The Second Great War and other stories
Near the middle of the continent sits the tiny little village named Hob’s Fall. Its people lead a simple life, tending to their crops and letting the troubles of the world pass them by. Even Tulak Azuri.
Tulak Azuri, self-proclaimed Lord of Fire. They say his father was a dragon and his mother was one of Tiamat’s best servants. But they say a lot of things. What is known is that, fifty years ago, the Firelord nearly conquered half the continent in a single stroke and then vanished. Those who know where he went are not telling, and those who don’t know have turned his name into a tale to frighten young children. “Don’t stay out late, or Tulak Azuri will get you!”
The reality was much, much worse.
Soon, this tiny village, this place with no meaning, will play a pivotal role in the chaos to come.
The Second Great War.
Hob’s Fall is a quiet village, with only a few farmsteads, belying its history. Once, millennia ago, a great city rose here, between the Diamond Pass, the river to the south, and a massive mithral mine. The city covered acres of land with wide avenues, dank alleys, and soaring buildings. The city was a city of humans, of elves, of hobgoblins, and of learning and openness. In that time, even the merfolk could swim up the river to partake in the glory of what was. It was an age of enlightenment, an age of exploration, and an age of heroes. Back then, men were real men, women were real women, and short scaly creatures from the southern deserts were real short scaly creatures from the southern deserts. Many people of course became extremely rich, but this was to be expected. It didn’t really matter anyways, because no one was really poor – at least, no one worth mentioning.
But then the unthinkable happened. The goblins betrayed the other peoples of the world, attacking hundreds of settlements all at once. Due perhaps to some unearthly sorcery, the city sank into the earth, and the ruins were transformed into an evil swamp. As history faded into legend, and legend faded into myth, the swamp grew into a massive forest. There are horrors living in the forest, trees that can make a man go mad, animals twisted into distant mockeries of mankind. There are even rumors of an entire ape civilization living within the trees. And further in, deep in the depths of the forest, something. Something so unspeakable that it has never been named – at least, not by someone who didn’t die shortly afterwards.
In these enlightened days, of course, no one believes a word of it. Except perhaps for the tiny village lying to its north. The mythical mithral in the mine is long since gone, of course, but there is a fair supply of iron and silver, enough to keep this village comfortable and keep the traders streaming in. The Diamond Pass is little-used anymore, since the Sapphire Pass, far to the east, is much faster and less dangerous. Not to mention that there is not a major city within two days’ ride of either end of the pass. And so the village goes on, untouched by war, its water supplies ensured by an ancient aqueduct carrying unspoiled water from a spring in the mountains, its food supply ensured by the acres of farmland surrounding it, and its livelihood supported by what remains of the ancient mine.