“The streets of Lierre are clogged with the human detritis of war, most of it poorly dressed but well armed…” Adamous Coubertin – Musketeer & Gentleman, describes a little local difficulty.
Drachenreich – a campaign that takes our heroes from the political cauldron of the backsteets of Northern Montaigne, through the dark corners of high society, and across Theah to the beseiged crusader citadel cities of the far east.
It is the year of our lord 1667. The hierophant died but months ago, from the White Plague during a visit to the Montaigne capital. In the ensuing months, a number of cardinals have disappeared, and the church is reeling unable to keep apace with events. The god-fearing common folk of the country are staring into a future ruled by a remote regent who is a self confessed sorcerer. In some areas, the clergy have fled or have been disappeared completely, Bishops, Canons, common village priests, all sleep uneasy in their beds.
In the south, the war with Castille continues, initiated by an attempted coup against the Montaigne “L’Empereur”, involving forces loyal to the Castillian-Based Inquisition. The human cost of the war is terrible, and the entire western portion of Castille has either been over run, or is under siege. Those returning from the war tell stories of Castillian villages burned to the ground, crops salted, and more discretely, they speak of atrocities of war in the Zepedan town of San Juan, although details are sparse. Zepeda is where the regiment containing many of the men of Lierre Vallee was stationed, and it troubles you to hear such things said of your comrades in arms. It troubles you more to think that it is probably true, as San Juan was soon interdicted for Montaigne troops after the initially successful besieging. When your company passed by, the flags above the city gates, included the Gilded Lily on Ivory Silk insignia of the men of Lierre.
The men of Lierre have an otherwise proud military history. They are after all men of the Duchy D’Aur, and Duke Victor Leveque D’Aur is a member of the greatest military family Montaigne has ever known. The Comte De Lierre Vallee, the local commander, is less distinguished, and by the evidence you have seen, was an indecisive leader, who’s men were prone to high casualty rates. The assault on El Morra in particular, was a disaster, and the Duke’s own son was slain in the conflict, while under the command of the Comte. Shortly afterwards, the Comte was sent home from the front, to attend to important matters of his estate. You and your comrades were not upset when you heard the news. Some months later, you were some of the many men in the regiment given leave of absence due to the regiment’s unusually high attrition. It was with some relief that you boarded a naval vessel bound for Muguet, capital of D’Aur, to eventual complete the long journey home to Lierre Vallee, the valley of Lillies, not long before the annual flower festival was due to start.
Meanwhile as the war has raged, those that stayed behind kept the wheels of industry turning. The Lumber trade has continued to blossom, and as this provides much of the wealth of the region, there is no obvious need for deprevation. Certainly the need for good wood for warships and wagons has ensured that business at the local mills, such as the Comte’s own Lierre Mill, and the older Flaubert Mill, owned by Andre Flaubert, have prospered.
The war has however recently began to throw back its unwanted into the region, Lierre men (and those from further afield) who are trained for war, and have been cast out of their regiments or finished their term of two years service. Idling in the town and its surrounds, there have been fights, some lethal, and there is a sense that Lierre is not the safe haven it once was. Although all veterans are guaranteed some form of employment (as part of their signing up terms), the Comte’s factors have failed to convince them that returning to the mills or working in the woods is an attractive proposition. Some become soldiers of fortune, returning to battle but not as honorable men of Lierre, instead as callous mercenaries, some become brigands. Others stay in the region, and are recruited into the Comte’s personal gendarmerie, L’Avertisseurs.
You have heard more of these unwelcome tales as you’ve trod the weary road east toward Lierre. You arrive together in the town, on a balmy summer afternoon….