Battle of Gandara
The Battle of Gandara occurred at Gandara, the Moon Fortress in the Domain of Kourna in 1331 AE. It was fought between the army of the United Kingdom of Elona led by King Palawa Joko and an alliance comprised of Dragon's Watch led by the Pact Commander, the Istani Corsairs led by Captain Sayida the Sly, the Olmakhan charr led by Rox, the Order of the Sunspears led by Spearmarshal Zaeim, an army of Primeval ghosts led by Queens Dahlah and Nahlah, and a group of Central Tyrian volunteers led by Lord Faren and Tribune Rytlock Brimstone. The battle ended with the death of Joko and the purging of the third generation of Scarab Plague.
Following his release from the Domain of the Lost and learning of the Pact Commander's victory against the rogue god Balthazar in the Battle of Kodash Bazaar, Palawa Joko began holding a grudge towards the Commander who had humiliated him by not only leaving him behind in the Domain of the Lost but also using his army without his permission. Upon seizing an Inquest lab in Fahranur, the First City as well as an asuran gate hub located in Rata Primus in 1330 AE, Joko used the gates to send several Awakened raiding parties into Central Tyria to spread fear among the populace there and alert the Commander to his schemes.
After seizing samples of the Scarab Plague from Inquest vaults in Rata Primus in 1331 AE, Joko departed to his stronghold at Gandara, the Moon Fortress in the Domain of Kourna where he began incubating the scarabs before having a Pact supply ship infected with the first generation of Scarab Plague in an effort to unleash the plague on the Free City of Amnoon. When the attempt was thwarted by the Pact Commander and the dragon Aurene, Joko invited the Commander to meet him in battle at Gandara where the third and deadliest generation of Scarab Plague was incubating and would be unleashed on Central Tyria as Joko's revenge on the Commander's meddling in his kingdom.
Joko ordered his three Awakened marshals—Beastmarshal Oluwa Eranko, Troopmarshal Olori Ogun, and Wurmmarshal Osa Ekolo—to rally their forces to defend Gandara from the Commander's impending invasion, although only Eranko and Ogun reached the fortress in time as Ekolo's movement was impeded by the slow Junundu wurms from the north. Eranko had her cavalry patrol the region while Ogun organized the army to be stationed near Gandara to face the invaders head on.
In the Crystal Desert, the Commander and the asura Taimi sent word to several of their allies in Elona such as the Istani Corsairs led by Captain Sayida the Sly, the Olmakhan charr, the Order of the Sunspears led by Spearmarshal Zaeim, an army of Primeval ghosts led by Queens Dahlah and Nahlah, and a group of Central Tyrian volunteers led by Lord Faren to assault Gandara before Joko could release the Scarab Plague.
The Istani Corsairs assaulted Gandara from the sea, keeping Joko's plague ships from launching while an airship transported the landbound allies to the Tomb of the Primeval Kings where the allies entered a rift created by the ex-Inquest Blish to instantly reach Kournan heartlands, which allowed them to both bypass Joko's regional defenses and shave off travel time. The Commander's scouting of Zelbahn Garrison, eliminating the guards in its vicinity, and raising vine walls with the sylvari Canach's help allowed enough time for the rest of the reinforcements to come through the rift to fight off the remaining Awakened in the area and establish a base of operations at the captured garrison.
With Zelbahn Garrison secured, the allied forces strengthened their position and sent aid to sympathetic forces in the region in order to recruit more allies to their cause. The Corsairs suffered some losses when facing heavy seabound resistance from Gandara although they were able to reinforce the base of operations at Zelbahn by shooting supply packets there with cannons while the Primeval ghosts faced off against Joko's ghost eaters on the beach. The allied forces convinced the local Heket tribe of hylek to provide aid for the assault after the captured Heket had been freed from Awakened Inquest experimentation, and they successfully prevented a planned Scarab Plague outbreak at Palawa's Benevolence and won the villagers to the alliance's cause. Blish and Gorrik experimented on a modified scarab named Petey with the Pact Commander's help, mutating it into a roller beetle which was efficient in devouring scarabs and preventing pockets of first generation Scarab Plague from spreading.
A sudden spike in ley magic infected Troopmarshal Olori Ogun who became incoherent and aggressive as a result, forcing the Awakened army to operate without their commander who was eventually slain by allied bounty hunters. Beastmarshal Oluwa Eranko was recalled into Gandara prior the allied forces' main assault, likewise leaving the outer defenses at the hands of her lieutenants. On the allied side, Spearmarshal Zaeim was left in charge of the humans who would be relegated to support duty only to prevent them from being infected by the Scarab Plague, with the Sunspears scouting north to prevent Joko's army from attacking the allied forces' flank.
The allied advancement on Gandara stalled when they faced heavy resistance from the Awakened army at the main bridge which was guarded by well-defended towers. Lord Faren raided a nearby Awakened encampment to get high-grade explosives, and succeeded with help from the reinforcements led by Rox who extracted him from the battlefield. The stolen explosives allowed Canach to destroy the towers, granting the allies passage through the front line past the disoriented Awakened who were engaged by the Olmakhan and non-human Tyrian volunteers led by Rytlock Brimstone.
The allied forces were able to breach the main gate of Gandara, only to witness Kournan humans infected by the third generation Scarab Plague on the other side and ready to swarm outside. Before Joko's trap could be sprung, the Primeval ghosts led by Queens Dahlah and Nahlah entered the fray and held the plague with their ghostly army.
While the rest of the allies were busy fighting on the bridges of Gandara and in the surrounding countryside, the norn Braham and the Commander scouted ahead and found a sewer passage which led into the fortress. However, Joko had predicted their advance and put them through a gauntlet of several trap-filled rooms while also sending various Awakened, including Beastmarshal Oluwa Eranko, to face them in battle. The pair successfully navigated Joko's maze and defeated the Awakened until they reached the Contaminarium, the heart of Gandara where Joko had been incubating the scarabs, only for another trap to be sprung. Braham took the Commander's place in the trap, allowing the Commander to confront and duel Joko who was helped by Awakened guards as well as scarabs.
Although Joko was seemingly defeated in the duel when his Awakened became disoriented upon his fall, he soon sprang his last trap by paralyzing both the Commander and Braham in a mesmeric spell while preparing to finish them off. Before the lich king could do so, however, Aurene arrived and devoured him, ending his control over the Awakened who became confused and non-hostile as a result and allowing the allied forces to press on the attack.
Following Joko's demise and the raid on Gandara where the remaining plague labs were destroyed, the Awakened either fell or surrendered with the Sunspears overseeing the survivors for potential signs of aggression afterwards. The success in the Battle of Gandara spread throughout the United Kingdom of Elona and the Crystal Desert, leading to several factions such as the Free Awakened, Joko Loyalists, the Mordant Crescent, the Order of Shadows, and the Sunspears emerging in the power vacuum to decide Elona's future at a summit in the Fortress of Jahai.