Will of the Helm, Part VI: Famine, Death, Pestilence, and War

As Duiran labored with the proper burials of Delve’s deceased, Councilor Tirriki moved to ensure that starvation did not add more and more strain to the Cult of the Dead’s resources. Though the civil unrest over food shortages had calmed after reassurances from the Fora, the mysterious famine continued to ravage farmlands and render market storehouses bare of any essential goods. She knew that it was only a matter of time before crowds would once more gather to shout demands over the growling of their own stomachs. After a meticulous review of the plans set forth by the Conclaves of the North, the famed bureaucrat of the Council of Five made contact with the Dragon and laid out the groundwork to provide what resources the Free City could.

Beginning with a numerological experiment to attract the misfortune that drove the rot within storehouses and silos, Spinesreach’s brightest erected a decoy structure full of unspoiled grain within the Exchange as the first step to their plans. Kept cold by chirographic runes and Ankyrean preservative magic, the silo stood strong against the rigors of famine and rot, with excess refuse removed by those experienced with fields of wormhole manipulation and sciomancy. Learned members of the Conclaves kept vigilant watch over its contents as they tested and sharpened their hypothesis, though this attention was soon split as Litrix, a familiar face in virtually all Spirean scientific endeavors, announced that the next phase of the plan would soon be underway.

Utilizing elemental shadow in tandem with a potent pesticide pioneered by the Xorali scientist, the citizens of Spinesreach set about immunizing the coming harvests to the dangers of pests and reinforcing the potential for growth within the Free City’s farmlands by way of a chemically enhanced fertilizer. Though the plan required a great deal of labor and coordination, the North threw themselves into their work with all the haste and efficiency demanded of the Conclaves. By way of their work, hungry mouths and empty stomachs were soon filled, delivering Delve’s populace from the hideous fate of starvation.

Meanwhile, beneath Helba, the Sanguine Fist prepared the first part of their plans for war upon the Shil’tok invaders. Countless imperial servants worked in shifts to excavate an access point to the reinforcement tunnels dug by the foe they would soon square off against, the grim tune of their digging songs echoing throughout the caverns of their own design. For a full day did the empire dig, until at last they gained entry into the tunnel that would prove ruinous to their future plans if not addressed. Utilizing sonic explosives, the soldiers of the Fist collapsed the tunnel and killed many of the Shil’tok seeking to stop them, cutting off the invading force within Helba from the great host of fellows that lurked deep within the shadowed heart of Helba’s mines.

Days passed by without news of a second phase in Helba and, in absence of further catastrophe, a modicum of peace took hold over the Free City’s streets. In the wake of an atrocity perpetrated by Imperator Kurak and ex-Thronekeeper Whirran, the ailing citizens brought back to good health by the Hammer of the Dawn sought to make something of themselves. Selecting a humble Caentoi dockworker as their spokeswoman, the group informed a gathered crowd of Enorian citizens that they wished to join them in their crusade to make the world a better place. Inspired by the Hammer’s efforts and driven by a desire to never let another massacre happen before their eyes again, the Albedi civilians begged the city to train and arm them so that they might make themselves of use. Seeing no reason to deny them, Vanguard Kalena extended an offer to relocate them post-haste and the patients immediately gathered their things and ventured forth with an escort of proud servants of the Light.

In the quiet hours of the following week, one more patient needing care was brought to the attention of Nawan Karthi, one of the Ascendril Order’s dedicated researchers and caregivers. A sailor informed the mage that his daughter needed treatment, explaining that he had wished to see if the healing administered had any adverse effects before stepping forth to beg for the Hammer’s aid. Though Nawan stated that he was unsure if he could heal the parasitic infection without the aid of an Illuminai, he nonetheless agreed to inspect the child’s health. Calling upon the enlightened elemancy gifted to him by divine providence, the Ascendril managed to cleanse the sailor’s daughter of her ailment and rid the city of its last infected patient. Though details are scarce as to the nature of this work of arcane might, one sailor’s gratitude could be heard throughout the city as proof of the magic’s efficacy.

It was only in the final hours of Lanosian that Bloodloch made their move. After constructing a duo of siegetower with the aid of Delve’s military personnel, the Fist laid siege to the barricades barring entry to the village of Helba. Splitting themselves in two squads led by Warleader Bulrok and Lord Alhazrad respectively, the efficiency of imperial conquest soon made itself evident. Though the Shil’tok refused to be ousted without a fight, the Empire’s finest were an implacable bulwark, the dark tide of blind marauders broken by their mastery of war. As mortarfire shrouded the Karak Forest and the village of Helba in thick, choking clouds of smoke, more and more invaders charged out to meet their end before the bloody tactics of an organized war machine. As the last of the Shil’tok occupants fell to volley after volley of arrows, the Warleader declared victory for the Sanguine Fist and claimed Helba in Delve’s name once more.

In the wake of Helba’s recapture, a tense, extremely brief meeting occurred between Rhav Maslak and Warleader Bulrok, one in which the Councillor acknowledged a war well-won but sternly counselled the Empire not to take Delve for fools. The threat clearly made, Rhav took his leave, and what this portends for the long term relationship betwixt the two powers remains to be seen.

As the genius concoctions of Spinesreach continue to work wonders of miracle growth on Delve’s farmlands, accidents have largely stopped and the dead shrink in numbers thanks to Duiran. Parasitic infection has all but disappeared and the recovered patients owe their lives and their sanity to the Hammer’s prodigious healers. Helba, too, is no longer under Shil’tok conquest. Yet, as the world still wonders as to the location of the newborn Eld’akathi, Kull Ervenn reads over a very troubling missive…

Penned by my hand on Quensday, the 1st of Niuran, in the year 506 MA.
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