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The Hunter's Blades Trilogy: A History of Many Arrows

By Thomas M. Costa
The Rise of the Citadel of Many Arrows
A former dwarven citadel of ancient Delzoun -whose Underdark realm fell in -100 DR -Felbarr was among the first remaining surface
citadels of Delzoun abandoned by the dwarves
due to dwindling mine activity. Beginning in 273
DR, the first migration of Felbarr dwarves left for
Myth Drannor and parts beyond. By the mid1000s DR, the dwarves had left, and the citadel
was quickly claimed and garrisoned by 3,000
troops out of Silverymoon with the blessings of
the dwarves. The folk of Silverymoon hoped to
use it as a base for exploration of the Coldwood
and the needle-sharp Ice Mountains north and east of the Dead Orc Pas. There they hoped to find giant
trees for use in shipbuilding, new sources of gold, and the increasingly scarce silver.
Unfortunately, the mountain orcs of the Ice Mountains had other ideas. The humans were under attack from
their first day in the Citadel. Some fifty years later in 1104 DR, an orc horde came down from Dead Orc Pass
in such numbers that it simply overwhelmed the defenders. Heedless of losses on both sides, the Battle of
Many Arrows lasted for more than four months. It ended with the fall of Citadel Felbarr and outright slaughter
of the remaining garrisons. Some 40,000 orcs crammed into the fortified city, renamed the Citadel of Many
Arrows, which now stood as an example of how orcs could conquer the weaker folk of the south.
One survivor, a wizard who fled by teleport, said the orcs simply "hurled themselves at the walls. We slew
them with arrows. . . . The sky rained arrows, with orcs packed so close together that no shaft could miss.
But the time came when all our arrows and spells were gone. By then, there were so many dead orcs that
the living ones just piled them up against our walls in a heap. It was so high that they could climb it like a
mountain and walk in over our battlements. The end wasn't long in coming, then."
Since that day of slaughter, known as the Battle of Many Arrows, orcs have ruled the city. After much
bloodletting, Obould, an enormous, bald-headed orc said to be as tall as any two orc warriors (perhaps due
to some giantish blood), proclaimed himself King Obould I of the Many-Arrows. The first of his line, Obould
still pledged allegiance to the orc kings of the Ice Mountains that had supported him. Obould held his throne
largely because he seemed immune to any poisons his rivals could get hold of and also because he
shrewdly entered alliances with evil human mages and mind flayers of the Underdark. However, the king
was careful to devoutly obey the demands of his shamans so he couldn't be accused of turning from the
gods to embrace the magic of outsiders.
For the next 250 years, a long line of orc monarchs ruled the Citadel, pillaging their neighbors and providing
a relative safe haven for the orc kin of the Savage Frontier. In turn each king paid some sort of tribute to the
orc kings of the Ice Mountains. However, as the Citadel stabilized and became a power in its own right, such
fealty became little more than an exchange of gifts and kept promises of continued trade relations.
The Fall of the Citadel of Many Arrows
The current Obould Many-Arrows is descended from the first orc to hold that name and seize the Citadel of
Many Arrows. From a young age, the adepts of the Citadel noted Obould was fated for a great destiny
among his people. Smarter and more intuitive than most of his kind, he completed quests for his father (and
king) and for his tribe's clerics before slaying his father and taking control of his tribe. He faced challengers
without suffering injuries amounting to more than some attractive scarring. Skilled in the arts of war and
capable of fierce rages, Obould became a fearsome opponent in battle. Obould now has four wives (and at
least one mistress, the assassin Numath the Serpent) and eight sons, including his heir Urlgen Threefist, the

ambitious Scrauth, the cleric Brymoel, and the ferocious Ugreth. He expects the time will come soon enough
when he must fight his upstart children to defend his throne, and he is ready for it.
For years Obould ruled the Citadel and planned the expansion of his holdings. However, in the waning
summer months of 1367 DR, an immense orc horde descended from the Spine of the World, intent on
winding its way south into the trade lands of the North. This force of orcs, led by King Greneire, surged its
way south between the Moonwood and the Cold Wood, stopping just outside the Citadel of Many Arrows.
Obould was terrified at the prospect of another orc horde, despite the fact he knew they should be working
together against the humans of the North and the spawn of Hellgate Keep.
Obould's tribal shamans, however, had been predicting a treacherous fall of the Citadel -- and they'd told the
king he'd be deposed by other orcs. Thus, it was a dark day when King Greneire and his horde of 150,000
orcs appeared on the plains outside the Citadel of Many Arrows. King Obould announced to his followers
that this horde had been sent to dislodge them from their home and send them out to be scavengers among
the plains. He vowed that, with Gruumsh as his witness, the Citadel of Many Arrows would slaughter these
treacherous orcs "like elves during a festival."
In an echo of the battle some three hundred years earlier, the 40,000 orcs within the citadel held their
ground for four months. Assault after assault was mounted against the high walls of the garrison, but the
attacking orcs were losing far more than the defenders. Still, the living conditions within the walls -- never too
good to begin with -- created losses of their own.
The battle for the Citadel of Many Arrows culminated during the first week of Uktar. As another light blanket
of snow sought to bury the gathered orcs, King Greneire threw his entire remaining army at the citadel,
bursting its gates and pitting orc against orc in a flurry of swords.
As the two orc kings sought one another out along the ramparts, the citadel began to burn. The orcs that
survived the battle still speak of the superhuman prowess of the two kings as they battled one another
before their troops. Finally, however, King Obould ran Greneire through with his greatsword, but Obould was
severely wounded by the time Greneire had breathed his last breath.
The orcs erupted into battle once again, and King Obould fled north to hide in the Spine of the World. It was
through the smoke and snow that the victors of the conflict emerged: the dwarves of Clan Warcrown along
with a contingent of troops from Silverymoon. Charging in through the shattered gates, these new attackers
quickly routed the exhausted orcs of the citadel, sending them scurrying off into the wilderness. King Emerus
Warcrown was enthroned in triumph and the Citadel restored to its old dwarven name of Felbarr.
King Warcrown hung on through the first bitter winter until six hundred shield dwarf reinforcements could
march up from the south to join his forces. Soon thereafter, Warcrown joined with Silverymoon, the dwarven
holds of Mithral Hall and Citadel Adbar, and several other cities to form the confederacy of the Silver
Marches. Warcrown's people are now well established and determined not to lose their citadel again.
The Rise of Dark Arrow Keep
After his defeat at the hands of Emerus Warcrown, Obould led a few hundred of his toughest, most
experienced warriors to a lonely hold in the high vales of the Spine of the World. Unlike many other castles
and towers in those bitter mountains, Dark Arrow Keep was raised by slave-driving orcs, who built a fortress
to stand against their numerous enemies. While the original builders of the keep are long gone, wiped out in
some forgotten battle or another, the keep remains. Obould and his warriors drove out the giants who
occupied it and set about fortifying and repairing the old castle in a furious burst of effort.
Obould named his new seat Dark Arrow Keep. It may not be as well made as a good bit of dwarf work, but
what it lacks in craftsmanship, it makes up for with massive weights of stone, blind alleys, crude traps, and
confounding corridors raked by hidden arrows slits. From this fortress Obould carefully gathers his strength
for his next task -- the unification of the orcs of the mountains beneath his banner. Obould accurately blames
the loss of the Citadel of Many Arrows not on "a few short, bearded fools," but rather on the huge orc horde
that swept down to besiege him. That horde shattered the citadel gates and sapped the strength of Obould's
defenders before the dwarves attacked.

Another such horde is now building, and Obould is waiting for it to burst forth and shatter the battle-might of
the Silver Marches before sending his own "Army of Arrows" into the fray. He plots to regain the citadel and
the lands around it, but he is determined not to be overwhelmed by this new horde, or by the allied armies
and magic of the Silver Marches.
As he stands atop the dark battlements of his mountain home, Obould looks down upon the lands that will,
one day, all be his. There is no doubt whatsoever in his mind that this conquest will come to pass; the only
question is when. And although he's determined to sit on a throne in Many Arrows once more before he dies,
Obould dreams of ruling Silverymoon itself. If his tuskers can conquer all the lands north of the Rauvin River,
it might be enough territory to divide among his eight restless sons -- and keep them from each other's
throats long enough that an orc empire, Obouldar, a legacy that will endure beyond the span of Obould's
own lifetime, might be born. Obould only hopes he can keep his fierce spawn from raising blades against
him while he waits for the rising (and passing) of the horde. And his one true fear is that after he is dead,
they will fight each other, and everything he worked for will fade away.
For his own part, Obould isn't waiting for the folk of the lands to the south of his mountain fastness to
prepare for his or the horde's coming. He is aware of the Silver Marches defense pact and is attempting to
determine how best to strike through the alliance's weak spots. He intends to strike against them before they
can make ready for the onslaught, and to that end, he is taking steps never dreamed of by the leaders who
have come before him. Over the ensuing years, he has subsumed other tribes into his own, and now has at
his disposal a veritable army of over two thousand orc warriors, as well as their wives and children. His
scouts are carefully observing enemy defenses, making maps of the land so the attacking orcs might gain a
strategic advantage, and occasionally skirmishing against enemy patrols or units to gauge their strength and
observe their battle tactics. Meanwhile, Obould's energetic patrols are one way to keep his sons busy and
keep most of his warriors well away from their whispering tongues and ready bribes. His army grows daily
and drills incessantly, and those who understand such things are building siege machines for use against
the walls of the southern cities.
However, every day Obould's skull-adorned, horned throne seems less solid under him, and with each
passing month his spies mutter of new treacheries and strange happenings among his people. Rage and
restlessness are growing in the Master of Many Arrows, and soon it will be time for a bold stroke, horde or
no. Soon he will have to be seen to do something decisive, or murmurings of his cowardice and weakness
will arise around every Dark Arrow campfire.
Nevertheless, by 1371 DR, perhaps emboldened by the growing rumors of war between King Obould and
the cities of the North, orc raiding parties have been striking hard at southbound caravans along the
Evermoor Way outside of Everlund, and Obould's forces have stretched as far as Deadsnows. Obould has
also successfully bargained with monsters of all sorts, including the winged perytons along his eastern
border, and the frost giants beholden to the giantess runecaster Gerti Orelsdottr, among others. Such is the
fear that Obould strikes in hearts throughout the North that even the nihilistic Monks of the Long Death seek
to assist him.
The folk of the Silver Marches are well aware Obould is out there, somewhere. His name is a watchword for
vigilance among the town watches and guardsmen of the North. The leaders of the Silver Marches receive
new reports almost daily that the orc hordes that have so often shattered the peace and prosperity hard won
by their predecessors are once again arming for war. Many of the region's old-timers sagely note the North
is "about due" for another orc invasion.
In truth, both High Lady Alustriel of the Silver Marches and King Bruenor Battlehammer of Mithral Hall
understand the Silver Marches may not be able to defend every member community in the event of a major
attack by King Obould Many-Arrows or a similarly powerful foe. It may well come to pass that when the orc
king's horde finally arrives, the confederation will be obliged to choose to defend one city but not another, in
effect sacrificing some so that others can be saved. Although this strategy is an accepted practice in
wartime, both Alustriel and Bruenor understand the rest of the Silver Marches won't take to it, and thus, keep
this aspect of any plans a private matter.
War is on the horizon in the North, led by the sharp-eyed orc barbarian with a sword of fire.