Title: Ancile Before Destruction
Description: A look back through the eyes of Orlando
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:12 PM (GMT)
The Following is the Historical Accounts of Orlando Mataxis found by the Dwarven Trading company of the Magna Wings.
“Seven days have passed since I returned from my glorious journey beyond the horizon. I can still remember them mocking and insulting me, them who now seem to worship the very ground I walk on. The Doge is of course extremely pleased with me: offering titles of nobility, land and gold. He seems to have taken to calling himself the patron of my voyage, the sheer hypocrisy gives me headaches: I was only able to persuade the Doge after several years, guaranteeing success and if not compensation for his trust. Even after signing the agreement he proved to be a very stubborn and resilient man to donate even one meagre gold piece to the building of my ships and the hiring of my crew. Supplies became ever increasingly hard to get by when the merchants learnt of their importance to my voyage. A city filled with cutpurses and liars!”
“It’s been weeks now since I left that island, my precious isle. Luck finally favoured me after several months of nothing but open sea. I had to buy it with a heavy cost though: the storm which threw us on the beaches of the wonderful and unspoilt island, took three of my flotilla to the bottom of the sea. But the island was worth it! A beach of silver sand as far as the eye could see until it reached the tree line with exotic plants and animals. Exploration of the island proved it to be fertile land with an abundance of natural resources.”
“A week later we first encountered natives at our base camp, a primitive and religious tribe which looked upon us as messenger of their god. They knew some kind of rudimentary form of speech: a language filled with harsh tones and short words. The bright Mefistor was able to translate some of it after careful study and we were able to communicate with the barbarians. The Wati Tribe (Wati being the name of their guardian animal, some sort of hairy cow) told us of riches beyond wonders in the mountains of gold, silver and even the rare adamantine. The second story which I remember was the sad story of the ghost woman in the mountains who died for the natives to protect the sanctity of the mountain range. Though they told her to be peaceful to all that respect her, she could be a vengeful spirit when insulted. The last story which the told us was the so-called “man-of-lightening”. The tribe tried to convince us that a hermit sprouted out of the heavy storm of a week ago and that man now wanders the isle.”
“Several days before our destined departure home, my second, Aliek, warned me that a member of my crew had fallen sick of the Boil Plague: he must have carried it since our departure, only to be struck ill at this moment. Strangely when we told the natives, their shaman gave us some kind of foul-smelling brew for the unlucky sailor. Amazingly it seemed to work as the sailor became increasingly better and better. However when we left, the sickness won and we had to give him a decent burial at sea, hoping the good gods would protect us against this foul disease.”
“As I write down these many wonders to protect against time, my heart longs to return to that wonderful isle, containing the last mysteries of this world. It is clear to me now that the Doge wishes me to remain silent so that he can harvest the many riches of that otherworld. This my conscience cannot do: everyone should be entitled to an equal opportunity of exploring my island, my Isle of Destiny.”
Eighteenth day of Joules 1506,
Captain Orlandis Metaxis
The Colonisation of Ancile
“Five potentates, both alike in dignity,
In fair Ancile, where we lay our scene,
From ancient grudge break to new mutiny,
Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean.”
The first kingdom to react was the Theocracy of the Pale Riders, ruled by a council of religious zealots, who decreed that the phantom lady as described by the letters of Captain Orlando Metaxis to be the aspect or maybe even the omnipotent avatar of some god of immense power. The isle therefore is to be considered a holy place to the Pale Riders and is to be transformed into a huge temple-city of worship for the worthy pilgrims. There is no place for heathens or unbelievers on the isle, they have to be cleansed from the island. Lord Eastwood was the first chosen one to lead to righteous conquest of the holy land.
Two fleets left the shores of the Kingdom of Schmekle, both fierce rivals who could drink each others blood. The kingdom is on the brink of civil war between the many feuding noble families while the king is hard pressed to maintain order and peace. The king decided to behead the opposition is his own country by sending his two prime threats to the throne on a mission of conquest to the newly discovered isle: out of sight, out of heart. He knew that refusal of the royal will would give him the right to banish them so either way he won. The first to depart was Lord Drake, fierce rival of the king and vanquisher of many royal supporters. The king then sent Lord Burington, the fierce rival and lifelong enemy of the House of Drake, on the same mission, hoping they would both be weakened from their eternal strife so they wouldn’t be a threat anymore. If one would annex the fabled island in his struggle for the glory of the kingdom it would be a bonus. The fabled luck of the House of Burington as his weakened fleet after a fierce storm was ambushed by a flotilla of the House of Drake. The battle was bloody and long: many ships disappeared forever underneath the unforgiving sea. The flagship of Burington put up a valiant fight against the bitter odds, near the evening the flag with the clover-heraldry of Burington sunk to the bottom, taking her commander with her. After a month the picket of Drake’s flagship heralded their arrival at the new land. The House of Drake firmly established itself on the north side of the isle, at the foot of the Azure mountain range. Meanwhile several vessels of Burington’s fleet managed to escape the jaws of the enemy and escaped into the dusk. Dispirited and leaderless they arrived at the silver beaches of the promised land. Disgraced captain Alonzo Fernadez took up the reins as leader of this motley group of survivors.
From the war-swept shores of the Dukedom of Korelia, there arrived a scattered and broken fleet of Duke Marug Ravenheart. The former leader had been overthrown by a successful rebellion, fuelled by his rich rivals. After the battle the Duke was forced to retreat and lick his wounds. Before his ships had to leave the harbour of the capital, he managed to acquire a copy of the journals of Orlando Metaxis. Deciding this isle would be the ideal base to retaliate upon his enemies and take back the throne, he set sail at once, leaving the rebels to believe they had won.
For several years now the Republic of Sutaria tried to keep their sovereignty and independence after overthrowing the former tyrant. On a continent ruled by monarchs, the republic seemed as an unjustified state which existence never has been ratified by either one. After the discovery of Orlando Metaxis, Sutaria seeks to establish itself as a colonial power on the island. On the southern shore of the island they established their colony of New Sutaria.
On the other end of the Dimnus Mountains in the south the distant Realm of Hasturia built a reinforced camp, stating their obvious claims to the territory.
War and gain were not the only motives for the stream of immigrants of the isle: the Riman Empire has been plagued by the Boil Plaque for centuries now, owing to the fact that it is a secluded and crowded society. The Emperor Rimus finally decided on several drastic measures in spite of total destruction of his realm. First all healthy inhabitants had to move to Rime in order be able to quarantine the rest of the empire. Second the imperial fleet has to transport the healthy and young (and the aristocracy) to the newly-discovered isle in order to start a new community and await the death of the plague. Possibly the healing nature of the exotic plant on the island might prevent an outbreak on the island itself. The Rimans now find themselves in a strange new world where survival of the fittest is the standard.
From all corners of the known world there arrived adventurers and opportunist, determined to find their destiny on the new island. For one: the infamous black sails of the corsair-ships of the fearsome pirate Captain Blackwell have been sighted offshore, ready to pounce as a hapless and defenceless merchant dares to venture outside safe waters. A mercenary legion under the command of Captain Ludwig seems to have taken up residence on the island, offering their services to the highest bidder. The pieces were set for the control of the isle which will undoubtedly end in battle.
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:13 PM (GMT)
Several nations have now sent colonists and armies towards my island. They came within a time span of two weeks, dignitaries and conquistadors of the continent’s great leaders. My hopes are that they use the outposts to harvest the many riches and leave the natives alone. These people have a, though primitive, rich culture which is not unlike our own roots. I wish to visit them one by one in order to study their ways: we, the civilized, might learn something from these savages. As I have foreseen, the outposts were expanded while the natives were expelled. The tribes told me that several of their tribesmen were slain when they tried to resist. I told them not to resist: let the new order expand and keep it peaceful. These natives are no match for the steel might of civilization.
The colony of the fugitives of the plagued Poy, the castle of Rime, sent their army of knights to the east in order to secure the small peninsula. Several families of the Wati Tribe are uncertain of the fate of their clansmen in that area. I told them not to worry: no enlightened mind of the continent would massacre children or women.
The Pale Riders sought to force their way into the hinterland by sending two armies. One under the inspired leadership of Sir Eastwood managed to clear the plains south of their outpost. However the tribesmen enthusiastically heralded their heroic part in an ambush of the second army. The fate of the pale riders’ army was clear to me as the tribesman described their victorious pursuit back to the gates of the wooden palisade.
Lord Drake of Schmekle sallied forth from their colony near the Azure Mountains with a strong army and swiftly conquered the jungle east. The tribe of Kegali is fearful of their presence and tried to arm more men. I assured them I would personally negotiate on their behalf with Lord Drake; they are willing to trade fish with them. I had no heart to try and warn them that the Kingdom of Schemkle is probably not interested in freshly caught fish.
In the south the colony of the Korelia also launched two armies to conquer the most southern peninsula. Marug Ravenheart succeeded in driving the natives of the Igli tribe back to their own village, secluding them from the rest of the mainland. I tried to reason with Turima Igli-bo but he was deeply angered.
The colony of New Sutaria sent Marshall Derravich to claim the land north of the outpost in order to cut off the small peninsula east. Their second expedition to secure it was thrown back by the heroic defence of natives of the Uganga Tribe.
The colony of Hasturia seemed to be the only one content to consolidate their newly conquered ground.
I fear I might have made a mistake; as each hour passes blood is being spilled on my island. My love for this isle is not shared by the other colonial powers. They cleave their way into the forest with steel and are surprised the natives resist. I do not even feel welcome anymore in some of the tribes. They view me as a forked tongue, an outsider and liar while all I want is the bloodshed to end so we can all enjoy the riches. Just a day ago I passed a small village along the northern coast: the huts had been burned, its inhabitants put to the sword. That day I felt nauseous and ashamed of my own heritage: we may be the enlightened children of the modern day but in view of principles and value we are way below these natives. My mind is weary of this strife between my world and theirs. I am still trying to justify, for myself, our coming here.
The Riman Empire continued to clear the eastern peninsula of any natives and I fear they have managed so. As my small vessel travelled past that particular piece of land there were banners of Rime everywhere. Several bodies lay at the foot of the cliffs for the tide to claim them. For an instant I could not find the difference between the blood on the cliffs and the red banner of Rime.
The armies of religious fanatics of the Pale Riders gathered their strength and under the leadership of Sir Eastwoord pierced the forest through the south linking up with the mercenaries of Captain Ludwig. His marauders managed to clear the plains further down south and occupied it in the name of the Pale Riders. But not until after a battle with the army of Korelia that marched north after securing the southern peninsula. The battle was long and bloody but the Marauders proved to be the superiors of the Korelians. After an hour the forces of Korelia withdrew back to safer lands. When I passed through the Umsala Tribe I encountered some gruesome bodies, torsos of which the head was torn off, however it was no surprise to see the wooden gate of Umsala adorned with the disfigured heads of the unfortunate men.
When I arrived in the village of the Anda, I was saddened to see so much destruction and death. The Kingdom of Schmekle had tried a frontal assault on the village but found it a hard nut to crack. The Andines, in their desperation fought like lions in a corner and managed to drive the armies of the king back. I witnessed the death of one of their knights: they had captured him with their fishing nets and torn him off his horse. His armour had been stripped by the victorious. He begged me with gold and words to tell the villagers to spare him, I merely turned away. The sea took his soul back to the realm of his god but I’ll be the one forever haunted by the image of him screaming as the sea approached and smothered his cries. Luckily the Schmeklians don’t know, their pride is hurt enough.
The news of the defeat in the north had not yet reached the ears of Marug Ravenheart when he foolishly led his overconfident men into the village of the Igli. The ambush was perfect as the Igli warriors stormed forward with their tortoise shields and weapons. Turima claimed that he by the fierceness of the Igli single-handedly killed two knights plus managed to wound another one. The rumour that Ravenheart was wounded by Turima Igli-bo had not yet been confirmed.
The Hasturians seemed content enough to stay in their colony and even managed to start some trade agreements with the natives of Lobi.
Marshall Derravich meanwhile boasted his martial prowess as he showed me the new additions to the colony of New Sutaria when I was passing through the area. His armies had continued their march north and repulsed any native attacks with ease. I was saddened by the news that his army was now in marching distance of the village of Uganga. Meanwhile on the other side of the village the swashbucklers of former Schemklian captain Alonzo secured the small gap between the Dimnus mountain range and the bay of the Otanga River for the glory of the Sutarian Republic.
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:14 PM (GMT)
It’s been a restful few days as the colonies seemed to content enough to lick their wounds and organise their armies once again for more bloodshed. Both the Rimans as the Pale Riders and the Korelians strengthened their armies in order to break the natives in the coming battles.
The colony of the King of Schemkle knew some changing luck: one army managed to capture the land south of the colony while another was once again defeated in front of the wooden walls of the village of the Anda.
The army of New Sutaria managed to capture the lands west between their colony and the Dimnus mountains.
Meanwhile the treacherous nature of mercenaries was confirmed once again. After a fruitless battle for the coin of the Pale Riders, their leader Ludwig Uth Satar brought his army to the colony of Hasturia and quickly conquered it while naming himself successor of the king of Hasturia.
It has only been yesterday that I met “them” but it seems so unreal now. I had been travelling the island from the Lobi to the Wati tribe, passing the lands of the Kingdom of Hasturia, when a tempest struck and the skies opened up to one of the fierce storms that regularly hit the isle. Although I knew that travelling on in this weather would inevitably end in losing the path, the prospect of spending the night here seemed even less attractive. So I led my small retinue onwards with vision limited to several feet. My weary feet seemed to guide themselves on sloped ground and I concluded I was near the base of the Dimnus Mountains. Once I accidentally misstepped and my foot was drenched till my knee in a small river of excess rain that ragingly went downhill. As rain clouded my eyes, I tried to look around for several minutes to see if I would find any distinctive features which I might recognise. To my dread I found myself to be alone in what seemed like unknown territory. As I tried to suppress my panic, I stubbornly kept on going the same way. After what an hour or so, the downpour stopped as suddenly as it had began and as I untied my wet cloak, I found out that I had climbed high into the mountain as I could overlook the island.
I never even heard or saw her coming but suddenly she stood beside me, a pale ghost with sad eyes. She must have been a radiant beauty in her ended life for her appearance stunned me for several minutes. Her sad eyes seemed to gauge my worth as they pierced themselves in my skull. Minutes must have passed as we stood there, eying each other, the one weary and frightened, the other saddened. In a clear and resolute voice she demanded me to help her but before I could reply with the many questions that hunted my mind, she turned slowly and while she walked away her apparition faded until she was gone.
My heart was still pounding in my throat when a voice startled me for a second time: “You look like you’ve seen a ghost.” And as I turned to the voice, there he stood: the Grey Wanderer covered completely in his cloak. The colours of the cloak seemed to shift to grey or black when looked at and for an instance this subtle play of shades kept my eyes on his cloak, oddly the cloak wasn’t wet like mine. The silence made me look up and gaze at his face; old pale with human features but also otherworldly influences like his eyes which betrayed an eternity of ancient wisdom.
“Who are you?”
“Not your imagination, Orlando Metaxis, does a name matter?”
“Call me Runiel then, it’s been a long time since any-one used it.”
“What are you?”
“Grateful.” This answer puzzled me as I did not expect it.
“Your friends, the colonists who claim this land.”
“You are an inquisitive one as I expected. They will help me in due time. Do answers keep you sane as you seek a lot of them?”
“How can they help?”
“Let it rest for now just remember: in due time. I am willing to help you understand this island and by that aid the colonists. These barbarians are of a lesser importance.”
With that he clicked his fingers and a boulder appeared on which he sat and looked at me apprehensively.
“Who is she?”
“The ghost? Nothing more then the ghost of a former resident woman, murdered by her jealous husband. Love can be so cruel, you know. You cannot help her; I’ve tried for years yet rest assured, nothing on this isle can help her. Even then it is very hard to talk to her as she wanders the island like her broken mind, sometimes to be seen and sometimes nowhere. Besides she also seems to have forgotten that a civilised conversation includes more then her just demanding something and then disappear: most people would find that rude.”
I had been a bit disappointed by that answer yet turned the intent of my questions somewhere else.
“What is this island?”
“Ancile, the only island on this world that has been protected by the gods.”
“Why did they protect it?”
“To ward of outsiders of course for it contains one of the greatest secrets.”
And with a smile, he waved his arms in some kind of arcane symbol and he began to disappear while his last words echoed in my mind: “If you need me, I will find you.”
Life, a secret of nature and the gods, it still seems unreal that it lies on this island for these past days only death had reigned.
Blood seems to flow easily on this island now: a mortal dance for the control of this island. The secret of life, it is a high stake. Maybe they’ll cease their bloodshed when they know.
Rimus sallied forth from his city with his bodyguard and in a bloody battle conquered the land between the Otanga River and their colony. Meanwhile a second army of foot troops attacked on a northern axis and cleansed the lands north of them of any natives. They managed to capture two unfortunate Wati tribesmen and their hung bodies now adorn two trees next to the path. The Rimans say they tried to escape and wounded one of their officers.
A grand army set forth from the colony of the Pale Riders to finally capture the lands west of them. Once again the battle went ill as the column was ambushed in the dense jungle. Horses were nearly useless as the natives charged. The ghost lady did not came to their help in spite of many prayers and now more Riders lay in the jungle until their bodies rot and the forest floor claims them.
The natives of the Igli tribe never knew what hit them as a massive army of Korelia quickly crushed them and cut them off from their village. The knight mockingly tell the tale of the stupid last ones who died vainly instead of swimming away. I know the truth however: the waters are infested by the patrons of the Igli and being eaten by a Igli means no afterlife. Their reverence for the Igli was slightly greater in the face of certain death against the army of Korelia but try telling that to the haughty knights!
The moment of impasse by the army of Hasturia ended as they struck a powerful blow northwards and slew all resident natives. Their heads now adorn pikes in order to warn the others that this land is claimed in the honour of the King.
My last meeting with Marshall Derravich had been heavy: the mighty warrior was still troubled by the events that happened in the Uganga village. His entire army was massacred down to the last man when they tried to capture it by the superior natives, desperate to defend their village. Despair makes excellent defenders, it seems. As I visited the battlefield I saw the natives had controlled the higher ground and had forced into a bottleneck. No wonder the force was massacred. The Marshall was the only one lucky enough the escape that abattoir of Sutarian men.
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:16 PM (GMT)
This past week has ushered in a new period of blood and battle. The entire island seems to be engulfed in the same rhythm of the war drum: defend, attack, defend, attack… Enough to make a man insane and a commander nervous.
The Riman Empire showed no mercy for the hapless natives defending their own birth grounds. Two armies of exceedingly strength marched and cleared the lands further to the north of their small colony. Their expansion this past month has been enormous as a giant smashing all opposition. It was all the more surprising and worrying when the first rumours of rebellion or even a successful hostile attack reached my ears. The truth is enshrouded by the black smoke rising from the former Riman capital. My hopes are that they abandon their cause and leave this island in peace; the truth will be a matter patience though, I’m afraid.
Meanwhile in the East the Pale Riders seem to be unstoppable as they crush every enemy with zealous fury. Their first army is at the doorsteps of the Tingu village where panic has erupted and uncertainty reigns. Meanwhile the hungry zealots of their second army under the glorious command of Sir Eastwood destroyed the siege of the village of the Igli but it only seems that the banners only have changed colour. The Korelians however seemed stunned to answer to the crushing defeat and strengthened their defences. Their lords are angered, their knights impetuous and their commoners stubborn, an all-out war between the two feuding factions will drench Ancile in blood.
The budding new faction of Uth Satar drove forward their momentum and grabbed as much land they could: their new leaders seem to consider the first ones weak to allow such passive behaviour which would only allow defeat. Ludwig, their courageous leader, sallied forth with a host of knights and foot troops and smashed the petty resistance of the natives. Their expansion north was even magnified by a second spearhead driving deep into the body of natives west of their colony. The natives were with their back against the river and defended stubbornly against the onslaught but in the end they retreated to the north.
The natives are losing ground fast, only the villages seem safe from the conquest of the continental powers. I do my best to comfort them but they even start to shun and curse me like a leper. Those that still heed my council try to run to the mountains to hide yet I fear to no avail. The time of the natives is at an end.
My first meeting with the new rulers of the Riman colony was tense as it were. The rebellion hadn’t even ebbed away yet: the streets were empty and silent, the watchmen nervous and the citizens confused. Their leaders seem remarkable and capable rulers, I pray to the gods that they are sensible as well. To my first request to leave the Wati and Anda alone, I received no reply, just hard stares like it wasn’t my business. As to the former occupiers of the colony, Rimus and his loyal subjects have returned to the continent to battle the plague in their outpost. Rebellion had risen and Agnarr became the self-proclaimed King of Kaupang. Any hopes I had with this faction died as a messenger declared the assault north to the northern seas victorious. The Wati are now cut off from the rest of the isle and the Anda are now closed in between two factions.
The Pale Riders seemed content of the message they sent to the Korelians and pulled back before Marug Ravenheart was able to bind the enemy forces. The situation between the two is unstable to say the least but luckily it draws their attention away from the natives.
Ludwig Uth Satar was the first to ride into a native village as a victor. A strong force of knights and commoners swept the defenders away in a hellish storm of violence and blood. The battle had been long and hard until the natives of the Lobi had to retreat. Women and children tried to flee before the onslaught but most were caught unawares. The plundering and burning continued until deep in the night. The next day I arrived to gaze at the damage: the half-drunk men of Uth Satar were still boasting of their rape, plunders and deaths. I turned away from them to cry silently and unheard by all in a corner of the village.
Meanwhile the Sutarians managed to link up with the cut-off forces, defending the small gap between the Dimnus Mountains and the Otanga River. Now the village of the Uganga is in a precair situation.
It is rare these days to see a native walking outside a village: the birth grounds are now almost completely controlled by stronger powers. The nightfall of their civilisation seems nigh.
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:17 PM (GMT)
Agnarr is an ambitious man, determined to carve his name into history: in a great push he destroyed the last remaining stranglers along the north coast safe for the villages. The natives did manage to ambush the long army but to no avail: the grand army of Kaupang pushed on relentlessly. Corpses lined the path, thrown aside from the wake of the red knights and his followers. Rumours reached me of a noble man, winning renown. The soldiers of Kaupans seem to revere him.
The Pale Riders and Korelian Dukedom are now engaged in a all-out war between the two potentates. Sir Eastwood himself lead his forces once again south against the purple armies. He found a deserted plain safe for one sentry who died without even raising the alarm.
The rest of the Korelians meanwhile had been deployed to destroy the village of the Igli. Marug Ravenheart led his force with fire in his eyes and cold steel in his hand. Despite heavy resistance the village fell, the noble sacrifice of the warriors bought the weak and women the time to disperse before a cause less noble. Amidst the ashes of the Igli I found the corpse of Turima Igli-bo: the Korelians told tales of his heroic resistance and his defiance despite many wounds and facing overwhelming odds. The great tortoise now joined the afterlife.
Uth Satar continued their push westward and closed the gap between the river and the Azure Mountains. The great army had no problem whatsoever with the last stragglers of the Lobi. The Umsala meanwhile cry for blood for the murders of their brethren but have no-one to lead them. I’m adamant however that if Ludwig makes the mistake of trying to conquer the village, he’ll find a lot of natives willing to die only to kill as much Satarians.
Sutaria meanwhile started to conquer the small peninsula at the southeast corner of Ancile. A great army was dispatched from New Sutaria and quickly swept any opposition aside. It is obvious where their next blow will lie.
Soon this nightmare will be over and the powers can start to work on a peaceful exploitation of this island. I don’t know whether I should be glad for the nearing of the end or sad for the loss of young but primitive culture. The natives have nothing left safe their villages and even those are on the brink of destruction. Meanwhile I’m starting to see evidence of culture everywhere on the island: it is now famous in the rest of the continent and all kind of small folk arrives here to find their glory. The streets of the colony are now swamped with entrepreneurs, adventurers and opportunists. The main powers are starting to lay hardened roads through the forests for their armies. Fishers, farmers, miners, all come to harvest the beauty of Ancile.
Meanwhile the war between the religious fanatics of the Pale Riders and Korelia continues. Several days a massive battle between the yellow-bannered zealots of Sir Eastwood and the purple armies of Sir Ravenheart erupted at the same contested area. Both nations threw everything at this all-or-nothing battle and the ground was once again soaked in the blood of unfortunate. For a moment the armies of the Pale Riders has the upper hand but a well-sprung flanking manoeuvre of Ravenheart undid all they had fought for. The army of the Pale Riders was defeated and Eastwood was hastily carried away wounded from the battlefield.
Today it seems we have a new player on the chessboard of Ancile: from beyond the seas in the South-East the armada of the Apostles of Light arrived at the Northern shore of my fair isle. The theocracy had heard at long last of the special nature of Ancile and the appearance of Runiel and the Ghost Lady and immediately sent an expedition to the new shores in order to pacify the region and search for the mystical secrets of the island at all costs. Failing to find a new spot to land their troops, they assailed the fortress of Lord Drake and captured it. While the ruins of the castle still burned Lord Drake decided that his presence was required home and left the shores never to be seen again. There has been no news of the homelands yet as to how Schmeklians will react to this open declaration of war.
In the South the armies of Sutaria are still frustrated by the defence of the Uganga. Once again Marshall Derravich tried to assault the village and once again his armies had been turned away. However this time the attack had been partly successful as the defenders had heavy losses and are on the brink of breaking. My words seem hollow when I tried to comfort them: the frustration of the Sutarians for their resistance will result in murder, pillage and rape.
Runiel has showed himself once again on the battlefield: I found him overlooking from a hill the battle between the newcomers and Kaupang. They were both fighting for the control of the Anda village. The defenders were already sprawled across the ground as they both attacked it at the same time. Luckily this bought the elders, women and children of the Anda the time to flee inside the woods. Where they have gone, I can only guess but the village of Kegila seems the most likely choice.
Runiel himself seemed happy. When I asked him his reasons why, he merely smiled and explained that he ever had been a devoted believer of nature where the strong preys on the weak. Survival of the strongest is the law of the nature: those that cannot defend themselves die while the others survived to fight another day.
Several days ago the Pale Riders were pushed yet again back as the Korelians kept the pressure on and pushed onwards. Marug Ravenheart unyieldingly pushed on, determined to wipe out the presence of the theocracy of the island.
Sutaria finally managed to secure the south-eastern peninsula when a great force easily brushed the native defenders aside. Only the Uganga stands in their way to control everything east between the Dimnus Mountains and south of the Otanga river.
The past week it has been quiet yet Ancile is restless. The entire island evolves now around a bloody sequence of blood and survival. The mornings herald bloodshed while the evenings proclaim a relative peace.
Marug Ravenheart was the only one to push his tired men to another limit: he personally led a victorious expedition east and reached the shore of the Blood River. The hapless natives were quickly swept aside against the great Korelian army.
Meanwhile a lot of opportunists were drawn by the mystic nature of the isle and the never-ending war, ready to fuel their passion for it. Three new mercenary companies landed on the island, offering to the highest bidder. I do my best to avoid these people to the best I can for their loyalty depends on the flip of a coin. It is rumoured that the exotic Red Blades made camp on Ancile led by their virtuous Kendrik. Another infamous company the Black Hands found their way to the riches which my island offers. And the third is a company which they themselves call an alliance where I would rather called it armed rabble. A new pirate fleet also has taken up these once peaceful waters as their hunting grounds: the flag of Bane of PoisN raids every ship bound to or from home unchecked.
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:20 PM (GMT)
The Wati were destroyed yesterday: Agnarr led his red army alongside the cursed mercenaries of Lived and the Alliance into the heart of the village. The battle was long and bloody as Tigani Wati-bo tried to defend his home with his dreaded double-handed axe. Many fell before his bloodstained weapon and many would until a cowardly arrow ended his life. There was no time to flee for the rest of the villagers and they were all put to the sword. With the last breath of Wansi, the hope of a cure for the Boil Plague dies with him. I now wonder who the barbarians truly are.
The Pale Riders continued the war against Korelia and launched their counterattack with a massive army. That patch of the forest has seen much blood these past months and even more bodies will feed the forest floor before long. The attack of the Pale Riders was successful and now we have to wait for the answer of Korelia.
The Black Hand has made its entry in this brutal game by supporting the attack of the army of Uth Satar past the river, claiming the land west. The way is now blocked by the two villages of the natives and the Pale Riders, I wonder who will feel the next stroke?
Turn Twelve to Thirteen
It’s been weeks now since I wrote in my journals: the fever was destructive to my strength and even though I am recuperating, I still feel weak and frail. Not long before the plague will attempt to destroy the remainder of my body. Curse the puppets of Kaupang for killing the only one capable of brewing a cure! I’ve seen the effect of the Boil Plague everywhere on the island: none shall be spared! According to my calculations –based on the studies on the mainland- the first serious effects (boils, coughing up blood and very heavy fever) will start any time soon now. Out of spite I have not informed any leader but soon the horrible curse of the mainland will reveal itself. It makes me laugh at the irony: the mightiest powers of the continent come to conquer the island but nature will be their downfall. Yesterday I felt fit enough to be carried around the island and gauge the situation.
The bastards of Kaupang did not stop with the destruction of the Wati: they hired the mercenaries of the Bane of Poisn. They struck where the Suturians felt safe: the foremost South-Eastern peninsula which they had conquered not long ago. War between Kaupang and Suturia now brews as the Suturians rally their forces to the new threat. A dagger in the back, a fitting blow for the civilized.
Meanwhile Marshall Derravich finally succeeded in destroying the Ugangans in a massive frontal assault upon the village. The villagers didn’t stand a chance and the Otanga River ran red with the blood of the natives. Sometimes a corpse floats by the once-idyllic river as a testimony of the barbarisms of the civilized.
However the assault on the Uganga village drew too much attention of Suturia away from their frontier defences against Uth Satar. A huge battle between mercenary groups ensued as mercenary captain Aurelius Kendrik of the Grey Knights led a gigantic army, strengthened by the mercenary vultures of the Red Blades, against the baffled defenders of New Suturia. The mercenary captain Alonzo in service of Suturia was unable to rally an effective defence and soon his forces were routed. The men of Suturia had to suffer heavy losses and even Alonzo didn’t get out unscathed.
Marug Ravenheart finally succeeded in focussing enough attention away from the Pale Riders to actually overrun the natives of the Umsula Tribe. In the week that followed the general pushed his men to the limit to drive them north until they reached the new border with Uth Satar. The mercenaries of the Black Hand had already reached this land but were quickly disposed off. Sir Jecht of the Black Hand had to be carried off the field with a dangerous wound.
Realising the weakened attention of the Korelians, the Pale Riders struck a swift and hard blow into the lands of Korelia. A huge army gathered and advanced southwards towards the city of Korelia which now is endangered. The small forces of bowmen were unable to stop the assault and had to retreat.
The stalemated zealots of the Light apparently have finished their preparations and conquered the great village of the Kegila. A huge army of infantry advanced and was unstoppable for poor Wanto and his stubborn warriors. His longbow with black feathers took a lot of light bringers into his grave. To my disgust I found many of latter desecrating the ruinous temple with the strange inscriptions. I believe… [abrupt ending]
Runiel just made a surprise visit: his half-smile even wider than normal. He said that he had witnessed the destruction of the Kegila and that he was happy that the bloodshed is nearly over. Only one small village defied stubbornly in spite of the storm of the civilized. Runiel seemed worried about me as he saw my fatigued state: with a few arcane gestures he managed to make me feel better and then he was gone. It seems that he is a great wizard indeed if he is able to postpone or even cure the Boil Plague!
The island is gripped now in a primal state of chaos: the will to survive brings out the truth in men. Peace now seems to be lost until there is only one victor: the civilized nations of the continent now started to fight each other for the control of the island. Armies descend on each other like mad dogs. Civility has nothing to do with anymore: the fear of the plague brings the worst in men on top. Even Runiel’s healing magic seems to weaken against the fury of the plague: his powers are unable to contain the plague for long. Last week I chose a neutral newly-built tavern near the middle of the island in order to rally the leaders of the nations to search for a permanent cure which Wansi used to have. Maybe it is all for the best: when the last man dies and all ties with the mainland are severed, this island can return to its original state of peace.
The Kingdom of Kaupang seems determined to conquer the island for their own once and for all. Last week I counted no less than three full-scale attacks to widen their territory. Spartacus led a grand army of infantry against the northern shores of the Apostles –first by successfully breaking an enemy counterattack led by Stangmar and then driving them back to their city- while Agnarr himself crushed the opposition south of the beaches. The colony of the Apostles stands isolated and besieged by the great forces of Kaupang. Meanwhile a continent of Apostles is cut off in the former village of the Kegila. They tried to cross the Otanga River in a desperate attempt to free themselves but were repelled when the mercenaries under the command of Lived stood their ground. The pirates of Poisn meanwhile, commanded by the self-acclaimed Captain Czecho, stuck another dagger in the defences of Suturia: the buccaneers quickly landed on the southern shore of the Otanga River estuary and overwhelmed the small opposition. However the armies of Kaupang had to withdraw their bridgehead at the south-eastern peninsula.
Before the walls of Korelia a mass grave is now being dug to bury the heaps of bodies of the army of the Pale Riders who zealously and foolishly tried to assault the colony. There were no survivors as the religious fanatics flung themselves against the walls, oblivious to their own lives. In a second attack, aimed towards the River, they did however succeed to push back the Korelians.
In all his military cunning did Marug Ravenheart of Korelia succeed in trapping the besieging forces of the Pale Rider by cutting them off with a drive to the sea. Now the soldiers of the Pale Riders have neither water nor supplies and are contained in their pocket. Unless something is done soon, their resistance will cease.
Suturia meanwhile is being assaulted from all sides: Kaupang and the mercenaries in the service of Uth Satar. The Mercenary groups under the overall command of Aurelius Kendrik and his Red Blades pressed forth their momentum deeper into the Suturian Realm, supported by the mercenary group of the Grey Knights. Alonzo and his affluent swashbucklers still hadn’t had the chance to recuperate from the last blow and his army was almost completely wiped out. By the combined assault of Kaupang and Uth Satar there is an army of Suturia now isolated in the remains of the Uganga.
The Kingdom of Kaupang has now become an unstoppable titan, crushing all that stands in its way. The assailed Apostles of Light lost their colony today when the great hordes of infantry stormed the walls of the city. The spiritual Stangmar, responsible of organising the defences while Robert himself was venturing towards the Kegila village, was unable to stand fast against the overwhelming forces. After a short but intense storming of the gates, the soldiers of Kaupang were able to capture the gatehouse and raise the portcullis. A night of pain and toil followed for the former citizens of Schmekle and the Light. Stangmar himself was captured by the red soldiers and ironically thrown into the jail of his former colony. Meanwhile Robert personally led the breakout of the surrounded army of Light northwards in hope to liberate the lost city, abandoning the ruined remains of the village. However with no way to get supplies or reinforcements, his chances are lessened to near nil. When I saw him later on, he seemed weary and pale. On the other side of Ancile the army of Kaupang tried to break out of their small bridgehead over the Otanga River but failed. They were repelled by Kyril and his hastily erected army to contain the threat.
While visiting the former and badly damaged city of Schmekle and the Light, I came across Runiel who refused to speak to me and instead walked out the gate, looking disgruntled and tired. Further on I came across a soldier who I taught to have died by now, seeing that he suffered from the second state of Boil Plague last time I saw him.
In the south-western end of Ancile the war between the two states continued. Exhausted from their previous successes it was the turn of Korelia to suffer several blows. The Pale Riders mounted a small counteroffensive and managed to cut off the army of Korelia north of the former Umsala village. The army of Korelia led by the great general Marug Ravenheart had struck north once again and overwhelmed the small force of the Pale Riders, defending the ground. Marug Ravenheart meanwhile seems radiant and his heroic deeds are not over-exaggerated: his men love him and he is a warrior worthy of renown.
Meanwhile the third war on the island ended into a stalemate when both sides only defended their grounds in hope of catching some breath. One of the Suturian soldiers told me a gruesome story the other night which –if true- confirms Uth Satar ruthlessness: one barren night a sentry killed off a lone scout who stumbled towards their defensive line. However the dark forced them to search the body later. As they burned the plagued body the next day it was already too late: several soldiers had been infected by the corpse. The mercenary battle continued as the Red Blades and the Grey Knights struck to the south, once again encountering the mercenary group of Alonzo. After a long fight Aurelius had to call the attack off as the defenders were too stubborn.
The Apostles of Light are no more: yesterday the Kingdom of Kaupang completely obliterated the last remains of the the last nation to set foot on this island. In a last march the last soldiers were sent to liberate the colony: half-heartedly and broken their attack soon ebbed away in the vast sea of the red army. They made it their last stand and all fell. Instantly the armies of Agnarr searched the forest south in order to round up any stragglers left. Robert himself did not die with his last troops but in the native village. Crazed and animalistic natives of the former village ambushed our small party and in the fray they managed to slay the general of the Apostles. The natives made it clear that I’m not welcome there any-more. One consolation remains however: they carried many weapons and armour of the Kaupang. Their latest push to the village has been stopped by these last natives apparently. Across the Otanga River however the Suturians, led by Kyril, tried to drive the army of Kaupang out of their beachhead but failed and had to retreat to the burnt village. In the south-eastern peninsula the mercenary army of Czecho landed and claimed the plagued land. Strangely they seem not hindered by and impervious to its effects.
Suturia has big problems meanwhile: the strong push of Uth Satar to the east of the island made the encirclement of their armies at the burnt village stronger and even more desperate since their last attack was broken on the defences of the Kaupang army. In the search for more breathing space they tried to once again conquer the peninsula but the natives who had returned from the deep forests, defended it stubbornly.
On the other side of the island the Korelian armies once again regained the iniative and tried once again to push through until the Pale Riders are no more. After securing the former village of the Umsala, another army claimed the small corridor northwards between sea and plague-infested lands. Marug now lies there with a great army encamped at the doorstep of the Pale Riders whose general seemed to be absent.
The Kingdom of Kaupang has finally secured the important village with the help of Runiel apparently who cleared the area even before the army arrived. Months of blood and bile has made stronger to fight a sense of repulsion when seeing these corpses, their eyeballs molten like a candle and an expression of excruciating pain on their face. Also Runiel has found the temple and the basics of a ritual to cleanse the island of the plague: it requires five men described as strong in life to complete a ritual to restore some sort of ward on the tomb. I’ll be glad to research the texts myself when I arrive at the temple. However when if the rumours are correct..
The Pale Riders are now being driven back and back by the continued Korelian assault. All that they have left since they started the war is the small western peninsula which will be a difficult campaign to clear for the purple armies of Korelia. Meanwhile they also secured the upper reaches of the river.
The war between Suturia and Uth Satar has slowed down but enmity is still there. Today I passed the corpse of a civilian who was been accused of spying for the Suturians on the armies of Uth. And on the other side of the border a couple of Suturian soldiers in the colony accounted the tale of another vile act of the warlord. Another diseased man tried to force his entry into the guarded city at night but he was picked off by a sentry. Next night the corpse had disappeared but the fear of these despicable tactics remain. Also I was lucky to witness the capture of the dreaded pirate captain Czecho during my brief stay there. He is not that tall and fearsome as they whispered when his reign was high.
I just came back from an inn where I have heard the most disturbing account of these past months. A citizen of the former city of the light apostles fled the city, terrified and with nothing left in order to escape what he describes as just the beginning. I had heard these rumours but I wished these not to be true with all my heart. Stangmar, the former hero of the Apostles, is now dead . The soldiers of Kaupang brought out the corpse some days ago, looking not more then skin and bones. Together with several other prisoners, he was burned outside the city.
The Kingdom of Kaupang has won, that much has become clear by now. Their army outnumber any other, excluding the employ of several mercenary groups. The ruthless warriors of Agnarr now control the entire north of the island safe for a small bridgehead in the hand of Uth Satar across the Otanga River. I’ve heard of the plans of the other colonies to abandon the island before it is too late and indeed many citizens have set off back to the continent. Any-one foolish enough to challenge the might of the Kaupang Empire will be swept away in a storm of fire and steel. Rain season is upon us and soon all campaigning will cease for now.
Uth Satar did try to pry the village out of the hands of Marshall Derravich yet he failed as his attack got bogged down in the early mud and rain.
The Korelians tried to launch a final offensive to drive their arch-enemies off the island yet after an initial success this attack grinded to a halt in the mud and a counterattack by the Pale Riders.
Voltek - June 3, 2011 08:20 PM (GMT)
The End Game
The ruins of the temple above ground might not be as impressive as they once were when they still basked in the glory of the sun yet the underground chambers are mostly intact: even though the passage of time has not gone by unnoticed. Nature has found a way inside, creating small puddles of brackish water, the same for dust layering the floor in inches and the occasional darkness dwelling animal. The creases of the massive stonework have given way to the roots of the vegetation above, creating dangerous passages or collapsed corridors. The light of our torches faintly illuminate the faded scriptures and drawings of the ancient people that used to live here. My guess it was the ancestors of the natives these civilised men have butchered. As I gaze upon the letters and pictures, I cannot help but wonder how he did manage to translate the scriptures so quickly. Runiel himself meanwhile leads this odd pack of bedfellows, namely Uth Satar, Lukas Gijonne, Thorgrim, Lucky, Aurelius and me, deeper into the bowels of this gigantic labyrinth which must tunnel the entire island, maybe even beyond. A worthy place for investigation indeed when we finally have dealt with this matter.
Another broken and aged stone stairs and suddenly we stand in the midst of an enormous room holding two massive stone doors at the back. Three seals seem to secure the doors into place, one who has broken already. Though even these have faded, the paintings on the wall seem to bear upon us as if to warn not to pass beyond the doors. The two other seals look sturdy enough but when an elemental evil is questing for a way out, they can’t be sturdy enough. Right in front of the twenty feet high doors stands a pedestal in the middle of five rotten benches.
“This seems easy enough,” Runiel says as he interrupts the heavy silence: “Our five heroes, strong in life, have to sit down around the pedestal.” Without a protest the five sit down, silent as anxiety grips them. I inch myself towards the stairs again as not to intrude upon the proceedings. Runiel then continues: “Please put your hands upon the pedestal so your strong minds and life force can focus upon this altar.” A moment’s doubt and the five obey. “Now I shall utter the first incantation.” As Runiel starts to mumble strange arcane words, his voice rising as if he wants to reach a crescendo, I feel ill and troubled: something is horribly wrong here. My eyes skit over the markings on the walls until they rest upon one gruesome: five corpses littering the room while the doors are open. The incantation stops and Runiel smiles. I, and the others, seem to be unable to talk or move safe our eyes. With a mocking smile, he takes the dagger of Uth Satar and in one fluid strike slit his throat. Paralysed his body defiantly remains in place yet through this mortal wound his blood drops down upon the pedestal. Fear now settles into the eyes of the four left as Runiel passes on to the next: Lukas. Without hesitation Lukas feels his life end as he chokes in his own blood. Throgrim, Lucky and Aurelius, all die when Runiel cold-bloodedly slit their throats, his cloak and hands now drenched in blood. Then it is my turn: for an instant he smiles at me mockingly and I close my eyes for the fatal blow to come. Yes none comes and instead Runiel now raises his voice to a shattering height and finishes the last incantation. First one and then the other seal breaks, unlocking the door.
Several seconds pass as my heart races. Suddenly the doors shatter into a thousands pieces, showering the room with a hail of stone. From the darkness within an ear-shattering cold laughter echoes. Out of the pitch black an ancient and powerful horror emerges, a towering hulk of more than twenty feet, a humanoid figure but there ends all comparison. Though the creature is indescribable in words, his eyes do fume hatred. Runiel and the beast look upon each other and then the former fades.
A second laughter pierces my veins with its icy cold bursts. Its malignant eyes rest upon me as fear seems to cloud my mind. The same mocking smile and then he is Runiel again, the grey wanderer we all came to respect and fear. “I see that you fear death,” his mocking voice tells me: “Or is it me that you fear? No matter: you are free for now. On one condition: do what you do best. Write to your readers; tell your audience; Runiel, Soulstealer, Lord of Destruction, the Chained God and the Maimed One, is unchained and now walks the earth once more. All existence will perish beneath a hail of fire. Be my prophet of doom and proclaim that the end is nigh. I for the moment have other business to attend to.” And then he disappears, along with his paralysing grip, leaving me alone with five corpses and two shattered doors. My strength fails me as I fall upon the floor and weep out of fright and frustration.
Runiel meanwhile –I gathered that much from survivors- first went to the city of Kaupang where Agnarr celebrated his victory and the rain season with his entire court and followers. Victory was in his grasps and Ancile his to rule. Suddenly the two doors fly open and shatter against the walls. From the dark beyond two guards fall inside, dead, shouldering a well-known grey wanderer. As he slowly starts the walk to the throne where Agnarr rests, the air in the room becomes heavy and unbreathable. Panic breaks out as every-one he passes, dies instantly of the Boil Plague, leaving an entire trail of dead and maimed corpses. Fear grips those inside as there is no way out: those who try fall victim to the plague. Then Runiel has reached the ascending few stairs of the throne room. It is just Runiel and Agnarr now left, the rest of his court and attendees lay sprawled in grotesque forms on the floor. In his mocking voice and smile, he merely says: “Guess what, my King? You have chosen poorly.” All kinds of excruciating pain erupt as a volcano within the body of Agnarr as Runiel slowly turns and walks out of the room, never looking back. The lifeless body of the ruler of Kaupang falls to the floor, his crown noisily dropping down the stairs.
Chaos and destruction has Ancile in his grasps as Runiel executes his vengeance upon what was his prison for so long. The last remaining natives, his last gaolers, were first to die in the fire and plague that now spread across the land. The Pale Riders have a visit of Runiel along with his prisoner, the Ghost Lady. They have to watch silently as Runiel slowly tortures the spirit as she howls in pain. She was the guardian of the tomb, an aspect of a god, demented over the course of time and awoken by the shattering of the first seal. Now her aspect is painfully scattered around the island. Few Pale Riders manage to escape the fiery storm that wrecks their city. The Korelians and Suturians, the remaining men of Uth Satar and Agnarr, have just time enough to quickly mount their boats and set off as the island behind them goes up in one big fiery burst. The mercenaries and pirates meanwhile have quickly abandoned the island when they saw the first signs of the reign of fire. Neither they nor the other survivors have any idea what truly happened on this island safe me. Disillusioned by civilisation and exploration, I set out on my flagship alone on a north western course, waiting for the doom of men to come or death to claim me.