Being A Brief History Of The Major Occurrences And Happenings Of The War Between The Forces Of The Nosta-Kar And The Lions Of Avalon And Our Allies
Written in this, the first month of the eleven hundredth year after the founding of the Great Library of Norhault , it being the eighth year of the episcopate of His Grace the Prince Bishop William Hatfield, some two years since the ascension of His Majesty Rhino Khazad Rex to the Crown of Avalon, some three years and two months since he was proclaimed as Lord General of the Lions, Overlord of Avalon and Inter-Race Wrestling Champion, and some three years and five months since the start of the Return of the Lions to Avalon.
The Author being I, E. Midsummer, Sergeant Commanding Amber Lance of the Prince Bishop’s Men, Lieutenant in the Army of the Lions, Probationary Head of the Department of History Within the Lions’ University at Galefrese
Following the close of the Parliament of 1099, I took a moment to take a look around at the faces of those gathered in the crowd. It was with some shock, and more than a little grief that I noted how few of the faces were those of people I remembered from the outbreak of hostilities in the war in the Nosta Kar. So many have fallen fighting valiantly against our many cruel and implacable foes, both amongst the Nosta Kar and in the fell forces of the Dark One and the accursed Raven of Valinor Kai, that increasingly few amongst our number may remember the full course of things.
It is with the belief that a record of events may prove valuable to those who have come more recently into the heart of the affairs of the Lions, and with an acknowledgment that I, or any of those others who recall events will have to be fortunate if we are to hope to survive the continuing conflict long enough to recount the passage of things, that I set myself to this small tasks. But I have another reason too, for writing this. Many of those of our fellows who have fallen are worthy of the greatest of praise. To list them all, or to recount the deeds of them all, is, I fear, an impossible task. Therefore, may this work go some way to providing a lasting monument to all of our gallant friends who have paid the ultimate price for the good of the Lions, and the defence of The Land of Avalon.
All that remains now is for me to make some comment on the nature of my sources for this work. A large amount comes from my own recollections, for from the time of the Gathering of Factions of 1098 onwards I have had the (mis?)fortune to be fated to be present at some of the key moments of this history. The rest is based upon what official material I have to hand, this mainly comprising those official communiques which Camelot dispatches each month with such admirable regularity. Occasionally I have made use of the accounts of others of actions that they witnessed, and in these cases I have, I hope always made an effort to give credit where it is due. Incidentally, if this account seems to dwell overmuch on the involvement of the Prince Bishop’s Men in this tale, then I hope the reader will forgive me, as it will be because, in truth, I know more about the activities of the Prince Bishop’s Men than of other Lions.
When first the Lions, guided through the Mists by the Enchantress Nimue, returned to Avalon, in the months immediately following that battle of 1096, which heralded the loss of the Albion Civil War against the Harts, many were the wonders that assailed their eyes. Not only were their great cities, such as Camelot and Marse, to behold, but natural wonders too, such as the lofty peaks of the Guardian and Dros Brennan or the deep and wonderful forests, like Dre’Moor and Hamsterley. And then there were things of that were obviously formed by strange and mysterious magics of the sort of the great barrier of Valinor Kai, that holds trapped the Raven’s ravening hordes, or the ritual circle of the Wellspring, where the dream that is Avalon is closest to the more mundane worlds. It is within the last of these groups that we must count the Gateway.
Sited within the Duchy of Fiannon, to the west Art-Tyr Bay, some eight leagues north of the eastern end of the Great North Wall which marks the northern limits of the Palatinate of New Durholme, the Gateway is, as it’s name suggests a large trilithic structure, of apparently ancient date, it’s aged stones carved with seven signs, the nature and meanings of which, if we are to be fully honest, I doubt we still completely understand. Its existence was first, I believe, noted by scouts of the Legions who pushed south from the Wellspring, towards Camelot and the lands of the southwest of Avalon, which now form the Palatinate. If any notes were made of its existence at that time, then I am unaware of them, however it is likely that it was noted as a place worthy of further examination once circumstances allowed. For at this time, the Lions were involved in a vicious struggle with the Chaos hordes that had so bedevilled Avalon, and men could not be easily spared for the examination of the many ancient sites that covered the land.
At last, the chaos hordes were driven back, and the Ancestors and Land seemed to have blessed us with a period of light and peace. But Avalon is a land of heroes, and soon warning signs began to indicate that heroes would soon be needed once again .
It was in the early months of the year 1098, by the Edrejan reckoning, that, one by one, the signs which are carved upon the structure began to glow. Early investigators, who, I believe included both Zacharia Krell (now Sergeant Commanding Gold Lance of the Prince Bishop’s Men, Lieutenant in the army of the Lions, and apprentice to Master Mole, the Fire Mage) and Anthony Flambard (now Knight-Captain Commanding the Third Legion of Avalon), were unable to discover anything amiss at the Gateway, other than the steadily increasing number of signs that were glowing. Finally, after the fifth symbol began to glow, an army, consisting of three full Legions (if memory and my records serve me correct, they were the Third, Fourth and the Fey Seventh) was sent to investigate. Whilst carrying out their investigations the sixth symbol of those surrounding the Gateway was lit, and as it did so, a huge barrier of some magical force sprang up around the three legions, trapping them within the region of the Gateway.
No power of magic, or incantation of the Ancestors seemed able to breach this barrier. By the time of the Gathering of Nations, in the eighth month of 1098, the situation was getting desperate. The food supplies of the Legions trapped within the dome were running low, the men of the Legions were exhausted, and, not unreasonably, near panic. And the strains on sewerage arrangements doesn’t bear mentioning. That there was not a major crisis amongst the Legions trapped within the dome is credit to the officers and men of those Legions, whose courage and resourcefulness in their dreadful situation should always be remembered and honoured.
It was at the Gathering of 1098, that a way to free the trapped Legions was devised. Acting on the suggestions of, amongst others, Konin Jefferson, now a Detached Sergeant of the Prince Bishop’s Men and of the Council of the Bard’s Guild, a party which included a number of notable characters, such as Kyot of the Prince Bishop’s Men, and Ramat of the Phoenix Guard, who was to lose his arm in the process, set forth, and by the use of healing power a hole was smashed in the barrier. Triumphant, the party returned to the Lion’s Camp, along with the Commander of one of the Legions, as a form of wedding gift for the King, who had, that very day been married to Queen Sapphire .
Soon afterwards, the seventh symbol lit, and through the Gateway flooded an army the like of which had not been seen in Avalon for many thousands of years. Led by seven tall, golden skinned humanoids, and wearing a range of coloured liveries, this massive force set up camp around the Gateway. The Nosta Kar had arrived….
At this point in the history, it may be useful to take a moment to recall who held seats on the Lion’s Council, and other positions of importance within Avalon, at this time, the Gathering of 1098, so as to be able to identify those people whose actions may have had an influence on the course of events. At the Gathering of 1098, the leaders of the Lions and Avalon were as follows:
King, Lord General and Lord Marshall of Armies: Rhino Khazad, Rex
2IC to the Lord General, Grand Inquisitor and High Incantor: His Grace, the Prince Bishop William Hatfield
3IC of the Lions and Head of the Council: The Lady Josephine
Herald of the Lions: Lord Ivan Shoshonay Viceroy to the Guilds: Lord
Fitzbryan de Wolf
Lord Chamberlain : Lord Reaver Chief-Whip: Lord Red Mist
Chancellor of the Exchequer: Lord Nexus Defender: Lord Ellendain
Enforcer: Lord Marcus Strike Leader: Lord Ugluck
High Sheriff: Lord Cheetah
Knight Marshall: Sir Marcus Weller, who succeeded Knight Marshall Marcus
Tarquinian at that Gathering.
High Mage: Tim the Enchanter
Master Healer: The Lady Zavra, who succeeded Stefan Louis at that Gathering.
Admiral: Lord Struan Roberts
These then were the people poised to lead the Lions of Avalon into the struggle with the Nosta Kar.
It was not long after the appearance at the Gateway that the first envoy of the Nosta Kar came unto the camp of the Lions at the Gathering. He was escorted to the command tent, with his conference with the King occurring just outside of the front flap of that tent.
Succinctly the envoy put forward the demands of the Nosta Kar, that the Lions and Avalon accept them as the Masters of The Land and People, and that everybody be prepared to accept their allotted places in the Nosta Kar’s world order. At this point the envoy gave some examples of what their view of peoples’ places was – that Dwarves were builders, that Orcs were soldiers. One of the members of the Council (I believe it was either Lord Reaver or Lord Ivan, although I can not remember with full certainty) then asked the question which by now had occurred to many of the onlookers:
“And what do you think humans do ?”
The answer was enough to chill the blood. “Humans ? Why, you are food.”
Before this point, the discussion, whilst not friendly, was relatively peaceful. After that, negotiations went rapidly down hill. The Nosta Kar envoy, after hearing what exactly the Nosta Kar could do with their new envoy, left, promising that the Lions had three months in which to change their minds. He gave every appearance of believing that we would, showing possibly for the first time, just how little the Nosta Kar actually understand the Lions.
The Battle of the Parliament,
The Fall of Belec And Other Early Actions In The War
The Nosta Kar, confident no doubt that the Lions would spend their time quaking in their homes, waited three months before they made their next move. The Lions, who had other things on their mind then quaking, spent that time preparing for war. Everywhere, plans were drawn up, defences prepared, militias called to arms and the Legions and the fleet were mobilised. Everywhere, information on the Nosta Kar was sought. Alas, little was found, other than the confirmation that the Nosta Kar were beings of great power, who had in fact ruled Avalon many millennia ago, before leaving a long time since. At last, in the eleventh month of the year 1098, the people of Avalon came together at the monastery of the Circle of the Brotherhood, in the Barony of Capel Fey, for the Winter Parliament of the Lions, recalling, with some trepidation, that three months had now passed since the Nosta Kar envoy had presented themselves at the Gathering of Factions.
Despite this trepidation, the early hours of the assembly went by without any sign of a Nosta Kar presence in the area. That is not to say that things went easily, however, for throughout this time the Parliament was virtually besieged by werewolves, and by twisted creatures of the Raven, and foul unliving of the Dark One. At last, all of these foul beings were killed or driven off, but this was not without cost, for many Lions good and true lay dead. Among them was the Lord Defender Ellendain, whose passing was greatly mourned. His position was taken by Sir Ormardu McEwan. More changes on the Council were brought about by the resignation of His Grace the Prince Bishop from his post as the King’s 2IC. The Prince Bishop had felt the call of the Ancestor Kerremar, to spend more time leading the forces of the Palatinate from the front line, and less time in organisation, and so chose to step down from his place of command, whilst retaining his positions as Grand Inquisitor and High Incantor. His place as 2IC was taken by the Lady Josephine, with the Lord Ivan assuming her previous position as 3IC. It was with an altered line up then that the Council of Avalon first faced the Nosta Kar in battle.
The afternoon of the first full day of the gathering of Lions was drawing to a close when first the Nosta Kar approached the Parliament, the formal business of which was just being concluded. Three of the Nosta Kar strode confidently into the great hall where the Parliament had assembled, casually brushing aside those who sought to bar their path. With the arrogance that appears to come naturally to them, they demanded the Crown, and with it the submission of the Lions. This demand was, rather predictably treated with a display of complete derision, the Lady Josephine out shouting even the King in demanding that the Nosta Kar leave forthwith. The Nosta Kar did not seem to be too concerned by this reaction, and demanded the Crown once more. When, once again, the assembled Lions made it clear that we were not about to surrender Avalon that easily the Nosta Kar turned to leave, promising to return in full force the next day. As they turned, one of their number, who had previously remained cloaked and hooded, rather over-dramatically threw back his hood. At this a gasp of wonder could be heard from the members of the Order of the One who were present, for it seemed to that this Nosta Kar was none other but their Ancestor, Mithras. As is appropriate when one believes that ones Ancestor has manifested himself to you, the members of the One threw themselves to their knees. Even when they were ordered to attack the King, it was impossible for them, so deep was their devotion to Mithras, to gainsay the commands of him who they truly believed was Mithras.
It was only after the Parliament that it became clear that the One had been most cruelly deceived. He who they believed to be their Ancestor was in fact the Nosta Kar known as Mythrais, whom, for some reason as of yet unclear, at least to this author, was almost identical in appearance to Mithras. It was soon to become apparent that the One were not the only people to have their minds messed with by the Nosta Kar. After the three invaders withdrew from the Parliament, discussion arose, and it was soon revealed that a number of Lions had had their dreams interfered with by the Nosta Kar, leaving them condemned to sleepless nights. After some investigation those of our people so afflicted discovered what it was they had to do to end these appalling nightmares. Valiantly they set forth, and discovering the skull of a long dead Nosta Kar, they destroyed it. So it was that the only interruptions to sleep that night came from the riotous party that was in progress (We all know who can really claim the title of “Party Faction”, whatever the Dragons or Bears may like to argue), and through our worries about what the next day was to bring.
The last day of the Winter Parliament of 1098 dawned clear and bright, and although the ground underfoot was damp and muddy, one could almost mistake the mood around the Circle of the Brotherhood for one of joy and light heartedness. Below this outward appearance, however, lurked a depth of tension. All who were there knew that it was to be a long hard day. But first, there was some good news. A successful expedition was mounted against a nest of bandits who had greatly troubled the attendees of the Parliament, and the wedding of two Lions was held, performed by his Grace the Prince Bishop, and attended by virtually the whole faction, save for the Members of the One, who, troubled by their earlier problems, withdrew to Fulcrum. Lord Reaver later, however returned to the Parliament, to play his part in the struggle that was to follow.
Once the celebration of the wedding was completed, grim reality returned. The King offered the happy couple the chance to escape the oncoming battle, like true Lions they refused. The King then announced that scouts reported large numbers of Nosta Kar approaching. Hastily, we formed up in good order, some one hundred of us, determined to hold the ritual circle long enough to transport everybody away, and prepared for the Nosta Kar to arrive.
First their came a single one of the Nosta Kar – I believe it was the ever arrogant Mythrais, but don’t quote me on that one. Striding towards the King, he claimed that Nosta Kar forces had taken areas of Avalon, and yelled at him to “Kneel”.
The King replied that he knew of nobody present by the name of Neil, and thus did not know to what the Nosta Kar referred.
The Nosta Kar then threatened all present, declaring that 5000 of their troops would be present at the Circle of the Brotherhood within two hours, and stating that with those odds, the result of any conflict was obvious.
The King conceded that this was true, and offered the Nosta Kar another two hours to enable them bring up 5000 more troops, to make the conflict a little fairer for the Nosta Kar.
Infuriated, the Nosta Kar once again demanded that the Crown be handed over. At this the King, to some alarm from those watching, almost seemed ready to comply, beginning to kneel, removing the crown from his head and holding it towards the Nosta Kar. But as the Nosta Kar reached greedily for the glittering circlet, the King upped with the crown, and struck the Nosta Kar a mighty blow with it, following up with one of his infamous Dwarven headbuts. The Nosta Kar’s powers of retribution meant that the king was affected by the wounds inflicted upon the Nosta Kar, but there were plenty of willing hands to heal him. The Nosta Kar, meanwhile, was somewhat distracted by being attacked by members of the Sir Galahad’s Lancers, who were wielding the Sir Galahad’s Lance, a weapon which, it was surmised was a weapon which could harm the Nosta Kar, without attracting upon the wielder the Nosta Kar’s retributive powers. This seemed to be the case, for the Nosta Kar faulted slightly under the attack of the lance, crying as he did so words to the effect of “That weapon was mine…” or possibly “That weapon was my brothers..”. By now, it seemed that the Nosta Kar had lost what patience (if any) he ever possessed, gesturing, he chanted briefly some words of power. There was a sensation similar to that which is experienced when being transported through a circle, and when things returned to normal, it was apparent that we’d been transported through woodland to a small clearing on the far edge of the Circle of the Brotherhood, well away from the ritual circle. What is more, it quickly became apparent that approximately half of our forces were missing. It was surmised, correctly as it happens, that the other half had been transported off to another area of woodland, the Nosta Kar having taken the old maxim of “Divide and Conquer” rather literally.
I myself was with that section of our forces led by the King, and so cannot speak in any great detail of the struggle encountered by our forces who had been transported to other locations, although all reports I hear suggest that it was equally fierce. It soon became clear to both groups of Lions that it was necessary to force our way to the ritual circle, seal the circle and then make our escape.
It was a frantic fight that one, fought along wooded glades, across small streams and amongst knee high bracken and squelching mud. Nosta Kar assailed both sides in great numbers and had to be held off, whilst other Lions tried to force their way through the Nosta Kar before them. Many were the deeds of great heroism that day, so many that it is impossible to recount them all. The King led a specially picked force, creeping through the woods, to assail the Nosta Kar forces in the flanks and rear, Lifegiver, the Healing Avatar of The Land, and the rest of the Lions’ and their allies’ healers franticly plucked our wounded from under the very swords of the Nosta Kar, The Prince Bishop, following Kerrimars’ call fought like a demon, the solid wall of his Men forcing a way through the masses of the Nosta Kar. Lady Josephine and Queen Sapphire, thoughtless of their own safety struggled valiantly alongside the rest of our troops, their Defenders fighting just as hard to ensure the safety of their charges. The Sir Galahad’s Lancers seemed to be everywhere at once, the Lance of Sir Galahad striking like lightening amongst the foe. At one point it was lost to the Nosta Kar, but the Lancers reformed and charged anew, recapturing that precious weapon. If I could give praise to all who deserved it, I would, but to recall all the great deeds done that day, and then to record them, would take me to the end of my days. At last it was that the bulk of both groups gained the ritual circle.
But still the Nosta Kar pressed hard, and still there were our fellows struggling to force a way through to the safety of the circle. Then The Land, answering the call of the King, came to us, filling us with its spirit, its power. To describe that feeling is to describe the indescribable. Suffice to say, for a few short minutes the Nosta Kar knew what it was to face the wrath of The Land, pouring from the ritual circle, we smote their ranks asunder, Nosta Kar troops fell in their dozens before our blades, whilst their strongest efforts could not slow us. Alas, that devastating assault could not be kept up forever, but it allowed us time to drive back the Nosta Kar, and to ensure that all Lions and our allies reached the safety of the ritual circle. Summoning her powers, Lady Josephine sealed the circle, and began to prepare to transport us out of there.
And then, with a few words, a Nosta Kar breached that seal, and their troops poured in.
The next few minutes were frantic. As the Nosta Kar troops rushed the circle, our troops ran to defend it, linking shields, putting arrows and bolts to bows, readying swords. As troops gallantly defended the circle, more and more Lions and allies were transported out by the efforts of Lady Josephine. Until at last, all that remained were Lady Josephine and three others, who fell into the hands of the Nosta Kar.
The bulk of our forces had been transported to the main hall of Castle Camelot. Realising that there were those who had been left behind, a rescue party was quickly formed and sent out to rescue Lady Josephine and her companions. Alas, by the time they reached them, one man had been sent off to a Nosta Kar food camp, and a Drow sent to a Nosta-Kar “re-education” centre. The second man had his eye plucked out and eaten, ad Lady Josephine’s ear was brutally removed. Thus the Nosta Kar showed their true character, vicious and brutal, petty and petulant.
When the rescue party returned with Lady Josephine, and the other survivor, the King thanked those people from other factions who had fought alongside us, granting to them the friendship of the Lions. And then the King swore a great oath, and every Lion in that hall did swear it with him, an oath not to rest, and not to save one drop of sweat, one ounce of effort, until the Nosta Kar were driven from Avalon or else destroyed. And that oath binds us still.
That the Nosta Kar had spoken some truth was soon revealed. As the Lions sat at our Parliament, one of their regiments had rifted to the Shipyard, and taken it, capturing at the same time one third of the Fleet that was laid up for repairs. Three regiments rifted into the Barony of Belec and proceeded to conquer it. Belec itself, the capital town of the Barony resisted bravely for three days, making the Nosta Kar pay for every yard of land they gained, but could not hope to hold off the full might of the Nosta Kar, and eventually it fell, its inhabitants slaughtered almost to a man. Alderley, the capital of the Duchy of that name fell more easily, its inhabitants were sent for re-education, or to the food storage camps of the Nosta Kar. The Monastery of Dreaming, an ancient place where it is said Queen Guenivere, the wife of Arthur, retired to seek solace and forgiveness following his death, stood in the Barony of Belec and was brutally sacked. Its monks, who stuck even in the moments of their deaths to their peaceful ideals tried to appeal to the Nosta Kar’s better natures, and tried to use peace to persuade them to give up their attacks. The Nosta Kar, however, seem not to have much in the way of a better nature, and mercilessly butchered all but one of the monks. This one survivor, minus his hands, ears, eyes and tongue was sent to Camelot bearing a scroll. It was a letter from the Nosta Kar, proclaiming that there was no point in the Lions having faith in our Ancestors, as our defeat was inevitable. In all, only 10% or so of the population of Belec and Alderley were able to avoid falling into the hands of the Nosta Kar. (Once the Lions had withdrawn from the Circle of the Brotherhood, the Nosta Kar forces were similarly withdrawn from the Barony of Capel Fey, indicating perhaps that the only reason for their presence there was to capture the King, and other senior members of the Faction.)
But the Lions, as we know, are not toothless. Almost immediately moves against the Nosta Kar began. The late Widget, with a selection of some of his best troops infiltrated the Nosta Kar camp at the Gateway, and began to collect information. Counter attacks, led by the sea -elves of Shannock Gareth Dell were launched on the Shipyard, with one succeeding in sinking that portion of the fleet which had been captured, but another, aimed at firing the warehouses of food supplies captured by the Nosta Kar was less successful. War had been joined.
The War Up To The Battle of Eagg Isle
In the first months of 1099, plans were made and, preparations for the conflict continued. Aid was sought, and obtained, from our allies in the Gryphons and the Unicorns, in the form of a supply train from the Unicorns, and a full legion from the Gryphons which began to assemble in the barony of Warfield. There were some changes on the Council and leadership of the Lions, with Lord Nexus taking the post of Keeper of Information (a title later changed to Keeper of the Secret Seal), Queen Sapphire taking the duties, although not the title of Chancellor of the Exchequer, Solace Tearpainter taking the post of Herald, and Ramat of the Phoenix Guard temporarily taking the post of Chief Whip, Lord Red Mist having been missing for some time. Meanwhile, Widget continued his investigations into the nature of the Nosta Kar’s rifting, identifying some thirty of the ritualists used by the Nosta Kar for transport, and discovering that the Nosta Kar seemed to use some sort of magical stones, to effect the act of rifting.
The Nosta Kar were not idle at this time. Having consolidated their hold on the areas which they had captured, they began to transport the citizens of those areas, humans being sent to the dreaded food storage camps, and all others to “re-education” centres. They also began to oversee the construction of ships, in the captured Shipyard, suggesting that the Nosta Kar wanted to get somewhere by boat. Tension also developed at the bridge linking Belcher’s Isle to the mainland of Avalon, where the Drow Legion from the mines of Scree mustered, seeming to threaten Belcher’s Isle, to the irritation of Strike Leader Ugluk and the rest of the Orcs of the Isle. With the Drow not seeming to respond to orders from the Knight Marshall, it was suggested that they might have fallen under the influence of the Nosta Kar.
Equally strange happenings appeared to be occurring within the Forest of Dre Moor, where scout units were disappearing without trace.
It was to discuss such matters, and others, that a Council of War was called for the second month of 1099. Representatives from all across Avalon were summoned to Camelot, from where they were to depart to a secret location, in order to make their plans without interruption from the Nosta Kar.
Alas, when the representatives attending this council arrived, the destination, the Wellspring, seemed not to be as secret as expected , for they were attacked by chaos forces. Once this problem had been dealt with, discussions as to the course of the war continued. A declaration of martial law was issued, giving powers to the sheriffs and knights of Avalon to enforce order for the good of the war effort. It was also decided that Knight Marshall Weller was insufficiently experienced to be able to conduct a large scale war, and so he was replaced by Korin of Claw Keep, the leader of Krieg’s Regulators, who had achieved notable successes in the Gathering honour battles of 1097 and 1098 as the commander of the renowned Blob Company. The existence of a hitherto secret unit, The Forge, which had been formed by drawing troops from all the military units in Avalon, was revealed. Finally, letters had appeared mysteriously, claiming that the next target of the Nosta Kar would be Bilge. Whilst the source of these letters was uncertain, it was clear to all that they gave the best indication of the Nosta Kar’s plans. During the debates, it became clear that the location of the council had been even less secret than the attacks of chaos creatures suggested. First, refugees from Belec appeared, although, failing as they did to recognise the Baron of Belec, the Admiral Struan Roberts, some Nosta Kar interference was suggested, and the refugees were despatched to Camelot for evaluation. Then the Nosta Kar struck, their troops brutally killing Walker of Haven, also known as Leopard of the Children of Malar, who was at the time head of the Walkers. Contemptuously, they tossed his body onto the conference table.
Further problems at the Council were encountered when, amongst others, Gan, Lord Reaver and Lord Ivan, all acting under some influence the identity of which is, at least to this author not known, attacked Lord Nexus, claiming that he was a spy. Somewhat put out, Lord Nexus resigned his position as Keeper of the Secret Seal, and left, the guards of the Wellspring claiming that they saw a demon form flying away from that place. By this time, the King believed that there could be a traitor on the Council, which fact would explain the presence of so many attackers at a supposedly secret location. However, when he took them all to the magical Arena of Truth, the King was able to find no deception in any of the Council members. How the Nosta Kar gained the knowledge they did is still unknown.
Having returned from the War Council, the new Knight Marshall set to work. Three legions, the First, Third and Fifth were ordered to Bilge, to prepare for the anticipated attack. The remnants of the Fleet were readied to launch a diversionary attack on the Shipyard, in an attempt to allow the Skaven of Avalon, who had formed alliances with the Lions to attack the food supplies held there, attacks which certainly served to annoy the Nosta Kar. Other Legions were deployed around Avalon to prepare for further actions. Not all was going well, however. Infuriated by the continuing presence of the Drow Legion on their front doorstep, Ugluk ordered all non-Orcs, with the exception of the Plainswalkers off Belcher’s Isle , and had the bridge withdrawn and the ritual circles sealed. Apparently Ugluk had consulted Belch (a sort of Ancestral Boss Orc) himself about the risk posed by the Nosta Kar, and Belch had replied in terms that suggested that the Nosta Kar were nothing to worry about. This goes to show that Ancestors can, occasionally, be wrong.
On the night of the twenty eighth day of the second month of 1099, in what was to prove to be his last report, Widget reported that fresh food supplies had been rifted to the Gateway from Belec and that six Nosta Kar regiments were mobilising. That night, large numbers of Nosta Kar troops rifted onto Belch’s Isle. South Ninan and Torhas Ithlien were taken in short order. The Plainswalkers were besieged in their fortress of Tar Limmen, but by valiant efforts resisted, for the time being at least, the Nosta Kar’s attempts to dislodge them. At this point, all contact between the Lions and the Orcs of Belcher’s Fat Dogs, who were last known to have withdrawn to their holds in the Thak Tarkhan Mountains was lost. Unfortunately, the Nosta Kar failed at this point to attack the college of Master Earth of the Mages Guild, which was located on Belcher’s Isle. Imagining what the Tome of Earth could have made of the Nosta Kar is quite an entertaining way of spending a boring evening.
Meanwhile, the Nosta Kar completed the first ship which they had started constructing in the Shipyard, and set to work on others. At the Gateway, it seems, after providing much important information, and performing acts that went well and above the call of duty, Widget and his companions were captured by the Nosta Kar, and, according to the reports of those closest to them, most notably Privates Tom and Bob of the Avalonian Militia, were executed.
At the same time, in Dre Moor, yet more troops disappeared without trace. Lions forces were withdrawn, being unable to sustain such heavy losses from an unknown source.
By the third month of 1099 the war had settled down somewhat, as both sides gathered their forces and prepared to make their next move. The Lions also prepared for the great Spring Festival, to be held that year on Eagg Isle, within the Duchy of Bilge. It was decided to proceed with this festival, despite the circumstances of the war, to prove to ourselves, to the Nosta Kar and to the known worlds that the Lions would not be bowed, that whilst we lived, we did so in hope and joy, and that no force, no matter how mighty could prevent the Lions from celebrating when we wanted to. The King agreed to relax the conditions imposed by martial law, to allow people to mingle and celebrate as much as they liked – every Lion was ready to enjoy themselves.
It was not surprising, with hindsight, that the Nosta Kar were interested in the festival. We had been warned that they would strike at Bilge, and any gathering of so many Lions, and so many of the leading Lions at that, was always going to be a tempting target for them. Nobody ‘though could have guessed the nature of their intent. From the very start, they harried the festival, sending troops, (mostly Orcoids, wearing the red livery of the Nosta Kar general, Arkhan, although a few seemed to be magic users, and wore the green of the Nosta Kar known as Hotep), who transported into the festival, seized Lions as prisoners, and then transported off again. Some few of these troops were caught, but by no means enough. Meanwhile, seeming bandits, who appeared to be linked to the Nosta Kar harried the festivities, whilst spies of our foes infiltrated our ranks to such a degree that they were able to threaten the safety of Queen Sapphire. Others were able to penetrate to the heart of the camp, and stole the war banner from the command tent, although their attempt to steal the throne was countered by the swift actions of the Prince Bishop’s Men and the Knights of Dros Brennan. There was, however, an interesting offer of aid that came to us at the Spring Festival.
Lord Red Mist, lost for so long, reappeared, and was able to take up once again his position as Cheif Whip. With him came none other then the Dark One. It transpired that Red Mist had been captured, and cruelly tortured, by the forces of the Raven. The forces of the Dark One had aided him on the condition that he presented the Dark One to the Lions under the seal of diplomatic protection. Not unreasonably, Red Mist agreed, and, being an honourable man, stuck to his side of the bargain and presented the Dark One to the Lions at the Spring Festival as a diplomatic envoy. The Dark One, who is, in every sense, the opposite of the King, the nightmare side of Avalon’s dream had an interesting proposal. Liking the Nosta Kar no more than we did, he proposed that an alliance should be drawn up between his unliving forces and the (very much alive) Lions, in order that we might fight the Nosta Kar together. Not surprisingly there were more than a few who disagreed with this idea. The King himself stated that he would never personally agree to sign an alliance with the Dark One, being his complete opposite, but suggested that if the Council really felt that it was necessary then he would not stand in their way on the matter. Others thought the idea worthy of some consideration, Gan going so far as to put forward a proposed treaty for discussion. The matter was shelved, however, for the time being, the intention being to discuss it at some point in the near future. After the events of the Parliament of 1099, of course, that will no longer prove necessary.
In addition to the attacks by bandits, and Nosta Kar troops, the Spring Festival also suffered from an infestation of Nosta Kar agents, who kept trying to persuade us to change sides. They were remarkably stubborn, and no sooner was one set politely expelled then another appeared. Most irritating of all was one Ebel n’Chepren, originally an inhabitant of Belec, who had been captured and re-educated to be a loyal servent of Chepren, the leader of the Nosta Kar, and who, for some time had taken to abbling of his loyalties and issuing threats, across the leys. Appearing late on the second night of the Festival, he claimed diplomatic immunity, which Lady Josephine in her mercy agreed to extend to him. Sadly Master L’Chepren apparently failed to appreciate just how dangerous things could be at a Lions’ Festival after dark, and, having strayed from the safety of the tavern tent, he appeared to, rather literally, lose his head, obviously becoming a victim of one of the various nasties which were prowling the night.
Eventually, the Lions were able to strike back. Using information gained from captured Nosta Kar troops, and from the “usual sources” (I have no idea what these are, but our information gatherers always seem to have a large collection of them ready in case of need), we were able to assertain where it was that the Nosta Kar were keeping the prisoners which they had taken. Fortunately, this was not far away, in a small fortification. The Lions were mustered, and after some changes to the Council were announced (Lord Couger replaced Sir Ormadu as Defender, and Philleas Doyle was appointed as High Sherrif, replacing Lord Cheetah), and having been inspired by one of the Kings’ rousing speeches, the Lions’ forces marched to the rescue. Sadly, having suffered a knee injury earlier in the Festival (incurred, I must emphasise, whilst I was running into combat, not as the report of Sir Lemming McYokel reported as a result of a fall out of the ritual circle), I could not march with the Lions to that fight, and instead remained to provide some sort of guard for the camp. However, I spoke to many who fought on that day, and all report that it was a fierce fight, and that it was with some difficulty, and some casualties, that the Lions managed to force their way through the defences of the Nosta Kar troops. Eventually, however, the might of the Lions prevailed, and our forces returned to camp victorious.
With them, they brought a great prize. For, in the midst of that fight, our gallant troops had captured Mythrais, that one of the Nosta Kar who had so foully decieved the Order of the One, who had been so arrogantly contemptuous of the Lions. If the treatment and interrogation of this prisoner was perhaps slightly more brutal than some of the stricter codes of honour would allow, then such lapses are understandable. Really, when all that the Nosta Kar had released on the Lions upto that point is considered, we showed a remarkable degree of mercy in our treatment of Mythrais. He died very quickly.
The Nosta Kar were, not suprisingly, not happy at this turn of events. They sent emissaries, threatening to kill thousands of prisoners if we did not submit immediately, questioning whether any one of us would be willing to take upon themselves the guilt of being responsible for all of those deaths. Once again, the Nosta Kar showed how little they understand us. They seem incapable of perceiving just how determined we are, how implaccable we intend to remain in the face of any threat or bluster, or any act of cruelty. They do not seem to understand that thousands of Avalonians would gladly give their very lives if it meant that the People and the Land could be preserved from the threat of the Nosta Kar. As you may have guessed by now, these emissaries demands were dismissed out of hand. The emissaries left, declaring that a large army was descending upon us, and would crush us all. Our scouts soon reported that an army was indeed , nearly upon us.
And so the stage was set for what was to be the bloodiest battle of the war at that point, and quite possibly to this day. The Battle of Eagg Isle.
After a muster, at which the King announced the decision taken by himself and the Council that there was to be no retreat in the face of the Nosta Kar threats, the Lions readied themselves for battle. It was decided to defend the camp site, which had the advantage of being surrounded by a high wall, with one reasonably narrow gateway. The Prince Bishop’s Men formed their near legendary shield-wall in the right of the gateway, well aware that it would that day have to stand such charges as are rarely recorded in the annals of history. To their left, towards the centre of the gateway were the heavily armoured Knights of Dros Brennan. Massed on the left hand side of the gateway was a collection of the most heavily armed and armoured and the finest warriors of the other units in the Lions, supported by the Gryphons of the de St Pauls merenary company. Behind this line of steel, the bulk of the rest of our forces were drawn up. Behind the gateway, the ground sloped up, at the top of this slope, in line with the Lions centre the King and others of the senior Lions took their place with the Sir Galahad’s Lancers, who formed our reserve. To the left of the reserve stood the less heavily armoured healers, under the leadership of Gan, who bore the cup of life and of Vixen of the Children of Malar. Close by was a unit of the most heavily armoured healers, those who were skilled equally in the arts of healing and of war, who were led by Lifegiver. Over on the right, and towards the front line the Prince Bishop gathered a number of incantors, ready to strike with the powers of the ancestors wherever they were needed. Lions’ Mages too took up their positions, behind the front line. All was in readiness. In total something in the region of one hundred Lions, with assorted allied from other factions, stood prepared to die for each yard of Avalonian soil, each determined to give every drop of their blood in the defence of that camp. In truth I think that most of us there that day believed in the depths of our hearts that that day would be our last, so great were the odds we faced. But still we stood, proud and ready, some perhaps with that faint hope that came from the knowledge that three of the Legions of Avalon were marching with all speed for Bilge, and that all we would have to do was hold, hold, hold until they arived. Hold and hope. And then the Nosta Kar came.
Like the waves whipped by a great storm battering at rocks they came and smashed against our lines. And like those rocks that have stood through centuries of storms and gales so our line held firm as the troops of the Nosta Kar threw themselves against our front. For a brief while the battle held in the balance, as both sides heaved and pressed, swords and axes flashing bright, arrows flying like rain, spells blasting at the ranks. Until gradually at first, and then more and more and more frequently, the Nosta Kar line began to falter, and as one, the Lions advanced. In good order we moved, the blue and the gold of the Prince Bishop’s Men bright in contrast to the greens and blacks of the warriors of Dros Brennan, the eye of the One, the claw of Malar, the phoenix of the Phoenix Guard, and a dozen more badges besides, as one they advanced, and threw back the Nosta Kar. By now Lifegiver and his companions had entered the fray, hewing down foe and healing friend alike, and the Prince Bishop took the field, with the incantors of the Lions, striking like lightning with the wrath of the Ancestors. Together it was that they threw back the Nosta Kar, back onto theirnown ranks. But for every follower of the Nosta Kar who fell to the bright swords of the Lions, another five stood ready to take their place, and swiftly they regrouped, and swiftly the Lions fell back, back to the gateway, ready once more to hold that ground for Avalon.
Now it was that the unarmoured healers plied their trade, as wounded Lions there werein great numbers, some hobbling on their own, others supported by comrades, yet more remaining where they had fallen, waiting for the healers who darted between them. And mighty works of healing were worked that day, as mighty as the feats of arms on the field itself. Some of the wounded recieved the attentions of threee healers at once, the only way that they could hope to live to fight on, some were even more gravely wounded, and only the powers of the Cup of Life, or of Lifegiver himself could save them. But, for all of their noble efforts there were some they could not help, for even in that first clash, there were some Lions who fell, and would rise no more.
Again and again the Nosta Kar threw their strength against our lines, battering furiously with weapons of steel and of magic, and time and time again our forces first held and then advanced , smashing into the mass of Nosta Kar followers. But time and again, the Nosta Kar regrouped their forces and attacked anew, forcing us back to that gate. And time and again the healers worked their arts, drawing back their fellows from the brink of death, to send them out anew against the implaccable foe. But as the day drew on, and the attacks of the Nosta Kar continued, so there were more and more Lions who the healers could not hope to aid. Gradually, by sheer weight of numbers alone, the Nosta Kar were waring our forces down, man by man.
The Nosta Kar, it seems, wished to speed up this process, and sent forth a strike squad. Scaling the wall unobserved, this force fell upon the unarmoured healers, evidently hoping to cut down the Lions source of aid. Several of the healers fell quickly to the blades of their attackers, but others managed to escape, and by the time the Nosta Kar troops tried to pursue them the King, along with the reserve, had fallen upon them, easily dispatching them. The healers who remained conscious swiftly revived their fallen , and went back to their task. The King meanwhile, led the reserve into the field of battle.
The battle had by now reached a crucial phase. The numbers of Lions dead and seriously wounded meant that it was growing increasinly difficult to hold the gateway of the camp. To fall back would leave one option, to withdraw from the field and hope the Nosta Kar did not follow, to go forwards was to advance in the face of uncalculable odds, leaving what little safety the gateway provided. Many of the councillors urged caution, advising that the King should withdraw, rescuing what parts of the army could be saved, but the King would have none of it, and so, once more, the Lions and their allies advanced.
The ferocity of this stage of the fighting knew no bounds, the King, and the Prince Bishop, and all those present threw themselves on the Nosta Kar with the fury and strength of the truely desperate and determined. In a fierce struggle, that cost the lives of many valiant Lions, the banner, stolen earlier in the Festival, was recovered. Mages and Healers whose powers were exausted took up swords and daggers now, and hacked at the foe, ‘though they had only robes to protect them. Brave warriors hurled themselved again and again at the Nosta Kar lines, striving with all they had, fighting ’till they were overwhelmed. Many were the bold men and women who fell, and for a while it looked as though that desperate charge would be all in vain, as though despite the valiant efforts of our comrades, it would all be for nought, and that the Nosta Kar tide would o’erwhelm us all. But then, slowly, inch by tortured, struggling inch, the tide began to turn. More and more the gaps opened by our furious charges into the Nosta Kar ranks were remaining unfilled, more and more there were fewer and fewer foes facing us. On one flank, the Nosta Kar Hotep almost fell to Lifegiver, and his band of armoured healers, escaping only by the use of his magic, and by the movements of the battle. And then it happened. Apparently losing faith in the much vaunted invulnerability of their forces, those Nosta Kar who were present fled the field. Their troops seemed to lose heart at this, and many turned to flee. Most fell to the avenging blows of the Lions and their allies.
And then, of a sudden, it was over.
And we looked, and realised that we were both alive and victorious, and joy blossomed in our hearts.
And then we looked again. And we saw our fallen. And we saw empty spaces where friends should have stood. And the joy vanished, and we knew despair.
For whilst it was that the Nosta Kar could number their dead in hundreds, so it was that of those who had come in joy to celebrate the Spring Festival, close on a quarter did not live to see its close. The Prince Bishop’s Men alone had lost one third of their number attending, the de St. Pauls mercenary company of the Gryphons three quarters. There was scarce a unit in the faction that had not lost some of its number, not a one amongst us who did not lose a good friend on that bloody field. Knight Marshall Korin was amongst the fallen, as were Kyot, Knight Captain of the Prince Bishop’s Men and one of the most experienced commanders of the Lions, and Pike, newly appointed Huntmaster of the Children of Malar and Commander of the Forge, both of whom had been tipped as replacements for Korin should any fate befall the Knight Marshall. Two of the three Avatars of Avalon, The Essence and The Protector had been returned to the Land, whilst death had claimed Struan Roberts, the Admiral of the Fleet, and with him Riptide, newly appointed as Deputy High Sherrif. On and on the list reads, Kelvar of Shannock Gareth Dell, Ramat of the Phoenix Guard, Luther Tendrael, High Ritualist of the Prince Bishop’s Men, the list goes on.
Weep Avalon, weep for your fallen, weep for those who will no more walk amongst us, weep for those whose sacrifice means we live, and fight, Avalon, fight with all you are and all you have, fight until the last, to ensure they did not die in vain.
From Eagg Isle To The Present
The period after the Battle of Eagg Isle was a period of regathering and readjustment. The Nosta Kar, driven from Bilge by the approach of the Legions, and by the efforts of the defenders of Eagg Isle, drew their plans, and continued with the construction of vessels at the Shipyard. The Lions meanwhile reorganised, and pressed on. Xandor Robinton of the Knights of Dros Brennan and Kalamar Winter were appointed as Knight Marshalls Elect, the decision on which was to take the position ultimately being put off for the time being. Phyllius Doyle having felt himself unable to take the post of High Sheriff due to family commitments, and his deputy Riptide having fallen at Eagg Isle, Benedict Darkendale of the Phoenix Guard was appointed to that post.
And then the Nosta Kar commenced operations again, and normal service was resumed. Throughout the fifth month of 1099, the presence of what were presumed to be Nosta Kar spies was reported across Avalon, at Gorlas Ferry Post, the Wellspring and Dros Brennann. Information from Lions’ scouts at the Gateway suggested that spies returning from the Spring Festival had made detailed reports on our plans and strengths, and that moves were afoot to assassinate the new commander of the Forge, Quentin Arunsun. The Nosta Kar didn’t have everything their own way, as reports from Belec spoke of a group of five, four female and one male, who wiped out a Nosta Kar outpost, leaving only a bloody handprint on the shields and banners of the slain. Then, however, the Nosta Kar struck back.
For some time the Knights of Dros Brennan had been cultivating a friendship with a large settlement of chaos creatures, who lived at Parson Val. These creatures had agreed to help the Lions in their struggle with the Nosta Kar. As many of the creatures were winged, their aid would have been all the more valuable to our cause. Somehow, the Nosta Kar learned of this. On the night of the twenty sixth day of the fifth month of 1099 six Nosta Kar regiments rifted to Parson Val and destroyed it, killing every single living being, adult and young, male and female, soldier and civilian. They took time to leave a single message “Your flying allies will never aid you now” . And then they rifted away. This was no act of war against a military target. Military targets tend to include fortifications, and armed and armoured defenders. Children are not often found there. This was murder. More worrying, the action at Parson Val was not the lowest of all of the Nosta Kar’s actions that was yet to come.
At this point some better news was most sorely needed to raise the hearts of the Lions and of Avalon. That news came with the tremendous victory achieved by the Lions’ Pride team in the Heartland Games. Together, the Lions’ team, led by the King and by Xandor Robinton, took on the best that Edreja could muster (and the Exiles as well) and won, proving just how it was that we would beat the Nosta Kar – by working together, each utilising the skills, abilities and character of the other to the best effect. Even at the Heartland Games we couldn’t completely be free of the Nosta Kar – reports indicated that their agents had been spotted around the place offering gold for the heads of the members of the Lions’ team and of any other Lions. But seeing as, by that point, at least three if not four groups were said to be offering gold for the murder of the Lions’ team, we weren’t overly concerned. Personally, I found it rather flattering.
Soon however, the Heartland Games, and the celebrations that followed our victory, were over, and the war continued. On the 20th day of the sixth month of 1099, a Nosta Kar force rifted into the barony of Warfield, and proceeded to completely destroy the Gryphon’s Lwgion that had been assembling there. The Nosta Kar were apparently attempting to drive a wedge between the Lions and their trusted allies, by threatening the allies. It is to the great credit of the friendship of the Gryphons that they did not succeed. The Nosta Kar also showed brutality similar to that which they had displayed at Parson Val, by deliberately collapsing the roofs and ceilings of the tunnels beneath the Shipyard, which were home to our Skaven allies. Many were killed. Meanwhile, intelligence sources showed that the Nosta Kar were continuing their ship building programme, and revealed that the Nosta Kar’s next target would be the town of Stoneforge, that lies to the west of Alderley and to the south-south-east of the capital town of the Earldom of Melyan. The decision was made that to defend Stoneforge would be impossible, and all the inhabitants were safely evacuated. The Nosta Kar duly took Stoneforge early in the seventh month of 1099. Melyan itself fell shortly afterwards, but a Nosta Kar attack on the Barony of Capel Fey was anticipated, and a Regiment of their troops was soundly defeated by Lions forces, the survivors retreating back to Belec.
This was the period of the great Moots of the Factions, and representatives of the Lions duly took their places amongst envoys from the nations of Edreja. This was the first opportunity for many of us to meet with representatives of the Sequoia tribe of Dre’ Moor, who had come among us since the Spring Festival. They told of how the Soul-Elves of the Forest of Dre’Moor had come to be aware of the movements of the forces of ourselves and the Nosta Kar. The tribes of Dre’Moor had taken council with one another, and it had been decided to send the Sequoia tribe to the Lions, and the Rowan tribe to the Nosta Kar, with instructions to monitor both us and our foes, and report on us to their fellows so that, at a pre-determined date, the Elves of Dre’Moor could decide whether it would be in the better interests of the Forest to side with the Lions or against them. It was the Elves of Dre’Moor, or perhaps it would be more accurate to say that it was the Forest of Dre’Moor, that the Sequoia and the other tribes know as the Dreamer, itself, that had been responsible for the earlier disappearances of Lions troops in the area. These troops, it appeared had been taken into custody, in a manner of speaking, to preserve the security of Dre’Moor. Although, at first, there was more than a little mutual suspicion between the Lions and the Sequoia, with the Lions perhaps unnerved by the Sequoia’s repeated assertions that the rights or wrongs of our conflict with the Nosta Kar mattered less to them than the overall interest of the Forest of Dre’Moor, and the Sequoia perhaps failing to appreciate quite how much the Lions cared for Avalon, it soon became clear that, if they could be persuaded to join our cause, the elves of Dre’Moor could provide valuable aid in the struggle with the Nosta Kar.
In the meantime however, the Lions had other things to worry about. The first of the two great Moots, that took place in the last week of the sixth month of 1099 attracted Nosta Kar spies and agents in their hundreds. As well as trying to infiltrate our camp, and discover our secrets, the word came out that they were starting to visit the camps of other Factions, trying to ingratiate themselves with the leaders and people of Edreja. On the second day of that Moot, it was decided to launch a full scale clear up of these agents. Fortunately for us, all the Nosta Kar agents had upon them, presumably to enable easy communication between them, a sash of red cloth. This enabled us to identify them with considerable ease. It is true that there were some innocent bystanders caught up in this search simply because they had chosen to wear red sashes, but such are the penalties of being fashion conscious. They were not too inconvenienced.
However, for all of the efforts of their agents, the Nosta Kar could not prevent the Lions from pressing on with the struggle. During the second Moot, two forces set forth from the camp of the Lions. The first successfully attacked a Nosta Kar supply train in Belec, thus hindering the Nosta Kar’s war effort. The second, investigating reports of a Nosta Kar presence in the area, travelled to the Guardian, that great mountain peak that rises out of the rolling hills to the North East of the city of Marse. Despite encountering stiff resistance, this party was successful in wiping out a large number of Nosta Kar, and potentially more importantly, in recovering a number of weapons which reportedly could be capable of harming the Nosta Kar whilst rendering the wielder immune to the Nosta Kar’s powers of retribution.
At this time, the Nosta Kar sought to divide the Lions amongst themselves, by sending messages to the Sir Galahad’s Lancers offering them favourable terms should they agree to betray Avalon and join the Nosta Kar’s cause. The Lancers, of course, being true Lions, treated such communications with the contempt and disdain which they deserved, and thus ensured that the Lions were able to go forwards together, united as ever against our common foe.
The Nosta Kar were seemingly unable to take advantage of the distraction caused by the Dark One’s siege of Fulcrum in the first week of the seventh month of 1099, and we reached the time of the great Gathering of Factions, in the last week of the eighth month of the year with situation in the war virtually unchanged since the time of the Moots. It was of no real surprise that the Nosta Kar chose the time of the Gathering, when so many of the most prominent Lions, and senior representatives of the peoples of Erdreja, were gathered in the same place.
As at the Moots, Nosta Kar agents abounded, many of them seeking to open communications with the other Factions and with the Guilds. Most obviously, they sent envoys to the Tarantula Faction, apparently hoping to be able to use the Tarantulan Underdark to gain entry to the Avalonian Underdark, or to seek to gain influence with the Avalonian Drow through their Edrejan cousins. According to the Tarantulas, these envoys were given short shrift, although recent events may be seen as, at the least, casting some doubt on that matter. Certainly, it was only a short time later that reports came in that the Nosta Kar had occupied the Mines of Scree in large numbers. It was thanks mainly to the swift actions of those people who had assumed positions upon the Council for the duration of people’s day, most notably the Lord General Cuddles, and the Grand-Arch-Duchess Lemming, that this threat to Avalon’s security did not lead to any military disaster. Giant Moles of the sort found on Eagg Isle, who had been specially trained by Lemming McYokel, were dispatched, and were successful in bringing down the tunnels on top of the Nosta Kar troops, thus exacting some revenge for the collapsing of the Skaven’s tunnels a couple of months before.
Throughout the Gathering, the Nosta Kar also launched direct attacks upon the Lions camp. These attacks were driven off, but not without loss. The Earl Cougar, Defender of the Lions since the Spring Festival was slain by what appeared to be some form of a fire elemental, which was commanded by a follower of the Nosta Kar wearing the brown livery of the Nosta Kar Fendhal. This individual is also reported to have hurled magic of the sort known as a “magebolt” at one of our number, calling upon the powers of the “Progenitor”, the Ancestor of the Nosta Kar to do so. The Lord Cougar was replaced upon the Council by Earl Grey, who assumed the title of Regulator, in honour of the memory of Kreig’s Regulators, the unit of whom he was a member, who, with the death of Knight-Marshall Korin at Eagg Isle had been virtually wiped out. Also as a result of the death of Knight-Marshal Korin, Xandor Robinton was appointed to the position of Knight Marshall, having been Knight Marshall elect in company with Kalamar Winter since the death of Korin. Further changes to the Council were necessary due to the failure of any members of Belcher’s Fat Dogs to present themselves at the Gathering. Their continued absence from our ranks, and the continued absence of any word from them, suggested that they may have defected to the Nosta Kar. Ugluk’s position as Strike Leader was therefore taken by Tarod of the Plainswalkers, some of whom, having endured months of siege at Tar Limmen, had managed to escape even as that fortress fell, and had made their way to join with the Lions once again. Lord Gan was officially appointed to the position of Keeper of the Secret Seal. Changes to the Leadership of the Lions also occurred with the defection of most of the Brotherhood from the Lions to the Tarantulas, as Lady Zavra, formerly the Lions Master Healer, and Tim the Enchanter, formally our High Mage, were amongst those who left.
The Nosta Kar attacks continued even after the death of Cougar. In one, particularly nasty attack, the Nosta Kar made use of a magical device which allowed them to seize control of the minds of those who attacked them, thus meaning that they could send Lions and our allies against us. It was only with some difficulty that this attack was driven back, with the aid of allies from the Gryphons once again proving invaluable. What was to prove even more interesting about this attack was that the Nosta Kar forces included members of the Rowan tribe of Dre’Moor, whom it will be remembered had been sent to observe the Nosta Kar as the Sequoia had been sent to observe the Lions.
Members of the Sequoia, already alarmed that the Rowan had missed the meeting of the tribes of Dre’Moor where the reports of the Sequoia and Rowan were due to be discussed, closely questioned those of the Rowan who had been captured in the attack. It soon became clear that the Rowan had fallen completely under the domination of that Nosta Kar known as Deleya, who, when the Nosta Kar ruled Avalon in eons past was the mistress of Avalonian Elves, and now looked upon her as their ruler, rather than Dre’Moor. Concerned, the tribes of Dre’Moor discussed the matter, and came to the conclusion that an alliance with the Lions would be better for the Dreamer than one with the Nosta Kar. It can not have been an easy decision to make, for if we are honest we must admit that any independent military authority would have no doubt that the Nosta Kar are in the stronger position militarily, and their eventual triumph must seem, to an unbiased observer inevitable. But, it was clearly the right decision, as Deleya’s enslavement of the Rowan shows clearly that had they opted to join with the Nosta Kar, the tribes of Dre’Moor could not expect the Nosta Kar to honour and respect their way of life as the Lions do. An alliance between the Lions and the tribes of Dre’Moor was swiftly drawn up.
All to soon the Gathering came to an end, and it was time to continue with the war. In Belec and Stoneforge operations by the Forge continued to be successful in disrupting the Nosta Kar’s forces, eliminating patrols, harrying supply lines and freeing prisoners, whilst the operations of the Outriders under Ralaman proved similarly effective. The Legions were redeployed for further action. Incoming intelligence increasingly suggested that the Nosta Kar were aiming to recover something from the Lost Isle, in an attempt to revive the Progenitor, their Ancestor. A quite unexpected development occurred at God’s Eye Fortress when the Enchantress Nimue, she who was both pupil and paramour to Merlin, and who had first guided the Lions through the Mists to Avalon in our return to The Land, appeared and cast some form of incantation upon the doorway that exists in that place, a doorway sealed centuries ago by the combined powers of The Land and of Merlin, behind which it has been suggested lies the body of the Progenitor. Meanwhile, the Nosta Kar continued with their ship building programme – completing a fourth warship and starting work on a fifth, larger vessel. At the Gateway, they began to mobilise their regiments, and commenced the construction of heavy siege engines. Obviously, a major assault somewhere was planned, both Camelot and New Durholme, the nearest cities to the Gateway were suggested as potential targets, and troops everywhere stood ready for the next assault.
But when the next assault came it was no great siege, it involved no clash of military forces. It was an act of murder, plain and simple. And the victim was a babe, not yet four months old. At the meeting of the Healer’s Guild, in their newly opened Guildhouse in New Durholme, Silver Tel Kabartech, new born son of Xavin Larsson, formerly Master Healer and Sergeant of Amber Lance of the Prince Bishop’s Men, and at that time acting Grandmaster of the Healer’s Guild, and Velachi Kabartech, Larsson’s successor as Master Healer of the Prince Bishop’s Men, was killed. He was poisoned, it was later revealed, by a servant working for the Nosta Kar. Why the Nosta Kar struck in this way who can tell ? Maybe it was that being averse to the powers of Healing as we know that they are, the Nosta Kar feared the Healing power that the child of two people so strong in the Healing powers themselves could possess. Maybe they wished merely to spread, fear and panic and paranoia amongst the people of Avalon, by showing that nobody, nowhere was safe from their brutality. Or maybe they just did it because they’re a petty, spiteful group who can gain pleasure only by inflicting cruelty, hurt and misery on those less powerful than themselves. For myself, I believe it may have been a combination of all these reasons that prompted the Nosta Kar to act, but at the end of the day, their reasons do not matter. What matters is that Silver Tel Kabartech is remembered, and that one day, justice is done. The Prince Bishop’s Men remember, as do all the Lions, and one day, doubt me not, justice for this crime will be done. It is an occupational hazard of all historians that we can tend to demonise, unjustly, the foes of our people. By the murder of Silver Kabartech, if by none other of all the great list of their atrocities and brutalities, the Nosta Kar have shown that they do not need me to demonise them, their very actions speak for them. By the murder of Silver Kabartech they show just what the order they stand for involves, and they show why we must fight them, with all we have, and all that we are, fight them to the last, fight even when hope seems gone, when friends lie dead, fight so that they may never extend such a rule over the People of Avalon.
It was a pleasant surprise when the Nosta Kar failed to put in an appearance at the Lions’ Parliament that was held in the middle of the eleventh month of 1099 at the Resting of the Valiant in the barony of Artos. For, whilst we suffered greatly from the attentions of the Dark One, until he was at last stuffed into Samuel’s hot water bottle, the Nosta Kar didn’t bother to attack us directly. It would be nice to think that it was because they had learned at Eagg Isle that attacking Lions when we are in a tight corner is not wise behaviour, but alas, I fear that it is more likely that a combination of the Dark One’s power, and confusion arising from the sudden change of venue of the Parliament from Kirby Muxloe to the Resting of the Valiant prevented them from attending. Still, the Parliament did have some impact upon the war, for it was the occasion of yet more changes to the Leadership of the Lions. Lords Gan and Fitzbryan de Wolf were slain, valiantly fighting the forces of the dark, and were thus succeeded as Keeper of the Secret Seal and Viceroy to the Guilds by Joason, who since the death of Struan Roberts had held the position of Admiral of the Fleet, and the Lady Ella Darkendale respectively. The shock resignation of the Lady Josephine meant that the Lord Ivan Shoshonay assumed the position of 2IC to the King, despite the fact that he was kidnapped, presumably by the forces of the Dark One, at the Parliament and is yet to be found. Queen Sapphire stepped up to take the position of 3IC, a post that would have gone to Fitzbryan de Wolf had he not perished. Lord Reaver, who had resigned as Lord Chamberlain in order to carry out a mission into the perils of the Void was replaced by the Lady Alyssa Darkendale. The Forge, whose commander Sir Quentin Arunsun had been killed by forces of the Dark One at the Parliament, was placed under the command of the Knight Marshall. It was therefore, with a much changed Council and leadership that the Lions returned from the Parliament to take up the war with the Nosta Kar once more.
Within days of the close of the Parliament, the Nosta Kar struck once more, this time from a direction that none could have predicted. Emerging from a large hole in the ground, close to some Underdark tunnels, in Albion, a large Nosta Kar force made their way towards the Vale of Avalon. This force, which appeared to consist of “re-educated” or enslaved Albionians, was harried by Harts forces in the area, but still eighteen hundred or so of them made it to the Vale, and entered the Mists, heading, presumably for the Wellspring Circle in Avalon. As of yet they have not emerged, and it may well be that they have fallen foul of the Mists, it was still, however, a worrying development, for it shows that Nosta Kar attacks may come at us from any direction. Quite how the Nosta Kar were able to enslave a large number of citizens of Albion, if that is who made up the Nosta Kar’s forces, without the knowledge of Queen Elspeth or the rest of the Harts leadership is unclear.
It was at the very end of the year that the Nosta Kar began to make use of the siege weapons which they had constructed. On the twenty seventh day of the twelfth month of 1099, Nosta Kar regiments rifted to Culleny, Dinardan, Linnet, Coarseton, Polbooth and Kirby Muxloe. Using the siege weapons, along with what appears to have been copious quantities of naptha oil, all of these towns and cities were destroyed, their inhabitants killed, imprisoned or driven off, on average no more than ten per cent surviving. First reports indicate that these were military strikes rather than full scale invasions, with the Nosta Kar troops rifting away once their work was done. As speculation on the thinking behind these attacks mounted – were they significant military manoeuvres in their own right, or did they serve only as diversions from some other nefarious scheme of the Nosta Kar ? – news began to arrive of a large scale Nosta Kar raid on the Forest of Dre’Moor, the Nosta Kar troops reportedly using some magical means to burn the trees, thus punishing the Elves of Dre’Moor for allying themselves with the Lions.
And so we reach the present day, or at least what is the present day as I write these words. By the time you read them, the war will have moved on, battles may well have been fought somewhere in Avalon, the front line may have changed for the good of one side or another, but, unless you are reading this some considerable time in the future, I have no doubt that the war will continue. It won’t be over quickly. Make no mistake, it will be a long fight and a hard one, and let us be honest, at the end of the day it will take some winning. But even should the last Lion fall, it will be fighting and spitting defiance all the way, and even should the last Lion end their life in a Nosta Kar cooking pot, they’ll be making sure that they give the Nosta Kar indigestion. We will fight, ‘though the fight be hard and long, we will fight ‘though all hope seems gone and despair stalks the land. We will fight, even ‘though it be with the last ounce of strength in our bodies, with the last drop of blood in our veins. And of one more thing can we be sure. Wherever the Lions do fight, wherever the struggle doth take us, we will fight together, for we are the Lions of Avalon, and no Lion stands alone.