An Epic

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

PART ONE

The Conquest of Orland

The Taking of the Countryside

The wave of victories known as the Dark Conquest was executed in several different directions at the same time by different types of tactics and participants. The battle for Orland City was a good example. As most of the campaigns were directed by the Seven Lords of Sin and their dark folk thralls, this battle was fought in part by drow, also called dulim, and their slaves, neither of which groups were under the direction of the Dark Will.

The Dweller found it more advantageous to use the dulim to conquer Orland because of their well-known tactics and tenacity, coupled with their proximity to the ancient city. Most land-based attacks would be difficult to perform in this case, as the city consisted of islands linked by bridges which could be easily defended. She decided to enlist for the campaign the powerful dulam priest Garlgax and made him the Lord of Envy. He was chosen because of his fighting and leadership abilities, as well as his past. He had embraced the worship of Vornoth, the Walker-in-Darkness. In dulim society, worship of any but Salystra, the patron goddess of the dulim, was considered traitorous. Garlgax had no ties to the dulim, as he killed his sister, mother and many of his kin in a fit of rage. And he had connections - it seemed that some outcast dulim followed him to his subsequent exile underground. And others, squid-headed monstrosities rarely ever seen above ground, followed him as well.

These outcast dulim were banished from Darkonglaxsti, and hearing of this, Garlgax, through the help of some of his Duergar companions and slaves, found several deep caves in the mountains just east of Orland City, beneath the town of Talmera. It was there that they took up residence and plotted their conquest. The town of Talmera was situated between the capital and Jorlan's Run, the two most important cities of the kingdom of Orland. This location would be an excellent stepping stone from which to launch their offensive. With the help of Koorlsh and Doolth, two of the squid-headed abominations (who called themselves the Gooshla), they found passageways beneath Orland City from which to attack the capital city.

The dulim were unaffected by the Dark Will, so the deal offered by the Dweller was highly desirable to Garlgax. He was made a Lord of Sin and given the power of the Dark Will to assist in acquiring help from the indigenous dark folk and promised control over the economy of the kingdom, in exchange for paying homage and portions of the wealth to the Dweller.

Bolstered by an assembled force of dark folk and driven by their overpowering racial bigotry, in 7796 this gruesome force of dulim, duergar, gooshla, orcs, ogres, hobgoblins, goblins, kobolds, worgs and slaves attacked Jorlan's run. The poorly-fortified town was no match for their might, and fell from a simple frontal assault. In addition to the overwhelming numbers of the dark folk and the poor defenses of Jorland's Run, the Lord of Envy used the powers of the Walker to great advantage. He was a priest of great ability, and he surrounded himself with many others who also wielded the power of the Walker. The attack came in the middle of winter, and the forces of the Walker were used to cause bitter cold blizzard conditions for 24 hours before the attack came just before dawn. Just as the weather returned to normal, the priests and wizards of darkness caused the river to overflow its banks, causing the distraction necessary to leave the walls even more scarcely manned than normal. Goblins and kobolds, ever the front-line fixtures, charged the walls as ogres from the Saltcliffs rushed the gates. Once inside, orcs and hobgoblins decimated their defenses. The fight for Orland City was next.

Preparation for Orland City

To initiate the campaign, the drow used the duergar and human slaves to extend the passageways from the mountains to a location beneath the large, northernmost island called Ancho. The workings needed to be built from the furthest extent of the caves a distance of two miles, and they didn't have to be any taller than five feet nor wider than four to arrive at the desired location. This location was determined to be the mansion of a wealthy shipper in the northwest corner of the island. Garlgax decided it would be a large enough house to burrow beneath and enough of a building to be able to hit with the workings. He sent a few humans on their way to speak with the owner and drop a magic amulet on their grounds, in the hopes he could use it to divine his way to the proper location. The subterfuge worked, as the group successfully tunneled into the home, killed the merchant, and began moving warriors and weapons onto the island. There they waited for nightfall.

Orland

The Battle for Orland City

In the meantime, Garlgax directed his second flank. The assemblage of goblins, orcs, and oluks gathered just east of the city, still hidden in the woods, prepared to strike. In order to assure that the dark folk could cross onto Ancho, the dulim made their way stealthily across land to the east bridge, where they secured it and made sure it was not dropped into the river. Through use of the dark will, the Lord of Envy signaled to his troops, and half of them began to advance. The dulim kept people back from the bridge, killing any who ventured within sight of it. With no torches to compromise the cover of darkness, the goblins and orcs were across the bridge before anyone could be alerted. The dulim then made their way to the south bridge to prevent any alert to Raynant Island, where the main administration was located. The dark folk worked half the night, going from house to house, stifling any attempt at dissent or resistance. The Lord of Envy's faithful Gooshla servants, Koorlsh and Doolth were invaluable in these endeavors. They were able to glide stealthily through the darkened streets without notice. Those that did spot them in the night, quickly fell victim to their mind control. They helped the forces of darkness immensely in the ensuing battle, but shortly before their victory, Doolth was felled by a hardy soldier defending the keep.

PHASE TWO MAP

At midnight, part of the dark army met the dulim at the south bridge, and with a signal to the rest of the army along the eastern shore, the storming of Raynant Island began. The south bridge was crossed and secured by the dulim, followed by goblins and orcs, led by hobgoblin officers. This group was instructed to make noise and cause commotion in order to divert the attention of the defenders from the east bridge. The flight across the east bridge followed a few minutes later, and the moorings of this bridge were secured as well.

Goblins and worg riders led the eastern charge, filling with dread any defender who ventured out in the night. They took to the south road to cut off any retreating armed forces who might try to get to Sol Island, and there they secured the south bridge. No attempt was made to storm the south island - it was believed to be an innocuous place that could be secured at a later date.

PHASE THREE MAP

The battle for Raynant Island was the toughest fighting they encountered. The goblins and kobolds were sent in first, but fared poorly, as the defenders were crack troops who had faced their swarming tactics before. The orcs then came in, aided by the cover supplied by the orc archers, and they pushed the Orlanders back to near the king's keep. Ogres then advanced, the orcs wedging in the front line to divide the resistance into two flanks and create a pathway for the huge humanoids. The ogres were instructed to go directly to the keep and bash the gates down, which they did very efficiently. Goblins at the south flank then withdrew slightly to make room for the worg riders advancing from the south. The vicious beasts tore into the troops, sending even dark folk attackers backward. Still the Orlanders fought. Finally, dawn approached and the hopes of the people of Orland rose with the rising sun, for it was well known that dark folk and especially drow do not fare well in the sun. But to the horror of these good people, clouds filled the sky soon after the first rays of sunlight peeked over the horizon and the dark folk and dulim redoubled their attacks in the partial light. Demoralized, with their backs against the walls of the keep, they lowered their weapons, only to be struck down by torrents of fire from above called by Garlgax himself. In the midst of it all, Garlgax could be seen standing, raising to the sky the amulet that he wore always around his neck and laughing maniacally.

PHASE FOUR MAP

Sol Island was entered by the dulim. A few defenders were left, and they were summarily dismissed. Garlgax himself walked to the center intersection and announced that he would be their new king. Living in squalor already, and having seen their king rarely, they cared little, and the battle ended. Pockets of resistance remained for several days, but once the main keep had been taken, the fate of the rest of the city was a foregone conclusion.

The Conquest of Zeland

The battle for Zel City, and eventually, the final battle for the kingdom of Zeland, began under the most inauspicious circumstances. Due to a long-standing disagreement and deteriorating relationships with the dwarves of Wawmar (who were shortly to meet their own fate at the claws of the Lord of Greed) trade with Zel City was closed. This situation was brought about partly by the foolish overlord Dolan III and his ill-conceived methods of government: high taxation used to fund battles and skirmishes that seemed to lead nowhere, seemingly mindless laws, and a general confusion that resulted in an inefficient military. The dwarves, seeing this lack of leadership, decided to cut their losses and choose their fights elsewhere. The trade with the dwarves was a mainstay of the Zel City economy, and so, for the next 21 years, Dolan had to resort to other methods of funding.

The second circumstance that led to his demise was the overriding desire of the evil Dweller in the Wintervale to finally rule all of the continent. The seven Lords of Sin were poised to strike out of the Wintervale, and they scattered across the continent and prepared for an assault. The most reluctant of the Lords of Sin , the Lord of Sloth, attacked Zeland in the spring of 7791. It appeared to be a rather ineffective, even silly battle, as the full force of Sloth's army wasn't used. United armies from across Farland came to the rescue, bailing out Dolan and his ineffective army. But the battle turned out to be a mere ruse, a simple frontal surge that served only to feel out the Zel army. The slothful army withdrew to the foothills south of the hamlet of Doldur, into the Or hills, and made an encampment. There they sat out the spring, fortifying their positions and waiting. It was not like the Lord of Sloth to pursue an opportunity.

A few months later, the true plan was brought forth. A huge force of monsters, consisting of trolls, ogres, and frost giants, and forced into battle by the Lord of Sloth, attacked the Kingdom of Farland out of the Deadlands. This gargantuan contingent, as powerful as it seemed, demanded the immediate attention of the army of Farland, for its homeland was in danger. The Farlandish armies marched east along the Sum road, past the Dark Army, through Doldur and Sum, then north to Borderhold and Mt. Mortius. They were unaware of the army to their south, as the Lord's contingent of wizards cast a huge Fog Cloud spell over the north side of the Or hills, hiding them long enough to allow the allies to pass. The allies engaged the behemoths and defeated the monsters.

But the die was cast. The Lord of Sloth leapt upon the chance and laid siege to Zel city.

Zel City

The Battle of the Sorrow of Zel

Once the Dark Forced had assured themselves of the diversion, scouts of kobolds, stationed in the mountains just south of the Sum pass sent word back to General Gokka. The veteran general sent a few companies along behind the allies along the Sum pass, whereupon, after a pitched battle, they took control of the fortress and assured that the Farland army would be hard pressed to attack from the rear. In effect, they were bottled up east of the mountains and had to skirt them to the north. When they finally did, they were too late.

General Gokka led a masterful attack on the city of Zel. The unsuspecting Zelanders were unaware until too late that the clouds and fog seen earlier to the south of the Sum road were the same weather phenomena that worked its way toward the east bank of the river. No troops came from the gates of the city to engage the enemy.

PHASE TWO MAP

Fireballs from mobile rope-powered trebuchets and a curtain of arrows flew from the fog, beating back the sentries and archers stationed along the east walls of the city. This wave was not sufficient to inflict devastation, but it provided a cover for the goblins and kobolds to cross the river by the South Bridge, followed by orc swordsmen. Once there, they set ladders and quickly constructed partially-preassembled siege towers that were floated across the river, and the walls and the Great Oaken Gate, to the south of the South Bridge, were stormed. The collective might of the Dark Army could not be denied. The enemy wizard in their collective might somehow froze the river, allowing the rest of the army to cross in mass. Several battalions flanked the fortified city to the south and were met with little resistance. These troops entered through the unguarded west gate, completing the rout. The city had fallen.

The Conquest of Farland

Beginning in 7795, the Lord of Anger, the Captain of the Lords of Sin, began drafting the services of many of the Dark Folk from the north of Farland, specifically from the Deadlands, in an effort to gain control over the kingdom. The Deadlands, which had previously been conquered by Sloth's forces, had, in the last few years, been mostly retaken by the Farlandish forces. Using the force of the Dark Will, a power granted him by the Dweller and her Book of Seven, he amassed the army and reconquered this area. But he was disappointed by the performance of his forces and he realized he needed more direct control over training and discipline, as these soldiers-to-be were simple creatures. The Lord of Anger, a Pit Fiend, had a split personality; his normal personality was Nabarus, a cold, calculating creature, but when angry, he turned into Bakahul, an insane and angry entity. The Captain of the Deadly Lords met with Orax, the Lord of Sloth, for aid. Nabarus knew that since Orax had already subjugated Zel City, Sloth's need for his main shock troops was at an end, and the Pit Fiend struck a deal with him.

In exchange for the use of some of his men, particularly those needed to train and whip further forces into shape, Anger would help open the main road between the two cities and destroy any resistance in that corridor. Sloth had little inclination to do so, as part of his nature, but saw little reason to deny such a deal, or to deny his captain, for he greatly feared him. A force of several hundred of Orax's finest hobgoblin and oluk officers were sent into the Deadlands, where a rallying point at the Cursed Crater was established. There, from 7795 through 7797, the troops were assembled and trained. Nabarus, with his own excessively disciplined nature, insisted that his troops be equally disciplined, no matter how long it took. He took great time to draw out exceptionally detailed and brilliant plans for the upcoming invasions. Alas for him, Bakahul would later render most of these plans worthless.

A massive sweep in 7797 enabled the newly-formed army to overcome towns and villages on their way to the Far City. These troops were hampered by the rough terrain and an ill-fated drive directly toward Zel City. It seems that Anger, in his quite unpredictable identity of Bakahul, the personality he took on when enraged, directed his troops toward the eastern portion of Zeland. This move was designed to overtake Zel City from Orax, as the Lord of Sloth had angered the Captain of the Lords of Sin by an unintended and minor insult.

Anger reverted to his calmer, more reasonable self in time and realized his folly would detract from his mission of capturing the Far City. It was too late, however, as the troops became mired in the Hills of Horror, an area of the northern Grand Peaks known for its population of unruly undead, wild cave-trolls, and worse. In 7800, Anger's troops withdrew and moved to Torini, the Borderhold, and Naxor, crushing these towns. He then turned to Sum, where he met Sloth's troops and cleaned the western portions of Farland and the eastern part of Zeland of all resistance.

The army worked its way to Cromae and established its influence all through the Allinus Valley. The going was rough, for whenever Nabarus would defeat a foe and begin to set up his own local government to enslave and/or tax the inhabitants, he would revert to Bakahul because of some annoyance, whereupon he either killed the newly-appointed governors or decimated the townsfolk, even a few of his own troops. Slowly, he made his way eastward, and by 7805, was on the doorstep of the Far City.

Far City

The Attack from the Sea

In the late fall of 7803, ships under the direction of the Lord of Anger attacked and defeated the navy of the Kingdom of Farland, signaling the beginning of the downfall of the final and largest of the kingdoms on the continent.

The attack originated from the Isle of Night, an island situated halfway between the Nameless and Far Cities. Farland did not lay claim to this island, a way station festering with pirates and other lawless forces, having lost the rights to it in earlier naval battles. The dark ones used the island as a buffer against any attacks from the west, but since 7800 had built its forces to the east of the isle. In three years, they amassed a fleet of two hundred ships and manned them with dark folk captured by the force of the Dark Will.

Nabarus himself was the admiral of the fleet, stationed aboard the rear war galley. Bastulon, a renowned evil wizard of great power, accompanied him.

Some of the ships rowed out from their docks and floated to the south in the early evening in an apparent attack on Ladona. A strange move in itself, it was a ruse, as the Farlandish navy left port to intercept them. But most of the ships were hidden by clouds or painted and made to look like freight haulers, with boxes and bags of what appeared to be goods overflowing the decks. Later, as darkness fell, they made their way to the Far City, but the ruse of the clouds was not as complete as they may have thought. The remainder of the Far City fleet detected the camouflage hurrying to meet them. By then, the majority of the Farlandish navy was on its way to intercept the other fleet, which consisted of war galleys peopled with minimal crews.

The battle began with the "dummy" merchants veering to the south to try to skirt the Farlandish tall ships. This forced a few of them to veer as well to meet them, and as they did, the boxes and bags ripped open to reveal soldiers and arms. Several of the merchant ships heeled and dove into the pack, attempting to split it into separate ships and boarding each from two sides. The longer fighting ships tried to turn to avoid the flanking, and as they did, battering rams were thrust out of the bow of each of the Dark vessels, crushing the tall boats amidship.

SEA BATTLE PHASE TWO MAP

The second set of galleys tried for a north flank, to turn the defenders aside. They ran toward land and Nabarus made a critical decision at the last moment, veering into the oncoming ships. It appeared that his ships were to be rammed, but Bastulon cast a major spell and calmed the wind, as Nabarus had planned. War Wizards aboard the Farlandish ships tried to dispel the evil magic of Bastulon, but the magic of the dark wizard was too strong. Without sail, the defenders were at the mercy of the Easterners. The galleys continued their turns, missing the first ship and running toward the second. As Westerners attempted to board the galleys, they would pull away and leave only a few sailors able to board, and these were easily dispatched. Another series of zig-zags caused the galleys to pass the long ships, and another turn brought them astern of ships that were dead in the water. The Farlandish war wizards tried to use fireball spells to sink the enemy ships, but the mages commanded by Bastulon were prepared, and they countered the enemies' spells, nullifying them.

The merchants, by this time, were able to row in toward the harbor, where the few remaining Western ships were able to set sail. The Great Chain was raised behind them, but this only served to entrap them asea. The dark long ships brought up the rear of the charge, and the dark wizard released the wind. Too late to start sailing again, the defending tall ships were no match for the ramming and slashing style of the evil foes, were boarded and sunk. Several were burned to the waterline by a rain of fire called from the sky by the Lord of Anger himself. The Farlandish wizards found that they did not have the power to counter the spells of the Pit Fiend and save their ships.

The merchant ships reached port and engaged the remaining tall ships. Drugged and whipped, the slaves beat the sea to a froth as they climbed to ramming speed. Outnumbering their foes, the attackers drew them to one side while ramming them with a second wave. Evil wizards attempted to throw crackling balls of lightning to melt part of the Great Chain, but it was warded by powerful magic. The Lord of Anger himself directed his powerful magic against the Great Chain, shattering its protective wards, and then he clove it in twain with multiple blows from his powerful axe, wielded from the prow of his command ship. The terrible Pit Fiend was then able to lead the flagship in to the river's mouth.

Recognizing the desperation of their plight, the hero Lord Gwyn Darius, a senator of the Far City, set sail for the Nameless City to attempt to find and kill the Dweller herself several weeks later. He was never heard from again.

The Siege of the City

Unfortunately for the Lord of Wrath, some of the preparation for the battle were performed while he was Nabarus, the cool, calculating and incredibly intelligent being, while as the battle grew closer, his alter-ego Bakahul took over, fueled by the smell, the very idea, of blood. While mad with rage, he couldn't use the Dark Will to its fullest advantage, and his attack on the city stalled for a while. After the ships seized the port, he came to realize that he wasn't able to react sufficiently to what happened next. As with many sea battles, the results of the fight are dependent upon how well the attacker can translate his victory into an advantage on land. As the insane Bakahul, filled with rage, he was emotionally unable to put a plan for a land war together on the fly.

The fleet stayed in the harbor, repelling any attempt toward supplying or reinforcing the Far City from the sea. The remaining fleet that reacted to the harmless "dummy" ships destroyed them with fireballs, only to find they were a ruse, and upon returning to the city, were sunk by the Lord of Anger's ships and magic. For a year, the blockade held, neither side able to break through. Farlandish troops were unable to take to the sea, Dark forces were unable to land, and the city was supplied by some overland trade from nearby villages which had not yet been taken by the Lord's land forces. Enraged by his failure to take the city immediately, the Lord of Anger spent much of this year as Bakahul, which compounded the problem, for he was not able to direct the war properly. Bakahul contented himself with using his magic to teleport into the Far City at night and personally slay the defenders one by one, destroying them with his powerful magic. Eventually, though, the high priests of Neltak caught on to this tactic, and the most powerful priests in the city confronted the Lord of Anger, using the power of their god, which gave the evil Pit Fiend great discomfort, to drive him off. Thus these night attacks ended for Bakahul, making him feel even more impotent and further enraging him.

Fortunately for Nabarus, a unique individual was handed the reins on land. Peg-Rak, a hobgoblin of exceptional insight and possessing a brilliant military mind, was given by the Dweller the job of leading the land forces after she realized that the personality of Bakahul was a detriment in the land war. Peg-Rak promoted several of his acquaintances, namely Falok and Belfot, to subordinate commanders. Falok served under Peg-Rak for the Lord of Sloth, learning all he could of the most modern tactics. Belfot's exploits came to Peg-Rak's attention previously, while commanding several groups of for-hire fighters, and his leadership capabilities were quite insightful and cruel. All three were students of their arts, having read books on great battles and, in Belfot's case, even written one. The Lord of Anger, in his calmer personality, knew he couldn't direct both the sea and land forces at the same time, from such a distance, without the all-too-likely risk of turning into Bakahul at an inopportune time, and he was satisfied to relinquish the direct leadership to capable officers such as these.

In mid-Spring of 7805, the final battle began. Peg-Rak believed that there could be two schools of thought in the defender's minds. One would be that the Great Gates of Sum, the huge portal on the small island to the south, would be thought so strong that it wouldn't need to be highly defended, and the focus of the attack should be the Ferrian Gate, midway along the western side of the city. The other strategy would be that they would tend to highly reinforce the Sum gates, as the Lord of Anger would insist on attacking an immovable object with an unstoppable force, hoping that breaching the gate would be the most demoralizing of events. After weighing the two options, he chose the latter, as he thought that this might be the least likely approach to be expected of a reasonable commander. Nabarus concurred. In the back of Peg-Rak's mind, though, was the suspicion that if he could pull off such a monumental attack, his position as commander would be secured for life.

Having almost unlimited resources and material at hand, he ordered several exceptionally bright oluk officers to design and craft several large bridges and siege machines. Rogg, the leader of this group, had previously worked with Peg-Rak at Zel, and the commander saw his genius first-hand. Rogg ordered slaves and orcs to fell timber and construct four long bridges that would span the short distance from the south to the north shores of the river, both to the small island from the south side, and to the north shore from the island. They were built with huge oaken timbers, lashed together and reinforced, with many wheels to make their deployment quick and easy. To provide flame resistance, a common downfall in most machines of such use, they were covered with a thin layer of sod and made resistant with various spells.

Over a hundred ladders of forty feet length were constructed by goblins and kobolds. Further, several companies of trolls and ogres were employed to fell the largest of trees to be found in the area to build battering rams. They consisted of seven logs, lashed together in a hexagon configuration with a central log, and all logs were tapered to a point, with the central log protruding further than the others. Steel armor was heated and hammered around the tips of the logs and was pointed at the front. Two dozen wheels were needed to support such a vehicle. A shield of logs was provided to keep arrows and pitch from chasing the machine's prime moving force, ogres and trolls.

The trolls and ogres were not happy having to build such a contraption, as the taste of battle was in their blood. But Peg-Rak asked the Lord of Anger to "persuade them." Bakahul was all too happy to do it, and he personally attacked several companies of trolls, slaying four trolls in as many seconds, and scorching their bodies with his flames. The other trolls and ogres begin falling all over themselves to build the rams.

The fifteen trebuchets to be employed were huge. Rogg believed they were capable of tossing two-hundred pound rocks three hundred feet, a range which he felt was far enough from the defender's arrows. Motivation was to be provided by ropes, as this was thought to be the quickest method of achieving quick reload time. It proved to be even faster than magical means, at least in terms of cost effectiveness.

Far City

The Gates of Sum

At dusk, the dark force began to move. The advance was preceded by a false attack at the Ferrian Gate. Several hundred slaves, driven by goblins (who were delighted to participate in something more meaningful than their normal use as battle fodder), were driven to the gate and prodded to create quite a commotion. Since the attack could have originated from the west, this was thought to be a precursor to the real fight. Although this was a new tactic, they believed it to be real, as it smacked of the well-known cruelty employed by the dark folk. It became more real when a band of half-a-dozen worgs emerged from the woods to tear into the slaves. The general alarm went up, and with horns blaring, many soldiers ran to the gate. The southern gate was still well-guarded, but it gave the evil army a moment's respite.

Under a cover of a strange cloud, the ramps were wheeled out by horse, then detached and slid off the main bridge, on each side, onto the island by trolls. The main bridge was defended by just a few hapless men, who were killed quickly by orc archers. Following these were the remaining two bridges, rolling over the first and placed to the castle walls in like fashion. The entire bridging operation took just fifteen minutes. Kobolds were instructed to fill pails of water, lowered to the river by rope, and pour it over the sod to prevent fire.

The second set of bridges was set at about the time when the defenders first noticed movement behind the thick clouds. The call went up again, this time bringing troops back. But it was too late. Trolls with huge ladders raced across the bridges, now as wide as a highway. Goblins followed, and the trolls quickly planted the ladders and upended them to the walls. The orc archers had advanced behind the fog, and they laced the top of the walls with their projectiles.

But the defenders regained their senses, and the few who could brave the arrows dumped pitch over the sides. Most of it fell harmlessly between the ladders, however, due to their haste, but some of it found its mark, chasing a third of the goblins down, along with the trolls.

But the orc archers prevailed. They were reinforced by the pounding of rocks launched by the trebuchets, which had wheeled up to the island. The deadly rain of shafts and stones forced the Farlandish forces back from the walls again, and they couldn't stop the approach of a giant vehicle.

The battering ram was pushed across the bridges by trolls and ogres, who pushed their best, fueled by visions of battle and fear of Bakahul. The ram hit the doors at full troll-gallop, crashing the keeper bars inside and forcing the doors inward several feet. Several pails of fiery tar were thrown down, but the wet sod and shields gave attackers a second chance. They pulled the machine back fifty feet and gave it a second shot. The ram did its job, opening a gap wide enough to wedge the ram to hold it open.

Goblins and kobolds climbed atop the trees and poured through the fifteen foot gap about the same time their companions finally made the top of the wall in force. Ogres and trolls gave one mighty push, forcing the doors against the collective might of soldiers inside. As the gap opened, flaming balls of fire from sorcerers flashed through the opening to land on the screaming Farlandish force.

PHASE TWO MAP

As planned, the general alarm pulled most of the forces from the shoreline across the city to defend the south. Nabarus, again in control of the Lord of Anger, drove his ships into the inlet, where they disembarked to be greeted by minimal resistance. Although much fewer in number than their land counterparts, they were still able to force their way to the Farlandish Barracks, where they were then stopped by the crack, trained troops. As the incredibly intelligent Nabarus intended, this still diverted some attention from the main battle and created a battle on two fronts.

In the south, the defenders had to retreat to regroup and set their lines. Archers began to fire from behind their lines, stopping some of the goblinoids in their tracks. The well-trained Farlandish legions, aided by their war wizards and clerics, began to hold their own against the goblins and kobolds, pushing them back slightly on the flanks. But the trolls and ogres caught up with the front, pounding through the lines with clubs and morningstars, threatening to cleave their way through the line. The defenders fought back, and with the help of reinforcements, centurions from Ferrian Gate, were able to turn the giants to the side.

But orcs and oluks soon arrived, flanking to the sides. Their power and ferocity, fueled by drugs and fear of losing, drove them into the sides of the front, thinning the lines in the center. The fighting was fierce, but defenders were holding their own. The orcs were stopped, but at a price. Balls of fire and lightning flew overhead, followed by spurts of magically created wind and ice, deluging the Farlandish fighters with incredible extremes of weather, but their own wizards responded in kind, blasting the dark folk with spells of destruction.

To the north, the defenders were holding fast, blocking the dark folk advance. The humans were rallied by Knight Protector Lucius Severus, the King's Warder. The mightiest warrior in the city after Lord Gwyn, he almost single-handedly halted the charge of the dark forces and begin to drive them back. He even managed to slay the dark wizard Bastulon, and gathering the defending Far Knights around him, he prepared to mount a counter-attack. At this point, the Lord of Anger himself intervened, engaging Severus in personal combat and slaying him. The Pit Fiend also dispatched the fleeing Far Knights, slaying some of them with flaming meteorites from the sky and causing the others to enter a mindless rage, where they slew each other.

PHASE THREE MAP

Meanwhile, the worg cavalry pierced its way into the heart of the southern forces. Slicing left and right from wolfback, the fierce goblins wheeled and circled around the pack to separate the bulk of the legion into two bodies, then turned back to break each flank apart again. Trolls and ogres surged ahead, and followed by the pestering swarming of goblins and kobolds, it was all the defenders could do to regain their lines as they quickly retreated. Fighting in the city as they were, the vaunted discipline of the Farlandish legions availed them little, as they had no space to maneuver.

The few goblins at the unmanned Ferrian Gate were able to climb the walls and open the doors to more worg-riders. They raced across the town to the palace and reached it just as the southern defenders did. Orcs, trolls, ogres and goblins stood aside and created a ring around the remaining fighters, watching the gruesome sight as the wooly land sharks ate, tore, rent and ripped limbs from trunks. No surrender was accepted.

At this point, Bakahul, angry at the favor paid to Peg-Rak, found the hobgoblin commander as he walked through the streets of the city and unceremoniously slew him.

Anger entered the palace and finished off the remaining few himself. Over the next few days, as Nabarus, he killed all the senators, disbanding the senate and all other forms of the old government, instituting his own strict laws. The Dark Conquest was complete. The Dark Occupation had begun.