The Horse War log

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Sahaegin says, "The next part of the history is a sad tale"

Sahaegin sighs.

Sahaegin says, "It is called 'The Horse War'"

Sahaegin says, "For many years, the halflings had lived on the steppes and along the borders of the Houses Ardenai and Illistims' land"

Sahaegin says, "For the most part, the elves, as they did with most other races, completely ignored the halflings, beyond asking their help in the final push against Despana's minions."

Sahaegin says, "The elves had no use for others."

Sahaegin says, "In about the year -14823, during the dark times after the defeat of Despana and the exile of House Faendryl, a ravaging blight began to reduce the crops surrounding the city of Ta'Ardenai."

Sahaegin says, "For five years running, the blight persisted, to the point that the city was on the verge of starvation."

Sahaegin says, "Given the schism that had developed between the Houses since the exile of the Faendryl, none of the other Houses had offered assistance to the Ardenai."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai hunters ranged further and further north in an attempt to feed the city's populace, which eventually brought them into direct conflict with the Brughan halflings living in the forests surrounding the lake Khesta 'Dahl."

Sahaegin says, "Isolated incidences of conflict became a growing threat among the Brughan tribes."

Sahaegin says, "As racial bigotry prohibited cooperation in feeding the starving populace of Ta'Ardenai, skirmishes between Elven hunting parties and halfling settlements became increasingly more common."

Sahaegin says, "The halflings began to conceal their settlements."

Sahaegin says, "The elves often underestimated their small adversaries. The small elven hunting parties, formed less of soldiers than true game hunters, found themselves at the mercy of lightning-fast strikes by halflings mounted on the agile Brughan shire ponies."

Sahaegin says, "As I said... the elves often underestimated their small adversaries."

Sahaegin says, "The halflings were not only consummate riders, but also exceptional archers, a fact that took the Ardenai marksmen off-guard."

Sahaegin says, "The ruling king of House Ardenai began to take notice of the difficulties the hunting parties were reporting in their attempts to gather game for the city's consumption."

Sahaegin says, "With typical elven arrogance, the king decided to send a small legion of soldiers northward to deal with the diminutive harassers."

Sahaegin says, "As Brughan settlements were found and burned, Ardenai hunting parties attacked and Truefolk killed in retaliation"

Sahaegin says, "The conflict escalated in the eyes of the Ardenai from a minor annoyance to a major issue."

Sahaegin says, "The proud Elves of Ta'Ardenai would not countenance such aggression and insult from a people they viewed as itinerate poachers, in fact little better than vermin."

Sahaegin says, "The populace of Ta'Ardenai grew more and more unruly as famine and disease claimed their victims."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai ruling family saw the halfling insurgence as an expedient culprit on which to blame all the woes of the city."

Sahaegin says, "The blight, while a devastating punishment to the population of Ta'Ardenai, was a natural one."

Sahaegin says, "'Gradually, the city's ire was redirected from the ruling family to the 'halfling menace.'"

Sahaegin says, "Seeing an advantage, the Ardenai king discussed attacking the halflings and claiming all the lands of the northern forests as Ardenai provinces."

Sahaegin says, "This encompassed the entirety of the Brughan homelands, a region rich in timber, water and game, to which the king intended to promote migration and settlement by the populace they were unable to feed."

Sahaegin says, "Thus, the Ardenai claimed it as their eminent domain and sent several legions of seasoned warriors northward to safeguard the area for Elven migration."

Sahaegin says, "Meanwhile, distant Elven settlers, acquainted with the Brughan tribes and -- after years of trade -- friendly to them, warned the halflings of the threat."

Sahaegin says, "The halflings found it difficult to believe that the Ardenai would initiate something so radical, and expected to meet only an enhanced version of the raiding parties they had previously experienced."

Sahaegin says, "While the Ardenai military leaders were adept strategists, they believed the halfling population would be easily subdued, and expected the initiative to last only a few weeks."

Sahaegin says, "With this in mind, they formed a small preliminary strike force to move into the Brughan lands, wipe out any resistance, and then occupy the land until a larger group of warriors could arrive and relieve them"

Sahaegin says, "The first strike force was only a few hundred troops; however they had the added advantage of having been on numerous campaigns before that and were fairly seasoned fighters."

Sahaegin says, "In the meantime, the halflings contacted the other families."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai legions reached the Brughan territories and set up camp in a beautiful valley bordered by tall, wooded hills on three sides."

Sahaegin says, "Although ringed by thick forest, the valley, called Saens Valaire, was wide enough that the Elven commanders considered it safe, plus it had the advantage of a running river to the north."

Sahaegin says, "The troops made camp while reconnaissance parties began to explore and map the surrounding countryside."

Sahaegin says, "Despite the survey sorties, the Elves did not discover the main Brughan outpost"

Sahaegin says, "Instead, they found another town, inhabited for the most part by old men, women and children."

Sahaegin says, "The Elven scouts, viewing the settlement from a distance, saw a large number of the curious, round halfling tents, as well as a bustling population and a large herd of Shire ponies."

Sahaegin says, "It was this settlement, known as Ragalatan, which the Ardenai strike force chose as its first initiative."

Sahaegin says, "As the Ardenai army surged across the river bordering the town of Ragalatan and swept down upon the settlement's population, halflings ran desperately for shelter."

Sahaegin says, "Screams echoed across the valley as they died, and Truefolk fled while clouds of Ardenai arrows rained death upon them."

Sahaegin says, "At the conclusion of the Ragalatan massacre, few halflings who had dwelt there were left alive."

Sahaegin says, "The halfling army, massing at another settlement on the other side of the hills, heard of the attack on Ragalatan and the general reaction was one of stunned dismay followed by rage."

Sahaegin says, "All doubt that the Ardenai Elves were bent on all-out war in order to push the halfings from the surrounding land was gone. The halfings prepared for attack."

Sahaegin says, "As the small group of Ardenai troops returned to their camp, they brought the few survivors of Ragalatan with them, a group that included a few women and children."

Sahaegin says, "While the command staff of the Ardenai troops knew that the initiative was just beginning, the general mood of the troops was one of victory, despite the questionable fact that the victims of the Ragalatan Massacre had been essentially harmless."

Sahaegin says, "Three days later, the halfling army attacked an hour before dawn, taking the advantage of surprise."

Sahaegin says, "By noon of that day, only the commanders of the Elven troops were left alive."

Sahaegin says, "They were sent home carrying a message that the Brughan homelands are not open to transgression."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai king, incensed at the defeat of his legion, lost no time in sending several more legions of troops northward."

Sahaegin says, "These well-trained troops were familiar with battle tactics and ready for a fight, having heard of the loss of the first legion."

Sahaegin says, "Still, in the coming years spent in the wild Brughan lands, there were no large-scale confrontations."

Sahaegin says, "Instead, the Elves and halflings engaged in covert attacks on each others' scouting parties."

Sahaegin says, "For the first time, the Ardenai Elves began to find themselves the targets of magical attacks from unseen halflings hidden in the trees and vales."

Sahaegin says, "This was an immense surprise, since the halflings had previously been considered a race unskilled in magic, hence primitive and unworthy of notice."

Sahaegin says, "Over time, the troops were lowered in number and eventually recalled, their numbers so reduced that they were no longer considered to have any tactical advantage."

Sahaegin says, "It was at this point that the Ardenai King, already suspect among his Councilors in terms of reliable judgment, began to consider another option."

Sahaegin says, "Despite the fact that the blight had finally ended, and prosperity returned to the Elven city of Ta'Ardenai, the Ardenai King could not accept defeat at the hands of a people he respected so little."

Sahaegin says, "In secrecy, at the bequest of the Ardenai King, sorcerers were consulted, and after much conjecture, a plan was put forward."

Sahaegin says, "It was considered harsh, but the general consensus among the King's advisors was that victory must be achieved."

Sahaegin says, "The King, still angered over the abuses visited on his legions, agreed."

Sahaegin says, "They would repay the halflings' magical attacks with sorcery. Under a strict vow of secrecy, the sorcerers began their convocations."

Sahaegin says, "The spells took ten years to perfect."

Sahaegin says, "During that time, the conflict between the Elves and the halflings decreased and finally stopped, as the legions had been recalled and few Ardenai remained near the halfling lands."

Sahaegin says, "The halflings returned to living, and the city of Ta'Ardenai returned to prosperity."

Sahaegin says, "At length, the Ardenai Sorcery Master arranged a meeting with the King and his advisors and there, declared the magic ready to use."

Sahaegin says, "The result was immediate conflict within the small group of advisors."

Sahaegin says, "Some individuals voiced their opinion that the situation was now healthy and saw no reason to proceed."

Sahaegin says, "However, when it was pointed out that the dreaded pacifist element had infiltrated even the highest court, the King pushed his advisors to agree with the plan."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai Sorcerers, vastly powerful and eminently knowledgeable in the dark arts, initiated the spells."

Sahaegin says, "Within weeks, the halflings discovered their prized herds of ponies were ill."

Sahaegin says, "Despite anything they knew to do, the animals began to die."

Sahaegin says, "In two months time, every pony across the Empire of the Truefolk was dead."

Sahaegin says, "In the first weeks, the halflings tried to bury them, but soon the sheer numbers of the herds necessitated that the halflings burn the carcasses."

Sahaegin says, "Unfortunately, the Ardenai failed to take into account the breadth of their sorcery; their buffering spells, cast to protect their own herds, proved ineffective."

Sahaegin says, "Within six months, all the halfling ponies and the Ardenai herds were dead."

Sahaegin sighs.

Sahaegin says, "The advisors were aghast at the ineffectuality of the buffering spells, and quickly insured that the shroud of death silenced every sorcerer associated with the project."

Sahaegin says, "While the horse owners and Ardenai horse breeders were in an uproar at the demise of their prized equines, the Ta'Ardenai King's advisors prayed that the truth would never be discovered."

Sahaegin says, "Among the halfling tribes, the Mhoragians were the hardest hit by the annihilation."

Sahaegin says, "They burned the carcasses of their valuable herds, and then tried to follow the antelope by foot."

Sahaegin says, "Many died of starvation. And some died of despair at the death of their ancestral heritage."

Sahaegin says, "While all ponies were gone from the halfling way of life after the sorcery, the hardy people managed to evolve and in time, proliferate."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai Elves, preoccupied with their own troubles and concerns, paid the small people little attention afterward."

Sahaegin says, "The Ardenai herds were rebuilt with bloodlines purchased from the other Houses."

Sahaegin says, "It was likely the Ardenai were grateful that no further scrutiny was cast upon the ill-fated venture."

Sahaegin says, "And in a few years, with the death of the Ardenai King (who was considered most certainly mad in his later years), the Elves had forgotten the whole incident."

Sahaegin says, "The halflings would always mourn the passing of the great herds."

Sahaegin says, "They would always continue the rituals they practiced while the ponies were living, in hopes that someday, the horse herds would return."

Sahaegin asks, "Yes Nofret?"

Nofret asks, "Did any horses survive anywhere? And what was the name of that insane king?"

Sahaegin says, "'We halflings do not give him the respect of a name."

Sahaegin says, "Yes.. horses survived.. but none of the ponies our ancestors bred."