23.6 The Divine War.
The most momentous event in Avalon's modern history was the cataclysmic Divine War and though some eight hundred years have past since the last battle was fought, its effects linger on. Fought between the thralls of an enigmatic ruler known as The Master and the free-peoples of the east (an alliance of most of humankind), the cost of the war was immeasurable. Tens of thousands died on the fiery battlegrounds; both thralls and humans alike. Valleys were rent out of rolling hills and chasms were cut into the mountains. The last stand of The Master was a momentous one.
The battleground of the major conflicts were in central Avalon in the area now known as the Marshland at the fork of the River Leithe and the River Silverlight in central Avalon. The dark forces formed a two-pronged offensive from the north and the west, their aim to scythe through the sturdy defences of the cityport Mercinae. Foul armies led by Uzrog of the Goblins and Agammenion of the Blackhearts met the legions of humankind and the ensuing battles raged on for a decade. Most of the written records ofthe Divine War have been lost to time, but the most famous piece, "Chronicles of The Long Defeat", remain to this day in the Silver Birch Library of Mercinae.
Extract from "Chronicles of The Long Defeat":
'Led by our brave King Thorssus, the Legion of the Sun could do little more than hold up the diabolically inspired armies of Uzrog and Agammenion. Uzrog led his thousand legion army through the woodlands and across the mountains from the west, while Agammenion marched steadily southward to doubly plague his majesty... The first battle saw the Mercinaen soldiers pushed back to but a few leagues north of the City's white walls largely by the battle-prowess of Uzrog. On that day, 'twas said that Uzrog's black mace spread darkness and despair wheresoever it was swung. Our King fought with courage and conviction but even he was forced to surrender the field to the Goblin Lord...
Thus began the long siege of Mercinae. Surrounded by the evil armies and bombarded with cruel blizzards and storms by the art of Agammenion, the city was beleaguered among a sea of enemies. Only the foresight of the Barons who had piled a great store of food and the enchantments of the young Mages Guild kept the people alive. Six ill-fated armies marched forth from the gate in an attempt to break the siege, but each one failed to pierce enemy lines though the battles were arduous and damage upon the besiegers extensive.
Two hopes did Mercinae hold for release from their bondage; an assault from the far north by the people of Gant of the Mountains, or intervention from the Gods themselves. Though the Gods did send a troop of Warriors down from Olympus to tip the balance in favour of Mercinae, The Master was able to divert their march. Not one ever saw the citadels of the Northern Gate. Fate, however, was on the side of our King. On the first day of the tenth year of the siege Mercinae did see the gaunt figure of Death hanging over her. In a matter of months, the wise surmised, the free peoples would be but food for the predatory birds which daily circled above them. Thus Mercinae vowed to act. King Thorssus and his seven princes banded together every able-bodied citizen, man and woman, and, though weakened by malnourishment, their armour was keen and their resolve was strong. Mercinae was prepared to die on the field rather than sicken within their walls...
Thorssus did order the Northern Gate opened and with a flourish of trumpets, the last mustering of Mercinaen might sallied forth and assembled outside her walls. Uzrog and Agammenion, bolstered by an inhuman patience, rallied their troops as if the War was newly started. And, as The Master's armies strode confidently towards the Mercinaens our great King saw the doom of his people. Beneath the blackened clouds our armies fought like caged tigers against a force much mightier. Gradually holes in our defen sive lines began to show. Prince Thessis perished to the quarterstaff of Agammenion and Uzrog's black mace scythed through our brave soldiers as if they were stalks of wheat...
...Then from the northern valleys a resounding cry was heard. The frantic battleground was still for but a fleeting moment as all eyes turned in wonder - Gant of the Mountains had finally roused himself from his slumber and led his forces into battle. The mountain-folk cut into the rear-guard of Agammenion's legions and forced the Sorcerer to about-face and take on the Gantish threat. Thorssus' newly freed men turn westward to join their brethren against the Goblin hordes. Battles raged long into the night and dead bodies littered the valleys, but the Gantish offensive had turned the tide against The Master's men. Gant himself upon the Hill of Arranay fought back Agammenion's magic and slew the Sorcerer with a maniacal scream. Our King faced Uzrog of the Goblins - Uzrog's bodyguard having been ravaged by our brave legions. Though mortally wounded by Uzrog's mace, our King did not die in vain. His final act was to sweep his blood-stained longsword and sever the laughing head of the Goblin Lord from his shoulders. With Gant and the remaining unwounded princes leading the charge against them, the Goblin armies fled leaderless to their labyrinthine stronghold beneath the western mountains..."