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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Announcing PrinceCon 36: Champions of the Light

Sixty-three years ago, a generation saved the world; now it is our turn to save them.

The name of Malchion, Mage-King of Sumerilon, is a byword for cruelty and evil. After a long and hopeless campaign by the alliance known as “Champions of the Light”, he was destroyed against all expectation. The great General Ironhewer forced a path through Malchion’s armies, and none other than Romulus Pendragon struck the fatal blow.  He led the Archmages and the High Priests and Priestesses of the Nine Gods to the final confrontation where they combined spells and prayers too deadly and dangerous to be risked again.  Though they destroyed their foe, all save Pendragon were consumed along with him.  In the wake of the devastation, only four of the Gods remain active enough in mortal affairs to have numbers of miracle-working priests.

The Champion’s children lived in relative peace. In turn, their children (and their adventurous contemporaries) were raised on tales of the grandparent’s exploits, wistfully imagining what they might have done in a generation called to heroism. But be careful of what you wish for: there have been a series of high-profile murders under circumstances that suggest dark magics, and word has leaked from the Justiciar’s office that each victim was or had a connection to a famous Champion.

 

General Ironhewer himself has come out of retirement to lead the investigation out of Hireling Hall, and is calling on adventurers of all races: Human, Elf, Dwarf, Fey, Hobbits, and even the Catfolk, otterlike Perrin and horselike Eponai to assemble at 5PM on the 11th of March, 2011 to help investigate these murders, and to discover what lies behind them.

 

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PrinceCon 36 will be held March 11-13, 2011 on the Princeton University Campus. The Simulation Games Union’s annual convention consists of tabletop roleplaying in a shared world, centered around a common goal. Rules are a variation of the Open-Gaming version (3.5SRD) of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, incorporating many ideas developed over the years by the SGU. Admission is $20, free to Princeton University undergraduates. Certificates are awarded for Strategic, Tactical and Role Playing excellence.

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