CHAPTER SIX: SUN AND ICE
Northern seers have long prophesied the coming of a warlord who would unite the icewalker tribes and bring the entire North beneath his heel. Now, at long last, that prophecy stands on the brink of fulfillment. Yurgen Kaneko, the Bull of the North, has gathered the tribes. With the aid of his Solar circle, he has begun the work of carving out an empire. By definition, however, an empire encompasses many peoples with diverse cultures, histories and ambitions. Yurgen Kaneko has his empire: It remains to be seen whether he can keep it against opposition from without and within.
An Overview of the Empire
The Bull’s dominion stretches across the northern and eastern Threshold, covering a territory too large, too thinly spread, for any single ruler to command with ease. Its terrain includes meandering coastlines spattered with islands, frosty pine forests, rich river valleys, uninhabited mountain ranges and vast, marshy plains.
At the heart of the empire, beyond the hills and rivers and taiga, rises the sweeping emptiness of the ice plains. The Bull’s icewalker subjects call this high tundra home. They spend their summers on the plains, following the great herds that they hunt and worship.
Most of the empire’s population, however, clusters along the shores of Malice Bay and the northern stretches of the River of Tears. A dozen small city-states have fallen to the Bull’s armies, along with countless villages and towns. He has, as yet, avoided direct confrontation with the Haslanti League, but such a conflict seems like only a matter of time.
How the Empire Was Won
Yurgen Kaneko, an aged hunter of the Whistling Plains Elk tribe, found himself reborn when he gained the Solar Exaltation. His brain filled with visions of the High First Age, he set out to unite the world under his banner. Gathering the other icewalker tribes proved easy enough, as they had no truck with the Immaculate Order and its tales of the Anathema.
He fended off the Wyld Hunt as well. Equipped with Solar might and stolen jade, an army at his back, the young-old Dawn Caste moved north and east, away from the Realm’s legions, to capture lesser Northern states whose manpower might swell his forces.
Samea of the Blackwater Mammoth tribe became the first Exalt to join the Bull. An orphaned young wise woman, Samea gave all her love to her people and her homeland, and that love drew the Solar Exaltation to her. Embracing her newfound power, she turned to the spirits for knowledge and companionship, and delved into the ruins of the First Age in search of ancient lore. Samea had already become an accomplished sorceress when she found the newly Exalted Yurgen Kaneko. Seeing him as a kindred spirit whose ambitions lay parallel to her own, the precocious Zenith Caste joined him, trained him, aided him in his efforts and guided him toward lost cities to loot and shadowlands and freeholds to raze. Together, they laid the foundations of an empire distant from a sluggish and ignorant Realm.
So successful were their initial efforts in the remote North that they set their sights on a greater prize: the Scavenger Lands. Their road to victory ran straight through the expan- sive Linowan nation. In RY 761, the two gathered their best troops and a number of Dragon-Blooded recruits. Through sorcery, they brought an army hundreds of miles to assault the Rokan-Jin and Talinin nations south of Linowan. The Linowan called on their old alliance with the Realm, and so, the Tepet legions met the icewalkers in battle. The icewalkers fared poorly for a time. With the Empress’s disappearance in RY 763, however, the legions lost logistical support, while the sundering of the Jade Prison brought several young Solars into the Bull’s fold. Within a year, the Bull broke the Tepet legions at the Battle of Futile Blood. (For more information on the eastern war, see The Compass of Terrestrial Directions, Vol. III—The East, pp. 13–14.)
Yurgen Kaneko has since returned to the North to extend his territory there and further consolidate his conquered prov- inces. He has replenished the empire’s military reserves, which now exceed their totals at the start of the Linowan War. With the Scarlet Empire in disarray and no sign of the Empress’s return, he stands poised to strike at the major Northern powers and bring the entire direction under his sway.
The Bull’s empire has made overtures to the surrounding major states. Kaneko is no fool. Despite his circle’s super- natural strengths, he knows that a war on many fronts will overwhelm his dominion. He sends the Eclipse Caste ice- walker called Fear-Eater as an emissary to seek non-aggression pacts with his neighbors, hoping to buy time to winnow his rivals before they join forces against him.
Kaneko has few takers, though, and none among the greater nations of the North. Leaders of other countries are too scared. The few who know the power of an Eclipse Caste to create binding oaths and treaties also fear that Kaneko would find a loophole in any non-aggression pact and attack them at will.
Published November 2009 by White Wolf Publishing