1205 RE-- The Tower of Winter Rebellion
Date: 12 August, 1205 RE
Outcome: Comprimise, exile for the Tower of Winter Alchemists.
Parties: Left Hand of the Redwood Throne, Athral Rebels, Tower of Winter
Athral Commanders: Thomas Awnchaster, Donada Awnchaster
Left Hand/Royal Commanders: Stephen Gandler, his Lieutenant
Following the dissolution of the Royal Society of Alchemists in 1204, a group of alchemists hid their texts and labs in the ruins of Victor's Hall (also commonly called simply "The Agio's Hall"), in the midlands of the Athral Isle. They hoped to avoid notice there for a year or two, until the king's ire had abated and he might grant a new royal charter for an alchemist's guild. Led by Donada Awnchaster, the group of nine had no particular inclination toward rebellion in the winter of 1204.
In the spring of 1205, King Sigmar I of House Voluspa was incensed to learn that three servants of the Left Hand of the Throne, acting under royal writ, had been attacked on the long, lonely road between Victor's Hall and Conwarashire. In a short, bloody fight, Vitus of the Left Hand was slain, but the other two1,2 defeated and arrested the five attackers. In the days of travel back to Conwarashire, one of the assailants escaped. His name was Thomas Awnchaster, Donada's first cousin. He fled toward Victor's Hall.
The Left Hand concluded, and Sigmar agreed, that this was a sign of a larger conspiracy. Even at this point, however, Donada had no intention of violent struggle against Crown and Throne. While loyal to her kinsman, she believed that her oaths to the Royal Society of Alchemists required her to put the needs of her guild brothers above her own kin. She encouraged Thomas to surrender himself peacably and seek the Crown's mercy. Without his knowledge, she also paid a local commoner3 to carry a letter to the sherriff of Conwarashire explaining the situation. This did not have the desired effect, as the messenger revealed where Donada and her followers were hidden.
Sigmar moved a Daneguard detachment into the region, along with a column of regular army. When they began pressing the locals into service, Victor's Hall saw an influx of support both in supplies and manpower from the commoners, who assumed that there would indeed by open rebellion. Donada saw that the situation was spiraling out of control and ordered the guild's homunculi4,5 to repair the Tower of Winter, the least-damaged portion of the Agio's Hall.
The next significant clash was at Ponn's Ford, where one of the alchemists was digging up the clay of the riverbed. When a group of soldiers on patrol happened along, s/he surrendered and was taken prisoner. At last Donada was forced to act. Along with twentylightly-armed locals6,7+, two members of the guild8,9, and six homunculi4,5+, she attacked the stockade where the captured alchemist was held. Taken unprepared, the twenty-five guards were no match for alchemically-reinforced opposition. Seven of the soldiers were killed, while all of Donada's casualties were restricted to homunculi.
News of the daring raid spread, resulting in an eruption of support as well as a massive escalation of the conflict. Finding the local levies increasingly unreliable, the constable hired a band of cutthroats, led by Stefan Gandler and his lieutenant10, as additional muscle. In the weeks that followed, these hired swords tested the defenses of the Tower of Winter. Shortly thereafter, the army arrived with sufficient force to cut off the passage of supplies into Victor's Hall. This marked the end of substantial external support for the alchemists.
The royal forces encamped outside of the Tower observed greenish, noxious smoke creeping over the earth. They were unnerved by the eerie lights in the Tower windows at all hours of the night. In spite of having the clear upper hand, their morale waned and half of Captain Gandler's men deserted. On the 25th of July, Captain Gandler persuaded the constable to order a storming of the Tower. They met strong resistance: booby-trapped doors and passages, alchemically-strengthened fighters, and seemingly endless gouts of acid hurled from alembics. Many of the peasants fighting alongside the alchemists were slain, but in the end the attackers withdrew and Donada still held the tower.
Donada's allies within the dispersed guild had not stood idly by. Two were arrested and hanged in Seastone Deeps for fomenting unrest. A homunculus named Ram, masked and hooded, led a mob that attacked a shipment of food and weapons intended for the beseiging force. Sigmar responded by granting the Throne another estate in Malden and hundreds of Crowns in funding. Three of the Left Hand spellcasters left Luzerne City for Athral Isle.
For Donada herself, who knew none of these things, it remained clear that there would be no general rising across all of Athral Isle, and the support she would need to sustain the defense of the Tower was not forthcoming. She allowed one of her homunculi to be captured by Captain Gandler's men. That homunculus11, negotiated a secret arrangement with the Captain. In exchange for the loyal service of four homunculi and five alchemists for a span of six years, the Captain would assure their safe passage out of the Tower and into hiding in the Free City of the Hulder. On the morning of the 12th of August, the Tower of Winter was revealed to be entirely empty of rebels, though they had left a number of deadly traps behind. The constable ordered an exhaustive search of the countryside and handed dozens of commoners over to the Left Hand, but never found any sign of the rebels. Within a month, he had released Captain Gandler and his men from service, and they returned to the Hulder.