“He and his army come and go as they please in the valley, but they never get too greedy. He sends his troops on missions, and they keep to their task. Even the more stubborn beast-men know that they can’t just kill and plunder as the wish. If they did, the folk of the valley would finally join together and raise an army of their own. Even the greatest warlord in the land can’t afford to fight everybody.”
“Why don’t they raise the army anyway?” Sarah stepped carefully through the streets, avoiding sharp rocks that could cut into her bare feet. “These people can’t enjoy having an entire army tromping through their village at the drop of a hat.”
“What land do you come from?”
“And does everyone get along in this America of yours?”
“Of course!” Sarah immediately felt foolish for blurting out the poorly thought-out answer. “Well…not really. It’s complicated.”
“It’s complicated here, too. The valley hasn’t had a king in over fifty years. It’s mostly just tiny villages like this one. Each town has its own way of doing things, and none of them likes having someone else telling them what to do. When people can’t even agree on what side of bread to butter in the morning, how are they supposed to cooperate on something more important?”
Greystone Valley is no stranger to conflict, but it rarely has full-scale wars. Even the greediest of warlords tends to realize that the land is too small and isolated to make a true conquest worthwhile. That doesn’t mean that war never comes to Greystone Valley. History tells of the three great wars and the effects they have left upon the land.
The Creation War
The first great war of Greystone Valley is the stuff of legends. Only the oldest of the dragons and fey remember this conflict first-hand. Although the story seems to change with each telling, the core has remained the same. The Wizard who created Greystone Valley had a brother who shared different views on what should happen to the fairy tale creatures of other worlds. While the Wizard wanted to hide them away, his brother wanted to unite them and wage war against the rest of the world, leading dragons and monsters into battle and conquering all lands. Most of the creatures turned their back on this path of war, choosing instead to follow the Wizard into Greystone Valley. But while the valley was still young, the Wizard’s brother found them and attacked.
The battle was brutal and spilled over many different worlds. It left strange scars on these foreign lands and created catastrophe everywhere it went. Ultimately, the Wizard defeated his brother. Some say he killed his brother in battle, while others say he simply imprisoned him in an eternal cell somewhere deep beneath the mountains. Regardless, to prevent a similar situation, the Wizard cast powerful enchantments that sealed off Greystone Valley from the rest of the universe, making it all but impossible to enter the valley willingly or to escape at all. The Wizard then constructed Castle Greystone and went inside, leaving the rest of his new land behind.
Greystone Valley used to be a ruled by a monarchy, but the war known as the Dethroning ended that. When the corrupt King Borgus Rothgar took the throne, he quickly became known for his ruthlessness and corruption. A simple mix-up with magical ingredients caused him to fly into a rage and order the death of all magical beings within the valley. This would have resulting in hundreds being executed, and so the people took it into their hands to revolt and overthrow the corrupt king.
Unlike many other times in Greystone Valley’s history, the Dethroning was truly a people’s war, with no central hero to rally around. There were certainly captains and generals, but nobody stood out from the rest of the army in terms of deeds. Everybody in the valley was determined to win the war against the corrupt king, and everybody fought their hardest because of it. Because this war proved that the people of the valley could unite for a common good without needing to follow the orders of one central figure, Greystone Valley has been a land without a king or queen ever since.
The Emerald Rebellion
The most modern war in Greystone Valley’s history came when the mind-controlling dragon Darthon conquered the land. With his powerful magic and his impenetrable hide, he seemed invincible. It took the appearance of the legendary Emerald Enchantress to break Darthon’s rule. The rebellion first began as just the Enchantress and a handful of friends. As it gained momentum, others were able to break free of Darthon’s spells and join the fight. It finally ended when the Emerald Enchantress slew the dragon herself in single combat.
Because most of the valley was under Darthon’s spell for much of the war, the memories of the Emerald Rebellion are hazy at best even for those who lived through it. Even though it is the most recent large-scale war the valley has experienced, few people know exactly what happened. Perhaps one day the Emerald Enchantress herself will return to tell the tale as it is meant to be told…
Image: King Statue, by Bobby Mikul