Part 18: 1416-Beyond the Second TowerBeyond the Second Tower
1416 opened with another magical discovery being made by Queen Dagmaer, allowing life to be restored to large numbers of the very recently slain at once through the power of the Serene Mother. Although limited to the time before the soul truly fled the body, and still impractical on the scale of a whole society, this technique is considerably more efficient per person returned than the earlier methods of restoring life available to Dagmaer.
Not long after, in Secondmonth, Queen Dagmaer communicated with High Protector Horus, convincing Horus to swear binding oaths that so long as his realm's territory was respected, he would not engage in aggression against Greater Dvergursheim. Although the oath of Horus might be a weak defense against his aggression, it might still perhaps forestall his actions for some little time.
A wizard pact is, essentially, a non-aggression pact. It will tend to slowly improve relations over time, but other factors can degrade this.
Meanwhile, Dagmaer called the blessing of the Sagacious Counselor down upon Bloodrock, the greatest of the non-dwarven towns of the kingdom, that the people of that town might prosper according to their abilities. Although Bloodrock did benefit greatly from this, it nonetheless saw a lesser surge of ingenuity and prosperity than was seen in dwarven towns, and it remained less rich than those dwarven towns blessed by the Sagacious Counselor. Still, more and more of the former thralls of Bloodrock achieved comfortable prosperity, and the nobility of the town directed their estates with skill and prudence.
The benefit of Prosperity is directly proportional to the base income of the town. As dwarves produce twice as much base income per population as anybody else, twice as much income is generated by Prosperity for a dwarven town of the same size compared to other towns.
By Thirdmonth, the Royal Army had transferred entirely to Westerland, and used the roads of Westerland to travel in a few days to the ruins north of the town of Ironbay. There, a company of dead elves, well-preserved by the ages, possessing still a terrible, demonic intelligence, and clad in thick, heavy plate armor drawn from the depths of the Hells, rode upon long-dead horses that ran across the winds above the surface of the world. These knights of the Hells, skilled warriors returned to the world by the powers of the Dark Gods, led two companies of mindless corpses in defense of their tumbled stronghold.
Death Knights are NASTY bastards. Armor Piercing halves the defense rating of enemies they attack, First Strike lets them make their attack before the enemy retaliates when they initiate an attack, Weapon Immunity increases their defense to 10 against attacks by non-magical weapons, and Life Steal lets them drain life from units which don't have Resistance scores as high as ours are. As all our troops except for Vigny have magical weapons by now, Weapon Immunity does little for them, but their Defense is very high ANYHOW, so it makes a relatively small difference even when it does apply.
Through the intervention of Queen Dagmaer, a brilliant light filled with the power of the Righteous Queen flooded over the battlefield, weakening the evil creatures standing against the Royal Army. The knights of the Hells quailed and trembled, as cannon and crossbow sent their projectiles flying at them. While the foul knights gathered their courage, Dagmaer brought the blessing of the Stalwart Warrior upon the Army, letting them fight with skill and determination, and the company of the damned was utterly destroyed, and many of the walking corpses were struck down before they reached the front lines. When they did meet the lines of dwarven infantry, they were crushed.
For some reason the Death Knights held position for a couple of turns, and seemed reluctant to smash into my formation. It made this battle significantly easier than it might have been.
Once the enemy was destroyed, the ruins north of Ironbay were plundered, uncovering an incredible wealth of ancient treasure, the hoarded enchanted glass of magicians long dead, documents and scrolls, and a small metal shield enchanted for greater strength and protection. With the lore recovered from the ruins, Queen Dagmaer learned another way to call upon the Serene Mother's power, letting all the soldiers under her command be suffused with great health and vitality, letting them endure injuries that might otherwise slay them and keeping them resilient against disease.
The month following, the Royal Army advanced upon the node of Sorcery on the western shores of Westerland. A great host of unreal soldiers defended this node, seemingly arrayed in arms and armor, and led by a mighty spirit of Sorcery, a subtle and cunning intellect clothed in flesh and borne aloft on the wind, mist, and light bent to its command. It swiftly raised up a powerful enchantment to deny Dagmaer any opportunity to perform acts of magic on the Army's behalf. Between the magic of this spirit of Sorcery and the natural interference provided by the great flow of Sorcery coming forth from the node, Dagmaer concluded that to even attempt any act of magic in this battle would be fruitless and wasteful.
Some units, such as the Djinn, have a pool of their own power and skill they can use to cast certain spells. If they also have a magical ranged attack, this ranged attack will cost 3 points of their own power rather than having a separate ammunition counter.
While the great spirit of Sorcery remained behind the lines of its unreal soldiers, the cannon and scouts concentrated their shooting upon the main ranks of the enemy, knowing they had little chance to harm this spirit at such a range. Soon, however, it dissolved and reformed itself behind dwarven lines, falling upon cannon and the scouts with terrible wrath. Although cannon shot and crossbow bolts injured it terribly, the unnatural vitality of such a spirit was sufficient to endure these blows, and Vigny and her scouts fell once again bearing swords against a supernatural enemy.
With the scouts slain, the spirit of Sorcery fell upon the lines of dwarven infantry like a gale, but the stern discipline, skill, weapons, and armor of the infantry stood them in good stead. Although it slew seven dwarves and crippled four more in one of the companies of infantry, the remainder struck it down with hammer and sword and watched it dissolve into a chaotic burst of water, wind, and light. Though the unreal soldiers defending the node struck a number of the infantry into catatonic stupors as their blows pierced straight to the mind, they still were no match for the remaining members of the Royal Army, and the battle was soon over as the last defender collapsed into wind and nothingness.
As the fields about the pool of the node of Sorcery were searched, a suit of armor forged of fine bronze was uncovered, breastplate, backplate, bracers, greaves, and helm. This suit was laid with powerful enchantments, making it a superb protection for whomsoever might wear it, and it provided great resilience against the rigors of weather, travel, and the natural elements.
There are three different types of enchanted armor that can be found. Magical chain provides an inherent +1 to defense, on top of its enchanted defense bonus. Magical plate provides +2 to defense. A magical shield provides +2 defense against missile attacks only, on top of its enchantment. The Resist Elements special ability of Lor Goth provides +3 defense and resistance against Nature and Chaos magical attacks, but, unlike Bless, does not protect against normal physical attacks from the realm it protects against.
Over the following two months, Fifthmonth and Sixthmonth, Njallshold grew to prosper as a true town, while dwarves from Stonehome settled on the shores of Westerland west of Njallshold and northeast of Stonehome, and dragonkin began establishing new homes in the desert in the north of Westerland, planting staple crops and spices and preparing to bring in livestock.
By Ninthmonth, the Queen had ensured the blessing of the Sagacious Counselor upon Snowy Point, helping her people that they might work to ensure their great prosperity by their efforts. The new colony established by the dwarves of Stonehome fared less well, however. A catastrophically poor harvest led to famine and complete abandonment of the new homesteads by the middle of Eleventhmonth, leaving only a few hardy survivors hunting the woods and growing straggling crops. The land they had settled had great potential, but for now the wilderness had defeated settlement there. The dwarves who trailed back to Stonehome or carried themselves to Njallshold or Ironbay had lost everything, and all of them had had their lives touched by the deaths of friends or family from hunger or disease. New hands were always welcome in the fields, however, and those who survived the catastrophic attempt to colonise that district were able to begin new lives for themselves, however humble their circumstances.
With her previous work completed, Queen Dagmaer prepared to once again restore Vigny Rolfsdottir to life, offering a chance for continued service rarely seen by any person. The Queen gathered her power to work the magic needed to restore her favored servant.
While these events had been taking place, the first puppet-spirit of Queen Dagmaer had passed through the tower linking the worlds on Westerland, emerging on the small island in the sea on Arcanus. There it pushed north, until it found another land thickly-settled by men, although perhaps not of the same culture and kin as the high men of Fairlands. As the year is coming to a close, it has only just come within sight of the walls of a fortified town, and Queen Dagmaer still has yet to make contact with whomsoever may be their ruler or make a study of these men.
The Kingdom as of Twelfthmonth 1416
The prosperity of the heartlands of Dvergursheim continues unabated, and all the towns of the heartlands still grow and prosper, rich, happy, and powerful in manufactures and trade. Ironbridge has slightly passed Goldwash in population, although Goldwash remains the center of the finest manufactures of the kingdom and a town of great richness. Some say that Ironbridge and Goldwash are of such a size they are scarcely 'towns' anymore, but rather true cities as hosted the wizard-lords of the lost Confederation. In preparation for the resurrection of Vigny and her scouts, Queen Dagmaer has once again prepared the capital in Goldwash to receive such beings as she might summon or create by magic.
'Capital' is the last size classification for settlements, after 'city', and you can see Ironbridge's icon sprawl even further. Once a town hits the 'capital' stage, it is more or less to the point it might actually be called a city.
Snowy Point enjoys the great riches produced by the ingenuity and wisdom of its people, and their tireless labors. The export of fine clothing trimmed with fur for the wealthy of the kingdom is a major source of income for the town, the furs supplied by skilled trappers and foresters working the woods of the peninsula. Learning and culture has flourished in the town, and local alchemical workshops and foundries have begun to be established by enterprising savants.
The library of Darkshore has been fully stocked, and a small temple to the Great Lady of Beauty has been erected amongst the trees of the town. Savants and magicians have begun to congregate in the growing town, joining with the network of learned folk of the kingdom.
As with many other places in kingdom, Blademarsh now hosts many savants who openly debate and correspond with the other savants of the kingdom, helping promote learning, culture, and the development of magical lore. The expansion of the temple of the Great Lady of Beauty has been completed, and smaller temples to the other Bright Gods have begun to be established in the town while rich furnishings and decoration continue to be accumulated in the temple of the Great Lady, in her honor.
The monastery complex in Fangrock now sprawls over a significant patch of land, with a fine central stone temple for the prayer and meditation of the priests and visitors. A major sawmill to convert oak timber from the forest to the west to lumber is under construction, ensuring that the town is well supplied with wood for construction and crafts.
More savants have emerged from the learned and wealthy of Bloodrock, and their willingness to debate and share their lore with the other learned of the kingdom has increased. The riches of the town have ensured great and magnificent furnishing and decoration of the temple of the Great Lady of Beauty in the town, while smaller temples to the Righteous Queen, Sagacious Counselor, and Stalwart Warrior have been established and staffed by elven priests teaching borrowed dwarven doctrines. Priests and savants have begun to discuss the idea of a great central school in Bloodrock, which might teach lore to a broader cross-section of the prosperous inhabitants of the town, helping to disseminate some knowledge as widely across Bloodrock as it is across dwarven towns- or, in the case of knowledge of magic, considerably further than it is spread amongst the dwarves. The blessing of the Sagacious Counselor has helped strengthen the town as a center of commerce and artisanship, with only Easthold rivaling it as a commercial center on Osterland. Silk and items of silk clothing, plum wine, and some pieces of small sculpture in wood or stone are amongst the goods traded from Bloodrock. Bloodrock is still an important exporter of food, although perhaps a bit less so than a year ago.
Universities provide additional spell research, and unlock a number of advanced buildings, relating to warfare, advanced magical research, religion (and religion-related magic), construction, and commerce. The benefits related to construction and commerce are essentially built in to dwarves without any need for special construction, so I assume that dwarven education on mundane subjects is excellent with only a Sages' Guild in place. Dwarves, however, have few of their number skilled in magic, so the spell research of the more advanced academic structures never really happens with them even with them achieving great mundane learning.
The worship of the three Bright Gods previously not followed by the dark elves now supports several small temples scattered through the town of Leer, although these temples pale before the beauty and grandeur of the temple of the Great Lady here. New pastures and ranches for fine horses have begun to be established in its district, beginning to supply horses fit for riding or war, rather than only simple agricultural labor to the town.
The work of the local priests in Darkhold to learn the secrets of Nature magic from the priests of Bloodrock continues slowly. Although there is much good agricultural land in the river valleys, the expense of stone, metal, wood, and charcoal in the town leaves its artisans at a disadvantage which leaves less wealth and fewer materials for local development.
Easthold has become the center of a major lumber industry, supporting the forestry to continue harvest of timber well into the future and hunters and trappers catching the beasts of the forests. It has also seen learning and culture in the town prosper, with learned savants contributing their part to the knowledge of dwarvenkind. With the collection of savants here, alchemical workshops and foundries are being established, and have begun experimentation to try to rediscover the alloy of mithril steel that once made it so prized for weapons and armor.
Major sawmills processing the abundant lumber from the vast forest about Ironbay have been established, and foresters replanting fast-growth trees and great numbers of hunters now roam the woods, ensuring fine lumber, meat, and fur for the town. The great prosperity of Ironbay has helped to encourage and support the development of new savants in the town.
The timber provided from the woods about Stonehome is now processed by major sawmills into lumber for crafts or building, and the access to learning and wealth in the town has helped promote a flowering of study and the beginning of the development of a significant class of local savants. The road across Westerland now reaches to Stonehome, permitting significant traffic of dwarves and goods across the length of Westerland and helping Stonehome prosper by trade.
The district about Njallshold has been well-cultivated over the past year, and its markets and warehouses ensure that the business of the town and its trade in mined gold to the rest of the kingdom prospers. Smiths, masons, and various skilled artisans of many kinds make their home in this small but busy town. Investment in further improvement of the farmland around Njallshold has been underway, and the town is beginning to host new food markets, slaughterhouses, and breweries.
The little village of Firesands conducts a bit of fishing and growing of spices along the desert northern coast of Westerland, at the center of a thinly-peopled frontier district of dragonkin farming, fishing, or hunting, as the opportunity presents itself. Although it is linked by road to the towns of Westerland, it is a tiny place barely involved in the business of the kingdom.
The growing prosperity across the kingdom ensures that coin flows freely into the royal coffers, and the magic provided by new elves, dragonkin, and temples more than outpaces that spent on new enchantments across the kingdom. The road across Westerland connects all the way to Stonehome in the west, and a branch from the road stretches through woods to the coastal plains where the failed colony of Ailearth once stood. A puppet-spirit summoned by the Queen approaches the node of Sorcery cleared of its defenders by the Royal Army, soon to tame its power and provide a flow of precious magic to the Queen.
Firesands rests on the northern coast of Westerland, while the Royal Army and Royal Engineers have embarked on ships to return to Dvergursheim. With the ruins north of Ironbay cleared of monsters, only the node of Chaos east of the town remains as a threat to Westerland.
1416 has passed, and the anticipation of what nation of men has been discovered looms over Greater Dvergursheim. Though the colony of Ailearth ended in tragedy, the kingdom as a whole remains strong. What news shall greet Greater Dvergursheim in the year to come?