The Craggen invasion culminated in the crushing of Vigil by the Craggen mountain fortress. This was preceded by the destruction of most of the Oathsworn airborn navy who fell attempting to hold a defensive line. A momentary lull in the battle was assured by the Empress challenging Rote Stang to single combat, though she fought valiantly, she was defeated. Her bravery won the survivors of Vigil a three day respite to flee.
Most refugees fled through Vergence into the southern baronies, but others went to Bastion or even as far as the Dwarven lands. Two teams of these refugees were led by Oathsworn or Oathsworn Auxiliaries. The team which has become known as Alpha Team, was originally comprised of Hawkeye, Noname,Kong Ming, Felicity Fellowsworn, Javelin. The Beta team, subsequently known as the companions of the empororer, was originally composed of Gareth, Baroness Frangelica Castica, Emperor Marcus Arigulus III, Esteban Neveria Castica, Galen Arrowsplitter, Laurelia Castica Arigulus, Oli Molisdottir, Sparky.
The alpha team originally had been captured at the siege of Vigil, fought their way out of a crashing Craggen prison ship, and proceeded to Bastion to reconnect with the Oathsworn. Alpha team’s short history is essentially a series of suicide missions which they have succeeded at despite a modicum of grumbling and intense opposition. Until now, their missions have been in the north, including numerous defeats of greatly numerically superior Craggen forces at Bastion, Vergeance, and Vigil. Thence and even to the Shadowfell to rescue several Kodanian refugees under the command of Keffin from the new threat of the Shadar Kai.
Alpha team is currently comprised of Kong Ming,Orien Blaine, Hibernius Lapidus, Raiden, Harbinger of the Storm and has been sent to secure the barony of Lumeria against infernal conspiracy. While Keffin was sent on a solo mission of his own design to bring Vastia to its knees. The wisdom of splitting alpha team and sending them with negligible support to secure two different baronies is highly questionable, but desperate times call for desperate measures and alpha team’s record gives some justification for some hope of success.
Meanwhile, after watching both of his parents fall on the walls of Vigil, Marcus found himself inside the city when the Craggen locked it down, escaping with several of his companions through the steam tunnels into the countryside. Linking up with several hundred refugees under command of then Commander Shale, they fought a retreating action as the refugees all fled via multiple teleportation circles to the hidden Imperial Martial Academy. While there, they managed to rescue the Baroness Castica from a black dragon harrowing them in service to the Craggen, the battle in which Marcus received his famous facial disfigurement from its acid, and the Craggen moniker “Drakeskald,” or Dragon-Scarred.
They proceeded to escort Baroness Frangelica Castica and her family along with numerous other refugees safely away from the Craggen war machine at Vigil. This was greatly complicated by the fact that the Craggen pursued Gareth the Heretic as they believed him, not entirely incorrectly in retrospect, to be fated to destroy Zhia as a Thrymspaker servant of the Maelstrom. Their journey was further complicated by the fact that Marcus was in fact secretly the heir to the throne of the Empire of Avernia and the Oathsworn.
Their harrowed escape cumulated at the siege of Mason’s Envy, at which Marcus and half a dozen of his companions held a small pass against a large Craggen task force including a goblin steam walker and a siege tank, as the refugees fled behind them into Khazad Gathol, until the Dwarven Home Guard could arrive to relieve them. With the political and financial assistance of Baroness Castica, they subsequently secured their alliance with the Dwarven thanes before proceeding south, though not before the Heretic managed to get himself banished from their lands.
They finally returned to the southern baronies only to find to that Vastia and Lumeria had allied with the Craggen and convicted Baroness Frangelica Castica along with Gareth and their associates of heresy and a laundry list of crimes including almost everything short of cattle rustling and barratry on the high skies, probably only because it didn’t occur to them.
They proceeded to fulfill their oath to the Baroness Castica, escorting her back to her home. On the way, they provided an undisclosed but much appreciated service to the Baron Claudio Estonia, gaining his sincere gratitude.
Deacon Novius Carnifex Vergilius, a long time friend of the baroness and a widely feared duelist, came to the aid of beta team and spirited them away from the clutches of Vastia and the Craggen, ending up in Neveria, where Marcus finally revealed his identity, securing the loyalty of the baronies Castica, Neveria, and Estonia. The Deacon then joined the team to protect the now revealed heir and subsequently crowned Emperor Marcus Arigulus III after alpha team cleared the way to recover the Codex of Imperial Law from the vault beneath Vigil.
The emperor was then approached by Rote Sie Stang to open some lines of communication between the Oathsworn and the Craggen. To the surprise of all, these discussions have proceeded without any violence on two occasions to mutual advantage.
Emperor Marcus then went on a diplomatic mission to the GIPTA with a secret agenda to find his sister Cassandria Arigulus as rumors led him to believe she was studying there. Those rumors were proved true when the Emperor was let in on the secret of the immense divine chain anchoring Zhia to a site deep within the Maelstrom. The GIPTA had even painstakingly constructed a heavily warded base on the desolate land in the Maelstrom, into which the chain (each link much larger than a man and weighing many tons) was anchored. The emperor and his companions were escorted down to that base to inspect it within an elevator that ratcheted itself down the chain.
Upon examining the base of the chain, the Heretic’s staff self destructed as an exultant and wholly malevolent spirit burst from it. The creature somehow corrupted the previously invulnerable base point of the chain and vanished. The destruction of the base point was immediately followed by the chain being tugged downward into the landscape by…something…and then pulling itself free and flew upwards unbound. The wards of the station promptly began to fail and the emporer’s team fought upward, rescuing Cassandria and the research station’s director, before fleeing in the elevator using its emergency loadstone lift. The director then revealed himself to another Thrymspaker, naming himself a servant of the Eye, before he was destroyed.
The emporer’s team then attracted the attention of an angel who came to investigate. The angel turned out to be an angel of Torog who had investigated two previous chain breaks. A great deal was learned in discussion with the angel, but the salient facts are that the gods themselves bound something within the earth and in the course of that binding also bound all knowledge of that which was bound. The binding even applies to the gods themselves and Torog’s angel was only free to investigate for a few minutes after Torog’s domain was so profoundly disrupted. Even Torog’s memory of the event would soon fade and his servant be reassigned. Torog’s angel then cursed Gareth to work to undo that which he had done and to preserve the final chain.
Beta team fought their way up through the corrupted underdark to reach the Dwarves. The breaking of the chain had pulled Zhia into the maeltrom and ripped a mile wide hole in the GIPTA lands. A hole which completely disrupted the wondrous hydroeelectric system which powered their civilization. Maelstrom infections had also destroyed most of the crops in Castica and Neveria.
The emperor then journeyed to Vergeance to reconnect with Oathsworn command. A team of devils led by a succubus who had been acting, in disguise, as the factor for Lumeria, attempted to assassinate Marcus and were entirely destroyed by alpha team. The emperor and his companions then negotiated a brief armistice, after crushing a ship that Rote Stang directed them to with the Craggen, to deal with the subversion of devils and for the craggen to deal with their own problems within the cults of Torog and Bane. The Emperor then celebrated by marrying Laurelia Castica Arigulus and having a honeymoon.
Beta team was then directed (without the Emporer), under the nominal leadership of Commander Gaius Bitus Callidius to investigate what had become of the elves, as none had any contact with them since the maelstrom catastrophe. After being dropped into the elven lands, beta team found abandoned settlements and the tracks of centaurs, giants, and a large fire beast. In pursuit of the firebeast they have since discovered that the elves were all evacuated to the Feywild by Centaurs operating at the behest of (as yet unseen) Eladrin, whom supposedly had all perished in the Arcana Wars. Beta team came into conflict with those centaurs as the latter attempted to hunt one last straggler the elf Terhali. The captured centaurs were reasonably forthcoming about their orders and still desire to return to the Feywild with Terhali and Oli Molisdottir, whom they do not understand, but feel should come along anyway, given her strong resemblance to their masters and mistresses.
The firebeast, a hydra corrupted with an elemental chaos fiery heart, was destroyed and the team found itself pursued by the giants. The giants named themselves Firbolg, an unusually lithe and woodcrafty species of giant, who are slaves to a Thrymspaker that lives on a continent far to the north. They had been sent to destroy the immense guardian tree wall which blocks the maelstrom storms from impinging upon the elven lands. Beta team defeated the giants and linked portaled their most talkative firbolg captive to Vergeance so he can bear witness of the new Thrymspaker to the Craggen. They also called for reinforcements, for the Firbolg prisoner revealed that have a fire wyrm and well over a score of additional Firbolg. Beta team then set out for the elvish capital so that they could meet their reinforcements by way of portal there (after securing it) and open contact with the Feywild Eladrin via a fey crossing near the capital.
-Thanks to Eric B. for compiling this; Edited by JDT 5/21/11.