The Autumn Earth War of 1021 Avard was the last time the Vridaran Empire and the Toomaran Tribes met one another on the battlefield. The peace between the two nations was the result of one man, and his sword; together, the two brought understanding and reason to a senseless nightmare. Though William Devon's name is rarely recognized outside of Vridara, his weapon's name is. The term 'a princess sword' has come to describe any sword worthy of legend.
William Devon was a knight errant of the House of Turellia in Vridara. The Turellian House was fairly powerful, sitting astride the major trade routes between the Toomaran Tribes and the kingdom of Vridara. Devon was a border knight, patrolling the edges of the vast Vridaran Forest, and the Dalenath Plains. The knight's duties took him deep within the Vridaran Forests in search of bandits and thieves, and far out onto the Dalenath Plains to negotiate with the Autumn Earth Tribe of Toomarans.
After a particularly grueling mission that took him deep into the Mule Mountains west of Vridara, William Devon returned to Sorel, the home of House Turellia. His plate mail was lined with dents and scratches. His surcoat was covered in blood. His two-handed sword had snapped in half. Exhausted, broken, and still wounded, Devon's devotion to duty brought him before Duke Irlan Turellia to report. By chance, the report happened upon the sixteenth birthday of the Duke's eldest daughter, Heather.
The Knight Errant and the House Princess were instantly taken with one another. Bards at the birthday celebration nearly fell over one another to make a song of the event, for the sheer need that showed in each of the lover's eyes was the stuff of legends. Adding to the tension of the meeting was the fact that Heather's betrothed husband in a marriage of arrangement was present for the birthday.
Devon did not sleep that night, and left for the borderlands before the moons were high. Heather, forsaking the House for love, discovered the Knight Errant's absence just as the moons began to slide towards the edge of the world. One week later, she was married to the Earl of Sorel from the Lake of Fire. The House Princess and the border knight subsumed their love to duty, and buried their needs.
William Devon, aware that their love would destroy the House of Turellia, turned to the smithy. The destruction of Vridara's second most powerful House would bring Vridara to civil war. Devon poured his heart and anger at circumstance into the forging of a new sword. Every strike of the hammer in the late hours of the night was one more stroke he wanted to render to the Earl of Sorel – sleeping with the woman of his dreams. Every quenching of the red-hot steel blade was as death sliding into Fate for the denial of one woman.
Though unpossessing of artistic talent, and a marginal weapon smith, the hilt of the two-handed sword came to resemble a woman. Her out swept arms became the cross guards. She stood on top of a perfectly spherical pommel with bare feet together. Her hair swept about her head, and up, forming the four-foot long blade. Clothed only in a steel robe that seemed almost diaphanous, the beauty of the sword was lost on Devon – for he could only see remembrances of the woman it was designed after.
The sword appeared to be made of solid silver, though it would never tarnish during the years ahead. Rumors would say that some magic went into the making of the sword; that some wizard or druid sat upon the rafters of the smithy in the form of a raven.
The sudden appearance of the Princess Sword fueled the fires of the bards even more, and the songs they sang began to undo the foundation stones of Vridaran royalty. Though the names were never given, the Fate-crossed lovers in the tale were known to all. House Turellia found itself shaking apart, and Heather came under constant surveillance. The tasks and duties assigned to Devon kept him from Sorel as long as possible, and would have broken any lesser man.
A poor harvest, coupled with a plague among the horses of the Toomarans, brought woe to the traders and merchants of the lands. A spate of storms left the remaining crops molded, and a resurgence of goblins began to tax the Autumn Earth Tribe. The months rolled on into winter, and by the spring, desperation was biting at the heels of even the quickest of the leaders in Vridara.
Turellian peasants began to butcher the wandering cattle of the Autumn Earth Tribe, and the Toomarans raided Vridaran stocks for horses and weapons. During a tour of the ravages caused by the two sides as the conflicts escalated, the Earl of Sorel and his wife were captured by brigands. Though the 'brigands' were suspected of being members of another House, no proof could be brought. A ransom was paid for the Earl, but his wife was given over to the Autumn Earth Tribe.
All of Vridara threw its weight into a massed Spring campaign against the Autumn Earth Tribe, and the Toomaran Tribes retaliated. Caught in between the two opposing forces were the border knights of House Turellia, including William Devon.
Devon and his fellow knights fought long and hard through the summer, ranging deep into Autumn Earth territory, and even into the lands of the Night Sky and Pale Snow Tribes. The Princess Sword became a symbol of Vridaran might and nobility – even against the tent cities of the Toomarans, where only women and children remained.
The Toomarans could not hope to attack the Vridarans on their own territory. The Vridaran Forests hindered Toomaran strikes, and the sloops, rivers, and roads of the Vridarans brought troops and information where the briars and bushes would not allow. The open plains of the Toomarans allowed them to run, but the dual-pronged attack of goblins and Vridarans was wearing them away.
The cost of supporting an army so far from home, in the second year of poor weather and plague, proved too costly. The Earl of Sorel had the ears and support of much of the nobility, and pressed on. Until his wife was returned, he vowed, the Toomarans would pay.
On the front lines, the Princess Sword continued to hew limbs from bodies. The Knight Errant was slowly, grudgingly moving ever closer to the Blooded Steel Tribe, where Heather was being held. The most warlike and strongest of the Toomarans, the Blooded Steel warriors were more than a match for the worn-down Vridarans. The Rorcheth Woods of the Toomaran warriors were light enough for the Toomaran cavalry, but too thick for the Vridaran nobility. The fall months ground on, with winter quickly approaching.
No one knows just what happened that winter, in the Rorcheth Woods. Snow blanketed the ground, and brought the war to a stand-still back in Vridara. But the southern Dalenath Plains, and the Blooded Steel Tribe, were free of Winter's embrace; the war went on without the support of the Vridaran nobility.
Spring finally arrived in Vridara, and with it, the nobility geared up for yet another year of war with the Toomarans. William Devon, mounted astride a Toomaran stallion, exploded full in the face of the Vridaran nobility. Armed with the devastating Princess Sword, and backed by the might of a united Toomaran nation, Devon cut a wide swath down the first expeditionary forces of the year from Vridara. Shocked and dismayed, the Vridarans pulled back nearly to the Vridaran Forests to consult among the various Houses. The Earl of Sorel, livid with rage at what had been his greatest champion, was dismayed to find that Heather rode at Devon's side.
Together, the two lovers led the Toomarans to a simultaneous victory over both the goblins, and the Vridarans inside of Toomaran territory. With a large chunk of its nobility chewed up in the Battle of Lily Lake, the Vridaran King was deposed in a quick and dirty civil war. House Turellia, shocked by Devon's defection, could do little more than stand idly by while the king was deposed. Little more than a puppet for the other Houses, the new king quickly sent an emissary to William Devon.
Devon, with his princess, and the Princess Sword, offered Vridara peace in exchange for two things: the return of all prisoners on all sides, and the divorce of Heather and the Earl of Sorel.
The Earl of Sorel went mad with rage when he heard of the terms, which the Vridaran king was willing to comply with. Armed with his personal entourage, he struck out from Sorel on the Tim River, directly for Devon's base of operations at the headwaters of the Stolen River. The treaty of peace had been complete for two weeks, by the time the small band of Vridarans reached the headwaters.
In the fierce, mad fighting, Heather was slain – though whether intentionally or accidentally was never known. Devon and the Earl squared off, and after a fierce fight amidst the Battle of the Headwaters, both men perished.
The peace continued on, despite the renegade Earl's quest for vengeance. The Vridaran King and the Toomaran Overchief met near the headwaters of the Tim River, on the Dalenath Plains. There, they and their priests laid to rest the remains of William Devon, Heather, and the Earl of Sorel. Neither side wished to part with the Princess Sword, for what it had come to mean to both sides. Rather than risk war over the sword, two warriors from each side were tasked with taking the sword deep into the Mule Mountains and losing it for all time.
The rift between the two peoples began to heal, and with several years of good harvests and good herds, both nations began to trade again.
In the centuries afterward, rumors and legends were sung about by the bards. “The Legend of the Princess Sword” varies from bard to bard, but all agree on the ending. The Princess Sword will one day return, wielded by the spirt of William Devon. And when the two do return, they will unite both the Toomaran Tribes and the Houses of Vridara into one force, to do make war against a common foe.