Demons, Devils, and Dragonsbane
Castle of Solace
The Castle of Solace was founded in 720, when the War of the Azure Plains ended.
The Story Behind the Castle:
The War of the Azure Plains began around 612 (in the Second Age) when humans living on the fringes of the newly-formed Kingdom of Farun feared the cruelty and wrath of Lord Ankarenth II. Lead by the first Paladins of the Justice Blade, a few human clans built basic (by current standards) ships and sailed northeast to present-day Azuria. In a bay in the mountains there, they founded their first settlement, calling it Azure City, as the city, and most of the land, had a blue tint to it from the water and bluegrass grown in the wild. The humans lived in peace, until they were discovered by the Elves who inhabited most of the Western side of the continent.
The Elves of the Elven Lands disdained outsiders, and they frequently sent messengers to warn the humans to stay off this continent, as it was destined to be ruled by the Elves. Unwilling to return to Farun, the humans defied the Elves and stayed. This began the War of the Azure Plains, in about 630.
The Elves, in the beginning, did not take the “human threat” seriously. They sent scouting parties to keep an eye on the humans, and they often sent raiding groups to subdue human settlements and hope to scare the humans away, minimizing the loss of blood and lives. The Justice Blade used these raids as propaganda against the Elves, claiming that the forces of Evil were driving them against their holy settlement. This period of raids continued for about 50 years, as the main Elven forces were trying to settle a Satyr-Centaur war that threatened the Elven Capitol of Gonolas.
By 680, Elven scouts were surveying much larger human settlements than anticipated – the “scare” tactics of the Elves failed. Despite their prior attempts to minimize casualties, Elven leaders feared human ambition, which they believed could lead to great evil, and sent large armies across the Azure Plains to drive the humans away. The Paladins responded in kind, using their cavaliers to maximum efficiency on the plains. For the first time, Clerics of Heironeous and Corellan fought in battle, summoning creatures and smiting each other. The Justice Blade sought to avoid such battles, but the war was too far in to stop. Back-and-forth battles between both sides became common over the 40 years between 680 and 720. Eventually, the humans resorted to using naval superiority to disrupt vital elven shipments. The elves responded in kind by making allies with Centaurs, Satyrs, and other creatures of the forest to ambush human scouts near wooded areas.
In the fall of 720, a Paladin by the name of Soon sought to end the war for good. He rallied his entire army at the Azurian Hills, and pushed down the River Shen into the Elven Lands. At the edge of the hills and the wood, the Elven general Liadon saw an opportunity to end the war as well. In a climactic fight, the Elves and their allies stepped from the woods to engage the full-force of humans. That night, the hills were stained by the blood of both elf and man. Eventually, after hours of fighting, the conflict boiled down to a handful of human paladins and a handful of elven clerics, with most other troops routing from the battle. Neither could justify slaying so many Good individuals – some paladins had even fallen during the battle, while some Elven clerics of Corellan lost their powers. Soon and Liadon met, and threw their weapons to the ground. From that point on, negotiations between the Elves and Humans began, and the war ended.
The Castle of Solace was founded as a result of the Elven-Human peace treaty that ended the War of the Azure Plains. The treaty:
- Recognized the humans as the independent Empire of Azuria
- Called for a peace and ceasefire between Azuria and the Elven Lands
- Called for the founding of a place of peace, which would serve as a ground for negotiations between Azuria and the Elven Lands.
The “place of peace” became the Castle of Solace. It was built by human and elven architects and engineers. It is called the Castle of “Solace” because it was built, in tearful memory, of the hundreds of dead humans and elves who were buried in the Azure Hills.
On another note, the Azure Hills became known as the Dead Hills after the war, in reference to the vast amount of corpses that can be found there.
Affects on Elven-Human relations and Magic:
- In 728, when the Elves, Humans, and Gnomes acquired Magic, the Castle of Solace became the second-most popular and renowned center for magical research and mystical prophecies.
- The Castle Regularly holds human and elven ambassadors, who discuss how to confront the large force of undead that (still) inhabits the Dead Hills.
- Since the Castle’s founding, there has never been another war between Azuria and the Elven Lands.