A few months ago I was working a to compile a series of posts about a major event in Shay'lin (Elven) history. The posts were an adaptation of my notes that I am using on my current book series. For anyone new feel free to #subscribe if you like what you're reading.
Very few races remember the world before the Invasion, before the Dak’ren Empire and its seven thousand year reign. The Shaylin however, remember and like the rest of the world are no strangers to suffering. Like so many during the Invasion, they were nearly wiped out.
Before the Invasion, there were The Three Kingdoms. They were jewels to the Shaylin, whose might and culture was unparalleled to their neighbors. The first kingdom was known as Osel’an, and stood far north, stretching into what is known today as frozen lands of Sokoras.
Before the heavy snows and the land became cursed it was a beautiful country. There was no seemingly endless sea if white with brief periods between spring and summer. Instead there stood a vast bountiful land whose inhabitants worked tireless to maintain a balance with. Even when the winters came, the people endured.
Osel’an had made great strides in education, sciences, arcane practices and well as arts and entertainment. Some even believe they had even begun to look beyond the world around them and to the very stars themselves. Even today, a single strap of paper documenting their nautical achievements would be worth an entire kingdom’s treasury.
These advancements, as impressive as they were, changed the Shaylin of Osel’an. Pride had reared its ugly head within their culture and only shared such knowledge with those they felt worthy of it. Being isolationists, most often their kin from the Kingdoms of Taeslon and Dae’shal were the only ones to reap the benefits.
Dae’shal was of particular interest to the people of Osel’an. Their wooded homes among the Great Redwoods of The Shadow Wood were a curiosity. The Shaper’s ability to mold the land to their will was highly sought after. Many of their wealthiest citizens would pay exorbitant amounts of gold and silver just to have them as retainers or under contract.
Like the people of Osel’an, the Shaylin of Dae’shal had also learned to live as part of the land. They had become masters of agriculture and botany. With the help of the shapers, they managed to create subterranean caverns to grow large fields of crops without having to clear cut the land.
The Wood also had many rare plants not found anywhere else in the world. Some of these plans were invaluable to use it magic as well as healing the sick. Outside the wood, these plants struggled to grow apart from their natural environments and thus the people of Dae’shal took great care in cultivating them and learning how to make them thrive. Ironwood was an especially important export since these trees were difficult to maintain in The Wood’s competitive ecosystem.
Taeslon was much different from its neighbors. The land was sparsely wooded but boasted a great many rivers and streams. Its rough uneven terrain also made it difficult to travel overland, but the rivers provided an excellent means of transport throughout the nation.
Because these rivers also connected Taeslon to its neighbors, trade became one of its main sources of income. Each of The Three Kingdoms used the rivers as natural highways, moving goods and commodities between them. Outsiders were also allowed to trade with the cities along its river borders. It was of the few exceptions the Shaylin of Taeslon ever made. No trader was ever permitted into the nation’s interior, however.
Taeslon’s second greatest import was the minerals and metals it mined. While the terrain was hard on farmers, it contained a great deal of minerals and ore. These deposits were mined and regulated to prevent them from being depleted too quickly. The people of Taeslon took great care in making sure no metals ever went to waste, knowing that no resource lasts forever.
Time progresses however, change ever constant. The Elves were too consumed by the small world they lived in. Each kingdom was like an island sanctuary, outsiders were rarely tolerated and trade with other nations was fewer still. The Three Kingdoms had formed a symbiotic relationship, each providing the other what they alone could not for themselves.
The world could burn and truthfully, they wouldn’t bat an eye. The harshest truth though was that the world was indeed burning, albeit at a very slow rate. For centuries the other races fought and died, kingdoms were replaced and new ones rose in their wake.
The Shaylin, too complacent in their own security, failed to see how deadly the threat their dark cousins, the Dak’ren, posed. The evil elves had their minds set on conquest and they slowly struck from the shadows, infiltrating where they could.
Once the lesser races were weak enough, the dark elves turned their attention toward their cousins. For centuries they slowly been infiltrated the Kingdom of Taeslon, masquerading as high ranking officials and political leaders.
Soon, as time went on, the kingdom began to change. After nearly a generation of patience and planning, the Dak’ren struck. Cries could heard through the streets and the nation’s borders closed overnight. Outsiders were slaughtered like cattle and even the Shaylin fared little better.
Under the cover of night, the nation was torn apart. Gateways that had taken decades to prepare, opened everywhere and hordes of Dak’ren slaves came pouring through. Staging points were quickly established as the Dak’ren generals turned their sights toward the two remaining Shaylin kingdoms. Each knew a war on all fronts was suicide.
The lesser races to the south were already weak and would be too afraid to mount an assault. Most would be more concerned with securing their own borders than banding together. The generals knew that securing information out of the country would be crucial.
They prepared trading barges, loading them up with War Trolls and orc slaves. The barges were sent upriver, the slaves were nothing more than fodder, but they would by time for Dak’ren soldiers to secure more staging points.
Osel’an’s river borders were wiped out overnight in the sudden raid. The Shaylin soldiers were not prepared for the level brutality or fury the War Trolls displayed. The Dak’ren had bred them for battle, they were like a force of nature, their ability to quickly heal made them the perfect shock troops.
Even with all its advancements and achievements, Osel’an was helpless. Within a matter of days the once great nation had been brought nearly to its knees. The Dak’ren, rather than taking Osel’an’s advancements as their own, burned everything in their path.
They felt it was more prudent to leave nothing for their enemies to use against them, than risk allowing the hope of using it for their survival to remain. Their ways would be the only way and everything before them would be placed under their boot. Hundreds of Shaylin died to set this example, with very few taken as slaves.
The Dak’ren’s brutality was limitless and obscene it fueled the people of Osel’an, enabling them to rally against their enemies. Every citizen took up arms, trained or not, their only hope to hold out till winter. Unlike their cousins, they were more accustomed to fighting in winter conditions.
As the battles raged across the territory, winter did indeed finally come. The War Trolls for all their fury and might, were unable to deal with the cold climate. Many died within a few hours of exposure and even their chieftains, though enslaved by Dak’ren magic, refused to leave the warmth of the campfires.
The Dak’ren however seemed undeterred and as hope sprang up among the people of Osel’an, some could sense that something was amiss. The dark horde that had descended upon them had halted their advance. What few survivors remained from the outlying towns and villages began moving north toward the city of Arlishan.
In the following weeks there had been no reports of movement. Some began to believe that Dae’shal might be attacking the flanks of the Dak’ren army from behind, but that was far from the truth. The Dak’ren were preparing for one final act of spite. They had known the War Troll’s were unable to adapt to the cold weather and like their Shaylin cousins they too had also been waiting for winter.
Once the first snows fell, their shadow mages had begun a performing a massive ritual. It had taken them weeks to prepare and required constant attention. The mages were kept under heavy guard and in the coming weeks an unearthly chill fell upon the land.
Once the ritual was complete, the Dak’ren withdrew, further consolidating their forces within Taeslon’s borders. They had no intention of taking Osel’an, their true objective had been its complete destruction. In a matter of months, the land grew more and more inhospitable.
The people Osel’an had no other choice but to abandon their homeland. By this time, there were less than three thousand survivors from the long months of war and bloodshed. They set their eyes toward Dae’shal, hoping to reach their cousins in time. Many died of frostbite, exposure, starvation, and disease in the process.
Taken From Journal of Kallien Sharahren, last prince of Osel’an in the year of Invasion:
“The days have blurred together, I do not even know the day or date. When the first snows came we had hope, we thought, ‘Now we have a chance.’ How wrong we were.
This chill, it lingers, cutting to the bone. We sit huddled in the cold, burning whatever we can for warmth, but the fires offered no respite. Where had we gone wrong? What sin had we committed to deserve a fate so terrible? I look to my people, to their starving dying children and I cannot find the words to comfort them.
Our enemies have withdrawn, they seem satisfied to leave us to die. I fear this will be our end. Many are taking ill and food is running low. We hear howls on the wind at night, as if some horror conjured by the Dak’ren stalks the snowbanks. I dare not Imagine what they might have left waiting for us beyond the walls.”
As the two kindgoms fell, Dae’shal had not simply stood idly by. With the Dak’ren’s sudden assault and rapid deployment, they knew the fall of both nations was assured. Their only hope was to provide a sanctuary for the survivors and bolster their own defenses.
Osel’an wasn’t the only elven kingdom with skilled practitioners of The Arts. With the help of diviners, the High Magus’ of Dae’shal opened portals allowing the refugees to pass safely into their borders. The diviners Foresight had been crucial in the first few months. At the same time, the Shapers had begun molding massive barriers out of the Redwoods found throughout the Shadow wood. The people of Dae’shal were determined to weather the coming storm at all costs.
Outraged, the Dak’ren marched toward the northern border of the Shadow Wood. As the massive army gathered, Dae’shal’s king ordered the natural barriers reinforced with magic. The dark elves spent days trying to cut their way through, but the great redwoods regenerated too quickly.
The Dak’ren went as far as to summon demons of fire and flame, but the enchantments held. Not even their war machines were able to break through. With the barrier unyielding they relented, turning their attention to the humans kingdoms and surrounding nations.
Far to the east, they had already begun mobilizing their forces within the Blighted Lands. Their eyes turned toward the Plains of Kerdash and the Berisan Stepps. Though it would be decades before their enemies could fully conquer the east, once they had, Dae’shal would be surrounded on all sides.
For now, the kingdom had a bit respite and time to prepare. The King, knowing nothing else could be done, declared a week of mourning for the fallen. As a people, the Shaylin had suffered greatly and the extent of their loss were incomprehensible. But amid that loss, hatred and rage began stir. It was this hatred that gave them the strength to rebuild. The reality of their circumstances had never been more clear. The Dak’ren would eventually return.
“As a people we came together as never before. Craftsmen, artisans, scholars, farmers and soldiers. Separately we had our strengths, our unique talents and skills. Now, as we find ourselves united, we learned that we were not quite as different as we once thought. We know they are coming and while we can only stand idly by as the world around us burns, we will not go quietly. We will make them bleed for every bit of ground they take, we will make them stand in awe at the volume of corpses they will climb over to reach us.” From the Journal of King Kalendis written in the new calendar of the Invasion, Year 1 D.I.
“I am thankful to The Lady that the Dak’ren did not know how close they were to breaching the barrier. I could hear the land crying in pain as the trees drank from it to restore themselves. It will be decades before we can heal the damage done. If they had attempted another siege on the following day, all would have been lost. I mourn for the redwoods, what we have done to them defies The Cycle, but there was no other way. The King has declared a time of mourning, I will mourn for a great many, but more so for the Redwoods that protect us. For we have robbed them of their natural place in The Cycle.” Writer unknown, journal was discovered in one of the libraries of House Kelendar in 1340 A.F.
Over time, the human lands fell, as did the free orc and goblin tribes. The Shay’lin continued to prepare, the marching armies from the east were approaching. If the Dwarves of the Berisan Steppes could not stop them, then they would march across the lands of the centaur, into the Plains of Kerdash, and meet with Dae’shal’s eastern border.
“We had hoped the dwarves would prove more formidable, though the losses on both sides were indeed great, but the patience of our dark cousins was greater. I have often wondered how many centuries or millennia had they been planning this? How could they held so cohesively to a single goal?
It is a lesson I will instill in my sons and daughters for generations to come. Patience and planning yields great reward. I expect the dwarven refugees will attempt to outpace the our enemies, to flee to the Ashtongue Mountains where their cousins live.
I have ordered a legion ready to defend them as they approach our borders. The Court is appalled, but I care not. The world is burning and we have done nothing. I will at least let this one act help one race avoid slavery or worse, extinction.” King Kalendis Len’daril year 25 D.I.
The Steppes fell, but the Dak’ren army suffered dearly for their victories. Many of the dwarven settlements were underground. While those on the surface we easier to conquer, those underneath their feet devised cruel and cunning traps to dissuade their attackers.
Cave-ins became commonplace, as tunnels were collapsed and new ones were dug. The dwarves had stockpiled food stores enabling them to withstand a siege. It was one of the few instances where their paranoia had paid off.
Ultimately, the dwarves knew they couldn’t hold out forever. The cities dug a new network of tunnels in the decades during the attacks, these tunnels became part of a larger network that would give them an escape route out of the Steppes and past the invaders.
False passages were also dug, rigged with traps and safeguards to hinder their enemies. As the cities were finally breached, the Dak’ren found many had already been abandoned. The cities however, had become traps of their own. A few dwarves had volunteered to stay behind, knowing it would mean their deaths.
Once an enough of the invading force was through, these brave souls, took out the support structures built into the caverns. The Dak’ren invaders were crushed under the weight of collapsing stone ensuring no one could follow through new the tunnels the dwarves had dug.
In the coming months the dwarven refugees made it across the plains and were just within sight of Dae’shal’s eastern border. The legion King Kalendis had sent to watch the border, had been working with the shapers to create passage.
As the legion went to greet them, Dak’ren scouts appeared on the Horizon. If the scouts were here, the entire army wouldn’t be far behind. The centaur tribes had apparently not stalled their approach.
As they retreated to the safety of The Wood, the legion’s Qen’tor’eh issued orders for the Shapers to begin closing the gap. They would need at least two days and by then, the Dak’ren would be on them. The Dwarves continued on, a small handful of soldiers from the legion going with them as escorts on their Journey to the Ashtongue Mountains.
On the Dawn of the second day the banners of the Dak’ren army appeared on the horizon. As the morning rolled on, War Trolls, shadow orcs, demons and other dark creatures stood in the front ranks.
The weather grew just as foul, dark clouds and heavy winds began to roll in. The Shapers and druids felt a tension building in the air, this storm that was brewing was not normal. There was power here, it was like a force nature, pure and overwhelming.
The Dak’ren drew closer, heavy rains pouring down. The gap closing, if they came in now it would merely be choke point, but then came the lightning. It was crimson and the storm suddenly became more violent. The rain fell harder and the thunder grew deafening. The wind became a gale and even the Dak’ren found it hard to find sure footing. But then the storm turned.
The lightning began raining down along the border where the legion had been stationed. The barrier that had kept their enemies at bay was under a deadly assault. Several Shapers died within the first few minutes as the great Redwoods caught fire and smoke filled the air. The legion scrambled for cover, but nowhere seemed safe.
The Dak’ren watched in awe. Their commanders ordered alters built to the demons and dark spirts they served in homage of what they believed to be a display of their favor. However, as soon as the order was given, the storm shifted, the lighting abruptly stopped. The storm, as if having a mind of its own began raining lightning down on the dark army.
The wind howled and battered them, hail the size of a large rocks fell from the sky. Within minutes the army was slowly crippled with no where to run on the open terrain. The Dak’ren fled and the storm, as quickly abruptly subsided. Hanging in the sky as if waiting.
“Truth be known, in the aftermath none of my Mhae’threnar nor El’annar can offer an answer to what we witnessed. The druids can only speculate, but some believe whether for good or ill, that we are staring at an elemental of some kind. Something called it here, some of my soldiers whisper they feel as if it is watching us. If I were to be honest, I cannot help but share in this feeling.
I have discussed it with my Mhae’then and I am going to venture out and build a small shrine to it. Though I feel as if I am disrespecting The Lady herself, I feel as if we must acknowledge this creature somehow. I pray that my efforts are not in vain.” Daindrel Horenmar, Qen’tor’eth of the King’s 2nd Legion, year 27 D.F.
News of breach shook many within the capital. The Court with its various nobles had disseminated into pointless bickering on how to best deal with looming threat. Some of these nobles weren’t even legitimate by Dae’shal’s standards. They were survivors, refugees from Osel’an and Taeslan.
The king had tried to make allowances, with respect to whom these nobles were. Tensions however only grew, the foreign nobles were each calling for some say or station from which they could stand upon. A few had banded together, combining their remaining wealth and resources to form new houses.
Favors were sought, bribes were made, it was chaos. Though the Dak’ren weren’t able to invade in force, they were still able to find ways to spy on the Shay’lin. With news of the political landscape in such a state and the king barely keeping The Court from tearing itself apart, they decided to act.
An assassin was sent against the king. His purpose to instill fear and despair into the Shay’lin. He waited until The Court was set to meet, when all the high ranking nobles would be gathered in one place. He masqueraded as a Steward of The Court, allowing him the opportunity to stay close to the king.
Once he was close enough, the assassin struck, releasing a toxic gas around the throne, taking himself, the king aids and some of kings closest relatives with him. Before he died, the assassin uttered these final words, “Look on in despair as your king withers to nothing. Soon your kingdom and this wretched Wood will wither and waste away. We are coming.” Silence struck The Court. Each Shay’lin present could only stare on in horror at the throne. After some time It was Lady Saem’sha Ravenfeather who finally spoke:
‘I watched her approach the throne, eyes neither filled with despair or fear. What isaw in those eyes was rage and hatred. It was like a mother bear whose den had been violated. It a chill rise a long by back and it was then I realized that I was trembling. She turned, eyes looking toward each house, both legitimate and false. One by one all eyes found her, locked with her icy gaze. It was then she spoke and her words became like knife to my heart. They cut deep, to marrow and bone. I was helpless and could but only listen.
“Sisters, Brothers, my people, look on this!” She said, pointing to the throne. “Look long and hard at what our enemy has done! They have ravaged our neighbors, taken our homes, slaughtered our children, flaunted their power! And now, they seek to tear us apart, to make us cower in hopelessness and despair!”
“This bickering, this infighting, gaze upon what it has wrought! Will be bicker over pointless positions and stations when our enemies while out enemies march at out doorstep? Have we learned nothing? Where is the unity we first found in one another? Or was it simply a moment of convenience?”
Taken from the Court records, Scribed by the hand of Erisis Songhollow, Court Steward 27 D.F.
Lady Ravenfeather’s words bolstered The Court, uniting them. King Kalendis had no Heir, and the next in line for the throne was his cousin’s daughter, Lady Anishar Serus. The House of Serus were the original founders of the kingdom in millennia long forgotten. Though many records were lost from that time, some facts still remain. With the Law of Succession, they were the remaining blood heirs.
As Queen, Anishar was only two hundred years old, but she was intelligent. She restructured The Court, Giving rise to thirty noble houses. She then set about assigning each house a responsibility in service to the people. No house would be allowed to exist if it did not exist in service to the kingdom itself and the needs of its people.
At the same time she began mobilizing the military. Though who could would, those who couldn’t would be trained. Only those who were physically unfit or laborers were exempt. Though the measures were austere, she knew their survival was on the line. In the coming days, months and possibly years, one mistake could cost them everything.
It wasn’t long after that the Dak’ren began mobilizing their forces. Some of their generals had begun moving from the south and west of the kingdom. Troops were also being ferried toward the border by river from Taeslon. Outposts were being built and supply lines quickly established, months of planning and preparation were under way.
The Court began to petition Queen Anishar to allow strike raids against their evil cousins. The queen however, forbade them. She did however allow the druids to conjure elementals to harass the outposts. With the aid of scrying globes, they could see and direct the elementals.
Over the next few months the Shay’lin managed to hinder the movement of supplies near the outposts. This helped slow the Dak’ren advance. Ships along river were capsized, caravans swallowed into the earth or set ablaze.
Some of the caravans and troops had managed to reach the breach despite the attacks. But without a steady stream of supplies, the effect were quickly felt. The encampment was only a mile from the border, but the scouts could faintly hear the discord being sown.
Even with magic, The war trolls were becoming harder to control. Fights were breaking out among the different tribes. Hunger was driving them. The Dak’ren would often feed their captives and slaves to them for sport.
The shadow orcs were growing restless as well. Even as slaves, they held a different status. They were allowed a small sense of a tribal community, each led by the strongest among them. With no enemies to focus on, they began to look toward the war trolls and each other’s to test their mettle.
With the army vulnerable, more debates began within The Court. Many of the nobles were imploring the queen to take advantage of the instability. Their numbers were only about five thousand with war trolls and shadow orcs making up the majority. With the help of diviners, reports were being submitted daily on how such an attack should proceed.
Queen Anishar spent several days, pondering what to do. She had studied reports, combed over them. She was afraid, the couldn’t afford to overextend. In all the reports though, she noted that the war trolls are all branded with a peculiar mark.
She went to her High Magus, showing him the mark. The High Magus explained that it was a brand that used blood magic to bend a someone to their will. The queen grew quiet for several moments. ‘Could it be so simple?’ she wondered.
She quickly called for an assembly, The Court convened the next day. She tasked the diviners to find out who was controlling the war trolls. She wanted to know if it was only a single shadow mage or a large cabal.
She then tasked the nobles to find any necromancer who was bold enough to defy the Prime Laws at her request. Her announcement alone left The Court in stunned silence. No one had ever dared to even suggest something so reckless.
As recompense, the queen offered to perform whatever rites and rituals necessary to appease the Keeper. Anishar felt that such drastic measures were necessary if it meant granting her people a victory they desperately needed. Hope was what they all needed.
A missive was sent out and several Magus came forward to answer the call. During the search the diviners were hard at work. After several weeks their diligence paid off. They had found the cabal controlling the war trolls. Their tent was located at the center of the encampment with the other ranking soldiers.
With this discovery, the necromancers began to work. House Ravenfeather was appalled, vowing that no good could come of such actions. The queen however ignored them, ordering the necromancers to do what they had been tasked for. None was prepared for what they unleashed.
‘I remember the cold, how it filled the assembly hall. I remember the screams and the wailing of the dead. The dries of those who are cursed and remained trapped on this mortal coil. Those who are beyond the Keeper’s reach, if such a thing is possible.
As we watched the wraiths appear in the camp and slaughter our enemies, I found myself moved to tears. My heart broke for them. To witness such a horrifying dead at the hands of something so foul….. I still dream of it.
They bled from their eyes, their noses and mouths. I could see the life being sucked right out of them. Their bodies withered, their skin stretched across their bones. Some could only gurgle, dying from simply choking on their own blood.
What was worse, I witnessed their victims rise up and begin slaughtering their companions. Then the newly freed war trolls joined the fight. They were laughing…genuinely laughing as what they saw. They were helpless against the wraiths, but they didn’t care. They seem happy, invigorated as they fought helplessly against an impossible enemy.
‘I will never forgot that day, it was a battle we never took the field for. The only lives lost were our enemies and I cannot help but mourn for them. I pray to The Lady I never witness such a slaughter again.’
From the Journal of Iserim Lantros, Qin’ter’inth of her Magesty’s 1st legion two months before the fall of the breach. 28 D.I.
The encampment tore itself apart, the wraiths and their risen victims, along with the war trolls and the shadow orcs all tore into each other. In the end only the undead remained and there were many.
The necromancers could only control the wraiths themselves and the risen dead by proxy, but the couldn’t keep it up forever. The wraiths would have to be dismissed. This would leave an army of over a thousand undead on their doorstep. Anishar devised another plan, one more risky than the previous.
She ordered the necromancers to issue one final command to the wraiths, attack the city of Kalagen. The druids protested yet again, and other members of The Court as well after witnessing the slaughter only moments ago.
Many were afraid of the shadow mages who were especially fond of the undead. Such an army could easily be turned against them should they attempt to wrestle control from the Shay’lin.
Anishar reluctantly agreed and ordered the necromancers to dismiss the wraiths. The risen dead, with no one to control them, simply stood on the field, wandering aimlessly. An order was sent to House Erandal to take a small group of High Mages and use fire spells to dispatch them safely.
Though the raids and the defeat of the army at the breach, had brought about hope within her people, Anishar knew it was only a short term measure, but it had bought them more time. Eventually the dark elves, through the use of their own magic, found a way to counter magic used to summon the elementals.
With passage safely secured, the Dak’ren were on the move. The supply lines were reestablished and troop movements were under way. Armies were once again mobilized, but the Shay’lin had reinforced the breach and the border.
In a matter of a few months, The Dak’ren set up a new encampment, much further from the border. Their forces grew daily, as did the ranks of the Shay’lin. Queen Anishar wasn’t taking chances. High Mages and Druids were brought in as support. Archers were also positioned high in the canopy, giving them a wide range of vision.
By the time the war horns sounded from the enemy encampment, the Shay’lin had gathered nearly twenty thousand troops; some of them conscripts. Members of the Queen’s personal guard stood with them as well as the fabled Bladedancers.
Like a rushing tide the war trolls were sent in first, followed by shadow orcs and then the mainline Dak’ren soldiers. Siege engines hurled debris at the treeline, but were deflected by the magic of the High Mages.
Arrows from Shay’lin snipers rained down at the approaching army, followed by fire, ice and other elements. The hail of arrows did little good again the advancing war trolls, but proved effective against the orcs and Dak’ren. The fire and magic raining down around them proved to be the equalizer.
The trolls were still able to heal, but less effectively. The High Mages upon seeing this, renewed their efforts. Blasting, maiming and burning the brutes mercilessly. The ground outside the treeline was nothing more than ash for a mile in any direction. The druids quickly conjured Elementals next, some rising from the earth, while others, using the fire as a catalyst rose from the flames. They battered the Dak’ren ranks, but the assault was short lived.
The shadow mages attending the evil army had already begun to counter the summoning. The elementals soon shattered to pieces or burned out entirely. Their corporeal forms that bound them becoming unstable and broken.
The shadow mages began an assault of their own, summoning demons and other terrors to the field. The demons bolstered the breaks in the ranks, cutting a path through the dark army as the behest of their summoners. The breach was all that mattered to the mages.
The bladedancers took to the field next, meeting the attackers head on. They had already woven powerful enchantments onto themselves for protection. And as the demons approached the breach they, along with several hundred soldiers quickly engaged them.
The fighting was brutal but the line held, tenuous as it was. The High Mages worked incant after incant to keep the rest of the army at bay, to buy for more time. The druids and the Shapers worked to support the defenders. Using their magic to hinder the demons and attempt to banish them back to the Shadow Realm.
The bladedancer’s style of combining magic with swordplay was the most effective in stopping their assault. The shadow mages were forced to employ other tactics, using their dark power to afflict the minds of the defenders.
A dark mist settled over the Shay’lin and soon after the hallucinations began. Some were able to resist, the High Mages were one such example. Their dedication to the mental discipline The Arts required gave them the advantage. But while they worked to the counter the dark magic, their allies had already begun fighting among themselves.
It was chaos, ally and enemy blurred. War Troll, Shay’lin, shadow orc, even Dak’ren, the shadow mages cared very little. The goal was all that mattered, acceptable loss was always a fact of war. Losses could replenished, one way or another.
During the chaos, the High Magus’ retreated deeper into The Wood. They needed more time. If the chaos wasn’t quelled, then the battle would be lost and the breach overrun. They began working together, crafting a powerful ritual to render their allies immune to the mist’s effects. As preparations neared completion, a strong wind sprang suddenly sprang from nowhere. It blew the mist out past the breach, toward the open field and deeper into the Dak’ren forces.
Rather than dispelling the magic, they used it, conjuring another gust of wind, pushing the mist further into the enemy. As the mist cleared, their eyes fell on the breach itself. The bodies of their kinsmen, demons, war trolls and shadow orcs all lay scattered among the survivors. The carnage was horrific. The cries of the wounded could be heard throughout the battlefield.
A horn was sounded, Qen’ter’inth Lantros began calling for his forces to regroup. There was little time and they had to take advantage of the confusion. Survivors on both sides were quickly regaining senses.The defenders quickly sprang into action. Many of the blade dancers who had survived the assault and were already in motion, cleaving through troll, orc and demon alike.
The High Magus’ also renewed their efforts, focusing their attacks on any reinforcements coming through the breach. The druids had also rejoined the fray, commanding the landscape itself to hinder their enemies.
The Dak’ren, were not standing idly by however. The shadow mages had dismissed the mist, turning to more direct attacks. Demonic flame rained down along the border, pelting the defenders and setting them ablaze.
Terror wights were summoned, enchantments were cast and demonic reinforcements called. The ranks of their slaves had been severely compromised, leaving their own forces to join the fight.
Hours passed and night fell. Many of the magic users on both sides were pushed beyond exhaustion, with fewer incants tossed back and forth. The druids had joined the fight as well, their powers exhausted except for the powerful totems they commanded. With the power of their totems they transformed into large beasts, clawing , biting and tearing their enemies apart.
Their efforts enabled to Shay’lin to gain ground, but not much. Both sides were exhausted. Landros had sent missives for reinforcements, but he also knew that with their supply lines, the Dak’ren would have aid of their own soon enough. It was a waiting game to see which arrived first.
Another hour passed and they slowly gained more ground. The invaders were pushed back to the breach. Most of the War trolls were slain, the few left were terribly maimed, their ability to heal compromised by the magic of the High Magus’. Some of the shadow orcs were still fighting and their Dak’ren masters refused to yield.
Then Landros heard it, the long haunting blow of a horn. The Dak’ren reinforcements had finally arrived. Their torches were like a sea of fireflies. Landros was covered in blood, his left arm dislocated. Without reinforcements, Lantros was forced to order a retreat. The Shay’lin had suffered heavy casualties, but so had their enemies. Holding the line any longer would be suicide against a fresh army. The Shay’lin fell back, but the Dak’ren didn’t pursue.
They had their foothold, chasing the enemy further would only put them at a disadvantage. For now, the Shay’lin had a small respite, but it wouldn’t last forever. Their enemy was at their doorstep and more bloodshed was to come.