The Dark War is often lumped up into one grand, escalating conflict but is actually a series of conflicts separated by long periods of relative piece. The overall period of time known as the Dark War is thought to have been roughly 100 years, although the exact length may never be known. However, when conflict did occur it invariably changed the political landscape of the nations that took part. Towards the end of the conflict, when the most cataclysmic battles took place – no nation was left unscathed. Such was the devastation that it left in its aftermath a period of roughly 150 years of lawlessness and chaos. The world that people had known was forever changed.
In the aftermath of the dark war, many historical documents were destroyed as cities were pillaged, thus making it more difficult to tell fact from fiction. Add to this, it is rumored that some of this information is purposefully kept from the public by an unkown group. There are a few scraps of truth that are known however, and this document attempts to discuss the differences between the excepted truth and the known facts.
A generalized record of events according to the mythology follows (with comments on what is or isn’t known to be factual).
1. The figure of Sunderus first appears and begins openly speaking out against the gods and claims to speak for a more powerful god. (Sunderus has been cited in several texts as being the primary instigator of the war, as well as being a very well known person from before the war as well. None of the texts mention on where his changing attitudes come from)
2. The first conflict of the darkwar begins, with Sunderus attacking and laying waste to the city of Tal’Orn and a cadre of Dragon Knights. (Tal’Orn is mentioned several times in documents dating back to before the dark war as being an important trade center. The battle is mentioned in other texts but with no details, and Tal’Orn is not mentioned in any texts that date after the battle – thus it can be assumed that this is true. This is the first major battle, but there were actually many smaller skirmishes before this)
3. Sunderus marches on to the capital city of Tal’un and is met by Sha’iam Dar & Laur’an and another host of Dragon Knights. The second major battle occurs, and with the addition of the gods the first Army of Sunderus is routed, and Sunderus is captured. The gods return to heaven victorious. (His army was routed at this battle, but little details actually exist about the battle itself. The existence of the Dragon Knights has been verified, but there is nothing to confirm if the gods actually took place in the battle. )
4. Sunderus is brought before a tribunal in Tal’un to pay for his crimes, but is freed by more followers. Sunderus kills the tribunal members and steals several important magical artifacts and spell books in their possession. He retreats to an unkown location and studies his acquisitions. (After Sunderus’s army was routed, there is a period of roughly 10-15 years without conflict. No surviving texts confirm if Sunderus was captured and brought to trial, however there are several references to the ruling council of Tal’un being killed for unknown reasons. It is also not known if any artifacts or spell books were stolen.)
5. He constructs an alter to call his god forth into the world, and after its completion gathers an army to help protect it. Many more followers flock to his side, having heard of the previous battles and the defeat of the previously undefeated Dragon Knights. Sha’iam once again gathers a great host and attacks, resulting in the third major battle. Sha’iam and his host are unsuccessful however, and Sunderus succeeds in activating the alter. (Sunderus re-appears in the histories here, and shortly after a major battle takes place at a mountain known as “Chey-ann” in what is in the north-western part of present day Nordo Ameris. In almost all cases, the battle ends with ‘a pillar of light pierces the sky, the sight of which causing the dragon knights to pull their forces back in full retreat.’)
6. Sha’iam withdraws what remains of his army in order to prepare for whatever has been called. Sunderus names his god Bal’rahn. (The first mention of Bal’rahn appears shortly after the events of the battle.)
7. Feeling despair beginning to set in, Laura’lel herself appears before many leaders, making it known that they gods have not forsaken them. Upon her urging, most of the nations of the world began arming for war with the gods acting as their guides. (The presence of Laura’lel is not confirmed, but many nations do begin preparing for war.)
8. Sunderus once again begins to gather followers at his side, this time creating a much bigger army than before. The Dragons grow angry at those who have lost their faith in the gods, and enter the conflict of their own volition. Their wrath is terrible, and they inflict much damage to Sunderus’s army. He loses thousands of his minions for every one dragon they manage to kill. The battles take a terrible toll on the landscape, but many nations send their armies to fight alongside the dragons. Sunderus is pushed back and is on the verge of being defeated when a great rift opens in the sky as Bal’rahn arrives. (Most texts refer to these events as the draconic wars. At the time, the nations were not banded together under a common banner as happens later, but instead would send fighting forces on their own. Dragons were most assuredly involved in the battles to a great extent. At the end of the draconic wars, a cataclysmic event occurs on the continent of U’ro’Asi which devastates the North Eastern portion. One text described it as ‘the sky ripping open, sending forth a terrible object of such magnitude as could not be believed. We were of great fear that night, for on the morrow we would march towards that unholy beast.’ What exactly the object is, is never described in great detail but as it is mentioned several times in different texts from this point on, it is assumed to be Bal’rahn or at least what people associate with him.)
9. Bal’rahn immediately attacks the stronghold of the gods – Rhuid’danar, severely damaging it. The power unleashed as the opposing forces clashed causes a great deal of damage to the world, and ushers in the destruction of many Sky Palaces. Several nations are brought to ruin in the conflict. A daring attack by Sha’iam manages to cripple Bal’rahn, causing him to fall from the sky and obliterate the nation of Talis. Sha’iam is mortally wounded during the battle and has a spell placed on him by Laura’lel in order to keep him from dying, but is otherwise unable to heal his wounds. Laura’an dawns his armor and weapons and takes command of the remaining nations, committing them to war. (Whatever the object is, it causes quite a bit of destruction. The Sky Palaces have been confirmed, as well as their downfall during this conflict. No texts exist that can confirm the existence of Rhuid’danar. Talis was known to be a nation on the continent of U’ro’Asi. Its devastation has been confirmed, but is attributed to constant warfare within its borders related to the felling of Bal’rahn, not from the fall of the object itself. Texts also mention a great leader being felled during the battle, and the mantel going to another but no other details exist.)
10. Bal’rahn, crippled but not destroyed, begins using his powers to create an army of his own – twisting man and beast alike into new, terrible monsters. Sunderus presents himself and his surviving followers, where they are granted power by Bal’rahn as his faithful servants – Sunderus most of all. Sunderus is also tasked with swaying or capturing the dragons. He begins using his new-found powers to destroy anyone who gets in his way. (The first mention of ‘beasts of terrible visage’ appears in the surviving histories. Sunderus is also mentioned as ‘having grown in power’ but to what extent is not explained.)
11. Laur’an forms the Draconis Leagion out of the surviving nations, and works to train and outfit them for the coming battles. Sunderus himself is mostly unchecked as he takes over larger swaths of territory, his army now known as the Chaos Hordes. (Texts describe an ‘ambassador’ that worked tirelessly to get the nations of the world to fight under one banner. One text describes the process as ‘having taken a considerable amount of time, but each defeat seemed to hasten the combining of the world’s armies together under the banner of Draconis.’ The ambassador is never described in detail, only in action.)
12. The five most powerful dragons, enraged at the carnage wrought by Sunderus, are ordered by Ukuran to wait for Draconis Legion support before attacking him. They disobey him and begin attacking Sunderus, in doing so abandon their oath to Ukuran. Sunderus takes the opportunity to sow confusion among them by offering the power to protect their people. The dragons, reason clouded by their rage, go before Bal’rahn to plead their case to protect their people. They end up swearing new oaths to Bal’Rahn, and their metallic scales fall off, replaced by dark hides to match their darker hearts. (The first mention of non-metalic dragons in folk-lore and myth appears at about this time.)
13. Bal’rahn displays his power to raise those that die for or against him to fight his enemies again. Laura’lel intervenes and teaches her side a defense against this. (Modern day priest’s and paladins point to this event as the birth of their respective powers, but using magic ‘by divine right’ has been documented in many texts that date back before the dark war. How these people get their abilities is beyond the scope of this writing however, but does tend to suggest that there is something ‘greater’ out there.)
14. The Dark War lasts for hundreds of years, with both sides gaining and losing ground. During this time, Sunderus works on a way to make Bal’Rahn’s body whole again, and is bidden to find five crystals of such power that could accomplish this. (It is unknown exactly how long the dark war lasts, but many texts and documents support that it lasted for many many years. It is doubtful however that it lasted for as long as is described here. The biggest reason is due to the fact that Sunderus is known to have been human, and yet he is mentioned up to the end of the Dark War. Some historians believe it is highly possible he may have magically prolonged his life, however there is no evidence to support or deny this. As for the crystals he was tasked with creating, there is no mention of anything like this in the surviving texts.)
15. Sunderus succeeds in his task and makes Bal’Rahn whole again. He is rewarded by becoming the Avatar of Bal’Rahn, a merging of the two to create one whole being. They begin a crusade that shakes the very core of the earth itself. Laura’lel, Laur’an, and Ukuran gather their remaining hosts and all the surviving nations under one banner and begin the last assault upon him, a battle that lasts for five cataclysmic days and finally ends with Bal’rahn crashing to the ground in defeat. (This is the last major battle of the dark war, and seems to culminate in a ‘wholly destructive, apocalyptic fight to the death by both sides of the war.’ Although most histories describe the battle as ending with the defeat of Bal’rahn, they also describe the state of the victor as ‘_being in such a stat of disarray as to have no remaining order at all. The bulk of their forces were destroyed, almost to the last man and the only surviving order remained within the command itself, which no longer had the power to hold its legion together.’_)
16. Sunderus is ripped from his union with Bal’rahn and banished to a waking sleep for all eternity as punishment for his many crimes. The five power crystals in Bal’Rahn are removed and scattered to various locations around the world where sacred citadels where constructed to hold them. Ukuran himself forges a powerful guardian to protect each citadel. (The fate of Sunderus is unknown. He is written as having been defeated along side Bal’Rahn and nothing more, and thus is presumed to have been killed in the final conflict. Once again, there is no evidence to suggest that five crystals of power ever existed. Oddly enough however, some history texts do describe several ‘newly organized constructions led by Arcan Stonehand that seemed at odds with the chaotic aftermath of the battle’ but this is the only evidence that the citadel’s as described here may exist.)
17. The gods attempt to heal the world as best they can, but the wounds are too deep. The dragon knights have been all but destroyed, their fortresses gone. The gods, unable to do anything for the world, their energy sapped from the battle, retreat back to Rhuid’danar. No nation survives the aftermath of the war, as chaos rules supreme in the absence of the gods. A thousand years pass, and society once again finds itself flourishing. (There is no evidence to suggest that the gods were directly involved in the dark war, with the possible exception of the mysterious ‘ambassador’ figure. While it is true that the aftermath of the dark war was a horribly chaotic time, and one of the biggest reasons why the history of the conflict is sketchy, one major discrepancy is that the period of time between the end of the dark war and today is thought to be around 200 years, not a thousand as the mythology suggests. All evidence suggests that the aftermath lasted for roughly 150 years, with there having been another roughly 50 years from that point to today of relative peace as new nations and societies formed.)