Posts made in February, 2011
While the heroic exploits of the great generals and heroic warriors are justly celebrated, great wars cannot be won solely by following the Seven Commandments of Janda*. There is a need for deception, spies and dark deeds in the service of the Light. The Order of Redoubtable Ratri was founded by the colorful and accomplished William the Brown-Haired: scholar, adventurer, magical adept and sometime priest. Its agents performed many dangerous missions inside Sumerilon-held territory: the most dangerous performed by a secret circle within the order, known as the Department of Dirty Tricks, dominated by hobbits and somewhat affectionately known as the Boggies. The master (she preferred not being called mistress) of the boggies was Allison Searock.
The most famous and successful of William’s exploits was Operation Arctic Wolf, better known as the “Army that Wasn’t”. This was an elaborate deception in which numerous Janda clerics were systematically fed false information that certain Sumerilon agents were themselves being told lies about Ironhewer’s plans. Because of the commandment “never through inaction [to] allow a lie to be believed”, they were compelled to reveal the “true” information in their possession, then to turn themselves in for violating the laws regarding secrecy, expecting an ignominious death on the scaffold. Because they were believed, Malchion diverted significant force away from Ironhewer’s army at a critical juncture. When the operation became public after the War, it caused a rift in the religious community. The few remaining Janda clerics abandoned public life, and the judicial functions formerly performed by her clerics were taken over by Mavors.
William the Brown-haired never settled down after the War. Although human and well over sixty when the war ended, he led several fact-finding expeditions deep into Sumerilon territory, adamant that all of Malchion’s secrets should be searched out long after others had lost interest. Twelve years after the end of the War, he fell down a crevasse and his body was never recovered.
Allison Searock served for a time as spymaster for King Pendragon, but the strain of working among so many Mavors caused her to leave and to take service with Almere. She now lives in retirement in Camborough and has recently celebrated her eleventy-first birthday.
* = “I am Janda, goddess of Truth, and these are my commandments. Obey them all if possible, but if not, obey the one stated first in preference to the latter-stated. Thou shalt not tell a lie. Thou shalt not through inaction allow a lie to be believed. Thou shalt give worship to Janda as meet and due for your station in life. When Thou art called to judgment, thou shalt give true judgment to the best of thy ability. Thou shalt obey the laws of the land wherein thou art. Thou shalt perform all thine oaths. Thou shalt endeavor to do justice in all things.”
Twin brothers Tirion and Cadmus Elkone were members of the Janda order of the Wrathful Avengers, and active leaders in the western resistance against Sumerilon. Their unit captured a strongpoint in the mountains that allowed safe passage for the Army of Unity, and the Elkone brothers themselves defeated the twin guardians of the citadel in single, er, double combat.
Sadly, a few weeks after Malchion was defeated, a madness took Cadmus and he tried to kill Tirion. Cadmus fell to his death, and though the gorge was searched, the body was never found.
Shouldering his magical blue oilskin, Tirion went into the Sumerilon wastelands, seeking answers from his god, and his current whereabouts are unknown. He was unavailable for comment at the time of the printing of this article.Read More
Gladys Lamplight, a human on the wrong side of middle age, did not earn distinction on the field, but was invaluable to the Army of Unity because of her research. Unfortunately much of what Gladys had to offer was incomprehensible to the High Command without an interpreter. Zerlana, one of the younger elven battlemages, was assigned full-time to the task after Gal Pol-Li noticed her exceptional ability to keep Gladys on task and to the point “so we can get back out there and blow stuff up.” In what would prove to be the waning days of the war, Lamplight and Zerlana disappeared from the main force (with Theodoric, Asha Half-Elven, “Hellenic” Trebor, and Escher Coli). The nature of their mission is secret, but is believed to have played a role in Malchion’s ultimate downfall.
After the war, Zerlana enjoyed a brief period of adventuring fame, then returned to her people to instruct the next generation of elven battlemages. She is loathe to interact with non-elven demihumans, and categorically refuses to speak to the press. Bereft of his deity, Theodoric returned to his homeland in York to work with Daglir craftsmen. Trebor and Escher died on the mission and were given heroes’ funerals after the war. Gladys participated as a functionary in the postwar celebrations, then disappeared into the research stacks of the great libraries and then from the public record.
During the height of the great war Berin Viperson was one of Malchion’s greatest agents in the shadow war of spies that almost went unnoticed beside the great battles. Tall (for an elf) and dark, he was trained as both a thief and a mage a hundred years before the war in a defunct school of magic. He is the last survivor of this tradition, as the others died during the war. Called Malchion’s own thief by those, on both sides, who knew of him and his exploits it shocked everyone when he betrayed Malchion just before the final battle of the Neck of Thisted.
No one knows what drove him to this betrayal. Whispers of a secret devotion to Ratri are generally discounted because of his part in the fall and looting of Ratri’s secret temple near Delft. All that is agreed upon is that without him the Great Leviathan, built by the Artificer Urzo, would have fallen on the defenders of the Neck without warning. Instead his information led the heroes, Keithose, Jescott, Maione, Gohen and Somay to the place of its construction where they destroyed it and its maker, though Gohen and Somay died during the fight.
After the war Berin was allowed to retire to the village of Spanday in the northeast of Umwelt, where Ironhewer figured he could keep an eye on the elf. The long years have relaxed the vigilance of the watchers, and now he has disappeared, to Ironhewer’s dismay. “I’ve no doubt that we’ll find Viperson has had a hand in all the troubles we’ve seen lately,” growled the General when asked. “Once a traitor and all that.”Read More
As we now know, Malchion, in his pride, thought to create new races with which to people his world, and that would be totally subservient to him. The graft races were thus born during the prelude to the War, while the Champions had other concerns. It is not known what foul means were used to create the grafts nor when, but they first began to be noticed a scant ten years before the war began. They told a harrowing tale of flight from a far-off land, where their kind was oppressed, and they seemed eager to enter the service of any lord who promised them fair treatment, be the wages ever so low. Faithful and honest, they soon found their way into positions of trust, and the fact that a few seemed to have wandered into Sumerilon and become slaves there seemed to grieve them greatly.
When the Army of Unity was formed for what is now known as the Campaign against Sumerilon, the grafts were accepted eagerly into the fighting ranks. Under the leadership of the great Elvish General Gal Pol-Li, the Army of Unity won victory after victory, until it stood at the very heart of Sumerilon, with a small opposing force before it in the valley, girding itself for a last stand in defense of their master. Confident of victory, Gal Pol-Li decided to lead his forces onto the plain without waiting for Generals Ironhewer and Pendragon to catch up with their armies, which were delayed by skirmishing.
As Gal Pol-Li’s forces strode onto the plain, armies that had been concealed among the hills and rocks suddenly appeared, flanking them. Even so, they still outnumbered their foes until treachery struck. As if on a single command, every graft in the Army of Unity struck out, fearlessly and with a sure hand, against their comrades-in-arms. The carnage was fierce, and few survivors of the Army of Unity outlived that day. Some blamed Ironhewer and Pendragon for being late, and some blamed Gal Pol-Li for moving on too soon, but the truth is that the Champions were saved that day. The treachery extended to all armies, and even to civilian areas. Ironhewer and Pendragon were able to suppress the rebellion because they faced only scattered foes. Had the full combined armies been there that day, the defeat might have been total.
After the retreat, many grafts were slain in revenge, and the surviving grafts were imprisoned. Needless to say, no graft was ever trusted again. When the war ended, the spell of obedience was broken, for their master was dead, yet to this day, few demihumans will trust a graft and some believe they should have been exterminated.