The War of Frozen scales, known also as the War for the Southlands was a major conflict fought between the Yulan-Tai Empire and an alliance of long forgotten giant clans, halfling and dwarven kingdoms and warlordoms and other small groups. Though records are hazy after the centuries, a few things are known about the conflict. First, it was fought with some of the most intense magical forces ever seen on the continent of Galisea, or perhaps even the entirety of the known world. Second, it represented the last time that the giants would be unified under a single banner, with the clans breaking up shortly after the conclusion of the conflict, and never having since reunited. Finally, the war was absolutely devastating, destroying many smaller nations, setting the groundwork for the downfall of the Yulan-Tai Empire, and permanently altering the climate of much of central and northern Galisea. Though much of the history of the conflict was lost, the War of Frozen Scales was perhaps the most consequential conflict in Galisea.
The Empire of the Yulan-Tai had long been an incredibly expansionist, and indeed militarist state, and during the Yulani Period had steadily expanded to encompass most of the Southern Coast of Galisea. In the later Yulani period this already brutal state took a much darker turn as the Cult of Hessetal came to dominate the empire, culminating in the ascension of first of the Yuan-Ti, a process which saw the sacrificing of countless thralls of the Yulan-Tai upper class and it is believed, the purging of dissenting elements. The Ascension, greatly depopulating the empire of its enslaved populace meant that the Yulan-Tai likely needed to find a new source of sentient resources to explot, and thus triggered a final chapter of expansion.
The opening phase of the War of Frozen scales the reduced Yulan-Tai armies began to march well into the interior of the Galisean continent readily raiding and enslaving much of the populace in Southwest Galisea. These large armies ravaged the largely tribal communities of the region and laid waste to the land, triggering a great flight away from the region and towards the Volgier Mountains. On the other side of the Odric Mountains, a smaller series of warbands raided into the sparsely populated region of Huria, burning most of the permanent settlements in the region and stealing away most other people living in the region to be taken in chains back to the Imperial core. These raids, taking place over the first several years of the conflict were a prelude to something far more significant. As the first phase of the conflict came to an end, another much large army moved into the Volgier Mountains and onto the Nabari Plateau challenging the survival of the various states that had been their.
Initial attempts to halt the advance of this army proved disastrous with the paltry forces of the minor nations existing in the region being utterly annihilated in a matter of months. After a campaigning season of steady advances deep into the mountains, the Yulan-Tai offensive began to slow down on account of the end of the campaign season and the need to secure existing holdings, as well as the significant weakening of the cold-blooded Yuan-Ti that had become the elite shock forces of the Yulan-Tai armies. It was during this time that a hasty alliance between most of the remaining kingdoms including the Ancient Volgier Kingdom and most of the communities of halflings living in the region was assembled to meet the threat as a united front. This alliance, though somewhat more successful could not match the Yulan-Tai in the open field and even united, their armies were beaten. As a result most communities fled deep into the mountains to conduct war against the invaders by less than conventional means. Over time the alliance's lands were conquered and subsumed and the survivors forced into smaller and smaller pockets at the eastern frontiers of the mountains.
The reasons for why the giants joined the fight against the Yulan-Tai have long been lost to time, but many theories have been suggested. Some say that the Yulan-Tai massacred an entire clan wholesale. Others claim that a sacred site was desecrated by the invaders as they moved towards the historical homelands of the giantfolk. Still others believe that the Yulan-Tai made grave threats and insults against the giantfolk in a failed attempt at diplomacy, something which enraged the giants. Regardless of the nature of the cause, nearly all of giant kind united for the first time since the Great Cataclysm for the express cause of fighting against the Yulan-Tai, with the Frost Giant clans proving especially eager, something which radically altered the entire course of the war.
The power of the giants was first displayed in significant gains from the alliance against the Yulan-Tai, with many of the eastern homelands retaken outright as the great folk proved exceptionally powerful combatants. However, for reasons unknown to modern scholars, the Yulan-Tai managed to slow, and eventually reverse this progress, pushing back against the alliance. In a short period several communities were outright annihilated by the invaders. As the war entered this final bloody phase, the little remaining evidence suggests that the alliance was close to breaking. It was in this time that the Frost Giants led a great magical ritual that gives the conflict its name. The Frostkin conjured a great blizzard that froze the land blanketed it in a great thick snow. In this blizzard, the Yulan-Tai froze in vast numbers, especially the ascended who had become cold blooded, and devastating lands as far south as the homeland of the Yulan-Tai with greatly reduced harvests.
This event utterly destroyed the capability of the empire to wage war as nearly all of its army was frozen to death in the blizzard and the few survivors were made easy pickings for the alliance who had been sheltered from the effects. With the armies of the Yulan-Tai destroyed and its scant survivors scattered to the winds, the alliance managed to regain control of all of its territories and the peoples were liberated. The empire would retreat back into its existing territories and would not mount any expeditions into the north again.
The immediate outcome of the war was the complete defeat of the Yulan-Tai Empire, something which had not happened in a long time. The alliance would go on to recapture all of their lost territories, and the dwarven communities would reforge the Kingdom of Volgeberg, which had fallen during the initial invasion. The giants would use the opportunity provided by the events of the war to reconsecrate many holy sites that had been lost to them for millennia, and would briefly expand into the Elleryc plains. The invaders retreated into themselves immediately wracked by numerous slave revolts and secessionist movements that they struggled to fight with their armies utterly destroyed.
In the aftermath of the conflict, the world was irrevocably changed. The Yulan-Tai Empire, faced with mounting rebellions was laid to ruin, with the persons that had been enslaved, and a few communities that had managed to weather their expansions and survive laying waste to the imperial heartland and slaughtering almost every Yulan-Tai that could be found, and scattering the survivors far and wide. This essentially marked the end of the Yulan-Tai civilization, and the decline of its culture into near mythic obscurity. The events of the aftermath lead to the start of the Reforging Era as the newly liberated slaves began to build a new society from the ashes of the cities and territories of the Yulan-Tai.
There have been many challenges in researching the history of the conflict written records are virtually nonexistent, and physical evidence is highly degraded in the millennium and a half of weathering since the events of the conflict. As a result the course of the war has had to be pieced together from various fragmentary sources, often dustry scrolls half forgotten in the most well preserved wards of the oldest of Volgier libraries, and in the consecration stones left standing since the giants retreated to the far north. As a result much of the historiography of the conflict is drawn from religious myths moreso than from historical fact, with a great deal of argumentation among scholars as to what is fiction and what is accurate.
The War of Frozen Scales, despite is obscurity to modern scholarship was immensely consequential. Firstly, it marked the end of the Yulani Period, and the start to the Forging Period, which itself laid the groundwork for many modern civilizations in Galisea. More consequential were the permanent scars on the land however. The War of Frozen Scales, and the Great Blizzard in particular altered the climate in a fashion that continues today, with the region generally believed to be much colder after the casting of the ritual that triggered the Blizzard, with longer more brutal winters continuing to this day, and leading to the desertification of some territories in the Terruk Mal as precipitation has been reduced dramatically. Last however, was the final breakup of the giantfolk as the efforts of their kind, and the great loss involved in fighting the war led to a nearly irrevocable decline in population and the deaths of the castes responsible for maintaining the ancient Ordening that kept their society together. Ever since, the giants have kept largely to their own clans, not interacting much with outsiders and no attempts being made since to reunite the kindred for another great cause.