MILESTONES: LONG WINTER’S WAR

Containment Strategy

I’m not sure lines on a map have ever protected anybody. We pretend they do. We build walls along imaginary borders in the vain hope they will keep the wolves at bay, and they often do, for a time. However, history has proven that even our tallest ramparts will fail. If someone is ambitious enough or desperate enough, they’re coming in.

This is how it was with The Long Winter’s War. For months, a Landmaker Baron, named Haswell, had been annexing land along the Tyrin border in secret under cover of winter.

COLD COMFORT

They were fifty now, not nearly the two hundred she’d had at the start. Kiora checked her blade, sliding it halfway out of the sleeve on her hip before jamming it back into place with a CLICK. It was a nervous habit, one that she had tried desperately to break.

Behind her, a procession of retainers set their jaws to keep them from chattering. These people were farmhands and servants, ill-prepared for the Haswell Barony’s thick coat of winter. The Landmakers had fled to their estates in the interior, abandoning them to the snow.

“… turning them into the teeth of the storm.”

Kiora was out of options, and she turned them into the teeth of the storm. The barkskins were their only hope now, and their Dawn Keep was not far, a little over half a day’s march. If they could reach the Thornhelm border, the summer lands of the Tyrin lay just beyond, untouched by winter.

The accords were very clear; any who would breach the Thornhelm, even in an act of desperation, were courting war. Kiora’s empty stomach growled, and she pressed on. Truces be damned, this was happening. She clicked her short blade back into its sheath and pulled her hood close, pushing onward into oppressive sheets of white – all that could followed.

What Power Reveals

His goal was simple; for every foot, he seized from the snow-covered frontier, Haswell grew richer. When the cold became too much to bear, he retired to the interior, leaving behind a small number of house staff, mostly retainers, and a single Oathbound to protect his interests. His one order; “under no circumstances do you cross the Thornhelm border.” But that was before the supplies ran out.

PURPOSEFUL VIOLENCE

While Kiora and her caravan of survivors broke the truce, many avoided execution. The Tyrin were few, growing fewer, and this was a rare opportunity to contract with their enemies.

For the desperate, all it took was a blood bond to make it through the long winter. For everyone else, the conditions of their stay were less lavish.

In either case, the barkskins would have their war and their reward.

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