The astrologers remark in the East that the year 512 has come to a close, but the Shield Age has not yet ended. From the Free Cities there come rumors of setbacks and reversals of the Great Holy Army—though Vagrysj the Lion died in his sleep, his lieutenants have made fast progress north and the Sacred Army is reduced to infighting between the goblin cities.
In the West, along the Sun Shores, rumors speak of the Swords of Stock and their string of victories over the foes of the Reach. First to fall was the giant-jarl Minos Mastigos, who many believed was posturing to be a frost giant king. The daring rescue of the Raven's Banner was conducted by the Swords in the heart of winter, when the giants were at their strongest. Now, the Banner recoups its losses in Tyreth, and contemplates taking a contract to move farther north into Hard Heath, to push the threats that trouble the Reach far beyond its borders.
The new King of Hard Heath, who rumors call Geirr, has expanded his demesne to the north, and brought stretches of the Untamed Lands under his sway. However, it is rumored that a powerful clave of free elves upon the Bay of Ys are resisting him, and have sent petition to Queen Ilisia of the Ylvasmetsa to name them a Protectorate of that throne.
In that region, too, there are rumors of strange things washing up along the bay: old stones, and glittering blades, disgorged from the belly of Drowned Ys below!
North and northerly still, the vast and shadow-haunted region known as the Aedeion is the source of much turmoil: there are whispers of shadowy knights, Yssan pirates, and adventurers clashing up that way. This year last, adventurers infiltrated a pirate stronghold on the northern Bay of Ys and caused much havoc and chaos, and worse, they seem to have troubled a band of frost giants on the very border of the Untamed Lands, who were coming south.
Traders coming back from Thalasson say that there is war in the Dragonfells betwixt giant-kind and the dragons. Speaking of dragons, the Wyrms of Elnuril are restless and have been seen abroad in the untamed lands, leading their retinues of goblins, hobgoblins, and ogres. Aye, indeed, they have fair burnt a number of villages near the edges of the Princedoms. The elves have called their militias for watch upon the border, and Geirr of Hard Heath hath proclaimed all dragons "a menace and a dread, outlaw within the realm."
In southerly news, elvish armies have encamped outside Dorostchev and blocked the advance of a Golnian force crossing through Hurol. Rumors say that the Third Empire, too, is preparing for war, this against the great slaver-empire of Essad.
In Kjellos proper, the king sits uneasily upon his throne, and whispers of a conspiracy to unseat him implicate many hands: his brothers, Solyce and Vagyr, a discontented clave of nobility, and even the sorcerer Trojas Tholvar, elder brother to Greve Lasius Tholvar. King Aegus' true friends can only be counted amongst the temple and Order of the Forge Divine, and Greve Varius Holmgrinn, who has cemented his alliance with the house, notwithstanding Aegus' law stripping him of the important region of the Stockmine.
In the Reach, the lords meet in moting at Tyreth Castle, to determine how best to aid their king.