Wrath of the Righteous
Brief History of the Mendevian Crusades
First Mendevian Crusade (4622 AR – 4630 AR)
Even though warriors had been traveling to Sarkoris to battle the demonic hordes ever since the Worldwound opened in 4606 AR, the First Mendevian Crusade wasn’t called by the Church of Iomedae unil 4622 AR. Its late start can be attributed to the general environmental and social upheaval caused by Aroden’s death worldwide, and to the specific institutional hurdles the followers of Iomedae had to overcome with their patron’s sudden rise in importance. The crusaders discovered upon their arrival, that most of Sarkoris and parts of western Mendev has already been overrun. Their numbers and organizational strengths added greatly to the defending armies, and soon the demonic forces began to be pushed back towards the Northmounds. Having thus liberated all of Mendev and the Sarkorian lowlands, the crusaders offered to help build stronger defenses against future attacks. These offers were gratefully accepted by the Mendevians, but met with some resistance among the remaining proud (and historically independent) Kellid tribes of Sarkoris. With the demonic threat seemingly confined to the Northmounds and the defenses of both Mendev and Sarkoris strengthened, the Church of Iomedae officially brought the First Mendevian Crusade to a close in 4630 AR. Some crusaders made the long journey back to their homelands, but many stayed behind in Mendev to help defend the nation against any future attacks.
In truth, this first demonic invasion was little more than the demon lord Deskari testing the waters, gauging the strength and tactics of his opponents before launching a full invasion. The brutality and disorganization of the early attacks were intentional, as they helped to reinforce the stereotype in the minds of the crusaders that their enemies were a leaderless horde, bent on pure destruction and rage, unable to cooperate and employ tactics effectively. During this time, many of the demons also used their teleportation abilities to leave the battlefield and settle in countless locations across Golarion, where many of them still lurk to this day.
Second Mendevian Crusade (4638 AR – 4645 AR)
In 4638 AR the demons counterattacked. Forces led by the powerful marilith Zuhra Aponavicius captured the crusader city of Drezen and killed many of Mendev’s warriors. The Second Crusade was called to combat this menace, but the generals quickly realized that they were no longer dealing with uncoordinated groups of fiends; they now employed tactics and were led by powerful demonic generals. The crusader forces fought bravely, but soon decided that they were not going to be able to drive the demons back. Instead they opted for containment and relinquished any hope of ever winning back Sarkorian land. They created the wardstones, massive monoliths capable of creating a nigh-impenetrable wall against demons, and placed them along the West Sellen and Moutray Rivers. This stopped the demonic advance at the borders of Mendev, Ustalav, and Numeria, saving the lives of tens of thousands in those nations; Sarkoris, however, was now lost for good. As the Second Crusade came to a close in 4645 AR, even though the wardstones were considered a great accomplishment, the crusade itself was deemed a failure by most.
The creation of the wardstones greatly inhibited the demons’ teleportation abilities, a tactic that Deskari had hoped to take greater advantage of during this time. Even though they only existed along the southern and eastern border of the Worldwound, the wardstones created a magical echo to the north and west. Not as powerful as the wardstones themselves, since the echo did not prevent the demons from physically leaving the warded area, this echo still prevented them from using teleportation to escape into the rest of Golarion. The Kellid barbarian tribes aggressive defense of their territories to the north and west of the Worldwound, combined with the irresistible presence of the Iomedean crusaders, focused most of the demons’ attention on the borders with Mendev, Ustalav, and Numeria.
Third Mendevian Crusade (4665 AR – 4668 AR)
After the Second Crusade ended with the total loss of Sarkoris and the creation of the wardstones, there was a momentary lull in demonic attacks. The fiends spent their time consolidating their power within the new territories, and were dealing with increased attacks from the Realm of the Mammoth Lords. Once they turned their gaze south and easttward again, they decided to pursue subtler methods of infiltration, greatly facilitated by cultists of the demon lord Baphomet, who infiltrated numerous crusader organizations and churches. At the same time, the Mendevian Crusaders had been running out of strong recruits, and began accepting warriors into the crusades who had less than noble intentions. Faced with increasing corruption within their ranks, the Third Crusade was called, but quickly devolved into ferreting out demonic corruption through witch hunts. These pogroms grew increasingly paranoid and violent, until the Mendevian government finally shut down the crusade in 4668 AR.
Fourth Mendevian Crusade (4692 AR – 4707 AR)
A new leader emerged amongst the demons in 4692 AR, a powerful balor known as Khorramzadeh, the Storm King. He and his forces were able to damage the Kenabres wardstone and cross the frontier, but were eventually driven back. This worrying development led to the calling of the Fourth Crusade in order to defeat the Storm King before he had the chance to unite more of the demons under his banner. Lasting 15 years, this was the longest and most exhausting of the four crusades and ended in 4707 AR more out of sheer fatigue on the part of the crusaders than any major victory or other positive tactical development.
The Mendevian Crusaders are less organized than other knightly orders, united primarily by their desire to eliminate the expansion of demons from the Worldwound. Not all of its members are selfless and honourable, but many epitomize true courage. Sheer desperation for able-bodied warriors causes the order to take shining knightly followers of Iomedae as well as lowly glory-seekers, ruffians, profiteers, and other undesirables.