Saturday, April 8, 2017

News of Arunia: The War in Ambar

Lo, the King of Kjellos, Magnus of the Karharts, has brought cruel war to the Bay of Ahrain. He has gathered his Greves and Lendmen into a great army and marched them all into Ambar. In the opening days of the war, several castles fell at once to the King: Yaromav, Tasliv, and Thuromal. However, one fortress along the border resisted the king's army: the castle at Paroslav, a minor town on the route into central Ambar. Resistance at Paroslav was fierce. Members of the Black Compact manned the walls as the King's army approached, and rumors in the countryside spoke of a powerful boyar-necromancer called Uvish syn Malnikov.

King Magnus commanded the army to move on, fearful of losing the advantage of momentum. He left Grandmaster Sieur Severin Kjora, the Order of the Forge Divine, and Greveman Varius Holmgren behind to neutralize the castle and to prevent it from becoming a dangerous thorn in his side. A pitched field battle between the Kjellan army and the assembled forces of the Ambarite king, the Sudyav Korol ensued as the king marched on. Hundreds of hobgoblins and bugbears under the Korol's command were slain, opening the way to the lowland castles surrounding the capital of Dorovstchev.

Now, the king's great army sits upon the plain before Dorovstchev, intent on pushing forward, destroying the Sudyav Korol, and ending the rule of the Black Compact in Ambar.

Back at the critical stronghold of Paroslav, the Order summoned assistance in the form of the airborne paladin, Sieur Einar Skyborne. As the siege dragged on, the men on the Paroslav walls dwindled. Rumors of Boyar syn Malnikov's power spread through the siege camp. The serfs of Paroslav whispered that Uvish was the son and student of the great necromancer Malnikov, dead years past.

The Order, after repeated attacks on the front gate, managed to wrest the portcullis from its socket and throw it down. In an attempt to end the siege and join the king, the Grandmaster of the Forge Divine ordered an attack on the gate. The storm failed; twenty knights in Order colors, twenty-five of Greveman Holmgren's, and five Order paladins rushed the gatehouse. Before they could enter, a wave of dark magic, like a tidal bore, washed over them. They fell in full view of the army, dead within seconds.

Fewer and fewer men were seen on the walls of Paroslav. At last, it became clear that the castle was no longer being manned by the living. On the eve of Sieur Einar's arrival, three men were captured attempting to flee through the siege lines, having issued forth from the postern gate. Sorcerers, apprentices of Uvish syn Malnikov, they were judged by the Order priestess Caelia Divina, and sentenced to death.

Their sentence was commuted on the following morning and two of three were spared at Divina's order, merely suffering the indignity of broken left hands, preventing them from ever practicing spellcraft again. The third, after a tearful confession, was killed in the old way: a silver sledge was used to crush his skull.

With the arrival of Sieur Einar, Sieur Severin demanded that he take a squad of men and women from the Order, assault the keep, and slay the necromancer Uvish syn Malnikov.

Let their names ring out forever in Ambar: Sieur Einar Skyborne, Sieur Rurik of the Torch, who fell, Sieura Aurelia of the Forge, the halfling Cabbott, who died in battle with Malnikov the necromancer, Magister Toban the Arcanist, Chief Scholar of the Order, and Caelia Divina.

The necromancer, Malnikov, dwelt yet within the castle, and was attended by all manner of evil priests, necromantic beasts, and none other than Captain Georg Balshinov, an Oprian member of the Black Compact who, to save his own life from a wasting disease, submitted himself to Malnikov's sorcerous ministrations.

But woe! For Sieur Severin Kjora, Grandmaster of the Order, died as well; the necromancer slew the brave knight, and no longer will his gigantic frame dominate the field. Nor will he wield the great two-handed Valelan sword Heartrender e'er again. His position has passed to his lieutenant, the Knight-Master Timaeus Battleborn—the first grandmaster since the order's foundation to have been born a peasant.

More news out of the siege of Paroslav: the wizard Malnikov, in the moments before his death, informed Sieur Einar of the nature of the evil now dwelling on Sunhome Isle. "The greatest accomplishment of the people of Ambar was to drive your order from it." The truth, then, that Malnikov revealed was this: the Head of the Alchemist, recovered from its gravesite in Golnia, was taken in secret by Ambarite sorcerers to Sunhome during the siege. There, still possessing the power of speech, and of awful magic, it returned Orlandus Sunhome to life; not as a man, but as a paladin fallen, a figure of black magic, wielding Angurvidal, the Stream of Anguish, which in his corrupted hands burns as ice.

And so it is this twin deathless watch of Orlandus the Corrupt and the Alchemist who have kept Sunhome these two centuries past; and their ceaseless evil which has held Sunhome against the bold knights of the order.

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