Songs of Light and Shadow

553 ME, Grim Harvests
Fall, Month 2: Sehnir

News for the second month of Fall:

  • The Warlord Azuras declares those who do not wish to pay him tribute may face his wrath instead. He has stripped the Kingdom of Medoere of its’ name, now proclaiming it Ulgotha, and those who refuse to grant him 2 gold bars shall face the might of his armies, navy and a similar fate. Oh, and “Mwahahahahahahahahahah!” (evil hand-rubbing, etc).
  • Eoele of the Straits (formerly of Mieres) is selling Indulgences in Ulgoltha to Medoere’s surviving citizens for those willing to convert and seek the Blessings and Protections of the Goddess of Night. Rornil’s Cellestial Spell as an organized faith seems to be no more.
  • Duke Alam has announced all branches of Haelyn’s church are welcome within his kingdom. The Western Imperial Temple has warned heretic incursions will not be allowed to take root, and Duke Alam’s willful disrespect will not be tolerated much longer.
  • The Royal College of Sorcery has growing concern over the increased settlement of the Unclaimed Lands in Aduria, and warn that if the bickering regents of Anuire do not take steps to solve their differences, the Aduirian Empire may yet return to the detriment to all.
  • The Western Imperial Temple of Haelyn has been performing a series of miracles in the Imperial Capital, especially around the temple of the Life and Protection of Avanalae. Many have lost faith in the Church of the Sun and are converting to the faith of the Western Imperial Temple.
  • Strange, monstrous noises have been heard echoing amongst the mountains and valleys of Boeruine.
  • The obscure kingdom of Cragspire in Aduria’s Unclaimed Lands has announced those willing to dig up lost relics of the ancient Empire will be well rewarded.
  • Alestair Creyryndyr, Chief Warlord of Ashera’s Oasis, has ordered raids on neighboring Gnollish tribes to drive them eastwards, away from Ashera’s settled lands.
  • Traders passing through the Chimaeron have reported a number of curious developments. Across the lake in Land’s End, the Dwarves of Baruk-Azhik have begun building a port. Meanwhile, pirates have pillaged the city of Mhowe, crushing the Chimaera’s constable army and carrying off what little fortune those already oppressed unfortunates had, leaving the settlement in ruins. The Chimaera herself has yet to be seen.
  • Crister Rose, High Hierophant of the Life & Protection of Avanalae, has taken over as the new Marquis of Coeranys, after the unfortunate demise of the previous regent. While official sources state Alain Cariele had died of a broken heart after the sudden death a few months ago of LPA’s previous Hierophant, Lady Mhedlorie “Goldeneyes” Hansien, viciously murdered by the Spider’s Goblin hordes while on her return from Endier’s celebrated tourney, some whisper the Marquis was poisoned by the new Hierophant.
  • Rumors have been circulating amongst the Elves of the Erbannen that there is something strange in the forest, and that High Mage Aelies, the Erbannen’s protector, has vanished!
  • Rumors of unrest in Diemed had made the “Prince of Cats” regency difficult, but recent scandals involving the various ringleaders seems to be disrupting the rebel’s ability to organize, instead causing them to fight amongst themselves.
  • William Moergen has been crowned Duke of Osoerede to much fanfare and celebration with the full support of the Impregnable Heart of Haelyn and several of the neighboring kingdoms.
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Mourning the Fallen of Roesone
The soul of Roesone is free and fierce. Our pride in our young land has been earned through blood and honor. To show respect in Roesone we do not bow our heads but meet one anther’s gaze to show the truth of our convictions. Today we gather to honor those who displayed their honor and convictions by sacrificing themselves to end the tyranny of Raenech the Usurper against the innocent of Osoerede. The atrocities visited upon the citizen’s of Osoerede were more than Roesone’s soul could bear. As is the sacrifice we chose to pay for our principles, the principles of Haelyn – courage, honor, and justice. We have sacrificed not only our Brothers in Arms, we have lost our sons and daughters, our husbands and wives, our fathers and mothers. Many of our future’s brightest promises shine no more, and my heart weeps. Courage we have shown, honor we have demonstrated and the rightful ruler of Osoerede is restored. As William Moergen led the Swordwraith, Patriarch Malik bin Douta and I into battle against the Usurper and we gained the advantage, Raenech the pretender to the throne surrendered and my spirit raged for Justice for our dead but the tyrant refused to arm himself. Out of respect for the rightful King of Osoerede William Moergan I will leave justice in his hands, for it is his people and lands the have born the greatest hardship at the hands of Raenech. I pray to Haylen to help me understand this justice we have be given. I am taking a pilgrimage to the Holy Temple in Ilien, to pay homage to Haylen, to seek the Lord Prefect’s wise council as to the nature of Haylen’s Justice and ask for blessings on the sword of vanquished Raenech, which Lord William Moergen in gratitude of allegiance gifted to Roesone for the defense and protection of her people. To honor Haylen and the sacrifice of our fallen, I call on all the citizens of Roesone to look to those families that are suffering from loss and seek to comfort and aid those families. Our militias are called upon to tend to the families of the Fallen as if tending to their own. Service to those families is service to the Realm and your liege. Let us comfort ourselves by providing comfort to each other and I am humbled to lead a people so brave, selfless and resilient.

May the courage, honor, and justice of Haylen sustain us all.

Baroness Talya Roesone

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553 ME, Cats & Dogs
Fall, Month 1: Erntenir

The Civil war in Osoerede come to a close:

  • Week 1: Aerenwe & the rebel forces, led by William Moergen and the Swordwraith, plow through the summoned Goblin army of the Swamp Mage in Agael, forcing the necromancer to flee back to his swamps in Spiritsend, while Eline’s forces, thanks to the leadership of the Patriarch and the strategic advice of his sister, route Jason Raenech’s forces in the north. Roesone is forced out of the conflict when they stumble into an expeditionary force fielded by Ghoere to aid their military ally – though they win the battle, Roesone is forced to withdraw from the war over concerns that Ghoere may take advantage to mount an attack while their troops are otherwise entangled on foreign soil.
  • Week 2: Aerenwe, Elinie and the rebels lay siege to Raenech the Usurper in Moriel Castle. In a daring move to end the war swiftly, William Moergen leads the Swordwraith, the Patriarch Malik bin Douta, the Black Baroness Talya Roesone and a small number of men (along with his trusty Bloodhound Rufus Rex) through a secret way into the castle, hoping to capture the Usurper Duke. Meanwhile the Patriarch’s strategically minded sister Corazon ibn Douta teams up with William Moergan’s right-hand man, Bram Holdenhyrd, and that ever charming scamp, Jerrick Skalden, sneak in to open the gates to the besieging troops outside. His own bodyguards unable to face the rightful heir in the eye, Raenech attempts to flee in the shape of a cat, using his astronomically large cat-collection as cover, only to discover the amazing nose of Rufus Rex can not be so easily deceived. The cunning warlord revealed, William and his allies manage to overwhelm him and force his surrender! Osoerede has been freed!

In other news, the Warlord Azuras has announced a new state religion in Medoere: hens fourth the worship of Eoele shall be considered the true faith in the land.

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553 ME, Beginning to Fall
Fall, Month 1: Erntenir

Even as the peasantry finish up celebrating the Veneration of the Sleeping and return to the fields to bring the harvest home, the lords and ladies of Anuire return to their intrigues and wars:

  • In Endier Guilder Shade has announced a bounty for the capture of Awnshieghlin – placing an offer of 5 gb on any of the Blood of Darkness to be brought to the Free City for proper disposal (where they will be drowned, hung, or burned at the stake).
  • The Duke of Taeghas is throwing a welcome feast for the visiting Princess Aubrae Avan. Prince Avan has ordered celebrations over the announced nuptials of the two, to take place next summer, throughout Avanil. Similar celebrations are rumored to be taking place in Brosegnae and Mieres.
  • A volcano has erupted in north-western Suakien, bringing darkness and devastation to the far-away Adurian kingdom.
  • The Spider has turned his forces back out of Diemed and charged back into Medoere. Facing little opposition the Spider has marched to the capital and climbed inside the Celestial Spell’s stronghold to capture Theocrat Moonie himself. Rumor has it the throne has been seized by a mysterious Warlord with the Spider’s blessings.
  • War continues in Osoerede, as William Moergan and his allies continue to wrestle the throne from the usurper Jason Ranaech. Forces to the south, led by Moergen, Roesone and the Swordwraith of Aerenwe are now entrenched in battle with the Iron Guard of Ghoere (arrived only recently to “protect their loyal eastern neighbor”), as well as a mysterious army of Goblins that seemingly sprung up from the ground. Meanwhile in the north both Raenech and the Patriarch of Elinie have brought in reinforcements to break their stalemate, though rumor has it the new high priest of Life & Protection of Avanalae is pulling support for the conflict, given the sudden appearance of undead legions marching out of Hope’s Demise to support Moergen’s claims (some whisper he may be eager to avoid a conflict of interest, given his faith is also venerated in Ghoere, but others are quick to point out that undead have always been anathema to Avanalae, goddess of the sun).
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553 Summer's resolutions
Summer, Month 3, Week 3

Within the final weeks of Summer, Elinie enters the fray in Osoerede, seising the province of Moergen. Despite having just defeated Aerenwe & William Moergen in the south, the usurper Raenech orders his troops northward to drive off the new invader. But the Paladins of Avanalae prove resilient, calling on the legendary Knights of the Dawn the Patriarch Malik ibn Daouta’s forces fight Raenech’s armies to a stand-still. Both prove a match for the other, with death the only true victor.

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553 ME, Sudden Reversals
Summer, Month 3, Week 2

The summer wars continue to surprise!

  • The War for Osoerede does not go well for the champion jouster, as William Moergen & the Swordwraith’s forces are beaten in the fields of Algael and forced to retreat.
  • In Ilien, Count Raesene Agondlier has usurped by the Agondlier family with the support of the Impregnable Heart of Haelyn, placing his cousin, Carel Agondlier, on the throne. The new Count has wasted no time calling for peace between Ilien and Medoere, and has already begun withdrawing troops.
  • In a shocking turn of events it is believed that Baron Tangaroa Flaertes has died while off investigating a mysterious ruin that once served as a residence of a mad alchemist. Gideon, his Sargent at Arms and childhood friend, has assumed the throne.
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553 ME, Summer's End
Summer, Month 3, Week 1

War continues to plague the south, and springs up in the east.

  • While the fighting pauses in a stalemate in southern Medoere, the Spider’s forces leave their rampage in the north to invade Diemed.
  • William Moergen calls to his allies that the time to liberate Osoerede is now, as he leads a mixed force of Mercenaries raised in Rosoene forward. Already Aerenwe has answered the call – who next will see the rightful regent on the throne?
  • Boeruine and Avanil are at peace for the moment, busy getting their own houses in order. While Boeruine accepts Talinie’s vassalage quietly and without complications, Prince Avan’s investiture as liege-lord of Taeghas, Brosegnae & Mieres is slightly delayed by an attempt on the Prince’s life. Though the assassination fails, the truth behind the assassin’s origins remains a mystery, leaving a dark stain on the supposed loyalty of the new vassals.
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Day three at the Tourney in Endier
A Gathering of Heroes

The Master of the Brawl

The competition in the Shield’s Dance (the other half of the Grand Melee) proves nearly as fierce as the fencing match, though the heralds take steps to make sure the contestant’s blades are properly dulled this time. The battles finally resolve to just a handful, and new heroes find their way to center stage. While Shaemes Alam easily defeats the the Adurian Knight of the Oasis, Alistair Creyryndier, smashing his shields swiftly, Nicoli in turn is nearly killed by the Green Knight, whose’ mighty thews smash through shields to hammer home upon his foe. Rusgor faces a similar fate facing the Horned King, as Caliborn suddenly begins exhibiting inhuman levels of strength with which to batter about the northerner. The Patriarch Malik has a far fairer contest with the disinherited Duke William Moergen, though he in the end faces defeat. Though Moergen and Alam demonstrate skills in their successive bouts with Caliborn and the Green Knight, their talents prove no match for the monstrous savagery the two bring to their matches. Soon the only remaining contestants, Caliborn and the Green Knight face each other in the Brawl, and though the Goblin of the Spiderfell shows he still has fight in him, it just cannot compare to the Horned King’s impressive strength, and the Spider’s Voice is forced to yield.

Caliborn, the Horned King of Caelcorwynn, is awarded the title “Master of the Brawl.”

The Master of the Bow

The Archery competition is less well attended by the Lords, though Brosegnae’s champion, Baron Kason Maerelen makes a good show of it before loosing to the wandering adventurer Braem Holdenhyrd.

Braem Holdenhyrd has proven he is not only Master of the Blade, but Master of the Bow as well.

The Riddlemaster

With the Tourney’s host Guilder Shade as judge and the Bard Jerrik Skalden advising, the evening’s entertainment proves to be a riddle competition between the noble guests. In a series of round robin challenges the regents Tangaroa, Malik, Kason, Nicolai, Talia & Shaemes all took turns in a duel of words and wits. Alamie’s favored son proves boorish in his pointed barbs at Tangaroa Tuornen, and is quickly dropped from the race. THe others prove increasingly more clever, until in the end only Tangaroa remained.

Baron Tangaroa Tuornen is awarded title as Riddlemaster.

The Joust

The last day of the tourney proves long as the lancers charging battle for hostage ransom rights as much the win the day. By luck or fate, the last handful of champions show excellent horsemanship as Malik finds himself facing down the Green Knight, who’s vaulted strength does not save him from being unhorsed by the superior skill of the Son of Elinie. The Black Baroness Talia Roesone too faces a sinister challenge in the Knight of the Oasis, Alistair Creyryndier, but in the end he too falls to a righteous opponent. But when it falls to the two paladins to face each other, both find themselves unhorsed and their rise through the ranks at an end. he final battle instead concludes between Duke Israphel Diem and the disenfranchised Duke William Moergen, and in the end it is the Prince of Cats who falls.

The outcast Duke, William Moergen, is the Master of the Joust.

Epilogues and endings

And with the last champion crowned, the Tourney is at an end. Word circulates the scoundrel who had attempted to spoil the feast had been caught, a servant from the entourage from Avanil who had come to be under the employ of a rival of Guilder Shade’s, now a prisoner made to suffer for his attempts to disrupt the masked regent’s celebrations. Whither noble or champion, blackguard or cheat, Gorgon’s Orphans or Knights of mystery, the heroes gathering is done, and the celebrants wander their separate ways.

Though many whisper “next year” with ambition in their eye, as news that Alamie’s hosting of the Sword & Crown threatens to be an even showier party…

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Day two at the Tourney in Endier
A gathering of heroes

Crossing Blades

This day’s grand entertainment was the Fencing Match, and it’s contestants pursued it with gusto while the rest watched with amusement or concern, taking especial note of the Gorgon’s Orphans and the Adurian Knights. Newly arrived, Govenor Calbir Lamier (who some call “the Imp”), made his rounds to make up for lost time.

The preliminary rounds swept past quickly. By midday only slightly more than a dozen heroes remained:

  • Alistar Creyryndier proved a brutal opponent (who re sharpened his sword to leave scars on his foes). His bout with Caliborn was swift.
  • Arlien defeated the Swordwraith, despite her vaulted “Wraith’s dance” (though some say he won only by a Judge’s laps of judgement).
  • Nikolai startled everyone (not the least of which his opponent Keyrie) with his exceptionally pronounced codpiece, which despite appearances did seem to distract (or embarrass) his foe enough to allow him to seize a victory.
  • Talia faced a rather shy Knight of the Blemished Shield. Both fought gently, clearly pulling their punches. The Knight would prove to gentle, and lost.
  • The Skull Knight paired off against the Vos warrior princess, and found himself hammered by her dull blade re-sharpened. He seemed enamored with her bloodthirstyness, proposing marriage at the hight of the fight. She emasculated him with a nasty blow and left him crawling in his own blood, the worst injury anyone has yet suffered during the tourney.
  • A friendly fight between Ebon Pete Leroy and William Moergen still left the Guildmaster flat on his back with a concussion. But with medics on had he recovered quickly, and Moergen applauded his spirited fighting.

As the pool thinned, the victors gathered for another go:

  • Alistar managed to defeat Arlien, though the Baronett fell into a fit of swearing, insisting the Adurian Knight had somehow cheated.
  • Nikolai’s skill (or luck) allowed his defeat over the Black Baroness, though some whisper she too fell victim to the hypnotic power of his oversized codpiece.
  • Marya crushed Moergen, to the surprise of few. She next faced, and finally lost, to Braem’s masterful swordsmanship.
  • Nikolai found the mystic power of his codpiece had no effect on his fellow Knight from the south, who took him down with his own re-sharpened steel (though he would not take more than scars to remember the fight).

The final bout between Alistar and Braem’s would show that his little tricks and violent ways were nothing in the face of seasoned skill, adroit footwork and unshakable will. Braem masterfully won the day, winning the title of “Master of the Blade”.

Will the real Guilder Shade please stand up?

As the day’s festivities came to a close, most were surprised when Guilder Shade (whom they had perceived as having been their host all day) arrived at the head of a small war band. Throwing ahead of him a sack of goblin heads, he announced as to how he was sorry for the deception, but he had been off in Caerwil fighting the Soider and his forces. While the Spider had won the day, he had taken his fair share of his General’s heads. “Hahaha,” laughed the Green Knight, “we shall see how your bravado holds if my master chooses here to vacation next…”

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First night at the Tourney in Endier
A Gathering of Heroes

The champions arrive…

It was an interesting turnout for the opening feast. Nobles and heroes from Anuire and beyond made their way to the Free City with tales to tell of the challenges faced even before their arrival.

Those who arrived by ship seemed to face extra challenges. The pride of Aerenwe’s fleet arrived carrying several dignitaries of note: the Black Baroness Talia Roesone, her cousin the Horned King Caliborn, the contested Duke William Moergen of Osoerede, accompanied by the mysterious Swamp Mage Erander, and of course the Swordwraith herself. Also traveling up from the Straits of Aerele came a ship from far off Sauken, carrying a pair of mysterious black knights from Aduria, Nickoli and the Skull Knight (as well as the Skull Knight’s less mysterious brother, Luxu). Both companies had been held up by the Sea Drake’s blockade of the Imperial City; both had payed his price and been allowed passage, remarking with surprise his civility and insistence it was simply a “toll” for his protection from pirates.

The Black Rock Traders arrival from the north faced no such hassles. No, they brought their excitement with them. Flush from their treacherous victory over the Warlord Drago the Unblinking off in Caerele, Ebon Pete Leroy and his new associate Rusgor Garlmange arrived with mercenaries rich with loot looking to party.

Other lords and heroes arrived by land: the Patriarch of Elinie, Malik ibn Douta; the Hirophant of the Life and Protection of Avanalae, Lady Mehdlorie “Goldeneyes” Hansien; the mourning Duke Shaemes Alam and his declared rival Duke Tangaroa Tuornen; the slippery Baron Kason Mierelen of Brosegnae; the self-styled “Prince of Cats” Duke Israphel Diem. These " Gorgon’s Orphans, " as some like to call them, quickly banded together to make each-others acquaintances, plot, play games, argue, sing songs, proclaim their ancestral rivalries and otherwise hobnob with their peers.

Of no less interest were some of the other guests: the mysterious Knight of the Blemished Shield, the equally strange Green Knight, the Khanazi Princess Kalilah Shadam, the Adurian Knight Sir Alistar Creyrynder of Ashiera’s Oasis, Baronet Arlen Treyneir of Tireste, Baroness Keyrie Felfader of Caulnor, Lady Marya Nikosdottar of Soliette, the adventurer Bram Holdenheyrd, his ever-present companion Jerrick Skalden the Bard, and the Grand Vizier of the Royal Academy of Sorcery Boden Stormwatcher.

A fly in the soup attracts spiders, and cats…

As everyone settles in for a long night of revelry, their mysterious masked host Guilder Shade takes many private meetings. His is not the only ear bent as many other regents circulate, mixing business with pleasure. None are louder or more insistent than Duke Alam’s outspoken hostility of Tuornen and their regent, grasping at any excuse for a fight. Far more peaceful were the discussions around the Black Baroness’s “babies,” a small horde of cats, and their surprising affection for Duke Israphel (hinting that, just as old alliances in the south fail, new ones are in the offing). William Moergen and his associate Erander did their best to make friends who could aid in their ongoing fight against the Usurper Jason Raenich, while Luxu sung songs to entertain the company.

The good mood was somewhat dampened when several threats about killing cats were made if they kept getting underfoot in the kitchen. The felines were getting the blame for a host of mishaps relating to the hogs being overdone, or underdone (though the Green Knight seemed happy with the fare). The blame was not so easily shifted onto the cats when people began complaining about the ale tasting of piss, or the cakes having been baked with salt but no sugar. Prompt investigation by Guilder Shade’s internal security caught several recent hires who’d been bribed to muck with the food preparation, but the source of the plot has yet to be caught.

The quality of the feast was fast forgot in the face of another hazard though, when many of the guests grew concerned over the number of spiders lurking about (some of particularly alarming size). The growing upset bemused the Green Knight, who finally removed his helm to reveal himself as a great hairy Goblin and the Spider’s Emissary. Laughing, he gave them word from his master: “My lord reminds you of the massacre even now going on in Caeril. He demands 10 gold bars from our host, and gives similar recommendations of tribute to his guests, lest the Spider turns his eye in their direction and seeks to visit them next.” Bravado became the answer of the day, as many agreed the Spider’s demands were far too much. The Green Knight merely grinned at their haughty refusals. In any event, he agreed he would still see them on the tourney field the following day…

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