THE HISTORY OF DUN VALLEY - Achaea Online Help
16.11 THE HISTORY OF DUN VALLEY
This tale begins on the first day of a new year: the 1st of Sarapin in the year 258 AF, in the redwood Aalen forest, ancestral home of the Tsol'aa. Two Druids, Istavan and Cev were roaming the forest, when they were shocked to find most of the Tsol'aa missing. Two guards were hanging, dead, from trees, and King La'ramhis had been skewered by his own ripped-out sternum. Stuck onto the end of the sternum was a note from someone named 'Kroul', claiming authorship of this act of brutality. They also discovered that the forest has been set afire, and was burning quickly. Quickly, Istavan and Cev summoned help. Many responded, and Kazin Frostpaw organised the Druids, Magi, and others to put out the forest fires. Once the chaos of the fires and the initial commotion over the missing Tsol'aa subsided, a thorough inventory of the Tsol'aa population was taken. It was discovered that Prince Tu'eras and many of the Tsol'aa were missing, Kaanan the Outcast was also missing, and Queen Celaabi was wandering the forest, sobbing at the ruins of her home and the death of her husband. Upon being questioned, it became clear that the distraught Queen had been raped, and that because of the smoke from the forest fires, she could see nothing of her attackers, save that some of them were very large. She apparently felt that her life was over and that she was dishonoured beyond tolerance. She would not leave the forest, despite the obvious danger that her attackers might return to finish the job they had began. Though the Queen shunned any contact with men and anyone not Tsol'aa, she did respond to the tender ministrations of Cynne Ravenwind, the daughter of the Tsol'aa huntress, Selaana. Cynne convinced Queen Celaabi to make her temporary home in Cynne's grove in the Aalen, where she would be guarded and safer than anywhere else in the Aalen. Soon after this, Tu'eras alerted the world to the fact that he had led many of his people to safety. Vowing revenge on whoever Kroul was, he also solicited the help of all those sympathetic to the plight of his people. In response, Vexlore, a rogue Paladin, wrote an article condemning, in no uncertain terms, what he perceived as the cowardly actions of Tu'eras. He felt that if the Tsol'aa would not immediately go out and fight, they were cowardly. Vexlore also affirmed his respect for the attackers of the Tsol'aa. As it was not long before the allies of the Tsol'aa begin to rally around them, their hiding spot in the Western Ithmia forest was soon discovered. Travelling there, Vexlore was slain by those he condemned. Because the Tsol'aa's hiding spot was no longer secret, Maran La'Saen, the Sultan of Shallam, offered them solace in Shallam, but as the Tsol'aa did not wish to be surrounded by those they do not know, they chose to stay in the Western Ithmia. At this point, there were many theories about who was responsible for this, with mutterings of the return of the Black Wave being one of the most popular. It was not long after this that some rather inquisitive orcs began appearing in the cities of Sapience. They seemed to like to look around, chat with the citizens, and were generally quite amiable, particularly for orcs. Eventually though, all of them seemed to show a particular interest in the people who bought dead rats (the Ratman, Hakhim, and Liirup), and an even stronger interest in seeing large crystals such as the Master Crystals of the Warlocks, Sorcerers, and the Magi. While nearly everyone refused to show these orcs the Master Crystals, Dalamar was willing to take one to the Warlock's Master Crystal, to the great delight of the orc scout he showed it to. As people questioned the orc scouts, the orcs occasionally let slip word of their Master, but then immediately denied having one. As orcs are not possessed of great wit, it was inevitable that those of greater wit would trick information out of them, but just as the orcs seemed on the verge of revealing information of substance about their mission, a deadly grey fog would envelop them and they would turn to dust. Unfortunately, as it was becoming obvious that there was a threat to the land, the Great Mhunna, leader of the Mhun in Moghedu, decided to close the Great Gate of Moghedu against the threat. This had the effect of cutting off most of the silver trade, the implications of which were dire: cessation of sigil production by the magi guilds. A few days later, Phainein Bambi was roaming the Black Forest when she discovered an orc soldier setting fires in the forest. Subsequently, the orc starts the Aureliana forest on fire too. Unfortunately for the forest-lovers of Sapience, it was quite a windy day, and the fires soon spread to envelop nearly the entire Savannah, imperilling the Tomaculans and their livestock. As he was walking along the highway, Darktalon Tiercel discovered the guilty orc, and began to question it but before he got too far, Tarlin Vor'dkan charged in and began to attack the orc, who fled the battle and escaped. Because of the rash of fires, and the threat of more, Cynne Ravenwind organised the cities to regularly patrol the various sections of the land. Assigned to Ashtan were: The Savannah, the Mhojave, the Dakhota hills, Azdun, El'Jazira, Thera, and Tomacula. Shallam was assigned: Shastaan, Jaru, Delos, the Siroccians, the Shamtota Hills, and the Pash Valley. Hashan was assigned Tasur'ke, the Northern and Western Ithmian forests, and the environs of Belladona's keep. Oakstone itself pledged to watch all the forests, the Vashnars, and the Mannaseh swamp. It was around this time that Kroul, revealed to be an Ogre High Priest contacted Vexlore, and offered to assist Vexlore in achieving his vow of revenge against the Tsol'aa. Vexlore quickly turned it around and began demanding money from Kroul for his assistance. As Kroul wanted to attack the Tsol'aa only as a distraction anyway, he was quick to promise Vexlore whatever he asked for, as Kroul had no intention of ever paying him anyway. An agreement had been struck for Kroul to loan Vexlore some ogre knights, and to assassinate some of the Tsol'aa in advance, to make things easier for Vexlore. Unfortunately, Vexlore immediately bragged to his Order mates about being chosen to help Kroul, and Kroul's assassination team of orc assassins, ogre knights, and ogre huntresses was intercepted near the Tsol'aa hiding spot. Engaging in battle with Santos, Cynne Ravenwind, Grandmaster Sunrise, Grandmaster Rejlii, Orina Lighthawk-Foehammer, Oswald Snowmantle (of Northgrove), Fuu Ta'sa-Le'Murzen, Thaipan Silverwisp, and Scavenger Nusiki, they were decimated. During the fury of battle however, one orc assassin managed to slip through, and slay some of the Tsol'aa. Luckily, before he could slay the Prince, he was put out of his misery by Silverwisp. Kroul, furious at Vexlore's inability to keep his mouth shut, ordered a hit on Vexlore, who was quickly tracked down and slain. During the chaos in the Western Ithmia, which was designed by Kroul simply to provide a distraction, strike teams of ogres and orcs snuck into Ashtan, Shallam, and Hashan to kidnap the important rat-buyers: The Ratman, Hakhim, and Liirup. Hashan nearly organised quickly enough to prevent the kidnapping of Liirup, but missed by a hair. After these rash actions, Tu'eras accepts sanctuary for his people in the palace in Shallam. During patrols of the land, Myrkul discovers that the rat buyers are being sequestered in a hut in the Mannaseh swamp. After backup arrives the rescuers are ambushed by Kroul's forces, hid deeper in the swamp. The rescuers prove victorious, despite heavy losses, and are able to return the rat buyers to their respective cities (to the great relief of many). Unfortunately for the cities, Kroul had once again out-witted them, and was using the kidnapping of the rat buyers as merely another distraction towards his real goal: the taking of the Master Crystals. During the battle in the Mannaseh, strike forces had once again entered Ashtan, and taken the Warlocks' Master Crystal that had been so handily showed to them by Dalamar. Once they had that, it was easy to use it to locate the Sorcerers' and the Magi, and they quickly moved their forces to break into those guilds, and steal their crystals. Though they were opposed at each guild, none of the defending forces were organised enough to stop the ogres and orcs. Kroul gloated about his victory. He seemed unable to resist trumpeting his strategic triumphs. And then came a surprise none had been expecting. While a group of people were gathered North of Thera to discuss the happenings, out of nowhere, vibrations began appearing, stealing people's equilibrium, slowing their passage through time, inflicting plague after plague, dragging flying Druids and Magi from the skies, and causing small heart attacks in all those nearby. Most puzzling of all was that the vibrations seemed to have been sent by someone known as Zh'risia, the Dark Lord. The vibrations were eventually destroyed, but this highlighted the danger that the combined missing Master Crystals potentially posed to the land. Now, it is during this time that an interesting side-story begins to develop. Because of the crisis, the guildmasters of the Paladins and Infernal Knights, Aldair d'Vast and Raajin Lucoster, have decided that their guilds should cooperate in the common defence of the land. To facilitate inter-guild cooperation, they exchanged guild officers: The Paladins got Blademaster, Khejian, Deven, and Karkus, while the Infernals got Cyre Elseth, Shenna Weltsdown, and Tarlin Vor'dkan. As each guild was considering the officers of the other to be as members, both knightly guilds felt obligated to protect the officers on loan as if they were guild mates. This policy, however, was not without its opponents, particularly in Ashtan, home of the Infernal's Iron Citadel. Some, including Mordyval Danarrii, an Archon of Ashtan, felt that it was outrageous to be protecting the sworn enemies of Ashtan, regardless of reason. He warned Raajin that the loaned officers would be attacked if they set foot in Ashtan. Raajin, of course, entered Ashtan with Cyre and Shenna in tow. Mordyval immediately travelled to their location, and attacked Cyre. Raajin then slew Mordyval, causing the Archon to cast him from the city, and brand him traitor. The Master of the Iron Citadel, son of the founder of the guild, had been run out of his home city. Shallam accepted Raajin's temporary presence, though not all were happy with this state of affairs. Still, Maran La'Saen supported the action, and few could resist the Sultan's influence. Because many felt that a large-scale invasion was imminent, Shallam proposed that the Church erect tactically located shrines to assist in the defence of the land. Many non-Shallamese were outraged by this, as shrines have, historically, been a matter of great contention and striving, and, indeed, war itself. The wisdom and potential usefulness of the shrines could not be denied, though, so it was proposed that the Church be allowed to erect tactical shrines provided they destroy them after the crisis was over. The Church responded that it did not seem fair that they would have to work to erect shrines for the common benefit only to have to destroy that work afterwards. Raajin felt that this was eminently reasonable, so he offered to help sanctify the shrines to golden in return for the Church's assistance in dismantling them later. This was truly unheard of. The Infernals had been among the loudest and hardest-working opponents of shrines. Sartan, the Lord of Evil and Patron of the Infernal Knights took notice of Raajin's doings, and was furious at Raajin's behaviour. Withdrawing his Patronage of the Iron Citadel, he demanded that the Infernal Knights vote out their Guildmaster in order to regain his Patronage. Raajin's former city mates, if not friends, then began to attack him, perhaps glad at the chance to strike at the stiff-backed Guildmaster. The first to reach and slay him were Khalid, an Occultist, and Lakissa Storm, a Kharon. Soon, Raajin's Shallamese allies were defending him against their enemies in Ashtan. Not long after this, the results of some diplomatic work by Yeshua ben Choshech, a Paladin, and Rivalyn, a Magi, paid off, in that the Mhunna was persuaded that by ensuring the steady flow of silver to Rurin the Crafter who could then sell it via his network of shops, the war effort would be strengthened due to the resultant production of sigils, and the Mhun themselves would be safer. There was now a period of general quiet for nearly two months, broken only by an attack by a single, apparently crazed, but very powerful, warmage, who, after exacting a heavy toll, was finally slain by Grand Father Tranquility. But finally, Druid scouts soaring in Eagle morph discovered that increasing number of orc and ogre regiments were massing in the Vashnars. The forces of Sapience began to mass themselves in the Vashnars, with some waiting in reserve for the now nearly-inevitable attack on their homelands. When the attack came, it came swiftly, and it came in force. There were ogre warlords directing ogre knights, orc assassins with their poisons, ogre warmages with their powerful magical arsenals, and orc warriors. The first to bear the brunt of the attack were Rivalyn, Archidal Saer'rac, Profanus Magus, and Warloc Merre, who quickly called for backup. Jack Moonflair, arriving quickly, was the first to fall to the ogre-led forces. Mass chaos ensued. It wasn't long before ogre-led forces pushed past the Vashnar foothills to travel towards the population centres of the continent. Meeting weak resistance, they slaughtered all they came across, until they entered the cities to loot and burn. But though many citizens of Sapience fell, they exacted a steep toll on Kroul's forces. Kroul's confidence begins to waver. His bravado only increases, of course, but it is clear that the free cities are pushing the Ogre forces back into the previously-hidden valley from which they emerged. Directly after this came a revelation. A heretofore unknown Ogre, Vukub Ysin'zhu, announced as the Baron of Dun Valley, trumpeted his fury to the world. He tells that he took possession of the Dun fortress and its surrounding villages of Thalagor and Garnok by slaying is former evil Tsol'teth master. Unbeknownst to him, the Tsol'teth had an apprentice, one Zh'risia, who hid, increasing his power, and exerting his influence over Kroul. It seemed that all along it was Zh'risia who was directing the invasion, manipulating Kroul. Invading the Dun Valley, the citizens of Sapience found the fortress, only to find that apparently Zh'risia has locked its great gates, keeping them out, and Kroul, Vukub, and the other ogres in. Vukub orders the ogre forces to retreat, and they do, albeit with some skirmishes on the way. Exploring the extensive wild lands of the Dun, Firefox the Druid then discovered a cave behind a waterfall, in which hid Kaanan, the Outcast of the Tsol'aa, missing since the invasion, and thought to be working in alliance with Kroul and Zh'risia. With scorn, Kaanan confirmed his role before attacking what was then a group with Firefox. Armelia, Jerle Minara, and Scavenger Nusiki battled Kaanan, and Scavenger slew him. Finding that Kaanan was guarding the key to the fortress, word was spread, and an incredible force was assembled for the attack. It is likely that it was the largest force seen in Achaea for over 250 years, since the final destruction of Imperial Seleucar by the Sapience League. Invading the Dun Fortress, Kroul and Vukub are quickly located. Kroul began to simper and beg for his life, while Vexlore asked Vukub to assist them in finding and bringing Zh'risia to justice. Vukub agreed, and the hunt is on. Though the fortress is large, and Zh'risia was well-hidden, Aldair d'Vast, leading Silverlock Moonflair, Provos Weltsdown and Kerish Toreiil, eventually found the foul Tsol'teth. As they fled for their lives, they summoned reinforcements, and soon the backbone of Sapience was allied for the attack. Though some fell to Zh'risia's black magic, the force proved to be too overwhelming even for one who was nearly a Tsol'teth Master, and he breathed his last, slain by Dirgmal Relkatha, an Occultist. Kroul, seeing that it would not be long before they came for him, fled and hid in a rude hut in Thalagor. Deciding that Kroul must not be allowed to hide behind the manipulations of Zh'risia. Groups of vigilantes set out to bring the Ogre High Priest to justice. A group of Dalamar, Lavender, Santos, Blademaster Khejian, and Cynne Ravenwind eventually located the tainted High Priest, and attacked him with the fury of the righteous. Fittingly, Cynne Ravenwind, protector of she who Kroul himself raped, avenged her Queen by personally slaying Kroul. And so the threat to Sapience was ended. There was, of course, some mop-up work to be done, as not all ogres and orcs obeyed Vukub's orders to withdraw, and continued to maraud across the land. In the main though, the 8 months of uncertainty and tension were over, and there only remained the funeral of King La'ramhis and the crowning of Prince Tu'eras. In a moving ceremony that Sarapis Himself personally participated in, the elder Tsol'aa, Thaa'lis, gave the funeral address, after a number of Sapience citizens spoke, and asked the Logos to bury the great king of the Tsol'aa. At the conclusion of this sad event was the crowning of Tu'eras. Though the only king most of the Tsol'aa have known is dead, Tu'eras already a mature man, promises to be a wise, strong leader. The respect his leadership garnered in the aftermath of the devastating attack on the Aalen has won him many supporters, and he rules with the loving consent of his people.