Tales of the Ten Years War, part 3 09/25/2014 | 29 comments

Previous episodes
  1. 843 YSD – Falcon’s Last Flight
  2. 844 YSD – The Conclave of the New Dawn

Three days later, the bells of Flammschrein started ringing, but their song was dreary and doleful. It was a death-knell. Sandalphon was dead; a dark blade had been plunged into his heart. Murazel was nowhere to be found.

Tales of the Ten Years War

845 YSD – Omens of War

The Conclave of the New Dawn had imploded in the wake of Sandalphon’s assassination and Murazel’s disappearance. The sanctity of Flammschrein had been compromised, prejudices and suspicions resurfaced, and the voices of reason were soon drowned in the clamour of old enmities and petty squabbles. Hopes of finding a suitable consensus were rapidly fading away.

The month of the Sun Blossom arrived, dedicated to the worship of Elrath, and there was no Emperor.

The 20 th day of the Sun Blossom – the first Equinox, one of the Empire’s most sacred celebrations – came and passed, and it was now clear the Conclave had failed in its mission. However, the imperial crown still needed a head to rest upon. Many prayed that Elrath himself would descend from the skies and pick a new ruler, but the Dragon-God of Light didn’t intervene. This was something men had to sort out by themselves.

Like the distant rumblings of thunder announce the gathering storm, it was becoming increasingly clear that it would soon come to war. It was unavoidable. The only thing left to determine was where and when the lightning would strike first.

It struck on the 11 th day of the Dancing Flames.

Casus Belli

In the first days of the Dancing Flames, militias loyal to either Duchy started to gather in and around the small town of Maiden Way, on the Greyhound-Unicorn border. Unrest had been growing steadily at since Maeve’s funeral, fuelled by centuries of atavistic mutual contempt.
During the 10 th night of the Dancing Flames, an alderman serving the Greyhounds was mugged and left to bleed out in the streets; a house belonging to a Unicorn magistrate was put to the torch with the family still inside. Either side was quick to accuse the other of these heinous acts. Truly, they were all waiting for this to happen, it didn’t really matter who actually drew the first blood. A cause for war.

By noon the next day, all that was left of Maiden Way and its inhabitants were smoking ruins and mutilated bodies. The Greyhound militia stood victorious – if one would call that slaughter a victory.

Two days later, Rowena of Unicorn, the Redhead of Yorwick, sent a missive to Enguerrand of Greyhound, demanding explanations. But he only had accusations of his own to offer. Neither ruler could let the horrors of Maiden Way go unpunished. The rising tension had reached its apex. The word no one had dared speak was finally pronounced.

Old Alliances

If the conflict had remained confined to the Duchies of Greyhound and Unicorn, maybe things would have been different. But there were old alliances, signed in blood, ink and matrimony that demanded to be honoured. Amílcar of Bull sent his troops to reinforce Enguerrand’s armies as they started to march on Rowena’s lands. Paying heed to the old friendship between the Unicorn and Griffin Duchies, Ivan assembled his armies to fight at the Rowena’s side.

Fearing Ivan’s might, Enguerrand and Amílcar decided to act against his advance. Thousands men, women and beasts, led by Amílcar in person, marched north to intercept the Griffin army as it passed south of the Rose mountains. The Duke of Bull had a score to settle after his earlier humiliation at Ivan’s hands.

Stefan of Wolf and Seamus of Stag didn’t take sides. They watched from afar, bidding their time and waiting for the events to follow their course. But my spies reported that Seamus, unbeknownst to all, was secretly sending men-at-arms to the south. It soon became clear that his goal was to reclaim the old Falcon province for himself, including the ruins of Falcon’s Reach…
The storm had begun, howling, torrential. And nobody could stop it anymore.

A quick side-note about Ivan’s sword:

It shall be noted that at that time, Ivan was not brandishing the Blade of Revelation anymore, but the Iron Feather, an old family heirloom that had belonged to his ancestor Ishtvan, the last King and first Duke of Griffin. After what had happened during his duel with Amílcar a few months before, Ivan had sworn to not unsheathe the holy Griffin sword until the Empire was made whole again.
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