Report 4: The War of Greater Faydark

*The following is inked on a scroll of papyrus sent to Qeynos from Faydwer through the Antonican Bards*

To Ciric Azilebane, High Priest of Quellious,

Dearest Friend,

War has found the Faydark. We always knew the shadow of Crushbone's jagged axe lay north of the elven nations but not until the past few nights did we truly know the danger. For centuries the elves have used Crushbone as a trial by blade and by blood of the merits of those sent into the wilds. We had no idea of the forces the orcs had built up in the caves under the citadel of Crushbone.

Until last night.

I received word from the criers of Tanaan that elven rangers had spotted powerful orcs and even an orc warlord north of Felwithe. I returned to the Greater Faydark to learn the truth of these reports.

The elves had mobilized. Rangers, paladins, and spellcasters prepared under the guidance of the battlemasters of Kelethin and Felwithe. All bureaucracy was tossed aside. They were ready for battle. They wore suits of shining steel armor and white silk embroidered with the ancient elven glyphs.

For three days these armies waited and prepared. Mercenaries from all over Norrath traveled to the lands. Some waited with grim determination on their faces, their hands gripping the leather-wrapped hilts of their enchanted blades. Others treated it like a celebration on the beaches of North Ro, drinking and singing bawdy tavern songs.

I traveled with a scouting party to hunt down the orcish warlord. In the north east of the forest we spotted him and two of his elite guards. He was huge, scarred from a hundred wounds and eyes blazing red as hellfire. He wore a cloak of soft elf-hair and a boiled leather chestguard of thick dwarvish skin. His eyes burned with the fury of centuries of oppression under the elvish cities but they also spoke of calm and logical strategy. He would not rush into the hail of elven arrows as the other orc warlords had. He knew his enemy and we did not.

On the evening of the third day, war finally began.

The ground opened up. The armies of Crushbone poured forth from the hidden entrances to underground caverns. They rushed in waves, too close for the elvish archers to thin them out with steel barbed arrows. Scouts and messengers cried out as heavy axes hewed into their backs and clouds of insects summoned by demon-worshipping mystics poured from their screaming mouths.

The lines of the elves broke quickly into smaller units of elvish spellcasters and blademasters. I saw an elvish general cleave down five orcs in five strokes of his jeweled greatsword. I watched a beautiful elvish enchanter command one dominated orc to cut open another with his jagged sword.

Chaos filled the forest. Mercenaries began to turn sides, splitting the armies into threes and fours. Bands of dark elves, ogres, Iksar, and the traitors of the elflands turned their own weapons and magic upon the elf commanders. Others were crushed between the armies of Felwithe and those of Crushbone. My mind reeled in horror.

The worst had yet to come.

I felt a burning flair across my back as a blade pierced through my armor and sunk into my side. I turned to defend myself, my hammer held high. I met the burning green eyes of a young paladin of Felwithe. His mouth had turned into a snarl and my own blood dripped down the keen edge of his sword. Illusions of dark domination or deception flew away; this elf knew who I was and planned to kill me. I was in shock. All of the prejudice of the elvish nations, all of the ill-favored looks and street-side whispering manifested itself into murder in this inferno of battle. What had been a joke among the young paladins of Norrath now became a killing stroke of a sword.

He would have succeeded. Instead, an arrow exploded out of his throat in a shower of red blood. The green-eyed paladin fell into the mud next to me. The arrow's owner, a half elf in dark chainmail, wrenched the jeweled sword from the paladin's dead hand and tore two rings off his fingers. He winked at me before running off into the woods to continue his plunder of the dead.

Healing warmth filled the deep wound in my back. Juror, the barbarian mystic and my greatest friend, picked me up on his massive shoulder and rushed me south. A camp of mercenaries loyal to the elves had formed near the ancient Combine spires. There, half a league from the bloody battles of the north, our spells healed the wounded and recovered their strength.

A report came in that Warlord Mish, the leader of the orcish forces, had been slain. The mercenaries cheered into the night. I did not cheer. The vision of the murderous glare of the elven paladin made my heart cry. Tears filled my eyes.

I would not remember this day as the day the orcs and the elves met in battle. I would remember it as the day the elves battled each other.

May the Mother guide our hand,

Loral Ciriclight
High Priest of Tunare
On the Fourteenth Day of the Month of the Silver Moon, 3201 PD