“Now the rats flee as the ship sinks,” Urgush remarked to himself. Tidings of the battle of Riechsvale had travelled quickly through the mountains. “Gather around me,” the half-blood summoned the leaders of those few clans that yet remained under his sway. He tried to imagine how Hroth might rally their hearts if he were present. He chose his words accordingly. “Hear what I will say. I won’t wait here to be buggered by bearded dwur boys and frolicking olvin ass-lickers.” He lifted his eyes reverently in the direction of the distant Yatils even though they remained far out of sight from where he stood on the high slopes of the northern Lortmils. “Am I not the servant of the great witch? Time to leave these stinking dwur-shit holes and join her fight against those putz-sucking Perrenlanders. Then we will eat and drink without fear, and she will feed us the flesh of men!”
With inspiring words like this, he rallied those tribes and clans that remained yet loyal to him. Urgush gathered up the treasure of gemstones he had stolen from the treasuries of Dengar. He loaded the precious cargo on wagons with many other treasures, indeed, all the treasures of his tribe and those beneath him—a lovedrury to place before the archmagis.
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(CY 460 – 505)
In which is related the rise of Iggwilv, her conquest of Perrenland, and her war against the Knights of the Hart, her fall from power, and the rise of her detestable child, the Demon Lord Iuz.
From whence the Witch Queen Iggwilv came is not known. An erudite sage calling himself the “Eye of Boccob” places her as being of mixed Flan and Baklunish stock and hailing from Ket. Others say that she is an ancient being and hint that she might not be from Oerth at all. All that is known for certain is that she chose to settle in the Yatil mountains between Ket, Perrenland, and Veluna around CY 460. The place suited her purposes well, for it was teeming with humanoids, giants, and monsters. These she bent to her will, establishing a small despotry while conducting magical experiments in the Caverns of Tsojcanth.
War and Seduction
In CY 480 she loosed her army of humanoids on the settled alpine valleys of southern Perrenland. The Perrenders were staunch defenders, but could not resist the combination of humanoid numbers, organization, and fell magics. The mountain holds were quickly overcome, and the forces of Iggwilv pushed out on to the plains. She ultimately conquered most of the southern plains around the Quagflow, the region as a whole being known as the “Marches of Perrenland.” After this, her advance slowed. In the low rolling plains her brutish troops found no caves in which they could hide from the light of Pelor. The mobile cavalry of Perrenland could outmaneuver the humanoids, gathering in massed formations for day attacks, then scattering and riding far away before nightfall. Conquest of the entire land would be difficult. No matter. Iggwilv turned to her dark arts. In innumerable guises she walked among the free hetmen, ensnaring them with her charms. Captivated and captured, they did her will and ordered their people to cease attacks on the lands that the humanoids had taken. The hetmen scarce believed themselves in thrall to the leader of the goblinkind, but they nonetheless told none of the new mistress of their souls. Iggwilv held the southern portion of Perrenland and her troops busily looted it; the rest of the nation tried a few counterattacks before slinking back, utterly cowed by fear of the witch.
The leaders of the Marklands watched these events with growing concern. Their recent rebuff from their own attempted conquest of Perrenland had embittered them against the nation, and they offered no aid to Perrenders in their struggle against the Witch Queen. Once Iggwilv was firmly in control of those lands, the Marklander leaders laid out their plans to contain her. Having a mad archmage so close to the old capital of Dyvers had been bad enough. An archmage dedicated to evil, with a humanoid army and a nation of wild Perrenders in thrall, could well prove much worse. The forces of Iggwilv pointed like a dagger at the heart of the Highfolk and lay uncomfortably close to Mitrik.
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The High Forest Branch, CY 350 – 460
In which is related the early years of the High Forest Branch, its near dissolution following the invasion of Perrenland, and its recovery under the guidance of Thiladorn Meneldor.
The Early Years (CY 350 – 395)
The King of Furyondy publicly revealed the Order of the Hart in the middle of the fourth century CY. As previously explained, the order existed in secret long before then. It is known that the kings of Furyondy had elvish friends long before the order became public, indeed, as far back as Thrommel I, the first king. It is not known whether or not any elves served as members of the order before it became public. Many suggest two candidates that might well have done so: a certain warrior-thief and a notable bard. Both received the accolade to the order as soon as it became public, and both had traveled extensively in Furyondy and Veluna prior to their adoubement.
When the King of Furyondy officially established the High Forest Branch of the Order, he eventually chose twenty elves of diverse backgrounds, skills, and homelands. Many previously served elven nobility, but most possessed no formal training as knights. The majority hailed from the Vesve itself, but several came from Highfolk City or the Highfolk Vale. One knight hailed from Verbobonc, while one came from that portion of the Gnarley claimed by Furyondy.
What did this collection of the fair folk share in common that they should be selected for the order? All were heroes of renown and, more importantly, all were favorably disposed toward Furyondy. Elven opinion about Furyondy at the time was divided. The elves agreed that King Thrommel and his descendants had been good men, and wise and just rulers. But many elves also believed that humanity was just too dangerous for elves to have extensive contact with. They felt that humans were, by their very nature, selfish, shortsighted, violent, and destructive. They preferred to deal with humanity as little as possible. Other elves were more hopeful about the future of humanity. They had noted how carefully Thrommel I had prepared his subject lands for their independence. They knew that there were many good humans. They believed that a policy of openness and sharing could help humanity mature. The original twenty members of the High Forest Branch were among those of the latter opinion. They accepted Furyondy’s self-appointed role as protector of the Vesve. They supported the efforts of the king to make the Lord Marshall of the Vesve his beholden subject. Less self-absorbed than their typical kin, they saw the need for coordinated action between nations to preserve the freedom and goodness of the Marklands. In particular, they recognized that the continual raids by the nomads, bandits, and humanoids destabilized the human governments and spelled danger for the elves if allowed to succeed. These elven knights agreed to protect the new human nations so that they would have time to mature, advance in wisdom, and thus eventually help to protect the elves.
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Well after the Great Kingdom had reached its maximum extent and begun to wane, Stinvri, the heredity Viceroy of the Ferrond, declared his independence from the Malachite Throne and wrested control of the Marklands from distant Rauxes. In CY 256 he passed control of the region to his son, crowned as King Thrommel I. At the time, the survival of the independent state seemed unlikely.
Removed from the Aerdian Empire by fiat, the local lords vied for power and fought over resources and borders. The Raoin Church and her allied nobles pressed for the independence of the Voll. The easternmost lands (the Lands of the Shield) were largely controlled by the remnants of Aerdian Army Commanders and military veterans who had been granted small fiefs as pensions. Their loyalty to the new state was uncertain, and they could easily have rejoined the Great Kingdom had it suited their shifting interests. More than a century of nomad raids had reduced the northern lands (or Northern Reaches) to a ragtag collection of petty holdings run by warlords. They considered the change in government as merely the replacement of one distant figurehead for another, with little effect on their daily struggle for existence. The Viceroyalty had laid claim to the entire Vesve Forest, but in truth the Aerdi knew mostly its eastern borders and had never mapped its full extent. The Lord of the Elves had acknowledged the suzerainty of the Viceroy, but had paid little tribute.
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