Just over a century ago, there was a great battle between the lesser races for far too little territory to share between far too many people. Originally the quarrels began between the hobgoblins and the ogres towards the north. These battles were between the numbers that the hobgoblins possessed and the brute force of their larger competitors. However, the ogres had an ally that the hobgoblins were not expecting to join the fight so soon; the orcs across the mountains. Months beforehand, the ogres had themselves been preparing for a battle against the hobgoblins though knew that they did not possess the numbers to wade into a productive assault, so they sent for assistance. The orcs had been forced into the mountains long ago by the ogres, who themselves had been forced north by the hobgoblins. The ogres approached the orcs with a proposal; they could have their old lands back if they helped them destroy the hobgoblins and take back their original territory. The orcs agreed, though the hobgoblins beat them to the attack. Not a problem.
Once they were shown the hand of the ogres and the alliance with their smaller cousins, the hobgoblins began their tactical retreat back south. Just as the expected, both the large and small grey-skins could not be content with warding off the assault and they followed. They came into the territory of the hobgoblins and straight through towards the fields of the elves. You see, years ago the nomadic elves had began making trade with the gnolls and goblins that resided in the fields. Eventually a few clans began setting up small settlements with the permission of the other creatures, who figured that they would be a defense against the hobgoblins and other enemies that would occasionally wander down for some sport hunting. This is where the hobgoblins were heading.
The forces were lead south and eventually ran headlong into the elves. At this point, the quarrel between the ogres and the hobgoblins was forgotten, as their long sought rival was within both of their grasp. At this moment it became a free-for-all war; the ogres, orcs and hobgoblins attacking the elves, the orcs still pursuing the hobgoblins, and the gnolls and goblins joining the fray attacking nearly everything that came close enough to throw a spear at. After several days of fighting and the fields of yellow coated red, the forces of the elves (not particularly trained in combat anymore) were brought to the brink of extinction. After the surviving elves had fled to either coast, the fighting continued between the rest of the races. Realizing that they had a very small part in the fight, the gnolls and goblins quickly disbanded, once the elves had been defeated, leaving the rest of the battle to the three original catalysts.
At first the ogres and orcs resumed their treaty and set forth to dismantle the hobgoblin army, though a few of the orc forces took it upon themselves to begin slowly picking apart the ogres in a preempt to the destruction of the hobgoblins and they war for the remaining lands. Rather quickly though the ogres caught wind of this treason and began turning against their former allies. At this point, the hobgoblins had been cut down to a manageable size that they needn’t be worried about by the cousins. Carefully they began their withdrawl up north, letting the ogres and orcs battle it out in the fields. After all, there is plenty of land towards the north across the mountains that had been previously unreachable due to the ambushing forces of the orcs within the passes. However, the hobgoblins had one last trick up their sleeve.
As they withdrew north back into the forests, they began setting small brushfires behind them, blocking the route to the ogres and orcs. This prevented their enemies from following them, at the same time laying waste to the lands that the battle had originally been started over; an ironic gesture. Partly due to the current fight and partly because of the invasive tactics of the hobgoblins, this plan went predominantly unnoticed until it was too late for either faction. The hobgoblins made it nearly a quarter of a mile before the fires began to rage uncontrollably, all the while being fed as the forces traveled north.
After nearly two weeks of burning, quite a bit after the fight between the ogres and orcs had come to an end, the hobgoblins found themselves traveling through the mountains on their way to the other side of the Breach. The ogres found themselves trapped below the burning woods after tearing apart their orc rival. It took another week for the fires to burn themselves out, until the ashes spread from the mountains all the way to the graying fields of the south. This devestation lead to the lands formerly held by the hobgoblins, and before that by the ogres, completely uninhabitable. No longer were there the woods that gave protection to the plentiful game and wildlife and the small ponds scattered about had almost nearly dried up, giving almost no hope of regrowth. This was not helped by the thick layer of soot and ash that covered the ground nearly several feet deep. This was the creation of the Ashened Vale that cut the lands nearly in half.
The majority of the ogres began the long trek back north to their original territories, leaving the gnolls and goblins to slowly trickle back into their homes. The elves had been scattered, along with the orcs who began to slowly settle in to the woods west of the Ash. However, this habitation did not last long, as the Fang of Lloth began cleansing these areas of any races who did not bow to the Queen. The goblins, gnolls, and orcs were all broken from their clans and driven to survive in extremely small nomadic groups. This put nearly all of the races on equal footing when it came to power and numbers…however the savage races had an advantage that the elves and humans did not have; they were not being hunted to extinction. Thusly, the war turned the forests and prairies into free-for-all areas where small nomadic tribes struggled for survival in a constant state of fear and conflict. Meanwhile, the lands north of the Breach became the new lands of the hobgoblins, as their towns and cities quickly spread. The Ashened Vale became a place completely devoid of life, where no creature dared to travel for fear of the open targets that they would become to bandits, hunters, beasts of all varieties, and followers of the Spider Queen.