== STORY ==
After recent aggression reached its peak in the western Watchwolf settlement, the neighboring Clan Ironmound has become the focus of attention in the Ulven civil war. The Clan’s territory borders Clan Shattered Spear and the Pass in the Great Wolf’s Hackles and is home to many highly defendable locations and large amounts of high quality steel.
For a year, Clan Ironmound has expressed concern that they wish to remain neutral in the larger Ulven conflict. Their representatives have traveled and been host to several delegates from other Clans, and it seems that the Clan’s allegiance is highly sought after by both Clan Grimward and Clan Nightriver. Clan Grimward’s aggression and conquest of Clan Stormjarl territory to the south and the Watchwolf Clan’s settlement nearby have shown Ironmound how neutral clans are treated.
With the impending decision of Clan Ironmound in the near future, the ambassadors and leaders of their ruling elder council have decided to hold a feast and invite representatives from Clan Nightriver, the Coalition, and Clan Grimward. Hawks have been sent to these groups detailing a day and a location; one of the settlements near the Great Wolf’s Hackles. This meeting could decide the allegiance of Clan Ironmound in the Ulven civil war and could potentially be a major turning point for either side.
Representatives from almost all the factions of the Coalition joined Clan Nightriver and Clan Grimward to attend a feast held on neutral ground in Ironmound territory. As guests entered the area, they were a bit unsettled by Grimward’s display of force; camped within shouting distance were two well supplied and apparently well armed war packs of Clan Grimward. They had camped nearby as part of the escort to Wargah Grimward, the representative to Clan Grimward, who was the daughter of Haygreth Grimward.
Tension filled the feasting hall as Wargah and her guards took one side of the hall and the Coalition and Clan Nightriver took the other side of the hall. As the feast took place, tension eased a bit as everyone in attendance was glad to have a break from the fighting. Grimward and members of the Coalition even had discussions that remained amicable and everyone was a bit relieved at how the feast was progressing.
However, a different kind of battle was taking place and representatives from all sides of the war were doing a lot of discussions on involvement and what it would mean. Ironmound has long since stood for neutrality, but Grimward was applying a lot of pressure to make them join their cause. This was furthered by the discussions of Wargah, but many of the Ironmound fears were eased when reports of the Watchwolf defenders being shown mercy and even being cared for after the Watchwolves were conquered. This gave them hope that their people would be spared if a decision had to be made. On the other hand, the representatives from the Coalition’s factions and of Clan Nightriver had talks with the Ironmound Council of Elders as well, sharing stories of their defenses of other neutral clans and how Grimward has treated others and refused to listen to reason. They expressed many details about the war, offered aid where they could, and continued to push the stance that neutrality should be a choice for any Clan in this conflict instead of just pushing Ironmound to choose Clan Nightriver’s side. One of the Ironmound Elders had a son present that was afflicted by headaches and dreams, and members of the Coalition assisted the young man and even offered to provide aid to him regardless of the decision made by Ironmound. Many in attendance were worried if the Coalition guests were respecting their hosts and acting the way they were expected to, and several negative interactions with the Ironmound Elders made many worry about how it would influence their decisions.
The Council of Elders were conflicted on their decisions, seeing merit in both sides of the war and in neutrality. At first they discussed, then debated, and then flat out argued over the options presented. It seemed like there was a large rift between the Council of Elders present in at the feast and in Ironmound territory if the Elders cannot come to an agreement on a decision then the Clanleader must become involved. In the heat of the moment, one of the Elders made a bold move after arguing audibly in front of the guests in the dinner. This pro-Coalition Elder drew his sword and asked the Coalition to stand with him, after his opposing pro-Grimward Elder argued that taking a stance in the war, especially with the Coalition, was not the right choice. Those present sprang into action and weapons were drawn, the room suddenly threatening to erupt into violence. Wargah Grimward then used magic to recall the pro-Grimward Ironmound Elder out of danger, rescuing him after he expressed fear of being present, leaving her guards to the mercy of the room. A member of the coalition attacked the Grimward guards, breaking the neutral ground the feast was on, and forcing the decision even further for Clan Ironmound. Luckily the violence was halted as fast as it began, and none of the Grimward were killed in the fight. They were allowed to leave and were not stopped and they ran to their encampment as soon as they left the building.
In a flurry of activity, those present at the dinner came up with a plan to have most of their groups escort the Clan Nightriver representative to her encampment to link up with her warriors and for one group to escort the remaining Ironmound Elders and their followers to the nearby Ironmound village. The entire group quickly left the building and the plan worked; Clan Nightriver warriors were alerted and able to regroup at the village and the Ironmound reps arrived safely. The Coalition rejoiced in this victory, having earned another ally to stand against Grimward, but were fearful of the well armed Grimward war packs that would surely pursue them to the village. The Grimward camp packed up quickly and to everyone’s surprise marched south, spurred on as if driven by some new purpose, and avoided the village entirely. Once the excitement settled down, the Ironmound rep became concerned and worried… for he knew that he made a grave mistake in forcing a decision for the Council at the feast. He was worried about the repercussions of the Clanleader, who heavily favored neutrality in this conflict, and spoke to several that he advised the Coalition be prepared to do whatever is necessary to gain his favor and secure the new alliance.
The Clan Nightriver representative was also worried, knowing that unless acted upon quickly, the alliance with Ironmound could be lost and their Clan ending up joining Grimward now that the option of neutrality is no longer available to the Clan. As she attached a hastily written letter to the leg of a messenger hawk and let it fly south to Clan Nightriver territory, she made it very clear that this very moment and the decisions the Coalition makes in response to this is critical; failing to secure this alliance could be the tipping point in the war.