Although the Pax Heironeous may have brought many of the kingdoms to work together, some tensions did remain. Ulekian logging operations in the Suss Forest along the southern Lortmil Mountains would on occasion suffer aggression from pockets of local elves, perhaps even backed by the kingdom of Celene. A task force was created to keep the peace in this area and protect the loggers and small villages, and Blake Surtova was chosen to lead it.

Blake Surtova is the son of Domani Surtova, who governs over a small and unimportant port town, White Manor, equidistant between Gryrax and Gradsul. The peace of the Flanaess and rurality of White Manor caused a lack of excitement to permeate Blake's childhood, and most of it was spent studying and training for an unlikely-to-occur war, and the chance to serve in some more important lord's army.

Blake's young adult years were spent participating in the many noble feasts and tournaments of Ulek, in which he made a name for himself as quite a charming young man and adept fighter by winning various events. Blake was in his early 20s when the wood elves on the outskirts of the kingdom of Celene began increasing their hostility toward Azbak Goldhearth's logging operations along the western edge of the Suss Forest. While looking for a man to head a task force to keep the peace, many noblemen suggested Blake Surtova for the role, and Goldhearth decided to appoint him to the position.

Under the command of Blake Surtova, Task Force 121 was overwhelmingly successful in its mission. Using an amalgam of tactics such as brutal hit and run attacks. and psi-ops intended to convince other local elf populations that violence against Ulek was not the answer. Elven attacks were reduced by 175%, lowering to a rate even lower than before the rise of aggression on the logging camps, and Ulekian logging operations saw an increase of 50% efficiency.

When news of Tyal Coal's failure reached Stonelord Ashblood, he met with his advisors, including Azbak, to discuss who should be sent to lead the Stonelord's colony. Azbak suggested Blake for the task, and the Stonelord agreed.