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post #141 of 179 (permalink) Old 10-21-13, 02:20 AM
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"Khan, the Republic and Anicea have both claimed victory in battle to the East."

"Perhaps it is an omen? What think you, Mafis, three armies claiming victory over the shadow in one season?"

Mafis thought for a moment, before replying. "Milord, I do not specialize in reading omens, though I would say that the use of Anicea's superweapon, and the combined weight of the free army's of Kolnur are wearing on the Shadow."

Alawat Khan drank from his cup, "aye, that is fare. Though what is this I hear of a power to the North? Of the Lich returning to walk among mortals?"

Mafis, again, paused. "Arch-Lich, milord. Deknar'Thuul is referred to as such by the wisen sages of far-away Salthiusar. For the first time in my service to you Khan, I am without a solution. We must band together with the other remaining nations, but even then I do not know if success is assured."

"We shall ride to the coast, and then turn north. Anicea and the rest shall move up the interior. Together, we may reach Slathiusar before the Arch-Lich does."

...

Invade 35 with all available forces
Train Heavy Cavalry in all provinces

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post #142 of 179 (permalink) Old 10-25-13, 05:15 PM
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Summary

Move Sentinels and Dragons to invade province 45
Recruit Hoplites in all provinces

We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment - and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.
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post #143 of 179 (permalink) Old 10-25-13, 08:48 PM Thread Starter
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Spring of 1248

The streams of melted snow that runs across Kolnur are now stained with blood. The hope of the nations across Kolnur have been shattered. Although the free nations of Kolnur continue to push forwards, desperate to reach the wounded Esterwynne before it is too late, the armies that have marched against the Darkness are shattered, taking heavy casualties and facing the strength of the Shadow, a strength that many had forgotten it possessed.

In the West, Kerin-Curan has waged a bloody and brutal war against the creatures, the nightmares that now dwell upon the twisted hell of what Province 8 has become. But finally, after constant fighting, through nearly all of the winter months, Kerin-Curan's flag now flies above the island. Yet even in this victory, the Darkness still has strength, and only days after the islands celebrate, word comes from Dagren. The Pirate Nation has been lost, their armies and fleets shattered by a sudden and brutal attack. While the Shadow has been forced from Province 8, it now resides upon Province 10.

Again Anicea fires her most powerful weapon, once more devastating the province within which it hits. But it seems as if the Darkness has reacted to the damage this cannon is inflicting upon it's forces, and Anicea is nearly toppled by a huge attack, seemingly from nowhere. Somehow, the nations continues to hold all it's homelands, but at a great cost. And upon the continent, where the armies of Anicea continue to march against the Shadow, their is some kind of miscommunication between the abroad Anicea forces, and the homeland, as thousands are killed by the blast from the cannon. Yet thanks to the same blast that killed many of Anicea's soldiers, the Darkness is once more pushed from the Province. Anicea's flag flies high above yet another Province.

The Great Trade Republic, while successful in the East, in the South they very nearly lose grip upon Province 32, their front-line with the Shadow. If there is another attack of this scale without reinforcement for the Province, then none doubt that it will fall. And if it does, then the Great Trade Republic, and Central Kolnur, will be wide open to attack from the Darkness.

The horsemen of Kogan-Sul face increasingly high casualties, despite the size and prowess of the horde, the Shadow has prepared for them. Creatures with long spear like weapons lie hunched amongst the shadows, and they inflict heavy casualties upon the cavalry of Kogan-Sul. And yet despite this, the Darkness loses it's control over the Province against the size of the horde, but not until Kogan-Sul's armies are nearly crippled.

The target for the free armies, Esterwynne, has been heavily hit, and Province 49 has been shattered and broken, Esterwynne's armies driven from it by an attack orchestrated by the Arch-Lich himself. Unless help arrives soon, there will be no Esterwynne to save.

But, perhaps the greatest hope for Kolnur, is the great city of Salthiusar, and the secrets that it contains. For the mages of Salthiusar are only months away from discovering what could potentially finish the Shadow for good. And with the newly arrived armies of the three allied armies, it seems as if the small nation will survive long enough to discover the greatest spell in history.
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The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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post #144 of 179 (permalink) Old 10-31-13, 07:46 PM
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Default Salthiusar (18): Turn 21, Spring 17th Era 68 (Common: 1248)

16th of Breaking Cold, 17th Era 68 (Common: 1248)

The snows came and went, as did the dead. Salthiusar danced with dragons and the dead, and sometimes the dead dragons. The Shadow was breaking on the city, a beacon of light and warmth, sheltering not only Salth forces and citizens but also refugees from other nations, Darkorin, Skibul and Likome. All of them were perturbed by the sudden fascination with the dead, and the troops of the nations had often butted heads, though the leaders were all in agreement: what the Salth were doing was beyond necessary, it was vital for Kolnur to live.

The dead now served the people of the nation, walking the streets, carrying and serving in their uniquely braindead way. The same was true in the city’s palace and libraries. Salthiusar thrived on peace and war the same, though for different reasons. Its troops had always been robed in the same turquoise colour that the walls of the city bore, plain and elegant, but now it was different: a black head now adorned the robes on the hems and backs of the cloaks. They were fearsome for their power before the Shadow; now they were simply terrifying.

In the council chambers, the most capable living cadavers were scribing the words of the council. Irèsp, Slaér, Dalàth and Calleis were joined by several important research leaders, scholars and delegates from all three refugee nations. They were discussing military plans: what to do with civilians, where to build up barricades before the next attack, where to farm the land to sustain the huge population the city now needed to feed.

“We are beginning to figure out how to sever the Lich’s power over the dead.” Calleis was speaking to the room in general. “As some of you may recall, our researchers realised that, with further understanding of how the dead are animated and controlled, we will be able to find a way to defeat the Lich by severing this link. Just yesterday did we make a breakthrough in understanding how a caster can sustain a link with the dead without needing to expend any magicka. We expect to be able to break such links before the summer ends.”

“Does anyone object to further research?” Irèsp boomed, his voice magically augmented. One hand rose.

“I do.” Slaér had opposed the plan from the start, though had followed Irèsp’s orders from the start.

“Slaér, I do not understand why you object so greatly, given the need of such an act. Very well, as dissent is present, the research’s future shall be put to poll again in a season.”

“Next on the list is the construction of barricades,” Put forth the Guardian in charge of keeping the meeting in order. It was going to be a long session.

---

The zombie was gnawing at the magical force cage that held it in place. The mages were scurrying about the room, making preparations for the spell about to be cast. A large contraption that focussed and amplified magic, invented in the Enlightenment Era, sat inches in front of the cage, just out of the zombie’s reach. Mages fine-tuned the device as Calleis sat chanting, preparing the prototype spell.
“It’s ready.” Said one mage. The room fell silent as Calleis finished chanting.

He stood up, eyes shut, and planted his palms on the focus pads. Carefully intoning the ritual spell’s final words, he opened his eyes as a beam of grey left the focus machine and hit the zombie. It stood still suddenly, incapable of movement. Then, slowly, it began to disintegrate. Hurriedly, mages activated runes around the cage to detect certain products and began to use spells to gauge what was happening.

A few minutes later, and it had all been analysed. It had worked. The zombie had disintegrated as its matter had been consumed in an effort to keep the link working.

Now all they needed to do was to condense it and magnify it. No big deal.

---

Summary:
-Black Magic begins being researched.
-1000 Mages trained (Salthisuar, 18)

Military Positioning:
Salthiusar, 18:
-413 Guardians
-30,167 Mages (+1000)

Refugee Forces, Salthiusar, 18:
Skibul:
-13,290 Heavy Infantry
-8,278 Crossbowmen
-6,152 Arquebussers


Likome:
-3,480 Heavy Infantry
-5,179 Light Infantry
-1,128 Mages


Darkorin:
-13,208 Heavy Cavalry
-40,359 Heavy Infantry
-7,138 Artillery
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post #145 of 179 (permalink) Old 11-06-13, 06:02 AM
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Valark rode his horse forward, his pistol's discharge unheard amongst the thousands of others. The front line of the Forces of the Darkness crumpled under the volley. A stone flew from the lines of the darkness and struck his destrier's eye. The horse screamed, reared and flung Valark off before collapsing.

Valark fell in a heap atop the armoured body of one of the lions. He felt carefully crafted engravings under his fingertips and looked at the fallen man beneath him. It was Lord Hibracht. His face was splattered with mud and deathly pale. There was a ragged hole deep in his chest, as if something had exploded out of it. A pistol wound, fired from behind, at close range. Odd, the darkness didn't use guns, at least not that he'd seen. There was something intensely wrong with the situation, but Valark's head swam with pain and he almost passed out. He called upon his final reserves of strength.

Valark hefted the man, dragging him along, waving his only loaded pistol in the general direction of the advancing Darkness forces. A huge wolf, stalking forwards on its two hind legs, with matted black fur and torn flesh dangling from it body, spotted the two prone men. It snarled, black, rotted flesh spraying from its filthy gums. It fell on all fours, the bounded forwards. Valark aimed his pistol and fired, striking the beast between the eyes, spraying blood in all directions. The beast stumbled, then continued advancing, blood pouring from behind an eye socket and weeping dark crimson tears. A volley of a dozen pistols behind Valark caused the wolf to twitch and finally fall. Around twenty cavalrymen trotted into Valark's view. All but two faced outwards, firing at targets beyond Valark's blurred vision. The two others dismounted and hefted himself and the King up. Lifting him, was Roberte Aliarr, a cavalryman under his command and a brute of a man on a brute of a horse. He grinned at Valark, displaying a mouth missing a half dozen teeth. Picking up the king, Valark blearily registered a slick, smooth smile and glinting white teeth. Cyrus Mirador.

As Valark and the fallen king were mounted to horses, the last thing he saw was the King's advisor holding a dagger in the arm he had wrapped around the king, his pistol holstered and a droplet of blood seeping through the holster.


OOC:
all in 37 to 32
1000 Elites trained in all territories

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post #146 of 179 (permalink) Old 11-07-13, 02:10 PM
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As the Anicean flag rose above another province devastated by war, her exhausted armies began to dig in. The task of ensuring that the narrow corridor between Esterwynne and the rest of free-Kolnur was an impossible one doomed to fail; but every day it remained open saw much needed supplies flood into the besieged bastion nation. However, whilst gains were made on the continent, the homelands of Anicea once again weathered another deadly assault form the Shadow’s forces, more powerful and devastating than any which had come before. In spite of this, the kingdom’s walls held and the foul denizens of the dark were driven back into the waves from which they came. But now none could deny the truth: Anicea was being targeted by the Shadow, as the attacks gradually grew in strength every time her cannon was fired. Already the death toll was unimaginably high, with some estimates placing the casualty figures at a million or more. The nation, once a glowing beacon of hope and peace whilst the mainland convulsed in war and destruction, now was home to vast stretches of scorched earth and entire fields given over to mass graves.

Hokum entered the King’s chamber to find his regent and long-time friend standing by a window, his gaze stretching out across the capital of Aramore, with smoke plumes from fires still burning following the most recent Shadow attack dominating the horizon. In the past year, the General had witnessed his King age well beyond his years, the weight of the hopes of the entirety of his people pressing heavily upon his shoulders. “My lord, you summoned me?” King Elfire turned to look at his dwarven companion, managing a half-hearted grin before gesturing to a chair. “Please. How fair the preperations?”
“The Navy has set up a cordon, but they say that they cannot keep it clear indefinitely and the boarding is occurring as quickly as it possibly can – given the circumstances.” The king handed Hokum a glass of the finest Imperial liquour, a gift from the former ambassador, whilst he spoke. “Aye. The circumstances truly are unprecedented, but these are indeed times without precedent.” Fidgeting with the glass of ale, Hokum realised that it was most probably one of the last bottles of liquor to be brewed by the Empire, with the mighty nation having succumbed beneath the tide of the Shadow. “Evacuation. In all my years I never once considered such an event. Defeat? Yes, that was always a possibility, but I had hoped to die defending our home.” Silence remained, Hokum immediately regretting his speaking out, knowing full well that the decision had been hard enough for the king as it was. The king tapped his finger on his glass as he looked over his old friend, before deciding to speak “I feel your anger Hokum, but this has always been far larger than just Anicea – I see that now. Our people need to get to safety, and perhaps they can continue the fight on the continent.” Elfire paused momentarily, “There is another thing. I have received information indicating that the surviving forces of Likome, Skibul and the Darkorin have all amassed behind the walls of the Salth.” Hokum suddenly perked up, almost choking on his ale. “I thought their armies had been broken by the Shadow! How did the Salth-“ Raising a hand, the king stopped him “I don’t know, but I think the Salth have given them hope. Something that can finally change the tide of this apocalypse.” Bolting up right, Hokum preseed his fist against his chest “Give me a contingent of our finest warriors, and I shall gladly join them in the coming battle.”
“You know we can’t spare the transports right now, but Anicea does have a final gift to offer.” Forcing himself to listen to reason, the General nodded his understanding to his regent. “Hokum of Clan Steelhammer, General of the Anicean army, your final orders from me are to ensure the safety of our people on the continent, and to make the Shadow suffer for all that they have done to us. In order to accomplish this, you shall by my representative there until the current situation comes to an end.” Hokum’s eyes widened in shock as the King went on, “I shall remain here with the remaining troops to hold the weapon for as long as we draw breath, for the sake of our brothers and sisters who may go on.” At a loss for words, the dwarf felt an immense swelling of pride for his friend and King. Knowing they would never see each other again, Hokum went to salute but was instead found the king offering his hand. “May the Ancestors guide you.”
“And may the seas be calm.”
The last time Hokum saw the man he had called King for his entire adult life – and friend for even longer – was as he boarded an Ironclad headed for the shores of Kogan-Sul; the King stood tall, undaunted by the challenges ahead, a man whose destiny was as an eternal servant to his people.

Actions:

2,000 Heavy Infantry, 3,000 Arquebussers, 783 Artillery, 57 Mechanical Walkers move from province 39 to province 37.

All Anicean land and aerial forces stationed in province 66 and 67 are ordered to move to support the garrison in Valbeach (Province 68).

1,000 Huscarls trained in provinces 36, 67, 68, 69. (2nd Turn for province 36).

Castle built in province 39.

Training Halls built in province 37.

The Iron Navy mobilises itself to protect the evacuation of the Anicean homeland to Kogan-Sul:
550 Ironclads move from SP 23 to SP 22.
200 Ironclads move from SP 48 to SP 42.
325 Ironclads move from SP 48 to SP 47.
300 Ironclads move from SP 42 to SP 46.
225 Ironclads move from SP 42 to SP 50.
100 Ironclads move from Province 67 to SP 43.
100 Ironclads move from Province 66 to SP 43.
100 Ironclads remain in Province 68, patrolling the coast.

Cannon fired at province 40.

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post #147 of 179 (permalink) Old 11-08-13, 12:22 AM
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Once more the Golden Horde rode forth, and once more the banner of Kogan-Sul flew proudly over province 35. But the reclamation of the territory had not been without great cost, for the Shadow had learned to counter the mounted charge that had to this point been Kogan-Sul's trump card on the battle field. Wretched beasts, wielding pikes of indeterminate construction, reared up on every flank, killing mount and rider alike time after time.

"They're learning, adapting, Khan" Mafis stated plainly. "Perhaps we should shift strategy- engage them at range. Let them be winnowed by cannon and arrow, for our Dwarven infantry is nigh impregnable..."

The Khan sighed, "aye, you speak wisely as always, good friend. The province fell, but these casualties. What of the other provinces, and of our allies?"

Mafis again spoke plainly. "We have taken casualties on all fronts, as have our friends to the north and east. Word has it that the Salth may have a final gambit up their sleeve- a weapon to end the war. Dark magic-necromancy to be specific, according to my sources."

"When needs must, the devil drives. You of all people should know this much, Mafis. If they have a weapon, we must gather our strength before our final push to reinforce them- but I will not see the horde decimated again! Bring up more infantry, order the smiths to double their efforts- we will rain fire upon the Shadow from on far- and if they move against us, we shall crush them as we always have with hoof and steel!"

"As you wish, my Khan. If I may, there remains the situation with Anicea. As you may recall, they have faced much hardship at the hands of the Shadow..."

"Indeed, they have. They are a strong people, and ingenious" was the Khan's reply.

Mafis paused, "yes, yes indeed they are. As we speak, their ships have set a cordon from their homeland to ours- they are evacuating to the mainland."

"Sad times, when a nation must flee its lands for the greater good. Send the word, welcome them with open arms! Together we may well turn the war around. Our navy is not in a position to assist- though our airfleet may prove useful. Send the airships to the coast, so that we may ensure their safety. I will meet them personally on the beach!"

Leaving the command tent, the Khan mounted his steed to gather his horsemen and head to the coast. Mafis was left alone to carry out the orders- uneasy of what might happen in Salthiusar, but knowing full well that the free nations of Kolnur had little recourse if they were to survive.

...
Reinforce Province 34 with 30,000 heavy and light cavalry, 15,000 artillery, 25,000 heavy infantry
Reinforce Province 35 with 30,000 heavy and light cavalry, 15,000 artillery, 25,000 heavy infantry
Reinforce Province 25 150,000 conscripts, 10,000 artillery, 15,000 archers, 50,000 heavy infantry
Reinforce Province 24 150,000 conscripts, 10,000 artillery, 15,000 archers, 50,000 heavy infantry
Position zeppelin fleet off the shores of province 35
Route remaining naval forces to the coast of province 35
Recruit 500 Heavy Infantry in provinces 25,26,27,28,29,33,34,35
Recruit 500 Artillery in provinces 25,26,27,28,29,33,34,35

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post #148 of 179 (permalink) Old 11-08-13, 06:29 PM
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Lan Halfelven

I slammed a fist against the wall, denting the plaster. “Dammit!” I cursed. “God-dammit, I don’t want to make this decision.”

Moiraire stood behind me, her left hand resting on my shoulder. “I know my love, but now of all times is the time to be strong.” I turned to her and laughed bitterly. “Why me though? I am a soldier, a fighter. If you want someone to cut down a foe, or hold a wall then I will do it for you. But lead a nation to victory or defeat? Matrim was the one who should have stood here, should have made this decision. He could see the war as no one else could, understand the way armies clash and whittle away at the Shadow bit by bit, tearing them to pieces as a wolf pack hunts a bear.”

“Maybe you are right. Maybe your brother should have been the one to lead us in this hour. But he fell in battle. The people respect you. You have led our soldiers to victory on a thousand battlefields.”

“I led the charges Moiraire, but the battles? The winning of them was nothing to do with me. I was simply the chosen sword. A weapon chooses not who it kills, nor why. That isn’t the point of weapons.” I had turned away from her, looking out across Kel Delvolwen with my shoulders slumped. “How can I fight this? I was never the one with the vision.” I whispered.

“Then do not try to be. Do what you believe is right.”

***

I stood at the foot of the twin thrones, my hands on the hilt of my sword-point that rested on the marble flags. The blade shone in the sunlight streaming through the great windows that dotted the walls.

The great men of Esterwynne filed into the hall and stood calmly in front of me, almost unconsciously falling into ranks. With them were delegates from other countries, soldiers from Anicea and even some merchants who had thought to make a profit from my country even as we stood on the brink of destruction. Them I gave only a derisive look, the Aniceans received a solemn and respectful nod and my people needed none of that.

“My friends, we have recently received news that the Salth have developed something that gives men hope. Even now they have accepted refugees from many countries who stand ready to defend the walls of the crystal city.”

Now I turned to the Aniceans. “You have spent a great deal of lives and effort to reach us and I thank you for that. However the troops you are currently using to hold the corridor between our nations are simply more troops you cannot use to help those who have a chance of winning this war. Despite all the lives we lost in creating this corridor, I am afraid that I do not believe we can hold here. To this end we believe that our best chance for success is to pull our troops back south from Kel Delvolwen and Kel Morlvyn and hold the line in a less exposed area. It is either that or attempt to strike north or east to draw the attention of the Shadow back to us and away from Salthiusar. I will now withdraw and allow you to speak among yourselves.”


Summary

Research Huscarls
Recruit Sentinels in all provinces
For the first time in decades, the full armies of Esterwynne have mobilized. Whether they are to march back to reinforce provinces 35, 34, 36, 37 and 39 or to strike at province 49 is yet to be decided. To this end I would like input from everyone as to what Esterwynne should do, after all this might be the difference between whether or not Salthiusar has the time to use Black Magic

We stand upon the precipice of change. The world fears the inevitable plummet into the abyss. Watch for that moment - and when it comes, do not hesitate to leap. It is only when you fall that you learn whether you can fly.
— Flemeth

The greatest trick the Devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist.
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Summer of 1248

The sunlight that does make it past the ragged, dark clouds above much of Kolnur, falls upon shattered wastelands, broken corpses and abandoned cities. Yet despite the death and destruction, scarring the very continent, there is still a glimmer of hope. Those nations that remain have bonded together when it was most needed, and even now compassion and sacrifice play a major part in Kolnur's survival.

In the West, Kerin-Curan has all but fallen silent, silent bar the screams of her people. Dragons fly overhead once more and although the nation's Ballistae reap a bloody toll upon the monsters, they appear to be stronger and more agile, almost as if they are adapting. And it is not just the Ballistae that are tested, for the mass assault of the Winter has left the mainland of the island nation all but defenceless, and hundreds of thousands of civilians are cut down before the Shadow is sent back into the depths. But perhaps most foreboding are the reports of the Darkness gathering upon Province 10. With all of Kerin-Curan's armies else-where, who will protect the homeland?

For Anicea, it is a momentous day, as the people of the proud nation flee their broken homeland for the shore of the continent, leaving the remains of a once proud army to defend the country's most powerful weapon, the cannon of Valbeach. While Anicea leads the assault on the continent, it is now only a matter of time before her homeland is lost. Yet none doubt that King Elfire will make the Shadow pay dearly for every metre it gains.

The Great Trade Republic continues to hold it's front line, although by now Province 32 is a broken and hellish wasteland of constant war. There is no longer battle lines, only the swirling cauldron of conflict that has destroyed all of the land's beauty and left piles of dead like a blanket over the Province. And yet, thanks to the much-needed reinforcements of the Spring, the Great Trade Republic continue to hold into the Spring, but how long can they really hold out for?

Kogan-Sul welcomes the people of Anicea with open arms, and her Dirigible move above the evacuation fleet, ensuring safe arrival. The surviving nations of Kolnur have felt the true power of the Darkness, and in these dark times it seems as if the leaders have put their differences aside for the greater good. Could this be the beginning of a new Grand Alliance? With central Kolnur continuing to hold, many are claiming a new Golden Age is coming, even as casualties continue to climb.

Esterwynne is silent, and for a moment, the clouds above clear and glorious summer sunshine spills down from the heavens. Although what remains of her armies wait, ready to strike, no attack comes against Esterwynne. The Arch-Lich is gone. Where, none can tell, but for a precious few months, the constant pounding of the Darkness stops and Esterwynne can breathe again.

And in the North, Salthiusar continues to be a beacon of hope for all other free nations of Kolnur.
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The Silent Lions Chapter

Winter Falls

Darkness

Give a man a match and he will be warm for a day.
Set a man on fire and he will be warm for the rest of his life.
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post #150 of 179 (permalink) Old 11-21-13, 05:49 PM
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Default Salthiusar (18): Turn 22, Summer 17th Era 68 (Common: 1248)

17th of Risen Sun, 17th Era 68 (Common: 1248)

Summer had come, and the familiarly brutal stench of the decaying undead once again permeated the air. Irèsp thanked himself for suggesting the Charm of Permanent State that encapsulated the city, and felt a tinge of guilt for not extending it far enough for all of the refugees.

This summer’s day was not sunny and pretty and full of fields of flowers. It was a summer’s day of death and decay and the stench of the dead. As the drizzle poured down, Salthiusar’s guests’ moods became sourer and sourer, to say nothing of their leaders.

In the throne room, things were not going according to plan. Slaér, continuing to vote against the continuation of the nearly finished research, was becoming angry in his cause.

“Why do you insist on doing this?” He pleaded. “We are a city of peace and learning, not of death and undoing!”

The friends had often conversed for hours on end about all kinds of matters, but Slaér had never been so forthright with his suggestions.

“It is necessary,” Irèsp responded coolly. His regular single-robe garment had been discarded in favour of a much darker getup. He now wore a crystal-mail shirt, light as crystal but coloured somewhat blacker than the walls. His greaves were black elf-leather, his boots the same. His cloak, doubling as a fold-around robe, was black and bore a version of the Black Hearts’ insignia in the colours of Salthiusar. Appearances, he said, were everything when dealing with foreign nations, however pointless the act.

“But it is not!” Slaér’s voice was rising. “The dead should stay dead! We should leave the dead to be dead.”

“You do not understand. We need to do this, for the good of Kolnur. Can I not persuade you?”

“No.”

“So be it.”

Irèsp’s hand rose from his cloak, and began to glow. Once in front of Slaér, a green aura began to surround it, wobbling.

“So that’s how it will be. You kill me, and your tyranny continues. So be it.”

It struck Slaér mid-forehead, and he fell over backwards. The room’s silence was corporeal.

Irèsp stood up in front of his friend’s body, and began to talk. “I am sorry, but it was a necessary act. I do not do this out of spite. I do it out of need. If we take another route, Kolnur will surely fall.”

Slaér stirred and stood up. The green glow was invisible in his green eyes.

“Such control is forbidden out of research, but war calls for different strategies.” He put his hand on Slaér’s shoulder.

“You will function no worse as a thrall as you did with free will.”

---

Rhemani had had an interesting life. She had grown up in a nation far away from what remained of Kolnur, as her skin attested. It was as pale as most elves’, but it was tinted purple, giving a slightly ethereal look to her.

Her mind was afire with disgust, as it had for many long weeks. She had always been attracted to healing, so Salthiusar’s recent obsession had been abhorrent to her. Necromancy was the blackest of all arts, so, naturally, Irèsp’s new decisions had infuriated her.

Now, it was the eve of another breakthrough. Everything had gone well in the research, the Black Hearts becoming blacker. The latest hordes were being assaulted with new, experimental spells, causing widespread indifference throughout the nation. Few thought as she did any longer; more by the day enjoyed those black arts. But, as she, along with the other three elves who had agreed that enough was enough, shoved the palace doors open, she felt as much as they did towards the act she was about to commit.

The four of them advanced upon Irèsp, sat immobile upon his throne, the so-called ‘Second Seat’. The old fool had never forgotten the other founder, and thought himself so subordinate to his long-gone friend. The four of them, eyes blazing, summoned wychfire to immolate the old elf with. Then, he laughed. It was the laughter of a lich, of a madman, she thought.

“Have you come to kill me?” It sounded less a question than a statement.

Silence reigned. Rhemani spoke. “I suppose we have, yes. Your obsession with death cannot end well, it is not healthy.”

“You see this city? Has it become blacker?” He pointed to the crystalline walls. “Yes, it has. The walls have not. The city of Salthiusar, as always, is the true centre of learning. However, how can we learn if we are all dead? We have over fifty thousand souls outside our walls, and likely more within, all from other nations whose homes have been destroyed. They protect us now, for a place to stay, a place to sleep, without being killed by the undead.”

He stood up, and turned his back to the four, admiring the two seats. “Now tell me, Rhemani, you came from a poor background but decided on altruism, eventually coming here to learn how to heal to help others heal, correct?”

It was silent again.

“Rhemani. Answer me.”

“Yes, I did.” Her voice was breaking.

“Why do you object to me saving lives, then? I can see another way to save ourselves, by beseeching gods that we have little evidence to believe exist. Even if they do, to beat the Lich on such a scale would require years of study. We have months, if that. Do you still object?”

“Yes, you monster! The dead are dead and should stay so! We cannot fight our enemy if we become our enemy, can we?” In her rage, she fired a fireball at the older mage, as did her three companions.

All eight fireballs hit home, but all bounced around the room. Irèsp turned, and tutted. “Similarity does not mean complacency. We do not work like the Lich. We do not understand why he works, but we do understand that our motives are for research, no?”

One of her companions began to leave, and Rhemani gave a stunted bark. Jerking his head to see it, Irèsp flung the door shut with magic. “Now now, we can’t let you leave in such a state, can we?” A black tendril left his arm and sunk into the elf’s brain, and left. His expression went blank, then returned to normal. He left through the doors.

The other three then began to hurl lightning at the founder. He shook his head as it all was drawn to a conduit in the roof. “Evidently, I can’t let you leave at all.”

With a flick of his wrist, the other two elves died instantly, the bonds holding them to life snapping violently. Then they rose, and began to crawl over Rhemani, who screamed and cast at them. Neither worked. The last thing she saw was one of the others, the only person she truly knew in the world, hitting her in the head with her own left arm, the purple-tinged skin embedding itself into her face. Of course, it was the bone inside that killed her.

---

Summary:

-Salthiusar keeps quiet as research draws to a close
-Black Magic continues to be trained

Military Positioning:

Salthiusar, 18:
-413 Guardians
-31,167 Mages

Refugee Forces:

Darkorin:
-9,346 Heavy Infantry
-37,851 Heavy Cavalry
-5,916 Artillery


Likome:
-1,268 Heavy Infantry
-3,957 Light Infantry
-635 Magi

Skibul:
-11,078 Heavy Infantry
-6,056 Crossbowman
-4,930 Arquebussers
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