Events post #304: The War for Sterion

7/12/2022 at 5:00
The War for Sterion

Long has shadow been a source of grief and consternation for those of a forestal persuasion. Countless stories tell of its destructive ways, its unending hunger, and its capacity for ruin when left unchecked. Still appalled by the events at Farsai and freshly stirred to renewed grief at the Hunter's sorrowful reminder of Dendara's continued degradation, the Duirani had had enough. Enough of playing bystander. Enough of playing helpless victim, powerless but to watch yet more horrors befall them.

Seeking to draw a line in the sand and strike back against that which had tormented them for so long, the leaders of Duiran turned their minds to Sterion. Sweeping into the village, the Duirani cut down the Minotaur without mercy and declared their intent to seize control of the portal to Czjetija - which had long been under the watchful eye of the Shaman Castes - for themselves.

Sadako, the Venerable and Inscrutable, responded swiftly, refusing the demands for surrender while reminding Duiran and the world at large of their sacred duty: to safeguard the rift between Prime and Shadow, and the danger that would befall the realm should that work be prevented.

In response to these demands, Severn, the Manipulator, issued a dire warning to the Senators of Spinesreach, echoing Sadako's words about the dangers of letting Sterion's rift go improperly guarded. With war on the horizon, the Sciomancers and Spinesreach at large continued to pursue a diplomatic resolution, earnestly attempting to convince Duiran of their sincerity on the subject of shadow and the dangers of the rift.

Their words went unheeded, and war came swiftly on the heels of a Durdalis cluster dying at the hands of Spirean hoplites. The war's opening skirmishes were short and brutal, early victories going to Duiran whose well-practiced and experienced veterans commanded the field with aplomb under the command of Valorie Aresti. Despite their accomplishments on the battlefield, however, the gates of Sterion held fast, and the Spireans began to rally, a resurgence largely owed to the leadership of Nisavi of Kemau.

Encouraged by Vanguard Milihion to prepare a full assault on the Sterion gates, the Duirani set up a war camp in the Three Widows and began to re-strategise. Spinesreach, their numbers bolstered and their spirits resolute, prepared a counter assault on Duiran's encampment, and the sieges began.

Pitched battles continued to play out across Sterion and the Three Widows as each side fought desperately to lead their troops against the others' gates. Though Duiran drew the first blood, death soon came for all sides as blades swung, spells flew, and the Song of Oblivion droned out its doleful notes. Duiran claimed the early advantage once again, and if not for a valiant and risky raid organised by Feirenz, all would have been lost in so little time. But the Spireans persisted. And the Duirani fought harder and harder.

After five weeks of uncountable carnage, with both gates barely holding on, Sterion's fell, and Duiran had won the war.

Vanguard Milihion gleefully swarmed into the village alongside a group of their Soliad, rounding up the surviving Minotaur. Rihrin Silverain once again demanded Sterion's surrender, and Sadako once again refused, spitting at the ground in disgust. Milihion requested permission to feast, and Lady Sapphire gave her assent. The fae creatures descended upon the captured Minotaurs in a vicious frenzy, stripping the flesh from them and leaving nothing behind but sheared bones.

As the Duirani fanned out through Sterion in an effort to free the slaves housed there, Milihion informed the Speakers that the Soliad would secure the village and attempt to uncover its secrets. Within a week, the Soliad had rooted out any remaining Minotaur and consigned them to the same fate as the others. A monstrous effigy now stood in the village centre, built of the bones of man, woman, and child-calf in tribute to the gruesome conquest.

In the weeks following the war's conclusion, the Duirani awaited news from the Soliad while the Sciomancers rushed to distribute literature and information on the effects of the Shadowbound Plague. Milihion soon gathered the Duirani before the Shrine of Bells, and, praying for the return of the Hunter, with His aid they breached the defences of Sterion's lower tunnels.

At the end of the snaking, subterranean passageway, stood the great gate, the archway that acted as the portal to Czjetija. They each of them peered into the inky-black void.

And the void peered back.

Merely a tiny pinprick glimmered in the enveloping darkness, a speck of dusky violet whose size belied its significance. Barely weeks had passed since the conquest of Sterion, but it was enough. Absent the Minotaurs sworn to maintain it, the rift to Shadow had been breached.

Penned by my hand on Gosday, the 3rd of Niuran, in the year 503 MA.
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