Wednesday, 21 October 2009

A Short History of the Five Forts

by Sir Rojer Arrenwall

My family has been castellains of the Arrenwall Fort since the fortification of the Southern banks of the River Manshield in the First Century of Enlightenment. I have spent much of my time the last twenty years digging into the past, and I have found stories of blood-chilling raids from across the river, as well as acts of great heroism by the castellains and their men. I will now make a humble attempt at retelling some of the stories I have uncovered so that the valour of our forfathers do not slip into oblivion.

The Battle of the Vale
The last campaign of the Elfswar on Pendrellian soil was fought south in the Five Fort Vale, only months before the Covenant. General Erecius, the bloodbrother of Macharius, later St Erecius, had pursued the Elf Sarellion across the highlands and up the Western Coast. With the Elf cornered in the Vale, Erecius formed his lines on the plain below Elf's Demise.

I have uncovered three accounts from the battle, and while they differ somewhat, they agree on the following accounts. Erecius's army counted ten thousand foot, of the III and X Legion, and three thousand Corillian horse. One source, an account from Orthon Kil'Athon, a knight who fought in the battle, also mentions a Hermetic war-cabal consisting of one Master and six Adepts, as well as three hundred Proxima.

On the morning of the battle, the legions formed with their left flank on the Tumblestone Creek. The Elf had formed his four hundred warriors on the low ridge protuding west from Elf's Demise. According again to Kil'Athon, the first hours of the battle was one of great and terrible magic. The Elf drew forth abominable creatures from the bowels of the earth, while the Hermetics rained fire and death upon the enemy from the heavens.

In the third hour of the battle, Erecius ordered his legions to advance, leading them personally. In the melée that followed, the elves were all vanquished, Sarellion himself were killed by the general with his back against the western wall of Elf's Demise.

A local tale has the Elf prince cursing the land drenched in the blood of his people with his dying breath, another has a dozen elven knights escaping the rain of death.

The Settling of the Vale
The first settlements in the Vale were erected by veterans of the last campaign. About three thousand legionaires and knights made their homes here, while another five thousand settled in the highlands around Glencaellyn. The remainder were given land further south on the coast.

While the Elf was defeated, the Vale was a rough place in those days. Small Elf hunting-parties still roamed the fringes of Pendrell, and some of the creatures they had let loose were still roaming the forests and hills. But even as these dangers were dealt with, another was brewing.

In YE 101 the first raid crossed the Manshield. At this time, the river was called River Victory. The raid left nothing but smoking ruins a day's march from the river, and more than five hundred humans were killed or just vanished.
Sir Emerick Halflance tells of the punitive raid across the river that summer: Whilst our noble soldiers much wanted vengeance, naught was revealed to us, for of our enemy we spied nothing we could put steel into. The woods themselves seemed to conspire, and in this conspiracy, marshes, cliffs and rivers were a part. One score and three of us were not allowed refuge to the lands of Men and we are all agreed that something wicked herein lies.

The Hunt
Over the following century the Five Forts were built overlooking the river, which changed its name during these years. Still, the raids continued almost every summer. In the accounts, as well as in the folklore, the raids were called the Hunt. These tales are still alive in the Vale today, even if the last known raid happened in YE 837 (51 dead or vanished).

I have looked into the history of the Hunt, but sadly I find the mist of time too hard to gaze through with accuracy. Some claim that it is the spirits of the vanquished elves who chase through the nights of midsummer, others (and I deem this far more likely) will have that a few survivors of the battle still reign in the wild lands north of the Manshield.

Of reliable sources on the nature of the Hunt there are few - nay, none; the very notion is heresy, be it Elf or ghost - but the stories are very much alive amongst the people of the Vale. Now I have put it in ink, and thus those who come after me might be able to use my tawdry chronicleering as a stepping-stone towards discovering the truth about the Five Forts. My days are soon over, and I plan on one more adventure before I am returned to dust.

Regretfully, I will not share what insight I find, for I do not expect to return from the forests beyond the Manshield.

Adventure awaits.

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