The bitter cold of winter settles into the continent, drastically slowing down construction projects and travel. Many people enjoyed a relatively mild winter, but that changes quickly as a terrible freeze rushes across the land. Despite this, life goes on. Whether it be huddling in the hearth of a longhouse waiting for the thaw of spring to come or to continue in business dealings in preparation for the coming year. The bustle of activity in City-State territory has been impressive, continuing to solidify the foundation of Newhope as a major presence on Mardrun.
The Looming Winter: Part 3 (Finale)
The territory of the City-State of Newhope has seen considerable growth. New roads were cleared, new construction projects began, and new alliances formed. Last month the scuttlebutt was all about the Arnathian March and how the City of Starkhaven was being reformed. Merchants moved a number of goods to and from settlements. Reports of banditry were relatively low due to the constant patrols of soldiers and armed escorts being assigned to caravans. The momentum slows considerably at the beginning of this month as the frigid cold settles in. This month is in stark contrast to the bustle of activity of the last two months. Still, the city proper of Newhope continues to be a hub of activity even as outlying settlements hunker down to wait out the rest of winter. The shift of attention is drastically different, as the focus this month is that of a social and political nature. Unofficially the “month of rubbing elbows”, this month will see Newhope be the host of a week of feasts, general assemblies, and a prestigious gala reserved for those with titles of prestige or peerage, a coveted invitation, or a cunning plan to find a way to attend. Representatives from some of the Clans will be in attendance, surely being an opportunity to mingle with important figureheads of Ulven society. The Prince of New Aldoria has promised to send representation, no doubt to work deals and snoop on the City-State officials. For those looking to raise awareness of a situation, find support in a cause, or climb the political ranks of the continent, this week-long event is sure to be an important gathering.
Life Doesn’t Stop: Part 3 (Finale)
Last month, the quiet of guard rotation was ended early as Mordok attacks rose in frequency and outposts were targets of sadistic Mordok leaders. Warriors did their duty and held the line but there was a considerable challenge in keeping control of the areas around the outposts and keeping the routes clear for supply caravans. What official reports don’t fully describe, the rumors circulating fill out grisly details. Several rounds of butchery and pitched fighting with the Mordok has been experienced all along The Shield. One outpost is almost completely overrun as warriors deployed were shifted in anticipation of an attack. A story grips the defenders as hard as the incoming hard freeze; Mordok mutilated and maimed a group of warriors in an outpost, carrying off with their severed hands into the dark swamp beyond. Things quiet down near the end of the month but a terrible cold sweeps into the area. Supply sheds of dry wood are taxed as campfires need constant attention lest the defenders freeze. Healers report frostbite on several occasions and conditions are fairly miserable. As if to taunt the defenders of The Shield, a sizable Mordok force has been seen moving between the outposts. They attack, fierce and brutal, yet they fall back quickly as if to hit-and-run before casualties mount too high on either side. A story surrounding these attacks is that an enormous brute of a Mordok seems to lead them; one who steps forward alone to the ramparts of the outpost and roars at the defenders before the imminent attack. One time at an outpost when this Mordok stepped forth and bellowed it was met in response by the battle cry of an Ulven defender. With several missing fingers due to frostbite, this Ulven warrior stepped outside to challenge this Mordok and chose a warrior’s death rather than waste away in the outpost. The fight was over quick; the Ulven butchered and bright red blood splashed across the snow. However, after the “duel” the Mordok brute and his followers simply moved on. No attack descended upon the outpost. Rumor has it that the Ulven Chieftains and leaders on The Shield think this to be an Alpha Mordok, one of their powerful leaders, who has apparently taken to issuing challenges to defenders on The Shield. An unmet challenge leads to a brutal, if brief, fight with the Mordok war-band. Whispers move through the defenders on whether future encounters with this Mordok will be met with accepted challenges. Between the unknown of suddenly seeing a massive Mordok group descending on an outpost or the bitter cold threatening the lives and extremities of the defenders, this month is sure to be a difficult one for anyone stationed to the north.
UPDATE: The Ulven people speak of Gaia’s blessing delivering them warmth in what has been the coldest month of the winter and in some communities outdoor shrines have begun to overflow with gifts of thanks for a chance to escape the stuffy confines of wood-heated homes. Elsewhere it is also a month of activity as Newhope gears up for it’s annual political event. The streets fill with people of all walks of life looking to capitalize on both the increased foot traffic as well as the wonderful false spring that has blanketed the continent in warmth. Even an increased guard presence within the city can’t quell an almost celebratory spirit from infecting all those who come within the walls. Taverns book solid and people of all sorts spend their time scheming how they could gain access to this year’s addition to the political event, The Private Gala, especially given the news that the entirety of the high council will be personally in attendance.
As the weeks progress meetings both political and economic swirl through the bustling city both in and out of the official events. One thing can be sure, over this time a great deal of coin and promises have been passed between countless individuals.
While the tone to the south is jovial, the same can’t be said everywhere. Far to the north a new threat has been wracking the outposts on the shield as a pack of Mordok led by a heavily armored Alpha have been appearing from the woods and lodging duel challenges upon the defenders of the outposts. A call was sent out from a Shattered Spear outpost to the people of Mardrun with promise of glory for any who would put their safety aside and duel this violent opponent. Without pause a handful of volunteers stepped forward to meet at the outpost for further information. The volunteers who bid their friends and family goodbye and ventured north were called brave and foolish in equal measure by those they passed on the road. From here the reports begin to muddy as rumors were galvanized by the outcome of the duels .
Reports state that the Alpha arrived by surprise before any of the warriors were given their assignments. With no time to discuss strategy or tactics the duelists were forced to draw straws to see who would face the Alpha there and then. From here the rumors grow to what most claim to be ludicrous and surely sensational. Many tell tales of a combatant going toe to toe with the Alpha and taking not a single scratch from their fight. They tell of divine intervention reaching down from the home of the gods and defending the duelist. Other rumors say that the Alpha tore fighters in half with its bare hands, that surely several volunteers were killed or terribly maimed from the fights.
In the end it seems that someone was able to best the Alpha but in response the Mordok attacked in a gripped frenzy. A sweeping series of attacks land upon several outposts, but the defenders were able to hold the line. After a series of intense and brutal fights, the larger Mordok force has dissipated back into the Dirge, ending the month with an unusual quiet.