- "Let's just send a courier instead, neither of us really wants to ride."
Our session begins on July 1st, with Trahaern, Attivi, and Greex accompanying the northern army at Gicunocoo; Aisling still actively working with the freshly recruited orcs at Rundbord; and the Direct Action Team (Sven, Zarathras, Ariana, Nayla, Hloomawl, and Nesta) with the flying boat had just finished a series of lightning raids on orc-held territory that saw them take eight fortresses in ten days, a pace that precluded establishing a clear hold on the territory. It wasn't all sunshine and roses, however. The orcs in Zerniless had gathered Dynfarch cavalry and quickly recaptured the northeast fort of Lubasser, and the garrison at Catonodo had been heavily reinforced, with over half a regiment in place to face Trahaern's reduced field army. With the bulk of the troops sent back to Hortskink for much-needed rest and refit, and with the reinforcements not yet at the front, things could be dire.
(Spoiler: Not that dire.)
- "Well, at least he's honest about his ambition."
Rigar Gloomfang approached Aisling on the morning of the 1st; he'd heard that the raids had destroyed two companies of the Gloomfangs at Vartop and Mannestarm, and he wanted to ensure that he didn't lose any more troops by (preferably) using the flying boat to contact his own forces at Norrider and Bokmedfem and ordering them to switch sides. After some consideration, Aisling (who was riding high on aspected mana thanks to a shift in the local levels) talked him into sending a courier instead - the boat was needed for other purposes. A force of goblin wolfriders was dispatched, and instructions sent to the garrison at Groanridder to let the couriers (and later the company of orcs) pass by unmolested.
- "I'd be willing to let Rhalgr the Destroyer loose just so long as we could point him westward once he was free."
The flexibility offered by the combination of strategic communication and rapid travel was something the orcs proved unable to match (so far, at least). In response to the reports that Lubasser had been retaken, the Direct Action Team made a long day's flight to meet up with the militia garrison in Frederikvud and reinforcements from Elverum were dispatched north along the road. Sven's pegasii cavalry also made the trip, though a bit slower than the flying boat. By the morning of the second, the troops were on their way and the Direct Action Team was recuperating from their heavy week of fighting in the fortress at Frederikvud. While practicing, Nayla was approached by two militia archers: they'd heard crazy rumors about her abilities, up to and including 'Nayla is a reincarnated demigod', and respectfully wanted to know what was up. Nayla's confusion about her own status was evident, but Ariana was happy to explain her own theory that Nayla (and possibly other members of the Resistance leadership) were the reincarnated souls of the Incarnate Hope, and that their abilities were either granted by the gods (and not in the normal magical way) or a result of actual divine heritage. Sven and Zarathras hadn't heard this theory (and I suspect their players hadn't either), and so elaborations were elaborated, including the actual divine presence seen and heard at the Stinecrice. Ariana dissolved any other (vocalized) doubt about the gods' existence by summoning actual Servitors of Völundr, then dismissing them - a power she'd only managed since the breaking of the first God Ward and the forging of Völundr's Word.
- "...Are those centaurs carrying scaling ladders? What?"
Meanwhile, a mostly-cavalry detachment of orcs was making its way down the road from Lubasser, but was taking its sweet time; by the time they arrived, they were grossly outnumbered and outclassed by Sven's force. Despite the advantage night attack some impressive tactical blunders (even for orcs) followed, and of the ten elements that attacked, only one managed to retreat back north. This was The Liberation's first encounter with Dynfarch troops, and an interrogation of the highest-ranked captive yielded some information about the carnivorous tribesmen that had affiliated themselves with the Empire of Night - mostly that they were bad news.
- "Greex actually got involved in the battle! ...Is he feeling quite well?"
In the north, Trahaern marched on Catonodo. While he had numbers (~1100 of his own troops against ~600 orcs), the orcs had a fortress, and the higher general quality of the Empire's armies meant that on paper, the forces were nearly evenly matched. Unfortunately for the orcs, 'parity' is not a good place to be when facing Trahaern the Ever-Victorious; the half-regiment at Catonodo was crushed, and few of the orcs even managed to flee.
- "Look, we eventually need to build a peace everywhere, not just Hanist. We can't do that by killing everyone. That's how we got in this mess, isn't it? I mean, that's what orcs do. Let's not be orcs."
Sven decided that Lubasser needed to be retaken and that he wasn't afraid of any Dynfarch cavalry; he and the rest of the Frederikvud garrison moved north on the 4th, and arrived around midday on the 5th. The battle was short and resulted in the entire defending force being killed or captured. There followed a discussion about what to do with the Dynfarch prisoners; while orcs could just be killed or assigned to work gangs, enormous obligate carnivores are really quite hard to keep as POWs, and the idea of just slaughtering every one they came across was less than appealing to some of the leadership.
That question will be resolved next week, along with the consequences of Aisling's experiments with Orcish loyalty.