The Clan Stormjarl and New Aldorian Campaign
In April of 265 (2016), players were given the chance to pledge their PCs or faction units/resources to a 2-3 month contract that would see them sailing into Clan Squallborn territory. They would either be helping to invade and conquer lands alongside Clan Stormjarl warriors and New Aldorian soldiers or helping with the administration and logistics of organizing the campaign and the needed supplies.
PCs featured in the Story:
Volrok Hinrich, Clypeum Legis, Anne Cash, Thrand Stormjarl, Fritha Stormjarl, Aimerick Bordeaux, Marcus Clearbrook, Brodin Fizzlewick, Sakai Sakura, Throm Nightriver, Alexander Vallen, Caster Rex, Laertes, O’Frik, and Santiago Ruiz.
Player Factions featured in the Story:
The Phoenix and the Crimson Shades
Spring had come in full force now that the bite of winter, which seemed to cling on much longer this season, was finally gone. Plants everywhere bloomed, animals and insects scurried about, and life was visible everywhere. Spring crops were already beginning, the buds sprouting and plants coming in, showcasing the potential harvests that could give yield throughout the year. This was pleasing to the Chieftains of Clan Stormjarl and the Nobles of New Aldoria as these signs of a good fall harvest further reinforced the successes of the campaign.
Since the beginning of April, boats loaded with warriors and supplies landed on Clan Squallborn shores and conducted a blitzkrieg campaign to take as much land and as many villages and settlements as possible. Without warning, Clan Squallborn’s lands have been seized quickly and the defenders driven north. Over a third of Clan Squallborn lands have been taken and are under the control of Clan Stormjarl, New Aldoria, their allies, and those who took up the contract in return for promise of coin. However, as the campaign’s initial successes raised the spirits of those involved and saw large sums of loot and reward, the defenses of the Clan have become more organized, more well trained, and more desperate in the defense of their homeland. The blitzkrieg has begun to stall on all fronts, meaning that the campaign must shift its focus or recalculate its plans.
The sprawling camp that had been hastily created on the coast of Clan Squallborn was a constant bustle of activity. Boats arrived with supplies, warriors of Stormjarl and soldiers of New Aldoria moved to and from different deployments, wagons were loaded and unloaded, and representatives for several groups shuffled about and tended to multiple duties.
“You shouldn’t put that there.” said Santiago in a monotone voice as he bit off a hunk of a huge block of cheese, casually watching a nearby caravan leader struggling with a way to load supplies onto his wagon.
The man’s head shot up with an indignant look on his face and strained with the effort of the heavy load.
“Bugger off. I been drivin’ carts me ‘ole life. I ain’t listenin’ to no barefoot grub the likes of you.”
The man grunted with the effort of shifting the load, a huge sack of oats and grain, onto the front end of the cart, content on stubbornly showing the cheese-eating man he knew what he was talking about. With a quick clapping of his hands to dust off the dirt, he examined his work and seemed pleased. His workers tugged on the cart and began to pull it down the well-worn road.
This is when the cart wheels hit the ruts, shifted the heavy load violently forward onto the base of the handles where the weight is not meant to rest. An audible snap and crunch was heard when at one wheel broke and the brace holder the other wheel in place snapped off the body of the cart. Absent a wheel, the entire cart toppled to the side and the huge sacks of oats spilled forward onto the dirt along with the other crates and wares the cart was carrying.
“Told you so.” replied Santiago as he took a bite off of a two foot long sausage which he somehow procured from his burlap sack. He watched the caravan leader have a fit in front of him, rattling off curses and obscenities and kicking the cart.
Nearby, a set of wagons adorned in gold and red decorations moved down the street. The Phoenix wagons, loaded full with supplies offloaded from the recent ships that arrived, had been busy since the day they landed. Two men heard the commotion of the caravan leader and his cart and broke off from the wagons and walked closer. Their tipped ears and colorful attire were instantly recognizable as members of the Phoenix.
“Siala Kay-Nu, and good day, sir. I see you have run into some trouble with your cart. Would you like some assistance in moving your wares? Free of charge, off course… this time at least.” chuckled O’Frik in jest as he nodded his head in the traditional Syndar greeting. The caravan leader had calmed down a touch but had a sour look on his face. He looked passed the Syndar talking to him at the size and quality of the wagons, knowing his cart would be hard pressed to move the kind of goods that they could. Instead of further causing a stink or sassing off about how the Phoenix might be trying to dip into his profits, he agreed and quit fussing.
“Good, no sense in leaving your cart here in such bad shape. We’ll move your wares and the caravan guards can at least help you drag the cart out of the way.” replied O’Frik with a genuine smile.
“O’Frik, I’m trying to sort through these manifests. We’ve been able to divide the supplies as needed for the two main parts of the camp. However, all the recent supplies have been building materials or supplies for construction. Weren’t we suppose to move weapons, food, and supplies to the soldiers in the field?” said Laertes, the other Syndar, who was attempting to balance a number of scrolls and read them with a puzzled look on his face.
“We did, but the Prince and the Clanleader retasked us this morning. We are not taking supplies to the warriors anymore; we are moving supplies from the ship and from the conquered villages. I think our wine-loving friend intends to stay a while in this land. I’ve heard rumor of the plans for some new settlements.” replied O’Frik as he turned and smiled at an approaching woman. To some, this smile would have seemed genuine but Laertes could see the visage masked something else.
“Hello! My name is Ashar, I am a representative of the Crimson Shades. Are we still on schedule with unloading the recent ships? I need to submit a report on progress of construction, so any delays are going to mean even more meetings and paperwork for my group.” said the human woman with a likewise guise of a smile covering a hint of frustration. Her stance had an authoritative look about it and judging by her quill and scroll, she was expecting a productive reply in return.
“You shouldn’t expect delays, the loads are being unloaded on schedule. But the wagons could use a few more pullers, should your group wish to see progress come about a bit faster and stretch your legs.” replied O’Frik with a hint of sarcasm.
As the finer details of the tasks around the camp were being tended to by the Crimson Shades, the wagons continued to move supplies and materials.
On the far side of the camp, New Aldorian guards were welcoming a fairly large group of returning fighters. The unmistakable colors, feathers, and banners of the Broken Blade Company and the Gallant Feathers of the Phoenix were flying high as the soldiers marched back to camp. With them were a handful of Stormjarl warriors and New Aldorian Marines as well. Although they didn’t look downtrodden, they definitely were not jovial or apparently returning with stories of victory. Some of the small supply carts used for moving their food had been repurposed to hauling corpses as a handful of bodies were piled onto the cart.
At the head of the group was Clypeum of the Rangers, Marcus and Brodin of the Phoenix, and a mysterious Naran woman named Sakura. Almost the entire time she spoke in a Naran tongue that almost no one could understand, but she was very animated with her gestures and one of her retainer’s was busy trying to translate for her.
“I did what I could but he was so afflicted from the corruption that there wasn’t much left to do. The infections took too deep. I am sorry.” said Clypeum as he looked down at the corpses on the cart.
Among the handful of dead lay Aimerick of the Phoenix’s Gallant Feathers. His face gray and dead, drawn and sunken. He was dead, even though he had already looked it over the last few weeks. Corrupted with the new mordok magic earlier in the year, Aimerick slowly succumbed to the festering magic. His wounds from the encounter at Hazemane village two months prior never fully healed, his skin covered in pus and rot. It was a miracle he lasted as long as he did. Now he lay on a cart, splattered with some blood and covered in green tinted bandages with an arrow sticking through his arm. The rot and the blood seemed a crude mockery of the bright colors and feathers of his Gallant Feather uniform. The other corpses were a mix of Gallant Feathers, Broken Blade, Marines, and Stormjarl warriors, totaling just over fifteen.
“You have nothing to be sorry for, friend. Aimerick knew what the risks were. To be honest, I think he was happy to know he died for a cause. He was becoming so weak and ill from the corruption, he had a chance to die with honor on the battlefield instead of in bed to illness.” said Marcus somberly. Marcus was also a member of the Gallant Feathers. Brodin walked up to him, his nice leathers and attire stained with mud, dust, and a little bit of blood and put a hand of Marcus’s shoulder.
“I told him to stay back with the supply carts and he rightly refused. He did his duty well and will be remembered. All of the Gallant Feathers did. In fact, the rest of you did as well.” said Brodin as he noticed Volrok of the Broken Blade Company step forward towards the carts. Volrok was a paid warrior, an Íoclaochra, so seeing comrades die in battle was not new to him. He said little as this time, but he would honor the fallen in his own way.
Stepping up to the group from the back were a few ulven; Thrand and Fritha Stormjarl and also the large frame of Throm Nightriver who wielded a mean looking axe. Thrand had just finished taking inventory of supplies of some of the Stormjarl warriors and was making sure the wounded had fresh bandages and Fritha was helping to assess the current situation.
“You and your warriors have fought bravely through this campaign. We all have banded together and been able to fight back against one of Grimward’s allies. That is no small task.” said Fritha to the group as a whole as she set her shield down and took a long drink of water from her leather water skin.
“So where are we going next? We didn’t get past the defenses of the last village to the north, but after we get some supplies and regroup I think we can come back and hit it again.” said Throm as he leaned on his axe, pitted and chipped from use. You could tell the warrior was perfectly fine marching right back out and getting back into the fight, but he was not blind to the larger plan nor was he suicidal.
“I don’t know, I am assuming we are reorganizing and changing our plans. The Squallborn defenders have gotten more organized and have begun to push back too hard for us to keep driving north. Now that their defensive line seems drawn, I think we are going to reorganize before attacking again. I will talk to the Chieftains as soon as we report in to know where to go next.” Fritha replied, turning to look at Ann of the Marines.
Captain Anne Cash nodded and walked out from the group and into the perimeter of the camp to report in with the commanding officer. A man named Caster Rex was following her, talking about digging tunnels and sapping more Squallborn defenses but she didn’t seem to pay much attention to him. He was in his element and kept going on about the best way to use pork fat underneath a reinforced wall.
“Thank you, I’ll make sure to bring that up to the commander officer should we need it.” Anne said as her mind wandered elsewhere. She wasn’t entirely sure of why they were being called back or where they would be reassigned. There was even a chance that they would load a strike force onto the Demon’s Run and hit further north. Her walk was cut short as the New Aldorian officer she was looking for was stepping out of his tent and walking to meet her.
“Well met, Captain, I am glad you and our allies are back from the mission to the north. I’ll cut to the chase; we are pulling you all back and establishing a line of defense. We can’t go any further north, we just don’t have the military strength to keep pushing. At this rate, we are going to start losing too many people to wounds and attrition and string out our supply lines. Get some rest and some food, your Marines are sailing back to New Aldoria for more supplies. You’ll join the rest of the ships and provide defense on the water and make sure the loads of lumber make it to the coast. The rest of you, check in with the quartermaster for your new patrol assignments and guard rotations.” the officer said and then he was gone, simple as that.
Anne stood there taken aback. She was expecting a reassignment but not being pulled entirely back from the fighting. Sure, the Squallborn defenses had eventually become a real challenge and threat, but to be pulled back so quickly before they had a chance to really try driving farther north? It seemed a bit hasty of a decision. She realized that the combined reach of Stormjarl and New Aldoria must have finally been stretched too far out. Both the allies dared not lose too many men or consume too many supplies or else controlling the territory would not be possible. Still, she was hoping for a few more missions before returning, but orders are orders.
The group continued to talk a bit longer but eventually everyone parted ways. The bodies of the fallen fighters were taken to the pyres to be sent off into the afterlife. Volrok took a moment to give orders to his mercenaries when he took a moment to look out across the camp and the new lands.
As the day stretched into evening, the future plans of Clan Stormjarl and New Aldoria seemed to fully become evident. Those involved probably new it already, but with stopping the forward momentum of the invasion really forced everyone to look at the bigger picture. The fertile land and farms that were conquered, the reassignments to patrols and defensive duties, and the arrival and movement of construction supplies arriving daily on the coast heavily reinforced the ulterior motive of the campaign and the call to arms against Clan Squallborn.
“Well played.” Volrok said to no one in particular as he walked back to the mess tent in order to get a solid meal, his coin purse heavy and jiggling with the sounds of silver.
– THE END