The Red Hand of Doom

Angry face In the final years of The Last War, prior to the signing of the Treaty of Thronehold, the dry and dusty Graywall Mountains were home to dozens of goblinoid tribes. Although travelers between Droaam and Breland were forced to skirt these goblin-infested hills by a generous margin, in general the Graywall tribes, depleted by the battles of the The Last War, posed no significant threat to the nearby human towns and settlements other than the occasional bloody raid. Yet deep within the mountains lay hidden something that would spell doom – an ancient temple dedicated to The Blood of Vol. Built hundreds of years ago to serve as the hidden redoubt of a despicable cult worshiping Vol, the temple had been cleansed during the start of The Last War but then the complex was eventually forgotten. .. until the young half-dragon hobgoblin warrior Azarr Kul discovered the abandoned temple and was awed by the teachings of Vol he read on the walls therein. He abandoned the traditional deity of his people and dedicated himself to leading the rest of his nation to [[The Blood of Vol | Vol]’s worship.

Angry face Over the next twenty years, Azarr Kul grew into a powerful warlord and a mighty priest of Vol. Early in his rise to power he struck up an alliance with his sire, the blue dragon Tyrgarun. Aided by this powerful ally, Azarr Kul converted his entire tribe into fanatical worshipers of The Blood of Vol. He renamed the tribes that had fallen under his wing the Kulkor Zhul and began to lay his plans for conquest of Breland. Dedicating themselves to the Vol with the fanaticism of the recently converted, the members of the Kulkor Zhul grew strong, stronger than any Wyrmsmoke tribe before them. Adopting the standard of the Red Hand, an ancient symbol of the cult, Azarr Kul created an elite caste of warpriests, monks, and dragon-favored champions to lead the Kulkor Zhul. Eventually, Azarr Kul and his Blood-worshipping zealots destroyed the last opposition to his supremacy over the Graywall tribes, slaughtering the Black Knife Goblins and the tribes allied to them in a ferocious onslaught. The survivors accepted his sovereignty and were absorbed into his realm. Azarr Kul named his new “kingdom” in the Graywall Mountains, “The Land of the Blood.” After a long season of rebuilding his strength, offering bribes to many of the intelligent monsters in the region, and cementing the power of his Red Hand warpriests over the disparate tribes he ruled, Azarr Kul finally turned his attention to the lands beyond the Graywall Mountains. What he saw whetted his ambition for power; no city or state within hundreds of miles could field an army as strong as his. The High Wyrmlord dreamed of carving out a hobgoblin empire stretching from the plains of Droaam to the putrid swamps of Zilargo – and the first step was to crush Breland. The civilized folk of Breland, long used to avoiding the Graywall Mountains, were completely unaware of the host marching upon them. Kul’s generals sent well trained scouts ahead to silence any that might alert the country of their approach. But Breland was not without its own skilled warriors. A band of adventurers who had travelled to Woodhelm from Sharn in search of treasure was exploring ruins at the base of the Graywall Mountains, Vraath Keep. These adventurers, who would in time come to be known as the Diamond League, were alerted to the presence of the army by nothing more than sheer chance of happenstance. However, this simple bit of luck would in the end prove the savior of Breland and all its peoples. While the warnings of the Diamond League saved countless lives, no force in Breland could stop it the forces of Azarr Kul. While a few brave souls and bands of scattered soldiers managed to slow the army at a river or mountain pass, the host moved forward, bringing with it an inevitable doom. During this time, the Diamond League proved themselves valiant defenders of the people. They led raids on the Red Hand supply lines, garnered allies from neighboring elven and dwarven settlements, and ruined more than a few of Azarr Kul’s war plans. As time went on though, it was evident that not even the Diamond League could stop the advancing army. It spread through the eastern entry to Breland, right to the gates of Wroat. Members of the surrounding farm communities fled inside it’s walls for protection. Wroat was the first real obstacle the army had faced. They laid siege to the town and wore down its defenses relentlessly. Many died defending the walls of Wroat, and countless more died of starvation and plague from the crowded conditions within the city. Then, as if by a miracle, the army of Azzar Kul tore itself apart. For no reason the people of Wroat could immediately divine, the leaders of the army suddenly began fighting amongst themselves, vying for control of the host. The great army splintered, with large parts of its forces simply heading back to the Graywall Mountains. In response, the forces that had rallied to the defense of the Vale quickly shifted to the offensive. Disjointed and surrounded, the goblinoid tribes were pursued, isolated, and crushed. The host of the Red Hand was no more. Shortly thereafter, the Diamond League reappeared, prominently displaying the body of Azarr Kul. They had skirted around the main army and ventured all the way to the Fane of The Blood of Vol in the heart of the Graywall Mountains, and struck directly at Azzar Kul himself. With the charismatic leader of the Red Hand dead, the various factions and tribes that made up the Kulkor Zhul fought amongst themselves for supremacy and proved their own undoing. Stories of these brave heroes and their unlikely deeds spread like wildfire, spurring the good people of the Breland to further action. The military forces, as meager as they were, went on the hunt and killed thousands of the remaining goblinoids, crippling their numbers for a generation. Hunting down the more powerful members of Azzar Kul’s host themselves, the Diamond League defeated Tyrgarun the blue dragon, their third dragon kill in as many months. The threat was over, but the damage wreaked by the armies of the Red Hand was significant, and it would take a generation before life returned to normal. Even now, there are places in the Breland where the scars of war have not fully healed… outlying communities remain abandoned, dwarven outposts which once were manned by a few brave soldiers now lie in ruins, and the dangerous creatures that inhabit the Blackcaps are bolder than they once were. Some whisper that while the Red Hand was defeated, the scales have tipped in favor of darkness. And what of the Diamond League? They worked alongside their neighbors and friends, restoring what they could, until finally, there was nothing left for them to do in Breland. And they lived happily ever after… Today, the war of the Red Hand is little more than a story told by old timers to frighten schoolchildren, a fading museum with an elderly caretaker, and a local holiday occasioned by picnics and revelry. All is at peace. At least for now…

The Red Hand of Doom

Scales of Eberron Xuub