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June 270

The summer is in full swing, the land is covered in not only greenery, but vibrant whites, yellows, purples, and many more colours as flowers take over land. Life can be seen all around and with it the hustle and bustle of the populations of Mardrun.

 

To the north with Pack Riverhead, many people speak of what was an overwhelming force of arms sweeping through their ancestral home. Forces from Pack Riverhead, Clan Shattered Spear, Clan Ironmound, as well as assistance from a few smaller groups pressed through the lands with purpose. There were few encounters that turned to outright combat, but those that did occur ended with reports of severe losses on the bandits side. With this success, many are wondering how Pack Riverhead plans to hold all the re-acquired land. Some feel Clan Shattered Spear will use the opportunity to spread out more and build. Others are unsure if that is even possible. Whatever the outcome, many are curious to see what will happen next in the heart of Mardrun.

 

The highways of the Clan Goldenfield and Clan Nightriver are seeing a rise in bandit activity this month. Leadership within both clans believe this is due to Pack Riverheads reclaiming its ancestral territories. Clan Nightriver is already working on keeping the tides of these bandits held back, by whatever means seem fit. Clan Goldenfield is having less luck with the bandit incursions into their lands, however many people seem to be of the mindset that Clan Nightriver may send some martial aid to assist their long standing ally.

 

With the expedition to the north to find the ghost ship finally completed and the crew returned, rumors fly around the port and quickly spread inland of a fantastical adventure. Tales speak of gem encrusted treasure and chests of Vandregonian silver that were scavenged from the depths of the ship. Another tale tells of being lost at sea in a blanket of fog while being attacked by sea serpents. There was even a tale of a group of unknown monsters in the outlands that sounded otherworldly and hunted them throughout the nights. Tales aside, the venture seemed to be fruitful and provide some information as to the origin of the mysterious ship from Faedrun and many are waiting for the news to become public.

 

To the East in Aylin’s Reach, there was a large and seemingly spontaneous festival. Many within the colony drank, enjoyed games of various challenges, watched or participated in performance duels in the streets. Throughout the days and into the nights the sounds of bards singing and performing at almost every corner in the city delighted most of the citizens. While Prince Aylin didn’t appear, many of his court did socialize and enjoy some of the festivities themselves. A small group of lesser nobles even found themselves getting in on a song with a bard troupe at a street corner. While the festival ended, many were glad to enjoy the break from the tedium and let loose to enjoy life without much worry for at least a few days, though they never really found out why the festival was called in the first place. Taverns throughout the city were soon filled with rumors that Aylin must be planning something big soon. Some seem to believe he’s gearing up to finally take the Aldorian Crown.

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The Yabuntu Triumverate

The Yabantu Triumvirate is a decently-sized, primarily human country located on Faedrun. They value their natural resources and masterwork crafts above all else. They do not hold an invading army, but instead rely on a well-trained and even more well-equipped force of border defenders. The Yabantu’s main focus is on diplomatic and economic ties with their neighbors, primarily Vandregon and Aldoria. Their land holds very fine deposits of iron and precious metals that they will either barter with or craft into exquisite goods, armors, and weapons. Even the Syndar Kingdoms have come to know the supreme beauty of Yabantu steelcrafts.

Location: Southern section of Faedrun. North and West borders shared with Vandregon. East Border shared with Aldoria. The Yabantu lands at one point reached north to the May’kar Desert, but many of those lands were lost to a Ritchcrag Invasion. This invasion was pushed back to traditional Richtcrag lands once it came in contact with Vandregonian borders, but Vandgregon maintained ownership of the lands, claiming that if they hadn’t battled back the Cul’Claimete then they would have moved south and continued aggressions upon The Yabantu anyway. The Yabantu agreed to this relatively small annexation with the stipulation that their people be allowed to cross that border unimpeded and trade in the area without paying Vandregonian taxes. This strip of land connecting Vandregon and New Aldoria quickly became a bustling hub of trade and in the aftermath of the Cul’Claimete campaign. The Yabantu began to invest in their defending army.

Governing Structure: Unlike their neighbors the Yabuntu do not have a king. Instead they are ruled by a Triumvirate made up individuals with each selected to represent one of the three main national interests. Through this the people can always be sure that the most important and sacred aspects of their culture are given adequate thought when decisions are made. Those cultural aspects are: The Spirits, The Crafts, and The People.

Religion – The Spirits:
The Yabantu are an animistic people. They believe that everything, from rocks and rivers to birds and people, hold an inherent spirit and consciousness. This belief is the center of their religion and has a direct influence on the way they interact with the world around them. With inherent spirit comes inherent worth and a belief that everything exists within its own right regardless of how it can be useful to people. This belief gives rise to a respect for the natural world and a desire to show gratitude to the spirit of any material worked with or any animal or plant killed for consumption. Counter to many human cultures that perceive their consciousness as existing within their head, behind their eyes, The Yabantu perceive their spirit and consciousness as stemming from their stomach. In this way the act of ingesting other creatures and plants is seen as a merging of spirit and in this way both the spirit and the body are nourished.

All things are seen as having an individual spirit, but related things are seen as having aspects of their spirit that are similar. For example, all lavender plants are individuals, but all of them share the name and essence of being lavender and thus share certain physical and spiritual traits. This gives rise to a culture of working with natural spirits in an attempt at reaching a balance. This is commonly seen in Yabantu people carrying sachets that they fill with various herbs and stones that are believed to work well with each other to promote certain outcomes and situations in life. for example, a person looking for love would carry a certain blend of herbs and stones in their sachet that will help promote finding love. Someone looking to draw abundance to them would fill their sachet with a different blend of herbs and stones. The individual herbs and stones in a person’s sachet would be carefully selected and meditated with to be sure that they carry an amenable spirit that is well attuned to the desired outcome.

Additionally dyes and cloth are selected processed into clothing based on the spirits of the constituent parts. Wearing certain colors can be seen as an outward expression of what a person views as significant. Example: If someone wears silk robe dyed with indigo they would be expressing that they value the elements that are commonly seen in the spirits of indigo and silks.

This religious belief in inherent spirits is incredibly prevalent in the main driving force of The Yabantu industry; The Crafts

Industry and Livelihoods – The Crafts
One of the greatest positions a Yabantu can strive for is that of a Craftsperson. The Yabantu have the benefit of high quality resources, this fact serves to galvanize their belief in the spirits of materials as they believe their respect for these spirits is what causes them to be of higher quality than those found elsewhere.

The Act of Crafting is seen as both a material as well as religious spiritual pursuit. To take a material and make it into something more is to elevate its physical form. In working with the spirit of the material it is also elevated in its form. Great care is taken by Yabuntu Craftspeople to make sure the spirits of their materials are well cared for and respected during their transition into a new item. It is believed that through this process of ritualistic crafting the spirit of a finished product is closely attuned to it’s new identity and purpose making it significantly more effective in it’s new state.

Aesthetics
The aesthetic choices of a Yabantu person are wide and varied as the clothes they wear speak to the spiritual elements that they choose to elevate. That being said there are some form choices that are common in various regions and nearly every region tends toward bright, full colors. In some regions it is common to see people dressed in loose flowing robes or dresses of light material. In other areas people wear things more akin to tunics with wrapped skirts. Some areas people choose to leave their chests fully or partially exposed. Across the country it is common to see people with brightly patterned shawls draped over one or both shoulders. Nearly every person wears an ornately decorated grigri bag filled with their chosen herbs and minerals.

Any person would be able to tell you the plants or minerals that went into the creation of each piece of clothing and there is a high expectation that clothing is well cared for and repaired immediately upon being damaged in anyway.

The Undead – The Fall
The Yabuntu were slightly insulated from the rise of the Undead to the north given the buffer that Vandregon placed between them and the rest of the continent. Given their lack of a full military The Yabuntu were not in a place to devote large fighting units to the cause and were well aware that should their allies around them fall that they would likely not last themselves, but they were in a unique position to churn out high quality weapons and armor to aid their neighbors. Unfortunately there came a time where the May’Kar turned on their living allies and began to focus their efforts on attacking the narrow strip of land that separated the Yabuntu from the May’kar desert. Though the Vandregonian army was eventually successful against The May’kar, the people of the Yabuntu Triumverate were quick to see the writing on the walls and many began an exodus, moving to the east and west away from the front and their non-militant home into the hearts of Aldoria and Vandregon. The staunch border defenders, now without a border to defend, joined the Army of The Grand Alliance. The artisans who made their way to Aldoria joined in the construction of ships and with their expertise were found to be invaluable in the construction of hearty sales and riggings.

 

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July 2021 – Virtual Event Era Total Summary (In Progress)

April – June 2020

Calls spread across Mardrun to request aid from any willing warriors and supporters to come to the string of outposts that make up the famous Shield of Mardrun. People of all stripes flocked to the north to lend their weapons and expertise to the call, but none were truly ready for what was in store. The Mordok came south with surprising and unusual levels of organization and unit tactics. Though they still fought with reckless bloodlust, they also moved almost as rehearsed units. There was a strong feeling that there was a tactical mind behind their attacks.

Fortunately the warriors and supporters on the shield were well equipped to handle the onslaught. Parties were sent out to guard the spaces between the outposts and for the most part the Mordok were held at bay, but there were a few weak points in the line that were exposed and capitalized upon. A few bands of Mordok were able to spill past the lines and make their way into the inhabited lands south of the shield. Some villages were razed, but before long a retinue of warriors caught up to the interlopers and cut them down in their path. Most of The Mordok died, but a great deal of them escaped and slipped away, remaining south of The Shield. In the end the Mordok forces were soundly beaten back or defeated.

The next month saw the Mordok threat wane. They did not return for any additional large scale assaults. In this time of relative peace the wounded and battered warriors were welcomed to a Whiteoak Village that had been saved from the onslaught and wished to repay the fighters. The small village of Ti’Volar opened it’s town center to all. Warriors saw to their wounds and equipment while merchants and tradespeople had plenty of opportunity to practice their crafts and earn coin. Throughout the town one could hear the loud boasting of warriors telling tales of their daring fight against the Mordok.

In June calls went out from The Shield for skilled craftspeople to aid in reconstruction and fortification of some of the outposts that were damaged in the April attacks. A great deal of support spilled north from the other parts of the continent and a great deal of work was able to be done. In the meantime a number of hunting parties were put together to hunt down any Mordok that still remained south of the shield. Through cunning tracking and determination the warriors were able to track down all of the interloping Mordok, though they did so at great cost to themselves. Some warriors fell in these frantic skirmishes and many more came back bearing wounds that would scar them for life.

July 2020

As the colonial lands of Mardrun mulled the prospects of hosting the annual market faire they were undercut by an announcement from the heralds of Aylin’s Reach. Prince Aylin himself had declared that the annual faire would be held in his city. People poured in from all over Mardrun to hock wares and spend their coin. A large gambling house was set front and center at the faire and a great deal of coin found itself changing hands under the whims of fortune.

All things considered it seemed as though it would be a wonderful, if not wholly average, Market Faire, but anyone who thought as much had clearly never interacted with The Prince. People flocked to the temporary seating and bleachers around the combat arena to watch the warriors of Mardrun battled for glory. Before the fights could commence though a surprise appearance shook the audience. Two men on large, armored horses burst into the arena. The colonists in the audience immediately burst in to cheers while the Ulven sat back in confused apprehension. What followed was a spectacle that only Aylin with his unique stable of horses would be able to furnish; a true and proper Faedrun joust. By the end most of the Ulven had come around. Though they still questioned the mentality that would put a person atop a horse in the first place, no one could question the skill and mastery with which the riders controlled their steeds. Talk of Aylin’s joust overtook all other conversations for the rest of the fair.

 

August – October 2020

Back in January a deadly earthquake shook the lands of Clan Ironmound and though some allies, most notably The Broken Blade Company, had come to their aid to help reconstruct the damaged villages and reopen the collapsed mines, it wasn’t until August that the continent at large took notice. This new interest may have also been spurred by the discovery of a what was assumed to be another Lorespeaker Cache. Regardless a great deal of support spilled into the Clan’s lands to help rebuild their damaged homes. A group of people attempted to secure the rights to see the cache, but were rebuked as the area’s leaders cared more about rebuilding their homes.

The support continued through the next two months in a manner that far exceeded any expectations. In an outpouring of altruism the people of Mardrun came together and helped to rebuild the homes and mines of Clan Ironmound. Throughout the month of September a large bandit presence started to pick at supply lines moving into Ironmound through the Great Wolf’s Hackles and a team of warriors came together. The divvied up their roles and one group stayed behind to defend against additional bandit attacks while another took the fight into the heart of the wild lands to try to crush the bandits at their camps. In the end the defenders were hit hard by an ambush, but the assault team managed to cut down or rout a great deal of bandits. The rest of the time spend on the reconstruction efforts were quiet.

In the end the work was completed far faster than anyone had expected and the Chieftains of the area called for a respite and a time of great feasting and thanks. The battered warriors took time to recover from the assaults and people spent their time around fires exchanging stories and rumors. In thanks for the work done the chieftains agreed to lead the interested parties to the location of the Lorespeaker Cache. The travel was largely uneventful, though there were occasional scuffles with unknown assailants who wished to see the contents of the cache remain buried, but they proved to be no true hurdle. In the end the cache was uncovered and it’s contents translated and copied. An Ulven from Clan Nightriver returned to his clan’s territory and met with Clan Leader Branthur Nightriver to share the findings and request that they be copied and spread across the continent. They can be read here: Lore Cache Contents; October 269

 

December – February 2020/21
As winter gripped Mardrun a few interesting calls to action began to roll over the landscape. Reports came from The Shield that the Mordok may be prepping for another assault and in return many warriors and supporters again traveled north to bolster the defending outposts. In the more central Ulven clans rumors began to spread of a traveling preacher of some sorts, an Ulven who claims to have briefly died before being saved by surgeons and now gives sermons on the true nature of the Ulven afterlife. In the South Newhope put forth a call to any and all skilled laborers who were willing to give their time to help in some building and updating economic infrastructure.

The Shield – The first month saw nothing more than small scale skirmishes. The warriors were easily able to keep the Mordok at bay and their spirits high. Overall the month was quiet. The second month, however; brought much more action. The skirmishes became more common and beyond that the Mordok seemed to be employing some type of a terror campaign on the defenders. There were multiple instances where dead warriors were found, near outposts, with signs of poisoning. It started to become more dangerous to patrol the areas around the outposts as devious and deadly Mordok traps started to pop up more and more often. Though the outright assaults remained rare, there was an ever present threat of death from an unseen foe.

In February an Alpha Mordok began to make visits to the outposts along the shield. Eventually people began to understand that he was demanding a duel to decide the fate of the outpost. If a champion was sent to fight him then the outpost would be spared an onslaught regardless of the outcome. At one outpost rumors hold that they drew straws to see who would be granted the honor of facing the Alpha in single combat. A colonist won the draw and ended up toe-to-toe with the menacing monster. The reports of the fight all seem to be pretty sensationalized, but they all tell of how this scrappy colonist was able to deftly out-maneuver his opponent and in the end defeated the Alpha with nearly no damage to himself. Unfortunately without their Alpha to keep them in a few of the other Mordok jumped the colonist. Luckily the outpost defenders were able to drive them off and return their champion to the relative safety of the outpost.

The Great Wolf’s Priest – The Priest traveled through the Ulven lands preaching a story of seeing inside of The Great Wolf’s Maw and realizing that it is not the punishment that the Ulven people had been told it would be. Unfortunately not more than a few people chose to follow this strange man to hear more of his story and so he remains somewhat of a mystery to the continent as a whole. He remains on his journey’s around the lands and will happily tell his tales and his philosophy to any who seek him.

Newhope Economic Support – A great deal of people helped out over the months as Newhope made great efforts to bolster their economic infrastructure. Trails were cut and roads were paved. Trading posts were erected. In the end the people of Newhope and the supporters were able to relax and enjoy the festivities surrounding the annual Political Dinner. Nobles of various rank rubbed elbows and met with commoners and a great deal of coin and contracts changed hands.

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June 2021 – Coast Expedition Part 3

May was a month of bustling activity. The expedition remains in full swing while ships constantly ferry back and forth between the expedition camps and the docks of Newhope to bring news and exchange tired volunteers for new fresh faces. The word from the ships spreads quickly through out colonial lands and even spreads into the villages of the Ulven Clans. Apparently things are not what they may have seemed and the mysteries of the beached Aldorian ship and it’s strange locale continue to pile up. It doesn’t help that some whispers make their way to the Newhope that the researchers on the expedition may be keeping some discoveries quiet at this time.

Word comes that a small crew of scouts and supporters traveled inland to try to pick up the trail of any Aldorian sailors that may have moved away from the beach. The only news of this small expedition that made it to the south are that they encountered some great beast whose howl pierces the soul in the lands between the western shores and The Dirge Swamp. Rumors begin to run rampant throughout the lands and these rumors spread further than any other news. Some people tell the story of these scouts meeting face to face with a progenitor of the Ulven race who’s wolf-like appearance has not yet dulled to look as the race does now. Others claim that they have heard that the scouts encountered some type of a hybrid between a Mordok and one of the Wailing Ghosts of Faedrun. And others claim that these are all just rumors and that the scouts were probably frightened off by their own shadows and the echo of a breaking twig bouncing through the forest. Nevertheless with the news comes a call to action. The expedition team will be putting together another inland excursion should there be adequate support. They will take any and all volunteers willing to travel to the North and join their crew.

As for the ship itself. Word travels quickly to Newhope where soon everyone is painfully aware that the ship itself was empty upon discovery. It seems that not only was there no crew aboard, but there was rotting food found in the galley leaving people to believe the boat may have been abandoned for some time. To make matters worse it was discovered that the hull of the ship had been torn open on the reef and much of the cargo fell to the floor of the bay, taking with it potential answers to some of the ships mysteries. Lieutenant Commander Aeral Langsford has set forth a request for any and all able bodied people to make the trip to the expedition camp to aid her and her people in recovering this cargo from the floor of the bay. It is made clear that strong, toughened bodies will be the most help in this endeavor.

Questions continue to pile up along the northwest beach and it seems that more snags keep finding their way into the process. To make matters worse some scouts have returned with reports that a storm will be coming in the next couple weeks. The expedition crew know that this could put a permanent end to their hopes of dredging up any answers. Not only would a storm force the crews to return to the safety of civilized lands, there is no doubt that a storm could bury or wash away the cargo from the bottom of the sea that may hold invaluable information. The calls for support to sail up and lend their aid become increasingly urgent. The next couple weeks will be critical should anyone hope to find concrete answers about the history and demise of this once proud Aldorian vessel and with luck, some insight into the more recent goings on on Faedrun.

 

UPDATE:

As the threat of the storm became more noteworthy a large portion of the expedition forces decided to board the early boats back to Newhope. The supply ships continued their transit back and forth between the expedition camp and the docks of the colonies to the south and with each passing day there seemed to be less and less people on the beach.

A team of researchers set about to find a way to lift the cargo from the floor of the bay. Unfortunately the depth proved to be more than any of the workers lungs could carry them, but in the end it seems that one of the researchers solved the problem with a unique use of arcane magic. A volunteer would be handed a satchel of rocks and a thick rope and then be frozen in place with an Ice Bolt spell and pushed over board to sink to the bottom where they would unfreeze, tie a rope to one of the crates, and then give a tug on the line to be hauled back out of the ocean. Now this was a strange method, but one that proved to be useful.

On the shore an additional team of researchers compiled whatever knowledge they could glean from this lifted cargo. By checking over the sunken goods as well as a series of manifests and journals found aboard the ship, the research team was able to come to the conclusion that the ship had set sail from Aldoria at least two-and-a-half years ago. The research team remained tight-lipped about their suspected whereabouts of the missing crew, but whispers through the camp spread rumors of mutiny, murder, or worse aboard the beached vessel.

Throughout the month the howls of the unknown beasts in the wood continued and near the end of the month one unlucky guard met their demise when they wandered to close to the treeline after the sun had set. No one dared to go to his aid as his screams rolled over the sand dunes. The next day what remained of his body was found, shredded and cast over a wide area. With this presence in the woods no team was able to be drafted to head inland to search for the missing crew. Instead the scouts remained on the beach and kept an eye on the coming storm.

When the storm arrived a mad scramble washed over the beach as everyone swirled in an unregulated mass to get their personal belongings and board the ships. Whereas the journey started with an overwhelming amount of logistic support, by the end the majority of those volunteers had already returned home. Only two were left to try to organize and load the cargo and supplies through the month and though they did their best there was no doubt a great deal of supplies and potentially enlightening research materials left behind. The return journey went with a relative smooth, though people often found themselves on the verge of hunger at many points over the long trek.

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May 2021 – Coastal Expedition Part 2

While most of Mardrun is abuzz with rumors and gossip about the seafaring voyage to the north, other topics circulate the taverns and marketplaces where people congregate. Most of it is small localized things, but some “ghost stories” have circulated around some mysterious happenings in Clan Ironmound. It appears that the addled ramblings of a few have found their way to many who ponder their true origins. By the end of the month, it is well known that a collaborative effort against the organized banditry in former Rivherhead territory is well underway.

Coastal Expedition: Part 2 of 3
After a long month of sailing and collecting reports from locals the expedition has finally located the mysterious Aldorian ship beached on a reef off the shore of a beach in the north, surrounded by other wrecked ships, mostly Ulven fishing vessels, but a few longships as well. From a distance there was no movement aboard the Aldorian ship, though a scout with a spyglass did note that many of their dinghies had been launched. A few rowboats were found in the area, though no one can be certain they came from the Aldorian vessel. A camp was quickly established on the beach and supply lines were developed to send ships back to Colonial lands to bring more expedition forces and supplies. These ships carried with them rumors of shipwrecks and tensions between some of the Newhope crew and the volunteer expedition teams. The air of lively hope within the colonial lands has gradually waned into a sense of nervous tension.

Back at the camp plans are quickly devised to send a crew of researchers to the beached ship to see if they can find any evidence of where the crew may have gone. At the same time a retinue of scouts will take a portion of the martial forces and travel inland in an attempt to pick up any trails that the Aldorian sailors may have left. The remaining logistical and martial supporters will stay at the camp and make sure things are primed and ready for the return of the expeditions and, with hope, the crew of the beached Aldorian Ship.

Lieutenant Commander Aeral Langsford of the Newhope Expeditionary force takes a moment to thank the volunteers who have joined the expedition with special thanks given to the Rangers of New Vandregon who have sent a very large contingent of support that dwarfs the rest of the organized supporters. This thanks is followed by one for The Ravens of Keys Crossing. An Aldorian sailor also seizes on this moment to chime in and give thanks to the Blades of Sol and the Phoenix of Fire Isle. Sharp ears would note a series of audible groans throughout the Newhope forces at the mention of The Phoenix. It seems their revelrous evening activities have started to wear on some of the more gruff sailors.

The Lieutenant clears her throat to retake control of the discussion and continues on her point. She explains that while the incredible logistic support has been very beneficial, there is a distinct lack of volunteers on the research teams. Lieutenant Langsford puts forth a request that any of the logistic volunteers who possess the appropriate skills to consider joining the research teams so that they may operate at a level approaching the well-oiled nature of the logistics team.

Throughout the month additional ships are chartered to bring more expedition forces to the North to aid in the tasks at hand.

Update: The time spent on the northern beaches is overall quiet. Camps are established on the shores and patrols of scouts and warriors march up and down the beach keeping an eye on things. Researchers row out to the beached Aldorian vessel while scouts and supporters head inland to try to pick up the trail of the sailors from aboard the vessel.

Bad news strikes from all directions. Not only is the ship abandoned, but the hull has been torn open, spilling the contents of the cargo hold to the floor of the bay. Scouts along the beach find evidence of a coming storm that may cause the expedition to have to return to Newhope sooner rather than later while also scattering any of the cargo from the ocean floor, to be lost to time. And then come the reports from the inland scouts. They were unable to find any sailors or pick up any guaranteed trails inland, but they did have a near miss encounter with the unknown beast that strikes fear into the hearts of mordok. Though they never laid eyes on it, the soul-chilling howls of the beast were more than enough to turn the break the party’s resolve and cause them to scramble back toward the safety of the beach.

In the end more questions come than answers and the clock starts ticking as the inevitable storm works its way toward the encampments.

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April 2021 – Coastal Expedition Part 1

With the frigid winter giving way to the thaw of spring last month, some of the areas of attention throughout the winter begin to shift. The Shield to the north saw consistent activity with Mordok, the supplies stretched thin despite the fresh reserve and rotation of volunteers to the outposts. Many fledgling adventurers got their first taste of life at the outpost defenses to the north and spent time overhearing the tales of the Ulven veterans stationed there. Campfires continue to be filled with stories about the slaying of the Mordok alpha and tracking down exactly what happened seems to be a feat all on its own.

The lands to the south were rather quiet near the end of the winter. Considerable progress and expansion was coordinated by the Newhope officials of the City-State and the considerable social functions of almost two months ago were the talk of many towns. Other than news of banditry and concerns of minor border disputes, there hasn’t been much else that has circulated the tongues of those traveling the roads.

Coastal Expedition: Part 1 of 3
Bursting onto the scene at the beginning of the month is a call for volunteer adventurers and sailors for an expedition. Rumors have circulated that an Ulven longship of the previous Watchwolves Clan, situated in Clan Grimward territory, sailed north to chart some new fishing waters. After a storm blew them off course, they found themselves witness to a large sailing vessel of colonial make drifting out at sea. The ship seemed to be sailing further north towards the coastal territory of the outlands. The Ulven sailors had to orient themselves to return home before they had a chance to make contact with the seafaring vessel, but that did not mean they did not bring the news home. After some time, a City-State ambassador obtained permission from Clan Grimward to travel to Watchwolf territory to talk to these sailors. After many interviews the ambassadors were able to confirm that this was indeed a colonial ship. One sailor even said they saw a tattered flag waving, bleached in the sun, and being “half a heraldry of blue” in color.

Rumors immediately begin to swirl through the lands in the south of Mardrun, especially in the towns and villages of the colonists. Every tavern and merchant stall is filled with the excited chatter of this new development. Like wildfire news spreads of a new ship from Faedrun and before long the rumors grow far out of control. Many believe that this is evidence that Faedrun still stands and that they have sent a ship to let everyone know. Some claim that this must mean that the undead plague has been settled and that everyone will be able to return home soon. Others take this to be a dire message and that Faedrun is sending word to muster more reinforcements to continue the fight. Regardless, there is a palpable sense of hope blanketed across the colonists of Mardrun.

An expedition was quickly put together to travel along the coast and catch up with this ship before it unknowingly tries to set it’s anchor somewhere in the dangerous north. Duchess Madeline D’Argent, as the main driving force behind the expedition, began the tasks for securing supplies supplies and crew needed for this voyage. Long had there been talk of a naval voyage to map the northwestern coasts and it seems that the needed push has finally come.

In a move that surprised many on the continent, Prince Aylin of Aldoria has come forth pledging support of this cause as well. As the Duchess finalizes the logistics behind the voyage and sends out the call for volunteers of all sorts, several impressive ships arrive in the Newhope port sailing the Aldorian colors, flying flags with heraldry colored half blue and half green. It seems like if anything could get potential rivals to put aside their differences for a short, it is a good old fashioned adventure.

As the first ships are stocked and volunteers taken on board, this three month voyage’s success will depend heavily on those that support it and what areas they focus on. There are many duties to tend to; security of the ships and the morale of the sailors, the logistics behind getting supplies and food needed, the trade skills and extensive lore of many being applied to different objectives, and the skill (or luck) of some of the first to arrive to scout and learn about the coastal lands.

UPDATE: The showing at the docks of Newhope is truly a sight to behold and there is a galvanized energy in the air as crowds gather to see off the expeditions. People wave from the docks as their family members board the ships. Flags are raised by citizens of the once great kingdoms of Faedrun as they cheer on the expedition that they are sure will bring back good news from their home continent. After a long, dark winter this is exactly the type of event the City-state needed to raise the spirits of the people. Before long the anchors are raised and the ships push out to see, egged onward by the cheering crowd of onlookers.

The journey goes smoothly given that a good amount of volunteers signed on to the expedition, mostly as logistical and martial support. The fleets cut a tight route around the Stormjarl Coast and though the air between the Aldorian and Newhope ships is outwardly one of camaraderie in a shared purpose, a keen observer would note that both sides seem set on outdoing the other in someway. The ships slowly jockey for the lead position over the course of the trek. Along the way the fleet makes a few stops along the Watchwolf coast and the research team, accompanied by a small retinue of support, heads ashore to gather intel from the locals to help ascertain the route of the mystery ship. Unfortunately there was not a large group of volunteers in the research wing and so their ability to collect and process reports is drastically slowed. The ships end up spending multiple days at each stop along the coast as the researchers do everything they can to track down leads, but thanks to the logistical support aboard the ships, the supplies are well rationed and the extended nature of these stops doesn’t have a large impact on the overall health of the expedition.

Eventually the research team does come to a conclusion on where they should begin the search. Several stories corroborate with each other and tell of a current that sweeps northward about a mile further out to sea. All of the interviewees speak about avoiding this current in their fishing boats as many have stories of friend or family getting caught in the current and carried north, never to be seen again. It seems that the ship in question was riding this current and thus the fleet will follow suit. One ship from each fleet is sent back to Newhope with reduced crew and a message to request more researchers as they believe there could be more to explore at the terminus of this northern current.

The rest of the fleet sets it’s course and sails onward. Those without their sea legs under them are nearly taken off their feet as the ships make contact with the current. The bows of the ships are pushed strongly to the north as the sails struggle to keep their heading. The crews quickly set to work to adjust course to put the current at the tail of the ships and after a rocky start the fleet finds itself ushered northward on a swift current. As the month comes to a close the sight of a sun-bleached Aldorian flag rises over the horizon atop the mast of a tallship. As it comes into focus it becomes clear that the ship has been beached on on a reef near a sandbar extending off the coast. As the fleet draws closer they see that the Aldorian ship is also surrounded by the wreckage of Ulven fishing boats and a few longships. From a distance there doesn’t seem to be any movement aboard the ship and it seems that a few of their dinghies are missing. The assumption is that after beaching on the reef, the crew of the ship lowered their boats and rowed to the nearby mainland.

The fleet turns hard to avoid the reef and sets anchors off the coast of the mainland. The decision is made to establish a camp on the beach and send a party to the beached Aldorian vessel to check for anyone left behind as soon as camp is ready to receive the passengers. Thanks to the logistic support the camp almost seems to raise itself and within short time the leadership is ready to put together a crew to row out to the beached ship.

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February 2021

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.

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January 270

As the initial rumors of the Wolf Priest quiet down, it is still unknown to the larger Ulven people what kind of impact this person will have on their people. It is certain that there are ears eager to listen to this new voice. Life continues on Mardrun as clans and colonies focus their attention on various tasks. Expansion continues in City-State territory, rumors abound about merchants claiming that Aldorian soldiers were on the move through Clan Nigthriver territory and headed towards the Great Wolf’s Hackles, and the defenders stationed on the Shield of Mardrun saw much needed rotation of fresh warriors ad volunteers.

Winter Harvest: Part 1
Just south of the Shield of Mardrun is a fairly significant area of land and settlements in Clan Shattered Spear territory led by Gertrud Speartusk, Chieftain of Pack Speartusk. Gertrud is also Jarl, overseeing this territory and coordinating with its families and smaller packs that call it home. After several harvests in the area were less than what was predicted, Jarl Gertrud has sent out a summons to hunters and warriors to visit their lands. The home settlement of Pack Speartusk will be the center of a large hunting competition. With a boast of promising fame, fortune, or favor to the best hunter or hunting group bringing in the most boastful game, renowned hunters are expected to travel to compete. By stoking the competitive fires of eager word-fame focused Ulven, this is sure to be quite an occasion. The Jarl has made it clear that all are welcome to compete, including Human and Syndar. However, at the heart of this is an effort to feed and stockpile food supplies of numerous settlements in the area in preparation for winter. Who knows what strategy will award a hunter this prize? Will it be a brave and mighty warrior facing the dangerous wild boars of the land? Cunning hunters tracking the largest elk herd? Or crafty hunters going after rare and unique small game?

UPDATE: Winter snows fall, the cold sets in, and the land becomes still. Perfect weather for a hunt in the wilds around Clan Shattered Spear. However, there seems that very few took up Gertrud Speartusk’s invitation to join in on the prime hunting weather. But that did little to deter those who did show up from hunting wild game of all kinds. While only a few came back with anything of significant splendor or size, there was some success in getting a few boar. However, two hunters were gored on the hunt rather badly. 

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The Looming Winter: Part 2
After a significant effort that took place across most of City-State territory last month, it is safe to say that the current atmosphere of Newhope is one of stability and expansion. Even in winter, new construction continues and new roads are created easing trade and travel. Craftsmen and those with trades are still sought after to help on various projects. One major change that is worth noting is the formerly named Colony of Starkhaven. Rumors say that the colony is being called a city, with expansion and new construction, and the territory being called the Arnathian March. Pledging fealty to the City-State of Newhope and being overseen by the Marchioness appointed by the City-State, this territory expansion is considerable and raises the overall influence of the larger City-State. Smaller settlements are expanded on, territories strengthened, and trade routes stabilized. As always, there is plenty of work to do… and plenty of rumors to hear based on what is spoken of at the taverns once work-shifts are complete for the day.

UPDATE: Many Volunteers came to help throughout the City State of Newhope. Merchants, construction crews, general laborers, and many more joined to help continue the previous months endeavor.  With the overwhelming amount of aid many villages were expanded, new housing around the city of Starkhaven was built, roads shoveled and plowed, and much more.
Due to the large amount of effort poured in by many groups and individuals, those who were organizing the expansion expressed their sincere gratitude at both the progress and speed of the task completed.  However, there still some tasks left over to finish before the Political meeting in February and those in charge express their hope of the continued support.

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Life Doesn’t Stop: Part 2
From the South marched a considerable caravan of volunteers and fresh warriors for the Shield of Mardrun. The banners and heraldry of various groups could be seen as Chieftains supervising the defense of The Shield assigned posts and rotations. Veteran warriors, serving many months at The Shield, were alight with appreciation for the chance to go back home and help their families and packs tend to their hearth’s before the coldest part of winter truly set in. Once rotated, daily life set in. Quartermasters were always busy, trying to keep food and supplies orderly and plenty of firewood stocked for the fires to warm the outposts. A few small skirmishes with mordok and patrols with close calls with hunting mordok dotted the month, but nothing substantial took place. Around the campfire, stories of previous battles and heroic efforts were common. Some Ulven would remember the bloody War in the Dirge, many forgetting the cost of the campaign that took place only a few short years ago. Some of the most experienced Ulven and Chieftains who have spent time on The Shield seem uneasy, rumors say that there are signs of something bigger going on with the Mordok in the swamp… things have been a bit too quiet. Regardless, the considerable number of volunteers to help on the Shield do set some of their minds at ease, knowing that manpower is not found lacking at this time.

UPDATE: The month see’s a small increase of Mordok activity, which isn’t anything too abnormal. However, the abnormal part of this month is the effectiveness of their tactics. Throughout the month, raids against outposts and their patrols persisted. Then during these raids some of those working on the Shield were captured and found strung up in trees, often mutilated and tortured not too far from the outpost they were taken from, their screams of agony echoing through the trees being heard by the defenders nearby. These tactics of fighting from the shadows and torturing known allies have left those defending against the Dirge Swamp shaken to their core and weary of going into the wilds.
Thankfully, the raids seem to slow down towards the end of the month and while physical damage seems to have been minimal, the trauma and fear instilled into the warriors along the shield has left its mark. Many are now fearful that this is the start of something more to come.

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December 269

With Clan Ironmound considerably ahead of schedule based on the combined efforts of many over the fall, the people of Mardrun have begun to turn their focus to the fast approaching winter. The last bit of crops and harvests are being tended to and the winter snow is fast approaching. Without a calamity bringing people together or a concentrated mordok attack to the north, attention drifts to day to day life and what needs to be done before winter. There are several opportunities for people to listen to the news that couriers bring to the various settlements and choose a story or two to pursue.

Howls On The Horizon: Part 1
Rumors have spread and grown surprisingly fast about a man who is travelling through Ulven lands, who calls himself “The Wolf Priest”. Telling his story of near death and is now suggesting a new rhetoric to many long held Ulven religious views. Some rumors claim he is picking at old wounds and claiming the Lorespeakers have misled the Ulven people about their gods. While some seem to embrace the idea of more focus on The Great Wolf, others worry that this new rhetoric may bring a doom upon the Ulven people by angering Gaia and the Great Wolf. With little hard facts to go on many wonder if this “Wolf Priest” is worth a second glance or simply a scared man fighting to have his name heard.
One thing is certain; wherever the Wolf Priest travels, tensions mount between various Ulven people.

UPDATE: Rumors continue to circle about this strange man who walks the land speaking new rhetoric about the Ulven afterlife. It seems this speaker is not only preaching an alternate idea of the Ulven afterlife, he seems to be preaching a whole new take on the concept of honor and duty. His mentality seems to be that the Ulven have been fed lies about the potential afterlives that they all have waiting for them. He tells that being swallowed by The Great Wolf is not a punishment. He swears that he himself has seen into the Maw of The Great Wolf and found it to hold all of the totality of the cosmos. He claims to have seen the entirety of everything within the Maw of the Wolf and saw that being swallowed does not mean that you are destroyed forever, but rather that you are returned to the cosmos with your ancestors.

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The Looming Winter: Part 1
Across the continent, calls are being made by various Colonies and settlements about the need for resources and supplies to prepare for the coming winter. One of the most noticeable calls for work are the various settlements of the City-State of Newhope. This presents a chance to ply one’s craft, to trade goods for silver, or barter. There is demand for tradespeople to work and earn silver or to assist those less fortunate than themselves. Workers assigned to expansion projects or stationed at settlements can find various work to be productive, helping stabilize or even expand on the viability of City-State territories. Although no songs will be sung about the inglorious work, there is opportunity nonetheless… and lips often loosen at night, allowing rumors to flow as much as ale in the taverns host to travelers from all walks of life.

UPDATE: 

The expansion effort in New Hope is met with an astonishing amount of support. Small contingents from The March of Starkhaven and The Order of Arnath’s Light, UCUM, The Phoenix, and many other adventurers and opportunists looking to earn honest money for honest work. The colors of New Vandregon can be seen flying proudly as they sent a unit of traders and several of their more prominent members. With the unexpected amount of support all plans are moving ahead of schedule. Some speculate if that means expansion will continue into the new year or if it is simply a blessing to be appreciated.

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Life Doesn’t Stop: Part 1
From the North, a call comes down; many of the Warpacks have been stationed at The Shield for a considerable amount of time and help is requested. With winter approaching many warriors would like to return home to help their families prepare for winter and others would like to simply return to their lives. However, replacements are needed lest the Mordok find a gap in the line so hard fought to be held. Resources and warriors are needed to support this endeavor. If no support comes, morale could falter and The Shield could become vulnerable to attack. While the Shield of Mardrun is one of the greatest cooperative feats in the history of Mardrun, it requires attenton, supplies, and logistical support to succeed. After the recent attacks in the fall, and the subsequent destruction that followed, many are fearful of what could happen.
Adventurers looking to make a name for themselves, do their part in guard duty against the swamp, or sit shoulder to shoulder with veteran warrior’s swapping stories around a campfire could benefit from their service here.

UPDATE:

A great deal of support spills northward and soon a battle rages in the quiet outposts that make up the Shield of Mardun. A battle between the softly falling snow and the roaring flames of the outpost campfires, with each trying to dissipate the other but it’s a conflict that won’t end until winter does. Fortunately for many of the warriors the only presented threat is the growing cold, although stories of small wandering Mordok groups travels fast between fortifications and patrols. The Mordok’s presence is minimal for the duration of the month, but getting comfortable is always a danger as the Mordok seem to never be far once there’s signs of the defenses laxing.

 

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May 270

The brown of winter is now becoming a fragmented memory of the past as green begins to dominate the landscape of Mardrun. From tree, shrubs, and the now planted crops the world moves forward.

 

Reports from some river fishers from Clan Nightriver have some individuals questioning if there is another unknown type of creature on Mardrun. Sightings of a large hairy being off in the distance have been on the rise, as well as signs of its passing through the area. Among this evidence is large misshapen footprints, clumps of fur at odd heights, and simple tools scattered in nearby wooded areas. Some hunters have taken to try and capture the creature, however none have shown definitive proof or have yet to capture this elusive being. One hunter returns with a sketch he had put together based on what he claims to have seen, but is rebuked by skeptics that he meets and mocked by all for his blurry linework.

 

In Clan Goldenfield a mystery was solved that has bothered a local hamlet for some time. There were rumors of unusual spiritual activity around an abandoned old farm and its surrounding land. A small group of helpful teenagers decided to help get to the bottom of the disturbances, wanting to help put the spirit to rest. The tale goes that at first it was as if they were being watched, and then heard the rattling of chains and ghastly wails around them. Eventually they ran into a supposed wraith or specter that gave them chase throughout the property. After some sleuthing around the farm estate and buildings on the land, they eventually were able to set a trap and capture the ghoul. It turned out to be a local farmer who was trying to drive down the price of land by faking a haunting on the estate. It is thanks to this group of four teenagers and their faithful hound that they were able to help the small hamlet’s faux phantom. 

 

A flower festival goes into bloom in Davin’s Hold towards the end of the month. Common folk celebrate those who are better off at the coming of spring and the growth that will come in the coming year. The Council of Three make a speech of their plans to expand the ever growing settlement and add more housing, lumber mills, and even a possible quarry for stone based on some initial scouting missions. With the news of new work becoming available, along with news that the forces of Vandregon are growing and even accepting squires for those who swear loyalty to Davin’s Hold, the people celebrate long and joyfully as merchants come and go throughout the last weekend of the month. On the final day as the festivities begin to settle, many feel their purses heavier or lighter in one way or another as deals are made between those who play the game. The people of the settlement feel a strong sense of pride. A pride that comes from knowing that while they started with very little, they have gained so much by working together to make their little corner of Mardrun that much better.