Saturday, September 28, 2019

The End to War

In my post about the Last Polyandrion, I introduced Magarven, a magic user and explorer. He is a dark elf or Drow. Where do the Drow fit into the Peninsula of Plenty? They are ever present, but have a shadowy purpose based on their first encounters with the denizens of the Peninsula. The Drow who roam about the surface world portray themselves a good and lawful people. For the most part, the citizens know not to trust them because they all have a dark heart, no matter their outward appearances and protestations.

My last post was The Prelude to the End of War. In this post, the story comes to its conclusion. As the Combine forces retreated from the Capital, the Emperor was able to shift forces and bring in fleets with supplies. For a few days, it looked as if the Empire would only have to deal with the economic devastation of losing a third of their slaves. How wrong they were.

The real reason for the withdraw of the Combine forces was new combatant. Just 30 miles away from the Capital, the Combine forces were bottled up by a new invaders, the Drow. Instead of coming through the mountains, they broke through from underneath. The breech was a location called the Web of Lolth, a cave system in the Chalice Mountains. The Combine was now beleaguered by the dark elves, fighting a retreat to their walled cities all across the Peninsula.

The Capital utilized the break in combat with Combine to resupply their coastal cities and rearrange troop deployments. The Drow were a land locked opponent, unlike the Combine. The Empire was able to bring in their fleet to assist with the massive resupply effort. Over the next ten days, the Capital was as strong as it ever been.

Both the Empire and Combine forces found the Drow to be a threat unlike anything met before. Their eldrich powers challenged every dwarf, elf and legion on the field of battle. While they couldn't breech the walls of the peninsula's cities, the Drow trapped every force behind walls, and the world darkened and closed in upon the besieged.

Finding itself hemmed in again, the Capital planned a desperate, possibly suicidal mission. The 3rd and 12th legion launched a rare nighttime attack on the Drow. Shocked and surprised by the human tactics, the Drow lines were shattered and a large contingent of humans broke out of the capital. The Drow closed the breech and sent a 1000 elf force after the escapees.

The Drow pursuers were outnumbered ten to one, but they were expecting to slaughter noncombatants. The thousand found that they pursued not a raft of human refugees, but an rag-tag auxiliary force. Of the 10,000 men, women and even children, there were 400 battle hardened veteran troops supported by over a hundred spell casters of every stripe. After a few brief clashes, the Drow settled in to gather intelligence and dog the auxiliary force until reinforcements arrived.

They discovered two things. First, this rag-tag band was drilling daily, hardly covering just 6-12 miles a day. The Drow laughed as these green troops played soldier. Clearly, aside from the veterans, the average auxiliary had no battlecraft. Even more comical, human prisoners revealed that this force was seeking the Web of Lolth itself. If the humans were going to walk into the Demon Queen's webs on purpose, then the Drow would be happy to let them in.

The Drow shadowed the auxiliary forces for three weeks, gently guiding the humans to the caves where the Drow had emerged on the Peninsula. The humans finally reached the mouth of hell, the opening to the demon Queens realm. The Drow now outnumber the humans 3 to 1, but the foolish humans arrayed themselves as if they were a true legion, not citizen farmers on a mad adventure.

On the morning Last Day of War, the humans deployed, trapped by web of Lolth, the Drow army on their front and the recon force and mountains behind them. Battle was joined in the late afternoon. By dusk, the humans had inflicted negligible losses on the Drow while losing a third of their force. Instead of breaking and routing, the humans lit fires and lamps against the night. The Drow howled in laughter as the humans readied themselves to break into the dark kingdom's web by night.

As twilight faded to dark, the humans began their assault on the Web of Lolth. Truly charmed by this obvious folly, the Drow sent 7000 troops out to flank the humans and keep them moving forward into the Web of Lolth. To their delight, the humans obliged them by pressing forward.

Then the unthinkable happened. The humans snatched victory from the mandibles of Lolth. Brave and women men placed on the edges of the human army uncaged four secret weapons: The Symbols of Sol Invictus. Chaos ensued as the Drow were washed by the light of the Unconquered Sun. Blinded, they withdrew, allowing the humans to reach the mouth of the Web of Lolth to unleash their second secret weapon.

The Empire's archers and slingers were armed with strange ammunition. The Empire had created hundreds of sling bullets and arrows with a tiny, natural resin ball encased in clay. Each of these resin balls had a continual light spell cast upon it. When the missile impacted, the clay broke, allowing the blinding light to saturate the area. The resin balls bounced and caromed around the battlefield, confusing and confounding the Drow.

Smashed back into the caves, the Drow cursed the evil, tricky humans. Dazzling light flashed and swayed in the confines of the cave, denying the Drow their superiority in darkness. Worse, mages unleashed fireballs and lightning within the closed spaces. Not only did this crush the Drow attempting to resist, it had a tendency of driving the glowing resin spheres deeper into the caves, clearing a path to the main vault. The humans were able to seal the entrance to the cave and hold off the 7000 Drow, now trapped outside.

Lolth, if she was there, fled to her supernatural realm, leaving her children blind, burned and dying.

As the Sun rose, the humans turned to finish off the Drow outside. News of the defeat of the Drow at the hands of the Empire terrified the Combine leadership. A new age of peace through fear and terror descended on the Peninsula.

One final tale of the End of War needs to be told. The Combine had a secret weapon of their own, a second sword called Dolorem. The weapon was a prototype to the sword Liberty, and like it's brother, it has a common name: "Sorrow". Rather than unleash this weapon on the Empire, the Combine decided to hide it away. However, the Halfling King made an impassioned plea to be given the weapon. The Combine denied the request only to find out that agents of the Halfling King had stolen it.

The weapon was never brought to bear on the Empire or used to kill humans. Instead, a special tragedy transpired among the Halfling King's own house over the use of Sorrow.

In the next few days, the tragedy of Sorrow and its loss will be told.

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