RPS Ascension: White Candles (Winter, Year 1)
With peace brokered between Yomi and Marverni, Akenbei’s reign is secure for the time being, allowing him to turn his attention to resolving the war of faith with Nerae of Oceania and expanding south as quickly as his army will march. As winter begins, Nanvather the Demon Priest announces the construction of a temple in Cynaphe, the first temple dedicated to Akenbei outside of the capital. Soon after, Akenbei’s army, led by himself, Raidon the bandit, and Ichiro the prophet, conquers the meager defenders of the wasteland-province of Boggiton.
Boggiton supplies next to nothing in terms of income or raw resources, but bears vital strategic import. The Oceanians have constructed temples to Nerae in the nearby provinces of Soth Bever and Blue Waters, and a temple in poor Boggiton will help to drive back her power.
Akenbei understands enough about this power — called “dominion” — to know that he should spread it with temples and such. Beyond that, he doesn’t much care to dabble in the chores of priests. While he and Raidon prepare the armies to march into Roca, his prophet Ichiro insists that he learn the finer points of dominion, persuading Nanvather the Demon Priest to explain.
Nanvather points a prosthetic claw at the great map that sits prominently upon a great table in the war-tent. “Basically,” he says, “there are white candles and black candles. White candles show the spread of your authority and power over the land, and the faith of the locals in your godhood, while black candles show the authority of another.” Akenbei grunts, refusing to justify this extortion of his time. “But the banners of Nerae are blue, not black. Why are the Oceanian candles not blue then? And the candles of Wayland of the Marverni not green?” “My Lord, it does not matter whose power is over those other lands. It only matters that it is not yours.”
Ichiro and Nanvather alternately explain the effects of these dominions. “The army will be encouraged marching in lands of your dominion, but will lose morale when fighting under the dominion of another.” “Any god relies on the belief of his people, and if that belief evaporates, the god will die.” “Also, the physical health of a god and his prophet—” Ichiro clears his throat loudly to make sure Akenbei is paying attention, “—are alternately strengthened or withered by the amount of friendly or unfriendly dominion.” This point causes Akenbei to take note: so not only will the army marching into the enemy dominion of Roca be demoralized, but his own body will not resist as much punishment? “Precisely,” says Ichiro, then “My Lord” when Akenbei’s eye stirs in his direction.
Akenbei decides to march into Roca regardless, leaving Nanvather in Boggiton to take care of the dominion issue by erecting a temple. The Yomi have not encountered cavalry before, and they suffer more losses than they have come to expect after their string of flawless victories. The problem is immediately apparent, as Yomi’s troops are too brave for shields or heavy armor, so their infantry are substantially thinned by enemies with ranged weapons or mounts or better armor. Still, Akenbei’s army is sufficiently bulky to continue the march on Temiglia, which will secure the agreed-upon borders of the treaty with Marverni.
With Temiglia captured (the defensive militia didn’t bother putting up a real fight), the western portion of Antopeos has been brought under the authority of Yomi and Marverni with the exception of two provinces. Unfortunately, one of those territories is Inarime, adjacent to Yomi. The other is Dighmor, which will be the first of two treaty territories planned to swap hands between Akenbei and Wayland as they make their way onto the mainland.
With the Marverni frontier secured, and with coastal temples in place to combat the spread of Oceanian dominion, it is time to build up enough strength to betray Wayland and claim the entirety of the western continent for Akenbei. The plan will take some time to put into motion, as Wayland is secure in his control over his small empire and has the soldiers to defend it. As Akenbei meets with Raidon and Ichiro to put plans into motion, they receive two messengers.
The first messenger informs them that the second commissioned army of Yomi has been formed under the Demon General Hirohisa (this is news to Akenbei, who smiles at Raidon’s initiative). Hirohisa has announced his intent to march on Inarime and end the sovereignty of the last independent northern state, news that also pleases Akenbei.
The second is a messenger from Nerae of Oceania, announcing that she does not currently plan to invade the western portion of Antopeos. This news is well-received by Akenbei, who turns all his attentions to his plans of betrayal for Wayland, despite Ichiro’s protestations that the patroness of Oceania might have sent the message to set them at ease prior to an invasion. As the first year of the Ascension Wars comes to an end, Ichiro finds his council once again ignored as Akenbei lays out his plans for the conquest of the lands to the south, and for the overthrow of Wayland of the Marverni.