- "One hundred generations have defended this fortress. She has not fallen before and she will not fall now. Those are ghouls knocking down our doors. They eat the flesh of the men they kill! Do you want to fill the belly of a ghoul today? Today we fight! And when the sun rises tomorrow, I promise you, Fort Highbridge will stand! The Men of Westmarch will stand! With me now, now with me!"
- —Sir Ingold's speech moments before the battle.
The Attack on Highbridge is an event that occurred during to the War of the Shadows. It is well known for being among one of the few demonic or undead battles that occurred in Westmarch after the Emergence of Evil. The attack ended with Westmarch victory and the demonic threat has since been eliminated. It is considered to be the second largest battle at Highbridge, behind the Battle of Highbridge during the War of the Black King.
Much of the events that unfolded during the Attack on Highbridge surrounds the Grey Company, mainly the Soulstrider siblings who acquired a demon's tooth in Lut Gholein from their friend Hartigan. This demonic tooth, if acquired in the wrong hands, can create a devastating affect called the Demonic Haze: a mist that defiles and transforms ordinary humans into blood thirsty ghouls.
On April 28th 1269 A.K., after departing the Grey Company, Mengsk and Solene were taken in by Kygar to the encampment of Fargo Tribe. The siblings answered only to the Lord of Bones, a demented and fiendish necromancer who delves into dark magic. The Lord of Bones was short on curtsy and provided little hospitality to the fellow necromancers. To there wish, Mengsk and Solene were granted access to the tunnel system that ran several miles and into the catacombs of Fort Highbridge, but only by surrendering their demonic tooth; with no use for the unholy artifact, Solene gave the tooth as a bargaining chip. Unbeknownst to the Soulstriders is the fact that the Lord of Bones had sinister intentions with the demonic tooth.
Before the dawn arrived, the Lord of Bones had fully unleashed the Demonic Haze into the encampment, cursing nearly all its citizens and inhabitants of the Fargo Tribe. While on patrol duty within the hills, Kygar and his guards heard the commotion from the camp and they returned home swiftly to find most of the tribesmen in frantic screaming as they tore at their own flesh. As for himself, the crazed necromancer had became a vessel for the demonic power that he unleashed from the tooth, thus the ghouls were forced into his thrall.
- "Hold this ground, Soulstriders! When the horde breaks through, return swiftly to the surface!"
- —Oberith's last words to the Soulstriders.
After the survivors were rescued and taken in to the catacombs of Highbridge for safety, the trio continued into the caverns to find the exit into the west. However, despite their best efforts, Mengsk, Solene and Oberith were heavily outnumbered in the skirmish that followed and were forced to retreat back to the fortress. They nearly escaped the tunnels with their lives and managed to seal the entrance of the caverns upon returning.
With the door now sealed, the ghouls began breaking through slowly but surely. Oberith and Kygar lead survivors up to the surface while Mengsk and Solene held off the attackers at the tunnel entrance. Both necromancers managed to kill dozens of ghouls, with the help of Solene's golem, but ultimately once again had to flee the skirmish as the ghouls began their full assault. By the time Mengsk and Solene made it back to the surface the survivors and civilians had been evacuated from the courtyard of the fortress; the Grey Company then helped seal the entrance of the catacombs from the outside.
- "If any man dies with a clean sword, I'll rape his fucking corpse!"
- —Sir Robert Connington leading his comrades during the attack.
By the time the Soulstriders reached the surface - after defending and escaping the catacombs - they found that the fortress had been warned by Oberith, thus many inhabitants had already began to flee, both guards and civilians. The Lord Commander Loras attempted to summon all able bodied warriors to the courtyard, including the recently condemned Sir Ingold Thorne. When nearly half the sworn defends of the fort began to turn their backs on the fight, it was Sir Ingold who rose to the Statue of Rakkis and gave the Men of Westmarch an inspiring speech. Those that listened turned back to prepare for battle; they returned to the courtyard to form a concave position around the entrance to the catacombs just as the ghouls broke through to the surface.
With the ghouls now pouring into the courtyard, the battle then commenced. At the front of the fight was Ingold and the entire Grey Company leading a vanguard into battle; the Lord Commander led the main forces from both sides into the fray. Sir Jakob Hodgeson, a master arbalist of the Grey Company, took command over the archers on the walls. Sir Robert Connington proved ever vigilant in slaying the ghouls, and kept most of the vanguards in the heat of the battle. The most valorous warrior within the fight proved to be Sir David Blackspear, who struck down nearly two dozen ghouls during the battle; fighting valiantly along side the Mirth Knight was Ingold, Arnod, Arson and Kennet. Eventually, Lord Commander Loras receded from the fight and gathered six of his most skilled knights; with Loras leading the cavalry, the Knights of Highbridge flanked the ghouls upon horseback.
- "I am the scales of justice, conductor of the choir of death! Sing, for the court! Sing, brothers! Sing! SING! "
- —Lord Commander Loras shouting a battlecry.
Several spellcasters joined into the fight as heavy support for the Men of Westmarch, including the Soulstrider siblings and a coven of witches that had escaped the tunnels. Solene placed much of her magic onto her mighty golem with the support of Mengsk's spiritual atone. Unbeknownst to most of the participants in battle was the fact that Solene's nephalem powers had greatly increased during the fighting. The coven eventually ran dry on mana, thus yielding their spells; in an attempt to rejuvenate her mana efficiency, the leader of the coven, Lady Almira, assaulted Mengsk and absorbed his energy. When Solene caught wind of Almira's actions, she unleashed her golem onto the coven, sparking a duel in the middle of the battle.
Halfway through the battle, the surviving wendigo fought his way into the courtyard and aided the Men of Westmarch, even saving Sir Ingold from a group of ghouls. The battlefield turned into utter chaos when the flaming arrows that rained down from the archers caused a stable to catch fire. Lady Almira, the head of the coven, was injured during the duel with Solene; the Witch bared witness to her entire coven slain by the onslaught. After the chaos settled down and the battle proved favorable for the Men of Westmarch, Kygar's followers began searching for their lost daughter.
As the battle reached its end, the remaining ghouls spread through out the fortress and caused the the defenders to splinter off and track them down. Among the hunters was Sir Haldon, who followed several ghouls into the barracks; the young knight received a fatal blow to his heart before Sir Oberith proceeded into the fray and slayed the remaining ghouls. Despite his victory, the elder knight succumbed to his wounds and died within the barracks. Only one survivor emerged from the fight wtihin the barracks: a witch from Almira's coven. She bared witness to the death of both knights, but was shocked to find Sir Haldon arise mysteriously. When the witch questioned Haldon's resurrection, the young knight, with eyes black as pitch, told her, "there can be no witnesses" and slayed her.
In the last moments of the battle, Kygar's daughter revealed herself among the fallen. However, to their horror, Kygar and his wife bared witness to the little girl's transformation into a ghoul. When she began to approach the defenders, only Ingold was able to step forward and reluctantly strike her down. Kygar and his wife were left in utter grief; after slaying the undead girl, Ingold fell into a state of shock and despair as he walked away.
Though the battle had been won by the Men of Westmarch, the fort's inhabitants had suffered devastating losses. The corpses of the evil undead were burned outside the fortress, while the fallen defenders were cremated and buried within the catacombs. Sir Oberith, a Knight and war veteran, received a special honoring, and his mace and ashes were delivered to his family. Warden Farkus, who had condemned Ingold to a prison cell only hours earlier, had the battle-weary knight escorted back into detainment.
The Soulstrider siblings, who were still hasty in continuing their quest, left the fort shortly after the battle had concluded, whilst bodies of the fallen where still warm. This sparked some controversy upon the Grey Company; many of the Knights, specifically Ingold, saw it as disrespectful for Soulstriders to disregard those who had died and leave without a farewell. In hindsight, Ingold realized that the attack by the ghouls and the devastation wrought was somehow connected to Mengsk and Solene's activities with the Lord of Bones.
Lord Commander Loras sent word to the surrounding fortresses in Westmarch about the attack and warned them to confine to their defenses lest any more demonic attacks commenced. He also reported to the Archduke of Westmarch, Byron Bennen, on the mater of the Grey Company. Meanwhile, Haldon, Robert and David of the Grey Company retreated from the fortress in hopes of swiftly returning to their homes. Unbeknownst to the public was the fact that Haldon was a Skin-Walker and serving his dark master.
Counter-Attack and Consequences Edit
The following day after the attacks, Dark Templar Alec Kylar accompanied by Grand Marshal Jayla Songbird and her Fallen Feathers arrived to the fortress to offer their aid. Presenting himself as mysterious and aliasing as "the Night Angel", Alec began to hold council with Warden Farkus and Sir Ingold; Jayla forged an alliance with Lord Commander Loras, and in doing so convinced him to send aid to the crippled Sisterhood of the Sightless Eye.
- "Power resides where men believe it resides, it’s a trick, a shadow on the wall, and a very small man can cast a very large shadow. But if it is the swordsman who rules, why do we pretend kings hold all the power?"
- —Alec and his penchant for posing rhetorical questions.
After holding council with the aldermen of Highbridge, Alec deduces that the attack was of demonic origin, thus drafting Almira the Witch and Hellhands the Vizjerei. With the help of the two dark mages, Alec, Jayla, Ingold and Kygar venture into the catacombs; following in their steed were The Fallen Feathers, Grey Company and Kygar's warriors united. The entrance to the tunnels lead the group directly to Fargo's encampment where they found what little remained. A small skirmish ensured as a handful of ghouls attacked the adventurers. Upon finding the Lord of Bones, who had mutilated himself into a near fatal manor, Almira and Hellhands finished him off and retrieved his skull on Alec's orders.
Though pleased in his actions, the Warden saw that Ingold was placed back into confinement upon returning to the fortress. However, Alec later helped free the Moon Knight from his prison and granted safe passage to his home and family. Kygar and his grieving wife returned back to Fargo's encampment to rebuild their life with their remaining tribesmen. Almira and Hellhands, having aided Alec in his endeavor, were branded as a rite of freedom by the Warden and oppressed as 'thralls' to Alec's service.