1209 RE-- The Winterlight Raid
Date: December, 1209
Outcome: Success for the Gauntish Raiders at Potten, Numilburg, Bojik, and Tallil's Home, defeat at Breckinholm.
Belligerents: Gauntish Raiders vs. Eisenmark locals
Breckinholm Commanders: Lady Mara Besseger
Raid Commanders: Tollo Kottermire, Kela Usten
Strength: The Winterlight Raid: 100 Gauntish Raiders and Ritualists
Breckinholm: Fewer than 60 warriors and militiamen
Casualties: The Winterlight Raid: Approximately 65 dead, both commanders dead.
Breckinholm: Approximately 20 dead.
In December of 1209 a group of five score Gauntish raiders crossed into the Margravate of Eisenmark under the command of a Shieldeater named Tollo Kottermire, a warleader of some repute. The group was made up of mostly warriors, bandits, and other ne'er-do-wells who joined on for promise of loot and trophies. It also had a number of ritualists in its ranks. Foremost among these was a ritualist named Kela Usten, who served as one of Kottermire's foremost advisors during the raid. She was accompanied by a pair of homunculi1, 2. The group crossed into Eisenmark on the 9th of December and proceeded to the closest habitation, a village called Potten. The raiders put any resisting villiagers to the sword, sacked the town, and carted off everything of value. Of particular note, they looted several books on Inscription and some Rituals from the home of a ritualist, Kane Gemmer, who had lived in the town for some years.
From Potten, the group continued east, striking the villages of Numilburg, Bojik, and Tallil's Home over the course of the next five days. Each town received the same treatment as Potten, and in each town the raiders discovered a ritualist hiding among the populace. The Gauntish ritualists, led by Kela Usten, claimed the possessions of all of the Verdien ritualists for their due and proper. Some in the warband began to whisper that the whole raid had been organized by their ritualists as some sort of retribution against the Verdiens, or perhaps just to get their rituals and other texts. The rank and file members of the raid had gained enough loot that such whispers remained idle speculation, until the raid reached the town of Breckinholm.
Breckinholm was the home of a local lord, Lady Mara Besseger. She had been marshaling forces since word first reached her of the Winterlight Raid, intending to meet the raiders head on. Unfortunately for her, the raid reached her gates before she had levied even three score warriors and militiamen for the defense of the town. When word of the Winterlight Raid's approach reached Breckinholm, Lady Besseger had the town gates shut, watches mounted, and a request for help sent to Baron Albrecht Wotson, her liege lord, who lived twenty miles distant.
Finding the wooden walls of Breckinholm sturdy and its defenders determined, Tollo Kottermire and Kela Usten began looking for other means to gain entrance to the town. They preferred to avoid a protracted siege, knowing that eventually the locals would marshal a large enough force to rout them. While doing so, they looted the handful of buildings that had been built outside the wall. They discovered little treasure, but did find a handful of hiding locals. Among them was a local stonemason, Richard Alewise, who told the invaders of an underground tunnel for waste that led under the wall, allowing them to enter the town, as long as someone were willing to crawl through several hundred yards of filth. In one of the outer buildings, they also uncovered a freed homunculus3 on the run from the Redwood Throne. Finding the homunculi had no useful information, Kela Usten had him chopped into pieces to see if he had any useful grafts. Finding nothing of value there either, his parts were thrown away by Kela Usten, but collected in secret by her two homunculi. The homunculi repaired the freed homunculus and let him escape into the night.
The next night, the two homunculi were sent to crawl up the sewer pipe and open the gate of the city by Kela Usten. Without complaint, the two homunculi crawled into the river of filth. An hour later the gate opened. Tollo Kottermire charged forward through the gate, only to be encircled by Lady Besseger's forces in an ambush, and the gates slammed shut behind them. The homunculi had betrayed their master, giving Lady Besseger the details of the raider's forces and helping them set up the trap. In the short but brutal fight that followed, the invaders were boxed in by overturned wagons and other debris just inside the closed gate, while the defenders rained down arrows, stones, and whatever else was on hand from above.
The fight ended with the death of Tollo Kottermire, by which point two thirds of the invaders had been killed. Tollo Kottermire was slain by Lady Besseger herself, largely due to her shield, Resolution, which refused to be broken despite Tollo Kottermire's many attempts. A good third of the defenders of Breckinholm had been killed as well, but the Winterlight Raid had been stopped. Kela Usten died in the battle and is said to have been run through by the sword of one of ther own homunculi, a blade now known as Betrayal's Edge, and seen by some homunculi as a symbol of their struggle for freedom.
In the aftermath of the raid, the two homunculi who had helped the defenders were arrested and hung for betraying their master, and because homunculi are illegal in the Principalities, being abominations in the sight of the Redwood Throne. Luckily for the two homunculi, the freed homunculus they had saved rescued them, cutting their bodies down from the wall of the town in enough time to restore both of them to life, using the many body parts left from the battle. The three homunculi promptly disappeared, history taking little interest in their kind.