Building a Campaign, Fiction, Home Campaign, Professor Gentry, Sisters of Antietam

The Sisters of Antietam

Queen Zenobia Addressing Her Soldiers by Giovanni Battista Tiepolo

“We know little about the Sisters of Antietam,” Professor Gentry said as he leaned against his desk and addressed the class. “We know that they come from the valley of Antietam, somewhere west of the Allegheny Mountain range. That they wear a red scarf about their brows, we believe to bind their hair out of their eyes, and that their armor is often marked by red bits of cloth that blossom out at odd intervals.”

He stood up from his desk and began to pace as he continued on. “We know that they’re secretive because we know of no temples, no fortresses, and no cities that hold their banners and beyond their organizational name we know nothing more about them. Not one name that you’ve heard of – Bennett, Thames, or even mighty Sykes – was spoken by one of their members. Those names are the ones given to them by those who fought them, who feared their blades in the night, and who ultimately triumphed over them. That they have been able to maintain this level of secrecy in an organization that must number in the hundreds, if not thousands, is fascinating beyond measure.”

“The Empire first became aware of the Sisters of Antietam in the fall of ’76 when a detachment of the 203rd regiment was sent after our ambassador into the region of Philip’s Basin. The detachment found the ambassador, dead, 70 miles beyond the Allegheny foothills in the town of Wellsprings. They assumed that the town had either sheltered the assassins who killed the ambassador or had helped in his murder so they put the town to the sword. “

“It was a decision that has haunted the empire ever since.”

“That night, as the detachment made it’s way back towards the Empire, towards safety, the Sisters of Antietam struck. Not a soldier was left alive.”

“The Empire found out about their deaths when a single woman arrived at the gates of Fort Brooks with a wagon. She was hailed outside the walls and asked for identification. ‘I am but a messenger,’ she said, ‘and this cart will answer all your questions.’ She then leapt off the wagon and walked back into the woods.”

“When the cart was brought inside and inspected they found the heads of every last soldier who had crossed the Allegheny Mountains on that ill fated patrol, and more. In that wagon were the answers to what happened to ten months of disappearing patrols, vanished messengers, deserters, and every merchant who had traded with the outpost for the last ten years along with their families.”

“The Sisters of Antietam had sent a message: the east was the Empire’s but the West would not fall easily. Since that time we have seen the Sisters appear from time to time and with each appearance they have been followed by unfathomable death.”

“For forty years we’ve seen the Sisters of Antietam wage their guerilla war against the Empire. We have seen whole regiments disappear in the foothills of the Allegheny Mountains with not even so much as an arrow left behind. Yet they have suffered losses. Bennett fell outside the town of Clearfalls after she had slain no less than two hundred of our finest. Thames rode a dragon into the Tower of the All-father; and before she fell to Knight Thames, she and the dragon were responsible for the deaths of nearly 10,000 unarmed citizens of the Empire. And then there was Sykes, whom you all know, for she died only two months ago after having held the Rawlingson’s Pass for nearly a decade and shutting down trade between the East and West for all that time. It’s estimated that she is responsible for the deaths of nearly 25,000 soldiers, along with countless merchants, farmers, and tradesmen who dared to make that journey.”

The classroom was quiet as young, eager faces paled and that too confident look of children who believed in the safety of their comfortable universities and homes found themselves confronted with the cruel realities of a world that would eat them alive if given half a chance. “I’m not telling you all of this to scare you – All the Gods Above and Below know the world will do that enough for you in the coming years – but I’m doing it because many of you have heard the calls to war in the streets. You’ve heard those fools out there in Market Square telling you that the Sisters can’t stand up to the might of the Empire, that all we need is a few brave soldiers to take them down.”

“Don’t listen to them.”

“The Sisters of Antietam aren’t a figment of the press, made up to frighten children. They’re the most terrifying warriors the Empire has ever faced and if the scant rumors we get from the West are true then they’re not the most dangerous thing we’re likely to face in coming years.”

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