Desolation of Tsar
Between the Death of Mystra and the creation of the Compact, Tsar, the great temple-city to the Demon Prince of the Undead, came to power. For centuries, this city at the foot of the mountains stod as a festering bastion of evil and hate. At its heart stood the gret Citadel of Orcus, the black heart of Orcus worship on Faerun. Countless evils were perpetuated in those corrupt precints, and equally countless wicked plots were hatched and carried out therein.
With the loss of the Divine, the forces of Orcus began to coalesce. The goodly kingdoms could not stand the gathering forces of Orcus and allied to tear down the walls of Tsar and forever end the presence of Ocrus worship in the world.
This crusader army, raised from all nations and from the remenants of almost every faith, became known as the Army of Light and marched for Tsar. Supported by innumerable knight commanders, wizards, church patriarchs and scores of heroes of renown, the leaders – King Graeltor the Mighty, Zelkor the Arch-Mage, and others – quickly advanced through Tsar’s outermost defensive positions and into the great plain that surrounded the temple-city itself. Flush with their many quick victories, the Army of Light suddenly found arrayed against itself seemingly endless legions of every sort of vile warrior-race and fell outsider imaginable lining the battlements and fields before their redoubt – one of the greatest fortresses and citadels ever erected. The beginnings of doubt seeped into the ranks of the Army of Light.
However, hope ws not lost as flight upon flight of angels and other celestial beings who were cut off from the Divine arrived to swell the ranks of the Army of Light. With grim determination in both camps, battle was joined on the plain before the gates of Tsar. The war raged for over a year, the Army of Light advancing to the very foot of the walls and then being pushed back by a new surge of demonic power. The diciples of Orcus, led by the Grand Cornu, threw ever vile attack they could at the Army of Light in defense of their city. Rains of horrific fire and acid fell from the skys or belched from fissures in the ground, great constructs crushed their foes before them, terrible clouds of poisonous gas choked entire regiments, and heretofore unknown plagues swept through the troops causing thousands of horrible deaths among the Army of Light. Nevertheless, the forces of good persevered and fought on.
Finally, though the battle seemed no closer to victory, the fates seemed to smile on the Army of Light. Unexpectedly the city fell. In a single night the entire city virtually emptied of defenders as they all were magically transported to a point several miles outside of the city’s walls, complete with baggage train and mounts of many. The legions of the demon prince had broken free from the Army of Light’s cordon. They immediately took flight before the stunned Army of Light, heading west.
Zelkor and his fellow commanders were immediately suspicious of this sudden retreat but could not afford to allow the combined followers of Orcus concentrated in one place to escape and spread their insidious evil again. A cursory sweep of the city by scouts proved that the withdrawal was no ruse, so Zelkor left one of his most powerful knights, the paladin Lord Bishu, with a company of knights to secure the citadel and hold it until the Army of Light could return and properly destroy it. Then, with a seed of doubt niggling in his mind, Zelkor ordered the Army of Light in pursuit of the fleeing legions.
The tale of that long pursuit is an epic in and of itself. Finally, the Army of Light conrnered the forces of darkness in a forest near a rugged coastline. In anticipation of a great victory, the forest was prematurley named the Forest of Hope. The naming proved to be a cruel irony, for in the forest the followers of Orcus had been preparing a great trap for years in case just such an occasion ever arose. Both armies disappeared into the forest. Neither ever emerged. The Army of Light was lost to a man.
The shock of the loss of so many heroes, nobles, and leaders of renown reverberated throughout the kingdoms. Minor wars erupted as new factions took over old power bases bereft of their leaership. When all ws done and a semblance of peace returned, the lands looked much more like they do today. Some said the loss of so many was worth it for the eradication of the foul cult of Orcus. Others said it had been a scheme concocted by the demon prince all along to destroy his most powerful enemies and sow hate and dissension throughout the civilized nations.
What remained of the temple-city of Tsar ws a vast, abandoned ruin surrounded by miles and miles of poisoned and scarred wasteland left behind by the battling armies. It was all but forgotten as a bad memory of despair with no value save as an eyesore and wilderness home for strange and fearsome beasts that moved into the desolate area. The knights of Lord Bishu, left behind at Tsar, were likewise forgotten as they, too, were never heard from again. In the wake of the great tragedy at the Forest of Hope, no one thought to check into the ruins themselves, and all who knew that this relatively small group that had been sent to the city had perished in Orcus’s trap. The people of the civilized nations went on with their lives with, perhaps, a little less hope and optimisim than before. The City of Tsar was forgotten, and the land around it shunned and remembered only as the Desolation of Tsar.
(to be continued by me later this 4 July – Rich)