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Dispatches from the Holy Realm

Readying, 593 CY
The Council of Lords has begun discussion on disposition of the
lands and titles formerly belonging to the Gensal noble family. All
members of the Gensal family were killed during the Old Ones
invasion of the Shield Lands and their seat on the Council of Lords
has sat empty since. The recovery of the town of Gensal in late 591
CY began months of speculation about who would be awarded
control. The two most popular (and most likely) possibilities
include the potential division of the lands between surviving lords
controlling nearby holdings or the addition of an entirely new noble
family to the Council of Lords. Awarding the Gensal titles and
lands to a new noble family would be the first step in filling the six
empty seats and returning the council to its original twenty-four
noble houses, whereas dividing the lands would consolidate power
in the hands of fewer noble families.
Obviously this topic is of great concern to all members of the
Council of Lords as well as the common folk and vassals of the
extinct Gensal line. Disposition of the Gensal lands is of particular
importance to at least seven noble families whos own lands share a
common border with the unclaimed holdings. Count Janek Lardon,
the most vocal of the seven families, has also expressed interest in
the disposition of the lands and titles formerly belonging to the
traitor, former Lord Burryne Arbas of South Keep. It is well known
that Count Lardon seeks to expand his family holdings, but until
the fall of the Gensal and Arbas lines, was trapped at the center of
lands held by six larger and wealthier families. A division of either
fallen families lands would allow Count Lardon the opportunity he
has coveted since replacing his father on the Council.
After an extended cold spell full of snow and wind, the Shield Lands
are beginning to return to more typical weather. This comes as
welcome relief to the soldiers of the border forts and the goodfolk
of Tent Town who live under harsh conditions during the best of
times. Sadly, the below freezing temperatures have been replaced
by early spring rains. With much of the ground still frozen, the
resulting runoff has in many places nowhere to go and is creating
large flooded areas where none existed before. Many fear that as
the ground thaws, the water will wash out roads and fields as it
finally is able to move towards the streams and rivers. This, of
course, would be followed by serious flooding in the southern parts
of the nation. Clerics from the Church of All Winds , notably those

of Atroa and Procan, have promised to do all they can to alleviate


any problems caused by flooding to ensure an early spring planting.
Patrols along the border have once again been attacked by Iuzs
hunter killer groups. These attacks come several weeks after the
last reported conflict between forces loyal to Vayne and Waquonis.
The attacks, though just as deadly as previous ones seem better
organized and more focused, particularly near Fort Deterrence east
of Gensal. This has caused immediate fears that the time of
instability in the occupied lands caused by Vayne and Waquonis
dispute may be at an end. Though no reports indicate if one side of
the other has gained a significant advantage, this turn of events
does follow rumors of Iuz turning his baleful gaze upon the
occupied lands to quell the problem before open civil war engulfs
his troops.
Cooperation between Vayne and Waquonis could not have come at
a worse time. Many suspect an attack on South Keep by Shield
Lands forces was planned for the mid spring. Those plans may
have to be accelerated, perhaps as soon as a few weeks, if any
advantage is still to be gained by the confusion and disarray caused
by the months old conflict between Old Ones lackeys.
On the 19th of this month the Shield Lands celebrated the 2nd
anniversary of the completion of Critwall Bridge . The original
bridge was destroyed by retreating Shield Landers during Iuzs
invasion to prevent the Old Ones troops from flooding across into
Furyondy. Because of the width of the Veng/Ritensa River, any
bridge spanning it must be of superior design and craftsmanship.
Though the span of the old bridge was reduced to dust by the
lightning strikes of Heironeous faithful clerics when it was
destroyed, stones from the old bridges foundations were used in
the construction of the new bridge to symbolically link the past and
the present.
The new bridge proved its strength last year when an attack by an
unidentified spellcaster caused a localized earthquake centered on
the bridge. Though the bridge suffered some damage, repairing it
completely took only a few months and traffic across it was stopped
but for only a few days. In a speech to the crowds gathered at the
bridge for the anniversary ceremony Lady Katarina described it as
a symbol of the people of the Shield Lands saying Like this mighty
bridge, we Shield Landers have suffered great hardships in the
past. Yet despite it all we remain strong and ready to face
whatever comes in the future.

Fireseek, 593 CY

The New Year brings with it unusually cold and snow-filled weather,
as temperatures drop well below freezing and snow accumulates
across the Holy Realm. Gusty winds help clear the main streets of
Critwall within a few hours, but side streets and alleys are often
clogged with deep drifts for days. Reports from the outposts along
the northern border tell of even colder temperatures and deeper
snow, and describe that what were muddy roads only a few weeks
ago have now become treacherous, snow-covered frozen ruts that
threaten to twist and break the legs of man and beast alike.
The harsh weather has taken a particular toll on the poor folk of
Tent Town. The Tentfolk suffer during a typical winter and seem to be
far worse off this year after the recent fires that ravaged portions
of the ramshackle village out side Critwalls protective walls.
Thieves, many of whom suffer themselves from lack of adequate
housing and food, plague the Tentfolk daily.
All is not bleak in Tent Town as both the Open Sprit and many of
the local temples do what they can to help the unfortunate Shield
Landers until more of them can return to working manors in the
spring. An odd, but increasingly welcome addition to Tent Town is
a massive half-orc named Mangram. The half breed warrior settled
into his current home by entering the tent of a known thug,
grabbing him by the head and tossing him into the frigid night
without a word. Though many feared the worst at first, the half-orc
has become the unofficial protector of Tent Town and is well liked
by the decent folk and greatly feared by those who would take
advantage of the innocent.
Luckily last years harvest was the largest since Critwall and Bright
Sentry were reclaimed during the Great Northern Crusade.
Despite rumors of plague-ridden grain and repeated raids by the
Old Ones minions seeking to burn and wither crops under the
cover of darkness, the Shield Lands managed to store a surprising
surplus of the 592 CY harvest. With the reoccupation of many
abandoned manors planned for the spring, the Shield Lands may
once again be able to reduce the amount of foodstuffs imported
from nearby nations. With less gold being spent on imported
goods, projects such as recovering abandoned manors and villages,
rebuilding the once-great roads of the Shield Lands and fueling the
gold hungry war-machine of the War of Reclamation can receive
increased funding.
Inside Critwall Keep, the Council of Lords has convened the first
Council session for the New Year. As always since its inception, the
council voted unanimously to uphold the Proclamation of Service.
The Proclamation of Service was first begun in Coldeven, 590 CY as
a way to ensure that all Shield Landers participated productively in
the War of Reclamation. In its simplest terms, the Proclamation of

Service requires every able-bodied person dwelling within the


Shield Lands to contribute their skills to the best of their ability.
Farmers and herders are expected to farm and tend their herds to
help feed the people, craftsmen are expected to practice their craft
at fair prices to ensure adequate necessities for local use and for
export in exchange for much needed items not available locally and
soldiers are expected to man the defenses of the Holy Realm. Of
particular note, the Proclamation of Service was also responsible
for the creation of the well-known Pathfinders. Like all other
Shield Landers, Pathfinders are expected to use their skills in the
War of Reclamation, but whereas the common man may have years
of experience tending crops, Pathfinders typically have more
specialized skills, making them excellent weapons in the battle
against the Old One.
Many expect the Council to spend most of the first session
discussing a possible attack on South Keep in the spring. Most
have expected such an offensive for some time, but after the
surprising victories at Torkeep and Gensal in 591 CY, the Shield
Lands army and the Knights of Holy Shielding were stretched far
too thinly for a major offensive against the Old Ones minions. Still,
reports of open conflict between troops loyal to Vayne and those
loyal to Waquonis still arrive daily and most feel that now is the
time to take another bold step towards defeating Iuz once and for
all. The outspoken Lord Torkeep has openly supported the idea of
an assault on South Keep. Rumors say Knight Bannerette Incosee
of the Bronze Band (Lady Katarinas second in command of the
Knights of Holy Shielding) agrees with the Count of Torkeep and is
determining the feasibility of such a plan for the Knight
Commander and the other lords of the Council. These rumors are
supported by reports from soldiers returning from the border
telling of increased patrols in the vicinity of South Keep by
members of the Bronze Band and the Greycloaks.
Reports from the occupied lands bring dire news of new allies and
powerful visitors to the camps of both Vayne in Laws Forge and
Waquonis in Admundfort. Pathfinders and Shield Knights in the
northern occupied lands have encountered Vaynes troops being led
by unidentified bands of mercenaries bearing the symbol of a black
hand on a blood red field. These troops seem to be under the
mercenaries direct control, but are working in cooperation with
the traitor Lord Arbas and his forces who serve Vayne directly.
A number of captured enemies have reluctantly reported that Iuzs
priests are in a flurry over the impending arrival of an important
envoy from the Old One. After more strenuous questioning they
admitted that whoever is coming makes even the normally arrogant
priests of Iuz concerned. Most assume that word has reached
Dorakaa of the open conflict between Vayne and Waquonis and the

Old One has ordered an end to the petty bickering. Some suspect
that Iuz has tired of Vaynes repeated failures and has sent an
assassin to murder Vayne and give his place on the Lesser
Boneheart to Waquonis. If true, this would make Vayne extremely
dangerous and unpredictable as he attempts to regain the Old
Ones favor. With little to loose and powerful new mercenary allies,
Vayne could lash out viciously at his enemies. The two most
obvious targets for his wrath are Torkeep and Gensal.
We here in the Shield Lands also have a very good excuse. The very Shield Lands had an interactive in
Year One, that was a huge battle. We've been able to whip out battle interactives every now and then
when another County capital is being liberated. Through interactives, three more county capitals have
been liberated, bringing the Shield Lands' freed capitals to include Critwall, Bright Sentry, Torkeep,
Gensal and Southkeep (psst, and Ringland, though knowledge of it is a state secret that only the highest
ranking officials are aware of). There are eighteen capitals left.
That said, here is a little bit of what has happened in the Shield Lands in 591 and 592 (With 593 and
594 mods still available for play, I won't give out any spoilers until later). In 591, only Critwall and
Bright Sentry were freed. Torkeep was just beyond the frontlines by a few miles. Earl Torkeep, not one
to sit around for a committee to decide how to run a war, with help from adventurers, his retainers, and
loyal troops took Torkeep castle. Iuzian forces set about beseiging Torkeep. This was a massive battle
interactive, and I could go into stories about what happened. It was amazing. Suffice it to say, the
Shield Lands won the day, and Torkeep remained freed.
Also in 591, a lengthy plotarc over several mods revealed that Waquonis was scheming to unseat Vayne
in Admundfort. By the end of 591, the blockade of Walworth Isle was broken when an artifact of the
Nyr Dyv unleashed lake-monsters upon the ships, Furyondy brought their ships home, and Waquonis
and his forces slipped across the lake from Axeport to Walworth Isle. The details are not clear, but
Vayne fled Admundfort, leaving Waquonis to rule the island. Vayne setup his new HQ in Laws' Forge.
Vayne kept his position as titular head of Iuz's occupation of the Shield Lands, but further reduced in
the eyes of his superiors. This chaos allowed the SL to further consolidate the gains at Torkeep and also
push nearer to South Keep and Gensal, laying the groundwork to free those capitals later.
Lastly, the Free Reavers were being given the freedom by Vayne to roam around the Shield Lands,
terrorizing where they went, but seemingly involved in some thought-out scheme.
In 592, Ringland re-established contact with the rest of the Shield Lands. Only those with a need-toknow are made aware of this fact. The Shield Lands use Ringland's unique defenses to operate scouting
missions deep behind enemy lines to great effectiveness. Gensal is freed this year. As the family that
ruled Gensal is extinct (no
surivors from the Greyhawk Wars), the Council of Lords begins deliberations on what to do now that
the place is liberated. People need their rulers! Never before had a whole family become extinct, and all
families are descended from Aerdi-era appointments.
Also, during 592, a collection of bizarre obelisks jut from the ground across the Shield Lands. No one
was able to divine just what caused them, but research revealed those obelisks had laid buried for
centuries, or longer. One appeared in Ringland (strangely in the middle if the "ring" of Ringland, and
another in Critwall (others were scattered in the Occupied lands). If anyone had Return to White Plume
Mountain, you would recognize the obelisks. These obelisks seem to have been anticipated by some
secretive group of dark robed ones... as
they were in the vicinity when the first jutted out of the ground... the mystery deepened into the next
few years...
In Critwall, at the beginning of the year, a charity organization devoted to ministering to returning
refugees who were homeless and destitute was revealed to be the creation of a person with possible ties
to Iuz and (he claimed) Dragotha. The charity was left alone, but the founder was exiled by decree of
the Council of Lords.
Many 592 mods actually deal with PCs handling escorting returning refugees, or investigating

disturbances at recently resettled farmsteds.


A little background before I start 593... For those of you with Iuz the Evil, take a look at the map of
Admundfort. You will note on the map there is something that is never explained. 8. Towers of the
Shield Mages. Well, during the battle interactive at the Seige of Torkeep, there was a side mission for
certain PCs. They were secreted out of the keep to bring back reinforcements. They quickly traveled to
an abandoned wizard's tower near Torkeep. They found the wizard's Shield Guardian, brought it back
with them and unleashed it upon the
beseiging Iuzians. Back to 593...
The start of 593 begins with the PCs on guard duty at the tower where the Shield Guardian was found.
The wizard's tower is now being used as an outpost. The wizard who built this tower was a Shield
Mage. Rumor was that the Shield Mages were all killed when Admundfort fell, where their
organization's Tower is held. Over the year, it is learned that the Shield Mages all went to Admundfort
as Iuz was invading. A few apprentices remained outside. The PCs end up on the trail of the last
surviving apprentice.
Also in 593, in a bit of real politik, the regent of Bright Sentry (a follower of Pholtus), uses his position
to elevate Pholtus to be the official patron of the County of Bright Sentry (Scragholm Island). Bright
Sentry is roughly 50/50 Pholtus/Heironeous worshippers. This causes a serious problem with the rest of
the Council of Lords, factions begin to harden.
South Keep is recovered in 593. Later in the year, the infighting between Vayne and Waquonis has all
but ceased... whispers that one of their superiors has come to stop the losses. Iuzian outposts across the
border are being heavily re-fortified.
By the end of 593, it is revealed that the Shield Mages are still around. That their Towers in
Admundfort are holding up arcane defenses, and have been ever since the fall to Iuz. Also learned is
that the Shield Mages are an Arcane Order (See Tome and Blood). There is a spellpool in the Tower,
this is why all the Shield Mages went to the tower... to prevent the spellpool from falling into Iuz's
hands. At the end of the 593, the PCs learn that there were two last remaining apprentices outside the
Tower of the Shield Mages. One
killed the other, and betrayed the knowledge of the spellpool to Vayne. Iuz now knows there is a
spellpool sitting in Admundfort that has centuries worth of spells stored in it... now to just defeat the
defenses...

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