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Most conjunctions are small, they allow anywhere between ten to thirty people to travel, but there are usually at least two conjunctions at any time which are potentially much more powerful..
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During the Winter Solstice, the Imperial prognosticators have identified two potential opportunities to use a major conjunction to send large numbers of Imperial heroes to the Barrens. Both conjunctions take place on Saturday morning; the Imperial Military Council will choose between then, and which nations will be involved, during the muster on Friday evening.

A Vile Het (Battle)

The recent conquests of Hope's Rest and the Carmine Fields, dubbed the Iron Causeway, has split the Druj's control of The Barrens. Whilst the last season of campaigning has seen heavy fighting in the east of the territory, focussed towards The Fangs, the situation is different in the west. There is no significant military presence in Druj-held Dawnguard, Murderdale, or beneath the Eaves of Peytaht. The orcs in the west are primarily guards, slavers, and the arkad retinues of the Druj overlords who subjugate the populace.

The Dawnish population of these regions has suffered horribly under the brutal rule of the Druj. Sarra Grubfeast, a particularly sadistic and cruel het, was installed to rule over Dawnguard following the conquest of the region at the end of 380YE. Since then, Grubfeast has ensured the yeofolk of Dawn are kept in their place through the liberal use of the lash, and public displays of violent torture for any who attempt to fight back. Should a plot be uncovered or actions of dissent suspected then the het takes great delight in making an example of the rebels, or anyone unfortunate enough to be close by at the time. Her favourite punishment - and likely reason for her epithet - is to have her personal Kallad guards force-feed a prisoner a massive bowl of live and wriggling larvae, then to listen to the anguished cries of pain as the maggots begin to devour the victim from the inside out.

Information passed to the Empire by courageous yeofolk has revealed the whereabouts of Grubfeast and her council of lesser hets, tepel, and ghulai. In the rolling woods of the former de Challon Estate Grubfeast has called together forces from across Dawnguard to make plans and prepare for what is expected to be the start of a prolonged discussion. An opportunity to attack the vile het and her murderous allies at the de Challon Estate in Dawnguard has been identified on the Saturday of the Winter Solstice.

Objective: Kill Sarra Grubfeast

  • Eliminate the Druj governor of Dawnguard, Sarra Grubfeast
  • Killing her will bolster Dawnish morale, and destabilise Dawnguard making it impossible for the Druj to despoil the area until the governor is replaced

Sarra Grubfeast and many of her closest advisors are gathered at the de Challon Estate to hold a council and plan for the coming season. Dispatching Grubfeast and her entourage will weaken their control over the western Barrens.

The governor is loathed throughout Dawnguard, a deliberate consequence of her brutal reign. On her orders, the Druj have worked tirelessly to crush the spirits of the Dawnish people, forcing yeofolk and nobles to toil in fields, forests and mines to produce resources to fund the Druj conquest. Druj rule is marked by frequent acts of petty cruelty inflicted on the Dawnish people for no other purpose than to humiliate them and break their will. These calculated efforts are slowly sapping the will of the Dawnish, leaving them with only hate to save them from despair. An effective military strike that successfully executes Sarra Grubfeast will lift the spirits of Dawnish folk all across the Western Barrens, and help fan the flames of Ambition, Courage and Pride in the hearts of everyone who hears of the Empire's triumph.

The effects will also be felt beyond the Barrens. Elation in Astolat, Semmerholm and Weirwater at the victory of the Steel Causeway is at risk of turning to frustration as awareness of the brutal conditions endured by the people of Dawnguard slowly spreads. The indomitable Dawnish armies are in the perfect position to attack - victory would allow them to restore the Glorious Sun banner to its rightful place flying over the strongholds of Dawnguard. People with little understanding of the wider military goals in the Barrens are expecting quick victories and could turn truculent if they believe their fellow countryfolk are being left to suffer under Druj rule. Eliminating the Druj governor will help to quiet the most impatient voices, and consolidate Dawnish support for the Imperial strategy to free the Barrens.

It could also ensure that a potential disaster is averted. The loss of the governor and her henchlings would throw Druj rule over Dawnguard into disarray and make it more difficult for the orcs to take effective action. There may be some reprisals for acts of rebellion but no concerted action will be possible until the Druj can appoint a new governor, which may take time given the way Dawnguard and the adjacent regions are cut off. This could be crucial - the Druj have a reputation for despoiling the lands under their control, destroying everything of value if they can't hold it. Such strategies were on full display in Zenith, where the Druj burned spires and slaughtered their occupants simply to damage the Empire. Thus far, the Druj have not done that in Dawnguard, apparently because they expected their rule here to last. Once it becomes clear that they will have to flee, the Druj governor may well give orders to sack the region, slaughtering anyone who can't flee, carrying off everything of value and burning the rest. It is standard Druj warfare - eliminating the governor would eliminate that risk.

Objective: Capture the Collaborator

  • Capture the Imperial citizen collaborating with the Druj
  • Bringing them back to Anvil may present an opportunity to question them and gain further intelligence

Not every Dawnish citizen of the Barrens has remained firmly opposed to the Druj, there is at least one individual collaborating with the tyrants. Sadly such things are not as rare as anyone in the Empire might like to hope. In any war, there are always individuals who discover that cooperation pays dividends. In most cases, such treachery extends no further than a little pecuniary self-interest; providing goods or services to the invaders might fall far short of the ideals of Virtue, but it rarely amounts to a great deal in the grand scheme of things. Sometimes however, someone will find a way to become a whole lot more important than that.

That's what seems to have happened here. There is very little information available to the Empire on what this person is up to, but what is known is that they are privy to some of the councils of the het, there are wild rumours that they have worked closely with them or for them. It's not clear what exactly is involved, but ritual magic of some kind is certainly involved. The likeliest explanation is that this individual is some kind of enchanter and is able to provide the het with powerful aid, for which they are undoubtedly being well paid.

That is the simplest, likeliest explanation. Few things in war are simple however, and it could be a boon to the Empire to find out more. To do that they would need to capture the collaborator and bring them back to Anvil, assuming it it possible to do so. The individual is a small amount of notoriety in the Empire, having been declared a sorcerer back in 380YE by Eudaemon of Halcyon Spire... If possible the Imperial heroes should capture the collaborator and bring Renee du Loire back to Anvil for questioning.

Threat: The Venom Weavers

  • Neutralise the rituals of the Venom Weavers of Res-Shorlac

The governor is supported by a group of ghulai and vikari ritualists, adept in the magic of Spring. This coven, the Venom Weavers of Res-Shorlac, are able to perform powerful rituals that spread venom far and wide, as well as many lesser rituals that cause the blood to run with poison. They are known to be in the area, guarding the meeting against attack.

The coven are relatively unlikely to move to engage Imperial forces directly, but they will certainly try to employ their magic against anyone who threatens the governor, casting venomous magic, as well as personal enchantments to Grubfeast's soldiers. The Empire will benefit from a way to neutralise these rituals or the ritualists that are performing them.

Threats: The Fallen Knights

  • Release the fallen souls of Dawnguard

The Druj have perfected the black arts, a twisted perversion of the skills of the apothecary, combined with the brutal practices of the torturer. Using these techniques, they capture Imperial heroes and break their spirits to create tortured souls, the better to spread fear and terror through the ranks of their enemies. These black wraiths linger near battlefields where their madness causes them to strike out at anyone they once recognised as a friend.

Sarra Grubfeast is known to keep a number of these broken creatures in close proximity, using them to terrify the local population. In particular, the het is believed to have corrupted several fallen knights from prominent Dawnguard houses. These poor benighted wretches are beyond saving, but their presence here casts a shadow over their houses' glory that will not be removed until they are sent to their final rest.

A Curious Reprise (Battle)

Having forced the Druj forces back from the Steel Causeway, the Imperial armies are now pressing on into Bitter Strand. The slog of campaigning has seen the butcher's bill rise high this season, with many being laid low by arrows, poisoned weapons, or falling to cunningly placed traps. If the Empire wishes to push onward to claim the region, or even control the entire territory, more death is a certainty. That grim understanding is quietly spoken of among the ranks as they gaze towards the towering coastal rock stacks of The Fangs that rise above the sea mists on the horizon.

The land here is battered and wind-swept. There is scattered tree cover, coastal scrub and stretches of mudflats between low rocky islands lie on the approach to The Fangs. This headland rises up from the coast, through scattered worker camps, warehouses, and overseer's barracks. The damaged caused by the recent inundation is evident across the entire area; cloying silt lies across the wintery meadows, debris from a vast flood can be seen trapped in shrubs and trees, the buildings that remain are either of sturdy construction, lie on high ground, or have been hastily repaired. Beyond, the grey stone pillars that top the orc's prized mithril mine.

The mines have been badly damaged by Imperial magic, but the Druj are already attempting to rebuild them. To do that, they've brought in a small group of orc slaves, many of whom have tattered gull feathers tied to their ragged clothes. The only orcs like that, that anyone has any records of, are the Rahvin of the Western Barrens. Most people believed they were all slaughtered in the late summer of YE380, following the uprising of the Barrens Orcs against the Druj, and the brutal reprisal that followed. It now appears that not all of them are dead - and that this group at least are of use to the Druj in some way.

There is a major conjunction that will enable the Empire to use the Sentinel Gate to reach Bitterhead on the Saturday of the solstice. If the Imperial heroes can reach the Rahvin, they can free them from the stockade where they are being held and attempt to get them to freedom.

Objective: Rescue the Rahvin

  • Rescue the surviving Rahvin from the Druj and escort them off the battlefield
  • Freeing these orcs will introduce a new faction into the Barrens and could help foster better relations between the other factions and the Empire

The area around Bitterhead is currently a hive of activity, with arkad fighters patrolling the woods, and gangs of workers labouring to repair the damage from the recent deluge and shore up meagre protections for the mithril mine. Close to the area of expected contact lies the work camps of The Fangs, the mine heads, warehouses and other significant assets for the orcs. These workings are vital to the Druj at this time, they need to make them operable quickly to supply mithril for their armies. Fierce resistance to any attack can be expected as the Druj respond to the threat posed by Imperial forces.

The Rahvin are being held in a stockade, within a dense woodland area. Locating them will not be easy, as the thickets and tangled paths of the wood are reported to make it hard to quickly reach areas within the woods. The wood was exposed to a heavy inundation after the summer solstice, and the ground is treacherous in several locations, giving the Druj an advantage in how they can move and protect the areas under their control. Imperial forces will need to deploy carefully on the field to respond to elite arkad fighters that could arrive from many directions across the headland as they attempt to thwart any attempt by the Empire to complete their objective.

Once located, the Rahvin will need to be escorted out of the woodland and then to relative safety. They will be able to give directions on where they need to be taken to, and how long they will need the Empire to provide a rearguard to effect their escape into the wild Barrens. Once they are out of the reach of Druj patrols, the Rahvin should have no further problem fleeing into the Barrens.

There are not many more than a dozen Rahvin, but the founding members of their clan were instrumental in bringing together a disparate coalition of orcs and humans in the Barrens who were willing to fight all sides in the hope of winning independence for the Barrens. If the Empire are able to rescue them, it will introduce a new political faction into the Barrens, one that might be persuaded to view the Empire if not as friends, then at least without open hostility. It could also help to foster better relations between the Empire and the other non-Dawnish factions in the Barrens, many of whom were once allies of the Rahvin and who may look favourably on a successful attempt to rescue them.

Objective: Access the Summer Regio

Several summer heralds have been observed across Bitterhead, suggesting that a summer regio may be located nearby. It is not clear how much use the Druj can make of a summer regio, but their commanders will be painfully aware that the magical locus may be a key target for the Empire's attack. If the Empire are able to seriously threaten the regio that would force the Druj to bring additional forces to resist the attack, limiting their strength in other areas of Bitterhead.

Better yet, if held for long enough, a coven would be able to summon one of Cathan Canes's Frozen Citadels in the region of Hope's Rest. A task that is not currently achievable from the Imperial Regio in Anvil. Should time allow, and the nations journeying to the area be well prepared, then additional Summer rituals - or those of other realms - could also be attempted.

Threats: Keep the Rahvin away from Dawnish Forces

  • The Rahvin have every reason to expect treachery from the Dawnish

There will be very limited opportunities to talk to the Rahvin on the battlefield. The area is heavily infested with Druj, and the safest way to save the Rahvin is to get them away from the area as quickly as possible. However, they may be reluctant to go with any Imperial forces, who they have little reason to trust and every reason to fear. Any attempt to begin protracted negotiations would be doomed to failure, but the initial contact is likely to be important and capable diplomats who are able to convince the Rahvin that the Empire are there to free them will be vital.

If the Rahvin can be convinced of the Empire's good intentions then there may be a limited window to find out why they are there, and what their intentions are, if the Druj can be kept at bay long enough. The Rahvin are likely to want to flee the area as quickly as possible once they are convinced they can escape, so any opportunity will be limited in scope.

It would not be wise to have Dawnish diplomats involved in any attempt to talk with the Rahvin. There is little love lost between any of the Barrens and the Dawnish, but the Rahvin were on the sharp end of the most recent betrayal, when the Empire forged an alliance with the Druj divided the Barrens between them. The betrayal split the Rahvin clan, and the resulting intensity of their hatred for the Dawnish drove half of them, the Black Wind, to side with the Druj. It won't be an issue for Dawn to take the field, but any discussions with the Rahvin are bound to go better if the party doesn't include knights, enchanters, and yeofolk.

Palace of Orieb (Conjunction)

  • The Bone Serpent clan of the Druj are moving towards the border between the Barrens and Ossium in Farweald
  • They are escorting the Sleepless Nightmare who has the power to destroy the Palace of Orieb
  • The Apothecary of Orieb is responsible for the safety of the Palace

The Bone Serpent clan, forced out of Ossium by the Imperial advance almost two years ago, are reported by Varushkan scouts of the Northern Eagle to be on the move towards the border with Ossium. A group of their elite Druj warriors are accompanying a herald known as the Sleepless Nightmare through Farweald with the intent to destroy the Palace of Orieb. If they are allowed to pass over the border and into Drownbark Forest then they will be lost to Imperial eyes and the Palace will fall.

There will be a stiff resistance from the Druj group; heavily armoured warriors and a force of Vikari are accompanying the Sleepless Nightmare. The scouts are unable to get any information on the creature beyond that it is a herald of Agramant.

Given that the group is pressing towards the Palace of Orieb the responsibility for this conjunction lies with the current Apothecary of Orieb; Nikolai Desovich Patazca. If the Varushkan Senators were to somehow manage to appoint someone else before the conjunction opens then the responsibility would pass to the newly elected Apothecary.

Near the Heart of Peytaht (Conjunction)

  • The Screaming Wasp clan are moving towards the Eaves of Peytaht
  • Their number includes a coven of apprentice ghulai who will enchant the workers once they reach the Eaves
  • They are accompanied by the Scorched Liege, a herald of Surut
  • The Grandmaster of the Shuttered Lantern is responsible for stopping the ritualists

The Burnt Fist coven of apprentice ghulai associated with the Screaming Wasp clan are moving towards the Eaves of Peytaht to support the efforts of the Druj there to grab as much weirwood as possible. The master of the Burnt Fist is a master of the Spring realm and has sent them to place enchantments on those who work the the massive grove of weirwood trees.

There will be a stiff resistance from the Druj group; heavily armoured warriors protecting the coven and supported by the Scorched Liege. The scouts that were able to track them are unable to get any decent information on the creature beyond that it is a herald of Surut. The coven are believed to be carrying a unknown to the Empire. As there is a chance to acquire the knowledge of an enemy of the Empire it is the responsibility of Grandmaster of the Shuttered Lantern; Tyburn of House De Rondell.

If the group is stopped, and a majority of the apprentice ghulai killed, then the ability of the Druj to harvest weirwood from the Eaves of Peytaht will be affected for at least a season. Further, with the force left in disarray and the guards of the grove forced to extend their patrols then the scouts who first identified the opportunity will be able to slip in and recover a number of wains, of which four will be sent to Tyburn of House De Rondell before the Spring Equinox.

Pay that price in blood (Conjunction)

  • Garsnag Mudchurner's clan is retreating from the heavily armoured knights of the Golden Sun
  • If they are not stopped then they will slaughter a number of Dawnish partisans in the Barrens
  • The General of the Golden Sun is responsible for stopping the Het

The knights of the Golden Sun have managed to repel the attack on the steel causeway this season. One of the many clans that have homes in the western Barrens and have been separated from the rest by the forging of the steel causeway. Having been stymied in their attempts to cross by a number of Dawnish yeofolk they have turned back towards Murderdale. Towards the lands of House de Percy, a small group of Dawnish partisans who have refused to quit the territory and have been fighting a guerrilla war against the Druj.

Het Garsnag Mudchurner will be accompanied by a combined force of troops drawn from the arkad. The scouts have also indicated that at least two and possibly more tortured souls are present here. Heroes attempting the skirmish should consult with the High Exorcist or the Master of the School of Exorcism to ensure that they have made the right preparations to deal with these monsters. Given that it was yeofolk of the Golden Sun who were able to uncover the whereabouts of Garsnag Mudchurner the responsibility for this conjunction lies with the current General; Zoran De Orzel.

Further Reading