The Seige of Aernoth
In times long unknown to any living denizen of the Crossroads, there was a city by name of Aernoth where their ancestors once resided. A city of great majesty it was settled along the sea, proclaimed by all as a great gem of the realm. Yet, Aernoth's future was ill-fated, decided by the Gods when the War Tribes of the Gasi-Nobi desert came forth from their arid kingdom, swords and warsteeds at the fore.
Aernoth was a city built for peace, not war, and they found themselves trapped when the Gasi-nomads came at them not only from the land on their speedy warbeasts, but by sea as well in crude, make-shift rafts that were easily deterred for the most part. But the nomads were a persistent people, determined to take the city for their own.
Despite being unprepared for war, Aernoth was able to put up a valiant struggle against the nomads. Once the gates of the city were sealed and the docks adequately defended, the nomads were forced to rethink their strategy. Thus did the seige of Aernoth begin.
It was slow-going at first, for the Gasi-Nobi were not familiar with seige tactics, but it was that lack of knowledge that caused the Aernothians to fall into a false sense of security. The Gasi-Nobi eventually enlisted the help of Aernoth's nearby enemy, Fortress Malthur. Lord Van Dimmer, whose long-standing hatred of Aernothians was well known, took up the opportunity like a god-send. He suffused the might of his armies with the light, horse-archers of the nomad tribes, a deadly alliance that Aernoth never anticpated.
Only a few knew the deadly peril in which their city was situated, and one at a time they managed to filter themselves out of the doomed metropolis, vowing for them all to find a meeting place and take themselves away to somewhere safe, out of the reach of Van Dimmer and the War Tribes. All-in-all, the only people who managed to escaped numbered some seven hundred out of the fifty thousand bodies that suffered in the aftermath of the conjointed seige. They were all that remained, those seven hundred men, women and children; every eye watching as Van Dimmer and the nomads burned and pillaged Aernoth for all it was worth.
Flight of the Refugees
In the months after Aernoth's demise, many patrols were sent after the band who had left the city behind. Both Van Dimmer and his desert allies wanted no word of their conquest to spread, so it became imperative to recapture the escaped Aernothians. One-by-one they were retaken, only by the sheer desperation of what few warriors left with them were five hundred of their number able to truly escape from Aernoth. But that was only the beginning of the trials ahead.
Once they were past the lands known to them, the Aernothians were at a loss of which way to turn and which way to go. It was difficult going for they had many different people to worry about, young and old, men and women. They were limited in the number of hours they could travel to keep the pace for the weaker citizens. Yet, there were those amongst them that spoke in hushed-tones of leaving the old and young behind, so that the fit might survive. Still others debated giving the old and young back over to Van Dimmer, and others even spoke of killing the unfit off.
Yet, none of these ideas were ever voiced, for everyone respected the "leader" of the band of refugees. His name was Cherion Verdae, son of a pirate-turned-merchant, who had earned the respect of the group during one of the skirmishes against the patrol parties. Cherion risked his life for them, and that is something none of them would be able to forget, nor could they forget that day when he had returned to their encampment almost drenched in his own blood. Fortunately, one of the escapees was a cleric from the Cathedral of the Moon-Eyes who was able to heal him of his injuries, which, despite all the blood, were moderate. He assured onlookers that the blood was mostly of his enemies and not of his own.
The trials and tribulations through the unknown lands accounted for the loss of yet another fifty of their number. Yet, even in the face of such adversity, Cherion would not permit the people to lose heart. Almost daily he wandered through the encampment offering words of encouragement or sincere concern to those who seem to need it most. However, Cherion's leadership was often put to test by those who doubted him or envied him. Constantly, he was put to task over decisions on the route they were taking or where the refugees should settle.
After a year of wandering, they spent the better part of two and a half years settled in a remote plainsland, but it just so happened that the plainspeople that lived here as well, were none other than cousins to the desert nomads who had destroyed the Aernothians' home and city. This, in turn, caused the War Tribes to descend on them yet again. And it was in this battle that Cherion was lost, slain by an ill-placed nomadic arrow, the shaft lancing through his throat.
Even in the light of their greivious loss, the refugees managed to escape again with two hundred of them remaining. Again they were forced to wander for another six months, each fearfully glancing over their shoulders for any sign of the nomads. But there were none, many still mourned the loss of Cherion, finding little leadership in his successor Iram Tek. But, even that was to be short-lived.
The Valley of the Elfae
It was during the winter of the fourth year after Aernoth's Fall that the refugees finally found a place they thought they could start over. A great, bowl-shaped valley nestled in the arms of a forest, and resting at the foot of a mountain. The stream from the mountain promised that fresh water would always be available, and the forest foretold of good hunts and plenty of wild produce. Such utopia did not go unoccupied, for this was the ancestral home of the Elfae, an elusive race of elves that had faerie's wings. The first efforts against the Elfae did not go unpunished, the well-aimed arrows of the Elfae, defending their territory, took no less than twenty lives that day, including the erring leader, Iram.
The last man to take on the role of leadership was a young man named Galaine, who could have been no more than sixteen at the time, stepped to the fore asking in the Common Tongue if the Elfae would share their land with his wayward band of refugees. It surprised them all, when a girl, who looked no more than twenty stepped from the woodlands announcing herself as Afelisia. It only further astounded them, when one of her own people shot her in the shoulder with one of those green-fletched arrows, causing her to go to her knees in agony.
Galaine, heedless of his own safety, rushed to the girl's side, whereupon he immediately heard the proclamation, "I've seen what I needed to see. The humans are welcome here." After that, the Elfae descended from their tree-homes to help the wayward humans build their own settlement, which was eventually named Phantasie Crossroads.
Template by Bimsan; Art by (from top to bottom) Chris Achilleos and Kieth Parkinson