Thawing 1218: The State of Braelin

Thawing 1218:
The State of Braelin

Winter has lingered this year, but the season has been an eventful one nevertheless!

The most momentous development came as a surprise to all: During the last week of Winterrise 1217, Their Majesty Jintaru Riga made a formal proposal of marriage to Princess Valencia Odell—and the princess accepted. Though some Braelinese scorn the match, expressing doubts about the new monarch’s intentions, others interpret it as a sign that Their Majesty Jintaru Riga is sincere in their desire to rule Braelin as a Braelinese monarch. Many supporters believe the princess will act as a positive influence, correcting the monarch’s occasional missteps.

As the royals prepare to wed, the recent trend fusing Braelinese and Caprinan fashions has spread further into the countryside. Commoners particularly have adopted a looser profile of clothing, as well as Caprinan-style arm-wraps, leg-wraps, and/or sashes. The nobility have adopted Caprinan color aesthetics, with wintertime’s whites and warm colors transitioning to pairings of blacks and cool colors for the spring.

In grimmer news, the situation in Blacknall has devolved. When the Ammos Summit made no discernible headway by the end of Autumnfall, young Sandlar Blacknall kept his promise to use force against the occupying Xirosi, plunging the duchy once again into a state of chaos. News from interior Blacknall went largely silent upon the onset of the winter snows. In retaliation, a party of Braelinese diplomats is currently being held hostage in Ammos.

Their Majesty Jintaru Riga has issued a statement insisting that the Xirosi government release the diplomats unharmed; they have also urged the occupying Xirosi soldiers to withdraw peacefully and requested that Blacknall’s army show mercy to any person thus retreating. Despite their vocal support of Sandlar Blacknall, however, the monarch has not provided any official military intervention or assistance. Squads of iketis and Black Orchid members continue with ongoing relief efforts.

Throughout the nation, Braelin’s youth are just finishing up their second trimester at the academies. The merits and faults of universal education continue to spark debate. Despite fears that the first trimester would interfere with harvest intakes, the schools’ curricula incorporated field-work; thus, even if farmers were not necessarily assisted by their own teenaged children, they did receive the help of classes of students assigned to regional outposts for the duration of autumn. Some people applaud this arrangement as healthy for students and farmers alike, though others feel that noble children being forced to work like peasants is demeaning; that it cuts into time that artisans’ children should be using to learn trades; and that inexperienced hands on a farm are more likely to harm than help.

From Durant come reports of intermittent border skirmishes with local Serenites, but nothing large-scale enough to warrant official attention or widespread concern—“just growing pains,” as the people of Durant put it. More troublingly, a region extending to approximately one mile out from the ruins of Ülló continues to wither. Anyone who lingers in that area for more than a few days succumbs to the wasting sickness heretofore observed. A joint group of Braelinese and Caprinan healers work steadily, but are no closer to finding a cure. At their urging, Duchess Verine Lyfeld has declared the city ruins off-limit to all unauthorized travelers until further notice.

Land disputes plague Fidelle and the Archduchy as well, as individual noble houses contest the placement of borderlines drawn after the war. While most disputes end up in court or in the hands of diplomats, a few have flared up into violence. Rumors about poisonings and assassinations on both sides fly.

Travel to Caprina has picked up as the small nation opens its doors further to allow authorized “cultural tourists,” including civilian scribes, magic hunters, and other researchers in addition to merchants and government officials. The Caprinans are cordial to all of their guests and the island-nation is reported to be quite beautiful, but it is whispered that the populace there has begun to express concern about the growing disruption to their daily life and customs. As exposure to the Continent increases, will the long-held traditions of Caprinan culture survive?

Last but not least, the Republic of Zála is shoring up its resources, treaties, and defenses in anticipation of future conflict with Seren—though Seren appears to remain internally focused, the Zálans feel it is only a matter of time before their neighbor turns its attention back onto them. Should conflict erupt, however, they will be able to count on the support of Caprina, whose evolving trade and governmental alliances with Zála have made it absolutely clear that the Caprinans will not ally, harbor, or otherwise support slavers.

Now the questions on everyone’s mind are these: Will the marriage between Jintaru Riga and Valencia Odell succeed? What will the winter thaw reveal of the situation in conflict-torn Blacknall? Will the Xirosi heed the Braelinese call to release their diplomats, or does yet another war loom in the near future?

Address to the People of Braelin

I write this address upon the first anniversary of my ascension to the throne, even against the recommendation of my closest counselor, Karasin Stragos, because my experiences in Revma have indicated that speaking directly to the people of Braelin might help to assuage their fear of me—to make me human in their eyes.

It is likely by now that you have already decided, in your heart, to believe that I am or am not worthy to sit upon the throne of Braelin. But even the stillest lake will show the ripples of a stone tossed into it. So I hope it will be with my words.

Not long ago, I was living in great contentment among my family and friends. As winter turned, I cleared the cobwebs from my home on the banks of the Hasumi River and bid farewell to the old year. But when the spring mists rose up into the sky, the word of the God Who Reigns possessed me, and burned my mind with the command that I was to go away from Caprina’s shores to rule in Braelin.

I will be honest: I did not want to go. Though I boast no exceptional skill, my work as a tekni was consistent, and I found joy in it. I had never ventured more than two days’ walk from my home village of Chonburi. What did I know about ruling a strange country across a sea which compatriots far worthier than me had never crossed? Why would the God Who Reigns burden me with such a task when surely there were those in Braelin better suited to it?

But it was as though a fever had gripped me. I could not concentrate on anything. A vision of the moon hanging over Revma was already in my mind. If ever you have felt the voice of a god, you will surely understand.

I knew it was unlikely that I would see the silver waters of the Hasumi or the cherry trees of Chonburi again. My closest friends, gathered together the night before my departure, were already strangers to me. My heart was overwhelmed by the prospect of the vast journey ahead.

When I first arrived on Braelin’s shore, Karasin Stragos and I found lodgings outside of Revma. The innkeeper there must have been surprised to greet such unusual guests, but they merely introduced themselves and assured us that we could sleep that night with our minds at ease—that they would allow no one to bother or attack us. I observed the innkeeper carefully and saw that they were indeed a person of stubborn honesty: strong, simple, straightforward. I found their purity of heart most admirable.

That night, I listened to a performer reciting a country ballad from Blacknall to the accompaniment of a lute. It was not like the stories of Caprina, or our traditional dancing songs. They were singing in the room right next to ours, and I found their voice very noisy as I was trying to rest.

But as I continued to listen I realized how good it was that such fine customs exist in this land. Here was a country that had endured more than a thousand years. I felt such a sudden connection to the Braelinese people that I became certain that I had lived as a Braelinese citizen in the past, and that, therefore, this was my homecoming. For a short time, I forgot the hardships of the road, and laid aside the twin burdens of loneliness and doubt I had carried with me across the sea, and was moved to tears.

Since that moment, I have not felt myself an exiled Caprinan, but a Braelinese citizen. You may think this has made my destiny lighter; but it has merely served to double the sense of responsibility I feel toward this country and its people.

As monarch I have tried to seek virtue and wisdom for all before considering my private interests, and to look to the state of the people of Braelin before I look to the interests of the state. When I arrived, Braelin was wracked by war; its cities were broken and burned, its enemies threatened on all sides, and its people were sick with wounds of body and spirit.

It is said that war is a curse: it should be resorted to only when it is inevitable. And so I dedicated myself to bringing peace; to healing the injuries the country and the citizens have endured; to rebuilding homes and families; to forging bridges instead of destroying them. I sought not only to protect my new home, but to make it better for those who live and will live here. If I have failed you in this, I beg your forgiveness as one who never expected to rule.

Perhaps a different person would bring prosperity and peace to Braelin. Perhaps a different person would be better suited to rule here. But the God Who Reigns did not select a different person; it selected me. And so I believe that, while a different person might give the people of Braelin the illusion of happiness, I will give you the reality of it.

Thus I hope that you believe me when I say that I take my duties seriously, and that I have no intention—as some have suggested—of occupying the throne of Braelin as a foreign conqueror. Rather, I wish only to protect and better the country on behalf of the people—and as one of them. Should any person or persons seek to undermine this country, as many Braelinese seem to fear, I will make every effort to stop them. Should those persons be apprehended, they will be condemned to the Burning Death, so that their evils cannot be perpetuated in future generations. This I vow by the God Who Reigns.

All that is from the gods is fated. Thus it may be that the God Who Reigns always intended for me to fail. Who can claim to know the will of the gods? If that is the case, I will abide by my destiny. However, as one human to other humans, I will humbly request this: if I do fail, and it comes to pass that I must forfeit the throne, I ask to be shown the mercy of death rather than the strictures of exile—for I know in my heart that the death of the body is no evil, while to live in prison or to be forced once again to leave my home—Braelin—would mean the daily death of my spirit.

I thank you for your patience in bearing with my inexpert words. I will finish with one final item for your consideration. It is a parable that an iketis taught me when I was very young, and which has lived in my heart ever since:

            Danas Paristos, at Busawan Iketis’ yu, decided they would take good care of their old teacher’s health and give Busawan Iketis only fresh miso. Busawan Iketis, noticing they were being served better miso than their pupils, asked: “Who is cooking today?”
            Danas Paristos was sent before the iketis. Busawan Iketis learned that, according to their age and position, they should eat only fresh miso. So the iketis said to the paristos: “Then you think I shouldn’t eat at all.” With this they entered their room and locked the door.
            Danas Paristos, sitting outside the door, asked their teacher’s pardon. Busawan Iketis would not answer. For seven days Danas Paristos sat outside and Busawan Iketis within.
            Finally in desperation another paristos called loudly to Busawan Iketis: “You may be all right, old teacher, but this young paristos here has to eat. They cannot go without food forever!”
           At that Busawan Iketis opened the door. They were smiling. They told Danas Paristos: “I insist on eating the same food as the least of the paristos here. When you become the teacher I do not want you to forget this.”

 

As signed and sealed by Jintaru Riga, monarch of Braelin,
in the Autumn of the year 1217.

Summerfall 1217: The State of Braelin

Summerfall 1217:
State of Braelin

As the reign of Their Majesty Jintaru Riga proceeds, the continued mixing of Braelinese and Caprinan culture is on everyone’s mind. Changes are underway throughout the kingdom and the world!

Those merchants who travelled to Caprina over the past few moons have returned; and though they were disappointed to find the price of tungsten higher than expected, their reports confirm that the island-nation is a lovely place to visit. A few visitors have even gone so far as to claim that Caprinan culture is more sophisticated than Braelinese culture, and that Braelin stands to learn much from their new neighbors! This attitude has astonished some and upset others, in particular the most nationalistic Braelinese, who believe that no culture in the world can possibly compare to their own.

Many citizens have been heartened by the news that Their Majesty Jintaru Riga has formally invited Princess Valencia Odell to meet with them in the capital. Preparations for the princess’ arrival are currently taking place, and it is estimated that she will arrive in Revma by the end of Summerfall. Will the monarch invite the princess to become an advisor? Will Princess Odell take up her position as diplomat once more?

Interestingly, a fusion of Braelinese and Caprinan fashion has taken the capital city by storm, inspired by Their Majesty’s recent adoption of certain elements of Braelinese dress. Though such trends usually occur first among the urban nobility and then trickle downward through society, this new aesthetic seems to be working the other way: the commonfolk of Revma have been the first enthusiastic adopters—a visual confirmation of their support of the new monarch.

Registration for enrollment at the various academies is fast approaching, in accordance with Their Majesty’s edicts. Many young Braelinese, especially among the commoners, are eager for the chance to improve their education (and spend some time away from home).

Now that the deadline for the registration of shamans and tattooists have passed, the epmos have begun in earnest to enforce the new laws surrounding these professions. Despite anxiety that the implementation of the new epmos position would spell doom for Braelin, the epmos have thus far acted courteously and—on the whole—with empathy. Most people agree that the epmos have been genuinely interested in making cultural connections, and it seems they will be integrated into society without issue, given time. Some particularly observant individuals, however, have noticed a strange reluctance among the Braelinese to accord the epmos and members of the Black Orchid with the proper degree of respect; though both are equivalent to nobility, they are often addressed and treated like commoners by many of the Braelinese. Whether this is intentional or due to ignorance is uncertain, but could spell trouble if the habit persists.

Meanwhile, the iketis continue to garner genuine goodwill. In Caxton, local healers had been facing the prospect of a virulent summertime plague, with trained apothecaries predicting both a significant death toll and a rapid spread of the contagion into Stemma, Durant, and—worst of all—Blacknall, whose recovering infrastructure could not have survived the introduction of another new problem. However, a group of iketis intervened at Their Majesty’s request; they managed not only to contain the plague but to save the lives of many of the infected. Residents and healers alike have professed their gratitude for their skillful assistance.

But even the iketis’ knowledge has its limits: in the newly founded duchy of Durant, a strange wasting sickness leaks from the ruins of Ülló. Try as they might, neither iketis nor Braelinese healers have been able to identify or cure it—though it is, at this point, not a primary concern. After all, Durant has otherwise been enjoying the benefits of the Order of the Silver Fern’s growth ritual, and the Braelinese and former Serenite leaders of the area have been working well together.

The people of Braelinese Gavell have, after several moons of debate, settled on a new name for themselves: Fidelle.* Though it breaks with conventional tradition, the new Duke and Duchess have announced that they consider it a fitting declaration of their people’s ongoing dedication to Crown and country.

News from elsewhere in the world is mixed. The Xirosi government has cordially accepted the delegation of diplomats sent by Their Majesty Jintaru Riga to Ammos, where discussion is said to be productive. Yet the Xirosi forces amassed in Hawksworth and Blacknall still refuse to withdraw. Young Sandlar Blacknall, now a celebrity in his ravaged duchy, has proclaimed—to massive popular approval—that he will lead House Blacknall’s army against the Xirosi if diplomatic efforts stall.

The Republic of Zála continues to flourish against the odds; in the face of droughts and food shortages, the Zálans have managed to capitalize on their proximity to the sea with the assistance of a significant investor, the Beauvais Trading Company. Under the tutelage of the Company’s shipwrights and sailors, the Zálans have built a decent number of schooners and have adopted fishing as a source of food and commercial goods.

The Archduchy of Gavell has followed through on its promise to reimburse loyalist families choosing to relocate back into Braelinese-held territory; many such loyalists have opted to resettle in Durant, but some have joined relatives in Fidelle or elsewhere in Braelin. Though the Archduchess has vehemently reiterated that Gavell continues to prohibit slavery by law, unsavory rumors about the burgeoning slave trade persist. Gossip alleges that cutthroat Archduchy nobles have taken to kidnapping their political or economic rivals for sale across the Thalassa Sea.

And finally: All is quiet from Seren, where the new ruler continues to solidify his hold on the throne. Rumors of “restructuring” among the Serenite nobility are rampant, and Travelers coming across the border report that the Serenite army is preoccupied with efforts to reclaim land seized by the Beast-people in the far eastern parts of their country…

__________
* Fidelle: fee-DELL

Summerrise 1217: The State of Braelin

Summerrise 1217:
State of Braelin

Though the war is over, its echoes can still be felt throughout the world of Éras as various nations, both new and old, rebuild and attempt to stabilize.

Braelin’s newest duchy, Durant, has made a pledge of mutual support with the nation of Obarsza to the north. Whether Duchess Lyfield and Imperatrix Felician truly plan to work together for the benefit of both their lands, or whether this oath is simply for show, remains to be seen. There is hope among the nobles of Durant, as well as Obarsza, that prosperity can be achieved if both fledgling territories work together. Many among the common people, however, remain suspicious. Old grudges between former Caxtoners and Serenites run deep and will likely be difficult to mend.

The Archduchy of Gavell, on the other hand, has been hard at work forging commercial ties with Seren. Many in Braelin have expressed suspicions regarding slavery, which remains legal in Seren, but the Archduchy’s government denies any participation in the trade. A number of loyalist families have decided, surprisingly, to remain in the Archduchy instead of settling in Durant like many of their peers. The reasons for this trend are unclear. Perhaps these families do not have faith that the Archduchy will last, and seek to remain on their ancestral land until it is reabsorbed by Braelin. Perhaps they have found life in the Archduchy to their liking. Perhaps internal social politics or disagreements have stayed their departure. It is difficult to tell.

Though small and relatively quiet on the world scale, Zála appears to be doing quite well, and it represents hope not just to former Serenite slaves but to a small number of war refugees from parts of Braelin that were hit particularly hard by the Beast-people—Blacknall and Hawksworth. Even a few families from both the Archduchy and Braelinese Gavell are rumored to have travelled to Zála, seeking a new beginning.

In Braelinese Gavell, Baron Aurelian Sollers has been named the new Count of Fonteyn by Duke and Duchess Jonathan and Leda Fonteyn. There is talk of changing the name of the duchy, and several names have been put forth, with Bonsecour, Dairelle, Laguerra, and Fidelle as the frontrunners; but as of yet there is no consensus, and the name of the duchy remains Gavell for the time being despite unpleasant associations with the Archduchy.

The matter of Caprina is, of course, the most discussed topic in Braelin. Their Majesty Jintaru Riga continues to rule Braelin, and much of the original opposition to the new monarchy has quieted. Only the loudest voices against Their Majesty Jintaru Riga continue to shout. The Braelinese remain somewhat uneasy about the impending arrival of the epmos, but so far Their Majesty Jintaru Riga has dealt fairly with the people of their new country and has made progress on their edicts. For example, the building of many of their proposed academies is nearing completion, and the first students are expected to arrive toward the end of the summer. Merchants who have applied to do so are being permitted to travel to Caprina over the summer, though the number of ships admitted to the island remains low, as not to overwhelm the people there.

Things seem relatively stable on the whole, but trouble may be brewing with the Xirosi. Their Majesty Jintaru Riga has officially issued a thank-you to the Xirosi mercenaries who assisted in fending off the Beast-people in Hawksworth and Blacknall, followed by a formal request for them to withdraw now that the crisis has passed. In response, the Xirosi have claimed that they wish to remain “until the area is fully secured,” and have made no effort even to pretend to depart.

Many obstacles remain for the people of Braelin as they recover from the war, but will they embrace their new monarch and the future that monarch has planned? Only time will tell…

Silencing 1217: The State of Braelin

Silencing 1217:
State of Braelin

Sudden quiet has settled over Éras following the ascension of Jintaru Riga to the Braelinese throne. Their decisive action and apparent diplomacy have ended the many wars that threatened to tear the world to pieces. But their reign has also ushered in a time of change.

Though most Braelinese citizens are cautiously optimistic about the new monarch, segments of the population express concern over Their Majesty’s recent decrees. Everyone seems to have an opinion—to trust the Purple God’s wisdom, or to point out the god’s past mistakes; to hail the academies as a welcome equalizing force, or to decry them as tools intended to shape the beliefs of Braelin’s youths; to celebrate a chance to learn about a new country and people, or to resist the imposition of Caprinan philosophies and ethics onto Braelinese society… In short, whether to praise Jintaru Riga or reject them. Nevertheless, no one has taken action to remove the monarch from the throne—yet.

Meanwhile, messengers from Revma travel the country with this announcement: the government will subsidize town officials and select Zikarian citizens to travel on the first ships to Caprina. Private individuals are not permitted to anchor in Caprinan waters until summertime, to prevent the island from being overwhelmed by foreign visitors. Though merchants grumble about this delay, none are wasting any time in preparing their wares.

The newly independent Archduchy of Gavell is working on rebuilding, stabilizing its internal politics, and making arrangements for displaced noble loyalist families. While these families debate how to proceed, loyalists living in what remains of Braelinese Gavell face yet another a crisis of identity: what to call their much-reduced duchy now that the traitorous House Gavell has assumed control of the Archduchy. By decree of Their Majesty Jintaru Riga, Jonathon Fonteyn and his wife, Leda, will serve as the new Duke and Duchess of Braelinese Gavell. Which family will rise to take the Fonteyns’ place in ruling county Fonteyn has yet to be decided.

A second appointment in the annexed Braelinese territory beyond the Caxton Wall! Their Majesty Jintaru Riga has asked Verine Lyfeld, erstwhile baroness of a staunch anti-rebel house in Eston, to rule as duchess. Their decision to appoint Lyfeld has been widely praised. Upon accepting the office, Duchess Lyfeld announced that her new duchy would not be called Lyfeld, as many expected, but rather Durant. She has designated a piece of land outside the ruins of Ülló to hold her capital city, which will be named Honore, and invites her fellow loyalist Gavellese to join her in forging life anew.

Yet as different as life in Braelin may seem, the eastern parts of Éras have undergone a greater change. Where one united empire entered the war, three countries have emerged!

Seren’s emperor has at last been overthrown by young warrior Koppány Biró. Despite fears that a new ruler might threaten the Braelin-Seren accord, Biró has focused inward to shore up his position and to take stock of the devastating losses his country has sustained.

Along the western coastline, the Free Nation of Zála stands like a beacon for the oppressed. Its fortifications built, the Zálans have elected three Councilors—Szandra Takács, Valéria Király, and Móric Pintér—to preside over a government they call a “republic.” Absurdly, they intend to allow every Zálan citizen over age 16 to vote directly on legislation and executive bills. This is, of course, a preposterous way to run a country, but most Braelinese have adopted a bemusedly tolerant stance toward the people they helped to liberate; they are convinced that the Zálans will soon understand the ludicrousness of their plan, and fix it accordingly.

In response to diplomatic requests that Braelin withdraw its armies from Zála, Their Majesty Jintaru Riga is complying. However, to many people’s surprise, a significant number of Braelinese soldiers are choosing to take advantage of the recently-passed Citizenship Bill. This bill states that foreigners who have lived continuously in Zála for more than one year may apply for citizenship. Those accepted by a majority vote become fully enfranchised Zálans and must revoke their foreign citizenship.

The kingdom of Obarsza has risen in the north, formed from several provinces the Bloodline Coalition wrested from Serenite control at the end of the war. Its monarch, Ibolya Varga, styles herself Imperatrix Felicián I; and her first official act has been to issue an Emancipation Decree to free all slaves and render slavery illegal throughout Obarsza. She is joined by consort Emil Vastag, with their future children set to inherit the throne.

Finally, the Xirosi continue to assist the people of Hawksworth and Blacknall who have been impacted by the Beast-people’s incursion—with the help of reinforcements from Jintaru Riga’s personal guard. Reports confirm that the joint Xirosi-Caprinan troops have routed the Beast-people, forcing them to retreat all the way to the Paranomos. Each faction has stayed to render aid in the affected territories, but rumor abounds that neither group likes the other, likely due to the significant cultural differences in how they handle the dead.

And so, a tenuous peace holds as old nations struggle to recover and adapt, and new nations attempt to rise and assert themselves. Which will succeed and which fail? How long can this peace last? Will Their Majesty Jintaru Riga manage to sway the Braelinese populace to their side, or are their days on the throne numbered? Only time will tell!


Pronunciation Guide

  • Durant – duhr-AHNT
    • Honore – ohn-OAR
    • Ülló – ooh-LOW
  • Obarsza – oh-BAR-sah
  • Zála – ZAH-lah

Autumnrise 1216: The State of Braelin

Autumnrise 1216:
The State of Braelin

Though much of the full-scale fighting between Braelin and Seren has dissolved into skirmishing, Éras remains engulfed in turmoil. Thousands of people are on the move, some riding or marching to the aid of others, others fleeing homes that have been razed, still others seeking their own profit amid the general chaos.

Beyond the Caxton Wall, the combined Braelinese-Rebel Coalition forces occupy a swathe of land extending from Úllo in the north all the way to Zála in the south. The Free Nation of Zála, as it is now known, is rumored to be forming its own system of governance predicated on the idea of merit—an interesting experiment, though many feel it is destined to fail in time. Braelin has announced its recognition of Zála as a nation, though cynics are quick to point out that Braelin still maintains an occupying force of approximately ten-thousand soldiers there… though of course the Braelinese nobility insist on calling them “supporting troops.”

Word of High General Knight Iolanthe la Hale’s triumph against the Serenite emperor has spread like wildfire throughout Seren and beyond. Even now the knight travels homeward. And though Emperor Rósza has thus far retained his seat, the line of challengers is substantial—the provincial council tasked with vetting potential claimants seems disinclined to deny anyone. While the emperor remains bogged down in defending his seat, political opponents in the so-called Bloodline Faction clamor for change that would guarantee a more reliable system of succession. And word has begun to trickle back from Braelinese soldiers posted in Seren: apparently there is a somewhat significant portion of the Coalition who oppose the practice of slavery in their homeland…

Yet all is not well in Braelin either. The capital city of Esos, once one of the greatest cities in the world, lies in charred ruins. Its residents have lost everything and many people have been lost or killed in the mayhem—among them, most troublingly, King Darien Odell. Though the Order of the Silver Fern will neither confirm nor deny the rumors, information has leaked that no one knows the king’s current status or whereabouts. Nevertheless the Fern retains control of the government, now running out of Glasscourt in western Stemma.

Violence plagues the north as the Beast-people continue to run rampant. Part of the army that had been stationed in Esos is rallying to march north, but is it already too late? By all accounts, Icemont has crumbled with the destruction of House Erewaker; a few bloodied messengers have stumbled southward with tales of utter carnage in Silvervale, which has been sacked; Pinemont is under martial law after widespread bread riots; and no one can get relief supplies into the affected territories because of the myriad dangers. To date, sixteen different merchant caravans—including two bands of Travelers, who usually enjoy full range of the road—have simply vanished from the map since the incursions began in mid-Summerrise. Hawksworth and Blacknall have now opened their borders to any Xirosi willing to help—and the Xirosi have responded, hurrying to ride in force against the marauding invaders.

In Gavell, the so-called patriots have taken advantage of the general disarray to push back against Braelin, recovering territory throughout Fleet and into Fonteyn. The southern regions of the duchy and much of Rondel are still under Braelinese control, but it is considered a major loss among strategists. More and more frequently, rising numbers of non-Gavellese are beginning to question why the kingdom does not merely let the revolutionists secede—an opinion echoed by the Xirosi government, who is urging a general cease-fire between all nations.

Finally, and perhaps most strangely of all, is the news coming out of Zikari. The islanders describe a massive meeting called a Moot and state their intention to seek full duchy status for Zikari. And of course, they speak of two strangers from Caprina, one named Jintaru Riga, who apparently bears the Purple God’s light of succession—and who is said to be sailing to the mainland even now to claim her new throne…

Fall 2016: The State of Braelin

Feasting 1216:
The State of Braelin

Siege! Under the blazing summer sun, the city of Esos braces itself against the ravening Serenite army. Thanks to the bravery and cunning of Braelinese militias, the Serenites have had to weather continual sabotage and martial harassment during their long march up the Kordiso. Yet the force that threatens Esos still outnumbers the capital’s fighting population by a ratio of 3 to 1. Troops eight-thousand strong are riding from the nearby Gavellese front to reinforce the beleaguered city; but will Esos be able to hold until these allies arrive? or will the Serenites overwhelm its defenses and storm the Palace, where King Darien Odell is rumored to hide?

Even as citizens’ eyes turn toward the kingdom’s heart, battles rage like wildfires in other places as well.

Along the Braelin-Seren border, a massive Serenite force of about 45,000 soldiers is bringing all its strength to bear against the Caxton Wall. Against a standing army of 25,000 fighters on the Wall, their chances would be good—if it weren’t for the additional ten-thousand Braelinese on the march from Zála, maneuvering to crush their unsuspecting enemies against the Wall… and the timely assistance of a further eleven-thousand Serenite fighters from the Eastern Marcali province. Drawn from several splinter political groups, they are known collectively as “the Rebel Coalition” and they seek reform within the Empire. If this gambit succeeds, the allied Braelinese/Rebel forces will wipe out half of Seren’s martial force, dealing a crippling blow to the enemy! Yet strategists are already questioning the Braelinese commanders who seem willing to sacrifice their capital in the name of victory in the east…

Trouble is brewing in the north as well: hordes of Beast-people have poured out of the Paranomos Mountains to attack Braelin’s northern territories. During the long winter, they appear to have learned a series of terrifyingly effective strategies using their highly mobile fighting style. It seems likely that someone has trained and supplied them, but who? The Xirosi disclaim responsibility—and what few Xirosi mercenaries have been allowed into Hawksworth and Blacknall until now have courageously helped to defend their allies’ lands and towns. But it is not enough to hold back the tide; and with the official confirmation of young Ulrich Erewaker’s death, Blacknall is crumbling. Even as the northern duchies seek further succor from the Xirosi, many southern Braelinese remain convinced that their western neighbor is to blame for the attacks.

Meanwhile, in Gavell, the massive retreat of Braelinese forces toward Esos has created an opportunity for the revolutionaries whose spirits remain unbroken. They seem to be using what time the siege brings to regroup, resupply, and cement their hold in the eastern parts of the broken duchy.

And from the High General Knight Iolanthe la Hale and her plan to challenge the Emperor of Seren in single combat—no news.

As these titanic forces clash and struggle, it seems only a matter of time before one of them breaks. Those caught up in the tide of war can only do their best to keep afloat and petition the gods for mercy—if mercy is something that can still be had…