Seven hundred and one years after Thar who was Umbar fell to Sangrar, his granddaughter Avara sat upon the Pearl Throne, ignorant that she’d be the last queen ever to rule the City of the Golden Star. That year, the barbarians of Angrakor united under the mighty warlord Korak, a huge brute with muscles like Conan. Like Yogi, Korak was smarter than your average bear, or barbarian, and his battle plans included a feint meant to trick Avara into over committing her resources. He sent several thousand warriors west, over the Ambisant to attack the people of the Oakheart Meadows and the lower Harrowmeet, but this was only a diversion. The larger force, he sent west on long ships, to land near the hills west of Cormane.
It all looked good on paper, but Korak had severely underestimated Sangrithar’s legions, and her Queen. Also, he wasn’t the only one employing spies and little birds had whispered his plans to Avara almost as soon as he thought of them. She deployed cavalry to the east and the fast moving riders swept over the battlefield, soundly and quickly defeating the less mobile barbarians. Without Korak to rally them, those surviving the cavalry’s charge turned tail and ran back into the Iron Hills to lick their wounds.
Meanwhile, Avara led the bulk of her legions to the plains west of Cormane and hid them near the coast. When the barbarians poured out from the long ships, they’d expected an open road through Cormane and into the capitol, but instead, they found Sangrithar’s finest legions waiting. Korak had hoped to flank the capitol, from the west and east, but his plan had backfired and left his army backed up against the hills near the entrance to Dael Vyrnyn.
It was a mop-up operation from the get-go. The Sangritharian infantry marched in tight formation, easily breaking through the enemy lines. The barbarians of Angrakor were superb warriors but not ideal soldiers. Following orders, staying in formation and employing tactics weren’t in their wheelhouse. When it seemed like the battlefield had been secured, Queen Avara returned to her pavilion and ordered Emerre, her advisor, bodyguard and the voice of the legions in the Queen’s absence, to oversee the cleanup.
In hindsight, it would be easy to blame Emerre. He certainly blamed himself, but that’s not really fair – who’d have expected Korak to pull something like that? No respectable commander would have tried such a stunt. Look, I’m in favor of running away to fight another day, but not Korak. After his embarrassing loss, taking out Avara was all he cared about, even if it cost him his life.
Clad in the uniform of a fallen legionnaire, Korak worked his way towards the Queen’s pavilion without challenge. He slew the guards outside the entrance before they even had a chance to draw swords and then went inside to face the Queen. Emerre heard battle coming from her pavilion and ran to offer aid. He arrived just in time to see Korak take her head and then his anger knew no bounds.
Understand, Korak was the most feared warrior in Angrakor. Everything he had, he’d taken, and the names of those he’d defeated on his rise to power went on for pages. Even so, on a normal day, Korak couldn’t match Emerre blow for blow and that day, Avarra’s death transformed the grim warrior into an unstoppable killing machine. Korak tried, I’ll give him that, but this wasn’t horseshoes or hand grenades and close didn’t cut it. Guilt for failing Avara had already set in and Emerre was looking for some serious atonement.
Once Korak lay dead, Emerre set fire to the Queen’s pavilion. Everyone thought Avara burned in her pyre. Emerre said nothing to dissuade them but, as you read in The Curse of Arvyl’s Folly, he snuck away with her and laid her body to rest in a cave in the Whispering Hills. In the ashes of her tent, searchers found charred remains assumed to be those of Ardyval, the Queen’s three year old son. He’d been asleep in the corner under some furs when the pavilion went up in flames.
Emerre hadn’t even known the boy was there. When he returned from the Whispering Hills and learned of Ardyval’s supposed fate, it was too much for Emerre. He cracked, feeling responsible for Avara’s death and now the boy’s. He withdrew from the battlefield immediately and returned to Gloryngael, where he began his long stint as the Gloryngael Ghoul.
In truth, Ardyval did survive the fire thanks to assistance of an anonymous stranger who rescued the young boy and deposited him on Kandol’s doorstep. Centuries later, when Ataryl assumed the mantle of God-Emperor, the story of Ardyval’s survival would emerge, though not the identity of his savior. Kandol knew who had saved the boy, as did Velora who knew everything and then some, but secrets were Kandol’s forte and he kept this secret well. Only now, after everyone from Sangrar is long gone and forgotten, can I share the truth with you, noble readers. Ardyval’s savior was none other than Kandol’s brother, Nammath, the one-armed Elf whose very name had vanished into the mists of time.
After losing Queen Avara, the people of Sangrithar asked her cousin Dynrael, the Maiden’s high priest and Gwynna’s grandson, to rule them. Already Priest, Dynrael became King as well and became known as the Priest-King. The name stuck. For the next thirteen hundred years, until the coming of Ataryl, Priest-Kings sat upon the Pearl Throne and Sangrithar enjoyed a Silver Age of prosperity. Maelryn, who had been Dynrael the Priest’s advisor, remained at his side as his Vizier.