The Battle of Elgorith
Less than a year after the Eilolylaer’s flight from their ancestral homeland, a massive wave of Orcs came howling across the Wastes and flooded through the vales of the Cloud Peaks, hacking and burning and chasing the Elves higher into the mountain-passes.
Many battles were fought, the tales of which are still sung, most often by soldiers of Eliondé while at rest in camp or on the march; for they are tales full of mighty heroes and desperate deeds, romantic and sorrowful. For always the Elves lost in the end, for Gruumsh would come, wading through the ranks, a massive and hideous being of shadow and blood, like a great Orc wielding a mighty spear, blighting the very ground he walked on and sending the Elves into a madness of fear, while the Orcs were spurred to berserker frenzy by the presence of their living god.
Finally there came one great battle in a wide mountain-pass called Elgorith, a name which still fills the Elves with sorrow; it means “Sundering” in their tongue. The Elven host was bottle-necked in a high pass over the very summit of the Peaks, and the Orcs were closing in behind. The Elves had many wounded with them, and they knew they could not flee fast enough to outrun the bloodthirsty Orcs.
Now Corellon had a younger sister named Liliath. In the city of their birth, she had been accounted one of the greatest wizards in several centuries. Since the destruction of the Elves’ homeland she had been one of Corellon’s closest advisers, and one of his most trusted lieutenants.
When the Elves realized they had no choice but to fight – and no chance to win – Liliath volunteered to lead part of the Elven army in a delaying action in the pass, while the rest of the Elves escaped. She knew it might be a suicide mission, and in an impassioned speech before all the assembled Elves she asked for volunteers to aid her – for, she said, she would order no one to their deaths. The name “Liliath” means “Passion”, and her speech stirred the hearts of many, so that she had no lack of volunteers to hold the pass.
Corellon insisted that he, not her, stay behind, but Liliath told him that he had been the one to keep so many of the Elves united when they might have been scattered to the winds, and that if he never saw her again, he must do his best to see that the memory of the glories the Elves had once known did not fade. He had no answer, and so with many tearful goodbyes the Elves under Corellon left the mountain-pass and began the long journey down the western slopes of the Cloud Peaks and down to the broad forests which stretched out below.
Three thousand Elves under Liliath remained to hold the pass, and when the Orcs came they held their ground. The fight went on and on. No tale gives a precise number of the Orcs who came against Liliath and her folk, but it is said that by noon of that day the Elves had a rampart of bodies from which to fight, and that it reached a height of twenty feet, and that from the top of it the Elves could see the pass choked with Orcs thick as swarming bees.
Eventually Gruumsh himself, impatient, came to the fore, and it is said that this was the beginning of Liliath’s fall from glory. For she was seized with unconquerable fear at his approach.
She had heard tales of how the demi-god could consume the souls of wizards he captured, adding their power to his own, so that their spirits lived forever in tormented thrall to this paragon of evil. So she ordered a fighting retreat, and the remaining Elves, still more than two thousand strong, withdrew. She kept enough sense to lead the pursuing Orcs down a different trail than the one Corellon had taken, fighting all the way so that Gruumsh and his followers came howling senselessly on.
Eventually Liliath’s army was trapped in a vale which had no exit, and the Elves prepared themselves for death. But Liliath found a wide cave at one end of the vale, and exploring it, found a tunnel which seemed to have no end. So the Elves withdrew through that tunnel, going deeper and deeper into the earth. And eventually the Orcs ceased their pursuit, turning back from the underground tunnels and returning to the world of wind and sky; for deep in their hearts the Orcish race remembers the horrors which can be found beneath the earth, where they themselves had once dwelt, and it is said that even Gruumsh himself was reluctant to return. At any rate, he knew by this point that Corellon was not among the small Elven force, and his mind was fixed on the young Elven leader, for reasons he could not understand.