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