The Journey to the West
The Journey to the West is an Elwynnese account of the Assize of the Vale of Angularis ordered by the Arandur of Alalehzamin and Utasia in the Elw Year of 1639. The Assize was unique in that it combined an inspection of estates, the confirmation of officials in their posts, the administration of justice and a campaign to eradicate the Brotherhood of Lest and the Dark Orchid Society, the latter of which, at that time, operated openly in the Barrowlands of the far west of the Vale.
Gathering of the Expedition
Thorgils Tarjeisson gathered a number of his retainers and the Emirati Riddare at the Palace of One Thousand Columns in the City of Ardashirshahr on the day of Izillare the 8th of Gevraquun in the year 1639. He was joined there by volunteers recruited from the Norse community and by Babkhi native levies. The Arandur also put out a request for volunteers from the Cudgellers, the UDF and the Vanic Temple Guard to help with public order duties and to provide security for the Arandur and his travelling retinue during their progress.
Lord Adam was also invited to attend as he had often been promised the opportunity to go hunting in the Forest of Angularis and it was judged that he was now old enough to spectate even if not quite ready to participate in a wolf hunt.
Because of their prior acquaintance with the Vale, the lie of the land and the nature of its various malefactors and malcontents, the Simrani Sisters, Isabella and Miranda were invited to participate along side Miranda's husband, Tokaray al-Osman, who had recently been granted a permit to visit Ardashirshahr in order to be with his Aunt Turandokht Osmania at her death.
Miranda's children from her first marriage; Daniyal Anders (aged 10), Frederik Anders and Royston Anders (both aged 9) were sworn to the Arandur as his pages and fostered into his extended household or Familia.
On Reire the 9th of Gevraquun a writ was served by the Arandur to his employee, Deimos Jasonides, the Secretary of the ESB-Jörmungandr Group, ordering him to to depart from Teldrin and take over responsibility for organising the logistics of the expedition and to organise their transportation across the Blue Elwynn.
That same day a skiff, carrying the Arandur's loyal henchman Daniyal Dravot, was sent across the Blue Elwynn to seek out the nearest SEKEF outpost to ask that the company send an emissary to Ardashirshahr to explain to the Arandur the nature and extend of its holdings in the Vale and along the Southron Shore. Dravot took with him two other companions, Carnehan an acquaintance from his days in the UDF who brought with him a selection of knives, pistols and hunting rifles and Ecthgow, a Norse scout armed with a pair of throwing axes and a longbow provided by the Arandur. Their mission was not entirely without incident but eventually proved successful.
All of Angularis is divided into three parts, the Southron Shores of which the Babkhi, Elw and Froyalanish inhabit, the Forest of Angularis another where dwell those who in their own language are called Amokolians, finally there are the Barrowlands, forming the third portion wherein the Tellians and those descendants of the Yehudi known in their own tongue as the Ashkenatzim reside alongside the darker and twisted beings that are the fallen men of the west who are all known collectively as Kossars. All these differ from each other in language, customs and laws. The Pale of Angularis separates the Transelwynnese from the Amokolians; Astopov's Dyke separates the Amokolians from the Kossars. Of all these, the Kossars are the bravest, because they are furthest from the civilization and refinement of Elwynn, and merchants least frequently dared to venture amongst them, there being no adequate guarantee for their safety, and import those things which tend to dull the mind and soften the vigorous spirit; and they are the nearest to the Minarborians, who dwell beyond the Imperial Republic, with whom they were once in contention over the lands since claimed and settled by the apostate worshippers of the Shrub; for which reason the Green Thunder Horde also surpass the rest of the Kossars in valour, as they contended with the forces 2nd State Arbor in unceasing strife. These disorders were however firmly repressed by the settling of the frontiers and now the border is guarded by the regiments of Minarboria and the battalions of the Union Defence Force. Prevented from continuing in their old ways the Kossars of Angularis turned their attention eastwards and inwards, paying an attentive ear to the emissaries of the Dark Orchid Society and providing sanctuary to those who know the secret signs of the Brotherhood of Lest.
[CAVEAT LECTOR: Do not panic the 3SA. This is just backstory]
[3SA note: No panic here. Crack on, old boy]
The Arandur, meaning to bring an end to this lawlessness and sedition, began his preparations in Ardashirshahr for an Assize that would seem him complete a full circuit of the entirety of the Vale. The Shores of Angularis were the most densely populated and had the longest history of association with the Imperial Republic, formerly as the Transelwynn, an Imperial Dominion ruled as a condominium by the Kaiser and the three sovereign Imperial States as equal partners. After accepting the submission of the main ports and harbours of the Southron Shore the Arandur intended that he would cross the pale and press on into the hunting grounds of the Forest of Angularis and there organise a cull of the wolf population that would be of benefit to the herdsmen and foresters of the Bailiwick whilst also sharpening the skills of his retinue. After that Tarjeisson would press on into the Barrowlands to confront the anti-regime forces that had long lingered there.
Assembling a Fleet
Deimos Jasonides was installed by the Arandur in the Arg-e bâdgir (Citadel of the Windcatcher), a fortified palace in the north east corner of central Ardashirshahr that served as the offices of the Board of Trade. Jasonides summoned the harbourmasters of the river ports along both the branches of the Blue and the White Elwynn within the dominion of the Emirate to a meeting there on the Ermure the 16th of Gevraquun and there, having reminded them of the ancient duties owed under the Elwnameh, charged them to assemble the agreed quota of boats in Ardashirshahr's dockside by Amnure the 1st of Fasmas, 1639.
With each harbourmaster Jasonides was obliged to negotiate individually for boats and crews. As he did so he was at pains to stress that this extraordinary service would not be drawn into a precedent for a permanent system of impressment. Each said what he would do and how many vessels he would bring. On behalf of the Arandur, Jasonides had it all recorded an set down in a contract, namely the ships and the crews enrolled, and the harbourmasters agreed, subject to confirmation from the mayors of their bailiwicks.
Crossing the Elwynn
To win the hearts and minds of its wood's spirits and please the Lords and Ladies Divine, this morning, on the 20th day of Nomeziooqu in the year 1639, when the forest was dark with mist, the Arandur of Alalehzamin and Utasia made his second crossing into the Vale of Angularis in order to purge that country of the Dark Orchid Society and to restore societal harmony between the human communities and nature. Once again his objective was Eribazistaan.
After being fired upon from the far bank of the river by Amokolian traitors during the first crossing of the Blue Elwynn, the Arandur returned with greater numbers this time around, consisting of seven hundred motorised Snekkjas, wooden boats of a clinker construction, the prow of which being mounted by carved depictions of snakes, wolves and other fearsome creatures. These were supported by fifty great barges, converted from their normal cargo of grain to carry men and provisions as well as each mounting a 25 pounder cannon bolted to the upper deck and row after row of unguided rockets to fire off in a salvo. The Arandur himself travelled in the ZNS Elwynn, a Duchy Class Destroyer that he had loaned to himself from the 1st Banner Fleet of the Western Armada.
When the Arandur arrived at Eribazistaan, Muluk Khan, a youth of twelve years of age, not yet knighted, and the heir to the manor of Eribazistaan, reigned. In his name, Jalal Nasser, a man subtle and courageous, had been appointed by Anousheh Batmanghelidjh, who ruled as Warden until the boy would come of age. Jalal, having long been aware of the Arandur's preparations, placed embargo on all the ships in the harbour and hired troops from the neighbouring settlements of the Southron Shore, so that when the Arandur arrived there were in the town thirty thousand fighting men and in the harbour four hundred vessels, sixty of considerable bulk, with thousand five hundred men.
By the reports of Dravot, Ecthgow and Kaðlín Quickdraw, the Arandur was not ignorant of the reception designed for him; but to show that he was not daunted, he entered that port and came to anchor between five of their greatest ships. The captain of one of these vessels presently came on board the Imperial ship, and was received by the Arandur with civility and honour. The Arandur informed the captain that he came to fulfil the orders of the Royal Parliament and His Riverine Majesty to take the Vale into his possession and to put down the rebellions and sedition that had long been fomented there. Should the warden accept this and make the requisite submission and payment of a fee, the Arandur would be pleased to confirm him in his post. The warden would also need to hand over those Amokolians whose violent insolence had so disrupted the first crossing. If he refused, the Arandur warned, then he would take Eribazistaan into his own possession and appoint another.
The captain delivered this message to the boy and his Warden, and presently brought the answer that the city of Nomeziooqu would recognise the Arandur and open its gates to him in return for a tribute of five hundred Erb, each erb in those parts being esteemed as equivalent to a talent of gold. Night coming on, it appeared they prepared to fight, by the noise of warlike instruments, and shouts that were heard from the wall and ships. Seeing that a boon chain had been pulled up across the mouth of the harbour by windlass mechanisms housed in the two bastion towers guarding the entrance, the Arandur ordered the crew of the ZNS Elwynn their action stations and to conduct the drills necessary to repel boarders. The ship's 62 calibre Gun was trained on the Warden's keep overlooking the harbour. It was perhaps because of these measures that no attack occurred during the night. Searchlights mounted on the harbour bastions kept the fleet in the river Elwynn illuminated whilst parachute flares were fired at intervals throughout the night by the sailors on the Snekkjas casting a pale of flickering spectral light over the entire town.
The morning of the 21st discovered the walls, shore, and vessels, covered with armed men; the windows and tops of the house filled with both sexes and all ages, as spectators of what should ensue. The Arandur having held a council. and given the necessary orders, personally directed the firing of the first shell into the Warden's Keep, demolishing the battlements and upper stories of the structure with the force of the first direct impact. The barges out on the river joined in with a salvo of unguided rockets fired into the town, after which a furious and general firefight erupted between the fleet and the shore fortifications, upon which the 25-pounders of the barges now trained their punishing fire.
Taking advantage of the smoke and dust clouds caused by the bombardment, the small boats in the harbour attacked the ZNS Elwynn, which was obliged to rely upon the carbines and side arms issued to its crew to repel the oncoming vessels, these being now inside the traverse of the main gun. Approximately one hundred and thirty boats, well manned by Babkhi dervishes armed with rifles and machine guns, did some superficial damage with showers of grenades and fire arrows, forcing the crew to retire from the deck and 'batten down the hatches', in this case to slam shut and seal tight the blast proof compartment doors. Upon seeing this the enemy, elated, sailed in close to the ZNS Elwynn and threw up scaling ladders and climbing ropes over which they scurried onto the destroyer. Swarming aboard they were then at a loss at what to do next and began, feebly, to attempt to pry open one of the crew hatches leading to the lower decks of the vessel. Seeing the foe preoccupied by this the crew of the ship opened up a hatch on the bridge and threw down grenades into the milling crowd, killing and wounding dozens and sending the rest of the pack reeling in despair from the bloody carnage. The crew now burst forth once more from below decks and raked their fleeing assailants with automatic weapons fire. The Arandur was at this stage seen to be calmly strolling the deck, amidst the mayhem, casually using his OAH 9mm pistol to dispatch any injured foe he came across. He appeared to be the most contented that anyone had seen him to be in months. The crew's counter attack was pitiless and took them into the first of the five ships anchored closest to the ZNS Elwynn. Thermite grenades were thrown into the brigantine's hold and soon the vessel was ablaze, hastily abandoned by its surviving crew. Yet undaunted, the enemy made a second attack, but were so received that the waters of the Blue Elwynn was coloured with blood.
By the time that the Arandur had set fire to another sloop and seen his retinue overrun a requisitioned river ferry that had been moored beside it, in the face of fierce opposition, the bombardment launched by the greater portion of the fleet out in the main channel of the river had so comprehensively wrecked one of the bastion tower's that its windlass mechanism had been destroyed and the harbour chain sagged in the water sufficiently for one longship, a shallow draught Snekkja commanded by one Herger Halfdane and his sons, Heorogar & Hrothgar, to attempt to force a passage. In spite of being raked by machine-gun fire, the Snekkja, its bank of four outboard motors gunning at full throttle, skimmed the standing waves of the Blue Elwynn, and by luck or judgement bounced the prow of the ship over the chain with sufficient force that the blades of its propellers did not shear by striking against the chain. Herger was soon joined by two more captains who launched themselves into the fray. In the meantime the other captains, perceiving the fire from the remaining bastion to be slacking, drove their longships onto the shore, and disembarking with their crews ran along the shore and swarmed over the harbour walls and took up positions from where they could fire bazooka rounds and rocket-propelled grenades into the tangled mass of enemy boats inside the harbour that were already torn between evading the flames of the burning ships, attacking the ZNS Elwynn or turning to meet the three longships that had broken in to attack them from the rear. In this lethal killzone that was now established, a further thirty boats were burned before the enemy recognised the futility of further resistance and began to surrender. In the end at least 500 of the enemy were slain on their boats and in the defence of the bastions whilst the Elwynnese had lost 57 dead and 45 wounded.
The bombardment of the Warden's Keep continued for another hour until his standard, a crimson flag surrounded by a green border edged with gold lace, was struck, by which time the Keep's adjoining palace and harem were also partially reduced to rubble and on fire. Jalal Nasser, after seeing his patiently prepared defensive preparations shattered by the firepower the Arandur had brought to bear against him, lost faith in the vastness of the armed multitude that remained in possession of the town itself and bade his eunuchs to gather up what treasures they could as well as any surviving concubines from the harem, and together they fled from the scene in a convoy of vehicles driving desperately towards the west. Leaving the defenders to their fate.
Ignorant of this, the Arandur was content with fortifying the captured bastion tower and securing the harbour so that his retinue could begin to disembark. The barges kept up a steady bombardment of the keep and the town whilst the longships ferried men ashore and Herger Halfdane supervised the burning of the remaining boats in the harbour as well as supervising the inspection of certain quayside warehouses before they too were burnt to improve the field of fire. The bombardment continued through the night of the 21st and into the twilight hours of the morning of the 22nd before the last shells and rockets were expended. It was only as the dawn arose that the more keenly observant noted the white flags hanging from every surviving house along the water front. The town had surrendered during the night but the Elwynnese had been having such a good time firing off their weapons that they'd failed to notice.
The Arandur was now rowed ashore and, in some ceremony, took possession of the battered ruins of the Warden's Keep. They found the young boy whose domain the town of Eribazistaan had once been, eventually. They found the upper torso and right arm in the ruins of the keep, his head was recovered from an elm tree whose shredded branches and shattered trunk stood lonely vigil over the shell scarred walled gardens that had been a recreation area reserved for those immured in the Warden's harem. One of his legs, severed beneath the knee, was recovered from a gutter where dogs had gnawed at it and had only been recognised because of a birth mark known to the family line. Expressing his sorrow, the Arandur ordered that a Zurvanite Mobad be summoned to funeral rites in the Babkhi tradition.
Since the town was without a Lord now, with the rightful heir dead and its treacherous warden fled, it fell to the Arandur to appoint a new one. His choice fell upon Herger Halfdane who had been so impetuous in breaching the barrier between the harbour and the river with his ship. The question of the fee of 100 Florins specified for confirmation of office was happily resolved when Herger made a present to the Arandur of various articles of cosmetics, fragrances, watches, jewellery and whisky he had carefully 'rescued' from the flames that had consumed the quayside.
After the battle Magnhilðr the Mountaintwirler, High Priestess of the Shinyspring Temple near Azeroth, and Eliza Ra-Lariat, Matriarch of the Church of Elwynn, led combined a ritual of harmony and thanksgiving, dedicating to the Goddess Elwynn half of the spoils taken in plunder from the town. The Arandur endured the ritual with studied politeness and made sure that all of his retinue understood the penalties for quibbling over sharing the loot with the religious community. It was important after all for the Assize to be considered to have the blessing of the highest divinities and the best way to achieve that was through the intercession and good offices of their various cults and churches. The Arandur then shared with his retainers a feast largely made of stores and provisions liberated from the Keep and palace, washed down with large quantities beer and cider. The men and women of Eribazistaan assured anyone who would listen that they were happy to serve their lord and his guests as servants, cupbearers, which was as well since this was the role they found assigned to themselves. It should be noted though, with the fates that had befallen Rostam and Arn in the preceding weeks weighing heavily on everyone's minds, the Arandur insisted that the town Qadi serve has his personal taster for each and every drink and plate that came his way.
The Tarjeida in Eribazistaan
The Tarjeida, the Elw festival of atonement for failing to resist the usurpation of the Principate by the Usurper Loki, was celebrated by two weeks of feasting, at the culmination of which effigies of Loki were showered with dung and offal before being set alight. At midnight on the 22th of Laemill Tokaray al-Osman, acting as Augur of Democracy, oversaw the scourging of three chosen descendants of the Houses of families of Loki, Alexander and Erion for their ancestors perfidy in failing to acknowledge their lawful sovereign, Tarjei Einhornsson as Prince of Elwynn. Each of the three received three strokes of a cane, each stroke representing a year of the usurper's criminal rule. At each stroke the blow was met with the blowing of trumpets, the banging of drums and a great cry of rejoicing from the assembled nobility, the Arandur's retainers and the general populace of Eribazistaan. At the culmination of the ceremony the Arandur presented each of the representatives of the three houses with a specially struck medal and a letter of credit for five hundred Thalers in recognition of the yearly service they provided at the Tarjeida, reminding them as he did so that they had gotten off lightly for the great injustice their families had inflicted upon his father.
After this was done Eliza Ra-Lariat delivered the Tarjeida Sermon, whereupon, for some reason, she felt obliged to dwell at length upon the true nature of atonement and how it was not necessarily pleasing to the spirit of Elwynn to see it manifested through feasting and well compensated token thrashings. The sermon, being a slice of old time religion, was not necessarily well received.
Also on this day the first elements of the 10th Division of the UDF, known as the Zjandarian Guards, entered the Vale by river ferry at Azeroth.
11th of Araroqpinu, 1639: Martial Law in Goldshire and the intervention of Imperial Forces begin to undermine the flow of supplies and financial support to allow the UDF to combat the insurrection in Angularis.
On Ermure the 16th of Araroqpinu 1639 the Arandur and his retinue crossed into the district of Metyl Themar and arrived at the Fortress of the Goat.
The Retinue of the Arandur
The retinue of the Arandur on entering the Forest of Angularis:
- Arandur's Hirð (Norse)
- Kanceler: Deimos Jasonides
- Stallari: Daniyal Dravot
- Þingalið of Tielion Loki: 3,000 housecarls and a fleet of 400 land cruisers under Heorogar Halfdane
- The Fyrd of Metyl Themar: 4,000 thegns under Hrothgar Halfdane
- Merkismaðr: Kaðlín Quickdraw
- Darbār-e Amir (Babkhi)