RPS Ascension: Annum Belli Apparatum (Spring and Summer, Year 2)
Ichiro is feeling good about himself, for the first time he can remember since he joined the Demon Priesthood. There is peace between Wayland of the Marverni tribes and Akenbei of the Yomi, and the dominion of Akenbei is secure all along the coast thanks to Ichiro’s temples. So he’s mortified, naturally, to learn that Akenbei intends to invade the Marverni lands so soon after an agreement has been made.
Ichiro sees some problems with Akenbei’s plan. First, there is no guarantee that Raidon’s army will be able to survive an attack on Bogger Wold after the army has been worn out by months of combat. Second, when the forces of the Yomi are compared to that of the Marverni, it is apparent that there are three Marverni soldiers to every Yomi currently fielded. Third — and most importantly — Ichiro has been left without any attendant army in Roca while Akenbei and Raidon have camped their forces in Temiglia. If they invade Bogger Wold, the inevitable reprisal from Marverni will likely consist of their army in Diluphe marching north to where Ichiro is stationed, burning and plundering everything in their path. Ichiro’s good mood simply won’t abide this possibility.
Fortunately for Ichiro, Raidon has his own reservations about Akenbei’s plan. No fool, he realizes that the difference in numbers simply makes victory too unlikely. Days of exhausted messengers pass between Ichiro and Raidon until they suddenly strike upon their solution. “What’s the one thing that demon-kind loves more than battle?” asks one panting messenger to Raidon. Raidon grins and sends the man staggering on his way with a single word: “Gold.”
Treasure is the only thing that can entrance a demon more than the love of flowing blood and snapping bones. And the Yomi have run out of it. Upon hearing this, Akenbei orders his army back to Roca and declares a year of preparing for war. A fortress will be erected in Roca to defend the frontier, and gold from tithes and taxation will be saved. Ichiro and Raidon are quite happy with this edict.
In the north, Hirohisa, who has been building a second army at the capital, takes the initiative and marches west to Inarime.
Inarime is a wasteland. Its population lives under constant threat from the roving dead, animated servants of the death-lords. These death-lords have held sway over Inarime — isolated as it is from the rest of Antopeos — for centuries. Unfortunately for them, Hirohisa’s army of demons are well-acquainted with the undead, and they make short work of the soulless defenders. With the death-lords hanged, Hirohisa sets to pillaging the surviving population for gold. He soon finds that they are so few in number that after only a few weeks of burning villages, he has only a few pounds of gold to show for his efforts. He marches back to Yomi to reinforce his army, leaving Inarime undefended and a quarter less populated.
As a much-relieved Ichiro works on constructing ramparts at Roca, Raidon heads north to Yomi to house his forces and reinforce until the fortress is completed. Akenbei holds nightly feasts with his soldiers, showing little interest in the reports that arrive from Rai, the bandit spy in the south. Ichiro collects these messages and hoards them for Raidon’s return, figuring that details on the composition and movements of Wayland’s Marverni forces could be useful in the future. The Marverni are at war, after all. Unknown enemies from the east, calling themselves the nation of Sauromatia, have clashed with Wayland.
It appears that Wayland is winning these skirmishes for the time being. Wherever these Sauromatians are from, they have traveled a great distance to reach Western Antopeos, and their armies have been strained by their long march.
Rai had the fortune to observe these battles. The first took place when the Marverni invaded Dighmor, which had been occupied by a small contingent of Sauromatians. The Marverni had strong cavalry and good foot-soldiers, and have been able to afford the help of mercenaries. The Sauromatians were quickly dispatched, and the Marverni marched across to the Antopeos mainland, where they butted into a Sauromatian fortress at Vlecz.
The fortress was well-positioned to cut off the only easy route between the two portions of the continent, but the Sauromatian general was too confident, only leaving a small garrison. They had little chance against Marverni braves, cavalry, and mercenaries.
After hearing the news of the fall of Vlecz to the Marverni, Ichiro receives two messages. The first is from Wayland, who states that in honor of the treaty with Akenbei, his troops have begun to tear down the fortress, so as to permit passage of the Yomi and Marverni alike from the western continent to the mainland. The second is more intriguing. It is from Nerelye, the pretender of Sauromatia. It is a proposal that the Yomi invade the Marverni while they are distracted fighting Sauromatia.
Ichiro puts this message away, wondering what he will do with it. If Akenbei were to hear the proposal, he would surely launch into a new campaign. But the Yomi armies are yet weak, and both Raidon and Hirohisa are in the north gathering their forces. No, decides Ichiro, this message will wait for Raidon.