Over a thousand years ago, the great Neider Empire stretched out over the Gowdai Mountains, and down into the western plains. Within the mountains, the isolated but fertile Schof Valley was colonized by peoples from all over the Empire. As the empire began to collapse, the governor of the valley was left to keep order. The routes over the western mountains had fallen silent almost immediately Within decades, the trade routes over the eastern mountains fell into disrepair as the Neiderine soldiers that once guarded and maintained them stopped arriving each spring. Occasional caravans and refugees would arrive each year, and then every few years, and eventually no one came over the mountains to the east any more.
With no word from Neider, the governor named his son his successor. From the major towns and villages, the governor collected a Council of the most capable leaders, scholars and warriors to advise him and to carry out his decisions. His line ruled as kings, though they were never really called kings, for hundreds of years. When the last of his heirs died out, the Council decided that they had no real need for an hereditary leader, as they had been essentially running things for centuries.
Things were quiet in Schof, isolated and forgotten in the mountains. Then, ten years ago, a young Blue dragon took up residence in the southern edges of the valley and began terrorizing the locals. The Council, faced with a violent threat for the first time in centuries, formed the first of the Council armies. Each village and town produced their finest warriors, they were brought together under the banner of the Council. Overconfident, the dragon allowed itself to be captured in its lair by the overwhelming numbers of the army. While many died, the dragon was defeated. After that day, all warriors fighting for the Council wear a blue cape, in remembrance of all those who died fighting the dragon, and in remembrance of the great dead the Schofian people accomplished by banding together.
Over the past few years, there have been several encounters with The Vervarin barbarians, as they raided and hunted along the NorthWest of the valley. The Council has had to send forces to drive off Vervarin bands several time. This spring, a large force was sent to attack a large group of barbarians that had come out of the mountains in force. At the same time, The Council Hall at Zelen Keep was captured by dark forces under the command of the mysterious Zacraar. The Keep had never been captured in battle before, and no one survived the attack to tell others how the feat was accomplished.
Deprived of his headquarters, and facing a battle on two fronts, Lord Brunkly acted decisively. He met with Chieftan Kag, and offered to letThe Vervarin settle the sparsely populated SouthWest of the Schof Valley, in exchange for an alliance. At the same time, he spread false rumours that the barbarians had defeated him in battle and that the army was retreating west past Zelen Keep. Thinking to finish The Council completely, the Zacraarian forces sortied out of Zelen. What they found was not a broken army, but a combined force of Council and Vervarin warriors. The Zacraarian force was crushed, and retreated back to the Keep.
The Council has been laying siege to Zelen for weeks now. Confident in their superior numbers, they expected an easy victory. Instead, by the time ladders and towers were constructed to take Zelen Wall, Zacraar had somehow found enough fighters to hold off the assault. Now Zacraar’s forces grow, while The Council sits outside Zelen Keep. The army volunteers are eager to return to their fields before it is too late to plant, and The Vervarin grow restless while they wait to take possession of the land they were promised.