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*quietly peeks in*

Aaron speaks the truth.

*slips back out*
February 23rd, 4901 YDC (Yllendyr Dynastic Calendar)
The Vermillion Citadel, Ylleria, The Crownlands

Emperor Ecruir was preparing his speech, leaning over his desk with an old-fashioned quill pen. Most had switched to fountain pens for ease of use, but Ecruir found the older style much more pleasant. When he was writing down the last words, there came a knock on the door.

"Come in!"

"Your Imperial Highness, sir." One of the palace servants entered the room. "I have for you news of a foreign dignitary who has arrived at the Citadel, requesting to meet you.

Ecruir looked puzzled. "A foreign dignitary? There are no foreign countries, only states of the Imperium."

"With all due respect, Your Imperial Highness, this envoy claims to be a representative from the Celestial Empire of Amrea, a nation far across the seas nearby to our colony."

"Oh yes, of course, I recall this in one of my father's interminable lectures about the strange distant barbarians we found there. And something about a second moon. Do send him in, I'll receive him here."

_________________

The walls of the Vermilion Citadel were but one of the many things in this strange eastern land that lent a great sense of discomfort to Xen Huo-ming as he stood in the foyer, as instructed by one of the
palace's many servants. The sights he saw at the head of the Empire's flagship as it rolled into the Yllendyr port, the rocking of the train carriage Imperial officials had loaded him and the others into. It all rubbed him the wrong way, but perhaps that was simply due to the alien nature of the Far East, compared to the familiar comforts of the Empire.

He shifted to the right as he caught a glimpse of one of the palace servants approaching him, waiting expectantly for his reply.

"Sir, his Imperial Highness shall receive you now."

"Very well, thank you for relaying my request for an audience to the Emperor." Xen smiled and offered a little nod to the servant, before turning around to signal to the two others accompanying him.

"Come, Min, Mae-da. The most excellent Emperor of the Yllendyr Imperium shall receive us now. Ensure that proper respect is paid, in the same way one would before the Gwangyeong Empress."

The three were admitted into the office room of the Emperor. The room was furnished in the sleek and refined style that was most common amongst elves, and a portrait of the 75th Emperor Naerzo still hung on the wall. A small red lamp illuminated the unusually ornate desk, which had flower patterns carved in wood. He moved around to the side of the desk, extending his hand in a gesture of welcome to these strange beings.

Xen was slightly puzzled by the size of the Emperor's "throne room", as he thought it was, before realizing that perhaps it was most likely the Emperor's quarters or office. It left him rather unsure of how to respond, given that conventionally, one was meant to pay their respects through the kowtow at the throne. In spite of that, the three of them kowtowed before Ecruir, prostrating themselves before him before rising.

Ecruir recognized the bow as a sign of respect, as the Kitagawans used similar gestures when greeting him or their own Emperor. The fox-like creatures resembled something of a cross between an elf and a Vaspen, which was very confusing in terms of racial hierarchy. For now, the Emperor supposed he would reserve judgement. Their deep bowing, at least, showed they had some level of civilization about them and understood how to give proper respect. When they had risen, Ecruir tipped his head slightly down in response. "Greetings and welcome to the Vermillion Citadel, and the Imperium as a whole. I would be pleased to know your names and your purpose."

"It is an honor to be in your presence, your Imperial Highness. I am Xen Huo-ming, envoy of the Celestial Empress to your court. Accompanying me are Min Ru'sa and Mae-da, members of the Gwangyeong Empress' diplomatic expedition to your great Imperium. I come bearing a letter from the Empress of Amrea herself, meant for your Highness' esteemed eyes only."

Ecruir nodded. He would try to remember the envoy's name, but the other two had names far too hard to bother to pronounce or remember for his taste. "I appreciate it, and will read it promptly." He took the letter from Xen's outstretched hand, and pulled a letter opener from his desk drawer to separate the wax seal from the paper.

As his eyes traveled the paper, they slightly widened in surprise. He briefly raised his eyes to the envoy and two escorts, looking them over, then continued reading. Ecruir certainly appreciated the sentiments contained within, but he was unsure whether or not his definition of enlightened races could include these strange beings as of yet. That being considered, though, Ecruir was highly interested in allies, especially ones with such evidently similar mindsets.

He looked up again at Xen. "Envoy Huo-ming, this letter directs me to refer to you for further inquiries. So I must ask: does the Gwangyeong Empress have a concrete proposal in mind, or is this simply an offer of friendship and solidarity?"

Xen simply smiled before addressing the Emperor once again. "Your Imperial Highness, the words written by the Empress are no mere gestures of solidarity. Her Imperial Majesty wishes to sign a full alliance with the Imperium. The proposal is as thus: The Empire of Amrea will support your Imperium in civilizing the savage tribes found throughout your territories and in exchange, we wish to request your aid in a similar manner in the West. As a further gesture, the Empress in consultation with the Hong of Cantha, wishes to also invite Yllendyr merchants to dock and trade freely within the borders of the Empire, thus ending the restriction placed on your traders to conduct all their business at the Port of Cantha."

He stops to take a breath before continuing.

"Second-to-last, the Empire will with your consent also dispatch a battalion of Imperial Mages to your colony south of Amrean territory to safeguard it against the threat of wild strigoi. Lastly, en-route to the Vermillion Citadel, brief mentions of a war by the commonfolk caught my ear. The Empress has given me full authority as the representative of the Celestial Empire to the Yllendyr Imperium to act as I see fit in terms of diplomacy and as a result, I would like to offer the services of the Imperial Mages I had brought with me to aid your Imperial Highness in his fight. They are led by the two you see before you."

The Emperor smiled gratefully. "Yes, indeed we have a case of a rebellious province or two. Such are the dangers of governing resentful and barbarous peoples, as your Empress would no doubt agree." He thought for a few seconds, then continued. "I am obliged to agree wholeheartedly with these sentiments, and I would be happy to forge an alliance. We are both surrounded by bloodthirsty enemies, quite literally in the case of the continent on which you dwell... much to my disgust... so it would be quite remiss of me to allow an opportunity such as this to pass the Yllendyr by. I will pass along the results of this agreement to the Crown Colony of Yllendyr, so that we might both prosper from the fruits of commerce. I also greatly appreciate the offer of assistance. Skilled mages are always valued in armies, and will hopefully allow the Yllendyr to come to know your people better.

Secondly, it is the custom of the Yllendyr to establish a permanent embassy between nations, so that there might be an easy way for governments to contact one another. I invite your people to establish one in the Embassy Quarter of Ylleria, where representatives of all of the Imperium's subject states reside. As a recognition of your empire's much higher status, I intend to offer you a significantly larger area and as much of a budget as you might require to complete it. I only request in exchange that the Imperium might also establish an embassy in your capital. I hope that such an arrangement can make intergovernmental discussions much easier, since there is no need for a long ocean voyage."

Huo-ming nods in agreement. "Indeed, we are grateful for your Imperial Highness' generosity. Rest assured that arrangements can easily be made for the Imperium's embassy to be established in the capital of C'hung-jin. At the same time, I shall consult with Yllendyr architects here to design an embassy building for myself to take up residence."

"Very good. Express also to the Gwangyeong Empress that I may see fit to visit your realm of Amrea when my duties do not require me here. From the sound of her letter, she sounds like an inspiring lady and a pleasure to meet. Thank you as well for your service in traveling such a long way."

"It will be done, your Imperial Highness. Thank you for receiving me and my delegation with such open arms." Xen smiles one final time before deeply bowing and departing the room, Ru'sa and Mae-da in tow.

---

Later that day, the Amrean envoy was invited to the official first public address of the 76th Emperor, Ecruir Vyalviur. He stood at the left side as Ecruir emerged onto the balcony of the Vermillion Citadel just over Lunaris Square, clad in a vermillion jacket and royal vestments to match. The winter sun glared brightly enough to bring some warmth in the cold to what had to be a hundred thousand onlookers, Yllendyr citizens and subjects alike, massed before the Citadel. He waved his hand and his scepter in greeting, smiling broadly, as his green eyes flashed with reflection from the sun. The assembled masses cheered, louder than any sound Ecruir thought a mass of beings was capable of creating, at the first sight of their Emperor. A microphone sat on the railing, transmitting the speech as a radio broadcast across the Fifteen Dominions. The time had come for Ecruir to face his destiny, for a billion lives hung in the balance.

February 22nd, 4901 YDC (Yllendyr Dynastic Calendar)
Off the Coast of Lundbergh, Imperial Dominion of Avalia

“Admiral, the commander in charge of that battlegroup has been thrown into the brig as requested.” The officer looking out the front windows of the 75th Emperor Naerzo, a dreadnought commissioned as the first of its kind, nodded regretfully. Admiral Navoss had been in command of the Southern Fleet for twenty years, and never had she imagined such a disgrace. She had warned all officers to be on high alert, and the captain of a torpedo boat had not only failed to relay the order, he had fallen asleep in his office, only to be woken by the tumult of his ship being taken over and jumping overboard. That wouldn’t save him now, regardless of the fact that no one had anticipated an aerial raid was possible. He was going to have the man, regardless of his noble parents, court marshaled and executed as soon as possible to put the fear of Elune in the other officers.

“Good. This is just the excuse I needed to whip the incompetent officers into shape. I only wish it hadn’t cost the 48th Empress Nobara. She was a beauty. And the two more ships we had to send to repairs, I hope they make it.” The aide who brought her the news nodded uncomfortably, but remained in place.

“Is there something else?” Navoss turned to the aide. He trembled a little. “Come now, speak up, I won’t bite, unlike a Valkyrian.”

“Orders from Imperial High Command, ma’am. I’m told they come directly from Emperor Ecruir. I believe the exact words were…” The aide trailed off with words that were only decipherable by Navoss’s command of lip reading.

Navoss’s eyes widened briefly, but then her face tightened with resolve. “I understand.”

She turned to speak out into the radio, looking for one last time at the unblemished city of Lundbergh, just at the very edge of most guns’ range as they pulled away from its coasts with the two intact legions they had rescued.

“All officers, load the Yllendyr fire shells. Fire upon my mark.” All around her, the clanking of metal and the shouting of voices commenced, continuing unabated for the next few minutes until she finally began counting down. “3...2...1...mark.” The air filled with smoke and fire as ninety-six ships unleashed their payloads upon the city. If the performance of the Northern Fleet was marked as the Imperium’s defiance, this was the true measure of the Imperium’s fury.

The shells, descending down upon the city, would spray forth their payloads all around them as they fell, finally igniting them in a small explosion on impact. Yllendyr fire, the long-kept secret of the Imperium and key to many of their naval victories, was considered by many irrelevant to modern naval warfare after wooden ships and even ironclads had fallen out of favour. At least, until an engineer had discovered a new artillery shell design. These shells would have been virtually useless against well-armoured ships, but civilian targets or infantry forces had no such protection.

The relentless pounding of the guns was nearly deafening, as the city before Navoss seemed to turn brilliantly yellow-orange. It was a very beautiful spectacle… beautiful and terrible. She could not hear the sound of screaming, but in her heart she knew it was there. A fire which dousing with water would only exacerbate, from which even if citizens hid inside their homes they would still be suffocated by the fumes. This was a warning. A sign that the Imperium was prepared for total war. If they were going to lose, then this would continue. They would take the revolutionaries with them.

Such was expressed in the brief command that the Emperor Ecruir uttered in response to the news of the raid against his navy. Three simple words, which carried entire pages of meaning: “burn them all.”

February 23rd, 4901 YDC (Yllendyr Dynastic Calendar)
The Vermillion Citadel, Ylleria, The Crownlands

Ecruir raised his scepter for silence, and after a few moments of residual cheering and applause, the crowd quieted down.

“Loyal subjects of the Imperium!” A cheer rose again in response. “I come to speak to you today in what may be our darkest hour in a thousand years. Just as our ancestors unified a millennium ago to face the invasions of barbarian humans who sought to drive us from our homeland, so we must unify to face the barbarians at the gates.”

“My traitorous and rebellious brother, whom would give up all that our father has achieved to rule over the shadow of what remains in the names of 'liberalism' and 'popular sovereignty,' is only half the problem. As you now know, Avalia is in outright rebellion against the Imperium... rather, I should say, the thieves, savages, and murderous opportunists who have seized control of the country are."

The crowd intensely booed in response, as Ecruir soaked up all of their enthusiasm before continuing.

“Time and time again, we have learned this is the way of the barbarian. Humans, Valkyrians, Vaspen, it makes no difference. For their own petty differences, for their misguided new “ideals,” they slaughter each other and us. We have done our best to bring civilization to the Dominions, and still, more than half a century later, they return swiftly to their savage ways at the slightest sign of weakness. In Avalia, the foul revolutionaries have imprisoned and executed their nobility without mercy. Saboteurs and terrorists in Vaspen and Kitagawa are sowing mayhem throughout the countryside. Sadly, even some of the fine legions stationed there filled with troops from these nations have murdered their officers and begun mass banditry and pillaging.”

“Let this be a lesson to the entire Imperium: barbarism is still alive and well, and must be beat out of the world lest we all face the same fate. For sixty years, the Yllendyr have served unfailingly as the guardians and protectors of civilization on this world. We have brought many fruits of industry and technology to these peoples, from radio to the internal combustion engine to electric lighting. The last sixty years have been an era of peace and prosperity for all the nations of the world, shattered and stomped on by the naivete of fanatical, ungrateful revolutionaries.”

“I warn all those who think of siding with the side of savagery: there is nothing for you there. Those who light the fires of revolution do so with the consequences of not only lighting themselves but the entire world into a whirlwind of death and destruction. Millions will die, at your hands and ours as we struggle to restore order over the world. There are only two destinations at the end of that road: you will either be resubjugated much the worse for wear, or you will be the free and independent monarchs, presidents and prime ministers of nothing but ashes and dust.”

“This I swear to you now. I will not falter from the task of preserving this world against the anarchic death and destruction that the spirit of revolution yearns for!” The crowd intensely cheered, even more emphatically than the first time.

Ecruir gestured for a human girl, off on the opposite side from the Amrean delegation, to come forth. The girl, who looked to be about twenty years of age, nervously strode forward in a simple but beautiful gown. “I introduce to you Princess Kirsten of Avalia, the cousin of the deceased King Holfgar, who was studying at the Magitechnical University of Ylleria when the rebellion broke out. The girl looked almost about to faint as she shook the Emperor’s hand, and then went up to the microphone.

Kirsten, at an encouraging nod from the 76th Emperor, finally spoke up. “His Imperial Highness asked me to come here today to tell you all my story. The truth is… everyone in my family is dead, or I have no idea where they are. My mother, my father, my kid sister…” Kirsten could hold her tears back no longer, and they raced down her face as the crowd looked on in shock. “… she was just four years old!” Kirsten yelled, and fell to her knees. Ecruir knelt next to her, and helped bring her back to her feet. When she had composed herself, she leaned forward to speak once more. “If any of you revolutionaries can hear this, I ask you: why have you done this? To murder, to betray the trust of everyone, to ruthlessly imprison and execute anyone associated with the nobility? Is there no one innocent in your eyes? My mother, she was a kind woman… my father was against the idea of me studying abroad, but my mother smiled and paid out of her own pocket for the journey and tuition. I got a letter saying he yelled at her for the entire next day...” She smiled tearfully at the memory. “It’s only thanks to her that I’m here now, that I can still speak out on her behalf. And so I wanted to do just that. And I thank Emperor Ecruir for providing me the opportunity. If anyone is moved by my words, I simply ask you to please help. This war will tear apart many more families than just mine if it is allowed to continue.” At the cheers, she waved and backed slightly away from the railing.

Ecruir gestured for the others who stood at sides to come forth. A motley assembly indeed: of a harried dark elf from Ot-Skodat, a goblin for some mysterious reason following closely behind, a haughty-looking high elf bearing the colours of Vaurgemyr, a well-dressed envoy from Velendaal, and of course the envoy of the Celestial Empire.

“I have gathered all those noble loyalists who have immediately declared for the true Imperium here to discuss the battle plans for the operation to crush this rebellion in its infancy, as well as an envoy from the glorious Celestial Empire of Amrea, a comrade-in-arms and ally from across the sea in our civilizing mission. Our objective is clear: the restoration of the Imperium not just as it was, but in a new and powerful way. With the support of all those in favour of civilization, in favour of preserving tradition, in favour of order and peace in the world, I know in my heart we will not fail. We have no need of popular sovereignty, for we are already sovereign!" Ecruir put his hand to his chest theatrically. “I appeal to the other loyal dominions: help us preserve the peaceful order of this world. The Emperor will remember his friends in this time of need.”

“With all of your support, the Imperium will not only survive as it did a thousand years ago, but we will build an empire which will prosper for a thousand more!” Ecruir cast his scepter forward towards the crowd.

“To victory for the Imperium!” the Emperor cried. A chorus of thousands responded in kind. The words, “Victory for the Imperium!” resounded across the city, from the mouths of dark elves, from the mouths of humans, from the mouths of Valkyrians and ogres, from the mouths of the myriad other species that inhabited the city. For this was no simple struggle for liberation; those who sought to rebel also had to contend against their own kind, those who had sworn loyalty to the Yllendyr cause, those who had come to benefit from their rule, and those who were content with the status quo.

“So it begins,” the 76th Emperor quietly remarked. The man who promised to cast the power of a firestorm upon those who defied him turned from the balcony and strode inside, the others following in his wake.
February 7th, 4901 YDC (Yllendyr Dynastic Calendar)
Altairis, Yllendyr Crownlands

“Start from the beginning.” Had’zrad leaned back in his chair, his fingers pressed together in exactly the way one does when trying to seem interested in a religious ceremony when they’re really thinking about their new girlfriend.

“We…. were part of the exploration guild. It was our first expedition into the sewers under Altairis. We had no Idea what we were getting into, we swear.” Phalthuun was shaking, buried beneath a blanket roughly the consistency of the average mammoth hide, only it probably smelled a lot better. Phalthuun, however, cared not for how the blanket smelled, for the presence of the armed guards beside him who had arrested him for climbing nearly naked out of a manhole hours earlier brought him a degree of comfort unbeknownst to the average Imperium rabble. Phalthuun was lucky to be alive.

“You’re lucky to be alive,” decreed Had’zrad, who began to scribble some notes onto a piece of paper that only probably had anything to do with the ravings of the mentally scarred explorer, “I’ve heard the goblins down there are utterly savage monsters. It was probably foolhardy to expect anything could be gained from trying to comprehend them. No sane man seeks to understand madness.”

-Seven weeks earlier-

Oreila was utterly extatic. It had only been three days since her grant ran through and she was able to assemble her first expeditionary team. Despite the warnings and concern of her colleagues, the only thing Oreila could think at the very moment she displaced the manhole cover was what fantastical wonderland of sub-elven cretins she was about to elevate into civilization.

Her guard captain, Phalthuun Adszraadh, was the first to descend the long ladder into the sewers beneath the bustling market district of the city of Altairis. The echoing sound of his confirmation that the main access line seemed clear of hostile parties was the dinner bell for the six others in the crew besides Oreila to begin their descent into the labyrinth of waste tunnels wherein it was understood that a great many goblins dwelt. Of the party, only one, the cartographer, had any sense of where they would be going.

“Four crosslines down is where we found the first excavation.”

The cartographer’s directions were gibberish to Oreila, who was an anthropologist, not a civil engineer. Therefore, it only made sense to trust their guide, and true to his word, after a short walk down a fetid pipe with a flowing cesspit of putrid sewage slowly dribbling along mere inches from their feet on the walkway, they found a hole. The hole itself seemed crudely mined, with a great many jagged edges and with few support beams. The two guardsmen whose names weren’t Phalthuun, and whose ranks weren’t captain were ordered to assist in clearing the great many cave-ins that dotted the snaking tunnel. The path itself ran for what felt like at least a mile until it opened into a sizable cavern which, by conventional geology, probably shouldn’t be possible.
The cavern’s geography was the least notable feature of the area, however, as standing roughly in the middle of the clearing was a small, childlike simian figure.

The most perplexing thing about this creature was that no matter how many times they called to it, it would only momentarily notice them. Immediately afterwards, it woud get distracted by the dripping of water, the presence of some rat or insect, or simply its gaze would gradually drift upwards until it was entranced by the very presence of a ceiling above its head. Every time it would see the explorers again, it would be just as surprised as it was the very first time it saw them. Never in roughly a one-minute period did it approach them, until Oreila brought out the candy bar.

The producing of the small chocolate treat seemed to get the creature’s attention in a new and profound way. Its crooked and hilariously long nose oscillated rapidly as the thing wobbled its way over to Oreila in a childlike manner. It stopped once its nose was only a few inches from the candy bar, which respectively was pierced on the end of a short spear that only seconds before had been carried by one of the guards whose names were not Phalthuun and… you get it.

“Hey little monster! Do you want a sweetie?” Oreila’s voice was such that any elven child would’ve immediately seen through her half-assed attempt at masking her prejudice.

“Dazza fud?” Belched the creature.

“Oh my! You possess the affinity for language! Do you have a name?” Oreila’s suddenly honest curiosity was equaled by those others, who crammed their heads of various sizes and baldnesses beside each other in exactly the way canned sardines might take a selfie. This more facilitated everyone’s discomfort than an actually genuine improvement on their ability to see the creature. Out of raw fear of the unknown, nobody really cared that much.

“Dazza fud? Iz a eet?” Elaborated the creature, growing increasingly curious but still seemingly cautious enough of the elves so as not to do anything too brash.

“Yes, you can eat…” Oreila was cut off by the near instantaneous chomping of the creature onto the chocolate bar exactly a quarter of a picosecond after the word ‘yes’ was pronounced. The force of the creature’s bite significantly deformed the spearhead. The creature didn’t even chew it, simply swallowed it, licked its lips, and then immediately turned to walk away.

Oreila insisted that the party follow the creature as it began travelling along another snaking tunnel that led out of the cavern. All the while the rest of the party was trailing many meters (and maybe a few yards) behind the diminutive goblinoid, Oreila was enthusiastically interrogating it. Over the course of about 20 minutes, she was able to deduce that it was some form of small goblin called a “grem”, its name was “Igglesplunt”, and it thought the candy bar tasted worse than a hat, but better than “soup”, which she came to understand was their word for anything they found in the sewer water.

Around the time the epiphany about the meaning of soup graced Oreila’s mind, they entered another cavern that was aglow with activity. A virtual horde of grems were awork toiling, constructing some form of statue which resembled an elf, but insofar as someone who had only ever heard descriptions of elves could possibly construct an effigy of such a being. The visage of the statue, which was composed of a great many pieces of trash, sections of dirt, what looked to be actual mortar, farming equipment, and a few grems accidentally nailed into place both flattered and appalled the party. It was only shortly after discussing exactly how blasphemous this statue was when the second guard whose name wasn’t Phalthuun (here forward to be referred to as guard #2) noticed that Igglesplunt had disappeared into the mass of gremlins who were constructing the elf statue.

The ramifications of this were that the party began to attempt communicating with the sea of seemingly oblivious grems, whose attention was completely fixated on basically everything but the elven explorers. This annoyed Phalthuun, as never before in his life had anyone or anything dared not to notice how important he looked. Upon expressing this to the cartographer, however, he came to care a bit less because after realigning his concept of the grems to be more or less equivalent to insects, a certain acceptance of their ignorance was achieved.

Around the time the party began getting seriously frustrated with their inability to draw the attention of any of the grems, a new form of creature approached them. It looked like a grem, but was about five feet tall, seemingly skin-and-bones, covered in acne, and had a nose roughly the length and shape of a pistol. Even the least empathetic of all uncivilized beings could comprehend from a mere glance at this creature that its very existence was depressing and it was, in every way, miserable.

“Wow. You’re so pretty. Can I look at you? Is that okay? I’ll gouge my eyes out if it isn’t.” The creature’s voice was a whimper that would overshadow a kicked puppy.

“Oh, well I do suppose you could avert your gaze a bit, but moreover please inform me on what manner of creature you are? You are more articulate than those things I take are called ‘grems’! Are you a goblin? What is your name?”

Oreila’s machine-gun-esque questionnaire momentarily frazzled the creature who, after covering its eyes most completely (though occasionally peeking through its fingers to make sure it wasn’t actually talking to a wall), began to compose itself and provide adequate responses. From this exchange, which lasted around 10 minutes, the party managed to uncover a great many truths about the nature of goblin kind. Firstly, the small, illiterate creatures currently assembling the statue in the present cavern were in fact called ‘gremlins’, the creature they were speaking to was a ‘hobgoblin’ named ‘Seventy-seven-spoons-and-one-rusty-fork’, and there was one other sub race of goblinoids referred to as ‘bugbears’, which seemed to be the leaders. One such bugbear individual, whose name apparently was ‘She-who-mispronounces-the-word-chemistry’, acts as the queen of sorts of this particular goblin tribe. ‘Spoons’, as the shy hobgoblin came to be called, agreed to offer them an audience with the bugbear, who the elves demanded simply be referred to as ‘the one in charge’.

Spoons led them through yet many more tunnels, all comparable in a great many ways to that first crumbling passage which was their proverbial rabbit hole. It became readily apparent that goblin architecture had no real rules, consistency, and for all intents and purposes probably shouldn’t work. Over the course of the hours it took to get to the throne room, the party witnessed a great many instances of such architecture failing miraculously, and in most cases resulting in the deaths of a great many gremlins. What seemed to Oreila to be completely bizarre, however, was the fact that any gremlin who witnessed another’s death (or any form of violence or tragedy for that matter) would break out in utterly hideous and contagious laughter.

Other revelations were that the only reason the gremlins were working on the statue was that it happened to be Tuesday, and that on all other days the gremlins simply mulled about causing mayhem for their own entertainment. Spoons couldn’t explain exactly why the gremlins found violence to be so hilarious, and expressed grief over their senseless deaths in an almost paternal manner. Occasionally, gremlins would approach Spoons, referring to him as ‘Mizta Hob’ and asking him to assist them in a great many simple activities such as buttoning a shirt that clearly didn’t fit them, holding a hammer the right way, and most often of all: wanting to know if it was still Tuesday.

Anyhow, the aforementioned throne room was eventually reached. The exact appearance of the throne room is irrelevant because the presence of the absurdly huge goblin in the center of it atop a structure only vaguely resembling a chair of any kind, much less a throne, was more significant than any of the room’s other qualities. This enormous goblin, who was obviously the leader previously referred to as ‘She-who-did-something-Oreila-didn’t-really-care-about’ grew immediately angrier than she seemed initially, as evidenced by the rapidly increasing pace at which she was flailing hapless gremlins about in an effort to paint the ceiling with their brain matter.

Her voice was like a normal voice except really loud: “God-finder! How day ya find God and friens on a Tuesday! Thas da mose-most not really holy of day!”

“I am most sorry my mistress. Shall I feed my entrails to the gremlins in an effort to make up for my sins?”

“Uh… wuts a end rail? Do I gots wunna doze?”

“It shall be done, my lady.” Said Spoons, rapidly exiting the room in a backwards pace whilst simultaneously bowing and weeping violently.

“Okay, sure, God-finder… have fun witcha end rails.” Once Spoons had finished exiting the room in a most dramatic fashion, the bugbear spoke again, much to the continued bewilderment of Oreila and the others. “Ennyway, hi God. Thanks fer goin outta my dreems. Hope ya got all my letters I rotecha on da seelin so youz and ya frenz could see em.”

A moment of quiet puzzlement and contemplation passed, then Oreila spoke: “Er… I…. might not have gotten all the letters? Can… you show them to me so…. I can be sure?” Oreila was utterly confused and at this point, horrified at the seemingly mad, seven-foot-tall wall of muscle and drool which was immediately in her presence and referring to her as ‘God’. A quick survey of the others confirmed her suspicions that they were similarly terrified. Even Phalthuun, who carried a rifle of exquisite make, gave her a glance which could mean only have one possible interpretation: “I have absolutely no intention of using this stupid fucking pea-shooter. It’d only make her angry.”

“Oh, sure, no prollum, God! Come on, I’ll show ya the letter room!”

The party followed the bugbear in exactly the same way people who aren’t scared of enormous monsters with god complexes don’t. The journey took about two and a half seconds because evidently, the letter room was directly adjacent to the throne room. The room was more or less a room, save for the fact that the ceiling was adorned with a great many carved boards, bits of paper stained with shit, various clothes that might’ve been white at some point (as evidenced by the fact that they’re currently still actually white, if a bit muddy), and all of which were covered in writings and drawings of various degrees of legibility.

A common theme across the texts was the idea that the bugbear was eagerly waiting the arrival of a tiny godlike creature which will usher in a world in which it is Wednesday forever, or possibly Tuesday forever, either is really okay. It must be emphasized exactly how truthfully okay this was: the bugbear seemed to really only care that the decree of which day it will always be will end the incessant questioning by the gremlins of whether or not Tuesday is over yet. Perhaps most disturbing, however, were the various depictions of the goblins, as well as the godlike figure, eating the other figures depicted as similar to the godlike figure, though all were shown to be naked and with embarrassingly small genitalia.

“I was start to wory that you couldn’t see the letters up in Godland, even though I put em on the seelin for ya ta see em better. Cuz yaknow, Godland is up high and all.”

“Oh, yes, excellent. Uh… I need to… talk with my friends. About whether it should be Tuesday or not. Over there. With you not over there… so if you could just go sit in the other room and keep playing with the gremlins we’ll have a good answer in just a minute!”

“Oh, I knew you’d say that. You seddit in muh dreem! Look… uh… yeah rite dere! I drew it fur ya with a pensel that stick-guy found!” The bugbear then pointed at a mural which depicted the god figure saying a bunch of words that don’t make any sense, followed by the goblins tearing the other god-like figures into small pieces, in most instances using forks and occasionally a wheelbarrow. Before the party had any time to react, the bugbear grabbed Oreila with one hand and lifted her off of the ground, cheering, roaring, and demanding that the other goblins: “Come getchur God-friend dinner!”

In the ensuing chaos, the cartographer was summarily divided into at least fourteen pieces over the course of about three hours, as it was understandably difficult to cut an elf apart using only a wheelbarrow. Guard #2 was killed instantly. Everyone else who wasn’t named specifically died a similarly gruesome death. Phalthuun, however, successfully fled the moment the melee began.

With the help of his ‘stupid fucking pea shooter’, he was able to carve a bloody path through the seemingly endless waves of gremlin warriors who, despite their childlike demeanor, were about as effective in combat as actual children. The roars of the bugbear echoing behind him, eclipsed only slightly by the alternatingly horrified and outraged screams of Oreila, Phalthuun wandered a great many tunnels of an increasingly abandoned state, until such a point that he could no longer hear the aforementioned roars and screams. This brought the captain no comfort, however, as his favorite shirt was now ruined, the only other competent colleagues of his on this expedition were either captured to be worshipped as God figures or summarily killed for the purpose of devouring.

That said, he never really liked guard #2, and that very thought kept him sane for the seven weeks it took him to find the nearest man hole cover. During this period, he managed to survive by eating three of his own fingers, his left ear, five bullets, an unknown and possibly unknowable quantity of sewer rats, three gallons of raw sewage (but not particularly stinky sewage), and whatever water he could collect from licking condensation off of the ceiling.

-Present Day-

Following Phalthuun’s vague directions, the rescue squad were able to locate the goblin colony Phalthuun and Oreila had made contact with. Surprisingly, the goblins were nowhere near as hostile as the nearly insane captain had made them out to be. A few minutes of exploring led them to a rather anatomically accurate statue of a very beautiful elven woman around which a great many goblins of one shape and size (simian and small) were bowing and possibly praying. While they were in the process of confirming that last part, a gangly creature approached them, addressed itself as ‘You-won’t-believe-this-but-its-actually-a-whole-outhouse-I-found-in-the-water-just-over-there’ and told them that: “God said you’d come. Unfortunately, she doesn’t not grant audiences on Wednesdays, as Wednesdays are the holiest of days for us goblins.” The squad captain attempted to inform the creature that it was in fact Tuesday, to which it responded: “No it isn’t. It’s never Tuesday. Not anymore,” and walked away sobbing and muttering to itself about how it doesn’t have a birthday any more.

This failed to prevent the rescue squad from continuing to explore the goblin colony, all the while being vigilant of the veritable ocean of small goblin creatures who seemed to be doing absolutely nothing important at all. Eventually, they heard a voice that was far too eloquent and well mannered to belong to a goblin. Following the voice, they came to a chamber wherein an elven woman, presumably Oreila, was wearing only a tattered Yllendyr Imperium flag as a scarf. She was talking to a rather monstrously large creature about how exited she was that tomorrow was Wednesday, which apparently meant she would finally get a day off of work. The large creature seemed to agree completely, and quickly segued into a philosophical debate about whether or not shirts should be considered an endangered species. The elf argued that they should, but that continued conservation efforts might eventually allow them to continue breeding to a point at which their population will become self-sustaining.

Upon returning to the surface, the squad captain rather quickly thanked her men for their heroic efforts in preserving the safety of the Imperium, entered her office momentarily to write a report on the results of the rescue operation, and minutes later, entered her boss’s office with an envelope containing said report. The boss thanked her for the report, and sent her on her way. It took a while for the boss to get to the report which, to his surprise, was simply a single sheet of paper with the words “she’s gone”, written in plain print with black ink.
Good job you guys, A+ effort out there.
Approved, make sure you throw it in the Char tab.

giving the ooc some love
The Chronicles of Squad 6, 27th Auxiliary Legion of the Yllendyr Imperium


January 17th, 4901 YDC (Yllendyr Dynastic Calendar)
Imperial Auxiliary Garrison, Dominion of Kitagawa

"Hey, Luna, wait up!" Lunastri looked around for the familiar voice calling after her as she walked out of the officer's barracks. Lieutenant Amara was waving at her as she rushed to catch her. Amara had been her closest friend for the past two years, after she made Lieutenant. The two regularly chatted in the mess hall about the grief their respective squads put them through. She was a sun elf noble, and therefore of considerably higher social status, but Amara couldn't care less. That was one of the things Lunastri loved about her.

"How's it going, Amara? Come to see me off?" Lunastri slowed to accommodate the panting elf girl.

"Absolutely. You're getting assigned a new squad today, right?" Despite running down the length of an entire huge hallway, Amara was as cheerful as ever. Lunastri wondered how she was ever able to keep up with this girl's energy.

"Yep. I have no idea what I'm going to get this time, so it'll be... fun, I hope?" Lunastri shrugged optimistically. Amara gave her a sympathetic look.

"I actually was also told to give this to you." Amara handed over a small package to Lunastri. She gave the sun elf a quizzical look. "What's this for?"

"Er, um... apparently they had an extra chainmail shirt lying around from a high officers' shipment, and they wanted to give you something as compensation..."

"Compensation?" Lunastri was dumbfounded for a moment, and then as Amara waved goodbye and started backing away, it clicked in her head. "Hey, get back here! What do I need to be compensated for?" The speedy girl was already basically gone, so Lunastri sighed. She had no idea what she was getting into, but now she was sure it wasn't good. Lunastri threw the package in her backpack and reluctantly walked the rest of the way outside.

She made her way to the spot where her new squad was supposed to report in, and then briefly balked when she saw them from a distance away. This was... without a doubt, the most eclectic band of misfits Lunastri had ever seen. She had to pause for a second, mentally steel herself, and then approach. The officer who was holding down the fort for her began, "First Lieutenant Lunastri present! All troops, attention!"and then nodded so as to say "good luck" before departing.

Lunastri made her way down the line, looking at the thirteen members of her squad present. Apparently there was one not accounted for, some horned elf with no sense of time. Lunastri sighed and figured it was to be expected, but was glad at least it wasn't an even larger dragon than the one she already had.

"Good morning, soldiers. You're now officially members of my squad, Squad 6. My name is Lunastri, you can either call me that or Lieutenant, either is fine. Let me just say that I know half this auxilia are filled with officers that have sticks so far up their asses they can't even bend over to tie their own shoelaces, but Squad 6 is not one of these. I may be Yllendyr, but I'm a soldier, same as you, and I intend to respect you as long as you can respect me. I've been a commissioned officer for the last two years, since I was promoted from Sergeant Major. I can see that you're a diverse group, so I'll do the best I can to accommodate, but do know that I expect you all to follow orders promptly. Finally, I'd like to get to know all of you, so I'll start at the end of the line here and I'd like you to tell me your name, rank, and any other pertinent information that you think I might need to know about you to best facilitate your membership and cooperation in this squad."

Lunastri looked at the first member in the line.

"Corporal Raenys Syrzolny, reporting for duty, Lieutenant!" The first one said whilst saluting. "I'm a Wood Elf hailing from Endaria." She began to relax herself as she continued in her smooth, urban Yllerian accent. "I'm supposed to have been made a Commissioned Officer, but for some reason, I was told that there was an...oversupply. So they've made me a Corporal until they can find a vacancy for me! I'm quite proficient in the use of lightning and swordsmanship, and if the proper requisition forms can be filled out to get me a horse, a skilled cavalryman as well!"

Swordsmanship, the woman said. Luna had had a few of those. They were always hotblooded, and didn't care much for staying in line with the others. Still, this girl looked like she was hardly going to be the worst problem of the bunch.

"Iolaos of the Sostratos bloodline, ma'am! Coming from the land of Ithaké, Fenician Republic. I am a shaman and qualified as a pathfinder. Graduated with high marks, at your service!" The tall man with four legs stood in attention. He was a centaur, although on the leaner side which made him more athletic than strong. His tanned skin and loose uniform suggested a person more comfortable outdoors. His goatee and fu manchu style mustache made him look borderline threatening. Such visage befitted the Yllendyr stereotype about centaurs as 'noble savages'. This person also admitted to be a shaman. Magic users generally earn preferential treatment in the Auxilia but shamanism is perhaps exception. Its indirect nature, questionable reliability and unchanged traditions make it borderline impossible to adapt for standard military use. The fact this man became a specialist in spite of this stigma implied he knew more than just his ancestral spellcasting habits and must have worked hard to earn this title. His solemn yet reserved demeanor radiated professionalism.

Proud and professional. Iolaos met every expectation Luna had about centaurs and then some. She appreciated having someone so experienced, but worried nonetheless that he would end up being a little insufferable. It was then out of the corner of her eye she saw someone approaching the squad from behind them.

---

"Oh dude, what's the time?"

Rina wasn't asking this to anyone in particular, in fact it seemed that everyone in the temporary bunk she'd been given had already upped and left without her. Probably because they were all too kind to disturb her sleep and nothing to do with the fact she was a drugged out Lierin, at least that was her assumption. Not that she would have made a concerted effort to actually hurry herself had she been waking up on time or not, even so she went through her waking schedule with a fairly laid back ease. At first she sent a few combs through her hair that did little to halt the generally wild and slightly feral look they gave her, although she felt that was rather fitting for her background so always left it that way.

After her nice and relaxing morning routine she finally turned to the matter of getting herself properly dressed to go out into the camp and while she and for that matter Lieria had a different idea to the rest of the world as to what "properly dressed" meant she still was going to take a lot of care over this one. The first step was to get her uniform on and make sure it had something, it really didn't matter what to Rina, but it had to be there that wasn't quite right about it. Next she ran through her small if not substantial collection of earrings before choosing the one she always wore when she wanted to show off: a small bone set carved into miniature skulls, she'd had to work hard for these and in a way they were her most treasured possession.

She would have gone further had a craving not set in deep within her chest, one that she was all too obliging to fill. Not even bothering to hide it she rolled up a joint before lighting it with one of her matches that always seemed to be produce somewhere from some new pocket.

Now she felt she was ready, her uniform all set, her earring in and an otherwise total obliviousness to anyone looking strangely at her as she went through the camp, deep in her own self-contented haze.

Upon moving into sight of the rest of the squad she sent one hand to run through her hair, doing absolutely nothing to solve anything, she wanted to look appropriate for the situation after all. Her eyes cast one glance over the rest of the crew, they were a ragged lot, but to her eyes it looked the peak of military professionalism. It took a few seconds before her eyes properly alighted on Lunastri and a flicker of recognition appeared within the junkies eyes. "Oh dude, you must be Luni our squad leader, it's totally great to meetcha!"

As she spoke she strolled forward with the confident air of someone who had no worries that they needed to care about, extending a hand in a friendly greeting towards her squad leader.

Lunastri looked askance at the young woman bumbling towards her straight through the line who was probably, no, definitely high on something. She had the instinctive urge to facepalm, but resisted it. "Nice to meet you too, Rina." she said exasperatedly, tentatively shaking hands with the elf. "The name's Lunastri, and do line up with the others, thanks."

As her extended hand was taken and shook, Rina would offer Lunastri a beaming smile, one that would do very little to hide the fact she wasn't entirely heading into the line yet. "Yeah I'm Rina, I'll be one of your privates."

It would take a few seconds before she actually released Luna's hand and moved back towards the line, almost as if everything was doing everything on delay, which considering her state, she almost certainly was. At least for now it looked like she wasn't going to do anything else, right up until she was one or two steps away from entering the line when the spun around, her eyes sparkling with the same sort of glint that would usually be associated with inventors perfecting their designs. "Oh Luni, you're new to this squad too right? Maybe we could ... like hang sometime or other, get to know each other better and maybe ..."

She trailed off slowly, a look of sheepishness which didn't really look like it had a place on her face stealing across it, if only for a second. When it left it was replaced by the seeming default of happy obliviousness that had been present so far in their meeting. "Nice uniform though, looks good on ya." Lunastri just kind of stood there, flabbergasted.

When Rina had found her place at the end of the line, the lieutenant continued, shaking her head.

Aslan doesn't make any effort to move himself hastly in the line of the squad, as ordered. He's one of the last to properly step in line, still puffing the remaining inch of his badly rolled tobacco. Since the time he ended up in this squad, he's been doing nothing much but procrastinating and lamenting his situation, calling the Empire 'a bunch of authoritarian fucks', of course, only in his head. He switches his gaze at the lietuenant dark elf, seemingly unimpressed. By the time she arrives to Aslan, he'd just prepared his speech as he threw down the cigarette under his boot quickly.

"HAIL YLLENDYR!" says Aslan, obviously with a smirk on his face as he mocks both the Empire and the military salute. Some other squad members briefly, but quietly, show signs of amusement.

"Private Aslan's my name. Don't bother learning it cause I ain't planning to stay much longer. I come from the Northern Range Mountains, Aurelia. Backstory? I grew up mining and then I...decided to become, how should I say, a mercenary? Hehe." continued Aslan, keeping the same dumb smile on his face.

Luna glances at his dossier, which states his criminal record of racketeering, intimidation, robbery, assault, public misbehaviour and indecency, and plenty more unknown to her. Clearly this guy was some kind of a joker. As if the squad needed another one.

This was not a good sign for things to come. Taina stood at attention in what might pass for a "line" among her squad members. She'd had military etiquette drilled into her for as long as she could remember. How could she not, when her father was the Field Marshal himself? Despite that, it seemed that not only was she one of the very few who even bothered to stand at the ready when their leading officer came, but was also one of the few with a kept in check uniform. Taina was certainly no stickler for the rules, as some previous commanding officer would be quick to tell, but this was ridiculous.

The dark elf introduced herself accordingly and gave a decent enough first impression for Taina. Soon, it was her turn to speak. "Ma'am! I'm Corporal Taina Adron, formerly of the Winged Fusiliers of Avalia! I've come to serve my part for the Imperium!" she said, remaining at attention. A standard enough answer, if she wanted any more then she'll have to ask for it. As for the rest of the squad, Taina was.... unsure of. Some seemed half-way confident, others...others shouldn't have even made it past basic training, or even recruitment, let alone to a full squad. The horned elf that had simply strolled up to the officer nearly made Taina's jaw drop at the level of self importance this woman had to be so brash. That or drugs. Definitely drugs. At least see seemed like a nice druggy.

Either way, it seemed to Taina that if this officer managed get through the month without having or getting one or two of the members of the squad lined up against a wall with a cigarette in their mouth, then this dark elf was worth following anywhere.

Little did she know that a month later, the entire world would have drastically changed. Taina's brief response made a slightly positive impression on Luna, she was glad to have someone who didn't seem to carry much personal baggage... she hoped, likely in vain.

Upon seeing her new squad Emanuae had been excited, giddy even. Whereas an officer might have seen the motley band as a nightmare in the making, Emanuae saw only the chance to interrogate the most interesting new people about their lives and homelands. Well, interesting aside from the Dragon. It wasn't that she unconditionally despised all Dragons, despite their fraught history with the lizards not even Dryads could honestly say that, but rather the fact that this one had managed to irritate her without so much as a word spoken. From the obsequious behavior of the lizards attendant to the obnoxiously haughty air of the Dragon itself, Emanuae was unimpressed. There was a difference between expecting respect and demanding worship, and it seemed that this example of the Draconic species hadn't learned that. Of course, it being a child among a race of children was a mitigating factor, after all the pathetic thing likely couldn't light a campfire, let alone assault the forest like the great drakes of old had.

Still, one aggravating lizard was worth it if she got to talk to all the others assembled here. Valkyrians, so much like her homelands Harpies, and yet so different! Centaurs, from what she'd heard they were truly a peculiar species! Even a... What was it the Weavers called them? Emanuae wasn't sure she'd heard a single term, but they all roughly translated to 'Annoying Snack'. Well, snack or not the little thing seemed nice enough. She hoped it would be able to hold a conversation, but if it couldn't she wasn't without other prospects. Why, there was even a Vaspen in the squad!

Alas, her musings were cut short when Lunastri came to Emanuae's spot in line. Well, demanding an introduction was rather rude, but she was expected to follow the 'orders' of the Elves so long as she was in their army after all. Standing tall and puffing out her chest as to strike a more respectable pose than the slouching Horned elf had, Emanuae spoke with a great deal more self assurance than anyone of her rank had a right to, "Private Emanuae of The Old Forest, Lieutenant! I am here fulfilling the treaty obligations of the Forest, pleased to meet you!"

"Pleased to meet you as well, Private. It's an honour to have a Dryad in my squad." Luna nodded approvingly at Emanuae before continuing.

And then she came across a youth that had been standing quietly at attention in the middle of the line. He looked so ordinary that he was nigh-invisible, and in his face there was no apathy or hatred or friendliness...just the robotic feel that one might expect from one that toiled every day on some monotonous assembly line. He took a step forward and called out, "Private Hirst, standing ready." There was an accent to his words, and his stoic disposition betrayed a hint of frustration as he tried to find the words. The elven language was giving him some difficulty, but he was at least passably fluent. "Aurelian by birth, here to serve honorably. And get paid," Gideon finished before falling back into the line.

"Nothing wrong with wanting that too," Luna chuckled. The boy didn't stand out too far to Lunastri, just another everyday human.

Suda Totoya stood at attention with his back straight as a ruler. Staring straight ahead of him, Suda gave his name and rank to Lunastri when she walked over to him. Being just a private and a Yamato, he had a hard time believing that she will respect him given the human slavery practiced by the Yllendyr. "I'll be serving in this squad as the recon scout since we are in the Home Island." With that, Suda simply shut up and remained still as a monk statue.

Yamato, brittle as usual. She simply exchanged looks with the man before passing on.

Smoog thought the ceiling looked funny. He'd seen a lot of ceilings, and forgotten most of them. There was an elf in front of him... looking at him. Smoog thought the ceiling looked funny. The elf was still there. Suddenly, Smoog remembered exactly *why* the elf was looking at him. "Pravit Smoog, da mijit... FUR DA IMPEERUM!" His shout had a confidence about it only a child could have when playing war with their friends, oblivious to what the title they professed to hold even entailed. He accompanied his declaration with a left handed salute, as his right hand had a rifle hastily lashed to it with a length of rope. His gaze slowly drifted from the elf, ever upwards, all the while maintaining the saluting posture. Smoog thought the ceiling looked funny.

Why this goblin had even found his way into the auxilia Luna had no idea, but she appreciated his loyalty, at least. Hopefully this wouldn't be too much trouble.

Next was the 'other' Valkyrian - a male for once. He was tall, rigid and perfectly at military attention. He wore medals of military service already, a jacket covering only one arm embroiled with gold and a large black furred hat with feathers sticking out above it. His face... was one of clear annoyance, maybe even disgust. It was obvious that he probably was not supposed to be here. He looked to his side to the next member in the lineup, as if to get permission, then turned back. Luna noticed the obvious relationship here., and noted not to try to disturb it.

'Lance Corporal Artyem of Guineyveadr of the Vaurgemyrean Winged Hussars, reporting for duty, Lieutenant. I am an Air-knight of the 3rd Air Regiment, and am here as a vassal and retainer of the Lady Guineyvea... I do hope that you will respect the intentions of our superiors and understand the... 'special' circumstances this assignment has led to.' The stern man said coldly, looking with contempt at the rest of the gathered soldiers, particularly the humans.

The Dragon didn't even bother to pretend to salute or stand at attention. She wasn't even in anything resembling a uniform, and in fact seemed to be wearing a combination of silk, gold and feathers in the approximation of a highly flamboyant dress. Luna hardly expected it to be otherwise, but it was disappointing nonetheless. Still, few squads could claim the privilege of having an actual dragon, even if this one was considerably smaller than those she had heard about.

'Humph' The Dragon voiced, almost squeakily so, while performing what was what Luna could most closely equate to a cat stretching. 'And that lady would be me. I am the Lady Guineyvea Hermasliz Vurmulagon-Slathing und Sauumr and incidentally a Private for reasons beyond me. That was very insulting mind you - I will make sure your General hears from my father, the Lord Sauumr'. The Dragon, Guinevyea, then stood up to its full height which was barely above that of an adult human male. 'Until this foolish mistake by your leaders is corrected, you have the privilege and honour of being graced by my very own presence. My tutors say I am the best mage they have ever trained, which means I'm probably the best here! Oh, also, hum, I think I'm also a medic or some-such.

Oh, this was going to be fun to deal with. And she thought the centaur was bad.

Finally at the end of the line stood an old school Vaspen soldier, dressed in standard Yllendyr military uniform the only difference being the special spiked helmet that Vaspen soldiers used to wear decades before. His face is stoic, and disdainful upon looking at his new CO. As Luna took in this sight she noticed the scars on his arms and legs from what seems like old wounds that hadn't healed properly.

Upon seeing Luna reach the end of this motley crew of soldiers, He looks down at Luna and says: "Dietricht Burkhalter, Sergeant." He gives the standard salute and continues "I've been in the police and army for the past 20+ years, I've seen many of my brothers in arms die by my side so forgive me if i don't get too close to any of you all." looking down the line of misfits he says this and then turns back to facing forward and looks straight over Luna's head into the distance with a blank face.

Lunastri had seen many rough-looking soldiers in her time, and this one was definitely pretty high up there. She didn't expect to get much out of him, but hopefully on the other hand he wouldn't cause trouble either.

When Luna had passed along to the end of the line, she sighed. Amara certainly wasn't kidding when she said that she deserved compensation, but it would take a lot more than a fancy chainmail shirt to make up for this. "All right, Squad 6, very good. We're going to be conducting some rifle drills so I can see how you all are keeping up your skills. Sergeant Dietricht, will you lead everyone to the firing range?" The Vaspen nodded, and barked the traditional orders of command. As the squad half-marched, half-leisurely strolled or stumbled towards their destination, Lunastri knew the road ahead of her was a long one. She was glad that she was due to be discharged in a couple of months. Hopefully, she'd never have to lead this highly incongruous band in anything more than a training exercise.
February 5th, 4901 YDC (Yllendyr Dynastic Calendar)
Vermillion Citadel, Ylleria, Capital of the Imperial Yllendyr Sovereignty


Portrait of 76th Emperor Ecruir Vyalviur of the Yllendyr, First of His Name, Bane of the Barbarians, Sovereign and Protector of the Fifteen Dominions of V'landriel, clad in the traditional vermillion garb of the Vyalviur Dynasty

Ecruir paced back and forth alongside an intricate, table-carved map of the Fifteen Dominions: Lumenor, Kitagawa, Fibor, Endaria, Velendaal, Vaspen, Lierin, Aurelia, Fenice, Ot-Skodat, Zeeborg-Fallia, the Forest, Vaurgemyr, Drzewa, and Avalia. He traced his fingers along its curves, recalling his coronation a few days ago. The Keeper of Ylleria speaking all these words.

Just a few days, and already that number had in reality fallen to fourteen, likely thirteen soon, if that, not even counting those that had defected to his brother. The Avalians were in open rebellion, having launched a coup against that Imperium-backed puppet, King Holfgar. The Viceroy Yirlu assassinated in the Dominion of Kitagawa, and the whole country falling into chaos. Disorganized Yllendyr auxilia, genuine shames to the glory of the Imperium, defecting or worse in both of those countries, turning to petty banditry like the filthy unwashed barbarians that most of them were, despite the discipline the Yllendyr had tried to beat into them. Such disgrace only reinforced Ecruir's dismissive attitude of his father's policies towards integration. Sixty years of that had gotten him nowhere.

His thoughts were interrupted by the arrival of the Imperial Conclave. These were the group of advisors that managed each of the critical sectors of the Imperium's government. They were all selected by his father, but he had taken the liberty of replacing a few of them upon his ascension.

Leading the procession into the room was the Minister of War, by almost any measure the man of the moment. His name was Ludrami Diesriniel, and he was first and foremost among the batch of new recruits. A man whose reputation well preceded him, the famed general of the campaign to suppress a dangerous revolt in the Kitagawa Shogunate. His legendary military tactics annihilated troops that many in the Imperium government felt were impossible to defeat from their suicidal courage. Now was the time in which his military experience was more relevant than ever. He had replaced the ineffectual woman who had been in charge for the last forty years, whose achievements seemed to amount to no more than putting ever more ornate designs and ceremonial dresses on Imperium troops. Ludrami was a real warrior in an age which had begun to forget war, who took seriously the grave threat the Imperium faced in this fatal hour and knew best how to crush it in its infancy.

Moving up to the right hand side of the table, he briefly bowed. "Your Imperial Majesty." The others followed him in this, assembling on both sides of the table, eleven in all. War, Dominion Administration, Agriculture, Commerce, Securitariat, Treasury, Judiciary, Health, Transportation, Education, and Colonial Affairs.

The Minister of the Securitariat was also new, a man by the name of Cinvad Eldroth, as the one for the last twenty years had proven considerably incompetent. Missing the Avalian coup was already bad enough, but the assassination was yet another nail in the coffin.

Ecruir couldn’t be bothered to actually follow the formal order of reporting in to the Emperor, so when the Minister of Agriculture opened his mouth to speak he just dismissively cut in.

“Ludrami, I presented all the relevant information on the rebellions in Avalia and unrest elsewhere to you yesterday, as well as the forces led by my errant brother. I have some ideas, but I would first like to hear your impressions on the state of the Imperium, and how best we can address these… problems.” The slight hesitation and tone of the last word packed an almost tangible amount of menace and disgust.

Ludrami took it in stride. The old man thought for a moment, then began, “Unfortunately, you must go to war with the army you have, not the army you want. There is simply no better way to put this situation than to describe it as a disaster. A dominion has declared independence, and a few more seem to be sitting on the fence, ready to pounce like vultures on our corpse if we show weakness.”

Ecruir nodded. “We must move swiftly to crush any unrest in these dominions to knock such foolish notions out of their heads.”

“With all due respect, Your Imperial Majesty,” the Minister of War reluctantly began raising his head, “that is a suicidal idea. If you spread your forces too thin, you will lose every battle instead of winning some.”

Ecruir looked slightly browbeaten at this, but he was still listening. “So, then, what do you suggest?”

“We keep what we have. Start at the center. We should pull as many forces from the nearby loyal dominions we can afford without endangering our hold over them to crush the pretender Olarth in the south. This will render you the sole Emperor, and so the Imperial Sentinels will pledge loyalty to you. This is the army you want. Once we have reunited the Crownlands, we then turn to the remaining loyal dominions. We reinforce them and ensure that they will not fall to native unrest. When that is done, finally we can turn to the rebellious dominions, place our full force upon them, and complete their resubjugation. There is no reason we should push to retake these places immediately with our current position so untenable.”

“While I am sure this is sound military advice, politically, this makes no sense. Leaving the rebellious provinces alone, with no penalties for their insolence, is something I cannot stand, and will encourage the others to revolt just as swiftly. We cannot wait for the Sentinels to decide they finally want to help crush the rebellions, the traitors.” Ecruir spat on the ground.

There was an evil twinkle in Ludrami’s eye, despite the vitriolic words Ecruir had just spouted at him. “I never suggested we leave the rebellious provinces alone entirely. Rather, we should make an example of the one which has been most successful. Avalia, was it? I think that serves a perfect testing ground.”

A moment of dawning recognition fell upon Ecruir's face. "The Southern Fleet."

"Absolutely," replied Ludrami. We can hit the enemy hard, reinforce any forces in the area which might have been cut off, evacuate any forces as need be, and we can also hit them from the sides."

Vaenda Ordul, Minister of Dominion Administration, stepped forward. "If I may, Your Imperial Majesty."

Ecruir nodded, this was another person he valued input from. She had been working closely with the Viceroys for many years, and had a much better grasp of how each Dominion functioned.

"Both Dominions around Avalia are very loyal to the Imperium. While in Avalia we have only five legions which have remained solvent albeit with considerable defections, the other three disbanding, in Vaurgemyr and Ot-Skodat, we have eight and six respectively. That should be more than sufficient to regain control of the region. In the north, we can order the deployment of Velendaal troops to Kitagawa to do the same, provided they don't side with Olarth. I recommend issuing a directive to all three Dominions allowing the mobilization of local armies."

"That seems like a wise course of action, I'll do that," Ecruir replied. He nodded. "Okay, let's go over the other Dominions, so I can be sure of what we have where."

Ludrami continued. "We have two auxilia in Lumenor, but I don't expect that to be an issue, they're too busy freezing to rebel." The Emperor chuckled slightly. Kitagawa is a similarly bad situation, there are reports that two legions have disbanded already out of ten, and a third seems to have outright defected. Vaspen, the same, and there are reports of militant movements in the mountains. Both nations seem likely to make moves soon."

Ecruir looked to another man on the right side of the table, the Securitariat Minister, Cinvad. Nodding, he began: "We've got agents working at full capacity in both dominions, and we've deployed riot police in most major cities. Still, the unrest is... impressive. The situation in Kitagawa is particularly intense, so we were forced to ask the Auxilia to substitute. That didn't turn out so well, so we're shipping in reinforcements as fast as we can. I'm afraid we'll have to open up machine gun fire on civilians if this keeps up. The networks in both Dominions are really sadly lacking from my predecessor's tenure, which makes it difficult to prevent. I'm working around the clock to reform our operatives in the other dominions to prevent such a debacle from happening again."

Vaenda briefly cut in, leaning over the left side of the table, "We've appointed a new Viceroy as Shogun, Adolo's brother Rhekin. We're sending him to the Treaty Port of Nilrandell, where his administration is bound to be more secure. I wouldn't count on the survivability of any Yllendyr in Nankyo nowadays. However, it will take a week, and communication is very sporadic. Many of the auxilia are disorganized and taking unilateral action, and one has even disgracefully chosen to side with the Emperor, officers and all."

Ecruir looked shocked. "That's very concerning. Is there an apparent reason?"

Vaenda gave him a deadpan look. "Yes, it's the man who's brother you ordered executed last month for treason."

The Emperor winced a little. "And the others? Where looks the most precarious?"

The Securitariat minister looked up from his notes and spoke up. "Aurelia's a trouble spot, as expected. Some sabotage has already been reported. I've ordered all operatives there to be extra vigilant. We're not sure about Fenice and Zeeborg-Fallia, but they could just be biding their time. I just hope most don't flip to Olarth, as that would complicate our plans immensely."

Ecruir's green eyes flashed dangerously. "We'll have to make it clear that any Dominion which sides with him will face dire retribution, and any who cooperate with his forces will be executed for treason. This is not the right side to be on. I expect you all to move to carry out your duties immediately."

The three nodded. "Yes, Your Imperial Majesty," they chorused in unison.

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Letter from the True 76th Emperor of the Imperial Yllendyr Sovereignty, His Imperial Majesty Olarth Vyalviur, to the Fifteen Dominions

I write to you today with grave news, though you may have already heard it. Upon the death of my father, the Emperor Naerzo, and my brother Vomlur, the Crown Prince, this Imperium was thrown into chaos. My twin brother, Ecruir, has killed the Fourth Prince, has locked down his grip over the capital and the northern cities, and plans even now to kill me and crush any who stand in the way of his vision.

I write to call upon your oath to the true Emperor, not this murderer. For too long, the Imperium has been a force for more evil than good upon the world. The time is right for us to rediscover our mission, our purpose in this world. We are the protectors of the Fifteen Dominions, not the looters and slavedrivers of the realm. I ask for your aid in deposing this evil traitor who would see you all cast once again in chains and whipped yet harder.

As Emperor, I will grant all Dominions the right to self-government as vassal nations, and cease to impose our foreign rules and political systems upon those who would like to be governed differently. I will end the practice of tribute taken from the Dominions, beyond that which is used to maintain its military forces and infrastructure. Finally, I will abolish the abominable practice of slavery across the Imperium. I ask all nations to help in spite of our differences to build a brighter future for all our peoples.

Sincerely,
Emperor Olarth
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This is the thread where completed, approved nation sheets and descriptions of individual characters will be posted.

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Nation Name: The Imperial Yllendyr Sovereignty (commonly called the Imperium)

Flag:


Type of Government: Absolute Monarchy

Head(s) of Government: Olarth Vyalviur and Ecruir Vyalviur, age 60

Economy (Main imports, exports, industries, technology level, etc.): The economy of the Yllendyr is primarily based still around a guild/artisan system, though industrialization has become increasingly common for mass market, low-level consumer goods. Magic is particularly integrated into the guild system, and most guilds have a large number of experienced enchanters to increase the quality, durability and usefulness of items like luxury goods, weaponry and armour, and clothing. The elite of Yllendyr society typically shun mass-produced, industrial goods in favour of these artisans. Primary exports are these luxury goods, books and other literature, magical items and potions, coal, silver and grain. Primary imports are many types of machinery and components such as steel and cement.

Primary Species: Yllendyr (dark elves)

Population: 147 million

Citizens: ~118 million
Yllendyr: 111,000,000
Wood Elves: 3,500,000
Horned Elves: 1,500,000
High Elves: 1,000,000
Sun Elves: 500,000
Aurendar: 500,000
Harpies: 100,000
Dragons are present in negligible numbers for census purposes.

Non-Citizen Subjects: ~29 million
Humans: 17,000,000
Dwarves: 5,500,000
Orcs: 3,000,000
Valkyrians: 1,500,000
Vaspen: 1,000,000
Ogres: 500,000
Oni: 500,000

Culture: The Yllendyr culture emphasizes four main aspects: love of nature, love of magic, love of fellow Yllendyr, and the demonization and belittling of all that is foreign or destructive to those ideas. Aside from other elves which they treat with more respect, the Yllendyr are harshly elitist and discriminatory to other races, believing it as their natural right to hold dominion over them. As a result, martial culture is deeply ingrained in Yllendyr society, and major noble families compete over spots in the leadership of the Sentinels, the most prestigious of those institutions.

Religious and Other Beliefs: The Yllendyr are generally athiest, but they have a deep respect for the natural world, and believe that the spirits of their ancestors still inhabit the forests. They take care to offer thanks to their ancestors for every tree they chop down, and are cautious in this to avoid removing too many. There is also a minority religion centered around moon worship, the Disciples of Eluna.

Location/Territories: Northeastern peninsula on the largest continent in the old world, also has a colony just beginning to become developed on a part of the new world closest to their continent.

Climate: Primarily temperate with some cooler regions to the south, forested with sparse grasslands and hills.

Military: The Yllendyr Imperium maintains three general army divisions: first, the Imperial Sentinels, second, the Imperial Army, and thirdly, the Imperial Navy. The Imperial Sentinels are strictly Yllendyr-only, and typically three legions (20,000 men each) are stationed in each constituent nation of the Imperium. They are highly disciplined and highly equipped, with the finest rifles, armour and sabres made with care by the Armament Guild. The Imperial Army is much larger and widely varied, and the vast majority of each auxiliary legion (auxilia for short, 50,000 men each) is composed of subject peoples. A strict rule is in place which prohibits more than 20% of a legion in a constituent nation from being citizens of that nation, to cut down on potential rebelliousness. Each legion regardless typically consists of infantry, cavalry, and a dedicated artillery team which recently also includes machine gunners. High leadership for the Army is exclusively elf (meaning other elven citizens besides dark elves are allowed) but many officers come from subject peoples and are extensively rewarded for their loyalty. Imperial Auxilia are under the direct control of their Dominion administration. Finally, the Imperial Navy is the pride of the Yllendyr, boasting over two hundred of mostly ironclad ships armed with cannons and flamethrowers of varying sizes and classes.

Magic Prevalence/Usage: Near universal, but mostly used for cultural and economic purposes rather than as a tool of war. Liquid alignment.

History/Background Info: The Yllendyr Imperium traces its history back over nearly five thousand years, founded with the ancient kingdom of Ylleria from which the race takes its name. The Vyalviur dynasty which was founded there is said to have continued interrupted to this very day. However, the Yllendyr people were only finally unified just two hundred years ago under Vyalviur rule, spending most of the time in intense internecine conflict. The Vyalviur dynasty once unified the country a thousand years ago but only kept it together for thirty years before it fragmented again on the death of the conquering ruler. The major legacy of that time period is the Altairis Wall, built to protect incursions on Yllendyr territory by barbarous invaders from the south. This time period reinforced Yllendyr zenophobia and general disdain for foreigners. Under the newly unified Yllendyr Sovereignty, in 4677 the 70th Emperor advocated for conquest as the final solution to the threat of outsiders, so they could be kept under a watchful eye no longer to threaten the Yllendyr. A series of wars saw Yllendyr domains growing, but slowly, and their main rival in the West, the Vaspen Empire, kept them in check. However, rapid advancement in technology which far outstripped their neighbors led to the development of advanced firearms and later the first automatic weapon, the gatling gun. Using this new technology, the Yllendyr took themselves from a regional power to a global superpower, embarking on the Wars of Barbarian Subjugation in 4818. The Vaspen Empire slowly lost ground as the Yllendyr also used their navy to great effect in the subjugations of Endaria and the Fibor in 4827 and the Kitagawa Shogunate in 4832. The last two nations to fall were the Vershellen and the Vaspen, in 4840, and these regions have been under Yllendyr supervision ever since. Three nations, the Fibor, Tokushima, and Vershellen, were granted vassal state status as leniency for their swift surrenders and racial status, and the remainder were incorporated into the Imperium proper. An uneasy peace has persisted for the last sixty-one years under the watchful eye of the Securitariat, the Yllendyr secret police, whom maintain a large informant network across the provinces in pursuit of even the slightest whiffs of dissent. Still, unrest is inevitable, and with the sickness and incapacitation of the aging Naerzo Vyalviur the Conqueror, the political situation is as tense as it has been for forty years. The status of the succession will likely make or break the Imperium's hold over the civilized world.

Characters:

-Yllendyr Royal Family-
75th Emperor, Naerzo Vyalviur the Conqueror (deceased age 167, 2nd February 4901, natural causes)
- Crown Prince, Vomlur Vyalviur (deceased age 74, 2nd February 4901, assassination)
- 2nd Prince, Olarth Vyalviur: Self-proclaimed emperor. Age 60.
- 2nd Prince, Ecruir Vyalviur: Self-proclaimed emperor. Age 60.
- 4th Prince, Filadi Vyalviur (deceased age 32, 2nd February 4901, executed by Ecruir)
- 5th Prince, Nidrak Vyalviur: In hiding, location unknown. Age 16.

Imperial Conclave of Advisors
- Ludrami Diesriniel, Minister of War. Veteran of campaign to quash rebellions, appointed by Ecruir

-Squad 6, 27th Imperial Auxiliary Legion-
Lunastri "Luna": Lieutenant of Squad 6. Has no last name, as an orphan of unconfirmed family.
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