Weeping War

It is astounding to hear that folk of some brains honestly believe Myth Drannor fell in one or two titanic battles amid the crumbling capital. Were wars truly fought that way, Tymora’s favor wouldst be all that were needed to save one’s people or protect one’s home. Nay, I have fought on many fronts against many an enemy, but the savagery of the Army of Darkness even took aback my mount, haklashara, whose draconic eyes have seen far more blood and death than even mine. Striplings, listen ye closely: Cormanthyr’s finest failed not in spirit or in skill, but in numbers and strategy. The malefic beings which stood and flew and shambled against us knew no fear, no exhaustion, and no quarter. Never stand firm against a foe with naught to lose, for all you will lose is ground, heart, and finally, the battle. — Lady Ahskahala Durothil

What follows is a detailed accounting of the major campaigns and battles of the Weeping War.

Campaign #1: The Northern Massacres

A.K.A. The Darkness Rising; The Ambushes; “The First Strikes”
Location: Northern fringes of Cormanthor (forest)
Time: Nightal 711 to Hammer 712 (35 days)

The Army of Darkness descended south of the Dragon Sea and enters the forest in three separate formations, which later split and spread out to form a front across much of the northern woods. Within the space of one tenday during the first heavy snows of winter, these forces destroyed three villages and more than two dozen outposts of both military and trade importance.

Surprisingly, very few elves survived these initial and unexpected onslaughts, and the few that escaped to the south told stories of such unimaginable horror that the local Akh’Velahr commanders did not believe them. These delays led directly to the victory for the Army of Darkness and the continued unreadiness of Cormanthyr.

Pykal’s Snare
A.K.A.: The Feast of Blood; First Battle of Blooded Moon
Dates: Feast of the Moon to Nightal 2

This utter ambush occurred during the elves’ wintertide celebrations on the Feast of the Moon. Given the amassed forces of the Army, they easily surrounded the four outer watchposts and the entire tree settlement, putting it to the torch. As the town burned slowly from the outer edges inward, the creatures of Darkness played cat-and-mouse with the demoralized and panicked elves for four days until the 600 elves of Pkyal all lay dead.

Kerymiir’s Hiding
A.K.A.: The Cavern Carnage
Dates: Nightal 9-12

Warned by the smoke rising in the east, the folk of the tiny realm of Kerymiir had some inkling of the coming of the Army of Darkness. After some frightened reconnaissance, the 900 elves of two villages and seven minor settlements and outposts hid within local caves. They were easily found and slaughtered within the caves, then many of their hidden treasures were claimed (though not all were taken).

Yshaalnoth’s Pyre
Dates: Hammer 1-4

Yshaalnoth, a large moon and green elf clan holding for hunters and traders and scouts, is besieged and set aflame on the third day of the siege. This is the first visible signal to the southern woods of the invaders.

Campaign #2: The Satyrs’ Scourging

A.K.A.: The Westfires, The Northwoods Wars, “Jhyrennstar’s Scourging”
Location: Northeastern outskirts of long-fallen realm of Jhyrennstar west and north of Myth Drannor; long held lands of satyr tribes
Time: Hammer 712 (24 days)

Sometimes known as Jhyrennstar’s Scourging (among those who aren’t aware of that realm’s true boundaries), the second campaign against Cormanthyr devastated the northern frontiers. More than 60% of the Akh’Velahr scouts posted in the north woods died in this rapid advance and entrenchment of the Army of Darkness.

Aulmpiter established one of his primary command posts during this campaign. After the destruction of all its people, Aulmpiter made his base of operations out of the massive tree village at the heart of the former sylvan elf domain of Oloriil to the north and east of Myth Drannor. Oloriil was a collective of seven smaller outposts and villages that had little traffic with Myth Drannor beyond the frequent aiding and hosting of Akh’Velahr scout patrols. Arrogantly, Aulmpiter’s primary chamber, now desecrated by his mere presence, was once a temple holy to Rillifane. This base lay a rough 60 miles from Myth Drannor itself, though the path to it is far longer and certainly not as direct due to intervening thorn barriers and other countermeasures.

Perhaps one of the most surprising tactics of the Army of Darkness was their near-constant movement and activity. Despite their severe dislike of cold (especially the three nycaloth leaders and their mezzoloth officers), the Army stayed active. Many believe the mitigation of the harshest weather by the elf magic throughout the forest helped the fiends, while most bards paint the fact as “their burning hatred and ire kept them from feeling all but the cruelest cold.” In any event, some of the force and urgency behind these attacks and the ferocity of all involved might be traced back to their dislike of the battle conditions.

Dancing Hooves
A.K.A.: Fall of the Fauns, (Battle for) Sulla’s Glade
Dates: Hammer 7-8

The Army again surrounded the entire battle area and then advanced inward, leaving their foes nowhere to retreat. Over 200 satyrs died here—over a third of the whole tribe!

Garnet’s Pyre
A.K.A.: Dive of the Dragons, The Peace Dragon’s Rage, Flight of Anger/Flight of Death
Dates: Hammer 12

The noble red dragon Garnet, upon discovering that he was one of the primary causes of the nycaloths’ escape and subsequent conflict, rashly took to the air, and headed north into the approaching war. Given the speed at which Garnet fled Myth Drannor, no forces could be assembled quickly enough to allow them to back up the dragon’s wrathful attack. Still, an ally took flight after him, an elder silver dragon named Sylvallitham who had, in the past, acted as Garnet’s mentor in draconic lessons such as flight, use of breath weapons, and innate abilities. The elder dragon attempted to talk his star pupil out of this rash action, to no avail. Without a thought toward his own personal safety, Garnet furiously dove into the heart of the main Army of Darkness, with Sylvallitham reluctantly aiding his attack and joining the imprudent strike.

Flying directly out of the highsun to strike with total surprise, the two dragons took an awesome toll on the Army, Garnet breathing his arcing bolts of electrical fire and Sylvall his other magical attacks. The dragons managed to split the main Army group into two and slow the whole’s advances. They also broke the army’s supply lines and trapped whole regiments amidst surrounding forest fires, which created large breaks within the ranks as well and served to minimize troop coordination and communication on the ground. Despite these victories, the dragons were unable to focus attacks on the nycaloths due to various magic and heavy protective missile fire.

Had these two dragons coordinated this assault with large ground forces of elf troops, the war might have ended here, just north of the village of Oloriil. Their rashness kept many from moving swiftly to back up their angry flight, but there are inconclusive reports of small bands of scouts, adventurers, or isolated mages whose towers lay nearby that took advantage of the dragons ’surprise attack. In addition to the four regiments destroyed by the dragons, these isolated and uncoordinated ground attacks by adventurers and others claimed another seven parties and two squadrons of orcs, gnolls, and hobgoblins.

Elf scouts watching the battle reported that it was victorious due merely to the passions and anger of two good dragons. However, just as they had scattered enough ground troops to finally close on the nycaloth leaders of the Army, six tightly-focused beams of light struck and engulfed the two dragons in their dive formation. Both Garnet and Sylvall disappeared without a trace, nor were they heard from throughout the rest of the Weeping War. While Garnet’s fate has never been uncovered, Sylvall’s remains were discovered 219 years later in the Galena Mountains east of Ironfang Keep, his death apparently caused by the claws of a great wyrm.

Twilight’s Falling
A.K.A.: “The Harp Falls Still,” Lady Steel’s Last Clash, The Last Scepter War (by scholars of Hlondath and Netheril), The Two Marches’ Terror, “Six Survived under Each Star of Seven”
Dates: Hammer 25-29

Little conclusive information is available on this battle outside of hidden lore kept secret among the modern Harpers. Like many of the activities of the Harpers at Twilight, their victories went unlauded, their losses unmourned. This was the first of two public battles that recorded the Harpers and their good deeds for posterity, though both are tinged with great tragedy. It is believed that the impetus of this battle sprang from the lich Laummas’ search for elf magic (a quest that was embraced by Malimshaer and his mezzoloths later).

While the forces of darkness collected two marches of gnolls and flinds from the Army under their new ally the lich (and newlymade Major) Laummas, the Harpers at Twilight and some remnants of the sylvan tribes decimated by the Army’s advance numbered only a total of a few hundred. For four days, the vastly outnumbered forces held their ground against the Army using their magic and woodcraft, keeping pitched battles limited to skirmishes among small groups (though the Harpers were almost always outnumbered by five or more to one). While they almost always won, the Army’s victories were not decisive and the Harpers well hidden.

Much of the Harpers’ strategies fell to small groups of spies infiltrating the Army’s camp to sabotage supplies and cause disarray among temperamental gnolls and flinds. When Laummas or his traitor-associate Nezras were on the field, the Harpers’ magic proved the lesser, and often their own dead would be animated against them. At dusk of the fourth day of battle, Laummas fell before the furious swordplay and spellcraft of Lady Dathlue Mistwinter, the Lady Steel and the Harpers’ leader. Emboldened by the death of Laummas, Lady Steel pressed on despite her fatigue and reduced spells and meeting her death soon after from Nezras’ spells and her drawing-and-quartering by the animated remains of her own Harper troops. At least in death, her pre-set spells claimed the lives of more than three parties of gnolls. Enraged by Lady Steel’s death, the last 90 Harpers forged a charge that cost the enemy over 500 more troops. Unfortunately, rage is a motivator, not a strategic plan. The charge left the final Harpers trapped in the midst of three full squadrons of bloodthirsty gnolls.

The Harpers battled on, accepting their deaths heroically and united in a strong battle song that sustained them while half of their number fell. Only the chance appearance of a woman spellcaster, upon the low hillock known as Jalmyra’s Mound, saved even a few of the overwhelmed Harpers toward the dawn of the fifth day. While she apparently spoke only once when not casting spells of awe-inspiring destruction and power, the wild-haired woman bid the 42 survivors “"Flee, lest the Harp be stilled before its tune is done. Seek out those Chosen of Seven Stars, and they shall guide you. I shall hold guard, now and always.”" The Harpers and many bards have since taken to calling her “Darkeyes,” “Jalmyra’s Mage,” “the Harper-Mage,” “Lady Star,” or “The Savior of the Harp.” Some priests of Mystra insist this was a manifestation or avatar of Mystra, perhaps even her mysterious alias as Myrjala Darkeyes, though no being alive today can confirm this theory. In fact, of the few accounts heard, elves saw an elf save them, while the humans saw a human female, thus adding to the confusion about her identity. Regardless of her true identity, her spells (some said to be on par with those of the High Mages) destroyed more than half the remaining forces of darkness and sent them into panicked retreat.

A.K.A.: The Entrenchment, Gaulguth’s Glance
Dates: Hammer 28-30

What little is known of this battle is that the main Army wrapped around the remaining settlements of Oloriil while the Harpers fought the western flank of this army at the Battle of Twilight’’s Falling. The small villages could do nothing but flee on the first day before the Army of Darkness fully closed about it or die fighting within one’s own home-trees. This area remained claimed by the Army of Darkness as an entrenched base throughout the war and beyond, used as an orc and ogre enclave until Higharvestide of the Year of the Painful Price (718 DR).

Within the Army of Darkness, this battle was known as Gaulguth’’s Glance, simply because the nycaloth powerhouse slew everything that fell under his notice, including his own troops! Lost to a berserker rage for much of the final day of battle, Gaulguth alone slew nearly half of the casualties among the elves and one-fifth of the casualties among his own forces. After this slaughter, General Khitax made sure that he planned troop placements carefully to avoid losing his own forces to the thirsty edge of Heartcleaver

Campaign #3: The First Sieges

A.K.A.: The Cat-and-Mouse Conflicts, the Mythal’s Mettle Campaign
Location: North-central forest; Myth Drannor; Mythal
Time: AIturiak-Ches 712 (25 days)

Despite the speed of this campaign and the great destruction it visited upon the elves of Cormanthyr, the Army of Darkness hardly took this campaign seriously. With their overwhelming, monstrous hordes, the nycaloths played with their prey, almost visibly toying with the elves throughout the early battles. While seeming to allow them some small victories, Aulmpiter and his comrades merely spent their time placing their forces in their usual tactical plans: Surround the battle zone to prevent any escape, and slowly crush all within it. Always in mind was Aulmpiter’’s (and thus, the Army’s) ultimate target: the mythal and Myth Drannor!

With the Army of Darkness on the move, the elves continued to fail in stopping them. The nycaloths and their generals ably place their troops where they would, due to a general lack of order from the leadership at Myth Drannor. Instead of working together, the generals of the Akh’Faer and Akh’Velahr squabbled over commands and troop movements. To add fuel to the fire, many elves went rogue and became individual strike units and adventuring bands due to their lack of faith in their leaders. Thus, the Allies of Cormanthyr were in utter disarray, acting individually without any strong central leadership, until the end of this campaign.

Weeping War

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