During the summer of 592 CY, a great blizzard came down from the mountain fastness of the Priests of Chaos and the Fhoi Myore, created by the Fhoi Myore spirit known as the Mistress of Winter. Heroes in the service of the Bardic College recovered the Cauldron of Ulek, an artefact of great druidical power that had been entrusted to the Duchy of Ulek to protect. Count Lewenn used this artefact to break the enchantment over the land, but was forced to sacrifice his soul to power the working.
Although the land is now protected against further Fhoi Myore enchantments, the death of the Count with the land still under threat caused certain realignments within the court, and amongst the neighbours of the land.
The Count's ward, Lady Paenaitha, has been named temporary Countess. Paenaitha is trained as a druid of Berei and Ehlonna, to the great discomfort of the traditionalists amongst the druidic orders who worship Beory and Obad-Hai. The traditionalists are not stupid, by any means, and will not act against Paenaitha whilst the land is under threat, but they are gathering strength for when the Rites of Succession are performed.
The Rites of Succession involve both a council of the greatest druids of the land to propose a successor to the Countship, as well as four Tests the prospective candidates must succeed at – testing their devotion to the land and their knowledge of the druidic arts amongst other things.
It is most likely that Brand, a follower of the High Druid of Beory, will stand against Paenaitha when the time comes.
Aid from the Duchy of Ulek
For the most part, the Duchy of Ulek has provided aid from its Rangers of Ehlonna, as well as a few lesser wizards. Although the Duchy is politically aligned with the County, the Fhoi Myore have recruited humanoid allies that are causing disruption along the Duchy's borders, thus preventing the Duchy from providing full support to its beleaguered neighbour.
Aid from the Principality of Ulek
Surprisingly, there has been little effort from the Principality to aid the County. A few "observers" have been sent to the County, but little more. It is suspected that the Prince of Ulek is now under the influence of the Priests of Chaos – a surprise, as he has proved a doughty ally of the County before now, but darker magic may be in play.
Aid from the Kingdom of Keoland
Keoland has proved the most receptive to the County's requests for aid. Two large detachments of Keoish soldiers have entered the County's borders and are engaged in operations against the army of the Fhoi Myore. Unfortunately for the Countess, the King of Keoland is interested in a closer relationship – i.e. a marriage of the Countess to one of the King's sons.
This has given rise to more support for Brand in his quest to become Count, as this influence is not welcomed by most folk in the County.
The Barony of Copperleaf
The heart of the Fhoi Myore's influence, the Barony has been going through extremely hard times. Most of its population have been transformed into either deformed soldiers fighting for the Fhoi Myore, or abandoned under a dreadful enchantment in the Barony that causes them to have no more thought than animals.
It has been confirmed that Sionaid of Copperleaf, the youngest daughter of the Baron, has been slain. For a time, Sionaid was possessed by the Mistress of Winter, but the band of heroes that confronted her could only slay her to banish the Mistress of Winter, not free her. The whereabouts of the Baron or his elder son are unconfirmed.
The Gray Realm
Once a demiplane inhabited by the Fhoi Myore, for a while it was usurped by a powerful being calling himself the Gray Lord, who was served by the knight Willem of Copperleaf (younger disaffected son of the Baron). In recent months, the Gray Lord has disappeared, and the realm has been reclaimed by the Fhoi Myore, which has broken Sir Willem's link to the realm.
The Gray Realm is a chaotic place, filled with corridors and rooms that hold many secrets, and connect to various "doors" located about the County of Ulek. The Fhoi Myore use it to quickly transport their servants from one place to another.