The 32nd Altarian Cycle bore witness to a great many things. All across the Kingdom, the citizens faced threats that were, for the most part, defeated by our heroes. Some changes occurred politically that proved to be a real shakeup to the status quo in the principalities, and a great evil was vanquished from this land, at least according to the songs of the bards.
In the first year of 32 ACI, a darkness that was presumed destroyed returned with a vengeance. The vampire, Mahmu Wahlday returned to the countryside near Farhampton and began the wholesale slaughter of the townsfolk, including an entire manse from the House of Talbot guild located in Farhampton - deaths which saw no Return no less. As the tale is told by the Bards:
Were it not for the heroic actions of Sir Steven Dunbar, Grand Marshall of the Order of the White Talbot, and a band of mercenaries led by the most esteemed bard Giovanni Cardamone, the terror of the vampire may never have been vanquished. Giovanni himself was the one to slay the creature, having seen his allies fall one by one to the beast. The head was severed and the bard brought safety to the land once again.
In the second and third years of 32 ACI, it would come to pass that the lands off the coast of southern Tor, known as the Hinterlands with a tiny settlement of Maarek's Landing, would be made a safe haven for the survivors and evacuates of a vile plague that forced the quarantine of the great city of Cormick. This plague ravaged the people most heinously. Lord Valguard Gunnarsen and Castellan Lord Woden Hrafnass faced the problem of housing and keeping safe all of the survivors while it became apparent that the true threat was even greater than imagined.
The plague was created by the vile Shade Realm Highlander Faction House of Woe in an attempt to gain power over their eternal rival the Hand of Fate. Maarek's Landing became the center of a war that ravaged the landscape. During this time Valguard would suffer great tragedy as his new bride, Lilly Smith Gunnarsen and child were assaulted during the war by the necromancer Chimera. Chimera stole the child but was unable to abscond to his vessel as the pirate Myre attacked him and took the child. When the town guards demanded the child from Myre, thinking he was responsible for the abduction, Myre slit the throat of the baby, threw it at the guards and fled to his ship and evaded capture. Although the war was won, the plague was stopped and the Shade Realm factions were banished back to the dark world, the people of Maarek's Landing mourned the loss of the child.
Across the Kingdom, in Fadlan, a band of adventurers uncovered the location of the famous sword of Sir Reynold. This sword, having been lost for cycles, held the secret to opening the vault of Lazzaro and bringing great wealth to the region. The adventurers turned the sword in to the local authorities in Wulpert, Unfortunately the sword soon disappeared from the wulpert Arbiter hall.. Duke Alten offered a reward for the return of the sword and the apprehension of the thieves that stole it. Mercenaries from all across the land came to search for the sword, but it was not recovered. The influx of mercenaries in the area however did become something of a boon for the Wulpert economy and indeed the whole principality seemed to prosper with the trade that these traveling folk brought in.
Before long, as is often the case with treasure seekers, squabbling between the travelers led to skirmishes and factions did battle fiercely. From Wulpert to Johnston, the battles marred the landscape and by the fifth year of the cycle the Fadlan economy was in shambles as the presence of highwaymen and factions staking territory throughout the Ravenswood made trade almost impossible. deciding to remain in Fadlan and seeking the sword rather than returning to other lands to seek fortune, the mercenaries and factions have become something dangerous to all of the eastern coast of Fadlan.
It was perhaps a result of the actions at Maarek's Landing that sparked an age old vendetta, or maybe it was simply an inevitable eventuality. Whatever the reason, once again the forces of Clan Chattan and Von Nurnberg Order were at each other's throats. This time, Lord Kristoff led the Panzer Juggernaut to the breach walls of Fallsburn and imprisoned Jon Wallace along with several loyal Chattan fighters. The war escalated with reinforcements from the Capital, the Granite Spire and whomever else could be paid to help oust the Nurnberg troops from Fallsburn's streets.
For nearly five weeks the siege of Fallsburn continued, but supplies from the nearby rivers meant that the forest city would not succumb to starvation. If pressed, the forces within could stay for years! But, as luck would have it for the Fallsburners, a diplomatic envoy of Chancellors Cato Dioxippus and Edward Dragomir managed somehow to negotiate a peace treaty and got the Panzer Juggernaut as well as the armies of Falkenburg to return to their homeland across the falcon wall. While the terms of the treaty are not public knowledge, it was described by Cato Dioxippus as a very lucrative deal for all involved.
Seemingly out of nowhere, the skies over the southern regions were darkened by the threat of a tyrant. this time it was a cabal of masked men wearing strange white robes who were in the service of a man known only as 'the general.' The General's men offered a great reward to any who would retrieve the Starshine Opal from the tombs in the NamHai desert. This opal was purported to possess great mystical properties and once again the promise of great treasure drew the most mercenary of individuals to seek fortunes.
In Sulphurdale and Namron, these treasure seekers ransacked the towns, sabotaging each other and eating or consuming all of the resources in the two towns before departing by way of any ships they could to cross the Ruby Sea. these wayfarers left behind anything they could not carry or was of no use to them on their expedition. The sheer amount of refuse in Sulphurdale was mountainous! for the first time since their founding, the ports of Sulphurdale were closed due to an inability to safely dock amid the floating and sunken debris. This was something of a boon to Azara, as their economy was bolstered by bringing in workers to help clean and repair the Sulphurdale docks.
In far away Westershire, adventurers became embroiled in a dangerous conflict between the Griffon's Gambit and the soldiers of Justice. the faction Justice spent considerable resources building up some towns in the mountain lands of Krymm, However, it appeared that the Griffon's had other plans. in a truly griffon manner, they began buying out failing mining operations and putting their resources into maintaining them. but the barony was greedy and soon started to charge greater and greater fees to their workers until only the most stalwart local Krymites remained working. the rest of the jobs went to Griffon's loyal faction members who took over many towns in exchange for clearing debts owed. Justice, seeing this as an aberration challenged the authority of the griffons and even went so far as to challenge honor duels for the rights to some of the deeds.
The situation became dire when late in the seventh year of the cycle it was discovered that one of the Griffon's Gambit mining companies was run not by the Griffons at all but by the Chalice of Thought! A band of adventurers uncovered the deception, apparently designed to break up the stability of the region and to monitor the actions of the Granite Spire in Southeastern Krymm. thanks to the actions of the Adventurers, Freya Sorrensen and her retinue, the Chalice's plot was discovered and a more fair balance of industry was achieved - although the damage to Krymm's social structure was done. Balance in the region's economy will come, but not for some time.
In the Azaran town of Peaksville, the grave dancer's union was dealt a damaging attack by a strange creature that had made its way into the little town. Peaksville, being home to a Soul Asylum (one of the grave Dancer's Union sacred mausoleums), was a quiet farming community. Soon, however, the monster came and destroyed the entire Soul Asylum, murdering many in the town and all of the guild members. The creature was ultimately defeated it would seem or it moved on, as a crew shipmen that were lost in the Motomushi Mountains came across Peaksville and reported to nearby Cormick that the town was abandoned save for the bodies and ashes of those Grave Dancers who were slain, each found impaled as if scarecrows in the farmland cornfields.
As the Starshine Opal was recovered, it apparently was stolen away by members of the General's cabal. this led to the great Kaiju War of 32 ACI. The General, having retrieved a staff of some unknown origin set out to open multiple large Shade Realm portals, summoning forth gigantic creatures of nightmare to ravage the countryside. Faction rivalries and guild politics were set aside as the people across the Ruby Sea had to stand together to fight this common threat. One large terrapin creature ransacked Sulphurdale, destroying much of the city, which mind you was already reeling from the recent onslaught of treasure seekers and the damage they left in their wake. The docks, merchant rows and considerable residential houses were destroyed before the creature could be killed. Even today, the shell of the beast remains, though the flesh has been removed and used for a multitude of purposes. The titanic shell is to become a centerpiece in the new docks.
Heroes such as the brave Syn Kikyo, Kushiel and Cornelius Forsyth fought and were ultimately victorious in defeating the General when they caught up with him in Westershire. Even with the General gone, the Kaiju remained. It was a strange turn of events and an unprecedented alliance for sure, but coming to the aid of the Westershire people was the Panzer Juggernaut and the Clockwork Lions of Nemea! Facing off against the largest of the Kaiju - the Crocktopus - the iron clad mechanical lions and men of Nurnberg and Nemea managed to finally stop the rampaging crocktopus and prevent yet another city from meeting the fate of Sulphurdale, Sorrel and many others along the path of destruction. The Nurnberg and Nemean help was most welcomed by the people along the southern rim.
Tensions rose toward the end of the cycle, as the discovery of Beorn's Crater brought increased and renewed friction between Fadlan and Krymm. The border between these two principalities has been a bone of contention for as long as there have been surveyors, but the current treaties established borders that have been respected for a few cycles now. This all changed when Beorn fell from the sky. As some adventurers found out, the large crater, once believed to be impassable mountains, houses several villages within and a wealth of resources. Fadlan currently claims dominion of the crater, but the adventurers were of Krymm who discovered the resources and laid claim for themselves.
This added to the already tense situation created earlier in the cycle when the mercenaries tore through Fadlan looking for a sword. With Krymm feeling the brunt of the Kaiju attacks, neither principality is particularly affluent. Now, at the center of this standoff are the cities of Johnston and Clarksville, each with a standing army facing the other across the border. Fears of a Principality war's imminence are great.
Seemingly related is the battle at Coble's Crossing. Armies from all around gathered at the notoriously neutral land to fight in the last years of the Cycle. The two predominant forces were the House of Talbot and the Grave Dancer's Union. While the Grave Dancer's Union took the day, it is unknown what happened to cause this battle and why these two normally docile guilds went to battle. Rumors of a resource grab are abundant, others speak of a territory shift. Still stranger rumors say that they battle was over the location of some ancient ruins or trinkets. One even tells of a young girl named Audra being at the center of the turmoil. Whatever the reason, the conflict has done nothing good for the stability of the region.
Tensions in the west rose as well after the events of 32 ACI. Now that Maarek's Landing is growing, the Lords and Ladies of the surrounding lands want to ensure that they gain a piece of the taxes collected, resources and of course strategic positioning this once overlooked territory has to offer.
Azara, long considered the poorest region of the Outlands and now Kingdom, wants to increase its prominence as a Principality by seizing the potential of the Hinterlands for itself. Claiming that Cormick is the closest major city to Maarek's Landing, it is logical that the land be annexed by Azara.
Tor, the current Principality with ownership of the claim, seeks to retain the land as it has been part of their dominion since the lines were drawn for Tor to become proprietorship of the Kingdom of Praelia. While the land may not be a particular cultural match to Tor, it is nevertheless a part of their territory and they will not release it without good cause.
Analova, being the central Principality and home of the capital, seeks to add the Hinterlands and Maarek's Landing to its property for no other reason than the founders are Analovans and as Analovans have put much of the resources into building the town of Maarek's Landing in the first place, Analova is due some recompense.
Some members of the town's chancellery and noble council are unsure how to proceed. Before disappearing some year ago, Lord Valguard of Maarek's Landing proposed that they table the discussion until more proper surveying could be done. There are rumors that Valguard is even considering secession from the Kingdom. Nothing has been done, awaiting his return. However, the council and the Principalities will not wait forever.
Those are the biggest stories of the last cycle. What ramifications they may hold for the next cycle is up to the speculation of those lords and ladies who sit in salons discussing the shifting climate of the Kingdom. From my post as a chronicler, I report to you simply the facts as they are presented to me from first hand accounts and the songs of the bards. May your next cycle be prosperous.
Chronicler to the Duke of Breitenburg