Irondune, 949 GUE


The castle of Irondune was constructed between 666~7 GUE, in what is today known as the Desert River Province, as a frontier outpost in Pseudo-Duncanthrax's campaign to conquer the entirety of the Eastlands. Nestled between two desert hills, the enormous fortress-like structure is half-buried in the shifting sands of a limitless desert that was flat for literally miles around. The Copper Hills span from east to west directly north of the castle. Eventually the desert opened to an expansive grassy field that ended at the shore of the Frigid River Branch far to the northwest of the castle. On the opposite side of the river lay the Port of Tumper. Irondune had the semblance of a Victorian greenhouse, but where the greenhouse would have had glass, this structure had thick plates of iron. It had been built in such a way to withstand attacks for many months with only the smallest army. While the castle of ornate beauty was a place of war, it remained a place of science, equipped with the most modern of Kaine's weapon and technological designs. He later constructed an alchemy lab in a workshop beneath the Copper Hills, which was once the weapons shop of his castle. Following the siege of Irondune during the first half of the tenth century, the battle-weary castle was renovated and surrounded with heavy perimeter walls.

While certain portions of the castle were destroyed during the siege, the portions that remained intact in 949 included:

Many years following its seventh century founding, Irondune was the ancestral home of a royal bloodline, but fell to Thaddeus Kaine in circa. 920 when he married Elizabeth, a descent of that family. This marriage gave Kaine rule over the provinces of both the Desert River and Famathria. On Mage 19, 924, after a long-winded dispute over lands lying between the Aragain and Desert River provinces, Ellron declared war on Kaine. Allying with the Enchanters Guild, Ellron's men would cause massive devastation across the entirity of the Desert River province, but it would not be until 945 that the armies of Ellron would near Irondune. At one point, Kaine planned to make his Lieutenant Ramsey the keeper of his castle.

This first assault was short-lived, and Ellron's men drew back. Kaine, one of four alchemists in a wicked plot, was murdered in his own conspiracy. His son Lucien, a victim of the scheme, wandered the Eastlands, manifesting his anger by tormenting the scattered enclaves of society that occupied the regions near the alchemists’ homes, one of which was Irondune. Nightmares and visions were so powerful that they lingered for weeks in the minds of the victims and the entire sky over the area became covered with distorted faces and figures. By the end of 945, King Syovar declared the Desert River province to be Forbidden Lands.

Following Thaddeus Kaine’s murder, 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. During the winter of 946~7, Ellron's armies fell utterly out of his control as 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. With both the Desert River and Famathria Provinces lawless, these troops succeeded in overruning them entirely. Kaine's castle was besieged by the marauding armies, a vain assault that in 949 would finally be turned away. In the meantime, the majorty of Kaine's troops were not convinced that the General had disappeared at all. But by 949, all that remained within the castle was a lone retired soldier.

The desert around Irondune was not always a wasteland, not until the black magic of the two ruling egos leveled it. The battle-scarred landscape about the castle was spangled with trenches, shell craters and plumes of black smoke as bomb blasts and tracer bullets continued to rain. The siege forced the armies of Kaine to dig a squat zig-zag path into the earth reminiscent of a trench bunker running from the main door of the castle to the enormous Battle Tank parked at its end. The walls consisted of thickly-layered sandbags. The roof of the bunker consisted of metal plates scavenged from the walls of the castle. The thick plates of corroded iron that made up the walls of the castle were shell-pocked, and some of its upper levels crumbled under the ferocious military assault of Ellron's canons. The grounds around Irondune were

Although Kaine’s army had been routed and pushed into the southern edge of Famathria, the armies of Ellron were unable to break through the castle's thick plates of iron. Gunfire and shouting soldiers could be heard from within the bowels of the castle. 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 the underground 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, having been deceived into embarking upon a quest to resurrection Thaddeus Kaine and his alchemist partners, travelled to Irondune in order to purify his metal. She successfully deciphered the radio system which Kaine used to deliver messages to his troops. Upon consulting Kaine’s war journal (which suggested, “Proper defense requires disabling any artillery fire against the structure. To defeat the army, move in heavy reinforcement troops from neighboring lands.”) 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.

Irondune was later remodeled, its renovations including the construction of an outer perimeter wall.

One of the many portals leading to the Bozbarland arena was installed within the perimeter during the Great Monster Uprising..

SOURCE(S): Zork: Nemesis (game, Bivotar's Journal, design documents), Legends of Zork