Friday, 27 March 2020

History of the North, Part 11: The Never-ending Storm

“When wasteful war shall statues overturn
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword, nor war’s quick fire, shall burn
The living record of your memory:
’Gainst death, and all oblivious enmity,
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.”
Shakespeare, Sonnet 55 (1609), Q 2&3

An End To War
War is wasteful. It brings strife, pestilence and death. And it brings uncertainty in its aftermath. And sometimes, it is difficult to know if it is over. Because there may be an end to A war, but never to War.

587 CY
All wars must end. Treaty Negotiations between Ket and Veluna, Gran March, and Bissel began, resulting in the Thornward Division. There was peace in the Bramblewood Gap, if one can call it that; in truth, tension rose, each side watchful, and a new type of war began, a Cold War.
            Beygraf Zoltan's assassination in 587 CY and the resulting change in Ket's government led to a new policy regarding Bissel. Nadaid, Zoltan's state favored replacement, withdrew most of his troops from Bissel to deal with chaos in Lopolla, then began peace negotiations with the west, much to the frustration of battle-hungry Gran March war bands gathered at Bissel's southern border.
Negotiations lasted from 587-589 CY, resulting in the controversial Thornward Division, by which Bissel's capital was lost and made a neutral city held and governed in common by Ket, Veluna, Gran March, and Bissel. Ket completely withdrew its armies, taking control of all Bisselite forts, towns, and lands north of the Bramblewood Gap. [LGG - 33]

Beygraf Zoltan was assassinated within four years of the first occupation of Bissel; significantly, the judgment of the mullahs was to not attempt his revivification. The political aftermath in Lopolla was considerable. As the struggle for power unfolded, army forces were withdrawn from Bissel, and civil war threatened Ket. A new beygraf took power by forming a coalition between many military leaders and a significant minority of the clergy. With the financial support of the Mouqollad, the coalition has stabilized Ket's government and borders. Beygraf Nadaid's policies are those of a moderate, so he has little respect among the clergy. The mullahs have demanded the right to scrutinize his government, to assure that it remains in the faith. Nadaid has little choice but to allow this; the outcome is in doubt. [LGG - 68]

Thornward is a sprawling, heavily fortified city with a population of about six thousand, surrounded by numerous army camps (limited in size by treaty), further boosting its total population to about eleven thousand. The caravan and river traffic through Thornward is of staggering size; items are often available here that are found only in much larger cities. The atmosphere in the city is tense and political intrigue is thick, but mercantile activity is nonstop; the city is brightly lit all hours of the night to keep trade moving. [LGG - 32]

Tang the Horrific
Tang the Horrific came to the Wegwiur after escaping Iuz’s forces chasing him to the icy sea. The Wolves were wary at first. Who was this wild man from the Paynims, they asked?  The one who will lead you to victory, he answered.
The Wolf Nomads were reportedly astonished at the audacity, courage, and natural charisma of this fellow nomad. The council and the tarkhan himself agreed to the attack immediately, perhaps sensing the importance of this moment in history. In the late spring of 587 CY, the Wegwiur's Relentless Horde rode from Eru-Tova and attacked the unsuspecting orcs of the Howling Hills, driving than back in chaos from the Wegwiur Thralls caverns and surrounding area. Shamans carefully removed the bodies of their forefathers and packed the caves' many may treasures, while Tang and Tarkhan Bargru hounded the humanoids of this miserable land. Two days later, a retreat was called and the cavalry force returned home in triumph. By chance, this attack came just before the Shield Lands assault began to the south, and Iuz's attention was thus diverted from the important action at Critwall. Iuz lost no land in the fighting, but his orcs suffered many casualties and a stupendous loss of face in the eyes of Iuz and the Wegwiur, who thereafter raided the hordes more frequently. Tang and a small force of cavalry were last seen riding into the Lands of Iuz, leading an advancing orc army away from the retreating Wegwiur. [TAB - 22]

Tang continued to harry Iuz. He and the Wolves darted in and out of the Howling Hills and the Fellreev, leading those disorganized bands there on a merry chase.
A former servant of Iuz and now the demigod's implacable foe, Tang had escaped with a small band of cavalry after a daring raid into the Howling Hills with the Wolf Nomads. Crossing the open plain to the Fellreev, Tang and his mercenary band encountered small groups of Rovers, gathering them at the village of Sable Watch. With their aid, together with Wardogs from the Forlorn Forest and beyond, he successfully attacked Iuzite forces in the Barrens, eventually capturing the fort of Hornduran. Most of the Rovers were still without mounts, so Tang made a fateful decision to raid into Stonehold for horses.
Tang's Raid
The town of Vlekstaad was chosen as the target of the Rovers' nighttime strike. With most Fists either in Tenh or fighting the Suel in eastern Stonehold, Vlekstaad had almost no able soldiers in residence. Such defenses as they had were quickly penetrated, thanks to the Wardogs' amazing stealth. The stables of Vlekstaad provided a trove of horseflesh, but escaping with them proved more difficult than Tang had anticipated. He and his companions were trapped by a patrol of Fists and forced to battle for their lives. The expedition might have been lost there had not a young Wardog, Nakanwa Daychaser […]), led his own band of warriors on Tang's trail. Trapped between the two forces of Rovers, the Fists were slaughtered, but Tang was mortally wounded. Nakanwa quickly assumed control of the surviving Rovers, ordering them to seize everything of value in the town, including its citizens. The remains of the town were set ablaze, becoming the funeral pyre of Tang the Horrific.
With the return of Nakanwa and the wealth of Vlekstaad to the Barrens, new hope rose among the Rovers. Their warriors now had mounts and the people had meat. Perhaps as importantly, the tribes had new members, for the captive children were quickly adopted and the captive women quickly wed. Only time will tell if the razing of Vlekstaad will result in the rebirth of the Rovers of the Barrens. They still remain an elusive people, not revealing their new strength, for they are wary of the vengeance of the Fists. Yet, for the first time since Iuz brought evil into their land, they have real hope. [LGG - 95]

Lady Katarina and the Great Northern Crusade made great gains against Iuz, who had spent much of his strength in his earlier lightning strikes and headlong plunge into his enemy’s lands. However, Iuz was spent, at the limit of his reach, and with each day, the Crusade pushed and pushed, and Iuz retreated and fell back.
In 587 CY, under the leadership of the newly installed Knight Commander Lady Katarina of Waiworth, the expatriate Knights of Holy Shielding returned to their homeland in force. [LGG - 159]

Iuz was bent on retaining the Shield Lands. Indeed, he expected to possess it for quite some time to come. Forever, in fact. Thus, he named Adumdfort the regional capital of the Shield Lands, even though it is cut off from the rest of the Empire by naval blockade.
In the Bandit Kingdoms, the towns of Hallorn, Riftcrag, Rookroost, and Stoink are regional capitals. Hallorn rules the western Bandit Kingdoms, Riftcrag the Rift and Rift Barrens, Rookroost the region between the Rift and the Bluff Hills, and Stoink the southeastern Bandit Kingdoms. Admundfort was designated the regional capital of the Shield Lands in 587, but the island is almost completely cut off from the empire by a naval blockade. [LGG - 61]

(Formerly) twenty-three petty noble domains on the mainland, ruled from Admundfort (the island was its own separate domain); (now) two free domains (mainland area controlled from Critwall, and Scragholme Island), with the remainder of the land overrun but badly controlled by Iuz's forces. [LGG - 102]

The Story of Rueven the Rhennee
To the Sorcerers Nexus of Rel Astra he traded his immortal soul for the ability to channel magic at will. [RPGA Fright at Tristor - 3]

588 CY
King Belvor sought vengeance. Iuz had raped his land and Iuz must be made to pay for that. Belvor struck with such rage as few knew him capable of, and his expeditionary force acquitted itself well in recapturing Grabford. But Belvor was not satisfied.
By 588 CY, with Critwall cleared of enemy forces, the government of the Shield Lands was reestablished, albeit over a very small area. Katarina was named Knight Commander of the region. Lady Katarina and her knights now look east, planning surgical strikes against the enemy, confident that they will reclaim their lost land. ("Perhaps not this year or the next," they say.) Heironeous has shown them the path of righteousness, and it is long and lined with great sacrifice and furious battle. Those shackled by the Lord of Pain will be released, they cry. Those who fear the break of dawn will be taught the art of war and the strength of courage. The lost lands will be reclaimed, they promise. The Shield will rise again! [LGG - 105]

Furyondy's armies smashed northward in early Planting, bulwarked by the Knights of the Hart and the archmage Bigby. Fighting continued for more than a year, with few meaningful victories for either side. Finally, in 588 CY, the Battle of Grabford provided Furyondy with a crucial victory that allowed it to encircle Crockport, the base of Iuz's operations in the occupied lands. When the city finally fell to the forces of weal, it was the site of uncontrolled chaos and slaughter of the occupying forces. Crockport had been the goal of the great Northern Crusade. Many fell victim to emotion in its recapture, and few good men remember the event with any degree of pride.
If Crockport had been the initial goal of the Crusade, however, general revenge, and the ultimate destruction of Iuz the Evil soon took its place. Recaptured lands revealed the horrible truth of the occupation—entire villages had been reanimated; Iuz's agents knew no pity, and reveled in destruction and butchery. Exactly three years to the day of calling the original Crusade, Belvor appeared in public in Chendl, proclaiming a "permanent and unalterable state of war" between Furyondy and the Empire of Iuz. [LGG - 47]

Hope can be a rallying point. The liberation of even the least salient of a once conquered land can be the greatest victory in the eyes of the vanquished. Thus, Lady Katarina declared the New Shield Lands in defiance of Iuz’s vassal state.
No Quarter Asked or Given
Brutal fighting, with no quarter asked or given, raged for a year before what was left of Critwall was regained. The government of the Shield Lands was proclaimed to have returned home in 588 CY, though by the end of 590 CY only a fraction of the western Shield Lands had been retaken, that being Scragholme Isle and the area within 20-30 miles of Critwall.
[TAB - 21]

The current nation, often referred to as the "New Shield Lands," encompasses only the 20-30 miles surrounding the city of Critwall and Scragholme Island, at the mouth of the Veng-Ritensa River. A keep on Scragholme Isle, Bright Sentry, guards a small bur growing port that bears the same name and serves as the island domain's local capital. The current government proclaims that the recapture of all lost lands is its primary goal, though fighting has ground to a virtual standstill within the last year. [LGG - 103]

Of Vecna and Iuz:
The Flight of Fiends
What became of Vecna and Iuz? Who can say? But where Vecna could not be scryed, Iuz somehow remained upon Oerth. Iuz’s empire remained intact. And his tyranny marched on, unabated.
But, all good things must come to an end. The fiends had fled and Iuz was stretched thin, tasked not only with administering his newly acquired empire, but beset with rebels and banditry and the persistent attacks of those who didn’t appreciate his desire to remake the whole of Flanaess in his own image.
The use of the Crook of Rao by Canon Hazen of Veluna, in 586 CY, had dire repercussions for Iuz's armies. Bereft of their powerful masters, many lesser nonhumans and ambitious human generals attempted to stage coups throughout the occupied lands, even as rebel bandits and indigenous populations took advantage of the Flight of Fiends to strike back at their oppressors. [LGG - 62]

It was inevitable that Iuz would lose control of Sevvord Redbeard of Hold of Stonefist. He cared not for that cold and distant land. It had little of value, except grist for the mill. And he knew that it would continue to slip into the state of chaos it has always courted. So, he turned his back on the Stonehold, so as to focus on the conflict that really mattered, Furyondy.
Sevvord flew into a rage when he awoke and realised that he’d been played a puppet to another’s schemes. He fumed! He raged! And all those within his gaze cowered from his anger. He gathered Fists from across Tenh, and killed every cleric of Iuz he could find, impaling them on posts and leaving them to rot in the wind. He and his slaughtered hundreds, if not thousands, of Tenha slaves when he could not find enough Iuzian clerics to sate his need. He wished to kill more, to line every road with the spiked corpses of an entire nation as a warning to any who might ever try to subjugate him again. However, he had not the time. He need return home. When he ran out of slaves, he left a rearguard to occupy Calbut and marched to drive the hated barbarians from his homeland. He would paint the Kelten Pass with their blood, he promised, and its flowing would thaw the Frozen River for all time.

For six years after the invasion, the Stoneholders held the Tenha enslaved. The evil of Iuz was present throughout the land as well, though never in plain sight. Perhaps this state of affairs would have persisted indefinitely had not an unnatural rage come upon the rhelt of Stonehold, during a meeting in the ruins of the duke's palace at Nevond Nevnend. [LGG - 113,114]
By means not yet known, Iuz's charm-like control of Sevvord Redbeard was broken in mid-588 CY. Enraged at the abuse he suffered, Redbeard vowed revenge. [TAB - 22]
In an astonishing turn of loyalty, he gave the command to put the clerics and agents of Iuz to the sword, also letting his warriors murder Tenha slaves out of hand. [LGG - 114]
Iuz priests, soldiers, and advisors in the area were slaughtered on sight, and Tenh was plunged into bloodshed once again. The Master then ordered a looting of Tenh and a retreat to Nevond Nevnend and Calbut. Stonefist warriors meant to keep this area so as to guard Thunder Pass (called Rockegg Pass by the Tenha), the route through the Griff Mountains back to Stonefist. Reports were already filtering back to the Stonefist troops that a force of Ice and Snow Barbarians was raiding and burning its way across the Hold, and all wished to go home and do battle. [TAB - 22]
The Fists then withdrew from all but the northernmost part of Tenh, which they still hold. Armies from the Pale and forces loyal to the exiled duke quickly crossed the borders, battling each other for possession of the southern and eastern regions of the duchy, including the Phostwood. [LGG - 114]
There are 20,000 Stonefist men in Tenh, with conflicting desires. On the one hand, rulership of this fertile land is good, but on the other, their instincts are to pillage, maraud, decimate, and then go home with all the loot they can carry. Instead, they stay here as slave drivers. Spending days overseeing slave farmers is not exactly what Fist men find exciting. The Stonefist nation is young, born in adversity and constant marauding. Constant movement on attack and retreating to defensive fortifications after that attack, not occupying their conquests, is what makes the Stonefist men feel comfortable. There is another problem weighing on the minds of the Fists. Since the sham of the "Great God Vatun” was exposed and barbarian shamans and priests have begun to see that Iuz was behind it all, the Fists face more hostility and raids from their traditional foes, the eastern barbarians. No longer are these two uneasy allies. Having occupied Calbut and secured Thunder Pass is useful to the Fists, but keeping men in Tenh when they are needed to defend Stonefist against the barbarians is irksome. Many seek to go home, putting Tenh through one last ordeal of slaughter and pillage before they go. In the interim, many are restless and bored, prone to drunkenness and mindless violence against the Tenhas. [ WGR5 Iuz the Evil - 67]
[A] many-sided war began in Tenh, involving the mutually hostile forces of Iuz, Stonehold, the Pale, and Tenha expatriates. The war goes on today. [LGG - 16]

589 CY    
Was Reynard, a bandit chief of the Tangles, an outlaw or a freedom fighter? Was he fighting for his “nation,” or was he just on the lam and fighting for his life? Whatever the reason, he was much sought after by the Iuzite Boneheart. And when one is much sought after, it’s only a matter of time before one is found. Reynard was found. He was captured and slain and desecrated.
The wildly insane Earl Aundurach, a new addition to the Lesser Boneheart, commands the surviving Tangles folk harshly and ineffectively. He prominently displays a magical scepter crafted from the bones of Reynard, the land's rebellious bandit chief, captured and slain in 589 CY. The earl is supposed to control all activities in the Bandit Lands to the north and west, but it is very doubtful that he does. [LGG - 30]

Belvor’s crusade was successful. He and his armies succeeded in reconquering lost territory from Iuz. But as one might expect, his lords and his people began to lose their fervor and commitment to his cause the closer his armies came to Furyondy’s northern border. It is one thing to spend the lifeblood of Furyondy; it is quite another to spill Furyondian blood on Shield Land soil.
By the end of 588 CY, the armies of Furyondy had restored the nation, as well as Critwall and Scragholme Isle in the old Shield Lands. The destruction and debauchery revealed as Iuz's agents fled sickened the crusaders, King Belvor declared eternal war upon the Old One, pledging to settle for nothing short of the complete destruction of Iuz himself. Raids against Iuz from Furyondy and the Shield Lands continue to the present. [LGG - 16]

By the end of 588 CY, [Belvor] had succeeded [in reclaiming much of the Furyondian lands conquered by Iuz], but the king nevertheless declared permanent and unalterable war against Iuz. As part of the crusade, a small potion of the Shield Lands had been reclaimed. [PGtG - 12]

Belvor’s armies may not have faltered, but the nations commitment certainly did. There was much posturing. Iuz must pay, was declared hotly. But who exactly would make him pay? The nation’s coffers were spent, the army weakened by such prolonged conflict, the prospect of defeating Iuz uncertain, at best. The borders were fortified, new castles built. A line had been drawn.
Finally, in 588 CY, the Battle of Grabford provided Furyondy with a crucial victory that allowed it to encircle Crockport, the base of Iuz's operations in the occupied lands. When the city finally fell to the forces of weal, it was the site of uncontrolled chaos and slaughter of the occupying forces. Crockport had been the goal of the great Northern Crusade. Many fell victim to emotion in its recapture, and few good men remember the event with any degree of pride.
If Crockport had been the initial goal of the Crusade, however, general revenge, and the ultimate destruction of Iuz the Evil soon took its place. Recaptured lands revealed the horrible truth of the occupation—entire villages had been reanimated; Iuz's agents knew no pity, and reveled in destruction and butchery. [LGG - 47]

Despite the angry pronouncement, however, many army units were disbanded in the spring of 589 CY, with only those units on border patrols and involved in castle-building along the frontier being maintained at full readiness. A full recovery from the war would take years. A few northern lords have called King Belvor a coward for refusing to strike further into the the Empire of Iuz, but the king has never had such plans; he wished only to recover lands lost to his state, knowing that he would have little ability to hold any territory gained in Iuz’s forsaken realm. [TAB]

The old guard had indeed grown old. They were tired. The War had cost them much. Thay had asked much from their people. And they continued to ask for much. But the young did not hear those venerable voices. They looked to those who had distinguished themselves in the field. These were the ones who saved us, those youth said.
The mayor of Highfolk, twenty-eight-year-old Tavin Ersteader, was of low birth, coming from one of the region's northern villages. Ersteader distinguished himself as a young man, exploring several mysterious sites within the Yatils and Clatspurs and fighting against the forces of Iuz in the Vesve. Said to be a one-time apprentice to Melf Brightflame, Ersteader enjoys a warm relationship with the local elves, and is a good friend of Loftin Graystand, the former mayor, who retired in 589 CY. Ersteader is a sworn enemy to Iuz, and sponsors far more reconnaissance and attack missions against the Old One than did his predecessor.  [LGG - 53]

Was Iuz defeated? Certainly not. Was Iuz brought to the brink of defeat? Only a fool would think so. Could Iuz still strike fear into the hearts and minds of those who had opposed him? Most certainly.
Lady Xenia Sallavarian
A terrible tragedy struck Lynwerd and his kingdom in 589 CY. A long-planned marriage between King Lynwerd and Lady Xenia Sallavarian, a distant cousin of Circle of Eight member Jallarzi and Duke Karll of Urnst, was scheduled to take place during Richfest of that year. In Wealsun, Lady Xenia was touring Rel Mord on foot when she collapsed of heatstroke. [LGG - 78]
She could not be revived by her attending priest, and it was learned later that her body was devoid of her intellect and spirit, though she still breathed. Her body was taken back to Nellix, where it is tended by her family. Divinations and questioning of those present when the lady collapsed strongly hint that she was attacked by magical means, but little more was learned. [TAB - 31]
She has not been seen since, and many suspect the worst, detecting sorrow and a grim hardness in their king. [LGG - 78,79]

590 CY
Ratik:     Alain was not the only one to desire the freedom of the Bone March. Lady Evaleigh wishes the same, for her father’s city of Knurl is hard pressed and in need of succour. And in truth, war will continue between the Bone March and Ratik, as it must, for each cannot rest while the other exists. The Bone March shall never forgive Ratik or the Frost Barbarians for their incursions into its territory.
In 590 CY, a full-scale assault over the Blemu Hills into Knurl was also attempted, but failed. Thus far, the defenses of the count have held firm, but he expects another wave of attacks this year. [LGG - 37]

Humanoid tribes and bandit gangs appear to be cooperating of late. Masked advisors were seen by spies in the councils of the orcs and gnolls at Spinecastle. Treasure seekers have entered the abandoned keep at Spinecastle, but few have returned alive. Without aid from Ratik, Count Dunstan of Knurl might ally with Ahlissa or North Kingdom to save his realm. [LGG - 37]

Ambassadors from the Scarlet Brotherhood were spied in Djekul. Ratik wants to expand the alliance against Bone March and North Kingdom to include the Snow Barbarians, but the Schnai will negotiate only with Lexnol. Agents of the Sea Barons have approached Evaleigh to gain access to Marner. A half-orc spy working for North Kingdom was discovered in Ratikhill but escaped. [LGG - 91]

Fireland:              The fleet from the Sea Barons had set sail three long years earlier and had not yet returned. Had they found Fireland? If they had, that is a tale for another day. But in truth, whether they had found Fireland or not, Fireland found Ratik. One day, much to Marner’s surprise, a longship from Fireland sailed into its port, its flanks scorched, its sails torn and tattered.
In Marner, capital of Ratik, a lone long ship sailed into port in late 590 CY. The pale barbarians aboard the ship spoke a dialect of the Cold Tongue and claimed to be from a distant northeastern island called Fireland. They came with four other ships in search of help for an undisclosed problem facing their people; their other long ships were sunk by sea monsters or Ice Barbarian raiders. The aged explorer Korund of Ratik can supply maps and some information to anyone wishing to return to Fireland with these barbarians, but he is too infirm to travel and is growing senile as well. Frost Barbarians believe “Firelanders” are descended from sailers from the Thillonrian Peninsula who settled there centuries ago; the barbarians wish to establish contact with them. The glaciated land is called Fireland for its volcanoes, visible for many miles at night as red fountains in the sea. [TAB - 38]

Frost Barbarians:              Nobles from Ratik have great influence at court but are not always trusted. Scarlet Brotherhood agents are well received but bring strange news and promises. Merchants from the Lordship of the Isles have a growing presence, offering unusually generous trade deals that make some jarls suspicious. Hundgred's court is growing isolated from other northern barbarian nations. [LGG - 45]

Snow Barbarians:             An intermittent war smolders with Stonehold. King Ingemar generously feasts and rewards his chaotic jarls to insure their loyalty. Frost Barbarian jarls also being feted to gain their friendship and influence; this is viewed as blatant bribery, but it works. The king receives Scarlet Brotherhood agents at court, but privately says he does not trust them. [LGG]

Ice Barbarians: 
Royal hatred of the Scarlet Brotherhood grows, as does distrust of the Frost Barbarians. Stonehold accuses the Ice Barbarians of attacking Vlekstaad. There are secret parlays between the Snow and Ice Barbarians for raids against the Sea Barons and possibly the Lordship of the Isles. [LGG - 55]

Stonefist:            Rhelt Sevvord is the absolute master of these people, and his troops are expected to obey him without question. The punishment for disobedience is slow death, though the rhelt always rewards his loyal troops with plunder and captives. So far, Reword Redbeard has maintained his personal authority and become the most important figure in his nation's history since Stonefist himself. Still, many feel that his time has passed, and wait for a leader who will be strong enough to challenge him. [LGG - 109]
Revenge is widely sought against the northern barbarians for the burning of Vlekstaad, but Iuz's forces are hated even more. Conspiracies are suspected between Iuz and several war band leaders to gain control of Stonehold. Murders of war band leaders (by their fellows) are on the rise. [LGG - 110]

Returned From Afar
The Sea Baron Fleet returned from expedition across the Solnor.
Ships from resource-hungry lands of the eastern Flanaess are striking out in search of trading partners, hoping to rebuild from the wars. The Sea Barons and the east coast city-states of Rel Astra, Ountsy, and Roland are now exploring the mini-continent of Hepmonaland, returning with fantastic tales and riches. (Many fall prey to disease, pirates, monsters, and privateers from the Scarlet Brotherhood and Lordship of the Isles, however.) Several major kingdoms full of new peoples are said to lie in this tropical land, some rumored to be at war with the slave-taking Brotherhood. [TAB - 38]

The Sea Barons do not desire a permanent alliance with the Cities of the Solnor Compact, distrusting Drax's motives, but they feign friendship. The Sea Barons fear assassination or worse by the Scarlet Brotherhood, and treat with strangers in their lands harshly. Expeditions launched to the mysterious south in the last few years have returned with tales of fantastic wonders and riches. [LGG - 100]

Rovers of the Barrens:   The Rovers are a feeble folk now, but they still mount small raids into neighbouring lands. They spend most of their time hunting bear, wolf and northern deer. They fish the Icy Sea. They harvest pine and fur from the Forlorn Forest. They hunt deer and bison. They lay low. As they must. For they must rebuild their strength, as they did after the Battle of Opicm River.
A secret alliance with the Wolf Nomads is being negotiated. Scouts are searching for survivors from the scattered war bands, including allied centaurs and elves. Horses are supplied to tribes loyal to new war sachem, Nakanwa. All forces of Iuz that hunt Rovers (including Grossfort) are closely watched, to be either avoided or destroyed. [LGG - 95]

The Pale:             Theocrat Ogon Tillit leads Palish forces (with Tenha converts) and recaptures eastern Tenh from Iuzian forces.
[With] an army at full strength and an additional force including thousands of refugee converts from the Tenh at the fore, Theocrat Ogon Tillit sponsored an invasion of the ruined duchy, to both gain territory and throw back Iuz's forces, clearly perceived as the number-one threat to the Pale's future existence. Eastern Tenh was taken back, and both banks of the Yol are now under Palish control. [LGG - 82]

Unbeknownst to the populace, Tillit was injured in 588 CY, when he personally led one of the early battles in the Tenh. While he survived the attack, his wounds have not healed; in fact, they have worsened during the last two years, and his attendants think he might not survive till Puchfest. The Council of the Nine is aware of his condition, and the clandestine politicking to replace Tillit on the Throne of the Sun has already begun. [LGG - 82]

Nyrond:               Lynwerd found his nation in disarray following the war. His roads had been marched to mash, his strongholds broken and razed, the walls riven. His people were in similar state.
[King Lynwerd] spent 590 overseeing the repair and strengthening of his kingdom’s roads, armies, cities, and trade links. He finally managed to have weapons, clothing, food. and other assistance sent to the gnome clans of the Flinty Hills, winning their approval despite their grumbles over the tardiness of the aid. He approved trade with the Lordship of the Isles and the United Kingdom of Ahlissa (the latter to the shock and outrage of many in his court). [TAB - 31]

Nyrond lost nearly seventy thousand soldiers in the Greyhawk Wars. Though her armies held off Aerdy's siege, they did so at terrible cost. Archbold had expended the nation's entire treasury, and had depleted much of his family's wealth. Hideously in debt to the Urnst States, the king faced a future of mined fields and horrible food shortages. Nearly half of his holdings were in tax rebellions. Many of the nation's best mages, craftsmen, and nobles fled Nyrond for easier lives to the west. Whether Nyrond would fall was never an issue. The question was simply that of timing. [LGG - 78]

Bissel:   With Thornwood declared a neutral city, Pellak was chosen as the new capital for Bissel.
Bissel’s new capital was chosen in 590 CY to be Pellak, a trade and farming town at the country's center. Bissel's own Knights of the Watch held a huge citadel called Oversight near this town; the fortress never fell to the Kettites despite being besieged for several years. [TAB - 36]
Bissel's four famed mercenary Border Companies are being reorganized and retrained after their defeat and disbanding during the Ketite occupation; they are not yet at their former strength. Many scouts and rangers are being sought for active duty in the north and west. A large castle-building project is underway along the southern banks of the Fals (Bissel's new northern border) and along the neutral zone around Thornward. Ket destroyed many forts, minor castles, barracks, signal towers, and army bases when it invaded Bissel and later when it withdrew. These are being rebuilt, but work is very slow due to lack of funds. The massive Castle Oversight, at Pellak, has become the headquarters for Bissel's branch of the Knights of the Watch. The influence of Gran March and the Watch is everywhere, particularly in the new margrave's court. The eventual recovery of Thornward is a core goal of the government. [LGG - 32]

Iuz:         Iuz retains a precarious hold on the East. The Bandit Kingdoms chaff under his rule. The remains of the Rovers of the Barrens and the remnents of Tenh strain against his rule. Stonehold has no love for Iuz, and he must resort to influence and stratagems to retain control when that does not appeal to his paranoid and visious self, who’d rather rule by bane magics and brute force.
Though some remain, the loss of the bulk of Iuz's fiends has resulted in low morale, revolts, and disorganization within an already chaotic regime. [LGG - 63]

Now embroiled in what Furyondy has termed a "permanent and unalterable state of. war," Iuz's attention has been drawn to his southwestern border, perhaps at the expense of holding in Tenh, the Barrens, and the old Bandit Kingdoms. Though bereft of the bulk of his demonic aid, Iuz's armies are far more numerous than those of his enemies. They not only follow the Old One, but worship him, believing that to fail their infernal master is not only to fail their liege, but their god, as well. [LGG - 62,63]

Did I not mention Vecna? How thoughtless of me. Last we saw of him, he was imprisoned in the Shadowfell after an epic battle with Iuz back in 581 CY. But, ever the paranoid soul, Vecna would never have lived as long as he had were he not a cagy one. He knew that one day he might be defeated. He knew that one day he might need a means of return. And he prepared for such a day. And that day had come.
He had been plotting. He had been scheming.
And he wanted revenge. Against Iuz.
No matter how powerful a being is, there exists a secret that can destroy him. In every heart is a seed of darkness hidden from all others; find that evil seed, and your enemies are undone. Strength and power come if you know and control what others dare not show. Never reveal all that you know, or your enemies will lake your seed, too.” [LGG - 186]

Despite Vecna’s entrapment in the Demiplane of Dread, long-laid plans have come to fruition. In Vecna’s quest to achieve full and permanent godhood, he instigated several alternative strategies in the millennia of his existence. Many of these designs have played out with little to recommend them, but elements of more sinister schemes continue to move unnoticed.
One such plan has promise at this point. Sometime during the span of years before his imprisonment, Vecna went to a lot of trouble secretly fabricating two tablets inscribed with a true dweomer in the Language Primeval. Then he buried them in a plausible archeological site. […]
Though any of a handful of demipowers would have served Vecna’s purpose, the corpse king Iuz took the bait. Having stolen the tablets from their original discoverers several years ago, Iuz has slowly brought his considerable resources to bear on the tablets. The more Iuz learned, the more the ancient formula seemed, to him and all his divinatory means, an ancient dweomer of stupendous strength, whereby a demipower might bootstrap itself to full ascension! […]
The tablets lie. [Die Vecna Die! - 2,3]                

Iuz enacted the formula, and the formula drew the power from him, a conduit to Vecna, who then had the means to break free from the Shadowfell and emerge with the power of a greater god. Vecna then entered the city of Sigil, where he came perilously close to rearranging all existence to his whims. When Vecna was ejected from Sigil by a party of adventurers, Iuz was freed and Vecna returned to Oerth greatly reduced in power, though still a lesser god.

Going forward:
Mysteries abound. They always have, they always will. They are sometimes wondrous; sometimes chilling. They are almost always inexplicable. And despite the stranglehold Iuz has on his conquered lands, there are secrets which even he is unaware, patches where even he has no sway.  Lake Aqal, for instance.
This very deep, island-filled lake, the source of the Artonsamay River, is an enchanting place of otherworldly beauty and calm. Situated in the northwest arm of the Fellreev Forest, this strange area is, however, given a wide berth by woodland folk. Many creatures found here are 150% their normal size and correspondingly more dangerous. Water nagas, strange dragons, and greenhags are reportedly abundant in the unnaturally warm waters. The mutations in animal life, extremely lush vegetation, and the lake water's warmth are thought to result from a magical source that has nearly made this a tropical swamp. In 590 CY, a child of a Reyhu bandit reemerged from the region after being lost for two months, and given up for dead. The girl's tale of benign, long-featured men who walked on air engendered much derision among the bandits, though two parties entered the lake region within the week, seeking out new allies. None returned. [LGG - 147]

The Story Reuven of the Rhennee
Fright at Tristor
Finally, in the bandit town of Stoink, Reuven spent his savings on a trained circus bear, Tasptaddle, with which he planned to exact his revenge against the cruel people of Tristor. He has been instructing the bear to kill wildlife and farm animals to frighten the Tristor residents, a prelude to a final act of villainy that will make his revenge complete. [Fright at Tristor - 3]

Tristor also faces turmoil of a more personal nature over the course of the last month, the surrounding area has been plagued by the gruesome mutilations of wildlife and livestock. Local investigators, too frightened to range far from the hamlet for fear of an orcish attack, have failed to turn up meaningful leads. The town’s constable has made it known that the person or persons responsible for finding the mutilator will be richly rewarded. The village has become a haven for disreputable bounty hunters and vigilantes, all hoping to solve the mystery. To date, nothing has come of their efforts, and the townsfolk are agitated over the slaughter of their animals, afraid that people will soon be victims themselves. [Fright at Tristor - 2]

“Their throats were cut, their innards opened to the world and spread all about them. Our agent in the region cannot guess at the hands behind these fiendish attacks, though he confirms that all live in fear that this demonic villain will soon tire of play with animals, and will start in upon the humble folk of Tristor.”—Portion of a letter from Field Agent Marim of the Blinding Path to His Worshipful Mercy, Theocrat Ogon Tillit, Supreme Prelate of the Theocracy of the Pale, Coldeven, 591 CY. [Fright at Tristor - 2]

One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, Ivid the Undying, WGR5 Iuz the Evil, WG8 The Fate of Istus, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine, Fright at Tristor.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Grim-Reaper by moni158
Mongol by weerwulf
Though-My-Sails-Are-Tattered-My-Anchor-Still-Holds byvodoofantasy
Vecna by myles1972
Outsider by lostknightkg

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Fright at Tristor, 2001
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

Saturday, 21 March 2020

History of the North, Part 10: The Diminishing Storm

When the hurly-burly's done,
When the battle's lost and won.
Shakespeare, MacBeth (1605), Act I, sc.1, l.3.

The nations have spilled their lifeblood into the soil and soul of the Flanaess. Exhausted, they entrench and catch breath. They watch. And wait.
Iuz controls the North. But his lands are poor and produce little. He gathers his strength. He watches. And waits.
The Scarlet Brotherhood, their gambit played and played out, have a stranglehold on the south. They issue forth yet more spies. They whisper. They watch. And wait.

585 CY 
..along its southern margins...
Ratik understood its peril, and it began an ambitious project, one that taxed its resources, but was deemed essential by Luxnol. What good would minding the nations finances do were they slaughtered by the orcs and gnolls to the south, and the Fists to the north. Castles and fortresses and redoubts sprang up along the Kelmar Pass and the Flinty Hills, and in the northern Timberway. More rose up within the Kelten Pass, for surely the Fists would come again.
Ratik is developing an ambitious castle building program, constructing strong keeps along its southern margins not far from the foothills of the eastern spur of the Rakers. They are digging in for a long struggle against the humanoids of the Bone March. Ratik is seeking mercenaries to defend the builders during the coming spring and summer. [FtAA - 73]

The last we saw Lord Holmer, of the Shield Lands, he was hauled away in chains for a prolonged residency in Dorakka, A favoured guest of the Old One, himself. Most thought him dead. But there were rumours otherwise.
A daring group of Furyondian heroes rescued him in 585 CY, but he was a broken shell of a man by then and died, insane, late that year. [LGG - 14]
Holmer is clearly and permanently a broken man. His mind is shattered, and he is nearly 65 years of age. Years of malnutrition, torture, and torment have ruined his body and his mind beyond recovery. The best healers and the most powerful magic can not heal him. The awful truth is that Iuz had virtually finished with Holmer anyway. Holmer is an empty man, and at the feast he will say but a few words, very carefully cued and amplified by Belvor with a triumphal flare. [WGR6 City of Skulls - 62]

Politics prevailed. Belvor had no love for Holmer. He thought him arrogant and brash. And it truth, Holmer was but a pawn in Belvor’s need to further his ends, to raise moral and his own stature in the eyes of Furyondiands and the Shield Landers in exile. Lady Katarina had no wish for his return to the Seat of the Shield Lands, either.
Holmer is in no shape to be a ruler-in- exile. He will remain in Chendl, in Belvor’s palace, for “security reasons” after he has been exhibited to the people of the border lands. After a few months, an edict signed in Holmer’s hand will announce that he has renounced leadership of the Shield Lands to Countess Katarina. His edict will state that it is time for a younger warrior to stand in his stead and provide the great leadership his people need as they plan the recovery of their homelands. [WGR6 - 62]

Lake Quag ran with blood
Rumours flourished. As one might expect in these times of war. Demons walked the land, after all; they dined on women and children, they drank the blood of the vanquished. Therefore, it came as no surprise when Lake Quag ran with "blood." The gods are punishing us, the populace whispered and cried, sure that the divine and malevolent were exacting the price for their having treated with foul Iuz.
            Lake Quag has been running with blood! Just north of the Mounds of Dawn, the waters of the lake run dark with blood; fish avoid the waters, superstitious nomads will not hunt or fish in the area, and old tales of an evil curse in the hills are being recounted by the Perrenland folk. [FtAA - 74]

The North had not known such conflict since Vecna had vied with Glitterhelm. None remained to tend fields. Those who did fled the fields and cowered in their cellars at the first sight of a stranger, the crops left untended and trampled underfoot. Roads clotted with jackboots and hobnails. Trade, and travel not martial, quickly ground to a halt.  Want, hunger, and pestilence were soon to follow. Northern Nyrond lay under a blanket of what became the "Winter of Hunger."
            The folk of Gamboge Forest play a vital role in supplying the towns and villages of northern Nyrond with tubers, nuts, winter berries, and other food with which the Nyrondese can stretch their meager grain reserves. This supply of forage products is declining; Gambogers say they have been ambushed by forces of the Theocracy of the Pale who have stolen their goods, slain some of the woodsmen, and abducted others. The forest folk are reluctant to travel now, and a Nyrondese trading group that went to the forest has not returned. Starvation threatens many villages and people. [FtAA - 76]

The military always becomes more powerful in times of war. They need; they demand; they take. An army marches on its stomach, they say. We need metal for swords, wood for pole arms, horses for cavalry and cartage. And the government bows to them in their time of need, because they must, so they say. We must support or troops, they say. Because they must. But the free cities balked. We have tens of thousands to feed, they said. The Furyondian Knights of the Hart were displeased. Had they not saved the free cities from Iuz? The rulers of those cities were not fit for office, they decided; and they called for the annexation of Verbebonc and Dyvers, returning them to the fold of Furyondy. Not all agreed.
            Verbobonc was thrown into tumoil in 585 cy when the Furyondian Knights of the Hart called for the annexation of the viscounty and Dyvers as well. Though the people were calmed by a representative from Veluna, great tension remained in the land, and it increased dramatically when the Great Northern Crusade began in 586 CY. [TAB - 36]                

            In 585 CY, the Furyondian Knights of the Hart called for the annexation of Verbobonc. Though representatives from Veluna sniffed at such talk, the emergence of the Great Northern Crusade, in which Veluna and Furyondy acted as a single political unit, frightened many in the town who had long preferred the reason (and liberal tax laws) of Mitrik to the zeal (and active monitoring of the finances of the aristocracy) of Chendl. [LGG - 132]

Politicians beware, for the people will be heard, and appeased. The people being those with a stake in what was to come: the lords, the landholders, the trading houses and the captains of industry. Magister Margus, Lord of Dyvers, did not pay heed to their call to be heard. And he paid the price for such miscalculation.
Larissa Hunter
Magister Margus, the Lord Mayor of Dyvers dismissed the possibility of annexation and failed to address the concerns of his constituents. He was recalled from office later that year. [Slavers - 6] 
Larissa Hunter was appointed to the seat of Dyvers in his place.
Larissa Hunter, First Captain of the Dyvers Free Army, was an aggressive patriot. Her enthusiasm and popularity forced King Belvor to send a representative to Dyvers in order to assure the city that it had nothing to fear from the kingdom or the Knights of the Hart, whom Belvor privately told to shut up. [Slavers - 6]                 

Belvor was busy. Not only did he have to fight Iuz, a daunting task in itself, he had to play politics and suppress the squabbling of his liege lords. He had to placate the leaders of the faiths, too. More importantly, he had to send what support he could to what resistance still existed in those fell lands; for as long as they were a thorn in Iuz’s side, Iuz was not free to send the whole of his legions against his all to tenuous front.
            A few hundred men and half-elves have withdrawn entirely into the small woods, and from 585 CY on have gained assistance from clerics of a Trithereon sect in Furyondy, with access to considerable magic. Attempts to destroy the Tangles from Hallorn and Riftcrag have always failed, as the forest seems to regrow damage very swiftly. [LGG - 30]  

King Archbold III had saved Nyrond. He had rallied the populace and led them to what some might call victory and others might call stalemate. In either case, Nyrond was most certainly spared the long night the Shield Lands and the Bandit Kingdoms were to endure. He deserved recognition. He deserved praise. He deserved rest. He would receive none of those. Archbold writhed and waned, poisoned by his youngest son, Prince Sewarndt, when the whelp tried to seize the throne.
In the fall of 585 CY, King Archbold III appeared to suffer a stroke, but his disability was revealed by a priest to be the result of poisoning. Prince Sewarndt, Archbold‘s corrupt youngest son, attempted to seize the throne at that time with a group of junior military officers, but his plans went array when the whole clergy of Heironeous in Rel Mord took up arms and attacked Sewarndt’s small force at the palace, rescuing the king. [TAB - 30]

Only the intervention of the capital's entire Heironean clergy saved the crown and the king. By the time Archbold's older son, Crown Prince Lynwerd, could lead an army to his father's side, Sewarndt and a handful of his cohorts had vanished into the Nyrondal countryside.
Sewarndt's treachery shattered whatever resolve Archbold had clung to during the difficult war years. A wholly broken man, he abdicated in favor of Crown Prince Lynwerd in Fireseek, 586 CY. [LGG - 78]

586 CY
Demons and devils walked the oerth. They brought mayhem and terror with them, misery and death. And where they took to the field, those nations of the world fell, riven and torn. The champions of weal searched for an end to their terror, and found it in Veluna.

The Flight of Fiends
In Coldeven 586, Canon Hazen of Veluna employed the Crook of Rao, a powerful artifact, in a special ceremony that purged the Flanaess of nearly all fiends inhabiting it. Outsiders summoned by Iuz, Ivid, or independent evils fell victim to this magical assault, which became known as the Flight of Fiends. [LGG - 16]

No one knows how many demons survived the Flight of Fiends in 586 CY; few have surfaced. [LGG - 61]

Crook of Rao
In Coldeven of 586 CY, word spread through Furyondy of and extraordinary event. The great fiends that had patrolled and ravaged the many lands seized by Iuz were no longer in sight. Their disappearance initially caused panic among the troops on the front lines, who feared the monsters had crossed deep into Furyondy as a prelude to a renewed invasion by Iuz's forces. However, word was soon received from the priests of Rao, contacted by their superiors in Mitrik, that the artifact known as the Crook of Rao had been recovered, and it had been used by His Venerable Reverence, Canon Hazen, aided by many lesser priests and the archmage Bigby, to rid the Flanaess of the fiends’ presence. Reports confirming the absence of these monstrosities conflicted with later news that a few fiends in scattered locations had withstood the Crook’s effect and remained at large. Still, the majority of these demons had been cast from Oerth, back to their home planes.
The consequences of this event were twofold. First, chaos spread through many humanoid armies of Iuz, who recognized the loss of their masters; disorder even erupted among the mortal leaders of these forces, Iuz’s priests and Boneheart spellcasters, who had no idea where the fiends had gone. Second, and more importantly, the armies of Furyondy that were arrayed against Iuz took heart. Northern lords, commanders, knights, soldiers, and commoners who dreamed of bitter revenge against Iuz now saw it within their grasp. King Belvor knew there was no chance to hold an offensive back without risking his throne in the process. He thus sent out word to his nobles that a counteroffensive against Iuz would begin on his command. He managed to suppress the usual squabbling between the lords of Furyondy and direct their attention to calling up levies, armed troops, requisitioning supplies, and laying hasty plans for attack. [TAB - 19]

Archbold could rule no more. The poison that coursed through his body had left him weak and sickly, old and bent as never before. Lynwerd assumed the regency, and then the throne as his now wizened father abdicated.
King Archbold recovered from the assassination attempt, but he never recovered from the knowledge that one of his sons had tried to kill him. He became deeply depressed and ceased speaking with anyone, even his own family. During Fireseek 586 CY, the king abdicated the throne and went into retreat at his estate outside the capital. [TAB - 30] 
Sewarndt's treachery shattered whatever resolve Archbold had clung to during the difficult war years. A wholly broken man, he abdicated in favor of Crown Prince Lynwerd in Fireseek, 586 CY. [LGG  - 78]

After his father Archbold III's abdication, Lynwerd assumed throne of Nyrond in 586 CY. He strengthened his country by restructuring the military, by encouraging births among his people and by resisting a demand by representatives of the Theocracy of the Pale to give up the North Lands of Nyrond. Despite financial reverses and personal tragedy, he has been able to expand and stabilize Nyrond's eastern borders, and to repair and strengthen his kingdom's roads, armies, cities and trade links. [PGtG - 25]

The Pact of Greyhawk was but a piece of paper to King Belvor IV. His nation had been the vanguard to the world. He knew it was only a matter of time before Iuz attacked again. He knew Iuz aimed to lay waste to Furyondy once he rebuilt his hordes, no matter what those fools to the south thought.
The paladin King of Furyondy saw his nation lose land but survive against the armies of Iuz during the Greyhawk Wars. In 586 CY, he disregarded the Pact of Greyhawk to drive back Iuz's forces and reclaim the lost territory. He used much of his family's wealth to finance this war, and even now struggles to recover financially. [PGtG - 24]

Belvor would not wait for Iuz. He would bring the war to the Old One. He declared his Great Northern Crusade to do just that. He had only to wait for those of like mind to rally to his banner. They did, as he knew they would.
            In the face of Iuz’s obvious threat and the northern nobles’ determination to strike, King Belvor IV saw no need to adhere to the Pact of Greyhawk, especially when the demigod’s empire was suddenly weakened by the loss of the fiends. The king also received many reports that Iuz’s forces were preparing an unpleasant surprise for his armies in the conquered lands, specifically the raising of an undead army from the remains of the thousands of humans slain during the war. Such an act was odious in the extreme to Furyondian morality. Religious and sedar support for a new offensive was nearly universal once news of the banishment of the fiends was heard. [TAB - 20]                

            In Planting of 586 CY, Furyondy discovered evidence that Iuz was preparing to raise an undead army against it. Disregarding the Pact of Greyhawk. King Belvor and his nobles began a crusade to reclaim Furyondian lands that Iuz had conquored. [PGtG - 12]

The Knights of Shielding living in Greyhawk joined crusade. Every last one of them. Of course, they did; they wanted their homeland back.
            When King Belvor IV called the Great Northern Crusade in Planting 586, the ranks of Furyondy swelled with Shield Lands exiles. [LGG - 105]

The Shield Landers needed a leader were they to join the crusade (Belvor would have said a figurehead, but what’s in a name?). Holmer was no longer fit to lead them—Iuz had seen to that. In truth, Lady Katarina, cousin of Holmer, had been leading them since his abduction. Belvor approved. She was young, popular, brave; more importantly, she was under his roof, his guidance, and his authority.
Belvor appointed Lady Katarina, Earl Holmer's young cousin, as Lady Marshall of an entire army of Shield Landers, Knights of Holy Shielding, Furyondians, and foreign mercenaries. This force distinguished itself in early victories and was instrumental in the recapture of Grabford. Thereafter, Lady Katarina turned her attentions to her homeland, smashing into Critwall with zealous military precision. [LGG - 105]

Alain IV, Archbaron Lexnol’s son, was never a patient man. He had a vision the Bone March and Ratik as one, just as his father and the Marquis Clement had intended, and had discussed. He vowed to make it so. And thus, he launched a raid to repatriate Bone March.
It failed.
Bone March is now steeped in discord, ruled by a coalition of invading nonhuman tribes, particularly orcs, gnolls, and ogres. Humanity, which once thrived here, is generally enslaved and subject to the capricious whims of petty bandit chiefs and nonhuman warlords who raid Ratik and even North Kingdom at will, going as far as Nyrond and the Flinty Hills to pillage. Nomadic bandit gangs, survivors and descendants of the once proud human culture, prey on one and all. Only the small, autonomous county of Knurl is secure at present, aside from a handful of nearly forgotten gnome strongholds in the Blemu Hills. [LGG - 35]

Infighting soon broke out between several of the nonhuman tribes, and the sides remained stalemated until 586 CY, when Alain IV, Archbaron Lexnol's son and heir, launched a raid into the fallen realm that was composed in large part of expatriates of the march, it was a doomed mission. The unusually organized nonhumans laid a trap for the force in the hills north of Spinecastle. Horrified survivors who escaped back to Ratikhill reported that the trapped raiders were dragged from their horses, torn apart, and eaten alive before their eyes. Raids into the archbarony from Bone March have resumed. [LGG - 37]

Baron Lexnol collapsed from the news and was rendered unfit to rule. Lady Evaleigh, Alain’s wife, understood that were he to fail, Ratik would be lost, so she hid his infirmity at first, ruling in his proxy. But the state of his health could not be hidden forever. And soon, she dropped the pretence of her speaking on his behest and became Her Valorous Prominence, Evaleigh, the Lady Baroness of Ratik. Not all were pleased. The Fruztii had loved the old Baron, and the Schnai were less inclined to treat with a woman, especially one as young as she.
Upon hearing of his son's demise, old Baron Lexnol collapsed. He awakened the next morning with a shock of white hair and a palsy that confined him to bed. Lady Evaleigh, now widowed, assumed the throne and has guided Ratik through the trouble that has befallen it. Raids from Bone March have become progressively stronger and more organized the last few years. Her father's realm, the county of Knurl, was attacked a few months ago and was only saved by the snows of winter. [LGG - 91]

Across the Solnor Ocean
Trade need be found if the markets to the west were closed to the East. Maybe there were markets to the east? There was the rumoured Fireland. And there had to be other lands east of there. There was only one way to find out. Small Fleet from Asperdi (Sea Barons) sets sail across the Solnor Ocean.
Ships from resource-hungry lands of the eastern Flanaess are striking out in search of trading partners, hoping to rebuild from the wars. The Sea Barons and the east coast city-states of Rel Astra, Ountsy, and Roland are now exploring the mini-continent of Hepmonaland, returning with fantastic tales and riches. (Many fall prey to disease, pirates, monsters, and privateers from the Scarlet Brotherhood and Lordship of the Isles, however.) Several major kingdoms full of new peoples are said to lie in this tropical land, some rumored to be at war with the slave-taking Brotherhood. [TAB - 38]

Several ships captained by half-elven smugglers joined a flotilla of the Sea Barons in their journey over the Solnor. They had an ulterior motive. The half-elves were reportedly searching for the last members of the dispossessed Council of Five of Lendore.
In the years since the Greyhawk Wars, some of the surviving exiles have joined together with half-elven captains on the Medegian coast. It is an open secret that they are smugglers, willing to transport any cargo for a price. Several of these ships secretly accompanied the flotilla of the Sea Barons in their voyage over the Solnor in 586-589 CY. The Spindrift exiles were thought to be searching for the last members of the Council of Five, who had fled across the waves when the clerics of Sehanine usurped their authority. It is not clear what benefit they seek by contacting their deposed leaders, but the half-elves clearly wish to return to their birthplace and free it of the magical affliction of Sehanine. [LGG 69,70]

586-590 CY         Adumdfort was especially targeted for raids by Lady Katarina since Iuz declared it the seat of governance in the Shield Lands. Sacking one of his “capitals” would raise moral, proving to even the most sceptical that the Old One’s martial power was not what it was.
Admundfort Island has been the target of over a dozen raids by different military, mercenary, and adventuring groups around the Nyr Dyv between 586 and 590 CY. The orcs of Admundfort have held out quite well, however, though they are largely cut off from their allies on shore by a Furyondian naval blockade. The city there is in ruins […]. [TAB - 21]

c.586-591 CY      Grennell wondered about the tactics of the orcs, for in truth, they had developed a cunning and patience hitherto unknown to those savage tribes, and strategies he had not taught them. Rumours abounded that the hierarchs of the Horned Society were not dead after all, that a few, if not all, had escaped Iuz’s wrath, and were now headquartered along the coast of the Pomarj, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift Canyon. Rumours persisted that they had found their way into the Bone March.
The Hierarchs and the rest of the leadership of the Horned Society were presumed destroyed in Coldeven 583 CY, during the night of the Blood-Moon Festival. Demonic forces sent by Iuz slew the Hierarchs there and allowed Iuz to quietly take command of their nation. It is possible that one or more Hierarchs survived the incident and is attempting to rebuild the organization, but most assume that the group is no longer a threat. 
Still, Arkalan Sammal, the renowned sage of Greyhawk, made an interesting appraisal based on reports gathered by the old sage in recent years. The society, he claims, survives in the present day and has metamorphosed from a group centralized within a single nation to one with its secret tendrils buried across the Flanaess. "The Horned Society must surely have known that the return of Iuz would spell its ultimate downfall," he reasons. "It would have planned for this eventuality, most likely by moving its operations out of Molag before the Old One's axe fell."
Rumors during the last five years have placed the group's headquarters along the coast of the Pomarj, in Bone March, or even in the Bright Desert or Rift Canyon. Most people no longer care, for Iuz is now perceived as the true threat. However, suggests Arkalan, the Horned Society has become even more dangerous since its dispersal. As the Archmage Mordenkainen was heard to comment last year during a conclave in Greyhawk, "Are their members now dozens, hundreds, thousands? Where are they headquartered? What do they plot? Can we rest assured of the death of the Unnamable Hierarch? To the one who could answer these questions would go the thanks of a free people." [LGG - 156,157]

Skannar Hendricks
Fellreev Forest:
This entire expanse of birch and scrub oak is claimed by Iuz, though the Old One enjoys little power here. Most of the forest is ruled by clans of sylvan elves allied with Reyhu refugees since the Greyhawk Wars. A significant force of undead is also here, rumored to be led by an escaped Horned Society Hierarch. Iuz gains little by sending traditional soldiers here, so he uses the Fellreev as a hunting ground for trained monsters.
The Fellreev Forest has increasingly become a center of anti-Iuz resistance. However, the factions here are mutually hostile and do not cooperate. Human, nonhuman, and undead forces of the old Nerull-worshiping Horned Society are gathered under Hierarch Nezmajen (NE male human Clr15 of Nerull) in the north-central Fellreev and across the southwestern spur, particularly around Ixworth and Kindell. A powerful alliance of Reyhu bandits and sylvan elves rules the south-central Fellreev under a Reyhu lord, Skannar Hendricks (CN male human Ftr15). [LGG  - 61]

Tang the Horrific
Some might call Tang the Horrific a mercenary. Tang would have called himself an opportunist. He believed the strong had a right to rule. And he believed that the strong could take what they wished. That was their right. Such was the way of the Paynims. Tang rode where he wished. Tang fought where he wished. If others paid him to do that, all the better. He even worked for Iuz for a time. Until Iuz ordered him to slaughter Rovers. He refused, because the Rovers were just like him, and he did not wish to kill those people who wished to live as he did.
            One of the most peculiar counteroffensives apparently began in the Shield Lands when a unit of light cavalry mercenaries employed by a Shield Lands’ lord managed to escape the armies of Iuz. This cavalry was led by a Tang the Horrific, who was probably the finest mercenary in the area at the time.
            According to unreliable folktales about him, Tang led a fighting retreat to the Icy Sea, then crossed west to the lands of the Wolf Barbarians. There, in the winter of 586-587 CY, Tang summoned a war council and told the tribal khans that the time was at hand to deal Iuz a telling blow. Upon learning that the ancient burial caves of the Wolf Nomads (Wegwiur) lay within Iuz's main homeland, Tang proposed that an army be raised to go to these caves and recover the ancient bodies and relics for reburial in safer regions. [TAB - 21,22]

The Theocracy of the Pale had weathered the war well. It were largely unbloodied. It was strong. But it was abut the Rakers, and the Rakers have always been home to a whole host of evil things. The Pale knew as much. Monsters had always descended from their heights. But not as they had begun to. What was stirring them? What was driving them out of the Rakers?
The Pale is ruled by a clerical hierarchy in the name of the god, Pholtus. The Pale has been living under an inquisition for more than two centuries. Evil priesthoods and hostile cults are actively routed and destroyed, while other faiths are suppressed. Arcane magicians and other so-called “consorts of demons” are also closely watched.
Despite these unpleasant aspects, Pale has much to recommend it. Monasteries house some of the Flanaess’ most impressive libraries and respected philosophers. Their soldiers are among the best trained and most disciplined in the Flanaess. Unfortunately, troll invasions from the troll Fens have tripled in size the last two seasons, and reports of a new “Troll King” are disquieting. [WoGG 3e - 13]

Nyrond had been far less fortunate than the Pale had been. The Stonehold, Iuz, and Ivid had set upon it on all sides, and though it had prevailed, it had done so at a cost. It had lost many in those battles. Indeed, its citizens had fled the onslaught. Its soldiers had fallen. Lynwerd needed to replenish his peoples. He encouraged his people’s return, enacted a “baby bonus” for fertile families, and he appealed to refugees and the nervous citizens of the County of Urnst to move to Nyrond to aid in its rebuilding.
            King Lynwerd I seized the moment and made every effort to revive his declining realm. In his first year on the throne, he restructured Nyrond’s military command and cut back the size of his armies, freeing many troops to go home and farm their lands again. He reduced taxes almost to prewar levels, and he even authorized a bonus of 1 gp from his personal treasury to each Nyrondese family that celebrated a birth in 586 or 587 CY. (This latter project, though dogged by fraud, had the desired effect of boosting the postwar baby boom to record levels.) [TAB - 30]

            When in 586 CY war flared again between Furyondy and Iuz, Lynwerd appealed to nervous citizens in the County of Urnst to move farther from Iuz’s empire and settle instead in Nyrond’s western lands. More importantly. King Lynwerd stood up to representatives from the church of Pholtus and the Theocracy of the Pale, resisting calls to allow the North Lands of Nyrond to be given up to the Pale. This policy produced bad feelings in the Pale for the young king, but the Theocracy is now preoccupied with the war in Tenh and does little but sow dissension among Nyrondese peasants through temples and clergy of Pholtus. [TAB - 30]

Ket was pleased with the gains it had made. But Ket was wise in that it knew that Veluna and Furyondy and the Gran March would see to it that it would not hold it for long. So Ket made peace with those august powers, retreating from Bissel, keeping what it knew it could hold.
Beygraf Zoltan was assassinated within four years of the first occupation of Bissel; significantly, the judgment of the mullahs was to not attempt his revivification. The political aftermath in Lopolla was considerable. As the struggle for power unfolded, army forces were withdrawn from Bissel, and civil war threatened Ket. A new beygraf took power by forming a coalition between many military leaders and a significant minority of the clergy. [LGG - 68]

What of Vecna? Last we saw of him, he and Iuz had spun into the Shadowfell, clawing at each other’s throats.  But Iuz had returned to walk the Oerth. So, I ask again: What of Vecna?

An entity known only as the Serpent speaks directly to Vecna. Others—daring to call themselves wizards, magicians, and sorcerers—manipulate the tiniest aspects of the Serpent and call it magic. But Vecna speaks to the Serpent, and the Serpent speaks back. It whispers to him tales of his ancestors, known only as the Ancient Brethren, and of how they discovered the Serpent so unimaginably long ago, when all worlds were young or even unborn.
The Serpent tells Vecna that nothing lies beyond his grasp. Vecna knows he is destined to be master of everything. Death had not stopped him; betrayal at the hands of his lieutenant had not stopped him; even confrontations with other gods had not stopped him.
Thus, when the forces of Ravenloft brought Vecna to the Demiplane of Dread, imprisoning him there, he simply laughed. Oh, he pretended to rage. He shook his chains and rattled his cage and cried out to be set free, but deep down he knew that this would not stop him. He knew that he and the Serpent would overcome this obstacle-perhaps even use it to his advantage and conquer this interesting little demiplane. The other domain lords trapped alongside him raged similarly in their own pitiful domains, yet the Whispered One learned quickly that they did not know what power held them prisoner. They did not see the strings behind the puppets. He was the newest among them, yet he was already their master. His knowledge had already made him greater, for the Serpent had told him the secrets of Ravenloft. [Vecna Reborn - 4]

One must always give credit where credit is due. This History is made possible primarily by the Imaginings of Gary Gygax and his Old Guard, Lenard Lakofka among them, and the new old guards, Carl Sargant, James Ward, Roger E. Moore. And Erik Mona, Gary Holian, Sean Reynolds, Frederick Weining. The list is interminable. Thanks to Steven Wilson for his GREYCHRONDEX and to Keith Horsfield for his “Chronological History of Eastern Oerik.”
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.
Primary sources for this history were the DMG 1e, Ivid the Undying, WGA4 Vecna Lives, WGR5 Iuz the Evil, WG8 The Fate of Istus, the Greyhawk Adventures hardcover, The World of Greyhawk Folio, and The World of Greyhawk Gold Box, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, The Living Greyhawk Journals, Dragon Magazine.

The Art:
All art is wholly owned by the artists.
Pat by nidraj-rion
Daybreak by forty-fathoms
"King Lynwerd of Nyrond and his father, Archbold," by Joel Birke, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Crook of Rao, by Richard Pace, from Dragon #294, 2002
"The Death of Prince Alain IV, " by Joel Birke, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ocean-Wind by nele-diel
Lupus-Dei by bobgreyvenstein
Mongol-poster-study by funky-fubuki
Vecna by maradraws

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
2011A Dungeon Masters Guide, 1st Ed., 1979
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9253 WG8, Fate of Istus, 1989
9399 WGR 5, Iuz the Evil, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11621 Slavers, 2000
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1998
Dragon Magazine
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer