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World in Flames: Moves and Countermoves

by Bruce Heard

AC 1016, 1st Quarter: Under heavy rains, Ugrah's southern horde engages the new defensive lines of the allies centred around Darokin City. Thyatians hastily constructed networks of palisades and muddy trenches backed with siege artillery. Several large gaps still lie in their defence, especially near the eastern shore of the Streel River and the edge of Canolbarth. Ugrah sends a large recon force through the sinister forest of Aengmor to find a path around the Thyatian fortifications.

During one night, the dwarves from Ylaruam pepper Selenica with a series of probing attacks essentially to gauge the Shadow Elves' defences and the layout of city walls. The Shadow Elves risk several sorties against the dwarven sappers, making an unusual effort to capture as many of them as they can. By daybreak the bulk of the dwarven army approaches to lay a siege on Selenica, only to find the city abandoned by its previous masters and their prisoners. Civilians at the main gate wave a white flag, claiming Selenica to be an open city. The dwarves gleefully take possession of Selenica, marching in with great fanfare.

Reports of unrest in Karameikos reach the allied forces in Darokin. Rumour has it that King Stefan wants to avoid a three-way war, especially with the news of the Selenica switching hands so rapidly. He still suspects a Thyatian backlash for renouncing his ancestral allegiance to Thyatis. Foreign ambassadors are putting pressure on Karameikos for different reasons, including Ethengar and Rockhome envoys. A growing number of people question the King's decision, but an equally important number are glad that so far no one was sent abroad. Arguments flare up.

Further north, the Great Company calls upon Alphatian expatriates to join their cause and come to New Sundsvall. News of local Boldavian population being pressed into the Alphatian army are trickling back to Wendar. His Most Exalted and Sovereign Majesty, King Kol of Glantri, Defender of the Land, Saviour of the People (etc, etc) sends a message to New Sundsvall, warning that any incursion into His Royal Demesne will meet a harsh response. The Alphatians snicker and ignore him altogether.

Toward the end of the winter, panicked messengers ride back to the court of the Wizard King. They report that Denagoth is attacking from the north. Their vanguard has already penetrated Wendarian lands and menace Wendar's rear. Precious troops withdraw from the front to address the new threat. The Wizard King has no choice but to send messengers to Freiburg for urgent support.

AC 1016, 2nd Quarter: The Great Khan launches a flurry of attacks into Thyatis. In all cases, raiding Ethengarians refuse to engage combat with Thyatian forces and rapidly withdraw into Ylaruam. Instead, they conduct raids especially near Biazzan and the Duchy of Tel Akbir. Thyatis does not commit the bulk of its forces, waiting to see what the Khan's strategy really is. The Emperor grants an audience to a mysterious Heldannic commander who flew into the capital the same day. Shortly afterward, imperial guards escort him back to his warbird, and in the dead of the night he sets sail to the northeast. A few days later, Emperor Eusebius orders a great stone arch built just outside of the capital. Wizards from the Imperial Collegium begin regular deliveries to the construction site of large marble panels engraved with unusual runes. More civilians respond to the Emperor's calls to serve under the imperial banners.

Unsettling news from Vestland reach Freiburg. A joint force of dwarves and Soderfjord Jarls storm Vestland from the south and the west. Ostland ships joined the invasion, raiding the coasts and causing much damage. Vestland's defending forces fall back to Norrvik. The King of Vestland begs Freiburg for help, but the knights must first address the threat of Denagoth's forces pouring into Wendar. They represent a more immediate threat to the Ordensland. They offer instead a warbird's help, should the King, his family, and his government wish to escape Norrvik.

Faraway from Vestland, the Master of Hule has his own problems. Some of his humanoid population has made a pilgrimage to Urzud and returned. Rumour of a great temple in central Brun has caused increasing agitation among his goblinoid troops. Report about the "Century of Wogar" and the great invasion against Glantri is adding fuel to the fire of discord. Already, reports of troops deserting their posts in Sind are reaching the Master. Rumour has it they left to join the mighty Voice of Kro-ee.

Meanwhile in Darokin, the war rages on around Darokin City. A handful of Ugrah's recon force returns from the Canolbarth forest. Shadow Elves decimated the vast majority of their war parties and took some prisoners. Angry, Ugrah orders renewed assaults on the capital city.

AC 1016, 3rd Quarter: Ugrah's northern horde pursues its unrelenting assault of Wendar. The beleaguered Wendarian army, now fighting a two-front war is unable to rescue the besieged city of Woodgate. At last, the goblins storm Woodgate and overwhelm its defenders. Tales of mass slaughter in Woodgate further erode Wendar's sagging morale. Meanwhile, the Heldannic Knights slowly recover from their war with Myoshima. The knights hold the passes leading to Wendar and threaten to attack Denagoth, relieving the Wendarian army from some of the pressure. The knights ground most of the warbirds and launch instead build large numbers of flying rafts. The crude platforms include a single crew, a priest with a small altar and a tent, and stacks of barrels, crates, and sacks of supplies. The rafts make one-way trips to a city in Wendar, bringing desperately needed supplies and clerical help. Incidentally, clerics of Vanya also use this as an opportunity to preach their faith, with some notable success. The rest of the Heldannic army digs in behind the Vestland border. The King of Vestland accepts the warbird trip back to Freiburg, minutes before his palace falls into the hands of the Soderfjord and Ostland aggressors. Vestland and Heldannic surface ships regroup in Freiburg and prepare to sail back out.

Toward the end of summer, a large army boldly marches from Ylaruam into the Duchy of Tel Akbir. The legions of Thyatis rumble forward to meet the invasion force head on. The clash is brutal, worthy of the many future tales from bards and minstrels. Before the end of the day, the trumpets of Thyatis announce a great victory for the empire as the well-prepared imperial troops annihilate the invaders. But Emperor Eusebius remains cautious and worried. Ylari cavalry and infantry from Rockhome and Soderfjord make up the invading army almost exclusively. Few Ethengarians show up at all and there is no sign of the Great Khan. Imperial troops withdraw, despite protests from their generals to pursue the fleeing army into Ylaruam.

AC 1016, 4th Quarter: As the trumpets' triumphant calls still echo in the imperial palace, messengers ride from the city of Kerendas. They report a major invasion of Ethengarian riders coming from Karameikos. The town of Machetos has fallen to the unexpected attackers. Some of the gates had been knocked open. Everyone suspects treachery, or perhaps Alphatian magic. Much of the Thyatian land forces rush to meet the Khan.

Up in Darokin, buckling before the repeated angry assaults from Ugrah's southern horde, the allied force once again must fall back. The position around Darokin City is untenable. Darokin's army moves into the capital city, hoping to outlast the unavoidable siege, while the Thyatians and their halfling allies retreat to the narrow passes in the Cruth Mountain before winter settles in. Morale is sagging among the Thyatians when they learn of the fall of Machetos and war back home.

Riots flare up throughout Karameikos. The Karameikan army is in disarray, split between the authority of their king and popular anger. Stefan's bid for peace failed miserably. Everyone shows their dislike of Moglai Khan being granted a free passage through their lands. The news about the failing defence in Darokin did nothing to help. It is painfully clear to everyone that war is now unavoidable. Rumours go around that Alphatians have manipulated the ageing king. Angry mobs begin hunting down suspected Alphatians and their accomplices. They put the school of magic to the torch. Violence shakes the whole kingdom. In an attempt to calm his people, King Stefan announces his abdication. The issue of his succession only serves to fuel the unrest, as Karameikos is now on the verge of a full-scale civil war. At last, followers of Halav seem to get the better of the widespread chaos and call for a crusade against the humanoid hordes. Massive support rallies the good people of Karameikos around the faith of Halav. Meanwhile, the Karameikan army closes the border with Thyatis, sending a message to Moglai Khan that he is no longer welcome on their land.