Fall of the Bastion

Date: 04/10/2012 at 10:16
From: Anonymous
To : Everyone
Subj: Fall of the Bastion

Years have passed since the fateful day Sarranda du Luiois Karrella and
her monstrous army marched upon Ashtan, bringing the city to its knees.
And yet today the mighty Bastion of the North stands tall, risen to her
feet upon the backs of her loyal citizenry. Let now the full tale be
concluded... that which began nearly a century ago.

~ ~ ~

Crows lined the battlements of Sangre Keep as the forces of Ashtan
massed outside the gates, readying for an assault decades in the making.
Rumour had it that the exiled noblewoman Sarranda Karella, who had fled
Ashtan and gained control of the Barony of Petra under suspicious
circumstances many years ago, still lurked within, making her plans and
coordinating with her ally, the vampire queen Belladona. For years,
however, no word had emerged from the keep, and Tanris Rozzan, the new
Overseer of Ashtan grew suspicious. In keeping with his history as a war
hero, the ruler of the Bastion proclaimed, his term would begin by
breaking down the doors of Sangre Keep and exterminating Sarranda where
she stood.

When the Ashtani at last battered down the gates, they discovered a
shocking and horrifying scene. Before them lay the leathery, long-dead
bodies of the absent denizens who had once worked and lived in the
village of Petra. Listening as the faint, confused voices of the dead
explained what had happened, the Ashtani learned how Sarranda had
enslaved them with a song she called "the Litany." They whispered of the
fateful night when darkness seeped up into the keep from the dungeons.
They whispered of figures, moving in the shadows, who took away
Sarranda, whose last order to the Petrans was to remain where they were.

Sadly, the litany Sarranda employed was powerful indeed. Faithful unto
death itself, the Petrans never moved again, and slipped into darkness
with arms around loved ones.

Uneasy with the happenings, the city of Ashtan began preparations for a
war none of them were sure was even coming. Two months later, the
silence of dawn was shattered by an eerie wail: bone wards throughout
the city warned of the presence of undead. Few had time to react before
the very walls of the city were shattered by what could only be a spark
from the Flame of the World, and vampires, ghouls, and minotaurs poured
into the city, led by Belladona herself.

The invaders battled toward the City Conclave, capturing the seat of
government, faced by the brave Ashtani forces. Even the Dowager
Montagenet, the most powerful necromancer in Ashtan, rose into the skies
to fight Belladona personally. From dawn until dusk the battle raged,
until only Belladona and a few scattered members of her horde remained.

As the shroud of night darkened the skies, a great rumbling shook the
earth, and a massive horde of goblins, hobgoblins, and ogres began to
pour into the city through the sparsely guarded main gates. The
creatures were twisted and more powerful than anything found upon
Sapience, and at their head rode Sarranda upon her white palfrey,
leading them up the Parade of Zarathustra. Belladona called out to her
for aid, but Sarranda merely scoffed and told the vampire queen to
begone. "I have found older allies, and stronger," she cried as her
hordes destroyed buildings and slaughtered civilians. Belladona departed
atop her dragon Geh'shya, returning to her keep and vowing never to
forget the betrayal.

Meeting only token resistance, Sarranda's mighty horde reached the ruins
of the royal palace, perched atop a rocky hill at the centre of Ashtan.
There, as her minions stormed into the palace itself, Sarranda rose into
the air, allowing all to see the ancient golden diadem upon her head:
the broken crown of Ashtan, lost since the Anarchy Rebellions. She
proclaimed herself queen, and demanded that the city surrender. As dawn
rose, she waved a hand dismissively, and an impenetrable, murky barrier
enclosed the palace, surrounding it in an opaque dome.

The next night, as Ashtan's damaged city guard struggled to patrol the
city, a fresh wave of goblins roared out into the darkened streets,
engaging the defenders in an endless struggle that subsided only with
their retreat back into the palace at dawn. As dusk returned, so did
they, and the city settled into a weary pattern, fighting to defend
itself from within each night and longing for dawn's light.

The civil war Sarranda long sought had arrived at last; with her dread
allies behind her, the ultimate goal was within her reach. For the
moment, at least, the Bastion of the North had fallen.

Penned by My hand on the 23rd of Phaestian, in the year 593 AF.