Selash's Record on a Visimontium Dark Age
Selash's Record on a Visimontium Dark Age
Dear reader, I hope my writings will show you how Visimontium lived during the Demon Siege, as witnessed by a Sentinel who served during this era of hope and despair.
I dedicate this work to all my Sentinel colleagues. To all the others who aided us when we needed it so much. To Fealith Anifail, the man who proved to be a true General and to Miriel Xilo, who pulled me through so many times.
Chapter I - Marching Up
"It happens within the blink of an eye, yet it takes years to prepare, decades to repair." - Selash.
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boom... boom... boom... boom...
Visimontium layed down, fast asleep. The City that went through so much despite her young history, the City that was destined to bear.
Many of her citizens as so often at night followed her example and layed down, fast asleep... The sounds were far from obvious yet, unlikely to be heard by anyone within the City's borders. Not even the most vigilant, sharp ears heard that tremble, neither did the sharpest senses feel something shaking in the ground. For all, the city was fast asleep, dreaming of a new sunny day rising. Nobody could have heard nor felt the first acute signs: the smallest animals hiding away, not a bird whistling, bats and their prey were on a forced cease-fire only to save their lifes from what they knew was coming. Their senses predicted the dreams of a sunny day to be nothing but dreams, further away from the truth than anyone could have imagined. Though no one knew yet, this night like any others, was to become a night like no other had ever been: a new future was ahead.
Meanwhile a group of fully armed Sentinels headed out, accompanied by a mixed group of other individuals, in the direction of Geritri Forest. Not many signs of despair or fear were to be read on their faces yet, since for all they knew, they headed out to secure the city of Visimontium a bright sunny day upon her awakening.
The sounds swelling deep underground remained a nightmare far away, till hells broke loose...
Of course those involved had gathered information about something ahead already. Signs for the future, even nightmares some had dreamed about Kalseru being slain and the Forest burning down to the ground, had many worried, but made none wise enough to predict.
Rumours came from Jechran in the north, where a devastating demonic force ruined the lands in their search for Black Shards. In Visimontium, Geritri Forest had been the background of several odd sightings, yet small in number. Seemingly incoherent small assaults had troubled the City and Mount Crescetoria before. Most obvious must have been earlier Balor encounters: demon battlelords had already announced a new beginning, a new reign to the Sentinels on two occassions. That the graveness of what befell Jechran earlier would come to Visimontium at full force could not be imagined.
In some way, you could say many were prepared for something to come, but none prepared for this.
Deep at that warm summer night of the decisive year 2179, a joined force patrol of the Sentinels, Shemathen le'Yeritath and the Green Order went out to investigate the taint that had slowly befallen Geritri Forest. After warning signs from Geritri local ranger Conner and several Sentinels, the group was about to seek out Kalseru, who had not been seen for so long. After previous happenings in Geritri ordered by the Ancient Spirit, a taint seemed to have decimated the Treant population and all other lifeforms in the forest, and had Kalseru missing. For the group in the Forest this very night, the amount of demonkin, such as Wolf Beserkers and Rakshasa were more than ever seen before upon entering, while the creek had a foul coloured hint over it and a smell of sulpher. Something was lurking. As the group finally found Kalseru, the relief and happiness of retrieving him weren't for long. It wasn't consult they recieved, nor any good news. Grave news, spoken by one who suspected death and darkness to arrive. The stench and heat at that time had become as unbearable as the truth Kalseru came with: the demons were marching up, and about to arrive.
Then suddenly all broke loose within the blink of an eye! Simultaneously with these words spoken, all senses awoke: the sounds of thousands and thousands marching up... boom... boom... boom... BOOM! None could deny it anymore, it was for all to hear and feel now. Unstoppably closer and closer it came, hearts crawled up to the throats: an overwhelming fear, nothing but fear. All to hang onto now was Kalseru, untill the last chance, the last hope was smashed to pieces when he came: Malekanthos. He petrified Kalseru and opened the gates. While the flames rose to overtake the forest, uncontrollably spewing out demons in large numbers, nothing more could be done to prevent it: a new era had started, right on that summer night, right in Geritri Forest.
While Sentinels, Shemathen le'Yeritath and Green magi ran for their lives, away from the flames and marching minions, some limping, some just grabbed by blind panic, the gates stayed open... to close no more for years to come.
A new day dawned, the sun rose despite the thick black clouds of smoke that her rays had to fight their way through now. The City woke up, but remained as silent as it had been at night. Speechless, overwhelmed by fear, Visimontium tried to realize her new future to cope with now. From Geritri and Mount Crescetoria the booming, threathening noise just sounded. The endless noise of armies from the depths marching up.
The demon invasion had started.
Chapter II - Coping with a new Future
"Courage is overcoming fear. Therefore, courage cannot exist without fear. Fearlessly facing a foe has nothing to do with courage: It's either a foe that you know is easy to defeat, or plain stupidity." - Fealith Anifail
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The first day of the new future started with the sun to rise, like any others. Just that stayed the same... everything else had changed now.
An eagle flying in towards Visimontium from the northwest had to fly over the thick columns of smoke rising up from Geritri Forest and Mount Crescetoria. Having passed those to arrive at the walls, he witnessed a most desolate sight: the sight of despair in the eyes of the Sentinels guarding the walls. Tired, pale, sleepless and scared soldiers stood there to defend this proud city now. For the rest, all was silent. After his flight over the other parts of the city, fear and panic was all to be seen... fear like the mice he used to hunt.
Amidst fear and panic, amidst Sentinels, magi and citizens silently whispering their desperate prayers, some movement could be seen. From houses in the City, from the newly opened Portal Tower, from the Academy of Mortal Magic, but mainly from the Ebony Tower.
Silently, magi in Ebony robes flocked together near Lake Crescetoria. A quick glance revealed a uniform group, all devoted to one goal set by the Drangonari man leading them. A large group of magi, uniformly dressed, an impressive Ebony force climbed the stairs to Crescetoria's slopes and disappeared out of sight from the City.
The army went up, singing their hymns for glory. An army, an enormous herd of couragous Magi went up, most of them never to be seen again.
The last to be heard were their hymns, prayers and encouraging chanting, untill all faded away.
Thus the group went up the mountain, uncertain of the fate that would befall them, uncertain to any but the one whom they blindly followed that day. As the battle hymns faded away in the distance, the last hope of the City faded away with them... proudly they came, but finally the battle was fought that was destined to be lost.
Many citizens gathered with the Sentinels on the walls. Ready to welcome the victorious, many stood and waited for long ... awaiting with hope for a bright future. The Ebony army that left Visimontium never came back. Days passed by. When the once so glorious army of magi descended the slopes of Mount Crescetoria, little was left. The City's hope vanished when only a handfull of surviving Ebonies staggered and limped down the mountain. Instead of demon corpses, they brought their own. From the army of raging bulls that headed upwards, no more than a few exhausted individuals made it back alive, still living against all odds... While death swept through the Ebony forces, the Visimontium population realized: This mission that was destined to end in minor, ended in a grave drama.
While Visimontium's fate was looking darker than ever before, while the City was about to collapse, the extraordinary activity near the Portal Tower came to a start: Order-, Army- and many other representatives from all over Southern Negaria came to Visimontium. Another new Era was about to be forged, the foundation of a new future was already under construction:
Southern Negaria was about to show her strong backbone...
Soldiers are trained for the worst situations. When the worst happens however, it's always worse than what they were ever trained for. What seperates them from any of the other citizens ,is the trust and hope vested in them to solve the problem. This is why, apart from just a few of the elder and more experienced officers, Sentinels were even more afraid than any of the other citizens. Something terrible had befallen them, which was beyond any imagination. They were supposed to work against this new danger however, and realized the unbelievable force they were against.
It was during these days of fear that the Ebony Order came to move. Together with some of the higher officers of the Sentinels, they were about the only ones who moved at all. A group of fifty Ebony Magi, many of them being the Order's finest, formed a small, skilled army to push through where others seemed too paralyzed to do so. This small army had a goal: Mount Crescetoria. They also had a reason to go, each of them their own, but all of their reasons were bonded to Archmage Amand Xilo's fate.
An army gathered: an army consisting of blindly devoted followers, an army of those who were to be sacrificed for a leader. Much hope was resting on this expedition's shoulders. First of all, citizens and Sentinels hoped for the Ebonies to clear the mountain, secondly the Ebony Archmage's hoped to succeed and pay off a part of his debt. Presumably, Archmage Xilo was one of the only participants, who was fully aware of the road to demise they were about to set foot on.
Like the dog is tempted by the bone, those who hunger for power will be blindly corrupted by the sight of power: The Ancient Spirit had made this habit the reason of his being. Give this dog his bone, give the hungry their food and you can toy with them. This way he had unleashed the Troll Shaman Kazan and the Goblin King Ip upon Visimontium before: he gave them strength, somthing to rule over for his pleasure. It wasn't untill Ip was defeated that the existance of such a Spirit was discovered. This discovery resulted into the imprisonment of its essence, captured in a prison made by Kalseru, its enemy.
The story of the Spirit reached many though: the promise of the power he previously vested in his toys, lured some members of the Gold and Ebony Order into performing a ritual to release it. After its release, the Spirit quickly regained power and sought revenge against its sworn enemy Kalseru. He launched severe attacks by Bugbears onto the city, and sended a devastating rage through Geritri Forest, in which most Treants were killed. Many lost their lives due to the Spirit's liberation. For this treachery against Visimontium, someone had to recieve punishment. That someone came to be Amand Xilo.
The group of Ebonies that now assembled to fight the demons off Mount Crescetoria followed their Archmage Amand Xilo into battle: he was the one who accepted blame for the treachery against Visimontium. He claimed to have initiated the release of the Spirit, to abuse its power. To escape punishment, he climbed the Mountain with his army of fifty, to partially try to mend what was broken.
Between the planning of the expedition and the day itself however, too much had happened. The Bugbears, driven by the Spirit were no longer ruling the Mountain. Some days earlier, the Demon Lord Malekanthos had submitted the Spirit and enslaved the Bugbears. Mount Crescetoria was now a foul nest of Bugbears, Balors and several other Demons of the worst kind. The situation had radically changed for the worse, the reason behind the expedition however, had not: Archmage Amand Xilo was still to pay for his treachery and thus decided to continue what was destined to become a suicidal mission.
When the few survivors descended Mount Crescetoria again, Amand Xilo was one of them. He had sent most of the followers into a horrible, certain death. All of the hope vested in this mission, it all proved to be in vain. Amand Xilo came down the Mountain as a man with a conscience bearing many crimes, but also as a man who had proven some courage: where many others involved in the Spirit's release cowardly fled away from their responsibilities, he coped with the blame and the punishment he so much deserved. This punishment he was given by the authorities some time later.
When Visimontium had finally covered the wounds of this slaughter, when the words of courage had finally reached those who needed them so badly, the city was ready to start her preparation. Almost every Order, Army and many other groups all over Southern Negaria were now drawn to her fate. If Visimontium fell, so would most likely any other nation. Knowing that, many representatives from every direction came to Visimontium to speak, to coordinate.
Visimontium called out to her friends and many came.
This was the first day of a years-absorbing preparation: a preparation for an epic answer to an epic intrusion...
Chapter III - Many Shoulders
"Sorrows are a burden with a seemingly constant weight: the more shoulders to carry them, the easier it gets. There will always be some who take a larger part of the weight than others though."
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The proud City of Visimontium was buzzing with activity everywhere. The newly erected portalling tower in the Academy District kept spitting out people of all sorts. Being home to refugees and newcomers since the first day of her existence, this sight was nothing new to the City. Once again, thirty years after the City saw the Great Migration, many arrived. Strange tongues were once again heard arriving.
From the far north thousands of refugees had landed, leaving their cold, barren and now tainted lands for safety in the south.
From the south came the magi, druids, soldiers and several hundreds of other warriors. A busy trail now lead from the Academy District to the City Council Hall and Sentinel Headquarters in the Garrison District.
Once all were settled again, strangers from abroad occupied the hospitals to tend the wounded, strangers provided water and food to the wells and markets. A small army of Southerners had occupied strategic points in the City.
A foundation was now laid out, the time to start building on it was about to come...
The situation was grave at the point that the first of the great coordination meetings took place. Not only Demons, but also Bugbears were threatening the City. Now and then small scale attacks –mostly by Bugbears- reached the City herself even. The need for wide cooperation became even clearer when reports about small attacks in M'Chek came out. In Ferrell, Demons were occupying the Rift Temple and in Elysia, the dark Forest of Midnight had become home to them. The main concentration seemed to be focussed at Visimontium however.
As for the military aspect of the coordination, a special meeting was held.
Representatives of the Sentinels, Le Megen T'Elysia, the Equalizers of Mikon, the M'Chekian Army Blackhawk Division, M'Chekian Guard, FEAT, the Deglos Brigade, Le Nofaythen T'Nanshi and the Order of Gorethar made a blueprint for military actions to be expected in the coming times. Most armies were to remain stationed in their homelands, for they also faced the same peril. A fine number of Equalizers however, offered their assistance on Visimontium territory.
A special force of them was stationed alongside Sentinels to protect Andrinor's Holy City.
Apart from the military aspect, several other issues needed tending as well. Care for crops, food and water supply, healthcare and disease prevention, but also intelligence gathering were on the agenda of a second coordination meeting.
Numerous people and organizations attended. Many hearts were filled with hope again, many shoulders came to carry the a part of the weight.
For intelligence gathering, the initiative was taken by the Order of Gorethar and the Order of the Dragon.
The Healers of Cha'reth, the Bardic Academy, ANRA and Shemathen le'Yeritath decided to care for soil, plants and general health of the population.
Aid in other forms was offered by many, from steel to gold to several other goods needed by a city under siege.
The Warrior Maidens of Dre'Ana, the Nine Orders of Andrinor's Trust, the Fury of Ra-Ghul and so many others pledged their allegiance to a good cause that day.
Thus, a collective was forged. Foundations were laid out stronger than ever before those days.
While Visimontium's outlands were crowded with demonspawn and many other dark threats, the city core was buzzing and lively again.
The warm spark of Southern Negaria uniting shone brightly amidst the darkness, a spark ready to ignite a fire of legendary proportions.