The State of Arabel Today
**The Fugue remains abandoned by Kelemvor, as Kezef the Kaos Hound claws at the very walls of the City of Judgement, hoping to devour the Countless Souls trapped within, unable to move onward into the Afterlife due to the Silence and Kelemvor's desertion of his duties of Judgement in the Crystal Spire for the deathbed of Mystra the Goddess of Magic, wounded near to death by Cyric, Lord of Murder
Jergal, Scribe of the Doomed, openly feeds the Souls of the Dead to the Archdevil Asmodeus, Lord of the Nine, and his legions of Devils, plying them with the life force of the dead so as to compensate them as they fight on his behalf against Kezef, and prevent the Primordial from destroying the scant defences remaining to the Fugue and the utter damnation of all the souls trapped within.
Wars Rage throughout Dales and the Heartlands. The Royal Army of Purple Dragons, paid for and supplied directly by the Forges, Foundries and Treasuries of Lord Malcolm Hardcastle, fights a War of Liberation for the Dales, preventing its Conquest and Occupation by vile Mercenaries bought with Sembian Gold.
Far to the North, the Mighty Zhentil Keep itself is poised at the edge of a knife. The Siege of Tyrants continues on as Fzoul Chembryl, Chosen of Bane, and the Zhentarim, faces off in a desperate and bitter confrontation against the Empire of Loross, led by the Princes of Shade. Over a million soldiers vie daily for bitter advantage, the crimson rivers leaking from their broken bodies turning the ground into mud and giving the land a new name. The Bloodmarsh.
Yet as Cities Burn and Armies are scattered, as nations starve and kings rise and fall, one man has refused to surrender to chaos. Bringing the genius of Creation and Ingenuity to bear, with the Blessings of Gond the Wonderbringer himself, Lord Hardcastle has created a solution to the Fugue Crisis, allowing dying Cormyrians to avoid the horror and uncertainly of the Fugue, saving us all from the perils of the Jaws of Kezef and the Maw of Asmodeus. He has created the Warforged, Living Men of Metal, to serve as protective receptacles for the soul.
Progress. Innovation. Ingenuity. These are the Hallmarks of the House of Hardcastle, which built the Citadel and rebuilt Arabel from the ruins of yesteryear. Yet the ignorant and the fearmongers have always managed to shout the loudest, denouncing with false authority what their small minds cannot comprehend, clinging to the past like the comfort of their mother's skirts, and unwilling to let go.
Our Proud Cormyrian Wounded War Veterans, who have lost limbs in defense of this Kingdom. Aged men who are incapable of taking care of themselves. Men who were birthed with deformities or defects. Sickly men whose every breathe is a struggle. Desperate men cursed with everlasting pain. Broken men who have wives and children, fathers and mothers, who need to support their families but cannot. The dying, who cannot sustain their lives any longer. All have a chance, and a choice, of a New Life, a New Beginning, a Better Tomorrow.
**In a city that has not yet forgotten the Banite Inquisition, the arrival of a Green and Black Clad Crown Inquisitor raised many eyebrows. The mandate was broad, and unashamedly political. A Witch Hunt, similar to the old Ecclestian Interrogations, had begun. The Royal Charter that granted the Ecclestians broad powers seem to have extended to the new Inquisition, and the Inquisitors did not shirk from the Royal Duties.
Overseen by Crown Judges and War Wizards, the Trial of the Warforged began. Lord Hardcastle was accused of the Crime of Blasphemy, which even the Crown Judges found unpalatable, with no history of such in the Laws of Cormyr. Swiftly dismissed, it gave way to a tirade of accusations, of murder and horrific crimes, even Treason. Unsatisfied with the charges already given, the Inquisition added a new charge, Torture, halfway through the proceedings.
The Crown Judges demanded a human sacrifice. One Hardcastle Retainer must offer up their body to be turned into a Warforged, or Lord Hardcastle was to be found guilty. Justine Thyme selflessly volunteered to shield her Liege Lord from their malice. Giving up her body to become a Warforged. A young, healthy woman, rather than a broken or sickly victim, or a crippled Purple Dragon, was demanded by the Crown. No sooner had she been transformed that they ordered Her immediate incarceration. Her fate remains unknown.
While the Verdict was prepared the War Wizard observer quietly departed without waiting for the verdict. No one saw him go, no one marked his departure. As the verdict was read out, an Assassin descended on Lord Hardcastle, determined to end his life, even at the cost of his own. Fanatical, he shot arrow after arrow at Lord Hardcastle, even as he was cut to pieces by guards and adventurers alike. An eerie reminder of the Sharren Assassin Cult that once decimated the War Wizards during the Shadovar-Cormyrian War.
Evidence gathered by Dame Alatha Blacksilver immediately implicated Suzail itself. Tendrils of corruption reaching into the Royal Court to the King's Aide, Garlon Bellflower, who is said to be the man closest to the King, and the Royal Right Hand. Reaching into his own robe, Citadel Warden Dorn Amblecrown produced a scroll stamped with the Royal Seal, announcing Martial Law, and taking over Arabel. Lord Hardcastle, wounded and poisoned, is ordered to be Arrested and Imprisoned.
Of the conveniently departed War Wizard, nothing is mentioned. Why did the War Wizard leave before the verdict was passed? Did they already know that the verdict was guilty? Or did they know of what would occur immediately after? The Militia under Dorn Amblecrown has immediate moved to investigate Dame Alatha Blacksilver, and Steward Kendrale of House Hardcastle. Demanding an accounting of all Hardcastle finances and businesses even as the Lord lies abed, recovering from the poisoned arrows.
The Army of the Purple Dragon, fed by Lord Hardcastle, paid by Lord Hardcastle, supplied by Lord Hardcastle, and armed by Lord Hardcastle, has achieved what was though to be impossible. The Sembian Mercenaries lie defeated in Battledale. Reeling from defeat, the Sembians have retreated towards Scardale, clamouring for more gold, more supplies and more weapons from their Merchant Princes. With victory at hand, Lord Hardcastle is no longer required.
The massive Factories in Arabel grinds to a halt, as Gondar Smiths rise in anger at the imprisonment of their Forgesaint. The Warforged, informed that they are now considered Contraband cease their tireless toil, to create the mountains of supplies needed for the continued success of the Dalelands campaign. Letters and emissaries begin to arrive, from the Ayroach of Lantan, the House of Wonders in Baldur's Gate, and the Holy Crafthouse of Inspiration. The Gnomish Race, and followers of the Lord of All Smiths begin to stir.
Queen Brita Thunderhammer of Thunderholme dispatches representatives to ensure the safety of her Thunderdwarves in the Hardcastle Factory from arrest and prosecution, having been intimately involved in the production of the Warforged. Nearly a quarter of all Warforged are Dwarven, and while Thunderholme has accepted their imprisonment by the Crown, shouts of anger echo down the Thunderhills as word spreads that they might be dismantled and destroyed. The Dwarven Warforged are their Living Ancestors. Moreover, House Hardcastle returned the Thunderhammer, allowing Brita to become Queen. Dwarven Honor calls.
Far to the North, the Princes of Shade, busy conquering the Moonsea, and annoyed at the ineptitude of their Sembian Slave-Lords, pause to wonder at the fracturing Kingdom of Cormyr, casting once again an eye upon the upstarts that had dared to defy the Emperor and slew a beloved Shadovar Prince. In Suzail, the nobility of the realm begin to gather, openly hostile and demanding answers from the Crown.
**A Bloodbath occurred in the estate of Lord Malcolm Hardcastle, who was under house arrest. An armed contingent of Militia and House Paertrover arrived, ostentatiously to take Lord Hardcastle, who was still recovering from the assassination attempt before the Crown Judges. Many Hardcastle Retainers were killed in defence of their Lord. Commander Crom, who safeguarded the Citadel successfully for over twelve years, was slain, as well as Sir Kynston Tammarast, beloved son and Heir of House Tammarast.
Although sentenced to Life Imprisonment in the Penal Legion for the Mass Murder, the members of House Paertrover and the Militia were subsequently pardoned by Lord Lhal, who had the instigators promoted to senior ranks in the Militia, and Abelard Eldroon was made a Lord of Cormyr, and heir to his uncle. Lord Crimmon Paertrover, deeply in debt in Lord Hardcastle, was rewarded for the actions of his House, and made Commander of the Purple Dragon garrison. It was later revealed that Lord Lhal sanctioned the events at the Hardcastle Estate.
Originally meant to last until a new Warden was appointed, Martial Law has not been rescinded. The Militia has descended upon an unhappy Citadel, keeping the peace, and resorting often to violence, specifically targeting those who question the new regime. "Random" searches, blanket searches, and racism has begun to creep into everyday life. Elves are openly declared as Knife-Ears by the Militia. Privates who disagree with the changes, or are disgusted by the former Penal Lifers now in charge, are punished with latrine duty.