The Slumbering Tsar
The Army of Light
No description of the Desolation would be complete without an explanation of those who once fought here. No one knows for sure what all and how many fought from within the stained walls of Tsar, unless Orcus keeps such a tally somewhere on his own abysmal plane, but the forces arrayed against the Demon Prince are well-documented in the dusty archives of the last overking. A brief overview of that panoply follows.
As previously mentioned, the impetus for the crusade came from an alliance formed by the patriarchs of the holy churches of Thyr and Muir. Why these sibling faiths chose to approach the overking at that time, no one recalls. Yet they managed to catch the ear of the aged Overking Graeltor, and his backing put all the civilized kingdoms behind it as well as almost all of the good and neutral faiths.
To remove any suspicion of divisive religious zealotry or hidden agendas, the entire force was placed under the secular command of Graeltor’s most trusted advisor and strategist, the archmage Zelkor. Though the religious stamp was left off of the overall crusade, the troops certainly welcomed the addition of celestial allies when the battle was finally joined. Immediately below Zelkor were his own advisors and aides de camp, a who’s who of the greatest heroes, generals, and war captains of that day. They each commanded a section of the army and did much of the day-to-day planning and tactics while Zelkor, with their assistance, created and implemented the overall strategies and maneuvering of the Army of Light.
The patriarchs Grennell of Thyr and Phestus of Muir stood high among the officers of the army, for it was they who originally petitioned the overking and led to the army’s muster. Strangely, equal to them in influence within the Army of Light was the church of Hecate, lawful evil goddess of magic, and her high priestess Akbeth. Many within the Army of Light opposed the addition of this evil faith to their ranks, yet Law is ever opposed to Chaos even within the Lower Planes. The followers of Hecate despised the chaotic followers of Orcus as much as did the goodly faiths, and since the legions were under the secular control of Zelkor the patriarchs of the good churches were forced to grudgingly accept the services offered by the magic goddess. It proved much to their benefit when the Battle of Tsar entered its most deadly stage as magical attacks and plagues rained down from the priests and wizards of Orcus. Then the powerful clerics and sorcerers of Hecate were able to respond with attacks against the foe of a kind the goodly-aligned spellcasters were unable or unwilling to make. One other reason existed that Zelkor willingly allowed the seemingly incongruent followers of Hecate to join in the crusade. That reason was Akbeth’s lover, the peerless archmage Agamemnon, who joined in the fight and served as a wild card on the battlefield that the followers of Orcus had neither expected nor prepared for.
The patriarchs and matriarchs of other faiths held prominent positions as well over their crusader followers: Kirba of Mitra, Tondallah of Vanitthu, Virrikus of Oghma, and Dawncry of Arn to name a few. Other commanders of the forces of light included the heroic paladinlords Navarre and Bishu, the Justicars of Muir Alaric of Tircople and Gerrant of Gilboath, the knight commanders Saracek, Brandt Dracobane, Argos the aasimar-knight, and Carileus, Grezell the incomparable swordsman, and the elven warrior-maiden Shelfaer. Augmenting these martial heroes were other personages of renown including the powerful cleric and wizard twins Plethor and Xillin, the wizardess Deserach, consort of Lord Navarre, the priest-mages of Hecate Nemethiar and the elf Phalen, the sorceress Itara, and the mysterious wizard Me’Nak. Of the dwarves came King Kroma leading his doughty warriors. The elven lords Ulo and Tarrazal brought archers and spearmen from the Green Realm. The storm giant Thraestos brought a troop of his brethren and lesser kin. Even Queen Tyrissta of the Small Kingdoms brought contingents of gnomish and halfling skirmishers. But the nonhuman forces were not limited to the mortal realms. From the heavenly planes, leading legions of celestial allies, were the empyreal angel Naphrathoth, the leonal Lord Karask, the hound archon Amaleal, and the planetar general Nimrod. In all over 140,000 soldiers, wizards, clerics, and knights — human, elven, dwarven, giantish, gnomish, halfling, and celestial — stood on the fi elds before the stained walls of Tsar.
Most controversial of all those allied with the Army of Light was the sorcerer Slavish. A powerful spellcaster — some said the equal of Zelkor or Agamemnon even — Slavish was also a devoted follower of the infernal lord Baalzebul. Like Hecate, Slavish’s devil-liege was also lawfully aligned and therefore opposed to the demonic chaos of Orcus, but the forces of good were unwilling to admit him into their ranks. Allowing a follower of an Archduke of Hell, the opposite end of the evil spectrum from the demons of Orcus, was considered anathema to their cause by many of the goodly host. However, Zelkor’s judgment to admit him finally prevailed in light of what Slavish had to offer to the cause. For Slavish was not only a powerful sorcerer but also bore the sword Demonbane, an artifact so powerful it was said to be capable of slaying Orcus himself. In fact it was forged by the hands of Baalzebul for that very purpose. With such a potent weapon in their midst, Zelkor felt the Army of Light could not afford to turn away the help offered by Slavish. Thus the servant of an arch-devil was the last member admitted into the Army of Light before the march for Tsar.