Flashback 1: The Fall of White Arch Bridge
899 YK (99 years ago).
Almost one hundred years ago, in the midst of the Last War, a division of House Cannith located in the Lhazaar Principalities was actively creating warforged and selling them to the nations involved. This splinter group of Cannith cared little for politics or even the war itself, and was mostly concerned with profit. As a result, many of the warforged produced by them were incomplete or not made to proper House standards. The first successful group of warforged to be made by this particular group numbered at three, who were trained (as all would be) to be soldiers. They were assigned the names Steel, Glass, and Storm.
After the necessary course of training, they were sold to Karrnath and dispatched to join their military. The warforged received no ranks, but were given to a mostly-human unit under the command of a man named Captain Schneider. They were posted in Rekkenmark to defend against the constant attacks from the city of Thaliost (then under the control of Aundair), which frequently attacked across the White Arch Bridge connecting the two cities. As the only warforged in the unit, they were treated harshly by the other soldiers, more as objects than as equals. Despite this, Steel remained optimistic; he attempted to befriend the humans while Glass became apathetic, and Storm became bitter.
After about a month in their station with little combat action to speak of, orders came down directly from King Kaius I to destroy the White Arch Bridge in order to prevent any further attacks by Aundair. Several units in Rekkenmark were assigned roles in this mission, but the most important task of all was given to Schneider's unit. Three packages arrived, created by Karrnath's artificers with great care: powerful magical explosives, to be placed at strategic locations on the bridge's structure. One each was given to Steel, Glass and Storm, whom Schneider believed to be easily expendable.
A fraction of the group departed at night to place the charges. The warforged carried the charges themselves, and were accompanied by a small handful of humans and Captain Schneider himself. When they arrived at the marked location, they were met with an ambush as Steel attempted to place the first charge.
Storm and Glass threw up shields to guard against an uncertain number of enemies and the ensuing hail of arrows. Steel looked around, searching desperately for some kind of cover against the onslaught; it was then that he noticed Captain Schneider was not under fire. In fact, he did not budge at all, despite Storm's pleas for him to protect himself.
In the melee, Storm was shot multiple times and fell, severely wounded. Glass turned his attention away for just a moment, attempting to help Storm, but his distraction would prove a serious mistake. As he turned, Schneider took the opportunity to stab Glass in the back. Steel was then the only one standing, attempting to fight against impossible odds as the last of the humans who joined them on this mission fell to the ground.
Glass, however, still had his explosive charge. Schneider, thinking him dead, had abandoned him to combat Steel. Seizing the only opportunity, Glass grabbed tightly onto Schneider's legs and activated the charge.
Steel started running as quickly as possible, and Storm lifted himself to his feet to follow. The explosion was tremendous; the shrapnel from the barriers around the center of the bridge flew everywhere, and one piece impaled Storm, wounding him further.
Steel looked for a moment at the destruction before noticing the condition of Storm. Steel roughly pulled the shrapnel out of him against cries of pain, and lifted him up onto his shoulders, now staggered and confused.
"What the hell do we do from here?" he called out.
"They're looking for survivors!" Storm yelled from his position on Steel's back. "Look for Glass! See if he's steel alive!"
Steel saw only one way down. A nearby support featured makeshift stairs leading to the water below. This would be, he knew, the only place to look for Glass, but he wouldn't be able to descend with Storm on his back.
"Set me down," he said, gesturing towards the crossbow component on his arm. "I can hold them off for now while you look for Glass."
"There's no way he could have survived that blast!"
"You have to know for certain. He is strong. You have to make a decision, Steel; fight with me to the death, or flee with both of us."
Steel did as he was asked, and moved down to find Glass clinging to some rubble against the rushing waters below. Steel helped him up to the support.
"Steel," said Glass flatly as he was pulled to safety. "How's it going?"
"How did you survive?" Steel asked, utterly shocked by the whole situation.
Glass was able to stand, but the damage on him was clear. He was riddled with shrapnel from the charge, and one of his arms was missing. Still, he claimed he could fight, and so the two of them returned to meet up with Storm on top of the bridge. There they began to fight for their lives.
After some time, reinforcement from Karrnath arrived and helped the three warforged to survive. Sergeant Renner, acting commander of Schneider's unit, had a reputation for hating warforged more than anybody else in the entire detachment. Renner surveyed the damage, and said only, "You have not completed your mission. Where is the rest of your squad?"
The three attempted, in vain, to explain the situation, but Renner would hear none of it.
"Look! Your men were traitors! Schneider was allied with Aundair!" Steel protested.
"There was a rain of arrows, and Schneider stood still in the midst of it." Storm added.
"We are the true warriors! We are the survivors!"
Renner looked about once more, and shrugged dismissively. "You still have a mission to complete. I am tired of your lies, but I will not have my own men risk their lives for this; you will detonate the other two charges, as you were directed. If you survive, you may come see me afterwards."
"Human scum!" Storm yelled as he walked away.
"Fleshbags!" Steel added, and Storm nodded in approval.
The three then proceeded to detonate the remaining two charges with caution, and at the end of the day, returned to the barricades at the Rekkenmark end of the bridge. Sargeant Renner seemed surprised, but not impressed. He tells them he does not trust them, and now that the unit is under his command, he will not have any of them around. Despite their protests, he effectively dismissed them from the Karrnathi military with prejudice.
"Storm! Glass! We leave," Steel said at last. "And we no longer identify ourselves with these human names. We are not what we were."
"That is true," agreed Glass.
"They won't repair us here," reminded Storm. "We must seek repair elsewhere."
"We'll repair each other," Glass said, decisively. "We will become true devices of war."
The three then took new names. Steel became Stahlstrauss, Glass became Glasschrei, and Storm became Sturmreiter. They underwent modifications and self-made, patchwork repairs, and agreed to defend Karrnathi units including warforged for the remainder of the Last War, calling themselves "the Resolved."
As for White Arch Bridge, their mission appeared successful in the short term, but only destroyed a small fragment of the bridge close to Rekkenmark. Aundair would eventually find a way to span it and continue their assault, but in 928 YK, the entirety of the massive bridge was destroyed in a great magical conflagration.
Glass was played by Ian and Storm was played by Kevin in this flashback.
Flashback 1: The Slave Uprising
887 YK (11 years ago)
It was a hot, mid-summer day. Zil'dejin Firebane had been enslaved his entire life to this point, ever since being discovered in the jungles of Q'barra as an infant by the slavers who bound him.
These slavers were called "Cabor's Chains," and were the largest group of their kind in Khorvaire for the latter years of the Last War. In 887 YK, they were at their peak strength. Four large divisions existed under Cabor's company, each operating independently, though they shared some things in common. Most notably, the slave companies were mobile rather than being located in a fixed camp, and moved around as one division called a "Landship Caravan." The name was derived from the appearance of the "buildings," which were essentially giant wheeled ships pulled by enormous teams of slaves.
One Landship Caravan in particular, operating in southeast Khorvaire (particularly around the Talenta Plains) under a slaver known as Borahm "the Scourge," had a reputation for enslaving (in addition to humans, deserters, etc) many dragonborn and halflings from the surrounding areas. It was this group that had enslaved Zil'dejin in his infancy.
On this particular day, the Caravan was halted in the Blade Desert at the foot of the Endworld Mountains, stopping for a short time before moving on again later that day. An eight year old Zil'dejin was next to Nadarr Thunderclaw, a frail but agile dragonborn used by the slavers mostly as a messenger. They were waiting in the food line for the small scraps that were precious as gold to the slaves, when Nadarr's gaze lingered a few moments too long on the face of Borahm the Scourge.
Borahm whipped Nadarr mercilessly for this, abusing him verbally alongside the lashings. Zil'dejin cried out for his friend, but was ordered into silence by the slavers. Meanwhile, Nadarr tried to stand following the whipping, but was pushed back to the ground by Borahm. But Zil'dejin had had enough. As Borahm raised his chain whip again, Zil'dejin charged at him, grabbed the chain, and pulled it down, snagging it around Borahm's throat. This action allowed Nadarr to scramble back to his feet, and he leapt on top of Borahm to claw his face as Zil'dejin continued choking him.
Around them, other slaves watched on with uncertainty. The slavers began to advance in an attempt to save their leader, and one particularly bold slave caught a slaver in the back of a head with a rock. At this instant, the slaves began to scramble; one large, panicked mess that caught the slavers' attentions, leaving Borahm alone for the time being.
Eventually, one slaver broke through the mob and grabbed Nadarr, holding a knife to his throat. Nadarr rallied enough to breathe acid onto the slaver's arm, burning him horribly but also showering Zil'dejin and Borahm. Nadarr grabbed the knife from the slaver who held him and killed him, looking on with horror at what he had done. At the same time, Zil'dejin took the knife from Borahm and stabbed it into his chest, then took his keys and began unshackling the slaves not already unbound for the food line.
Zil'dejin rallied the slaves with Nadarr at his side, and began organizing them into divisions. He then made his first command: the unarmed slaves were to storm the barracks ship, the third one from the front of the Caravan. At this time, he discovered the front two ships had already moved on, leaving only the rear four in disarray.
The slaves did as they were instructed, and attacked the ship. Dozens were killed, but eventually they broke through and obtained the arms and armor they were sent for. The now-armed slaves reported to Zil'dejin, who took a halberd from the haul and orders the next move: an attack on the rear Landship, the "prison ship," where unused slaves were kept. Once these slaves had been freed, Zil'dejin began to finalize the rebellion.
The fourth and fifth Landships, much like the first and second, were referred to as "civilization ships." These contained the slavers, along with their families and friends, as well as travelers who had paid the Caravan for passage. Zil'dejin ordered both of these ships purged of all life and burned to the ground. All did as they were instructed, until Nadarr became hesitant about killing a child.
"What are you waiting for? Kill the child! He's just a slaver!" Zil'dejin bellowed at the shaking Nadarr.
"I can't!" he replied, and attempted to move the child to safety. However, a nearby human slave, fearing Zil'dejin's retaliation, stabbed the child himself against of Nadarr's protests.
Nadarr was horrified by the cold murder. "Your race is sick!" he spat. "Zil'dejin, you could have stopped him!"
"I could have, but why? He would have grown up into one of them. We're free now." he stopped, and looked out the window of the soon-to-be destroyed Landship at the other three that had already been ruined. "The Caravans are just ash; toppled citadels. We must take the last two -- the slaves are running on blood-lust."
Nadarr hung his head. "Then I will follow you. But I won't have any more blood on my hands."
Zil'dejin closed his eyes, and started leaving the Landship to allow its burning to proceed. "Soon, you will understand." He touched the first torch to the Landship, and watched it burn for a while before continuing. "The blood cannot be avoided."
Nadarr was played by Alex in this flashback.