The First Winter War was the begining of the centuries old conflict between the settlers of the Kareyn Valley and the followers of Auril.
First Winter War
Many say that Auril has been interested in the Karen Valley from time immemorial, but the truth of the matter is that the real story of the Winter Wars begins with the coming of Freyja Thorsdotr to Beldin. She was a bright, precocious girl, from the Uthgardt tribes of the Morraines. Being one of the few in the tribe who could read and write, and who had a way with words, she was chosen as their ambassador to Beldin.
Now, many among the Uthgardt tribes worship Auril, and always have. But one must understand that for them, Auril is a more mild deity. She is the goddess of winter, to whom one prays for a light snowfall, as opposed to a blizzards and freezing to death. They have always had difficulty understanding what Beldin could possibly have against her. Being a good member of her tribe, Freyja was a devout follower of Auril in this more clement incarnation.
Freyja, as was before said, was a bright girl, and liked to learn. She took advantage of Beldin’s library frequently, and spent a great deal of time watching, reading, and learning, so as to do her job better. It was in the archives of the library that she found a copy of a Siluvan manuscript, which in turn was a copy from an inscription originally found in the caves of Astrid. It told the tale of the Glacier, and how the elves of Aryvandaar had unwittingly caused its destruction. It was at this moment, that Freyja received a divine inspiration—or so she ever after said. The valley was sacred to Auril, and had been desecrated. Her people had never been meant to live there, and neither were the people of Beldin. They were trespassers, and this must be a source of great sorrow to her goddess.
This thought disturbed Freyja greatly, and she began praying to Auril for guidance. After some months, she received a vision from Auril, commanding her to go on a pilgrimage to the Great Glacier and other places sacred to her in the Realms. On this journey, she would learn Auril’s will.
Freyja disappeared from Beldin for many years. Her people gave her up for dead. Seventeen years later, she returned, a very changed woman. Her hair had gone white—touched by Auril’s frost, she said—and she dressed in nothing but white. Her real identity being known to few, she began to be known as the “Lady in White” by the folk of the valley who would see her wandering hither and thither in the valley. She began gathering a small following, and built a shrine upon Astrid.
As Freyja’s power grew, so did Auril’s presence in the valley. Snow began falling on Astrid Rock—which had before been naught but a bare rock. The elves of Siluvan noticed this change, but their scrying spells discerned nothing—Freyja’s power had grown to the point where she could ward her new fortress.
In 1248, Freyja felt strong enough to set her plans to cleanse the valley in motion. She negotiated with the Green Dragon of the Forest of Wyrms to allow her followers to pass. Aurilites raiding parties began moving out into the valley, causing little damage at first, but much consternation. They could more or less come and go as they pleased, freezing and destroying small farmsteads at will, since Beldin was ill prepared to defend from such enemies. Before, their worries had been the Uthgardt to the north, and various goblinoid races. The Aurilites, skilled in stealth, were something new. It is this year that is usually marked as the beginning of the First Winter War.
Beldin sent out a call for adventurers, and sent out the bounders. After the shock had worn off, they began mobilizing their forces, but they could only manage skirmishes with the Aurilites. Freyja had carefully instructed her forces to avoid leading the Beldin scouts back to Astrid at all costs, and was counting on secrecy. Her followers carried out those instructions well. For the first few years of the “war”, Beldin was able to make little progress.
But in 1255, the adventurers’ group known as Corac’s Cleavers and a band of Bounders managed to ambush a raiding party of Aurilites at Mindy’s Farm. They were able to not only surprise them, but drive them back, and even follow them far enough to wager a good guess as to their destination. Having the Forest of Wyrms as a target, Beldin was finally able to move. The Battle of Mindy’s Farm is often marked as the turning point in the war.
Freyja, however, died in 1258, leaving the leadership of the Aurilites to a younger and less wise priestess. The new “Lady in White” favored more direct and confrontational combat, and so fell into Beldin’s plot to draw the Aurilites out from their base and crush them. The Aurilites were decisively defeated in the Battle to the Rock in 1260, and Freyja’s successor killed. Silifrey, the new leader of the Aurilites, was wise enough to pull the remnants of her followers back, and block the passes to Astrid. The Aurilites effectively disappeared from the valley, ending the First Winter War.
Having discovered firsthand what a vengeful hateful goddess Auril was, Aelfwine II had no qualms about outlawing the worship of Auril in the kingdom of Beldin. This had little effect upon Beldin itself, since very few people in the city and outlying farmlands had never even considered worshipping Auril. But the Uthgardt who wandered the lands just south of the Aelfwood (as they did in those days, when there was less settlement) were angry. The cult of Auril was well established among the Uthgardt, who were not unaccustomed to going up into the tundra, and saw her as simply another nature deity.
The Uthgardt were now, however, labeled as enemies, and they called for help from their kin up north. Their first target was Siluvan, since it was the nearest settlement, and filled with elves quite willing to shoot potential Aurilites. They took their axes to the trees, and the elves returned arrow fire and fireballs. A forest fire ended up breaking out, and the elves had to retreat back to Mestarenial. The Uthgardt then turned their attention south.
The Bounders confronted them at the Karenlynn gorge. The Uthgardt, believing that Tempus was with them, charged blindly at the Bounders’ fortified position. The elves came and caught them from behind, and the Uthgardt were finished. They still fought bravely to the death—only twelve of the Uthgardt survived the battle, and returned to their homes with tales of how Tempus had been fighting with them. Their praises are sung in Wycliffe to this day.
The Bounders and Adventurers of Beldin said that they saw Tymora on their side. The bards record that Tymora cut a deal with Beshaba, causing axe heads of the Uthgardt to constantly fall off. The price for this deal was high, however—for the next five years, the breweries all kept exploding, and there was no beer. This was the cause of many riots.