View source for History of the Bloodmarch
'''Author - Matt Glanville''' ===Dawn of Days=== In the oldest of the records kept in Immiel, the Fey of Ravenwood were alone in being a nation. True, north east across the bay of Eregoth, and in the colder lands far to the north there dwelt small groups of humans and along the Long Mountains a scattering of dwarves dug homes out of the rock, but none but the First Fey could claim any kind of civilisation. The leader of the Fey at this time was Queen Sherithorn the Silver, who was both wise and kind. Her consort Prince Andreth Greatbow could claim a lineage almost as noble as she and their daughter Princess Avirel was renown for her quick wit and sharp mind. Alas, before Avirel was come to adulthood Sherithorn died and conflict arose as to who would then ascent to the throne. By law it was still two decades before Avirel was of age and so Prince Andreth moved to take stewardship of the realm. However age and law not withstanding, Avirel felt ready to rule and opposed her father and there was great strife. Amid this turmoil, Faralan of the Dawn, advisor to the dead queen on matters arcane, tried to bring a compromise between the two factions and instead earned the enmity of both. In a fit of rage, Avirel declared him banished from Ravenwood and sent soldiers to drive him across the borders. Andreth did nothing to stop this, yet made great play of it and turned most of the fey to his cause. Embittered, Princess Avirel lead her people into exile, crossing the mountains and dwelling in the forests of Weirdwood and along banks of the Imilvir to the Great lake Glimormir. They took the name Eldrin and forswore any kinship with those they left behind. Meanwhile Faralan and those faithful to him obeyed the banishment and made dwellings in the woods along the bay of Eregoth, which ever after bore his name, Dawnwood, though they took no new name to themselves as yet. With these schisms a thought grew in the minds of other fey, a desire to seek out lands beyond Ravenwood, in the fullness of time no fewer than twelve migrations of the fey occurred, six northward including the lords Immorthorn and Dreams, four westwards, one of whom later returned, and two to the south. ===Rise of the Kith (1100 years ago to 800 years ago)=== On the great isle in the bay of Eregoth a leader of men arose. Known as Alathor the Great, he saw all that the fey had achieved, and in imitation gathered the scattered humans of that island together into a single realm, bringing civilisation to the land. In the years that followed, his daughter took ships across the bay to settle the mainland and so the great empire of the Kith was started. To the north, east and west they spread until they had reached the barren Witherlands and the mountains of Jade. To the south they were ever respectful of the might of Ravenwood, whose people were bemused by this desire to colonise great swaths of land, however elsewhere they found wandering groups of humans and either absorbed them as in Caramare or subjugated them as in the Lee. Only on the Isle of Arungor were they resisted, with the wild, ferocious folk retreating to the mountains, there forging a strange bond with the dragons who dwelt among the crags and ever raiding the invaders settlements until eventually the Kith were drive from the Isle. The kings of Alathor realised they could never rule such a vast realm, so appointed a prince to rule each part of their realm. Eight princedoms were created, and they were; Arelon Valley, Maralan Gap, Corithel, Ceremelth, Elinmar Fens, Deep Fallows, Roreon Coast and finally the Witherlands. Once a year the Princes gathered in Council in the great hall on Alathor's Isle to advise the king on the state of their lands. Despite this expansion, the Isle of Alathor remained the heart of the realm, and afterwards proved its downfall. In Dawnwood Faralan was troubled by the rise of men, seeing the chance for much strife and discord between the races. For a long time he searched the land in spirit form until he found at last a safe haven for his people. Leading them west across the Long Mountains they constructed ships and sailed to the centre of Glimormir where they landed on the island of Immiel and founded their citadel there, renaming themselves the Golden Fey and withdrawing from the woes of the Bloodmarch for a time. This was also the time of another great leader. The dwarves of Beomir, who dwelt in the mountains of Sharmark, had abandoned their caverns in the Long Mountains two hundred years before because of conflict with the Kith. Now they found the humans had persuaded them even to their new home. Disagreeing with the policies of his elders, Alugrith the Young stirred many of his peers with strong words and lead them west once more into the Long Mountains. He did not rest there however but instead marched southwards along its entire length speaking with every dwarven settlement he could find. His following grew until amid the most ferocious lightning storm remembered by the dwarves they gazed upon the Deeping. Here, protected from the humans by Ravenwood to the east, Alugrith founded his young nation, and young it was with many of the dwarves who followed him barely into their full strength. However with the energy of youth they carved their fortresses and citadels out of the rock with a speed that astonished even the fey. ===Migration of the Northings (800 to 600 years ago)=== The Kith found themselves secure in their power, while there was unrest within certain parts of their realm, most notably around the shrinking lake of Elinmar, it seemed that their greatest danger was from the weather which was getting progressively colder and more harsh. The northern most of their princedoms started to suffer with poor harvests and when a plague ran rife through the Arelon valley it became almost a ghost land with few brave enough to dwell there. The cold winds brought another danger however, raiders from the isles of Maniarg, who had long plagued the Dragonlords of Arungor, started to raid the shores of Romiel. At first these raids were mere nuisances but as each year grew more cruel, and the harvests less bountiful, the became attacks more common and bloody. In the fourth year of the troubles the settlements of Caramane were burnt to the ground, leaving hundreds of families homeless. Moved by pity, King Cadrik himself rode north to bring aid to the people. Alas, through careful planning or pure luck his retinue was caught by a great raiding party in the shadow of Mount Ocsfel Surrounded and outnumbered, the slaughter of the Kith began with a vengeance and matters looked bleak until another unforeseen event occurred. From the north, horns were heard and warriors never before seen entered the fray. The tide of battle now swung the other way and as dusk fell the land was crimson with raider blood. King Cadrik approached the strangers and asked who they were. In reply Akara, told how she had lead her people south from their home which was gripped by a great famine and that having suffered greatly from raiders and a hard road they were looking for gentler land to dwell in. Akara granted them the Arelon Valley if they would aid the Kith against the raiders. This they did, renaming themselves the Last of the Northlings. which over the centuries became the name of their land. Away to the west, in the lands known as Greenwey, an accident of great proportions occurred. The men, dwarves and fey of Greenwey had managed to leave in peace under the guidance of the Vennor the Wise and the Green Council for four hundred years. A beautiful land at whose heart lay the great forest of Menhir and five great natural fountains from whose bounty the river Wey drew its waters. However the minds of men are never still and so it was that a great plan was conceived to imbue the very waters of the fountains with the energies of life. Gathering together the three people and the wise started the great incantation, however something went wrong, the magic proved too potent and the forest became a place of wild, mutated creatures. Civil war broke out with each race blaming the other, the dwarves were all but destroyed while the men fled, leaving the victorious fey to dwell in the few safe regions on the edge of the fell forest. Coming eastwards, the men founded a realm on the flanks of the Deeping, calling themselves after their prince, Gelm. Within the Deeping itself, the dwarves thrived, quickly encircling the great lake with settlements and a ring of strong fortresses. The land was good and after treaties of mutual respect were signed with the folk of Gelm there were none who encroached on their land, still some fell creatures hid among the deep valleys in the mountains and the dwarven smiths worked hard to learn even greater skills. ===Fall of the Kith (600 to 400 years ago)=== The arrival of the Arakai eased, for a time, but could not end the raids on the coast. Building up its naval strength, the Kith tried unsuccessfully to take the battle to the barbarians, but to no avail. Slowly the smaller fishing villages were burnt to the ground, while those living in larger harbours hid behind stone walls and stout gates afraid to venture forth for fear of being caught by the wild invaders. Sometimes the King's forces, or those of the Arakai, would come upon a band of the barbarians and put them to the sword, but more often they would find only the smouldering remains of a raid. If the Kith had the upper hand in skirmishes on land, the same was not true on the sea. Only twice did they attempt to match the seamanship of the raiders, and both times but a handful of their ships returned. It seemed an equilibrium has been established between the two forces, neither able to tilt it in their favour. Then nature took a hand. A great storm blew up, great winds buffeted all along the coast. The greater damage was in fact felt many leagues south, in Coromand, but the damage to the Kith was huge. Those that suffered the most however were the barbarians of the Maniarg who were left with almost nothing to eat or farm. They took then to those ships that had through careful shepherded survived the storm, and riding its dying gusts like a second wave they swept into the bay of Eregoth. The Kith were stunned, for in the moment of their greatest weakness a force, greater and wilder than any they had seen fell upon them. The Isle of Alathor was put to the sword, and with it fell the royal house and most of the finest craftsmen and thinkers of the realm. With its heart cut out the rest of the empire was in disarray. The coastal realms bordering the sea were under assault themselves, and although the Last of the Northing were holding their own they were not capable of forcing a sea passage to the Fallows. Not content with their chaos, the barbarians passed up the great river Imilvir and struck into the Deep Fallows. Prince Oramar met them at Elorford and there was a great battle that lasted the whole day through the night and into the following morning, but outnumbered and outmatched the prince was slain and the barbarians laid waste the the land. Further east and northwards, the Atheling of the Elinmar Fens had long chaffed under the yoke of the kith. Once a scattered group of hunter gatherers they had been overwhelmed by the strength of Alathor though they had never given in quietly. Seeing their overlords now in such disarray they rose up in arms. Strike by surprise they won a couple of notable victories forcing the Kith westward. There however the Prince of Elinmar joined with forces from the Witherlands while to the east a force of the Arakai, all that could be spared from the defence of the shores, crossed the mountain to support the Kith. The Athelings split their forces in two, attacking both armies at once. The Northings were met at Imildral but after a fierce battle the Arakai proved the stronger, driving the Athelings back towards Elinmar. However the battles against the Kith proved far more successful and the Athelings drove them back into the Witherlands and claimed the Lee for their own. Faced with the victorious Atheling army, and badly outnumbered, the Arakai retreated back across the Long Mountains. However the conflict was not forgotten and the animosity between the between these two people is remembered even after the empire that caused the war was almost forgotten. The barbarians, meanwhile, continued their raids. With some cunning they avoided the shores of Ravenwood after the fate of their earlier ships, however they did pass through the long mountains into Eldmark and in so doing brought about their own fall. Fearing that the raids would grow Queen Emindel made alliance with the Gelming and the Dragonlords of Arungor. Then sweeping out of the sunrise the Golden Fey left their island for the first time in the memory of men and their great ships joined with those assembled. While they were strong enough to destroy the empire of the Kith, the barbarians could not match four nations, especially with two ancient fey realms among that number. Many of the raiders ships were burnt to the waterline, and those boats that did escape returned to their islands with such tales that the shores of Bloodmarch were quiet for many years. The remains of the once great empire of the Kith tried valiantly to rebuild from the ashes. Nearest in line to the throne was Orabrin Winterblade, Prince of the Witherlands, but he lay separated from the rest by the Lee, and the Athelings would suffer no Kith on their territory. The Isle of Alathor was deserted, and the prince of Corithel slain. Prince Zalgrik of the Deep Fallows took control of that land, creating a realm the spanned the whole of the fallows, but it was sparsely populated and held no great strength. The Maralan Gap was intact but its prince had no desire for kingship and so it was that the empire collapsed into four smaller realms. In the wars that soon followed, the Fallows was destroyed and Maralan gap looked to the Last Northing for support, gradually becoming part of their realm, until only the Witherlands remain who were true to the old days. The loss of the Kith was not mourned by all however, the dwarves of the Deeping took advantage of the power vacuum to expand northwards, reoccupying and absorbing old mines along the Long Mountains. Going from strength to strength, the smiths of the dwarves proved skilled indeed, especially in the crafting of weapons of power. Stormblade was one such blade, but greater still was Widowmaker. Alas this axe, which should have been the dwarves greatest asset instead proved their downfall. In this time King Norric the Old had ruled the dwarves for some 150 years . His eldest grandchild and heir apparent was Brithela the Fair, so named not only for her appearance, but also the evenness of her temper and judgement, and the people held her in high regard, confident that even as King Norric's faculties faded they had an able monarch to succeed him. Brithela had twin brothers, Rugrim Greyhaft and Ogrim Silverhaft, and they were evenly matched in all things, but strove always to outdo the other. They had both proved themselves to be great warriors in battle against the Kith, and upon their return their grandfather had granted them fortresses to defend. Rugrim was given the Castle of Isilfrey away to the north in the Long Mountains, while Ogrim held the Zaragorn Castle far to the south in the mountains of Zaragorn Thus the king hoped to keep these rivals directing their energies for the good of the kingdom and not against each other. Now it came to pass that the greatest of the smiths of the dwarves, Farlak Stonehammer decided to attempt to create an axe of unsurpassing prowess for his king. He took ore from the deepest of the mines to forge the blade, and quenched it with snow from the highest peaks. He laboured five years before it was completed and then with great ceremony he presented it to the ailing king. Deeply awed by the weapon before him, Norric proclaimed that never before had he seen such craftsmanship and just as the greatest of artisans had forged it, so too would the greatest of warriors wield it. Alas with his faltering voice only the last few words rang clear to the hall, and at once Ogrim and Rugrim took it as a proclamation that it were to be given to the greatest warrior. They started to argue between themselves, boasting of their deeds until they came to blows in the royal hall. Forcing them apart, Brithela rebuked them, saying they were acting as children and the axe would be well bestowed as need came. Angered, Rugrim replied that this was a matter for warriors alone, and his sister need not concern herself of it, while Ogrim proclaimed that all his war band would readily give their lives to show that he was the true wielder of the blade. Both coldly and with a measure of foresight, Brithela retorted that this might well be true, but if so then there would soon be many widows amongst his folk, and so was the weapon named. The two brothers then left the citadel of Thunder and gathered their friends and armies to them. Skirmishes broke out and despite the tireless efforts of Brithela to bring peace between them at last they met each other in open battle. At this Brithela said nothing but quietly took up the great axe and departed the citadel, never to be seen again. Angered by this threat of civil war, and the apparent loss of his heir, Norric called the brother to him and stirred to great wraith by the angry words that his grandsons spoke to him he arose to pronouce sentence upon them. Alas tired by the strain of many years his heart gave out before he spoke a word and the dwarves were condemned to civil war. Fierce indeed was the battles between the brothers, but at the last Ogrim claimed the victory, just. Rugrim removed himself north, where support for him was still strong. Here he caused to be built the citadel of Beomir, declaring the Long Mountains independent of his brother rule and swearing an oath to one day reunite the two dwarven realms. Out of the south a nation of fey returned to Ravenwood. Originally of twelve migrations by fey eager to see the world, the elves of Morrowreed had been those who had lived in harmony with the dwarves and humans of Greenwey before disaster had brought war. Despite being victorious, they had slowly been driven from their places of refuge as the fell forest crept ever outwards. Returning home to Ravenwood they found their ancient home strange and unsettling. Seeing this the Ravenking suggested they lived nearby yet beyond his borders, dwelling in the empty settlements left by Faralan before his people left for Immiel. So it was that the folk of Morrowreed lived in the Dawnwood and took that to be their name. When the Dawn Fey heard tidings that those humans whom they held responsible for the corruption of Greenwey dwelt nearby, they were stirred to anger and wraith. Though they did little at this time, lacking the strength to assault the Gelm, their hatred grew a fresh. ===The Fall of the First Fey (400 to 360 years ago)=== As has been told elsewhere, some four hundred years ago a young woman, pursued by soldiers from the north, entered Ravenwood and won the heart of the king. She brought with her the witching stone however, and this stone slowly corrupted her son Boroth until he slew her and his father, starting a decent into horror for the fey. At first Boroth the Ironheart was content to master his own people, and maybe lead war bands against the trolls of the Delve. However, it came into his mind to fill all of his people with the lust of war. He took the cause of the Dawn Fey as his own, without request or consultation, and lead the armies of Ravenwood west against the Gelmings. This move shocked the people of the Bloodmarch, for Ravenwood had ever been the sleeping giant. Now its black clad soldiers moved against the Gelm whose princes fought valiantly, but also in wisdom, sent runners to the other nations begging for aid. The dwarves of the Deeping, still bloody from the great sundering and fearful of the loss of their own land stayed their hand, but in the north there was strife. Many of the Eldrin recalled how those of the Gelm had fough beside them against the barbarians of the sea and wished to aid them, however Queen Emindel knew the might and power of Ravenwood, and forbad their soldiers from battling them. A number of the fey lords of Weirdwood, lead by Emedrith, disobeyed that command and marched against First Fey. In response Queen Emindel declared those nobles outlaw, but the people of Emedrith stood by him and all the queens decree succeeded in doing was creating an independent kingdom of Weirdwood, with both sides feeling the bitter taste of betrayal. This new realm held nearly seven in every ten of the Eldrin, and that part who remained loyal to the queen huddled along the south and west shores of Lake Glimormir Even with the fey standing beside them, the Gelmings could not withstand the might of Boroth. League by league they were driven back until they were forced from the mountains of Gilgrath. Once more they sent out pleas for aid, but the other nations were too fearful or too far away to help. The Dragonlords of Arungor did indeed attempt to help, landing armies in the mountainous delve to threaten Marinor itself, but even with Boroth in the west, the forces left behind were more than enough to defend his realm. Hope then came unexpectedly, when from the south the daughter of Holgar the Valient returned from a lonely quest with the axe persuader. This artefact hardened the courage of the Deeping Dwarves, its song calling to the hearts of the common person and they flocked to her banner. The stage was set for a final battle, at the Citadel of Samarand. The Gelming knew that they had no hope of defeating Boroth, even with all their allies he outnumbered them by a fearful count, but for each hour that passed more of the citizens could flee to the woods and hills to hide from the armies. So they prepared to sell their lives dearly yet there was one more ally to come to their aid. Born by dragons from Arungor three heroes hasted across the long leagues to them. In the lead was Talgrane the Flameborn, greatest of the warriors of the Dragonlords. However it was his two companions, Omrith Heartfire and Galahar the Calm from the Golden Isle who were the true power. Powerful in the ways of enchantment they had sensed the malice of the witching stone and came to try to undo its work. Battle was joined and blood drenched the walls of the citadel, yet bolstered by the magics of Immiel and the courage of the defenders they held. Three days the First Fey were held back, until at noon of the fourth the bastion broken and the rout began. Yet three there were who did not flee, and Talgrane issued a challenge to Boroth to come forth and face him in battle. Seeing a foe worthy of him, Boroth eagerly accepted. The combat was fierce until at the last Boroth drew every last ounce of his hatred and cruelty to sustain him. This was as the allies had planned however, for at that moment, Omrith and Galahar revealed themselves and with their arts tried to burn the wickedness from the fey king. Alas the darkness wrought had enthused to Boroth's very essence and while he felt true fear for the first time and for a moment it seemed that goodness would prevail, it could not and the magic failed. The backlash slew Omrith outright and helpless to it Galahar would have fallen at Boroth's hand if not for Mythrik of Shadowfalls, the brave Gelming wove a mist about the place, and taking his drained ally in his arms Talgrane fled with him to safety. Enraged Boroth commanded that the citadel be reduced to rubble, but as his fury cooled he realised that the Golden Fey might prove a real threat to him. Declaring the Gelmings vanquished he marched back to Marinor to plot. ===First Great War (360 to 340 years ago)=== To the surprise of many the first blows of the war were not made by Boroth. Instead his spies had travelled northward and spoken with the lords of the Lee, reminding them of their feud with the Arakai and inspiring them to action. On the spring equinox Athelings marched across the mountains of Isilfrey and seized its fortress. Stirred to action the Arakai responded by sending war bands to harry the invaders while preparing a great army at the citadel of Rilleon This was not all of Boroth's plan however, for freed from the threat in the east, the Prince Ombrand Warcrow of the Witherlands lead an army southwards, hoping to claim some of the rich land south of Glimormir from the Eldrin. Finally on mid summers day Boroth lead his forces north out of Ravenswood. His first target was the kith fortresses along the plains of Gliwain and Corithel, and these he seized quickly. Prince Jorran made a stand at the Ford of Theore but his army was overwhelmed and the prince slain. Boroth then moved through Dawnwood, informing the Dawn Fey of their alliance with him after Ravenwoods actions on their behalf in the Gelm. Many of the fey were unhappy about this, but none dared to voice a protest, fearing the strength of the Dark Fey army. Boroth then struck at Carafel the southern most fortress of the Maralan Gap before winter forced him to rest in Dawnwood until the ice thawed. With the coming of spring he resumed his march north and desperately the Kith of Maralan Gap called for allies. The Arakai, already at war in the north, spared all the forces they could, but remembering their past the Dragonlords of Arungor we reluctant to respond, sending only a small war band to march along aside the Arakai. The turning point came at the start of summer. Finally convinced of the threat of the Dark Fey, King Targrim Hammeraxe, of the Long Dwarves, joined the fray, not against Boroth, but instead joining the Arakai against the Athelings, driving them from the mountains with a great slaughter. The Arakai lords then raced south to aid the Kith who were attempting to hold a line from Beowain in the west across to Castle Maralan in the east. Before their allies could arrive, Boroth seized Castle Maralan slaying both Prince Reslan the Unwavering and his two sons. However at Beowain the dark fey were driven off and the fortress re-enforced not only by the Arakai but also a substantial war band from Arungor. Apparently daunted Boroth failed to advance, instead passing west over the pass of Cerefel into the plains of Ceremelth. In Eldmark, the fortunes of war had not gone well for the Prince of the Witherlands who found the Eldrin far more formidable than the lies of Boroth had claimed. Slowly being pushed back north the campaign turned from one of conquest to one of survival as mile after mile of land was claimed by Queen Emindel's forces. Their rescue came not in the form of armies but of council, for Galahar finally perceived the devices of Boroth and sent forth emissaries to the Lee, Witherlands and Eldmark biding them cease their disputes and look to a more dangerous foe. In the Lee, the Athelings scorned his words, but peace was made between the Kith and Eldrin, though it cost Prince Ombrand much land. True to Galahars words, Boroth marched into the land ever after known as the Vale of Ravenbay and enthralled the Kith who dwelt there, claiming all the land east of Glimormir, west of the mountains and south of river Cerevere for himself. Work then began on a mighty harbour to build the war fleet that Boroth would need to take the Isle of Immiel, unopposed by the tired nations nearby, and pushing his slaves to near exhaustion, within three months Boroth launched a fleet bound for Immiel. The Golden Fey fleet sailed out of harbour and after a fierce naval defeated the dark fey. Undeterred Boroth immediately started construct on a second fleet, far greater than the first, but Galahar lead his kin in a raid as the fleet neared completion and scuppered most the ships, although many golden fey were slain, far more than those of Boroth's army. The Dark Fey now found themselves running short of materials, and so word was sent to Maranor for a great store of goods to be brought north. However, almost forgotten in the rolling hills, the remnants of the Kith gathered together and fell upon the caravans in great number, before leading the Dark Fey a merry dance among the hills in an effort to catch them. For the entire autumn Boroth waited for the materials he needed for his boats, until as spring came once more he returned to Ravenwood himself to bring his stores to Glimormir. However the time had been well spent by his foes and in his absence the Eldrin, Golden Fey and Kith of the Witherlands assailed Ravenbay with armies and razed the docks to the ground. The Athelings also took the field, but chose instead to seize the land Boroth has taken and expand their realm southwards. Realising that his chance for to destroy Immiel had passed for the moment, Boroth abandoned his march northward and chose a new target to vent his anger. ===Second Great War (340 to 330 years ago)=== Some scholars dispute the conflict that followed should truly be called a great war, for the conflict was not one but several separate conflicts. In the aftermath of the Dark Fey withdrawal from Glimormir the nations of Bloodmarch took stock. Around the great lake itself, the Athelings had made considerable gains, having effectively overrun the Kith realm of Ceremelth, consigning it to history. The Kith of the Witherlands had also faired ill after their war against the Eldrin, having lost much territory long Glimormir's western shore. In contrast however, the boundaries of Dawnwood had expanded, with Boroth leaving many of the fortresses he had siezed in their reluctant hands. The kith of the Maralan Gap were now princeless and greatly weakened and so on midwinters day they formally petitioned Prince Aralane the Honourable of the Arakai to become his subjects, effectively making their land part of the Last Northing. Prince Aralane had troubles to deal with as well, for the Long Dwarves, whose help against the Athelings had been so crucial, now wanted territory in return, a claim Aralane was loathed to agree to. South of Eregoth, the Kith were a scattered people, gathered from the ashes of three princedoms. However Sharila who had lead the assaults on the Dark Fey caravans was appointed the prince of a new realm. In all this the hope was that at least Boroth had been been bloodied and his threat was diminished for a while. In Ravenwood, Boroth ordered that every resource available be dedicated to restocking his war machine, and so began the deforestation that would eventually transform Ravenwood into the Marish. Elsewhere the Long Dwarves took decisive action to claim the mountains as their own, forcibly removing several human settlements. In retribution the Arakai marched troops down to Beowain, close to the citadel of the dwarves. A chance meeting of scouting parties turned into the catalyst that brought the two nations to war. Then Boroth struck. Unknown to the other nations, he had long been dealing with the trolls of the Delve and through threats and promises had bound them to his will. With their numbers swelling his depleted force he wreaked vengeance on those who had attacked his supplies two years before. Moving into the Fallows he ordered his warriors to leave no-one alive in the land. Already at war the Arakai could send no aid, however from Arungor and Weirdwood war bands were sent. The latter, however, needed to pass through Dawnwood and King Udril refused to let them pass. The Dark Fey were met first at Skordroth, and twice more at Theodel which ended in decisive victories for the Wolfheart. Finally Boroth marched on the field of Cerrelm Pass, shattering the military force sent against him. The conflict in in the Fallows lasted for five more years, but after Cerrelm Pass the war was simple slaughter of those who could not, or would not flee, and by the end the Fallows were purged of all sentient life. In the south, the Gelmlings took advantage of Boroth's attention being elsewhere to reclaim much of the land lost fifty years earlier, but even with the aid of the Deeping Dwarves, were hard pressed to push the Dark Fey out of the Mountains of Gilgrath and never threatened the Marish. The battle between the Arakai and the Long Dwarves was decided by a single battleground, the defence of Beowain Castle. Their numbers depleted from the war with Boroth, the defenders lacked the strength to fight on multiple fronts, and the dwarves held that they had no interest in seizing castles held only by boys and old men, instead trying to force treaty to last longer than the lifetime of men. The battles were hard, but in the end the dwarves had suffered far less in the earlier wars than the men, and were eventually victorious, forcing prince Aralane to grant them sole claim to the Long Mountains. Beowain, however was all but razed and was abandoned by both sides, a ruin standing testimony to the blood spilt here. ===Years of Pestilence (330 to 325 years ago)=== For long years afterwards scholars would debate where the plague of insects came from. Certainly it started on the borders of the Marish, but whether it was a dark plot by Boroth, a natural consequence of the burning of Ravenwood or simply a natural disaster could not be agreed. The cause however mattered little to those caught up in the devastation that followed in the wake of the swarms of biting insects. The infestation quickly spread up the waterways of the Bloodmarch until by the coming of winter Dawnwood, The Deeping, the Gelm and the eastern reaches of Weirdwood had been overrun, the folk there able to harvest nearly nothing to tide them over the winter months. The Marish was also affected, but Boroth ordered a harsh regime of rationing, and burnt any land the insects dwelt on. Spring brought no relief from this hardship however, for the swarms re-emerged to wreak havoc. The swarms passed further north until they had reached the Last Northing and the Lee. Arungor suffered less than most, having the waters of the Sea of Fire between them and the mainland, and the mountains of the Long Dwarves were too cold for many of the creatures to survive, however it was only the realms of the Eldrin and the Golden Fey which were wholly spared, as their lords drew upon their ancient arcane might to repel the creatures. The second year was far worse than the first, for the stores of food which had seen the people of the Bloodmarch through one failed harvest could not sustain them through a second. As winter drew near Galahar sent aid from the Golden Isle to the nations of the Bloodmarch, and reluctantly Queen Emindel of the Eldrin followed suit. Galahar himself set forth from Immiel and travelled first south to Weirdwood and the Gelm, and then north east through the Deeping and the Long Mountains. Finally as midwinter arrived he set foot in Dawnwood once more. It is rumoured that his welcome there was not great, being amongst the chief foes of Boroth with whom the Dawn Fey had, however reluctantly, cast in their lot. However at last he was granted an audience with Udril, King of the realm and there Galahar stayed all winter and through the following year. Whether because of his presence, or just the cycles of nature, the plague of insects was all banished from that land, and the southern realms of the Gelm and Weirdwood found their swarms diminished. Alas in the Fens of Elimar the pestilence found a home to thrive, and many of the folk who dwelt their were forced into the southern Lee to seek food. As snow once again claimed the land, Galahar left Dawnwood, and whether he escaping from his guards, as King Udril claimed, or was bidden farewell in friendship, history does not tell. Nor do the books of lore make plain where it was the Galahar travelled to after Dawnwood, but legend and song say he passed into the very depths of the Marish itself. There he used lore long kept in Immiel to reclaim from its place of long hiding, the sword Areleth, the blade of the Fey wielded by the first Queen of the First Fey. Travelling north once more he bestowed this blade upon King Udril to aid him in what was to come. For two more years this pestilence ravaged the lands, but each season was easier than the last until only in the depths of Elimar was it that the insects which had caused such destruction were found. ===Third Great War (325 to 307 years ago)=== These years of peace restored the armies of the Dark Fey to their former glory and once more they were unleashed against the people of the Bloodmarch. Passing along the Gliwain Valley they entered into Dawnwood, seeking again the pass through the mountains to the shores of Glimormir. Boroth was little pleased at the actions of Udril regarding his foe Galahar and took Samara, Udril's daughter as a hostage of his good faith, sending her south into the heart of his realm away from any hope of rescue. The westward pass through the mountains was held against him by the armies of three nations, Dwarf, Arakai and Eldrin. For four summers and four winters the armies fought over ridge and valley, but eventually human greed achieved what the strong of arms of the Dark Fey could not. Boroth made a pact with the Athelings of the Lee, and an army lead by Eothar the Grey struck the allied armies from the rear and broke them. The way now open Boroth renewed the shipyards at Ravenbay to construct a new fleet. The Dark Fey were rarely idle however, and while their craftsmen laboured to build ships of war, their warriors lead war bands of Athelings across the river Imilvir against the Eldrin. These raids could not hope to break the defences of the fey, but they kept the armies of Queen Emindel from striking out at the shipyards. With their nation effectively split in two the Long Dwarves were hard pressed, but the Arakai held to the oath sworn after the siege of Beowain and rather than lay claim to the northern territories aided to dwarves their to hold their own. The same could not be said of the Deeping Dwarves who sought to take advantage of their ancient kin's discomfort and unite the line of kings once more. This they never did, though their armies did lay siege to the Citadel of Beomir during the eighth year of Boroth's campaign. Twice the Dark Fey sent forth ships against the Gold Fey, and twice the navy of Immiel sank them, however some six years after retaking Ravenbay, Boroth himself lead a fleet out of the shipyards. As before the Golden Fey came forth to meet them, but were taken unaware by a second fleet assembled in secret in the harbour of Rilnor and were sunk or scattered. Thus it was that Boroth sailed upon the Citadel of Immiel itself and met Galahar in open battle. It is said that the meeting of this arcane fury was as such a storm that Glimormir had and will never again see, but at the last Galahar was on his enchanted Isle and the strength of the Dark Fey was not enough, just, to take it. Yet it was but a matter of time before the next wave of darkness overwhelmed Immiel for its strength was spent and Boroth's seemed limitless. So might the Golden Fey have fallen if not for the bravery of the Gelm. Far from the conflict a small group of Gelmings, lead by Benric the Silent passed stealthily into the Marish. Long they had watched the routines and ways of the soldiers of Castle Valgrorn and like ghosts they passed within and stole from the fortress a single prize, Samara, Udril's daughter. With the rescue of his kin, Udril rose up against Boroth, earning the name Fellblade and once more blocking the supply of food and solders from the Marish to Ravenbay, and plunging the Dark Fey into dire straits. Boroth's most trusted captain, Yvannar Greatsword, brought a great war band north out of the Marish against the Dawn Fey but Udril came forth to meet them, and wielding the Sword Aranath proved the stronger. The Long Dwarves and Arakai reoccupied the Cerefel pass effectively shutting Boroth off from his domain. The King of the Dark Fey was not beaten however, for he yet had an army of his people about him, and while they were diminished after the battle of Immiel, they were still a fearsome force. Further the Athelings of the Lee held to their alliance and in order to strengthen this Boroth changed his strategy. Instead of taking the direct route to the Marish he instead lead a great host of Athelings northwards and then swept through the Long Mountains at Isilfrey and into the Arelan Valley. Caught by surprise by this the Arakai lost several fortresses to Boroth before a serious defence could be mounted. Realising the danger, Prince Aradine, the Northling king's son, lead all those who could be found in a daring ambush, and by good fortune and determination fought his way to Boroth's own guards, cleaving down the Dark Fey standard with his fathers blade before the massed Atheling armies forced him aside and scattered his armies. Still alone and unhorsed Aradine was undaunted and even as he turned to flee eastwards he taunted Boroth with the tatters of the sundered standard. This did enrage Boroth, but his was not wholly taken in by the young lords ploy and commanded the Athelings to march on the Citadel of Rilleon whilst his own Dark Fey persued the lad. The Dark Fey were lead eastwards into the hills and mountains of Elmir, and there Prince Aradine fell, surrounded by many foes. Defiant to the last he cast Bloodbringer, the sword of the kings of the Arakai, from the cliff on which fell fell into the dark waters of the mires below, and their it lay hidden beyond the reach of Boroth for many long years. Aradine's sacrifice was not in vein, for weakened but the ambush and bereft of the cunning of the fey, the Athelings could not storm the Citadel, and instead set about besieging it. Coming up ways only known to his own folk, King Arad the Generous broke the seige and forced the invaders back into the Lee. However Boroth carried on east and attack the settlement of Marafrey Here dwelt one of the Akarai who was skilled in the arcane arts and attempted to rally the townsfolk to defend their homes. Legends tell that Corrane Stormwarden called up mists and fogs to confound the Dark Fey and so Boroth sent his captain Torleth of the Sun to find and slay the one who forestalled him. Torleth was strong in the ancient fey magics and the power of the sun flowed through him. Once this was used to aid and heal, but as the First Fey fell into evil instead is became a tool of destruction. The two sorcerers met on the edge of Marafray and right away Corrane called down great chunks of ice whose jagged edges would sunder skin and bone, however Torleth called upon the heat of the sun and surrounded himself in a wave of warmth that melted the ice and burnt Corrane sorely. Undeterred the Stormwarden called upon a great lightning storm and would have directed the bolts to strike at the Dark Fey, but Torleth called upon the suns glare and focused it upon Corrane eyes, burning away his sight. Finally in desperation Corrane called upon the birds for aid and a great flock of ravens answered his call, however Torleth glowed with the brilliance of the sun and the birds would not approach. Those ravens however sparked a memory long forgotten in Torleth's mind, of the days of his young with Careth and his brother when the Marish was Ravenwood and at peace, and even as he called forth a bolt of light as sharp as any spear he hesitated. Then he loosed his bolt and it pieced Corrane heart and he died. Still moved by the ravens however, in a moment of kindness Torleth, bad the people of Marafrey to flee and hid before Boroth arrived. Waiting until they did this he the returned to Boroth and reported Stormwarden dead but the townsfolk fell while they fought. Alas Boroth saw the lie in his eyes and slew him there and then, razing the town as well but the Dark Fey could not find a single Arakai to slay and they took the peoples fishing boats and moved onwards. Hence it was that when the Arakai returned to rebuild the town they gave it the new name of Ravenfrey. The Dark fey used the boats they had capture to sail south, and despite a number of skirmishes with the people of Arungor he landed safely in the Fallows and from there returned safely to the citadel of Marenor. ===The Delve War (306 to 270 years ago)=== With Boroth return to the Marish the nations of the Bloodmarch settled down for a brief few years of peace as the Dark fey rebuilt their armies. Cordain Windborne, of the Dragonlords of Arungor thought differently however. Seeing Boroth weakened, however slightly, he resolved to pursue that weakness and perhaps begin to end his dominance. Gathering many of his kin, together they landing in the mountainous Delve and built hidden strongholds and halls amongst the peaks. From hiding Cordain lead raids into the Marish, drawing the Dark Fey into ambushes and traps within the Delve. They proved so successful that after ten years what had started as nothing more than a raiding war band had grown into a small kingdom and the people formally took Cordain as their king, naming themselves the Cordainians in his honour. To counter this threat, Boroth posted many Dark Fey at the passes and rivers that lead from the Delve, containing what, for the present, he could not destroy. The Marish was not the only place to suffer from raiders, the barbaric folk of Maniarg returned to the shores of the Bloodmarch, landing along the Bay of Eregoth taking what they could from Dawnwood. Apparently following a great leader, every ship and warrior carried the emblem of a flaming wolf and when they established a settlement at the mouth of the river Elinbrand this banner flow over it. Other settlements sprang up along the Northern Fallows and the followers of the Firewolf started to establish themselves a kingdom. Boroth spend several years making preparations for the destruction of the Cordain nation. Recalling that many of the trolls whom acted as fodder in his army had once dwelt in the Delve he assembled a battle force and lead them forth himself. However the Cordainians were not without allies themselves and aided by the dragons were forewarned and once again thwarted Boroth's plans. ===Founding of the Uskarg (270 to 245 years ago)=== As the years passed more and more of the folk of Maniarg arrived on the shores of the Bloodmarch until King Udril Fellblade decided to drive these invaders back into the sea. Wielding the sword Aranath the Dawnwood king achieved several victories but found that for every war band he defeated, two more ravaged his realm. Seeing their plight the Arakai met with the leaders of those who followed the flaming wolf, discovering that they called themselves the Uskarg and were fleeing great famine and disasters upon their isles. Together they agreed a treaty setting a clear boundary between them and the Dawn fey, but King Udril would have nought to do with it, refusing to deal with what he saw as a race of barbarians. Instead he gathered his hosts and lead an assault on the great settlement of Stormhowl which the Uskarg have build in the mouth of the Elinbrand. Alas even as his armies were overtaking the walls of Stormhowl a great fleet of ships arrived from the bay of Eregoth lead by the Warchief Firewolf himself. A giant of a man at almost seven feet tall he slew Udril and drove the fey back into their woods with great loss. This left Dawnwood in dire straits with the Uskarg taking territory almost unopposed. In despiration they send a plea for aid to the Dragonlords of Arungor, reminding them of what they had suffered in the past at the hands of those of Maniarg. The Dragonlords did indeed remember and several war bands crossed the water to harass the barbarians, however they found them a hardy opponent and make little impact. In contrast the Dawn fey found themselves enjoying several small and surprising victories against raids the the Firewolf himself lead deep into their forests. Even considering their plight was not good. Seeing an opportunity to have the Dawn Fey indebted to him once more Boroth attempted to send an army of his Dark Fey to their aid. However his fleet was attack and sunk on the high sea by a alliance of Arungor and the Delve determined to limit the influence of the Marish. The conflict between the Dawn Fey and the Uskarg ended both suddenly and abruptly in the reign of the Firewolf's son when a raid by the Dragonlords against Stormhowl resulted in the barbarians suffering an unbelievable string of bad luck and the settlement burning to the ground, taking its lord with it. A woman called Karelda, afterwards known as the Peacemaker, took the mantle of leadership and agreed to move the bulk of her people eastward claiming only the Fallows as her domain, building the citadel of Roreon as the new capital. In the Uskarg, Boroth saw an opportunity to spread discord amongst the other realm of the Blood. He sent Emissaries to Karelda, and paid tribute to her peoples strength. He proposed a treaty of non-aggression between their two nations, with clearly defined boundaries to their lands, borders that were both fair and just. It seemed strange to Karelda that a fey whom she had heard such ill of was in truth so reasonable but despite her misgivings she agreed to the concord and for two hundred years their was peace between the Fallow and the Marish. The Arakai and Dragonlords however were concerned by this new alliance, and so kept their council from Karelda and her line so that the Uskarg never joined them in battle against the Dark Fey. ===Madness of Crimson (245 to 210 years ago)=== Boroth was wrathful at the loss of the fleet sent to aid the Dawn Fey and launched a mighty assault upon the Cordain. Choosing to risk in soldier by crossing Gornpass by night, he managed to surprise a family of dragons in the one of the many caves that lie among the mountains. Well aware of the aid the noble beasts gave to the Cordainians, Boroth personal slew two of them, and dealt the third, an ancient wyrm known as Crimson, a grievous blow the the head. Disorientated and in great pain, Crimson loosed a gout of flame, killing the dark fey guarding the entrance, and with a strength born of desperation she launched herself into the air, fleeing the Wolfheart and the bodies of her hatchlings. Befuddled and confused by the wound to her head, ancient instinct drove her northward until exhausted to the point of death she collapsed on a mountainside of Arungor. It was not yet time for her death however, for as fate would have it, her fall was noted by another. Talorene of the High Crags had once been a great leader of the Dragonlords, but at last had tired of the endless death and sought the solitary silence of the mountains of Rildroth. Having learn something of the healing arts of the wise she drew upon all of her skill to bring Crimson back from the brink of death, and during the long months of care became close friends with her. Talorene was not Crimson's only companion, for as she gaining in strength, news of her escape travelled along the length of Arungor and many of the dragons of the island came to speak with her. As she spoke of the cruel death of her hatchlings a anger kindling within the the great wyrms heart until it became a blazing cry for vengence. Talorene counciled her to peace, saying that all the blood in the world would not return her children, but Crimson was unmoved. Calling the dragons together she spoke powerfully to them inciting them to forgo their quiet support of many ages and instead to unleash their righteous fury upon the Dark Fey and the Marish. Many heeded her call and it was with a fearsome array that she bad fair well to Talorene and took to the skies for to return to the Delve. Boroth's assault had taken the Cordain by surprise and the two years of Crimson's recuperation had seem them scatter to the secret or strong places of their realm, hard pressed to hold back the Dark Fey's advances. This changed with Crimson's arrival at the mountain fortress of Scorch. Taking the besieging force by surprise, the dragon swept from the sky and turned their camp into an inferno, leaving no fey alive. Pleased with her success Crimson then lead her dragons west and south, driving Boroth's forces from the delve. However her ambition did not stop there and the next spring saw her strike at the Marish itself, striking where ever the fey gathered be it village, farmstead or army camp. Against the terror of the dragons, the fey could do little, for even the most skillful bowman need great luck to pierce dragonscale. Only the thick stone of the ancient castles thwarted Crimson in her drive for vengeance, leading her to vent her anger on any lesser structure across the length and bredth of the Marish. While grateful for their deliverance and pleased to be striking back against their hated enemy, some of the Cordainians became troubled by her ruthlessness, for their were those amongst the peasantry of the first fey who were as much is fear and loathing of Boroth as the other realms of the Bloodmarch, and it was these simple farmers who were bearing the brunt of Crimsons assault. Such talk infuriated the great wyrm, and she declared those who said so to be blind to reality and weak hearted cowards. Even the words of her friend Talorene who sent word from her distant hermitage did nothing to sway her. Crimson did start to ponder her actions, but to a mind that had never fully recovered from its wound it seemed that if Boroth was not now being weakened by her it was time to find were else he was weak. The Athelings had always been at Boroth's call at need and so she decided that they should also feel her fire. Sweeping northwest she fell upon the Lee and for two years wreaked great destruction. This new battleground troubled the leaders of the other nations deeply, but there were none who held much affection for the Athelings and so they let it pass. Crimson's next act however caused them to act, for she looked upon the treaty of the Uskarg with Boroth as proof of their support for the dark fey and lead her dragons down upon the Fallows. At this some of the older dragons who flew at her side at last recognised her madness for what it truly was, but many other younger dragons were entranced by her charisma and power and flocked to her. The heroes of Uskarg rallied against her and met the dragon host in battle, but alas the flame of Crimson proved the stronger and the Fallows fell to her devastation, as the the heroes of the Arakai and High Fey who came forth to challenge her. Feeling her cause gathering pace, Crimson chose the cowards of Dawnwood, fey whose history had ever been with Boroth regardless of the last great war, as her victims and descended upon Elorthord expected another great battle. Instead there was but a single armoured figure to meet her. A familiar voice challenging her by name. With a shriek of fury Crimson charged, only to find her every strike anticipated and every reply striking a weak scale. Outmatched and driven beyond thought by half remembered visions, the stranger passed her sword into the scar Boroth had left many years earlier and Crimson fell dead. Only then, as the confused dragons started to scatter did Talorene remove her helm and wept at the body of her dead friend. ===Sixty Year War (210 to 150)=== Free from the threat from the dragons, the Dark Fey were quick to reassert their authority over the borders of the Marish, and indeed stray over them as the mood arose. One such fancy took captain Urgith the Bloody Handed and while moving along the southern reaches of Boroth's realm he encountered a patrol from Coromand. Spoiling for a fight he lead his war band in an attack that left the Coromandians all but wiped out. Unfortunately that particular patrol had amongst its number the niece of the King, and enraged by her death he called for his whole nation to take up arms in retaliation for her death. Armies gather at the Coromand/Marish border and despite the efforts of Eucleus the Wise to find a diplomatic solution, war was declared when the Dark Fey seize and sack the Castle of Helthene. Unleashed battles raged all along the border with the greater ferocity and strength of the Dark Fey being matched by the Coromand forces discipline and apparent ability to be in the perfect place a the perfect time. Evenly matched, neither side was able to claim a lasting advantage over the other. For decades generation after generation of man fought fey until the land between the nations was overrun with graves and blackened ruins. At last, King Menion could no longer stand the numbers of his kingdoms young people whose lives were lost in retribution for the atrocities of the Dark fey and seeing no final victory for his side reluctant agreed to meet with Boroth to bring an end to the conflict. To this Boroth readily agreed, seeing a chance to ambush the Coromand King and break the moral of his nation. A time and place was settled and accompanied by Eucleus the Wise, Menion set forth on his last journey. His end did not come at Boroth hand however, for some 10 leagues short of the meeting place, he was struck down with great chest pains and despite the lore of his companion he died. Following his dying wish to bring an end to the war, his advisors proceed to the meeting, to find Boroth waiting with a great force of warriors. The king of the Marish was frustrated by unexpected turn of events, but recognising the strength of his position he forced the representatives agree to terms that greatly benefited the Marish and brought an end to the war. ===Fall and Recapture of Romiel (150 to 140 years ago)=== Fearing that the people of Bloodmarch would see his treaty with Coromand as a sign of weakness, Boroth determined that he would reassert the military power of the Dark fey upon the other nations. He sent emissaries to the Queen of the Uskarg, promising great reward in turn for the seamanship of her realm in crossing the Bay of Alathor Swayed by the guidance of her greedy advisors, Queen Elina agreed to transport the Dark Fey to the Last Northing and so Boroth army set forth. Once again the folk of Arungor tried to engage them, but the seamanship of the descendants of Maniarg was undiminished and ever the greater and so the fey landed upon the coast of Romiel and stormed the city there, claiming it for the Wolfheart. The Arakai gathered their war bands and with allies from the Dragonlords and Dawnwood marched to reclaim their settlement, but Boroth had brought a great supply of food and arms with him and fended them off with ease. The Wolfheart himself lead several sorties against the allies, aiming to hurt their moral rather than strength and several commanders fell to his blade. Now at this time, Arran Snowlord was the chief of the Arakai, and after a season of the siege of Romiel he wondered at Boroth's motives, for the dark fey made no move to extend their invasion. Then he saw the truth of their intention and against the wishes of his allies moved back from the walls of Romiel, waiting for Boroth to grow their of the city. But while he didn't contest for the settlement openly, in secret he sent many brave souls to bring supplies and aid to those who resisted the occupation of the Dark fey. So it was that after ten winters Boroth decided that their was little to gain by holding the city further and intending to burn the city to the ground as he left. However forewarned by his spies Arran chose that moment to storm the city and so Romiel was saved from the fire, though Boroth had proved that the Marish could still crush any who would oppose him. ===Turmoil of Weirdwood (140 to 101 years ago)=== Living among the high peaks of the mountains, the long dwarves were reliant upon their skills of smith craft and stone working to trade for grain and wood to survive. So it was a small parties of dwarves were always surveying the ground for new seams of ore for their smithies. One such group, originally from Scaradir, discovered a rich mine of silver on the western edge of the mountains. Their joy at the discovery was short lived however, for the fey lord of Aradel noticed their workings and arrived in person to inform them that the silver lay within the forest of Dusharn and they had no right to it. Angry words were spoke and threats issued before the High Fey company withdrew. Both side then gathered strength and a second meeting disintegrated into an exchange of blows and the besieging of the mine. Word of this conflict soon reached Ashedrel the Tireless, king of the High Fey who was travelling nearby and it seemed to him that this strife was born out of the smallest of disagreements. Moreover it threatened to escalate into a war that he neither wanted nor could afford. Intent on peace, he travelled to the mine and spoke with the dwarves of Scaradir offering them the right to mine in return for a tithe to the fey. All having agreed to this, his war band was leaving when a new strength of dwarves came down out of the mountains. Unaware that a peaceful agreement made been made, they fell upon the High Fey and amid the confusion a stray arrow from a fey bow struck the king and he was slain. Filled with wraith and wished to blame the dwarves for this, Lord Adadel lead his people in full assault against the dwarves and the land ran red with blood. News of the slaughter travelled fast and the two nations prepared for war. However so few of either side had survived the battle at Redsilver mine that there was a brief pause as warriors marched to face their foe, and into that peace before the storm rode Queen Emindel. The Queen of the Eldrin had received word of these events from the dragon Mistspirit, and mounted on that might beast she raced to speak with King Volgrim of the Long Dwarves and the lords of the High Fey. Speaking with great eloquence, she convinced them of the truth of what had occurred, and that blame truly lay upon neither side. Reparation and words of regret were exchanged and thus war averted. For this diplomacy she was praised by many of the High Fey and there were even calls for a reunification of the two fey realms, this Emindel counselled against and instead it was decided that a conclave of lords of the High Fey would rule for five years until a new king was chosen, for Ashredrel had no heir. Noble as she seemed however, Emindel was pleased with the idea of a unified Weirdwood and Eldmark, and for those five years she courted the high fey until at last the conclave called upon her to take up the crown of her ancestor and make them one people again. Now not all of the High Fey, nor indeed all the Eldrin, were happy with this, but it had the support of the majority and so a great ceremony was arranged. Emindel was never to be Queen of two nations however, for as she processed toward the crown an arrow, enchanted and envenomed, struck here down and she was slain in front of the assembled crowd. Never has the truth of whom fired the arrow been determined, nor indeed for what cause, but from the first the Eldrin blamed the High Fey and all the old hatreds and betrayals were recalled. War there was among the two fey nations, and the warriors of Eldmark crossed down into the plains of Elinvar However slow as the folk of Weirdwood were to react, one arose from the stupor. Jarleth, Lord of Merikith, gathered the armies of Weirdwood about him and met the Eldrin in battle. Calling upon old alliances he gathered the Deeping Dwarves to his cause, but seeing this and remembering the nobility of Emindel the Long Dwarves came to the aid of the Eldrain. The conflicted seemed destined to spread with the Athelings, Gelmings and Kith looking to join sides, but Galahar the Calm left Immiel and negotiated a truce. Jarleth was crowned king of the High Fey in the Shining Citadel, while Avidrew took up her mother's throne in Arunvere, but neither peoples forgave the other. ===Fourth Great War (101 to 55 years ago)=== In a hidden valley deep in the Long Mountains a group of dwarven prospectors discovered a tomb. Driven by curiosity they entered in to find riches and the remains of a dwarven lady, a princess by her garb, clutching to her breast an axe of exquisite craftsmanship. Amazed they returned with their lord who recognised the weapon from the old writings and with great joy travelled to Beomir to present Widowmaker to king Volgrim. News of the discovery of the legendary axe of the dwarves raced across the Bloodmarch and several of the Lords of the Deeping came together with the blessing of their King to swear an oath that none but the Deeping Dwarves would ever long possess it. Once again the dwarven people were split by a desire to claim the axe and the weapon lived up to its name as many died in battle among the cold peaks. Meanwhile the Dark Fey moved against the Gelm, overrunning the eastern stronghold of Gilgrath. There, however, they paused, as if troubled by some unseen portent. Counting their blessings the Gelmlings gathered all their strength and came forth to meet Boroth in battle at Gorn Pass However they walked into a carefully crafted ambush and only a handful escaped back to Samar and to warn their king. To their surprise Boroth did not advance, but withdrew back to the Marish. There was one among the smiths of the Long Mountains, Torlim the Keen, who was troubled by events. Long he had studied the legends surrounding Brithela the Fair's disappearance and the loss of Widowmaker. It seemed strange to him that Brithela's body should be found richly attired in a tomb when none seemed to know where she went. Still stranger was that among those dwarves who dwelt near the tomb itself, none could recall even a rumour of it, while each day that dwarven blood was spilt both nations grew weaker. In secret he met with two other skilled smiths, one from the Arakai, the other a Deeping Dwarf. At this tense meeting, he admitted his fears to them and the three agreed to approach king Volgrim and ask simply to look upon the great axe. Their request was not granted and the three were imprisoned and treated ill. A great battle was fought at Scaradir. There the lord of Scaradir was slain, and the Long Dwarves were victorious only by the treachery of the Deeping Dwarf Ulgrund who changed sides, betraying his king in return for the promise of a domain to rule. This oath Volgrim kept to, giving him Scaradir to hold, but ever after he kept a close eye on Ulgrund and dwarves of both sides named him Ulgrund the Treacherous. In that battle Volgrim wielded widowmaker, but it proved not to be as effortless and devastating as he had believed and a doubt grew in his mind. Sending to his deep dungeons he had the three smiths brought before him and bade them look at the weapon. For two days the smiths studied the axe, but at the end of it they were in little doubt. Not only was the axe far newer than Widowmaker, but it had not even been crafted by dwarven hands. It had been forged in the heat of a Marish smithy and the war had been but a device of Boroth to weaken his foes. At this news, Volgrim was enraged and calling upon his warband he marched upon Maranor itself, his followers breaking across the Marish with great wraith until they were finally surrounded and slain, king Volgrim last of all. Then it was his son, Oglim the Lonely, took the throne and made a peace with the Deeping. However there was no love lost between the two nations and skirmishes along the border continued. Boroth sent ambassadors once again to the Uskarg, reaffirming the friendship between the Marish and the Fallow. King Kahan was weary of these overtures, fearing that his people were being isolated from the other nations of the Bloodmarch, but agreed to a treaty of non-aggression after the Dark Fey admitted intentions toward Dawnwood against whom the Uskarg still held ill will. Then Boroth marched along the Gliwain Valley while further west the Dawn Fey prepared for battle. However the Dark Fey's true intentions were elsewhere for after only a few brief skirmishes the bulk of the army turned aside and passed by boat through the passes between the Long Mountains and the Deeping and assaulted Weirdwood, taking the High Fey by surprise. Facing his first real crisis since ascending the throne, Jarleth the Shining found himself in difficult position. In their initial assault, the dark fey had captured the fortress of Merikith and established a beach head in his domain. Moreover Weirdwood's traditional allies, the Deeping Dwarves and the Gelmlings were greatly weakened by the earlier conflicts. Outnumbered Jarleth made a stand at Glitteroaks but suffered a heavy defeat and after a long night of deliberation gave voice to the truth that alone no single nations armies could stand against Boroth. He ordered the High Fey to seek concealment in the woods and launch lightning raids rather than fight pitch battles. Any fortress or settlement that Boroth threatened was to be abandoned, to be rebuilt after the wars end. This brave decision proved a good one, for Boroth chose not to hunt down the elusive High Fey forces, but instead marched northwards into the mountains of Erilan and Eldmark. Alas the price of this success was high for both Golden Castle and the Shining Citadel we taken and despoiled, and for many years the eastern part of Weirdwood lay under the control of the Dark Fey. Boroth fought his way through the Imil valley, but ignored the Erilan castle, instead striking straight at Meranor. Shirimer, the Lady of Meranor, asked for aid from her sister, Avila. Having watched the might of Boroth passing through her mountains, Avila replied that even their combined forces would not withstand them and counselled her sister to abandon the land to him. This Shirimer would not do and contested every mile of Boroth's advance until at the last she was encircled within her fortress. One last time she send a missive to her sister begging for just a war band to aid her escape the siege, but Avila was unmoved the words and her kins plight, and sent no aid, earning the name of Cold which she wore ever after. Castle Meranor was taken with great bloodshed but by fate Shirimer was saved and escaped with a handful of other to continue a relentless guerilla war against Boroth, in turn earning her title of Shirimer of the Shadows. Boroth set again upon the task of creating a great fleet to control the waters of Glimormir and the Golden fey prepared to meet him. However such was not his intent, for the fleet laden with war bands headed westward not north and landed near the citadel of Arunvere. Then there was a mighty battle outside the gates and while the Eldrin held long enough for their capital to be made secure the cost was high, with Queen Avidrew lay among the dead. The defense of the Eldmark then fell to Carithiles, Avidrew's niece and now the Queen of the Eldrin. It was a conflict that took place on two fronts for not only was Arunvere beseiged, but a second Dark Fey army was advancing out of Meranor. Sending out messengers she received offers of help from the Cordain and the Dragonlords who sailed to the mouth of Imilvir and guarded it, breaking the Dark Fey's supplies, but Boroth had been caught by this before however, and had brought sufficient supplies to sustain his army though a long campaign. The Kith declared themselves neutral, refusing to take any part in the conflict, but the Arakai and the fey of Dawnwood assembled in great numbers, preparing to march into Meranor. Alas they were met on the border by the Athelings who once again made an alliance with Boroth, and Carithiles' allies could not reach her realm. Thus it was that for a while large portions of Weirdwood and Eldmark were indeed united, under but Boroth's command. Finally after long labours, Galahir succeeded in organising the two fey realms to act in concert against the Dark Fey and, with the aid of the Golden Fey, Boroth's armies suffered enough casualties that he was forced to retreat least he lack the strength to fight his way home. Still the lords of the Marish were well pleased with their campaign for the might of the Edrin was broken and it would be many centuries before they returned to the earlier glory. ===Fifth Great War (30 to 5 years ago)=== Some two decades passed and the nations troubled by the fourth great war slowly rebuilt at least a part of their former strength. For a while Boroth left the Bloodmarch, and formed secret treaties with a race unknown to his foes. With the first days of spring Boroth surprised the rulers of the Bloodmarch by bringing a great gathering of giants into the land. Granting them the Delve to dwell in, if they could take it, he finally fulfilled his desire to destroy the realm of the Cordain, and destroy them he did, all but wiping them out with only a remnant, lead by Dorgrun Roughhand and Talella the Intrepid managing to flee to the safety of Arungor. That safety was short lived for pleased with his victory, Boroth commanded his giant allies to land on the Isle of Dragons and bring the proud folk who had thwarted his plans for many years to their knees. The Dragonlords put up a brave fight but were gradually pushed back into the crags and valleys of their mountains. Fearing the loss of a powerful ally, the High Fey of Weirdwood persuaded the Deeping Dwarves to aid them in a counterstrike against the Marish itself. Alas the long years of the Cordain had caused them to forget the strength that Boroth spent in holding the Delve Passes, warriors who were now free to cause havoc. Boroth lead his armies in retaliation and not only crushed the assault but stormed into the Deeping itself. With the Dark Fey besieging the Citadel of Thunder, Norgrim the Rock was left with no choice but to surrender. Boroths terms were simple, Norgrim was to offer his betrothed as a hostage against his neutrality from this point forward. Away to the north the giants were finding the mountains of Arungor less daunting than the others who had invaded the Isle and it seem only a matter of time before the Dragonlords suffered the same fate as the Cordainians. In desperation Sagrana Goldwing, sister to the king of the Dragonlords, surrendered herself to the Dark Fey as a hostage to buy peace for her people. After his success in the Deeping, the Dark Fey marched west into Weirdwood, meeting the High Fey in battle and seizing the Shinning citadel. Amongst those captured was Jarleth's daughter, Emedrel, and Boroth offered the High Fey king a simple choice, end hostility against them or receive the body of their hostage. With great reluctance Jarleth conceded. A second army marched along the Gliwain valley towards Dawnwood and arrayed themselves along its border in great strength. Fearing themselves out numbered and outclassed the Dawn Fey surrender without a fight, exchanging peace for the Kings brother. The army then took boats to Ravenfrey where they joined with the army of giants and started the assault on the Last Northing. Back in the South, Boroth lead his victorious army out of Weirdwood and engaged the Gelmings. Despite fighting bravely and having long prepared their defence, the Gelm was too weak to resist the Dark Fey and after a year long campaign Amarin Starchaser was forced to agree to his son Wythran becoming Boroth's fifth hostage. Boroth then passing through the Long Mountains to open second front against Arakai, Now forced to split their forces the Arakai were overwhelmed and the bulk of their forces were scattered. The Kings army retreated back to Rilleon and the remnants of the rest fell back to other fortification until apart from Rilleon only three other strongholds held out. The Dark Fey tried to storm the Arakai citadel, but could not take it and even in this dire strait the King would not parley for peace with Boroth. Leaving the Arakai bottled up by giants Boroth then crossed the Long Mountains again, this time in the north and entered the Lee. As before the Athelings greeted him as a friend, and King Zenethor agreed to meeting with Boroth. Aware that Zenethor proved the greatest military threat of any person in the Bloodmarch, Boroth seized him as he arrived for the negotiation, issuing a warning to the Atheling lords who remained that any opposition to him, including aid to other nations would result in the kings death. Seeing this, the true power of the Kith, Sharila Suresword, offered her idiot cousin, Prince Mogrik, as a hostage without opposing the Dark Fey in the field. Boroth then returned to the Long Mountains and rather than just passing through he assaulted and seized the fortresses of the dwarves. The dwarves fought determinedly and managed to halt the advance of the dark fey at Thordroth Frustrated Boroth sent a missive to the giants besieging nearby Erefar castle, ordering half their force to march to his aid. Bored by the long siege, closer three quarters of their war band abandoned the investment giving the leader of the Arakai, Kiranda the Wild, the chance to lead a sortie. Routing the giants, she received word of the dwarves plight and after a troubled night marched to their aid. Battle was joined with the dwarven king Oglim, abandoning his walls to attack the rear of the Dark Fey armies. The battle was long and bloody but with the suns dying light Boroth himself lead a charge against Kiranda's personal guard and took her captive. At the lose of their commander the Arakai wavered and broke, leaving the dwarves alone. Several war bands fought a retreat into the high passes but their army had been broken and Oglim was forced to surrender. Once more Boroth demanded a hostage, this time Olthruda, Oglim's wife. With the capture of Kiranda, Boroth offered a similar choice to Arak, King of the Last Northing. Surrender and give an oath of neutrality or receive your sisters body. After deliberation, Arak decided that the Arakai were defeated anyway and agreed to the terms, Kiranda becoming Boroth's ninth hostage. Finally the Dark Fey marched upon Eldmark. The Eldrin and Golden Fey had formed an alliance and met Boroth on the plains of Meranor, their armies lead by a vengeful Shirimer. Both sides endured defeats and victories but the tide of fortune gradually flowed in favour of the Dark Fey. Galahar lead a series of naval assaults against the territory gained by Boroth, delaying the Dark Fey advance for a season, but after six long years the fey alliance was defeated and Boroth stood outside the citadel of Arunvere. Faced without an alternative, Queen Carithiles was forced to accede to Boroth's demands for her daughter Princess Aremela Only one nation still resisted Boroth, the Golden Fey of Immiel, and the Dark Fey made preparations to storm the mystic isle. Galahar had no intention of letting those preparation progress unopposed and threw every resource at his command into sabotaging the fleet. But it was none of these raids that finally convinced Boroth to withdraw back to the Marish. From the north strange rumours reached him, tales of the impassable frozen wastes starting to melt and great crevasses opening up within it. Recalling the stories his mother told him of her native realm, of powerful nations and great magics, Boroth chose caution. He launched the forces already assembled against Immiel in a single attempt to end Galahar's threat before he retreated to the Marish. Premature as this assault was the Golden Fey were hard pressed to repel it, but in the end the mystic isle remained free of the touch of the Dark Fey. Within his barren realm, Boroth waited for arrivals from the north. Slowly there was a trickle of travellers telling of the rising of a great lord of men and the defeat of a powerful tyrant of the wise. This news troubled him greatly and he feared that even his estwhile allies would turn against him. At last his armies moved north into the Fallows, its leaders bring demands rather than gifts. At first Asunai refused to acceded to Boroth's demands, meeting the threat of violence with defience and raids against the Dark Fey, but as reinforcement arrived and his people suffered defeat after defeat he was forced to offer his daughter Djalina as hostage for his continuing peace. Boroth then turned to the giants who now dwelt in the Delve and took king Borgalgug' step daughter Melinissa as surety for the giants continuing loyalty. Boroth then waited, watching to determine the threat posed by the northern realms. During this peace there was much concern amongst the other nations of the Bloodmarch, but none of the kings or princes would risk the lives of their hostages in open conflict and so no action was taken. Meanwhile the Dark Fey planned a final assault to completely subjugate the Bloodmarch once and for all. Then one stormy night Boroth was informed that a ship containing lords of the northern realm of Midnight had been forced ashore in the Marish and were now prisoners. Confident at last he gave the order for his armies to march forth on a campaign of conquest.
History of the Bloodmarch
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