Hello dear ones, As you all might have noticed, the Fortress of Diversity has now…
These texts are an attempt to get you in the mood for Chroniken 2023 and to give you a reason why your character is participating in this LARP and IT in the Spring Campaign.
At the same time, they also tell you from Kaela’s point of view what’s happening in the Feste right now – and what your characters are experiencing, if you want them to. If you want details about the described “journey” or want to actively participate, you can find more background and play possibilities in our new forum:https://feste-der-vielfalt.de/forum/ .
Paladin snorted and jerked at the reins, as if to urge his rider to finally move on. And the guardsmen at Kaela’s side also began to grow restless. But still the leader of the Fortress of Diversity could not tear herself away from the sight that presented itself to her. It was almost as if this was the first time that she realized the size to which the Feste had grown by now. And this despite the absence of the members of the Feste, who had obligations in their respective homelands and only reinforced to campaigns.
In any case, the length of the procession formed by the Fortress of Diversity was impressive. It wound its way through the flat range of hills and at some point disappeared into the blue of the horizon. Colorful wagons, orderly rows of warriors, peasants and craftswomen carrying their belongings on their backs or loaded on horses. Musicians, artists and bon vivants. A diverse mixture, united above all by one thing: the proud banners with the Feste symbol waving above their heads.
The sight almost made Kaela a little wistful. Sure, the campsite in the Hohld had never been optimal. Too cold, the constant rain and especially the difficult supply of food and other goods had made life there a constant struggle for survival. And yet, for a brief moment, it had felt as if the Fortress of Diversity had found a home. A home from which Undead had now driven them.
Kaela shook her head and turned away. She led Paladin by the reins past the people that had already passed her to the front of the procession. “The last time,” the Storm vowed to herself in her mind.
“The last time we will set out to find a home. This time we will find a place for ourselves. This time we will build something that will last. This time we will find a home. For good. And this home we will defend. No matter who tries to take it from us. Let Garvan come. We are ready.”
“Report?” demanded the Storm of the Feste, letting her eyes wander over the officers present. The campfire bathed the faces of the men and women in flickering light. Grim seriousness was reflected in it. “There were more undead than we expected this far in the west,” Tristan McBride finally took the floor. A mixture of sadness and anger was reflected in his words. “The Red Banner put up a good fight, but unfortunately we lost a few of our own. And we also have some wounded. Some of them badly.” “The same with us,” Amarok rejoined. He spat contemptuously at the thought of the Forsaken who had managed to inflict such losses on the Purple Banner.
“What about the rest?” inquired Kaela. She, too, showed the sadness over the losses. “Caradoc complete, but wounded.” “Blue as well” In turn, the Banner Leaders reported. Kaela cursed softly. She had no illusions that they had gotten all the undead. Traveling in a long army train like theirs, one was vulnerable. The Feste was vulnerable. And the wounded were easy targets in that regard. The fact that they had encountered so many undead this far west showed that Garvan’s threat at the summer campaign seemed to be becoming reality sooner than they had all hoped. The king of the Undead Flesh was strong. And his undead minions followed willingly. They would have to hurry to cross the river. And put a natural barrier between themselves and what seemed to be gathering in the Hohld.
“We’ll put all the warriors on standby,” Kaela decided. “Antiochos, Malar, you work out a plan for how we divide the battle banners among the army train to ensure the best possible protection. Migosch, the guard will also support here.” “εντάξε!” she heard her aide’s quiet confirmation. “We’ll leave before sunrise. I’ll talk to Rufus to see if the Arkaneum can provide magical protection for the wagons with the wounded and the children. Kap, I want you, as leader of the White Banner, to work with the alchemists, and make sure we have enough healing potions.” The person addressed nodded.
“Questions?” The Storm of the Feste glanced around once more. However, no one spoke up. “Well then, let’s get going. For the Fortress!” For Diversity!” The answer resounded far beyond the fire into the night. Quickly the group dispersed, leaving behind only the men of Skjoldmur, who were on guard duty today. Kaela took another moment and looked up at the starry sky. The days were getting longer. The time when the spring campaign would take place was approaching. No reports had reached them yet as to whether there would even be such a campaign this year. What the goal was. Where the armies of Mitraspera would be heading. But Kaela’s instincts told her that the signs pointed to war. Not only in the Hohld. But everywhere on the continent.
“Let’s hope we can find a place to cross the river soon,” Kaela prayed silently. “Let’s hope we find a safe place to camp soon. A home. Before the call to campaign reaches us.” And with that thought, the Kaela turned and headed for the Arkaneum’s wagon.
“Kaela, can I talk to you for a minute?” Arianna’s voice clearly indicated that it was an urgent matter. “Of course,” Kaela replied, rubbing her hands together, turning away from what she had been watching. After days of following the river’s course southward, the Feste had finally found a place where the river could be crossed. It had become bitterly cold. But it was precisely this cold that they had to thank for the thick layer of ice that now served as their bridge.
The scouts had crossed the river first, followed by two combat banners, Blue and Purple. Only when it was certain that there was no danger on the other bank had the entire army set about crossing. Slowly. In small groups. So as not to overload the crunching and cracking ice. It was a lengthy and difficult undertaking. Not everyone trusted the ice and animals especially had their challenges with the unfamiliar surface. Horses shied, oxen bucked and many a donkey would not move at all. So the crossing would take time.
“What can I do for you?” the Storm asked her First of the Commandery. “I have received an urgent message. From a safe source.” The way Arianna said it gave Kaela to understand that the origin of the information was confidential, but equally trustworthy. She nodded, to the sign that Arianna could continue. “One of the Nyames has received a vision. A call for help from the Halephic Woods. This also sensed the presence of these shadows that some of us encountered on the Sturmwacht. Scouts sent to the region have also reported the increased presence of Black Ice, as well as Undeath. The enemy seems to be looking for something there. And something is calling for help there. But what exactly both are we can’t say yet.”
Kaela sighed. This was exactly what she had been waiting for – and hoping, as it were, that it would take a little longer. Her gaze wandered back to the river. “Thank you for sharing this directly with me. Once we find a safe place to camp, we should discuss it. We cannot let such a call go unanswered. But at the same time, the Fortress of Diversity is our top priority. Let’s hope we’re quick enough.”
The sight made Kaela pause in wonder. The commander stood on a hill in the shade of some trees and looked at a wonderful landscape. The valley in front of her shone with the green of spring. Lush meadows, painted with the colourful spots of flowers were replaced on the slopes by the darker green of the forest. In the wide valley bottom, the gentle bends of a river glistened in the morning sun. Everything looked inviting and peaceful. And more importantly: it seemed to be safe and uninhabited. And free from Undead.
The river that ran there was the one whose course the Feste had been following for days. More precisely, since they had passed the place with the remains of the fortified tower. There, where this river merged into the wide, great stream, whose ice floes had been a bridge for them when they left the Hohld.
The journey since then had been arduous. The farther inland they had gone, the longer they had left the stream behind them, the more hilly and rough the terrain had become. But the scouts were sure that they were on the right track. And so the train of the Fortress of Diversity had fought its way forward. Had followed old, orphaned paths, always keeping to the course of the river. Some wheels had broken over a stone. Some boots got stuck in the mud. And some children had been frightened by the new surroundings, the unfamiliar woods, the unknown sounds. And yet the light of hope danced through the campfires each evening. Crept a smile on exhausted faces. And listened with curiosity to each new discovery and report. And now they had reached their goal.
Kaela needed no confirmation from a scout when she climbed the hill and reached its highest point. Now that she saw it before her, it was so obvious, so clear, as if this place had been created for the Fortress of Diversity. The valley was large. Large enough to accommodate them all and make livestock and farming possible. The landscape seemed fertile, well protected by the surrounding hills and mountains and supplied with sufficient water thanks to the river. The slopes, densely forested, stretched far into the distance until they were finally lost in the blue of the mountains. The river followed their journey and probably found its origin somewhere in this blue.
But it was not the valley that so captivated Kaela. That gave her the feeling that the Fortress of Diversity had finally arrived. Nor the warm wind that blew in her face, welcoming her and carrying with it the spicy scent of spring. No, it was the hill to the north that formed the valley entrance to the right of the river. And more precisely what was enthroned on it.
A Fortress for the Feste.
Like a guard, the ruins of a fortress rose above the entrance to the valley. Built on the wooded hill, it overlooked the green plains, the blue river, the dark slopes. A memorial for anyone who tried to enter the valley. A patron saint for all those who lived in it.
Certainly, the structure had seen better days. The walls were high and solidly built, but on the weather side the stone had suffered greatly and one of the defence towers had obviously collapsed. The fortress itself rose in stately size and built over several levels behind the ramparts. She was still too far away to perceive details, but already Kaela could see that at least the upper floors and the roof were badly damaged. Whoever had built this fortress, had not lived here since a long time.
But none of this mattered to Kaela. No one in the Feste shied away from work. Together, they would restore the structure to its former glory. Or create something completely new at its foot. There was only one thing that really mattered: the Feste had found its new campsite. A place where it was worth building something. To settle down.
The Feste was finally at home.
The murmur of the crowd resembled a swarm of bees. Every now and then, individual voices stood out from it, which were particularly high or low, or simply particularly loud. But most of the conversations blended into an excited buzz. Tension was in the air. Nervousness.
Kaela could well understand these feelings. It had been two, maybe three weeks since the Feste had set up camp in the valley. The place was promising, but not quite as fertile and livable as first thought. The years-long influence of Undeath was evident here as well, even if they had yet to see any minions of the Undead Flesh. Only slowly was it receding. Still, much had happened since the arrival of the Feste. A crude fortification had been erected to protect the camp. Scouts had gone out to explore the immediate area – and to find the stone quarry that the builders and Antiochos thought was nearby. Fields had been tilled. Everyone was doing their best to give the Feste the best possible start.
And, of course, they had also taken a closer look at the fortress. An impressive structure, built by someone who had understood his craft. The walls were several meters thick, with corridors and embrasures, it would have withstood attacks with siege weapons. The damage on the western side, however, showed that the walls had probably not been invincible. Whatever had torn open the fortification had left a huge hole. A hole that now served the members of the Feste as a makeshift entrance, since the chains of the portcullis had rusted so tightly that the actual entrance to the fortress was unusable.
Crossing the hole, one reached the courtyard, which some already affectionately called “the jungle”. Once, the courtyard, with its numerous outbuildings, had provided enough space for horses, livestock and supplies to provide for several months in the event of a siege. Now, however, it was completely overgrown and hardly recognizable as a courtyard. Even the two wells, had initially been mistaken for trees under masses of ivy and other creepers. There had been a big hello when one finally recognized what it actually was.
The main building rose high into the sky and, like the walls, had numerous towers – only one of which, however, was still accessible. If you stretched the word walkable a bit. The rest of these structures had collapsed, had clearly lost height, or were leaning against other buildings. They looked as if they would be blown away with the next strong breeze, following the shingles of the roofs that had begun this journey long ago. What remained were rotten constructions of mighty roof beams, which were now exposed to the weather without protection and had suffered accordingly. Window panes were completely missing.
And yet there were also positive things to report. The lower floors were still in good condition, especially cellars that ate deep into the hill on which the fortress stood. And the great hall had also withstood the ravages of time – and provided a safe home for numerous winged inhabitants. And every now and then, smaller, intact rooms were discovered in the tangled corridors of the fortress. All those rooms that were still usable were quickly prepared and now served as a permanent base for the most vulnerable and least mobile parts of the Feste. And so the military hospital, the library or the alchemy laboratory quickly found a new home. And the commandery had also found an improvised place to be in the stronghold.
Everything went ahead. And with each passing day, the Feste became more settled. Became the place more of a home. For the Fortress of Diversity, but also for Kaela. How gladly she would have stayed here. She would have continued to watch the construction. Helped to shape it. But the call of war had finally reached the Storm of the Feste. And so, she had spent the last few days sending letters about the upcoming campaign to those members of the Feste who were not permanently encamped at the Fortress of Diversity. Now she stood here. And looked into the expectant eyes of those who had left the Hohld with her.
“Fortress of Diversity,” the army commander’s voice echoed far over the heads of her audience. “Not much time has passed since we discovered this place for ourselves. Each of you has worked tirelessly to make this valley our new home. A home that will last. And one we’ve waited a long time for.
A home brings many things. It brings warmth. Safety. Security. It brings a place to return to. It brings responsibility. And something worth fighting for.
It pains me that it is so soon, but it is time that we take that responsibility. Many of you have already heard rumors. Of nightmares and visions that no longer haunt only Nyames, but also magic workers. Of cries for help that are perceived especially by those who feel a special connection to nature. Reports that the Black Ice sends out expeditions and seems to be looking for something.
The Halephic Forests are calling us. And we, the Fortress of Diversity, will not ignore this call. We will face our responsibility. We will help Mitraspera. And we will not simply let the Forsaken roam freely.
I know that for many of you it is not easy to leave right after the arduous journey. And so, I leave you free to go with me. Those who feel called to face the Forsaken in the Halephic Forests join me. Those whose calling is to build and preserve our new homeland, stay here. Both are for the good of the Feste. Both are of equal value. Both are done for our diversity.
For all those who answer my call to arms: we leave in two days at sunrise.
And for all those who stay here: I trust in you and that you will take good care of our new home. So that those who go to war have a place to return to.
Here’s to all of us being reunited soon.
For the Fortress!”
The shout resounded loudly through the valley and echoed up the mountainsides.
The spring campaign had begun…