[size=150]++FOUR MIRACLES, FOUR MYSTERIES++[/size]
Varushka is a place of mystery and has it’s own share of wonders. They are dark, but they are wonders none-the-less. The Empire has suffered both exhilarating victory and crushing defeat in Karsk; but it has refused to retreat or let the Thule take one inch of the dark soil that is not soaked with blood.
The hills and forests, under the cold stars of Autumn, have become a place of miracles. In the west, a great citadel of glacier ice and dark basalt stone looms. Grim armoured giants man the walls, watching for the advance of the Thule with pitiless eyes. In the east, spiralling towers of gold and deep red wood greet the dawn, guarded by crimson-and-amber lion knights. They are the first miracle, and they are glorious and terrible as the morning and the night.
The second miracle comes from the south, and marches alongside the Citadel Guard. A legion of pale soldiers in cerulean blue and silver adamant. The captains of the elfin host ride impossible beasts - great white steeds with ivory hooves and ocean-deep eyes, each with a single curling horn in the centre of their forehead. They are beautiful and without mercy, spearing orcs and tossing them aside like so much chaff. They march beneath the banner of the white unicorn; the legion of Jaheris, come from the Summer Realm at the behest of the Imperial magicians to face the wroth of their master’s lover amid the black hills of Karsk. They are cold as the moon, and full of vicious wit, but their wild ferocity is a wondrous mirror of the calm passion of the Urizen sentinels.
The third miracle rises from the earth of Varushka itself. A legion of ghost-soldiers and skeletal-champions joins the shambling animate corpses of the Black Thorns. While the husks lead the way into battle, the vanguard of each attack, the ghost-soldiers and accurséd wights bring up the rear. Silent, limned with flickering green fire beneath the dark clouds, they appear without warning and depart the same way when the sun first touches the horizon … and they seem to obey the orders of a Varushkan general - a massive, grim draughir man bound in chains. When they engage the Thule, they are bound up by a bank of living fog that blinds their foes but does not hinder them or their allies. They are lead into battle by a flock of ghostly crows and ravens that seem to lead them unerringly to where their foes are weakest, and spread confusion in the enemy ranks. These cursed remnants inflict vicious slaughter on the Thule, alongside the wild men and women of northern Karsk who seem almost feral next to the armoured schlacta of the Golden Axe.
A fourth miracle; once again, the waters of Karsk sparkle with the irrepressible light of life and health. Any wound that is not fatal, heals in time. Each morning, the dew on the ground revitalises those who have survived the night. The rivers of life run through the hills and forests of Karsk.
The Thule themselves are on the move, pressing forward into the regions still in Imperial hands. Yet their focus seems elsewhere - beyond the golden citadel that serves as the headquarters of their warlocks, and the magic their magicians wield in battle, there is little sign of their great sorcerous might. The clashes are bloody, but how much more terrible would they have been if the waters had run clear, or with blood, instead of with the essence of health and healing?
Of all the supernatural aid mustered against the Thule arguably the most important is the strategic brilliance conjured up by the leaders of the Golden Axe. Time and again during the season the Thule attacks are only defeated by the arcane insights employed to the Imperial general and his allies.
And in the end … in the end the orcs are pushed back, back out of the hills of Nitrost and back to their makeshift defences in the east and the north. When the sun rises on the last day of Autumn, there is no doubt. Karsk is once again in Imperial hands.
But for how long can the Empire hold it this time?
How certain is it that the Imperial senate will uphold the Varushkan claim to this territory once again?
How will the Thule react now that the Empire is arrayed against them once more in it’s strength?
And what of the dark presences that slumber in the forests and the hills - is their thirst for blood slaked or is their appetite merely whetted …?
This means that Karsk is once again in Imperial hands - just.
The Empire managed to take the hills of Nitrost off the Thule in one fell swoop - meaning the Senate will once again need to formally allocate it (profounddecisions.co.uk/…/Powers_of_the_Imperial…).