The Great Forsaking of Harbrook was the final battle of the Ostian War of Independence. It was fought primarily between the Kingdom of Vesryn and the Territory of Ostia, as well as its Northern Tribes. A detachment of soldiers from Leoben were also present. The battle was fought in the frozen northern reaches of Ostia, at the town of Harbrook.
It is widely considered to be the event which marked the true beginning of the Heartstone Crisis.
Preparations for the Battle
Prior to the battle, King Edric I had sent out scouts to the surrounding regions around where the Vesryne army was camped at Aldmill, and located a massing of forces towards the town of Harbrook. After a couple days, he marched his army north for one decisive battle, despite the unforgiving conditions that he would find there. With the first of the winter storms, the Leobische men arrived with grim tidings for the young but fierce Ostian general Hrafn Sigmundsson. The town would not be able to evacuate in time for the mountain passes had closed up with the frosts.
Resolved to defend Harbrook to the last man, Sigmundsson tasked his army and many of the civilians with the important work of fortifying the area. They were able to fortify the town for a rudimentary siege. On the first day, civilians from surrounding towns to the north had fled to the city, anticipating retribution on their lands and families from the invading armies of Vesryn, leading to far more civilians being present at Harbrook than Sigmundsson had hoped for.
On the second day, the Vesryne army arrived.
The Skirmish of Branchbury
The first skirmish was fought in the northern fields, two miles to the north of Harbrook in the hamlet of Branchbury. A major detachment of the Vesryne vanguard led by Lance Captain Adair níc Chollaigh marched there to find and destroy Ostian food supplies. However, they were met by 6,000 militia and soldiers. The battle lasted only a few hours, but 620 civilians and soldiers on the Ostian side were killed. Only 53 Vesryne soldiers had been killed. Emboldened by their victory, Chollaigh led his men towards the town, only to be met by the commander Gustaf von Arnheim, who set upon them in ambush. This time, Chollaigh lost 700 soldiers, while only 50 Leobische died. This led to the vanguard pulling back and refortifying its position north of Harbrook.
The Day of the Battle
Sigmundsson and von Arnheim's attack
A day later, the attack started in earnest. Tired of waiting for another attack, Sigmundsson and von Arnheim led their men north of the town to engage in battle in earnest. In the ensuing fight, they fought a slow but steady retreat towards the town, ensuring that the Vesryne army stuck with them. They drew the first units into well-placed and planned killing zones, with crossbows and archers drawn from the local populace firing their first effective volleys into the Vesryne ranks.
Their success was short lived, however, and with the arrival of a small detachment of Griffon cavalry, King Edric I broke into the city, and the final stages of the battle commenced.
The Day of the Great Forsaking
During the battle, forces loyal to Ostia took refuge inside of a basilica of Israphel, and in the ensuing conflict the structure was set alight. The cause of the fire was unknown, but it was believed to have been Vesryne troops who set the blaze.
As Esther de Laurelay would later describe, in lieu of her husband who fell into a coma soon after the battle, the fire enraged the Archangels. Mere minutes after the blaze, a bright, blood red light suddenly enveloped the entire town, and took the lives of over one-hundred thousand men, women and children. Casualties included soldiers from both sides of the battle, and civilians were not spared from the outburst of divine anger.
Although never revealed to the world, the terrible truth of the forsaking came to light during the events of the Heartstone Crisis. In the panic of the conflict, druidic forces loyal to the Archangel Netheriel had travelled to the town, preparing wards and runes weaved with nefarious carmine energies to turn the battle into a sacrificial field. In a single, devastating event, the town was entirely wiped out, and their souls were trapped inside of a large heartstone.