Peril, it seems, brings together the strangest allies. It is often during the greatest struggles that some find themselves fighting alongside the most unusual, unexpected of individuals. In such situations, even the greatest of enemies may come to fight towards the same ends, whether or not they realize it. Such was the case with the battle at Ayn Tayan.

Thousands of years ago, the empire of the Yalain was on the verge of downfall. For centuries, they had fought against the Shadows under the command of Bael’Zharon, but it was a losing battle. Many of their lands had fallen under the sway of darkness during the long war, and countless Yalain had been slain or even transformed into Shadows themselves. Only one desperate plan stood between the Yalain and total annihilation: A crystal array crafted by the greatest mages in the empire would be used to draw in and trap Bael’Zharon, thereby robbing the Shadows of their leader and much of their power. However, carrying out this plan would take time.

It was at this point that the Dericost entered the picture. Though they had been enemies with the Yalain for ages, dating back to the Millennium War between their two nations, the remaining undead nobility of Dericost realized that their defeat by the Shadows would spell the end for all peoples of Auberean, living or unloving. Therefore, they decided to lend aid to their hated enemies and draw the wrath of Bael’Zharon until his prison could be prepared. And so, in the southern forests of Dereth, the Filinuvekta and Latzimestal, the “Winds from the Darkness” and “Lords of the World” factions of Dericost, as well as the formidable Sand Kings gathered to hold the line against the tide of darkness that was sweeping towards them.

When the two sides, finally met, the battle was intense. Undead clashed with Shadow as well as other undead who sided with the unholy army out of desire for power, fear of defeat, or a sense of fealty to the Hopeslayer who shared their Dericost ancestry. Throughout the struggle, events that would become the stuff of legend occurred at an almost common pace. In a tremendous display of power, the Sand King Anadil struck down one of Bael’Zharon’s Shadow Spires. Battling alongside the Shadows for the sake of little more than vengeance, the Haebran warrior Leikotha slew another Sand King, Nerash, in revenge for turning her into an undead. Even Geraine himself, the Dericost prince also known as His Eternal Splendor, involved himself in the battle, unleashing his fury against his former traitorous subjects.

At the hill of Ayn Tayan, the battle raged on and on, seemingly without end. Finally, after three days of struggle, the attention of the Shadows shifted. Bael’Zharon had sensed something new far to the northwest, something powerful, and he turned his forces away from their undead foes to seek it. The Dericost plan had worked, and the Yalaini mages had been given enough time to carry out their own plan. As we all know, the crystal array succeeded in its purpose, and Bael’Zharon was imprisoned, leaving the Shadows weak and easily defeated. However, that victory came at great cost to the Dericost. Their nation had already fallen in the Millennium War, and the struggle against the Shadows devastated what few forces that remained. Never again would the twice-dead empire of Dericost rise to anywhere near its previous glory, and to this day, members of the undying nobility grasp and claw at any scrap of their ancient power.

Though the events at the Jailne Lyceum and the crystal array were the direct cause of Yalaini victory over the shadows, it was at the battle of Ayn Tayan in which that victory was earned. One of the great enemies of the Yalain was defeated through the great sacrifice of another.

Fore more on Ayn Tayan, read Aerfalle’s Letter, or check out our Atlas entry and see the hill in person.

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