The Unknown Past
Shakalan History Part 4
Shakalan History Part 4: The Orc Wars
he Orc Wars began with a few raids on the outskirt communities to the north and east of the kingdom. The first incursions by the orcs and goblins rekindled the old Anairian stories of the same. The people begged their king for help and King Justintine sent his rangers and the Knights Verdoyant to persuade the creatures to find other entertainment.
After the first winter, the raids on livestock and stored goods turned into unabashed marauding. The orcs swarmed over the human settlements on the fringes of the country taking everything they could carry and despoiling what they could not. The devastation was complete in any area they touched.
The rangers scouted for the orc and goblin clans and then summoned the mounted Knights Verdoyant to battle the enemy. When the knights caught up with the clans they made quick work of the unmounted and poorly equipped opponents, but more often than not, the clans were gone before the knights arrived and the knights were called to another location before they could track down the invaders.
By the end of spring the skirmishes transformed into battles as the orcs and goblins became better equipped and learned to fight against mounted foes. The call went to the capital for additional forces and the king responded by sending all of the knights of the realm to the battlefront.
The knights and rangers located and wiped the Shakalan borders clear of invaders by early fall. All of the enemy were either slain or chased from the lands. The king was unsure that the victory was as complete as his generals made it out to be and ordered that all units build fortifications where they were currently stationed and wait for spring.
As the snows thawed and the rivers began to run high the clans returned. A better description would be the hordes returned. The goblins and orcs had added ogres to their army and grown their forces to unbelievable numbers. They poured into the Shakalan countryside like a green and gray tsunami. The knights and rangers made an amazing account of themselves but the tide of evil seemed to be unending. The Shakalan forces were forced to fall back all year. Hundreds of miles of land, thousands of soldiers, and tens of thousands of civilians fell before the orcs horde that year.
King Justintine spent the winter travelling between the barbarian tribes, the dwarven clans, and the elven court gathering promises of support in the coming spring to help stop the tide then repel the orc invasion. The barbarians came in mass to support their kinsmen. The dwarves rallied to the chief of clan humanus’ call. The elves, well the elves were leery of joining the struggle as they still had not rebuilt their army since the war with the “Anairian invaders”. A few of the families that were closely related to the king sent advisors and wizards to assist with the “human war”.
When spring came the human army, bolstered by the barbarians and dwarves, advised by the elves, and led personally by King Justintine, assaulted the orc positions. The battles were fierce and the body counts on both sides rose quickly, though the orc army’s count rose exponentially faster. The orc horde was devastated by the combined army and the unrelenting attack pace that King Justintine set. He allowed them no opportunity to rest or regroup. Some estimates were that the orc forces lost over 100,000 soldiers to King Justintine’s 1,000. Winter came and the war settled into skirmishes. King Justintine’s generals rebuilt the fortresses and restocked the troops over the winter. The king himself sent for the most learned historians, the most renowned builders, the greatest engineering minds, the most powerful wizards, the highest priests, and the various guild’s masters and set about learning all he could to help his warriors prevail again next year.
Years one and two the humans fought the orcs and goblins raiders, year three the orcs, goblins and ogres crushed the human resistance, year four the human army and its allies pushed back the orc horde, then came year five. The horde now included giants! The humans and their allies were dumbfounded. Never had any of the cultures recorded a union of these species, let alone all of them focused on a single task.
To help his forces deal with the new tactics that the giants added more quickly, King Justintine placed all of his civilian advisors and teachers into groups and selected a leader of each. These leaders he tasked with the goal of evaluating all intelligence that was returned to them, determine what assistance each group can provide to assist, draw up a recommended set of plans using the assistance then draw up two additional options. These plans would then be sent, via the messenger corps, to the king and his generals to decide how to proceed.
This strategy allowed the human army and its allies to best the disorganized horde and gain ground all year. When winter came the humans had acceptable losses, assuming that any life loss was acceptable, and on no front had they lost any territory. The casualties were heaviest in the allied forces rather than the primary human contingents. Over the winter while the civilians planned for the spring campaigns, King Justintine took his allied generals and again traveled to the leadership of each supporting faction. At the feet of each of the races’ leaders he used his proven leadership skills, his acknowledged silver tongue, and the wisdom that had been keeping his men alive against a force that massively outnumbered them to convince the leaders to renew and increase their commitment in both resources and manpower, to place all of the troops directly under his command, and to place the support personnel under his civilian war council.
Year six began as the last year had ended, the war seemed to be entering a rhythm. Frustrated by this King Justintine used some of the alternate recommendations his war council had offered up and broke the back of the horde’s primary force. This forced the hand of the leaders of the horde and exposed the reality of what was behind the attacks. The demon spawn had returned and this time they had dozens of dragons on their side.
The magics released by the dragons and demon spawn overcame the initial defenses of King Justintine’s army. The king demanded that all able-bodied priests and wizards across all races lands be sent to the main front. Power from all sources, known and unknown, were hurled back and forth for months. Some powers were horrific and some glorious but all resulted in lives lost all around.
During this arcane struggle King Justintine was approached by an unremarkable man. He proposed that he and his monastic brotherhood would use their skills to remove the leadership from the arcane forces, for an undisclosed price. Other than that information, the only other thing that is known of this brotherhood is that they got what they asked for and did what they claimed.
On midwinter day, a figure burst into the king’s war council chamber effortlessly dodging the weapons and hands of the king’s guard. It is said that he was wearing a strangely disorienting cloak and carried a large bag in one hand and a scroll in the other. The man tossed the bag at the rising king’s feet and placed the scroll on the table in front of him as the two closest Knights Justicar grabbed him. In a sad and tired voice he said, “My king the deed is done, the information you requested is in this scroll and at your feet is the head of your enemy, the prince of the Tiefling. You must now keep your word to us and also you may never again call on the family.”
“Let him go!” Commanded the king. “My friend, I sorry that your family was put in this situation, but all of the good races needed your family’s skills in order to survive. Peace be upon you and yours. I will keep my word”
With that the knights released the man and he strode silently from the hall.
The war continued in year seven, but the allies soundly won all of the major battles since the tiefling leadership had been destroyed. No one saw any signs of the dragons on any of the battlefields. The numbers of the demon spawned tiefling with in the enemy ranks were few, yet the orcs, goblins, ogres, and giants remained.
Over the next three years the war consisted of King Justintine’s and his army methodically removing the scattered, roaming, remains of the horde. During his slow detailed searching for the enemy, the king saw the devastation that the war had wrought on his people and their land. He vowed that after the enemy was vanquished the people would return to their lands, their land would again become fruitful, and they would feel safe in their homes.
The following two years became known as The Reconstruction. The army secured the area they had fought so hard for while repelling the continued raids and feints by the now diminished orc and goblin clans. In the secured areas, royal treasury sponsored artisans helped replace the homes and villages that had been destroyed. Civilization slowly began its return to the war torn countryside.
It took another year before King Justintine had built enough fortifications, manned them sufficiently, and could maintain enough regular patrols for him to release his allies from their obligations. It had been 14 years since the war began and the battle worn king was ready to try his hand at ruling a peaceful realm for a while.
Though King Justintine Shakala won the war, the skirmishes and raids from the goblins and orcs have never really ended. The Wilds in the northeast is still a dark and dangerous place from which the raiders scurry forth. The King set about restoring the human civilization from the chaos and in the process of applying what he learned during the war to governing in peace, he established most of the institutions that still help guide and protect Shakala to this day.