Stormbreak: Epilogue - The First Five Years

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henrythemad

Artisan
OOG: The following takes place over the five years directly after the end of the events of the Stormbreak finale event. ANY character who was in Stormbreak is welcome to have lived through these experiences IG. When you leave the Maelstrom - you will travel BACK IN TIME to the present day after living through those years. IG, your character experienced 5 years since the last event (6 for some of you *WINK*). Obviously no build or skills would have been acquired in that time.

The Mists that bring people to and from the area within the Maelstrom closed today in story. There is no going back and forth as of this posting.

This is, for now, the final entry in the saga of the lands within the Maelstrom. It is our hope to open a Stormbreak 2.0 within the next five years. When/if that happens it will not be a game under the HQ banner but it's own chapter. I hope we can do that and I hope that you'll join us.

Note: This document was written long after the events of the game with a historical perspective.

Thanks again.
Magdalen, Hoyce, and Henry
 
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henrythemad

Artisan
Excerpt from Otto Schule’s Cloud Empire in the 6th Era
“Chapter 16: The Rise of Wyndael and the Start of the Age of Cooperation


One could be forgiven for thinking the Freehold of Wyndael was destined to come together but in reality nothing could be farther from the truth. The resolution of the Second Imperial Civil War (which Wyndaelish call the Wyndael War of Independence) hinged on a series of seemingly random events.

On the face of it. a minor house declaring support for a disgraced former noble claiming to be the secret son of a member of the Imperial family and thinking there could be any success against the most powerful nation in the Maelstrom is ludicrous. However somehow that is exactly what happened. Against all odds, Luin Geifer was able to prove he was the child of Nessiana Stratos and convince High Magnates Izikiel Ryatt and Elizabeth Keenan to back his claim. From there the two and their remarkable cabinet were able to leverage their connections or negotiate to gain the backing of Houses Sterne, Meer, and Verger and secure the neutrality of house Heinlein.

Even still, the war should have been a foregone conclusion. House Stratos, ostensibly ruled by Regent Vikkin Stratos, controlled the Imperial Military, Navy, and the service of Gryphons. House Giefer may have been split between loyalists and those who followed Luin due to his family name, but House Mithril was solidly loyal and brought many powerful soldiers to the cause.

However, archaeological efforts under Stormbreak Keep had unearthed an ancient weapon akin to the Obelisk in the Kingdom of Orentis. A band of Kesh operating in Wyndael in conjunction with members of the Mage’s Guild were able to use it to slay gryphons, keeping them out of the theatre in Wyndael. Most historians believe that this is what kept the war from ending immediately. Had the Empire been able to crush the provence quickly, Luin would no doubt have been found and hurled into the Maelstrom, removing the leader of the rebels.

Still, the Regent and those loyal to him knew Luin was the key to ending the war and directed two legions and a large amount of House Mithril and House Giefer troops there. Again, however, happenstance intervened as the worst winter in well over a century paralyzed the war, giving Luin Giefer’s side the chance to turn the tide.

There were two turning key points that the members and allies of House Wyndael focused on. The first was the seeming disparity between the words and apparent actions of General Argus Stratos in the beginning of the war. In August of 21, 6E he and the gryphon sypmaster Barilise traveled to Stormbreak Keep under a Flag of Parlay. He offered terms for House Wyndael to stand down, demanding the surrender of Luin Giefer to the crown and removal and single execution of Izikiel Ryatt and Elizabeth Keenan. In return he offered that they could return to their private lives upon resurrection, that the Crown would not take punitive measures against House Sterne (House Wyndael’s patron) and even that he would elevate a Wylderkin member of their cabinet as the new ruler of House Wyndael. The offer was refused, and here is where the stories of what occurred afterward diverged.

Those in Wyndael claimed that General Argus urged them to reconsider, warning that he’d be returning in two days with the might of the 2nd and 3rd Legions and that if they did not accept his offer and stand down that bloodshed would be inevitable and that the Crown would be far less forgiving after that had happened. With that, the General and Barilise departed, they claimed.

However, Barilise returned to the 2nd and 3rd Legion alone, claiming that she and Argus had been attacked by the members and followers of House Wyndael while under the Flag of Parlay. She claimed that Argus had been slain and that she had barely fought her way out. Considering that the general’s last orders had been for the Legions to burn and raze their way to Stormbreak Keep if they did not return (a form insurance as he believed the High Magnates would never violate the Flag of Parlay with that kind of threat over their head) the Legion obeyed and began burning and killing their way into the provence. This marked the official beginning of the War. For his part General Argus resurrected in Wolkenstadt, his account supporting Barilise’s, though he expressed surprise that Ryatt and Keenan had demonstrated such a lack of honor and concern for their charges.

Those serving and aiding House Wyndael wished to learn the truth, as they did not believe General Argus to be lying, but could not reconcile his claims with their experience. Barilise could not be questioned as she had been slain in the Skirmish at Stormbreak Keep (called the Battle of Two Gryphons by the Wyndelish) by the obelisk.

The Second strategy that House Wyndael wished to pursue was part of a vision shown to six of the adventurers of Wyndael (who have been dubbed the Peacemakers of Wyndael by the historian Heinrich Olis for their consistent efforts to resolve conflicts without bloodshed.) These individuals included Wyndael Cabinet Members Greyson McAllister, Mardex Snowfang and Sasha Greymantle, Sasha’s twin sister Saoirse Manji Lyneer, and Qorijin Burilgi the Azarka. They reported being forcibly thrown back in time over 5,000 years (or shown an extremely elaborate participatory recreation) to the year 882, 3E and somehow being the bodies of Mountain Clans that Emperor Siberg Stratos ordered wiped out after the death of his mother. This experience revealed that, contrary to established Imperial history, the Mountain Clans were actually dwarves and that dwarves had existed inside the Maelstrom before those of House Mithril arrived in the Fifth Era.

Those who shared this vision had observed a Gryphon seemingly recording the event on a Getragen Memory stone. They suspected that if they could recover the stone and bring proof of the Empire’s heinous actions against the dwarven people that they could shift House Mithril’s allegiance in the war or at least get them to withdraw from the conflict.

Though major hostilities were essentially halted during the unusually harsh winter, the Peacemakers of Wyndael continued their efforts on the above two goals as best they could over the snowy season. Olē Wurmshield, then still a squire in the Venerable Order of Chivalry, refused to draw his blade during the Battle of Two Gryphons, instead calling upon the forces to stand down and negotiate, insisting that the battle was predicated upon the lie that Wyndael had slain Argus. He even surrendered himself to Imperial forces in an effort to speak with General Argus or Overlord Nolan Platinumspike in an effort to reveal what the Peacemakers of Wyndael had discovered. Though never granted an audience with General Argus, he did manage to speak with Nolan, who demanded proof of Olē’s claims before he’d consider them.

Meanwhile, Cabinet Member Greyson McAllister wintered in Berghalten, seeking a way to access the Library of Memories, which only allowed certified Getragen researches access. His efforts led to Professor Jaan Munley locating and absconding with the chip in question, though he was forced to flee to Wyndael to examine it as he believed Talon Company was tracking his movements.

In late spring of 22, 6E the Peacemakers of Wyndael were able to bring together the pieces they needed to address both goals. Professor Munley resurrected in the Stormbreak healer’s circle, reporting that he had the memory chip with him, but that he’d been captured and eaten by the Wylderkin Mannius, who had been leading an insurgent Wylderkin faction called “Blood for Blood.” These wylderkin had been corrupted by the cannibalistic curse that swept the area the previous year. Efforts led by Aleeha and Roark had seen the cure administered to many, but Mannius and his followers had not been treated and fueled the curse in themselves by feeding on any captured Imperials during the winter. Clearly they had mistaken the Getragen Munley as an Imperial agent. Cabinet Member Greyson McAllister led a party of Peacemakers to recover the chip, though they were forced to fight their way past the violent and curse addled Mannius and his followers to do it.

The second key came within a day of the first. A Wylderkin appeared in Stormbreak Keep offering to sell the dirty and tattered uniform of General Argus Stratos. When asked where he had found it, the Kin admitted that before the winter he’d seen a figure plummet from the sky and a Gryphon circling the area. He made off with the coat, but saw the Gryphon flying lower, as if to land, and so he fled. The Peacemakers paid the informant for the coat and to show them the location. Though the area had been snowed over and thawed, they were able to find a few of the personal effects of the General, including a hematite ring.

When examined, the chip showed proof that the dwarves had indeed been wiped out as reported, and the ring revealed that Barilise had been ordered by Regent Vikkin Stratos to murder General Argus to start the war. They surmised that Barilise had subsequently landed and tampered with Argus’ mind before his broken body had fully expired, as they believed that Argus was honorable and would not forgive such an act.

With the proof in hand to address their strategy the trick was to get it into the hands of the necessary people. To that end the heroes were able to build on past relationships. Over the winter several of the Peacemakers of Wyndael claimed to have been kidnapped by a Fey in the form of a stunningly beautiful purple and silver feline and transported to her realm. Inexplicably Sargent Gunther Goldaxe, an officer in House Mithril’s army and Overlord Nolan’s nephew, was among them. The Peacekeepers parlayed with him and explained the visions seen regarding the Mountain Clains. For his part Goldaxe had been skeptical, but agreed to view any proof they might have, which at the time was none.

Once the snows thawed Goldaxe led a detachment of House Mithril Forces on patrol and found themselves stymied by a makeshift barricade erected by House Wyndael forces, among whom were Council Members Sasha and Greyson as well as Roark. They parlayed with Goldaxe, telling him that they had proof on the way and would have it secured soon, and urged him to inform his uncle. In doing so, the House Wyndael forces also completed their primary objective, which was to prevent the patrol from coming upon a caravan of people and supplies evacuating the Manor house of the High Magnates. Without the loss of any lives they kept Goldaxe’s forces talking long enough for the caravan move through the area nearby and initiate the move that would ultimate turn House Mithril.

The following day Goldaxe negotiated a trade. He and Overlord Nolon would agree to travel to Wyndael Keep and view the chip, however High Magnate Elizabeth Keenan and Cabinet Member Greyson McAllister would need to surrender themselves to House Mithril to safeguard their return. According to first hand accounts when Overlord Nolon viewed the chip he flew into a rage, swearing vengeance on the Empire for both the butchery of dwarven civilians and for lying and covering it up for thousands of years.

Although several present, especially Squire Olē and Magnate Mardex Snowfang, urged Nolon to hold off on his rage and coordinate an attack with House Wyndael forces, within a day he had launched a devastating surprise attack on Imperial and House Giefer forces that were besieging Stormbreak Keep, effectively breaking the siege and throwing Imperial forces into chaos.

The second objective was met by Squire Olē who, accompanied by two brave companions, walked right up to Imperial lines and surrendered themselves, requesting only to be brought to General Argus Stratos. The troops agreed and Olē returned the General’s belongings and the Mnemonic Reader that had been left behind in Stormbreak Keep. Most important among them, however, was Argus’ the hematite ring. Crafted as an experiment by Emperor Ernst Stratos himself, the ring allowed Argus to record many memories upon it instead of one, similar to the Getragen legends of a proper Mind Stone.

Argus was reportedly reluctant, however since Olē was a squire in the Venerable Order of Chivalry and had so far demonstrated a great deal of honor, Argus read the ring. Knowing that it’s contents could not be faked, he merely said he had much to consider and ordered Olē and his companions released. The following day, however, he traveled to Stormbreak Keep to treat with High Magnates Keenan and Ryatt. He informed them that the ring proved that his father, Regent Vikkin, had committed treason and conspired to begin the war and that he would need to be arrested and tried for it.

General Argus revealed that the regent was on the front to bolster the morale of the troops after the winter and because he wanted to witness Wyndael being crushed by Imperial might. Argus
stated he was organizing troops under him whose loyalty he could count on and that he would march on the Regent’s camp to arrest him the following morning. He recommended that Luin Giefer be present, as he had the next best claim upon the throne.

The following day Luin Giefer did, indeed, gather the assembled Magnates, Cabinet Members and Peacemakers of Wyndael and march upon Vikkin’s camp. They found the remains of General Argus and his men, who had all apparently died in a vicious combat, seeming against one another. Accounts by those who were present at both scenes related that it was eerily similar to the scene where Emperor Ernst’s party had seemingly all been slain three years earlier.

Standing among the bloody clothing and broken weapons was a single figure, a Dustren in the body of a copper golem. They were later identified as Torval von Ulster, a powerful Erhoht. Erhohts are a miniscule percentage of Dustren who have been mutated by the Maelstrom and exhibit astonishing mental powers far beyond those of their ilk. While most are wise and revered members of society, House Grund later advised Torval had fallen to Aufregung (a Dustren condition where they are unable or unwilling to control their emotions.) Though Torval von Ulster has not been seen since, House Grund still searches for them to this day.

Regent Vikkin was nearby in a circle of power protected by a squad of Talon Company, whom he ordered to attack the Wyndael forces. A fierce battle broke out, however Torval was eventually slain. A second company of Talon Company soldiers soon arrived, accompanied by two Gryphons, continuing the fight.

During the fighting Luin Giefer approached Vikkin, demanding his surrender and renunciation of the Crown, pointing out that his own son had ordered his arrest for his misdeeds. Though initially recalcitrant and unremorseful, even of twice murdering his son Argus, once the Gryphons and most of the Talon Company forces were defeated he reluctantly renounced his position and stepped out of his circle to hand the Crown to Luin.

Luin ordered a cease fire and Talon Company, upon seeing that Vikkin had renounced his authority to Luin, obeyed. Luin spoke to the members of Talon Company, praising their loyalty to the crown, and advising that they’d been misled by Vikkin Stratos and promising that they would not be punished for simply doing their duty.

While still standing upon the field Luin immediately renounced the claim of the Cloud Empire to the province of Wyndael, symbolically surrendering his sword to Mardex Snowfang, whom the Wylderkin had named a temporary transitional leader until the Wyndael Council was set up.

Within minutes Luin made three additional pivotal decrees. In the first he named Greyson McAllister as the Cloud Empire’s Ambassador to the newly formed Freehold of Wyndael. For the second he declared that the Dryad people were to be considered as a full citizen race in all portions of the Empire, with all the rights and responsibilities thereof. And finally, he declared that slavery of any race, citizen or non-citizen, would be forever outlawed in the Cloud Empire.

A month after these events the Assembly of Houses (with Argus Stratos representing House Stratos) unanimously voted to uphold Luin’s claim to the throne. Luin was subsequently coronated in Wolkensdadt as Emperor Luin Giefer-Stratos I.

Due to his first decrees, many immediately began calling him Luin the Liberator. Although some traditionalist elements within the Empire would fight his reform efforts and mockingly called him Luin the Lame. The ultimate success and result of Emperor Luin’s efforts, however, must be left to future historians to determine.

The Rise of the Nation of Wyndael


Upon the surrendering of Vikkin Stratos and the battlefield declaration of His Imperial Radiance Luin Giefer-Stratos I, the Free Nation of Wyndael was born on 22, 6e, on the 19th of May at just after high noon.

The Wyndaelish People settled on a unique form of Government which echoed the tradition of the Wylderkin Council, yet included some form of election - similar to the way in which the Monarch of Newhome was selected - the difference being that council members were to be elected separately. How a possibly disparate group of individuals, with individualized goals and political platforms, were expected to govern successfully over a long timeframe is unknown - but if anyone will succeed, it is those who have the perseverance of the Wylderkin.

The Council served as a representational council divided by vocational, rather than cultural, lines. While tribal and cultural mores vary, those who share trade and vocational foci tend to find more common ground. In dividing the council thus, it was the first step toward eliminating many of the stalemates and deadlocks that made the previous kin council ineffectual.

Each councilperson had a number of votes in proportion to the size of their citizen constituency, to be re-evaluated and reapportioned every 10 to 15 years - with elections and off years meaning that no council member would ever “benefit” from an increased vote/power increase in the same election cycle that they assisted in the granting of such power.

The representative council seats are as follows, most are sufficiently self-explanatory - those that are not have further detailed information.

Education Seat - because kin had been systematically prevented from accessing any form of consistent education, this is possibly the most important seat, at least at the outset. Arcana Seat- this is a dual-seat position with two representatives: one for the Earth school and one for the Celestial; each receives their own votes, but the two must compromise to vote as one
Seats of Agriculture, Textiles, Military, Craftsmen, and Diplomacy were also pointed out.

Another, very important and power seat would be the council seat for Ex-slave welfare. This seat was set to be a temporary fixture of the council, the focus of which was giving a voice to former slaves as they found their way in society. The victims of slavery have unique needs, both in terms of finding their place in a trade-oriented society and in terms of their mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Because slavery had taken such a toll on the kin, it's important this section of the populace have representation as it was likely to be a not insubstantial number of citizens. This seat was initially slated to remain a part of the council until the issue of slavery was no longer a threat to the kin, and until the victims of that institution expressed they no longer felt that they require representation in accordance with the dire uniqueness of their situation.

In instances where the council manages to fall into a deadlock, they will consult with a member of the Venerable Order of Chivalry who will be kept on a sort of retainer. This representative will serve as the "conscience" vote, for lack of a better term, and guide the council from a neutral yet moral perspective rooted not only in the needs of the Free Nation of Wyndael, but in an understanding of the climate of the continent at large.

Rule of the former Imperial Province of Wyndael was given over to a governing body called “The Provisional Leadership Council,” at the time led by the Snow Leopard Wylderkin Mardex Gr’th Snowfang. Other members of the Provisional Council included former House Heinlein Guildmistress Accara Firth, Tibialis, Oxalis of Wyndael, Melora - the child of the former leader of Blood for Blood - Loray, Sebastian “Ironclaw” Tuari, Sargent Alyear, Former High-Magnate Elizabeth Keenan, and Former High-Magnate Sir Izikiel Ryatt as the Chivalric “Conscience Vote.”

His Imperial Radiance named Former House Wyndael Cabinet member Greyson McAllistar as the Empire’s Emissary to Wyndael. A human from the notable McAllistar family of House Stern it was expected that Ambassador Greyson, along with former High-Magnate Elizabeth Keenan, would further House Sterne’s interested in the region - however to the house’s chagrin this is not at all what occurred. Along with his Stellarian Partner, Herald Ahleeha, Greyson spent most of his time in Wyndael helping to uncover the starkest needs of the burgeoning nation and then organizing their alleviation with Imperial Pledges of support when they would occasionally travel to Wolkenstadt. It is said that the Getragen of the McAllistar family were gifted with silver tongues and piercing gazes well suited to interrogation, Greyson missed out on the feathers but had the rest of the family skills in spades. Facilitating conversations between the Council Member of trade and the various relevant Imperial Houses made frequent excellent deals for Wyndael.

Also assisting trade was the unique agreement that the Ralyn Remnant made with Wyndael - their curiosities and textiles were sold out of Wyndael far and wide. Wyndael also had good relations with some of the Pirate Captains who sometimes served to transport goods. Both Captain Bosh, a Coral Reefer Captain of the Chainbreaker, and Captain Chase
“Ace” McCreedy, the Pearl Islander Captain of the Century Hawk’s Revenge played a large part in helping the otherwise landlocked nations’s international shipping trade.

Herald Ahleeha, one of the prominent Peacemakers of Wyndael, also stayed in Wyndael providing unique opportunity to trade and treat with the Stellarians as well as the Quyah’Scenthalli. She established a Grove at the site of the awakening of Elder Stellara - and her people flocked to this location from the Empire, enough to make an enclave (some would call it a village, but limited structures were made) of approximately 150 Stellarians. Politically the enclave was defined as a freehold, a gift from the Wyndaelish Council.

Ahleea and Greyson were wed - officiated by the Dyrad Eldar, Stelaria, in an autumn nuptial ceremony that included guests from four nations, Iceforge, the Cloud Empire, Quyah’scenthal, and of course Wyndael.

Mardex Snowfang, after a brief stint as temporary head of the council left political leadership in capable hands and went on to form the now famous Icefang Rangers - an elite Wylderkin force answering directly to the council and known for rapid response, masterful survival skills in any Wyndaelish terrain, covert operations, and above all else - loyalty to the Free Nation of Wyndael. Their training center in the Frostbite mountains was a rebuilt Imperial stronghold that had been long abandoned and damaged by an avalanche.

Council Member Accara Firth married Mardex on Midwinter’s Eve in 24, 6e. Another grand gala was held, sponsored by House Heinlein - Overmagnate Sandan Haynard and his menagerie were in attendance. The Storm’Ren tradition of a simple ceremony, with spoken vows and a cup of water being shared followed by a month of seclusion between the couple were used in accordance with Accara’s wishes to honor her adoptive family. Several months after that Accara gave birth to a litter of four, two years later a second litter - this time five - all snow leopard Wylderkin. The lighthearted and joking rumor was that the council wanted to make sure that Accara had the votes for a third term.

The former Imperial High-Magnates Elizabeth Keenan, and Sir Izikiel Ryatt stayed in Wyndael. Elizabeth was elected to the first Council, maintaining her interim role of Council Member of Education. Sir Izikiel squired and then knighted the Owl-Kin Aleyar who took over Izikiel’s Council member role as “Conscience Vote.” Over the next few years, the couple had two children, Elmary Isabella Ryatt and Keenan Roarkson Ryatt- both Storm’Ren.


The Trial of Vikkin Stratos
The most attended trial of the century was that of former Regent Vikkin Stratos. He was granted the regency of the Cloud Empire when Ernst Stratos went missing until such time as Venna Stratos would come of age. A man well known by the rich and powerful, deep in the pockets and long in the tooth, a man whose political acumen was undoubtedly unquestionable - even if his aims were never clear - was on trial for a list of high crimes including; murder, conspiracy, slavery, high treason, war profeteering and other war crimes, and a host of other minor crimes involving manipulative actions taken to start a war.

His Imperial Radiance, Luin Giefer-Stratos I, stated that as a person directly and negatively impacted by the actions of Vikkin Stratos that he would recuse himself so that the judgement could never be said to be unfair or partial, and appointed the Overmagnates of the Imperial Houses to hold a trial to determine Vikkin’s fate.

The trial lasted for nearly three years. The first six months were mired a lengthy debate over which crimes did and did not apply, how the trial would proceed, who would have a say and a petty argument about whether a Regent could even actually be charged with High Treason as he was acting “as the Emperor” at the time and therefore acting in the interest of “The Imperial Radiance” with everything he did. Ultimately, the Assembly of Houses decreed that since they had the power to check the Emperor that no one person was above the law and therefore the trial could proceed.

The Assembly of Houses appointed a tribunal of Gryphon law scholars and sent barristers and representatives, as well as magnates from minor and major houses, both for and against Vikkin. Dozens of witnesses gave testimony including many prominent members of the Peacemakers of Wyndael.

Vikkin employed the most renowned Dustren lawyer that House Gund had, K’all Von Atind. Against K’all’s council, Vikkin’s first line of defense (once the Assembly of Houses decreed he could be tried) was to blame Venna Stratos, daughter of the missing Emperor Ernst, at the time a 14 year old young woman. His claim was first that Venna had masterminded the entire situation including the disappearance of her beloved father, and then he fell back to claiming she hadn’t taken enough of an interest to govern and was thereby responsible for actions and inactions of the Regent. After a month of clinging to this argument Vikkin eventually allowed K’all to run the legal defense without further interference or insistence.

The testimony of General Argos Stratos, in the form of a ring of enchanted Hematite chips designed to capture the memories of the wearer should they concentrate on it, was hotly contested and eventually dismissed by the Assembly due to its highly experimental nature. It had been commissioned, in secret, by Ernst Stratos - and though an Empire wide search was conducted - the creator or creators of the ring could not be found. As such, it was ruled that there was no way to independently verify the ring’s capabilities - vis a vi - if they could be tampered with or if outright lies could be recorded into the ring.

Combined with detailed “letter of the law” arguments, jurisdiction, lack of precedence - and concern for setting a dangerous future precedence, and lack of material witnesses who would attest to Vikkin’s commands - the court ruled rather mercifully on Vikkin’s actions as Regent. He was stripped of all title claims, as well as much of his wealth and holdings, and suffered an execution but successfully resurrected. He was confined to house arrest in a tower outside of Wolkenstadt for the remainder of his life.

Venna Stratos, heir to the Imperial Throne, joined him at the estate from nearly the moment of his incarceration. She seemed bent on learning everything she possibly could and for Vikkin’s part, he was happy for the company and the influence he was able to exert through her.

Over the next several years Vikkin and Venna used favors, influence, political acumen, and money to build up a beautiful house - and a tall wall around Vikkin’s Prison turned Palace where he would host parties that powerful people continued to attend, and where protestors and demonstrators were kept at bay at the wall.

Beginning of the Dwarven High Road
On the first day of the Summer of 22, 6E less than a month after the end of the Second Imperial Civil War - House Mithril demanded recognition of their sovereignty as they seceded from the Cloud Empire. Nolan Platnumspike publicly stated that he had positively confirmed that House Stratos had, in ancient times, had dealings with indigenous Dwarves and completely wiped them out in a genocidal war in the Sudenberg Mountains. Though those Dwarves were not of the same clans as the Dwarves of House Mithril, both the genocidal action and the coverup that House Stratos had perpetrated into modern days were an impingement on the honor of House Mithril.

Initially there were grumblings from several of the Major Houses but the Assembly of Houses accepted, due in no small part to the lives and other costs of the preceding war, and it was ratified by His Imperial Radiance.

Nolan Platnumspike was unanimously named King by the other leaders of the Dwarven minor houses. The Dwarves claimed the entire southern portion of the Frostbite Mountain chain previously claimed by the Cloud Empire, from Orentis to Newhome’s holdings. They immediately launched into trade deals with Wyndael for foodstuffs. Newhome, Wyndael, and Iceforge created a trade alliance and began what would be the largest construction in modern times, the High Road. A combination of bridges, tunnels, and natural and carved roadways along the southern edge of the mountain chain would create a direct trade route for the three countries.

Ground was broken at the end of the summer simultaneously in all three countries. The Dwarves designed it, and led the construction, Iceforge and Newhome invested most of the capital, and in Wyndael’s portions they hired exclusively Wyndaelish Citizens with the Dwarves over seeing, offering extensive training in architecture and engineering to the Wylderkin. The High Road project was expected to take approximately 10 years to fully complete.

The Melting of Gorrah Glacier and the Summit at Golden Bear Keep
In the summer of 23, 6E, reports began to arrive that the Gorrah Glacier was melting. Sages had theorized that some enchantment had both been causing the Cannibalistic Hunger which had driven the Frost Trolls and the Orcs to attack Wyndael, and the cold which kept the Ice unchanging with the seasons. This enchantment, they postulated, had ended - as there were no further reports of any unusual abilities gained from Cannibalism, and the Glacier had begun to melt.

Cracks and rivers of formerly frozen sea water formed. The water generally flowed northward, though there were some instances of flooding reported in Iceforge and through an Ancient tunnel near a wooden fort in Wyndael. The formerly cursed, cannibalistic, Orcs who had built the fort and were driven out of it were seen to flee north, and years later confirmed to live on the north coast. Rumors persisted that the undead abomination, Goretongue, resurfaced and was leading them but they were never corroborated.

The Ogres who had been spread out far over the Glacier were led by their Yeti kin to the Frostbite mountains prior to any outward sign of melting. They were followed by the polar bears whose white fur over the course of the Autumn of 22.6E changed to a golden metallic hue, the Golden Bears seemed to have a mystical connection to the Ogres. The Ogres moved their villages and spread out all along the mountain chain and the Golden Bears followed, defending and hunting with the Ogres. The Yeti, it seemed, had the ability to command the bears. Ogre presence in the mountains caused some conflict with the Dwarves who had claimed them.

Exploratory missions to the lands that had been buried were started in spring of 23, 6E, by the Cloud Empire, Iceforge, Newhome, and Wyndael - all four nations claimed new lands to the north and rushed to discover natural features and resources as they slowly became uncovered by ice, or ancient secrets left by the Ancients. The lands under the Glacier were immensely fertile. Heads of state of each of these nations decided that before too many lines and maps were drawn, and before there would be bloody clashes over land, that they should meet to discuss the lands.

In the spirit of peaceful exploration a summit was called in Wyndael at a wooden fort at the base of the mountains. Over the previous winter the fortress had been built up significantly, construction of a stone keep had begun starting first with a large meeting hall. Representatives from many nations were present. Several members of the Wyndaelish Council were present, and hosting. The Kesh had been invited but declined, politely. One of the Stellarian Heralds and her personal elven guard were present. King Nolan Platnumspike of the Mithril Kingdom, and King Valoran Tinpenny of Newhome, as well as the Azarka, had all sent delegations. His Imperial Radiance himself along with a contingent of Talon Company also attended.

As the proceedings began an unexpected contingent arrived. Led by Three Golden Bears, a Yeti, and perhaps a dozen Ogre warriors, the lead Speaker, Elder, and Firekeeper of the Ogre tribes respectfully asked to join the summit. After a brief discussion they were welcomed and more seats were made for the three Ogres and a larger seat was found for the Yeti, whom the speaker translated for.

Several things came out of the Summit. It was estimated by the Yeti, as well as Imperial Sages, that the Glaciers would take several decades to melt. Icefore rescinded their claim on the northern portion and the snow-capped peaks of the Frostbite mountains, this was deemed lands that belong to the Ogres where they could settle while the Glacier melted, the Dwarves solidified their claim of the southern facing mountains - and all lands UNDER the mountains. All nations agreed.

As for the lands north of the mountains and to the great North Sea beyond, the Ogres were granted first claim to these lands but curiously did not want them, not even to sell or to trade for them. The Ogre way of life, they explained, was to live amongst the Yeti who could not long survive below freezing temperatures - they were content to claim the snow-capped peaks of the Frostbite mountains.

The Ogres were named Custodians of the North. It would be up to them to decide which nation could colonize which land as they were discovered. Their decision would be based on the needs of the various peoples, the plans for how those lands would be used, the success of early colonies, and what effort had been expended in discovering the lands. The nations of the world were warned to take care in their explorations, that not everything that had been buried beneath the glacier would have lost potency.

Land directly north of Iceforge was given to the dwarves immediately - the city itself could act as a passageway through the mountains to those who were willing to pay the toll. The tunnel from Wyndael to the North as well as enough land to settle and build a fortress (called North Gate) on the other side was immediately awarded to Wyndael. Newhome had its own method of reaching the north, and it was surmised that they would have to compete with pirates who also had easy access. The Stellarian Herald said that their people would work with the people of Wyndael but would likely not put too much effort forth. Shocking many, a tribe of the Azarka, who had recently been given permission to ride through all Imperial lands during the Civil War, requested to represent and assist the Empire in their exploration.

Other than the immediate grants to Iceforge and Wyndael, the Orges’ only demands were that exploration be delayed for at least five years, and that no land would be awarded for two and a half decades to allow the Ogres to completely migrate - or for those who did not migrate to pass on to nature’s will.

In honor of the Ogres, the Wyndaelish Council named the fortress “Golden Bear Keep” but it was also often called simply “South Gate.”

Over the next few years adventurers and explorers from throughout the Maelstrom launched expeditions. Golden Bear Keep became the main trading town and market for Wyndael and brought in a much needed financial boost to the burgeoning nation.

Word from Quyah’scenthaal and the settling of the Stellarians
After the War the Dryads were granted full rights and protections of any Citizen by Imperial Decree. The Dryads appointed Stellara, a Golden Dryad of immense magical power who had been woken from a tree in Wyndael, as their Leader. Stellara took as a title “Eldar,” and her people began referring to themselves as Stellarians in her honor.

The Elven Maturarch announced that the Elves had always and only ever been stewards of the Forest of Light until the true rulers would return. As this event has clearly occurred, the Maturarch yielded all of the authority granted them to Eldar Stellara, which was rebuked by many of the Elven House of Elders, but supported by the higher ranking Council of Antecedents. Eldar Stellara appointed a council, called High Heralds, who acted as advisors and Heralds who would act as emissaries into the world. The role of the Maturarch was granted a seat on the Council of Heralds - acting as the High Herald of the Elves.

In short order, the Quyah’scenthaali and the Stellarians reached a gentle accord, and with little actually changing in the forest, as the Stallarians approved of the elves ways and laws they were left largely intact. Stellarians were treated with the respect normally reserved for the elven elders.

The elven “dreamer” A’Mari n’elle Mel’Vinora who had been instrumental in awakening Stellara, supporting the Stellarians as they emerged, and laying to rest the Cursed Elven spirit of General Gonnerkin Thra’a’nah Ku’lauren, was given a special role by Stellara as a “Herald” despite much unspoken protest by the Quyah’scenthaali leadership. A’Mari n’elle Mel’Vinora, or Mari as she was known in Wyndael, had been gifted the ability to see clairvoyant visions in her dreams. In the years leading up to the founding of Wyndael those dreams became more and more frequent and frighteningly accurate, generally involving the being called the Kracken.

In the days after the founding of Wyndael, however, Mari’s proclamations of her visions all but stopped. Rumors among the more mystically oriented in Quyah’scenthaal said that she had been mystically open to receiving visions but that whatever the transmitter of the visions had been, it had stopped sending the visions out. Mari became more and more reclusive eventually leaving the Heraldic Council to research esoteric knowledge of those who claimed to have visions. It is said her search took her into the Wild Lands, and amongst the Pirate clans - including the dangerous Stormborn.

The Campfire Tales of the Kraken
Legends regarding a mighty beast called the Kraken destroying a civilization of Golden skinned elves in the days before the Empire have persisted for generations. The so-called “Curse” of the Kraken had been blamed on everything from flowers wilting in the spring to madness in the form of cannibalism. The latter, it turns out, may have had at least some truth to it. A bizarre plague of cannibalistic behavior, accompanied by bursts of unnatural strength and reduced intellect and seemingly spread by Orcs from the Gorrah Glacier, had spread throughout the Empire.

In the Spring of 22,6E the Dryad Eldar Stellara woke and immediately brought the Peacemakers of Wyndael to a location described by many as the bottom of the sea floor using a powerful rift (similar to what is seen with some rituals). There another being, the description of which roughly matched the picto-graphs on some archaeological digs doing battle with golden elves - which is to say a large vaguely humanoid writhing mass of tentacles, was encountered. Exactly what transpired can only be guessed at but from reports, the Ogre Speaker Roark exchanged places with the being which had been trapped somehow. The Peacemakers of Wyndael had known that this would be the outcome and Roark had won the right to take the Kracken’s place with a game of high card, in order to free a creature that had been trapped beneath the sea.

All over the Empire reports that the cannibalistic plague seemed to have come to a complete and total halt. Some who had been “cursed” continued eating the flesh of sentient beings but they no longer seemed to need it to survive, nor gain any mystical benefit from it.

Since the Kracken has always been depicted as being dead yet not dead, under the Gorrah Glacier - there is no general consensus as to what the creature that Roark freed actually IS. Rumors that the creature has been seen at various times and places persist. It is only ever said to observe, often times uncomfortably close to gatherings. There has not been a verifiable recorded Imperial sighting, however.

Changes to the Maelstrom
Hurricanes from both the center of the Maelstrom and the great wall of the Storm stopped entirely at the end of the War. The Maelstrom itself did not appear to outwardly change appearance but some said that the storm seemed calmer, more solid. Less storm-like and more thick fog. Still, no one was willing to risk permanent death exploring it.

The only Rite of Banishment to come from the war was meted out by Luin Geifer on his one time friend and confidant, Zevin Giefer. His crimes were attempted slavery and high treason. The slavery charge was rendered by then Magnate Mardex of House Wyndael with eyewitness testimony by the Wolf-Kin “Ironclaw” Sebastian, who would later go to serve on the Council of Wyndael. Luin Giefer added a High Treason charge for Zevin’s role in assassination attempts against himself, his husband Acantus and several of his dryad charges.

Zevin underwent the Rite on July the 29th. Four years later he resurrected in Bergholten. When Zevin resurrected, the Sapien had appeared to have aged several decades. He told wild tales that inside the storm time had shifted, he said he had fallen through the storm and that time had felt distorted. In the whirling storm he had seen thick fleshy tentacles and had been snatched from the sky. He said that he had spent many years in a tomb that smelled of the sea, visited time and again by a strange creature - a lumbering mass of tentacles that never spoke - as well as another being that to all appearances was an Ogre.

Zevin claimed that he had learned to respect all life, great and small, and confessed horrific crimes ranging from slavery to murder to poaching. He offered a tearful apology to all those he had harmed in his life. He stayed in Bergholten, too weak to leave the circle. His Imperial Radiance was notified and he came to visit Zevin, but upon gazing at the Imperial countenance, Zevin burst into wracking sobs, repeated “I’m sorry” over and over again and passed away in a few moments.

The Emperor offered a large bounty on any ship that would explore the edge of the Maelstrom and confirm anything that Zevin said. It was the Century Hawk’s Revenge that responded, a pirate (and sometime privateer) ship under Captain Chase “Ace” McCreedy. The crew of the ship along with a number of Peacemakers of Stormbreak Keep took a sort-of reunion cruise to the western edge of Maelstrom Bay, along with two Imperial Cruisers sent to render aid in case of trouble.

The Captains of both of the Imperial Cruisers said that they saw the Maelstrom part as the Century Hawk’s Revenge approached and then close behind the ship. They have not been seen since.

One of the Cruisers, the Dominance, approached and met with only powerful headwinds that prevented further egress. The ship had a Gryphon onboard who would later say that they could detect that time was distorted around the edge of the Maelstrom.

The Names of the Arieanis
Though seemingly unrelated to the events of the War, it is of note that sometime in the late spring of 22, 6E, all of the Arieanis began referring to themselves with nicknames seemingly unable or unwilling to recall, state, or write down their birth names. Some said that this change had something to do with a curse levied upon their people by a powerful fey being. As with many misfortunes in their lives, the Arieanis took this development in stride and embraced the notion of picking new names that expressed their passions. Many continue to choose a brand new name every year in the late spring as if to spite the idea of names themselves.

The Fall of Stormbreak Keep
In the Spring of the year 27, 6 era, Eldar Stellara of Quyah’scenthaal appeared before the Council of Wyndael. She stated that she had, with the welcome of the Ralyn Remnant, done research on their Island and uncovered some knowledge left by the Ancient Civilization that had build the few Obelisks scattered around the Maelstrom - these towers had originally been used for instantaneous travel between them. She asked for permission to “cleanse” the Wyndael Obelisk that had been uncovered during the War and used to kill Gryphons. The council approved with the idea that the people of the Maelstrom could be brought closer together in the spirit of cooperation.

Eldar Stellara gathered to herself many of the remaining Peacemakers of Stormbreak Keep, as well as Tibialis’ Titans, and the Icefang Rangers (the elite Wylderkin force which were, at the time, only beginning to make a name for themselves), and approached the tower to conduct a Powerful ritual. Near the Obelisk they discovered a peculiar creature, a lumbering mass of tentacles. Many present claimed that this was the Kraken of ancient lore. It did little other than observe, or lean uncomfortably close and stare and anyone who got close to it.

Stellara began the ritual and a beam of bright golden light burst from her chest and illuminated the patterns of an Archway in the Tower and transfixed her. She shouted out, “the lost spirits are coming!” After a few moments, there was a small groundquake and a horrific twisted and shattered spirit melted out of the side of the Obelisk. Many of the Peacemakers recognized the creature as the Talon Company Gryphon, Offizer Jennis Kevol (who was also called “Doom Doom Junior” by them for some reason.)

Those gathered fought the lost spirit of the Gryphon and as their weapons and spells took the creature down and just as they did so, a second spirit appeared - another Gryphon, this one positively identified as Spymaster Barilise - already depleted from battling one Gryphon Spirit, the Peacemakers second battle was twice as hard.

Finally the spirits were dissipated, but with no warning an army of Undead creatures descended upon the defenders from the top of the hill. They bore very well made arms and armor and were largely skeletal in nature. At this attack the tentacled being moved into action - dozens of tentacles burst from the ground at various points crushing countless undead creatures. The being stayed near Stellara and defended her seeming to usher the rest of the warriors up the hill. The gathered defenders fought their way up the steep hill and to the walls of Stormbreak keep. Standing on the balcony was a robed and skeletal figure whose eye sockets burned with pinpricks of red light. In a hollow voice it said, “The seals that bound us are no more - for Three Thousand Years since we have bided our time beneath the surface. But now, Grimurlorinn, the City of Death and Shadows, opens its jaws once more to the world. Those undead creatures whose minds were too weak to bear the time, you have destroyed them! For that we thank you and saute you with honor. We claim Stobrjota, this Keep - as cursed as we are, as our own. Let it be known that all Kel in your Empire may come here and learn of their past!”

The doors to Stormbreak Keep were then closed and a peculiar mystical glow shrouded the keep - it was later reported that the catacombs had opened up and Undead had come up from under the surface. Many of the residents of the Keep had said that the Undead who has spoken on the balcony had been commanding the undead to hold back and telling citizens to flee, there were no civilian casualties. Elizabeth Keenan and Rett Syllas examined the magical field surrounding the keep and said it was some sort of hitherto unseen form of magic which worked as a Domain of the Defiled - no living being could act to remove it.

The Peacemakers returned to Stellara arrived in time to see the spirit of an Orcish Warrior Woman cutting her in twain in a burst of magical light and then both of them being pulled into the Obelisk’s Archway - now a glowing rift.

The tentacled being picked up a golden acorn which had appeared where Stellara had been standing and first examined it for some time, before walking away into the forest towards Maelstrom Bay.

Many of the Peacemakers of Stormbreak Keep debated hotly if the portal would destroy someone entering it, trap their spirits in the Obelisk, or transport them to a place where they could retrieve Stellara - in the end, their bravery was the better part of their valor and many chose, after tearful goodbyes, to enter the portal.

They have not been seen since.

As Stormbreak Keep had served as the capital building of the Freehold of Wyndael, the Council relocated to the town of Oxtib, naming that settlement as the new captial of the Freehold. Travelers were warned away from traveling too near the keep, though the undead within made no efforts to expand their holdings in Wyndael.
 
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