“As my summary in the introduction of this text has hopefully revealed, the current historiography of the oft-referenced Archolme Conflict focuses almost entirely on the politics and major events associated with it. While this base of information is by no means inaccurate or false, in my own studies I have come to conceive of the conflict less as a cold struggle between princes and kings, but rather as a passionate conflict born out of the machinations of several fell entities and the many and diverse heroes who fought against them. It is my intention in this text therefore to investigate the personal histories and motivations of the significant players of the Conflict. Many will be readily recognizable names, and are unquestioningly considered central figures in the Conflict, but I will also assert the history importance of a handful of individuals who are not typically associated with the conflict itself. Because of the biographical nature of this study, I will give as much early history for each individual as is needed to exemplify the nature of their persons and character, in addition to any information that is relevant to the Archolme Conflict. However, these biographies should by no means be considered complete works on that individual. For that, I suggest any of the exquisite works by other authors I have listed in my appendix of sources and related readings.
“I will commence this study then with an examination of the early life of Captain Seraph Delierre. Captain Delierre was a noble-born Eladrin from the secluded realm of Quellistei. This Eladrin city-state lay in a small and isolated vale high in the mountains, and although it existed primarily in the Feywild, its maintained a strong connection to the mortal realm and travel between the two was quite easy for those who knew the proper roads. As such, Quellistei maintained a strong trading relationship with several human settlements on the mortal side of the veil.
“Captain Delierre’s lineage goes back for millennia, and his ancestors helped found Quellistei in the early days of the Feywild, long before the splitting of the Fey race into the three branches now known as Elves, Drow, and Eladrin. His parents both sat on the Council of Elders of Quellistei, and it was expected that he would follow in their footsteps later in life. When Delierre came of age, he followed the tradition for males in his family and joined the ranks of the Argent Host, the military legion of Quellistei. As was the privilege for a recruit of his heritage, Delierre joined the Host as a junior officer. And although he was certainly a capable combatant and proficient tactician and officer, his rapid promotions likely had more to with his bloodline than from any military genius or un-paralleled combat prowess on his part.
“It is worth briefly noting that concurrent to Delierre’s rapid military ascent, his personal life also was progressing rapidly. Within two years of joining the host, Delierre became betrothed to the maiden, Eleane Ardenel, who was none other the niece of General Veceri Ardenel, Commander of the Ardent Host. By all accounts, the General was quite pleased that his niece was to marry one of the soldiers under his command. It seems likely that the General was also happy to know it was Delierre specifically who had pledged himself to Eleane, as evidence suggests that he had a direct hand in Delierre’s promotions. We can assume that this was done to gain favor with the young soldier’s family, but in truth, there has been no hard evidence backing up that assumption.
“There is evidence, however, that suggests Delierre himself was aware of the true reason behind his promotions, and it seems likely he was embarrassed of the fact that he was not acquiring ranks by his merit alone, and he did try to reverse the trend. After his promotion to the rank of Sergeant, Delierre filed an official request to have the promotion revoked. That request has been transcribed below:
‘To General Ardenel of the Argent Host,
First I would like to express my gratitude for this recent honor you have bestowed upon me. However, I feel that a fair number of equally talented individuals, many of whom have seniority over me by many seasons, have been overlooked in regards to this promotion. Although I would certainly be pleased to receive this honor in the future, for the time being I would be more comfortable remaining at my current rank within the Host, that I might continue to learn from the many talented warriors who are my current fellows and commanding officers. Thus, with all due respect for your decision, I humbly request my recent promotion to the rank of Sergeant in the Argent Host be repealed.’
We are not lucky enough to possess a transcript of the General’s response, if he even ever wrote one, but we do know that Delierre’s rank within the Host remained that of Sergeant.
“Interestingly, it was due to Delierre’s own convictions that he received his final promotion within the Host, to the rank of Captain. By this time, Delierre was well acquainted with General Ardenel on a personal level, an unsurprising fact, considering that Delierre’s wedding was approaching within a season. Accounts indicate that one evening, while Delierre and Eleane were visiting the General over dinner, the General received word that a large warband of Orc raiders were on a trajectory that would bring them close to the borders of Quellistei on the mortal plane. General sent word to follow standard protocol, which included closing all passages between Quellistei and the mortal plane that could be closed, and stationing regiments of troops at all other weak points between the planes. Later in the evening, Delierre announced his disapproval to the General that no aid was being sent to the human settlements outside the borders of Quellistei. These settlements had no significant fighting force of their own, and would surely fall to a rampaging Orc warband. He told the General that he would rather risk confrontation with the Orc threat himself than sit by while innocent people were murdered.
“Whether it was because he was impressed with Delierre’s selfless idealism, or doing a favor for his soon to be nephew-in-law, General Ardenel sent a petition to the Elder Council of Quellistei asking to ignore tradition and procedure, and send a regiment of the Argent Host to the mortal plane to meet the Orcs in combat to prevent them from reaching the human settlements. The petition barely passed, and it should be noted that both of Seraph Delierre’s parents opposed the action. Nowhere in the official petition did General Ardenel indicate that Delierre had any connection to the plan, nor was there any indication of what he would do next.
“As soon as General Ardenel received word that the petition had passed, he created a new regiment made up entirely of soldiers volunteering for the mission, entitling it the Phoenix Brigade. Delierre was one of the first to sign up for the assignment, but as soon as the new regiment was full, Ardenel promoted Delierre to Captain and placed the Phoenix Brigade under his command.
“Once again we have evidence from Delierre’s own hand that indicates he did not feel his promotion was not regular or appropriate. In a letter left for Eleane Ardenel on the eve of Delierre’s departure, he stated,
‘I do not know if it was wise for your uncle to have placed me in command of this expedition. Although I do bear some responsibility for the mere fact that this undertaking is happening, I still feel there are other officers who would have been better choices to place in command. Of course I will not shirk the responsibility placed upon my shoulders. I believe that this action is noble and just, and I am proud that so many of my fellow Eladrin have taken up this cause despite our deep tradition of isolation. For the first time in our history we might truly earn the title of ‘friend’ that we have long claimed with the humans across the veil. I just hope my own capabilities live up our honorable task.’
Correspondence between Eleane and several of her close friends indicates that she shared her fiancé’s conviction regarding the importance of aiding Quellestei’s human allies, however she did not share Delierre’s belief that he did not deserve his designation as Captain. In her letters she repeatedly stated she believed that although Delierre was not the most experienced officer in the Host, his convictions and honorable conduct would than make up for that fact. Furthermore, as many of Eleane’s friends also had family within the host, we are able to learn from her correspondence that many of the soldiers under Captain Delierre’s command held a great deal of respect for him, for those same reasons.
“Due to the tragic outcome of the expedition, the only account we have of the Phoenix Brigade’s excursion comes to us second hand from a hedge wizard who nursed Delierre back to health afterwards. Delierre rarely spoke of the excursion later in life, so we are lucky that this unnamed magician recorded what Delierre told him. The following excerpt is the magician’s transcription of Deleirre’s tale:
‘Once we crossed the veil, we began hearing rumors from the local people that the Orc warband was much more dangerous than we had initially believed. Rumors circulated that these Orcs were moving under the direction of some fell power. Three days travel beyond Quellistei we encountered a small, advance raiding party and were able to confirm that there was indeed some Abyssal force at hand. The Orc shaman leading the raiding party uttered an Abyssal incantation that sent his already bloodthirsty warriors into a demonic frenzy far more savage than even Orcs are capable of. The Brigade easily defeated these beasts, as we vastly outnumbered that small group. However, I knew that if the entire orc force fought in the same manner as this raiding party, the Pheonix Brigade alone would be hard pressed to overcome their numbers and ferocity. As such, I dispatched runners to the three human communities within a day’s travel of our location with instructions to lead as many people as would follow back to the borders of Quellistei. The runners were instructed to use any means necessary to convince the regiments stationed at the border to allow the refugees across the veil until the Orc threat had passed. I then rallied the many brave soldiers under my command and marched to a defensible hill in the path of the Orc warband. We had half a day to prepare our defenses before the Orcs attacked. They attacked two hours after dark, and so we were already at a disadvantage, as these beasts were clearly well practiced at fighting at night, and their night vision, perhaps demonically enhanced, far surpassed our own. Regardless, we held our position through the first wave of attackers. Unfortunately, when the Orcs resumed their attack, their leader revealed himself, and with him, the source of their demonic taint. He was an immense Orc, wielding an equally large battleaxe that burned with dripping Abyssal flames. We could feel the corrupting presence emanating from the weapon, and it was clear that some extraplanar entity was influencing and encouraging the rampage of these Orcs. As our defenses began crumbling, I knew that our only chance of victory lay in killing the leader. I lead a charge into the midst of the most ferocious of the Orcs. I became surrounded by the howling murderous creatures, and was already grievously injured when I found myself face to face with their leader. I stood no chance fighting the monster on my own, and barely survived as his first strike crushed my shield arm. I was separated from my companions, but I desperately shouted a command for any who heard to target the bestial leader in front of me. The last thing I remember before being struck down by the monstrous Orc was the flash of an Eladrin javelin piercing his thigh. When I came to, hours later, for it was light out again, I found the body of the Orc nearby, with innumerable wounds from Eladrin weapons, although his fell axe was nowhere to be found. I wandered the battlefield for hours afterwards, but found no other survivors. By all appearances, the entire Phoenix Brigade was slain that night, despite succeeding at killing the Orc leader. You found me a few days later, wandering and barely conscious. I don’t know what I’m going to do now, but I know I cannot return to Quellisti. The Eladrin who followed me here deserved better deaths than the slaughter that occurred, and I cannot face Eleane or the General with the blood of my former companions on my hands. I have failed the brave soldiers of the Phoenix Brigade, and as such have failed all the people of Quellistei. I have no intention of returning there in dishonor as the lone survivor of my regiment.’
I would like to note that despite Captain Delierre’s harsh appraisal of himself, he did in fact save many lives that day by insuring the nearby human communities could escape to the Feywild, at least temporarily. Furthermore, the axe that Delierre references in his account was Arathgor’s Crescent, an artifact infused with the essence of a demon prince who once led a demonic incursion into the mortal plane. As soon as it’s former wielder had fallen, the axe would have begun seeking a new bearer, and its power would have influenced every creature in the area, Orc and Eladrin alike, into a fight to the death for the right to wield it, which explains why neither side retreated after both their leaders had fallen.”
This excerpt was taken from the text Dramatis Personae: a Biographical Study of the Archolme Conflict, which was written some seventy-five years after the event by the scholar and sage Cornelius Richter.