s the first of the Great Wars afflicted the lands, there was wailing and lamentation everywhere. Never before had the supplications for divine mercy arisen so fervently from the lips of the distressed, many of which had been rival battles in which the races had striven to attain supremacy. For when, after years of preliminary verbal skirmish, war eventually broke out and presently engulfed the world in a maelstrom of misery, all peaceful prospects appeared to be smothered for good and the mutual hatred of the peoples was seemingly irreconcilable. For all that - or maybe as a consequence thereof - the number of martial exploits proudly remembered by the various races is enormous, nay, is such as needs must take quiver with fright the unwarlike limbs of the historian and the common tiller alike. Rarely though is an oft-told heroic tale crowned with that aureole of immortality that will outlast the ages and shine until the end of time. Among their number may undoubtedly be reckoned the tale of Diraton of Caelum, to be committed to paper in the following.
Image description: The famous sacrifice of Diraton of Caelum. Picture drawn by Vaelaron.
It is reported that the man whom our geste will honor had worked his way up from humble origins to become, even in the early years of manhood, one of the most gifted military commanders in the ever swelling army of Viginold. According to contemporary testimony that has come down to us Diraton, both as a common soldier and later as an officer, repeatedly and solely by way of his strategic acumen managed to turn the tables on some seemingly hopeless engagements in favor of the human host. Though outwardly of a rather diminutive stature Diraton of Caelum thus - as a reward for his outstanding exploits in the service of the human race - was soon elevated to the rank of captain, the respective ceremony being conducted by the king and supreme commander Viginold Derswungen in person. Now as before his sagacity in military matters secured him a number of triumphs over the elven armies and made his advice - as being that of a man well experienced in the arts of war and leadership - a thing held in high esteem by the royal strategians. Although the youthful hero had grown dear to the king and freely indulged in the royal presence whenever the occasion allowed to do so he had all the same not sprung from the august lineage of the Erpherons which counted Viginold among its scions. Diraton was descended from the clan of the Centoraurians and was thus subject of Evesthon II. who lorded it over the people along the western coast, famed for breeding the most agile horses in all of Sarvonia. Just as it befits then a promising warrior of his age Diraton sought in marriage the hand of his master's daughter and they say that Isella of Vezash reciprocated his love so ardently that in his absence she confined herself to her quarters day and night, anxiously beseeching the Goodhead for the safe return of her beloved.
Diraton, alas, was equally enthralled by the fierce battle-cry as by the sound of love's tender alarum and at times he even craved more violently for the thrill of war than for that aroused by the sight of his intended. Still, it cannot be said of him - as it might be said of so many who engage in the trade of Armeros - that he was filled with hatred for the enemy and that his hatred was the sole reason for his remarkable exploits. Diraton was on the contrary rated as a master of tactical warfare, as a sophisticated strategian who would rather prefer to trap the enemy in some well-placed snare than have recourse to naked butchery just to satisfy the bloodlust which soldiers are so easily prone of. Not least because of his approaching marriage to Isella, daughter of the head of the clan, Diraton was well-known among the Westans and cordially received whenever his splendid white steed - all the more setting off his own mediocre appearance - was spied in one of the villages along the west coast.
In the year of 859 according to the Cournanian Chronology (789 b.S.) it came about, that the Centoraurian was assigned the task of guarding, with a small cavalry force, the approach to a hidden camp of the united human armies against the impending onslaught of the elves of Almatrar. Said camp was reportedly pitched in one of the out-of-the-way valleys of the westerly Ring of Rimmerins, a valley, though accessible from several sides since it had been chossen as rendezvous for the human hosts converging there from all directions. Captain Diraton, well acquainted with the topographical characteristics of the western coast and its environs, was in command of the Centoraurian horse, deployed in the vicinity of the Xythrian Ridge. Apart from keeping a close eye on the enemy movements and reporting back respective facts to other outposts, the rather precarious task of the detachment consisted of detracting a possible assault from the assembled elves of the main army and in trying thus to manoeuver the former into a position where they could be ambushed by the latter.
Picture description: The notorious captain of the dark elven tribe of the Eophyrhim, Beringstin Dimeye. Image drawn by Dramads.
Thus, alas, was not to happen. Perfidious treachery among Diraton's own ranks delivered his cavalry detachment into the hands of the redoubtable dark elves from the woods of Almatrar. A consternated witness to the havoc wrought on his men, Diraton alone spared their fate in regard to his exclusive knowledge concerning the clandestine whereabouts of the human army. Beringstin Dimeye, in his days probably the most dreaded dark elf north of the Elvenground, Beringstin, who called the notorious Paelelon home, personally confronted Diraton and denied the naivity which he had attested in presuming to be able to trap the elven host in an ambuscade. Ambuscaded in his turn now, a dagger poised at his trembling throat, the youthful Diraton was called upon by the leader of the dark elves to choose between two equally fateful alternatives: either to divulge the location of the hidden camp and thus in return for his obligingness save his own life; or to keep his lips closed - which would obviously result in his life being brought instantly to a close. A middle course was not forthcoming. Diraton however, facing his conscience and the necessity to make a decision, could not aquire a task for neither of the offered alternatives as neither of them would secure his peace of mind. Being well acquainted with the customs and convictions of the elves he knew that their sense of honor would oblige the Styreans to keep promises even under the most unfavorable circumstances so that he could be certain to be spared his life if he consented to disclose the location of the secret camp. This however would not only have meant treachery to his race but would also have delivered his beloved Isella into the hands of the enemy, for the maid had been prompted by her father to leave the unprotected town of Vezash, threatened by the turmoil raging about the Thevelin Delta, and to seek shelter in the secret stronghold tucked away in the Ring of Rimmerins. Diraton's heart bled: even if he refused to stain his reputation with the infamous mark of treachery his death would be none the less harmful to the common sense as it would leave unaccomplished the task assigned to him. The Centoraurian knew that the elves would probably make their way to the camp despite all precautions and wreak as much havoc there as if they had been guided tither by his own instructions. Being still alive, Diraton sensed his last chance to take revenge...
Harboring an ultimate stratagem which was as desperate as it was brilliant, Diraton eventually pretended to consent to disclosing the location of the camp to Beringstin. Like an Eh'Feu, a pastmaster in the famous Iosh'Maddron (the academic game of the westans which is played solely in the minds of the participants), Diraton undertook to beat the dark elves with their proper weapons, i.e. using his own sense of honor as a quite insidious means: the young man declared that he would cooperate only on condition that he would be allowed to personally guide the elves to the human camp and subsequently join the ranks of his kin in the engagement that was to ensue. Beringstin, all avid for battle, consented and ordered the elven host to follow Diraton. A memorable picture thus presented itself to the elven soldiers: stripped of his arms and his hands tied behind his back, Diraton took his place at the head of the enormous host of the elves and led it off in a westerly direction, towards doom.
For a day and a night the Centoraurian captain led the elven army along the Ring of Rimmerins, roaming through numerous forests and crossing the rapids of the Thevelin near Tyr Tharmarin but all the while conducting it away from the southwest where the coveted camp was actually situated. Instead he steadily marched towards the northwest, first along the Lower Fores and then on in the direction of his native town, towards Caelum on the Bay of Heavens. Diraton, who was acquainted with every hill and every vale in this part of the Fores, adroitly managed to protract their journey until the dusk of the second day eventually signalling him that it was time to put his stratagem into practice. Heading for that infamous cliff looming up along the rim of the Anaios Rift where murderers and adulterers were given over to Queprur, the Sickle-God, Diraton led the elves along tortuous paths into the innermost recesses of the Maehetilon. Said Maehetilon, a forest bordering on the cliff, is extremely dense and only a narrow path cuts through the coppice, leading up to that cliff which has witnessed and effected many a horrid demise, whether voluntary or not. This path was now taken by Diraton while he promised to Beringstin Dimeye that they would soon emerge into a clearing where they could strike camp for the night.
As the army was approaching the cliff however, the fettered Centoraurian set spurs to his horse. He raced up at a gallop the last hill in the midst of the Maehetilon, that hill which he had until then ascended but a couple of times with extreme caution in order to get a glimpse of the gaping precipice which opened up on the other side of it - for beyond the summit yawned the abyss of the Anaios Rift. But this time Diraton galantly hurled himself headlong off the cliff, towards his death. Dusk had already closed in and although it is said that the sundisk was that night completely reflected on the firmament, Diraton's persuers were nonetheless unable to foresee their fate, let alone forestall it. That night Beringstin Dimeye and several hundred dark elves from Almatrar died at the Anaios Rift, led astray into their fate by Diraton.
The people of Naios have ever since called that place where Diraton and a large part of the elven army went to their deaths the "Elvenfall" and a great number of legends - some of which we will perhaps have occasion to retell at some other stage of our narrative - have attached themselves to the location. The Centoraurians moreover bear the picture of the heroic Diraton astride a winged steed as their coat of arms, thus honoring his galant self-sacrifice in the service of his race, and even today many still visit the Elvenfall in order to venerate the memory of Diraton. Now and then someone will even plant a little sapling on the edge of the Maehetilon, thus paying tribute to the indomitable force of growing and living which is only properly esteemed when set off by death and to that utmost sacrifice made by Diraton in order that others could live.
Story written by Artimidor Federkiel