Tartarus: Wrath of the Titans
A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE CRUSADES
To date, four crusades have been launched against the Titans of Tartarus and the Worldwound, and while all four have had varying degrees of success and failure, none have yet driven the armies of Hyperion, self-proclaimed king of the Second Titans, from Helas. A brief history of the war follows.
First Crusade (97-87 Years Ago): Although a fair number of warriors came to Olympia’s aid in the first several years after Tartarus reopened, the cities of Sparta and Athens did not agree on a declaration the First Crusade later, as the repercussions of a mounting death toll significantly delayed the city-states’ abilities to respond to the growing crisis. By the time the First Crusade reached the region of Elis, the fiends had long since seized control of central Olympia, and had claimed significant portions of Elis as well.
The First Crusade bolstered the defenders of Olympia and Elis, boosting both their numbers and morale, and the sudden increase in the enemy’s strength caught the titanic horde unprepared, causing them to retreat back to the Westmounds. With Olympia and eastern Elis thus liberated, the crusaders remained in the region to help rebuild – an offer Elis welcomed gratefully, but one that the disparate and proud citizens of Olympia accepted more reluctantly. In any event, for the next few years the fiends seemed content to focus their wrath upon Elis’ Northlands, battling primarily with the surviving Hellenic cities desperately attempting to reclaim their family lands, while Olympia remained relatively unmolested.
Second Crusade (86-72 Years Ago): When a second wave of Titans and fiends erupted from the Worldwound, the crusaders had by then settled into their new homes in Olympia. They again took up arms against the horde, expecting a short series of fights and boasting that this time they would drive the host back to the very gates of Tartarus itself. But their expectations did not come to fruition. This time, the Titans pouring from the Worldwound were not only more numerous – they were better prepared. Rather than the haphazard, chaotic, self-indulgent mob the crusaders previously encountered, the marauding fiends were now legions driven by powerful commanders. Under their commanders’ direction, the horde orchestrated strike forces, teleported behind enemy lines, drove their enemies toward their advancing ranks, and then crushed their opponents between them. The armies of the Titan queen Mnemosyne captured the crusader city of Leprium using such tactics, forcing the Council of Sparta to finally call for the Second Crusade.
Even with the influx of troops from the Second Crusade, however, it quickly became apparent the Titans were going to win. Fortunately for Olympia, the demons aimed the bulk of their devastating attack eastward and southward. The impending loss prompted the leaders of the Olympian Crusaders to make a fateful decision – they pulled their support from Elis, allowing the demon army to descend on what remained of that land, and instead concentrated their efforts on erecting wardstones along the West Peneas and Ladon rivers. The price of their actions proved steep, but, as the wardstones flared to life, the menhirs contained the Titans within lost Elis and saved tens of thousands from grisly deaths. Yet despite this success, the near- total loss of Olympia is generally regarded as the final capstone on a disastrous crusade.
Third Crusade (70-58 Years Ago): Now contained within Elis by a combination of the wardstones, increased pressure from the Minotaur Lords, and the distraction of an entire nation to plunder, the fiends continued to press against the borders but seemed largely content to revel in their captured realm. Meanwhile, as the years passed, the Elisian crusaders grew more and more corrupt-in part due to the subtle machinations of the cult of Prometheus, which had successfully infiltrated numerous companies and faiths throughout Elis, but also because the resource-strained Athenian Council had increasingly accepted less trustworthy members into its war effort. The council launched the Third Crusade primarily as an attempt to galvanize the crusaders, but as its focus increasingly turned toward self-destructive witch hunts and internal squabbling, the crusade collapsed under its own corrupt weight. Ultimately, the Third Crusade accomplished very little within the Worldwound – apart from delighting and entertaining Olympia’s Titanic masters.
Fourth Crusade (52-4 Years Ago): After decades of Titan rule, a dangerous new addition to the fiendish armies arrived in the form of Khorramzadeh the Storm King. Scholars of the war are divided as to whether or not the Storm King had been ruling from Tartarus all along, or if he was but the latest arrival in the region. Regardless, the Storm King’s first assault on the border resulted in no less catastrophic an event than the cracking of the Kenabres wardstone. The ferocity of this attack caught the crusaders off guard, but in the end the wardstone held. In response, the Councils of Athens and Sparta called for the Fourth Crusade. This crusade proved to be the longest and most grueling of the crusades yet, lasting nearly 50 years and ending more as a result of wartime exhaustion than anything else. The Titans lost very little, and in the years since this crusade’s whimpering conclusion, crusader morale along the Worldwound’s borders has reached an all-time low.