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Change is coming to Ouros.   In the East life progresses as it has for centuries: the kingdoms of Sillund and Daimland remain the best of allies and the most lethal of enemies, coordinating with each other in an endless cycle of War as Art: campaigns, sieges, assaults, feints, retreats, retrenchments, forays for food and supplies and plunder of the lands that border the passes, roads, trails, canals, rivers and trade routes. For the elite the wars are a fabulous chance to grow in fame and power; for their citizens, the wars are an omnipresent threat to life and livelihood. Rumor tells of strange powers possessed by the rulers, of immortality despite death in battle for the privileged few, and truly the rulers seem never to age or to die.   In the West the rulers of Imperia, Grimoria, and Pixx avoid entangling themselves in the Great Wars. Their courts serve as enthusiastic spectators and as patrons, periodically sending fabulous gifts of treasure, rare animals, exotic plants, intriguing spices, curious humanoid servants, sumptuous cloth, extraordinary art and slaves trained to the highest degree of perfection, and: when needed, cannon fodder. There is no "slavery" in the free nations of Daimland and Sillund: when a slave is given, the government purchases her and allows her to spend half of her remaining lifespan working the debt off.   None of this is new; it is old, tired, banal.  But in the Far East, in the southernmost polar wastes, something long-buried is brought to light. The indigenous peoples of that forbidding place have discovered the remnants of an ancient civilization, buried these many millenia, powerful though corrupted and degraded. And the world is being shaken by cataclysms -- fire, famine, flood, plague -- that threaten the rule & the pleasures of the Witch & Demon elite. Incredible pressure comes down on neighboring nations to continue the flow of goods into the lands of the Great Wars, and on the Witch & Demon technologists & military to unearth new technologies in hopes of supporting the Wars and keeping firm the control of the lands.   Unfortunately, the most promising sites are outside their own borders.   And farther even than the farthest East -- soaring above the the world, skimming the void just beyond the reaches of air and warmth -- a guardian watches, waiting, hoping.

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