Aftermath of the Ice War
1737 – 1738 T204
Tokugawa Japan: Musubu also ordered his armies and fleets back from the Amerikas, though the passage was fraught with danger… the northern latitudes were plagued by strange fogs, violent storms, whirlpools, and enormous icebergs broken off from the northern ice sheets by the cataclysm. Despite these dangers, most of the fleet returned home safely.
Prester John: Lewis completed a tour of the far eastern reaches of the kingdom, finding new allies to swell his power, and then returned home to Maclan to rest his feet and visit with his wife. Princess Antaya, meanwhile, joined the elderly John Heinrich in the ruins of Karakocho with several hundred lancers and the airship Corregidor. They continued to clear the city of wild beasts, with an eye to making it habitable again. A number of learned men accompanied Antaya and measured the weather, the permafrost and other signs. After two years of observation, they informed the princess (and through her, the khagan) the Ice was in retreat.
Judah: The Emperor was pleased to hear of the defeat of the Legions of Darkness and the destruction of dread Olathöe (for where else could the masters of the Ice have laired, save in the doomed morgue of the Hyperboreans?). He had escaped from Lomar himself only by the greatest luck, and he thanked God for his destruction of that vile nest.
The army being stranded in the Amerikas was displeasing, however, and a truly enormous fleet was constructed and dispatched to fetch them home. Much as the Japanese discovered, the seas between the two continents were still troubled, and the fleet suffered substantial losses in returning the brave boys of the Ice Expedition home. Yet, home they did come.
General Tao, who had recently been posted to the border forts in Kin, ventured to enter the domains of the Dzamin Uud and the Karatao with a caravan of gifts to placate the local chieftains and help their tribes deal with the fierce winters. Unfortunately for the general, once news of his rich pack train filled with gold, cloth and grain reached the ears of the Dzamin, they beset him and his guardsmen and slaughtered the lot.
Maori Imperium: A shoot-out in downtown Joetsura left five or six people dead, including two city policemen and a Hosogawan merchant named Koji Kabuto. Investigation of ser Kabuto’s belongings found a number of suspicious papers and a small soapstone idol. The police were, therefore, forced to burn down the building where the man had been staying to ‘remove the taint.’
Safavid Persia: The Persian army patrolled the northern waste constantly, with their engineers and pathfinders crawling over every snowbank and frozen lake, hoping for a thaw. And, indeed, by the end of the turn the Ice was receding, but not quickly enough to allow the hordes of starving refugees crowding the cities in the south to return home.
Exarchate of Trebizond: The army was dispatched into the lands once held by the Khazars – cultists and other Ice-worshipping scum were driven out of Taman and Alan. All two Catholic inhabitants of Kuban were very glad to see princess Natasha arrive with her lancers and rifle companies.
Swedish-Russia: Life began to return to normal in Sweden. The Ice was receding, slowly, in Russia and in another year or two the frost-gripped woodlands would be suitable for men to live in again. The churches and cathedrals of the realm rang with joyous song, and the faith of Sweden was affirmed, for the Ice had been defeated. For now, however, the Altkansler was satisfied to see refugees settled in the cities of Neymoskva, Grodno and Kherson. Even the Norsktrad pitched in, renovating the port facilities of Grassland in Merrakesh. Considerable resources were devoted to the expansion of the colony in North Africa, and the threat of the Tuaregs led to the construction of many new fortresses throughout the Exarchate of Inner Afriqa.
Massive government support (financed by various foreign powers) was offered to a new mercantile entity called the Aeronautical Research and Fabrication corporation, based out of Rostov in southern Russia. ARF (as symbolized by a winged golden retriever – and where is my logo, eh?) intends nothing less than the conquest of the air. Many of the scientists, workers and craftsmen came from abroad, swelling the population of Rostov by almost a third. The Church was everywhere present, seeing to housing the refugees and making sure they had food, clothing and warm blankets.
Aeronautical Research and Fabrication East: For the moment, the mongrel lot of refugees forming the ARF was entirely focused on resettling the abandoned city of Rostov and restoring public facilities. Luckily, the advance of the Ice had displaced so many people there was no lack of willing hands to repair, rebuild and restore the city. Solyom hoped to have the first factories up and running within two years, and the first fruits of the collaboration in the air within a year after that.
Operations in the Amerikas were also planned for the immediately future, and the cooperative acquisition of the British West India company was hoped to prove a boon to the bottom line and for the investing parties.
Great Britain: Tongues did not wag in London, though everyone was quite on edge about the king’s brisk dismissal of the prospect of marriage. Otherwise, the Exchequer was very busy paying off the king’s loans, extending credit and supplies to the Aeronautical Research and Fabrication company, turning a blind eye at certain actions in the West Indies and generally keeping things on an even keel.
Church of Rome: The secretive Order of the Truth was given wide latitude to root out “corruption and improper thought,” which resulted in the arrests and disappearance of hundreds of clerics, monks and priests throughout the Catholic world. Elsewhere, missionary work continued apace in Shucuru (converted), Calabria and Rostov (among the refugees employed by ARF). Good works were also undertaken in the Crimea.
Nisei Republic: Taking a deep breath, the daitoryo issued orders to begin rebuilding the shattered Nisei economy. “Let a thousand flowers bloom,” he grumbled, staring out across the frozen wasteland of Chemakum. “Or something.”
The Sisters opened a hospital to tend those wounded in the War in Odakyu in Kalapuya.
High Kingdom of Colorado: Though everyone else seemed to have forgotten about the system of mystical defenses which protect the Earth from obscene horrors from beyond time and space, the Colorado did not, and continued to build an increasingly elaborate complex of fortifications at Mesa Verde.
Aeronautical Research and Fabrication West (nee The British West India Company): Blake Henry returned from Aztec lands in a fast ship, eager to rest a bit in the home office and see his children. Unfortunately, upon his arrival in Mahair port he was seized by the English authorities and dumped in a hole. By the time he managed to bribe his way free, he found the Company in the hands of no less a figure than Jessica herself (the daughter of the founder). Orozco took great delight in telling Blake he had been ‘bought out’.
The sea captain was furious, but the squads of ARF air-squad troopers occupying the warehouses and offices were hard to argue with. Then Blake was found dead in a particularly disreputable grog shop in the port a week later. Jessica had no regrets for the man who had stolen her father’s company from her. Despite the protests of a strong faction of Irish investors (who had recently bought into Blake’s enterprise), Jessica (and her new husband, Apada) took the company private. Within a week, the nameplates, stationary and ship registrations had been changed to reflect the new ‘owner’ of the Company.
With the heavy-handed support of the Swedish and English governments, the ARF moved into the western hemisphere, taking over the Company’s operations throughout the Carribean and adjoining territories.
Aztec Empire: The powerful Aztec garrison of Mesa Verde complained they were being ignored by the press. Which was true. Everyone had forgotten they were posted to an icy, howling wilderness filled with bad-tempered Frenchmen.
Two fleets were split off from the main armada at Odakyu, and they spent the next two years ferrying people (who should have brought their own boats) home. The Aztec crusaders (the Order of Tlahulli) were ordered back to Méxica, but they refused, which caused a mild crisis in the Nisei heartland. Worse, the Tlahulli did not leave on the fleet, and marched north into the wasteland of the Ice, looking for someone to smack.
They did not find anyone, even the Inuit having left the old Tatar domains. The Tlahulli marched through the snow and ice until they came upon a massive ruined city in newly growing forest. This place they recognized from the tales told by the Nisei aerocorps – Dread Hûkar, where so many had died to save the world. Chikietl, the leader of the Tlahulli declared this was the place they would stay, and so the crusaders settled among the pines and swift streams, finding the soil rich and the game plentiful.
1739 – 1740 T205
Tokugawa Japan: The specter of famine continued to plague the Japanese, but the largesse of the Ming saved them (again) from hollow bellies. Some of the Shogun’s advisors began to point to the north again, saying the Ice was retreating from Amur and Zvoron and the deep forests – those colonies could be reclaimed and put to work to feed the teeming mouths of the home islands.
Musubu ignored them, his heart heavy with grief. His wife of thirty years had died attempting to gift him with a son. The child had been twisted and cold, even delivered from the fading warmth of the woman’s body. “The touch of the Ice,” the old women said, shaking their gray heads. The Shogun fell into a terrible depression, but his advisors were relentless. More than one pretty maid was sent to tend the Shogun’s quarters – at last, after almost a year, one of them caught his eye – Reiko Matsugae. Within the month, they were wed, and at the end of 1740 a squalling, healthy baby boy was delivered into Musubu’s grateful hands.
There was considerable confusion in Nagi, where a huge police operation to swoop down upon a secret cabal of Shikongou Dantai terrorists was spoiled by the suspects themselves reporting to the nearest civil watch house and turning themselves in. With rising dismay, the Tokugawa authorities then learned the “hidden company” had declared itself openly and – more was the pity – it’s papers were in perfect order.
Pacific Mercenary and Trust Corporation: Quite unexpectedly, a large (previously shadowy) merchant house cautiously raised its head and opened entirely proper commercial offices throughout the Pacific and parts of the Americas. A number of letters were dispatched to various heads of state, and a staggering number of elderly men appeared in common town plazas and squares throughout Asia, each bearing a paper with a list of crimes committed against humanity and the proper gods. While bemused onlookers stared, they drew short bladed swords from their Japanese-style sashes, then committed ritual seppuku before the eyes of stunned crowds.
Investigation of the papers found they read: “In blind pursuit of power, gold and eternal life, we threatened the world with destruction. Only by the grace of the true gods were all men spared death by our folly. It is with great regret we offer a sincere apology to those we have harmed, and a faint hope our deaths will serve as small repayment for our crimes.”
Prester John: Lewis’ agents and lieutenants continued to labor, trying to reclaim the lands and cities lost to the Ice. The provinces of Jungaria and Beshbalik were settled to 2 GPv. Unfortunately, the city of Karakocho remains a demon-haunted ruin, tenanted only by the dead and dreadful memories. Princess Megan commanded a strong force of men (and three of the precious zeppelins) to watch over the settlers in Jungaria, while the khans of Kucha, Sinkiang and Suzhou protected those in Beshbalik.
Safavid Persia: Famine stalked the Persian highlands – vast camps crowded with refugees from the Ice knew the tight, burning grip of endless hunger. Thousands perished as winter clamped down on the plains and deserts. The Shahanshah labored to feed is people – but even large shipments of grain from China did not help, not enough. The destruction of the Basra granaries meant more children went hungry, in a land gripped by a quiet specter.
Withered columns of refugees wound their way north into the barren lands of Khwarizm, Bokhara, Kara-Khitai and Ferghana. The hand of the Ice had barely lifted, leaving desolate, abandoned farms and wild orchards. Strange creatures still crept in the eaves of the night-dark forests, and the Shah’s army was everywhere in evidence. There was unexpectedly fierce fighting in the ruins of the old cities – where bands of creatures (had they been men, once?) laired, preying on those with warm flesh.
Aeronautical Research and Fabrication (East): With the company coordinating so much of the resettlement effort in southern Russia and the sub-Caucasus, Pasternak arranged with the Swedish government to take over the administration of the provinces of Taman and Kuban. A great number of refugees were immediately given lands in Taman, and Kuban was ‘opened’ for settlement (a program in which large sections of the province were sold to likely families or clans, allowing them to take possession as time and effort permitted).
An expedition by ARF employees into the hostile lands of Khazar was forced to retreat in a running gun-battle with the natives. They only escaped destruction when an Air Corps survey zeppelin arrived overhead and rained down explosive bombs and incendiary napthene upon the howling mob of savages.
Principate of Kiev: Accompanied by thousands of settlers, Vladimir returned to ancient Kiev and reclaimed the province from the ravages of the Ice. His court was restored to the ruins of Kiev the city, though hardly anyone else was actually in residence there.
Swedish Russia: A subdued election was held, with some difficulties in voting due to so many people being in refugee camps, and a Crown Loyalist senator named Krycek was selected as the new Altkansler. Resettlement programs began planning for the newly Ice-free provinces, though the Royal Army was forced to intervene when it became clear the government did not intend to resettle this year, and the provinces of Latvia, Livonia and Polotsk were already free of the taint. The people in the camps wanted to go home now.
Though as a whole the Ice did not retreat, the provinces of Saarema and Estonia did become Ice-free.
The Order of Tlahulli (The Flowering Sun): Plagued by constant cold, terrifying winters, frigid summers, enormous bears, constant attacks by bands of Inuit raiders and the queer dreams who come to all those who dwell where <They> have once set foot – Chikietl decided to accede to the wishes and prayers of both the Aztec Emperor and the Sisters of the Rose, and return to the sunny middle lands. The knights of the Order packed up their bags, marched down to Azoton and boarded ship for the journey back to the center of the world.
Aeronautical Research and Fabrication West: Jessica, aboard her flagship Marguerite, attempted to inspect the company holdings in Itza on the Aztec coast. Unfortunately, the Imperial government had recently issued a very stern series of edicts banning her, her ships, her agents and anything to do with her and the ARF from Aztec lands. Indeed, while Jessica was arguing with the port authorities in Itza, the company offices, funds, factories, farms and so on throughout the Empire were being seized. Disugsted and disturbed by this turn of events, the Signeur returned to Arawak to fulminate.
Upon her return, she learned the Company holdings on Ciguayo had been summarily ejected from the island.
Aztec Empire: In the east, the Sword of Empire fleet scoured the Carribean for ARF shipping in Aztec waters and shoo’ed it away if found. The Emperor’s office made a statement on the matter:
Whereas the current leaders of Aeronautical Research and Fabrication West have illegaly and violently siezed control of that company from its rightful owner, the late Blake Henry; and whereas said leaders are in collusion with remnants of the vile Frost Wolf and Inuit, who so recently wreaked untold havoc and suffering upon the world: it is hereby resolved by the undersigned that all agreements between our nations and the ARF are to be considered immediately null and void. The ARF factors at work in our cities will be identified and expelled, and their offices closed. Beginning in 1741 all foreign shipping carried by the ARF will be turned away from our ports. Further, after 1740 any ship flying the ARF flag in the New World will be considered fair game for privateers. In this way the ARF will begin to make some small reparations for the depravations of their (alleged) Frost Wolf allies.
A representative of the Company responded from offices in London:
Though some few employees of the Company may, at one time, have been in the employ of the notorious bandits called Frost Wolf, none currently employed are in the service of the <Others> or their minions.
At press-time, the matter was still unresolved.
Sisters of the Rose: Mindful of the necessity of attacking evil and the powers of the Ice in places both high and low, the Sisters gave generously to support the foundation of the Flowering Sun order in Tenochtitlan. At home, eager Caquetian volunteers crowded the churches and hostels of New Jerusalem, expanding the city to a 2 GPv.
1741 – 1742 T206
Tokugawa Japan: The great changes set in motion by the onset of the Ice, and the terrible war, and the revelation of Ameratsu’s protection had driven the people to their ancient gods in great numbers and now, particularly with the ascension of the notably Shinto Yoshimune to the Shogunal throne, Japan became Shinto once more, both officially and even among the people.
Of all the Japanese provinces, only Budokan on Nootka, Akone on Okinawa, and Shimane (including the city of Himeji) remained Buddhist. All else became Shinto.
Pacific Mercenary and Trust Corporation: The Trustees scrambled around, all across the Pacific, trying to restore their trade networks and offices to some semblance of order and efficiency. Being ejected from the Amerikas hurt, and a spate of letters to the Aztecs and other powers there fell on deaf ears. The shadow of the Ice lay upon the company, and the board of directors despaired of ever shaking the tumults and disgraces of the past.
Safavid Persia: Even better news came from the northern frontier, where the Ice Wardens reported the dreadful cold had backed up another province. Various armies immediately reoccupied these areas, preparing the way for an expected wave of settlers from the south.
Somewhere East of Rostov: A Persian riverboat sailed slowly up the Volga, a dozen marines on deck with ready guns, slitted eyes searching the shoreline. Rumors were rife in this cursed land – of inhuman things with a taste for human flesh, twisted creatures left behind by the retreat of the Ice – and the merchants were wary. Opening the Volga and the Rha passage to merchant shipping would be a great stroke of luck… but their lives would be forfeit for a moment’s inattention.
A splashing sound drew their attention to the eastern bank, and every man froze – a jutting pier of black, scarified stone thrust into the river’s current – and a screaming, terrified man had leapt from the pier. Water gouted up around him, then his head emerged and he swam wildly for the boat.
“Shoot him,” barked the barge captain, drawing his pistol.
One of the marine pressed the butt of his Safhani-built Mauser to his shoulder and squeezed the trigger – all in one flowing, effortless motion. There was a sharp report, a plume of smoke from the barrel… the bullet hung suspended in suddenly turgid, thickening air. The surface of the river sheened white, then froze solid. The man in the water screamed, his throat burning in the frigid air. The marines on the boat flinched, and stiffened into immobility.
Something twisted and writhed in the sky, a brilliant blue point, like a single staring eye, and everything within sight of that abyssal mote froze solid. Then – with a rippling thundercrack – the dreadful light was gone, and the rays of the sun shone down into misty, boiling air.
But every man on the barge, and the poor fellow in the water, were already dead.
Aeronautical Research & Fabrication: The city of Astrakhan – as observed from a distance – seemed to be ruled by a caste of priests dedicated to the dark gods. Beyond the Volga, all rumor told that the Sun-Haters still held sway in the lands between the Ice and the Sun.
Principate of Kiev: Like all peoples living at the edge of the Ice, the Kievians rejoiced to learn the chill was creeping back towards the pole and the dead, empty cities of the Hyperboreans.
Danish Empire: Indeed, such an excess of joy permeated Denmark that every kind of cultural activity found a thousand adherents, and the gloom which had laid over the land since the coming of the Ice seemed to lift, as if spring had returned at last.
After many years of wandering to the dark corners of the globe, Oniko finally returns home to Venice. And there was much rejoicing! All stops were pulled out in the celebration of the Return of the Empress and her fearless men from their trouncing of the forces of the Ice. Parades, fireworks, barbecues, formal balls, chess tournaments – the works! Veterans returning from Alaska are all awarded golden medals in public ceremonies to the cheering of adoring crowds. Also, on the first Sabbath after their return, Oniko decrees all of Denmark shall remember and pray for the soul of Emperor Kristatos, and all of the others who perished while saving the Earth.
Standing below the pulpit of St. Mark’s cathedral in central Venice, the Empress began to speak of her joy at returning home, of seeing her countrymen, of smelling the air of Venice, but then…
Even walking in the sun-filled gardens of Venice, my feet shall feel the bones of the hundreds of thousands of Frost Wolf slaves cracking and splintering under them on the road to Dzungur; my ears shall ring with the screams of my faithful men being sent to oblivion by the dark forces they summoned; my skin shall feel the abyssal cold which they sought to cast over the whole Earth. Truly, my soul will be scarred for eternity, not by my mere hardships, but by witnessing evil in its purest form, snatched out of the deepest pits of Hell and placed upon the suffering surface of this planet. And yet, unbelievably, the craven senators of Sweden, lusting for otherworldly technology to use against Denmark, turn their backs on their own suffering people to succor the scattered but unrepentant remnants of the Frost Wolf. The heads displayed on pikes outside the Aeronautical Research and Fabrication factories speak clearly that the Frost Wolf conversion is a transparent fraud. It sickens me that the sacrifices made by my soldiers and countrymen, and by God-fearing people throughout the world, in repelling the Ice have been so callously and soullessly flouted by the bureaucrats and nobility of Sweden and England in their trembling inadequacy. I can only hope that they can yet open their eyes and behold the horror that they are undertaking before the world is once again threatened with icy extinction.
Shawnee Empire: Much like the Nisei, the Shawnee were busy repairing the damage sustained during the war against the Ice.
Aztec Empire: The Smoking Sun Legion landed on Kodiak Island, off the ice-bound Alaskan shore, and rebuilt and repopulated the city of Ar’Sheol. Eager to appear busy, the Jaguar Legion descended upon the province of Nicarao and the city of Mixtlan with 23,000 men and knocked in every door, overturned every haystack to find a reputed nest of “Krorists” therein. They did, indeed, find some cultists, who were strung up like chilies and given the roast. The Sisters were very pleased that the Empire was finally taking the enemy seriously. The Pyramid Legion sailed northeast and – after a long stormy voyage – managed to re-establish the Aztec cities at Mahual on Iceland, and Padiwac in Micmac.
The Imperial Office of Trade announced that neither the Pacific Mercenary and Trust, nor the Aeronautical Research and Fabrication companies would be allowed to trade, negotiate, sell or buy within the Empire. So there!
1743 – 1744 T207
Manchu Mongol Empire: Settlements continued in the north, with the provinces of Naiman, Kerait and Khalaka reaching 2 GP in size. Substantial efforts were also made to return the Iced land to cultivation, which was wise for the shockingly huge storms of ’44 wrecked most of the coastal settlements in Koguryo, Anshan and Bandao. The ‘black sky’ reported by Japanese merchants also afflicted the Manchu, and the failure of the late harvest in ’44 boded ill for everyone.
Prester John: A great quraltai was called, summoning all of the khans and chiefs of the people to Maclan…
Khagan Lewis gathered all to him at Maclan, and there he put to the assembled tribes, clans and families a proposal. “Our friends in Persia, and across the sea of salt, have sent us messages, begging our aid in a great war against the darkness of the Ice. They say one stronghold of the Ice Lords remains, and they hold the holy city of Jerusalem in their clawed fist. They have sent us gifts…” And Lewis disbursed into the vast crowd countless presents of gold and silver coin, worked cloth, iron bar, silk, cacao bean, and other valuable things.
“They summon us to battle, and the teachers and judges who remember the holy word of the Prophet have issued a fatwa calling upon all men to raise their swords in defense of Islam. Those who might perish in this holy war will live in paradise, and there they will eat of every goodly fruit, and taste every earthly delight.”
The Khagan spoke for a day and a night, whereupon followed lengthly discussion amongst the tribes. In the end, a great many chieftains agreed to follow Lewis (and his Mongol general Bantag Yen) to the war in the uttermost west. These included the khans of Kucha, SInkiang, Suzhou and the Gurvan. The clans who had lived in the Tarim, the Tsinghai and the Tsaidam were also eager to find new, rich lands for their flocks – for those southern provinces were beginning to fail now the Ice had receded and the north rains did not come. Many others decided to stay, and accepted Lewis’ daughter Meegan as their queen.
So a vast and lengthy column departed Maclan in the spring of ’43, winding endlessly into the west. Behind them, the sky darkened and the sun swam up as through a sea of blood… a febrile dimness filled the upper air in the east, and followed the marching columns of the Gurvan and others as they rode west.
Safavid Persia: Despite these ominous signs, the Persians continued to rebuild from the onslaught of the Ice. The cities of Dzambul, Samarkhand, Basra and Cem were all expanded, while much land was placed under cultivation – again – in Ferghana, Ahvaz and Khwarzim. The new airship factories continued to work double shifts, expanding the Imperial aerofleet.
Aeronautical Research & Fabrication: Settlement efforts in Kuban were successful, making the province a (1 W 6). Captain Arpada – in command of a motely and very heavily armed band of ARF soldiery – continued his patrols along the Volga, rousting out bands of cannibalistic, degenerate Ice-men, shooting enormous bears and wolves and generally trying to restore order and civilization along the fringe of the Ice.
His attempts to secure an arrangement with the black-robed priest who rule in demon-haunted Astrakhan failed, however, and the stench of their sacrificial fires continued to stain the sky over the black waters of the Volga.
Swedish-Russia: In Russia, a force of Finnish ski regiments and Norwegian mountaineers under the command of General Thorvalds made a sweep south through the abandoned provinces of Smolensk, Chernigov, Pereyaslavl and Levedia – arresting bandits, breaking up polygamist communities, shooting Ice-beasties and generally cleaning up the countryside.
The War of the Dragons: Valeria’s army halted in Wenro (still an uninhabited and desolate land) for the winter of ’43-44, then pressed on as soon as spring came in ’44. Cayuga and Iroquois were no better – the land empty, without sources of food or shelter – everything still bearing the taint of the Ice.
Aztec Empire: Joyously, trade was resumed with Spain and Sweden via the northern route – now the Ice had receded enough to allow the settlement on Iceland to be reclaimed.
1745 – 1746 T208
Nisei Republic: While everyone at home was nattering away, Usuaoi Sora’s V Corps was crossing the Rockies into the northern plains. The Republicans then proceeded to restore order to the provinces of Crow, Teton, Okoboji before reaching Dakota at the end of ’46. There Sora and men received a shock – the province was still populated and with Ice-worshipping Tatarsky Mongols to boot! The Nisei corps attempted to sneak away, but the Dakotan scouts had already been following them. The Ice tribesmen attacked!
The scrap at Shindeiruma saw 7,000 Republican soldiers and 5,000 Mongols go head to head and the Nisei (though their commander was in no way brilliant, but he was steady) absolutely thrash the Mongols, shattering their line and chewing the fleeing Ice-boyz to bits. Igashi was captured a month later, and Sora spent the winter in the Ice-King’s palace.
Knights of St. John: De Valle’s fleet then sailed to Hymirholm (Bermuda) and rebuilt the town of San Salvador which had been destroyed by the Frost Wolf during the Ice War.
1747 – 1748 T209
Manchu Mongol Empire: The breakneck expansion of the Manchus into the northern wastelands halted as they took a breather from clearing Ice-blighted land.
Swedish-Russia: During the advance of the Ice, with the cooperation of both Kiev and Riga, hundreds of thousands of Swedes and Russians had migrated south into Kievian lands, finding new homes far from the deadly Ice. Now, with the southern Rus in the grip of some endemic, virulent nationalism, they were dying or being forced to flee in droves. With the famines and chill weather already gripping the land, an epic-scale humanitarian disaster was in the making.
Danish Empire: Upon the heights of Golan, where Oniko fell in her final sacrifice, Mason directed the Danish soldiers: “to build a memorial to her, to her father who was lost in the waters off the Frost Wolf strongholds in Alaska, and to all peoples of the world who set aside their differences of faith and history and came together in extraordinary sacrifice for the ultimate common cause. We seek to make the Holy Land a living and continual reminder, to people of all faiths and creeds, of the sacrifice made by those who recognized what was at stake in the wars against Georgia and the Ice, and that no price is too high to uphold the highest of principles.”
Nisei Republic: Still suffering from droughts, the Ice and a general feeling of ill-use the Nisei soldiered on…
1749 – 1750 T210
Tokugawa Japan: The tongues of tired, frost-bitten sailors wagged as well (so much sake, so many geishas!) leading to rumors of hazardous expeditions into the northern Ice and battles against horrific, inhuman monstrosities.
Manchu Mongol Empire: Further west, general Chu Lum Lau led a force of 5,000 men through the howling, Ice-tribe-infested wilderness of Henyitin to the isolated (but still defiant) Buddhist city of Ulan-ude, where he received, um, a cold welcome, but was not thrown out into the snow either.
Java: Routine inspections of cargo in the port at Sunda discovered some AEIC ships handling Arnor trade contained hidden packages wherein many strange idols were found. Further investigations alleged many of the seamen are members of an Ice-related cult. As a precaution, all AEIC shipping entering Javan ports was seized and held until further notice. Pedregon weighed whether to impound and confiscate the ships as well.
Aeronautical Research & Fabrication: Though entirely formed of excellent Catholics, Company patrols along the Volga shore did not hinder the passage of many Hussite missionaries into the lands once held by the Khirgiz and other Ice tribes, though horrific and lingering deaths were in store for many of the priests.
1751 - 1752 T211
Tokugawa Japan: Ferried by the fleet, and protected by an enormous number of troops, waves of settlers returned to Amur and began clearing new growth and snow from the farms and lumbering operations abandoned with the onset of the Ice. Even further north, an arrangement was reached with Aeronautical Research & Fabrication - wherein control of Dzungur Coast was returned to the Company until such time as they could reconstitute the city of Drakenroost to normal operation.
Manchu Mongol Empire: Yet, determined to not go softly into the good night - he decided have one last huzzah before passing into the Western Paradise: so Chi'en-lung decided to lead his mighty army north into battle against the Ice Tribes of Henyitin and liberate the oppressed people of Ulan-Ude!
With a great flourish of banners, trumpets and the tramp of sixty-thousand boots upon the Northern Road; the Emperor marched up into Henyitin and drove the scattered, starveling Ice tribesmen (so greatly reduced now their circumpolar empire had collapsed) before him as the wheat bends before the wind.
There was scattered fighting, but against the massed muskets and cannon of the Manchu the locals could not stand. They loped off to the north, dire wolves with flea-bit tails between their legs. Ch'ien-lung entered Ulan-Ude in triumph, the liberator. Sadly, he died within months of capturing the city, overcome by a palsy.
His last act, as Emperor and Sun-Lord, was to visit the blasted, still-barren field where the Judeans had spent so much blood in an attempt to bring the Frost Wolf to heel at the height of the Ice War. In a grim homage to the sacrifice of his Catholic allies, the Dread Lord Ch'ien-lung had all superfluous prisoners executed on the spot of that horrendous Sunlander defeat. The symbolism was clear - the Sunlanders did not sacrifice so many tens of thousands of lives on that spot so that Ice vermin might continue to pollute the land (not to say the whole of the Earth) with their presence.
Aeronautical Research & Fabrication: Captain Arpada had gathered nearly every man in the Company who could hoist a rifle and sling a bandolier. Nearly 14,000 soldiers were mustered to join the Imperial Swedish Army in a punitive campaign across the Volga to destroy the last remnants of the Khirgizite Ice tribes.
Tzompanctli: With some help from the Sisters, a shining new university was endowed and set specifically to the (very relevant) task of understanding the Ice and all its dreadful effects. Furs, dried fish and whale blubber was sent to the Aztec Empire in tribute.
1753 - 1754 T212
Tokugawa Japan: Much further to the north, Port Kuzon was established in Amur, to keep a watch on the wilderness of the Ice and the demon-haunted ruins of Nagora.
Manchu Mongol Empire: In the wild and wooly north, Minister Jian Zhen arrived in Henyitin in the company of a powerful army and an endless column of settlers, tradesmen and southern carpetbaggers. As quickly became apparent, not only was the Manchu interested in a well-armed expedition into the Ice, but in scouring Henyitin province clean of "Cthulhu-lovin' Natives™" which, of course, were in great supply there. When the locals discovered this meant mass confiscations of their lands and properties, executions, disappearances of young nubile daughters and general pilfering and looting, they revolted.
General Wai, on hand with 14,000 Manchu regulars, reacted swiftly, columns of riflemen and cavalry spreading out across the province to suppression the rebellion. Zhen and Wai were a little surprised, however, by the rioting which broke out in Ulan-Ude. Mobs of citizens - rightly fearing they would lose their homes, jobs and pensions to the southrons - had to be suppressed by cannon fire in the twisty streets, and some harsh set-to action by the Manchu Imperial Guards.
Maori Imperium: Captain Hatipi, suffering in cold northern waters, caught a cold and died, which was a sad end for a son of the Southern Seas, but only one more mark of the blight which affected all those who once served the Ice.
Islamic Union: In honor of the city leveled by an Ice Lord attack at the beginning of the Sunlander War, the new town was named Antioch and the port was swiftly filled with Swedish and Danish merchantmen.
Aeronautical Research & Fabrication: Far, far in the east, Company laborers were hard at work rebuilding the ruined Ice-city of Drakenroost as the new, modern, Sun-turned city of Keninhei.
Disturbingly, the churches and cathedrals of the city - so newly built - remained sparsely attended. This despite the presence - so close to the east - of fiend-worshipping Ice tribesmen. In fact, despite a solid effort by the Papacy, so few converts were won among the peoples of the lower Volga provinces at least one priest renounced the faith and became an inn-keeper.
Indeed, the airships of the Company were constantly plying the air beyond the Volga, spying for Khirgizite refugees and agents, ferrying Swedish diplomats here and there, dropping supplies to wide-ranging kossaki patrols.
A large portion of the Company aeroarmada, however, had been dispatched to the south, to Persia. Though the accomdation between the Great Vizier and the Iranians precluded any open warfare, the Company airships did get a few musket-balls through the rigging as they flew here and there in the south.
Though some of the provinces along the Volga were nominally under Company administration, there were many lawless men and worse, aboard in those lands. Lasse Hallestrom - a Swedish scholar and reserve artillery officer - was badly wounded in a fracas near Tsaristyn in Urkel. Apparently a large force of Ice-men had attempted to ambush him and the company of Queen's Rifles riding with him. The savages were driven off, but Hallestrom was carried back to Kalach on a litter.
The Race to the Top of the World: Standing in her offices in the Danish Quarter of New Orleans, le reina Natasha opened an envelope just arrived by packet ship from North Afriqa. She studied the handwriting, that of the new Maklarevalde himself, and frowned. Madame Tuchachevsky, An expeditionary force composed of Norskvarden and Catholic Mercenaries will arrive shortly after this letter. You are to sail to Azaton and take command…
"Holy Mary Mother of God!" she exclaimed, and sat down to read the letter again.
Elsewhere in the Maklarevalde's letter, he tersely outlined the little information known about the threat beyond the Arctic Circle, stressing the danger this posed not merely to the Company but the entire world if there is more than hot meteor debris cooking in the remnants of dread Olathöe. The mission offered her a position of great trust, notwithstanding the differences she had with the actions of the Company in previous times. Delgado also warned her to be on her guard against the forces of the Ice, in whatever form they might present themselves.
…the Norsktrad have never knowingly aided or served the Ice, though recent evidence from the «censored» suggests an infiltration at one time. We asked you to take every care of your troops and of yourself. There may be little time, and few future opportunities to stop the Ice. We wish you and your Companymen every prayer for success and survival, and regret the Company cannot muster a greater force.
Natasha felt chilled herself, looking out the cut-glass window. Even at this distance she could make out the names of the latest Company airships to reach the gassing station and landing field across the river.
Hrist, Goll, Hild and Skogul read the tall silver letters.
"Pammat!" Il Reina shook her head sharply, clearing her thoughts. "Girl, where are you? Send for my furrier!"
Tzompanctli: With the boundary of the Ice stabilized, sufficient warmth crept back into the north to allow the Skull people to expand their capital of Tzompantlan a level. There was also a flury of activity around old Hûkar in preparation for certain visitors from the south. The Baron was disturbed, however, when news reached him that a Sister of the Rose prelate known to be preaching in the backwoods of Kayak was found murdered. He ordered the local governor to find the miscreants immediately.
After a long voyage, and with the deeps of winter boiling over the mountains above the chill port of Azoton, the Norsktrad fleet arrived on Tzompan shores. Il Reina Natasha took her command staff ashore and met with the Baron's men. Soon thereafter the entire appurtenance of an Expedition began pouring ashore: skis and snowshoes for the men, and sleighs for the carrying of packs and the transportation of guns and rockets are manufactured. Dogs were purchased from the local Tzompanctli merchants. Hundreds of huts were cut into the hillsides above the town to provide winter quarters.
Ice gear for the troops was fabricated. Heavy winter gear is made available, of at least two layers, with fleece between (no cotton), including a gray-white camouflaged over-jacket. Two pairs of high quality boots per man, large enough to allow the wearing of thick and double layered socks, with fittings to permit the addition of ice spikes. Ice picks (long enough to be used as a walking aid and to probe the ice), snow goggles (fitted with tinted glass), tents, sleeping bags, axes, thick gloves, ropes, compasses, lanterns, flares and whistles and all other necessary gear is provided. Kerosene heaters and charcoal. Emergency rations, including raisins, tea, coffee and Aztec chocolatl. Water heaters to allow ice to be unfrozen and boiled. Mirrors for signaling. Cooking stoves and fuel.
Insulated sleeves are provided for the gun barrels. The Company engineers built mechanisms for keeping the artillery barrels unfrozen, so that they do not shatter when fired, as insulation alone will not be sufficient. Flints in shielded holders are provided, so that fire can be lit even in the arctic gales.
The airship engines were overhauled, antifreeze mechanisms added, and fully tested as the snowdrifts grew deeper and deeper outside the sheds.
All the while, the Skull-people waited for the second expedition to arrive from the south, this one sent from the mother-Empire itself.
Nisei Republic: Mindful of recent discoveries in the far north, Sky-Admiral Moshi was dispatched from Usonomiya with four of the new Tsuru-class scouts to investigate the heart of the Ice itself. After refueling in Zhai on the Tlingit coast and refitting his ships for speed and altitude, Moshi set off into the northern wastes. He did not return, nor did his ships, and there was no one to bring the news of the ill-fated expedition back to Nisei lands…
Shawnee Empire: The sleepy frontier hamet of Ubar in Kaskinapo woke one morning in early 1753 to the dreaded thup-thup-thup sound of airship engines turning over. As the citizens cowered in fear, a troop of Shawnee infantry jogged out onto a newly cleared meadow, snatching at the landing lines of a vast, black shape drifting down out of a cold grey sky.
"Stand to the landing grapples!"
Captain Pasternak, commanding the ARF airship Archaeopteryx, leaned out the window of the command gondola and waved cheerily at the Shawnee officers staring up from below. Within minutes the rest of his air flotilla - more than twenty zeppelins - were jostling for landing positions on the crude airfield.
These Shawnee are a dour lot, the captain mused, hours later, a cup of hot koka steaming in his hands. The airfield was swarming with activity as the Shawnee guardsmen wrestled huge bales of cargo, strings of yapping dogs, barrels of kerosene and a long human chain of ammunition boxes into the cargo holds of his ships. But they should come in useful in the pinch.
Pasternak set the cup down, peering off into the black northern sky. No aurora, he realized with relief. Maybe <they> are truly gone.
His human heart wished fervently for it to be so, but a sick queasiness in his stomach bade otherwise. The combined expedition launched the next day, marking a course north and west for the distant Ice.
Approaching the Barrier of Winds: Pasternak clambered forward along an icy gangway, hands - wrapped in sealskin and fleece - gripping tight to the guide rope. He forced open the hatch to the observation post and felt the rushing wind as a physical blow. The airman on watch squeezed aside to let the captain swing down into the cupola. Pasternak ignored the slit-eyed man, his own goggles blazing with the thin sun reflected from the snow-fields below.
"There!" The Inuto shouted, trying to force his voice above the shrieking wind. The captain nodded. The debris field was unmistakable. Two, perhaps three, airships were scattered across the side of the mountain. Metal and cloth winked in the pure white drifts. Pasternak was sure there had been crumpled bodies, once, though he doubted nothing remained but cracked and splintered bone now.
Having seen enough, the captain climbed back into the gangway and headed aft towards the bridge. Within minutes, the Archaeopteryx was circling and a ground-team of Shawnee knights was descending on ropes into the wreckage.
"Nisei (spit!) airships," the Shawnee lieutenant reported, several hours later. His heavily-gloved hands held a broken ships'-plate. "A new kind, rigged for work in the Ice."
"But not well enough," mused Pasternak. "Their engines will have iced up and failed… the boreal winds are very treacherous."
The Shawnee said nothing, watching the ARF captain's grim face with barely concealed fear.
"We will go on," Pasternak said, after a moment. "There was once a passage through the barrier…"
Beyond the Barrier of Winds: A single shot rang out, echoing back and forth among tumbled heat-scarred monoliths. Pasternak jerked awake and, snatching up a pistol, strode out of his tent. One of the sentries on the guard-tower at the southern corner of the camp was waving wildly at the sky. Shading his eyes with a hand against the blazing disk of the sun, the ARF captain looked up.
A dot grew against the white sky, swelling into the enormous shape of an air-ship. Not a zeppelin, no… not even one of the sleek, whale-like shapes of the Raptor-class airframe, but something like a ship.
"What in Hades is that?" The Shawnee captain Squanto had come up silently and now made to raise his rifle to a bronzed shoulder. "A thing of the Ice?"
"Ha!" Pasternak laughed and dug in his shirt-pocket for his pipe. "No… that can only be the Uraeus. I had thought her destroyed, but the world is filled with unexpected wonders."
The Shawnee captain glanced sideways at the ARF officer. Pasternak seemed deflated - or at least trapped in his own memories again.
"Do we fire upon her?"
The Russian shook his head. "Signal them down to land on the airfield. And call all the excavation crews back… though I suppose it's too late to keep the extent of our operation here secret."
The airship circled again and now Pasternak cursed aloud. The massive ship was flying an Aztec naval ensign alongside the plain green banner customarily associated with the mysterious Rangers.
Squanto caught sight of the red flag a moment later and his face screwed into a terrible grimace.
Above Old Olathöe, Where Once Lomar Held Sway: "Blessed mother of Tepeyac…" Lord Comargo, nominal commander of the Imperial Legion of the Smoking Sun, stared over the railing of the Uraeus, his jaw slack with awe. The airship was drifting down to land on a cleared field lined with the anchored shapes of European-style zeppelins.
At the Aztec's side, one of the Ranger forest-lords nodded his head, keen gray eyes scanning for danger. "Yes, evil raised a great edifice here… and it was cast into oblivion."
"Yes, yes it was." Comargo began to sweat, raising his eyes to take in the countless miles of shattered, broken earth reaching away to the ceaselessly shifting storm that marked the horizon. Inside the Barrier, the world seemed to shrink, bounded by the standing cloud-front and it's constant blaze of lightning. "As if the hand of God had reached down…"
The Ranger laughed - a sharp, hoarse bark - and turned a fierce eye upon the portly Náhuatl. "There are Gods and Gods, southerner. Do not mistake one for another."
Comargo gulped and nodded.
Below, a party of armed men in winter coats appeared from the ruins and approached the airship.
The Uraeus settled into the rubble, landing struts deploying to crunch into blistered stone.
1755 - 1756 T213
Aeronautical Research & Fabrication: Swedish missionaries began extensive work in the old Khirgiz lands now administered by the Company, and for once found considerable success. The war-weary populations, long used to being terrified by the nascent presence of their horrific gods, clutched eagerly at the vision of a god with a human face.
While the Captain of the West was touring the Anatolian ports, Captain Arpada returned from his foray into Persia and set down with an airfleet of size not seen since the Ice War in Ghuzz. There, while bickering with the natives for supplies, he waited for the Swedes, Knights Templar and more Company troops to join him. In very early ’56 Captain Antran, the Swedish general Sir Juhani Lasila and the Templar Bishop Angelo Cardenas joined him, marching up out of the dusty west, their own airfleet hovering overhead.
This massed force then launched themselves into the trackless wastes of the Urst-Urt, following directions painstakingly assembled by Company scouts, airship overflights and certain notes acquired from a certain Colonel Mason, whose disappearance in this inhospitable region had first aroused Company suspicions…
After nearly a month of slogging through ever-deepening sand, the army crested a long, sprawling lava-rock ridge and looked down upon a fantastic sight: a great bowl-shaped valley holding a thousand-foot high spire of black volcanic rock at its heart. All around the pinnacle, enormous signs and sigils were carved from the desert floor, and everywhere there were signs of busy industry… though none of it seemed of human origin.
Enraged, the Sunlanders stormed down into the valley and within the hour were engaged in a ferocious struggle with the defenders of the Halls of Saffron. The eons-old volcanic plug was honeycombed with tunnels and caverns, and filled with Khirgizite warriors. Their cannon lit off even as the first troop of Swedish hussars galloped down the slope into the Vale of Night.
Some six thousand Khirgiz defended the Halls against 25,000 Company soldiers, Templars and a handful of Swedish ‘advisors’. The ARF aerofleet – numbering at least fifty of the latest-model airships – poured down a rain of destruction from above, bombarding the spire with bombs and flame. Papal guns dug into the ridges hammered ceaselessly at the defenses. Companymen and Templar knights battled the monstrously-deformed Khirgiz in the tunnels and battlements…
And despite the elaborate fortifications (constructed a great expense over many, many years) the Khirgiz citadel was reduced to ruins, it’s defenders slain, Swedish and ARF technicians crawling through the remains, digging out it’s secrets, within two months. Old Malank was killed, his body dragged out onto the sand, as was his son Gogor and many of the Khirgiz captains.
Surprising the other Sunlander commanders, once the city had fallen and the mopping up was underway, one of Cardena’s aides revealed himself as no less a personage than the Pope Clement himself! The pontiff then busied himself with leading the masses for the dead and seeing every inch of the malefic city was cleansed by fire, Holy Water and the sword (where necessary).
Lasila and Hallestrom, long veterans of this kind of cruel work, descended into the depths beneath the citadel where they found – first to this astonishment, an entire city built underground – and then to their horror – the malformed and tortured denizens thereof…
Gripped with overwhelming emotion, Juhani Lasila lifted the glass jar, hands tangling in the silvery tubes and wires attached to the back. A queasy amber fluid sloshed inside, first revealing, then obscuring the stunning contents.
“H-e-l-l-o… C-a-p-t-a-i-n…” The voice echoed with an unfathomable humming, seeming to come from the very air itself.
“Gasp! Choke! Colonel Mason… oh my god, you’re still alive!”
“A-f-t-e-r a f-a-s-h-i-o-n, S-w-e-d-e…” Buzzing laughter filled the shadow-shrouded hall. “A-f-t-e-r a f-a-s-h-i-o-n…”
Swedish-Russia: The Russian frontier – long a desolate Ice-shrouded wilderness – slowly grew more active. Settlers, bandits, sherrifs to chase the bandits and tax the settlers, logging operations, newly built Red Kross clinics, bands of ‘gravediggers’ picking through the ruins of the abandoned cities for gold, silver and anything else they could sell, stray groups of Ice tribesmen attacking the settlements and skirmishing with the ‘gravediggers’. The Royal Forestry Service soon found its rangers armed to the teeth and often engaged with open warfare with the very scum of the earth.
From the Journal of Natasha Tukachevsky: My first engagement for the Nörsktrad has proven both a challenge and a disappointment. The apparent threat posed by Olathöe appears to have been eradicated by the asteroid summoned by the Dæmon Sultan. No significant word has come, however, from any of the parties that dared the threat of the ice sheet and the boreal winds, and it must be supposed that whatever, if anything, was found there, remains the property of the winners of the race. Indeed, in one regard I am happy not to have led the expeditionary force into the far north, for as the Nörsk are wont to say: Trust no ice until it is crossed.
A letter has arrived indicating that Sebastian has successfully passed his officer exams, and has been awarded the rank of Lieutenant in the Nörskvarden. Whilst this is not the future I would have chosen for him, it offers opportunities for advancement. He uses the word kismet in his letter, an Arabian term for fate. It is perhaps kismet that poor Joseshka failed in his bid for the Spanish throne, for if he had succeeded, then we all might have died in the wreck of Lisbon.
The latest newspapers from Europe report that the Danish Empress is to be canonized by the Pope as Svyatoy Oniko; I would have liked to have met her in happier days…
Beyond the Wall of Winds: Someone began to scream – a high, hopeless sound – and the ARF captain Pasternak bolted out of his dugout, loaded pistols in either hand. In the same instant, he heard the alarm bar clanging wildly and the sound of airship engines coughing to life.
Outside, the sun was a pale flat disc in the western sky, barely able to burn through the constantly-moving barrier of dark grey clouds circulating around the shattered wasteland of Olathöe. The broken city spread away from Pasternak in all directions, dotted here and there with wooden frames standing above the excavations shafts the Shawnee soldiers had dug into the ruins.
The ARF officer spun around slowly – the screaming had abruptly stopped – searching for some sign of… “Lord of the Heavens!”
To the south, between the Shawnee/ARF encampment and looming shape of the massive Ranger airship, something ebon-dark spilled up out of the ground like squid ink. Soldiers were scrambling away from the apparition, but Pasternak could see there were hundreds of shining lights inside the cloud, and the vague shapes of men writhing in horrific pain.
“Guns!” He screamed, bounding up a wooden walkway to the nearest observation town. His voice was almost drowned out by the roar of airship engines racing to life. Several ARF airships were already aloft, landing lines spooling back into their gondolas, men crowded at the windows. He waved wildly for a signal-man. “Soldier, signal the Peregrine to load napathene shot and… fire!”
Flags fluttered, raised, lowered. The black ink continued to boil up from whatever hidden chamber the diggers had broken into. Now Pasternak could see the burning lights were eyes.
The Peregrine swung ponderously over the ebon cloud and armored doors on the underside of the gondola racheted open. A gun boomed, flinging a fat napathene shell downwards. The shell plunged into the oily cloud and vanished.
Other guns began to stutter, puffing white smoke, and explosions began to burst around the thing oozing out of the pit. Pasternak felt sweat bead on his forehead, despite the nearly-freezing air. The cloud continued to expand.
Shawnee Empire: After a long absence, the ARF airfleet carrying Squanto and his veteran riflemen returned out of the north, their airships battered and ice-stained. Every man aboard was nearly giddy with relief to see a warm hearth and a pint of mulled wine. What they had done in the Ice, they did not say, and after looking upon their scarred, frost-bitten faces, no one dared ask.
1757 - 1758 T214
Manchu Mongol Empire: The Manchu kept a wary eye on the northern frontier – where their armies had lately been scattering the remaining Ice tribesmen and heaping up pyramids of skulls in honor of the Gracious and Merciful One – and expanded the cities of Tungur, Amgar and Shenyang.
Swedish-Russia: A fleet under Count Effernich was dispatched to the Amerikas to find new homes for a travel-weary and parched lot of refugees from the Exarchate of Inner Afrika. Similar groundwork was laid along the Russ frontier, where the border watch continued to make vigorous forays into provinces like Cuman, Seversk, Muscovy and Tver to roust out any malcontents, heretics and ice-worshippers.
Church of Rome: While the Templars had maintained a strong army in Urst-Urt near the excavations at Kurn, Cardinal Cardenas tired of patrolling the empty desert, so he marched his men north and east into the lands of Kama Bulgar (still held in the icy grip of the Wind Lord) and spent two years battling vicious tribesmen, burning Windlord Temples and committing Ice-priests to the auto-da-fe. By the end of ’58, he had both conquered that land in the name of God and his Bishop upon the Earth, and also converted the tribesmen there to Catholicism.
Nisei Republic: The situation in the port then turned quite ugly … Axacayatl the Wolf managed to keep the angry troops from completely wrecking even the pitiful shacks and log-huts of New Yedo (the city had still not recovered from the Ice Lords attack).
Iroquois: The Iroquois continued to resettle the Ice-ravaged lands of the north.
1759 – 1760 T215
Tokugawa Japan: At much the same time, enormous efforts continued in Nigata, Aichi and in the Kwanto to tidy up the last of the damage from the Ice War.
To the south-west, meantime, General Itichi had marched quite an enormous Japanese army up the coast from Amur and into Dzungur Coast. Once arrived at Drakenroost, the samurai embarked on a vicious and thorough campaign of religious extermination – the remaining Ice tribesmen in the province, plus any Buddhist, had to go! Shockingly (as Itichi was not exactly the brightest field commander Nippon had ever produced – prince Shinturo, one of his junior commanders, showed admirable skill, however) the army performed adequately in the field, routing the bands of tribesmen, flushing out Buddhists from under rock and tree and establishing worship of the Shinto deities throughout the land.
Safavid Persia: In the north, Ice tribesmen raiding into Bactria caught lord Da’ud dallying with a milkmaid and gutted him before leaving the hapless fellow scattered about the steps of the governor’s palace.
Church of Rome: A new regiment of Swiss guards were raised, and the Templars granted authority to raise a fortress (the citadel of St. Michael) in distant Kama Bulgar, from which they could launch raids upon the Ice tribes beyond the frontier.
Tzompanctli: The newspapers were filled with stories of the daring journey of Lord Tieuhepan, who sailed down to the Cook Inlet and went ashore amid the ruins of old Tatarsky Tosag. He then followed the old Great Road up through Kashir and around to Gartsa and then home to Azatlan. He escaped death a dozen times, fought horrific monsters, fled from savage tribesmen and brought back many drawings of the denizens of the Ice lands, flora and fauna and a variety of anthropological curiosities. He also lost a lot of weight.
1761 – 1762 T216
Manchu Mongol Empire: In the far north, Field Marshal Wai Zhing-Lu continued his campaigns against the Ice tribes by launching a foray into Mongol (the sacred, ancient home of the Manchu!). After skirmishing with the locals, however, his forces reached the hoary ruins of Khanbalik without actually encountering anyone. This was because the chieftain of the Mongols, Babur, had cleverly decamped with his tribesmen and warriors into Buryat and the newly-Ice-free lands beyond the Black Lake. Zhing-Lu, therefore, established himself in Khanbalik and his troops began rebuilding among the ruins.
In 1762, however, Babur returned from the west with the massed armies of the Tatars, Angarans and so forth. The Ice Tribes had had enough of being pushed around! The 14,000 Manchurians, busy in the city, were taken by surprise when thirty thousand angry nomads stormed out of the mist of a late spring rain and into the revetments and lines of the Manchu camp. A ferocious melee followed as the southerners scrambled to their guns amid a rain of black-fletched arrows, the screams of the dying and the wailing war-cries of the tattooed Icemen.
Babur’s attack out of the rain was a masterstoke. The Manchu gunners had wet powder and there was no time to savage the attacking nomads with artillery – and at close quarters, the swords, axes and lances of the Icemen were a match or more for the dirks and bayonets of the Manchu riflemen. Worse for the southerners, the initial Icemen charge clove directly through their lines, overran the artillery battery and forced Zhing-Lu to fight with his army in two embattled sections.
Babur’s forces then proceeded to annihilated the Manchurian army in detail, killing Zhing-Lu and taking thousands of demoralized southerners as captives (whose gruesome fate is best left to the imagination, but let’s say the cook-pots of the Icemen were filled with simmering, hearty stew for months afterwards…)
Prester John: Herdsmen in the high meadows of Tien Shan reported seeing queer darting lights around the mountaintops. Some of the Queen’s men rode up from Karakocho to investigate, but found no signs of airship landings or Ice activity.
Church of Rome: The Church, eager to improve it’s presence in eastern Russia, shipped thousands of the faithful to Rostov, in Levedia, where they industrial center of the ARF combine was thereby expanded and the Papal presence in south-eastern Russia greatly extended. At the same time, caravans departed Rostov for the uttermost east – the lands of Kama Bulgar, where the Templars stood watch against the Ice and the barbarian tribes on the Scythian plain – to expand the fortifications of St. Michael-in-the-Ice once more.
Nisei Republic: Aided by a substantial infusion of Aztec gold, the Nisei began rebuilding the northern provinces devastated during the Ice War.
1763 – 1764 T217
Manchu Mongol Empire: In an effort to secure the northern frontiers against Ice tribe attacks, the wilderness of Turana was settled to (0bh5).
Grivpani i’ Timurlenk: Despite their poverty, Giv Gudarz was dispatched to the east with a string of mules laden with gold to aid the Queen of Prester John in her struggle against the Ice tribes.
1765 – 1766 T218
Manchu Mongol Empire: Another embassy was dispatched to the vicious highlands of Khargu – and once more the despondent diplomats were not escorted by the army. However, as their families were held hostage by the Emperor, they went…
And the results were not unexpected… the embassy was ambushed within days of entering the evil, ice-shrouded forest; the few guards slaughtered and “Stinky” Fang hoisted screaming up into a tree to roast slowly over hot coals… the other two ambassadors (Han Zhi and To Ran Pang) fled heedlessly into the wasteland, but were soon tracked down by the Khargites and their hunting dogs, then dragged miles through the snow to be cut apart a joint at a time and fed to the hungry tribal infants. Their ire roused, the Khargites then launched a series of brutal raids on the new Manchu settlements in Turana, burning farms, dragging the colonists off to languish in slavery (or go straight to the cookpots) and generally wreaking havoc.
Qing Chinese Empire: These new steam-powered “toys” having caught his eye, Yu-Shen now directed very substantial resources to promoting astronomy, various metallurgical arts, reform in law and practice of commerce… even stooping so low as to barter for scraps of Ice-technology available on the open market.
Tzompanctli: Lord Chantlian was dispatched to investigate the suitability of the old port of Tosag (in Katmai) for settlement by the kingdom. Unfortunately, soon after his arrival, his camp was overrun by a horde of cannibalistic Icemen and the doughty lord was slain and, doubtless, eaten. Missionary work continued among the Azatones.
Iroquois: Lord Uncas was dispatched to the north to lead a large force of settlers to re-occupy the demon-haunted ruins of Valeria in Pennacook. The local tribes, barely beginning to recover after the retreat of the Ice, eyed them warily.
Rakhmonov’s Arfen air squadron arrived in New Canarsie after a foray into the northern Ice, looking for ‘invaders’, and charting the ice-breakup in the St. Lawrence seaway. They were very glad to see civilization again.
1767 – 1768 T219
Manchu Mongol Empire: The dispute with the Ice tribes on the northern frontier flared up into open war – the Manchu dispatched two armies; 20,000 men under Vachir Ulagan to punish the Humahae, and Arik Boke with 42,000 to annihilate the Turanans. Though Tun Wei had ordered Boke and Ulagan to “leave not one tribesman alive” their campaigns were spent uselessly struggling through icy winds, snowstorms, deadly frost and mile after mile of empty forest. The Ice tribesmen had simply withdrawn into the fastness of the north upon the Sunlander advance.
Still, garrisons and patrols were left behind to watch the frontier, lest the savages return.
Safavid Persia: Further west, the demon-haunted and Ice-tribesmen plagued province of Singanakh was abandoned.
Overstjord: The Mayor, now in charge of a steadily expanding settlement – a Swedish agricultural engineer named Nielsen had taken charge of an aggressive project to clear the rivers of dead logs, to re-open the roads and help reestablish the network of farm steadings abandoned with the onset of the Ice – signed a mutual defense treaty with Sweden and endured a stream of nosy Danish embassies, checking for “cults, secret societies, Shriners and pickle salesmen.”