The Battle of Elindel

The Battle of Elindel

As transcribed by Aleph Whiterose

(OOG James Pocklington)

I do not know why I was chosen to write this tale, but I have been told that this may be the last message to leave Tar Navaria, the last chance for the greater world beyond the mists to know what happened in the last few hours. The strange barkeep provided me with many names, heroes I saw but did not know, but never asked for mine.

I am Aleph Whiterose, and I sit in a strange grove within the mist, penning this tale, hoping that the story becomes known, and not knowing if, when I leave this place, I will be returning to my home, or forever barred from it.

It was early in Fire Ant when I heard of a call to arms by the Order of the Gryphon, requesting aid in the Ash Forest estate of Elindel. I had fought in the Dominion War, though not as a formal soldier, survived the Marwolaeth, and even the Greening, though I had lost much. As the dark star had grown brighter and brighter over the last months, I knew in my very core that things as I knew them were ending, that these were truly the times of legends.

I arrived in Elindel late Wednesday evening, following directions, to find a warcamp of miss-matched volunteers. An elf in immaculate white, who was later named to me as Aelawen directed ragtag travellers to already raised tents, judging with a careful eye where someone would best serve. The camp was abuzz with rumor- everyone knew something was coming, something that the Order of the Gryphon felt was important enough to call for any available aid, but no one knew what. Talk rose of the lack of undead, and the thickness of the faerie mists, and all the while the dark star pulsed overhead so bright that its light made torches unnecessary.

The elf took one look at the travellers waiting in the queue before me, a pair of older men and a teenage girl. At first, she directed them towards the area where the large hearted, but little skilled, seemed to be gathered, and the slip or a girl bristelled and leaned in to whisper. I could hear little, but the name “Morefang” carried, as did her reaction, and the three were sent to a part of the camp separated, where tents drawn with military precision sat under banners I did not know. As a veteran of many of Tar Navaria’s recent wars, I thought I knew them all, but I had never heard of this Legion from a land beyond the mists. My heart swelled to see the snapping pinions of the Imladari flag, atop one of a member of their royal house, through I knew not which.

I have always looked the warrior, though my equipment was old and battered. I was sent to a forge, where a tall dwarf pounded on an anvil, surrounded by the volume of work only a true master could create. I was shocked to see that he wore the white belt of a knight and worked to prepare the soldiers instead of sitting in war councils and planning sessions. I was given new equipment, sword and shield of a familiar weight, and knew that I was as prepared as I could be for what would come, though none of us knew what it would be.

Thursday was much the same, meeting new people without bothering to learn their names. We were a hodge-podge group, drawn by a feeling of commitment, but with little more in common. Some tried to while away the time with song, others played games of chance, but ultimately, we all waited, with the mists churning just beyond the torchlight, preparing for something as we too prepared.

Shortly after Thursday became Friday, it began. The mists coalesced, spewing forth creatures. I wish I could claim that they were creatures of a type none of us had seen. It was the exact opposite, fate help us. These creatures wore the faces of friends, allies, loved ones long dead. Their eyes swirls of madness and sucking void. It was chaos; in the darkness, it was all but impossible to know if the person next to you was a friend, or simply wore the face of one.

I fought on, preparing to sell my life dearly, and then the Archmage came. Most of us had heard the name Zalinarek. Many of us had been given cause to curse it in recent months, but this was the legend, not the villain he had become for a short time. He cast back the darkness and the beasts come from the mist, channeling barriers of raw magic around the camp, aided by a Selunari woman whose name the Barkeep refused to gift me and a small elf from “beyond the flux”. We turned the tide, and then they, no it, no they, came. A hulking red lizard creature, then multiple of it, collapsing and splitting from one to many and back to one, seemingly intent solely on striking down the Archmage. It nearly succeeded, forcing him to magically flee and rifting away in pursuit. The time it took, however, allowed the two that came with him to complete the workings, barriers of light and ice pushing back the mists, and granting us reprieve. Somehow, we slept.

Friday itself was strange, as if a hush had fallen over the land. Three times we were tested by the creatures, once taking forms of undead, the others our loved ones. So sorely were we challenged that when the first of many miracles occured, it was almost too much to be believed.

Mid-day, a cry went up, the Circle of Power that had been created to allow resurrection was overloaded by seemingly countless spirits seeking to return. Resurrections began, but most of the spirits were scared, damaged, and the process was slow, agonizing. The first to be reskinned took hours, but was someone that had not walked the face of Fortannis in several years. Something had occurred and some of those spirits eaten by the Greening had found their way home!

That night, a hush fell over the camp, as we bore witness to the end of the dark star. We watched in awe as on the western horizon, it smashed down with fury at what we only assumed, and I later learned, to be Fairdale. Beams of dark energy lashing down at the earth. Those of us with particularly good vision saw a winged form dancing among the beams, struggling with all its might to attempt to throw them back, before it was struck from the sky. Though we would not know it for several hours, we witnessed Icen himself, the wyrm for which the kingdom was named, attempt to save our world, and fail. Luckily, we all lived to learn what occurred when he stumbled, bleeding and nearly broken into our camp.

We watched as four beams of light lanced forth, one from each corner of the map around us, striking deep into the heart of the dark star. We stood in wonder as small blips of light shot up from Fairdale. Would that we could have celebrated when the dark star fled, trailing light like so many tears and trails of blood, but we were again pressed by the creatures with eyes of madness.

When Icen stumbled into our camp, we learned what we were facing. A door had been opened in the mists, and a creature had snuck through. By some ancient condition that only makes sense in the tales of bards and drunkards, those that freed the creature could not banish it, only strike down its manifestations. Were I not as bone tired from fighting, overjoyed at the heroes success and devastated by what may be their hubris, I would have laughed. Instead I cried.

Icen explained, in halting terms, that the path into our world, where the creature, the parasite, could manifest the strongest, was on the convergence of the lines of power, the point where the cracks in reality met, where we stood. He spoke haltingly, clearly wounded; in a battle against a star, apparently even a dragon may lose; but his message was clear- eventually the source of the creatures we had been battling would come, and we alone would be in a position to stop it.

I do not know how many slept that night; I know I did not. Were we to succeed, we could save our world. Were we to fail, a creature that corrupted the very mists, that infect the Watchstones and the land bonds, would be free to fully enter our world. There was no legendary quest, no sundered artifact to restore, just simple steel in the hands of those with valiant hearts. We knew we must succeed, we expected to die, and we hoped only that our deaths may make the difference.

We waited.

The sun rose over a somber encampment. The Saturday morning fog blending with the faerie mists. We did not know the details of what had happened in the last days in Fairdale. We did not know that Nictis had been slain on his home plane, we did not know that our beloved Queen had paid the ultimate price to send a message, and we did not know, though we certainly suspected, the price paid to drive off the dark star. Had we known then that the creature we fought had been practically invited, many of those camp fires would have been deserted in the middle of the night.

As the sun climbed to its zenith, the mists convulsed, condensing into countless blobs of writhing, feculent corruption. Mold covered mushrooms with drooping eyes and dripping ichor stumbled forth, and we did battle. Monsters who’s mere touch turned friends into foes shambled, and we stood, selling our lives dearly.

At first, we did not notice that with each creature we slew, more and more of its detritus, hunks of rot and blobs of gore, remained. By the second hour we realized that we were no longer fighting in clearings, but upon mounds of compost and filth, the very earth being subsumed by a layer of the beast itself.

Until it stood, throwing us off itself like a sleeper awakening to find itself covered with ants. It loomed above us, dripping its reality warping essence, and all seemed lost. We fought, and we died, trading lives for small gobbets of tainted flesh skinned off the beast.

We were soldiers, but we were mostly common folk. Few among us were adventurers, mist-touched and properly equipped. Despite that, we were heroes, and many died hero's deaths.

In the end, there were only a few dozen of us left, the rest consigned to wait in the circle for a resurrection that might never come, when the earth itself came to our aid.

I didn’t get a good look, the glare of the sun as I looked up obscured many of the details, but a massive tree form burst forth from the earth. One branch, an arm larger than a ship’s mast, impaled the creature. The other a flower wreathed in vines thicker than a man grappling and pulling at the being. My view was obscured, but I believe, and will believe into my dying day, that there was a woman, singing, nestled in the center of the earth creature’s flowered hand.

The battle between these titanic forces was quick- a being of natural purity brought forth by forces unknown battling a being of corruption from a place best left unknown. The vines tore into the creature and the rain of rot and filth ceased, the wounds bled mist. Pouring down on us, the world around us began to fade, as if the creature was being banished back through the mists that it had used to gain entry to our world. Then it died, a brutal violent death, town asunder much like a child’s doll. Its stuffing, clouds of fairie mist, falling over us, crushing us under its weight and magic.

I awoke to find myself in this clearing, a small counter in front of me, and an odd figure pouring me a drink. He explained that I was one of only a few- blasted into the faerie mists with the creature’s death. He did not know whether, when I walked into the mists, I would emerge in my home that I had just helped save, or if the actions of others would bar me. He told me that this story, my story and the story that could be the last tale of Fortanis to spread beyond the mists, must be told, so I write.

I would write of loss, but I do not know if I have lost. I would write of hope, but I do not know if that is false or true. In the end, as I have put my quil to page to pen this tale, I write of heroes.

Let all who read this know of the heroes of Tar Navaria- those who fought the dark star, and those who fought other battles, large and small while it ended. The barkeep gifted me with fleeting visions- a hobling woman gathering her children before the mists surged under their door, a red-headed selunari laughing as he was swept under by a tide of undead, a kiergani brandishing a feather against the darkness, a hulking vansir telling tales of his glory years as the mists climbed his longhouse window, all these and many more; more than I could write and fill these pages. I write of heroes, known and unknown, and I write knowing that there are more than could be written of.

If this story reaches you and you are one of the children of Tar Navaria, know that your world exists, though the path home may be difficult or impossible. Know that choices were made, that heroes stood up for what they believed in. Some died. Some lived. Some died that should have lived, and others lived that should have died. Heroism itself endures.

I am Aleph Whiterose, and this is my story, but it is also yours.