Human-charr conflict

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Humans and charr clashing.
Concept art by Kekai Kotaki.

The human-charr conflict is an ancient war between humans of Ascalon and the charr High Legions that dates back to before the Exodus of the Gods, to when humans first encountered the charr in 100 BE. Humans refer to this millennia-long war as the War of Ascalon Independence, while charr call it the Ascalon Insurrection.

History[edit]

The Conquest of Ascalon[edit]

In the decades prior to humanity's arrival on Central Tyria, the charr were a savage race full of rage and a primal drive to dominate and control. Full of infighting and only surviving by evolving into a strict hierarchical society, the charr's independent warbands were eventually unified underneath a singular leader, the Khan-Ur.[1] United for the first time, the charr began to spread their rule north of their original homelands, then westward towards the Shiverpeak Mountains and southward towards where the Shiverpeaks and Blazeridge Mountains meet. They displaced, subjugated, or destroyed all who they came across, including the grawl and dwarves.[2][3] The only threat to hold the charr's forces at bay were the Forgotten, but they were eventually drawn back by other duties.[1] Though the charr would claim otherwise, their dominion never stretched into the Shiverpeak Mountains.

In 205 BE, humanity arrived on the continent of Tyria. Looking to expand their territory beyond Orr and Kourna, humanity spread towards the charr's lands. During their assault, the Khan-Ur was assassinated. The true culprit of the assassin remains lost to history, some blaming the humans and their gods, other blaming infighting among the charr. Regardless, the death of the Khan-Ur is what gave humanity the upper edge against the charr. The Khan-Ur's children, the first imperators of the High Legions - Blood, Iron, Flame, and Ash - squabbled among each other in the power void, each seeking to become the new Khan-Ur.[1] With no legion capable of proving superior to the others, instead, the charr were pushed further and further north, and by 100 BE, humanity had officially established Ascalon as a nation of their own.[4]

Over time, the charr began to reunite and become a threat to humanity once again. To keep Ascalon safe, the kings of Ascalon began building The Great Northern Wall running from the western Shiverpeaks to the eastern Blazeridge Mountains. It took nine hundred years to complete, being completed in 898 AE.[5] Using the wall to their advantage, the humans pushed charr even further north, at least as far north as Duke Gaban's estate.[4]

Rise of the shaman caste[edit]

While humanity began to spread under the influence of the Great Northern Wall, the charr regrouped and began to seek out means to counter the humans' power. Many charr blamed the Six Human Gods for their defeat, and believed that to fight humanity on equal terms, they needed gods of their own.[1][6] Around 870 AE, the Burnt Warband of the Flame Legion had discovered beings to serve as such gods. In the caldera of the volcano Hrangmer, they came across demonic entities known as titans. Though in truth, the titans were mere servants of the fallen god Abaddon, the charr were unaware of this, and the shaman caste gladly accepted these newfound gods.

Not all charr would kneel to the shamans' new gods, however. A leader among the Blood Legion, Bathea Havocbringer, saw that the Flame Legion were using these gods to garner their own superiority among the charr. Proclaiming "I will bow before no one and nothing, be it mortal or god," Bathea created an underground movement to fight the shaman caste's growing strength.[7] The shamans captured Bathea and made her a blood sacrifice to their new gods, and killed others who supported her thinking. To ensure such insurrection would not occur again, they banned all females from fighting, proclaiming them lesser than males.[6]

Under the titans' guidance, the charr was given the Cauldron of Cataclysm, a powerful magical artifact imbued with mythical magic of ancient entities fallen into sleep and quiescence.[1] The shamans studied the Cauldron, eventually unlocking its secrets and enchanting other cauldrons with similar but weaker power.[4][8]

The charr invasion[edit]

Gwwlogo.png The Guild Wars Wiki has an article on Charr invasion.

While the charr were gathering under the leadership of the shaman caste and the Flame Legion, the humans of Ascalon became distracted, their attention drawn away from the charr by The Guild Wars. Sparked by guilds vying for control over the Bloodstones, territory, and political influence, the nations of Ascalon and Kryta were forced to send in their military to stop the fighting, but only succeeded in escalating things further. In 1013 AE, the Third Guild War began.[9][5] The Third Guild War was the bloodiest of the three, with the nation of Orr forced into the conflict for the first time. The human nations were so focused on each other, that none of them were prepared for the growing might of the charr.

The charr marched south quickly, preventing word from the human-held lands in the north from reaching the Northern Wall.[10] Using guile and deception, the charr gathered information on Ascalonians from intimidated soldiers and by utilizing the extensive catacombs system that stretched across the nation,[11][12] laying ambushes in Diessa Lowlands,[13] and conquering Drascir, the capital city of Ascalon and sister city of Rin.[14] King Adelbern, the ruler at the time and a hero of the Third Guild War, was forced to relocate his capital from Drascir to Rin, but maintained a station at Ascalon City, which had long been the central commercial hub of Ascalon. After a time, it had seemed as if the charr assault had begun to wane, several soldiers believing the charr forces were defeated even.[15] But this was just a ruse made by the charr.

The charr brought south with them the Cauldron of Cataclysm, and while Vatlaaw Doomtooth distracted the Ascalonian forces by inciting grawl hostilities, and charr forces battered against the wall, Bonfaaz Burntfur of the Flame Legion's leadership performed a powerful ritual through the cauldrons, calling forth giant, burning crystals from the sky in an event known as The Searing.[4][16][5]

With the Great Northern Wall's destruction, the charr pushed their advantage in what would become known by humans as the charr invasion that brought an end to the Third Guild War. The main forces of the charr assaulted Ascalon in full force, capturing prisoners, destroying cities, and taking spoils of war back north. Fueled by their false gods, the Flame Legion's shaman caste wanted more than just a reconquest of Ascalon now, and set sights on all human nations of Central Tyria.[17] Warbands led by Rox Ashreign marched through the norn territories of the Far Shiverpeaks and made their way onto Kryta.[18][19] Their arrival caught Krytans off-guard, and nation's king, King Jadon, fled the throne.[20][21] These forces were met with an ill fate, as the White Mantle, led by Saul D'Alessio gathered Krytan's forces and made a stealth mission to kill the charr leadership. They were successful, but the charr forces were alerted to their presence. Fearing the end, the group prayed once more to their Unseen Ones gods, who answered. With the might of three mursaat backing them, the group had successfully defeated the charr forces. However, Saul's salvation came at a price: the lives of all White Mantle who witnessed the true forms of the mursaat and were not fully devoted to the Unseen Ones. Devasted, Saul fell into despair, and was taken prisoner by the mursaat in hopes to turn him into a puppet once more, though the Krytan people were left believing Saul had died in the mission.[19][22][5]

Lastly, another force marched through the devastated nation of Ascalon and southward towards Orr. Armed with cauldrons ready to perform another searing, the charr slaughtered the Orrian forces, despite the humans being well-warned and prepared. The Orrians had used their nation's location further south to their advantage, preparing for the oncoming charr. Hoping that the charr would be tired from their trek and fighting the other netions, the Orrian's hopes were quickly dashed. The charr marched across the northern shores of Orr, reaching the Gates of Arah in less than twelve hours.[5] With the nation in panic, Vizier Khilbron announced to all that he had a plan to drive out the charr before they could dirty the City of the Gods.[23][24] Historians later would believe that Khilbrons actions were out of panic,[25][9] but in truth Khilbron had full knowledge of what he was about to do.[26] Having been turned to the worship of Abaddon by the demon Razakel,[27] Khilbron obtained the Lost Scrolls which contained powerful magic from before the Exodus of the Gods. Casting the spell from the Lost Scrolls, Orr erupted in bright blue light and sunk beneath the waves in an event called The Cataclysm. The devastation of the Cataclysm shook the nearby seas, leading to the Bay of Sirens and Gulf of Jerick being merged and renamed to the Sea of Sorrows.

With their devastating losses at Kryta and Orr, the charr armies had lost their traction, and were forced back north of the Northern Wall once again.[25]

The Foefire and fall of Ascalon[edit]

Charr legions assault Ascalon City.
Concept art by Ruan Jia.

Back in Ascalon City, the Flame Legion prepared for a final assault on the place's walls. The imperator of the Flame Legion somehow got his hands on the Claw of the Khan-Ur, a powerful weapon which would allow one to unite the legions under a single banner. However, the other legions had to be convinced that the wielder of the Claw earned the title of Khan-Ur. The Flame imperator believed that conquering Ascalon and beheading King Adelbern with the Claw would allow him to cement his claim.

The legions, led by the shamans of the Flame Legion, assaulted the walls of Ascalon City with their forces, their tamed siege devourers, and their magical cauldrons. The charr armies overran the defenders and surmounted the walls. Adelbern fought until the last, armed with his great magical sword, Magdaer. Magdaer was an ancient artifact from Arah, the City of the Gods, and infused with power. It is said that Magdaer's twin, Sohothin, was in the hands of his son, Rurik, when he died. In any event, Adelbern single-handedly brought down wave upon wave of charr warbands, making his last great stand on the battlements of his own tower.

The Flame Legion and charr surrounded Ascalon City for a final assault and managed to breach the city's defenses. King Adelbern's soldiers, seeing how the charr had the upper-hand, wanted to retreat, but the mad Sorcerer-King refused. He shouted "We will never surrender! Never!" and plunged his sword Magdaer into the stones beneath him. A mystic light appeared where the sword had struck and eventually burst, spreading all throughout Ascalon in an event that became known as the Foefire.

The buildings, farms, and land were unharmed but every charr within its reach was destroyed. The humans, however, suffered a different fate. Their souls were peeled loose from their shredded bodies and they survived eternally as guardian ghosts that began jealously protecting the land. With the assistance of his cursed magic, King Adelbern managed to stop the charr for a time but doomed himself and his people for eternity. Since that day the ruins of Ascalon City became a dangerous area for any living being to traverse, and the Claw of the Khan-Ur was lost within the ruins for centuries.

Despite facing the endless wrath of the rejuvenating Ascalonian ghosts led by Adelbern, the charr legions eventually conquered Ascalon before succumbing to a civil war between the Flame Legion and the Ash, Blood and Iron Legions, which resulted in the three united High Legions casting out the Flame Legion and the shaman caste after the decisive battle on the Plains of Golghein. The Iron Legion took over Ascalon, building the Black Citadel atop the ruins of Rin while allowing Ash and Blood Legion members to operate in the region.

While fighting against the ever-present threat of Adelbern's ghost army and the surviving remnants of the Flame Legion, the High Legions also focused their efforts on besieging the Stronghold of Ebonhawke which was the last bastion of humanity left in Ascalon. However, despite centuries of siege the Legions were unable to breach Ebonhawke's walls as they no longer held the power of the searing cauldrons.

Towards a ceasefire[edit]

In 1320 AE, the charr prisoners and humans of Ebonhawke had to join forces against a bigger threat when the Elder Dragon Kralkatorrik rose and Branded many Ascalonian ogres and charr warbands who then assaulted Ebonhawke in the Ogre Revolt while the Elder Dragon itself flew south past the stronghold. After the Branded had been lured away from Ebonhawke, the threat which the Elder Dragons posed to all of Tyria made Ash Imperator Malice Swordshadow and Queen Jennah realize the futility of the war between charr and humans. The respective leaders began working towards achieving a ceasefire in order to focus their forces and supplies elsewhere.

By the time Iron Imperator Smodur the Unflinching and Vigil General Almorra Soulkeeper got involved, these efforts towards a détente led to the retrieval of the Claw of the Khan-Ur from the ruins of Ascalon City as a peace offering from humans to charr in 1324 AE, and the subsequent signing of an indefinite ceasefire known as the Ebonhawke Treaty which ended the centuries-long conflict in Ascalon. However, some dissidents remained on both sides and formed rebel groups to continue fighting. The suggested terms of the treaty itself received criticism even among supporters of the ceasefire, leading to lengthy, ongoing negotiations at Summit Peak.

See also[edit]

Books

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e The Ecology of the Charr
  2. ^ Planet of the Grawl
  3. ^ Kathandrax's Crusher
  4. ^ a b c d Chapter 10, pages 124-127, Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb:
    "As General Soulkeeper said, the charr were here on Tyria first and ran wild over the entire continent. When the humans arrived, they were the first serious challenge to charr supremacy in centuries. But if it hadn't been for the death of the Khan-Ur, humanity might not have survived those ancient days. The Khan-Ur's children, who were also his four imperators—leaders of their own personal legions—fell to squabbling over his mantle, each accusing the other of treachery. They set their legions against each other. Blood, Iron, Flame, and Ash. None of them were strong enough to defeat the other three, though, and in the course of the war, the Claw of the Khan-Ur was lost. Yet, their internal dissension gave humanity some breathing room to develop, and with that time they conquered Ascalon."
    "Several generations later, when the charr got their act together, we fought to keep them out of what we now considered to be our land. To that end, the kings of Ascalon began building a massive wall that ran west from the Shiverpeaks all the way to the Blazeridge Mountains on the Eastern Frontier. It took nine hundred years to complete, but it kept the charr north of it, where they belonged. Indeed, backed by the strength of the wall, we pushed them even further north, so that for most Ascalonians the charr were a distant but always present threat."
    "The Northern Wall stood unbreached for nearly two hundred years, but way back in 1070, the charr discovered a great magic, based on mighty cauldrons filled with mystic energy. The charr shamans, in particular those that commanded the Flame Legion, unlocked the secrets of the cauldrons and brought about the Searing. Great burning crystals fell from the sky and scourged the lands around them, breaking the Great Northern Wall."
    "The charr flowed through the wall in an unstoppable wave that washed all the way through Ascalon until it crashed on the shores of Orr. In Orr, its most powerful vizier cast a forbidden spell of his own that stopped the charr cold, but only at the sacrifice of his entire nation, sinking Orr beneath the sea. But that, as they say, is another story."
    "The Searing forced King Adelbern to move his capital from Rin to Ascalon City, the only major city in his nation that still stood. There, he felt, he would make his last stand against the charr invasion."
    "The king's sole heir, Prince Rurik, disagreed with him and led a large portion of his people over the Shiverpeaks to safety in Kryta rather than wait for their doom with their king. Prince Rurik, by the way, never made it to Kryta with his followers: he gave his own life so that they might find their freedom. It is said that Prince Rurik's death hurt King Adelbern worse than the fall of Rin itself."
    "Back in Ascalon City, the Flame Legion prepared for a final assault on the place's walls. The imperator of the Flame Legion somehow got his hands on the Claw."
    "So this Flame Legion imperator was really the last Khan-Ur?" asked Killeen.
    Dougal clicked his tongue at that. "Not quite. The Claw is a powerful weapon, legends say, a force that would allow one to unite the legions under a single banner. But you still have to convince the other legions and earn the title of Khan-Ur to seal the deal, as it were. The Flame imperator decided that conquering Ascalon City and beheading King Adelbern with the Claw would allow him to cement his claim, so that's what he set out to do."
    "The legions, led by the shamans of the Flame Legion, assaulted the walls of Ascalon City with their forces, their tamed siege devourers, and their magical cauldrons. The charr armies overran the defenders and surmounted the walls. Adelbern fought until the last, armed with his great magical sword, Magdaer. Magdaer was an ancient artifact from ancient Arah, the City of the Gods, and infused with power. It is said that Magdaer's twin, Sohothin, was in the hands of his son, Rurik, when he died. In any event, Adelbern single-handedly brought down wave upon wave of charr warbands, making his last great stand on the battlements of his own tower."
    "At last King Adelbern faced the Flame Legion imperator, the leader of the charr forces, who himself bore the Claw of the Khan-Ur. When the two weapons met, the energies within both exploded in a great jet of power that was seen from the Shiverpeaks themselves."
    "The Foefire," said Killeen.
    [...]
    "The Foefire destroyed every charr within Ascalon City, and for leagues around as well. The buildings, the farms, and the land were unharmed, but ever charr within its reach was destroyed. The humans, however, suffered a different fate. Their souls were peeled loose from their shredded bodies, and they survive eternally as guardian ghosts to jealously protect the land. Adelbern, whom we call the Sorcerer-King, damned his people to destroy the charr. Adelbern did with cursed magic what his army had not been able to manage in years, and he cheated the charr of our triumph."
  5. ^ a b c d e Guild Wars Prophecies manual, Guildwars.com
  6. ^ a b Chapter 10, pages 132-134, Ghosts of Ascalon by Matt Forbeck and Jeff Grubb:
    "Kalla Scorchrazor," said Dougal. "Even the humans in Ebonhawke know about her. One of the mos famous charr since the time of the Searing. Back in the day when the shamans of the Flame Legion commanded the charr armies, female charr didn't have much status among their people. They never went to war and were relegated to subordinate positions. Many of them served in chains. Scorchrazor changed all that. She destroyed the charr shamans and nearly took down an entire legion of them."
    "How typically human," Ember said, "blathering on about things you know very little about. Your race has just enough knowledge to be dangerous."
    "All right," Dougal said, his own curiosity rising. "Enlighten us."
    [...]
    "Before humans came to Tyria, we had no gods. We knew about creatures with power we could barely comprehend, but we thought of them as foes to be defeated, not gods to be placated. When we suffered our first defeats at the hairless hands of humans, though many charr blamed this on the fact that they could plead to their gods for help while we fought alone, relying only on ourselves."
    "A warband from the Flame Legion came to the rest of the charr one day and announced that they had found gods for us to worship. These were creatures later called titans, but they were powerful enough that such labels mattered little. The shamans who led their worship used braziers of fire as icons of their newfound gods. The other legions hesitated to follow their lead,but the Flame Legion had so much success at converting others—often by force—that many assumed they must have gods on their side. It was the titans that gave us the cauldrons that allowed us to breach the Great Northern Wall."
    "One famous charr stood against them: Bathea Havocbringer of the Blood Legion. She sniffed out the foul plans of the Flame Legion and their new shamans, who direct the worship of their gods in ways that brought themselves power and profit. She said, 'I will bow before no one and nothing, be it mortal or god,' and she persuaded many other charr to follow her lead."
    "Because of this, the shamans gathered in the night to plot against her. They captured her and made a blood sacrifice of her to their new gods. They declared her a traitor and accused her of using her sexuality to tempt the males from the true path of the gods. To prevent any more such treachery, they marked all females with the same brand of deceit and banned them from serving in the legions, where they would mix with the males."
    "Many females objected to this, as did some males. Several shared Havocbringer's fate, and eventually the others saw no choice but to submit themselves to their new gods' will. We lived like this for centuries, long enough that most of us could not remember there ever having been another way."
  7. ^ The Tribune's Call:
    <Player character>: Do you know why the Flame Legion hates females?
    Sicaea the Shrouded: It all started with a female named Bathea Havocbringer. When the Flame Legion started worshipping the titans as gods, she refused.
    <Player character>: The shamans didn't like that, I'll bet.
    Sicaea the Shrouded: They hated it worse when Bathea started an underground movement to slaughter the shamans. The only way to stop her was to keep women from fighting at all.
  8. ^ Blast from the Past:
    Researcher Fero: Well, braid my ears! Those ancient Flame Legion poobahs may've been evil, oppressive oiks, but they knew how to enchant a weapon.
  9. ^ a b Orrian History Scrolls
  10. ^ The Flight North
  11. ^ The Assassin's Revenge
  12. ^ Charr in the Catacombs
  13. ^ Ascalonian Townsfolk:
    Ascalonian Townsfolk: My son would have been about your age. He was killed in a Charr ambush in Diessa.
  14. ^ The Human Rise of Rin, Part 1
  15. ^ Ascalon Guard:
    Ascalon Guard: Not much for a soldier to do now that the Charr have been taken care of.
  16. ^ The Searing (cinematic)
  17. ^ A Flickering Flame:
    Scorch Emberspire: Through our gods our people found a purpose, one that bound us together and drove us onto a path of conquest.
    Scorch Emberspire: Following signs from the gods, we cut a swath of destruction into the lands of men. Victory was our birthright. Fire and steel became the hands with which we would grasp it.
    Scorch Emberspire: Always toward Arah, where the gods once lived. All that awaited us there was death. What sort of god would lead its people to destruction?
  18. ^ The Movement of the World
  19. ^ a b The Rise of the White Mantle
  20. ^ History of the Shining Blade
  21. ^ Extinguished: The Rise and Fall of the Flame Legion, Vol. 2
  22. ^ Bastion of the Penitent
  23. ^ Faded Memory:
    Wandering Soul: I remember the Charr! I wish I didn't! Why did those wretched creatures attack my homeland?
    Wandering Soul: The Vizier of Orr had a plan. A magic that would kill the Charr...
    Wandering Soul: No wait! We discovered that the Vizier had been corrupted by the God of Secrets! We found the forbidden books in his quarters! It's coming back to me now.
    Wandering Soul: The Vizier was a traitor! Too late, Orr was lost to Abaddon! Pain, suffering... why must the memories sear me like it was only yesterday?
  24. ^ Cathedral of Silence:
    Keeper of the Shrine: The charr are at the doorstep of Orr. They plan to sear our nation as they did Ascalon.
    Keeper of the Shrine: Vizier Khilbron says he can defeat them, but we must prepare for the worst.
  25. ^ a b Extinguished: The Rise and Fall of the Flame Legion, Vol. 3
  26. ^ Message from Vizier Khilbron
  27. ^ Blueprint of the Fall