The Shining Crusade was a decades-long war fought by the Taldoran Empire, the dwarves of the Kingdom of Kraggodan, and the Knights of Ozem against the forces of the Whispering Tyrant of Ustalav. It began in 3754 AR and ended with the Tyrant's defeat and imprisonment in 3827 AR and the founding of the country of Lastwall the following year.[1][2]


In the 9th century AR, the wizard-king Tar-Baphon terrorized central Avistan. An immensely powerful necromancer, he followed the strictures of the Whispering Way, longing for immortality through undeath. He and his undead minions were so powerful that it took the power of the god Aroden himself to finally defeat him. In a mighty battle, the Last Azlanti slew the tyrant in 896 AR on the Isle of Terror in Lake Encarthan.[3][4]

Nothing was heard of the wizard-king for thousands of years, and all who even remembered the name Tar-Baphon believed him to be long dead and wasted away. Nothing could have been further from the truth. Through the power of his magic he was reborn as a lich in 3203 AR, now calling himself the Whispering Tyrant. Gathering his undead followers, he traveled north into what is now the Hold of Belkzen. There he unified the quarreling orc tribes by promising them the riches of the southern lands of central Avistan. By the end of 3203 they had conquered Ustalav and brought its people under Tar-Baphon's control. He consolidated his rule over the next 600 years, turning Ustalav into a byword for terror and decadence.[5][3][2]

The WarEdit

Throughout the first four millennia AR the Taldoran Empire had used its Armies of Exploration to expanded westward, and controlled most of land in Avistan bordering the Inner Sea.[6] Deciding that the Whispering Tyrant presented a significant threat, they launched the Shining Crusade against him in 3754 AR.[2] Warriors from all over the empire rallied, converging on the Ustalavan town of Vellumis as a forward staging area. There they were joined by dwarves from the kingdom of Kraggodan and the well-known Knights of Ozem.[1] One of the leaders of the Taldan armies was the mortal Iomedae, who lead the Knights of Ozem.[7][8]

Over the next 26 years they brought their battle to the Whispering Tyrant, finally securing a beachhead on the northern shore of Lake Encarthan in 3801 AR.[2] During this time, crusaders were attacked on the lake by an omox called Jobox, the Corrupton Contained. The creature sunk numerous vessels, killing countless soldiers before it is imprisoned by the priest Niedevis.[9]

Unlike the first time Tar-Baphon threatened the world, the god Aroden did not personally become involved during the Shining Crusade.[3] Instead, the Knights of Ozem summoned Aroden's herald, the warrior goddess Arazni to fight in 3818 AR. She was sadly no match for the lich, and Tar-Baphon humiliated and killed Arazni in 3823 AR.[2]

In the final battle of the war in 3827 AR, the crusaders faced an overwhelming undead army. Tar-Baphon cast terrible magics upon his enemies, singling out the Taldan General Arnisant. The General was protected by a mighty artifact known as the Shield of Aroden, which absorbed the magics and then broke into a dozen pieces. One of these pieces embedded itself into the lich's hand and the Whispering Tyrant burned with a holy fire. Thus incapacitated, he was quickly imprisoned by the crusaders within the central tower of his own fortress. With the Tyrant's defeat the war finally came to a close.[10] The former living slaves of the immortal tyrant were returned to their homelands, freeing the peoples of Ustalav after centuries of servitude.[5]

The Crusade's AftermathEdit

The victorious armies established a permanent garrison in 3828 AR in order to keep watch over the Whispering Tyrant's prison. They named the new country Lastwall, declaring its permanent neutrality in all regional affairs in order to pursue their chosen duty.[1]