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The History of the Sylvan Elves
Despana War and Chaos (ca. -15,400 to -15,180)

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The sylvan army marched away, venturing out of their protective forests to join the gathered hosts of elves opposing Despana. After the initial skirmishes, the fighting became constant and the land was torn by battles fought between the elven allies and Despana's terrible host of orcs, trolls and barbaric humans. Crops rotted in fields, hamlets burned and as winters counted off their months of dismal cold, people starved. As the years passed, Oriahn sent irregular missives back to Nevishrim bearing less than hopeful news. These were sent via trusted members of the Eranishal who followed a long, convoluted path aimed at protecting Nevishrim from outside knowledge of its location.

For the long, arduous years that the sylvans fought with the elven army, no sylvan other than the Eranishal messengers was allowed to return to Nevishrim. This hardship, over and above the horrors they witnessed on the battlefields, was what survivors of the conflict later claimed was the worst sorrow of fighting in that war.

Back in Nevishrim, as years passed, new recruits were trained and sent away from the harboring forest to join Oriahn's sylvan troops. These were always sent out with much ceremony, as well as much sorrow since the people considered it likely they would never return.

On the battlefield, Oriahn had formed a horse guard, having received good warhorses from other elven units who admired the sylvans' tenacity and courage. Oriahn trained up a cavalry, which augmented his archers and foot soldiers. The sylvan legion, called the Wood Guard among the ranks in deference to their strength, was stout and brave and carried many a day in battles through those harsh years.

In -15,195, allied with a top-notch army of Faendryl elves, the Eranishal legions managed to rout a significant portion of Despana's hordes at the Battle of Harradahn. This pivotal conflict seemed to turn the tide, as Despana's army slowed to recover their dead and wounded, then began to retreat. The combined elven troops followed them, harassing their flanks and driving them on. The wounded and dead were abandoned as Despana's troops fled, and the Faendryl took these and made use of them, prying information from them.

As the autumn of -15,188 cooled into winter, the sylvan army joined their Faendryl allies on wooded slopes surrounding the valley on which Maelshyve Keep stood. Despana's army was spread out across the valley floor below, still numbering in the tens of thousands. It seemed an impossible force to the war-weary sylvan soldiers.

During the war council prior to battle, Oriahn was told that the elves had planned a magical assault that would leave Despana's army open to attack. Oriahn was to sweep in with his army and rout any legions that escaped the magical battery. That seemed a relief to Oriahn, knowing the extent of his troops' exhaustion. As he sat his warhorse in the first line of the Eranishal, he watched the Faendryl sorcerers advance onto the field.

As the lesser demons were summoned into existence and spread across the valley, their fiendish howls raising clouds of crows and sending wildlife streaking in all directions, the warhorses reared in panic, throwing some of their riders to the ground. The screams of the orcs and trolls were soon echoing off the surrounding hills, creating a chaotic din that swept the Eranishal into its embrace. Sylvans who had been thrown from their mounts tried to quickly regroup, and the effort seemed to be working for a brief time.

Then, the first of the Faendryl sorcerers lost control of the terrible creatures they had called. With so many of the sorcerors never having cast the spell before that day, and in such a vast context, it was inevitable that some would falter and lose concentration. While most of the attacking demons stayed on course and devoured their way through Despana's armies, a few suddenly looped back, bearing down upon the elven host. Two demons, kin in fire and fury, found the sylvan army. These terrors engulfed most of one of the three companies of the Eranishal, spouting great gouts of flame that enveloped the soldiers in a horrible, fiery death. As the demons flew on across the hills, incinerating stands of trees as well as animals and fleeing horses, Oriahn could do naught but witness his men scream and die. The fact that there were no surviving enemies to rout was an empty consolation.




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