Imperial Artisans > The Imperial Office

Tilea's Troubles, IC2401

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Padre:
To see the new, 'improved' version of the campaign, where the earlier pictures are being replaced with better ones without a Photobucket watermark, and in which I am editing the posts to improve the text, then please take a look at my own website ...

www.bigsmallworlds.com

I am now re-doing to images from the start for my new video version of the campaign stories. The improved images are being inserted into the Big Small Worlds website, making it even better.

The video version of the campaign is ongoing, and can be found here ...

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr1dPOO-E4QxPhRozk7lkVg

Note: Soon Photobucket is going go make the 'old' photobucket images here disappear altogether, which I am glad about as they are not the up to date versions. But the IMGUR images from about half way through the thread onwards should stay around for some time at least!

The Living

It had been a long day already, thought Biagino, and it was not yet ended. His sandaled feet ached, his grey, woollen cassock chafed and his worries refused to be forgotten. Unused to such exercise, his whole frame, of which there was a surfeit, complained in a variety of fashions from the neck down. As a priest of Morr he had rarely been asked to hurry, and although often expected to stand for hours on end when officiating the internment of the rich and powerful, graveyard grounds were not usually as uneven as this present path. He did not complain, however, so as not to appear weak. Considering what they were escaping from, it simply would not do for a Morrite cleric to show fear. If anyone in the company was expected stand this test, it was him.

The company had been wordless now for the best part of an hour, ever since they entered the woods - the silent trees had been all that was needed to tip everyone into their own private thoughts. Not that their passage was quiet. The loads upon the mules’ backs clattered and jingled, the hooves thudded as they threw up clods of clayey soil, whilst the armoured plates on the four knights and their mounts at the head of little column added another clinking and scraping layer of sound. At least with trees growing thick on both sides of the track the noise would be muffled, and so less likely to be heard by others in the woods.

They were currently somewhere south of Ebino, having already crossed the river there. But they had not stayed upon the road, Lord Guglielmo preferring instead to move parallel to it along a much lesser used track. Fearing that the evil power now ruling Miragliano might already be able to reach this far, he had decided it was best not to make things too easy for the foe by travelling openly along the obvious and well trod route. And so it was they were now traversing these rarely visited woods. 

Suddenly the man walking beside Biagino, a tall servant called Bertoldo, who swaggered along with an woodsman’s axe on his shoulders as if it were a weapon for battle and he himself a soldier, spoke.

“We ain’t exactly what you’d call an army, are we?” His voice was oddly discordant with the mood of the party, as if it were a comment made on a quiet afternoon at an alehouse table. “I mean, four knights – one a Lord, I grant you – a pair of squires and us lot.”

One of the mules behind them seemed to take exception to Bertoldo’s unexpected words and brayed in the peculiar manner of such beasts, pulling stubbornly on his rope.



Biagino frowned. “I can assure you, even though I walk here at your side, and freely admit to having drunk with you and some of the other servants on occasion, that I am not, as you say, one of you lot. I am an ordained priest of Morr, ‘father’ not ‘brother’, and would be grateful if you address me as such.”

The priest thought that making such a comment would prove that he too was similarly unperturbed by their present situation. Such subtlety was wasted on the Bertoldo, however, who simply nodded absently, as if only half listening.

“Not an army at all,” he repeated, dreamily.

“Not an army at all, father,” corrected Biagano half-heartedly, already losing interest in pressing the point concerning his status. “Why?” he asked instead, “Were you expecting an army? We are heading away from trouble, at least for now, not towards it. We are certainly not looking to fight a battle. Or I should say, we are expecting to fight a battle, but only when Lord Guglielmo has obtained an army. Until then, we are merely what we are.”

“Well if we ain’t an army,” said Bertoldo, pointing forwards, "then why is noble Sir Benedetto carrying Duke Alessandro’s battle standard?”

Up ahead, riding beside Lord Guglielmo, Sir Benedetto was indeed carrying the Sforta standard, green within an orange border, emblazoned with the image of a monstrous, coiled serpent in the act of consuming a naked man.



“A banner can be carried by one man,” Biagino answered, somewhat confused. “A knight at that. It doesn’t have to be at the head of an army.”

“I suppose not,” yielded Bertoldo, his subsequent intake of breath pregnant with another question. The priest did not have to wait long. “So why are we carrying Duke Alessandro’s banner, when he is our enemy?”

“Alessandro is now our enemy, of that there is no doubt. He can never be otherwise, for he can never be cured of what he has become. Only destroyed. But he is no longer duke.”

That got Bertoldo’s attention. He looked at Biagino with real confusion writ across his face.



“Duke Alessandro is dead,” continued the priest. “Assuming his son is dead too, which seems certain from the reports, then Lord Guglielmo is duke. By rights, the banner is his now.”

“Never thought of that,” admitted the servant. “The duke is dead.”

“And that is why he has become our enemy. The worst wickedness in the eyes of Morr is that of vampires, for not only is their vile existence a sinful corruption of all that is right, but they then add insult to injury by raising the dead to serve them.”

“Of that I have never had any doubt, father,” said Bertoldo. “Their naughtiness surely surpasses everyone else’s. Yet … if Duke Alessandro were to command us now, his lawful subjects…”

“We were his subjects, before. But that which speaks with the duke’s voice now is not the duke. Duke Alessandro  is gone, supplanted by the demonic spirit that now inhabitants his animated corpse. We owe his corpse no loyalty, only respect. And all chance to show that respect has been  taken from us by the demon. Duke Alessandro is dead. That which now calls itself duke of Miragliano is our enemy, and is indeed the enemy of all mankind. He is a blasphemy, a foul corruption mocking Morr.”

Bertoldo smiled, as if his dreamy musings had quite suddenly turned to happiness. “So we’re not traitors, nor thieves, nor even shirking our duties,” he exclaimed.

“No,” agreed Biagino. “We were once and still remain good and loyal subjects …”

“… of the living duke,” said Bertoldo, finishing Biagino’s words for him.

A few moments passed – just enough to make the priest begin to believe the servant was satisfied and might well fall silent once more.



Then Bertoldo piped up again.

“You know the duke would live a lot longer if we just continued south, forgot the whole raising an army business and settled down somewhere safe.”

Biagino did not know where to begin. Losing the will to explain the matter further, not least to a mere servant such as Bertoldo, he was sorely tempted simply to tell the man to hold his tongue, then perhaps to lecture a little upon a servant’s place in the world. But then he remembered his own father had been little better than Bertoldo in station, and the thought was enough to make him try again.

“First, if the duke were to do as you suggest then he would be duke merely in title. Is a shepherd without a flock truly a shepherd?”

“But Duke Guglielmo never had a flock,” answered Bertoldo.

An answer was not what Biagino had intended at all. The question was rhetorical.

Bertoldo obviously had no idea. “He never ruled Miragliano. He just governed Udolpho in his uncle’s name.”

Trying but failing to hide his exasperation, the priest asked, "Then do you call a shepherd who has no flock and never had a flock before, a shepherd?”

“Probably not,” said Bertoldo. “I’d say he was just a man who wants to be a shepherd.”

Biagino let the thought take a proper root in Bertoldo’s mind for a moment. Then continued, “Don’t get me wrong. Lord Guglielmo is the rightful possessor of the title. He has the blood, and was next in line to inherit. He is by all that is right and lawful the duke. It helps, however, if he has something to be duke of!”

“I have it, father,” said Bertoldo, as if he had just managed to secure a slippery fish that had been writhing in his hands close to escape. “And second?”

Only momentarily satisfied at his apparent success at explaining things, this last comment had Biagino confused.

“Second?”

“You said ‘first’,” explained the servant, “so I thought there’d be a second.”

Gods, but I am tired. “There is a second, though it ought to be first in the minds of all men of faith and sense. Second, it is the duty of all men, Tileans in particular I would say, to fight wickedness and evil. If everyone went south and settled as you so bravely suggest, then who would there be to defend against our enemy? We all die. There is no running away from that. If we do not fight and defeat that which would steal our souls, then we are all doomed.”

“Doomed,” echoed Berdoldo.

At last, he fell silent again. Biagino was left wondering whether his attempts to explain had failed altogether to reassure the servant. Then that concern was washed away by another. Oh, my aching feet.
………………………………………………………………………………………….
At the head of the column, Duke Guglielmo rode behind a blunderbuss armed coachman. There was no coach.



He carried his helm beneath his arm, the better to see the woods around him; his sword unsheathed, ready for a fight; and he bore a fixed expression, brooding and stern. He was like unto an equestrian statue, but seated upon a living horse.



Inside his mind, however, there was turmoil.

…………………………………………………………………………………………

Notes:

As I mentioned in the other thread, this time I am not trying to do this one all alone. I have 6 players I must keep this moving for, who will create a story I too can revel in, rich and varied and unexpected. Nor is the other thread is wasted, as the tale that was unfolding there has been incorporated into the history and background for this campaign.

The characters in the piece above are 'non-player' characters. Hopefully they will appear in later stories too - if a player has them all killed though, then they won't! I want to do these illustrated story pieces from NPCs' viewpoints, interspersed with bat reps, modeling reports and various other pieces. It will also be a nice and vivid way for the six players to gain insights and a feel for the world. I can't really do stuff from the players' perspective as they are playing the game, and they may not want the other players knowing what they're up to!

The Vampire Duke Allessandro is one of the six players. He is busy painting his army, and he's much better at it than me. He once sold an entire VC army, a few years ago. So now he is painting a new one! Me, I've got scenery to make and mercenaries to paint. Lots of mercenaries.


GamesPoet:
Sounds like a new good start!  And a bit of the trademark humor thrown oin as well. :icon_biggrin: :::cheers:::

Looking forward to more.  No pun intended.

Padre:
I liked your unintended pun, GP.  :icon_lol: So, you asked for more, and my players need more. What follows is in effect an advertisement for some mercenaries. Will any of my players want to employ them I wonder?

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The Green Corsairs
 
The storm had finally subsided just before daybreak, and as the roaring thunder, lashing rain and rushing wind all diminished, so too did the shouting. There had been a lot of shouting through the night, mainly by Sea Boss Scarback, the product of anger, frustration and a pressing need not to let things get any worse. Then again, Scarback was not that sure things could get worse.
 
As the day dawned Scarback could see that all his ships were gone, either consumed by fire in the fight, lost to the sea or destroyed by the black rocks. Perhaps the skaven always intended that the tempest should hit moments after they engaged in battle, but more likely they simply attacked when the opportunity presented itself, regardless of the weather. Either way, the storm had very much added to the Green Corsairs’ misery.

Even by greenskin standards, the ratmen seemed oblivious to the dangers that the approaching storm presented, a carelessness further proved by the unstable weaponry they employed. The diabolical machines affixed to their bows vomited long, sparking streams of unnaturally green-tinged flames, and their first blast had washed over the galley Bashdemall from bow to stern, killing the crew before they could even leap into the sea. Their second blast had gone catastrophically wrong as the machine burst and blew the entire front half of the skaven ship to pieces, yet this misfortune did nothing to help balance the odds, for the skaven vessels outnumbered the Green Corsairs three to one. Just as the storm hit, the Hullsplitter was boarded by a swarm of ratmen, so that every single orc aboard was matched by uncountable foes. The rest of Scarback’s fleet, attempting at that very moment to turn and so avoid the sheets of fire, had suddenly found themselves cruelly embayed on a lee shore, and so suffered more from the storm than the battle. Scarback’s flagship, the Doombringer, had been driven onto the black rocks by the wind, while the smaller ships Cracker and Orc’s Whelp had both just managed to avoid the same fate, being subsequently yanked out to sea by a rip current. Whether they escaped the Skaven vessels as well as the rocks was anybody’s guess.

The luckiest ship, perhaps, was the Mancrusher, for she had somehow skirted the rocks and run ashore on the one little beach along this particular stretch of the Tilean coast. She was named after a memorable incident when a Sartosan boarder had fallen between her hull and that of the ship he was leaping from, only to be ground into a red smear on the hulls of both ships. The Mancrusher’s smear was later made permanent with an artistic coating of red paint, but it now lay hidden by shadows as she lay careened sharply over on the sand. It would be possible to put her to sea again, but only if Scarback was willing to leave two thirds of his force behind. And he was not.
 
Scarback had drawn his blade, all the better to point with as he barked his commands, as well as to cut down several contrary goblins who had apparently forgotten who he was in their panic and confusion. Clad in a long coat torn from the bloated corpse of an already fat man his crew fished from the sea a few months back, with his brightly patterned scarf wound about his waist, he took a moment to consider what exactly he might do next.



His first mate Jalgador, whose own viciously curved cutlass had also chastised a goblin or two that night, pointed out to sea. “That’s Doombringer’s mast. She can’t be deep. Y’reckon we can get some stuff off ‘er?”

Boss Scarback peered out into the slowly lightening gloom until he could make it out too – just two feet of mast head, which would not be visible at all if it were not for the raggedy pennant dangling soggily from it. “No-one would come up again if they went under there, the waves and the rocks would see to that, a hammer and anvil to break their bones and crush the air from their lungs.”

“We gots lots o’stuff already,” interrupted the goblin trader Poglin Fangface, who was standing between the two orcs. His oversized panache feather hung heavily from his ragged black hat, and the clawed toes of his left foot stuck out of the hole at the end of his boot. “We gots it piled up behind the rocks.”

Neither orc looked at him, Jaglador merely grunting an acknowledgement. Still staring at the tip of his lost ship’s mast, Scarback was not so sure that ‘lots o’stuff’ was enough. “We got powder? Good powder?” he asked.

“Three barrels, not countin’ what the lads ‘ad about themselves,” answered Poglin. “Only them that went under for a bit has got soggy powder, the rest is good.”

“We got guns?”

“A brace of ‘em,” said the goblin. “And not little swivels, these is minions. And we got more’n a score of iron roundshot. The powder’s enough to keep ‘em hot for an hour or two.”

“How d’ya get them?” asked Jaglador.

“They’re the chasers from the Mancrusher. Fell right off ‘er onto the sand.”

Boss Scarback now noticed another one of his orcs was coming up the slope towards them, Hogg Yellowtongue, a musket on his shoulder. One of his other guards gave a welcoming ‘ho!’



Hogg had not been in Scarback’s boat, so his presence meant that at least some others from the Doombringer must have got to the shore. Scarback’s quartermaster was on the rocks down below closer to the water, leaning on a long spear. Over the sound of the surf he could not possibly have heard what they had just talked about, but Scarback knew he was probably thinking over the matter of salvage too.

“We ain’t getting anything off her,” Boss Scarback shouted loud enough for the quartermaster to hear. “Look all you like, but she’s lost and all that was on her.”

Jaglador suddenly looked worried. “Boss,” he said, “we ain’t lost the stone, ‘ave we?”

Scarback grinned. “No Jag, we still got it.” He turned to look at the goblin trader. “It’s safe, ain’t it Poggy? You done what I told yer?”

“Two o’ my lads is doin’ it right now boss. We’ll bury it deep and lay a rock o’er the spot. It’s inland a bit, like you said.”



“Good,” said Scarback. “Deep is good, deep is best. Them rats’ll know where it is if it ain’t put deep. They’s hungry for it, enough to try to take it from us. Now if they attack again, they still won’t get. No way. Now they’s gonna have to pay dear if they want it. An’ I mean dear. I’ll have ships and rat’s heads and a pile o’ shiny stuff, and that’s just fer starters. I wants payment and recompense for injuries received.”

“How we gonna get all that?” asked Jaglador.

“Give it time, Jaggy boy. Let ‘em realise it ain’t gone down with the ships, and then they needs must find us. When they see we ain’t carrying it, then they’ll know they gotta pay.” He would have to kill the two goblins who buried it, of course, otherwise they might blab - maybe kill Poglin too, but only if necessary as the trader was useful.

Blissfully ignorant of what Scarback was thinking, Poglin hefted his blunderbuss onto his shoulder, used the back of his free hand to wipe snot from his nose, and asked, “What we do in the meantime, then? Where do we go?”

“Well,” said Scarback, “we don’t stay here. We go, and quickly. Make ‘em think we’re in a rush to get away, like we’re taking the stone with us.”

The other remnants of Scarback’s pirates, mostly goblins, had gathered upon some flat ground inshore from the rocky beach. A few entire companies had survived the chaos of the night, having managed to get into the towed boats, but most were the rag tag remnants of crews lost either in the battle or to the storm and sea. Poglin had mustered every goblin he could find, ordering them to recover anything of any worth whatsoever from the Mancrusher, the wrecks and the surf.



Beside the pair of minions rescued from the ship, the shot and budge barrels, was a pile of casks, boxes, rope and tools. All the salvaged weapons were being carried or had been tucked in belts, as Scarback had ordered everyone made ready for a tussle in case the rats land a force. No one felt particularly safe on the beach, for if even the skaven did not come to finish them off, some local Tileans might take exception to their uninvited presence. Now the goblins were awaiting orders. Heavily armed with cutlasses, pistols, handguns and axes, they looked like a force to be reckoned with.



But Scarback knew better. The goblins could prove useful, but never on their own. Poglin’s rabble made a lot of noise, and were ugly to boot, but if his force was to be taken seriously, he needed as many orcs as he could get. Luckily an entire company of crossbow-armed orcs, the biggest and meanest of the three such companies he had on his ships, had made it to the shore a couple of miles to the south and had marched through the rocky hills to join the other survivors.



With these and his own boys forming the core, the goblins adding numbers, and the artillery pieces some punch, Scarback was satisfied he had just the sort of force he needed for what he intended to do next. “Just a matter of decidin’ where to go,” he declared, as much to himself as to the others.
 
“What about Viadaza?” suggested Jaglador. “Lord Adolfo will take us on again, if the price is right.”
 
“No,” said Scarback. “Not without ships he won’t. He don’t use the likes of us in his land army. ‘Cos that’s what we are now – soldiers not sailors. Time was his papa Magledy the Sharp would’ve found us some scrapping to do, but that all changed when Magledy took the whole city and had every greenskin on the streets killed. Adolfo won’t change the law for the likes of us. If we offered our service to him, he’d disarm us, break us up and put us on the galleys as slaves. No, Jaggy boy, we gotta go somewhere we gets to stick together, do some honest scrapping for our pay, and bide our time until the rats get to thinkin’ they have to make a deal. And until they work that out, we ain’t all lonely but instead is part of a bigger mob.”

“So where to?” asked Jaglador.

“Whoever will ‘ave us. Urbimo down to Alcente, there’s plenty might need some muscle. I’ve heard that a Waagh has crossed the Black Gulf, maybe someone will pay us to ‘ave a go at them?”

Poglin began to emit a strange whining noise, then checked himself. “Fightin’ greenskins from the Badlands? There could be millions of ‘em!”

Scarback laughed. “We won’t be on our lonesome. Besides, I don’t mind who I kills or how many I kills, as long as there’s pay for food and drink on the way, and some plunder to be had for all me efforts.”

Now it was Jaglador who laughed. “I could do with the food now. My belly is gurgulating something rotten.”


Padre:
A Recent History of Tilea, Part One
This written for the wise Lord Fazi Duccio by Master Lamberto Petruzzi of Astiano, the work being completed in Spring of the year IC2401

My Lord may I humbly present this useful summary concerning the great events over the last century in the realm of Tilea. I am grateful for the works of Uther von Gelburg for my account concerning the years up to the middle of the twenty fourth century.

A map of northern Tilea drawn in IC2341


In the earliest years of the twenty fourth century the infamous ‘Tilean Terror’ consumed much of northern Tilea. Vast hordes of ratto uomo swarmed from the Blighted Marshes to despoil and poison the land. Most respected scholars now agree that this verminous tide was born of the summoning of a vile chaos god, whose guiding power briefly united the usually quarrelsome clans. Udolpho was utterly ruined, its entire population massacred, and shortly afterwards Toscania  became afflicted with a particularly virulent plague of boils and buboes. Desperately employing fire in an effort to cleanse the most diseased quarters, the Toscanians were unable to contain what they themselves had begun and the entire city subsequently burned to the ground. To this day Toscania remains a ruinous pile of blackened stones.



Ebino  also suffered a grievous affliction, but commanded by the condottiere duke Bardollomao Colleoni, its people managed to thwart the besiegers’ attempts at infiltration. Nevertheless, every Ebinan village was razed, all its castles and manor houses, and the petty realm was left in a sad and sorry state, so that even today it is barely recovered. The great city of Miragliano, however, survived the turmoil. Its people, living upon the edge of the great swamp, had developed immunities to the fevers arising from the foetid waters, and its substantial garrison remained strong enough to hold the city’s mighty walls against all assaults. Most crucially it was well supplied from the sea, and just as importantly could not be undermined on account of its vast moat.
 
The beginning of the end of the Terror came in 2309 when a great battle took place before the city of Ravola. The Ravolans, aided by Lord Francis d’Este’s army of Brettonians, scattered a massive swarm of rat men, after which the enemy’s attacks stuttered out. The swarm never reached further southwards than the villages and farms around Viadaza and Scoccio, where there they were finally defeated in a series of engagements fighting mercenaries and militia in the employ of the Trantian Lord Jolenzo de Medizi.
 
In 2322, encouraged by both Remas and Pavona, and led by able militia captains, the populace of Urbimo rose up to shake off the yoke of Trantian rule. By this time the ‘War of the Tilean Sea’ had already begun, in which the resurgent ratto uomo committed uncountable acts of piracy, both petty and large, and fought several full-fleet battles. In 2332 the rat men besieged the city of Portomaggiore. Fearing they might be next to suffer, Luccinni and Raverno contracted to dispatch a large relief force, while an allied Sartosan fleet struck from the sea, and together these lifted the siege. Portomaggiore, keen to retain independence, subsequently endured years of hardship repaying the debts incurred.
 
In 2336, fifteen years after the death of the great Jolenzo de Medizi, and grown tired of what they claimed was the tyrannical rule of his son Piero de Medizi, the people of Trantio, in an action not dissimilar to the ‘Urbimo Uprising’, assaulted every one of the Medizi clan they could lay their hands on, hounding them out of their palatial residences, imprisoning some, murdering others. This became known as the ‘Liberation of Trantio’. Piero de Medizi and a band of loyal armed retainers fled the city with all the treasure they could carry and rode off into exile.

Pietro Soldoli, subsequently to become the Gonfaloniere of Trantio, is seen here encountering a band of Piero de Medizi’s looting brigante during the Liberation of Trantio in 2336.


Trantio then declared itself a Republic once again, and began the struggle to regain what they lost during Piero’s rule, including a drawn out conflict to regain the port of Urbimo. In 2337, the government and mob of Urbimo declared their Captain General Enrico Videlli to be a traitor - accusing him of plotting with Trantio to return their town to its rule. When they subsequently beheaded him they gained a new enemy, Enrico’s condottiere brother Videllozo Videlli.

In 2343 Frederigo Ordini, Arch-Lector of the Church of Morr and Reman Overlord declared a Holy War against the Skaven Menace. He assembled a massive army consisting of the traditional Reman legions, contingents sent by nearly every Tilean state great and small, and every mercenary company the wealthy church’s gold could buy, including the famous Compagnia del Sole.

Here Frederigo inspects a brigade of Pavonan soldiers assembled for the Holy War


A huge fleet, the like of which had not been amassed in the living memory of a dwarf, carried the army and towed hundreds of flat bottomed barges (specially designed to negotiate the marshes) across the Tilean Sea to the mouth of the river Berselli. But the expedition into the Blighted Marshes proved to be a disaster, with nearly every soldier perishing over the next year, either through disease, starvation or injury. This failure rocked the Church of Morr as Tileans everywhere questioned how a supposedly divinely inspired war could fail. Riots broke out in Remas, and charges were brought against the Arch-Lector accusing him of agreeing a secret alliance with certain Skaven clans.

A Secret Meeting at the ruined Tempio Dimenticato in Remas in IC 3242


When it was learned that a newly emergent Skaven alliance had indeed wrested control of Skavenblight, gaining power as its rivals’ strength was sapped in the war against the doomed Morrite expedition, the suspicions grew into open accusations. No great trial was ever held, but Ordini’s reputation was ruined, and the Church of Morr, by far the most influential of all Tilean churches, suffered ignominy. The only exception to this newfound shame for the Church of Morr was the ‘Sagrannalian’ sect in the city of Trantio. There, the radical, reforming priest Father Sagrannalo had been preaching against corruption and decadence within the church for many years. As he now seemed to have been proved right all along, his influence grew mightily. 

The Remans declared that never again would their Overlord be a churchman of any kind – that civil authority and military power should be kept separate from religious authority. The new overlord, Duke Giovanni Matuzzi, re-established order to the Reman state and ruled so successfully that he began a dynasty which has held power ever since. Perhaps the most surprising aspect of this rule is that the standing army of Remas became composed almost entirely of foreign mercenaries. Remans, Tileans even, were thought too liable to be swayed by the leaders of the Church of Morr. Although the standing army has both shrunk and grown in the intervening decades, occasionally necessitating the use of locally raised militia, its core ‘alien’ nature has been maintained, even growing more exotic. Currently the Reman army’s professional soldiers even include a large regiment of Cathayans.

Several years after the Holy War debacle, the new Arch-Lector of Morr made a proclamation, read by priests throughout Tilea, in which he declared that the disgrace belonged solely to Frederigo Ordini, who had succumbed to the temptations of worldly power, and that the church had now been fully purged of all such corruptions to become re-sanctified in the eyes of Morr. Today, even after all this time, the church may not quite as influential as it once was, yet it is without doubt the most powerful church throughout the realm, its traditional influence deeply rooted in the heart and soul of common Tileans, perhaps explaining why the current Arch Lector, Calictus II, feels able to criticize the princely rulers of Tilea for failing to march immediately against the Undead Lord of Miragliano.

In the middle years of the 24th century the city state of Pavona enjoyed a renaissance under the able guidance of Duchess Elisabetta. The actual ruler, Duke Alfonso de Montefeldo, was often incapacitated by illness, and thus relied upon his wife Elisabetta to fulfil various responsibilities. She was both refined and fashionable, and gathered a great entourage of artists and poets to make her court reputedly the most cultivated in Tilea. Throughout the city building work transformed the old fashioned, fortified towers into ornate and delicate palatial residences, relying on the city’s walls for defence. Pavona contributed to several conflicts, sending a very large contingent of its young gentlemen and men at arms to serve in the Arch-Lector’s Holy War (see the illustration above) and providing several companies of condottieri and gifted engineers to serve in the Bastard’s War (see below). In 2358 a large force of wild men and goblinoids burst through the defences of the Stretto Pass, large enough to threaten Pavona’s doom, but the walls proved strong and the men at arms, militia and mercenaries led several sallies out at the enemy, each time preventing some scheme for assault, such as the construction of wooden siege towers, and the damning of the River Remo in an ambitious attempt to flood the city. Pavonan warriors from across the realm returned in force, and along with a goodly number of Astiano and Scozzese soldiers, arrived just in time to save the city, and chased the foul foe from the realm, cutting nigh upon every one of them down as they fled through the pass. As the bells sounded and the victory celebrations and feasting began, the Duchess finally died. It was said that she had waited to know whether her beloved city was safe before she finally yielded. Her daughter Salanna succeeded her, and ruled jointly with her husband Luigi Gondi of Verezzo for many years, Much of their rule was a happy one, though a terrible plague visited the city in 2387 during which time not only did a good third of the populace suffer and die, overwhelming the capacity of the gravediggers as well as the priests of Morr to preside over their proper burial. So it was that the unburied (or improperly interned) dead were believed to walk the streets in the hours of darkness during two nightmarish months. Even now many folk consider the darkest hours of the Pavonan night to be a cursed time – not peaceful and quiet under a star filled sky, but eerily silent and inhabited by distorted shadows that seem to possess a wicked will of their own. No other city in Tilea lights as many lanterns and torches at night as Trantio. No other city is as quiet. Duchess Salana’s son, Duke Guidobaldo Gondi, now rules this city.

In the year 2352 King Ferronso Perrotto of Luccini died in somewhat suspicious circumstances leaving no obviously legitimate heir to rule his empire. His two bastard sons, Scoroncolo and Gismondo - the governors of Mintopua and Capelli respectively - went to war over the matter, and bloody conflict (‘The Bastards’ War’) engulfed the whole of the southern tip of Tilea. Sartosan Pirates, hired by the governor of Alcente to assist in the defence of the city, took possession of it instead. Pavezzano’s walls were battered down by siege engines, and at one point the population of Capelli fled desperately to seek shelter in the sylvan realm of Sussurio Wood.

Portomaggiore, heavily indebted both to Luccini and the Sartosan admiral Gran Strozzi, and barely clinging to independence, stopped paying the Luccinian portion of their debts as soon as it became clear that Luccini was unable to spare forces to argue the matter with them. Gran Strozzi, however, continued his stranglehold on Portomaggioren trade. Supported by soldiers and funds sent by exiled elders currently residing in Ridraffa and Remas, the Portomaggioran council of elders declared the Gran Strozzi debt also repaid the morning after every Sartosan ship in the city’s harbour had been simultaneously burned in a coordinated act of sabotage. A year later, Gran Strozzi himself died at sea, fighting against Gismondo of Luccini, and the question of the loan died with him.

The city of Luccini emerged from the Bastard’s War very much impoverished, with Scoroncolo the victor. His descendant still rules there, the boy King Ferronso III, but the days of its glory seem ever more distant as the years roll by. King Ferronso is nearing the age of majority, however, and is gradually taking more and more control from his council. Many believe him to be much like his great grandfather, the great Ferronso I. He has recently contracted the service of the infamous Arabyan mercenary company, Gedik Mamidous’ Sons of the Desert. This is presumed to be in response to the threat presented by Khurnag’s Waagh!

The Republic of Trantio finally accepted defeat in its long drawn-out war to regain control of Urbimo in 2349, a decision helped by the fact that they were somewhat more concerned with countering the activities of a large force of greenskins who had spewed from the Border Princes along the Via Nano to roam the Trantine Hills raiding the outlying settlements of Trantio, Pavona and Astiano. This had long been a recurring problem, but this time the goblinoid strength was greater than ever before. The famous Trantian Gonfaloniere Soldoli died in one of the skirmishes, after which the ancient prophet of Morr, Father Sagrannalo, buoyed to even greater influence since the fall of the Arch-Lector Ordini, spurred the people of the city to form the strongest militia force ever made and scour the hills clean of every goblin and orc. In 2350, inspired by his successes and growing ever more manic with old age, Sagrannalo declared the ‘Holiest War’, intending to utilise his new army of Trantio to cleanse the other princely states of Tilea of corruption.

Father Sagrannalo declares his ‘Holiest War’ in Trantio in 2350


Although many of the militia subsequently deserted, thousands of fanatics followed him to attack and ‘cleanse’ towns and villages, until defeated by a condottiere mercenary force in battle outside Stiani. Trantio had to pay dearly to compensate for the damage done by Sagrannalo’s fanatics – by now several city states were allied against them, threatening to gain reparations through acts of war. Trantio declared its new policy was to stay out of other states’ affairs. But exiled ruler Piero Medizi, supported by his condottieri son Liovvani, took advantage of the bad feeling against Trantio stirred up by Sagrannalo’s ‘Holiest War’, and aided by loyalists within Trantio (the sinister ‘Bigi’) took possession of the city in a cunningly and brutally combined coup and assault. The entire Albinni family (traditional rivals of the Medizi) were slaughtered - man, woman and child - and many who were believed to have Sagrannalian tendencies were put to the sword. A new tyrannical rule began, first under Prince Piero, then his son Liovvani, and now Liovanni’s son, Girenzo Medizi. The first two ruled Trantio with an iron grip, and Prince Girenzo is no exception.
 
Once their war against Trantio came to a conclusion, the people of Urbimo looked forward to peace and prosperity, but it was not to be. The condottieri Videllozo Videlli, who had been unwilling to ally with the Republic of Trantio (an action which might be seen as admission that his executed brother had indeed been plotting with the Trantians), joined with Liovvani Medizi, son of the returned prince of Trantio. Thus began the second, long, war between Urbimo and Trantio (2352 – 2359). What little assistance Pavona and Remas were willing to provide, either  publicly or secretly, allowed the Urbimans to hold on to their city for years. Only when Piero Medizi died and Liovvani returned to Trantio did events turn in their favour again. Videllozo was wounded by a crossbow quarrel, and took ship intended to sail to the great city of Miragliano where the famous doctor Jacopo practised his reputedly miraculous skills. An Urbiman ship gave chase, however, and both ships were lost at sea. Urbimo remains fiercely independent, its walls made stronger than ever.

Padre:
A Recent History of Tilea, Part Two

A map of the entire Tilean Peninsula


In 2355 the wizard lord Niccolo Bentiglovio of Campogrotta, the third Bentiglovio to rule in succession, had ruled for more twenty years. His reign was widely reputed tyrannical, and his provisionate consisted of a large regiment of Ogres, bolstered - as if this were necessary - by veteran mercenaries reportedly more cruel than any other in Tilea.

A company of brutes patrolling the night-time streets of Campogrotta in 2353


As a consequence not only was the wizard lord’s rule over his own people terrible, but his reputation darkened across Tilea. In 2350 he had proclaimed the elite of Ravola to be foreign invaders (ironic in that his strength lay with a force that was not even human) and this obviously created a particular friction between him and his northern neighbours, involving several skirmishes. Still his city thrived economically, as a healthy trade flowed along the Carraia del Ferro (the Iron Road) between this city and Dwarfen mines of Karak Borgo in the neighbouring Vaults. It was also believed that Lord Niccolo ended the friction that once existed between Campogrotta and the denizens of Tettoverde Forest (believed to be a secretive tribe of sylvan elves). As it is no easy thing to remain on friendly terms at one and the same time with these two inimical races, it perhaps is odd that he was so hated by his own people and other Tilean states. In 2355 most of his ogres left upon some errand of their own, without Lord Niccolo’s leave to do so. They were not gone long, but even so it was long enough for the people of the city to rise up in rebellion and burn down Lord Niccolo’s palace with him inside: thus ended his reign.

Most of the populace then fled the city and headed westwards when the Ogres returned. It is commonly joked that the ogres had been back in the city for a fortnight before they realised that their lord and master was no longer alive. More surprisingly the Ogres did not plunder or destroy the city (well, only a little bit, and much of its wealth had been removed by the refugees) but instead left once more, this time being absent for many years. Three decades passed and the city re-established itself, even began to thrive. A merchant filled Republican Council ruled the city, and goods were sent in quantity down the River Tarano to be traded in Viadaza and Remas and further afield. Then in 2388 a strange, old man arrived at the city gates declaring that he was the Wizard Lord Bentivoglio, claiming he had never perished and had so returned to take back what was his. The people laughed for this fool had no army, no ogres, and they chased him away. The event became little more than a tavern tale, and the city continued to prosper. Twelve years later, in 2400, the old man returned – or at least a man claiming to be him returned - this time he did indeed have a regiment of ogres and within two days the city was his. The fighting was brutal, the ogres cruel. Brutality and cruelty now curse the city, for ‘Niccolo Returned’ took possession of a palazzo and settled into obscurity, while the Ogre Tyrant Razger Boulderguts ruled in practise. He sent envoys to his Tilean neighbours declaring his governorship in Lord Niccolo’s name, and is even rumoured to have recommenced trade with the dwarfs of Karak Borgo. One courtly wit in Remas remarked that just as the first Lord Niccolo’s ogres failed to notice that he was gone, the dwarfs have also yet to notice that Ogres have replaced the men of Tilea – after all, both races are taller than dwarfs! Meanwhile the people of Campogrotta live in fearful obedience, and in ever harder circumstances as the ogres steadily consume the city’s wealth.

The ruler of Ravola, Prince Sigismondo d’Este, son of the Bretonnian Lord Francis d’Este, died in 2361. Most of the city state’s ruling elite were descendants the knights who came with Lord Francis in 2309 to fight the ratto uomo, who stubbornly clung to their ancestors’ traditions in peace and war. Prince Sigismondo left no male heir as his eldest son had died from a jousting wound, and his youngest had been lost questing in the Vaults to chase down the orcen warrior who had killed his squire. The Bretonnian king’s official ambassador, Sir Gorrin de Bordelaux, with permanent residence in the city and a seat upon Sigismondo’s privy council, declared that the new ruler should be the noble winner of a grand tourney and the knights of Ravola (who some say are more Bretonnian than the Bretonnians) clamoured to agree. A date was set, with enough time for even more landless knights to travel south through the Nuvolonc Pass from the homeland. Deliberate or now, Sir Gorrin’s tourney was to double the knightly strength in Ravola, for many stayed even after the joust, making little keeps for themselves and a handful of serfs each in the open land of Usola south of the city. The winner of the tourney, one Galleac the Red, duly became the new Prince of Ravola. When he in turn became mortally ill in 2388, having begotten only daughters, the Ravolan knights could barely contain their excitement. The precedent had been set, and once more a grand tourney was held to decide the new ruler. This time Giacomo Uberti of Olessi, a Tilean, who tricked his way into the lists, won. An argument erupted, leading to another touney somewhat bloodier than the first - a great tumult in which several many knights perished – Giacomo was finally accepted. He had been a knight to begin with, but his title was considered insufficient in comparison with true Bretonnian knighthood, so the Bretonnian king’s ambassador, Sir Baelan of Couronne, knighted Giacomo in the Bretonnian manner, and made him vow to rule in the Bretonnian way. This he has done and continues to do, despite the grumblings of some more traditional Ravolan knights.

Alcente emerged from the Bastards’ War with a new Grand Council containing a majority of Sartosan Pirates. Happily for the city state it turned out that a good number of these Sartosan captains were tired of the constant struggle of a pirate’s life, and were happy to begin a privileged life of wealth and safety. Within years it was no longer the fashion to refer to any on the council as other than citizens and merchants, and the city prospered. In 2399, however, the city was threatened by the greenskin Waagh led by the orc warlord Khurnag which spilled into the Golfo di Pavezzo. At first the Waagh’s main strength attacked different targets, with Pavezzano putting up a brave but ultimately futile resistance lasting several months, and Monte Castello holding out much longer against a massive force of besiegers until the greenskins fell into disarray after a vicious disagreement led to murder and mayhem in their camp. Capelli and Alcente faced weaker greenskin sorties and small raiding parties, but they were both aware it was merely a taste of what was likely to come. It was too late to defeat the Waagh at sea, for it had already crossed the Black Gulf and was now receiving a steady stream of reinforcements from the Border Princes, either overland or crossing the narrow Bay of Wrecks. Alcente knew from historical experience that asking for aid from Sartosa would be inviting a different kind of trouble, and so too would asking Luccini to help. So it was that they turned to the powerful northern trading company of the VMC (Vereenigde Marienburg Compagnie), who already had many agents and warehouses in the city, to ask for help. Terms were agreed regarding future trade and a share in political power, and mercenaries were hired. Earlier this year the first of the VMC’s own northerner regiments arrived at Alcente, proof that the company had every intention on honouring their agreement reaping the future profits.
 
Early in the 24th century the condottiere Andrea Dornida, who was due to retire as captain-general of the Reman army, was granted governorship of his home city of Viadaza by his Reman masters. The consequence, as unexpected as it was sudden, was that he threw off the yoke of Reman rule and, supported by alliance with the Sforta of Miragliano, he made Viadaza his own. A small army of lawyers and priests gathered to prove his family’s ancient rights as Viadaza’s first family and the people proclaimed him their saviour from Reman domination. Soon, however, he began acting against the Sforta’s wishes too, making it obvious he wanted nothing more to do with their regime, and thus quickly fell out of favour with them. During the time of ‘The Terror’, when the Miraglianese Sforta were somewhat distracted, he established an aristocratic republic in Viadaza ruled in theory by twenty three noble clans (including the Cydo, Griseldi, Dornida, Filleschi, Pallavacano and Spidola), but in practice controlled by Dornida. He then went on to make the Viadazan navy a force to be reckoned with, and so successful was he in his endeavours that his fleet came out of the War of the Tilean Sea stronger than it had been before conflict began.
 
Under Andrea’s guidance the city grew rich through sea trade, including the chattel slavery business. Certainly the twenty three noble families became very wealthy. Men and women from all across the globe, whether outcasts, convicts, or born slaves, also halflings and even half-orcs, were bought and sold in Viadaza’s bustling markets. Sea faring dark-elf slavers often traded in the city, and Viadazan slaving vessels usually included half-orcs and other greenskins amongst the crews, although who by law such sailors had to remain in certain city quarters if they disembarked. It was visitors and servants such as these that gave the city an ill reputation. Worst of all, it was also widely believed that ‘Father Andrea’ was a leading member of the feared and hated Assassin’s Guild - the slippery, secret, and deadly society supposedly spanning all Tilea. In IC2351 Andrea, unlike most of his enemies, died of old age, leaving two old sons to rule after him. Their chaotic rule lasted less than a year, as they killed each other – one used a blade, then died from the poison smeared upon the handle of the same blade. The chaos then spiralled as the city fragmented, every ward and quarter fighting against the rest. Ratto Uomo were witnessed openly in the streets, in the sunlight, and no day went by without bloodshed, turmoil and grief. At least seven different people claimed to rule the city, but in truth each only held a portion, and there was much left ruled by none of those seven.

One of the seven was a half-orc called Magledy the Sharp, who for the best part of a year controlled the docks and wharves, leading an army of sea dogs and cut-throats. He had been Andrea’s harbour master, governing the previously troublesome dock workers for half a dozen years with an iron grip. Magledy the Sharp proved a cunning leader, and in one night of carefully planned riots and well-timed assaults, removed five of his rivals. The sixth, a ferocious matron called Lady Beatrice (or ‘Bloody Betty’), successfully fled the city This led to Magledy’s tyrannical rule of the entire city. But tyranny seemed to suit Viadaza, and the city slowly but surely regained the wealth it had boasted at the height of Andrea’s rule, with ample trade of a dubious nature. Magledy proclaimed that the assertion he was half orc was a vile and libellous lie, and that in truth he was as human as the best of Tileans – a sea dog and proud of it. To prove this in 2354 he had every goblin and orc in the city killed, be they pit-slaves or galley-slaves. Only those serving on board ships were spared. Still to this day the Viadazans have the legal right to slay any goblinoid they find on the streets on sight, yet even so, hundreds stride the decks of the ships in the harbour every day. In the same year Magledy married the Lady Vanozza, daughter of wizard lord Niccolo Bentiglovio of Campogrotta, with whom he then had several children. His first son, Adolfo Appuntito, born in 2363, succeeded his father in 2383 and has been Lord of Viadaza ever since. In some ways the city has become a slightly less disturbing place during his rule, for the slave trading is now performed more secretly, away from the public gaze, and there aren’t quite so many fighting pits surrounded by shouting crowds. Fewer rotting corpses hang from spikes over the gates, and Dark Elves do not walk the streets leading chained chattel slaves by the hundred to their ships. But the galleys are still rowed by greenskins, and once again people say that Viadaza is the chief home of the Assassins’ Guild. Adolfo’s mother, the septuagenarian Lady Vanozza, still lives, though is rarely seen.

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