Spotlight on: Gladys Lamplight

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.

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Spotlight on: Berin Viperson, The Golden Traitor

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.”

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The Graft Betrayal

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.

 

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Spotlight on: King Romulus Pendragon

We all know the story of the boy prince of the Hellenic Empire, who fled to Hadriana when the armies of Sumerilon swept the continent.  Under the guidance of his tutor Meirden, the paupered prince was briefly squired to a cousin, then withdrew the legendary Sword of Kings from the tomb of Marcus Aurelius, and was declared by the Gods as Heir to the Hadrianic throne.  He armed his new subjects for war, and the Hadrianic Navy quickly won several important sea battles and blockaded Sumerilon’s southern ports.  The Gray Gulls flew at King Pendragon’s command, while his newly-formed Knights of Mavors drove the Sumerilon Cavalry from the field in battle after battle.  The King’s successes were so spectacular that, despite his age, Gal Pol-Li declared him the natural choice to lead the free human forces in the Army of Unity.

We all know that it was King Pendragon who, backed by the combined magic of the Gods, struck the death blow to Malchion, and he alone emerged from the ensuing explosion.  With the end of the war, King Pendragon delivered a brief statement. “Today the battlefields are silent. A great tragedy has ended. A great victory has been won. I thank the Gods that they have given us the faith, the courage ,and the power from which to mold victory. We have known the bitterness of defeat and the exultation of triumph, and from both we have learned there can be no turning back. We must go forward to preserve in peace what we won in war.”


King Pendragon returned with his army to his island nation.  He continues to rule in peace and harmony with his wife, Queen Ismere, and their son, Prince Azoun.  Admired by many, romanticized by others, he remains a figure known to stand for Honor and Justice to All.

 

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Spotlight on: General Ironhewer

A combat veteran of three major wars and the commander of northern Dwarvish forces during the campaign against Sumerilon, General Ironhewer thought he’d seen the end of his adventuring days with the death of Malchion.  ”Sixty years ago, I was more’n ready to retire to the ancestral mines and lead a quiet life.  But I made friends in the war, and while I have the strength to help them, by Daglir I will.”

While no one doubts the General’s strength of arms or suggests that he has lost his ability to command, some observers, pointing to his slightly protruding belly and his acceptance of the so-called “graft” races, believe that Ironhewer should have stayed retired.  When asked about the controversy over welcoming Catfolk, Eponai, and Perrin adventurers into Hireling Hall, he stated, “Some of my best friends in the war were grafts.  Don’t tell me the Eponai lack courage, and we would never have held out in the north without the Perrin blockade of key Sumerilon seaports.  I can’t believe that they willingly betrayed us in the High Steppes; Malchion had some kind of hold over them, and now that he’s dead, the grafts can lead a free life, if we can only forgive them.”

Next week: a brief recounting of the Graft Betrayal

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In the Offices of General Ironhewer

“Begging the general’s pardon, sir, but won’t you reconsider? This is a younger man’s job. Is it really necessary?”

“Time will tell, Atkins, time will tell,” the general rumbled fondly to his aide of so many years. “Though I expect there isn’t a younger man to do it.” Atkins noticed the general stroke his long Dwarven beard as he turned to business. That much never changed, at least.

“Now, have the reports I asked for started coming in?”

“Sir, from East Lauritton, in Thisted. A fortnight ago. It’s Frederick the Faithful. Killed in his bed.”

“In bed? Fred survived the entire occupation! He led a cell in the resistance!”

“Sir, it’s bad,” Atkins added, reading ahead. The general growled for him to continue. “They say he was… torn open. As if by a madman with a scythe. But not a drop of blood! Almost as if he had been — drained— ahead of time.”

General Ironhewer grimaced.

“Apparently all the blood was used in the next room. The report says there might have been writing or drawings in it, but his granddaughter was scrubbing the walls when the investigator arrived. Can you imagine? His granddaughter! And there’s more. Eight of his manservants were slain in the household as well. Plus there was an additional rash of murders in East Lauritton that night — another 26 dead, though it may be 27 by now — one was only just hanging on.”

The general had focused on the blood, though. “We have to find out what was in that room. And take care of the granddaughter of course! But if there was a message there… Who do we have? Has Jamison reported back yet?”

It was the first of a great many reports.

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