The Songlands
Published in

The Songlands

War of the Talisman

Thousands of years passed following the Age of Gods, during which elven and human civilizations thrived, and in that time, neither was threatened by very much besides each other. The Mountain Priori delved deeper and deeper into the mountains, growing more like the stone they worked, while their Lowland cousins diminished in physical stature while growing mightily in spirit. The world found its rhythm, and the beleaguered races their places in it.

The changes wrought by the wars of the Elder Days and the Age of Gods continued to wind their way through the races of elves and men, as the divine essence made changes to each. The elves, always a bit ethereal and prone to mysticism, grew ever more so, becoming immortal beings of pure magic. Over time, they retreated from the cities of humankind, either to lifetimes of contemplation and study within the crystal spires of their own kingdoms, or deep into the wilderness, becoming one with nature herself.

A tapestry of ancient hero Valora Asha, which still hangs in the Great Hall of Ironhold Keep to this day — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by warmtail

The blood of the gods manifested quite differently in humans. While most went on much as they had been, great noble lineages were born from the union of human and god, leading to increased longevity and vitality. For humans, it was an age of heroes and legends. As the elves withdrew, humans spread out, laying claim to lands and territories no longer held by their eldritch kin. It was during this time that Valora Asha, who claimed descent from both the Goddess of War and the God of the Hunt, crossed the Channel and conquered the northwestern lands from bands of Fell who’d fled there. She discovered large deposits of metals and ores in its mountains, and dug the first iron mines herself. She defeated Icebeard, Chief of the Frost Lords, in single combat, establishing the snow-capped northern mountains as the boundary between the frozen Ice Downs and her newfound Kingdom of Ironhold. In her thousand years of life she grew her kingdom, formed a protectorate over the burgeoning pastoral villages of Millshire, and established a dynasty that has endured to the modern era.

Millennia after the death of Queen Valora, her direct descendant, Asheron Valor, Heir to the Throne of Ironhold, would find himself bound to the fate of a common village girl from Millshire and the ancient talisman in her possession.

In all those thousands of centuries, as the Age of Gods passed into legend, and the Elder Days into myth, even the elves forgot about the dark and dread Goddess imprisoned deep beneath the waves. But Umbra hadn’t forgotten. She’d bidden her time, exploiting the cracks and flaws in her eternal prison, first formed during the Great Rebellion, when the clash of gods and mortals shook the bones of the earth, until her bonds were weak enough to break.

Umbra’s first act was to raise an island from her place of imprisonment. Shaped like a skull, with eyes of molten fire, the island of Umbrath boasted a single dread tower. It was from this fortress that Umbra summoned all the remaining Fell to her, and from this island that she would establish her rule over the world. Though she’d escaped her prison and could extend her influence over all dark creatures of the world, she herself was still bound to the island and could not leave her tower. She sought the Key, the talisman entrusted to the elves so many eons ago, knowing that if she destroyed it, she would be truly free. And she knew, deep down, that the talisman could be used to destroy her, being forged from her own essence in the time of her defeat. She believed it was held by the elves of the Southern Kingdom, so she set her Fell and those humans she could turn to her cause to lay a siege, unaware that what she sought had been sent north and ultimately lost.

The ruins of the elven temple where Ren Bartis found the Talisman — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by The Is None

It was found many miles from Umbrath, in the far north of the lands of Millshire, at the edge of the ancient Elvenwood. Ren Bartis, a miller’s daughter from a northern village, was exploring the ruins of an elven temple and discovered an object made of a mysterious metal, covered in rare gemstones. Later she would claim it had called to her, bidding her to take it. When she did, the talisman embedded itself in her flesh, granting her powers and abilities beyond human or elf. It also brought her to the attention of Umbra, who wasted no time sending her hordes after the young girl.

She fled to the only place she thought she’d find help, the northern elven kingdom of Oe Roweyn, where she met Princess Alrea, heir to the Throne. From there the two women traveled by ship to Ironhold, where Prince Asheron, betrothed of Princess Alrea, joined their party. Umbra’s return was now known to elves and humans alike, and the elven historians had identified the talisman as the ancient key to Umbra’s destruction. The adventurers moved on to the human city of Voxport at the mouth of the Celestial Sea, seeking aid from the wealthy merchant city. Ancient evil and rapacious monsters were bad for trade, so the Duke of the City sent Lien Dela, Captain of the Guard, to ensure their mission succeeded.

At the central elven kingdom of Lothrae they received supplies and weapons to aid their quest, and were joined by Felgud of the Mountain Priori. In their travels through the Marsh Perpetua as they headed south, they found allies in bands of southern freedom fighters led by a warrior monk named Solari after the founder of the besieged southern kingdom. Among their number was Aegus, last of the enigmatic wizards, and his apprentice Fasia. Aegus alone knew the true extent of the talisman’s power, and the price paid to wield it.

Fasia, apprentice to Aegus the Wizard, faces down a Leviathan in the swamps of the Marsh Perpetua — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by grandfailure

After a long and arduous trek through enemy territory, a final battle was waged against Umbra and her Fell. The armies of human, elf, and Priori came together again to fight before the walls of the southern elven kingdom. Ren Bartis and Aegus the Wizard faced down Umbra in her stronghold, giving their lives to use the talisman to destroy the Dark Goddess once and for all. The resulting explosion sank Umbrath beneath the waves and destroyed the southern elven kingdom, leaving the Shattered Shore and the Palace of Shards in its place. A powerful maelstrom raged over the spot where Umbrath sank, making the ocean treacherous forever after.

The war was devastating for the elves, who, in the ensuing decade, would vanish entirely from the world. The human kingdoms of the southlands were ravaged in the fighting, and would be generations recovering from it.

The world had changed irrevocably once again, and in the centuries to follow, would change even more. Perhaps sensing this, the various human kingdoms agreed to restart their calendar, making the year of Umbra’s defeat year 0 of the new War Calendar.

Ren Bartis uses the full power of her Talisman in the Final Battle against Umbra — Licensed from Adobe Stock Images, created by grandfailure

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