The War of Reckoning is a military conflict between Alethkar and the Parshendi which erupted in the wake of the assassination of King Gavilar Kholin. This, in turn, led to the formation of the Vengeance Pact by the Alethi Highprinces and Gavilar's heir, Elhokar, who takes the Alethi army to the Shattered Plains to wreak vengeance on the Parshendi.
King Elhokar commands the combined strength of the ten Alethi Highprinces, estimated at over a hundred thousand troops in the various warcamps. Each warcamp is comprised of soldiers from one princedom and led by its respective Highprince: Roion, Sadeas, Aladar, Dalinar, Vamah, Ruthar, Thanadal, Hatham, Bethab, or Sebarial.
The true strength of the Parshendi is unknown. While they always attack the plateaus with numbers roughly equal to the numbers sent by the Alethi, the Alethi inflict significant casualties upon them nonetheless. By various Alethi estimates, the Parshendi have twenty or thirty thousand troops left; perhaps a quarter of their forces at the start of the war.
The Alethi encountered the Parshendi for the first time during an expedition into the Shattered Plains. This encounter led to a treaty between the two peoples, and its signing was to be celebrated in the Alethi capital city, Kholinar. However, on the night of the celebratory feast, the Assassin in White killed King Gavilar, an act for which the Parshendi took credit just before fleeing from the capital city. In response, the ten Highprinces of Alekthar swore a Pact of Vengeance against the Parshendi, led by Gavilar's newly crowned son, Elhokar.
Following the assassination of King Galivar, the Parshendi retreated to the middle of the Shattered Plains, where they established their camp. King Elhokar followed the Parshendi, bringing the full strength of the ten Alethi Princedoms there.
The Alethi strategy was suggested by Highprince Dalinar. He realized that, despite their larger numbers, a full-scale attack against the Parshendi camp by the Alethi forces would require camping on the Plains, weathering highstorms and relying on a large number of fragile bridges. This would put them at risk of being out-maneuvered and trapped.
Because of this, the Alethi decided to settle for a siege. Between the fortified Alethi warcamps situated in the west of the Shattered Plains and the impassable terrain to the east and south, the Parshendi seemed to be trapped in an inhospitable land, offered no protection from the frequent highstorms and remaining prey to the many chasmfiends.It had been an excellent plan except that Dalinar hadn't anticipated the Highprinces' reaction to the gemhearts.
The discovery of gemhearts changed the face of the war. Enormously valuable, the gemhearts allowed the Highprince who claimed them to supply his entire army for months and were used in Soulcasting to provide all the basic materials not found on the Plains.
The Parshendi also sought after gemhearts and both sides raced for them. These races turned into violent encounters as each side fought over the huge gems found in the bodies of pupating chasmfiends; this desire for gemhearts led the Alethi to believe that the Parshendi must have Soulcasters amongst their numbers, allowing them to resupply.
Eventually, the Alethi tendency for internal competition became more important than the war itself. While the Vengeance Pact is the ostensible reason for the presence of the Alethi forces on the Shattered Plains, the competition for gemhearts became much more important to most of the Highprinces than actually defeating or punishing the Parshendi.
The Parshendi always attack the plateaus with numbers roughly equal to the numbers sent by the Alethi. Initially, it was believed that this was simply that the plateaus weren't large enough for more numbers, but later events suggest that Parshendi honor prevents them from sending more. The exception to this is that the Parshendi always sent about 10,000 warriors to the Tower, the largest plateau on the Shattered Plains and the closest to Parshendi territory. None of the Alethi Highprinces have ever captured a gemheart at the Tower.
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Battle of the TowerEdit
The battle of the Tower was the result of Highprince Dalinar's and Highprince Sadeas's joint plateau assault. Once the Alethi armies had engaged the Parshendi, Sadeas betrayed Dalinar, pulling his army out and abandoning Dalinar. Seeing that Sadeas had left Dalinar and his men to die, Kaladin and Bridge Four stayed behind to allow Dalinar a chance to escape. Eventually having to join the battle, Kaladin swore the Second Ideal of the Windrunners and fulfilled one of the prophecies detailed in the epigraphs. Kaladin also briefly takes command of Dalinar's army and saves Dalinar from Eshonai, the mysterious Parshendi Shardbearer. After the battle, Kaladin and the rest of Bridge Four are saved from a summary execution at the hands of Sadeas by Dalinar, who buys them and the rest of Sadeas's bridgemen with his Shardblade.
Since King Elhokar brought the armies of all ten Alethi Princedoms, along with much of the nobility, to the Shattered Plains, the Plains have become the de facto center of Alethi power.