The land of Yagron is flying to war.
Yagron has never been a blessed place. Blasted by scorching heat and insidious cold in turn, a creeping, hungry desert has been consuming the norther reaches for the past few thousand years. Looming above them are the Spine Hills, a broken, arthritic ridge of stone and deep, black pits that shields the south from the wastes. Climbing up the jagged peaks are a deep, thick tangle of trees and slashing thorns, quickly sinking in to a swampy plain that pours down to the ocean. A hard, harsh land, with many, many connections to the underground network of tunnels, Yagron has always been a place of foreboding and hardship.
It was here the Orcish clans were driven by Drakon the Gray in ages past. Here that the final battles against the dread Lord Blackbone and his dead legions were fought, sending the towering horror screaming to his Tomb Lord masters. Here that the Black Icon was finally laid to rest, the ragged remains of the Sliver Crusade entombing both themselves and their nightmare gods, to wait for a better, weaker age. The lost, the broken, and the hated all drift here, to scratch and carve out life from the land and each other.
Still, there is one reason that this harsh, bitter land has not been left to rot. By some quirk of creation, gems and crystals grow thick in the lands of Yagron, both above and below ground. The most spectacular of these are the translucent, marbled blue crystals called Skybone by the locals. Wondrous to behold, its true value is what it does when exposed to light. As the sun shines on these Skybone gems, they slowly rise, and draw with them anything to which they are secured. This power seems limitless, and can raise even massive mounds of stone, before slowly falling with the coming of night.
The New Dawn was a joke here. The priests looked on the non-human as cattle at best, and the few human settlements had no love for these interlopers. Miners and adventures, they were content to dig, steal, and barter for the gems of the deep interior lands, and trade for gold from a growing, power-hungry nation, no religion attached. The people of Yagron didn't even know there had been a war, or that the world had changed. Until the refugees came.
They came in droves. Hill dwellers, humans, goblins, clankers, thousands of the displaced, disgusted and unwanted. They came to Yagron for the simple reason that there was no place else to go. Soon, even the underground spat forth its huddled masses, as the slave armies of the Tomb Lords started the assimilation of the dark in to a still, wretched paradise. Violence rose hourly, as each clan and tribe stretched and clawed for food, water and space. War did not so much as burn, but smolder.
In a sudden, sweeping move, a unknown Orc, Harn the Grim, bullied and cajoled several tribes together, and quickly rose himself up as Emperor Harn. Within months, Orcs, goblins, men and others had rallied to his banner, and for the first time in five hundred years, a Orc laid claim to the Iron Crown without challenge. The people of Yagron, both native and refugee, cringed in horror, trapped between the ocean, war, and death on all sides. However, Emperor Harn did something then that had never been done before, in all the ages of Orcish Kings: he did not raid and crush all before him.
Instead, he sent emissaries to all the peoples and tribal leaders of Yagron. All were called, and many came, some out of sheer amazement at this audacity. Diplomats of the Silver Priests came, chained to the squirming, chattering horror of a infantile demigod. The Wrath Brothers came, three towering gray cloaks, pale hands eternally clutching pitted, notched swords. Clanker Titans, the legendary thief-lord Longtooth, the Brass Hills legionnaires, many came to stand before the twisted, jagged throne of Emperor Harn.
The Orc spoke, and screamed, and fought, and used every tool of force and guile to press these sharp and splintered peoples in to a uncomfortable but cohesive whole. Even this feat, stunning by itself, was not his greatest. After this marathon of words came his most audacious and staggering plan: he proposed to use the very land itself to strike out at the hated outer lands. Using massive Skybone crystals, he would raise entire islands, floating bases, battleships and nations of their own, and move out to take all they had been denied.
Work was laid in to with a nearly manic fervor. The Law said that each tribe was immune to the others when in and on their floating fortresses, however on the ground, alliances could flow like water. Soon, massive heaps of stone and screaming hordes rose to the skies, powering over the ocean on massive sails, fins, fans, and other, stranger devices. With each nightfall, the armada sank to create a island chain, the stony shores and fortresses alight with bonfires and torch-welding revelers.
They came like an airborne fleet, special cycling devices keeping the Skybone crystals at a hover as they started to sweep over coastal cities. Defense was nearly impossible, the varied armies swarming from too many directions. The brutal force of orcs and ogres, the insidious creeping of the undead, nightmarish magical bombardments, regimented engagements, there was no way to defend from all the maddening attacks. Soon they were pushing inland, sweeping whole armies before them.
The Null Cannons did nothing to the Skybone, and many of the creatures found themselves immune as well. What's more, the captured Aether cannisters proved enormously valuable, both to the armies, and to the Skybone. When poured on to the crystals, they would glow brightly, and stay afloat for hours, even at night. Even more, some of the armada could ingest the harsh substance, and fly in to a terrible rage, along with a massive increase in power…until it flowed away, leaving them washed out and trembling.
A uneasy stalemate has grown. The armada can not approach the bigger cities without being torn to bits by enormous steam cannons. The cities can not crush the floating islands without risking great danger to both their armies and their precious devices. The alliance between the varied and rebellious tribes is also uneasy, and with every splintering and argument, Emperor Harn and his foothold weakens. Aether addiction is growing as well, and changes are starting to form in the addicted. They are kept away from the others, released like wardogs after soaking in Aether. Their own people are starting to shun them, and they are starting to look…odd.
However, Harn is not here to raid and collect oceans of gold as his forefathers did. As a child, a story was told to him, by a human refugee, of a device created in the early days of the New Dawn, one so powerful it was buried and hidden by its maker. He believed it was too powerful for anyone to use, and its creation was known to a very few. Harn desires this above all things, and his armada is merely a means to this end. He will use them as mercenaries and distraction, and when he finds this device, he will not rule a reeking, rag-tag mass of fury, but the whole of Ur itself.
A floating country is on the attack, and one half-mad emperor plans to fly it in to immortality.
License: CC BY:NC:SA 3.0