Nearly every humanoid faction of the valley was involved, excepting for House Despana and Mesteranial. Each force fell under either the banner of Beldin (King Malark) or the North Kareyn Alliance (led by the Astrid Knights ).
Beldin Armed Forces (Watch,
Mythal Guard and Bounders)
(with the Astrid Armed Forces)
|The Dark Coven||House Gerda||Imperial Dragon Valkyrie Knights|
|House Ferret ( - )||House Greycastle||House Greenwood|
|House Nightshade *||Kelmevor Clergy||Kingdom of Siluvan|
|Beldin Mages Guild||House Tanghilt||Binklhiem Gnomes|
|House Lester *||Axewhacker Clan||Amryn Prarie Goblin Tribes|
|Malarite cult||Orion Resistance Bounders|
|Sharran Cult||Tormite Clergy **|
|The Scarlet cast||Eilistraeen Clergy|
|The Black Stiletto's||Lathander Clergy**|
|The Red Daggers|
( * )= Switched sides during the war.
(* * )= Joined after the Clergy Purge
( - ) = Gavin Ferret and his wife joined the rebellion, despite House Ferret swearing loyalty. Also, House Ferret deliberatly forced their own resources through red tape so as
to avoid sending them against the NKA, as did the Greycastles.
In early 1391, King Aelfric Aelfhiem ordered the Astrid Knights , as well as a select few prooven adventurers from the adventurers guild, to hunt down the heads of the Black Stiletto Assassins guild and bring them in dead or alive , due to repeated incidents of hostility on their part aimed at his regiem. During the course of these investigations, rich deposits of red porphyry were discovered in the Amryn mines. Before House Lester could begin mobalizing a force to push the goblins out and exploit this new resource, the Scarlet Cast deployed hundreds of their agents in the prairie. Beldin sent Bounder detatchments, aided by adventurers and Astrid Knights , to help push them out, but despite the fact that each battle was won, the Cast kept returning in greater numbers. It soon became clear that they were harvesting the marble for a ritual, though its nature was not discovered, untill weeks later, when infernal gates opened in the castle courtyard. From these scores of devil warriors poured out, but the Astrid Knights and adventurers held them back. Towards the end of the skirmish, Gargauths voice came from the gates, boasting of a plot to use the porphyry to help him ascend from demigod to godhood. Alarmed, Aelfric called for the Astrid Knights to divert their attention from their earlier assignment towards finding a way to sabatoge Gargauth's plot.
This intent was initially upheld gladly by the knights, but as time whent by the king- and his councelors-decided that simply countering the feindish demigod's plot was not enough; they had to humiliate him. Accordingly, rather than have the porphyry destroyed, Aelfric wanted it recovered. The Knights all unanimously argued against this idea, partially because it involved more risk than was actually nesscicery (as the porphyry was being held in a citidel within Baetor itself), and partially because they were convinced that mocking a god, whatever its intent, would end poorly for the valley. However, they eventually gave in to the kings demands when they learnt of his plan to send civilian laborours into hell to recover it, as he thought Gargauth being defeated by mear peasents was as humiliating a blow as could possibly be delivered.
Their objective now clear, the knights assembled a squad to go into Baetor and accomplish the deed. Gerald Leonsmane, Dame Nati Tane, Vaune Nasadra and Ronin Eininfar volenteered, as they had the most experiance with combat in hell out of all the knights present. Meanwhile, the crown arranged for several civilians to be placed outside the gate with magic bags over their heads. These bags made them think it was they who were going to challenge gargauth. The mages guild explained that this was nesscicery, as the citizens would otherwise think they were cheated out of their "glory", and could riot as a result. The knights remained skeptical of this arrangment, but proceeded with their mission.
The attack was asuccess, and the porphry was teleported out by mages on the other side of the portal. As the last bit of marble was taken, a chorus of laughter echoed into hell from the portal; the sound of the civilians bragging that they had defeated a demigod.
In truth this was all part of the demigod's ploy. Mere days after the recovery, a celestial claiming to speak on behalf of all the gods came down intothe valley. he declared that the divine council of Cyrnosure, apauled by the arrogance of Beldin's people, had condemned the kingdom to be ruled over by the Gargauth worshiping Malark Lester. In addition, the Aehfiem family members dissapeared. Their saftey was assured, although no one knew where they had been taken.
Although Malark now ascended the throne by divine decree, the Astrid Knights refused to swear their loyalty. They were aware of the Shroud over the valley, and knew that it prevented even some gods from looking into the valley, and so suspected Shar and Gargauth had played a trick and lied in the council of Cyrnosure. Even so, the knights did not actively oppose Malark at this time either, and in fact discouraged the few adventurers and Beldin soldiers who were preparing to rebel. Reasons for this were mostly linked to the fact that Malarks ascension was by command of the gods, and many of the Astrid Knights were the favored souls of several deities, bound to uphold their will.
This did not stop passive opposition however. Most of the knights refused to answer any of Malark's summons, and did not in any way serve his regime. Instead, they attempted to keep the peace in the realm as they could, disrupting arrests and riots alike. The passive attitude was beginning to show signs of ending when the Mrystmir's returned to the valley, however. Malark admitted them into his court, and agreed to settle the matters between them, House Greenwood and House Eininfar . Accordingly, he sent summons to both latter families, though neither was willing to present themselves, since they did not trust Malark to give them the justice they expected. Also, it was feared that he would force them to swear loyalty should they appear in his court, and act which the Greenwoods- and especially Eininfar's - were not ready to do. Around this time, the Astrid Knights began to discuss Malark's role as Gargauth's agent in the Dark Prophecies, and accordingly began to bring together all known resistances in the valley. In addition, they also contacted Siluvan, where the House Jadys'Varine's stance on the matter was made clear. They did not support Malark, and wanted their kin- Iris Jadys'varine- found. To this end they helped the knight's locate Aelfric, who, along with his family, had lost their memory and had their facial features partially changed. They were in Mindy's Farm, placed their by the magic of the gods it seemed, to be hidden from both Malark and any who sought to restore them. Just as three of the knights- Feynot Hlalm, Zilvra Vrinn and Ronin Eininfar - along with Gavin Ferret reached, four retainers of House lester teleported to the location, and demanded the family be handed over to their custody. The knights promptly killed the four Lester guards and took the Aelfhiems to Siluvan, albeit against their will at the time.
After several months of waiting, Malark finally had enough, and so sent both the Ferrets and Bounders to bring the Eininfar's in to his court, though their attempts were unsuccessful. He had also sent agents to arrest select other members of the Astrid Knights , but the results were more or less the same. Nicktaska Levi agreed to assist Malark in his endeavor, but this was a charade, and he instead began supplying the Knight's with information on the Lester Kings plans.The callous disregard for his orders was beginning to embarrass Malark, and so he made his first mistake; he declared House Eininfar outlaws, and ordered that their lands be confiscated. This was taken as the official declaration of war by many in the valley, leading to Malark amassing a battle group to take the Eilistraeen Enclave - which at the time was the Eininfar's home- and the latter group rallying their own allies into the temple and Straeewood caves.
By this time nearly everyone in the adventurers guild- which included skilled mages, warriors, priests and even the favored souls of several gods- had chosen to follow the rebellion, as did most of the drow, tieflings and other non human races in the Beldin territories, since Malark's regime had shown favor towards radical groups such as the Order of the New Dawn and Pentafix. The largest military rebel faction- the Orion Resistance Bounders- had also linked with the rebel forces. The Red Daggers of Waterdeep- a thieves guild that had recently arrived in the valley- was also taken over by Valina Leonset, an adventurer who had traveled with the Astrid Knights before. All of their resources were pledged to the alliance.
Alarmed at the increasing support for the knights, Malark took steps towards reinforcing his own forces. His first action was to contact the Dark Coven and enlist the aid of his old ally, szek . He also attempted to persuade the Empress Elizabeth Lestrad of the Imperial Dragon Empire to lend her forces and technology to his cause, but she refused, having seen the Astrid Knights at work and believing more in their cause than Malarks. In retaliation, Malark sent his soldiers to arrest her soldiers in the valley and storm her docked ship, stealing whatever they could and destroying the rest. Many of her agents escaped however, as did the empress herself. She contacted the rebels and, with their aid, rescued her captured soldiers and found the rest. In gratitude, she pledged her resources to the rebellions cause. Around this time, Farnol D'gren and his goblin assistant Mokap ventured into the Amryn Prairie and took over the goblin tribes, further boosting the rebels available forces.
The Civil WarEdit
Battle of the Maidens TempleEdit
Malark first attempted to assault the Enclave with hired mercenaries and adventurers, though these attempts failed either because the defenders defeated the war bands or simply convinced them to switch sides. His next attempt was to use the Mages Guild to magically bomb the Enclave, but this attempt was thwarted by a strike team that assassinated all the mage's involved.
The Karenlynn Death LabEdit
The last attempt by Malark to tilt the odds of the battle in his favor was to involve modified Seeker drones.
Malark's mages had taken over the Foggy River Inn in Karenlynn, and converted it into a secret laboratory, where they conducted horrific experiments on prisoners (the adults being mostly non human, but children of all races were found in the holding cells as well). These experiments saw limbs and organs being grafted onto the Seekers, augmenting their already considerable powers even further. In addition, the knights claim to have found evidence of these mages lobotomizing child prisoners in an effort to key the golems towards Malarks will. The experiments were given priority by the new king, who apparently hoped to use them in his assault of the enclave. The knights successfully sabotaged the experiments and freed the prisoners before the golems could be prepared. The mages involved were shown no mercy, even by those few more lawfully bound adventurers and knights.
The Battle CommencesEdit
On Kythorn 7th, 1391, Malark finally sent his forces out to take the Enclave and destroy the rebellion.
This too met with limited success. Half of his forces were ambushed by the goblins, positioned in the Delta and Straeewood, and led by Farnol and Denala Cain, who used meteor swarms to bomb and rout the Beldin army. Some of Malarks warriors managed to reach the encalve via portals, but they too were defeated. Eventually, Atamara Nightshade- Malark's queen- led a charge along with Illnai. Before she was defeated, she cast a horrific spell that tainted the enclave grounds. Yet still, at the end of the day, the defenders held, and Malark had lost a major portion of his army.
Following the victory at the enclave, the rebellion began planning a campaign to liberate the northern territories of the kingdom, choosing to avoid attacking Beldin just yet despite their superior military capabilities. According to the knights, this was mostly based on the fact that the gods decree placed Malark as the "rightful" king of Beldin, but did not explicitly forbid secession of the rest of the kingdom. Their plan was to create a haven for those fleeing from Malarks rule, as well as to deny his forces the resources from the outlaying territories.
The plan was code named Operation: Trident. It would involve a simultanious assault of three key positions in the far north; Astrid Rock, Karenlynn and the swamps of the mere. In order to make the conquest of the swamp lands possible, however, the Knights needed the aid of the rebellious Evandur and Vashti Nightshade , the last two survivors of the original Nightshade lineage who opposed Atamara and her claim to the family titles and land. In exchange for their support and oaths of loyalty to the Aelfhiem bloodline, the Knights promised to ensure their restoration as Nobles of Beldin once Malark was overthrown and the Aelfhiem dynasty restored.
The Nightshades accepted the conditions, and two days later the attack took place. The Mere was taken without incident, as nearly the entire Nightshade Military happily defected and accepted Evandur and Vashti as their Lord and Lady, since they had claim by blood. Astrid was taken after a quick skirmish and with few casualties on the rebellions side. The battle at Karnelynn, however, was disastrous, as Malark had deployed Sharran necromancers in its crypts before hand. When the attack began, he had these black wizards cast powerfull spells that raised nearly every dead body in karnelynn and its tombs, quickly over powering the attack force and turning the town into a necropolis. A siege was maintained for weeks after, but eventually, after a grueling battle, the town was finally taken and cleansed by the NKA.
The Genocide and AssassinationsEdit
The loss of the north infuriated Malark. Realizing that he could not compete with the NKA's military might, he resorted to preassure tactics once again by threatening to torture and kill the families of all NKA soldiers still in his realm. His advisor and favored champion, Szek'Thuul , took this one step further.
With the assistance of a special force, Thuul and his Dark Coven arrested hundreds of tieflings, aasimar, drow and other non human races in Malarks kingdom. Those caught were brutally tortured, killed, and then thrown into the Kareyn river, where the water carried them up stream. Magic was used to throw some of them leagues into the sky, where they landed in karnelynn soon after. This served not only to demoralize many of the NKA soldiers, but also as a taunt to the knights, with a clear message; their actions had killed these civilians.
Infuriated, Sir Ronin , Sir Nicktaska and the former paladin Horizon led a series of covert operations in which they hunted down and assassinated every single one of the soldiers involved in the arrest and execution of those civilians, and sent a message of their own; any Beldin soldier involved in such actions against civilians would be granted such a fate. Just as the dead civilians damaged NKA morale, these attacks devastated Malarks soldiers morale, who quickly found that even Castle Beldin was not safe against the NKA assassins.
Szek'Thuul responded to these assaults by capturing the Eilistraeen priestess Larynda. He held her in captivity for nearly a full month. However, when he was about to sacrifice her and trap her soul, Sir Ronin tracked him and his cohert Ander the Mottled down in the castle, killed them both and escaped with the priestess.
However, Szek quickly responded to this attack by attacking the Greenwood estate with devastating spells, and capturing the seer Avis Greenwood. Avis herself was rescued weeks later by the Astrid Knight's paying a ransom to the Black Stilleto's (to whom she was given), but the damage to the Greenwood estate would not be repaired until months after the civil war.
Once again, the NKA responded by launching even more assassination missions, which only slowed down once Malarks wizards cast a spell which made the kingdoms own fallen assassins seem like children upon death. The complexity of the spell was such that even True Seeing could not pierce the illusion, a fact which made the NKA assassins pause and become more cautious with their targets.
Operation: Light ClaimerEdit
The next objective for the NKA was to change the effects of the Shroud. It was believed that the Divine Decree was based on the deceptions of Shar and Gargauth, accomplished by the fact that only Shar and her allies could see what occurred within the valley. This led to two plans; one was to follow through on a supposed prophecy, penned by the witch Mystra, which purportedly predicted a specific chain of events that would reverse the divine mandate. However, after weeks of investigating, it was discovered to be an attempt by the witch to have the entire Mythal destroyed, which would have resulted in a permanent gate to the abyss being opened in the valley. This led to the NKA adopting an alternate plan; modify the Shroud manually, a task which the Siluvan magi thought would be possible if they regained access to the newly constructed mythal capstone in the Wildwood caves.
The NKA thus launched Operation: Light Claimer, their plan to capture the crypt, caves and capstone from Malarks forces. They succeeded in this task with minimal incident, and on top of this, also claimed the treasure horde found in the former Sharran shrine.
The Clergy PurgeEdit
The NKA's ability to deal with the corruption magic of Malark's mages and clerics illustrated just how many priests and paladins had defected, despite his supposed divine mandate. It was also becoming abundantly clear that the temples of Beldin were still supplying the NKA with medicines and other means of support.
Their first target was the temple of Torm. The Dark Coven , supported by a special unit of hand picked soldiers, stormed the church and slaughtered every single priest and paladin in sight. During the attack, they found evidence of a gathering in the Temple of the Red Knight. According to the findings, clergymen and several paladins of all faiths in the valley who did not already flee to the north were establishing a resistance there. Upon hearing this, Malark ordered the Coven to crush the group, hoping to use the presumed victory as an example of his own knights capabilities to raise morale.
Unfortunately, the capabilities of this new resistance were vastly underestimated, and after fighting past the outer defenses, the Coven was cut down by a charge of the paladins inside. The battle had also pushed Thuul to the limits of his infernal pact, and so was vanquished to Gargauth's realm, seemingly for good. Furious at how his plan had backfired, Malark next sent his necromancers and a sizable portion of his army to the Red Temple. The resulting battle led to terrible losses on both sides, and ultimately a pyrrhic victory for the temple rebellion, the bulk of whose survivors eventually did flee to the north and join the NKA. However, the cost was high; Malarks necromancers had cast a haunting spell on the temple, binding many of the fallen in its walls and trapping them in an infinite replay of their final battle against each other. Some of the priests and paladins were also left behind, either unable to accompany their bretheren or opting to stay and cover their retreat. These survivors were later rescued by NKA agents.
Assassination of MalarkEdit
The last of the assassinations targeted Malark himself, though reports vary on whether this was planned or not. Sir Nicktaska rallied the NKA agents operating in the south (Horizon, Sir Ronin and Dame Marie ) and led a direct assault on the throne while Malark was in council with his military advisors. Nearly his entire court was killed (though none of the original Noble lords or ladies were present), as was his whole body guard unit. He attempted to retreat, but the NKA agents followed. He was eventually shot in the eye by Sir Ronin . Although this killed him, the agents suspected he was saved by an infernal pact not unlike that of Szek'Thuul's , which meant that he most likely was ressurected. Supporting this theory was the fact that his body vanished.
When all of Malarks guards were slain, a contingency came into effect. Infernal portals opened everyone in Castle Beldin's West Wing. Although the NKA agents managed to fight off several waves of the fiends that poured out, they were eventually forced to retreat using their portal wands, which led them into a formation of Malark's guards. However, most of these soldiers panicked at the sight of the Astrid Knight's present, and fled, clearing the way for the NKA agents escape.
Changing the ShroudEdit
Although the groundwork for modifying the shrouds effects was done in the previous months, the research involved took a long time to bear fruit. Eventually, the Siluvan magi came up with a list of reagents they would need to perform their ritual. Most of the reagents were already in the possession of various Knights and adventurers, though one proved elusive; a bar of living metal. The NKA's elite would spend the better part of a month searching for ways to acquire it, and eventually made a deal with the dwarven merchant Oin Axewhacker, who made a special order for the material from his off shore clients. Unfortunately, the shipment would be coming in from Beldin's port, so the NKA had to make sure they had agents ready and waiting to claim it before Malark's soldiers did. This led to a violent skirmish which almost left the docks burnt down for a second time. By the end of it, the reagent was secured, and the ritual performed. The effects are felt even to this day; all deities who have worshippers in the valley can now see the land, barring Auril.
In addition to altering the Shroud, the Siluvan magi's ritual also returned the form and memories of the Aelfhiem family to their original selves. Initially news of the kings return was kept quiet, so as to prevent Malark from catching wind, but word spread roughly a week after. This was the final crushing blow to morale against Malark's army, as the Aelfhiems return was taken as the Divine Mandate changing.
During the search for the metal, Malark became more and more obsessed with the elimination of minority races such as elves (especially drow), tieflings and half orcs in his realm, believing that a higher death toll in their numbers would preassure the knights into stopping their rebellion. One of the most infamous of these attempts was when he lured a group of driders into the Straeewood caves, then proceeded to trick drow immigrants into thinking the caves were a safe haven supported by the crown. This charade did not last too long, however, as the driders were all killed by the NKA, leading to several drow practically being handed over by Beldin.
Next the NKA set its sights on the southern territories of the Kareyn. Scout parties were dispatched to assert the military strength of each location, as well as discover any magical support Malark had in place. All arcane defenses and portal markers were disrupted by these scout parties, paving the way for a flawless conquest of the south.
The Battle for BeldinEdit
Shortly after the southern towns were taken, the NKA prepared to assault Beldin itself, as there was now no doubt in anyones mind that Malark had lost favor with the gods. Indeed, Malark himself seemed aware of this, and managed to escape the city with his wife, Atamara, before the army descended upon the capitol. Even so, he made sure there would be as much death as possible in his wake, and so prior to his departure issued orders to his remaining loyalist forces and summoned fiends to hold off the attackers. Despite the hopelessness of the battle, these loyalists stood their ground, convinced that they were fighting for the gods will.
In the end, the NKA won back the city, and restored the Aelfhiem dynasty to the throne.
After retaking the throne, king Aelfric's first action was to grant a full pardon to those soldiers who had fought against the rebellion for Malark, citing that he could not grudge them for choosing the gods will over him.
Even so, his next act was very clearly targeted at Malarks greatest supporters; the worship of baetzu , including Gargauth, was now outlawed and a punishable offense in the kingdom.
Despite the concessions given to Malarks former supporters, the kingdom still faced splinter groups that maintained loyalty to Malark, believing that the Divine Decree still placed him as the king of Beldin. These splinter groups would become known as "Blackwheels", named after the black ship wheel in the Beldin flag under Malark's rule.
The Mristmyr's , who were found abandoned by Malark in the castle dungeons, were finally taken to court over the several accusations lobbied against them by House Greenwood and House Eininfar . They were found guilty of high treason, among many other crimes, and sentenced to death. Nearly the whole family was executed, excepting for one.
Malark's targeting the drow minority strangely helped towards the establishment of the Eilistraeen community, as the last year had forced the drow in the south to band together. Work for the expansion of the Enclave into the Straeewood caves thus began years earlier than originally planned for.
Keeping to their word, the Astrid Knights supported Evander and Vashti Nightshade in their claim to their family title and holdings, returning the original Nightshade bloodline to its rightful place. This had the side effect of the Nightshade and Eininfar relations improving, though the two still maintained a cautious approach to each other.
The fallen paladin Horizon, unsatisfied with an end that did not involve Malarks death, vowed to hunt the former king down, all the while cursing the valley for not doing enough to find him. This led him down a dark path that ultimately saw him becoming a victim of the Dark Coven's scheme to bring Szek'Thuul back to the mortal world.
The Coven's success in that endeavor, however, would take time, as its only surviving member was Jan Osprey, who went into hiding for the following year. The Coven was believed to be completely defeated, and ceased to be a serious threat until late 1393.
The fortress on Astrid Rock saw accelerated construction under Malark, who seemingly wished to establish the fort for his own uses. This saved the Order a good deal of time and money, and lead to the establishment of their bastion taking place far ahead of schedule.
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