The Winds of War
The Kingdom of Baalskar is ravaged with war. The year is 1142 and hordes of monsters from the East have invaded this once peaceful kingdom and have quickly transformed this land into darkness and horror. Baalskar's great armies have risen up after the fall of Varn to defend Western Baalskar from these hideous armies of monsters which now control most of the Eastern Lands. During this treacherous stalemate Lord Dragomor, the evil Black Lord, has generously rewarded small groups of monsters who have been able to slip past Baalskar's armies and randomly attack civilian settlements in the Purple Valley. Such attacks have struck fear and terror in the hearts of these settlers with many packing up and moving back into safer, Western lands. Such moves could undermine Baalskar's attempts to spread their Kingdom eastward and push the Monsters further back to the east from which they have come. King Willem Baldor has responded to these acts of terrorism by calling for likewise Fellowships of Men from Baalskar to seek out and destroy these Fellowships of Monster invaders before they can strike Baalskar's Eastern settlements again and continue to spread fear and terror.
The Kingdom of Baalskar
The Kingdom of Baalskar has always been host to a large variety of races and creatures. For as many years as anyone can remember all of these peoples have lived together in peace save for a few skirmishes between the Dwarves of Maruk and some of the Elves from Glaemril. The diversity of this great land has been its strength and saving grace.
Men from the capital city of Baalskar provide great leadership for this Kingdom, with thousands upon thousands of citizens from all races. An elected King in Baalskar rules the land and helps protect all peoples from war, poverty and disease. The giant city of Baalskar thrives on business, universities, markets, even performing arts. Having by far the largest population of any city in the Kingdom of Baalskar, this capital city has everything to offer including great protection as it is nestled on the western side of the Great Gap in the Baalskar Mountains. This Great Gap is the only passage from Eastern to Western Baalskar save for the North Sea far north or the Targon River which cuts through Maruk Canyon at the southern tip of the Baalskar Mountains.
Varn, before its destruction from armies of monsters, was also a diverse city made up of mostly men with the second largest population in the Kingdom. The major industries for this great fishing town in eastern Baalskar located at the mouth of the Varn River were fishing of course and whaling. Varn had the second largest army in Baalskar mostly due for the need to defend against nomads, pirates and occasionally monsters who wander into Baalskar from the unexplored east, usually along the North Sea.
Empyria was primarily an academic city hosting three major universities before its defeat at the hands of the monsters. All three of these universities were considered to be better than both the University of Baalskar and the University of Zemongar located in their respective cities. In particular studies in medicine, magic and incarnation, warfare, sciences and engineering were clearly the most advanced at these universities. Although Empyria is located in Eastern Baalskar, they do not have a formal military save for a somewhat small police force. They depended on Varn and Zemongar for protection against any rouges invading from the east.
Zemongar is the third largest city of men and is located in Eastern Baalskar south of Varn and southeast of Empyria. Zemongar has its own somewhat large military which it uses to repel non-friendly invaders from the East. Some of the larger industries for this town are beef, fish from the Targon River, metalworking for both weapons and armor, and horses particularly war horses. The Dragomor family has ruled this city for over 200 years in spite of Baalskar's plea to have open elections like other towns. Lord Borandt Dragomor has repeatedly challenged Baalskar's leadership over the Kingdom of Baalskar for many years. Lord Dragomor has proposed that cities take turns ruling the Kingdom and that Baalskar should not have rule over the land just because it is the largest city. King Baldor of Baalskar has always encouraged Dragomor to run for King of Baalskar during the next general election noting that anyone can be elected King of Baalskar. Elves and Dwarves have rulled Baalskar in years past and that the election is open to anyone in the Kingdom of Baalskar. But Lord Dragomor contends that he would not get a fair election in Baalskar and that he should just be given the opportunity to rule.
Targon is considered to be a sister city to Varn, very similar in many ways, except located in western Baalskar. Fishing and whaling are also major industries as well as boat making. Baalskar stations its navy at Targon. One major difference between Targon and Varn however is the absence of any formal military since this city is rarely attacked save for some sporadic attacks from the sea. Thus Targon has its own navy and many large catapults poised at the sea for protection.
Silvaria is another large city of men located on the east side of the Targon River west of Baalskar. Meat is by far the major industry for Silvaria as large cattle can be seen for miles surrounding the city. Some of the best horses in the Kingdom of Baalskar are also bred here including the rare and elegant White Horses used for the high-speed white horse riders who act as messengers between cities.
There are other smaller cities of men in Baalskar such as the smaller fishing villages of Siverling and Uman, the agricultural towns of Skilmor and Scully, and Baron, the mysterious city of barbarians located on the eastern edge of The Westlands, a vast wasteland which rarely has spawned any foreign travelers.
Halfing cities provide without question the best produce in the Kingdom including both fruits and vegetables. Terrytown, the largest Halfling city, is considered to be the "Halfling Capital." This large town is most famous for its annual Barrel Race, held every year on the first day of Spring. Only Halflings are permitted to enter this sometimes deadly race in which they don wine barrels on the twisting Abranel River which snakes through the city and right through Terrytown City Square in the center of town. The winner gets 1000 shillings, which is about ten times the annual salary in Terrytown. Second place gets nothing. Fighting from barrel to barrel is allowed during the second half of the race only. Abranel, located just east of Terrytown, is best known for their perfect apple & blueberry orchards.
Dwarves mostly inhabit the Maruk Mountains mining for ore, silver and gold. All of their cities are nestled in the mountainsides of this great mountain range in the south. More than any other race save the elves of the Elandor Forest, the Dwarves keep to themselves and are generally not pleased to have visitors in their cities save for the city of Korac. Most Dwarves mine every day from dusk to dawn in their lust to find minerals hidden deep within the earth's crust. The city of Maruk contains the highest population of Dwarves and has by far the most mines. The city of Haron southwest of Maruk has fewer mines but much deeper ones. Some are reported to go miles into the earth. Gold and even platinum are mined in these deep mines. Dwarves disappearing and dying in mines from cave-ins or repulsive monsters from deep within the earth is commonplace and an accepted way of life. The city of Korac at the mouth of the Maruk Canyon is less of a mining town and more of a small tourist town offering food, accommodations and entertainment for travelers making a stop from their journeys along the Targon River.
There are Elves too in the Kingdom of Baalskar. The Elves of Glaemril produce very exotic products such as herbs for medicines, expensive wines, and really good ales. These Elves are very friendly and like to travel and meet other people and races. Many people travel far to Glaemril to spend their holiday as the finest food, restaurants, inns and markets are in abundance. A large, meticulously clean Glaemril Lake, located on the south side of the city, is a great family vacation spot with boating, swimming, fishing and parks.
The Elves are the Elendor Forest are a completely different race than the Elves of Glaemril. These wood Elves keep completely too themselves and forbid travelers from entering their forest. Anyone attempting to enter the Elendor Forest will first receive a warning arrow from an elven sniper which will miss them by only a few inches. If they proceed to enter the forest a second arrow will certainly slay them. Even large armies of men or dwarves would not be able to advance even 100 feet in this forest. These Elves of Elendor are certainly not evil, in fact they are neutral. They are completely self-sufficient and have no interest in leaving their beloved forest or for socializing with other peoples. Occasionally an elf will leave their Elendor Forest home in search for a new life or adventure. Such Elves are outstanding archers and good fighters.
Before the Invasion
During peaceful times in the Kingdom of Baalskar before the Invasion it was not uncommon for packs of bandits, pirates, and even small bands or armies of orcs to invade from the East. Usually these unwanted invaders would travel along the North Sea coast and arrive at Elymere's Point. Varn had a large contingent of Soldiers there which was often able to quite easily fend off these random, infrequent attacks. Sometimes the invaders would instead turn south and travel along the Varn Forest. This path would of course eventually lead to Zemongarr where another great army would be waiting to slay such invaders. It wasn't until year 1124 when the first large army of orcs arrived from the East. Unlike previous invasions this army was apparently well organized, equipped and trained. They were able to easily destroy the Elymere's Point outpost and it wasn't until they reached Drummond that a larger army from Varn was able to cut them off and defeat them. There was not much alarm after this incident since this was the first significant attack by any outside
invaders and it appeared to be an isolated incident. For several months no other orcs or any outsiders were seen and life began to return to normal in Varn.
The Varn Wars
The following year in 1125 another much larger army was spotted approaching along the North Sea coast. This time Varn was ready with guards at remote outpost positions even further to the east than Elymere's Point. However this was not enough for Varn to thwart this attack. This time this larger army was able to march west and wipe out the large fishing village of Drummond. Although they were soon defeated by the Varn army it wasn't until after they were able to strike some of the eastern buildings in the city of Varn with their large catapults killing some civilians. Also the casualties in the Varn army were frighteningly high. Soon after the battle was over Varn received new reports that more monsters were spotted along the North Sea coast. It was at this point that Varn realized that they were truly at war and thus the Varn Wars had begun.
The Varn Wars lasted from 1125 - 1132. Interestingly the monsters continued to attack Varn and never turned south to attack other cities in East Baalskar such as Zemongarr. Perhaps the monsters determined that Varn needed to be conquered first, probably so that they could control this port city which would allow them the ability to bring in their navies down the Varn River to support the attacks in the south.
Varn did not get much support from the other major cities in Baalskar. Zemongarr claimed they needed to save their armies to defend their own eastern city from certain future attacks. Empyria abandoned their city and fled westward leaving behind their great universities, museums and art collections. Empyria did not have an army and thus were not able to defend themselves. Some Empyrians did go north and came to Varn's aid by enlisting in their army but most fled to Baalskar. Baalskar supplied some troops but they continued to contend that this was a regional situation and did not understand the true severity of the threat posed by the monster armies. The Wood Elves of Elendor are secretive and neutral and do not participate in affairs outside of their woods.
The people of Varn fought fiercely and bravely during the Varn Wars to protect their city and home they loved. Their city was attacked numerous times but was able to repel the monsters due to their great defenses including giant walls and catapults surrounding the city. In particular many catapults were poised to attack ships from the sea. Several attacks during the Varn Wars were from large navies. These ships did not stand much of a chance against Varn's catapults.
Varn's Last Stand
Late in the year 1132 doom appeared certain for Varn as a great navy of monsters sailed from the East as well as the largest army of Orcs yet approached from the land as well. Varn sent out high-speed, white horse messengers to all of the great cities in a last ditch desperate effort for help. Baalskar responded by sending their entire Royal Navy stationed at Targon to intercept the monster navy sailing from the east. Also Zemongarr finally sent one of their large armies to Varn on ships which were able to quickly sail north up the Varn River.
A strong wind out of the west was able to speed up Baalskar's ships sailing east from Targon. In fact Baalskar's Navy reached Varn before the Monster's Navy. This great development allowed what was left of Varn's Army to turn their attention from the sea and fully engage their army on the giant Orc Army approaching from the land. Baalskar's Royal Navy was extremely victorious wiping out the unskilled Monster Navy with ease while only losing a few ships.
Finally the great Orc Army struck the city. All of Varn's citizen's fought with great valor as they faced nearly impossible odds. Even civilians such as blacksmiths, fishermen and farmers took up arms to help fight this horde of monsters. Finally in one of the most lopsided battles ever, the people of Varn were able to defeat the Orcs and they sent what was left of their army retreating back to the east along the coastline. The people celebrated their great victory as the army from Zemongarr finally arrived from the Varn River.
The Ugliest of Monsters
It was Garin Stulmeyer, son of late Lord Markim Stulmeyer, Ruler of Varn, who ran joyfully across the Varn Fields to embrace Darron Korr, the Zemongarr Captain and inform him that they have already defeated the Orc Army. But it was with the greatest sorrow that he and the remaining survivors of Varn watched in disbelief as Darron draw his sword and struck Garin down from his atop his warhorse. And what followed on this saddest day was surely one of the darkest atrocities which has ever befallen this Kingdom. The Zemongarr Army charged and slew everyone in sight; women, children, elderly, the sick, anyone alive was lost. The people of Varn, staring in disgust and disbelief as the Zemongarr Army charged, dropped their weapons not out of fear or cowardice, but out of disgust and outrage as the Zemongarr army maliciously slew what was left of their people. Varn finally fell on this dark day, but they were ultimately defeated by men, not by the monsters and orcs they had grown to fear.
One of the surviving women who hid in the hills outside Varn wrote:
If monsters are known as hideous, grotesque creatures of evil
Without remorse, regard for life or care of betrayal
Menaces of unrelenting wickedness and cruelty
Who's only love is to inflict suffering, death and despair on the innocent
Then these men of Zemongarr are certainly the ugliest of monsters
Far uglier than any orc, troll, goblin or beast
And surely the darkest evil this world has seen
A New Alliance of Monsters and Men
It was quickly learned that the city of Zemongarr had formed a secret alliance with the monsters years ago during the Varn Wars. How long this alliance had been in place will never be certain but this attack on Varn had been planned for some time. Only now did it make sense why the monsters never even ventured south towards Zemongarr and threatened with attack. This effort was the brainchild of Lord Dragomor, the evil ruler of Zemongarr, who calls himself the Black Lord. It is now well known the greatness of Lord Dragomor's true lust for power and desire to control all the lands of Baalskar. He had always secretly searched for ways to grow his power and now the monster invaders have offered him a perfect method for obtaining that power. Many scholars believe that if Zemogarr's armies would have instead joined Varn's forces they could have flushed the monsters out of the Kingdom of Baalskar once and for all and these lands would have been safe and in peace. The monsters are in fact poorly organized. It is Lord Dragomor who has brought strategy, tactics and organization to the monsters armies and navies. And with his leadership he brings promises of wealth, victory and glory to the hordes of monsters. The weak-minded monsters are easily seduced by Lord Dragomor and they follow his orders without question. The monsters loathe war and will fight for any cause, particularly one that promises wealth. At the end of the Varn Wars, Lord Dragomor purposely allowed the monsters to attack Varn first and suffer heavy casualties before his army from Zemongarr arrived to easily defeat the remaining people and claim victory.
East and West Divided
It is important to note that the Kingdom of Baalskar is divided primarily into two sections; Eastern Baalskar and Western Baalskar. This division is due mostly to natural phenomena. With the exception of the Great Gap located at the capital city of Baalskar, there is essentially little passage from the east to the western lands. The Great Gap is a spectacular break in the Baalskar Mountains which allows passage from Western Baalskar into Eastern Baalskar. The capital city of Baalskar lies just to the west side of the Great Gap in Western Baalskar and controls the Gap.
In order for travelers to cross from Western Baalskar to Eastern Baalskar or vice-versa they would need to either go all the way north via. the North Sea or sail south on the Targon River through the Maruk Canyon. The Maruk and Baalskar Mountains prohibit any other routes of passage save for Nebar's Pass in the Northern Baalskar Mountains which is treacherous and difficult to navigate. The Elendor Forest is impassible. Wood Elven snipers will slay any invaders who enter the forest including the good men of Baalskar. The Elendor Elves are certainly not evil, they are neutral but do not allow any trespassers in their forest. And finally The Great Marshes, which lie between the Elendor Forest and the North Sea, are for the most part impassable or at the very least extremely treacherous with hordes of carnivorous flying insects.
The Rise of Orgobakh
Massive hordes of monsters continued to flow into Eastern Baalskar and have erected their own city, Orgobakh, which means in Orc "Great City of Monsters." Form the years 1133 - 1135 they erected this giant city at the southern tip of the Varn Woods where the land is ripe for harvest and they have close access to Zemongarr and the West. Gigantic fortresses and massive monuments mark this huge city which can be seen from miles away. This is here where Zemongarr sends many troops and specialists to better train the monsters in warfare tactics and intelligence. Orgobakh continues to grow and become more powerful as hundreds of monsters wander into the city almost daily from the east.
The Ruins of Varn
Some of the monsters decide to travel along the North Sea coast and inhabit the defeated city of Varn even with the knowledge or the great city of Orgobakh. The city of Varn is in complete ruins. Many of the broken buildings still stand, quite a few of them are inhabited. Unlike Orgobakh there is no administrative structure in this town. It is mostly a free for all as monsters continue to constantly fight, rob and slay each other in this lawless town. Many monsters have come to this town hearing rumors that you can become rich quick by trading goods in underground markets. However most of the monsters that settle in Varn wind up living in poverty. Many of them resort to eating rodents for food and living in broken down buildings or small shacks. Usually such monsters live together in small communities with constant guard watches so that they can fight off the almost daily and even hourly attempts from others to rob them, even of their rodents. Some monsters have managed to inhabit some of the better homes and mansions in the city which managed to survive mostly intact from the wars. Of course these monsters are under regular attack from others wishing to occupy their homes. It is believed that the average life expectancy for monsters in Varn is two to three weeks. Dying from sickness is just as common as dying from battle in this filthy, disease-ridden city.
Lord Dragomor has stationed an entire legion of orcs along the portside of Varn to defend this conquered city port from Baalskar's navies. By controlling this port Lord Dragomor controls the Varn River. This valuable river can be used to move supplies and even armies across Eastern Baalskar. If this port fell into the hands of Baalskar they could use it to help launch attacks against Zemongarr and Orgobakh.
Dragomor had placed even more catapults along the water's edge including some new rapid-fire catapults developed by the evil High Dwarves, who have recently settled in the Blood Red Mountains. This army contingent has built their own barracks outside of the ruined city of Varn and they allow Varn's inhabitants to run free and ultimately destroy themselves. Lord Dragomor has given up trying to get these monsters to join his forces.
Great Eastern Gate Erected
Baalskar reacted to Orgobakh's rise by constructing their own defenses at the eastern side of The Great Gap. During the years 1133 and 1134 they erected the Great Eastern Gate of Baalskar; a spectacular achievement of engineering and warfare. This fantastic gate has two gigantic towers, the North Tower and the South Tower, on either side of the Gate. Each tower stands over 525 feet tall. The tower walls are lined with hundreds of windows for archers. Inside each tower is a complex system of stairs, platforms, arrow storage areas, etc. to efficiently launch deadly arrow attacks against enemies. Also reinforcements can quickly be deployed to areas to replace slain archers. Thousands of archers wait on stand-by in Replenishment Zones for their call to replace fallen fighters.
A large fortress is carved into the top of the mountainside above the Great Gate by the Nemarons. Huge catapults are strategically positioned here to strike enemy catapults long before they come within firing range of the Great Gate. The Nemarons are certain the most skilled catapult operators in all of Baalskar. The captivating mountainside city of Nemaroth lies just north of the North Tower. This lowest section of this city is over 200 feet from the ground. The Nemarons have always lived high in the mountains long before the threat of the Monsters. They have learned from their ancestors never to believe in peace and to live in a protected manner.
The Great Eastern Gate of Baalskar was designed to repel any attack by the monster armies of any size. What was unexpected even by King Baldor was how soon these new defenses would be tested.
First Battle of the Grulch
On the 35th day of Spring 1136 Lord Dragomor could wait no longer and ordered a huge contingent of monsters to assemble in The Grulch. The Grulch is a large, barren stretch of land directly east of the Great Eastern Gate of Baalskar which is completely barren of vegetation and life. Over five thousand monsters began marching towards the Great Gate. Baalskar was ready for the threat. The Nemarons destroyed most of the Monsters' catapults before they were even in range of the Great Gate with stunning accuracy. The Nemarons are a wonderful, peaceful folk but they spend their lives preparing for war in case they are ever threatened.
Organized waves of arrows from both the North and South Towers decimated the Monsters slaying thousands of them in only a few hours. Before dawn the Monsters retreated with less than one thousand in number. Baalskar suffered fewer than 200 casualties, mostly from archers in the lower Tower positions. In addition the Monsters were unsuccessful in inflicting any significant damage to the structure of Baalskar's Great Eastern Gate. Baalskar celebrated the stunning victory along with the acknowledgement that their Great Gate was indeed a spectacular defense against the Monsters.
Baalskar Continues to Grow in Power
Instead of reveling in victory King Baldor of Baalskar quickly orders the construction of two key defensive forts; Korac and Dargon. Although the East and West are divided naturally by mountains, swamps and the Elendor Forest, there are still routes which could possibly be used by the Monsters.Korac was erected on the western side of the Maruk Canyon to defend against Monsters attempting to sail west on the Targon River upstream and invade Western Baalskar. It took less than one hundred days to finish this outpost which was completed on the 12th day of Fall 1136. While it is entirely possible to sail the Targon River upstream it is very slow moving. Couple that with the strategic positioning of some catapults atop the Korac fortress and now it becomes a nearly impossible task. The first few ships of Monsters which attempted this route in Winter 1137 learned this fact the hard way.
Perhaps the best route to cross from Eastern to Western Baalskar is along the border between the northern edge of the Elendor Forest and the southern edge of the Great Marshes. It is still a perilous journey wrought with biting insects, anacondas, giant crocodiles and wetlands. Some parts of the Great Marshes actually meet with the Elendor Forest and force journeymen to wade in their brackish waters and hope they are spared from the hordes of carnivorous flying insects that inhabit the swamps.
Fort Dargon was erected on the Western edge of the Great Swamp to guard against enemies attempting to invade from the East. This large fortress was completed on the 83rd day of Spring 1137. Although it has not engaged in any major battles it has deterred several smaller armies of monsters traveling along this pass to retreat back to the East.
Baalskar also set up a small fort on Egger's Point to serve mostly for surveillance and as a lookout for enemy navies heading towards Targon. White Horse Riders are stationed there to race off and alert Targon and Baalskar of any impending attacks.
Finally King Baldor ordered to have the navies at Targon nearly doubled in size. Realizing how important it is to defend this key port, hundreds of skilled craftsman, engineers and builders were sent from Baalskar to assist in the emergency construction of additional warships and catapults. By 1138 Targon has significantly bolstered its navy by more than doubling its size from 22 to over 50 warships. In addition these navies are preparing for war by constantly practicing maneuvers and battle tactics.
Second Battle of the Grulch
Lord Dragomor was able to hide his devastating defeat during the First Battle of the Grulch form not only the Monsters but many of the governors of Zemongarr instead claiming victory and rallying for another battle. The Monsters continued to flow into Eastern Baalskar at a dizzying rate. In only one years time nearly 20,000 monsters had settled into Orgobakh alone not counting thousands more who choose to wander or pillage the ruins of Varn. Humiliated by his loss during the First Battle of the Grulch, the Black Lord quickly assembles a much larger and deadlier army to assault Balskaar's Eastern Gate once again.
An army of over 15,000 monsters began to mass in the Grulch late in the Winter of 1138. Over three times larger than the previous force, Baalskar embraced for the worst. Residents living on the Eastern side of the city were evacuated to shelters on the city's western side. Although Baalskar was prepared for battle the Monsters' army may be too large for their Eastern Gate's defenses.
The official count for Baalskar's army was just short of 6000 men. Even with the great defensive advantage of the Great Eastern Gate the King Baldor realized that Dragomor's forces may be too great. The king dispatched White Horse Riders to all of the large, western towns in a last desperate attempt for help. Riders are sent north to Targon and even Elendor, although the Wood Elves have made it very clear that they will never participate in combat outside the Elendor Forest with anyone for any cause. The sailors stationed at Baalskar's large navy at Targon would likely arrive too late. Also the King fears that the Monsters could launch a second attack from the North Sea. Also if the sailors were to abandon their navy positions at Targon that could leave Western Baalskar vulnerable to attacks from the sea.
White Horse Riders were also sent westward towards Silvaria, Terrytown, Abranel, Glaemril and even deep into the Westlands, although any help from these distant lands would likely come too late. And finally Riders were sent south into Maruk to the Dwarven mining towns of Haron, Drumarth and Mt. Neron.
Finally at dawn on the 101st day of Winter 1138 the inevitable had begun as the hordes of Monsters began to bear down on Baalskar's Great Eastern Gate. Baalskar responded vigilantly with well organized arrow attacks from the North and South Towers. The Nemarons were also highly successful in destroying over 30 catapults including several rapid-fire catapults before they were able to get within attack range. However during the night the Monsters began to gain ground and started inflicting heavy damages and casualties to the archers in the Eastern Gate's towers. Also some of their catapults had slipped within range of the South Tower and were wrecking significant damage and havoc on that position.
Shortly before dawn the South Tower fell to the Monsters and whatever soldiers were still alive attempted to flee desperately to the North Tower along the Commanders' Lookout, which connects the North and South Towers above the Great Gate itself. As dawn approached King Baldor felt the threat of defeat as nearly 5000 monsters continued to fight. The king had lost at least half of his army to injury or death. With only a few thousand Soldiers left fighting the tide of the battle began to turn quickly. Catapults were now striking the North Tower. The Nemarons had run out of boulders for ammunition. The Monsters were able to re-use boulders fired at them from the Nemarons. The North Tower was quickly falling. There were no longer any archers in reserve. Many of the North Tower's windows were empty indicating that the archers at that position were slain. And there were no replacements left to send there as reinforcements. What little hope King Baldor had left was fading fast.
No one had responded to the desperate call for help from the White Riders of Baalskar… no one except for Silvaria. Lord Ruthord Valthorn led a large group of men on horseback from Silvaria. Most of these men are herders or messengers with little battle experience. They did wield good weapons such as swords. Instead they carried clubs, maces even shovels. Although Silvaria had no official army and are "protected" by Baalskar, Ruthord is in charge of protecting Silvaria.
Ruthord Valthron knows that there is not enough time to reach the Great Eastern Gate in time. He has his own desperate plan. He and Gabriella of Elendor, one of the Royal Daughters, are secretly in love. They must keep their love secret since the Wood Elves of Elendor forbid marriage with anyone outside their Forest. However with certain doom for Baalskar pending Ruthord has no choice but to take a very big chance.
Upon reaching Elendor he is able to meet with Gabriella. She is able to convince her father to help Ruthord even though Elendor is considered to be neutral. And although Elendor will not assist in battle they instead offer secret passage of Ruthrod's men through the Elendor Forest along the southern edge. This unprecedented event is the first time any man has ever stepped foot into the Elendor Forest, let alone nearly 700 men, and lived.
Ruthord and his men slip through the Elendor Forest during the night and exit into the Purple Valley north of the Great Eastern Gate of Baalskar at dawn on the 1st day of Spring 1138. Ruthord and his men charge valiantly south towards the 5000 or so monsters still fighting at the Great Eastern Gate. The battle weary monsters are surprised and disheartened by the sudden appearance of a new army and quickly disband and scatter across the Grulch. Many are slain and even more retreat cowardly east back towards Orgobahk.
Baalskar is victorious once again and wins the Second Battle of the Grulch! Ruthord Valthron and his men from Silvaria are hailed as heroes. Lord Dragomor suffered another gigantic defeat as nearly 12,000 monsters were slain. About 3000 or so were able to escape and return to Orgobakh. However Baalskar suffered serious losses too. Nearly 3500 men were lost. In addition the Great Eastern Gate was left in shambles and will require extensive repairs which may take nearly one year to complete. Nevertheless it would be some time before Lord Dragomor would be in a position to launch another major attack.
They Came From Every Corner of Baalskar
The news of the terrible battle and great triumph at Baalskar rapidly spread throughout Western Baalskar. King Baldor promised good pay to Soldiers to join the Baalskar Army, often double what they were making as skilled craftsman, farmers, herders or fisherman. They came from everywhere to Baalskar's aid; More men from Silvaria, Targon, Skilmore, the fishing village of Siverling, Scully, even Glaemril and Baron from the Westlands.
Many halflings from Terrytown and Abranel also rushed to Baalskar's aid, but they were forbidden to join the army and were all turned away upon arrival at the city's gates. These short people are considered to be ineffective in combat. Many Halflings were insulted by this decision nevertheless the decision stood. The king was most surprised when a contingent of Dwarves from the Maruk mines showed up and offered to rebuild the Great Eastern Gate quickly and even stronger than before.
Within one year's time the Baalskar Army grew to over 10,000 troops. King Baldor decided to push his forces eastward while Dragomor was still recovering from his losses. For the first time Baalskar's Army was growing faster than Lord Dragomor's Monster Army. The king decided to build a new fortress named New Empyria east of the Great Eastern Gate of Baalskar. Critics quickly questioned the validly of this decision. Some debated how wise it would be to split the Baalskar Army and place troops at an eastward fort with less natural defenses that the Baalskar Mountains provide for the Great Eastern Gate. Nevertheless the kings aggressively announced his plans and ordered the immediate construction of New Empyria to begin in Spring 1139.
New Empyria Rises in the East
King Baldor placed his new fortress 50 miles northeast of Baalskar's Great Eastern Gate. Over 5000 troops were ordered to be stationed at New Empyria. The king's plan was to not only expand his power eastward to threaten Dragomor, but also as an attempt to battle the monsters further away from the Baalskar city limits. Most of the residents were terrified during both the First and Second Battles of the Grulch. The massive fortress of New Empyria was completed on the 93rd day of Fall 1139 just before the winter. The new Baalskar forces stationed at this fortress were able to secure the area from monsters and offer Baalskar a new hope that their terrified lives could return to normal once again.
Council of Baalskar Established
In addition King Baldor also established the Council of Baalskar during the Winter of 1140. This Council is made up of representatives from all of the Western lands. The objective of this group is to discuss and maintain security in the region and to get all of the cities to join forces against Dragomor's monsters. For every 1000 people in a city you get to have one Council Member. The minimum number of people you must have in a city in order to have one Council Member is 500 however. King Baldor did this to appease some of the smaller fishing villages along the North Sea. The maximum number of Council Members any one city can hold is five regardless of the city's size.
By middle of 1140 King Baldor was able to obtain full support of new Empyria. Some of the Council's early objectives were selecting "non Baalskar" commanders and leaders in the army. Also the subject of funding for the army from different towns was discussed.
Purple Valley is Re-Settled in the East
With the new safety provided by the fortress of New Empyria, the Purple Valley was quickly re-settled during the Spring of 1140. Dozens of wineries were quickly operational and began producing large quantities of wine within months. Many of them were not harmed, the monsters apparently have little care or use for wine. Entire wine villages were quickly fully functional as one of Baalskar's most lucrative export businesses was once again able to operate. The Purple Valley gets its name of course from all of the fine grapes that grow naturally and perfectly in this valley. Without question the best grapes in Baalskar and many believe the best wine as well, save for the elves of Glaemril.
Wine sales to the Halflings, Dwarves and many others in Western Baalskar contribute significantly to Baalskar's economy. Wine has become the preferred alcohol for most of the peoples in Baalskar in these dark and depressing times due to the fact you can get drunk with less money spent on wine than any beer or ale. In addition to the wineries some of the ore mines on the eastern side of the Baalskar Mountains were also opened up again by Dwarves from Maruk. Some rare ores with unique metallurgy can be found in these mines useful in the manufacture of shields and helmets.
King Baldor was fiercely attacked by several members of the Council of Baalskar, accusing the King of building New Empyria in order to rebuild and protect his wine empire. Some critics have claimed that aalskar's economy nearly doubled after only three months of the wineries in full operation. Baldor angrily countered such charges and claimed that New Empyria would keep the monster armies further from the West which helped calm the peoples' fears. By building New Empyria he has "expanded the realm of freedom for the Peoples of the West" to re-take their abandoned homes in the Purple Valley and other villages east of the Baalskar Mountains and live the lives that generations and generations of their families passed down to them. That producing wine or mining for rare ores is their family tradition and they should be free to live the lives they choose. The emotional speech King Baldor gave to the Council of Baalskar secured the settlements in the Purple Valley as well as Soldiers stationed at New Empyria in light of some harsh critics.
Purple Valley is Struck with Terror
Nearly two years pass without incident for any of the peoples of West Baalskar, although New Empyria has from time to time fought back some smaller, renegade armies of monsters towards the East. News of such attacks were for the most part withheld from the peoples of Western Baalskar to minimize panic. Lord Dragomor has steadily been re-building his monster armies but he had suffered extremely heavy casualties during the Battles of the Grulch, particularly the Second Battle of the Grulch. Discontent with waiting for his forces to build up enough strength for another major attack on the city of Baalskar, the Black Lord devises an evil plan to instill fear into the hearts of the good people of Baalskar. Although Kind Baldor's forces stationed at New Empyria are effective at repelling large armies of monsters from moving westward, smaller groups of monsters are able to sneak through the terrain and attempt to randomly attack civilians working in the Purple Valley in acts of terrorism.
Finally on the 54th day of Winter 1142 a small fellowship of monsters successfully entered the Purple Valley and attacked settlers in the small winery village of Ithi located on the valley's eastern edge. Many of the villagers were slain by the savage monster attack which struck during the night. Most of the survivors were women and children who were able to hide in the hills or deep within their wine cellars.
Great fear and terror has since befallen on the settlers in the Purple Valley as news of the horrid attacks spread quickly throughout the entire Kingdom of Baalskar. These villagers have discovered their true vulnerability. The Council of Baalskar was fiercely attacked with anger and criticism and most importantly questions about the future of the settlers' safety. Many members of the Council of Baalskar were quickly in favor of abandoning the Purple Valley and pulling Baalskar's forces back from New Empyria to guard its great city from another imminent attacks.
King Baldor knows that additional attacks from such small and elusive fellowships of monsters could put the security of this region in jeopardy and cause settlers to flee back into the West. Such an action could result in the King being forced to pull Baalskar's troops back from New Empyria to Baalksar's Great Eastern Gate. Such a series of events would weaken Baalskar's eastern front and allow the monsters to move westward and approach the city of Baalskar more freely. This would be a victory for the monsters and put Baalskar and all the peoples of the West closer to danger.
King Baldor Calls for Fellowships of Men
The King has called for Fellowships of Men to form and seek out and slay these bands of monsters before they can strike additional settlements in the Purple Valley. Baldor understands the difficulty in finding these elusive invaders and is not able to spare many men from New Empyria to patrol the region without risking a defeat at that key fortress. Although the monsters are growing slowly they are certainly beginning to mass in numbers and a future attack is imminent. The King promises to repay such small groups of adventurers who succeed in defeating monster invaders quite handsomely. The King has called on Spellcasters such as wizards and magicians to form and lead versatile fellowship groups to improve chances of success. Such groups should not only contain humans but also elves, dwarves, good white or blue dragons, creatures such as centaurs and satyrs, assassins, monks, warlocks and any other good creatures or beasts willing to help this important cause.
It's Now Time to Play
It's now time to play FELLOWSHIPS of Men & Monsters and help determine the fate of the Kingdom of Baalskar. Whose side of this war will you join? Will you join King Baldor and select a brave fellowship of men, elves, dwarves and other good creatures to fight and protect the Purple Valley settlements and help restore peace and security into this volatile region? Or will you join Lord Dragomor and create a fierce fellowship of monsters with orcs, goblins, trolls, black or red dragons, High Elves & Dwarves, giant spiders, snakes, evil creatures, repulsive beasts and even undead to help spread fear, panic and terror throughout the Purple Valley ultimately forcing Baalksar's forces to retreat and help the monsters move their armies westward towards Baalksar? It's up to you.