The Heroes of Rokan-Jin

Rokan-Jin Resistance

It is the month of Ascending Water, Realm Year 766, and you are being led to a small village on the border of Rokan-Jin. This little village is quiet. No people wander its moonlit streets, no animals do more than snuffle softly in their pens, and the lone tavern has darkened windows. The only exception is the barn, nestled against a thick stand of white pine. Even from the edge of the village, you can see the light seeping from between its weathered slats, hear voices, and glimpse the shadowy figures standing guard near a side door. It is a wonder the Haltan patrols have not found it already.

Your guide leads you toward it in silence, and you see there are other such pairs, each one stopping before the guards and revealing their faces for recognition. It is your turn; the left-hand guard smiles and greets your guide by name, but is hushed by a stern look from his companion. You are waved inside, and pause momentarily to let your eyes adjust.

Now you understand why the village was so quiet. It seems as if every local adult, and more besides, are here, dancing and chatting in the lanternlight. And yet, the mood is wrong. More guards stand within the barn, and a look into their eyes shows wary determination. The revelers themselves seem muted, and there is a manic quality to their motions. It is as if this is the last party of their lives.

Your guide leads you towards an empty horse stall, and as you come around the wooden divider, you see that a wooden trapdoor leads down into the earth. Walking down the steps and through a narrow tunnel leads you into a large earthen room. Support beams are evenly spaced, each holding a glowing crystal that illuminates the place without leaving tell-tale smoke. The room feels like a mine.

Wooden stools have been set out on the packed dirt floor, facing towards a makeshift stage. Hard-eyed women and men sit in the back rows or stand along the side aisles, conversing in low tones. You can sense their desperation, even more pronounced than those above, but their expressions change as you and the other guests are led to the front row, where cushions have been laid upon the stools. Where a moment before the crowd reeked of the gallows, now you feel hushed whispers of hope.

Now seated, you wait only a minute before a man and woman enter from a side passage. She wears a worn military uniform, marking her as an officer in the army of Rokan-Jin. He is bedecked in cyan robes, with a tall hat that almost scrapes against the low ceiling. Both possess small gemstones on their clothing; she bears a square ruby as part of her rank insignia, and his hat is studded on four sides with garnet.

“Honored guests,” he speaks, “and faithful citizens of Rokan-Jin, I welcome you tonight. I am Hidden Jasper, former ambassador to the city of Whitewall. Beside me is Colonel Azurite Tetsun, commander of this region’s resistance cells. I apologize that someone more high-ranking couldn’t be present,” he receives a hateful glance from the Colonel, “but it seems that General Migda recently undertook a covert mission to seek additional aid from our foreign allies. Still, I’m sure that-”

He is cut off when the Colonel elbows him aside mid-gesture, using his own momentum to send him stumbling off the side of the stage. Taking Jasper’s place on the stage, she looks directly into your eyes. “I won’t lie to you.” She looks up to address the entire room. “I won’t lie to any of you. Migda did a runner. Far as I know, that means I’m in charge, for however much that’s worth. This is pretty much the end.”

Two guards hurry to Jasper’s side, making a show of dusting him off, while surreptitiously trying to stifle his outraged complaints. The audience seems unsteady, but Tetsun presses on. “Its been three years since the Icewalkers and the Haltans beat us. Three years of ineffectual guerrilla war. Fact is, our tactics were sound, and we might have been able to push them out, if we hadn’t lost so many people in the war. But they have the numbers and the training, and we have weary old folks and orphaned children. Some,” she tilts her head towards Jasper, “will put on a smile and tell you its only a matter of time until we take our country back. But that isn’t true. A conquered people, which is what we are, can be worn down eventually.”

“So we swallowed our pride and begged for help, because we can’t do it alone. This meeting represents the last dregs of defiance that our people have left. If we can’t make any progress from here, then we are nothing more than a Haltan puppet state.” She bows, stiffly and formally, to the guests in the front row. “You folks have come this far, and I thank you for that. But I must ask you: Will you help us?”

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The Stage Is Set

Yurgen Kaneko, the Bull of the North, has made many enemies in his rise to power. His forces annihilated the vaunted Tepet Legions of the Realm, sacked the cities of Rokan-Jin, and raided the Linowan nation. Though he has made no open moves of conquest in the North itself, his neighbors in the Haslanti League, Whitewall, and the Realm satrapies along the Inner Sea all look upon him with mounting fear and suspicion. It is only a matter of time, they tell themselves, before he comes for them as well.

In the wake of his victories in the North-East, the Bull has brought most of his Icewalker troops back to his home territories, and is busy rooting out the Fair Folk that have long plagued his people. Capitalizing on this distraction, several Exalts are gathering together with the intention of forming a united front, and stopping the Bull’s inexorable conquests, one way or another.

People and Places of Note

The Bull of the North was an old Icewalker chieftain named Yurgen Kaneko. Rumor has it that he walked out alone to die with dignity in the snow, but came back glowing with the light of the sun. In the following years, he built up a mighty army, gathered other Exalts to his banner, defeated the Realm’s best legions, and launched a successful surprise invasion on a target over 2000 miles away.

The Icewalkers were tribal nomads, following the migration of their totem animals, and occasionally raiding the soft men of the cities when they needed metal or more food. After the Bull of the North, however, the tribes have been all but united into a war machine. Young Icewalkers are taught that honor and glory come from conquest, not from the hunt or venerating the gods. Their entire way of life has changed in a single decade, and while many are mistrustful of it, they cannot deny that Yurgen Kaneko is truly favored by the gods.

The nation of Halta lies deep in the North-East, quite close to the Wyld. Here, the people must live in the trees, for an ancient treaty gives the ground to the Fair Folk in return for peace. With all these chimerical energies flowing about, Halta has a large population of beastmen and intelligent animals, all of whom are considered citizens. The Haltans hate the Linowan tribes, and have allied with the Bull of the North in order to strike at their mutual foe.

The tribes of Linowan live along the many rivers of the North-East. These warlike hunter-gatherers are loose allies of the Realm, though that did not stop the Bull from attacking. Their centuries-long feud with the Haltans also worked against them, as they found their traditional foes providing the anvil for the Bull’s hammer. Now trapped in an uneasy stalemate, they wait to take revenge upon the Haltans and the Icewalkers.

Rokan-Jin was the Bull’s primary target in the invasion, as it was rich in minerals and metal-working expertise. Having been a neutral party in the Haltan-Linowan conflict, the Rokan-Jin people had only a small army, which fought a valiant yet futile attempt to stop the Icewalker and Haltan invaders. Now a conquered nation, its queen a hostage of the occupation forces, the last remnants of the Rokan-Jin resistance are preparing a last desperate bid for freedom.

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