Tides of Darkness
The Tides of Darkness campaign was one of the most devastating acts of large-scale military conquest in the history of Dragon Court. Crossing the Great Sea from the east, the Army of Shangala hoped to conquer the mainland in an effort to colonize and control the world. In striking down the protectors of Titan, and then Titan herself, the remainder of Dragon Court would be forced to submit to Shangala's rule.
Their aims were ultimately expansionist in nature, but also an attempt to fulfill the dream of uniting all of the world's territories under the rule of the military leader of Shangala, the Shōgun.
The Order of the Shining Star was ordered to retaliate, though it was Titan who was officially struck first. Suffering heavy losses and casualties it looked as if this heroic band of warriors would not be able to hold on their own, for the first time in history. Relief and aid from Titan was a turning point in the war.
Combined, the two factions pushed back the Armies of Shangala, and ensured their control of the mainland.
In the early spring of 465 QY, he launched the beginnings of the campaign that would be known as the Tides of Darkness. His reasons were to bring pride to the nation, while securing land and resources for an expansionist Shangala.
The armies first landed in the Northern Territories, destroying the harbor's northern defense tower, and capturing Great Griffon Isle and Family Castle. From the south, land troops managed to capture and fortify the southern defense tower. Unable to capture Proudwater Naval Base by land, the Imperial Army of Shangala was forced to hold them under a blockade. Titan's naval forces were greatly reduced, but managed to deal the Imperial Fleet enough damage to hold them back, for a brief while.
Having seen visions of the looming events, Azrael Nightstar stationed himself at Azure Mountain, preparing for a skirmish that would soon arrive at his doorstep. The necessity of haste forced him to pass command of the Order of the Shining Star to Tordek Nightbringer. From Azure Mountain he notified both Tordek, as well as Curulan Angelicos of the events that were transpiring.
An attack was made upon Azure Mountain, but the Shōgun's army was routed. The arcane powers that dwell within the mountain were no match for Toronaga or his armies. Forced to move southward, the armies turned south -- only slightly hindered. Meanwhile, Azrael had too few men and supplies to press another attack.
Moving quickly down the coast, the Imperial Army had split. Neither Azrael nor Tordek knew this however. Tordek issued a prompt command for the majority of the Order's forces to ride to Châteaux Lexingrad, and there, make their first stand. As this was the northern most military installment, it seemed the next place that the Imperial Army would strike. Ekehart, the Strategos of Titan, had suggested such, while he would remain at Nightstar Keep to oversee logistics and communications. He anticipated that it was in the nature of the Shangalans to weaken their enemy before attacking their major objective. He had expected that Lexingrad was their first target to demonstrate their power. If they proved successful, they would then most likely move in on Lighthaven before dealing the crushing blow by taking Nightstar Keep. This move would also bring them close to Titan's heartland.
The Order's forces were sent promptly to Lexingrad and Lighthaven. The call to arms was made, leaving Dune in temporary command of Lighthaven Keep, and Sergeant Major Provost as temporary overseer of Nightstar Keep.
Defeat at Lexingrad
Garrisoning a fourth of the Shangala Army around Nightstar Keep, the rest pushed south on towards Lexingrad. When the Imperial Army struck, they were more ferocious and battle ready than any had expected. They had traveled hundreds of miles, but had no signs of weariness or fatigue. They moved massive amounts of supplies and small siege engines with them. The sight of them marching in unison, with their colors and banners displayed in such regal form, was something astonishing at first to many. Pouring over the hills, their ranks extended as far as they eye could see.
The main body consisted of gunners, followed by lines of blind men and some women who followed massive panda familiars. These were the famed mages of Shangala, the Order of the Eye. Their mastery of elemental magic and usage in battle had gained them fame and legend. Trolls, captured and enslaved from the nearby Misty Mountains wheeled in massive trebuchets and siege engines. The Shōgun's prized Daimyo, Hiro Otah, personally watched over these attacks.
While preparations and fortifications were established, the Order was unable to hold either the Châteaux or the town. Hundreds of thousands of men descended upon the isolated village and small fortress.
Siege engines, augmented by the arcane power of the mages quickly broke down the walls of the Châteaux while gunners provided heavy firepower against the settlement. Tordek sent word to Curulan, formally requesting his aide and reinforcements from Titan, explaining the direness of the situation.
For three days the position was under siege, and on the morning of the third day, the Order's cavalry met them with a valiant and brave charge, but were decimated within a few hours. The same morning however, Tordek had issued a secret order to Frenzie, the Order's Guardian of the Forest. He was to seek out the metallic dragons who had allied with Titan, decades before. He was to gain their aid in this time of desperation. Unable to hold their ground, Tordek gave the order to retreat.
Shangala managed to establish an axis of control through the western NOD. Turning now north, they pushed to Nightstar. At the behest of Toronoga, Otah sent several battalions to garrison themselves ten miles north of the Titan Palace. Coordinated by a number of Shangala's elite samurai, they managed to destroy the northern barracks and route the Salamander Guard.
From here, the Imperial Army marched north, now set on conquering Nightstar Keep -- a move aimed at decapitating the Order of the Shining Star.
The Stand at Nightstar
While having suffered a large defeat, the Order was not out of hope. Ebon-Ashe and Aman had infiltrated into the Shogun's ranks. Risking their lives, they established a communications line, giving intelligence to the Order. Tordek learned that the next strike would be at Nightstar. Upon reaching Nightstar, Tordek sent word to Curulan, yet again, requesting Titan’s aid. Previously this had never been necessary, but it was clear that the Order could not hold against such a powerful foe in such great numbers.
Otah planned to take Nightstar without fail, demonstrating his personal aptitude to Lord Toronaga, as well as the might of the Imperial Army of Shangala to all of Dragon Court.
Ebon-Ashe had provided the majority of intelligence on the attack, and also had poisoned Tordek on the eve of the attack. This was to ensure the Order's defeat. Otah believed that once Nightstar Keep had fallen, the legendary Order of the Shining Star would be defeated, and Titan, the mightiest force in Dragon Court, would see that it had no hope of defeating Shangala.
Intelligence had failed to warn the Order of the capturing of Naztugul, the Arch Destroyer. The greater black dragon had been captured by a large number of the Kohai Iron Fists -- an elite division of monks, excelling in unarmed and mental combat. Enslaving the dragon's mind, they were able to reduce the Arch Destroyer to a submissive state. The dragon would now obey any of his dominator's whims. With Naztugul's help, and the sheer number of the Imperial Army, a crushing blow was dealt to the Order's knights in the field.
After days of intense battle and slaughter, the Order's numbers began to dwindle. News had reached Nightstar that Lighthaven Keep was now under siege by bombardment by the Imperial Fleet. The coastal fortress was well armed, and was holding, but without aid though defeat looked certain. The Order’s naval facilities there had already been reduced to rubble.
By mid-day on the fifth day of battle, the Keep's outer walls had been breached. In defending the outer walls, Tordek had fallen to injury, clinging to life. The first to enter past the outer defenses was a battle-hardened master, Yasuyoshi Tokuma, the Eternal Warrior. Tokuma, the Champion of Shangala, commanded the samurai upon the field. Alone, he cleared a path for troops to enter, taking on numerous foes at once, slaughtering them with ease.
With the breaching of Nightstar's outer defenses, a great degree of uncertainty arose. Commanders of the Order were not sure if the keep could be held, despite its elaborate defenses. Regardless, the knights fought bravely, holding their lines with the utmost in discipline. Archers and gunners lined the walls, unleashing volley after volley. The combined firepower from the massive trolls, mages, veteran samurai, and Natzugul tore deeper into their defenses with each blow.
As the siege continued, and the death toll increased, the struggle began to look hopeless. By holding out against a greater foe for so long though, they had bought the time required for Curulan to arrive with reinforcements. Leading the Army of Titan into battle himself, their first strike was a tremendous relief to the battle weary defenders. While the siege on the keep pressed on, the Army pressed forward, pinching the Shangalans between the keep and the ranks of Titan's soldiers.
Meanwhile, Yoshi took to the skies upon Natzugul. The dragon continued the siege upon the keep, blasting down upon both the fortress and then swooped down over Titan's soldiers. Curulan met Shangala's champion in the sky, turning into his greater form as a dragon, engaging the Arch Destroyer and his rider blow for blow while the combat continued heavily on the ground.
Fighting through the night, and well into the next day, both armies were exhausted. Even with the heavy firepower from Shangala's mages, and siege engines, the Order kept them from passing the inner defenses. Forced to retreat, it was not a clear victory for the Order, but it was certain that the arrival of Curulan and his soldiers gave essential aid to the knights of the Order.
The Final Stand
Having pushed the Imperial Army back, the threat was not yet over. Otah, shamed by defeat was forced now to either succeed, or surrender his life. Moving towards Lighthaven, he hoped his army could secure their claim on the region while the fleet still bombarded the fortress. It was only a matter of time before the city would fall.
For months, Azrael and the Brotherhood of Mages had been occupied, fighting the monstrous demon Ug'tlec, who had broken loose deep within the labyrinths of Azure Mountain. During experimentations, he had escaped and caused endless strife. Finally conquering the demon, Azrael was free to move the Mages into battle. They traveled first to Proudwater, casting Lightning (spell) and Stormhammer down from the heavens -- disintegrating the Imperial Fleet into splinters. Titan's naval forces could now move out of the harbor, and were ordered to quickly set sail and head down the coast, to Lighthaven.
The final battle between the forces of the Order and Titan and the majority of the Shōgun's Imperial Army met on the coastal plains north of Lighthaven. Camped and ready to lay siege to the coastal fortress nearby, Azrael and his Mages were the first to do battle, eager to make up for lost time. The skies turned crimson, and the earth shook as the mages let loose their awesome power. For two days, the battle mages fought against the Kohai Iron Fists and Order of the Eye divisions, matching them spell for spell, using only arcane magical force.
The numbers of Shangala were still strong when the knights of the Order came riding onto the field with the Titan contingency, led by Curulan. From the south came aide from Lighthaven, and word that the siege had been lifted. Frenzie had completed his mission, securing the safety of the fortress and city and was now en route with Titan's dragon allies. Riding into battle with renewed vigor and zeal, the knights met the enemy straight on. Swords clashed, earth flew, and spells were blasted in every direction. Little by little the knights pushed forward, driving the remnants of the Imperial Army towards the sea.
A surreal calm suddenly washed over the battlefield as a sudden call came from the sky. Frenzie arrived, riding atop a massive gold dragon, with the Seal of Bromskad around his neck. Upon the battlefield, he immediately clashed with Natzugul. Close behind him came the allies of old, a copper, silver, and steel dragon. Led by Frenzie, they quickly ripped through Natzugul, and the Arch Destroyer's lifeless body plummeted to the ground with ear-shattering thunder as it hit.
Now, without their Arch Destroyer, their death-dealer from the skies, the ranks of the Shangalans were quickly torn. The knights of the Order, fighting with passion and sorrow for their fallen comrades, pushed hard into the enemies ranks. The cavalry split, flanking the final remnants of the Imperial Army, and surrounded them. Otah knew his defeat was at hand. Amidst the chaos of the battle, he gave the order for his samurai to stop fighting. One by one, they obeyed the command, moving to the back of the lines. Gathering themselves in a small block, they faced their master, and in unison committed seppuku, the ritual suicide of the defeated warrior.
By nightfall, the Order's standard flew high, a symbol of the great weight lifted from the hearts of all those fighting.
After the Tides of Darkness
The creation of the Brotherhood of Rangers, an elite division of the Unified Armed Forces of Titan was inspired by the actions of Frenzie and Ebon-Ashe. Trained to be rugged fighters capable of special and unarmed combat, infiltration, espionage, and use of covert tactics, they are a close knit group of battle-hardened warriors from all classes.
Ekehart's insight and tremendous understanding of the enemy’s strategy and ethos, gave birth to the Tactics and Strategies Corps. Designed to provide intelligence and insight in future battles that would prove as decisive in nature as seen in the defense of Lexingrad and Nightstar Keep, the division’s creation was spearheaded by Ekehart.
Plans were made to rebuild the fortress at Lexingrad into a stronger and much more expansive structure. The dockyards at Lighthaven were to also be rebuilt and expanded upon, in addition to portions of the city.
An additional barracks has been planned for the Titan Palace to replace the destruction of the northern barracks.