The World of Novi

THE MALLORN COMPANY CHRONICLES

Copyright Lowell R. Matthews Copyright © 1996–1998

Prologue: The Founder

The Recorded Year 3868 was a busy one for Finlaure ad Seregon, Bard and merchant adventurer of Alvaron. Destiny called to him on a trading voyage to the Kingdom of Allon in western Almaren, far to the west of Alvaron. There, Finlaure became embroiled in the War of the Lions, which wracked that kingdom after the mysterious deaths of the king and crown prince, apparently at each other's hands. Finlaure took up the Red banner of the late king's daughter Elaine Mowbray against the Black of Duke Harold Cromwell, the Lord Marshal. His service to Queen Elaine on several diplomatic and special missions led her to make him a Knight Grand Commander of the Order of the Lion Crown, Allon's highest order of chivalry, and later, Viscount of Telain Galen. On one of those diplomatic missions, Finlaure encountered Dame Lyridia Brightmoon, once a fervent Black, later a prisoner of war, and now Finlaure's fiancée.

But Allon was not the only land riven by war in 3868, which was truly an anno bellum in Almaren. The Kingdom of Mormelar, second largest in Almaren after Allon and much closer to Finlaure's homeland of Alvaron, chose a new Chancellor. His policies soon led to war between Mormelar and its neighbors. In the late winter of 3869, Finlaure and Lyridia were relieved, for a time, of their duties in Allon and took the chance to visit Finlaure's home. There they learned many disturbing things about events to the near west. A secret scouting mission by the two of them confirmed much of the worst to Finlaure's mind, and he resolved to take action. Recruiting notices went up throughout Alvaron, and the Mallorn Company was born.

Finlaure summarized the events influencing his decision for posterity:

Alvaron- Lifesong 1, 3869: The time has come for action, but for now only a few of us in Alvaron see it so. I shall record herein the news from the west that Aunt Idril and her people have collected since last summer. (Her network of information is surprisingly thorough, as usual.) I only regret I can do so little now and nothing earlier. But Lyridia and I are resolved that we shall make what amends we can.

Festival 3868 [May–June]: Duke Henryk Eisennar, the new Chancellor of Mormelar, called first the "Iron Duke" and then the "Iron Chancellor," mobilized his people and army. Everything our sources have heard tells us that his abominable policy of "racial purification" (RP) began then, enforced by his Iron Knights under the banner of the Triple Talon.

Sunlight [June–July]: We believe that RP reached full force in Mormelar during early summer; some refugees escaped to the neighboring countries with tales of darkest horror, mostly disbelieved. (Many people here still do not believe.) Nevertheless, unrest spread throughout eastern Almaren, only a few hundred miles to our west. Mormelar used border incidents (which our sources believe were staged) to declare war on its western neighbor Canmorel, then on Canmorel's ally Taurangel. Mormelar was undisputedly victorious in the early battles, forcing the defenders towards their western borders.

Firesong [July–August]: We believe that RP began in Canmorel as soon as it was conquered. Mormelar's northwestern neighbors Pergalon and Quartzal began defensive mobilization, as did its southwestern neighbor Almadil, our own western neighbor. Farther to the west, Kenax, Taur Pelanna, and Ulvarin mobilized and moved to aid Taurangel and the few surviving Canmorelians, forging the Eldani–Omikhani Alliance (EOA). (The populations of Taurangel and Taur Pelanna are heavily Eldani, while those of Kenax and Ulvarin are heavily Omikhani. Both are targets of the Iron Chancellor's hatred.)

Harvest [August–September]: We believe that RP neared completion in Mormelar proper, reached full force in occupied Canmorel, and intensified in occupied northeastern Taurangel. The EOA armies fought to a bloody stalemate in southern and western Taurangel, but that country was effectively split. Rumors of RP led Pergalon and Quartzal to officially forge an alliance, but neither took overtly hostile action. (I suppose that, as both are dominantly Almareni, as is Mormelar, that they felt relatively safe.) The same rumors and active diplomacy led Mormelar's small and weak northeastern neighbors to form the Eastern Alliance (EA); they began to mobilize. Almaden called upon Alvaron and its other friends to help enforce its neutrality; it became a major destination for refugees.

Glowing [September–October]: We believe that RP diminished in Mormelar proper, having essentially reached completion. (The consequences of that completion are not yet known, but the cost in lives may be ghastly.) We also believe that it continued at full force in Canmorel and reached full force in occupied Taurangel, with Eldani and Omikhani prisoners joining its victims. While holding its western front, Mormelar struck first against the outmanned EA, advancing deep into its members' territories and defeating several. (There is no disputing the Iron Chancellor's military abilities.) Many refugees braved the treacherous mountain crossings into the Great Central Mountain valley states, and many continued south to Alvaron.

Graying [October–November]: We believe that RP neared completion in Canmorel, and continued in full force in occupied Taurangel. Our sources also say that thousands of Mormelarian settlers arrived to replace the Canmorelians. In a massive push, just before the onset of bad weather, Mormelar drove the EOA forces in northwestern Taurangel across the river into Kenax, inflicting great losses. Mormelar completed the conquest of all of its eastern neighbors, Eldani, Omikhani, and Novani alike, from its border in the west to the first mountain range in the east, from the Nordeskai lands in the north to Almadil in the south. (Impressive, truly impressive.)

Frosting [November–December]: Our sources say that with the arrival of winter, the military campaigns slowed to a crawl but RP continued its ruthless advance, particularly in the occupied EA lands.

Beginnings 3869 [December–January]: We believe that RP diminished throughout the Mormelarian holdings due to the weather and the decreasing number of targets. The armed forces held their positions, except for guerrilla actions. The most disturbing report was that Mormelarian assassins, perhaps aided by Taurangelian traitors, captured the Primate of Taurangel and escaped with her to Elarven (capital of Mormelar), where on Beginnings 30 she was allegedly broken on the rack, then overtly hung upon the city walls and left for the crows. We have not heard who succeeded her, but have heard several eyewitness stories from merchants who saw a body on the city walls and the sign above it.

Snowfall [January–February]: We heard that not much happened; both RP and the wars continued at low levels. The Mormelarian occupation was then firmly entrenched everywhere except the western front.

Windsong [February–March]: We believe that both RP and hostilities were on hold, eagerly awaiting the coming spring.

And so, as Awakenings [March-April] and Lifesong [April-May] have advanced, with little word of events to the west reaching us in Alvaron, and many of our suspicions personally confirmed, Lyridia and I have resolved to create a private force to extract a measure of vengeance upon the forces of the Iron Chancellor of Mormelar. May the Powers bless our efforts.