The orc wars continued, but the unification of the realm was the decisive factor in the eventual victory of the humans. The last great Orc War, the War of Faith, began in the year 484 and lasted three years. It began when the mountain orcs united under a vengeful half-orc, Alzarov (formerly Garath), and began to pillage villages to the south, north and west of Tantallon. Alzarov, the son of a woman raped by orcish invaders, had been turned out of his village when he was still young by humans who bore great prejudice against orcs. This event made him determined to revenge himself against humans by driving them away from the world altogether.
The War of Faith was perhaps the most destructive of all orc wars. The destruction of the abandoned mages' tower and the Manor north of Tantallon date to this war. Arnog Trueheart the Fierce created an alliance of human and dwarven forces who finally laid siege to the Mountain Orc stronghold. In the ensuing battle, Alzarov either vanished or was killed, and the orcs surrendered to Drin, Arnog's son (Arnog had been killed in battle a few months earlier, in 487.) A peace treaty was signed between Drin and Kazarov, King of the Mountain Orcs, and the Mountain Orcs were brought under the nominal control of Drin. It is to celebrate and honour the victory of Drin that the order of the Knights of Drin were officially founded, formalizing a knightly tradition that had been in effect since the time of Arutha.
However, some orcs refused to accept the surrender of Kazarov, which was viewed by many orcs as a betrayal of all orc history. In addition, many humans and dwarves began to chafe under what was viewed as an increasingly imperial tendency in Drin, who although generally considered kind, can also be quite stern and has decidedly expansionist tendencies.
A group of these renegades, driven out after the last Orc war, rallied together under the leadership of a fighter named Halforc. Halforc was also the product of an orc-human mating, but in this case of a different type. Halforc's father had left his own village after being ridiculed for his ugliness and poor health habits, and had married an orc woman whom he had met in his wanderings. Halforc himself was motivated by his emphasis on the similarities shared by both humans and orcs: their hungers, physical drives, sexual predilections, and rugged individualism. He was contemptuous of both the new "Reign of Order" proclaimed by Drin, and of the Mountain Orcs whom he felt had scurrilously surrendered to that reign. He gathered a band of like-minded thinkers in a group called the Scythe. The name of Scythe refers to the brutal and swift blade which decapitates the field of identical and orderly stalks of grain.
Halforc sought the advice of the orc shaman, who told him to move his group south to a site just next to Asyvan's domain. The Scythe camp has grown as additional disaffected subjects of Drin have flocked to the group. Halforc himself has been absent for the past few years, apparently having travelled to the west to search for allies among the western orc lands. His lieutenant still leads the Scythe, however, and the group continues to ravage the forces of Drin. Sometimes they have even managed to sway the very forces of Drin himself, as when they won over the heart of a now-nameless knight who surrendered the once-impregnable Knight's Stronghold to the forces of evil.
Scythe orcs distance themselves from the Mountain Orcs, whom they view as traitorous and bootlicking, and instead practice the old orcish religion as continued by the orc shaman in the Dalair. Dalair, situated between the Mountain Orcs and Nepeth, has grown over the past sixty years from a small farming community (apparently new at the time that Nepeth was established) into a source of continual peril to the realm at large.
It is in Dalair also that a group of evil spellcasters discovered the access point into the Plane of Chaos, while conducting research into summoning entities from other planes in an effort to gain power. Over the past few decades, this loose-knit band has become an organized if nihilistic religion, known as the Courts of Chaos. Although dismissed as a cult by the more established forces of Drin, Chaos is growing into a challenge to the major world religion, Antana.
The religion of Antana apparently emigrated into this world with the earliest human settlers, and now wields great power within the realm, especially through its main instrument of proselytization, the Monks of Antana. While there are proofs of the presence of other indigenous religions in the world which predate Antana, most are either now viewed as cults, as in the Cult of Losoth, or are completely lost, as in the Gnoll religion. Antana as a faith came to these shores with the first human settlers, and originally admitted only humans. However, since the treaty of the Elf wars, the rules have gradually been relaxed, welcoming all races as adherents. The secular power of the religion is reflected in its many structures, which include a monastery and a convent.
As the realm has expanded, it has also grown in its sophistication and civilization. Neville, once a tiny, semi-inhabited village, now has a bustling population and a busy marketplace. Hobbits, ever looking for expansion of the trade that is the lifeblood of these sociable middle-class burghers, have made Hobbitat into one of the premier towns of the realm. Other towns, such as Zhamarr, which were originally separate duchies outside of the realm, are also falling deeper in the sphere of influence of the Trueheart court.
I anticipate that as our adventurers and seekers venture ever farther into the exploration of the world which our realm inhabits, that ever more fascinating indications of the history of Ancient Anguish will emerge from the mists of history and geography.