THE NORTH WAR

In the year 1438 of the Imperial Calender, a great terror burst upon the kingdom of Anglamar from the Far North. The Winter had been harsh, with deep snows and bitter cold hanging on long into Spring. The folk of the Northern Marches were hard-pressed and the Northern Rangers harried to defend the North against orc incursions and the attacks of trolls and other fell creatures. Winter wolves roamed the pinewood slopes ... Then, in late Spring, a great earthquake shook the North.

The Dwarves at Irongate knew it first; they felt it in the earth. Looking east from their mountain height, they saw the great vale of Winter Gap filled with grinding ice, which had not receded with Spring. Overnight, a massive fortress of gleaming black had risen from the heart of the glacier, radiating waves of arctic cold that froze all in its wake, and a great blizzard rolled out of the Far North to obscure the land. Under its cover, hordes of northern orcs, trolls, ogres and giants marched south and westward. They assailed Irongate, and the great bronze warhorns of the Dwarves echoed through the mountains. A part of the horde poured south through the Gap, across the Barrens, up and into the Weathermoors, where it broke upon the bastion of Kragmoor Keep. Undermanned and unprepared, the fortress fell within days, its garrison slaughtered ... Westward, more orcs poured out of the passes of the Icewall Mountains to rage with blade and fire across the Marches.

By High Summer, the Weathermoors were lost and all of the settlements of the North were taken or abandoned. At Northinghall, besieged and overfull of refugees, baronial troops, Northern Rangers and settlers fought a desperate defense. Orcs and other monsters roamed freely beyond the Winterborne. The army of Anglamar held a fragile line from Winterwood eastward, with the enemy slowly gaining ground. Knights, men-at-arms, archers and militia streamed north and eastward from all across the kingdom, though King Thelmar was fearful of weakening Anglamar's defenses elsewhere ... The Royal Fleet, gathered at Westhaven and led by the Duke of Arandor's war carrack, Sea Stallion, sailed north for Beregond to guard the coast against Nordlander attack and to bring relief up the Winterborne River. In the East, a force of Elves led by Lord Alandar of Ealdas marched from Wildewood northward to keep watch on the Deadwood and Stonegaard.

In Gondaran, the Royal Mage Izander was missing, his tower sealed and impenetrable. For there, even before the hordes had come south, the first battle of the War had been fought. The Dark Power in the North, named the Wizard-King by his thralls, had struck at Izander in a well-executed chess move, trapping him with magic and removing Anglamar's greatest defender. Later, it was revealed that Izander had discovered the looming threat in the North, descerning by magic the identity of the enemy and his plans. The fallen wizard Vystaspis was an ancient foe, long thought dead, who had fled from the Mysterious East centuries ago to reestablish his power in the North. By magic, he had consorted himself with dragons, even taking dragon shape for battle. His transformation had been ruined and he was trapped in a form half-drakonic and half-human. In this guise, Vystaspis had come to the North ...

1439 IR.     A second bitter Winter saw the army of Anglamar forced south. Gondaran itself was besieged and all of northern Anglamar ravaged by the forces of the Wizard-King. Westward, the Royal Fleet was tasked defending the coast and troops from Westhaven, Aragond and Arandor held Beregond against the enemy. In the east, the Wizard-King had persuaded the orcs of Stonegaard to attack. The elves of Wildewood and men of the Eastmark were fully engaged in holding them back. Only Northinghall remained in the North, valiantly defended against constant attack ... At mid-Spring, a great host of orcs, ogres and trolls marched out of the Weathermoors, led by a new general in service to the Wizard-King. Sargoth stood eight feet in gleaming black armor and wielded a massive serrated sword of enchanted blackened steel. With him were an elite mounted force, the Blackguard, and together they cut through the finest of Anglamar's knights and men-at-arms ...

Sargoth's army laid final siege to Gondaran, building entrenchments around the city and erecting massive siege engines to batter the walls. In a desperate attempt to break the siege, King Thelmar, the Royal Guard and city watch sallied out of the city to engage the enemy. Their charge broke the Blackguard's ranks and Lord Alric, Commander of the Royal Guard, slew Sargoth with his own enchanted sword, Firesong. But, the King himself was cut down, and the Battle of Gondaran would have been lost if not for the sudden arrival of a great force of patriots from Beregond. These had come up the Winterborne by ship, joined by Gondish clansmen from the west led by their chieftain Gothring. After three days of fighting, the Wizard-King's forces broke and began to withdraw northward, pursued by what remained of the Army of Anglamar, commanded by the new King Thelric. The youngest and sole surviving son of Thelmar, he was but 17 years old when he girded himself in his grief, donned the armor of his sire, and led the army of Anglamar in pursuit of the enemy northward.

During the siege of Gondaran, the Tower of the Royal Mage remained sealed ... In Westhaven, the mage Falkard of the Blue Star had come upon the secret of Izander's absence. As Izander's former apprentice, Falkard believed he could penetrate the tower and free Izander, but to do so would violate the royal decree banning those of the Order from the capitol. In the confusion following the Battle of Gondaran, Falkard entered the city, penetrated the Tower's defenses and freed his old master. And there he learned the identity of the Wizard-King and the means to defeat him (see The Company of the Sword).

1440 IR.     Throughout the Winter, the army of Anglamar fought the enemy across the Weathermoors. Just before Spring, they took Kragmoor and began to drive the hordes back across the Barrens. In the Northern Marches and the Eastmark, Rangers, elves and frontier folk pushed the orcs back to the mountains. By the beginning of Summer, the Wizard-King's army had wiothdrawn through Winter Gap, and there they made their stand ... But, the Wizard-King had set a trap. Feigning defeat, he drew the army of Anglamar north through the mountains and then, by magic, he summoned a massive blizzard, with waves of deadly cold radiating out from his Citadel. Meanwhile, he gathered his last reserves of orcs and other creatures from the Dragonspine Mountains.

By fate or the will of the gods, three events converged to bring about the end of the war:

The dwarves of Irongate, who had remained within their fortress city throughout the war, decided to march out and aid Anglamar at Winter Gap. Beyond the Icewall Mountains, the Company of the Sword (through heroic valor worthy of another night's tale) breached the Citadel of Black Ice. In Gondaran, the Arch-mage Izander saw all of this and made a fateful decision. He took the final step to elevate himself to the rank of Wizard (another tale, yet), then transported north, appearing in the midst of the Wizard-King's host just as the armies of Anglamar and Irongate were about to launch their final attack. Izander broke his staff and, in his final act, released a great blast of Power that obliterated fully a third of the enemy ... At the same moment, within the Citadel of Black Ice, Lord Alandar, the bard Balanger, Brund and Brom Stonereaver, and Derek of Westhaven confronted the Wizard-King with the Dragonsword.

In the aftermath, the army of Anglamar, with the aid of the Dwarves, slaughtered and scattered the remaining enemy forces. Izander was gone, leaving a smoking, steaming crater and thousands upon thousands of charred corpses where he had cast his final spell. Lord Alandar of Ealdas and Brund Stonereaver of Irongate barely managed to escape the collapsing Citadel of Black Ice, the only survivors of the Company of the Sword ...

1490 IR.     It has been 50 years since the North War's end. Since that time, the warriors of Anglamar, stationed at Kragmoor Keep, have kept constant vigil on Winter Gap, watching northward across the Barrens. The frost giant Krol, the Wizard-King's last surviving lieutenant, remains, standing before the Citadel's sealed iron doors and pounding upon them with his frozen fists. Like thunder, the booming echo can be heard five times each day and night ... There have been three more Kings of Anglamar and the Old Guard has been disbanded. The Knights of the Gryphon now carry the banner of the King ... The Northern Rangers still guard the North. Brund Stonereaver yet dwells there, traveling between Irongate and Highsaddle when the mood takes him. He is a personage and deeply loved by the people of the Marches, particularly in Highsaddle where the children of Harper and Maera Olwain call him "Uncle Brun" ... Lord Alandar is mostly absent from the North, spending his time at Wildewood among his own people. But, other elves remain, members and allies of the Rangers.

Ever-present is a fear of the return of the Wizard-King.