Ellron's men attack Irondune


Ellron's skill at the sword and joust were said to be incomparable save Syovar the Strong. Following the collapse of the Great Underground Empire in 883, the great Syovar made a pact of peace and frienship with Lord Ellron. The two friends helped to recreate the Knights of Frobozz to establish order to the land of anarchy, amongst plagues of monsters and warring neighbors. It was only the military strength of these two men that perserved any semblance of stability in the Eastlands following the collapse, which would allow Syovar to march against the western continent in his attempts to reunify the empire. As leader of the Knights of Frobozz, the tall Ellron was easily detected amongst the ranks, as his stead was whiter and more powerful than the others.

Ellron took possession of the White House which had emerged on the spot of former Flatheadia. He kept the hidden key to the cellar (which descended into the Dungeon of Zork) on a string around the neck of his songbird. The bird and cage were guarded by a spell of invisibility. Sometime during his absence, his songbird escaped and the key became distangled in a nearby bird nest.

Evil times plagued the Land of Frobozz in the late ninth century as every warlock in the kingdom attempted to gain control. The most powerful of these was Krill, who gathered an army of lizard warriors and used powerful spells to enslave many humans to fight in his army against their own will. Krill's first battle was waged against the capital of the newfound Empire, the Aragain Province and the Castle of Zork. To counter this uprising, King Syovar declared war on Krill and with Ellron at his side, fought the warlock with his amassed army. The early campaigns were many, but the forces of Krill grew so strong that they were not able to overcome the evil that had sntached the land. They knew that to gain victory they needed both the Sword of Zork and the three Palantirs of Zork.

Bivotar and Juranda, the nephew and niece of Syovar, who had been in Krill's captivity for nearly 200 years, managed to escape and stumbled across the Sword of Zork. They both met Sir Ellron and the Knights of Frobozz in the Foothills of Frobozz as they were collecting with Syovar's forces at the campsite near the White House. Ellron had no time to spare them the details of occurrences during their imprisonment. Thus he directed the pair to an ancient man still dwelling in a nearby village within the folds of the foothills, who explained to them all the doings in the kingdom from the fall of the Empire to the current campaign against Krill. Ellron met with Syovar and told him the jubilant news of Bivotar and Juranda's escape and that the Sword of Zork was in their possession. Unfortunately, the armies of Krill which were amassing beyond Flood Control Dam #3 forced Syovar to hurry off to battle and leave without waiting for Bivotar and Juranda to arrive.

Ellron and Syovar engaged with Krill's host, but the Knights of Frobozz were beaten in battle that day and forced into retreat. Syovar fled to the underground base in the nearby coal mines where the survivors rendezvoused to form a last defense against Krill, but Ellron was taken prisoner. The bloody and disheveled knight escaped on his mount and was pursued by one of Krill's most powerful warlocks to the cliffs overlooking the Aragain Falls. Knowing that a Frobozz Magic Anti-Gravity Field was installed, Ellron hurled harmlessly over the edge into the gorge. The faithful Ellron traveled the bank of the Frigid River upstream. His route to the underground base took him past the dam where he met with Bivotar and Juranda.

At that moment, a letter from Syovar arrived via gray owl, informing Ellron that the armies of Krill had amassed for battle once again. He reasoned that if the armies of Syovar lost this round, that it would be their final defeat. But even if the knights were able to defeat Krill on this day, Ellron knew that without the three Palantirs, it would only be a matter of time before Krill was victorious. He bid Juranda and Bivotar goodwill, warning them of Krill's shape-shifting powers and that Syovar never removed his Ring of Zork, and departed to reunion with Syovar in the coal mines. Just as Ellron arrived at the mines, Krill discovered the hideout and forced all of the Knights of Frobozz to withdraw into the White House.

Krill's pursuing army of at least ten thousand strong surrounded the White House. Bivotar and Juranda, having found the three Palantirs of Zork, climbed up the rickety stairs and met the Knights in the living room. Ellron admired bivotar and Juranda, stating that they both had more courage and were more cunning than many of his own knights. The two adventurers presented the Sword of Zork and the Palantirs to Syovar. He quickly placed them into the trophy case, read the inscription on the case and recited a spell to summon the legendary Warriors of Zork, which were able to crush Krill's hosts. Although the Palantirs were magically relocated elsewhere in the Dungeon of Zork below the White House, Ellron kept the elvish Sword of Zork in his posession, hanging it on hooks above the mantelpiece in his living room.

The temporary defeat of Krill ushered in a brief period of peace which bolstered the kingdom. Malifestro, another evil wizard who lived on the east side of the Flathead Mountains, prepared for world conquest. He conjured a powerful spell to capture Syovar and held him for ransom in his Fenshire castle. The mighty ransom for the freedom of the king included a wealth of gold and jewels, half the land of the Kingdom of Zork, and ten thousand men to be enslaved by the greedy wizard. Refusal to concede to the payment would forfeit the return of their king, and many believed, his life.

Denying this outlandish ransom, the noble and faithful Sir Ellron gathered the Knights of Frobozz, who at that time were two thousand of the best soldiers of Zork. He led them forth to rescue Syovar but they did not return for many days. No one knew if it was the treacherous pass of the Flathead Mountains or the awful power of Malifestro. With the king captured, the Knights of Frobozz too far away to protect the kingdom and the remaining soldiers were without their former might. The Aragain Province soon fell into anarchy and barrenness. After this point, Ellron is absent from history until Syovar's campaign against the Enchanters' Guild and his conflict with Thaddeus Kaine.


The records in regards to Syovar’s campaign against the Enchanter’s Guild is shrouded in much mystery and darkness, abounding in questions and speculations. The foremost problem lies in the dating of the start of the war and who was the original instigator. The Enchanters would join Ellron against Thaddeus Kaine in 924, and by 925 a coalition formed against Syovar and he was losing control of the Westlands. A scattered fragment tells us that when Syovar’s armies invaded the Westlands in the early tenth century, that no one in the local Westlands population defected to him. But it is not known if this invasion occurred before or after the events listed here. It cannot be certain either if the Enchanters’ opposition against Syovar was a result of his supremacy over the Westland city-states following the Conference of Quendor (as their tension against Syovar did not seem to be present until after this event), or if it was directly related to something involving the alchemical persecutions. It cannot be a distant theory of the assumption that Enchanters' Guild saw Syovar as an enemy because of his failure to eliminate the remnants alchemists who, having fled the Westlands, took refuge in his lands east of the Great Sea. More information relating to this controversial event is detailed below.

Dispute Turns to War (924-05-19 GUE)
Despite the Conference of Quendor which merged almost all of the nations under the one banner of Syovar’s Kingdom of Zork, some remnants still could not come to peace with each other. Lord Ellron and Sir Thaddeus Kaine fell to bickering over control of the border regions lying between the former Aragain and Desert River provinces. Their relationship quickly turned terribly sour. An undated letter provides some insight into the nature of this dispute:

General Kaine,

Your refusal to acknowledge the persistent inquiries from myself and my attorneys leave me little choice but to appeal to the authority of King Syovar. I believe that I have the evidence that will allow me to resume my rightful claim to the border regions between the former Aragain and Desert River Provinces and that I will carry the day in all other matters. The time for compromise had ended.


The long unsolvable ordeal kindled ever-increasing tensions between the two, over farmlands near the Desert River, that finally reached their height on the evening of Arch 19, 924 when Lord Ellron declared war on General Kaine. There are no records on the results of Ellron’s appeal to Syovar, but it may be reasonable to assume that either Ellron did not have enough evidence to his claims, or that Syovar’s campaign against the Enchanters had already begun and Ellron refused to wait until the king had returned to the Eastlands. Whatever the reason, this fight between Ellron and Kaine was more critical than many others in the Empire at the time due to Kaine’s rumored creation of Thaddium, the lethal zirradiated ore. Many feared that if this weapon of mass destruction were to be unleashed, the very world beneath them might be totally destroyed.

It is here that we enter into another mystery. For by the next day, Ellron aligned with the powerful and political Enchanters Guild of the Westlands against Thaddeus Kaine, and was rumored to have purchased a lethal scroll from Wizard Bilboz. In an undated letter found in Castle Irondune, Ellron threatens Kaine and remarks on his alliance with the Guild:


Your pathetic attempts to harness the lethal magic of Thaddium were futile. The Guild is now supporting my cause and we have something far more powerful than Thaddium. In five years, your precious Irondune will be nothing more than dust blowing in a wasteland, and your men as weak and womanish as your own Lucien.


Why did this happen? All we can note is that from future correspondences between Syovar and Kaine, that Syovar did not realize the General for the wicked man he was. Perhaps Kaine’s treachery against Ellron was so devastating that he had no choice but to have it urgently dealt with, and without Syovar’s support, the only ones willing to support his cause were the Enchanters despite that they were at animosity with the Kingdom of Zork. One can however, only speculate.

The results of the never-ending feud between Ellron and Kaine would have major impact on Syovar’s ability to expand and unite the entire Zork lands. For the next two decades the endless war would drag on unceasingly without solution. During Syovar’s absence on campaign to the Westlands, the two petty lords would march their armies up and down the Aragain and Desert River regions. Ellron at times would obey Syovar’s wishes and order that the violence be stopped, but each time, Kaine’s treachery would begin the conflict again. Their mortal hatred for each other would parade through the pages of history in several epic campaigns throughout the Desert River Province. Many claimed that they knew of no two men that despised each other more.

Ellron vs. Kaine
In a letter found in Castle Irondune, Syovar the Strong wrote to Kaine (925-01-29) concerning the Enchanters' Guild and Ellron:

The Enchanters’ Guild is gaining strength in their power and magic. They have formed a unified coalition and I am losing control of the Westlands. I believe Lord Ellron is now under their control. I can no longer rely on the magic of the scroll.


A letter found in Castle Irondune, from Sophia to Kaine, detailing Kaine’s victory over the barbarian hordes and her fear of Ellron and the Enchanters’ Guild (929-06-16):

Darling Thaddeus,

Crushed the barbarian hordes and even the grand Syovar seems content! Congratulations on your recent victories; but take heed upon your return. The battle is far from over. In your absence, Ellron has discovered a powerful scroll and I am scared. We are deep into the Great Work. If they learn of our secrets, the Enchanters’ Guild, and others, will surely kill us.


Ellron and General Kaine’s forces clashed at Flood Control Dam #678 in 935. In a letter, Kaine summarized the battle to Sophia (935-08-14):

It is rainy and grim here. The fields are muddy and littered with corpses. I am tired of all this. All I want in the world is to return to my castle and back to you. The battle at Flood Control Dam number 678 was more brutal than I expected. Ellron and his hordes somehow had found out about my strategy. Backed by the Enchanters, he has discovered some magical scroll which causes weapons to turn to fudge. It is disheartening and sticky. Our surprise attack was foiled and I lost half my men. Ellron is becoming more and more powerful. Unless I do something, he may gain control of the entire terrain. Morale is low. The worst are the damn night attacks of grues. We barely have enough torches to light a fourth of our camp for more than a few more nights.


In another letter to Sophia, Kaine further describes the war as it drudged on:

Sophia, the battle against Ellron continues and I believe we are winning. Lieutenant Ramsey is a loyal and fierce warrior and has proved an effective leader; I will make him the keeper of my castle if we escape this war alive. I miss you and I think about you constantly. We must finally be together. Sophia, will you please check in on Lucien. I know that you are uncomfortable around him, but I have not heard from him, and I am concerned. He is going through a strange phase.

Shortly after, in an undated letter, Sophia wrote to Kaine after hearing about his victory over Ellron:

Thad my love,

I hear that you have crushed the rebellion and are coming home soon. We are preparing to ring the monastery bells for you as soon as we see your wagon train on the road to the south. Bring back a grue ear for my charm bracelet!


By 945 GUE, Ellron and his men reached the gates of Irondune but they were not able to besiege the castle. But by the end of that year, Thaddeus Kaine was murdered at the Temple of Agrippa by his own son, and the cause for his war fell into complete disarray. His absence caused the gradual decay of his province and his armies as they fell under the command of a series of nameless, second-rate generals that had failed to rise to the urgency of the occasion. Syovar believed that Lord Ellron had, despite his urgings, continued to push his troops further into the haunted and desolate regions that Kaine once controlled. Although Ellron’s armies had previously pushed forward to Irondune, Kaine’s armies had still held territory as far north as the Frigid River Valley until 945, but by the spring of 946 they had been forced back to the regions surrounding the inaccessible Temple of the Ancients.

During the winter of 946~7, Ellron’s armies fell utterly out of his control. Every last man once under his authority fell prey to the sickness that pervaded the Forbidden Lands, from his highest generals to the lowest foot-soldiers. The first mutinies began in the last weeks of 946. By Estuary of 947, General Frobblemarre already quelled three different riots in his ranks by executing one out of every twenty men that took part.

At the start of 947, with both the Desert River and Famathria Provinces lawless, these troops succeeded in overrunning them entirely. Kaine’s castle was besieged by the marauding armies, a vain assault that in 949 would finally be turned away. Over the next year and a half following the beginning of the siege, large numbers of soldiers would break away from the main invading army. Roving brigades would fall upon one random village after the next like packs of wild wolves, ignoring all orders and communication with the outside world. These hordes were driven by a force almost outside of themselves, moving in directions and committing atrocities that even they did not understand. A few of the older veterans showed enough strength to leave these guerillas, but those that did seemed to lose their sanity in the attempt, wandering the hillsides aimlessly, mumbling to themselves. What inhabitants remained in the region kept hidden behind their boarded-up doors, terribly frightened. This bloody aftermath would weave its course across the southern provinces until the removal of the Nemesis.

It is here that we turn to the writings of Bivotar, who on the 27th of Estuary, 948 gives us but a glimpse into the intense drama between Syovar, Ellron, Kaine, and the Enchanters' Guild when he wrote to the King:

It is here that your concerns of the loyalty of Lord Ellron become the most important. Ellron himself had spent most of the year [947] at your side, aiding you in your struggle to retake the ancient Westlands. In your final conversation with me, you had seemed worried that he had not been entirely honest with you, and that even as he was assisting you in your darkest hour, he had betrayed you. Rumors had reached your ears that Ellron persisted in the conquest of the Desert River area in hopes of forging his own power base, and ultimately rebelling against your authority.

I can assure you now that these accusations are not true. Ellron has remained faithful to you throughout the entire affair, and if he had ever been dishonest in his reports to you, it is only to spare you the burden of knowing the truth.

…At any rate, these drifting criminals are hardly in worse condition than what is left of Ellron's army. I doubt that any of the men under Frobblemarre are sane enough at this point to attempt to make any contact with Ellron. Perhaps this is why Ellron has seemed so distracted lately: he does not know the fate or whereabouts of thousands once under his command. Now it seems that the few reports we had heard in Aragain were true. Ellron's armies have pushed what is left of the resistance all the way to the southern reaches of Famathria, across the southern branch of the Frigid River, and within sight of Kaine’s ancestral castle. No one here knows what was the final goal of that insane and rebellious army, nor exactly what the siege of Kaine’s castle will accomplish. Still, the black smoke of battle grows thicker each day.

He also wrote regarding the effects the war had upon the Desert River terrain:

As I make my way through the desert south of Aragain, the desolation of the sand dunes renders this already-deserted province nearly unbearable. It seems hard to believe that this desert was not always a wasteland—not until the black magic of two ruling egos leveled it.

Throughout 948 and 949, Ellron's berserked army was in a lamentable state as it continued to prey savagely upon the local cities. When Ellron returned to the White House in 948, he found twenty valuable treasures which had been placed there by an unknown adventurer on his quest to become the Second Dungeon Master. He listed them for sale in the New Zork Times classifies:

    FOR SALE: Twenty valuable treasures.
    Someone just left them in the
    trophy case in my living room. How
    about that?! Write to Ellron, White
    House in the Clearing, Forest of Zork

Before Ellron could sell the twenty treasures, the crystal Skull of Yoruk was stolen by a pack of grues before the end of the year.

Breaking the Siege of Irondune (949 GUE)
Although Ellron was not longer present at the battlefield, Ellron's army had routed Kaine's forces and pushed them into the southern edge of Famathria. But these barbaric men had not been able to break through the thick plates of shell-pocked corroded iron that comprised Irondune. Some of the upper levels of the structure had crumpled from beneath the ferocious military assault. Ellron’s cannons, lining the eastern ridge of the Copper Hills to the north of Irondune, continuously bombarded the castle while his infantry were pitched along the southeastern banks of the Frigid River Branch. The only forces loyal to Kaine that remained (apart from a single retired soldier within the castle itself who refused to desert the General) were reinforcement troops from neighboring lands, namely Port of Tumper. This force, a unison of cavalry and infantry, was dissected from the castle by both the Frigid River Branch and Ellron’s infantry, who kept them at bay from time to time with heavy cannon fire from atop the hills.

An unknown female pilgrim successfully deciphered the radio system which Kaine used to deliver messages to his troops. After consulting Kaine’s war journal and carefully planning a strategy to defeat Ellron, she relayed the proper instructions to the small Irondune unit and those gathered at Tumper:

1.    Decoy with Power
2.    Build Bridge
3.    Split the Troops
4.    Infiltrate & Destroy
5.    Verify Message

The strategy was verified by the retired solider and the army followed orders. The forces of Tumper, consisting of cavalry and infantry, were on the northwestern side of the river cut off from the castle. A bridge could not be built for their passage across unless Ellron’s forces on the southeastern banks were lured away. To accomplish this, a unit of Kaine’s men near the castle itself went out to set decoy barrels of gunpowder on the outskirts of Irondune. The soldiers abandoned the gunpowder and retreated back to the castle. This decoy was a startling enough disruption to draw the entirety of Ellron’s infantry away from the river to investigate.

While Ellron’s men were at a distance from the riverbanks, the armies of Tumper on the northwestern side quickly built bridges over the water. Once across, the troops were ordered to split. The cavalry went north along the banks of the river and through the Copper Hills, while the infantry remained at the shores of the river. Realizing that it was no more than a distraction, Ellron’s infantry returned to the river, shocked to find that the Tumper infantry had crossed in their absence. Simultaneously, command was given for the Tumper infantry to engage with Ellron’s while the Tumper cavalry infiltrated through the Copper Hills, breeched Ellron’s lines along the eastern ridge and destroyed his cannons. The forces of Tumper returned to their homeland, victorious. Thus the siege of Irondune was broken and Ellron’s army scattered.

After the War
With the defeat of the alchemists and the restoration of Lucien Kaine at the Temple of Agrippa, the curse of the Nemesis vanished. Although documentation of their juxtapositions have been lost to us, Syovar’s war against the Enchanters’ Guild reached its immediate conclusion following the dispersal of the curse. The controversy between Ellron and Kaine was resolved and the Forbidden Lands were reopened. It is unknown if the surviving remnants of Ellron's armies were restored after the revoking of the curse.

With the conclusion of an agreement between the Second Dungeon Master and the Flathead successor-king Syovar, the Great Underground Empire seemed poised to rise again. The barbarians that had once again overrun Fenshire and the Gray Mountains were in turn defeated and assimilated. Above ground, Syovar had come to control nearly all the Flathead holdings in the eastern provinces, and a significant portion of the older lands across the ocean to the west. Official correspondence and personal diaries kept by inhabitants of the Castle of Zork betray an amazing confidence and growing vigor. Ellron displayed just this attitude in a letter to Barbel of Gurth, dated Ottobur 949, a year after the ascension of the new Dungeon Master:

Now at last we can free ourselves from the shadow of the Flathead failure and get on with the job at hand. The creation of one noble and magical Quendoran empire, the task begun by Entharion so many centuries, can now at last resume again!

Despite this optimism, a second disastrous collapse was less than two decades in the future.


SOURCE(S): Zork: The Forces of Krill, Zork: Malifestro Quest, Zork Nemesis (game, design documents, Bivotar's journal [esp. the unedited version]), A History of Quendor, New Zork Times 3.1