The storm had begun, howling, torrential. And nobody could stop it anymore.
少女之泪 - 846 YSD – The Maiden`s Tears
At first, many still clung to the naive idea that the Unicorn and Greyhound conflict would not spread to the rest of the already fractured Empire. The declaration of war occurred in late Dancing Flames, 846 YSD, and the first skirmishes took place during the months of the Shining Star and the Radiant Crown. Some optimistic fools believed the coming winter would cool the hearts and minds on both sides. But what was then still known as “the War of the Maiden’s Tears” was not to end so easily. That year’s winter proved soft and barely slowed down the armies.
Engurrand knew taking Yorwick was out of the question. His plan was to focus on the territories located on the western and eastern edges of the Unicorn Duchy. Bayworth, on the shores of Tirya Bay, was a tempting prize. And near the Empire’s heartlands, capturing Kilburn would cut off a good chunk of Unicorn land from Rowena’s authority. Rowena, on the other hand, went with a more direct strategy, and started to march on Millfield, the Greyhound’s grain store, hoping to ruin Enguerrand’s supply line.
By the spring 847 YSD, the real battles were about to begin.
三线作战 - A war on three fronts
I won’t detail every single battle here, as they were the theatre of many feats and heroics and each battle could be the subject of a great song.
What you should know is that Enguerrand’s armies, led by Garland of Blackstone, laid siege to Bayworth from Spider Queen, 846, to Azure Tides, 847, but they couldn’t breach the city walls. The defenders, led by Baron Clive Morgan, exploited the old Tirya smuggler routes to their advantage, to bring in food and supplies. When Unicorn reinforcements finally arrived from the North, Garland was forced to abandon the siege and retreat. Rowena’s forces were less lucky in their own assaults. The battle of Millfield, which lasted from the 6th to the 11th of the Laughing Winds, was a disaster, a crushing defeat for the Unicorn Duchy.
Enguerrand had lost at Bayworth, but Kilburn was still within his grasp. However, he had not forgotten that Ivan of Griffin was on his way, to fight at Rowena’s side. When news reached Ivan that Enguerrand was marching on Kilburn, the Lord of Griffin took his cavalry and rode west in all haste, leaving command of the main force to his trusted lieutenant, Justicar Tatyana of Stormgrad, known to her soldiers as the White Lioness. It certainly was a reckless move on Ivan’s part, but you have to understand why he couldn’t let Kilburn fall.
You might have heard stories about Lord Wilfred of Kilburn, the famous errant knight? During the Second Eclipse, this great hero journeyed to the Griffin Duchy and offered his sword to Duke Anton, becoming Anton’s trusted friend and comrade-in-arms through many hardships. Some years later, Lord Kilburn became the new Duke of Unicorn. Duchess Rowena was Wilfred’s descendant.
You understand then that by coming to Rowena’s rescue Ivan was repaying her ancestor’s help. By defending the city of Kilburn from the Greyhound’s hunger he was honouring her ancestor’s memory.
But as Ivan and his riders were joining Rowena’s forces and getting ready to fight Enguerrand near Kilburn, everybody – myself included, I am ashamed to say – had forgotten about Amílcar of Bull.
公牛与雌狮 - The Bull and the Lioness
On the 13th day of the Blood Moon, the Bull forces ambushed Tatyana’s rearguard near Edenbrook, on the southern side of the Rose mountains. The White Lioness fought fiercely – she knew the Griffin army had to keep moving and reach the Unicorn Duchy at all costs. Taking three hundred men-at-arms with her, she did her best to shield the convoy from Amílcar’s attack. Of Tatyana’s brave soldiers, only one survived to tell the tale of her heroic last stand. Her sacrifice allowed most of the army to escape and reach the other side of the mountains.
His arrogance fuelled by his victory over the White Lioness of Stormgrad, Amílcar was quick to set his sights on a bigger prize: he pushed east, towards the Griffin Duchy, intent on seizing a piece of Ivan’s land. On the 4th day of the Radiant Crown, his forces passed the Griffin border. On the 21st, Amílcar began the siege of Voron Peak. On the 25th, the city had fallen to the Bull.
On the 1st day of the White Maiden, Stefan of Wolf entered the war, sending his armies north to counter the Bull’s advance. Far in the North, Seamus of Stag had spent the last months cutting down the forests on Irollan’s border, gathering wood for purposes unknown. His plans were as inscrutable as ever, but it seemed obvious he, too, would soon join the fray…
A quick side-note about the Imperial Calendar
Some of you requested some explanations about the calendar we use in the Holy Empire and the way the months are named. I thought this calendar was widely used, but I guess a recapitulation cannot hurt:
- Moon Mother (dedicated to Asha as the Mother, Giver of Life)
- Night Veil (dedicated to Malassa, Dragon of Darkness)
- Sun Blossom (dedicated to Elrath, Dragon of Light)
- Emerald Song (dedicated to Sylanna, Dragon of Earth)
- Azure Tides (dedicated to Shalassa, Dragon of Water)
- Dancing Flames (dedicated to Arkath, Dragon of Fire)
- Laughing Winds (dedicated to Ylath, Dragon of Air)
- Blood Moon (dedicated to the fight against Urgash, Dragon of Chaos)
- Shining Star (dedicated to Sar-Elam, The Seventh Dragon)
- Radiant Crown (dedicated to the Imperial Dynasty of the Holy Empire)
- Spider Queen (dedicated to Asha as the Crone, Queen of Death)
- White Maiden (dedicated to Asha as the Maiden, Bestower of Fate)
Like most nations, the Empire has adopted the Elven tradition to have weeks of seven days, named after the Dragon Gods: Malda, Elda, Arda, Sylada, Shalda, Ylda and Ashda. Elda is a day of worship and rest in the Empire, while it is Ylda or Ashda in the Free Cities, Sylada in Irollan, and so on.