Vinter Raelthorne IV
Vinter IV was born in 554 AR, the eldest son and heir of King Vinter Raelthorne III. He has a younger brother, Leto Raelthorne. From a young age, Vinter was rigorously trained in statesmanship and swordplay. Vinter III dies suddenly and suspiciously in 576 AR, but his passing was ultimately deemed a death by illness. In spite of a lack of terms of succession, Vinter Raelthorne IV is crowned and immediately set about consolidating his authority.
Unlike his father, who was coldly distant and ruthlessly objective as a monarch, Vinter IV was bloody-minded, violent, and thoroughly paranoid; the people during Vinter’s reign loved his brother Leto more than their rightful King, and with good reason. Even as he gained glory personally leading the armies of Cygnar in the Scharde Invasions of the 580s, Vinter was enacting laws and dictates restricting the freedoms of the citizens and the leverage of the various churches that were permitted to practice in Cygnar legally, especially the Church of Morrow. Fearing arcane trickery, Vinter established an organisation of agents throughout the country called the Inquisition; officially, the Inquisition was created to track down and contain Thamarite cults, but increasingly it operated against legitimately-practicing wizards, sorcerers, official arcane orders, and those Vinter perceived as enemies of the crown — by which, he meant himself. Vinter made sure agents of the Inquisition were seen throughout the realm; not even the smallest town or village was safe from their investigations. They established examples wherever they travelled, such that common citizens felt obliged to report any suspicious activities lest they themselves be deemed involved in treasonous plots, creating an atmosphere of terror all across Cygnar.
Beginning in 584 AR, the Nightmare Empire of Cryx launches a sudden rash of violent attacks and raids along Cygnar’s western coast. For all his paranoia, Vinter IV proved to be a formidable war king and personally led his armies against the Cryxian menace, fighting alongside his brother Leto, who had risen to the rank of general. Despite heavy casualties, Cygnar drives the armies of the dead from its shores. Vinter’s ferocity in battle made him a hero of the war, and it would be years before his tyranny overshadowed his legend.
In the aftermath of the Scharde Invasions, Vinter names his brother Warmaster General of Cygnar. Vinter expands the mandate of the Inquisition, and his fear of conspiracies results in a dark and brutal reign of terror against the people of Cygnar. Rather than preventing rebellion, his excessive actions create widespread dissatisfaction with his reign, including, most critically, among many ranking military officers led by his brother Prince Leto.
In 591 AR, Vinter took Adeline Dunning, the daughter of one of his useful but common-born servants, as his mistress. Unbeknownst to him, she became pregnant with his son. When Adeline asked for his hand in marriage, his paranoia immediately caused him to suspect her as a spy with the purpose of trapping him with a child, and they break up. Even after Adeline's family held a funeral for her several months later, Vinter's men continued to search for her.
In 594 AR, Leto launches a coup against his brother, leading a force that battled through Castle Raelthorne and conquered the east wing of the palace. Despite his failings as a king, however, Vinter was a swordsman without equal. Vinter cuts down scores of Leto’s men, duels his brother and manages to deal a mortal wound, yet in the next moment, Primarch Arius stands beside Leto, and the prince’s wound was whole. Vinter lay dazed, knocked to the marble floor. Almost immediately after Vinter was hurled into his cell, his supporters began to move.
Operatives of the Inquisition took hostage Lady Danae Cresswell, Leto’s wife, and used her to leverage Vinter’s release and the return of his familial sword. Leto consented, hoping to buy time to act. Instead of honoring his word, however, Vinter retreated to the upper reaches of the palace, seized an experimental airship stationed there, and escaped where none could follow. He rose beyond the reach of his pursuers but fell mercy to the whims of the wind and drifted east over the arid and desolate Bloodstone Marches.
The Royal Assembly later conducted a trial for Vinter IV in absentia, stripping him of his titles for his crimes and reaffirming Leto the rightful heir of Vinter III. Not everyone in Cygnar agreed with this decision, and many Vinter loyalists, including the officers Asheth Magnus and Saxon Orrik, and many members of the Inquisitor, seceded from Cygnar.
On the airship, Vinter survives the crossing from western to eastern Immoren, passing over the deadly Stormlands and the Abyss before crashing on the other side. Emerging from the desert, he encounters the outskirts of skorne civilisation. Realizing he must have an army to reclaim his throne, Vinter begins to systematically conquer outlying skorne villages, gathering an army, and then engages the more powerful skorne houses, beginning with what the skorne refer to as the First Unification War. One of his most important early supporters was Aptimus Zaal of House Kerash, who offered him something particularly valuable: the chance to legitimise his efforts with a display of exalted ancestral might.
Vinter’s forces secure the skorne city of Halaak and subdue it over the following year. The most difficult battle is won against Makeda of House Balaash, who subsequently becomes one of Vinter’s most effective and powerful supporters.
In 596 AR, the last major battle of the unification of the Skorne Empire, Vinter defeats Archdominar Narkuuru of Kademe. Subsequently, the remaining skorne houses pledge their fealty and acknowledge Vinter as the Conqueror. He takes the title Supreme Archdominar and creates the Skorne Empire. He is also referred to as the Reborn by many skorne, a title derived from the religious concept that Vinter’s spiritual essence is actually a great skorne ancestor. This facilitates widespread skorne acceptance of a human leader and gives rise to a sect devoted to his worship.
For four years afterwards, Vinter creates a national system of governance and adapts traditional skorne house armies to create a unified army of conquest. While still building the infrastructure required for a larger army to invade the west, Vinter travels with a smaller vanguard to attack and seize the city of Corvis. He intends to use Corvis as a mustering point for a subsequent attack on Caspia. The skorne are driven out of the city under mysterious circumstances, which includes the fulfillment of an obscure Morrowan prophecy, by which the Legion of Lost Souls marches against the skorne under the command of the necromancer Alexia Ciannor, wielder of the Witchfire. During Vinter’s absence, many major skorne houses rebel against his government. A few houses, most importantly House Balaash under Archdomina Makeda, resist the rebellion, providing Vinter time to return and rally the loyalist houses against the usurpers.
After a year, Vinter defeats the usurpers and has the ranking members of the rebellion slowly tortured to death by the paingiver Master Tormentor Morghoul in a lengthy public display. After restoring order, Vinter gives Makeda, now Archdomina of the Western Reaches, the duty of conquering the west while he remains in the empire to ensure that no further uprisings would occur.
When the skorne reach the eastern border of Cygnar, Vinter, seeing that the skorne might be doing too well in the invasion, sabotages their invasion by ordering them to assault Fort Falk instead of Eastwall, whose planned conquest was prepared extensively by Asheth Magnus and his men. However, Vinter is unable to trust Magnus with the details of this intentionally dubious decision, so when Magnus questions it, Vinter mistakes it for betrayal and sends Morghoul to interrogate him and test his loyalty, unintentionally causing Magnus to reveal the truth of Vinter’s deception: he was no skorne ancestor reborn, but only a human who is using the skorne for his own nefarious purposes.
When Makeda brings the Army of the Western Reaches back east to the Abyssal Fortress to confront Vinter, he calmly gets rid of her co-conspirators and greets her from the ramparts. When the Abyssal Fortress garrison is fighting Makeda's army, Vinter slips away from the fortress, and when Makeda, after her victory, looks over what Vinter left in his chamber, she knows he had chosen to leave.
After leaving the Skorne Empire and meeting his old friend Saxon Orrik, Vinter chooses the Protectorate of Menoth as his next tool in reclaiming the throne of Cygnar. Considering Hierarch Severius too old and not long for the world, he chooses to strike a deal with Feora, Priestess and Protector of the Flame, who is currently in charge of the defence of the Protectorate's lands when the hierarch is on the Northern Crusade. Vinter promises he'll execute the leading priests of the Church of Morrow, reinstate the worship of Menoth in Cygnar, and recognise the Protectorate as ally should Feora help him. He also grants Feora the use of some powerful allies on Cygnaran soil, as long as certain individuals are left untouched, and removes any doubt she might have by explaining how her favour with the Synod would rise whether he'll fail or succeed. Their deal is sealed after the assassination of Colonel Jiels Thornby and Major Eldon Runewood, two important vassals of Leto's supporter Alain Runewood, coordinated by Saxon Orrik and Feora's subordinate Thyra.
Vinter IV is paranoid, self-centred, lacks empathy and arrogantly believes himself to be above question by his subordinates. He's convinced only he knows the true path, and that all others must conform or be eliminated. His paranoia causes him to self-sabotage his own plans, undermining otherwise loyal servants by 'testing' them with absurd tasks that are prone to backfire on him. He's obsessed with ruling Cygnar, his birthright, and making it 'strong', and views everything else, including the skorne, as mere tools to help him on the way.
Whereas his father and grandfather had been sceptical of religion and warned against such institutions meddling in politics, Vinter IV demonstrates outright hatred for organised religion, particularly the Church of Morrow.
When Vinter began his conquest of the east, many who witnessed his skill in battle believed the Conqueror to be the spirit of Vuxoris reborn. Vinter capitalised on these beliefs, allowing him to bring to heel dominars who would have otherwise resisted him with greater fervour. Many skorne worshipped Vinter as if he was already exalted, including placing shrines in his name within their homes or scarring their flesh with sword-like symbols. Cults of the Reborn were driven underground following Makeda’s ascendance to supreme archdomina. Vinter’s ouster forced these cults to evolve their teaching to explain his removal from power, but they remain faithful to their belief in the Reborn.
| Preceded by:
Vinter Raelthorne III
King of Cygnar
576 AR - 594 AR
| Succeeded by:|
| Preceded by:
Supreme Archdominar of the Skorne Empire
596 AR - 607 AR
| Succeeded by:|
(as Supreme Archdomina)