Broken Shield Pass is one of several major routes through the Darkwall Mountains in Northwest Tolgathan State of Breccacia. It is the only route large enough to move a sizable army between Tolgatha to the east and the uncharted home land of the Greenskin races in the west, known as the Darklands. As such it is the primary route used by the Greenskin tribes to invade the realms of men. It is named for the tragic and bloody downfall of a short-lived alliance between Tolgatha and Leonen, called the Concord of Shields, that sought to fortify the pass against the Greenskin hordes to the west.
The concept for Broken Shield Pass was created in part by Chris Lloyd (Little Rock, AR) as part of his ‘Foot Knight package’ backer reward from the 2014 Realm of Strife Kickstarter Campaign.
While the two predominantly Human Kingdoms of Leonen and Tolgatha have traditionally had little political interaction, there was a brief time almost 900 years ago during the reign of the Patriarch-King Desmond Vectus VI when the two Kingdoms formed a military alliance aimed at pushing back the Greenskin threat and containing them once and for all behind the Darkwall mountains. During this time much of Tolgatha had been overrun by a massive Greenskin army led by a bloodthirsty Orc Warlord named Dulgarr the Breaker, so named because he came very close to breaking the ancient line of Tolgathan kings. Some historians believe that had it not been for the intervention of the distant Kingdom of Leonen, what we now know as present day Tolgatha would be a savage wasteland ruled by warring tribes of Orcs, Goblins, and Ogres.
In that time Leonen was a fledgling Kingdom, only recently unified under its first King, Hallard of House Montegen, and fraught with scheming and turmoil as it has ever been. The young King Hallard was keen to prove the might of Leonen and put down the infighting between his Dukes by giving them common cause, and so mobilized a grand army drawn from the best fighting men from each of the seven provinces. Believing that if Warlord Dulgarr’s forces went unchecked it would only be a matter of time before they would be fighting them on Leonen’s own doorstep, the King sent his army and his best military commanders to Tolgatha. With the support of King Hallard’s forces the Patriarch-King turned the tide of battle and the Orc armies were pushed farther and farther west. The occupied Tolgathan lands were liberated, and battle after battle the Orcs lost ground.
Seeking to stem his losses, Warlord Dulgarr gathered his strongest and most savage troops and met the combined might of the two human armies at the Third Battle of Brighthammer. Hoping to break the back of their forces in one monumental victory, the Orc Warlord instead suffered bitter defeat. His forces were crushed, and Dulgarr himself finally fell atop a pile of human corpses, said to have been pierced by a hundred swords. Those Orcs loyal to Warlord Dulgarr died fighting, but the remainder of his shattered army, once said to have number in the hundreds of thousands but now reduced to as little as ten thousand, fled back to the Darklands with their Goblin and Ogre allies in tow.
When word of the victory reached King Hallard, he traveled to Tolgatha personally to sign a pact with King Desmond. Together the two kings forged the Concord of Shields, all alliance tasked with establishing an impenetrable fortress in the strategic mountain pass between Tolgatha and the Darklands. This fortress would shield Tolgatha, and every land beyond, from the incessant depredations of the Greenskin menace, containing them within the Darklands for all time. Construction of the fortress began in earnest, and with the Orcs forces soundly defeated there was little threat to the builders and engineers that sought to raise the mighty fortress. So decimated were the Greenskin hordes that it took an entire generation before they would mount another offensive against the realms of men. It was one of only a few eras of peace in the war torn lands of Northwestern Tolgatha.
However, that peace was cut short by tragedy, and it would be men—not orcs—that would prevent the fortress from ever being completed. In the early years the soldiers from both Kingdoms worked together well enough, dividing up patrol duties between them to ensure that the construction of the fortress could proceed uninterrupted by Greenskin raiders. But as the years stretched on and the soldiers lacked any true enemy to fight they grew complacent and eventually even confrontational with one another. King Hallard’s forces, so far from their homes in distant Leonen felt they were not treated with the respect worthy of the sacrifices they had made to save Tolgatha from the Orc invasion. To the proud Tolgathans this was their land and what foreign army truly had a right to be living off of it. With too much idle time and too much access to strong drink, conflict was inevitable between the soldiers and with increasing frequency the officers were tasked with restoring and maintaining order among the troops.
Despite this, the Concord of Shields survived for several more years and construction continued to slowly progress. The outer curtain walls were planned to be built out from both sides of the pass simultaneously, one side constructed by Leonen and the other by Tolgatha. As a grand symbol of unity the two walls were to meet in the middle, where an imposing gatehouse would finally seal off the pass and allow the builders to carry out the bulk of the work on of the vast fortress in relative safety. It seemed that the mutual dream of both King Desmond and King Hallard to shield the lands of men from the evil of the Darklands would come to fruition. That is until Lord Albrecht of Estwold, the aging Leonen General who had fought tirelessly during the wars with the Orcs and commanded the Concord of Shields since its inception, grew ill and retired from his position to live out his few remaining years in his homeland. He was replaced by another hero of the war, a Tolgathan Chaplain named Emareous Flint. Chaplain Flint was a hard man, a soldier Cleric of the Holy Tolgathan Church and high ranking member of the privileged Religious Caste in Tolgathan society. While he was a great asset during the wars with Warlord Dulgarr, a brilliant strategist and peerless battlefield commander, he proved to be a poor commander in peacetime, being harsh beyond necessity when attempting to maintain order between the quarrelsome forces he inherited from Lord Albrecht.
With Lord Albrecht gone, the Leonen soldiers under the Chaplain’s command began to bear the brunt of his heavy handedness. He made no pretense of reminding any trouble-making Leonen that, regardless of the battle they had fought together, they were still foreigners on Tolgathan soil, and therefore lower than even the Tolgathan Servant Caste. When it was discovered that a drunken and unruly Tolgathan soldier was receiving only one flogging for every twenty that his Leonen counter part would receive, several high ranking Leonen officers officially lodged a complaint. Chaplain Flint had their leader publicly flogged for dissension. It was a most vicious and merciless assault that left his back bloody and laid bare muscle and bone. While the poor soul perished from his wounds shortly thereafter, no one was there to witness his final breaths for when his fellow Leonen officers could bear his screams no more, they took up arms and cut down the Chaplain and his men. In that moment, long dormant strife between the two sides erupted and the entire work site became a battlefield, Leonen versus Tolgatha. The bloodshed and violence spiraled out of control, sweeping up soldier and civilian alike. Soon fires raged throughout the pass and scaffolding burned, leading to the collapse of many of the walls that were still under construction. By the end of that dark and bloody day it is said that only a handful of wounded men survived to tell the tale.
There the Concord of Shields was broken. Forged between the two kingdoms for the good of all men, but ending in sorrow and shame. While many on both sides cried for retribution, both Kings agreed that war between them would be far too costly and gain both sides nothing, so they agreed to go their separate ways. Since that day the Kingdom of Leonen and the Kingdom of Tolgatha have never again allied, though the Orcs have many times since surged back and forth across the Darkwall mountains. Little now remains of the ruins of that unfinished fortress, for with the comings and goings of war bands large and small, the Orcs long ago pulled the stones down and cast them aside. But the stain of death and tragedy remains, and the pass has been known ever after as Broken Shield Pass.