The War of Woods that took place in the year 293 AC was the third war of its name. It was one of the longest conflicts in recent history, lasting nearly 17 years officially, and over 23 years after the Treaty of Lavos was signed. The War remains one of the bloodiest conflicts on Doras Edrossi, proving to most, if not all nations, that the Zaentovi were a force to be reckoned with, years after their loss. The War of Woods is often cited as a pyrrhic victory for the Ethrykean Alliance, having lost much more resources to the battle than the Zaentovi Horde did. The war is known for its use of dragons on the field of battle, with two battles -- Aeramor's Charge and The Dragonfire Fields being particularly notorious for this.
Prior to the third War of Woods, there had been two others; one nearly two centuries prior, and one eight decades prior. The first War of Woods was an absolute failure on the part of the Zaentovi; they experienced drastic loss of life and pride to Ethryke and Lavos, who both held territory on the Leyse Woodlands at the time. After a century of waiting, the Zaentovi were able to conquer the Leyse Woodlands with ease during the second War of Woods in 211 AC, nearly repaying the beating they received during the first war, if not worse. For 82 years, the Zaentovi had ruled the Leyse Woodlands ever since, with little to no opposition until 293 AC, when Ethryke's population began to starve after a drought. The premier of the city-state, Netyre Loeron Malos, was the first to suggest moving northwards to the Woodlands and farm there for the population. The Zaentovi, who had been pushed into the south by their own problems, including resistance from the Tegrushkin, also needed the land just as much. Within days, disputes arrived, many of which turned violent, with neither side able to claim responsibility for being the instigator. The people in Ethryke were stalwart, but the Zaentovi were not so easily pushed away. Gathering a small skirmish force, they first struck at the village of Wismin and worked their way eastwards until they had razed most of what the Ethrykians had constructed to sustain themselves.
The Zaentovi had forced the hand of a starving people with a dwindling military. The cause looked hopeless, but Malos had contacts outside of Ethryke, and he was able to organize a meeting between all of the city-states to discuss what actions should be undertaken. The Thysian representatives left early, uncontent with how they were being treated and feeling as if they were being criticized for their nation's laws, despite that they, too faced a rising Zaentovi threat. Ceryne and Lavos's representatives agreed to the terms of an alliance with each other and Ethryke, thereby forming what would become the Ethrykian Alliance. Meyron did not join at first, but at the urging of Lavos Premier Victor Damius, whose words carried much weight, Meyron joined the alliance and readied its forces for war.
At first, in early March, the Zaentovi were merely skirmishing the northern borders of Ethryke, pillaging the farms they so desperately needed. The forces of the Ethrykian Alliance began to muster near the city of Ethryke proper, and would march north beginning the 22nd of March. By the 27th, a Zaentovi force was sighted and pursued, but as it was much larger and better armed than the current forces of the Alliance, a decision was made to follow their original goal; to reconquer the lands that had just been forcibly scorched by the marauding Zaentovi riders a few weeks earlier. On the 29th, two days after their arrival, the first true battle of the war began with The Reconquest of Stymia, which was more of a month-long campaign than it was one single battle. It was a rousing Alliance victory, and gave the city-states hope for further success; reports from scout teams further north, however, did not paint a pretty picture. The Zaentovi, which had been mustering for decades, numbered perhaps in the hundreds of thousands, and could quite possibly triumph over the Kingdom of Andoras itself in terms of pure military power.
It was realized after this battle, then, that the war would be a very strategic one. No mere standing army on its own could hope to stop wave after wave of Zaentovi with nothing but their own numbers. It was around this time that the Edrossi armies, looking for an edge, began to develop guerrilla warfare tactics in order to quickly surround and ambush an army far larger than their own. Meanwhile, Ethryke continued to starve, and it was decreed through an agreement in the Alliance that all members of the pact should provide as much food as possible to the dwindling city-state, in order to keep it afloat and keep their claim alive, lest all of Ethryke fall to the Zaentovi Horde.
Toughest fighting of the war
The Zaentovi were fortunate to have their armies all directly in the south, or the Alliance might have mustered a far more powerful offense to reclaim their lost land. The riders began to descend following the news of defeat at Stymia, and by the 1st of June were at the site of the battle. The Alliance armies had split up after the battle, evenly defending the borders around a location in Ethryke known as Allerie Vale. The Zaentovi, adept scouts and quick to adapt to a change of plans, diverted their armies away from Stymia and sped towards Allerie Vale, arriving on June 9th, at which point the battle of Allerie Vale Eve took place. Fighting seemed to suddenly stop as the Zaentovi mockingly fled the Ethrykians, until they returned in far greater numbers and delivered a crushing defeat to the Alliance army with All Hells Daybreak a day later. What was remaining of the Alliance forces fled back to the south, and it was clear they were now fighting a losing war. Hiring several mercenary parties using the combined funds of all in the Alliance, the Ethrykians began a game of cat-and-mouse with several Zaentovi parties, with neither side engaging the other until the mercenaries reached the end of their tenure and the Alliance began to run out of funds. The mercenaries were preparing to desert after hearing rumors that they were not going to be paid, and were then offered a good amount of wealth by the Zaentovi.
The mercenaries journeyed north relatively unhindered until they reached the town of Wolodi in late August of 294 AC, where they were confronted by a massive army that did not recognize them as the potential allies who were travelling to Ozaento to discuss business with the Khan of the Zaentovi himself. A bloodbath for both sides ensued, ending in a stalemate that surprisingly weakened Zaentovi morale, as the battle took place on proper Zaentovi territory. The mercenaries realized the savages they were going to fight for seemed more inclined to kill them on sight, and to avoid any further situations such as these, disappeared and took up work in Andoras for the duration of the war, or until they were offered an ample enough sum to convince them to return -- they never were.
Around this time, the Magister of Ethryke himself, Netyre Loeron Malos, deemed himself a worthy figurehead to the war effort, and began to lead armies alongside his generals and martial advisors. The war continued in typical fashion for the next few months, with a few small skirmishes and encounters leading to nothing but meager changes of hand, some of which would be reverted in as little as hours after the fact.