The Witchling Isles
The Empire strikes again
The second wave of the Empire, “wave of exorcism” (262- 318 years of freedom):
The Soul sworn witches, the Shadow casters and Warlocks were… an Anathema to the human’s gods it seems. Or that was what they said. Perhaps it was just another reason for them to attack, who knows. this second fleet again caught us by surprise, but not unprepared. In the 75 or so years since the last wave ended, we have spread wider, were better equipped, were far more organized, and our witches were more numerous.
But the Empire wasn’t as it was as well. New spells, combined with better weapons sure helped a lot. But there were two new main factors they brought to the field. First was the Witch Banes (as we call them) or the “holy warriors” (as the empire calls them. (Altered paladins). They had the power to reverse curses, (not mixed blessings though), and their strike could interfere with a witch’s power for a short time!
The second factor was a massive secret recruitment of nearly 2/3rd of the adult hobgoblin population to their armies. They were experienced soldiers, and more than that- they knew the islands fairly well. (their witches were to be spared)
This war was fierce, bloody, and long. Islands changed hands over the years, as the Empire was bent on it’s “mission from the gods!” to exterminate the “dark witches” as they called them. These were mainly the shadow casters, but binders and warlocks suffered nearly as much, and the average empire soldier couldn’t tell from a shadow castor to a spirit shaman to a Draco. They were all heretics to them.
Strangely enough, though the hobgbolins were responsible for finding many small islands out, they were also responsible for saving many lives, mundane and witch alike- most of the Empire regular soldiers (humans and their dwarves) were zealous enough to resort to extremes, but the disciplined Hobgoblins just stuck to their orders and missions, not bringing undue passion into it.
In 307, Arkruz and the main Shadow caster cabal were burned. We though it is over, but the Empire was winning, and they didn’t mean to stop. With the central leadership gone, each island (or group of islands) reverted to self rule and fighting. We proved a serious thorn in the Empire’s side, but just a thorn non the less. Though we bled them greatly, they bled us more. We were losing…
When suddenly, at 318 years of Freedom, the Empire laid down arms. They said that they had eradicated the last “dark witches”, and have now decided to let life return to normal. (Some doubt this reason, perhaps something to do with the empire’s own politics.)
“The silent waters”, the Empire edicts, Starfall (319- 342 years of Freedom):“normal” however meant being ruled by the Empire. In every major city or central island to a group of isles a
• No witch may cast a spell on an Empire soldier or representative.
• Trade with the Sebiccai or Vizikian is controlled and monitored by Empire troops. No free lance trade with them is allowed (i’ll get to that)
• Gaining or using any sort of Empire’s technology or magic (including ships, magic items and knowledge of classes) is strictly forbidden unless authorized (such as with hobgoblins)
• An Empire official is allowed to inspect any ship or warehouse, and confiscate anything unseemly.
• Taxes, of course taxes. You get a receipt you do!
To tell the truth, there weren’t (many) abuses of the rules, and the Empirelists seem pretty straight forward about this and reasonably honest. As to why you can’t trade with the Vizikian and Sebiccai- after the burning of Arkruz the Empire found out about these traders, and soon enough established a prosperous trading operation with them. Unfortunately (for the Empire) the most convenient route is through the Witchling isles.
The two races welcomed the better trade, and agreed (on the surface) to Empire edicts. They moved a bit west and have established a trading post with the Empire at Camulodunum with the
The goblinoids, now in less employment by the Empire, started hiring their services to the other islanders. Many don’t trust them, but their expertise is undeniable. Most goblinoid still do a 5 year service to the empire, but can then work for whomever they want (though they have to return any Empire armor back). Their magical tattoo, and their respect to their laws, have so far prevented any of the Empire’s military secrets leaking out.
At 333 a strange occurrence happened- stars came falling from the sky!
(meteorites) For nearly 2 months pieces of star struck the seas and the isles. Many were worried at this portent (many still do) but it didn’t seem to have any other effect. But some years later, especially near the star pieces, people started developing strange powers, healing powers, and became known as the Starfallen witches.