Way of the Wicked
The Rise of House Darius
Talingarde may be a peaceful and prosperous kingdom but the nation has certainly had a troubled past. Only eighty years ago, the kingdom weathered a bitter war of succession fought between the largely half-elven nobility of House Barca and the human dynasty of House Darius. Both had claim to the throne and their supporters amongst the fractured nobility of the isle.
On the Plains of Tamberlyn just north of the capital city, two great armies met and decided the future of this dominion. One army was commanded by King Jaraad of House Barca, a great half-elven hero mounted on a griffon, the symbol of his house. The other was led by Markadian of House Darius, a young upstart paladin who would not bow before all the gods of the Talirean pantheon (in particular Asmodeus).
The Battle of Tamberlyn remains the most famous conflict in all of Talingarde’s history. House Darius was gravely outnumbered but far more fiercely committed to their holy cause. Much of House Barca’s army was paid mercenaries fighting for nothing more than gold. The Battle was fought between two large stone spires (the so-called Lords of Tamberlyn) that rise from otherwise level ground. A small brook splits the spires crossed only in one place by an ancient stone bridge. The brook is not deep but still would be difficult for men in armor to cross.
Markadian took to the field first, seizing the bridge with his knights and positioning infantry on both his right and left flank. The famed archers of Barrington and Embryl, with their mighty longbows of yew, were positioned behind the infantry. Outnumbering his foe many times, King Jaraad hoped for a quick victory and sent his mercenary crossbowmen forward to bombard the knights on the bridge. The hope was that a few volleys of crossbow shot would kill many of the knights and paladins of House Darius. Deprived of their leadership, the rest of the soldiery would likely flee from the battlefield when the king moved the bulk of Barca’s army forward.
However, the crossbowmen advanced too close and the infantry on Darius’ right flank performed a surprise charge. The charge caught the mercenaries off guard and they fled with hardly a shot fired.
So disgusted was the knight commander of Barca behind the mercenaries that he ordered his knights to charge forward through the “cowardly retreating rabble” to attack the relatively exposed Darian infantry. The result was a chaotic muddle of panicked mercenary and tangled knights. It was then that the Darian archers begin to fire their volleys. The arrows rained down on the knights and took a princely toll on the Barcan force.
King Jaraad saw the muddle that his left had become and ordered the other pincer of his army forward. They moved swiftly at first along the banks of the brook but soon found themselves equally bogged down in mud. They too began to receive a hail of arrows.
Finally the Barcan left pushed through the mercenaries and charged the bridge. It was here that the heaviest fighting of the battle took place. On the bridge of Tamberlyn the knights of Darius met the full might of the Barcan army and held the line. The Barcan army was packed in so tight trying to cross the bridge that there rear ranks were at the mercy of the Embryllian archers. King Jaraad could watch the slaughter no longer. He flew his elite personal command – a dozen knights on griffons to the other side of the bridge hoping to flank the defenders and break their line. What he encountered instead was the young Lord Markadian and his personal guard.
The battle between Markadian’s knights and the griffon riders has been immortalized in several songs and plays. Suffice to say that after a great battle, a dozen dead griffons littered the field and only Markadian of Darius and King Jaraad of Barca remained combatant. They fought fiercely and in the end, Markadian slew Jaraad upon the banks of the Tamberlyn brook and claimed the throne of Talingarde.
At the end of the day, the battle had proved to be a slaughter. The military might of House Barca was broken and House Darius came to power. It would have been easy then for House Darius to seek revenge against their former enemies but instead King Markadian I called the Victorious showed mercy.
He allowed the nobles of House Barca to keep their lands if they would only swear loyalty to the new king and bow before the great god Mitra. The offer was accepted and peace once more came to Talingarde. The crisis of succession was over and the religion of the isle was decided. Mitra the Shining Lord became head of the Talirean pantheon.
Next: Victor Upon the Throne.