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1211 RE-- The Battle of Koru Forest

Date: October 20th, 1211
Outcome: Decisive Victory for the Caliphate
Belligerents: Caliphate and allies vs ghuls
Caliphate Commanders: Vekil Sanay Arif, Zia of Nafir, Atma of the Desert
Ghul Commander: "Jahandar the Blade"
Strength: Caliphate: 35 warriors
     Ghuls: 8 fed ghuls, 11 unfed ghuls, 2 Returned, 3 humans
Casualties: Caliphate: Some serious wounds, no permenant deaths
      Ghuls: Almost complete extermination

The ghuls retreated from the borders of the Caliphate of Dusk after the Day of Legends, and had not been seen near the borders during the intervening months. The Caliph ordered an expedition from Hayvan into the northern Sultanate to secure Koru Forest, one of the region's foremost sources of wood and mystic materials. The forest is very close to foothills of the eastern Sunbreak Mountains, and the control of the forest allowed the Sultanate an easy path into the region to gather further resources. However, the advance scouts of the Caliphate went missing: a Desert Screamer, an alchemist, and several members of the Sand Spire. The Caliphate was forced to mobilize quickly, while they still had surprise on their side, hoping that the ghuls hadn't learned too much from their advance scouts about plans for the incursion.

The Vekil of Orde Province, Sanay Arif, commanded the force during its entry into Koru Forest on that bright, hot October morning. The speed with which they traveled severely hampered the ability of the group's ritualists to prepare their magic and strengthen their warriors. Hoping to keep the ghuls off-balance, the Vekil ordered an advance as soon as his scouts located the ghul commander and his force. Although initially advancing in good order, the Caliphate forces had not trained together, and there was some loss of order in their initial clash with the ghul forces. Nevertheless, they formed a battle line that the ghuls could not easily outflank, and each side was soon bloodied. Notably, command of the Caliphate battle line devolved unexpectedly to the charismatic Amos Varr, a mercenary from the Principalities hired by Zia of Nafir. Both sides had a number of wounded at this point, and though the Caliphate seemed to have the upper hand, they disengaged from the fighting to tend their wounded. In later reports on the matter, the Vekil cited concerns that the ghul position was not as weak as it seemed and his force was being lured into a trap.

The biggest surprises of the clash were the discovery that two legendary heroes, Dymas the Younger and Adrastos of the Hammered Soul, stood beside the ghuls, as did three human wizards. This kind of alliance between humans and ghuls had never before been observed, and bodes ill for the Caliphate's future.

The two sides separated for a time to lick their wounds and further reconnoiter the region. At this point, the ghuls began circuitous flanking maneuver intended to approach the Caliphate position from cover, and a portion of the Caliphate force split off to search ruins unexpectedly found in the area. The approach of the ghuls took the remainder of the Vekil's force by surprise, and casualties at this stage were extremely high. It was also at this time, however, that Adrastos of the Hammered Soul and Dymas the Younger shook off whatever had persuaded them to work with the ghuls and crossed the battle lines. For whatever reason, the ghul commander believed that he could not strike decisively and finish the Caliphate forces at this crucial moment, even though few of the Caliphate's force remained standing. Rumors indicate that some sort of negotiation may have taken place with the ghuls, though this is unclear and all involved deny any such negotiation.

At this stage, the other half of the Caliphate force returned, but the general disorder of their return, and the catastrophic situation of the Vekil's main force, allowed the ghuls to avoid being caught in a pincer. Guarded by heavy underbrush, the Caliphate force finished healing its wounded with the aid of Benjamin Kost and Abaza Tansel of the Ivory Sun mercenary corps, and the celestials Yvaine and Televrana. The ghuls regrouped for a final push to wipe out the Vekil's force, but the Caliphate forces fell back to the nearby Koru Bridge, a stone span that dates back to a time before the river changed its course. With superior short-range spellcasting abilities and superior melee reach from their spears, this proved to be the perfect bastion for the Caliphate's force. In one final, bloody engagement, all of the setbacks that the Vekil's force had suffered were wiped away; it is believed that one of the enemy human ritualists survived, along with not more than three or four of the other ghuls. Reports indicate, however, that at least one of the escaping ghuls had gained extensive knowledge of the Caliphate's eastern defenses by consuming the flesh of one or more of the Caliphate's heroic defenders. Certainly the Vekil has scrambled to realign the defenses of Orde Province since then.

Further developments include the surprising reward of a land grant to Amos Varr, who has made it known that he will invite the Redwood Throne in and give it a strong presence - the Throne's first significant foothold in the Caliphate. It remains to be seen how the Caliph will handle this development. The two Returned who changed sides in the middle of the fight have also spread wild stories of the city of Ton Isiq, the legendary city of wizards that lies somewhere in the Wasteland. Their stories offer the idea that the city is now under the control of ghuls. The Caliph has ordered his scholars to find all that they can on Ton Isiq and any connection with the ghuls.