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FOCUS ON: HULE
Continuing with its effort to expand its presence in lesser-known areas of the world, the Mystaran Almanac focuses this year on the Empire of Hule and its surrounding region, whether they are satellites or independent nations.
Labelled as evil by our Old World standards, the empire of the Master is little known in eastern Brun, where Thyatis and Alphatia have been traditionally extending their shadows. Up to the invasion of Darokin by the Desert Nomads in the wake of the Great War that ravaged the Old World a decade ago, and the spectacular meteor impact that concluded that epic, Hule was seen as a far, evil hagiarchy ruled by the Master and his holy men in the name of the treacherous Immortal Bozdogan. The rare accounts of its grandeur, evilness, and expansionism were tales told second-hand by Minrothaddan merchant princes who traded with Slagovich merchants. Little did we know.
In this almanac, you will at last learn from our latest correspondent, Zoran Dragovic, about the holy land and its mysterious Master. We will also recount the events of the past decade and a half, hopefully shading a new light upon the events that happened right here in the Old World, and for which we were not prepared as we had had so little prior contact with the western empire. Hule is indeed a big player, however far and forgotten it is, in the international field, and it is certainly not the city-states and baronies of the Savage Coast that will contradict me on that point. We hope that by introducing it to the almanac we will help this otherwise ignored empire come into full light, so that it won't ever have to introduce itself the hard way again.
Correspondents for Hule
Here is our list of correspondents that give us detailed information on the nations, places, and events of Hule and its surroundings:
Zoran Dragovic has been the main source of information about Hule and the neighbouring countries in the last six years. His regular reports to Lucien Chassebois (his friend and former scholar of Glantri, now in Darokin) have unveiled many secrets about Hule and gave scholars of the Old World a more precise picture of the sociopolitical landscape of the Midlands.
[Unfortunately, the atlas entries for Hule and its neighbours will not be included in this year's almanac. We apologise for the delay, and hope that Zoran is not rotting in a Hulean prison somewhere. Ed.]
Year AC 1000
Spring, AC 1000: With the Yezchamenid Empire rebuilding itself under its young shah, and the Yezchameni-Zuyevo border stable, Tsar Andrei takes the opportunity to extend Zuyevo's influence into the northern Yazak Steppes. The united front that the humanoids of the Yazak Steppes had put together in the 980s has long since fallen apart with the humanoids degenerating into internecine warfare. This gives Zuyevo the opportunity to rebuild Kulikovo's satellite fortresses of Kustany and Aktynkidze. Zuyevan forces also begin securing the eastern bank of the Yalu River north of the Kulikovo Fortress.
Summer, AC 1000: The Black Rajah of Jaibul is held in check by Haldemar of Haaken, a wandering Alphatian prince, while trying to take over the neighbouring mumlyket of Putnabad. The rajah, an ally of the Master, is forced to withdraw his claim over the Sindhi lands.
Fall, AC 1000: Haldemar of Haaken and his crew unfold an attempt by Hulean agents to usurp power in Slagovich, the city is freed from Hulean influence. Later, the party stumbles upon a joint Heldannic and Hulean plot to invade much of the Old World. The Master is forced to delay his planned invasion of Sind, the Heldannic Knights undertake a vengeful spree against the Alphatian flying vessel and her crew. From this point on, the official contacts between the Heldannic Knights and the Master grow thinner from increasingly divergent interests and fear of being caught by other political-military powers.
Year AC 1001
Spring, AC 1001: Encouraged by agents of the Master, scores of humanoids from the lower valley of the Hyborean River move south to the hills at the northeast of Sind. Their arrival is equated by numerous raids that ravage eastern Kyurdukstan and Grouzhina. They also ravage the land known as Remindana, the kingdom of an important dragon, who will disappear from the region.
At the other end of the Midlands, goblins from the Yazak Steppes attracted by the prospect of rich plunders promised by the Master's agents, begin a trek across the empire. As they travel the land, they are met by the resistance of the human communities along their road. Damages are particularly important in Olgaria, where the arrival of new monsters from the east convinces more and more Olgarians to join the underground rebellion headed by the Church of Traladara clergy.
Summer and Fall, AC 1001: More humanoids come from the plains of central Brun toward Hule. On their way, they confront the Sardjik, which drive them into the Dvinzinian range. Walking along the border of the two countries, the humanoids are finally able to cross into Hule, even though they suffered heavy casualties. The Master grants them dominions in the Black Mountains. Overpopulation among the humanoids of the Black Mountains trigger small-scale conflicts and endless disputes. The Master calms down the situation by promising endless riches to both the newcomers and the former inhabitants of the mountains.
Seeing the arrival of thousands of humanoids in the empire of the Master as a threat, the neighbouring lands begin to build up their defences. Border clashes between Hule and Dvinzina are more frequent than ever. The Chengouch are forced to penetrate deep in the southern Black Mountains in order to root out the bases of humanoid raiders. Even Kyurdukstan sends an representative to Hule charged to present the official protests of the local clan leaders against Hule politic in the Black Mountains; he is coldly sent back.
Year AC 1002
Winter, AC 1002: Agents of Hule are dispatched to Sind, many of them will rapidly climb up the Sindhi social ladder through the use of corruption, deception and assassination. The Master slowly sends more eyes and ears to Sind in preparation of a forthcoming invasion.
Spring, AC 1002: Hulean spies disguised as Sardjik merchants discover the existence of an extensive cave system under the Plain of Fire while travelling through the Desert of Sind. Scouts are sent to map down the entire underground system. Some of them are captured by the local Graakhalians, but many escape the gnolls and elves and bring their precious information back to the Master.
Summer, AC 1002: News about the discovery of new precious ore veins in the Bylot Hills trigger a mini gold rush across the empire and beyond, as Sardjiks and Azards come all across the empire to the remote hills. There are even some people from the not-so-distant Empire of Zuyevo to come to the hills. Hule attempts to exercise its rule over the hills, but the Master is too occupied by his western plans to commit new forces at the opposite end of the empire.
Contacts are made between the Master's agents and the Black Rajah of Jaibul. A treaty of friendship and "enhanced trade" is signed between the two nations. Holy men flock to the far Ryaset. They use the territory of Hule's new ally as a stepping stone to enter Sind and propagate their faith on the Master's orders.
Having rebuilt Kulikovo's defensive bastion, Tsar Andrei III orders 30,000 Zuyevan infantry and 5,000 cavalry into the northern Yazak Steppes to exterminate the humanoid tribes there. This begins a long war of attrition with those humanoids.
Fall, AC 1002: New waves of humanoids pour into the Black Mountains from the north. Their passage nearly brings a new war between Dvinzina and Hule, as Dvinzinian villages are burnt down by the incoming hordes. Surprisingly for the Dvinzinians, the Master personally apologises for the destruction caused by his "guests," he even sends two carts full of gold in order to repair the damages. The Dvinzinians are appeased, but still worrying. A loose alliance treaty is signed between Dvinzina and Sardjikjian in order to stop further humanoid migration. Balits from the Midlands Steppes are engaged to help prevent new arrivals of humanoids in the region.
Ismet Gorky is sent to Sayr Ulan, under the guise of being a diviner from a distant eastern country, he meets Kiritan ul-Nervi, the rajadhiraja's brother. His influence over the man grows stronger every month. Ismet becomes the main wildcard (with the knowledge of the Graakhalian caves) of the Master in Sind.
Year AC 1003
Winter, AC 1003: A group of ogres and orcs from the northern Hyborean Valley led by Grazhur Yzhorgan storms the winter camps of several Balitan clans. The northeastern Douzbak city of Noumalik is also plundered and occupied. Grazhur proclaims himself Shazar of Yzhor. People of the Midlands are more and more enraged about the Master's immigration policy.
Spring, AC 1003: The humanoids of Yzhor are reinforced by new humanoids from the far north, they raid deep into the Douzbak lands. The Douzbak central government is slow to react; discontent grows among the countryside population, as they see the capital city, Tashgoun, as a decadent and corrupted city.
All too happy to see a potential ally causing trouble to his northern enemies, the Master hires Azard mercenaries to help the humanoids of Yzhor in their struggle against the peoples of the Midlands. Unfortunately for them, they decide that the Ozungan Plateau is the fastest and easiest way from Azardjian to the newly found Shazardjian of Yzhor. Many among them will meet their destiny in the ambushes set along the road by the Ozungan elves, only about 20% of the mercenaries will reach Noumalik.
Summer, AC 1003: The hagiarchy's best military officers are sent in the Black Mountains to oversee the training of the humanoids. Chengouch spies warn the Black Dagger head that something is being prepared by the Master in the mountains. The information, however, is kept secret by the Chengouch leaders, to preserve surprise if they are to be the prey of the Master.
Humanoids from the Janizary Lands are displaced to the Black Mountains. Many Huleans flee at the rumour that trolls from the Rockwater Marsh are being transferred to the front. The march is nevertheless organized enough as to cause as little problem as possible along the way.
Ustalam Banshybek, a hermit of Douzbak origin, comes back from the distant Endworld Mountains Range. He finds his homeland in total chaos as the humanoids of Yzhor are progressing toward the capital without much resistance. His attempts to meet Queen Niyazi are all met with condescension or ignorance as the court would not consider receiving a man of such social status. Disillusioned about the ability of the court to solve the growing humanoid problem, the hermit goes back to the north in search of allies among the northern barbarians. [Ustalam doesn't know it yet but he isn't from Douzbakjian and never was a hermit, he is the new reincarnation of Dorfin still on his path toward immortality. The following years of travel and diplomacy among the northern tribes will allow him to unveil the truth he has forgotten. Ed.]
A conflict among Grouzhinian and Glantrian traders is sold by the death of three Glantrians and one Grouzhinian in Smolini. Glantrians are banned from the country, trade across the Adri Varma Plateau is disrupted. [This is an effect of the struggle between Rad and Ixion, many Grouzhinians being followers of Ixion. Ed.]
Fall, AC 1003: Reinforced by new tribes from the Hyborean Valley, the humanoids of Yzhor try an offensive against the elves of Ozungan. They are met with strong resistance and forced to withdraw while suffering heavy casualties.
An imperial juggernaut runs frenzy in the streets of Magden. The news of the Master's new secret weapons spread throughout the country. The holy men begin a vigorous campaign against anybody willing to speak out the "wrong thoughts" about the magical constructs.
The Zuyevan crusade has driven out or slaughtered many of the humanoids that inhabit the northernmost part of the Yazak Steppes. Unlike the tribes that threaten the Savage Coast (like the Dankut, Hupkur and Kuttai) the northern Yazak tribes are relatively disorganised and weak. They have proved unable to stand against the might of the Zuyevan war machine. Of those who survive, many flee eastwards into the welcoming arms of the Master in Hule.
Year AC 1004
Spring, AC 1004: Everywhere in the empire, rotting corpses escape their graves and spread terror in the rural communities and city. Troops of undead begin their long march toward the Black Mountains. The whole country's population locks itself inside in fear of the creatures of the dark.
Maharaja Kabir Rudraksha of Kadesh is contacted by the agents of the Master. They promise him with the control of Peshmir if he supports Kiritan in his upcoming coup. The maharaja agrees and secretly prepares his troops.
Summer, AC 1004: A detachment of Talmav settlers arrive in the northern Bylot Hills from the Empire of Zuyevo. They settle among the local colonists and are rapidly integrated in the multicultural society of the Bylot Hills. However, they secretly remain loyal to the distant tsar.
The actions of the Hulean agents in Sind spark violent caste friction across the country. The growing social tension inside the country diverts the rajadhiraja from the news of military build-up in the Black Mountains.
New contingents of goblinoids from the Yazak Steppes are added to the already gigantic army in the Black Mountains. Once again, they wreak havoc all along their path, Olgar being the worst-hit part of the empire.
Fall, AC 1004: Growing tensions among the humanoids in the Black Mountains threaten to spark a major war in the region. Nevertheless, the stage is set for the Master to advance onto Sind. Agents spread the rumour of underground riches in the cave complex under the Plain of Fire, causing hundreds of wealth-hungry humanoids (about a third of the Master's forces in the Black Mountains) to head for Graakhalia. The Graakhalians fight fiercely, then desperately as band after band of orcs, goblins, bugbears, hobgoblins and other humanoids press deeper into Graakhalia's labyrinth.
A southward surprise offensive by the Yzhor humanoids allows them to lay siege around Sardzka-Bozen, in southern Douzbakjian. The Douzbaks are overwhelmed by the swift offensive and are forced to retreat inside the city after suffering heavy losses. Help comes hastily from Sardjikjian, weary of the Douzbaks' impotence and worried by the humanoids being at its frontier. While nominally part of Douzbakjian, the city becomes under Kiteng's tutelage.
Chengouch spies in the Black Mountains report of the rapid move of the Hulean troops toward the underground network of Graakhalia. The Council of the Black Dagger is held in urge to discuss about the action to undertake. A close vote of 12 to 9 in favour of keeping this information secret, prevents the Chengouch to send an emissary to Sind. The decision is justified by the fear that, would the Master learn about their knowledge of his plans, he might take steps to violently retaliate against the small country.
Year AC 1005
Winter, AC 1005: Humanoids secure Graakhalia's upper levels against the elves and gnolls. More forces are moved into place by the Master. Kiritan ul-Nervi, egged on by Hulean agents, stages a coup against his brother. The counter-uprising of Sind's people is met by thousands of humanoids and Hulean troops appearing out of the earth itself to fight on the side of the new rajadhiraja. More humanoids pour into Sind from the Plain of Fire and the eastern foothills of the Black Mountains, reinforced by Urduk nomads and a tribe of ogres from the Sind Desert. Kiritan's forces quickly gain control of Sayr Ulan, the rajadhiraja flees to Ulimwengu. Fleeing Sindhi seek shelter in the valleys of Kyurdukstan, where they are warmly welcomed by the locals.
Spring, AC 1005: Taking advantage of the Master's concentration over his strategy in Sind, the Monzag resistance sparks an uprising in Pusztòk. In a few days, the forces of Balàzs Khuen are able to liberate the city from its Hulean garrison. Monzags across the country rejoice for what seems to be the first step toward the liberation of their country. More tribes from the Sendaryan Forest enter the Hulean protectorate to help their cousins shake Hule's control over the region.
Rajadhiraja Kiritan ul-Nervi consolidates his position as Sind's new ruler. Many rajas accept the situation, seeing an opportunity to increase their own power. Only the rajas of Jalawar, Baratkand and Peshmir refuse to recognise Kiritan's claim to the crown.
Renardois traders from Preuve set up a formal trading post in the Zuyevan port-city of Kishinev. Renardois trade with Zuyevo has been increasing in the past few years and the establishment of the trading post cements the friendly relationship between the two countries.
Encouraged by the arrival of fresh troops from the north, Grazhur Yzhorgan marches on Tashgoun. He is met with fierce resistance from the Douzbak cavalry, but inadequate training and equipment seal the fate of the Douzbaks. Siege is laid around Tashgoun in early Klarmont, still, it is an incomplete siege since the capital city is continually supplied through the Yalu Sea. The court is almost unaffected by the siege and resumes its lavish life as most of its luxurious products are brought by ships. Meanwhile, the city's population is experiencing with scarcity and frustration.
Summer, AC 1005: Resolute to quell any kind of unrest that might disrupt the march of his armies abroad, the Master and powerful wizards summon infernal creatures and send them in Monzag. The ensuing retaliation is horrible as fiends and nightmarish creatures from other planes are unleashed in the streets of Pusztòk and the northern valleys of Monzag. The rebels are quickly overwhelmed by the magical creatures and are forced to retreat chaotically to the northern forests. The losses in terms of lives are terrible, but the few months of uprising have allowed the rebels to extend their network of resistance to the entire country.
The three rajahs of Sind who refused to acknowledge Kiritan as rajadhiraja attempt to overthrow the usurper. Opposed from without by Kiritan's Hule-backed forces and from within by spies and stooges, the attempted coup fails miserably. Kadesh seizes the opportunity to invade Peshmir.
Fall, AC 1005: Corrupted sentinels guarding Tashgoun walls leave a hatch open during the night. In less than an hour dozens of humanoids pour into the sleeping city and break open the city's doors. The hordes of Grazhur Yzhorgan are free to enter the city and to sack its fabulous riches. Grazhur has every members of the court crucified outside the walls of the royal castle. He renames Tashgoun into Wogar, in respect for his patron, and chooses it as the new capital of his reign of terror.
In Azardjian, followers of magical researches associated with Rad are slain by Grouzhinian fanatics. The assassins are chased by the Azard troops deep into the Grouzhinian territory until they bounce in a detachment of this country's military. A clash ensues that triggers a war between the two countries. Kavkaz is slowly brought into the same madness as the Old World.
Year AC 1006
Winter, AC 1006: His power over Sind now relatively secure, the Master convinces Kiritan to invade Darokin. The combined forces of Sind's armies and the Desert Nomads overwhelm Darokin's defences and drive the republic's armies before them.
Slowly becoming aware of his mission, Ustalam Banshybek spends the winter on the northern coast of the Yalu Sea, among the nomadic tribes of the central steppes of Brun. There, he learns the ways of the nomads, and poses as a prophet. His displays of powerful magics make a great impression over the nomads, who profit of the annual gathering to settle cross-tribes disputes and unite under Ustalam's banner.
Spring, AC 1006: Confident in the upcoming victory over the eastern nations, the Master sends some of his reserve troops to take advantage of the religious war in the Savage Baronies. Though surprised at first, the baronies unite to overcome the new threat and are able to hold Hule at bay even given the superior manpower of the northern empire.
Consolidating their control of the eastern bank of the Yalu River, Zuyevan troops begin constructing a defensive corridor to allow easy and safe access to the northern Bylot Hills. The construction of three major fortresses that anchor this corridor are begun-Laika, Rzev and Andropov. They will eventually provide Zuyevo with the ability to maintain large garrisons in the northern Yazak Steppes and northwestern Bylot Hills. The fortresses are situated in a manner that makes them easy to resupply both by land from Kulikovo and directly from the Yalu River via Magnitogorod and Sharya.
Chandra ul-Nervi hastily pulls together his own army of Urduk nomads, mercenaries, brigands, and outlaws from the Barren Plains and the Sind Desert to retake Sind while its fighting forces are occupied in Darokin. Panicking, Kiritan withdraws his armies from Darokin to meet his brother's threat. The Master's forces, weakened by this sudden loss of manpower, begin to lose the ground they had gained in Darokin.
Having convinced three important tribes of northern nomads, Ustalam tries to push the humanoids of Yzhor out of northwestern Douzbakjian. Swift cavalry raids on both sides lead to no clear military decision. The conflict evolves toward a stalemate, the forces of Ustalam unable to reach Noumalik. Meanwhile, confident in his minions' superiority in combat, Grazhur Yzhorgan mounts a surprise offensive across the central Midlands Steppes toward Kiteng, the Sardjikjian capital.
Summer, AC 1006: Seeing that Kiritan has pulled out of the western front, the Master is forced to withdraw the troops he had committed to the offensive in the Savage Baronies. The Savage Baronies celebrate their victory over the common enemy.
As the eastern armies drive the Desert Nomads from Darokin, Kiritan's armies barely manage to hold off Chandra ul-Nervi's irregular troops. Disgusted with this turn of events, the Master diverts his reserve forces to reinforce Kiritan's armies-rather than sending them to Darokin as originally planned. The Master relinquishes his hold on Darokin but tightens his grip on Sind.
Taking advantage of the conflict between the Azards and the Grouzhinians, and of Hule's preoccupation in the east, Dvinzina sends an invading force against Azardjian. The intervention of Dvinzina in the bilateral conflict between Azardjian and Grouzhina sets stage to yet another divisive Kavkazian war. However, just days after the Master's retreat from Darokin, a huge meteor slams into northern Darokin. Tremors resulting from the impact can be sensed as far as the Black Mountains, waking up the local telluric activity and a violent seism rocks all Kavkaz. Seeing in this earthquake a sign of the Immortals, the warring parties turn to their motherland hoping to help the reconstruction of the worst hit regions.
Fall, AC 1006: Hulean divisions are sent after Chandra ul-Nervi across the Great Waste to Ulimwengu. The few soldiers and humanoids who survive the resulting massacre bring word of Ulimwengu's magical defences back to Hule.
Throughout summer, a strange game of cats and dogs has taken place between the humanoids of Yzhor and the Sardjik cavalry in the central Midlands Steppes. Few real battles have taken place and the biggest skirmishes have been sold by the orderly withdrawal of one of the adversaries. With winter coming, however, it is no time to stay in the wind-bitten grasslands. Grazhur's armies are forced to retreat toward Sardzka-Bozen, in a pledge to take the Sardjik-held city. They find that some forces of Ustalam are already there reinforcing the Sardjik. Wishing to kill two annoyances with a sole blow, Grazhur sends the core of his army against the Sardjik-northern nomads coalition. He is surprised to arrive in a city emptied from its population... and even more surprised at the news that the slicker and faster human cavalry was able to reach and take Tashgoun, his capital, during his journey toward Sardzka-Bozen. He prepares to lay his winter camp in the emptied city, while Ustalam and his nomads rejoice in the newly-freed capital of the Douzbak.
Year AC 1007
Winter, AC 1007: Hule and the Kavkaz experience one of their coldest winter in years as the dust from Alphaks' meteor and numerous small volcanic eruptions cloud the sun's rays. Huge snowfalls block most of the Kavkazian valleys during an especially long winter. The populations who were hit by the earthquake are particularly exposed to the temperatures as few have had the time to rebuild a descent home.
Days before the thawing of the last ices over the Yalu Sea nomads from the northern steppes land around Noumalik. A siege is quickly laid by these new allies of Ustalam. The local orc captain, Hurrouek Jir'dramt, knows it's a matter of time before he is overwhelmed by the nomads. He surrenders the city and begins a march to join the remnants of the army of Yzhor in Sardzka-Bozen.
Spring, AC 1007: Kiritan vows to root out the last of his brother's supporters and begins a systematic program of oppression. The Master of Hule and his agents are more than happy to assist. Scores of desperate Sindhi flee into the desert or in the mountains of the Kyurduks. Among them is Rehmin, a brigand from Baratkand who takes the head of an eclectic band of Urduk, Kyurduk, Sindhi, and Graakhalian refugees dedicated to the end of the Master's empire.
The small force of Hurrouek reaches Sardzka-Bozen, only to found Grazhur's army battled by months of famine and intensive cold. Grazhur is only the shadow of the great war leader he once was, who keeps mumbling that he has been betrayed by the Immortals, and, sometimes, starts running without reason while shouting to invisible demons. Concluding that his former leader is definitely insane, Hurrouek takes upon himself to continue what once was the humanoids' goal: to reach Hule. The day of the departure, Grazhur is nowhere to be seen.
Summer, AC 1007: While being constantly harassed by the Sardjiks' cavalry, the remnants of the Yzhor army reach the northern border of Azardjian. The unprepared Azards are surprised by the sudden invasion of a humanoid army still strong of hundreds of desperate and hungry warriors. The troops ravage most of the countryside in northern Azardjian before being met by a significant Azard response.
An expert strategist, Rehmin surprises many Kyurduks by a blitz campaign to subdue as many Kyurduk clans as possible. The Sindhi brigand begins a meteoric rise among the Kyurduks clanic society. He establishes his main stronghold in the southwestern portion of Kyurdukstan, near Hayebil. Clanmasters in Djukhra and Nidzhman are increasingly worried by Rehmin's growing power, they feel even more threatened by the rumours of dragons fighting on the side of the brigand.
Ustalam retakes the ghost city of Sardzka-Bozen, taking prisoner an insane orc, who is sent to Tashgoun's dungeons of oblivion. Strong of his alliance with many northern nomadic tribes, Ustalam begins the task of uniting them in a coherent force and starts sending emissary to the neighbouring countries to build an alliance against Hule. Tales of a forgotten nomadic empire stretching as far as the southern warm seas reappear in the elders' mouths. Ustalam himself calls for the conquest of a new empire as big as Dorfin's for the nomads to roam freely.
Prince Lomov representing the Zuyevan Empire visits Louvines, the capital of Renardie. He holds in-depth friendly discussions with the Renardois king and a formal alliance is signed. Prince Lomov's military attaché also holds discussions with his opposite number-amongst the matters discussed is a joint crusade against the humanoids of the western Yazak steppes.
Fall, AC 1007: Elves fleeing Alfheim's invasion by the shadow elves reach the Desert of Sind and Kavkaz; some of them join the forces of Rehmin while others settles along their brethren of the Ozungan Plateau. Despite the mistrust of the native elves, ties begin to develop between the two groups.
Attacked from every side by the Azards, the humanoids of Yzhor quickly retreat to the hills of the Borderlands where they are free to rest in a more hospitable zone.
Growing political struggles in Kyurdukstan lead to the grouping of the clan head along three broad alliances: Rehmin's crusaders in the central Kyurduk Valleys; Djukhra's barons, to the east; and the forces of Tharar Arbaneshid around Nidzhman. The three powers play chicken for a while waiting for one to make a diplomatic or military mistake, but none come before the first snows, when the three groups are isolated in their respective valleys.
Year AC 1008
Spring, year 1008: The mistake comes from Tharar's sides when Kyurduk raiders allied with him plunder some Grouzhinian villages near the two countries' frontier. Houriani, Grouzhina's capital, is preparing for retaliation, when an envoy from Rehmin arrives and proposes a deal: his armies will bring the guilty in front of the Grouzhinian law, if Grouzhina accelerates its military build-up at its eastern frontier, near Azardjian and eastern Kyurdukstan. More than happy to avoid depleting the eastern border with Azardjian, the Grouzhinians begin to add pressure on the eastern barons, freeing Rehmin from their menace. His army begins a swift attack against the western clans already undermined by internal conflict over the decision of attacking Grouzhina.
Agents from the Master meet the humanoids of Yzhor. They are told that Hule would be glad to welcome them if they want. Hurrouek and his troops are incorporated among the ranks of the regular Hulean army.
In Sind, spring is marked by the beginning of what will be countless uprisings, civil unrest, riots, and assassination attempts against Kiritan's power. The Master is enraged about his way of managing the country, and orders him to tighten his control or suffer the consequences.
Summer, AC 1008: Kazmens and Balits join the rank of Ustalam in order to participate in the great project of creating a gigantic nomadic empire in the Yalu River Basin. The teachings of Ustalam act like a magnet for the diverse nomadic tribes of the steppes of central Brun.
Even though no one would dare speak out publicly against the Master's control of the empire, many in Hule begin to think that the old tyrant time is done. The military reversals in Darokin and Ulimwengu as well as the growing cost of control over Sind feeds the discontent about the state of the empire.
After a short siege, Nidzhman is taken by the forces of Rehmin, thus finalising the control of the northwestern half of Kyurdukstan by his troops.
Fall, AC 1008: The Heldannic plague hits Sind and, later, the Kavkaz. The disease takes a heavy toll in all the social strata of Sind, and also increases the burden of misery suffered by the population. In Kavkaz, the plague is particularly vicious in Azardjian, Chengouch and eastern Kyurdukstan. Rehmin and his people are mostly spared from the disease thanks to the high number of clerics of diverse obedience among them.
Year AC 1009
Spring, AC 1009: Kazmen scouts following the Yalu River Valley southwards stumble upon a northbound Zuyevan detachment. A merciless skirmish ensues from which no clear victor emerges. Both sides believe that they are on their own lands. The surviving Zuyevans quickly withdraw to the Andropov Fortress on the southern bank of Nyezhin River to call for reinforcements. The Kazmen are nowhere to be found however, as they themselves withdraw to inform Ustalam of the developments. Ustalam learns that he is not the only one with a goal of creating an empire stretching along the banks of the Yalu River.
More abuses by Kiritan ul-Nervi in Sind forces more Sindhi to flee; many end up in Kyurdukstan reinforcing the growing armies of Rehmin and his crusade against Hule.
The Heldannic plague hits Hule, hurting the Master off-balance while many clerics are abroad trying to save the high hand of Hule over Sind. The plague is seen by the population as an Immortal condemnation of the Master's policy, but only a few, short-lived, civil unrest ensue.
Summer, AC 1009: Chandra ul-Nervi surrenders. He agrees to abide the Master's rule in order to stop the abuses his people suffer. The Master sees this as a way to quiet Sind's unrest and promptly replaces Kiritan with Chandra ul-Nervi. Kiritan is sent to Greatrealm never to be heard about again.
Rehmin and his troops move into the western valley, hoping to unite Kyurdukstan before winter. He is met with strong resistance from the local barons.
Talmav cavalry spearheading Zuyevo's expansion northeast of the Tunguska Forest skirmish with Douzbakjian horsemen riding westward from their nation. The ancient homelands of the Yevo more than 1,000 years ago were slightly north of the steppes where these clashes occur. The Zuyevans fully intend to reclaim their homelands and will brook no interference with this birthright. Tsar Andrei, enraged with the Douzbakjian presence, orders Zuyevan troops northwards to support the Talmav outriders.
Fall, AC 1009: Yielding to the superior numbers of Zuyevan troops in the steppes west of Douzbakjian, Ustalam recalls his troops from the region. Ustalam realises that fighting a war with both Hule and Zuyevo would be suicidal. To realise his destiny, and reward his allies with great conquests, he decides to adopt a non-confrontational policy with Zuyevo and instead move south against Hule
The Week Without Magic impedes most of the actions taking place in the region. Rehmin disappears from the battlefield during a critical combat, his forces left without the help of their clerics and of their traditional dragon allies are routed by the forces of the western barons. As even Rehmin has mysteriously disappeared, his forces start to think that the Immortals have failed them. However, after a week of disorganised retreat, Rehmin and the dragons reappear and he starts rebuilding his troops' confidence lost during the week without magic.
The Master also disappears during a critical week for Hule. During this week of chaos minions of dark planes are unleashed and run amok in the streets of the main cities, dark wizards die unexpectedly from the loss of their magic, creatures long held in the Dark Wood rampage throughout the Hulean countryside, the clerics of the Temple of Chaos find themselves stripped of their powers, and sectarians proclaiming the coming of the apocalypse start inflaming the population. Finally, after a week of turmoil in the empire, the Master reappears even if he looks quite weakened, he retakes the control over the hagiarchy and launches a critical offensive to prevent the situation from getting out of hand.
The worst-hit country in the region is probably Azardjian, which relied the most on magical niceties. The elementals of diverse spheres common in the country are set loose and wreak havoc in the cities, many buildings collapse in the capital killing thousands, and, worst, the archmage dies of accelerated aging as do many of most powerful Azard magic-users, thus triggering a vivid succession struggle. The Week Without Magic has, in fact, decapitated the Azardjian ruling class, plunging the country into one of its worst civil wars as magic-users compete for the archmage title.
Year AC 1010
Winter, AC 1010: Much like in the Old World, the 1009 winter is particularly snowy and communication within and through the Black Mountains are nearly interrupted. Avalanches are frequent in the highest valleys and exert their toll on the Chengouch and Kyurduk populations. In the Hulean Empire, the Northern Military Route is almost impracticable. Taking advantage of their better mobility and of their experience of snow and winter conditions, the rebels of Monzag extend their resistance network inside the empire as the Hulean authorities have nearly lost contact with the remotest regions.
Spring, AC 1010: Floods of historical proportions hit the Great Hulean Basin. The main Hulean cities located along the rivers are flooded, Khuur is the single most affected Hulean city as the Rostin and Thanat Rivers rise about five meters over their normal level. In the Black Mountains, landslides and deadly avalanches threaten any moves.
Since land-based attacks on the eastern richest lands are impeded by the climatic situation and by the situation in Sind, and since his own fleet has not been rebuilt since the terrible naval defeat of AC 975, the Master hires mercenaries and pirates from the Black Eagle Barony and the Savage Coast to harass Darokin's overseas trade. The Sea Reavers become a major threat to trade in the Malpheggi Bay.
Summer, AC 1010: Taking advantage of disorganisation brought to the western barons by last year's terrible winter, Rehmin's troops and their Grouzhinian allies strike at them. Progression toward Djukhra is steady during most of the season.
Seeing the evolution of the military situation in Kavkaz as a threat to his plans of southward conquests, Ustalam Banshybek launches a diplomatic offensive to clear the path leading to Hule. The Sardjiks, earning a lot from their commercial arrangement with the Master, are against a formal alliance with someone dedicated to the end of Hule, an alliance assured of retaliations. Sendaryan tribes and the Monzag rebels, on the other hand, are more than happy to improve their contacts with an ally as big as Ustalam's confederation of tribes. Finally, more interested by eastward conquests in Azardjian, Dvinzina declines the offer to turn against Hule.
Darokin strikes the new pirate threat, but its navy is unable to root out the pirates from their hideouts.
The struggle to find a new archmage in Azardjian intensifies. As many prominent wizards are killed during duels or vendettas, the country looses most of his primary military might.
In Hule, several goblinoid tribes revolt against the Master and start plundering the neighbouring lands. Their main reason for revolting is the terrible condition in which winter has left them and dissatisfaction with the riches plundered in Sind and Darokin.
Farther west, the Empire of Zuyevo annexes the small Kingdom of Drazde. Still recovering from a violent civil war, the Yezchamenid Empire (Drazde's former suzerain), hindered by pro-Zuyevan rebel factions, is unable to impede the Zuyevan progression. The annexation of the small kingdom opens a new front in Zuyevo's struggle with the humanoids of the Yazak Steppes. It also opens the door for increasing Zuyevan influence on the Greater Yalu Bay region.
Fall, AC 1010: The humanoids' rebellion is strongly met by the Master's loyal troops; few of the rebels are spared.
Djukhra falls to the hand of Rehmin's forces. The last western barons surrender or join the brigand's ragtag troops. For the first time in its history, Kyurdukstan is unified under the rule of a sole man.
The armies of the Sublime Octagon Order of Dvinzina pour into the territory of Azardjian, they progress easily in the devastated country and meet little or no resistance along the way to Azkoran, where they mainly find rubble and desperate people. Winter stops their offensive after some one third of the country is under Dvinzinian rule. The Azards are too divided over the question of succession to turn against the foreign threat.
Year AC 1011
Winter, AC 1011: The first Day of Dread is seen with worry by all in the region, but, unlike during the terrible Week Without Magic, notwithstanding a few creatures set loose, the damages are minor and no important character disappears.
Spring, AC 1011: Pirates hired by the Master continue to be successful in escaping the Darokinians. More ships are boarded and sunk.
In Sind, a new religion develops among the Shehid mystics ranks. The followers of Gareth extol a philosophy against the intervention of Immortals in mortal affairs, a religion that puts aside the old worships.
Seeing the invasion of Azardjian by the Dvinzinian religious fanatics as a threat, Rehmin and his Grouzhinian allies make a coordinate offensive against Azardjian and occupy the remaining two-thirds of the country. The infuriated Sublime Octagon Order has no choice but to accept the division of Azardjian. The part of the land occupied by Dvinzina becomes the nexus of religious intolerance in the region, and the two other thirds become harbours for the persecuted.
Summer, AC 1011: In Kavkaz, the military situation is frozen, with Azardjian divided in three roughly equal slices. Diplomatic overtures by the Grouzhinian-Kyurduk alliance toward Dvinzina are dryly refused.
Dvinzina turns toward the Confederation of the Northern Tribes as a mean to overcome the new unfavourable situation in Kavkaz. Rehmin and his allies propose an alliance with Ustalam's forces as both are looking to the end of the Hulean Empire, but strangely, the emissaries are harshly repelled at the border of Douzbakjian. Sardjikjian is increasingly isolated in the developing networks of alliances in the Midlands, but is even more uncomfortable about an alliance with Hule.
Surprised by the quick transformation of the Midlands' military-political landscape, the Master tries to influence the balance of power in his favour by encouraging unrest among the Azards. But the results are, at best, mitigated since the revolts don't bring an Azard leader charismatic enough to wake up the national fibre.
Contacts are made between the Zuyevans and the exiled Olgarian Church of Traladara. The Olgarian Church and the Zuyevan Orthodox Church share many similar sympathies so the Empire of Zuyevo pledges to support the rebels in their struggle against Hule. This support soon materialises in the form of gold and experienced Talmav mercenaries.
Fall, AC 1011: The new situation in the Midlands forces the Master to dispatch new troops at the northeastern border. The cost of the occupation of Sind is growing as troops are nearly extended to their limits.
Courted by both Midlands' alliances (the one led by Ustalam Banshybek, and the other by Rehmin), Chengouch prefer to keep their traditional neutrality.
Year AC 1012
Winter, AC 1012: The Huleans undergo a major crackdown against the Freedom Warriors of Sind, one of their prominent leader, Bel Valin, is charged with treason charges. The Master is confident that the resistance group will be quickly crushed by his agents and the local Sindhi administration.
Summer, AC 1012: In order to ease the tensions growing once more in the Hulean humanoid communities, the Master launches a swift invasion of the small city state of Nova Svoga. The weak state is quickly conquered by hordes of humanoids coming from the Janizary Lands.
In Kavkaz, the standoff continues, and more Azards flee the Dvinzinian portion of their state.
Fall, AC 1012: Hulean emissaries meet with the members of the Signatory Council of the City States over the question of the conquest of Nova Svoga. The Huleans guarantee that there won't be more military actions taken in the region.
Relieved of some of the military pressure put on them by the humanoids of the Janizary Lands, the Olgarian population rebels wholesale in what seems to be a carefully planned operation. The Hulean governor is ousted and Dimitur Yotov, head of the Church of Traladara, is liberated with the aid of Talmav mercenaries. The church's clergy proclaims Rahil Venevanova Queen of Olgar. Meanwhile, Zuyevo dispatches some of its Talmav troops to take control of the mineral-rich Freelands of the northern Bylot Hills, a region nominally under the control of Hule. The Master is furious, but winter is too close for him to retaliate against his new big neighbour.
Year AC 1013
Winter, AC 1013: More troops are pulled out of Sind to face the threats to the Hulean control over the western parts of the empire despite the worsening of the situation in the eastern possessions of Hule.
Spring, AC 1013: A massive Hulean counterattack is mounted against the Talmav troops of the Empire of Zuyevo in the northern Bylot Hills. They are met with strong resistance from the Zuyevans and are also harassed by the Sendaryan tribes from the Zanovoi River Valley. Also, further south, troops are sent to quell the rebellion in Olgar. However, the entrenched Olgarians are able to hold them in the eastern part of the country and the two groups seem to be locked into a static position.
Summer, AC 1013: More troops from the northern part of the Hulean Empire are sent into the Bylot Hills and against the Olgar rebels. Seeing that the Master is depleting his northern position and that he won't be able to supply support to Sardjikjian, the northern nomads head for Kiteng in order to be in a better position to threaten Hule. The Sardjik response to the invasion is to turn toward Rehmin and his allies for help. Help is granted on the spot, and from the region they occupy in northern Azardjian, thousands of the best Grouzhinian troops will come to the rescue of the fledging Sardjik government.
Under the weight of the Hulean onslaught, the Zuyevans retreat from the Bylot Hills to their possessions east of the Yalu River. The Zuyevan tsar officially apologises to the Master for the involvement of some "loose catapult" subjects in Hulean-held lands. Meanwhile, under the guise of humanitarian assistance, the Zuyevans continue to send supplies and mercenaries to help the Olgarians in their fight against the Master.
The Sindhi armies are less and less able to contain the unrest brought by the followers of Gareth and the Freedom Fighters. The Master's pressure on Chandra ul-Nervi is growing since the rebels disrupt the economic activities in the region in which they are active. A threat of massive retaliation on the Sindhi people is addressed to the rajadhiraja if he is to fail.
Fall, AC 1013: Pouring in the battle more troops from Bulzan and the Janizary Lands, the Master is able to tilt the military balance to his advantage in Olgar. Although the main cities are regained from the Olgarians' hand, most of the countryside is in a state of guerrilla warfare. The Master hesitates to adopt a scorched-earth strategy against the rebels since important revenues derived from this protectorate would be exhausted for the years to come.
Meanwhile, as more troops from the northern frontier arrive, Monzag rebels and Sendaryan nomads undertake a series of quick raids to test the Hulean resistance and affect the troops' moral.
Increasingly worried by the actions of the northern nomads of Ustalam, the Chengouch council decides to support Rehmin's side economically, even if they do not commit troops into the ongoing war in Sardjikjian.
Year AC 1014
Winter, AC 1014: Kiteng is taken by the Confederation of the Northern Tribes; the Grouzhinian-Sardjik alliance undertakes a strategic withdrawal to reinforce the eastern part of Sardjikjian.
Spring, AC 1014: Chandra ul-Nervi asks for Hulean assistance to crush the followers of Gareth, and squadrons of humanoids are sent to put an end to the teachings of the religious sect. At first they are held in check by the fortified religious, but in the end the Huleans are victorious, and the mystic imprisoned; only to be freed a week later by bandits.
The humanoids of Hool's Great Migration enter the territory of Sind at Chandbali (at the northeastern border with Darokin), their arrival brings more trouble to the already shaky military control of Hule over Sind.
Willing to disrupt the reinforcements of Rehmin's alliance's troops in eastern Sardjikjian and finish its conquest of Azardjian, Dvinzina attacks Grouzhina in northern Azardjian.
The Master's troops in Olgar finish cleansing the area of the last obviously rebellious groups. The Hulean control of the region is reinstated, however the rebellion is far from defeated. Instead it has just gone underground and some rebels have moved to the Zuyevan outposts in the Yazak Steppes, where they get resupplied and benefit from free military training courtesy of the Zuyevans. Agents of the Master are sent to the Yazak Steppes' goblinoid tribes in order to create an interference with the Empire of Zuyevo's plans to extend its influence in the Converted Lands.
Summer, AC 1014: Throughout Sind, the Freedom Fighters intensify their guerrilla actions, thus adding pressure on the already over-extended military of Hule and further degrading the level of revenues received by Hule from its occupation of Sind. Furthermore, the humanoids of Hool start raiding the Sindhi countryside in eastern Sind. The Master is quickly coming to realise how much of a hassle it is to continue occupying Sind.
Meanwhile, the efforts of the Master to trigger a war in the city states are finally rewarded as Slagovich and Zvornik declare war at each other.
In Kavkaz, the Dvinzinian troops are routed at the doors of Sakirdeby by Rehmin's alliance. However, the Sardjiks are forced to leave Nyaburd to the hand of the northern nomads. Ustalam's troops are finally positioned to launch their attack on Hule and make contact with the Dvinzinians, but time his needed to secure this position against Rehmin's forces.
Fall, AC 1014: The Great Migration is defeated by the Sindhi army in Jalawar and forced to retreat in the wilderness of Atruaghin. Also, dissent among the Freedom Fighters and the followers of Gareth has halted most of their guerrilla attacks.
Confident that the current trend in Sind will stabilise his control over his eastern possessions, the Master undertakes a bold move to prevent the northern nomads from entering Hule: some of his best troops are sent in the Borderlands to prepare a surprise attack against Nyaburd. This wasn't to count on the alliance between the Ustalam and the Sendaryan tribes, so the Hulean troops quickly find themselves locked between the Sendaryan Tribes, the northern nomads and Dvinzina. The Master is forced to commit more troops to help the front-line, thus dragging the Hulean military in the Kavkazian conflicts.
Year AC 1015
Spring, AC 1015: Contrarily to the Master's expectations, the rebellion intensifies in Sind. Nagpuri is liberated by the Freedom Fighters and the followers of Gareth. From this newly liberated mumlyket, the rebels undertake many guerrilla operations in the neighbouring lands of Gunjab, which will lead them to take Raneshwar, Gunjab's capital city. Also, uprisings shake Hule's control in Jhengal. Adding to the Sindhi's rebellion, the once-thought-to-be-destroyed Great Migration resumes its raiding activities in Jalawar.
Meanwhile, the Master's troops' situation in the Borderlands is growing desperate as the northern nomads are nearing Hule's northern border. Help comes from the most unexpected side: Rehmin and his troops, a group renowned for their hatred of the Master's empire, strike at the back of the northern nomads by launching a surprise attack against Nyaburd, their base of operation in Sardjikjian. This is just enough for the Master to be relieved and to withdraw his troops from the Borderlands.
Summer, AC 1015: The Hulean military in Sind strikes back against the rebels. They lay siege around Raneshwar. The only victory of this months-long siege is the death of Anand Brishnapur-one of the rebel leaders-while he was attempting a sortie. Also, in Jalawar, the Huleans are able to secure a decisive victory during the siege of Sambay over Hool's Great Migration, which is definitely pushed into the doldrums as Hool is captured by the Huleans.
Troops from around the empire are gathered to the northeastern frontier as the northern nomads of Ustalam Banshybek are amassing armies in the newly-conquered Borderlands. However, while the Master is preparing the defence of Hule, the nomads are occupied to resume the threat on their eastern flank. In a combined effort to root out Rehmin's forces of western Kavkaz, Ustalam's troops and the Dvinzinian army pounce on the Grouzhinians and Sardjiks only to be surprised by a lightning offensive from the Chengouch territory by Rehmin's troops on Dvinzina itself. The Dvinzinian troops are forced to withdraw disorderly to defend their capital while the nomads face the core of the Sardjik-Grouzhinian forces. The result of the last set of combat are mitigated and leave the three sides (Hule, the northern nomads and Rehmin's alliance) in much or less the same situation as previously. The only major change is that Rehmin's alliance now has a direct outlet at the Hulean border since it has secured control over southern Dvinzina and controls the Çuyak Tepe.
The rebellious speech of Peshmir's maharaja, Hara Rudraksha, sparked unrest in Karakandar, an uprising quickly crushed by the Hulean forces in the mumlyket.
The agents of the Master are able to turn the Great Migration's remnants on their side after convincing Hool that it will be easier for him to retrieve the sacred Blue Knife if he's allied with the Master.
Fall, AC 1015: Intensive military build-up on every sides in and around Dvinzina. The troops of the three lords (the Master, Ustalam Banshybek and Rehmin) gather to defend their territory during the winter and prepare for next year.
With some of his troops recalled from the Bylot Hills region, Tsar Andrei channels more reinforcements into the effort to secure the southwestern reaches of the Hyborean steppes. Also, he masses a number of regiments at Zablin for a push south toward Richland. For the time being the Tsar decides to keep his imperial troops out of the Bylot Hills. However, his interference in the region will continue-he sends a party of high-level adventurers to infiltrate Greatrealm.
Adding a new sore spot to the Master's unsteady empire, Regent Stephan Karvich takes advantage of the last warm days to attack the Hulean garrison in Nova Svoga.