The Shadow War (book)

( Note: this is the text of an in-game book. One could make a the-shadow-war page if they want to write of part of the War that is not included here or to expand on some point. )

Portents

The the first sign, in our memory, of what was to come: Blood spattered on the walls of the Temple of the Stone Circle, and that blood spelled out words. "He is coming." We did not know then who he was, but more died, and more bloody words appeared elsewhere. We knew who he was by the time your author saw the writing appear in the halls of Hammersong. He was the Shadow Lord of the West. My hand hesitates to put his name to paper. in that time, one did not casually pronounce his name aloud. His forces had fought for control of the island once before, and been turned back by the those of Light. Much of the history of that time we call the Cataclysm is lost. there are rare volumes, authored by Draxus, of the final battle with Gorrath, the destroyer of Worlds. We do know that the evil one retreated to the sands far to the northwest of the isle, a fertile land of promise. Covered in perpetual darkness, the land became desolate. Nothing grew, and the sands were whipped up by stinging winds. Half-shadow creatures and unholy things walked the darkened dunes that became known as the Wastes. Forgotten by most, the Shadow Lord of the West recovered.

His name was Zentarus.

there were other signs before that, that the Shadow Lord was marshalling his forces, but we who didn't know what to look for could only recognize them in retrospect. Only those who were recruited truly know when it began, and their testimony is suspect, as they are those who would betray others into slavery and darkness.

there were Celestials on Thain in those days, and a temple to Andarus, a Lord of Light.

We did not imagine what a group of adventurers would discover one day in the Wastes. Zentarus appeared, demanding their allegiance. they were saved when Andarus also appeared to thwart the dark one. they told when they returned that the gods called each other "brother".

Zentarus swore he would kill his brother and rule the island.

Of course there were other gods on the island: Ceriana and Vorel, Umbra… But Andarus was preeminent to most, and through the Celestial Knights, the most influential.

The Shadow Comet and the Dreams of the Shadow-touched

A new star appeared in the night sky. As the weeks went by, it became more prominent and we could see it was not a star at all, but a dark body with a glowing tail streaming behind it. the shadow comet grew until it could be seen in the daytime, ever larger.

the coming of this comet also heralded something more disturbing: the dreams of the shadow-touched. they reported vision of the destruction of the Temple, of a dark figure reaching for them, seeking their collusion.

the comet's path took it closer to the path of the sun until one day darkness fell on the island. A beam of light could be seen near the road to Hammersong, and it was there that some of us went.

the gatekeeper who stood there told us that the shadow comet had been seen before in the heavens. Though we had no record of it, the Celestials did and we were told that its appearance had presaged the first cataclysm upon Thain.

We left bearing tokens of the Light bestowed on us by the representative of Andarus and bearing the news that death might soon take many of us.

Eliswathe El'Drenion and Company

An elven female, a wizard, and seemingly not one prone to murder and atrocity, Eliswathe El'Drenion fell to become a general of Zentarus' forces. It is told that she lost her soul trying to save another and, in her weakness, turned to Zentarus. Around her gathered a collection of warriors and magicians who would bring grief to the free people of Thain. Only they know if they were motivated by personal loyalty to the wizard, by a bond of Zentarus, or simple greed.

Vandalhawks Reinforce Empyreans in the Wastes

Travellers to the Wastes found it ever harder to explore: the magebanes were thicker and came closer to the bridge to the east.

the dwarven warrior Kimli led the Vandalhawks of Ravenswatch at that time. It was an unusual alliance, but she, with the Empyrean Kalin, led a combined force into the Wastes to reinforce the outpost there. Its defenses had been weakened years before when the golems stationed there by the Circle wandered off one day deep into the desert.

For a while, Empyreans and Vandals stood shoulder-to-shoulder at the walls of the camp, defending against the hazards there and waiting to see if there would be a concerted attack.

Zentarus takes the Empyrean Camp

[a page with only a few notes lamenting the lack of detail available]

The Hamley Irregulars (I)

With the threat from the West, the small farming village of Hamley stood directly in the likely path of the Shadow Lord's forces. the Empyreans doubled their shifts, but their numbers were still small compared to those in the outpost that had already been overrun. A group of volunteers was organized under the guidance of Hayleigh Faldanis, the Songstress of Hamley, and Dreah Azu, well-known tactician and warrior.

they took the name of the Hamley Irregulars, and began to drill and patrol the area in preparation for the onslaught of shadows and golems from the Wastes.

Two Rescues

Companies of allies formed to try to rescue those trapped in the Wastes after the fall of the Empyrean Outpost.

At first they were turned back by the fierceness of the Zentarist forces. the shadow army included not just the shadows and golems from the dunes, but the band of Eliswathe El'Drenion as well as the former Circle golems that had been taken years earlier.

Finally, one group managed to fight their way into the outpost and free the Empyreans and Vandals trapped in the Mausoleum.

A few weeks later, another expedition rescued a group that had fled the outpost's fall and survived in the west. Under pursuit by the shadow army, they crossed the bridge to the Drakamyre and then destroyed it, severing the Wastes from the mainland of Thain, and preventing the golems from crossing.

But at a cost—also trapped on the Wastes side were still some of the forces of the Light, the captain of the Empyreans there, the Circle and VandalHawk leaders Jeri theed Orman and Kimli.

Opening the Portal

the bridge to the Wastes severed, the agents of Zentarus schemed to find another way for their forces to reach the rest of the isle. they found it in the blood of an innocent. Waylaying the paladin Jinxx Relinkerys, they drew her blood and used it in a dark ritual to manipulate the very fabric of our plane. A link from the Wastes to the old portal in the Drakamyre was created, and the forces of shadow slowly gathered in this old, storied region of the island.

The Hamley Irregulars (II)

[a note on this mostly-empty page seems to list a few people to interview about an attack on the farming village of Hamley]

Vestige and the Temporary Portals

At about this time, some curious shadow activities were noted. in at least two places, the minions of a shadow general called Vestige were observed trying to recover stones. Upon examination, the stones were seen to have worn but discernable carvings—carvings like those on the portals that still stand around the isle. After the first of these appearances, a Celestial spoke to some gathered and spoke cryptically, this verse:

It was said in the time of ages past a day would come when that which was sundered might rejoin. Dark clouds bring us to the brink of destruction, but hope will remain. Twin-born they were, and twin-born they died.

Over the months, we learned that Vestige was working to create temporary portals so that the shadow army could travel quickly to surprise and overwhelm any defenders. One day we were alerted. Entering Steinkreis, we found a slaughter. the shadow forces meant to feed on the citizens to gain strength for their assault on the temple of the Celestials. But we rallied and slowly cut down the golems and shadows, closing on the point where the portal had been opened in upper Steinkreis. Kampfer himself and his men-at-arms sallied from the Grand Keep and fought with us, until we trapped and killed Vestige in a side street and destroyed the portal stone.

The Passage to the Celestial Temple

Blocked on the main road by the stalwart defenders of Hamley, the Zentarist forces were seen in the Grey Mountains. Sometimes fighting with the orks there and later seeming allied, they massed in huge numbers. Scouts found a previously unknown route from the south of the Drakamyre into the mountains, meaning that we could not block the shadow army advance at a natural choke point. Plans were made and forgotten. If we thought we could stop them on the road to the Temple, we were proven wrong when a formerly hidden (or newly-cut) passage was discovered. It led from the southern slopes of the mountains to the grounds of the Celestial Temple.

The complexion of the war had changed again.

The Last Days

With pressure mounting on all sides, rumors flew about fighting on other planes. these were only given more credence when the Weave itself started to misbehave. Spells failed unpredictably. As time went on, they sometimes produced entirely unexpected and hazardous effects.

By the time the Zentarist forces began to pour through the passage into the area around the Celestial Temple, mages could be as much a hazard to their friends as their enemies.

And those forces came through in all their might — fearsome golems from the Shadowdune Wastes, taller than the walls of the Temple; hordes of shadows, their hissing lending an unsettling air to the din of battle. the shadows came through that stripped away magical defenses. inky clouds of darkness that sapped life force oozed along the ground. the defenders of the Light stood and, all too often, fell on the temple grounds against the seemingly endless onslaught of the Shadow Lord's forces.

It was afternoon when the alarms of the Circle went off—an intrusion into the Rooms of Ruin against the golems there. We feared the Zentarists would take control of them and use them against the island.

A small force of defenders travelled magically and found the intruders—a force of the subverted Circle golems as well as some of the servants of darkness. there in the rooms Eliswathe El'Drenion met her end, as did Vakal and the half-orc Byran. But at the center of the rooms stood the ancient lich of whom we had been warned by Jeri theed Orman. the one known as the Mechanist.

After the battles against the others we had little strength left, but we also had little choice. Stand here or lose the Rooms and the golem army.

Our champions attacked. Our casualties were heavy. Slowly we wore the lich down, and with a final blow the battle ended. Along with those of the Circle, they who defended the Rooms included the celestial knight Thrar, the dragonkin called Card, the Keeper Jinxx, Anders, Fade, Ammon, and Danius.

Aftermath

A number of us were waiting at the Temple gates for the next attack when the darkness fell.

We did not immediately know how, in that instant, the Temple fell in ruins just as you see it now. Some surmise that a final battle of the war took place on another plane and only manifested here at that instant, or that the entire island somehow had no awareness of that time. Over the next days we would guess as best we could.

It was dark. Darker than a new moon night, darker than the darkness of the Wastes. the rain never stopped. in the endless night, torrential rains covered the island.

Time passed in the period some took to calling "Darkwet". We learned more of our predicament. the priests and knights of Andarus told us they could sense him no longer, and we learned that the same held true for others. A dracolich bound by Umbra roamed free, boasting that Umbra was no more. they all had gone.

The Weave had been rent. Magic did not work on the island, though we heard that it was unaffected on the mainland. A few healing spells were the only ones that still produced any result. It would take months, but the Weave somehow repaired.

And then, a welcome rumor. We journeyed to the north and west and found it true: the shadows were gone from the Wastes. the Shadow Lord of the West was no more. We stepped from the ruins to find rain, rain never seen in the Wastes in our memory, rain we could hope would bring new life.

( Titled "A Star in the Darkness" ) in the palette, which is the motto of G:.I:.L:. the group under whose name Ivali wrote the book )

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