Crusade Against the Spire
I write these descriptions of the time when the Dragon Priests began to rise again in the lands and my reaction to it. I was honored to accompany a Holy Crusade against the Black Spire and thus I tell my tale here.
Since my last writings, I had moved northward to Therengia. There I became associated with the Order of the Dragon Shield in Riverhaven, and began my service in that province. Therengia, like most other places, was in need of defenders and I threw myself into that role, enjoying the job of a common soldier.
Around 384 there was news from Forfedhdar, the land of the Dwarves. The Dragon Priests were on the rise and they had sent a delegation to Crossing requesting aid, opening the province to all. From this point, the Dragon Priests marshaled their forces sending forays to all the lands and we were kept busy from time to time fending these off.
Call for Crusade
Attached is the announcement tacked up in Riverhaven by Urwinn Rippentrop to all Therengians:
GENTLE CITIZENS: NEWS OF ZOLUREN! A most GLORIOUS, UPLIFTING, and CULTURALLY SENSITIVE meeting of the minds of various GUILD REPRESENTATIVES, ESTEEMED PRIESTS, and general citizenry has taken place within the temple of THE CROSSING. Amidst a great deal of conversation containing what I'm sure must have been INSIGHTFUL ECCLESIASTIC DEBATE, it was decided that the continual position of the so-called DRAGON PRIESTS within the five provinces, from which they have waged AGGRESSIVE IF LARGELY INEFFECTUAL WAR against great swaths of the largely innocent ELANTHIAN POPULACE, could no longer be tolerated. We are now JUBILANTLY near to the SIEGE and DESTRUCTION of the INFERNAL TOWER that the ABOMINABLE CREATURES maintain within the province of ILITHI. We are now ENTHUSIASTICALLY COMPELLED to undertake the hearty and spirited PROSECUTION of HOLY WAR against the infidel forces of DIZREE, ZERRASITH, SHARL, and OTHER ASSORTED SERPENTINE CULTISTS, GENERALS, LIEUTENANTS, OTHERWISE UNREMARKABLE SOLDIERY, HARE-BRAINED THEOLOGIANS, DUBIOUSLY TRAINED PHILOSOPHERS, and AMATEUR POLITICAL THEORISTS. All BRAVE and TRUE THERENGIANS are called to assist in the CELEBRATED TRADITION of OVERRUNNING AN ILITHIC FORTIFICATION. PRYDAENS, RAKASH, and OTHER LARGELY HERETICAL DEMOGRAPHICS are EXPRESSLY INVITED to partake in the IMPENDING SLAUGHTER of the DRAGON PRIEST MENACE, as whatever DOCTRINAL AGITATIONS you may be typically branded with by the usual CONSORTIUM of the SPIRITUALLY APPROVED-OF have been deemed irrelevant for, at MINIMUM, so long as they are AS INCONVENIENT AS PRESENTLY SO. BY HODIERNA'S DREADED SWORD AND THE GILDED HARP OF EVERILD, U. RIPPENTROPP AMBASSADOR
A true patriot in that one. I would have liked to meet with such a kindred soul, but alas, his early passing prevented such.
Thus, in the year 388 the High Priestess Tallis called upon us all to march southward against the hated foe and besiege the Black Spire. I bid my farewells, and sorted out my kit for such a dangerous undertaking. I already knew that our foes would be challenging from defending my homeland, and I also knew that the foe fights more fiercely when their back is to a wall.
I traveled to Shard and there everyone met at the tower at the appointed time. There was a large band of Therengians that answered the call, and I banded with them for the march to the Spire. We were to make camp in the vale outside the enemies fortifications and lay siege. This endeavor was fraught with peril but I girded myself for the upcoming trial.
After some prayer and sorting out of regiments, we marched. While en route, we were viciously attacked by the foe in great numbers. I fell in the second wave and was revived in a strange place. After some recovery, I was transported to the camp, grateful that the Armies had made it and immediately threw myself into the construction. Hard labor for many an anlas and finally we had a base of operations.
Assault on the Barricades
Once camp was established and triage placed, our forces began the first of many assaults on the outer barricade. It was tough going and we were repelled numerous times. After well over a day, the first one finally fell. Now it was time to work on the second one.
It took a little less time and effort to break the second one down, and more time to mop up all of the Dragon Priests that remained. It was all chaos at the time though. I hardly knew what we had accomplished until after. The sounds of battle were familiar, and I quickly got to work on what needed to be done. Slay Dragon Priests, smash the barricade, avoid the hot oil and arrows, fall back on triage when I was too wounded to go any further. This will be a hard fight.
The Ebb and Flow
The enemy rebuilds, we tear down. It is tough slogging and work on the line seems futile at times. Our foe seems to have never ending numbers and their industriousness at replacing or repairing the barricades to keep us from the gates is amazing.
In spite of all that, the camaraderie here is amazing. From all walks, low to high, everyone is a common soldier in this struggle. Even those with past differences have set them aside. During the lulls, there is light conversing and meeting others from all walks of life, high to low, on common terms. May the bonds forged in this endeavor be lasting.
We press on for days until finally all that stands between us and the taking of the Spire is the massive gate.
At the Gates
The gates to the Spire are strong. Our foes quickly repair what little damage we do to the hard metal. But the Gods deliver us through Father Vecuto's magic. He as found a way to afflict the gates with a magic that will weaken it to our blows.
Once he is ready, the forces gather for a mighty assault. All have taken up hammers and mattocks to smash the fortification. The order is to ignore the defenders despite losses, we are to SMASH THE GATES!
I cannot tell how long it lasted, or how many times I a beat upon that structure. Though grievously wounded, I continued on until at last! With a loud metallic crash, the gates were torn asunder. I was in no condition to press the fight at that time, withdrawing to our forward triage.
Upon my return, the melee was in full fury. I joined enthusiastically felling creatures with my blade, crashing into the Dragon Priest formations that defended the Spire still. Then at once, there were no more. Amid all the broken bodies, there was silence before the spire. After a time, the realization sunk into all of us that our work was close to finished.
We gathered together to enter the Spire proper to cleanse it of any remaining forces. What a wicked wretched place. The vile tapestries, mosaics and statuary turned my stomach. If there were only a way to reduce this place to rubble.
We did happen along a place beneath the spire that offered some small solace. Deep inside the mountain, we found a small grotto that had an air of peace and contentment. Luminescent lichen allowed us to see etched into the stone a small shrine to Peri'el. This caused me to immediately kneel and give thanks for her songs. To me, this everlasting place hidden beneath such vile corruptness showed the strength of the Immortals no matter how imposing the evil was. There would be at least a glimmer in the darkness.
There was a small attempt to take back the Spire, but it was repelled handily. At the camp, I heard that some of our forces had left to chase down Shaarl and eventually captured him. He apparently escaped at some point, and soon enough, word came that our Crusade was at a successful end.
At home in Riverhaven I was greeted by another noticed tacked up:
THE BLACK SPIRE OFFENSIVE!!! KIN and COUNTRYMEN! Our noble Therengian forces, in concert with AUXILIARY TROOPS of various other provinces and allegiances, have captured the BLACK SPIRE of the DRAGON PRIESTS and enshackled the broken body of their defeated champion, SHAARL, within a most secure CLERICAL FORTRESS. All sources indicate that DIZREE, corrupted matron of the shattered remnant of the DRAGON PRIEST EMPIRE, had ordered the death of renegade lieutenant SHAARL upon learning that he had foolishly invoked the wrath of the FIVE PROVINCES with the futile and purposeless RAIDS of the previous months! The traitorous partisans that once attempted to defend the BLACK SPIRE are already attempting to claim victory, even as they flee from its shattered gates and abandon the crushed bodies of its DRAGON PRIEST DEFENDERS. Clearly these slaves of the once again DEFEATED ABOMINATIONS possess a capacity for delusion knows no boundary! Preparations have begun for a most glorious CELEBRATION of this flawless TRIUMPH. The LORD BARON GYFFORD THEREN and the entirety of the THERENGIA COURT congratulate, with gratitude, the victorious soldiers of the BLACK SPIRE OFFENSIVE. FROM THE PROVINCES' FORWARD ENCAMPMENT, AMB. URWIN RIPPENTROPP
It was indeed good to be home.