The Great Heroes of Elhal
Welcome, students. Up to today, we have covered three major periods of the history of Elhal. They are not equal in number of years, but rather are grouped out of significance. The first time period was Before the Empire, when Elhal went from an unorganized group of humans into Kingdoms, and ending with the formation of the Empire. The second period was the Imperial Age, where the Empire ruled over Elhal. It was in retrospect a golden age of prosperity and knowledge. This age ended with the Fall of the Empire to the Demon King. The third age, which was the shortest but most grim, was the Reign of the Demon King, a time when humanity was on the brink of destruction, and it looked like our existence would be forever in the shadow of the Demon King. This age ends with the fall of the Demon King, just a few years ago. That is what we are going to be talking about today, and for the next few lectures.
Before we can discuss the fall of the Demon King, we need to discuss the force which would lead to his ultimate destruction, The Great Heroes. Our lecture today will be a high-level overview of who the Great Heroes were, and how they came together. After that, our subsequent lectures will detail some of their trials and how they became a force of hope and freedom.
For all of you in attendance this is recent history, you were all born or living as these events unfolded. Many of the accounts in this section will seem familiar, but I hope to provide you details of which you may not be aware. I have had the fortune of keeping company and chronicling the stories of many of the Great Heroes, and I hope to share some of those insights with you.
A Time of Despair
At the height of the Demon King’s rule, humanity was in crisis on many fronts. For starters, the rule of the Demons was harsh. If you were in the controlled cities you lived in constant fear of them, and if you lived outside their direct influence, then you faced a number of other challenges to survive. It was also a crisis of knowledge. The Demon King abolished all higher learning as well as the Guild Arcanis. We humans stopped discovering things and learning stagnated. Finally, we were in a spiritual crisis. The Demon King had outlawed worship of the All-Father, and the holy city of Ceradome was walled off, imprisoning its residents inside. It was a desperate time.
When the Empire first fell, most people believed that the All-Father would come and save us; that an army of Defenders would rise up and overthrow the Demon King. But thirty years later, and with the Church pushed underground, faith had nearly run out. The generation being born into the Demon King’s reign had begun to resign themselves that this was how humanity would continue their days.
What we did not know then was that the All-Father had not abandoned us. That our salvation would not come down from the sky but rather it would come from within us, and that we would learn to believe again. That signs of the All-Father’s love and his protection would be shown to us. It was just a matter of timing…
The Great Heroes
As we now codify recent events and chronicle them for future generations, we have named those heroes who would lead to the eventual fall of the Demon King the Great Heroes of Elhal, or just the Great Heroes. Most people refer to five men when they speak of the Great Heroes, and this in itself is somewhat misleading. First, it was not five people who lead to the fall of the Demon King, all manner of people inspired by the five would rise up and do many heroic acts. Second, these were men, making it sound like women were not instrumental in the fall of the Demon King, and this is also far from the truth. Many women had key roles in not only the Demon King’s fall, but what would happen after. My goal during this series of lectures is to begin discussing the five most known heroes, and then to expand beyond them to discuss the others.
Who Are They?
To start, we will need to review the original five heroes. For those in this room these names should all be familiar, but for historical purposes, I shall name them and give a brief description of who they were.
- Arion – The grandson of King Therion. A Kotkalan who would be the key of Therion’s great plan.
- Kelven – A Monatobean who was born of strange circumstances and raised to be an archer, but would become so much more before the end of this era.
- Tabris – The grandson of Morganis, the Curved Dagger of Therion. Raised to be part of Therion’s great plan.
- Kelnn – A Vaasarian Imperial Soldier who was cursed 800 years ago, and would be freed through the actions of Arion, Kelven, and Tabris.
- Severis – Former student of the Archmage Shankar, he would help to revolutionize human arcane power and create a new force in dealing with the Demons.
The original five heroes did not come together all at once. Arion, Kelven, and Tabris would first come together, as I will explain shortly, and then Kelnn would join later, followed by Severis. The stories of Kelnn and Severis require additional details and include some of the actions of the original three. For now, I am going to focus on the three and we will, through subsequent classes, uncover the origins of the final two.
Let us turn our focus to the first three heroes…
Prince Ananth, one of Therion’s children, escaped during the Fall of Inkala and with help from General Chave found refuge in Western Kotkala. There he met a woman and they had a son, Arion. Prince Ananth was not a good warrior, being raised and schooled at the twilight of the Empire when having martial skills was not in as much demand, but he was well schooled and attended the University of Inkala, and was learned in the ways of the court of Kotkala. Ananth schooled Arion, imparting on him his vast knowledge, including warfare and tactics.
At the same time, General Chave, who was also in hiding in the Western Kotkalan forest, provided the young Arion martial training. Arion was adept at fighting with two swords and skilled at using terrain to his advantage. During his late teens, Chave took Arion to Stammiglin to Morganis’ hidden fortress, where young Arion was given additional martial training under the harsh masters of the Curved Daggers. It was there that Arion would first meet Tabris.
During that same time, Ananth was killed during a Dire Bear attack, defending his town. Arion returned home and stopped his training to take care of his mother. Chave left the two to check on other parts of Therion’s plan. Several years passed and Arion knew that he could no longer remain in the village, and with his mother’s encouragement, he departed looking for Chave.
Kelven was born in a small town in Northern Monatobe. His mother was a single woman who arrived in town pregnant, with no name of a father. He was raised like any of the other children in the town, and was lucky enough to avoid a Harvest by being too young for consideration. At different periods of his youth, a nomadic man named Kazumbe, would come to visit Kelven and his mother. He claimed not to be Kelven’s father, but that he was a prophet of the All-Father and was sent to prepare the boy.
It was Kazumbe who brought Kelven his signature weapon, a bow made from the eternal sunwood, and taught him to shoot. Kazumbe also taught Kelven in the ways of the All-Father, reciting scripture from memory to the young boy. Finally, it was Kazumbe who informed Kelven that he must leave his mother, travel north into Kotkala and seek out Arion. He told the young man that his destiny was at the side of Arion.
History would bear out that this was somewhat of an understatement. King Arion told me that there was a time when Kelven was at his side, but he came to learn that in truth he was at Kelven’s side. But we are putting the cart before the horse.
Kelven left Monatobe and traveled north to find a restless Arion. He introduced himself and told him that it was the will of the Father that he should travel with Arion on his journey to find Chave. Arion agreed to take him, and the two set out on the north road for the town of Brodar.
This sounds somewhat implausible, that Arion would accept Kelven’s help without suspicion, but as Arion told me, “Kelven projected a force of spirit, a calm that radiated from him. Those who met him were always at ease. There was never doubt in my mind that his intentions were good, and that he was there to help.”
Tabris was the Grandson of Morganis, a Stammiglinin, and was raised from birth as a Curved Dagger. Morganis was a hard teacher, and while the Daggers’ training is kept secret, we know that it was rigorous. Tabris liked to joke about having to learn to stay hidden in a barrel for hours, or being hit with stone weapons repeatedly. Tabris and his siblings were raised for a purpose, and Morganis constantly tested them. It was Tabris who showed the most martial prowess, loyalty, and tenacity, and eventually was selected by Morganis.
In Tabris’ teens he met Arion, when Chave brought him to the training camp. The two trained together for the summer and became friends. When fall came and Arion left, Tabris was aware of what Morganis had done. He knew that he had put the two together so that Tabris would come to like the future king, and be prepared to defend him and to serve him.
Tabris was known for his signature weapon, one of his own design and choosing, the Ebon Halberd. It was a strange weapon for a Curved Dagger, being larger and less elegant than a dagger, but in Tabris’ hands it was ferocious. It would be the right tool for his life on the road, protecting the future King.
A few years after meeting Arion, and after completing his full trials to become a Curved Dagger, Morganis gave Tabris a sealed scroll and told him to head north to find Arion and to join him.
There is no doubt that the will of the All-Father was at work to bring the original three heroes together. As the three headed out on the road, they were days from meeting in a small town named Kimryn, which had already had its own history of rebellion and would later become a key location in the fall of the Demon King. The three original heroes were quite young, all just reaching maturity, and the task that lay before them was immense. They were as prepared as they could be, but each would be tested along the way.
In our next talk we will discuss the meeting of the three heroes and two encounters they would have while in the town of Kimryn, which would have far reaching consequences.