Prologue

OldHarbourGallery.jpgIn the 16 months since the winds and great waves that marked the end of the Shattering hit the shores of Malabar, many changes have marked the land. Heartened by word that Aerinor still stood, the children of Aerin redoubled their efforts against the Bloodmaiden and her Baorn thralls. After months of heavy fighting she was driven from the capital, but left a ruined and burning scene of destruction behind.

Without their masters, the horde of orcs and other monstrosities she had gathered to her cause took to the countryside, pillaging and looting. For months these creatures roamed at will, until a former cuckold pirate and minor lordling named Hammich Lutro pieced together a force to resist them. First using stealth and guile, the men under his Otter banner started driving them back. Manor by manor, village by village, he moved up the Scepter River taking back the land.

It was nearly the first harvest in the Vale by the time the Otter and his men sailed Back into Cyr Regus and retook the Stormgate. Since no member of the Regulum still lived, Lutro named a new council and ruled at its head. The winter saw a slowly return of stability to the troubled land. Only remote Chalced remains in the hands of the Baorn and its brutish servitors. It is said that the Bloodmaiden herself has settled there and plots her return to power.

When the trade winds rose in the fall, few even considered the traditional embarkation of the tribute fleet. But it did not pass unnoticed back in Rauxes. The empire had been extending its credit for more than two years, and payments were becoming due. It was decided to send a force to reimpose order, and to bring colonial priorities in line. The mighty galleon Kordros and a fleet of ships made the perilous winter crossing to start lying the groundwork.

A larger group of nobles, craftsmen and warriors will sail on the spring winds, to bring a fresh influx of Aerinorn blood to this battered region.

The story begins in the small holding of Wytchport on the northwest coast of the island. It has been decided that the First Prince Xannis Khordaine will make landfall there, and proceed to the capitol by carriage, meeting with nobility to collect taxes an oaths of loyalty. A small advance group from the capitol have arrived to get things in order before the prince’s arrival.

Baron Eryse Bellikan has been hard-pressed to make things ready for the imperial prince. Only noble my marriage — and not truly Aerinorn in blood — it is the pride of his wife and two nephews that he must appease. He rose in stature through cleverness skill at sea, harrying the enemy and securing the safety of the Bellik family during the long night. But the Bellik clan can be as stubborn as the oxen on their banners, and many — including the former baron Boreal Bellik — returned to face the invaders in open battle and died for the cause.

Eryse has tried to create stability since his married the Lady Manx last midwinter, proving to be a practical and pragmatic leader. He now stays mostly ashore, leaving his old dubious business dealing to his old bosun Jaxil ‘SkipJack’ Merrows. He maintains a moderate garrison at the old fortress (locally known as Oxenhold), and has set up a levy system for times of trouble.

Most of the other nobility in the region are scattered on rural holdings. Only Lords Bracken Cervo and Timmaes Acerre maintain a residence in the city proper.

The spiritual needs of the children of Aerin are shepherded by Ardent Melliwass Omaro, who spends most of his time working to restore the crystal dome of his chapel. There are few other religious leaders in the city, and they duties of Seraschal have fallen to Telline of Lyss who has always been more comfortable on a battlefield than in a cloister.

The city is at the end of wide Wytche’s Bay and is plagued by stuff shifting winds of the coast. There are a string of rocky shoals on the approach to the harbor known as the Coven that are quite tricky to navigate. Wytchport has long maintained a group of local pilots to assist larger vessels reach safe harbor. These pilots style themselves the Warlocks, and spend their days dallying on the dockside awaiting a call to action.

Wytchport serves as a trading port for some of the mines of Gilt range up the Gilder river. There is a small community of dwarven craftspeople, and most do their business under eaves of Brann Hall, and under the guidance of Brann Dolgrin.

The town maintains a fairly broad community of craftsmen, and the nearby region has many small farmsteads. The old Crown Road to the capitol winds along the northern shore through the Erarohn forest. Most of the rural nobles and plantation owners maintain their own small docks and rarely venture into town except for holidays and trading.

Prologue

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