirwater on its eternal journey back and forth across the Empire. He'd assumed the words were just more stories of glorious knights doing glorious things. You could spend your entire life reading stories about the glory of Dawn and never read them all. He shook his head, and opened his mouth to speak, but nothing came out. He could feel the weight of the stares on him from all corners of the hall.

"I thought not. When the estate was first founded, there was only one stone. Every seventy or so years since, we've had to have another one cut and placed. Because we keep running out of space, you see. The stonesmiths can only chisel a name so small before nobody can read them."

The knight was not shouting, just talking. Calmly.

"Each name, and each deed, is that of a knight that fell in the Barrens. Some of them were yeofolk when they fell, but were ennobled by the earl because they died gloriously. Sometimes a decade might go by without any new names, sometimes we'll add fifty or more in a year. When the Gryphon's Pride fell, we added three hundred, and filled an entire stone and more in one go. Do you understand?"

Osran nodded his head. The knight didn't pay any attention.

"Of course you don't. How could you? But let me be very clear to you. The Barrens belongs to us. It belongs to Dawn, it belongs to the people who have shed blood time and again to make it theirs. Your Synod should keep its nose out of the business of Dawn, if it does not want to have it bloodied."

The earl cleared her throat at that. The knight acknowledged the unspoken rebuke, but did not apologise. With great care, she sat back down, as the earl rose.

"Thank you Iselda. Thank you... Osran, was it? For your news. I think now we will have some music. Silvermane, play us something jaunty to lift the gloom that seems unaccountably to have fallen over our banquet."

The old troubadour stood up eagerly, and as the first chords of "Sir Colwynn" began, the atmosphere lightened a little. By the time she had moved on to "Onward to Glory I go" people were laughing and chattering again. Osran sat quietly, his ears and cheeks burning. The one time he looked up, it was to find the knight - Ser Iselda - still staring at him, her expression unreadable.
Throw back the echoes.jpg
The folk of Dawn have aspired to conquer the Barrens for longer than anyone can hope to remember, and spilled more blood to do so than anyone can hope to measure.
Click for audio version


The dream of conquering the Barrens has been a symbol of Dawnish aspiration for longer than anyone can remember. For centuries they have contested the territory with the Druj, but its great size has prevented them from ever managing to seize control. Still, there have been Dawnish settlements throughout Dawnguard and Murderdale and even as far east as the Carmine Fields. Even with the evacuation of 383YE, there are a few houses that still cling on to their estates, preferring to suffer the brutal rule of the Druj than give up their ancient homes.

The Barrens is more than just land to the Dawnish. The landscape is littered with the tombs of Dawnish knights-errant and questing knights who died here. Troubadours record the legends and recite the ballads to keep those memories alive and inspire future generations of Dawnish folk to emulate the glory of those who came before them. All in the hope that this mysterious land of myths and monsters would one day give up its secrets.

In recent years that dream has begun to seem distant. A deal to split the Barrens between Dawn and the Druj went disastrously wrong when the Druj betrayed Dawn, and their advancing armies destroyed Dawnguard, the great Dawnish stronghold in the Barrens. Now the tide of war is beginning to swing decisively in the Empire's favour; the Barrens has been cut in half by the Steel Causeway and the Druj armies are trapped in Zenith facing annihilation. It seems to many in Dawn like this is the perfect moment to strike but to do so they must endure the censure of the Imperial Synod.

The Imperial Synod

The Barrens is a land to be liberated, not a prize to be claimed. We send Aureliana di Sarvos to urge the nations of the Empire to turn aside from this conquest. Let us rally the slaves and survivors of the Druj's campaign in the Barrens to our cause. We send Aureliana di Sarvos with 75 liao to discourage a campaign of brutal conquest.

Aureliana di Sarvos, General Assembly Assembly, Summer Solstice 384YE, (Upheld 1707 - 227)
  • Imperial armies fighting in the Barrens suffer a penalty of one-fifth to territory captured when taking any order other than break the chains until the start of the Summer Solstice 385YE
  • As the mandate creating this situation did not receive a greater majority, the Urizen and Varushkan armies are not affected by this penalty

When the Imperial Orc Assembly announced their intention to claim the Barrens, Dawn responded in glory. Rather than base their claim on the Pride they feel in their ancient history with the land or cite the Prosperity of how hard Dawn has toiled to claim its riches, they encouraged their rivals to make good on their boast. Let the Empire unleash their armies on the Barrens and bring death to the Druj. The Dawnish Assembly announced that "the Nation whose armies take the most regions in the Barrens have the rightful claim to the territory" and insisted they would support any nation who accepted this challenge.

Both Varushka and Highguard responded in kind, with Varushka explicitly entering the competition to stand with Dawn and help them reclaim their land. But the General Assembly issued a stinging rebuke, and instead called on the Empire to "rally the slaves and survivors of the Druj's campaign in the Barrens" hoping to inspire them to join forces with the Empire. Despite a level-headed assessment of the history of the Barrens, laying out just how difficult such a feat would be to accomplish, the Assembly doubled down on their position, admonishing any army that attempted to conquer the Barrens.

As a result of the Synod's intervention any Imperial army that attempts to conquer the Barrens will face significant penalties for the year ahead. Well not quite any army; the Citadel Guard, and all the Varushkan armies are unaffected as they have refused to accept the direction of any Synod mandate that is not passed with a greater majority. And the mandate explicitly allows for Imperial Orc armies to conquer the Barrens, provided they do so while endeavouring to break the chains of the Druj slaves. It seems like any conquest of the Barrens is stacked firmly against the Dawnish.

Great Deeds Are Eternal

If the Synod thought that their message might temper the Dawnish appetite to finally conquer the Barrens, their hopes are dashed. The view of many noble houses who held or still hold estates in the Barrens is that the nation should rise to the challenge the General Assembly have thrown down. The Barrens is Dawn's birth right, if the Synod wish to make the conquest more difficult, if they are determined to see more Dawnish blood spilled to take it... then so be it.

Every hurdle placed in our path only makes our final triumph more glorious. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to remind every Dawnish citizen that politics is ephemeral but great deeds are eternal. Aim high; pursue your dreams; nothing is beyond your grasp.

Synod Mandate, Dawn Assembly

This mandate will do nothing to remove the penalties imposed by the General Assembly; the criticism of the Imperial Synod cannot now be turned aside. But it would send a clear signal to the Imperial Synod - that Dawn's centuries old Ambition to conquer the Barrens will not be thwarted so easily. It would also remind every Dawnish military unit that military service is only glorious in pursuit of your dreams. Any Dawnish military unit that took any action other than supporting a Dawnish army in the Barrens would face a one rank penalty to their effective military strength for the coming season.

Of course the Dawnish Assembly could go further and openly embrace the Synod's rebuke.

Consequences are the price of Ambition; no price is too high to realise your dreams. We send {named priest} with 50 doses of liao to urge every Dawnish soldier to free those they can, as we conquer the Barrens and become legends.

Synod Mandate, Dawn Assembly

The Dawnish armies have no experience or ability to break the chains the way the Winter Sun can. As far as Dawn is concerned, the orcs who live the Barrens have thrown in their lot with the Druj, so any attempt to separate them from their overlords can only make the conquest more difficult. If this mandate were enacted, then the Dawnish armies would take all possible steps to save those who were somehow convinced to reject the Druj, but that will increase the current penalty to take territory from a fifth to a quarter until the start of the Summer Solstice 385YE.

Such an act would be strategically unwise, but the more difficult the Synod makes it for the Empire to take the Barrens... the more glorious the challenge becomes. And it would one way for Dawn to show the Imperial Synod exactly what they think of their political meddling.

Rather than repudiate the Synod's involvement, Aureliana di Sarvos has asked the civil service to assess the following mandate for consideration by the Dawnish Assembly.

The Virtuous inspire others to greatness. We send (named priest) with 50 doses of liao to urge the knights of Dawn to prove to the Barrens that they will do all they can to free those held captive by the Druj, no matter the cost. Let our deeds light this glorious path.

Synod Mandate, Dawn Assembly

If this mandate were enacted, then the Dawnish armies would take all possible steps to save those who were somehow under the rule of the Druj, but that will increase the current penalty to take territory from a fifth to three tenths until the start of the Summer Solstice 385YE. It would encourage Dawnish forces conquering the Barrens to focus efforts on driving the Druj out and avoid unneccessary deaths as much as is possible in a war. Such an approach is costly, the occupants of the Barrens are hostile to the Dawnish and attempting to spare them while attacking their Druj overlords makes the conquest very difficult, but those efforts would be visible and obvious to the occupants. That doesn't mean such efforts would be appreciated... but they would be noticeable.

Unlooked-for Allies

  • The enchanters of Dawn have secured potential allies from the eternal realms

While Dawn's troubadours can provide only limited support to press the Dawnish claim to the Barrens, the successful capture of the Steel Causeway has brought offers of aid from some unlooked-for allies. The enchanters of Dawn have long enjoyed good relations with the eternals of the realms, on a more-or-less equal footing. Impressed by the recent success of the Empire's armies, three eternals have offered their aid in the hope that Dawn might go further.

Silver and deep blue are the colours of Jaheris, the Unicorn Prince.


  • The Unicorn Prince will send monstrous creatures to protect Dawnguard if the Empire builds him a fane there
  • The region would be protected from attack with an effective military strength of 2500 for as long as the fane endures

The Lord of the Forest of Arden possesses many servants who might help the Empire. Thousands of wicked squirrels the size of cats that steal away anything of value. Hundreds of dark-eyed goblins, mouths filled with over-sized molars and armed with wicked knives. Scores of silver-haired spiders with myriads of inky black eyes and most terrifying of all, a trio of silver unicorns. Great four legged beasts, as large as ogres, with hooves like leaden maces and each possessing a single terrible horn that continuously drips venom and blood. Jaheris is greatly pleased by the actions of the Empire naming him as patron of the Icy Crag above the other kings and queens of the Summer Realm and in gratitude he proposes to send his minions to protect Dawnguard once Dawn takes it back from the Druj.

To do that, Jaheris would need a way for his creatures to reach the mortal realm. The Conclave's power to grant amity makes it easier for heralds of the eternal to enter the Empire but even that benefit is not nearly enough to allow this kind of incursion. The only way that so many servants of the Unicorn Prince can slip the bounds of the Summer realm is if a fane is constructed and ceded to Jaheris. To do that the Empire would have to take the region back from the Druj and then commission a fane in the darkest part of the forest. Once the fane was ceded to the Moonsilver Prince, his forces could emerge and spread out throughout the region.

With Jaheris' minions roaming the dark places of Dawnguard, they would provide a potent defence should any force attempt to seize the region. The creatures would fight to defend the region if it was directly attacked by the Druj with an effective military strength of 2500. They would inflict casualties on any attacking force and count as defenders in the territory, but only if Dawnguard itself came under attack - they would offer no assistance to any other fighting that took place in the territory.

The servants of the Unicorn Prince would remain to defend Dawnguard for as long as the fane stands - Jaheris would use the fane to send replacements for any of his creatures that were killed. If Dawn's relationship with Jaheris soured badly, they would need to destroy the fane and then it would be possible to use force to remove his inhabitants from the region.


Realign Laroc Cathedral
Commission Type: Alteration
Location: Laroc (The Chase, Astolat)
Cost: 20 Crowns, three months
Effect: Causes Dean of Laroc Cathedral title to cease to exist; creates Keeper of the Flame title
Keeper of the Silver Flame
Title: Dawn national title
Appointment: Tenure; any legal method
Powers: Bounty of Crystal Fire (Sinecure)
Responsibilities: Represent Janon in Dawn; protect Laroc Cathederal
Special: Janon would like to see Kahendrin Wordsmith raised to this title
  • Shadowed Fire is offering to incite the passions of the Dawnish armies so that they burn with desire to conquer the Barrens
  • This would mean that every Dawnish army could issue the triumphant charge order while campaigning in the Barrens for the next year
  • In return the eternal requests that the small Cathedral at Laroc be restored to its original purpose as a monument to passion
  • Janon's request would involve abrogating the Dean of the Cathedral to create a new title, the Keeper of the Silver Flame

The Night Sword once enjoyed close relations with some of the nobles of Dawn and was known to hold the troubadour Kahendrin Wordsmith in particularly high regard. These relations grew more distant when the cathedral at Laroc was consecrated to the Way - it seems that Torchbearer laboured under some misapprehension that the structure would be dedicated to passion itself, rather than the virtues. Now the servants of the eternal come bearing an offer, it seems the Muse of Fire seeks to renew his friendship with the nation that sees love and glory as the greatest of human ideals.

The Shadowed Fire often appears as a pillar of spinning flame

Shadowed Flame is offering to incite the passions of the Dawnish armies so that they are inflamed with an urge to seek glory and triumph in the Barrens. Masters of Night magic often claim that Janon cannot create desire, but such passions burned brightly in the armies only recently - and it is certainly within the eternal's power to rekindle this flame. Doing so would restore the soldier's motivation to achieve their original goals, granting every Dawnish general the ability to issue a triumphant charge order when attacking the Barrens until the start of the Autumn Equinox 385YE.

Sadly, such an offer is not without a price. In return for his boon, Janon asks that the cathedral at Laroc be reconstituted as a monument to passion. The eternal seems to labour under the belief that such a dedication was the original intent for the Cathedral and that its current consecration is a mistake. As such they seem to think it reasonable to ask the Empire to restore the building's founding purpose. Doing so would require a single Senate motion and need a commission slot and 20 crowns to pay for the extensive renovations required, but would not need any other materials. It would be complete after three months. Once the work was done, Janon would set a fire burning in the building that would never go out.

If that happened then the existing title, the Dean of Laroc Cathedral, would effectively cease to exist, but in its place a new title would be created, the Keeper of the Silver Flame. The position would normally have tenure and could be appointed by any legal method, but Janon's messenger has made clear that the Shadowed Flame would like to see Kahendrin Wordsmith raised to the title. The ever burning flame would produce five crystal fire each season for use by the Keeper of the Flame.

This opportunity is only available at the Autumn Equinox.

The Bound King's ravening hunger for beautiful and wholesome things can never be sated.


  • Tharim offers to send a cadre of steel-bound knights to support Dawn's armies in the Barrens in return for an invitation to feast on Dawn's mana sites and farms
  • Dawn could gain additional cadres of knights to attack the Barrens, if they granted Tharim consent to consume some of the recent commissions across Dawn
  • Each cadre has an effective military strength of 1,000 if it supports a mortal army

In the past Tharim has provided aid to the Navarr, sending his servants to fight alongside them as they fought the vallorn. The price was high; the Bound King required the Conclave give him leave to feast on Navarr's herb gardens and forests in return for his aid. Now he sends word to his favourite enchantress, Claudia Varkulova of House Remys, offering to provide a similar benefit if Dawn requires it, if the Conclave passes a declaration inviting the Bound King to feast on the farms and mana sites of Dawn, sending a black frost to wither crops and and draining the essence from crystals to satiate Tharim's endless hunger. All affected resources in the territory would lose 36 rings or 1 mana crystal respectively would end at the start of the Autumn Equinox 385YE. In return he will provide a cadre of steel-bound knights throughout this period to support any Dawnish army that attacks the Barrens that the enchantress chooses.

The steel-bound knights are a curious sight: they have the form of a person, but one trapped entirely within a harness of all encompassing black plate armour. The black knights never talk; some even speculate that there is nothing living inside the armour. Barely visible on the surface of the blackened steel are mystical symbols. They are hard to see, for they are black like the armour itself, but those who examine them say they are nothing like the Wintermark runes nor the astronomantic sigils. Whatever their sinister nature, each cadre of steel-bound knights is a potent fighting force, contributing an effective military strength of 1,000 to any army it supports.

The Lord-in-Chains is prepared to go further if Dawn are willing to make sacrifices to sate his eternal hunger. If granted the right, Tharim would send his dust witches to bring decay and destruction to the Arbor of the Twin Roses, the Harps of Astolat, the House of the Proffered Hand, or Aurelie's Garden. As Tharim currently has amity, he would only need a single Senate motion for each commission (or a single Senate motion to offer all the commissions Tharim has requested) and would remove any benefits that the commission provided and abrogate any title associated with it.

For each commission that Tharim is allowed to consume in this way, he will send one cadre of knights, up to a maximum of four additional cadres. These steel-bound knights would spread their support between any Dawnish armies that were fighting to conquer the Barrens for three seasons. Their covenant would end at the start of the Summer Solstice 385YE.

This opportunity is only available at the Autumn Equinox.

Aurelius Victorious (Conjunction)

  • There is a conjunction to the Aurelius Estate in Drycastle, the location of a powerful winter region near the former site of the House Aurelius lands
  • Heralds of Sorin have indicated that if the House perform the ritual he has given them at the ritual site then he will send his wolves to protect their lands for eleven winters
  • The civil service have asked a member of House Aurelius to make the decision if the ritual should be cast and to make suitable arrangements if so

The Barren Glen is a wet miserable regio on the very edge of the Heart of Peytaht in Dawnguard in the Barrens. It has a poor reputation, local rumours claim that wolves are often seen hear cracking bones in their jaws, feasting on freshly killed meat, and talking to themselves... Wise folk avoid the area, or travel there in force if they must. The area was was once close to the extensive estates of House Aurelius but the region is now under the firm control of the Druj and they maintain a standing guard on the regio to ensure it is now abused.

Shortly before the coming Equinox, a grizzled hirsute looking man with ragged grey hair and ashen skin approaches the civil service bearing a message for the Empire. It seems that the man's master, Sorin, the Devourer-of-Hope, has learned of a conjunction to the Aurelius Estate. He claims that Sorin has given a ritual scroll into the possession of House Aurelius that will allow them to summon Sorin's aid. Sorin is eager to see House Aurelius punish the Druj for taking their home from them. To this end he urges them to seize this opportunity and strike while the chance exists.

Accessing the site will not be easy - the Druj will likely scatter if the Empire appears in force, but they will make every attempt to harry any ritual being performed, using bows to pick off contributors if they can. House Aurelius would need to arrange for a significant force to protect the ritualists from the Druj if they want to cast the ritual and summon Sorin's aid.

Doing so would provide valuable benefits however. If the ritual is cast, Sorin will send a contingent of several dozen massive wolf-like creatures in his service to protect the region around the regio. The wolves will provide an effective military strength of 1500 force towards any Imperial attempt to take the region in the coming season. While this benefit will end at the end of the season as the magic wanes, some of the wolves will remain in the area until eleven winters have passed. Sorin, it appears, seems intent on ensuring that House Aurelius' lands are protected from all but the most concerted attack by the Druj, for some years to come.

Further Reading