Fighting on the front lines is intense during the first few days of the month as both sides attempt to push through before the winter sets in. Bare-chested berserkers from Clan Whiteoak clash against Longfang shields. Volleys of spells are loosed by the Archons standing shoulder-to-shoulder with Daughters of Gaia, only to draw the response of a rain of arrows from across the line. Clerics bearing the blue and white of Bos Mezar hold their ground beside those from the Order of Arnath’s Fist, meeting their opposition with a wall of steel, shields, and faith. With their green hoods as camouflage, several Rangers are able to get the drop on a unit of Grimward warriors as they approach the main battle, setting themselves up for a fight to aid the rest of the line. Wood splinters and steel gleams as the combined forces of Nightriver, Newhope, and New Aldoria stands firm against a wave of Grimward attackers, weathering the storm before returning the fury in kind. With little to look forward to save the red and gold of the Phoenix caravans bringing food to the camps, the hungry warriors are beginning to feel the desperation of this war, hoping to return soon and see and end of all this bloodshed. After the previous weeks of deadly combat, however, there is a surprising break in the fighting. Troops readily seize the opportunity to rest and tend to their wounded, though the leaders present remain wary and maintain their patrols. Shortly thereafter, scouts return, gasping for breath after their journey but quickly recovering enough to manage a smile…
News from the front lines arrives in a hurry, with couriers and hawks bearing joyous news: The Grimward forces are, in large part, retreating! The final push before the coming winter seems to have been a success, giving Coalition forces a much-needed chance to rest and recover. A number of Whiteoak and Grimward warpacks remain in the area, however, and are still cause for concern to those stationed on the vanguard. A general unease settles over much of the main force as they press the retreat, coming across a multitude of Grimward camps, all but abandoned: Tents are left standing, coals still warm in fire pits, the occasional bit of food or clothing left scattered about.
Clan Shattered Spear, eager to return home, has sent word through the many units stationed on or near their territory that the would be willing to discuss terms with any who are willing to hold their lines for the winter. Many among Nightriver have expressed a degree of disgust with such offers, insisting that Shattered Spear warriors should defend their own homes, not hire the work out to others. Tensions have been building in shared camps, and though neither side has been dissuaded from their points, these arguments have not escalated beyond words.
As news of the retreat reaches Newhope, a cry of excitement can nearly be heard blocks away from its source: Martingale Manor. Quickly, fliers are posted and distributed around the bustling city, inviting one and all to a gala to be held “in honor of the brave men and women who fought to bring this bloody mess to an end” near the end of the winter. Many lower-class citizens, however, have taken to the streets in what have as of yet remained non-violent protests decrying the wasteful manner of these parties, especially during a time of such need. The down-trodden in particular have not forgotten about the food shortage facing Newhope, despite the aid given by the Ravens and their agents in the city. Drastic measures may be taken, they warn, if these goods to keep the city from starving are squandered on an obscenely extravagant party to appease the whims of the wealthiest citizens. Martingale and other nobles have responded, insisting that the supplies they have received will be more than enough to last the winter, and that such an event will be good for morale and lead to higher yields in the months after the spring thaw. Concerns remain, judging by shortages from previous years, and more support would definitely be welcomed, though the city’s stores seem to be holding up thus far.
Despite being an early and reliable ally in the war, Clan Axhound has remained fairly quiet this month, with fewer reports trickling in regarding their current situation with Clan Whiteoak. The lack of information has many leaders worried, although Branthur has stepped in on a multitude of occasions to ease those concerns, assuring people that the nature of their relationship with Clan Whiteoak has likely caused them to be spending more time and effort on the war, rather than on their allies, and he feels it would be safe to assume the fighting has been dying down on that front as well, hopefully leading to Axhound returning to the war as a whole shortly.
Hushed whispers have been spreading throughout the front lines, following in Branthur’s wake: many warriors claim to have seen Kragen Bloodmoon himself, Warleader of Clan Nightriver, in custody. The reasoning for this has yet to be divined, although the frequency of these rumors lends credence to the story. Kragen’s personal warpack seems to have gone missing, although additional rumors claim they were branded and sent north to the Dirge Swamp to atone for whatever misdeeds could have led to such a harsh punishment with their lives. Worry spreads among the camp, although Branthur has announced plans to address the group as a whole when the time is right. He has requested the presence of a multitude of clans for the announcement, and rumor has it that even Clan Grimward’s presence has been requested.
The Truthseekers of Clan Spiritclaw have been hard at work attempting to locate any and all Lorespeakers they may be able to find, though their resources are stretched thin. Many packs have begun offering rewards for information that leads to the apprehension of a Lorespeaker, more for the capture of one alive. They insist that they mean to question those they find, although rumors of vigilante justice among other clans have led to some concern about Spiritclaw’s true intentions.
Clan Stormjarl, thirsty for vengeance for their fallen brothers and sisters, is eager to push into Grimward territory. Taking advantage of the situation, they claim, could set Grimward back on their heels enough to force them to surrender if they cannot withstand the winter. Stormjarl will be hard pressed to inflict any significant damage on Clan Grimward at this time due to their reduced numbers, but have been emboldened by the effectiveness of their tactics to remove any strategic value from the lands they once called home. Grimward-controlled villages, once in Stormjarl territory, have had their fields salted, their crops burned, and their walls sabotaged, making them more trouble to hold than they are worth. This has led to the vast tract of land spanning between Stormjarl and Grimward, colloquially known to Stormjarl as “Haygreth’s Scar”, a region of barren fields, charred remains of buildings, and an eerie quiet more deafening than the battles that led to its inception. Clan Ironmound, however, has seen enough blood shed for this year and is insisting that the Coalition remains in place, bolstering defenses in preparation for the Spring thaw which will inevitably bring more fighting, and have been calling for warriors and laborers alike both to hold the lines and begin construction on additional buildings in the area.
As the soldiers and warriors take full advantage of their small vacation from the fighting, their leaders remain unconvinced. While some are using this opportunity to build morale among their troops, others insist they remain vigilant. Grimward’s retreat seemed too hasty and premature. Until that day comes, however, time will only tell what the future holds for the Coalition…