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  1. Lord Byron could hear the soldiers plodding along and bantering carelessly well before he saw them. He didn't even need to think twice why there were approaching his manor - years of farming the Avalonian countryside hadn't completely overcome his soldier instincts. Lady Elspeth was no stranger to such things either, not after a decade of marriage to one of Cerdica's former generals. She approached her husband and grabbed his hand. "These men, they are here for you, are they not?" Bryon squeezed her hand and looked into her eyes. "We knew this day would come. It must happen." Before long the column of soldiers appeared around a bend. The leading man, wearing the insignia of an Avalonian officer, quickened his pace upon seeing Lord Byron and Lady Elspeth. A smile beamed across his face. "Ah Lord Byron, I see life on the farm has been good to you and especially your waistline. Strange to see your hands dirtied by mud and not the blood of your enemies." Lord Bryon glared at the man. "Mention my waistline again and I will remind you of what these hands are capable of." The man threw back his head and laughed. He moved towards Lord Byron and embraced him like that of two old friends. "My friend, your sense of humor has not changed - in fact, it's as non-existent as ever. How many years has it been? Ten? Fifteen?" Lord Byron grabbed the man by the shoulder. "Too long. I see the lords of Albion finally made you a captain. Those silly fools." He turned to Lady Elspeth. "Dear, this is Gregori Davignon, my old friend and comrade-in-arms." "Welcome to Konigsfeld Manor Captain Davignon, it is a pleasure to have your company." Davignon removed his helm and glove and took Lady Elspeth's hand. "My Lady, the pleasure is all mine. Please, call me Gregori. No doubt you are Bryon's greatest accomplishment." Byron kissed Elspeth on her head. "Indeed she is. But I'm sure you're not here to compliment my lovely wife. The Lords of Albion have sent you on some great mission, no doubt?" Davignon looked at Elspeth and then at Byron. "In fact, I come bearing news of a most sensitive manner. Would be able to speak alone?" "My wife is lord of this manor as well. She too has the right to hear what you say." The smile had left Davignon's face, replaced by a look of grave concern. "So be it, but what I'm about to discuss must not leave here. It's been a long time since you've seen Albion, but I'm sure you know the troubles there. The Pearl City is flooded with refugees fleeing the plague and Drow raiders. Rumors tell of Spire agents in the city and disappearances. The armies of Historica are preparing to push against Raavage but each remain consumed by their own troubles, unable to commit the might of their forces into the fight." These events were not unknown to Byron - even in retirement his connections to Albion and Cerdica were well-maintained. He knew Albion was in chaos, leaderless and laid prostrate by internal turmoil. The other Guilds were faring no better. Davignon continued. "But there is a new and encouraging development, two in fact. Sir Trian Burress has returned to Albion, free of the Spire's yoke." This even Byron did not know. Could it be true? His old friend and the greatest commander of Avalonia was alive again? How many years had it been? Davignon could see Byron loose himself in thought. "My friend, there is more. The heir has been found." Byron was snapped from his reminiscing. "By the gods, you speak the truth? The High King has returned?" "Not yet, but soon my brother. Breggan of the Dragon Masters brought word of the heir's existence. That is why I am here. Sir Burress has given us the task of finding the heir and returning him safely to Cedrica. He asked specifically for your assistance." Elspeth, who had followed the discussion with uneasiness, could not contain herself any longer. She knew her husband would not decline. "Byron, you said this day would come, but why must it be today? The children… the fields, it's almost harvest time… and me… how will I live without you?" Byron pulled her in and held her closely. "My love, my life, this is the trouble with marrying old, foolish soldiers. At some point, they are always drawn back in. This is the day Historica has prayed for, the day we knew would come, the day you knew I could not escape. Without a king to unite the guilds, the peace we enjoy will not last. I must go, for Sir Burress, for Avalonia, for you." Elspeth looked up at Byron. "You are a good man, and an even better husband." She wiped several tears from her eyes. "You should go know and keep Captain Davignon waiting no longer. The future of Historica is know your task." Hesitantly, Byron entered the manor. It took him several minutes to find the old chest. Wiping dust from its cover, he opened it and began removing several items. The armor, unworn for 10 years, still fit. He removed the sword and swung it as effortlessly and deftly as ever. Bryon returned outside. He embraced Elspeth and their children and then left with Davignon. Elspeth watched as her husband left their home, possibly never to return. She held back her tears until he disappeared from sight. "Go soldier of Cedrica and return with peace and hope for this land." ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Konigsfeld Manor: Hello! Hope you didn't mind the long read! This was originally meant to be a prelude but I just didn't get the story done on time. I really meant to include a few story photos, but I ended up needing the pieces for another build so those pics never got done... In any case, the story was slightly edited to follow the wonderful preludes by ZCerberus and Ecclesiastes. This is not for any of the challenges, just a little filler for the chapter. Thanks for looking!
  2. It had been hours since Samarkand lost sight of the Black Spire forces tracking him. Night was descending on the swamp and Samarkand was desperately lost. The wound in his leg throbbed, blood still dripping from the badages. He had to stop. Those clumsy fools have about as much luck finding me as I do of getting out of this swamp alive, Samarkand thought to himself. Besides, there are worse things roaming about when night falls in Nocturnus. Samarkand stopped his horse in a small clearing a good ways off the path. He needed rest. He tried not to think about Hexana, her lifeless body no doubt desecrated by the Black Hand soldiers. Hexana had been one of Nocturnus' best spies. Her death would be a serious blow to the Resistance. More poignantly, she and Samarkand were lovers. Their love grew even when they found themselves on opposite sides of the Civil War - that is, before Samarkand followed Anfaulglir into rebellion. None of that mattered now. Suppressing his hatred and torment, Samarkand knew what he had to do: get the map to Shadowmere and the leaders of the Nocturnian Resistance. He did not know what the map pointed to, but he knew Anfauglir would. Whatever it was, it must be very important to Raavage - it seemed as if half the Black Spires's army was looking for him. Samarkand took a step and the pain from the arrow wound in his leg shot through him like a thunderbolt. I've got to get out of this swamp, he thought. But how? It was then that a faint glow caught Samarkand's eye. As his eyes adjusted to the falling light, Samarkand could see the shape of a small house in the darkness. The light must be from a fireplace, he thought. There are a few who call this swamp home. Surely they can point me towards the road to Shadowmere. Samarkand noticed a small path nearby that seemed to lead towards the house. He followed it until it reached the edge of a vast bog. The house appeared to be on a patch of land in the middle of the water. He found a small boat just off the path. This must be how they travel back and forth, he thought. Though Samarkand questioned its stability, the little boat stayed afloat as it ferried him across the bog. He slid the boat onto the bank and walked up the stone stairs leading to the door. Samarkand knocked on the door. A moment later the door opened, just enough for Samarkand to see a small woman peering at him. She was an Orc and looked very old. "A visitor? I hope you're not here for trouble. I'll have you know a powerful sorceress lives here and she does not take kindly to troublemakers!" Samarkand put his hands out to gesture his peaceful intentions. "I am just a weary traveller, wounded by a bandit and lost in these woods. I hoped you could point me towards the road to Shadowmere." The little old woman looked him up and down. She muttered something and opened the door to let Samarkand in. "Come in, come in. These lands are treacherous, it is wise of you to stop here." Samarkand entered the home. It was small and smelled dank but a fire in the chimney looked as inviting as any he had seen in Nocturnus. "I thank you greatly. The powerful sorceress who resides here, will she mind my presence?" The little old woman laughed. "Oh, I made that bit up to scare off troublemakers. It's all this old woman can do to defend herself." She pulled a chair up to the fireplace. "These are dangerous times and you cannot trust everyone you meet. But I can see in your face that you do not seek trouble. Come sit down and enjoy the fire. It is too dangerous to travel now, I will show you the way in the morning." Samarkand wanted to waste no time but he knew the old woman was right. He needed rest and to treat the wound left by the Black Spire arrow. The old woman disappeared into another room and left Samarkand by the fire. He took out the map and studied it. The strange markings were unrecognizable to him. What could this point to, he thought. Hexana, you died for something I cannot even understand... After a time the little old woman reappeared and shuffled to the kitchen, returning with a loaf of bread. "Here, you should eat something. You will need your strength for the journey ahead!" A strange comment, Samarkand thought. He cocked his head towards the old woman. "The road to Shadowmere, is it perilous?" The old woman's mouth twisted into a grin, showing her stained and cracked teeth. He looked down at the loaf and began to cut off a piece. "All roads from this place are, but yours will be particularly difficult. For you have something that does not belong to you, and it must be returned to its rightful master." Samarkand recoiled - maggots poured out of the loaf he had just cut. Though the fire still burned, a chill hit Samarkand and darkness began to consume the room. He looked up and the old woman had disappeared. A deep voice revealed the presence of another in the room. "You pathetic thief. You thought you could steal from ME! Do you even realize the power you wield with that map? You are a fool like all the others who oppose my will." A dense shadow rose before Samarkand, out of which appeared Lord Raavage himself. Samarkand reached for his sword but a force immediately lifted him and threw him across the room. "A mere mortal against the rightful ruler of Historica? Ha! The stupidity of your kind never ceases!" Raavage loomed over Samarkand, who tried but failed to stand up. "With the map in my hands, Nocturnus is mine for the taking. After that, all of Historica." Samarkand glared at Raavage. Still he could not move. "Raavage, you worm, you will fail. The resistance will banish you back to the hole you crawled out of!" "You must be more ignorant than I thought. Wretched mortal, you have no idea what this map leads to, do you?" Samarkand managed to lean himself against the wall. He knew Raavage would not let him leave the room alive. "Raavage, your cheap conjurer tricks are running low. The resistance grows stronger every day while your alliance crumbles to pieces." Raavage's face snarled with fury. He placed his right boot against Samarkand's chest. Samarkand grimaced as several of his ribs broke from the weight. "I should cut off your head right now for such insolent talk. But first I will tell you what this map leads to, so that the last thought which runs through your head is that of the destruction of your land and people. Even you have heard of the Helm of Elemental Magic. Victor Revolwood, a mere puppet in my service, nearly conquered Historica through use of the Helm. What you may not know is that the Helm was one of two vastly powerful artifacts crafted in ancient times. The Elemental Helm controlled the forces of water, earth, fire and air. The second, much more powerful helm controlled the forces of life and death. It is this artifact, the Necromancer's Helm, to which this map will lead me." Samarkand could not believe it. The Necromancer's Helm was a story told to frighten unruly children. Rumors said its wearer possessed the ability to resurrect and command the dead. Such black magic was not unknown in Nocturnus - Necromancers had the power to raise the dead, but only temporarily and in limited numbers. The Necromancer's Helm, it was said, could raise permanent legions of the undead. "Lies! The Necromancer's Helm is the substance of ancient stories, nothing more. Raavage, your thirst for power has rotted your mind." Raavage laughed. He was tiring of this episode. "The Helm is real and will soon be mine, thanks to you. With its power I will bring Historica to its knees. It's a shame you will not see what I am capable of once I'm in possession of the Helm. But you have already wasted too much of my time." Raavage withdrew a dagger from his belt and plunged it into Samarkand's chest. Raavage closed in, just inches from Samarkand's face. "Die knowing that all you treasure will be consumed by the Black Spire." Samarkand tried to speak but the words would not leave his mouth. Blood oozed from the dagger wound and his eyes began to fade. As darkness enveloped him, Samarkand managed to feel at peace for the first time in ages. His thoughts escaped from Raavage and turned to the one thing he had ever truly loved. The word slipped from his mouth when no others would - "Hexana." ---------------------------------------------------- For those who might need a refresher on Samarkand and how he acquired the map, see here! Extra pics of the hut, with fog!
  3. No one spoke as they entered Lord Vladivus' throne room. Each of the six men raced through thoughts of the tremendous task that lay before them. To the outsider, this meeting would have appeared unexceptional, perhaps no different than one of the usual economic or political conferences held here. But to the trained eye, the identity of the men in this meeting place indicated something more serious was underway. Besides Lord Vladivus, the leaders of most of Free Nocturnus were present: Anzar of the Dragon Masters; Lord Jorrith, the vampiric warlord; Osric the Rat, fresh from his victories fighting for the Desert King in Kaliphlin; Gal-Turok, Lord of the Reach; and the Black Spire defector Anfauglir. Getting these leaders together had been no easy task. These six men stood as the bulwark between Raavage and the complete enslavement of Nocturnus. As host to these disparate commanders, the task of creating a unified resistance fell on Lord Vladivus' shoulders. Vladivus surveyed the group and spoke. "Gentlemen, you have all heard the rumors: the forces of the Black Spire are again marching to war. But these are more than rumors. Reports from the frontier suggest the Black Spire is raiding our lands, enslaving our people and killing any who resist. They seek to crush the last holdouts of resistance to Raavage's domination. Unless the forces of Free Nocturnus unite, I'm afraid we are doomed." Several figures in the room shifted and mumbled. Although they could all agree that Raavage was the biggest threat facing Nocturnus, they shared little else in common. Trust was a hard thing to come by these days, when betrayal and treachery were everywhere. Gal-Turok was the first to speak up. "Aye, on this point I won't disagree. But how do you expect us to stop Raavage when you invite the enemy into our planning?" He turned and glared at Anfauglir. Vladivus held up his right hand. "I will attest to Lord Anfauglir, a guest invited freely into my home, just like yourself, Gal-Turok. He no longer shares fealty to the Black Spire." Anzar stepped forward. "Gal-Turok, let me also attempt to ease your doubt. It was Anfauglir who saved me at Lagash-Ur, and he took great risk in doing so. He seeks to topple the Obsidian Spike, as we all do." Another voice rose up. "Ha! It was only recently that your mouth no longer tasted Raavage's largesse." It was Osric, who had remained silent until now. He wore a golden shied and sword given to him by the Desert King for his victories in Kaliphlin. "Word I've heard suggests members of your family - your brother, Tanzar, in fact - still fight for the Black Spire. What say you to this?" Anzar turned to glare at Osric. "To think I journeyed this far to explain myself to a rat! But to address your allegations, I would say what you hear is wrong. The truth is, our relationship deteriorated after the death of our father. It has been many months since we have spoken, but I know he would never pledge allegiance to that dog Raavage. The Dragon Masters will never forget Raavage's trickery. Nor we will stop fighting until his head is on a pike outside my father's castle." Vladivus shook his head. The resistance was threatening to crumble before it even formed. "The fight is out there, not in here! If we do not stop the Black Spire, the other Guilds will invade Nocturnus and attempt to do so themselves. We cannot let that happen." The room fell silent as Vladivus spoke. "Perhaps there is one thing that will help you make up your minds. It is why I asked you to temporarily leave your lands and meet here in person. Anfauglir has shared with me some grave news that you must all know." Vladivus motioned for Anfauglir to address the others. Anfauglir scanned the room before speaking. "Even before the events of Lagash Ur, I had learned that Raavage was seeking an immensely powerful artifact. After defecting I received information no the location of the map. My lieutenant, Samarkand, left some weeks ago to retrieve it. During his absence Lord Vladivus and I believe we have discovered the nature of this artifact. The revelation is most concerning." Everyone had their eyes locked on Anfauglir. Raavage sought any vile creation he could use to his advantage. What had he found now? "We believe he is looking for the Necromancer's Helm." Gal-Turok threw his head back and laughed. "Now you've really gone mad, believing in bedtime stories!" Anfauglir continued. "I wish it was true, but this is no wild guess. You all know the stories: the Elemental Helm was found and nearly brought all of Historica under Raavage's rule. Now he seeks the Necromancer's Helm, which potentially wields much greater power… the power to raise a legion of undead soldiers." Again Gal-Turok objected. "Although I trust Lord Vladivus' judgement and I accept this alliance, I have trouble believing such fancies. I for one cannot waste time here talking any longer when we must bring battle to Raavage. He can raise his undead army if he wants to, it will be more foes for my men to crush!" Vladivus spoke before Anfauglir could respond. "You are right, Gal-Turok, the time to wait is over. We must retaliate now and everywhere we can. If Raavage thinks he has found the Necromancer's Helm, we must stop him before he gets to it. The most important thing is that we fight together, a resistance united against Raavage." Osric turned to the group. "My sword fights with Lord Vladivus and you, leaders of Free Nocturnus. Together we shall drive Raavage back to the netherworld!" Vladivus looked at Anfauglir. "You must find out what happened to Samarkand and the status of the map." He then turned towards the others. "And you, leaders of Free Nocturnus, you must leave here and continue to build the resistance. The people of Nocturnus must know they do not fight alone."
  4. War is a funny thing. It makes you question just about everything you thought you knew - your purpose, your friends and yourself. The world around you can change in an instant without you ever seeing it coming. Old memories were on Anfauglir's mind as he passed Shadowmere's gates. Two years ago, he was in Lagash Ur enjoying the status and benefits of a Covenant lord. As a high officer in the Covenant army he commanded an elite company for the Covenant leader, Lord Senurhem Nogad. Anfauglir's position had been an easy one. Senurhem, caught up with his many experiments into the dark arts, paid little attention to much else. Back then, the Covenant had few enemies. Conflict was confined mostly to small border disputes with Shadowmere and other Resistance forces - though Senurhem still remained neutral in the ongoing Civil War. Then everything changed. Lured by promises of land and magical artifacts, Senurhem announced his plans to join the Black Spire. He purged anyone who opposed the alliance. Entire companies, thought by Raavage's minions to be unfaithful to the cause, were disbanded or sent to work Raavage's mines. Fearing his men would be next, he defected with as many loyal men as he could. Everything else he left behind. Now, his men fight a desperate battle against the army they once fought for, holding out among the peaks of the Rakarths, hungry, cold and constantly hunted by Raavage. Yet they continue to strike back, even liberating several Covenant villages under Black Spire occupation. Anfauglir's men weighed heavily on his mind as he continued his midnight stroll, which had become a regular occurrence since his arrival in Shadowmere months ago. The thought of his men battling the enemy, hundreds of leagues from Shadowmere and their leader, was agonizing. Anfauglir hoped the Resistance meeting in Shadowmere would be worth his absence. The Resistance needed desparately to form the basis for a renewed and strengthened front against the Black Spire. Otherwise Raavage would crush them, one by one. The snap of a breaking tree limb woke Anfauglir from his thoughts. He hadn't noticed the fog thickening, or the lack of sounds from the usual night creatures. By the time he saw the huge, writhing shape materialize in front of him, it was too late. A large tentacle struck Anfauglir in the chest, throwing him off his feet and into a tree. The creature approached, eyes glaring ferociously, its dozens of tentacles failing wildly at Anfauglir. He stood up just in time to avoid another swing. Several other tentacles shot out but Anfauglir's sword was quicker. They continued coming but always Anfauglir was faster, until the creature screeched in pain and lurched backwards. Seeing his opportunity, Anfauglir leaped at the wounded beast, and, with several deft swings of his sword, it lay dead upon the ground. Anfauglir started at the creature, no doubt some foul and horrific servant of Lord Raavage. Anfauglir removed his hood and ran his fingers through his hair. His back was aching badly. Figuring he was too tired to head back to Shadowmere, he set up camp just off the road. His stomach growled. Anfauglir looked at the fallen creature and thought of the hunter's creed: you eat what you kill. He quickly got a fire started. Staring into the fire, Anfauglir thought of the battles ahead. He pondered what other nasty tricks Raavage had hidden away, what he was prepared to do to win his war. He grabbed his aching back. "I'm definitely getting too old for this." (A bonus, Halloween-themed shot!) The effects were done with a fog machine and Lifelites. No photoshop here! Hope you're not getting tired of my fog-themed builds, I'm really trying to get my money's worth out of that machine. Good thing is, the neighbors finally stopped calling the fire department when I use it!
  5. Lord Raavage entered the castle like a tempest. He made his way to the command room, pushing his way through the Black Spire solidiers who rose to salute him. Throughout the halls could be heard the victory celebrations of drunken soldiers. Until yesterday the castle had belonged to the Nocturnian Resistance. Located near the Mitgardian border, Mortag Keep served as a convenient staging point for foreign troops assisting the resistance. It had long been a thorn in Raavage's side and he was glad to have it in his hands. Raavage listened in on a soldier who retold the story of Mortag Keep's capture to a group of reserve troops who had missed out. "So, we snuck up to the castle in the boats, all quiet like, while their soldiers were still sound asleep in their beds. They hadn't expected anyone coming from the swamp, the road was the only thing the sentries had their eyes on." The soldier took a long pull from his drink. "We gathered in the woods, wondering what to do next. Then up came one of Lord Raavage's wizards. He carried about some jar filled with black powder, placed it at the base of the wall, spoke a few words under his breath and told us to run." "Good thing we did, aye! Next thing we know the jar explodes and there's a hole in the wall. We rushed in and took the whole damn place before they knew what happened. When we found the commander he was still trying to put his trousers on! The rest of the survivors we rounded up and sent off to Lord Raavage's slave camps." It was a tactical victory, no doubt. Until word of Mortag Keep's fall spread, Raavage's forces could launch ambushes on any enemy troops who thought it was still in friendly hands. Foreign troops wishing to aid the resistance would have to enter Nocturnus along a more difficult route. Yet this victory was worth much more - more than anyone knew, save Lord Raavage himself. The inhabitants of Mortag Keep, a motley array of Resistance fighters, had discovered a map hidden in the nearby caves which led to something only a few knew existed - an ancient artifact so powerful that Raavage hungered for its possession. With such power, Raavage reminded himself, Nocturnus will fall into my hands, and then all of Historica." The thought of such power caused Raavage to salivate. He wanted the map in his hands, now. Raavage entered the room and interrupted the soldier's story. "To your feet! The Black Spire celebrates your victory here, but drunkenness and laziness on duty are punishable by death. You will return to your posts at once or else you will find yourselves hanging from the trees outside!" The soldiers rushed to their feet and hurried to their posts. Raavage stopped one of the troops. "Soldier, where is your commanding officer? I must speak to him immediately." The soldier stammered, obviously frightened by the Black Lord's presence. "Ssss…irrr…, he is upstairs, in the private quarters." Raavage turned and stormed towards the fort commander's room. Inside were several Black Spire officers, including General Azuk, who had commanded the force which captured Mortag Keep. A bandage on his right arm betrayed a grievous wound. "Azuk, congratulations, good work, well done and all that, but where is the map? I must have it now. I travelled a great distance to be here and I will not wait a moment longer." Several officers looked at each other with grave expressions, and then left the room. Only Azuk, Raavage and two of his Royal Guards remained. Azuk looked at his hand and then Raavage. "Lord Raavage, the map has been lost. A Resistance spy broke in last night and took the map, along with my hand. She was killed, but another agent was able to retrieve the map. We lost track of him in the swamps." A great fury took over Raavage, like a storm ready to destroy all in its way. He began to shake and froth at the mouth. "What to you mean, LOST THE MAP? To a Resistance SPY? You bumbling, incompetent, ungracious fool! You disgusting, treacherous lout! Anyone could have taken this lousy fort - I tasked you with recovering the map and this is the news you share?" Azuk backed up, cowering. "M'lord, there was nothing I could do! I will recover the map, please spare me! She took my hand, have I not suffered enough?" Raavage's lips twisted into a crooked smile. "You do not know the meaning of suffering, not yet. I should exterminate you where you stand, but that would be the easy way out." Raavage turned to his Royal Guard and gestured towards Azuk. "Take his other hand. Then his eyes and tongue. I want him kept alive. When you are done with him, throw him into the mine pits where he will repay his betrayal to our cause!" Azuk fell before Raavage to no avail. His pleas could be heard throughout the fort as the guards carried him away. Raavage smashed his fist on the commander's table. The crash echoed through the halls like an explosion. "Dammit! I am surrounded by fools and traitors! I will find this rebel spy and tear him to pieces. Then I will take back what is mine and then all of Nocturnus shall lay at my feet!" (And some pics of Mortag Keep. I tried incorporating more shots of the castle itself into the story, but after the forest collapsed several times, I was tired of messing with it!
  6. Darkness, growing ever blacker, falling ever deeper, consuming ever more. In Nocturnus, there is no escaping it. The light grows dimmer, the darkness more encompassing. These lands have never known true peace. War and death are staples here. Since the Obsidian Spike rose in the East, Nocturnus has bathed in the blood of its own. From its gates the Black Spire lord, Raavage, unleashed his army across Nocturnus. His quest for power and the resulting Civil War cleaved Nocturnus in half. Father was pitted against son, sister against brother, countryman against countryman. The conflict speeds to all corners of the land, and few escape its brutality. In recent times the war had slowed to a stalemate. Lord Ssilyrrlith, the nominal leader of the Nocturnian Resistance, remains holed up in the capital, Abyssian, besieged by a Black Spire army. Leadership of the resistance has fallen to Lord Vladivus of Shadowmere and an assortment of commanders united in their hatred of Raavage. Bravely they hold the line, attacking the Black Spire where it is weak and falling back only when they must. Allies in other Guilds send what they can to bolster the Resistance armies. Shamans, wisewomen, sorcerers and witches offered blessings for the Resistance troops and provided safe places of worship. But now the resistance lines are beginning to weaken while the Black Spire's grow stronger. Despite setbacks, and there were many - the treachery of the Drow and the Valyrian, Count Basil; the Zugal's turn against the Black Spire; the failed trap at Lagash Ur; and the defection of Anfauglir from Raavage's Covenant allies - the Black Spire has shown no signs of faltering. New armies are emerging from the Obisdian Spike's gate to bring Raavage's rule to the remaining Resistance enclaves. Raavage is clever and merciless, his armies powerful and numerous. With help from new allies, Raavage threatens to crush all in his way. Senurhem Nogad, the Covenant lord, continues to support the Black Spire with his powerful armies and dark magic. Other new and fearsome allies arrive from far off lands to assist the Dark Lord. The power of the dark spirits are not lost by Raavage's forces. They, too, seek divine assistance and to curse their foes. Futhermore, rumors spread among the Resistance leadership that Raavage seeks a mysterious and powerful artifact to aid his conquest. Such power threatens the precarious balance of forces. Failure to stop him would allow Raavage to spread his influence to all of Nocturnus and possibly beyond. The leaders of Historica's other Guilds watch with despair the events in Nocturnus. Kingless and without a united front, Historica holds its breath and prays for Raavage's defeat. What this renewed war will mean for Nocturnus, no one is sure. But one thing is certain: the bloodshed is only just beginning.