Winds of war: the defiance of sarvos

+++THE DEFIANCE OF SARVOS+++

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The fog that has shrouded the Bay of Catazaar for the last year or so fades … and almost immediately is replaced with a new fog. Those who saw this eerie mist arrive during the Spring Equinox whisper that it did not rise from the sea at all, but rather seemed to drift down from the sky like a cloak of falling clouds. Thick as Marcher broth, it swirls and surges through the streets of Sarvos, and spreads its pale fingers across Uccelini and Bocche and southern Riposi. It spreads like spilled milk along the swollen Gancio to Foracci and settles across the roofs of Rodez and Trivento and Orphan’s Haven as gently as it falls on the jewelled towers of the City.

Within the peculiar haze, sound carries strangely - sometimes muffled, sometimes amplified. It brings strange dreams. Visibility becomes … muddled. It is difficult to tell the difference between orc and human at distances of more than a handful of yards. It is easy to get lost, even for people who have lived in Sarvos their entire lives. How much easier it is, though, for those who do not know the city?

At the same time, news comes from Anvil that the Mayor of Caricomare and the League Assembly have urged the people of Sarvos to rise up against the Grendel. The word travels fast, and it catches the spirits of the League citizens like sparks in dry kindling. It is not clear who strikes first - the fog makes it impossible to be sure. Did the Grendel send their thuggish enforcers to break up a meeting of angry citizens? Did a gang of furious bravos jump an orc patrol after one attempted intimidation too many? It hardly matters. The flame of rebellion ignites across the city, sweeping through the streets like wildfire from shore to shore, from the docks to the towers, from the poorest alleys to the wide avenues around the Diora University.

The Grendel have the advantage of overwhelming numbers … yet the conflict is by no means one sided. The locals have the advantage of knowing the city, and knowing that they are battling not only for their homes and their wealth but for their Pride. The fighting is savage, vicious, utterly without honour or glory or mercy. In some parts of the city, blood flows in streams into the gutters. The bravos of the League employ all the arts learnt in hard fighting in alleyways and cramped, smoky rooms. The Grendel rely on their discipline and the violence that burns in the heat of every orc. In the narrow streets, the humans have the advantage. In the plazas and squares, and in the wider streets, the advantage is unequivocally with the Grendel. The orcs also have the advantage that it is not their city - they do not care how much damage they do to Sarvos.

Who throws the first torch is another mystery that will likely never be solved, but by sunrise the day after the rebellion begins, several Grendel ships are aflame … but so are parts of the city. Given the choice between fighting the invaders and saving their city from fire, the citizens of Sarvos make the pragmatic choice to save the city.

After two days of fighting, the Hounds of Glory and the Wolves of War arrive. A heavy pall of smoke mixes with the chaotic mists, tainting everything with the acrid scent of burning wood. As the army prepared to cross the water to the city, scouts bring back only reports that contradict one another and make little sense - the magical mist makes it difficult to get a good idea of the situation on the island of Cigno itself.

The Wolves of War enter the city first, cautious and careful. Through the entire march from Reikos, their sleep has been tormented by hideous nightmares of what they may find - burnt ruins, friends and families butchered or carried away to a life of slavery in the Grendel salt mines, a city sunk into the Bay, a city besieged by behemoth horrors from the ocean depths or even a city simply gone - their waking hours beset with doubts. The grim curse of Agramant works its hateful magic against them, but they are defiant. They are here to liberate the greatest city on the Bay, to fight alongside their brothers and sisters against the barbarians who dared to come and steal the jewels of Sarvos.

The Hounds of Glory waste little time with scouts. Starting at the northernmost point of the city, the Dawnish knights and witches sweep through the streets heading for the docks. Their advance is slowed by the mist, but it is inexorable, triumphant. While the magical fog muffles other sounds, it seems to offer no resistance to the blaring horns of the nobles of Dawn. The horns call the people of the Empire to the hunt, to the war, drawing the defenders to their banners.

The advance of the two armies is oddly almost entirely bloodless. No resistance is offered.

Indeed, no orcs are encountered until the Imperial forces converge in Caricomare, on the waterfront. There at last signs of invasion. A dozen, unfamiliar, low-lying ships are anchored at the quay. Arrayed along the docks are a little over a thousand troops - orcs with heavy tapered shields and heavy greensteel chain. Orders are given, standards raised … the orcs prepare to receive the charge … no quarter is offered or given … the horns are raised to lips eager to at last set loose the dogs of war …

At the last moment, desperate messengers manage to get the attention of the captains. Orders are barked. Confusion reigns.

These are not the orcs the armies were expecting to face.

They are a battalion of orc soldiers from the Iron Confederacy, a mercenary band known as the Black Swords Jannissaries, just disembarked from blocky Suranni vessels. Tense negotiations begin; the Imperial commanders meeting with the human captains of the Black Swords. It quickly transpires that these foreign mercenaries were secured by the military council to help with the liberation of Sarvos, to “fight alongside General Tancred de Rondell with the Hounds of Glory” at the behest of Lukash Biessek von Temeshwar, Ambassador to the Iron Confederacy.

A major diplomatic incident has been avoided. Thanks to the discordant fog, the Empire could easily have attacked a force of soldiers here to help.

Avoided? Well … perhaps only delayed. It slowly becomes apparent that by Imperial definition these thousand soldiers of the Iron Confederacy are not free. They are property - slaves - raised from birth to unquestioningly obey the orders of the humans that own them. There are tricky legal implications here. The Suranni officers appear to be a little disgruntled - they are very aware of the Empire’s laws on slavery and claim that they were hired to fight the Grendel in territory outside the Empire. But the Grendel are nowhere to be found and now there are a thousand slave soldiers in the heart of the Empire …

Once it is clear there are no Grendel, the Black Sword Janissaries return to their ships and depart, before a magistrate can be found to make a clear ruling on the legality of their presence. Perhaps for the best - there are warriors on both sides who would have relished the opportunity to test the mettle of their opponents, and people who have personal reasons to wish to shed orc blood regardless of whether it belong to barbarian or foreigner.

There is a great deal of work to be done in Sarvos, and the presence of foreign mercenaries would simply have complicated the situation.

The uprising has left hundreds dead on both sides, and while the destruction has not been widespread the city has been permanently marked by the revolt. Fires raged through the streets during the fighting; it is only down to the Courage of the citizens of Sarvos fighting the fires that the city itself was not lost. If the Grendel had continued to fight, if they had attacked the bucket-chains and firefighters, then it is likely that key parts of the city would have been consumed in the inferno - especially given the chaos and confusion caused by the magical fog. Instead, the Grendel used the confusion to withdraw to the docks in an orderly fashion and it was the better part of a day before anyone realised they had fled.

The only sign of the Grendel that remains are the remains of a handful of warships burned down to the waterline, and the bodies of those slain in the uprising, many still floating in the bay. Along with their ill-gotten gains, they have fled the city en-mass shortly after the rioting began. The story is the same in Uccelini - the Grendel have left, disappearing into the fog that cloaks the shores of the Bay of Catazaar beyond the borders of Sarvos.

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Game Information[edit]

The Grendel have stripped Sarvos of a large portion of its wealth. Practically nothing has been recovered. The two armies quickly sweep the city, and the surrounding territory restoring Imperial law and order. Sarvos is now unequivocally Imperial again.

The uprising took the Grendel off guard and has inflicted an unknown number of casualties on the armies and navies that had attacked Sarvos. Unfortunately, it has also lead to some loss of Imperial life and damage to the city such that everyone will need to do some rebuilding (a term reduction of the taxation provided by the territory, and to the personal resources of the residents).

Any citizen of Sarvos is encouraged to create their own story of what they did during the two days of confused fighting in the city ahead of the Grendel withdrawal. A number of Grendel were killed, and several ships burnt. A small amount of stolen artwork and wealth was recovered, but not enough to restore the collections of the University or the Cathedral, or the personal connections of the prominent citizens.

Finally, there is no sign of any construction in Cigno - in the city proper. While an area of land was cleared with the apparent intention of building a fortification, no actual work has taken place on such a structure.

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Okay! Not a short one. The photo is another from the Birthday Boy but the mask makes it hard for me to guess who it is :slight_smile: The little wolf I nicked from Wikipedia (Lokal_Profil and Delta-9 [CC BY-SA 2.5 (creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.5)], via Wikimedia Commons) and I agonised over where to put it because in the bottom right it covers up the ribbon … I guess you’ll just have to go look at the original if you want to know what it says :wink:

‪#‎whatisitwiththenightrealmsandfog‬?, ‪#‎confusiontotheenemyandalsoallourfriends‬, ‪#‎youmaywanttogooglejannisaries‬

profounddecisions.co.uk/empi … _of_Sarvos