The Great Battles of the Dark Conquest
Table of Contents
The Conquest of Kale
The Battle for Bael
The Battle for Kale
The Conquest of Daven
The Battle for Elder Daven City
The Conquest of Kelerak
The Fight for Dragonspur City
The Conquest of Orland
The Taking of the Countryside
Preparation for Orland City
The Battle for Orland City
The Conquest of Zeland
The Battle of the Sorrow of Zel
The Conquest of Farland
The Attack from the Sea
The Siege of the City
The Gates of Sum
The Conquest of Kale
The Battle for Bael
In the year 7790, the forces of Evil were prepared to conquer all of Farland. Using the Book of Seven, the Dweller gave each of the seven Lords of Sin the power of the Dark Will. This evil power allowed the Lords of Sin to mentally command every dark folk (kobolds, goblins, orc, hobgoblins, and oluks) in the geographical area they were assigned. The Dark Folk were compelled to obey these orders, and through them, the Lords were able to aggregate and manage terrifying armies with the utmost efficiency. The Lords were sent out across the continent, amassed their armies from random dark folk, and prepared for a massive assault on a scale never before seen. The first of these attacks came at the expense of the city of Bael.
In 7792, an organized army of goblins and goblin-kin marched on Bael led by the Lord of Pride, Thuldin the Fallen. The overlying reasoning for capturing this city, it was believed, was threefold. First, it was less powerful than the cities of Dael and Kale. Secondly, it would be a good test of the Dark Will and, if successful, would be instrumental in cutting Dalish troops from reaching and bolstering those of Kale. And finally, it would serve as a staunch buffer against any Elven forces from the Belendale attempting to attack from the rear (in this case, from the north).
The Lord of Pride used the Will to gather goblins and others to congregate in the plains to the south of the Northern Teeth. Once joined with trolls from the northern hinterlands and hobgoblins forced to direct the troops in subordinate positions, they marched across the northeast fork of the Dalewash River, between Summervale and Fort Sont, across the low hills to Selble. They took the town quickly, but a few traveling tradesmen, leaving Selble for Bael, witnessed the attack and were able to continue their fifty-five mile journey to Bael to warn the city's military.
Bael was an economic center situated on the River Du Lac. This river was a slow-moving stream that originated out of the Kale Mountains in the east and coursed to the west to a small lake, where it ceased to flow and was swallowed up in underground passageways and through porous rock, eventually becoming part of the water table. The river was not used for traffic of goods, but mostly for the transfer of raw materials from the mountains and hills into the city. The wood from the forests and ore from mining operations were refined and sent along the road to Fort Rienne, where they were used to fuel the kingdom's economy. Cutting off the flow of raw materials was thought to be a strategic measure of worth. Further, the shallow, slow river would be easy to cross and defend against Kelerite invaders. The Dark Forces were quite focused on this city.
The hobgoblin Gair-Hok was appointed by the Lord of Pride to command the troops, and he selected several of his cousins as captains. The Lord felt this would enable them to work efficiently, as he had not mastered the forces of command given by the Will, and wouldn't have the ability to do it all himself. This was a mistake he would regret, and later, rectify. In the waning few months of the winter of 7792, the initial attack was launched on Bael, and the Dark Forces were repelled by a warned and ready Balish force. Gair-Hok and his kin were summarily executed in front of the troops. He was replaced with one commander, another hobgoblin named Kack-Saga, who fearfully accepted the position.
One of the great contributions of the magic wielders in the army of the dark forces was the bolstering of the fighting prowess of Kack-Saga. This also occurred much less frequently with other key hobgoblin leaders, but it was mainly Kack-Saga who used this tactic to such advantage. This strategy was used to make a leader seemingly invulnerable and thus inspire and raise the morale of their troops. A large measure of the control and respect that Kack-Saga was able to maintain as leader was due to these magical enhancements. He used these enhancements in an attempt to avoid the fate of his predecessor. It was not uncommon among the chaotic hordes of dark folk for a battle-weary soldier to challenge his superior's orders by threatening him physically. If a leader was unable to withstand these attacks, several of which often occurred within a short timespan, he could not keep control of his troops. Hobgoblins are known for their love of order and control in relation to other dark folk, and Kack-Saga was an excellent example of his race in this respect.
The second battle of Bael was fought several months later in the same year. Part of the Dark Force retreated to Selble after their defeat, where they fortified the city. Another portion fell into the Wood Du Lac to the south and served to cut off trade and communications to Kale. More troops were amassed by the Will, and some worgs were found in the Kale mountains. The goblins trained with the ravenous beasts, and preparations were made for a second assault. Although they knew the benefit of training, time was of the essence. Their element of surprise was over.
The northern Dark Force marched southward from Selble as the south force, swelled by the Will, were directed by that same power to travel north to South Bael. The effect was a pincers movement that surrounded the city. In the north, a wave of goblins, using cartloads of ladders made from the woods of the surrounding area, stormed the poorly-fortified jutting lobe of the walls.
The initial wave was repulsed by the continuous and deadly arrow fire of the Balish archers. But the goblins were able to attack along a four hundred foot length of the fortifications, spreading the defenders wide and sparse. Trolls waded through the troops to the main gate, where they used clubs and felled trees to bash away at the wooden structure. Boiling oil and hot sand was thrown over the top of the walls at the huge monsters, but several dark wizards were employed to cast spells to prevent the vile creatures from being hurt. They continued hammering at the massive gate, built from some of the hardest and toughest timber gleaned from the area.
At first the dark wizards thought to help directly by sending large explosions of fire directly into the gates. They soon learned the folly of this type of magic, however. Scores of their own forces fell in the resulting explosions, but as these were mostly goblins and kobolds of little worth, this was tolerable, but it was the trolls who were to make this tactic obsolete. Trolls have no love for fire and in fact for many of them it is their greatest fear. Thus when the trolls found out where the fire was coming from, a few wizards perished quickly at the claws of the angry beasts. The others quickly decided that other tactics would serve them better. Many of them turned instead to defending the trolls themselves while others targeted the Balish forces on the walls with missiles of magical energy or even bolts of lightning. One of the most effective tactics used by the dark wizards, were the great banks of mist that appeared on top of the walls, making it extremely difficult for the defenders to target the attackers. Another worthy tactic was the use of magical sleep. Often the defenders along great sections of wall would suddenly fall from their posts, fast asleep. A third and highly effective tactic used by the dark wizards during the assault of the wall was to make the torches and watch fires of the defenders on the walls explode into showering sparks, giving the attackers valuable time. Some of these tactics were countered by the heroic wizards of Bael, but the human wizards were far outnumbered, and targeted by the dark troops, they did not last long.
The gate finally burst, and the trolls were made to step aside as the worg riders weaved their way through the crowd. They attacked the troops once inside. The combined might of the charging worg riders as well as the fearsome troll brigades caused great fear amongst the defenders of Bael, rendering many of them immobile for a moment, much to their chagrin and ultimate demise. This moment of fear, along with the help of the aforementioned magic that the dark wizards continued to use to great benefit with the gates now open, was to give the dark forces great advantage.
The Balish soldiers soon regained their composure and stood fast, but most of them were lumberjacks and miners, not used to the rigors and horrors of fighting. A few lucky thrusts took some of the worgs by surprise. Swarming goblins were cut down, but heavily drugged, the rest continued on unabated. The trolls waded through, sundering weapons left and right, and the mass of evil headed for the main temple and administrative complex in the center of North Bael.
The battle in the south progressed more quickly. There were no trolls in this legion, only goblins. They fought much in the same way, swarming the walls with ladders. Once atop, they ran along the walls, forcing the defenders to spread out. This weakened the defenses, and an additional platoon of the goblins climbed near the gate to take advantage of it. They attacked from the top of the walls, fighting desperately in fear of their dark commanders. A few dark wizards were able to help the attackers south of town as well, but the main contingent of dark wizards remained with the trolls to the north. Once they were able to reach the ground, the gate was opened and the rout was on. Since the initial battle was staged mostly at North Bael, the defenders felt it was not as critical to fortify the southern portion, so the goblins were able to cause sufficient havoc due to their much greater numbers.
A second company of the attackers was sent on a flanking mission to the east gate of South Bael. A mass of Baelans followed them inside, but spread out when the initial surge was deemed to be successful. They raced to the west to help out the other soldiers, and the east gate was easily taken by the contingent of dark folk.
Back in the north town, the trolls had their way with the defenders. The sturdy Bael troops, greatly outnumbered by goblins and outmuscled by the trolls, fell back, unable even to defend the west gate, which was stormed by more goblins. As they fell back to the temple, the trolls began to smash away at the building complex in the center of town, crushing stone and wooden buildings with their tree-clubs. When the Kalish warriors finally saw that there was little else to do, they surrendered on the steps of the temple, with parts of the building falling all around them.
The goblins at the west gate turned toward Fort Tres and hurried down the road, cutting down any attempting to flee, so as to keep the sack of the city as much of a secret as possible. This surprising show of intelligence was due largely to the leadership of Kack-Saga and the lord of Pride himself. The force to the south had already completed such a cleansing mission on their way north in fear of alerting those going to Kale. During the next month, the remaining Kalish inhabitants were turned to slaves, as the Dark Will brought more Dark Folk into the three cities to be conscripted into service. The army grew quickly, and soon enough, a thrusting move was taken to the west, to Fort Tres, where the city was taken easily. The city of Nyon and Nice were conquered next, and fortifications were established to prevent an army from Dael from aiding those of Kale. The stage was set for the next phase.
The Battle for Kale
The spring of 7998 found the Western Campaign of the Dark Forces, led by the Lord of Pride (a.k.a. Thuldin the fallen), spread across the heart of the Kingdom of Kale. The sorties of 7797 had cut a path through Fort Sont, Selble and Bael and had subjugated these communities and replaced their governments with the harsh military law for which the Dweller was well known. Thorough and substantial fortifications had been established east of Fort Sont and west of Fort Tres, created to hold off any military counterattacks from, respectively, the Elven warriors of the Belendale and the Kalish cities of Nyon and Nice. To the south, through the Wood Du Lac, goblin raiders were situated to scout any activities between Bael and Kale. The Lord of Pride stopped his offensive long enough to reinforce the towns, call more Dark Folk using the power of the Dark Will, and gather provisions.
A second offensive was launched from Fort Tres during the spring. It consisted of some heinous tactics that were to be remembered and used for years as rallying points for the Kalais. A large contingent of trolls and orcs marched southwestward toward Camorfor, then before taking the city, they veered to the south. They hewed a path through the woods toward the Kalewash River, carrying with them all the great oaks they could fell. Upon reaching the river, they began to dam it by throwing the trees in the deep gorge below the confluence, building a weir as if they were an army of evil beavers.
As ever, the dark mages in the armies of the Lord of Pride, though few in number, were instrumental in their tactical assistance and ingenious strategies. Magical spells helped the dark folk remove great sections of the walls of the gorge, creating rock falls sufficient to back the waters and flood both the low-lying cities of Camorfor and Agrasuis. The fortified walls of the cities were easily breached, and many of the soldiers drowned. Unable to both fight and save their families at the same time, bodies of soldiers, women and children soon began to collect at the makeshift dam, as legions of dark folk warriors entered the towns by boat. Using magic as well as some clever engineering, the dam was then suddenly ripped apart, and the resulting flood washed the dead past Fort Rienne and Kale City in a horrific portent of their fate.
The summer weather allowed the building of strong fortifications upstream of Camorfor and, as a backup, near the site of the burst dam. The stage was prepared for act three, the taking of Fort Rienne. This battle took place in the winter of 7798. Although the weather was not as cold as the trolls would like it, they still pressed down the road from Fort Tres with their goblin companions, now bolstered by a considerable force of orcs. The fort was situated on the west bank of the river, and the debris from the bursting of the dam broke both the bridges from Fort Tres and Bael. Luckily, the defenders had the foresight, or the lack of foresight, to rebuild them.
Kack-Saga knew that he would need the conquest of the fort for his final plans. He wished to attack Kale City from both the east and west sides. The east side was well fortified, but being a port city, he knew the west side would be vulnerable. Crossing the river would be a task that might prove formidable, but he had other ideas.
A second wave of troops came out of hiding along the Bael/Kale road and attacked Fort Rienne from east to west. The fort was besieged from both the east and north. Although her defenses were strong, the powerful trolls, now working in conjunction with wizards instead of against them, were able to smash the gates. This combined attack of wizardly magic and the fearsome power of the enhanced trolls were the horror of the forces of good. After suffering heavy damage from the troll offensive, the fort was left vulnerable to the dark hordes. The goblin contingent was well prepared to breach the walls, and the city-fort soon fell. Many of the women and children were spared per Kack-Saga's orders, but only for a more disgusting display of psychological warfare. They were tied to poles set standing on barges, with firewood and kindling around the poles. The barges were strung together, and tar and pitch were spread all along the barges. The group of barges were set adrift, and a small boat alongside them carried a few kobolds, who gleefully lit the pyres as the barges passed Kale City. The resulting screams and cries ate their way into the collective memories of the Kalish defenders, who were demoralized beyond words. The final act was readied.
The winter of 7798 was spent in preparation. Fort Rienne was a rallying point for dark folk from all around the south of Kale. Their numbers swelled due to the overpowering influence of the Dark Will. Troops and supplies moved freely between Bael, Fort Tres and Fort Rienne. Meanwhile the residents of Kale City suffered in near-siege conditions.
Kack-Saga and the Lord of Pride also took the dense woods to the west of Kale City for another staging area. Thousands of goblins and orcs, led by Kack-Saga, secured the woods and utilized a magical fog to mask the construction of twenty large trebuchets. Born a dwarf, the Lord of Pride had his race's innate inclination towards strategy and the use of mighty engines of war. Although this was not normally the preferred method of warfare for dark folk, the Lord of Pride easily convinced Kack-Saga of the demoralizing value of fighting a battle on two sides. Being able to fire away across the river without fear of counterattack would be a devastating tactic.
In the spring of 7799, during the late afternoon, the battle began. Legions of goblins and kobolds stormed down the roads from Fort Rienne and Bael, leading the charge. Kale City was not fortified with tall walls, although the gates were quite strong. The north gates were hit with flaming balls of fire sent forth by wizards, while the east gates were pounded by trolls. A large contingent of orcs and goblins swept around to the south, attacking the gates there. Using battering rams created from huge timbers felled in the winter along the Bael road, they smashed at the ironclad gates. Defenders poured burning pitch and embers down on them from the ramparts. A large contingent of the wizards of Kale concentrated their efforts here. They used spells that affected great areas to fell great numbers of the attackers. For a while, victory seemed assured on the southern walls of Kale, but eventually the hordes got the best of the defenders. They seemed beyond number and for every one of the foul creatures that fell, another three sprang towards the walls.
The trebuchets began to hurl flaming projectiles across the river. This attack was quite a surprise, and the timing of the assault was nearly perfect. Fighting from the west, the setting sun camouflaged the flames until they landed. They fired continuously, at a rate of about one shot per second, destroying the port and any building or tree along the shore. The resulting wall of black smoke blotted out the sun, creating a darkened condition with which the dark folk were more comfortable.
The Kalish archers fired from atop the walls but soon had to retreat to the ground when the gates were breached. Hundreds of well-armed orcs poured in through the south gates, while trolls finally bashed the east gates. The fighting proceeded from the south past the Temple of Bestra, into the amphitheater. At the amphitheater, however, the tide almost turned. The Kalais knew every portion of the theatre, including all the underground workings for the stage and infrastructure. They were able to surround the orcs and use seats, aisles and the stage to their own benefit. The trolls, however, breaking through the east gates, wreaked havoc from Poulen Park all the way to the amphitheater, where they added their might to the fight. The defenders had to drop back toward the King's quarters. After securing the south, the dark army headed northward to Artisan's Lake and the fairgrounds.
The trolls and goblins at the Roy Gate had a tougher time of it. The guards of Baston Prison were hardened fighters and gave the swarm of goblins all they were worth. The turning point here, however, was when the Baston Prison was passed. The trolls were instructed by the Dark Will to break down the prison doors and walls. A group of kobolds, trained in the arts of sabotage and lock-picking, were able to free the prisoners, who quite naturally, took sides with the invaders. Unable to hold off this added force, the defenders were forced to retreat to the castle.
The goblins to the north used sheer numbers to swarm the walls. They used a tactic that Kack-Saga had devised for them, patterned after watching driver ants bridge chasms. The goblins created a set of "human ladders," stacking themselves like acrobats on each other's shoulders, making ladders unnecessary. This stacking procedure was easily and quickly set up, and the goblins could almost run up the side of the wall. The initial swarm was slowed down by the defenders, as they poured pitch over the sides and lit it. The goblins were not deterred, however, as their sheer numbers and speed allowed them to set up in another place quickly. Once atop the wall, they threw down ropes and others joined. They opened the gates and attacked as a sea of angry bees. Their effectiveness was hampered, as usually is the case, by their physical size, but they simply made room for the worg riders. The western contingent took Pech Quarter and the Temple of Kantor quickly, while the eastern group took Champ Park and headed toward the castle.
The final resistance of Kale warriors was pushed into the yard surrounding the keep, where, led by a hero, Captain Guy of the King's Guards, they held the enemy for some time. Eventually, however, Guy grew exhausted with slaying orcs and goblins and was overwhelmed. After the hero fell, all the guards were slain. The king was saved by the Lord of Pride's orders, but only for another in a long chain of violent acts. He was taken to the shore and staked to a pole, where the trebuchets used him to hone their aim. Women and children were paraded through the streets and were forced to watch as the victorious army beheaded the Kale soldiers. Their heads were skewered on pikes, which were planted all around the city outside the gates, as reminders to all.
The Conquest of Daven
The Battle for Elder Daven City
By 7795, The Dweller had enlisted the vile vampire Lord of Gluttony into his service. This porcinely oblate undead, known for the excesses of his excesses, delightfully disgusted the Dweller so much that she felt he was a natural for the conquest of Daven. The kingdom of Daven at the time was well known for its conservation and protection of all things living. A powerful group of mystical druids operated in the vicinity of Elder Daven and had a powerful influence on the politics of the kingdom. Thus the Lord of Gluttony seemed the perfect choice for her campaign in Daven. Once given the power of the Dark Will, the Lord of Gluttony was able to amass a large army of dark folk from towns in southwest Orland and the woodlands, shores, and hills of south Daven. In the fall of the year 7795, he orchestrated a deadly attack on the ancient city of Elder Daven.
While the numbers of dark folk the Lord of Gluttony was able to gather to his cause were great, he also employed dark necromancers and worshipers of the Walker to enhance his already large army of undead warriors. Dorug the Cruel, a lich of tremendous power, led these dark necromancers. Dedicated completely to the art of raising the dead to walk again to serve his will, his services quickly became invaluable to the Lord of Gluttony. As the growing armies marched southward towards Elder Daven, the armies of undead marched ahead of the living. The Lord of Gluttony correctly assumed that such an army would be too much for the humans of Daven to stomach. Many villages and towns fled screaming before the atrocities facing them. Those that stayed soon became part of the army themselves as their corpses rose to fight again. Thus as the year 7795 came about, the Lord of Gluttony possessed a huge army of the undead.
For command of his living forces, Gluttony chose the experienced oluk soldier Gansk. This former general had led forces in various confrontations across the south of the continent, and had a unique and charismatic approach to leadership. He often led troops directly into battle, sometimes leading the charge himself, waving his sword and spewing vile oaths, never looking back. This strategy endeared him to his soldiers, as much as any dark warrior can be. Gluttony himself was fearsome in a fight, but his forte was engaging in bloody celebrations afterward. He did, however, have the ability to recognize good talent, and Gansk was this talent.
Gansk led his troops, consisting of orcs, oluks, hobgoblins, and kobolds, from the south along the shore to the walled city. A general was chosen for the second arm of the pincer movement from Orland. Kerbok was a competent but flighty fighter, who had the tendency to view conflicts as works of art. He often sent platoons on flanking maneuvers that would defy logic, but he was able to back them up with other risky techniques. These seemingly misdirected tactics served him well at times and seemed to catch the attention of his Lord, who found this type of warfare to his liking and fitting his gluttonous personality. Kerbok led a legion of orcs, goblins, worgs, kobolds and ogres from the Stonewall Mountains in a southwesterly direction, bound for the city.
A third leg of the fight was built for attack from the sea. Scores of slave galleys were stolen or forcibly taken from sorties along the southern shores over the previous two years. They were floated to Selfhaven, where a base station was established. Dorug sensed the importance of this avenue of attack on a city that had been a naval stronghold for centuries. Using magic, he transported huge numbers of his undead troops to the island to help fill the ships that would attack the harbor. Much of this planning was done without the Lord of Gluttony's knowledge. Pirates often frequented the unnamed island, and some of them were enlisted into the evil Lord's navy as well. They were invaluable sailors, though morale was typically low among them as they were forced to share their berths with undead shipmates. Human slaves were also captured, stolen, and even purchased to provide power to the oars.
Resistance to attack was strong in the city of Elder Daven. It was well defended, with four gates to be breached in the outer walls even before one got to the main ramparts of the central city. By the time the dark army had reached its gates, defenders were prepared and well supplied. Many dark soldiers fell well before they ever reached the gates of Elder Daven. It seemed the very land about the dark armies rose up to fight the invasion. The trees, plants, and animals of the forests were quite feared by the dark folk, and only by clear cutting whole swaths of forestland were the armies of dark folk willing to continue their march. The Lord of Gluttony had prepared his troops well but had taken too much time, harried as he was by the land. The forces of good were too strong for a simple frontal assault to be successful. Further, Shadow Walkers from the Summervale were alerted and on their way. The fort at Zeel was also a force with which to be reckoned, although they were not as prepared and not ready to march at the onset of the fracas.
At this time, the kingdom of Daven boasted the only organized holdout of Druidic power. Legends told of ages past when such powers were common throughout the lands, but the only group remaining was known as the Protectors in the area of Elder Daven. It was this group that awakened the very land through which the dark armies marched. It was they who taught the flora and fauna of Daven to fight back against the ravaging armies of darkness. Their leader, Abelard der Beschuetzer, or Abelard the Protector, was known far and wide for his tremendous power. It was largely his influence that caused the natural life of the area around Elder Daven to serve the kingdom. Legends abounded among the common folk of Daven about brigands and outlaws somehow getting caught in a dense thicket or finding themselves suddenly twisted in a hanging vine just as the King's guard came around a bend. Abelard's power was indeed formidable.
The initial battle for the city began in the west. Gansk led half his soldiers across the road to Zeel to the northwest gate. The other half began attacking the Zeel gate. In a typical dark folk fight, the goblins and kobolds provided the fodder, the brunt of the fight. Orcs with ladders came from behind and planted them for the little soldiers, some of whom made it to the top of the walls on the first attempt. These unlucky few were pierced by Davonian arrows and happened into magical traps that the defenders had set upon the walls. Largely due to such intricate defenses, the initial wave was repulsed. A few dozen oluks brought up a huge tree trunk, felled a day before, and began using it as a battering ram. Time and time again, they battered the old wooden gates, causing many of the defenders to climb down and support the heavy doors from within. Just when it seemed the gates would be breached, the legendary Protectors of Daven called upon their gods and sent great magic towards the huge trunk, causing it to bend until the ram was rendered useless. The gates held, but the ruse was worth it. The second wave of goblins, unfettered by the darts of the archers, made it to the top of the wall. The ladders were tied off, ropes thrown down, and orcs and hobgoblins were on their way up the walls.
The battle at the northwest gate was of a different kind. Once Gansk reached it, they no sooner began to set a makeshift siege tower than the Shadow Walkers arrived. Led by the now-legendary Aminas, and with a precise wedge formation, the elven rangers pierced their way through the masses of dark fighters. The bloated, out-of-shape attackers and undead abominations Dorug had stationed here were no match for the initial assault of the highly disciplined elves, and the initial wedge made it all the way to the gate. There, they began to fight outwards, led by the whirlwind that was Aminas, pushing their evil drugged foes away from the massive doors. The orcs held their lines, however, and the Shadow Walkers had to fall back into the woods.
This diversion was enough for the defenders within the city to head south along the top of the wall to meet the orcs who had climbed the wall at the Zeel gate. They fought admirably, pushing the evil ones back and down the ladders to the ground. The fight for the western side of the city was won, if only for the time being.
The eastern gates were assaulted by Kerbok's troops at the same time. Goblins and kobolds attempted to climb the walls but were repulsed several times. The northeast and the eastern gate were both recipients of their swarming techniques. Several ballistae were used on the doors, but the portals held, suffering only partial pierces from the huge arrows. Ogres brought up the ranks, but even their collective might proved futile. The wizards in the dark armies tried to help with long range spells, and storms of ice and fire appeared magically atop the walls, but the defending troops wielded magic as well and the dark sorceries were largely canceled out by the forces of good.
The dark army fell back, deciding to adopt other tactics. The city was surrounded for now, but little hope was held for starving a city of the size of Elder Daven. Gansk and Kerbock met at the northeast gate to discuss plans.
The battle from the sea fared almost as poorly at first. Elder Daven's famed navy had fallen months before at the hands of fleets of the pirates from Selfhaven. The forces of the Lord of Gluttony and others from the east had recognized the great threat such a navy could have on their plans. A concentrated force of disciplined dark folk had traveled to Selfhaven and enlisted the pirates in a blitzkrieg and disastrous attack that crippled the fleets of Elder Daven. Given such a reduced force, the king had commanded the remaining ships sunk in the harbor and the sailors back inside the city to defend the shores. Therefore, though few ships remained in Selfhaven, enough were gathered to transport a motley gathering of orcs, goblins, human slaves, pirates, and undead to the harbor of Elder Daven. The king had ordered the docks destroyed as well, but forty five galleys pulled right up to shore where they attempted to disembark. However, the Davonians were prepared. Archers took aim at the attackers, who had little behind which to hide and nowhere to go but in the water to escape the numerous projectiles. Dark wizards sent huge winds towards shore to help protect their troops, but wizards and druids defending the shore countered with huge waves that capsized several ships. One of the city's steam-powered ballistae sliced a sizeable, fatal hole in several of the galleys, ripping through fitted poplar and ash boards as well as human slave flesh. The ships began to sink immediately. Soldiers threw off their armor and swam to the next ship, leaving slaves to succumb to a slow death by drowning. To the defenders' horror however, some of the crew emerged from the depths moments later heading straight for shore. They were draped in seaweed, seawater poring from empty eye sockets and crabs hanging from their rotting flesh. These abominations walked along the ocean floor, onto the beach, and towards the wall. Arrows had little effect against them and if not for the magic of the druids and wizards defending the harbor, the fight might have been lost. Many a soldier of Daven lost heart at the sight. Seeing that the attack had been unsuccessful, the rest of the boats that could backed off several hundred yards to regroup.
The next six days were spent planning, with Gluttony, Gansk and Kerbock scheming and scrutinizing their tactics, siege towers and ladders being built, the Zeel road being fortified, and several small sorties, even one by the Shadow Walkers, being repulsed. Dorug kept to himself during this respite, making his own plans, largely unknown to the Lord of Gluttony.
The Shadow Walkers' raid was led by Aminas who, using the ability to walk between shadows, worked his way with several of his companions to the shoreline. There they swam to several galleys and in a brilliant clandestine attack burned two of the slave ships to the waterline, then two more ships on a subsequent night. However, Aminas himself left this life when he attempted to use Gonwe Dīm, the famed and enigmatic Stone of Silence, as an offensive weapon. The stone fled the site, never again to be seen, and Aminas paid for his lack of patience with his life.
The Lord of Gluttony remained firm in his decision to reserve his precious undead troops until the walls were breached and the gates thrown open. Dorug the cruel openly challenged his lord's commands and soon after the initial attack, it seemed that there might be mutiny in the ranks. The Lord of Gluttony showed true generosity however, by giving Dorug great numbers of corpses to use in his ghastly experiments at false life. Usually Gluttony preferred to use corpses for meals and other ghastly acts. He encouraged cannibalism among the troops and those particularly disposed towards necrophagia were often promoted.
On the sixth day, orc archers stood watch from the ground on the walls above the Zeel gate while other soldiers dragged logs back and forth along the road, apparently smoothing the surface. The defenders had no idea what was about to happen. The wizards, clerics, and druids of Elder Daven had worked tirelessly trying to ascertain what was going on in the woods, but to no avail. Their dark brethren had cloaked the area in their evil magics and try as they might the magic of Daven could not discover the secret of the dark forces. Even the now-leaderless Shadow Walkers tried to scout the area on the fifth day, but of the party of ten that ventured out, only seven returned, none the wiser for the death of their comrades.
On the seventh day, a huge contraption was wheeled out of the woods. It was covered in magical darkness and cloaked in thick fog. By the time the defending mages were able to dispel these magical attempts at cloaking the monstrosity, it was almost at the gates. Standing twelve feet tall, rolled by eight huge wagon wheels, stood a ram consisting of three tall oaks, lashed together, with a twenty-foot long yoke centered at the middle of the vehicle. Four horses were tied to each side. An orc sat on top of the upper log, reigning in the snorting, agitated equines. Each of the three logs were pointed and covered with pitch and hay. Atop the upper log was a heavy, double-wide ladder, ready to be lifted immediately for breaching purposes. It was an ingenious device, built under Gansk's command.
The ram was lit and a group of oluks leaned into it, getting it started over the smooth road toward the gate. The horses, incensed by the flames and driven with whips, pulled the machine to a full gallop. The orc holding the reins fell with an arrow through his heart, but the spooked horses galloped over his corpse and continued racing for the gate. As defenders began to scramble, the ram smashed into the gate with deadly force. The pointed logs broke through the wood, cracking the bars inside and pushing open the gate, which began to burn.
As defenders began to run across the town to aid in the breach, goblins, artfully timed by the Dark Will through the Lord of Gluttony and directed by Kerbok, were able to set towers and begin their attack on the east side. The attack on the northern gates was abandoned, as companies of dark warriors ran toward the gates. Simultaneously, the ships stormed the shoreline, and the archers, now needed elsewhere, retreated toward the central city. Shadow Walkers, seeing their opportunity, raced for the northeast gate and were allowed in by the few defenders left there.
Unable to wait any longer, Dorug, acting against the will of the Lord of Gluttony, commanded his undead troops out of hiding and towards the sparsely defended Zeel Gate. The slow approach of the shambling undead army gave the defenders enough time to alert the Protectors led by Abelard. Using magical means, they hurried to the Zeel gate to protect their city from the horrible soldiers that threatened from the west. Abelard instructed his followers to follow him out onto the battlefield itself. Though the battles that already been fought here had killed much of the beautiful vegetation once growing in front of the city walls, Abelard called upon his magic and chanting great words of power, plants started growing from the trampled ground. Flowers of great beauty, small saplings, snaking vines, and tall grasses all sprang from the damaged earth. Seeing this interference, Dorug the cruel became outraged and urged his undead army forward, personally stepping to the front to lead them forward to crush these plants and their master. As they entered the area of new growth, Abelard again chanted great words of power and the plants grew hostile toward their enemies, twisting about their rotting appendages and slowing their halting, shambling steps even further. Dorug, his face twisting in rage, stepped through the plants, unaffected by their snaking tendrils. Chanting great words of power himself, he raised his hands to the sky, and great waves of death radiated outward from him, withering and wilting all the plants around him and sucking the very life essence out of Abelard's followers. Abelard himself threw off the powerful magic, but after the waves ceased almost all of his followers lay dead at his feet. The battle continued and was the scene of some of the greatest magics that Elder Daven had ever known. The area became darkened by ominous clouds and thunder, and lightning bolts rained from the heavens. Plants and trees sprang again and again from the earth only to be struck down by Dorug's evil magic. Shimmering gates appeared from which stepped devils of fearsome powers, and the ground and dead plants themselves came alive to fight these evil outsiders. Battalions of defending soldiers came again and again from the walls of Elder Daven to assist their beloved druids and again and again they fell prey to the great evil of Dorug and his followers. The entire battle lasted probably no more than an hour, but to the survivors, the atrocities that were seen that day were remembered for a lifetime. In the end, the clouds again parted and the sun shone upon a battlefield strewn with corpses. Among those, to the horror of both sides, were the bodies of both Abelard der Beschuetzer and Dorug the Cruel. The Lord of Gluttony was especially incensed that Dorug had disobeyed him, for not only had he lost a powerful ally, but his undead armies had largely been destroyed and those that he had left had mostly been under Dorug's command. They now roamed freely, attacking good and evil creatures alike, intent only on destroying the living.
Meanwhile, the fight for the northwestern gate had turned into a melee. Forced to fight on two sides, the orcs and oluks retreated slowly toward the walls. The goblins and kobolds atop the walls were fighting well, and most of them climbed down the inside to the ground. Dark folk and the walking dead, wading ashore from the south, met with lesser resistance and began to establish fighting lines as they slowly hewed and hacked their way to the central town.
At that point a large battalion of humans from Zeel forced their way through the fortifications along the road, now sparsely defended, and began racing toward Elder Daven. Most of the attackers had to turn and fight the newcomers, but the forces of Zeel slowly but steadily cut their way through them. A party of orcish wizards had other plans, however. They cast a spell on the newcomers. Making astute use of the prevailing winds, they used their magic to create clouds of noxious gases which flowed slowly over the forces of Zeel, killing great numbers in its wake. The defenders began to cough and become weaker, fevers burning in their heads, until they became unable to stand. Within a half an hour, they had stopped pushing forward and began slumping to the ground. The yellow-green fog created by the orcish wizards had, with unbelievable speed, stopped them where orcs and goblins couldn't. Word spread quickly through the city and good wizards rushed to aid their allies, but they arrived too late. A pitched magical battle followed, and many on both sides fell, but soon the greater numbers of the dark folk wizards prevailed, and the wizards of good were dispatched. Orc soldiers, now unhindered, pushed into the city.
On the eastern front, Kerbock's tactics were strange but impressive. He sent several waves of goblins and kobolds toward the defenders, only to engage them slightly, retreat a few yards and shift toward the flanks. This sent the Davonians forward and behind them, ignoring the onrushing orcs. The orcs engaged them slightly as well, but moved to the sides again. This allowed the worgs to rush straight into a well-flanked group of soldiers, rending flesh and armor with equal alacrity.
But the battle was not over. The Shadow Walkers joined the fray before the western troops could reach the inner city. In a spirited and inspired fight, they held their own against overwhelming odds, even without Aminas. They kept in tight formation, weaving left and right as they assisted each other to turn the odds to a series of individual two-on-one engagements. Magic from the orcish wizards was repulsed by some from the elves themselves. Still retreating slightly but in a measured way, they began to turn the tide. The dark folk were unable to flank or break their lines, as the Shadow Walkers moved and jumped between shadows at will.
They were about to break through the dark lines when reinforcements came. The sailors from the south reached the fracas, and the worgs, having dispatched the eastern soldiers and routed the area around the inner city, were able to force the elves away from the inner city walls. The ogres at the eastern inner city gates were able to break down the portals, and the western defenders were called on to retreat once again, this time into the inner sanctums. The Shadow Walkers fought bravely at the rear of the advancing attackers but were unable to re-establish a line or do any more than watch as the evil ones stormed the inner gates.
The remainder of the Davonians inside the city were easily defeated. Gluttony, true to his name, feasted on the blood of many of the women and children and presided over lavish orgies of food, wine and women. The Shadow Walkers retreated to the Southwood, where they were hunted down over the next few years and slain nearly to a man.
The Conquest of Kelerak
The Fight for Dragonspur City
In the year 7792, word arrived in Kelerak that the Dweller had used the Book of Seven to secure the services of seven Lords of Sin who then summoned dark folk from all around the continent to do his evil bidding. Empowered by the Dark Will, these lords were able to bring together hordes of dark folk and direct them to fight, whether they liked it or not. News of the fall of nearby Kale sent out an alarm to those defending this jewel in the north, and defenders began preparations for the inevitable battle.
Led by Brathelathor, the Lord of Lust, the evil army began to materialize. Orcs, oluks, goblins, kobolds, and demons summoned by the Lord himself traveled to the hills south of the Northern Teeth, where they trained under hobgoblin masters who whipped them into fighting shape and instilled in them the fear of the Dweller's wrath. Knowing well the daunting task set before him, the Lord brought trolls and ogres from the mountains into the fray, building a motley crew of varying abilities and temperaments.
Several of Brathelathor's bastard offspring, namely Holgorath, Malograw and Genuloth, all incubi products of their sadistic father's lusts, assumed the indirect command beneath him. Holgorath was given the reins of the first army, a legion of goblins, worgs, and kobolds slated to swing around to the south and breach the walls of the southern part of North Dragonspur City via the Dragon Valley Road, a smaller and less sturdy portal. Malograw was directed to take his shock troops of ogres and trolls directly to the Spur via the Eagle Road, striking the main gate and attempting to break through with brute force. Genuloth would follow him, with orcs, hobgoblins and oluks at his command. What the Lord possessed in lust, evil desires, and dedication, he lacked in military strategy, as the breaking up of the troops into distinctly different types nearly proved to be his downfall. Each of the three armies were so different in fighting tactics and abilities that they nearly cost him the battle.
However, Brathelathor also secured the services of a powerful wizard, one Pellingore, who would add to his forces the unimaginable power of a much larger, frightening figure...
After a march of several days, in the summer month of Janaros, the lumbering army reached the outskirts of the city. Holgorath took his forces south, while Genuloth and Malograw held fast. Each army was shielded in movement by huge clouds of thick fog, courtesy of Pellingore and his many apprentices. The good armies of Kelerak knew from their own wizards that this was simply a magical ruse, but it made ascertaining the numbers of dark soldiers near impossible. Then with the initial wave of goblinoids at Dragon Valley road, the defenders of the great Dragonspur City realized the numbers of their enemy. The sheer size of the Lord of Lust's army signaled a momentous fight that would spell the end of life as the citizens of the once-proud city knew it.
The battle began just after dusk. Goblins and kobolds were the first to attack, at the southeast gate. They carried with them ladders which they set quickly against the walls. The Lord of Lust knew he would need to use sheer numbers for this fight, so he had recruited literally thousands of the creatures and put them to work during the previous months making many sturdy ladders. These were thrown up on the wall by several trolls, as the goblinoids lacked the height and leverage to place them. Second ladders were quickly placed against the first, at about mid height, and stuck tightly into the ground, to prevent the first one from being tipped over backward. The defenders allowed them to climb near the top before reacting. As they neared the wall, the defenders threw buckets of boiling pitch and tar down on them, and the goblins made a hasty retreat. The attackers then used a different tactic to spread out the defenses, by placing more ladders along the wall. This appeared to work, until the defenders used the tar more sparingly and lit it, catching the ladders themselves on fire. The ropes holding the rungs were the first to burn, breaking the ladders apart. Without the use of brute force or power, the goblins were unable to reach the battlements.
At the Eagle Road gate, the situation was no better. The powerful ogres and trolls pounded the doors with clubs and poles, but they held. Archers from atop the wall rained waves of fiery arrows down on the ponderous giants, killing a few and scattering the rest. The orcs and oluks, ready to charge, were unable to go anywhere and even had to shift to the sides to avoid the fleeing ogres and trolls. Orc archers were also scattered by the monsters and were unable to maintain their stances to fire. Without cover, the orcs were at the mercy of the elite longbowmen from the city. Holograth had his archers retreat beyond the range of the enemy and train their sights on the gates, lest the Kelerites decided to come out from the city and give battle, while the rest of the armies made a careful and slow retreat to the fields just east of the city.
Through the night, the four incubi and their hobgoblin officers planned in their tent. It was apparent that the massive walls and gates of the ancient city would hold against their feeble attempts. It was suggested that Brathelathor himself teleport into the city and assassinate some of the enemy officers, but the Lord of Lust refused; he was too cowardly. The efforts of the dark wizards employed by the Lord of Lust were also negated at every turn by those of the defenders. Pellingore himself had not made the trip to the front, but was holed up in a farmhouse ten miles away, plotting for some unknown reason. Because of these things and the failures of his armies, Lust was becoming more impatient with every passing hour.
The next day, a decision was made to combine the forces on the main gate at Eagle Road. This approach was only a little better, because of the number of soldiers. The following evening, with the smell of drugs thick in the air, the goblins made their way to the northeast to join the rest. At dusk, trees were felled and hastily lashed together into shields ten feet wide and high. They were not too heavy that the trolls couldn't carry them, and were just wide enough to hide half a dozen archers. The plan was to bring the archers forward enough to allow them to beat back the defenders from the wall and allow the goblins to use what remaining ladders they had to climb to the top.
The goblins set their ladders just as the monsters began to haul their shields forward. They climbed and swarmed on top of one another, creating a pyramid that got them closer to the top. The defenders countered by pouring more flaming material over the walls, and were able to do so because they had seen the goblins move to the main gates and abandon their defense of the southeast gate. While the dark wizards threw fireballs toward the wall, the defending mages hurled balls of freezing ice toward the goblins, making them lose their grip and fall. Fireballs hurled against the wooden doors were rendered useless with sudden rain created by the Kelerite wizards, which quenched the fire before it could damage the wooden portals.
The dark army once again tasted the agony of defeat and had to retreat to lick its wounds a second time. The Lord of Lust was beside himself with rage. He summoned his officers to the tent and had his way with the hobgoblins, raping and torturing them for hours. If Pellingore had walked through the tent flap, he would have done the same to him. But no one had seen the traitor.
His lust clouding his brain, Brathelathor, never the sharpest of military tacticians, decided by late the next afternoon that too much of a bad plan can be solved by more of the same. He had ordered the goblins to make more ladders and the trolls and ogres to build a battering ram. Several orc and oluk soldiers who were formerly trained in the service made the mistake of suggesting to their leader that a more homogenous mix of tactics would be more efficient. Their screams kept other dark soldiers from getting some much-needed rest.
The third evening began with much of the same stale, uninspired maneuvers as had been seen previously. The shields worked, bringing the archers closer. But this time, flaming arrows were employed by the defenders, lighting the wooden shields and scattering the bowmen and monsters. The defenders were clearly being shielded by their wizards, since few if any of the arrows of the dark armies met their mark. The goblins were more successful, able to reach the top of the wall. But they were outnumbered by the crack troops and were pushed along the battlements to the south. A group of trolls almost breached the gate, but a small contingent of heroes from the city, led by the fighter Damon Brightsword, personally dispatched all of the monsters, burning their bodies.
It was still early evening when a figure was seen to walk along Eagle Road toward the city. Among the furor and commotion of the battle, his nonchalant manner stood out among the rest. But his skull-tipped staff gave him away. Pellingore strode into the fray and raised his hands to the night sky. The staff in his hand began to glow, and a fireball of brilliant lime-green hue burst forth. The sphere flew to well over the wall and burst into hundreds of tiny, wriggling lights that gently floated to the ground. The defenders looked surprised, since the pyrotechnical display did nothing at all. It did catch the gaze of the Lord of Lust, who seemed to turn several shades of red as he stalked over to intercept the old one.
Suddenly, a swooping sound cut through the din. Both sides dropped their weapons and machines of destruction to bend their necks in the direction of the unexpected, unexplainable noise. Then, from out of the shadows, came a massive blue dragon, lazily flapping his wings and floating gently on the air. As he reared his head back and wheeled in the air, a gleam of glee crept across the old magician's features, and Lust himself had to flap his wings to keep from falling in disbelief. The dragon Skywing threw its head forward, emitting a roiling, screaming ball of blue-white lightning toward the gates. Dark folk immediately retreated, falling over themselves, some not fast enough. The lightning hit the doors and burst them into a cloud of splinters and smoke, taking with it anyone within twenty feet. A second blast destroyed the south wall of this immediate eastern part of the castle, causing it to explode into dust and rocks, all of which flew into the streets beyond. A third blast decimated the northern half of the wall, leaving seared and burning rocks and houses in its wake.
It took a few seconds for the invaders to pour through, but the shock tropps made their charge and met no sizeable resistance until they had split at the base of the Spur and surrounded it. Goblins caught up and began their swarming techniques to force the defenders back, street after street. Ogres and trolls, risking all to regain the image tarnished over the last few days, ran wild through the streets, killing everything in their sight. Worgs, restless and impatient from the wasted efforts of their companions, satiated their blood lust on the soon-to-be-dismembered soldiers before them.
Skywing wasn't finished. He obliterated over a quarter of a mile of wall at the south of the city and another breach at the northwest edge of town before being summoned by Pellingore. As the invaders routed the soldiers of the once-mighty town, they began to slow their movement and turned toward the Spur. As they climbed the roads and the sheer cliffs to the sturdy castle, Pellingore's apprentices were now without resistance to their evil magic, and time and again, fireballs and bolts of energy laced the gates and towers. The King's Elite, led by Damon Brightsword, fought back, even injuring Skywing as he ventured too close to their arrows. Temporarily, these elite guards, led by Damon Brightsword's group of heroes, even pushed back the attack, fighting their way to dragon statue on the road that climbed the spur. There they unexpectedly met Pellingore, giving orders to his apprentices. Damon Brightsword ruthlessly attacked the evil mage, slaying the wizard and all his apprentices after a pitched battle. But Damon was sorely wounded by the evil mage's magic, and the guards dragged him back to the Spur Fortress, where he shortly died of his wounds. Seeing their chance, the dark folk renewed their attack on the Spur Fortress. Demoralized by the loss of their hero, the elite guards put up a half-hearted defense, and soon the might of the ogres and trolls took the mighty Fortress. And then the rest of Dragonspur City, after several hours of street and hand-to-hand close combat, succumbed.
Brathelathor and his ill-conceived kin satiated their lust upon the women and even menfolk of the town over the next several weeks as his army began the task of cleaning up resistance and establishing harsh martial law and curfews. The Lord of Lust then made a deal with the dragon Skywing to guard his west border, in order to remove the unruly dragon from the city and to protect himself against the encroachments of his fellow Lords.