=== STORY ===
Pre Event Summary:
The northern half of Mardrun is a flurry of activity as the spring thaw begins to set in and the cold embrace of winter begins to recede. The Watchwolf Clan has endured the harsh winter just barely, with food supplies running low and fear and worry spreading through its populace.
The fighting from over a year ago was harsh on the Watchwolves; their farms were pillaged, their outer villages burned or captured, their warriors beaten through attrition against a larger foe. Although the Coalition and Clan Nightriver allies were critical in keeping the Watchwolves from losing their last main settlement, the victory that turned the Grimward conquerors back would only stall them for a time. When last year’s crop season produced meager food supplies and warriors were drafted from the young and desperate, Grimward was always there on the edge of the territory… waiting… a dark reminder that the Watchwolf Clan was never truly safe. The Coalition and other allies to the south have provided aid but numerous battles, raids, and different agendas stalled or pushed back any concentrated effort to help the Watchwolves rebuild or fortify their borders. Desertion and fear began to spread through the settlements but honor, pride, and constant reminders of the Watchwolves sacred duty to protect their lands against a shrouded prophecy kept them from fleeing in large numbers. The Clan’s leaders work hard to control the people, to steel them for the battle to come, and remind every member of the Clan to remain steadfast and to do their duty. Every able bodied Watchwolf, some barely of age enough to see their marks come in, is given a weapon and sent to join the war packs stationed around the settlements.
The recession of winter, normally a joyous occasion, is now a sign that battle is here. Clan Grimward’s forces spent the winter preparing supplies and amassing warriors on their northern borders, drunk on tales of battle and promise of conquest. Now, they mobilize and renew their campaign to conquer the Watchwolf Clan. Hundreds of warriors cross the border and move on the remaining Watchwolf settlements, spurred on after long months of waiting and preparation.
Allies to the Watchwolves fear that their pride and stubborn ways could spell disaster to its people; that an organized evacuation to their eastern settlement could spare the Watchwolves hundreds of lives but without an attempt to sway their leaders it will be hard to convince them of this. Rumors also spread, that the High Priestess of the Watchwolves has been in discussion about surrendering or joining Clan Grimward in the civil war.
The Coalition and Clan Nightriver have sent forces north to secure the pass and help in whatever way they can, but with the Pass no longer garrisoned by the militant clerics of the Order of Arnath’s Fist, it is now a race against time to see who will control such a vital route through the Great Wolf’s Hackles.
A group of Coalition members were able to slip past the Grimward warriors that moved to the Pass, and the soldiers that marched to the Pass were locked in conflict with them for control of the area. Upon arriving to the Watchwolf settlement, a battle was already underway but with reinforcements the Watchwolf defenders were able to hold. As the Coalition allies coordinated with the Watchwolves in the area, it was clear that there was discord among the Watchwolves. A young Chieftain, who wanted to look out for the survival of his people, was following the commands of an older Watchwolf Ambassador. It was obvious the Ambassador was there to instill courage into the hearts of the Watchwolf defenders and to keep them from fleeing from the fight.
After a few brief skirmishes, Khulgar Graytide made his presence known to the defenders in the area and approached via parlay to deliver terms of surrender written by Haygreth Grimward. Quarter and honorable surrender were given to any Ulven who stopped fighting and joined Clan Grimward. The defenders and their allies refused, remaining stalwart in their defense of the settlement. The fighting died down ominously, before signal horns were heard in the distance… the Watchwolf Clanleader finally gave the signal to move all remaining defenders into the settlement to hold out as long as they could.
The settlement was a chaotic swirl of supplies that needed to be recovered before they were lost to the enemy, pockets of fighting and swirling melees with warriors on both sides signalling reinforcements and reformations of their skirmish lines, and of civilians both rescued by Watchwolf defenders and their Coalition allies and being captured by Grimward invaders. In the beginning, the Watchwolf line was pushed back hard and the situation looked grim, but with the combined skill and equipment of the Coalition allies they were able to hold out far longer than the defenders thought possible. Wave after wave of Grimward defenders crashed on the defenders, but were driven back or repelled enough to stop Grimward’s advance on that part of the settlement. The rest of the settlement wasn’t doing as well, and the battle looked hopeless… it was only a matter of time before Grimward conquered the entire settlement.
Inside the defenders line, the discord that was brewing between the Chieftain and the Ambassador reached a bloody end, as the Ambassador was wounded in battle. After hours of urging the Watchwolf defenders to leave and save their people, the Ambassador was murdered by someone amongst the Watchwolves or the Coalition. What was certain is that it was an ally; what is unknown is exactly who it was, and it is suspected that the Coalition had a hand in it. The young Chieftain, no longer bound to obey the word of the Ambassador, made the decision to save as many people as possible and to evacuate and head south to the Pass. The remaining defenders, villagers, and wagons full of supplies departed the settlement. After a stubborn defense that would not yield to Grimward, the settlement was quickly taken by the invaders as the caravan left, nobody left to stop the Grimward from advanding into the heart of the settlement. The Chieftain was devastated by having made the choice he had, wondering if saving his people but leaving the settlement to fall was the best choice in the end.
The caravan was followed by Grimward invaders but due to the brave sacrifice of a few and the coordinated retreat by the rest, the caravan was able to leave the fighting area safely. However, several members of the factions present took a number of supplies from the caravan with them instead of delivering them safely to the Watchwolves, which was viewed poorly by the remaining Watchwolf refugees. The caravan reached the Pass safely, allowing the Chieftain to escort his people home to their eastern settlement.