- "An artifact that has slain countless demons upon the battlefield of eternity. A weapon that can change the tides of war. Mankind does not deserve it."
- —Alec Kylar regarding Skycutter.
The Skycutter Conflict was a state of geopolitical tension within Alderwood, Khanduras. It all began when Skycutter, an ancient angelic weapon, fell from the sky and marked its location upon a great plateau on the outskirts of the city. The sword, unable to be removed form the stone, proved to be an obstacle. Conflict escalated after four powers took up arms to claim the heavenly sword, including the three great houses of Alderwood and a faction assembled by Alec Kylar.
The first phase of the conflict began one week after the discovery of Skycutter on Kathon 15th. Alec and the Rune Rogues, shadow denizens of the surrounding region, consolidated and mediated its control over the plateau, while the noble houses of Alderwood began a strategy of regional containment to challenge one another, extending military and financial aid to claiming the angelic weapon. As weeks passed, assassinations and proxy fights eventually broke out within the region; puppet leaders were hired or coerced from surrounding hill tribes and mercenary factions.
During the climax of the conflict, Alec and Maxmillian assembled a large force and launched an assault on the remaining belligerents, and the sword itself was eventually claimed by the latter on Kale Monath 22nd after a skirmish upon the plateau. Many of the denizens of Alderwood rejoiced after the sword's departure in the hands of Maxmillian, as it had ultimately caused more devastation than harmony. Skycutter was brought to the Skovos Isles for the Oracle caste to study and protect, and in return rewarded Maxmillian with an Askari bride.
The conflict created a long series of ramifications in the years following, the most notable was the inception of a strict religious committee to govern the city after the crumble of the major noble houses that left behind political and social unrest. Following an uprising by strict religious fanatics and warrior zealots for control over Alderwood, high priests implemented traditional rights. During the conflict, Warren Corbray returned from exile and united the vassal houses of Alderwood and removed the corrupt Zakarum influence from the city. However, William's return forced House Corbray into a civil war fought between Corbray loyalists and Hans' personal followers.
The stage was set for war when Skycutter fell from the High Heavens in the late night of Kathon 7th on the outskirts of Alderwood. Who or what caused the sword to fall from the sky remains unclear, and the former owner is unknown. The Skycutter landed conveniently upon a plateau on a hill overseeing Alderwood. Alec Kylar later speculated that the sword was lost and that its presence had no real purpose, thus he sought to bring it to the Oracle Cast - which has experience with angelic artifacts - for study and safe keeping.
The value of the Skycutter came with it landed within the boulder upon the plateau, which was adjacent to the Alder Lake. Drawing its energies from the infinite angelic artifact, the Alder Lake began acting as a mystical fount, sending its potent energies out across the surrounding land to nourish life in all its wondrous forms. The only downside was that the sword was unmovable. Also, the waters from the lake, when consumed, aided the citizens of Alderwood in sickness and health, which in turn sparked interest from the three major noble houses of the city.
The Discovery Edit
In the early morning of Kathon 8th, a group of peasents passing by Alder Lake drank from the water and immediately felt its mystical powers. There after, a farmer named Jedd discovered the Skycutter while passing through the road that lead over the plateau. He attempted to remove the angelic sword from the boulder but to no prevail, alas he returned to Alderwood to inform the constables. Obsessed with the weapon he found, Jedd claimed the mysterious sword as his own since he found it and lead a party of citizens to its location, among them Terji Joensen who took notice of Jedd's desire.
During this period, two major factors occurred that fueled the coming conflict, the first was the rise in social power of the mysterious warrior priest known as The Red Hand who influenced Lord Damon Lothston as a puppet leader; together, both local leaders converted followers of Zakarum and members of House Lothston into devout soldiers of faith. The faith militant, lead by The Red Hand, took an open and bold interest in the Skycutter, alas their preaching was heard in all corners of the city. The second concurrent factor was the uniting of several small regional hill tribes under Chieftain Roklar, a renowned warrior who possessed great cunning and brutality; Roklar had held a long, secret non-aggressive pact with Lord Jerald Dunn many years prior and both men occasional worked together in mischievous plots.
The farmer Jedd was later executed by members of House Dunn when he attempted to claim the sword from the stone, but it was discovered that Skycutter was unmovable. The Great Houses of Lothston and Corbray opposed Lord Jerald for the execution. When a heated debate turned into a bloody brawl between Lord Jerald and Lord Winston upon the plateau, Alec and his Rune Rogues broke up the conflict. Within days, all three Great Houses had positioned themselves upon the plateau as well as the fields based beneath. House Lothston soon gained the support of the townsfolk when The Red Hand propagated that Skycutter belonged in possession of the Zakarum faith, agitating House Dunn and Corbray. After nearly a week of segregation and unrest, all three Houses prepared for the brink of war whilst the Rune Rogues cemented their role as regulators.
Phase One Edit
Hostilities began in the early morning on Kathon 15th, one week after Jedd's discovery of Skycutter. House Dunn drew first blood when Lord Jerald sent ten of his finest assassins, including prolific serial killer Grazer, to raid and slaughter members of House Varela. Opposing Lord Jerald was Lord Edward of House Varela who betrayed fealty to House Dunn and switched sides to House Corbray. The inception of this brutal action was sparked by Lord Jerald's informants catching wind of the conspiracy before House Varela publicly declared their allegiance. In the dead of night, Grazer and his comrades purged all but Lord Edward, who cursed House Dunn for their cutthroat politics and dishonorable tactics; Grazer then proceeded to stab Edward multiple times and left the corpses of House Varela in the family mansion. The next day, after learning of the purge of House Varela, House Reyes and their bannermen swore fealty to House Dunn in fear that they would face the same fate.
Meanwhile, Sir Moritz Vajda renounced his faith in the Zakarum after he accused Damon Lothston of being a puppet leader of the Red Hand. As a result, Moritz and his beautiful wife Jayna of House Rainlore, a vassal to House Corbray, were sentenced to death for heresy by the Red Hand. Before being burned at the stake upon the plateau of the Skycutter, in which the Red Hand and his followers viewed as a human sacrifice, Jayna was able to send word via courier to her family of her imminent death. Moritz and Jayna were brutally executed during the hour of the wolf; a metal mask with sharp spikes on the inside was placed over faces of Moritz and Jayna and hammered into their flesh before being burned.Following the Purge of House Varela and the executions of Moritz and Jayna, House Corbray declared war against House Dunn and House Lothston for their 'barbaric and belligerent actions' and summoned their bannermen on Kathon 17th. Lord Jerald immediately responded later that day by capturing, torturing and beheading Lord Winston's squire, a boy of twelve, and mounting his head on a pike outside his mansion. Elsewhere, Lord Damon assembled all the community leaders within the Zakarum church to reform the faith militia; this process enforced a multitude of religious laws in a state of clericalism and commoners began focusing their attention on the religion.
Aside from war and politics, the Skycutter brought harmony among the denizens of Alderwood, as many commoners and lowborn were rejoiced to find the positive affects of the Skycutter; water became more accessible and pure, sicknesses and illnesses faded over night, and crops and plants bloomed to maximum efficiency, etc. Though the occasional bloodshed and violence occurred in dark corners of the city, most of the citizens took little heed to the coming war as most were too occupied with their newfound prosperity. The mayor preferred that the conflict remain outside the city, and that the belligerents involved at claiming the sword do not interfere with the well-being and safety of the denizens.On Kathon 27th, the belligerents began marking their claim upon the plateau, but Alec Kylar and his group, the Rune Rogues, made it there first and negotiated a peace treaty among the lords of Alderwood and that weekly occupation of the plateau would be spread evenly among the belligerents: House Dunn would have rights on Monday and Tuesday, House Corbray on Wednesday and Thursday, and House Lothston on Friday and Saturday. Sunday would not only belong to Alec and his associates but also a truce between all belligerents would commence for the entirety of the day.
While proxy skirmishes and rival fights happened daily within the streets of Alderwood, no actual battles took place during the first phase of the war. Lord Jerald stonewalled his enemies except for Alec, as he feared the Dark Templar and the rumors of his origins. Jerald also capitalized during the initial idleness by buying out all the smiths and weapon makers in the city. Lastly, Jerald held secret meetings with Chieftain Roklar of the hilltribes and established a war pact between his noblehouse and Roklar's wildlings. Meanwhile, Lord Damon and the Red Hand focused primarily on herding the common folk into the fold and gaining their support in the war by declaring that the Skycutter rightfully belonged to the Zakarum church, in doing so named Lord Winston and Lord Jerald as infidels. Witnessing the powerful uprisings from Houses Dunn and Lothston, Lord Winston focused less so on numbers and resources and rather more so on political power by gathering a majority of the vassal houses to his side.Alas, the table was set when Lord Jerald held sway over resources and information, Lord Winston held sway over strength and unity, and Lord Damon held sway over politics and large numbers. As the three major belligerents continued their struggle over the realm, Alec marked and regulated all the territories of Alderwood as an acting arbiter; this aloud the Rune Rogues to sway the tide of war to the side they chose and provide accredited diplomacy between all the factions involved in the conflict. Whenever and wherever a dispute occurred, Alec and the Rune Rogues did their best to defuse the situation. Before long Alec aligned himself with the constables of Alderwood in an effort to increase neighborhood watch.
In the following weeks after the conflict began, word spread to the neighboring cities of the Skycutter's sudden arrival; many travelers from all corners of Khanduras journeyed to the city to see the spectacle of the Skycutter, and to drink from the Alder Lake for healing. Despite their differences and conflict, all three major houses of Alderwood made the unanimous decision to tax citizens and travelers for accessing the lake's newfound energees. As for the Skycutter itself, no one outside the peace agreement was aloud to visit or go near the artifact upon the plateau; unwanted trespassers were often times captured, heavily fined or forced to leave, and in rare occasions were killed or publicly executed by any of the Great Houses.
The Riot of Alderwood Edit
Tension grew daily as the lords of each major house sought ways of eliminating their enemies. When the murders, brawls and assassinations began spilling from the alleys and into the streets, the citizens of Alderwood began growing weary of the violence and imminent battle. Solmoneth 24th marked the first major skirmish in broad daylight on the city street between forces of Sir Marklin Vanko, vassal to House Corbray, and Sir Robert Avril, vassal to House Lothston. Later that same day, another fight broke out in the market place that resulted in several deaths including three inocent civilians who were mistaken during the fight as belligerents.
Upon learning of the deaths of innocents, Alec Kylar and his Rune Rogues began enforcing strict regulations during nighttime. He started by confronting Sir Marklin and Lord Winston, inducing them to keep the violence off the streets. While Lord Winston agreed to Alec's regulation, Sir Marklin remained reluctant to trust Alec due to his mysterious nature. Meanwhile, the Rune Rogues intercepted several planned assassination attempts on several key figures such as the Red Hand and Lady Leona from Lord Jerald's minions on the following night. By Solmoneth 28th all three major houses remained armed and suited for imminent attacks.
On Solmoneth 29th, a citywide riot took place within the city plaza, later known as the Riot of Alderwood. Shortly prior to its inception, Lord Winston summoned all his followers to the town plaza to address the citizens of Alderwood in an open forum. He declared that House Corbray would no longer entice violence in the city so long as the citizens abide by martial law. Lord Winston also honored the three deceased citizens who died the previous week. However, a loud minority of zealous citizens began to jape and jest at Lord Winston, Sir Marklin and Lady Leona as "heretics!", "betrayers!", and "enemies of the Zakarum!" which sparked a bold reaction from House Corbray's procession.
Among the crowd was Lord Damon and his bannermen as well as Lord Jerald and his enforcers. As the mob taunted Lord Winston, Lord Robert of House Avril stepped up and provoked Lady Leona of her niece's recent demise at the hands of the Red Hand - who's current whereabouts remained unknown at the time - by calling Jayna a "betrayer of the light!" and thus prompted a sudden stand-off between both nobles. The conflict quickly escalated when Lord Jerald announced from the crowd that Robert would surely win in a match against a woman, which in turn prompted the crowd to cheer for Robert. In the heat of the moment, Sir Marklin seized an opportunity to slay Lord Robert from behind by cutting his neck open for insulting the Lady of House Rainlore; this angered the crowd and shouted curses showered down on the party, further inflaming the situation. In response to his murder, members of House Avril began preparing for a fight.
The Riot of Alderwood began when an unknown person from the crowd, many speculated to be the Red Hand in disguise, threw a burning bible at Lord Winston. When the object struct him and caught his cloak on fire, his personal guards drew their weapons and began cutting down the mob that surrounded them. Lord Jerald and his enforces immediately withdrew from the crowd, and during the chaos they managed to assassinate Lord Lorent Powell without being seen among the chaos. Meanwhile, Lord Winston's younger half-brother Hans and the bannermen carved a path through the mob with their swords, barely managing to rush Lord Winston, Lady Leona and Lord Hyle and rest of the procession to the security of their mansion. Sir Marklin and his followers stayed behind to continue fighting in an flagrant act of insubordination and belligerence.
Meanwhile, Alec remained occupied at the plateau when Sir Athyn, master-at-arms of House Dunn, organized an uprising against the bannermen of House Corbray that were stationed with the Skycutter. Sir Athyn and several of his followers began by successfully staging a coup against the soldiers who watched over the plateau. Anticipating the Dark Templar, Athyn eventually gained the upper hand by catching Alec off guard with the use of a spellblade, only for Athyn to be impaled from behind by Ecbert and later executed by Alec. Shortly following the failed coup by Sir Athyn, Alec and Ecbert observed rising tension between the Faith Militant and the Hilltribes on the outskirts of the plateau that transgressed into a light skirmish with minimal losses.
The riot went on for several hours, and almost half the population of the city participated. Sir Willem Grandison rallied the Rune Rogues and constables in a counter-attack against a fraction of the mob that had set fire to the Mayor's Mansion and several other buildings. Remaining in the riot was Sir Marklin and a dozen of his soldiers cutting down citizens, regardless if they were belligerent or innocent; his brutality made him a public enemy for the entirety of the riot.
Marklin's group targeted several key figures during the riot, including Lord Damon and the Red Hand who were attempting to flee from the chaos. At one point during the riot Sir Marklin and Lord Damon crossed blades in a duel before the latter retreated to safety. Overall, Marklin's bloodlust proved devastating, leaving trails of bodies along the street and creating more destruction than restoration. Eventually Alec and the Rune Rogues began shifting their focus away from the mobs and onto the slayers commanded by Sir Marklin. House Rainlore also secretly played a small part in the chaos, carrying out half-a-dozen assassinations on members of the Faith Militant as retaliation for their direct part in the execution of Jayna.
The Zakarum leaders on orders of the Red Hand proved successful at containing the riot, but Marklin responded by attempting to launch a swift attack on the Red Hand outside the church. When a large mob of zealous citizens and members of the Faith Militant surrounded and attacked Marklin's group, Marklin did a suicide run to kill the Red Hand, but failed when Alec intercepted him. Widespread looting, arson, and killings occurred during the riot, and all three major houses suffered damage and disarray. Order was only restored later that day after members of the Rune Rogues intervened against the brutal assaults and the religious leaders of the Faith Militia spoke out to calm the angry mobs. The mayor of Alderwood was found murdered and mutilated in an alleyway by unknown assailants after the riot was over. Forty-eight people in total died during the riot and many others were injured or raped.
Phase Two Edit
Bloodshed and unrest occurred for several days following the Riot of Alderwood, eventually leading to the first major battle on the outskirts of the city fought between the Faith Militia and Roklar's wildlings. Alec and the Rune Rogues participated in fighting near the end of the battle and witnessed Roklar's brutality and merciless killings. Ultimately, Roklar proved triumphant over the plateau and was able to seize control over the land for a short duration. Later on, Alec and the Rune Rogues rendezvoused back at the city to rally mercenaries to help regulate the city as replacement for the constables who died during the riots. Ultimately, the rise in law-abiding constables fueled a bitter rivalry between them and Lord Jerald's street thugs.
The city remained lawless and ungoverned for several weeks due to the Mayor's death and the fire that burned down city hall. Overtime, a system of councilmen were assigned to rule over the city as the war raged on. The fires from the riot took nearly two weeks to burn out, and within that duration many traveling mercenaries ventured to the city for potential work. Among the new comers was a fraction of the Fighters Guild, lead by Lawbringer Beaumont, brought in by the neighboring city of Carmarthen on Alec Kylar's request. Where order had broken down, where cruelty and lawlessness ruled, Beaumont brought justice to the denizens of Alderwood. For the remainder of the war he focused his efforts and resources solely on aiding the city, leaving the Skycutter to the fate of the noble houses. Having met and fought along side Alec Kylar during Oricon Crisis, Beaumont and his brigade took to the streets of Alderwood alongside Alec and the Rune Rogues wherever injustice occurred.The conflict quickly transitioned into a war of aggression; several concurrent events occurred during the first week of Montaht as all three major belligerents fought to claim the Skycutter's plateau: Lord Winston faced political turmoil and was heavily criticized by several partisans for the mayor's death and the blood lust of his former right-hand Marklin. Meanwhile, Lord Damon alongside the Red Hand and the Faith Militant faced a major set back after their loss against the Hilltribes. As for Lawbring Beaumont, he succeed at recruiting partisans to his brigade, many of them tasked at the responsibility of keeping the fighting away from the city with aggressive force. Beaumont's pressence lead to the downfall of Lord Jerald's spy network that once conquered the streets that had allowed House Dunn to gain crucial access to all information regarding his rivals.
Multiple battles waged on every week in intervals with most ending in standoffs or with minimal losses; several hostages were taken through internal operations within the city, forcing all three noble houses in the conflict to have a parley meeting on Ostara 2nd. Alec served as mediator, as he was both adored and despised by Winston, Jerald and Damon. This made him careful to regulate the parley session and at noon he met all three representatives of the house in person to conduct negotiations; because Alec was an outsider and had no loyalties to anyone, he was favored as a chief diplomat during the entirety of the conflict. Alec's efforts to mediate aloud all three lords to unanimously agree to resort back to weekly visiting distributed to each factions in fair amount of days and to release all hostages; all of them also agreed that all warfare was to take place outside the city, ceasing all bloodshed within the city walls. The following day, the councilmen concurred with the parley and declared that all hostiles would be detained and face justice by Lawbring Beaumont.
- "Life is not a fairy tale, boy. Not all of us deserve a happy ending."
- —Lord Jerald to Alec Kylar during the parley.
With the Highlanders backed by Chieftain Roklar, and Roklar secretly working for Lord Jerald, conflict greatly increased when all three noble houses and their bannermen attempted to capture them, leading to several skirmishes that eventually resulted in massive casualties. Alas, the Battle of Townsend began on Ostara 21st; it became the biggest and bloodiest battle during the conflict, lasting several days and expanding across the entire valley that lay dormant to Skycutter's plateau. Nearly all belligerents participated in the battle including The Hilltribes, The Faith Militant and several Alderwood bannermen from all three major factions.After nearly a week of fighting, Lord Hyle and his infantry retreated back to Alderwood where they rendezvoused with their allied Lord Winston and his remaining bannermen, as well as the Rune Rogues. A final fight took place on Ostaral 26th at the base of the plateau with large casualties on all sides. The biggest loss during the battle however was Lord Winston during a pincer movement from both rival factions. Despite Lord Winston's death, the remaining followers of House Corbray, now under Sir Hans' leadership, achieved victory with the aid of Lord Hyle and a temporary alliance to the Rune Rogues; The Highlanders were captured or killed and Roklar retreated with only a small fraction of his forces back into the wilderness. Lord Hyle was ultimately rewarded by the councilmen for putting an end to The Highlanders and Lord Winston's funeral was held several days later.
Fighting ceased for nearly two weeks following the major battle, allowing most of the belligerents to recuperate at Alderwood, lick their wounds and regain their manpower through hiring local mercenaries. With Lord Winston dead, a power struggle occured between his son Warren and his half-brother Hans for who should rule House Corbray. All three major houses used a vast amount of resources for recruitment and nourishment for the wounded. Daily visits to Skycutter's plateau continued, and each faction kept the peace when it came to guarding the ancient artifact. During this period of peace, denizens of Alderwood were aloud rest and rejuvenation. However, traveling warriors continued to enter the city with each passing day, and before long every man or woman with a weapon was hired by one of the three major factions.On Ostara 29th, Alec and a fraction of his Rune Rogues left Alderwood to journey north to Entsteig and conjure reinforcements. Lord Jerald took Alec's departure as an immediate opportunity to rebuild his spy network and seized his opportunity by coordinating a large scale kidnapping of all the councilmen's children in an event called The Alderewood Abudctions, a bold act that coerced Lawbringer Beaumont and his brigade of constables to concede the city streets at the request of the councilmen. On Vasan 7th, Jerald answered the summons of the councilmen and attended a formal meeting with them; he was met with inflammatory remarks and threats by his peers, the child abductions being the sole focus on the meeting. After the meeting was over, with no progress or agreements established, the councilmen were left hopeless of ever seeing their children again unless the war was won in favor of Lord Jerald.
Violence returned within the city walls for several days when Lord Jerald's enforcers brutalized known constables with coerced impunity. Lawbringer Beaumont responded to these attacks by launching a night raid against the enforcers that inhabited Alderwood and soon a city wide manhunt commenced for the children hostages. Lord Jerald refused to back down to Beaumont's counter-attacks, his enforcers mutilating and murdering one of the councilmen's daughters as a warning. However, Lord Beaumont's brutal tactics proved fearsome to many of Jerald's constituents, such as the brutal torture and death by boiling alive several captured thugs.On Vasan 13th, after several hours of apprehending Jerald's thugs the night before, Lawbringer Beaumont and his constables were ambushed in the early morning. Known as the Melee on Wolfborn Street, Lord Jerald's forces completely annihilated the Alderwood constables and partisans commanded by Beaumont, leading to his capture; Alderwood entered a citywide panic after several buildings caught fire as a result of the fight, and later that same day Beaumont received a mock trail from Lord Jerald at the main plaza that turned into a slow, torturous execution. Jerald's victory would had been swift if not for Lord Orys' neutrality in the fight, for he lost faith in his liege lord for the kidnappings. After House Dunn's victory, Lord Jerald visited Lord Orys and persuaded him to retain loyalty by releasing half the child hostages.
The councilmen remained desperate for help after Beaumont's death, and thus turned to House Lothston and their allies The Faith Militant for aid. Lord Damon sought to turn the councilmen into his allies, but while he remained inclined to acquiesce to their request to capture Lord Jerald and rescue the child hostages, the Red Hand tried to persuade the nobleman to focus on conquering Skycutter's plateau and eliminating Roklar's forces. Lord Damon ignored the Red Hand's advice, a decision that divided loyalties among rank, and spearheaded special operations within the city and organized his finest soldiers to focus on capturing or killing highly dangerous individuals or groups of individuals that worked under Lord Jerald. Jerald responded drastically to Lord Damon's efforts by ordering the execution of the councilmen's children, an atrocity he knew would cause stigma from the denizens of Alderwood and force him into hiding.The children's deaths unfolded a series of events that meticulously changed the war: Lord Orys took over leadership of House Dunn after Jerald's self-imposed exile and created a coalition force. The councilmen dissolved and the streets remained lawless while Lord Jerald remained in hiding. House Corbray faced a fierce competition for leadership between Warren Corbray and his half-uncle Sir Hans. A long, grueling struggle continued between the Faith Militant under House Lothston and Roklar's hilltribes. Fighting within the fields continued for weeks whilst the struggle to maintain dominance over Skycutter's plateau resulted in each faction holding power for short intervals before losing it again.
The King's Court Edit
Looking to end the conflict with swift action, Alec traveled north alongside the Rune Rogues to seek council with the King Charles of Entsteig. His first task was to locate Sir Maxmillian, his friend and former associate during the Oricon Crisis. Alec and company tracked the knight to a rural town whilst he competed in a small tournament. As a sign of friendship and favor, Alec offered the recently required Arnold Vanko, whom the Rune Rogues adopted, as an extra squire to Max for the remainder of the day. After Max won the tournament, Alec and Max talked and reminisced for hours over drinks. When he elaborated on the matter of Skycutter, Alec found that Max was interested in aiding him.
Meanwhile, King Charles of Entsteig planned a special tournament with his Lord Chancellor for Vasan 13th in the city of Wallington, an event that would bring all local knights to compete for the opportunity to join his Kingsguards. Much like Alderwood's history, Wallington faced unrest against hilltribes and highlanders from the north, many whom served under the barbarian warlord Eaddrak. King Charles sought to distract the denizens with entertainment, as his presence would provide morale and support to the city against any possible attacks from the Dreadlands.
On the day of the tournament, Alec arrived in Wallington with the Rune Rogues and were seated close to the King's table during the tournament. Lord Chancellor, adviser to the King and the Master of Ceremonies for the show, then introduced the knights of the realm and gave a back story to each contender. King Charles, knights, squires, and various serfs and wenches paraded out; the King and Chancellor then made their way to the dais where they introduced Princess Catalina and called for a toast. Present during the tournament and acting as Catalina's personal protector was Lady Melara Redpool, Commander of the Queensguard and a close friend to Maxmillian.
The Kingsguards performed choreographed maneuvers during the start of the tournament, and the Chancellor and the Princess made paid announcements of special events for the kingdom. Eventually the Herald of the North appeared; he announced that his 'king', Lord Eaddrak, promised Charles a gift if he would accept it. Charles agreed, although the Princess warned him of the threat Lord Eaddrak had posed to other kingdoms, including the realm surrounding Alderwood. As the Herald monologued during is unexpected visit, Alec imperceptibly probed his mind and learned of an allegiance between Lord Eaddrak and Chieftain Roklar.
Next, knights on horseback competed at games, including catching rings on a lance, flag passing, and javelin tossing. After each game the Princess gave the winning knights flowers to throw to the ladies of their section. The knights of the East and West then competed in a relay challenge. The princess also gave each winning knight a ribbon which they presented to one lady of their choosing; these were the "queens of the tournament".
At this point the promised gift from the Herald on behalf of Lord Eaddrak arrived: a trained Andalusian stallion. The Master of Horse and the stallion performed various tricks. The Herald of the North then announced that Lord Eaddrak wanted to unite the two kingdoms by marrying Princess Catalina. Knowing of Lord Eaddrak's previous nefarious dealings, Charles told the Herald to return to his king with a refusal. The jousts and fights began shortly after the Herald's departure. The winner of the final match, Sir Galahad, was named champion of the tournament, and chose one of the ladies from the audience to be the Queen of Love and Beauty.The Herald of the North then returned on the afternoon of Vasan 13th and declared that he must either return to Lord Eaddrak with the princess or die in battle against a knight of the King's choosing. Lady Melara was quick to volunteer on behalf of the princess, but the King asked the Champion of the tournament if he would accept the Herald's challenge. A climatic fight occurred, Sir Galahad and his squire against the Herald and his two squires. The squires were slain, and the Champion defeated the Herald. The King asked the Herald after he was captured to return to his King and withdraw his request, but the Herald replied that he would rather die. The King decided that the Herald was too valiant to be slain and sentenced him to imprisonment for life before he was dragged away.
With the tournament over and the conflict with the Herald now eliminated, Alec and Willem met with Lady Melara with a sealed letter from Maxmillian; In the letter was a message to Melara from Maxmillian, and Alec made it a point to use Max and Lydia, close friends to both Alec and Melara, as a referral for mutual trust. Initially hesitant to trust Alec, she eventually came around to granting him an audience in the King's court when Alec revealed the reasoning of his visit in regards to the Skycutter, having learned of the ancient artifact through an old parchment from her father's library.
Alec and his party traveled alongside the royal procession back to the capital and appeared before King Charles for many days in regards to conflict and unrest of Alderwood. Maxmillian was summoned to court for his insight on how to aid Alec and to join his posse. However, much became clear to Alec through his use of imperceptibly psionic telepathy during the King's court, as he found out that the Red Hand was actually an agent sent by the Entsteig Monarch to rally religious commoners against the partisans of Khanduras after the collapse of the Mad King's monarchy. Later, Alec successfully infiltrated the royal castle at night and discovered notes sent by the Red Hand that reported on the events surrounding the Skycutter Conflict. Alec kept his discoveries to himself, later telling only Sir Willem, so to maintain trustworthiness to the Entsteig Monarchy as an ally rather than a foe.
Furthermore during his psionic probings, Alec discovered that Chieftain Roklar held a sizable bounty within the capital, as many years prior his atrocities were accounted for in many rural cities across Entsteig, particularly the Sharval Wilds. Alec confronted Monica, a friend and former Greenguard, regarding Roklar to clarify his infamous deeds and his connection to Lord Eaddrak; Alec learned that the Greenguard, lead by Lord Commander Raimund Heartsbane, attempted to apprehend Roklar years prior until he fled south after the Emergence of Evil to start a new clan in the broken nation of Khanduras. Concurrently, Alec's meeting with Monica later lead to reunions with many other members of the Eternal Companions, including Isamu and Jae, as well as Mullins the Mighty who was believed dead but survived and was traveling through Entsteig.
Meanwhile in Khanduras, Roklar summoned Jerald after his exile from Alderwood to his hidden encampment where he proclaimed himself 'Lord of the Hills' and usurped Jerald's authority and power. While stationed at the encampment Jerald witnessed the arrival of wildling reinforcements on Vasan 21st sent all the way from the Dreadlands from Lord Eaddrak to fight the Red Hand and the Faith Militant. After questioning Roklar for further investigation, Jerald learned from Roklar that the Red Hand was a long-time enemy of the Eaddrak, both whom fought each other years prior. This revelation proved to Jerald that he was merely a pawn in a much larger war and that Lord Eaddrak was the true architect behind much of the conflict.
Phase Three EditBefore heading back to Alderwood, Alec met with Executor Adama Vellar at Fort Volonte and attended council with several leaders of the Eternal Companions on Lycanum 5th. After a feast and delighted reunion with Mullins the Mighty, Alec spoke about the tides of war during the Skycutter Conflict; later, Alec and company learned from Mullins about the rumors of Azmodan, the Lord of Sin, in the Dreadlands.
Alec was able to convince Adam to allow volunteers from the Eternal Companions to join his side to aid the citizens of Alderwood, alas creating a coalition force under Max's bannermen. Among the warriors to volunteer to join Alec was Ikeda, Katheryne, Lissie, Lydia and Chan. While in the capital, Arnold Vanko, son of the late Sir Marklin, journeyed with Alec as a squire and mentee.
Upon Alec's return to Alderwood on Lycanum 11th, he used what resources he had to begin a search for the incognito Jerald. The Rune Rogues were able to track down and detain several hirelings deployed by Lord Jerald which eventually lead to his capture on Lycanum 15th on the outskirts of the city. Alec made the bold decision to assist Lord Jerald in spying on the activities of the Red Hand; the unlikely, short-lived collaboration between Alec and Jerald proved successful at intercepting and revealing letters between the Red Hand and the corrupt leaders of the Zakarum that plagued Entsteig's capital.
Shortly after concluding his secret mission and allowing Jerald to escape, Alec turned his attentions to a power struggle that erupted between Sir Hans and his nephew Warren; the Dark Templar and the Rune Rogues supported Hans, who took the leadership and had his nephew exiled. Alec swore a secret pact to support Hans only if he agreed to withdraw from the fighting and help him end the conflict, in which he accepted and honored his terms.
Meanwhile, Sir Maximilian and Ikeda both worked closely to swiftly establish authority among the denizens of Alderwood that had not been swayed by the three Great Houses. Upon their arrival on Lycanum 11th the coalition force began enforcing order on the streets of Alderwood much how Lawbring Beaumont had done. While Maximilian was met with mixed reactions, Ikeda was greatly admired for his former leadership over the Eternal Companions and his foreign culture and attire from the mysterious island of Xiansai. Within several weeks Ikeda managed to sway public opinion to the idea of ridding the Skycutter in order for the conflict to end.
House Reyes was thrown into disarray after the sudden assassination of Lord Orys on Lycanum 19th. Proceeding this event, Lord Jerald held a private meeting with Lord Orys regarding the status of their forces within the confines of the city; seeking to find a means to turn the tide of war, both men planned for action and in doing so Jerald revealed his long-time alliance to Chieftain Roklar of the Hilltribes. This news shocked and angered Lord Orys and immediately denounced allegiance to his liege lord. Days later, Orys was found dead after he drank poison from a cup. It was later discovered that Lord Jerald sent assassins to eliminate and silence him.
To Be Continued...
The Bride of the Askari Edit
On Lycanum 25th, 1271 Alec and Max lead a small party to the city of Avalon on the island of Skartara in an attempt to find a solution to ending the Skycutter conflict. Among those joining were Karen who sought knowledge of the Oracle Caste, as well as Ladislav, Terji and Arnold to squire for Max and spy for Alec. Weeks prior to his departure Alec sent a letter to the Oracle Caste regarding the events surrounding the ancient angelic sword Skycutter. The priestess answered Alec's message by summoning him to the island for council. Upon boarding the ship to travel to the Skovos Isle, Alec met an Askari ambassador on deck that welcomed him.
Upon arriving at Avalon on Lycanum 27th, a trading city and haven to many traveling merchants, Alec and his party were warmly greeted by the Oracle Caste within their sacred stronghold, The Dome of Sight. While inside the ancient structure, Alec enjoyed breakfast with his companions and It is there that Alec further elaborated to the priestesses regarding Skycutter and its angelic influence over the town of Alderwood; Alec also described the negative impact imposed onto the powerful clan leaders within the surrounding region. The priestesses were initially eager to claim the sword, but over long council with Alec they decided it was best to leave the sword alone as fate had intended it to seize the plateau; they also agreed that such an ancient and poweful artifact should not be used as a means of profitable trade. Alec proposed that instead of gold, the Askari could reward the one who brings it to them, Sir Maxmillion, with a fair wife, but the priestess declined after much debate.
After failing to pursade the Orace Caste in helping him in his quest, Alec instead turned to the Amazon Caste and sought out the Askari ambassador he had met in his journey to the island. After meeting with her in a local tavern, he convinced the ambassador to send word to the highest ranking official of the Amazon Caste, Cassia the Warmatron. During a long night of drinking with his party, Alec was summoned by a page and returned to the Dome of Sight where he was informed that his meeting with Cassia was approved. The next day, Alec traveled with his party alongside the ambassador and was lead upon horseback to Sky Trail Keep, home to a botanic garden within a valley and controlled by the Amazon Caste. With no permission to enter, Alec was instead greeted by Cassia outside the gates to converse and later returned with her back to Avalon upon horse after the two became acquainted.
For almost the entirety of Lycanum 28th, Alec and Cassia spoke in great lengths about several subjects, including the events of Skycutter's Plateau during a lunch meal, as well as Max's wish for an Askari betrothal and Alec's previous conversations with the Oracle Caste. Above all, Cassia found Alec to be trustworthy enough after learning of his internal connection to the Eternal Companions to reveal her story of the band of warriors she worked with in Sanctuary to fight against the Prime Evils; Alec proclaimed an honorary and mutual respect toward Cassia and revealed the story of Mullins the Mighty, who encountered a horde of Azmodan's minions during his four year absence. By the end of the day, Alec and Cassia met once more in private to discuss the a potential pact between the Askari and the Eternal Companions. She promised Alec that she would give considerable thought to fulfilling Max's request in return for the Skycutter.
Later that night, Alec, Max and Arnold intercepted a rapist who was being secretly protected by a Zakarum priest. Alec hired bounty hunter Goldwyn from a local tavern to bring both of them to their room, where Alec and Max coerced both men into leaving the Skovos Isle with them and travel to the Western Nations to face justice, thus preventing a potential war between the Zakarum church and the Askari. Arnold was placed in charge of watching over Father Isham to make sure he did not flee or report the incident. Near midnight, Alec introduced Max to Cassia at an inn to share dinner and bond over war stories, and Cassia spoke of her former quest giver Deckard Cain, whom Alec knew by reputation as Cain the Elder, and former comrade Isendra the Sorceress, whom she last saw shortly after the Worldstone's Destruction. Alec shared Isendra's whereabouts and her connection to his friend Katheryne at the Yshari Sanctum. After dinner and drinks, Alec and his party returned back to their rooms for rest.
Early the next morning, Alec received a letter from Cassia to meet her at Sky Trail Keep. Upon arriving, Cassia granted Alec with admission into the botanic garden and entry into the keep's interior as a sign of friendship. Alec was surprised to learn that the keep housed an active Waypoint, and the two used it to teleport to the capital city of Temis. There, Alec was introduced to Queen Xaera and spoke briefly upon the agreement of an Askari wife for Max in return for the sword, as well as the demonic invasion of 1264 and the potential of their return. Alec gave his utmost respect for Xaera, thanking her for the aid during the Battle of Culver of 1267 and for receiving him personally.
During the meeting between Alec and Queen Xaera, Askari Curator Idril was informed on the whereabouts of Skycutter artifact through the Oracle Caste. Idril bestowed an equally powerful artifact, believed to be angelic in origins called the Gaunlet of Fate, to the Queen; Idril speculated that wielding the gauntlet was the only way to remove the Skycutter sword from the stone. Xaera was bold to suggest that Sir Max should be the one to wear and use the gauntlet to reclaim the sword. Their conversation concluded with the Queen giving Alec a final agreement to help in the conflict and handing him over the Gauntlet of Fate. Before departing back to Avalon via Waypoint, Cassia gave Alec final advice by prompting him to search for Deckard Cain of the Hoadrim; they both gave each other a farewell handshake and promised to stay in contact. It became clear that
After traveling through the Waypoint to Sky Trail Keep, Alec returned to Avalon and gave Max the news of his treasured wife if he brought Skycutter back. Later that day, Alec was approached by Goldwyn and told that the rapist was to remain with him and his 'employers', who Alec later learned to be a small but efficient crime syndicate in Avalon; Alec agreed, so long as they do not reveal the truth to the Askari castes. Alec forced Father Isham to abandoned his religious attire and dress properly for manual labor, clothes that would later suit him after he swore to his captor a whole year of service to him. Alec and his party left the Skovos Isle on Lycanum 29th and returned to Khanduras on Kale Monath 1st to put a swift end to the conflict and claim the Skycutter.
Final Confrontations Edit
After days of preparation
Alec and his party returned to Alderwood on Kale Monath 13th.
- "I took what you told me to heart, that day upon the plateau: not all of us deserve a happy ending."
- —Alec Kylar's final words to Lord Jerald Dunn during the Duel of Alderwood.