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.