Acts of War III: Stormbreak

As some of you may know, I’m writing the final book in the Acts of War Trilogy, and it marks a bit of a departure from the previous two books in the way I’ll be writing it. The third volume, titled Stormbreak, continues the adventures of Lord General Coleman Stryker, Major Asheth Magnus, and Marshal Ashlynn d’Elyse (among others) as they battle to free Llael from the yoke of Khadoran oppression. What’s different about this whole thing is that you, the reader, have a chance to decide the fates of our heroes.

Yep, I’m writing Stormbreak in conjunction with this year’s Organized Play, and that means the novel will be broken down into four parts that introduce each event in this season of play. The outcome of that event will then determine what happens in the next part of the novel. So, the fate of your favorite Faction is in your hands. Part one is due to be released very soon. Watch your social media feeds for the link.

Of course, this presents some interesting (and fun) challenges for the author. How these things normally work is a write an outline for the entire book so that when I’m writing I know what happens next. This time, however, I’ll be reacting to the outcomes of each event of Organized Play over the course of the entire season and writing the story based on those outcomes.

I think it’s going to be an absolute blast. Here’s why. The Acts of War Trilogy is about, well, war, and war is an ever-changing and mercurial thing, especially in the Iron Kingdoms. So I’ll be writing in response to the outcome of each league event sort of like a field general moves troops and resources in response to the enemy’s actions. I’ll need to stay on my toes, and react quickly and decisively. That’s pretty exciting, and I think it’ll put me in the perfect headspace to push this story to its shocking conclusion.

Not everything is going to be left to chance, though. We do have a good idea of how we want the story to turn out, but that’s more of a big picture kind of thing. The fates of individual characters rest on a knife’s edge, and I can’t wait to see how your actions nudged them one way or the other.

So that’s what’s going to happen, and if you’ve read the previous novels Flashpoint and Aftershock then you might have some idea of where we could end up (or you might think you do). But what if you haven’t read the previous books? Well, the story in part three won’t be too hard to follow without having read Flashpoint and Aftershock, but I’ve included a bit of backstory that hits the major plot points in the first two books.

OR…

You can also follow the links below, get the books, and avoid spoilers by reading both novels in time to influence the third!

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Okay, then. Spoilers ahead…

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On the command of the new Cygnaran king Julius Raelthorne and his betrothed Princess Kaetlyn de la Martyn, the heir apparent to the throne of Llael, Lord General Stryker and the Cygnaran military march on Llael and the city of Riversmet. Their goal is to take the relatively undefended city from its Khadoran oppressors, then use it as a staging area for further campaigns in Llael with the eventual goal of freeing the nation from Khadoran oppression.

To Stryker’s dismay, his former mentor Asheth Magnus, a man long considered a traitor to Cygnar, is brought back to court by Julius Raelthorne and granted the rank of general in the Cygnaran army. Worse, he will accompany Stryker in the campaign in Llael.

The Cygnaran Army marches on Riversmet and after a fierce battle takes the city. Shorty after, a massive Khadoran army led by Great Prince Vladimir Tzepesci arrives to retake the city. Outmanned and outgunned, Stryker and the Cygnaran army fight a desperate battle and all seems to be lost until Asheth Magnus tricks the Khadorans into Riversmet and unleashes a terrible and long-forgotten weapon on them, destroying a huge portion of the enemy forces.

The Cygnarans hold Riversmet, but at a terrible cost, and Stryker now looks to the east and further conquest. He decides to march on Rynyr, leaving a small force to hold Riversmet. Rynyr is a city built within and around an active volcano, and the city uses the intense heat to manufacture blasting powder. Rynyr now serves as the primary source of basting powder for the Khadoran forces in Llael, and Vlad pulled much of its garrison to assault Riversmet, leaving the city and it crucial resources vulnerable. This ends Acts of War: Flashpoint.

When Stryker arrives at Rynyr he finds it already under siege by Llaelese Resistance forces led by Marshall Ashlynn d’Elyse. The Marshall has no love for Cygnar, and spurns Stryker’s proposal of an alliance. She demands he and his army leave, though she does provide him some intelligence on the Llaelese city of Elsinberg and how they might aid Resistance forces in that city.

On the information from Ashlynn, Stryker assaults Elsinberg aided by Resistance forces from within. They take the city, and Cygnar now occupies two strategic points in Llael. The victory is short-lived, as Supreme Kommandant Irusk attacks the city and begins shelling Elsinberg with artillery. The city is reduced to ruins, destroying most of the Cygnaran army and killing thousands of innocent civilians. Battered and in disarray, the Cygnaran army retreats back to Rynyr, leaving the ruin of Elsinberg to Irusk.

With only a fraction of his army remaining, Stryker and Magnus meet with Ashlynn in Rynyr. They convince her that Cygnar and the Resistance need one another, especially after the destruction of Elsinberg. She relents and tells them why she and her forces are in Rynyr. They plan to assault an important keep within the heart of the city, a fortified tower where the mechanisms that control the lava flow in Rynyr are housed. The tower is held by a small but potent Khadoran garrison led by the formidable warcaster Assault Kommander Strakhov. Ashlynn has intel that Strakhov holds two important prisoners in the tower, the Crucible Guard commander and warcaster Aurum Legate Lucas di Morray and his wife Aurum Omnus Alyce Mark.

Ashlynn, Stryker, and Magnus hatch a desperate plan. Their combined military forces will assault the tower, while a small strike team of handpicked warriors, including the three warcasters, will infiltrate the tower and attempt to rescue the Crucible Guard prisoners.

Cygnar and Llaelese forces attack the tower and Stryker, Magnus, and Ashlynn manage to free Lucas di Morray and Alyce Mark. They suffer terrible losses, and Strakhov, knowing he is defeated, overloads the control mechanisms in the tower unleashing the volcano’s fury on the city. The Cygnaran and Llaelese forces retreat, and Stryker, Ashlynn, and Magnus narrowly escape a fiery death with the two Crucible Guard prisoners.

With few options left to them, what remains of the Cygnaran and Llaelese armies retreat to Riversmet, the last holding left to Cygnar in Llael. They know Khadoran forces will follow, and they will have little chance of holding Riversmet again. They have new allies, however, and Lucas di Morray promises to appeal to his order to aid them in Riversmet and the campaign in Llael. Stryker turns to fortifying Riversmet once again against the inevitable Khadoran attack while he waits aid that may never come. This ends Acts of War: Aftershock.

And now we begins Acts of War: Stormbreak . . .