Upon the great libraries of Darnassus, relatively new yet holding thousands of years of knowledge, a single book catches your eye. On the spine, written in old Darnassian, are the words "The Crimson Conquests". The cover shares the same words, save for the name of the author, "Historian Thelandius of the Cenarion Circle". Upon opening the book, you are greeted by a section titled "The Preface", the entirety of the tome in an old Darnassian dialect. A difficult read, but interpretable for one fluent in Darnassian.
The Crimson ConquestsEdit
Good fortune and greetings upon you, whomsoever has taken up this book. I, Thelandius, historian and record-keeper of the Cenarion Circle, have come to present you my compilation on the subject of the most devastating war in recent years. I myself have taken upon the popular name of "The Crimson Conquests", though for the sake of thoroughness, I will regard it by the many other names it has taken up. On this topic, other names included have been The Desolate War, The Kolkar Conquests, or The War of San'jar. The sources I have gathered have come from many places, including my own first-hand experience. From these, I have attempted to piece together and find the most accurate depiction of the war. Perhaps we will learn from the abundant mistakes we had made in this war, and by Elune's light we must, as another conflict as large as this would surely result in our peoples destruction.
Causes and Faults Prior to the WarEdit
In truth, the fault of the war lies within us, the Night Elven people. In order to fully understand this, we must first acknowledge various other background information. For long after the War of the Satyr, the Sentinels kept a watchful eye over Kalimdor. One of, if not the most closely watched, where the five Centaur Clans of the Southern Wilds, which composed of the areas of the Desolate Plains, Thousand Spires, and Fera’lan. The Centaur where an innate brutal and hate-filled race, with an extreme hate for us Night Elves, the reasons even we do not know. Their appearance, is one that is detestable and fitting for their rage-filled personalities. They are covered in feces and dung, and are generally filthy. They posses large, four-legged torsos with hooves, lightly comparable to the Keepers or Dryads. In terms of size, they are massive warriors, ranging from seven to ten feet, and covered in brute muscle from constant warfare. Their females are often the spellcasters, with male magic users quite rare. Their females also possess veils around their face, covering their mouths and nostrils. Perhaps this is for the better, for they are not in the slightest beautiful creatures. All gender of centaur also possess a peculiar feature, they lack any lips, forming their faces into a permanent grimace. Perhaps it is fitting for a people such as them.
Now, departing from their appearance, the Centaur possess a remarkably vicious and large military base. The numbers of their warriors are stunning, and often large war parties have been seen by our scouts, hundreds of thousands. Luckily for us, their wrath was often turned to their own, despite their dislike for we Night Elves. Bloody warfare rages all hours of the Centaur’s lives, keeping the balance and preventing them from growing to alarming rates. Many other factors played an important role in keeping the Centaur in check. The tall cliffs of the Towering Spires made it impossible to enter the Barrenlands, and the Sentinels kept heavy presence in the peaks north of the Desolate Plains. The Centaur where also blocked in from the South, as the large and empty deserts provided little hospitality, even for a race such as the Centaur. Many did not understand this fragile balance which held the Centaur in constant stalemate, and the first mistake to come will show why it was put in by the natural balance.
The first of the conflicts was by a Sentinel commander, Drishana Moonfeather, who had sought to capture the Fera’lan wilds for the Night Elves, as it held speculation of containing an ancient Highborne city. At this time, the Galak Clan inhabited most of this lush jungle, who where fiercely at war with the Kolkar Clan. With the Galak deeply entrenched in a bloody battle, the Sentinel's stealth and ambush techniques issued in heavy damage to the Galak. This eventually forced them entirely out of Fera'lan, retreating into their lands within The Towering Spires. The resulting findings within Fera'lan where remarkable, including the discovery of Eldre'thalas, though the price we would pay for this land would be far greater.
From here it is important to note that this next passage will be mostly speculation, inferred from many facts and simple logic to deduce what truly gave way to the unification of the Centaur. Besides the Galak Clan, the only one to not inhabit the Desolate Plains, the four other Clans all held territory in this vast wasteland. It is believed that this area holds great spiritual or cultural value to the Centaur, if such even exist within their society. The four clans that inhabit the wastes are the Kolkar, Maraudine, Gelkis, and Magram. The most powerful of these where the Kolkar, the Bloodbathed, called such by both Elf and Centaur for their red tattoos and clan colors. They where led by Khan San'jar, a massive and fearsome warrior, reminding many veterans of the Annihilan which scourged our land during War of the Ancients.
For long the Kolkar had been kept in check with their perennial warfare with the Galak. As you most likely inferred, the capture of Fera'lan under Sentinel Commander Drishana Moonfeather disturbed this equilibrium greatly. As cunning as he is ruthless, Khan San'jar lead a quick and decisive campaign to conquer the three other clans of the Desolate Plains. Though when the task was accomplished is unknown, he had quickly united all the Centaur, save for the Galak, under the Kolkar banner. His methods of obedience and ways of inciting such unifying spirit is unknown, but the Centaur of all clans followed him with utter devotion. The Centaur themselves saw the Kolkar Clan as a universal identity, though we Night Elves had ascribed this faction various names of our own. The Crimson Hordes, the Kolkar Onslaught, or the San'jar Khanate, where all common ones. Furthermore, these recent transgressions had gone completely under the eyes of our Sentinels, who had become much more busy within Fera'lan, and recent unrelated Harpy activity which strained resources. Once Khan San'jar had fully gathered the massive armies of the newly unified Centaur, he would launch the first of his many devastating campaigns against the Night Elves. This collection of multiple wars and skirmishes over the course of twenty years would be known as The War of the Centaur, the Khan Wars, and of course, The Crimson Conquests.
The Fera'lan Slaughter and Events AfterEdit
The first war within the collective campaigns of Khan San'jar was, and appropriately named, the Fera'lan Slaughter. The attack came at a great surprise, mainly because of the fact such an army was undetected. Normally they would have never missed a glance of such an event. The attacks were vicious and relentless, and despite the Sentinel's best efforts and guerilla tactics, the sheer numbers and brutality of the Kolkar Hordes eventually overwhelmed them. It was said by many that you could not see the end of the Centaur's armies, even after dozens of rows had fell.
The slaughter did not only range to the sentinels, but a variety of prominent scholars and archaeologists who had taken interest in the artifacts unveiled in Fera'lan too where slain. These poor souls where spared no mercy, and only a small handful, perhaps the size of a small village, where able to escape the wilds and return to the Ashenvale Woods. Among the casualties was the Sentinel Commander herself, Drishana Moonfeather, who's body was nearly unidentifiable when discovered. Many of the fallen faced even further desecration, as the Centaur practiced crude and barbaric rituals, the most unfortunate corpses facing cannibalism.
During this time, we had little knowledge of the gruesome battle that had took place in Feral'an, and it was not until the survivors found their way to the northern forests and spread the tales of what had occurred. This would lead to the second of our mistakes, how many would succumb to disbelief over the stories. Few in power ever took heed to the warnings, far too few to have protected us, and the ones who did where drowned by the sea of doubt. After ample time had passed, with no word from Fera'lan, suspicion had arisen over these claims, and the skepticism of many was transformed into curiosity of confirming the Centaur's unification. During this period of three months, however, the Centaur found themselves far from inactive. Though I, once again, cannot say for sure the accuracy of these events, from various evidences and logical inference I have deduced the events and plans undertaken by Khan San'jar. With the occupation of Fera'lan, he had most likely staged a takeover of the last remaining Clan that had not been unified, the Galak. This is known as by the time we had fully engaged the Crimson Hordes again, Galak warriors where abundant in their ranks. Though, the Galak where always noticeably resentful of their servitude to the Kolkar, and never fell into the Kolkar unity that the other four clans held. Many Galak would even keep some of their old Blue tattoos, the color of their Clan, with minimal amounts of red. The Galak's rebelliousness would eventually play in our favor, towards the end of the war, but that will be further explained later on.
Prelude to the Harpy Peaks Campaign and The Barrenlands CrisisEdit
As stated before, many of the Sentinels had not heard world from Drishana Moonfeather in a prolonged amount of time, far more than average. Various Sentinel parties where sent off on the long journey to Fera'lan, though they would never be heard from again, as their untimely departures where only days before the Centaur had begun their own mobilization. Whether by pure coincidence, or if Khan San'jar possessed some divine favor, all the parties where intercepted and slaughtered by the marching Crimson Hordes. Once again, we were struck by surprise, this time by two simultaneous attacks.
In the Harpy Peaks the Kolkar Hordes began to flood into the Lower Greenwood Vale, chanting their barbaric mantras and conjuring up twisted elemental rituals. This large force was spearheaded by Khan San'jar himself, who wished to plunge into the Elven lands as quick and bloody as possible. The Lower Greenwood Vale would be where the first major engagement between the Sentinels and the Centaur would begin. This encounter was named the Battle of the Charred Vale, as the entire Lower Greenwood was engulfed in fire and ash as the battle subsided. I concluded there must have been a strong elemental force under the land in this area, as the Centaur's destructive fire magics where able to summon forth blazing elementals not seen before. After the battle, these primal forces subsided, hinting to some primordial volcano or fiery chasm located beneath the Vale which allowed these beasts to be born. The towering pillars of flame caused devastating collateral damage to the forests, and provided a great boon to the Centaur's military might, flame and cinder rang in the air. The Sentinels were forced to retreat on a crushing loss, as they suffered heavy casualties by the enemy alone, not even taking into account the many more who had been engulfed in flame. Afterwards, the land never healed, and even to this day the lush Lower Greenwoods forever remains the Charred Vale.
After this defeat, the Sentinels regrouped due northward and set up defenses in a valley between two large mountains. This served as an invaluable choke, an advantage that was gladly utilized by the overburdened Sentinel forces. The second engagement in the Harpy Peaks would happen much later, however the Crimson Hordes had already been one step ahead. Shortly after their assault on the Harpy Peaks, they had already prepared a second invasion force through the Thousand Spires and into the Barrenlands. This large force was lead by Khan Ushelk, leader of the Gelkis Clan. However, Khan Aveng of the Galak had accompanied this invasion force due to his clan's proximity in the Spires. He would no doubt play a much larger role than Ushelk in the long term stance of the war. It is remarkable to think of the vast effort of preparation the operation had took, to scale the steep cliffs of the Thousand Spires and enter the Barrenlands. Nonetheless, the Kolkar Hordes had easily forced the peaceful Quillboar peoples into their dens as they poured into the Barrens like water on a sinking ship.
The Sentinels had kept the least watch over these lands, for various reasons. Firstly, the hot and dry climate coupled with the rough terrain served as a natural barrier from most invaders. The Centaur's presence in the Thousand Spires was kept in check by the sheer difficulty of ever entering the Barrenlands through there, until their inter-clan warfare had ceased, of course. Goblin poachers from the eastern oceans would also serve to indirectly limit any growing threats from moving northward to the Ashenvale. Never had we calculated that thousands of Centaur would one day stampede across the plains in a direct assault towards Ashenvale. We Night Elves bear great guilt for letting such a thing happen, as our Tauren friends who made their home in the rough Barrenlands suffered greatly from this incursion, a loss they still have yet to recover from. As scouts began to report news of the oncoming Centaur army, a brief period of panic ensued over what was coined the Barrenlands Crisis. However, the stalwart and masterful sentinels of Ashenvale were always known for their cunning, and with the aid of the Ancients, the narrow passage to Ashenvale was made nearly inaccessible with toppled greatwoods and displaced boulders. Ashenvale had been made completely unenterable by the Centaur, unless they intended to scale the rough mountainside. The Centaur, however, would turn to be much more cunning than believed.
Assault at the Red CanyonEdit
Ashenvale was secure, or so we had foolishly believed.