Central Wilderness – The Ellainith (Encyclopaedia Chapter)

The fourth chapter of the Encyclopaedia describes shortly the County of Ellanaith and tells the tale of the Bridge of Boldness.

Chapter 4 – Central Wilderness – The Ellainith: The Bridge of Boldness and the City of Ell

South of the White City and north of the Court lays a wild, yet glorious area of the White Realm. It is known as the Central Wilderness, or more commonly “the Ellainith”.
The Ellainith is surrounded by the fast-streaming river Ellaine, which flows into the Lake of Loyalty, and continues through the lake – back to the River of Right. The Lake of Loyalty lays to the east. The Spider forest covers most of the Ellainith to the west, while the city of Loyalty – Ell lays in the east of this region. The south of Ellainith is a relative barren and harsh land of dust and rocks. The ruins of Berendor, an old city, are the only signs of any human settlements.
Several small bridges connect the Ellainith with the Northern Realm and the region of the White City, while a great and very old bridge and fortress is the way to cross the Ellaine to the south. The bridge is known as the Bridge of Boldness. The Bridge has a very interesting story:

As men from the White Realm tamed the eastern regions of the Spider Forest and managed to obtain a piece of land for settlement, they raised the Castle of Ell. Ell means loyalty in “Old speech” (language spoken in the White Realm before English became universal language). Around the castle of Ell, the city Ell emerged, and that city had a merry, happy and loyal population of true White Realmers.
Soon the Bridge of Boldness was built, and with it - a small rampart, which was meant to defend Ell from any enemy that should try to cross the river from the south. A whole little army inhabited the rampart, and was ready to close the gates of the rampart, and thus deny access to enemies that should try to cross through the Bridge of Boldness.

The Bridge and Rampart (both structures are connected, and both bridge and rampart are known under the name “the Bridge”) were built very quickly by the Ellains. As the final constructions were made, and the Bridge was shining with glory, Ellainith was attacked!
The Ellains (inhabitants of Ell) saw a giant horde of Undead minions rise from the ashes of Berendor (meaning “the Old city”). Berendor had been destroyed long before the settlement of the Lord in the White Realm, and was only known through a myth. The myth says that a terrible black Dragon had burnt the city and the inhabitants. The legend also tells that the terrible death of the citizens was like a curse, and the poor people were doomed to live a life in form of undead skeletons, underneath the destroyed city. No one, in the whole Realm, feared these undead, as only few believed the myth to be true. It was merely accepted as a campfire story. No black dragons have ever been seen in the Realm.

This night however, this giant army of Skeletons rose from the ruined city and marched towards the Bridge of Boldness. The skeletons were armed with old-fashioned and quite crude iron armour and weapons. There were no bows, nor spears, as the flames of the Dragon had burnt these to ash, while iron and steel was still at the undead soldiers’ disposal. Terrified, the Ellains quickly armed themselves and prepared at the rampart. They closed the rampart’s gates, and fired their arrows upon the undead army. Skeletons could not be harmed physically. Only magic could brake the curse of these living dead. Seeing this fact proved, the Ellains seized fire and were dumbstruck. How would they defeat this army, if swords and arrows couldn’t harm these foul undead warriors, which no one – in the whole White Realm had encountered before?
A messenger was sent to the White City, to ask for the council of the Knights and the Lord. Meanwhile, the Undead marched towards the gate and chopped a tree down. They would use it as a battering ram.

For several hours the Undead stood outside the Bridge and seemed to be waiting. The Ellains did not do anything either. They only observed the army of skeletons with fear. Why had this sudden attack occurred? Why were the skeletons not attacking, but merely besieging for now? All the men of Ell wondered about these things, but no one could answer.
The messenger returned from the White City, with the Lord himself as well as a company of mounted Guardsmen of the Counsil. As the Lord, with his escort, observed the horrifying army of living dead, he asked the Duke of Ell to remain calm. They would find a way to kill these foul beasts, even though no wizards inhabited the Realm at that time.
The undead, few minutes after the arrival of the Lord, started to batter the gate with the battering ram. The soldiers of Ell prepared for battle, although they knew it would be quite useless to fight these immortal warriors. The Lord shouted to the archers to ignite their arrows and attempt to set the battering ram on fire, thus denying the skeletons access to Ell.
The plan worked, and silent, the skeletons now decided to scale the walls of the Bridge. Surprisingly to the Ellains and the Lord, the skeletons were actually capable of climbing the walls, using their hands and feet, as were they spiders or Mountain Golbins.

As the skeletons quickly swarmed the wall, the people of Ell and the reinforcements from the White City tried to push the skeletons down, but it was rendered useless – the cursed living dead overwhelmed the defenders on the walls, and fierce melee combat began on the walls. While the White Realmers could not kill the attackers, they were capable of defending themselves – at least for a while. The Lord quickly understood that without magical powers, Ellainith was doomed.
After an hour of combat on the walls, the soldiers of the White Realm were crumbling, losing more and more men. The Lord ordered the soldiers to stand fast, seeing that many warriors tried to flee the losing battle. During the whole battle, he tried to think of a way to break the curse of these immortal skeletons and send them to their graves. Finally, the Lord remembered an old scroll, he and Branalbinn had found in the Unknown Realms of Discovery. The scroll said that if a warrior’s soul and heart was truly strong, then he would be given the gift of boldness. This boldness had to come from the soul of the warrior, and he must feel great courage. The Lord saw that this courage did not come to the crumbling men, but he knew, deep inside, that this boldness would be the key to victory. Therefore he shouted, while defending himself from another wave of skeletons:

“People of Ell! Listen to my voice! The skeletons must not take your land! They can not! For they have now lost their hearts, and in the hearts of people of the White Realm, there is something greater than magic and immortality. There is love, courage and strength. You think now, that this battle is lost; you may as well retreat, but no! Courage is not the absence of fear! True courage is wielded by a soldier, when he feels fear, but continues to fight for what he believes in! For what he loves! And you, my fellow warriors love, as me, the White Realm, loyalty and glory! And therefore, we shall fight tonight – with belief and love and boldness as our weapon, and not with swords. With boldness we shall smite these living dead – without magical, elemental powers – but with boldness! FOR THE WHITE REALM AND FOR ELL!”

This speech truly gave the men new hope. The Ellains on this wall now shouted with anger and with strength and stroke down the poorly equipped skeletons. The swords now cut through the bones of these ancient creatures, and as the swords devastated the skeleton bodies, the undead humans’ spirits were released from their terrible curse of the Dragon, and they were free. With this new weapon – boldness, the people of Ell quickly broke the siege of the Bridge, and before the night was over, the whole undead army of Berendor had been defeated, and freed!

Men died that night, but they died for what they believed in, and for their precious land, home and people. Since this battle, the bridge was blessed by this strength – by these bold men, it is known as the Bridge of Boldness.

(Additional note: a week after the battle, the Lord assembled a small army to explore the ancient city of Berendor and to investigate its destruction. No more living dead were in the catacombs of the city, but a message was there: “Thee, who read this, shall know, that thee has freed the people of Ancient and the big serpent’s curse!” Thus, a new adventured started!)

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