January 27, 1014:
Crusaders suffered a defeat at Togova after inflicting heavy losses on Dark Lady Narcisa.
As Narcisa is a vampire who has apparently ruled her isolated valley for centuries, most of her troops were (mortal) peasants loyal to the figure they credit with protecting them from outsiders and danger for as long as anyone can remember. As such, the Crusaders’ holy magic was ineffective against their foes, turning the battle largely into more of a traditional fight.
However, the Togovan peasants were fighting on their home ground and defending same, giving them a fierce morale and no reason to flee the field. The Crusaders -- or, as the Togovan armies called them, “the foreign invaders” -- took heavy losses attempting to surmount the trenches and palisades that the locals had erected around the entrance to the valley. The Crusaders managed to push the fight further into the valley and left many Togovans dead, but were unable to reach Narcisa’s manor house before Dame Florentina de Accorsa called a retreat, unwilling to lose more of her forces.
Greywatch Point, Bilgosh:
In response to intelligence gathered by a small infiltration force, Allondine ships in the south of Hesket joined forces with their Yamamotoan allies to strike at the stronghold of a weakened Dark Lady who had been attempting to amass a fleet to blockade the Bilgosh coast against the Crusading navies. On October 21st, the allied fleet struck the fortress, a lighthouse standing on a promontory overlooking the southern sea. The Yamamotoan ships leveled a heavy barrage from their fire lances at the stronghold, while Allondine ships prepared to guard them from the Dark Lady's defending forces. They were unprepared for the response by the Dark Lady, who summoned powerful demons which flew out to harass the attacking ships; the Yamamotoans and their Allondine allies suffered heavy losses before the fell creatures were slain. Eventually, the tower collapsed under the sustained assault from the Yamamotoan vessels, but no trace of the sorceress who had held the fortress was discovered among the wreckage. With the way cleared past the southern tip of Bilgosh, commanders of the Crusading forces have begun developing plans for a naval push in the spring.
In November, Crusader armies successfully destroyed a vampiric Dark Lord, and then caught a Bilgosh unit of undead werewolves unawares and were able to destroy them.
Crusader armies operating out of the outpost at Gershon were able to slay Dark Lord Radovan, a vampire of some significant power after an extended siege. Under the command of Lord Bradley, Earl of Felmouth, and Lady Maurine, Countess of Bersinais, the armies brought down the walls of the vampire’s stronghold with siege engines, then made a sharp strike into the heart of the building with holy symbols and holy water at the ready. Crusader knights were able to incapacitate, stake, and then burn the vampire after some significant losses.
After Dark Lord Radovan’s death, a group of specialists retrieved information from his lair suggesting that the Dark Lord had begun experiments to reanimate the corpses of deceased werewolves. These new abominations had the might of dire wolves and the tireless strength of the undead.
Crusaders were able to intercept the first squadron of these undead werewolves at Perkoj, where the Dark Lord intended to test their capabilities. With the element of surprise on their side, Crusader forces slew the abominations and their handlers in a bloody skirmish.
While the source of the zombie werewolves has not yet been found, the destruction of their test squadron is likely a significant setback for Emilian’s forces.
Outside of the village of Lugoj, as the Crusaders advanced upon the zombie and vampire troops lead by the dread necromancer Herj, an unknown wizard shoved his way to the front lines of the Crusader army. With much maniacal laughter, the mage created a fiery explosion that blasted a hole through the darkling troops. He then walked through the hole his magic had created, cackling and casting fire at any darklings that got in his way, before wandering off.
Their once-organized front line in disarray, Herj’s army fell apart, and the Crusaders stormed into the breach, making quick work of the now-smouldering undead. Within several hours, Herj and his armies both lay in defeat.
Crusaders at the battle observed that explosions continued throughout the day, getting further and further away as the unknown mage headed deeper into Bilgosh.
The approach of winter brought an end to military campaigning, as the Crusaders set down in the liberated regions in northern Bilgosh, fortifying their gains.
The Queen of Chardreau and the young King of Allondell have both made camp within the borders of Bilgosh, as have most other Crusader leaders. This contrasts with previous years, where the Crusaders camped in the Steinlands, but this year the Crusaders have made enough gains inside the borders of Bilgosh. Most also believe that the Crusaders planting their standards within Bilgosh for the winter is intended as a symbolic gesture, intended to demonstrate their progress.
The harpypox, which had spread throughout the army camps several years ago, reportedly resurfaced in Alsoria and northern Bilgosh once the winter frosts set in.
Yamamotoan soldiers met up with the monarchs of Allondell and Chardreau, as well as the other Crusader leaders, in this town in northern Bilgosh on December 30.
After breaking the sea blockade that Overlord Emilian’s forces had established along Bilgosh’s southern shoreline, the Yamamotoan and Crusader ships were able to proceed to northern Bilgosh and allow the Yamamotoans to disembark. As the Crusader armies have not yet fully secured the northern shoreline, the Yamamotoan companies proceeded overland through Zdunarova and the Steinlands to join up with the main Crusader army.
Reportedly the meetings have been tense, with many in the Crusader camp uncomfortable working alongside their longtime Yamamotoan foes, and the Yamamotoans in turn unaccustomed to taking orders from Hesketines. However, both groups do seem to acknowledge the military advantage of incorporating the Yamamotoan fire-lances and fire-wands into the Crusaders’ battle plans.
October 8, 1014:
On March 24, a fiery burst ripped apart the tower of Dame Blanche Belford, the Court Wizard of Allondell. The jet of flame filled the skies, sending ashes and embers down upon the surrounding neighborhood.
Nothing remained of the Court Wizard herself, although royal servants were quick to extinguish the fires and to evacuate all the items and belongings within the tower’s now-burned laboratory.
King Harold of Allondell announced unexpectedly in April that he wished to cement the newly-opened trade with Yamamoto by building for the Yamamotoans an embassy building in the Allondine port town of Selmouth. The building is to be built in the Yamamotoan style, with curving roofs and decorated with imported Yamamotoan materials “so that Yamamotoan merchants and visitors might feel more at home when so far from their own homeland.”
King Harold also announced that there would be an increase in the annual tax on land for all landowners, as well as an increase in taxation on domestic wool trade, and an increase in bridge tolls. Courtiers close to the Exchequer say that the King’s funds are already drawn thin with his Crusade expenses, and that he cannot afford the new embassy without new tax revenues.
The wizards of the Ancient and Mystical Lodge of the Four Sigils announced that they have developed a magically-sealed chest using writings they believe to be from the archmage Gilliam Stenn.
Stenn had invented a kind of chest that was magically sealed, and kept his most prized items inside these chests. Each chest could only be opened by inserting particular alchemical orbs into holes in the box (acting as a “key”), and then manipulating the orbs in a specific pattern. Without the orbs and the pattern, no normal means could open the chest; prying open the hinge or smashing the chest itself would destroy the contents. Stenn had guarded the formula for the creation of these chests, not even revealing the method of their creation to his children.
Stenn’s books were lost upon his death when his estate was overrun by orcs, but over the last few years, people claim to have recovered pages from the books. The Wizards of the Four Sigils say they purchased several pages from an adventurer who found them in the Grendarr Mountains, and from them were able to discern how to create the “Stenn chests”.
The wizards presented one such “Stenn chest” to King Gregor of Kislevia for the safekeeping of his royal jewels. Many other mages’ guilds and lodges have approached the Four Sigils about the secret of creating the chests.
On April 14, King Harold dismissed his Chancellor, Lady Aveline Woodward, appointing Lord Osbert Bettancourt to fill the position.
Lady Aveline had been a close ally of the King’s uncle and former regent, Prince Edmund, and so her dismissal is seen by many as part of a “changing of the guard” and a transition from Prince Edmund’s backers to the King’s own inner circle. The Chancery controls much of the royal business, including record-keeping, official documents, diplomatic papers, and information-gathering.
Courtiers in Tolbury report that one of the new Chancellor’s first acts was to cut support to the Napermian rebels in Yamamoto-held Seiguntou, although since such funding was always unofficial, this news would be difficult to confirm.
As the snow melted and the spring campaign began, Crusaders captured the stronghold of the Dark Lady known as Desimir.
Desimira, a lycanthrope who took the form of a leopard, led a herd of lesser were-leopards. Unlike wolves, who operate in packs and coordinate well, the more solitary nature of leopards meant there were more times when the outposts were unguarded, allowing Crusader scouts to observe the Dark Lady’s troop strength and resources. Crusaders also took advantage of the loyalty of the peasants to the Dark Lady, as it meant there were humans moving in and out regularly; Crusaders therefore sent in additional scouts disguised as merchants.
The initial Crusader attack focused on the heavily-garrisoned tower; without a strong central authority to command the solitary were-leopards, most of them proceeded to the tower, leaving the rear flank open to a surprise attack that scaled the walls and breached the bailey. The Dark Lady was brought down by a blessed arrow, causing her minions to turn tail and flee. Leaderless, the remaining troops surrendered, and the Crusaders’ bell emblem was flown from the tower.
A cold winter and a drier-than-normal summer have left many in the Allondine countryside in dire straits. Churches in central and western Allondell report a high demand for their charity, as many households lack sufficient food, especially after many landlords have increased rents and fees to pay for the King’s new land taxes.
The Crusaders’ attack on the holding of Busa failed when the Crusaders’ two-front attack left neither side strong enough to reach victory.
The Crusaders apparently had two different war plans, one proposing an attack from the east and a second from the west, and there was disagreement among the commanders as to which plan was superior, so the Crusaders opted to split up into two groups, each attacking the holding from a different direction.
The eastern approach came overland via the main road, giving them the advantage of rapid movement. However, Dark Lord Iliya’s defending troops were prepared, having placed scouts along the road who were able to keep ahead of the Crusaders and inform the Dark Lord of the advance. Lord Iliya moved his peasant levies to block the main road, while his mounted troops and mages ambushed the Crusader flanks. Penned in on three sides, and with their knights not unable to maneuver, the Crusader ranks broke.
The western approach involved taking ships around the holding to land at Kolinka Bay, then cross through the hills and over the Musa River to hit the Dark Lord’s relatively unguarded western wall. While the Crusaders did have the advantage of surprise, they did not have the advantage of numbers; the defenders were able to use their first ranks to hold the Crusaders in place while bringing in reinforcements. The Crusader morale weakened, and they called off the assault shortly before sundown, whose arrival would give the defenders further advantage.
After the Crusaders went into retreat, Overlord Emilian’s forces moved into the river valley where the Crusaders had previously been camped, and burned down the village, sending scores of refugees northward.
On August 13, revolts flared again on the island of Napermo.
Tensions among the natives and the Yamamotoan rulers were already high after last year’s revolts. When news reached the island that the Allondines were trying to improve relations with the Yamamotoans and were going to cut off funding to the Napermian rebels, the Napermians opted to strike out at the ruling Yamamotoans once more. Several Yamamotoan garrisons in the capital city of Giyoma (formerly Gioma) were set ablaze; the soldiers retaliated by burning the adjacent neighborhood of Piazza Santa Violeta to the ground.