[ANNIE’S INN, FREEHOLD; JANUARY 01, 2018 (WR)]
Jade Glimmerglint doused the first of the candles as the dark above begun to lift. The dining room was empty, a strange sight in any other season but a common one this winter. Even this early, it would be full of patrons and customers. But many of the Freefolk made their way home to look after or to look for friends and family. It was an especially strong draw for her after she heard what had happened to Malak Travak. But as that situation went, there was no going back to her homeland – there were too many tons of rock between her and her family. She had only her hopes and her prayers to the Maker that they still lived.
But Malak Travak was a distant worry, though it was especially felt in her solitude. Indee was… gone. And her death was so… sudden, like the flash of lightning. There were others that she hired to assist in the lack, but there was no one like that Riverfolk. Even Cobb came to help and it was appreciated (begrudgingly).
The Ixians called it finding Silver within Shadows. And there was some good to be found in the midst of all this. Anubisath was gone – slain utterly and irrevocably with the kind of justice that the Maker would inflict. Except it was not gods that did this, it was the Freefolk, with the terrifying strength and stubbornness that she had seen time and time again.
Nevermind that Kritek, a veritable murderer and cannibal, was the recipient of the Northern World-Lock – it would be centuries before he had the same power Anubisath ever did. At least, that’s what Jade hoped. But there was peace at least, made even more beautiful by its fleeting nature in this place.
Long ago, she had hoped that her stay in Freehold would be a short one. But now, it was a home beyond home. Jade knew people here and even loved a few. Malak Travak was far away, but she bore that lack better than she thought she did.
Who would have thought that courage could be so contagious?
She looked to the remainder of the candles in the dining room. It was time for them to be doused but she was not afraid – there was a new day coming and soon, the Freefolk would be back in strength… with all their noise and tomfoolery.
Maybe their strength would be contagious as well.
The November month of 2017 WR saw the fall of a Witch-King and the rise of another. Anubisath, once the Witch-King of the North, was attacked by the Freefolk while in the Aether and in the midst of his greatest attack. Aiding the Freefolk were the Riverfolk’s King in Gold, Labyrinthium’s Kritek of the Thousand Teeth and the Luccari Pack-Lord, Sigwyn Vintersdotter. During the course of the battle, portals to Midworld’s capitol cities were opened and closed. In the throes of his defeat at the Freefolk’s hands, Anubisath let loose his vengeance. Orbs of titanic size and frozen power were dropped through any portals that remained open.
The Kingdoms of Fir’bolg, Gotterdammerung, the Labyrinthium and Malak Travak were the only ones to be directly affected by this magical strike. By many reports, these cities have either been utterly destroyed or otherwise beyond contact. None of the Kingdoms affected have fallen although several have reported severe damage to their leadership structures. It is a mild yet somber winter for many in Midworld.
Another effect of Anubisath’s death was the awarding of his World-Lock, a serpentine staff named Siris, to the current Witch-King of the South, Kritek – a Labyrinthium Troll that holds the dominant role in his power group and is also known for his viciousness.
The Veiled Kingdom of Callas Selvarion gathers supplies and aid to send to nearby Fir’bolg, Jotunbrud and Labyrinthium. Yet, their own recovery slows these efforts immensely. The wounds of the previous wars and the recent disasters still linger in Callas Selvarion, which is dwarfed by most of the Kingdoms of Midworld.
They have been spared the destruction wrought by Anubisath’s death, but there are those that wonder if the Veiled Kingdom was so vulnerable to attack. The magics of the Queen of Stars are mighty after all, say her supporters. But some also say that she has been made weary by the brutalities and the atrocities in Midworld – that to support or ally with Kingdoms like Labyrinthium and the Jotunbrud is to support the bloodshed that they inflict on a daily basis upon the innocent and the weak. It is whispered that there may come a time where Callas Selvarion fades from Midworld itself, much like Dawnholme did long ago.
Muirthemne has fallen to Anubisath’s frozen star and the area around it has become barren and broken for years to come. Only through the expert leadership of Protector Magda Mac Drustan were at least half of its populace spared, but the price for their salvation was her life and the lives of many Grey Crows and Morganna clergy. Their evacuation was started at least a month before the frozen star’s fall, but the movement of such a large group of people was difficult to manage.
In addition, the forces of the Kingdom were massed at the city in preparation of an invasion so evacuation was slower but the Kingdom’s greatest strengths are now severely hampered from their many losses. The Protector’s one-time rival and now successor, Angus Mac Drustan, leads Clan Drustan in sheltering and assisting the survivors of this brutal assault. Maerla Greycrow has been spotted giving him counsel and at her side is a new mysterious armored sentinel.
The local Priesthoods, Clan Gohrimm, and Clan Nemain have sent food supplies and a small force of troops to aid in the survivors in their sojourn to Drustan territories around Daggerhand Keep. Word of incoming supplies have also been received from Callas Selvarion and the Riverfolk’s Golden Fleet. Of Clan Machta, there is little word – it is rumored that the brigands raiding supply lines are theirs but none have been captured to confirm that belief. Even divination magics have yet to produce anything of substance.
Rumor claims that with Magda gone, Gohrimm and Nemain seek rulership of the Kingdom. Clan Drustan is far too depleted to contest their might, even uncombined. Add to this the reputation of Angus as a man of peace and compromise rather than battle.
The capitol of Lichtenstein has been shattered by a gigantic frozen star, wrought by the former Witch-King of the North. While Church’s leadership have been sequestered to safety, their powerbase has been hurt by the loss of the capitol and the ensuring chaos thereafter – the King-Priest vanished managing the evacuation and is presumed lost. The leadership of the Church (both Sects) has been moved temporarily to the recently emptied Schwartzenburg Dammerlicht, formerly the seat of Krieger Dammerlicht near the Twilight Mountains. Many of the evacuated citizenry has traveled there as well, though significant portion of these perished during the arduous trek and due to starvation. This is in spite of assistance lent from the Riverfolk’s Crystal Fleet and from Ixia.
Krieger Eisenwulf is said to be calling their banners and those of those vassal Kriegers beneath them. The Silent Council has pushed to threaten them, but with so much of the Lord Reaper’s Church lost to the disaster or being used in recovery efforts, there is little that can be done. Krieger Dammerlicht, once a staunch ally to the Church, is also gone, though its vassal Krieger still remain – their loyalty to the Church is in question however.
Krieger Nibelung has only expanded rather than diminished in the wake of the disaster. They have sent supplies and efforts toward ensuring the survival of the displaced citizenry. But they have also sold arms and armor to the burgeoning ranks of Eisenwulf’s forces.
The various Creeds of the Dammerung religion are split in their support of the Church of the Lord Reaper and in support of Krieger Eisenwulf.
Ixia has weathered many a storm and avoided the worst of disasters in these recent years. Those who have become dissatisfied with the perils and evils of Midworld make trek and pilgrimage to Ekthalon, braving the wilds and mists of Greyteeth to find salvation. Many are those that the world would consider monstrous such as Trolls or Nightkin.
One such group is a mass of Twilight Elves that have been displaced from Gotterdammerung. Under the sponsorship of the current Teacher Truthful, they have found homes upon Ekthalon amid the towering spires of the Ixian Shaedlings, particularly their recently reinforced settlement, Nightspire Reach,around their main temple. There is some suspicion that the refugees bore with them a shadowy affliction, but no such symptom has been seen.
The King of Ixia has been absent from many of the courtly duties of the Kingdom, due to the weight of his age. Therefore, the Circle of Teachers have taken up the brunt of duties – with Teacher Thunderous and Teacher Truthful leading the proceedings of administration and management. They have sent assistance and aid to beleaguered nearby Kingdoms such as the new Ministry of Pendrakken and the excavation of the Iron Kingdom. Gotterdammerung’s treatment of Twilight Elves has driven the Circle to withhold aid from them.
With the demise of Anubisath, the Kingdom has spent the last few months bringing chaos back into order. A major front of Anubisath’s war against Midworld, they have licked their wounds and redistributed the spoils of war. Aiding in this are supplies from the Golden Fleet and Callas Selvarion.
The warbands of the traitorous Jotun Giant Gjallanir have been disbanded or executed, their resources granted to other worthier warbands. The Church of Lucca were awarded a third of the taken territories and resources, while Ymir and his Giants have taken the rest. Gjallanir himself evaded capture despite his titanic size. However, his knowledge of magics and gathering of power is such that his disappearance is of no surprise in the face of Anubisath’s defeat and Ymir’s wrath.
Meanwhile, there is talk of a massive army of the dead gathering in the northern mountains of the Kingdom and the Kyrasar are to blame. Mass graves have been found excavated and various wraiths and ghostly entities have been enchained to serve Avenger Sif, who has become more wrathful spirit than flesh. Even the Wodensons are not exempt from her wrath, so the stories go: the Mjordir and the Valderion have emptied dozens of their enclaves to flee from the assaults of her deathly soldiers.
It is said that every Jotunbrud and every Wodenson that fell in battle against the Solari or Anubisath will soon join her, in flesh or in spirit – even the corpses and ghosts of Giants will find their way to her armies. Never has the cult of Kyrasar been this strong – from whence did they receive this power?
Anubisath’s fall means much for the Sunless Kingdom, primarily because it bore the brunt of his forces’ attacks. The battle has yet to end for the Ishtari however, since the former Witch-King’s forces and at least one Winter Giant still rampage across the Kingdom. And before recovery efforts can be considered, there is still the Ishtari city that was lost to the heretical apostates, Ziy-Mitra.
After their assistance, soldiers and emissaries from Jotunbrud, Ixia, the Riverfolk, Labyrinthium, Fir’bolg and even Pendrakken were laden with tribute and sent away from the Kingdom with the utmost of haste.
For all that has happened, faith within the Kingdom remains as strong as ever. When the Anubisath remnants have been shattered upon the Sunless Wastes, the Kingdom will turn its wrath unto the heretics that dare to take a city from the Goddess… unless these apostates make a move first.
The Vicious City has been shattered into pieces by the impact of Anubisath’s frozen star. It has not been completely obliterated, however – the Inthian Spell-tower and its immediate vicinity has been shielded and spared from the Northern Witch-King’s carnage. The Cabalist’s Convocation suffered some losses but was ultimately successful in their defense, in no small part due to the leadership of the Favored Son and the current Witch-King of the North and the South, Kritek of the Thousand Teeth.
Most of the League of Guilders’ leadership has been moved to Gravestone before the star even twinkled in the Labyrinthian skyscape, with the exceptions being the leadership of the Shadowhand, Black Chalice and Silver Necklace Guilds – while undissolved, these Guilds have devolved into a flurry of internal conflicts. Their leaders have yet to emerge in the aftermath of the frozen star.
The Unshackled and the Kingslayer Crew have some losses themselves, but have largely relocated their forces and support personnel to a coastal settlement that is a recent expansion of an old King-slayer Crew hideout: Bladereef Bay. The Kingdom is far from destroyed, but the loss of their centralized power is surely a blow to Kristoff the King-slayer.
The Kingdom has received word that they should expect some relief efforts from Callas Selvarion and the Riverfolk’s Crystal Fleet. Furthermore, their forces returning from Kali-ishtar have returned bearing tribute.
Malak Travak of the Iron Kingdom has been effectively cut off from the rest of Midworld. Anubisath’s frozen star has flattened the mountains above it. This would have normally resulted the city’s destruction, but it has survived somewhat intact thanks to near miraculous feats of engineering, priestcraft and magic. Reports from within the city have been received via magical transmission by members of the Runespeaker University, the Spiral Cabal and the Church of the Maker. They tell of a city in the throes of reconstruction and of anarchy — the incarceration and warding vaults of the city have been cracked, freeing criminals or allowing Guild riches to be plundered.
Meanwhile the satellite territories and enclaves of the Iron Kingdom have been instructed to garner support for the city’s excavation, especially from those Kingdoms that they have assisted in the recent years against the Solari. A debt has been owed and now it must be paid.
One week ago, the army of Medea Arius were crushed between the superior forces of a Rayne-Graellen coalition riding from Stormhold and a small army of Pendrakken under the leadership of Adrianna Pendrakken. How the latter managed to elude detection is a mystery, but it is a badly kept secret that Riverfolk were involved.
In the aftermath of this bloody victory, Medea Arius and her personal guard managed to fight their way to freedom using brutal golemic augmentations. Those of the army who surrendered were spared and let free (or ransomed), although some were put to the flame after it was revealed they too were Grafted with golemic augmentations. Over several dozen warriors that almost cut their way to an escape were discovered after their death to be prominent Vagnarian soldiers, as confirmed by Lord-Patriarch Constantine Vagnar.
The House Patriarchs on the field convened to discuss the fate of the Kingdom, after which Adrianna Pendrakken returned to Lutharion. The fruit of this discussion is the scheduling of a meeting of the Royal Ministry in two months to determine the Kingdom’s transition into a republic, though some Lord-Patriarchs are more than reluctant to allow this. To be held at the Seven-Tower Citadel, the meeting is to be watched over by the Hierarchs of the Seven United and comprised of the following:
- Marcus Vard
- Severard Macha
- Corber Graellen
- William Rayne
- Adrianna Pendrakken (as Lord-Matriarch of House Pendrakken)
- Alexander Arius
- Constantine Vagnar (as Lord-Patriarch of House Constantine)
The search for Medea Arius and her suspected accomplice Tybalt Vard continues, although the latter has vanished from sight since the recent disaster at the Vicious City. Alexius Pendrakken has gone to the Labyrinthium to play the role of emissary and negotiate Tybalt’s extradition.
Without pressure, House Arius has offered compensation for the destruction visited upon Raynish lands and personnel. Other Houses have issued their own offers of assistance as well. To House Arius’ shame, if Medea’s army had been stopped sooner then House Rayne would not be facing a massive food shortage in the winter. Starvation in these lands is a major issue despite the assistance of the other Pendrakken Houses, Ixia and the Golden Fleet of the Riverfolk.
United for a brief moment in their battle against the Writhing Fleet, the Riverfolk have gone their own ways once more after their victory. Distrust is said to have returned amid the Datu, yet there is a spark of camaraderie once more where there was none. Whether that spark lingers or dies will be seen in the months to come.
The Crystal Fleet and the Golden Fleet have made their way across Midworld to lend aid to beleaguered Kingdoms. From the latter, the Fir’bolg, Jotunbrud and Pendrakken have benefitted greatly. The Crystal Fleet has made certain to send relief efforts to the Labyrinthium and Gotterdammerung especially. The Crimson Fleet has been suspected to be in Pendrakken lands but they have ensured that their efforts there and elsewhere have been largely veiled from observation.
The other Fleets have refocused on gathering their strength for the dire days they believe are coming. The Azure Fleet especially has taken to hiring soldiers and taking on military crews for what may be a major operation.
Several major Bat-halai temples and over a dozen shrine-ships were found completely emptied of clergy, though their disappearance seemed to be weeks or months ago. The Writhing Curse is believed to be responsible for it, though these vanishings do not appear to match the timeline of the Curse’s ascendance last year.