Second War of the Reaches
The decade that followed the First War of the Reaches was a prosperous one. The Three Kings spent great efforts rebuilding the kingdoms of the Reaches. While the Orc Nation and Sandal were effectively under Crown control, new castles and keeps were built to protect from any future conflicts. The years 890-899 TA were also ones of mild weather and bountiful crops. The popularity of the Crown soared as the people began to prepare for the celebration of a new century.
In 899 TA, the Reaches was again plunged into war. The Tang Empire had been neutral in the affairs of other nations since the late Second Age. Suddenly, and without warning, they struck the Reaches with a full-scale invasion. Simultaneously, Sandal revolted from Crown rule. The instigator for the Second War of the Reaches was Valdemar who fled to the Tang Empire at the end of the First War of the Reaches. Using the opening of the Thousand Year Gate and the arrival of the Grandmaster of Chaos as catalysts, Valdemar coerced the Tang Emperor Shiba to launch the unprecedented invasion. As expected, chaos ensued.
Initially, the Reaches fared poorly - losing Teufeldorf in June 899 TA. With the Tomb Kingdom joining the war in 900 TA, the prospects dimmed further. In 902 TA, the Reaches failed to invade Sandal. And, in 903 TA, the Wolfshaunt joined the war against the Reaches. The Second War of the Reaches turned in 904 TA, however, with a combined force of men, elves, dwarves, and gnomes winning solid victories throughout the land and subduing the orcs and Sandalese. In 905 TA, an invasion of the Tang Empire forced the Emperor to withdraw from the fight. With the war's end in sight, the Old Kingdom was pulled into the conflict by the Wolfshaunt. Again, Teufeldorf was sacked, this time by the Overlord's army in July 906 TA.
In 907 TA, an invasion of the Old Kingdom by the Reaches forced the Overlord to sue for peace. With the sealing of the Wolfshaunt, no enemies remained standing, and the Second War of the Reaches concluded. A treaty was signed by the Overlord on the first day of 908 TA guaranteeing a decade's peace in the land.
The Events of 899 TA
March 899 TA marked the beginning of the Second War of the Reaches.
The treachery of the Orc Nation - who had for a decade been under the rule of the Crown - was unexpected, although some historians attribute this to the heavy taxes and iron-fisted rule of the dwarves. The Orcs rallied to the west near the Loftwood and Teufeldorf.
Likewise, Sandal - more loosely governed but harboring many rebel groups in its dark interior - was convinced by Valdemar to join the war, albeit reluctantly at first.
Both of these would have been manageable, if it had not been for two large fleets of the Tang Armada joining the fight. While Sandal pulled troops to the south, the Tang landed north and south of Teufeldorf joining the orcs and quickly advancing on the City-State.
In June 899 TA, Teufeldorf was sacked for the second time in what would be known at The Tang Invasion. While the combined forces of the dwarves, elves and knights were able to retake the city in the late summer 899 TA, major damage was done to Teufeldorf by the orcs. Confidence in the Crown was shaken, and the Reaches prepared for what would be a long-term war.
The Events of 900 TA
Now fully prepared, the Crown mobilized all troops in the Reaches in March 900 TA. Several important new developments shaped the 900 TA campaign. First, the Tomb Kingdom, lost for over a decade, reappeared in the Sands of Time. Second, the Tang emperor broke the seals of the Temple of the Winds, releasing four floating castles filled with the Runebound Warriors which appeared over the Western Reaches. While two castles were destroyed by commando raids by the Crown, the other two landed disgorging Tang troops onto the battlefield.
The turning point of the season was the cunning counter-strike by the elven navy which managed to sink a number of Tang warships with their crew and invasion forces still on board. This left joint forces of Tomb Kingdom, the remaining Tang warriors and the Sandalese to move north towards Teufeldorf - the objective being another sack of the City-State. The brilliant gnomish general Quintus fought a series of delaying battles against the Sandalese and Tang forces near the City-State. Under his guidance, the attacks on Teufeldorf stalled.
While the Eastern Reaches saw minor action in 900 TA, one Runebound castle was dedicated to the area. In March 900 TA, the knights of Dragonsford engaged and defeated the Tang ratmen near the the newly-built Grey Wolf Keep - essentially eliminating the Eastern Reaches from the conflict.
Tomb Kingdom skeletons and Sandalese knights, marching north managed to sack Crossgate Castle in March and Lechlade Keep in May. The dwarven army, avoiding the Sandalese knights, moved into Sandal sacking Whitehall Castle in July, the Castle of Mirrors in August, Durcheinander in September, and Tanglewood Castle in October.
As the summer wore on, the invasion forces moved north. The defensive tactics of Quintis allowed the defenders from Teufeldorf and the knights from the Eastern Reaches to surround and destroy the invaders in August 900 TA at the Battle of Vardan.
The Events of 901 TA
The third year of the Second War of the Reaches was primarily focused on the Tang Empire attempting to establish a permanent stronghold at the Dark River.
The Tang Armada gathered offshore west of Freeport, focused on the free city and creating a beachhead for the invading ratfolk. Meanwhile, the combined forces from Sandal, the Tomb Kingdom, and more Tang ratfolk headed east along the edges of the Sands of Time. Opposing them, the Western Empire knights and the elves moved along the coast while the Eastern Kingdom knights, the gnomes and the dwarves took the inland route near the Sands of Time. The campaign was called the Battle of Dark River.
It is said that a commando group assaulted Valedmar's Castle in Sandal and driving the deposed Baron of Sandal back to the Tang Empire.
Freeport and the West
In a daring, and some say, foolhardy attack, the Reaches navy left Freeport and against overwhelming odds attacked one fleet of the Tang Armada. It is said that the elven ships fought as if possessed and broke the Tang Armada.
In September 902 TA, the elves made another sacrificial stand, this time on the ground, against the Tang siege forces. Although slaughtered to an elf, the tactic delayed the assault of Freeport by over a month.
Sandal and the East
In July 901 TA, the Tang destroyed the Eastern Reaches knights during a counter-attack near the village of Pembridge. The remaining knights fled west towards Freeport - losing small skirmishes and allowing the attackers to within 60 miles of the city.
Meanwhile, the dwarven army headed south and into Sandal. In late August 901 TA, they successfully sacked the Sandalese stronghold Whitehall Castle in August and the Castle of Mirrors in September.
With the Tang navy broken and the Sandalese army in retreat, the forces of good - although suffering massive elven and human losses -won the day and kept the Tang Emperor's vision of a Dark River homeland from becoming a reality.
The Events of 902 TA
Planning for the fourth year of the Second War of the Reaches focused again on securing the Southern Reaches - namely Sandal and coasts near Freeport. The campaign was called the Invasion of Sandal and marked a turning point where the Crown went on the offensive.
What was not expected was a host of summoned demons to aid the Sandalese cause who appeared in the Barony of Tenbury in March 902 TA and sacked Lechlade Keep. Rumor holds of a failed attempt by the Crown to stopped. Far to the south, the Tang Armada emerged from a giant maelstrom that hung off the coast of Sandal heading west towards Freeport. Again, rumors of a failed attempt to stop the Tang Armada circulated. To the east, the undead from the Tomb Kingdom swept along the Sands of Time. It was a formidable wall opposing the Invasion of Sandal.
Dugald Axeworthy led the Army of Reaches south.
On western coast, the the elves traveling though the Endless Forest meet the Tang on the road between Freeport and Everdoom. Against all odds, the forces of good taste victory - completely routing the hapless Tang and destroying any threat from the west.
In June 902 TA, the dwarves retake Lechlade Keep, but progress is slow and the fighting heavy. By mid-August, it is clear that the invasion will fail. In a radical departure from his march toward the Sandalese capital, Axeworthy orders his troops east into the Sands of Time sacking the Tomb Kingdom capitol destroying its pyramids and defiling its crypts - a crushing blow to the Lich Priests.
A late October siege of Whitehall Castle by the knights is little consolation for a failed Invasion of Sandal. It seems the land is too vast for traditional muster and march techniques of war.
The Events of 903 TA
The opening of the Wolfshaunt provided unlikely fuel for the attacks on the Reaches - an ally in the east. An early coded message talked of demons coming from the north. A four front war! The plans for a second invasion of Sandal were scrapped. Survival would be the order of the day - even if it did allow Valdemar to strengthen his grip on Sandal.
The Knights of the Eastern Reaches - warned of the Wolfshaunt offensive and the location of their deployments - quickly dispatched the vampires and wolves at the Battle of Dreadfield in March 903 TA. In the north, the dwarves - likewise warned - ambushed the demons that slipped through the commando raids and slaughtered them near the Pass of Lar.
News of the defeat reached Nightshade, and he moved the Tomb Kingdom skeletons westward to join the efforts there.
The Eastern Reaches were safe. The action shifted to the west.
In April 803 TA, the largest naval battle in Reaches history was a decisive route by the Tang Armada - crippling the Reaches fleet and killing hundred of troops. Coastal towns and battles would favor the Tang throughout the year.
A number of defeats significantly weakened the Western Reaches: Southgate Tower, Lechlade Keep, Crossgate Castle, Admunfort, Grunfeld Keep, Timberway, and a Tang ambush of the knights near Teufeldorf. As the season neared its end, the combined forces of the Tang Empire and Tomb Kingdom sacked the new gnomish capital at Nevermind.
With only a few victories, the Western Reaches went into unrest.
The Events of 904 TA
After defeats in 902 TA and 903 TA, the Reaches were desperate for victory. The thoughts of a prolonged war with the combined forces of the Tang Empire, Sandal, the Tomb Kingdom, and the Wolfhaunt made for bleak prospects.
While commando raids dispersed a great maelstrom from the Wolfshaunt and significantly reduced the number of giant sand wurms available to transport Tomb Kingdom troops to the Eastern Reaches, the odds against the Reaches were overwhelming.
The battles of 904 TA would, however, help the Reaches turn the tide against the invaders.
As the wolves streamed into the Eastern Reaches - sacking Tattershall and moving south to join with the Tomb Kingdom skeletons heading north on the wurms - Dugald Axeworthy moved quickly. The Wolfshaunt forces were decimated in two battles, crushed between the dwarves and the Eastern Reaches knights.
Without support, an ambush of the arriving skeletons later in the year was decisive. Success in the Eastern Reaches!
Unlike the previous two years, the battles of 904 TA were heavily in favor of the Reaches. The elven navy defeated the Tang near the Spindrift Isles. The Sandalese were defeated outside Crossgate Castle. Whitehall Castle was sacked in Sandal. The Tomb Kingdom warriors were routed in a desperate attempt to secure Sandal.
The remaining Tang forces began a move towards Teufeldorf, although this action would fall short with a Tang victory at Azgarde being the battle closest to the City-State. A late-August ambush by the remaining Tang Armada sank the bulk of the elven navy. However, these victories paled in comparison to the dwarves unchallenged sieges across Sandal.
Turning the Tide
The battles of 904 TA turned the tide - which had swung against the Reaches. Solid victories and a mild winter helped revitalize the spirits of the people of the Reaches.
The Events of 905 TA
Intelligence gathered on enemy plans showed limited plans for a Western Reaches invasion by the Tang. In the Eastern Reaches, a small armada of the Lotus Navy would join an attack by the skeletons of the Tomb Kingdom and the warriors of the Wolfshaunt. Their target was Dragonsford.
The discovery of dwarven stone ships deep below Dwarrowdelf led the Crown to undertake an unprecedented move. An invasion of the Tang Empire itself. With the Tang armies in the Reaches, the Empire was, most likely, lightly defended.
A preemptive strike against the Wolfshaunt by the Eastern Reaches knights was successful at destroying the vampires and wolves, although a high price was paid by the knights. The remaining knights moved south to intercept the undead forces from the Tomb Kingdom.
In April 905 TA, the Lotus Navy landed its forces near Dragonsford Castle, sacking the city.
A final battle between the Tomb Kingdom and the Eastern Reaches forces was brutal - with almost no survivors. At least, the invasion was halted - with a lone Tang navy sack of Portsmouth
Invasion of the Tang Empire
In the Tang Empire, the arrival of the Reaches forces was unexpected. A series of sieges and attacks ransacked the Empire: Nataka, Whistling Winds Castle, Sakasu Castle, Kawa, Tama Castle, and Akkaben.
In late September, the Tang Emperor called for surrender negotiations. With the Eastern Reaches under Tang control, a hostage exchange - of sorts - returned Dragonsford to Crown control.
The Events of 906 TA
After successful campaigns in 904 TA and 905 TA, the Second War of the Reaches seems to be coming to a close. Sandal and the Orc Nation are under control. The Tang Empire have negotiated peace for their merchant fleets. Then, a warning from the Wolfshaunt - the Old Kingdom has been bribed to strike the Reaches.
Full forces were mustered throughout the Reaches. Heavy taxes were levied and the troops mobilized.
The Eastern Reaches
As expected, the Wolfshaunt army streamed through the Hornwood - right into the waiting Eastern Reaches forces. In March 906 TA, the ambush was sprung - a complete route of the wolves. The Eastern Reaches were safe.
The Western Reaches
The Old Kingdom struck.
Cities and castles up and down the Western Reaches were sieged: Everdoom, Crossgate Castle, Grunfeld, Asgarde, Wilderland Castle, Southgate Tower, Everdoom, and Admunfort. Open field victories over the elves and gnomes were offset only by dwarven victories against the Tomb Kingdom. The Western Reaches was in shambles.
In July 906 TA, the City-State of Teufeldorf fell. Calls for the overthrow of King Fleetwood started circulating in the pubs and inns of the land.
A Long Winter
As the snows begin to fall, the City-State is still under Old Kingdom control. The economy is ruined. At least the invaders are civilized - compared to the orcs, the sons of Hastur, and the demons that came before.
It will be a long winter for the Reaches.
The Events of 907 TA
After losing Teufeldorf to the surprise invasion by the Old Kingdom armies in 906 TA, the Crown prepared its boldest action yet. Negotiating the return of Teufeldforf in October 906 TA, a commando squad was sent to seal the Wolfshaunt, permanently preventing large-scale troop movements from the nation. Simultaneously, an invasion force was launched from the Reaches. The Reaches struck back against the Old Kingdom in full force. It was a risky all-or-nothing gamble.
Landing in the north, a force of elves, dwarves and gnomes swept south sacking several objectives including Bargsea and Deep Port. After a modest open field victory against the local militia, the northern army was destroyed by overwhelming forces coming from the capital at Whitecliff.
In the south, the knights of the Reaches moved quickly north gaining victories at Heathyard Hold, Drax Manor, Malgrave, Flatwick, Bellsover Harbor, and Whitmore. The Old Kingdom forces in the south fled north to join with the Whitecliff army. Two final battles, both outside of Bellsover Harbor turned the war. The First Battle of Bellsover Harbor was a bloody exchange as the Whitecliff army destroyed a split force of knights. In the Second Battle of Bellsover Harbor, the remaining knights routed the Whitecliff army.
These were the first battles on Old Kingdom soil in centuries. The extensive losses of Old Kingdom armies and a general unrest among the people caused the Overlord to sue for peace. A treaty with the Reaches, signed on the first day of January 908 TA, ended the Second War of the Reaches and brought prosperity back to the land.