“Sureniel will attack.”
According to sources in Enchantments Guard, upon hearing of Emperor Kordaava’s assassination, Governor Hellwig von Gustavus immediately reacted with this dire warning. Since then, Hellwig and his son, Reiswitz von Gustavus, legatus of the 10th Legion, have continued beating this drum to the point where people are starting to believe it, although there have been no signs of orc hostility to date.
Though some officials might be skeptical, it’s clear the Gustavus family is taking the threat very seriously, and the perceived threat is becoming more evident, as is the potential response.
While the 10th Legion officers have been tight-lipped on details, one dwarf of Stollhofen was all too eager to clarify why we should fear the orcs. Boulder Orchammer, a Graybeard (a rank roughly equivalent to a knight master in the Hecks) in the Dwarven Host of Stollhofen, had this to say about the orc menace.
You humans are too young to remember, but it was the orcs who conquered the dwarves and drove them out of Niesse a thousand years ago in the Claw Hammer War [Ed: It should be noted that a 400-year-old dwarf is also too young to remember this. —Maurko]. This was a feat no army in Chaldea could do now. During the Dark Times, the orcs of Niesse marauded the lands of Niessia, from Ardaya and Tetonique all the way to Hesse and Tavja and as far west as the Hills of Hatred in Tamica. It wasn’t until Emperor Kordaava, may the gods bless his soul in the afterlife, came to power and stationed his mighty drasildar at the five great citadels—Dwarven-made, I should add—that the orc threat was finally contained. But the humans of Niessia have grown complacent. Governor Gustavus estimates the orc army numbers 200,000, but we believe their real numbers are much greater. Don’t forget the blood summoners as well, the ancient cabal of orc magicians who lead the orc armies into battle. And lest we forget the evil of all evils, that elder worm, that diamond bastard Sureniel, who has ruled the orcs all this time upon the usurped mithril throne, fomenting hate toward the emperor. Oh yes, now that Kordaava is dead, and the drasildar have abandoned their posts, the orcs will come. The fact that they haven’t attacked yet is just a testament to their cunning. They are preparing for a massive assault that will shake the world!
Others argue that perhaps Sureniel is loyal to the empire and will be content to let orc raiding parties let off steam. No matter which side of the debate you support, it seems prudent that our governor is taking the threat seriously.
Reportedly, Legatus Reiswitz and his legion and auxilia officers have been studying the potential war by playing wargames. It’s claimed they’ve played hundreds of hours of simulations, studying the possibilities of an all-out orc assault against the surrounding kingdoms.
This raises the question of what forces can the Gustavus family bring to bear in defense of our lands. The backbone of our military defense will likely be the two Imperial Legions on the continent of Niessia: The 10th and 17th Legions. Each legion is composed of 5,500 fighting men, organized into ten cohorts. The “War Hawks “10th Legion, commanded by Legatus Reiswitz von Gustavus, is headquartered near Augstat at the Enchantments Guard castrum. Seven of its ten cohorts are quartered there; the other three are in Stollhofen, on the border of Niesse, which is expected to bear the brunt of the orc attack. The 17th Legion, “Eager for Battle,” is commanded by Legatus Frederick and is stationed at the Anvil castrum in Mycenae.
Each legion is supported by an even larger number of auxilia—non-legion military forces designed to supplement the legion—that is primarily composed of well-armed foot soldiers. The most notable auxilia of the 10th Legion are the Hecks and the Dwarven Host. The Hecks is a unified order of the knights and soldiers-at-arms from the various knight orders of Hesse, Munchkein, Stollhofen, and Tetonique, which are estimated at about 500 knights, 2,000 cavalry, and approximately 20,000 foot soldiers. The Dwarven Host is estimated at nearly 5000 axe men, sappers, crossbowmen, and artillerists, many of whom are battle hardened and experienced at fighting orcs from back during the Dark Times.
Auxilia of the 17th Legion includes Ardayan camelry and Mycenean hoplites, but estimates are unclear as to their numbers.
Not directly tied to the legions but still under the rule of Governor Gustavus are Somacian raiders, Tavjan lion riders, and Garnon Forest rangers. These forces might be a bit more difficult to rally as allies, but if their lands are also threatened, theorists believe it is reasonable to assume their interests will lie with ours.
One significant challenge to the military planning is that the orcs of Niesse are centered geographically. They could strike west into Tetonique, northwest into Stollhofen—which would, in turn, threaten Munchkein and Hesse—north through the Greymory Wastes into Somacia, or east into Ardaya and Mycenae. This centralization would allow an orc army to concentrate its attack in a single direction while Gustavus’s armies must protect a long front that encircles the orc lands.
Much hope has been placed on the wargames being played by Reiswitz and his officers that they will yield insights into the great challenge that may well lie ahead.
Shelby Chartrand, Augstat, Hesse
The drasildar that violently abandoned its Enchantments Guard position of forty-years recently is not the only drasildar to shirk its duties. Drasildars guarding Tartu and Jamshog Gulag left their posts in similar tirades of destruction.
Two rangers in Andalus were tracking the drasildar from Tartu in the aftermath of their collective departure. Said one of the rangers, “We were on patrol when the drasildar guarding the Root suddenly up and killed four brown cloaks. Our commander charged us to track the drasildar and report our findings. That’s how we came to be in Juda. It’s been a hard, bloody trail—we’ve tried to warn good folks to steer clear, but for some, the curiosity has been too great.”
The marching drasildar are described as a plague upon the land, killing everything and anything in their path, seemingly in a permanent state of violent agitation. According to most witnesses, they prefer to smash their way through a structure rather than walk around it.
The drasildar from Tartu united with drasildar from the Garnon (presumable including the one from Enchantments Guard) and others from locations unknown. Dire stories are spreading across the empire of other drasildar leaving their posts in a comparable manner.
The office of the governor of Tamica has confirmed drasildar have abandoned the Imperial Bank of Saratof in Mantikor as well as the Hall of Archives & Records in Orbos, Ta Shemau. Each left at roughly the same time on the week of the Phoenix in the early dawn hours.
Emperor Kordaava didn’t publicly release where all one-hundred drasildar were stationed, so the public can only assess the actions of that that are present in public spaces. Further, each of the twenty legions were assigned two drasildar, and twenty were assigned to guard the emperor’s throne in Saratof. With those sixty accounted for, forty must have been assigned to closely guarded secrets, presumably vital imperial installations and “political hotspots” around Chaldea.
With recent news of Imperial banks being looted after drasildar abandonment, one can only hope and pray more “perilous locations” are firmly secure. The emperor once famously stated, “Drasildar are the restraining rope that keeps civilization from being flung back into the Dark Times.”
Shelby Chartrand, Augstat, Hesse
Legatus Rittavich, commander of the 12th Legion (“The Mighty Lions”) stationed in Griotunagardar, has revoked all non-human working visas from the castrum of Stone Hold and banished all giant-kind from Imperial-controlled installations, cancelling decades-old contracts.
Salfangr, king of Griotunagardar, has demanded his people be allowed to work and has sent letters of protest to Tarsis, The Imperial Consul of the Military, as well as to T.A. Swift, the Imperial Consul of Economics, and Ramzi Ka’adir Kalib, the Imperial Consul of Commerce in Saratof in hopes of going around the legatus’ decree.
“The empire has a stranglehold on the economy in Svendborg and most of the financial institutions in Griotunagardar,” said Hyrrokin, Walking Boss, a leirjotnar working the docks in Svendborg. “Without them, the unemployment rate will skyrocket. The hardest hit are the young people. Our families are reliant on these government jobs.”
Cornicularius Justus, legion administrator, points to growing tension between the giants and the legion ever since the death of the emperor. “The giants grow increasingly bold—taunting soldiers, refusing orders, breaking rules, and generally half-assing tasks and responsibilities. The giants feared Emperor Kordaava and his spear, but they do not fear gladius and scutum, phalanx or wedge.”
In recent weeks there have been several “mishaps” with legionnaires on the injured end.
“If not for the professionalism of our soldiers, who can say what the outcome might have been,” said one centurion.
With the young jobless and idle, many predict it’s only a matter of time before one of these mishaps leads to something more dire.
“It’s best we separate legionnaire and giant,” said the cornicularius. “Independent and safe.”
2nd Cohort Marches
The 10th Legion, 2nd Cohort under the command of Tribunis Teper Kasdoni is on the march. It is difficult to hide 500 legionnaires in bright daylight as they march down the Steeple Causeway followed by double that number in support auxilia, supplies, and armament. Do they march to war? They do not. Governor Gustavus has signed an arrest warrant authorizing the arrest and seizure of Pfalzgraf Lotari von Cronenberg, the leader of the Black Daggers, and believed to be responsible for the assassination of Konig Rusdorf as well as the murder of the royal family and the konig’s chief lieutenants. Just before press time, the 2nd Cohort was marshalled at Pfaltzfeld Grove beyond Kettenregel Tor (Augstat’s notorious North Gate). Why an entire cohort of Imperial soldiers with siege weapons is required to arrest a single elderly man has not been explained. With Niesse seemingly ready to strike any day, some argue such vital assets to the war effort could be better utilized elsewhere. To many, however, one thing is clear: the Imperial governor takes regicide seriously and will make all efforts to bring the assassins to justice.
Piracy on the Great Sea, Tritons Suspect
Piracy is on the rise. As if the current list of woes was insufficient following the death of the emperor, reports suggest it’s no longer safe to conduct trade across the Great Sea, as instances of piracy are increasing at a rate faster than experts can tally accurately. At last count, thirty-two merchant ships have been seized or have simply disappeared since Kordaava’s death, with an estimated loss of over 2,000 Emperor’s Gold Sovereigns’ worth of trade goods, including cedar from Kinahhu, Aimian wines, Hessen beef, and valuable Ardayan spices. The tritons and mermaids of Tritonis were immediately suspected of reverting to their patterns from the so-called Dark Times before Kordaava. They are now taking credit for the acts, announcing that all trans-oceanic merchants will be required to pay a tax to Tritonis to conduct trade on the Great Sea.
Consul Has Heart Attack While Reporting on the Economy
According to Hapu, the Imperial Palace butler, Imperial Magistrate Garl Steadfast, a dwarven senator, collapsed from a heart attack while reporting devastating news about the economy to the Council of Consuls. Fortunately, Hulsan, the menbit of Set, was on hand and able to save him. Steadfast had just reported that twelve of the central bank vaults were raided and emptied of their contents shortly after the drasildar abandoned their posts, stealing an estimated 20 percent of the assets of the central bank, where the bulk of the wealth of the Imperial Treasury is held. Economists fear this will have major repercussions for the economy of the empire and could lead to a collapse of the banking system.
Will Kordaava’s Empire Unravel?
With so many reports of wars and ill-founded rumors swirling, we thought it might be worthwhile to summarize fact and fiction. Facts: Targonia has declared independence, with Assani Ga’mane assuming power and laying siege to the 12th Legion at The Rock… Kulbrandr, the jarl of Tavja, has defied Tihomir’s Senatus Cogere order to attend the Senate… The orc empire of Niesse seems poised for war against the rest of the continent of Niessia… Patesi Iltani has vowed revenge against Governor Gustavus for harboring her would-be assassin… The 7th Legion has sacked a Hakhamanesh city on its way to bring Tavja to justice… The 6th Legion has squashed a rebellion in the city of Nebolchi in Andalus… The Church of Set in Esh has taken to the streets to squelch religious freedom guaranteed by Imperial law… Ta Shemau is on the brink of civil war… Giants have become unruly in Griotunagardar… And finally, Governor Gustavus seems eager to defy any orders issued from Saratof.
Fiction (or at least unsubstantiated): An orc army amassing in the Hills of Hatred threatens the capital… Dwarven clans have withdrawn all cash from banking institutions, sending the economy into depression… An Outworld Chaos Army threatens Somarria… A Marn C’tharki swarm is the worst in decades, threatening to devour crops and disrupt world food supply…A dead god under Altiflector is a resurrected sign of the Dark Times… Gnome Gnubbles is malfunctioning, threaten to cutoff world communication…City of the Dead “super ghosts” are threatening Perrin.
We report, you decide.