Approximately two centuries following the first migrations of Westroners out of the Olmert Empire and into the Valley, a pilgrimage led by the mystic (Efeck the Jade, formerly of the Azure Court) made it's way far to the south, where the winds howl north out of the Holabria Mountains, into the neck of land between the Two Moons river and the Tandalorn River. There is a rift there, which became known as The Cradle, and it was there that Efeck the Jade told his followers that the stars had decreed they should settle.
The problem with the location, although this did not seem to trouble either the stars nor Efeck the Jade, was that the area was overrun by a tribe of Sun King barbarians. This particular tribe was under control of a vile creature of chaos, The Walking Man, and his vile army of followers. The Walking Man himself was a giant of a man, with six fingers on each hand, and instead of a head, featured a bright red octopus instead. When he spoke, it was the sound of a dead body being dragged through gravel. When he went into battle, it was a blur of deadly steel, as he wielded two great curved khopesh blades in his human hands, and another eight axes with his eight tentacles. As horrible as the Walking Man himself was (and still is, he is still alive, even though it has been 1300 years since this story) his army of Sun King worshipers was even more horrible. In addition to the usual mobs of flesh-reavers (the near-animal crazed worshippers of the Sun King, who would move around in frenzied mobs, looking for humans - and demi-humans such as elves and dwarves - to tear into pieces, and then consume), the army of the Walking Man also included dozens and dozens of the headless, as well as Nyagam Worm-Smokers, Illithids, and a whole menagerie of nightmare chaos creatures.
In the face of this wretched army that followed the Walking Man, and inhabited The Cradle, the mystic Efeck the Jade had convinced his followers (who were unused to such horrors, back in the civilized lands of the Olmert Empire) that this was where the stars had decreed that they should settle and make a new life. It was the recipe for disaster.
|Illithids in the service of the Walking Man|
With the first shelf farms being constructed, terraces were marked off, crops were planted, and the business of settling the thousands of settlers was well under way. When the army of The Walking Man descended on the hapless pilgrims. A sort of a defense was put up, with Kof Karn forming a make-shift militia, and several of the pilgrims having had experience as men-at-arms while back in Olmert, however it had been years now since they left, and these were few were old and tired. Efeck the Jade, and his acolytes, were trained as warrior monks, and they helped to stiffen the defenses, but it wasn't enough. The raids became a disaster, and all looked lost, as farm after farm fell to the raiding cannibals, their sorcerer-masters, and horrid monsters of chaos.
Then, out of the north, came help unsought for, and unexpected. A column of crusading wing-knights, from the City of Birds (Scallen), came riding down into the Cradle, having crossed the Two-Moons River the night before, and riding steadily to the aid of the Westroner pilgrims. The column of wing-knights was magnificent - the wind blowing through the wings and bells at the backs of the knights; the men at arms all bedecked in the silks and colors of the knights they served, and the bards of Scallen playing the mighty warpipes! The column was led by a paladin lord named Longlance Karew, from the City of Birds, and he had intelligences of the onslaught planned by the Walking Man.
The knights put the flesh-reavers to flight, and pursued them as far as their mighty warhorses would permit, attempting to kill as many of the abominations as possible. The men-at-arms defended the farms and pilgrims, and the paladins with Longlance Karew pursued the Nyagam Worm-Smokers, who were shifting reality as they fled, and also the Illithids, and the monsters of chaos. Longlance Karew, and his companion the Bluejay (a dextrous swordsman, who was rescued from a life of crime as a rogue by Longlance), pursued the Walking Man himself. Long they rode in pursuit of this terrible evil, south, and further south, into the Holabrian mountains. Pursuit through the mountains continued, even while the noble horses of Longlance and the Bluejay perished (legendary animals known as Black Dragon, and Trotter), they continued in pursuit, far south, untill they reached the Fircarran Peaks, and the lake at the source of the Two-Moons River. Here, the Walking Man descended deep into the earth, into the ancient Old One dungeons of Spirran Deep. Relying on the might of Longlance's magic sword Virtuos, and the marvelous magical flute of the Bluejay known simply as the Feather Flute, they were able to bring down part of the mountain on the entrance to Spirran Deep, trapping the Walking Man underground. As far as the Archivists at Parn Tandalorn are concerned, that is where he remains until this day.
The tradition of the Wing-knights fighting against the Sun King barbarians in the south was not just a one time event, under the leadership of Longlance Karew. Following this crusade, a number of knights out of Scallen, and some of the other Baronies, formed a loose association known as the Sunguard. As it grew over the years, it became less a military order of knights, and more of an information and intelligence sharing association of Rangers.