The first true war that Salvagard would face began before many even realised. It originated far to the north of kingdom’s boarders, on the icy glaciers known as the Great Northern Expanse. There lived the Icemen, a barbaric people abandoned by their creators at the beginning of time itself.
Despite their name, The Icemen bore little resemblance to humanity, being a form of reptilian descendent that evolved to walk on two legs and live in the coldest of environments. Their bodies were thickly scaled and they wore little to no clothing, carrying weapons that were a mixture of rock, bone and whatever they could forage in the glacial wastes of their home.
They were also cannibals, living off one another when they could not find food enough to sustain them.
For thousands of years they had remained in their frozen wastes, large tribes battling one another over limited resources like fresh water and shelter, causing so much bloodshed that they almost drove their own race to extinction on several occasions.
At this point in their history, however, they had undergone a population explosion, with their numbers increasing over and above almost any other point in their history. With their merger resources being stretched to the very limit they had to move south, to find more resources in order to survive.
What they found was Salvagard. The peaceful kingdom of the Werewolves held a huge bounty of resources for the starving Icemen, and lay close to the barbarians limits, any further south being too warm for them to survive for any length of time.
The hordes gathered and descended into the kingdom down the northern glaciers, known to the Salvagardians as the Ice Wall. It was like a flood of living flesh, with thousands of the savages entering the kingdom to ravage the land and the homes of the peaceful werewolves, taking without mercy and committing acts of brutality unseen before by the People of the Prophets.
The People of Salvagard were wholly unprepared for this onslaught, knowing of the Icemen only in passing, stories told by hunters who travelled close to the Ice Wall.
To the horror of the King much of the northern kingdom was lost within weeks of the arrival of the horde, and the Savages began regrouping for another push further into the kingdom after gorging themselves on northern Salvagard’s bounty. In singular combat a Salvagardian’s superior strength and intelligence won out, but the people were outnumbered fifty to one, and even a werewolf could fall victim to superior numbers.
Until now the Salvagardians had known nothing of war. They were hunters, not warriors, and had little skill in the art of warfare. Time was running out, and for the first period in 500 years it seemed that the Kingdom could be undone by the very thing that made it a suitable place to live, its bountiful resources and lack of challenging opponents to contest the Werewolves’ dominance.
With this invasion the Salvagardians needed to change their ways, fast. King Hengal Norberg held a council of all the remaining nobles in the kingdom, and drew on the ideas of his ancestors as they fought the human tribes long ago. He formed the kingdom’s professional hunters, of which there were a huge number, into leaders of large packs of werewolves that were made up of every man and woman over the age of ascension that was not too old or infirm. These packs would then go out; armed with the finest weapons they could get their hands on, and meet the enemy in the fields and forests of their homeland. All those who could not fight would be sent to Prophet’s pass in the south, a small settlement on the southern boarders of the kingdom, and were prepared to migrate south, away from Salvagard if the war ended in defeat.
Thus began the Ice War, and it was a war unlike any before it. The Icemen had no commanders or Warlords to control them. They were a singles mass, acting and reacting in groups, like shoals of fish or hunting jackals.
Thus the way the Salvagardians fought had to differ from the norm. There were no formations, no marching lines, no banners and certainly no cavalry charges. The werewolves needed to use guile and wit to out manoeuvre the horde, isolating small groups as they would beasts from a pack, then setting upon them, breaking from their cover to tear at the savages before they could rejoin the main force. It was an effective tactic, but it cost the People of the Twelve dear, for casualties were inevitable, and the loss of life was like nothing seen before in the Snow Kingdom.
Before long the werewolves were pushing the Icemen back, their harrying attacks preventing the savages from advancing any further into Salvagard. However, there were side effects that arose from this tactic. The Icemen horde had begun to consolidate, and was becoming a concentrated force far too large to be dispersed by the Werewolves guerrilla tactics. It was a second wave, and it was every bit as devastating as the first push, getting further inland then ever before, smashing aside the hunting packs as they went after the true prize, the city of Salvagard itself.
So the battle came. Close to a year of fighting had led to this moment, the first and only pitched battle of the war. The horde stood at the edge of the forest, waiting for nightfall to begin their attack, whilst the battered forces of Salvagard stood behind their crude wooden palisade, many standing with spears clutched at their sides, ready at any moment to make their final stand in a battle that few could see them winning.
As the dusk drew in the horde grew restless, and they drew together, ready to overcome the defenders and loot the city and its wealth. However, in the east, the horde there was much turmoil, that began as the evening drew near and became gradually more panicked. The defenders looked on in puzzlement as the mass seemed to be fleeing the trees, running as if the demons of the abyss were chasing them.
The answer came soon, for from the trees came a monstrous roar, loud and long, that shook the snow from the trees, and made the crystal of the Great Monument hum in sympathetic tone. Suddenly, from nowhere hundreds of trolls charged from the trees, the shear mass of them blocking out the snow beneath their feet. Their charge hit the Icemen with a sound like a hammer hitting meat, clubs like tree trunks rising and falling as they smashed the northern tribes to paste. Among them there were trolls that used boulders held in their fists, smashing the enemy to shreds and some even using individual Icemen like clubs to hammer their fellows into the ground.
The werewolves were almost in shock. A group they had seen as little threat to them had arrived from nowhere, and was causing true havoc in the lines of the Icemen. The Werewolves quickly rallied their forces in front of the palisade, and as one charged the Icemen’s now exposed western flank, crushing the horde between the two forces of werewolves and trolls. It was fierce and bloody, with more beings dying in the opening minuets then had during the course of the war so far. The number of dead was so great that the slush underfoot was stained red with the blood that had been spilt by both forces, the deep red of the Werewolves and trolls mixed with the blue-green of the Icemen.
The battle was long and ferocious for all parties involved, ebbing and flowing like the tide, but eventually the Icemen broke, fleeing towards the distant Ice Wall with their remaining forces in tatters.
As the last of the Icemen fled the field the werewolves and Trolls turned to regard one another, each force battered and bloodied. The Salvagardians tensed in anticipation of another battle, but the Trolls merely snorted in a dismissive way and quit the field. To this day no one knows why the Trolls helped in the battle, and what incentive they had for doing so, although rumours abound in every tavern and home. Some say the Icemen had encroached on their territory, others that the Trolls had seen the threat of the Icemen and decided to pick a side that would not lead to their utter destruction. However, many hold that Trolls were too primitive to consider such things, and had merely intervened to settle their own bloodlust. Truly, we will never know, and must be content only that they did come.
"You don't have to be mad here, but it helps."