Alsara: Requiem and Revolution
The Orcish Exile
|[4000 DA – 0 AT]:||The Dragon Age|
|[0 AT – ~500 AT]:||The Age of Man|
|[422 AT – 620 AT]:||The Uplift|
|[538 AT – 901 AT]:||The Unification|
|[650 AT – 700 AT]:||The Orcish Exile|
|[699 AT – 800 AT]:||The Iron Rebellion|
|[800 AT – 1209 AT]:||The Golden Age|
|[1209 AT – 1212 AT]:||The Neverwar|
|[1212 AT – Present]:||Aftermath of the Neverwar|
[640 AT – 700 AT]
The Barbarian South has no Dragons. It had no Dragon Age, it had no Dragon Cults, it had no Gods. It is from this strange and alien place that the Orcs came, marching through the Endless Desert into Atur by the tens of thousands.
The Orcs that will speak of this time describe genocidal wars waged by the Dwarves in their southern homeland. The reasons why are lost to history, but the only salvation for all Orcs was to flee their homes in the south, and cross into the Endless Desert in an event that became known as the Exile March.
The first half of the Exile March was spent in the desert, and it was a bloody, brutal passage. The Orcs are not a ship-building people, and were forced to walk across the burning sands with what little possessions they could carry. They tried to remain on the outskirts in order to avoid the Halfling’s wrath, but all that did was allow them to encounter Halflings in smaller numbers. Many died on either side of this conflict, as the Orcs were hunted every step of the way, and Halfling captives were vital as guides to water and supplies. Some Orcs, tired of running for all their lives, chose to remain in particularly verdant sections of the desert, and remain there to this day, continuing to fight the Halflings for survival.
But the majority of the Orcs made it across, and when they finally escaped the Halflings, they found themselves in Atur.
The Invasion of Atur
At that particular moment, Atur was fighting a war against the Empire, who had decided that the Aturan Sultanate was both offensive to the Imperial Sept and incredibly wealthy; in other words, a wonderful addition to the Empire. This war was going badly for the Imperials, because the land passage was blocked by the Neck and by the Dunvales Conclave, and the Aturan cities on the coast of the Eastern Sea were heavily fortified against invasion (raider attacks from the Storm Isles all through the Age of Man had hardened the populations to war). Sardah was a famously invincible stronghold, and without capturing it, any Imperial invasion of Atur would be utterly stymied.
The Orcs arrival occurred in the undefended south-western border, a region coated in slave plantations that produced most of the food for the Sultanate. They came as invaders, conquering the landscape, burning and pillaging the settlements on the frontier. This could not have come at a worse time for Atur. While they had been winning the war, the Aturan military had little sense of nationalism: when the food became scare, so did the army. Within two years of the Orc’s invasion of the southlands, a substantial portion of the Sultanate’s armed forces abandoned their posts. Sardah had fallen by that time, giving the Empire the foothold they needed to press the attack.
Their backs to to the wall, the Merchant Lords of Atur decided that they could only fight one enemy at a time. They made massive trade concessions to the Empire in return for a peace treaty; as a part of this agreement, the also handed over Sardah as a permanent port for Imperial forces. It was renamed Sudberg, and would remain a foothold for the Empire until well into the Golden Age.
With one enemy set aside for the moment, the Sultanate turned their attention to the fledgling Orcish territories cropping up in their backyard. The mercenary armies marched south, at last arriving in Orc lands and engaging their new enemy.
The Orcs, meanwhile, had split from their forced unity during the Exile March, and had once again become a collection of clans, competing for limited resources. While there was some sense of cultural identity keeping them together, this only meant that when they split it was into larger groups. So when the Aturan forces began to push back, it was against a single tribe at a time. With their enemy so divided, the Orcs were initially little contest.
The Orc’s response, however, was to do what they had done for generations, fighting the Crusades led by the Dwarves: they scattered. Orcs had no particular attachment to the land. They built no fortifications, no cities. They founded no villages, bridges, or houses; only campsites, only tents. When an army was marching to their hunting grounds, they would pack up and get out of the way. The Orcs divided over and over, spreading rapidly across the remainder of Atur, until they were in small groups of perhaps a hundred or two. They became the Raiders, and they plague Atur to this day.
Many Orcs were not content to live as hunted animals. Perhaps twenty thousand of them continued northward until the Sultanate’s armies no longer chased them. They continued the Exile March until they were buried deep in the forests of The Neck, where they found themselves alone and unmolested, but living threadbare lives. Orcs had not practiced agriculture in hundreds of years, forced to travel too often and having everything they build destroyed in less than a generation. With no way to feed themselves, most of the Orcs marched further north.
Still, some stayed behind in the mountains, where they would try and learn what others had been doing for centuries, snuggled in the safety of secrecy. It was here that Okesh Mosir was founded; it remains today, both thriving and secret.
The Invasion of The Empire
The rest of the Orcs chose not to remain, however; unable to support themselves, nearly twenty thousand Orcs poured out into the plains, hungry for pillage. What they found, once emerging from the Blackwood Swamp, was The Empire. Green and fertile, hundreds of miles of arable farmland, thick forests, and gently rolling hills. It was a paradise. An occupied paradise.
The small riverside trading post called Klippefelsen, eventually called Bastion, was the first victim. Survivors from the sacking of Klippefelsen fled northward and spread news of the ruthless invaders into the Dunvales and the southern reaches of the Empire, even reaching Hauptstadt itself.
The Emperor of the time, one Alastor Meier VII, had a strong love of military conquest, and was determined to expand the Empire and force old enemies to sign the Pact of Unification at last. He was fighting three wars at once: against the Dunvales, against Vokaya, and against the Sultanate. It would have been considered foolish, but in fact, under his command were two of the most legendary generals in the Empire: Duke Conrad Meier, lord of Westerberg, and Grand Duke Almald von Drakenheim, lord of Drakenheim. Almald had successfully assaulted the Sultanate, and with the peace treaty still wet, had just been shifted to command the war against the Dunvales.
When the Orcs arrived during the middle of this conflict, Almald was deeply concerned. He had experienced firsthand conflict against the Orcish hordes near the end of the war with Atur, and their presence in the Imperial Plains caused him to immediately shift his plans. Rather than press the costly war with the Dunvales Conclave, he immediately called for an armistice while the two nations dealt with this foreign invader. The King of the Dunvales agreed, but, when the Imperial armies retreated from Dunvaler territory, the Valer soldiers pursued them. Sensing betrayal, Almald immediately ordered his forces cease to march and adopt defensive positions. This proved wise: the Dunvaler army fell upon them in full force. Apparently, unknown to the Empire, the Dunvales had established a rudimentary alliance with the largest Orc Raider bands, hoping to overcome the Empire with these powerful new mercenaries.
His plan was partially successful. The Imperial invasion force was crippled by the attack, and Almald himself was barely able to arrange a retreat. He immediately requested reinforcements from the Vokayan front, expressing the dire nature of the situation as clearly as he could. The Emperor was unmoved, and unwilling to order his forces away from Vokaya. Alastor VII was not a fool however, and he ferried the messages to Duke Conrad of Westerberg. Conrad had been friends and acquaintances of Duke Almald, and they had served together in the campaigns of the previous Emperor against the Dunvales Conclave. Conrad trusted Almald’s judgement, and strongly desired to move his forces to protect the weakened southern regions of the Empire. However, he faced a predicament.
The Empire had been in a tenuous war against the Vokayagora Zemla for nearly forty years. Their armies had clashed over the northern Steppelands for decades, without decisive victories in from either party. Both were intimidated by the mysteries of the other; the Empire feared the power of Vokayan magic, and the Vokayan commanders were in awe of the Empire’s numbers and siege engineering. Neither side had been willing to press an advantage, for fear of a trap. In forty years time, Conrad had been the first to successfully capture and hold all of the territory south of the Rampart, and had even marched on the flying city of Riverheart. The city had surrendered in the face of the Imperial siege weapons, and when Almald’s letter arrived from the Emperor, Duke Conrad was organizing the advance on Cascade Valley itself; having blown through the meager militia forces Vokaya had thrown together before their professional military could get involved, there was nothing left to oppose him but farmers. To retreat now meant allowing the Vokayans to regroup, and it would halt their momentum.
In the end, Duke Conrad made a choice that would be cursed and praised around the world, but legendary in its impact: he called a full retreat from Vokayan territory, leaving a quarter of his force to defend Riverheart. Taking ship when they reached the Imperial Plains, he moved his vast army to the south to counter the Orcish/Conclave Alliance. The Empire clashed with the Alliance in farmland county twenty miles south of Hauptstadt, called the Leer. The battle lasted for six days, but eventually, the Empire stood atop the pile victorious; however, they had suffered significant casualties, and when they pursued the retreating Allied forces they encountered fortified earthworks and siege lines. Both Conrad and Almald had been killed in the battle, and with both sides devastated, neither could press their advantage.
The war with the Dunvales Conclave would continue unresolved for another 200 years. The Orcs, however, would not be a part of that conflict again.
Leading up to the Battle of the Leer, the Orcs found themselves badly persecuted by the Dunvaler forces, who treated the strange Orcs with contempt and suspicion, despite their alliance. During the battle itself, when the situation began to sour, the Dunvalers retreated from their position, leaving the Orcs open to flanking maneuvers from the Empire. The Orcs were being left behind as a distraction so that the Imperial pursuit would be unable to overtake the rearward fortifications. The plan worked perfectly, but as a result most of the Orcs in the battle were slaughtered without mercy. The leaders of the Orcish warbands that survived saw this act of cowardice as proof that the Dunvalers, like everyone else, weren’t worthy of trust, and their Alliance was declared null.
However, it was too late: the damage was done. The Orcs had been driven from the Empire, and of the 20,000 that had emerged from the mountains to fight the Empire, only 8,000 returned. Klippefelsen was reclaimed years later, and any Orcish power in the world north of Atur was quietly snuffed out. Now, only Okesh Mosir remains as a place where Orcs are treated as equals.
End of Exile
With the end of the Exile March and the Orcish threat to the civilizations of the north, the Empire was gearing up to expand once again, this time by destroying the Dunvales Conclave once and for all. In the Far North, however, all new troubles were brewing…