A Brief History of the Crusades

A Brief History of the Crusades

To date, four crusades have been launched against the demons of the Worldwound, and while all four have had varying degrees of success and failure, none has yet driven the armies of Deskari, Lord of the Locust Host, from Faerûn. A brief history of the war follows.

1385 DR –Year of the Blue Fire: The Death of Mystra and the Spellplague ravages the worlds of Abeir and Toril, weakening the Weave and the planar protections of the Prime Material Plane.

1389 DR – Year of the Forgiven Foes: Opening of the Worldwound in Narfell.

First Crusade
Beginning: 1394 DR – Year of Deaths Unmourned
Ending: 1399 DR – Year of the Fallen Friends

Although a fair number of holy warriors came to Narfell’s aid in the first several years after the Worldwound opened, the churches of the Triad (Tyr, Torm and Ilmater) as well as Helm did not declare the First Crusade until 1394 DR, as the repercussions of Mystra’s death and the Spellplague significantly delayed the churches’s ability to respond to the growing crisis. By the time the First Crusade reached Damara and its eastern Barony of Mendev, the demons had long since seized control of central Narfell, and had claimed significant portions of Damara as well.

The First Crusade bolstered the defenders of Narfell, Damara and neighboring lands (The Great Dale, Rashemen and even Thay to the south), boosting both their numbers and morale, and the sudden increase in the enemy’s strength caught the demonic horde unprepared, causing them to retreat to the Northmounds. With Damara and southern Narfell thus liberated, the crusaders remained in the region to help rebuild — an offer Damara welcomed gratefully, but one that the disparate and proud clans of Narfell accepted more reluctantly. In any event, for the next few years the demons seemed content to focus their wrath upon Narfell’s Northmounds, battling primarily with the surviving Nar clans desperately attempting to reclaim their family lands, while Damara remained relatively unmolested.

Second Crusade
Beginning: 1403 DR Year of the Hidden Harp
Ending: 1410 DR – Year of the Eight-legged Mount

When a second wave of demons erupted from the Worldwound in 1402 DR, the crusaders had settled into their new homes in the Barony of Mendev in Damara. They again took up arms against the demons, expecting a short series of fights and boasting that this time they would drive the host back to the very edges of the Worldwound itself. But their expectations did not come to fruition. This time, the demons pouring from the Worldwound were not only more numerous—they were better prepared. Rather than the haphazard, chaotic, self-indulgent mob the crusaders previously encountered, the marauding demons were now legions driven by powerful commanders. Under their commanders’ direction, the demons orchestrated strike forces, teleported behind enemy lines, drove their enemies toward their advancing ranks, and then crushed their opponents between them. The armies of the marilith Aponavicius captured the crusader city of Drezen, located at the frontier of Damara and Narfell, using such tactics, forcing the churches of Tyr, Torm, Ilmater and Helm to finally call for the Second Crusade one year later, in 1403 DR.

Even with the influx of troops from the Second Crusade, however, it quickly became apparent the demons were going to win. Fortunately, for the crusaders, the deities themselves decided to have more direct actions against the demons. While Tyr charged into battle at the Worldwound riding his eight legged horse, entering the Abyss in order to stop the advancing horde (and bravely sacrificing himself in such act); Helm instructed the mortals into the creation of the wardstones, to protect their borders against demonic invasion.

The death of Tyr in 1410 DR prompted the leaders of the Damaran Crusaders to make a fateful decision — they pulled their support from Narfell, the Great Dale and Rashemen, allowing the demon army to descend on what remained of Narfell, and instead concentrated their efforts on erecting wardstones of Helm along the East Sellen and Moutray rivers. The price of their actions proved steep, but, as the wardstones flared to life, the menhirs contained the demons within lost Narfell and saved tens of thousands from grisly deaths. Yet despite this success, the near – total loss of Narfell and, of course, the death of the Faerunian god of justice is generally regarded as the final capstone on a disastrous crusade.

Third Crusade
Beginning: 1429 DR – Year of the Ten Terrors
Ending: 1433 DR – Year of the Silent Departure

Now contained within Narfell (at least by its western side) by a combination of the wardstones, increased pressure from the rashemen barbarians, the wychlaran (witches) of Rashemen and Mammoth Lords of Sossal, and the distraction of an entire nation to plunder, the demons continued to press against the borders but seemed largely content to revel in their captured realm. Meanwhile, as the years passed, the Damaran crusaders grew more and more corrupt—in part due to the subtle machinations of the cult of Baphomet, which had successfully infiltrated numerous companies and faiths throughout Damara and even Impiltur, but also because the resource-strained church of Torm had increasingly accepted less trustworthy members into its war effort.

The church launched the Third Crusade primarily as an attempt to galvanize the crusaders, but as its focus increasingly turned toward self-destructive witch hunts, mainly because of the incident involving the attempt to invade the temple which held the wardstone of Kenabres, and the refuse of the Damaran crusaders to held the kingdom of Rashemen in their own fight, the crusade collapsed under its own corrupt weight. Ultimately, the Third Crusade accomplished very little within the Worldwound—apart from delighting and entertaining Narfell’s demonic masters, especially the rift that opened between the nations of Damara and Rashemen.

Another fatal blow to the Crusaders was the abrupt silence of Helm, which stopped to answer prayers from their faithful in 1433 DR. No sage of cleric was able to answer if he was killed fighting the demons just like Tyr or if he abandoned their followers, leaving them to their own fate.

Fourth Crusade
Beginning: 1444 DR – Year of the Seductive Cambion
Ending: 1454 DR – Year of the Emerald Sun

After decades of Abyssal rule, a dangerous new addition to the demon armies arrived in the form of Khorramzadeh the Storm King. Scholars of the war are divided as to whether or not the Storm King had been ruling from Iz all along, or if he was but the latest arrival in the region. Regardless, the Storm King’s first assault on the border resulted in no less catastrophic an event than the cracking of the Kenabres wardstone. The ferocity of this attack caught the crusaders off guard, but in the end, the wardstone held, especially due to the help of the ancient silver dragon Terendelev, that came from metallic dragon clans located at the Galena Mountains to help the crusaders efforts.

In response, the church of Torm called for the Fourth Crusade. This crusade proved to be the longest and most grueling of the crusades yet, lasting ten years and ending more as a result of wartime exhaustion than anything else. The demons lost very little, and in the years since this crusade’s whimpering conclusion, morale along the Worldwound’s borders has reached an all-time low.

One of the only victories of this Crusade was the arrival of emissaries of far distant Empire of Shou Lung, that sent some help in the form of troops and assistance to the kingdoms of Rashemen and Damara. Their arrival helped to end the Fourth Crusade in 1454 DR.

Fifth Crusade
Beginning: 1463 DR – Year of the Reborn Hero

This year should be marked as the beginning of the Fifth (and perhaps final) Crusade against the demons of the Worldwound. The current season is Summer.

A Brief History of the Crusades

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