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The Barrens is rich and fertile territory on the eastern border of the Empire, neighbouring Holberg, Semmerholm, Brocéliande, Reikos, and Therunin. It has never been conquered by the Empire, but Dawn maintains a series of long-established outposts on the western edge, remnants of previous attempts to claim it. Such attempts have been opposed by the independent orcs who dwell there, as well as by the Druj armies that occupy the eastern part of the territory.

Early History

Dawn has a long history of attempts to take the Barrens. In good times they were able to establish a settlement at Drycastle in the region of Dawnguard - and even build a fortification to protect their holdings and the border with Semmerholm. But previous attempts to decisively conquer the territory have always faltered. In 276YE, three Dawnish armies marched south and east from Drycastle in search of glory. Overextended, and unprepared for the sheer size of the forces brought to bear against them, the armies were surrounded by the Druj and cut off from their supply lines. The Gryphon's Pride led a desperate rearguard action to allow the Hounds of Glory and the Golden Sun to withdraw, but the army was broken and few survivors made it back.

The Barrens has always been a magnet for the exiled, the disenfranchised and the disgruntled. Between 325 YE and 328 YE it was also the scene of a short-lived rogue kingdom called Montane, founded by renegades during the events of the Freedom Heresy. The lonely territory is scattered with ruins, old stone circles, solitary towers and hidden regio, any one of which could prove to be the home of some lost treasure ... or unspeakable horror.

Diplomatic Outreach

In Winter 377YE an Imperial force ambushed a gathering of Druj leaders in the Barrens. Several key Druj figures were slain by the Imperial heroes, along with the leaders of the subject tribes who were being held prisoner in the Druj encampment. This triggered an armed revolt among the Barrens Orcs, who took advantage of the disarray of the Druj forces to stage an uprising against their rule.

In Spring 379YE, the Imperial Senate passed a motion to declare the three barbarian clans in the Barrens to be foreigners. This outreach succeeded in encouraging a delegation from the Barrens to attend Anvil. It was led by a shaman of the Great Forest clan, and a warrior of the Black Wind clan, accompanied by a human with strong briar lineage, a mysterious denizen of Dourfell Keep. They approached under a flag of truce and attempted to negotiate a treaty with the Empire.

Sadly the negotiations ended in disaster. After lengthy negotiations, the basis for a deal was hammered out but the resulting treaty was rejected by the Senate. Tragically nobody informed the Barrens Orcs of this development and they left Anvil under the impression that they secured a temporary peace with the Empire and that they had the Empire's permission to secure their Western flank.

The Turn to War

On the run-up to Autumn 379YE, the Navarr took advantage of the confusion to order the Black Thorns to travel quickly through the Barrens to reach Brocéliande, something that had been agreed as part of the treaty negotiations. However when the Barrens Orcs moved forces into Dawnguard, in the mistaken belief that the region would be ceded to them by the Empire, they met with stiff resistance. It is clear from the nature of their advance that they expected the Dawnish to surrender the land to them, but fortunately there was no major engagement before the orcs withdrew.

Sadly it seemed the orcs continued to labour under the belief that the Empire would cede Dawnguard to them. They attacked again after the Autumn Equinox, this time moving in force against the Towers of the Dawn, the great fortification that defended the settlement of Drycastle and the region. Their attacks were cautious and focused, but it was clear they were determined. The Dawnish made them pay for their advance with blood, but this time the fighting extracted a serious toll from all parties.

Following their failure to claim Dawnguard, the Barrens Orcs sent a second delegation to Anvil. They came to converse with the Navarr, apparently interested in restarting the failed diplomacy, but by this time it was too late. In response to the attack on Drycastle, the Imperial Senate issued a declaration of war against the Barrens Orcs, emotively confusing the actual number of Dawnish citizens and soldiers who had been killed in the fighting. Meanwhile the Dawnish Assembly call for a crusade to finally subjugate the Barrens and bring them under Dawnish control.

The Crusade Begins

With Druj forces in the Barrens weakened by the uprising of their subject tribes, the Empire mounted a full-scale invasion of the territory following the declaration of war at the Winter Solstice summit in 379YE. The attack was spearheaded in the Spring by the Golden Sun, supported by Towerjacks and the Golden Axe. Despite the clarion call of the crusade, the Imperial generals opt to fall back in the face of attacks from the Barrens Orcs. Rather than seek to take the war to them, they instead use the defences provided by the Towers of the Dawn to create a killing ground for the rebellious orcs.

At the same time the Druj use magic of their own to create a miasma of death that spreads quickly over the Barrens like a fell plague bringing death to all. To maximise the carnage, Navarr forces, believed to be the Quiet Step, move to attack the orc supply trains, burning several villages belonging to the Great Forest Orcs, slaughtering their inhabitants, then fading back into the woods. The result is a bloodbath, with countless orcs killed by the fell combination of Imperial military might and Druj magic.

After the Spring Solstice 380YE is concluded, the Imperial generals order their armies in the Barrens to attack. Fighting is hard, the more so because Druj magic continues to curse the territory, causing every wound to fester and causing countless casualties on both sides. However by the start of the Summer Solstice, the Empire has regained full control of Dawnguard and has begun to push further into the Barrens. Casualties remain high on both sides, but it is clear that the Barrens Orcs are coming off worse, not least because of their stubborn refusal to give ground.

The campaign continued in the following season, but it was soon clear that the alliance between the various orc tribes in the Barrens had collapsed in the face of Imperial aggression. The Rahvin attempted to fight on, opposing the Imperial advance, but they were cut down wherever they fought. The Great Forest Orcs abandoned the war and the Barrens fleeing to the Tarn Valley in Therunin, pleading for sanctuary from the Navarr against the depredations of the oncoming Druj. The largest military force in the Barrens, the Black Wind, had apparently gone east - into the Mallum. It appears that what remains of the Black Wind has betrayed the others and thrown in their lot with the Druj once more.

The campaigning season ends with the appearance of a vast Druj war host in the Barrens. They meet the Imperial forces under a flag of truce with a peace offering. They claim to have exterminated what remains of the Rahvin, having slaughtered not just their warriors, but their old and their young as well. Caught between the Druj and the Empire it appears that the last remnants of rebellion in the Barrens have been annihilated.

The Barrens Falls

An agreement of some kind is forged with the Druj - a deal to split the Barrens between them and the Empire. Following the Autumn Equinox in 380YE, the Druj armies stay in the East of the territory, apparently subjugating any last remnants of rebellion against their rule. Word comes of the fall of Dourfell Keep, long a thorn in their side. Meanwhile the Empire consolidates its position, securing the Carmine Fields and conquering Murderdale in the face of only sporadic resistance.

The Druj sent envoys to the summit at the end of the year Winter 380YE, proposing a peace treaty with the Empire. Terms were agreed and the treaty was ratified by the Imperial Senate, offering the cessation of all hostilities between the Druj and the Empire for a minimum of five years. The Druj would be allowed to lay claim to Murderdale and the Carmine Fields but then both sides would reduce the number of armies in the Barrens.

In effect the Empire would be left with control of Dawnguard, but the remainder of the territory would be under Druj control. The invasion of the Barrens would be at an end - as would be the rebellion against Druj rule of the orcs who lived there. The greater majority of the Dawnish Assembly gave their backing to Enchantress Orlene to try to convert the Barrens Orcs who had survived the Imperial invasion and the Druj conquest to the Way. But with much of the Barrens now firmly under Druj control, and those who survived trying to avoid Imperial and Druj forces alike, there were few open to such persuasion.

The peace with the Druj held for a season, allowing Imperial armies an opportunity to pull back to the safety of Dawnguard, while the Druj advanced unopposed into Murderdale and the Carmine Fields. The notoriously treacherous Druj kept their word for a single season, before breaking the treaty they had just signed and overwhelming the Empire. The historic Towers of the Dawn are torn down as the Druj conquer Dawnguard and secure their rule over the entire Barrens.

After the Fighting

Following the Druj conquest of the Barrens, there were sporadic attempts by Imperial heroes to infiltrate the territory to achieve key goals. Assisted by the Great Forest Orcs now dwelling in Therunin, a small group were able to use the Sentinel Gate at the 380YE Winter Solstice to enact a glorious rescue of a hundred and fifty Dawnish yeofolk who had been enslaved by the Druj.

At the 381YE Summer Solstice, following protracted negotiations, the Imperial Senate was finally able to ratify a treaty with the Great Forest Orcs who were dwelling in Therunin, securing a formal alliance with them. The Empire were prepared to allow the tribe to dwell within Therunin provided that they are willing to help defend it - but they would not cede a region of the ancient forest. The orcs were clearly disappointed by the outcome, but their mood was one of resignation rather than anger. They seemed to accept that in the end they simply asked for too much and offered too little.

Another raid took place at 382YE Autumn Equinox with Imperial heroes pursuing the treacherous Rookwoods, a band of murderers who had fled to their ancient home in the Barrens hoping to escape Imperial justice there. Nearly a year later following in the campaign leading up to the Summer Solstice Imperial armies invaded the Barrens. They were repulsed by stiff Druj resistance, but with aid from Papa Otec they were able to use the attack as cover to rescue more Dawnish citizens who have been brutally enslaved by the Druj.

Further Reading

"Centuries ago" Wither the Seed may have been cast on the Barrens Scholars believe residual effects linger to this day
276 YE Gryphon's Pride attempted to capture the Barrens Army lost
326 YE Freedom Heresy found Kingdom of Montane Montane falls in 328YE
Winter 377YE Uprising by the Barrens Orcs against the Druj begins
Spring 378YE

Spy network constructed

News is heard of the fighting between the Barrens Orcs and the Druj
The network is destroyed by the Druj in Summer 382YE
Summer 378YE Senate attempts to contact rebellious tribes
Autumn 378YE Continued rumours of rebellion against Druj
Spring 379YE Peace declared with Barrens Orcs
Summer 379YE Great Forest and Black Wind septs send delegation to Anvil to negotiate treaty

Druj send a delegation to Anvil to negotiate a treaty
Sept treaty is rejected by Senate

Druj treaty is rejected by Senate
Autumn 379YE

Black Thorns take a short cut through Murderdale with the aid of the Great Forest Orcs
Believing a treaty has been agreed Orc tribes of the Barrens attempt to take Dawnguard

Elerael secured for the Empire by the Navarr
Barrens Orcs repulsed from Dawnguard

Winter 379YE

Barrens Orcs attempt to take Dawnguard again
Barrens Orcs send another delegation to Anvil

Second attack by the Barrens Orcs repulsed
Senate declares war on the Barrens Orcs
Dawnish launch a Crusade to take the Barrens

Spring 380YE Three Imperial armies enter the Barrens to defend Dawnguard The Barrens Orcs attack is repulsed with them suffering heavy casualties
Summer 380YE The Imperial armies go on the offensive in the Barrens

The Empire gains full control of Dawnguard and advances on the Carmine Fields
The Great Forest orcs flee to Therunin

Autumn 380YE The Empire continues to attack and the Druj return in force to the Barrens

The Empire gains control of the Carmine Fields
The Black Wind tribe surrender to the Druj
The Rahvin are seemingly eradicated by the Druj

Winter 380YE

The Empire gain ground gaining control of Murderdale
The Druj offer a peace treaty in return for full control of the Barrens other than Dawnguard

The Senate accepts the peace treaty with the Druj
Spring 381YE

The greater majority of the Dawnish Assembly support judgement 55 seeking religious conversion of the Barrens Orcs
Imperial forces retreat to Dawnguard, in accordence with the treaty

Druj take Murderdale and the Carmine Fields
The few remaining orcs in the Barrens avoid contact with the Empire

Summer 381YE Druj break treaty and attack Druj take Dawnguard, destroying the Towers of Dawn
Winter 381YE Heroes from Anvil, with support of the Great Forest Orcs, raid slave camps in the Barrens Citizens returned to the Empire
Autumn 382YE Kaela offers her gift to Imperial citizens captured by the Druj
Autumn 382YE Criminals from House Martel, flee into the Barrens Heroes from Anvil apprehend them
Summer 383YE Imperial Armies attempt to retake the Barrens Armies repulsed, but, with the support of Irra Harah, many prisoners are rescued
Autumn 383YE Imperial orcs declare an Ambition to claim the Barrens TBC
Summer 384YE

Imperial armies move into the Barrens from north and south and create the Steel Causeway

Battle opportunity gives a chance to reconcile with the Great Forest Orcs

Civil service are able to assess the current situation in the Barrens