23.2 The fall of Alessandria.
Amongst the legends of Avalon, that of the golden wood is perhaps the most alluring to those of a pure spirit. It lies within the central Greenwood, an island of dense woodland held apart from the great forest by two rivers and the steep escarpment of the southern mountains. When the land was young, and Ilmarael was all but newly founded, the golden wood was discovered by an unwitting traveller. The lady, a victim of shipwreck from the far-off isles of the East, immediately recognised a place of profound spiritual power, and resolved to establish court therein. With the assistance of the guardians of the forest (predecessors of the Rangers Guild), the beasts of the woodland and even the spirits of the forest itself, a town was built between the golden boughs.
Alessandria was quickly heralded as a place of great beauty and magic. The learned and wise amongst the ancient ones flocked there, their studies greatly augmented by the spiritual powers of the forest. All the noble arts of the land, from Chivalrous combat to Animist merging, were fostered within the forest glades. Under the guidance of the lady of Alessandria, and by the vast power of the Old Magic, great rituals were enacted, whereby the enchanted forest was not only safe from harm, but the whole land was blessed with a golden age not since witnessed. So long as this aurora of blessed light hung over Avalon, evil was banished to the depths of the earth. Yet, this could not remain so forever.
The golden wood in all its magnificence and beauty was where the Count Agammenion first laid his greedy eyes, once his transfiguration to malignancy was complete. Alas, the trusting souls of Alessandria were caught unawares by this change, and they sallied forth to meet with him upon invitation. All were slain by the diabolic host that awaited them. Thus by the treachery of Agammenion many of the great teachers of Alessandria were lost, and artefacts stolen. The lady lamented and wept, yet none still dared in Ilmarael or the golden wood to openly face the Sorcerer's power.
Without the items of power, nor teachers of skill, the golden age faded. Once more, goblins and twisted creatures were seen abroad, and the Count wasted little time in enslaving them to his will. These goblin hoards, driven by the Sorcerer's magic, set siege to the noble citizens of the golden wood. Many fled to Ilmarael and over-seas, and others were lost to the cruel sword in their valiant defence. In desperation one last ritual was enacted by the lady, a ceremony that would close the golden wood until such a time as the halls could be restored in safety. This is the challenge that awaits those of good heart and eager mind.