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The Ghostlands Campaign was an effort led by House of Firesong spanning two years between 32 and 34 L.C. and represented Entilzha Firesong's major push to create space for more traditional minded elves within the borders of Quel'Thalas.
The campaign was successful in restoring a number of thriving, natural groves which remain as oasises in the bleak Ghostlands, though even at the height of the effort, failed to draw notable support from Silvermoon, and ultimately led Entilzha Firesong to move for a time to archeological work outside the kingdom.
The twofold effort was both a military one to drive undead forces from lands and render them safe for elves, and a healing one, working to restore portions of the Ghostlands towards settlements of a more traditional nature, hoping in time to create a place for both Sin'dorei seeking to live as they once had, and in time a place exiled Quel'dorei may call home.
House Firesong was staunchly politically neutral during the campaign, and worked with Kaldorei as well as Tauren orders with needed shaman and druid, done quietly as such violated Quel'Thalas law.
All Firesong retainers and soldiers were prohibited from fighting for the horde under penalty of death so as not to jeopardize House Firesong's neutrality. The harshness of this policy reflects the shared lament Lord Firesong and Lady Morningray held for Silvermoon's alliance with the horde, believing the kingdom should seek a return to full sovereignty, and knowing they needed a healthy Southern Greenwood to make such viable.
While the campaign saw limited success in healing the broken land, the lack of support from Silvermoon came to demonstrate the need for a traditional settlement elsewhere, and led to Entilzha's decision to seek such among the Silver Covenant, despite his misgivings over the Purge of Dalaran.
Seated in Ashal'Thalas on the east coast of the Ghostlands, across the jagged Thalassian range and just north of the Amani peninsula, House Firesong's hereditary lands are not large, though due to their isolation were spared the brunt of the scourge invasion, with most of the forests and settlements remaining untainted. An area of blight where the scourge broke through a mountain pass in the West was quarantined, and overall the deeply conservative residents of Ashal'Thalas, continued living much as they had before the fall of Quel'Thalas, with an arcane font constructed in Bala'dini, the capital of Ashal'Thalas, known as Daywell Beta, to help compensate for the loss of thr Sunwell.
Ashal'Thalas with capital Bal'adeni sits atop major leyflows which power the Sanctum of Elune and Lord Firesong's personal residence, the Dal'felo Spire, which was constructed over a powerful let nexus and has come to take on much the physical appearance of the Dawnstar Spire to its northwest.
Peace in Ashal'Thalas was halted upon the death of the troll Warlord Zul'jin and subsequent alliance of Amani and Zandalari Trolls once again posing a threat to Quel'Thalas.
Ashal'Thalas suffered raids across its narrow sea border with the peninsula, and was quickly militarized on the orders of the returning Lord Firesong, whom called a general levy of all combat aged males and a good number of females.
Conscription was largely into the Emberstriders, the Rangers and principle traditional guardians of Ashal'Thalas, though mounted units, spellblades, and veteran mages returning from war saw House Firesong raise a considerable force.
The raids across the narrow channel were reversed, with the elves assaulting the trolls by cover of night in small boats, forcing their retreat from Ashal'Thalas border regions. As the Firesong army, joined by allies of longtime retainer House Lightglow, and those of Entilzha's fiance, Valeria Morningray grew in size, they moved operations into the Ghostlands proper, occupying formerly troll held positions in the eastern Ghostlands, also where the taint was at its lightest.
While hopes that coordination between the Farstriders and Silver Covenant would lead to continued dialogue were quashed, and the Ghostlands soon again forgotten when the Amani threat was dealt with, House Firesong had hundreds of soldiers in the western Ghostlands, where they'd converted former troll positions to camps, and as the attention of others again left the region, Lord Firesong and High Priestess Morningray were in poised to act on their dreams of reclaiming a portion of the Ghostlands and re-establishing the traditional Quel'dorei ways both dearly missed, and wanted their children to grow up knowing. Thus the Ghostlands Campaign was launched, an effort which would span two years.
Initial Offensive Edit
The strategy devised sought to build upon established Ranger positions at former Amani strongholds in the east, the northern border with Eversong and push to occupy the ruined Sanctum of the Moon, where Entilzha's father Xarian Firesong and grandmother, Sun Matriarch Aylena Firesong, had been slain during the scourge invasion.
Any serious push further south by nature required a commitment from Silvermoon and from other Houses initially dismissive of the effort, House Firesong hoped that by showing progress, elves in the north would be encouraged to act, if only to secure or re-secure land claims.
Acting with the element of surprise, a Firesong army crossed the Eldrenar from Eversong and marched on the Sanctum of the Moon, meeting only plagued bats and wildlife. The ruined Sanctum still provided enough ley updraft to be crawling with manaspawn.
Partial function was restored to the Sanctum of the Moon following salvaging missions of abandoned sanctums built by Prince Kael'Thalas on outland; the spire was never restored in full, though a salvaged power core and other components stemmed the flow of manaspawn and returned some of the Sanctum's function, if engineers were required to keep it all together.
Firesong runesmiths learned to work the mysterious Underlight Ore from the nearby mines into exceptional weapons, providing both a means of arming allied forces and a stream of income.
With fortifications and positions near the Sanctum of the Moon, House Firesong's military forces prepared to deal with the nearby scourge ziggurats, while Sin'dorei naturalist Veleyn Sunblossom established a series of test gardens near the Sanctum, seeking crops that could grow amidst the taint and not be contaminated by it.
Bloodthistle proved highly effective in this area, and was used extensively as a buffer crop. Sunblossom had previously founded a number of gardens in the east, where the taint was far lighter, ancient trees still stood. She'd relocated excess treants to be culled on Sunstrider Isle, coming to understand their behaviors and bonding the younger treants with older ones, forming family units.
In battling the scourge, the burrowing Nerubians would probe quite the menace to House Firesong's plans, breaking efforts to besiege the ziggurats by burrowing into them. However with relative security from the Sanctum of the Moon through Goldenmist Village, and a military buffer to the south, restoration and resettlement work began near Goldenmist, on the sea and by the Eversong border.
Goldenmist & The Green Corridor Edit
The notion of cleansing a swash of land reaching from Eversong through Goldenmist to the Sanctum of the Moon came to mind as a way of drawing the needed attention, and of making elves more likely to venture south. House Firesong supported civilian efforts to repopulate Goldenmist Village, providing security so that families held a degree of safety there, and financing reconstruction of existing structures and the construction of new ones.
The sea and riverside soil near Goldenmist took readily to much plant life from along the untainted coast further north in Eversong, and seeds from Veleryn's gardens did well inland, where the taint was still far less than in the heavily corrupted forest between Goldenmist and the Sanctum - that region was among the most defiled in the Ghostlands outside the former site of Thas'alah (during the campaign, unfavorable terms as "Deatholme" and "Ghostlands" were not used by House Firesong, with the lands generally referred to by their pre-invasion names. The Ghostlands was thus referred to as the Southern Greenwood, although that name was last widely used before the second war).
With civilians trickling into Goldemist and some plant life proving viable, the nascent Green Corridor, which was supported by efforts on the southern bank of the Eldrenar River across to the Dawnstar Spire, near which the bulk of the Firesong force was stationed, rotated to the Sanctum of the Moon and more dangerous outposts as the need arose, began to take form, and Magistrix Aldarra's novel divination technique to locate nerubian tunnels; a magical dust that when sprinkled on rodents and other such underground creatures, could track their positions. Both their concentration and speed of movement tipped the location of the Nerubian tunnels, eventually resulting in the siege of the Burning Ziggurart and capture of two necromancers from within.
Security around the Sanctum of the Moon was thus improved, and efforts to establish gardens in the immediate vicinity of the Sanctum began, though met little success, for unlike by Goldenmist or in the east, the very thick taint prevented life from taking root.
Unlikely Alllies Edit
Veleryn did her best, though nothing but Bloodthistle would grow near the Sanctum. A need for druids & Shaman was recognized as the only viable hope of cleaning the land well enough for anything to grow on it, and as House Firesong was comprised only of Sin'dorei and Quel'dorei due to their political neutrality, allies with such skills were sought.
Thunder Bluff was the first such prospect to be explored, as working with Tauren would not violate Quel'Thalas law, though no arrangements were reached. Entilzha has begun spending time in Moonglade, where a Thalassian elf was an oddity, but not treated hostile. He'd the opportunity there to explain his work, and it did capture the interest of an Elune Priestess named Essarae, the leader of a small, liberal sect of Kaldorei and some worgen.
Essarae bonded well with Entilzha's fiance Valeria, and agreed to provide the aid of her people. The cleansing (pictured in caption) had to be done by night to avoid drawing attention; fortunately by that time most of the guards in that region of the Ghostlands were Firesong guards, and those from Tranquilen, the Forsaken presence there preventing cooperation, tended to steer clear of the Sanctum of the Moon, though not wishing to jeopardize their new allies, a series of cleansings were conducted around the Sanctum at night across a number of weeks, with Sun and Moon Priests, Magi and druids working to scour the taint from the soil, shaman placing a totemic barrier to keep the taint at bay.
Entilzha and Valeria remained friendly with Essarae, inviting her and her order to their wedding in Ashal'Thalas, though Kalimdor Dawn's role throughout the campaign was sporadic, not seeking to draw attention from rabidly pro-horde elements to the north.
Sizeable swatches of soil around the Sanctum of the Moon were cleansed, and Veleryn was quick to move her treants and seedlings in, soon growing a small, but incredibly verdant garden, in some places even briefly extending beyond the totemic barriers. Life began to blossom around the Sanctum of the Moon, and while the front against the scourge would remain challenging, Firesong forces forced to withdraw from Windrunner Village where they'd sought to establish a buffer zone, amidst heavy losses.
A total of seventeen garden sites were established across the Ghostlands, six with totemic protection and the other elven in areas where the taint was light and did not prohibit all life. While the groves were a small step, they were a notable one, with visitors from the north impressed at the limited regrowth, though few expressed interest beyond Goldenmist.
House Firesong regardless continued to cleanse where they could, even pushing a band of trolls from Zeb'Nowa and establishing a grove and Ranger outpost right outside the entrance to the loathed peninsula. The rate of progress was uncomfortably slow, but as foiling an abduction operation deprived Deatholme of the necromancers it needed in the north, House Firesong began to feel more secure around the Sanctum of the Moon, and ideas for addressing the woodland between the Sanctum and Goldenmist involved everything from petitioning Lord Theron to permit an exception and allow the open aid of the Cenarion Circle, to incinerating the whole of the area down to bedrock with arcane and moving in fresh soil from elsewhere.
A lone tortoise that had survived in a small lake in the central Ghostlands, near a small Kalimdor Dawn assisted plot (and ultimately what was intended as a manor for Lady Moringray) became the unofficial mascot of the Firesong efforts, named Dorini (survivor). A suitable mate was found, far to the south in Hillsbrad, Diela (traveler). Due to the sensitive nature of tortoise breeding, rangers began operating out of the nearby manor to assure they lived in peace.
Counterattack of the Damned Edit
Well over a year into the campaign, House Firesong had foiled the Lich Kel'dagon, whom had been smuggling homeless humans from as far as Westfall, corrupting them in the Plaguewood and other scourge strongholds, before replacing the slain or capture necromancers in the Ghostlands.
Kel'dagon's defeat ushered in a period of calm, with the undead lacking a controlling element they grew mindless, and instead of overextending, House Firesong maintained a defensive line north of Windrunner village from the sea to the former Greenwood Pass.
Times were calm, Entilzha and Valeria's wedding was held, and it was soon announced she was with child. A few in the north had begun to take notice, and while the rate of progress was slower than desired, the kinship between the House Firesong forces was deep, and the leadership grew confident that in a few years Silvermoon would not be able to disregard their work.
This came to an abrupt halt when a Death Knight later identified as Auric Solanar, a risen Quel'dorei, quietly took charge of Deathome, moving his own Death Knights and necromancers into position, relying less on nerubians, so there were no new tunnels to be sought out and destroyed.
Auric commanded the unliving through the dead scar, where they flanked the Sactum's defenses, filling the valley around the Sanctum with the unliving. The Sanctum's defenses had been upgraded, with wards lowered to protect those inside, and also trapping them. Lord Firesong stated it was possible to eject the shielding as a powerful arcane nova, though it required him getting through the undead lines and into the Sanctum.
All available hands were drawn up for the operation, as scourge aggressively tested the watchposts futher west along the route to Goldenmist. The additions included Yeul Duskreaver, a retainer held in captivity within Underlight due to violation of neutrality, but as a relative of Valeria Morningray, how to handle her was being discussed.
Entilzha, a master abjurer, crafted a rune that would permit him to pass through his own ward and into the Sanctum, though with so many undead around it, reaching the Sanctum proved near impossible. Tactical arcane ordnance was authorized, though available designs were experimental, and needed to be detonated manually. Entilzha calculated he could blink immediately after the blast to the edge of the barrier, passing it before the undead were able to move back in.
Debate raged over whom would trigger the device, and Yeul, whom has been held for months in Underlight, volunteered for the task, perhaps seeking redemption. She was given a stealth elixir and a hair trigger that would explode when released, so as the undead fell on her, the weapon detonated.
Firesong managed through the shockwave into the Sanctum, altering the polarity on the wards, the resulting nova cleared the valley of undead. After a second nova they stopped trying, but instead moved with bats, abominations, and now nerubian tunnels appearing all over the place, with Goldenmist as their target.
The First Battle of Goldenmist would rage for a week, and hundreds of elves gave their lives, the bulk of Firesong losses in the whole of the campaign during that week alone. A Firesong-aligned Death Knight was eventually able to infiltrate Deatholme and assassinate Auric, but the victory was very much a Pyrrhic one, with many trees planted on Quel'Danas.
The safety of operating deeper in the Ghostlands without support drew question, and offensive operations were halted, even the Sanctum of the Moon was considered a forward positon, much of the remaining Firesong force was either moved into Ashal'Thalas or Eversong, or just outside at their bases near Dawnstar and Goldenmist. The campaign was at an effective standstill due to the magnitude of the losses suffered and deep questions over whether another such attack could be sustained, and without eliminating Deatholme, it was seen as inevitable.
Tragedy Squared Edit
Valeria however, was near to giving birth, and from that Entilzha took solace, knowing his wide pregnant with twins. The children would provide a much needed morale boost, to Entilzha as much as many other. Valeria's delivery was mired in complication, the second child turned incorrectly, killing Valeria as attempting to enter the world sideways. Valeria delivered Ysandre Firesong with one of her last breaths, then her tight grasp on Entilzha's hand faded, eyes closed.
Entilzha grew deeply reclusive, holding a vast funeral for Valeria and commissioning a statue in Ashal'Thalas, though himself seldom leaving the Dal'felo spire, spending nearly all of his time with Ysandre despite his sister, Salandra Firesong being fully willing and able to help care for Ysandre.
Entilzha ordered a drawdown in the Ghostlands proper, with bases abandoned, groves left largely to the care of Everwarden Fandralen Sunglow, whom made the unusual step of revealing herself as the Firesong efforts in what was once her home boosted her spirits. Fandralen was saddened as well, though soon her presence on Shalandis Isle was all that remained, Firesong soldiers recalled to Ashal'Thalas, and with the War on Draenor beginning, many Firesong retainers, with permission, joined Lady Liadrin's Sunsworn.
A Silver Lining Edit
Entilzha Firesong was eventually roused from complacency shortly after Ysandre turned one, though with his forces largely reduced to that which was needed to defend Ashal'Thalas, talk of a second effort was just that, without alliances, and strong ones. The increasingly powerful Dominion of the Sun sent envoys to Ashal'Thalas, openly seeking to absorb House Firesong, and short of that, seeking liberal treaties.
Entilzha never did meet directly with Lord Dawnlight, and the result may have been different if he had, for in time he came to respect Dawnlight's nationalism, if not his focus on Sin'dorei ways over Quel'dorei ways. With Valeria gone, Entilzha might have been swayed, but Dawnlight's surrogates failed to instill trust, with Entilzha knowing such an agreement would leave them as little but vassals, any true hope of a traditional home gone, and while sovereignty was assured as a goal, such meant a full commitment to the horde, as the Dominion strategy to reach sovereignty was to control the horde, not withdraw from it.
Tendael Dawnlight may have been able to convince Entilzha to set his misgivings aside, but before they would meet at an upcoming annual Ball on which Entilzha was offered a seat on the dais, his feelers among the Quel'dorei attracted the notice of Aeriyth Dawnsorrow of the Highguard.
Entilzha had lost friends among the Sunreavers during the Purge of Dalaran, and deeply mistrusted the Silver Covenant. Regardless, he agreed to meet Dawnsorrow, though refusing to travel to Dalaran, despite his eyes being blue, he'd been registered with the Sunreavers last he was in Dalaran, and their presence still illegal, he saw no reason to risk it.
Unlike Dawnlight whom sent surrogates while only a brief distance separated them, Aeriyth agreed to visit the Dal'felo Spire. She arrived alone, and while Entilzha was confident she'd forces on standby, called off his guard, leaving them alone.
Their discussion began as icy, with the Purge of Dalaran a major sticking point, though Aeriyth offered to permit Entilzha to scan her mind, both to display that she and her people weren't in Dalaran during the massacre, and that the neutrality of other Silvermoon factions as First Light was false. They began to remiss about the Quel'Thalas of old, times had, paths crossed, the beauty of the high kingdom that once was, and was being ravaged not by undeath but by its own citizens.
Entilzha carried out the scan, and had the information researched through sources, to rule out any trickery. She'd been telling the truth. A short time later, Entilzha received a letter, inviting him to the Quel'danil Lodge, where the Highguard was holding a workshop on the traditional construction of spellbows.
Entilzha wearily went, expected to be mistrusted, his presence was surprisingly welcome, and while the topic of spellbows was of little interest to Entilzha, for the first time since the fall, he felt immersed in Quel'dorei culture, not Sin'dorei ways.
He had lived in Dalaran a time though, and knew that to not be the case there, though Aeriyth's Highguard possessed strength, and they'd enough true High Elves to make a settlement a reality. Knowing this decision could not be reversed once made, Entilzha agonized, not wanting to be seen as a criminal in his home, despite having never served the horde, he would undoubtedly be cast as a traitor, and the Silver Covenant had been in Dalaran for a decade; what guarantee was there it wouldn't be another? Him.
Entilzha agreed to join the Highguard via leading the Curators of Thalassian Culture, focused on reviving traditions, uncovering and replicating artifacts, and assuring the Quel'dorei way of life was not lost. So many of these High Elves seemed to have already lost much of their ways.
In accepting the Curators' role, Entilzha stated he wasn't a museum administrator and the effort has to be one focused on preserving Quel'dorei ways for their rebirth elsewhere, something Lord Firesong saw as the only true means of restoring the traditional culture of his people.
Entilzha gave himself a one year limit with regards to acting as a "Curator" only, at which point if there was no major move towards settlement, he would force the matter, and establish some settlement somewhere; Allerian Stronghold came to mind as he learned of so many past efforts to create a home having failed.
Culture Shock Edit
Entilzha moved Salandra, Ysandre, and his most prized possessions including a number of arcane items beyond value, from Ashal'Thalas unseen, using portals in the Dal'felo spire. He'd arranged for his green eyed cousin Solanar to take over Ashal'Thalas as Lord Steward, officially stating he knew nothing of Entilzha's plans and calling him a traitor, per Entilzha's orders to protect the civilians of Ashal'Thalas.
They in fact continued to coordinate, though Entilzha's visits were in secret, and only to the Dal'felo spire. The cultural change in Dalaran caused Entilzha to almost immediately question himself; these elves had been away from home so long, many preferred Common over Thalassian, something he found revolting, intermarriage with non-ellves, was completely normal.
If he could have gone back in those early days he might have, feeling much more like a Sin'dorei than he'd ever realized. With time he focused, seeing the importance of the Curator role, a position that had long sat vacant or lightly touched upon, into making these elves proud to be Quel'dorei again, leading a number of ambitious expeditions to find priceless relics of the High Kingdom.
Entilzha made a number of friends, but his ways distanced him from most with the cultural divide. He came very close to founding a settlement with a laughable number of elves just over feeling lost, after which Aeriyth reaffirmed her commitment to a true home, though not able to provide exact timing. The seeds of her eventual betrayal were planted, as Entilzha felt strongly she was lying.
Entilzha worried he'd made a grave mistake...and did, though immediate hope was present, as the horde were re-admitted to Dalaran following the outbreak of the Third Legion War, with the Forsaken plague making it feel unsafe even to those whom saw the human city as home.
And when Dalaran arrived over the Broken Isles...he'd long throught Suramar destroyed, but there it was. With commitments from Aeriyth and other High Elven leaders to seek settlement there, we set aside his archaeological tools and delved aggressively into matters in Suramar, using much of House Firesong's funds to construct and maintain Shal'elah and the growing Thera-dora. Calling in a number of Emberstriders to bolster their strength, Entilzha and his close colleague Vortaria Ara'lith, in the close quarters of Shal'elah before its expansion, grew to be romantic, and Entilzha's upcoming wedding is to be on a balcony overlooking Suramar.
The Ghostlands Campaign led to Entilzha meeting Vortaria; it led to him approaching Suramar seeking true kinship with the Shal'dorei and to create a true home for them all, not as power hungry conquerors as the Dominion's approach to Suramar was. Standing upon the Tel'anor overlook with Vortaria in his arm, and Magistrix Morgane Devaux, a Shal'dorei exile with whom Entilzha had become friends (despite their own xenophobia or maybe even because of it and their shared blood, Entilzha found Shal'dorei generally easy to relate to, and counts a number among his close friends. Fandralen was also drawn to the land, speaking of a young tree with much in common to Thas'alah.
Overlooking the ancient city with Vortaria & Morgane, the Thera-dora keeping watch, Entilzha finally began to see hope that maybe he'd made the right choice, and perhaps the Quel'dorei home and restoration of his family, and of peace, was at last near, and the tribulations and sacrifices of the Ghostlands Campaign a vital step along the way. By no means a certainty, the full legacy of the Ghostlands Campaign and decisions it led to remains, as with much, in the future.