Friday, 1 October 2021

History of the South, Part 4: A Sundering

 

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.
— excerpt from Percy Shelley's "Ozymandias"


The Great War Ground On
The Great War ground on. The Bakluni and Suel had spent the pride of their youth upon the others’ shield, to no avail. Their blood soaked the ground, and in its letting, saturated it, churning it to a red mash. The wounded fell into its grip, drowning in its mire. So many had fallen that the War’s tally exceeded even that of the Red Death’s.
The generals met to discuss what might be done to break the stalemate, and win the day from the savage to the north, the savage from the south. Their priests were consulted. So too their magi. What do you want done? they asked. What can you do? they pled.
Desperate times required desperate measures.

-448 CY
The Year of the Prophets
The Year of the Prophets.
They read doom in the cards, the bones, and the tea leaves. Within the span of a generation the empire would fall, they predicted. Repent, they cried. Turn from your wicked waysthey pled, warning against worship of the Chained God, and warding against something they named Shothragot. To no avail. The masses laughed and turned their backs on the doomsayers. But it was plain in their eyes that their laughter was false. They turned their backs on their prophets because they knew their emperor was displeased, and they feared their emperor’s wrath more than their prophets’ doom.
Seven different prophets foretell of the destruction of the Suel Empire within 30 years. The Emperor, Yellax-ad-Zol has all seven drawn and quartered, even though one of the prophets is a High Priest of Beltar. [OJ11] (196 OR/ 5068 SD/1703 FT)

-447 CY
Not all were deaf to the prophets’ warnings. The Emperor’s son took heed, for, if seven prophets should face certain death to warn of impending disaster, who was he dispute them. He knew more than most, and heeded their warnings because he’d read the Lament for Lost Tharizdun, that foul scripture penned by that mad priest Wongas, who’d mysteriously vanished into the East a century earlier, and he’d seen with his own eyes what that dark lord demanded at His worship when it had been fashionable to be seen to attend such things, and knew what that Chained God desired even if those other revellers did not.
Zellifar-ad-Zol, son of the Emperor, mage/high priest of Beltar, breaks with his father and takes over 8,000 Suloise loyal to himself, and flees the kingdom, eastward. The ferocity and magical might of the movement scatters the Oerdians in its path, causing the remainder of the Oerdian to migrate. Slerotin, called “the Last High Mage” causes a huge tunnel to be bored into the Crystalmists, through which the Zolite Suel flee. He then seals the tunnel closed at both ends, trapping one lesser branch of the family, the Lerara, inside. The Zolites continue eastward heading toward the southeast as well as to Hepmonoland. [OJ11] (197 OR/ 5069 SD/1704 FT)

“Most remarkably, the emperor’s son had fled the year before this, accompanied by thousands of citizens loyal to him. The emperor sent the houses Schnai, Cruskii and Fruztti to bring back his son to face justice. The houses vanished, lost—no one knew why—to the lands to the east.”
—from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB – 2]

Suloise migrations begin. [WOGA – 9] (5069 SD)

-446 CY
The Emperor was not pleased! Traitor, he screamed, when he heard of his son’s betrayal. His advisors and courtiers bowed and slunk away from their emperor’s wrath, for they knew it all too well, and feared their being heir to it in his son’s absence.
The emperor commands that the Houses Schnai, Cruskii and Fruztii move [and] bring his son, and the "Unloyal" back to face justice. [OJ1] (198 OR/ 5070 SD/1705 FT)

Exodus
“By 5070 SD, the population of our cities were falling, far beyond the attrition to be expected from the war with the northerners. Many commoners and even a few minor noble houses escaped the conflict and moved east, across the Harsh Pass and into the lands beyond. The nobles would have liked their contemporaries to believe the move was influenced by tales of the fertile lands and great wealth beyond the Crystalmists, but the truth is that they feared powerful rival houses, who might take advantage of the extingencies of the war with the dark-eyed northerners to eliminate them.
—from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB – 2]

From my researches, I believe that the su-doppleganger is a near-perfect duplicate of the common, “true” doppleganger. However, it was developed entirely from Suloise humans—perhaps volunteers perhaps not—shortly before the Rain of Colorless Fire.
No written evidence exists of its creation by Suloise wizards or the Imperial government, but my divinations and analyses indicate that the su-doppleganger was most likely designed by wizard/ priests in the service of Syrul, the deity of lies, treachery, and deceit. It is my supposition that su-opplegangers were intended to infiltrate the Imperial government in its latter days, as the war with the Baklunish grew more fierce and chaos spread across the empire.
—from a speech by an unnamed wizard, given in Rauxes about 220 c.y.  [Dragon #241 – 52]

-445 CY
The Zolites scatter the Flannae before them, and move south to the Tilvanot Peninsula. Zellifar carries with him two of the lesser Binders and the Chief Binder. [OJ1]
Zellif, son of the last Suel Emperor, and his followers begin settling Tilvanot Peninsula (SD 5071)
Eventually, [the Zolites] emerged from the [Vast] swamp, at the narrowest part of the Tilvenot (south-hill”) peninsula. Liking the cool brezes and misty skies of this place, they continued south and came at last to a great mesa, where they found a colony of several thousand [strong.] […] Zellif’s people had claimed the peninsula as their own, driving away, bargaining with, or enslaving the humanoid and Flan tribes there. [SB – 3]

-445 to -423 CY
The three pursuing houses, unable to find the magical tunnel, turned north, where they are met by regrouped Oerdians and fearful Flannae who harry and drive these Suel Houses south. Many are lost and remained in the Amedio Jungle. They eventually [turn] back east and march toward what is now the Rift Canyon. [OJ11] (199-221 OR/ 5071 – 5093 SD/1706-1728 FT)

-427 CY
A Series of Destructive Wars
The [Olman] city-states prospered for over 500 years, but eventually they turned on each other in a series of destructive wars over control of certain mines, choice of emperor and religious differences. 
Over the next century five of the seven cities were destroyed, their people sacrificed by rival priest and their lands reclaimed by the jungle. Only the northernmost city (Tamoachan) and the southernmost (Xamaclan) survived these wars. [SB – 62,63]
Even isolated Tamoachan suffered in these tumultuous times Priests differed in their predictions for the city’s fate, but bad caused poor crops for two seasons. [SB – 63]

-425 CY
Kevalli Mauk had a vision of purity. Had the Suel remained pure, the Suel would have remained strong. Had the Suel remained pure, they would have held dominion over all of the world. The long-passed emperor Zeeckar had understood that when he had looked upon his empire and saw that the blood of the Suel had become tainted, and knew that such taint had been why the Suloise Empire had been much diminished. He had declared his “War of Purity.” He had set aside those most pure, their aim to return their people to their rightful place, his Scarlet Brotherhood. They had failed. But they had endured. Kevelli would see to it that Zeeckar’s prophetic vision should come to pass.
“It was on the first day of they year 5091 SD that I presented my vision to the council of nobles. The Brotherhood of the Scarlet Sign, my vision revealed would be an organization whose sole intent was to prevent dilution of the virtues of our people. The war with the Bakluni did not prevent contact with their nefarious race, and the excursions from the rebellious Roka, Chebi and Hochebi, and visitors from the west and south, polluted our people with their flesh and their cultures. The Brotherhood would swear to uphold the ideals of the Suel culture, forswearing physical and mental corruption. Their purity would be the purity of the flame, tempting the pure, searing the unworthy and branding the inferior. Despite resistance from certain obviously tainted houses, the council and the king approved my plan and presented me with a mansion and funds for the use in creating this order.”
—from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB – 2] (5091 SD)

..and summoned monsters...
After almost 500 years of prosperity, the Olman Amedio city-states went to war. Tamoachan was destroyed in the magical warfare in one day. (381 OL)
Although there are no written records of the events around -425 CY, modern explorers have filled in the details with powerful divination spells, which revealed that the arguing priest eventually escalated their conflict to magical warfare. While their battle only lasted a day, terrible spells and summoned monsters ravaged the city, causing the citizens to flee for their lives and never return. The jungle crept over the abandoned wall of Tamoachan and completely hid it within a decade. [SB – 63]

The Olman had discovered remnants of the troglodyte culture and declared that their civilization had fallen because the gods judged them lacking. It is ironic that their own civilization collapsed due to rivalries between agents of their own gods. It is also possible that one of the demon princes the reptiles worshipped (perhaps Demogorgon) was angered by the rise of the human empire and destroyed their works in the Amedio.  [SD – 63]

Forced to Flee
The majority of Olman reverted to the relatively primitive societies that have survived to today. They are a superstitious and highly insular folk who regard strangers with a combination of wonder, fear, and hostility. For those keen enough to find them, however, there remain pockets of higher civilization that still evoke their one-time greatness.
[Dragon #350 – 65]


-423 CY
Zellifar was not the saviour his followers had imagined; indeed, his reading the Lament for Lost Tharizdun had twisted him and he proved as much a tyrant as his father, so, soon after taking flight, there were those among them who saw that they had traded one cruel emperor for another, and they began to steal away in the chaos he fostered as they were driven further east. 
One of Zellifar’s minions, the High Priest Pellipardus, slips away from the Zolites and takes his family. Zellifar does not pursue, fearing that this will take his attention away from the Three Houses of Pursuit: the Schnai, the Fruztii, and the Cruski. [OJ11] (223 OR/ 5093 SD/1728 FT)

-422 CY
Zellifar parleys with the Houses of Pursuit. His Archmage, Slerotin, unleashes a mass enfeeblement on the mages of the three Houses, and a mass suggestion upon the other members of the Houses. Slerotin is blasted by magical energies upon the casting of these mighty spells, leaving the Rift Canyon as the only physical remains of this energy. The remnants of the Three Pursuing Houses flee northeastward. The Houses of Pursuit have been mind-swept. They have no purpose and no direction and no mages whatsoever after they are hit by these spells. They do not know why they are searching or what they are searching for. They have two binders but do not realize it! As they move aimlessly, they begin to seek a homeland. They do not remember where they came from. The memories of their gods are virtually blotted out.
The three houses that eventually settle in the Barbarian States lose almost all contact with the more ‘civilized’ and good gods of their people. As they begin to multiply and prosper Kord and Llerg become major gods to them but Fortubo, Lendor, Lydia and Jascar are forgotten.
Farther south in Ratik a slightly different mix of peoples assembles. Gods like Phaulkon, Norebo and Phyton are still remembered. [OJ11] (224 OR/ 5094 SD/ 1729 FT)

Lendore comes to the Spindrift Islands.
This group of islands has housed from time immemorial the strongholds of high-elven wizards and lords. They had little contact with humans until the arrival of the legendary Archmage, Lendore, who brought his fellowship out from the lands of the Suel Imperium in anticipation of the Invoked Devastation. Fleeing the impending disaster, the wizard and his band journeyed to the easternmost shores of Oerik, then further still, until they came at last to the Spindrift Isles. The Invoked Devastation occurred, as Lendore knew it must, but it was followed by a catastrophe he had not foreseen: the Rain of Colorless Fire and the destruction of the empire. [LGG – 68]

Kevelli Mauk, leader of the Scarlet Brotherhood, also heeded the warnings of the seven prophets. He gathered his servants and his ten most ardent students, and managed to escape to the Flanaess just before disaster hit. They crossed the Hellfurnaces and found those Suel who’d first fled to the Sheldomar Valley as the Great War began and had already begun to settle there. But those Suel had not held true to the Path of Purity, having already consorted with the lesser Oeridians. They were not entirely without use, Mauk found, for they had news of Zellifar-ad-Zol and those thousands who had followed him into the east. (222 OR/ 5092 SD/ 1727 FT)
A Premonition of Doom
The hour before the Rain began, Kevelli was overwhelmed by a premonition of doom; this supernatural warning gave him time to activate a now-lost artifact known as
Lendor’s Matrix, an hourglass-shaped device that could temporarily suspend time and transport matter across great distances. He gathered his ten most ardent students their slaves and the Tome of the Scarlet Sign—the manifesto of the Scarlet Brotherhood—and used the Matrix to teleport to the western side of the Hellfurnaces, moments before the cataclysm eradicated the Suel capital and surrounding lands. [SB – 3]

“It was on the first day of they year 5091 SD that I presented my vision to the council of nobles. The Brotherhood of the Scarlet Sign, my vision revealed would be an organization whose sole intent was to prevent dilution of the virtues of our people. The war with the Bakluni did not prevent contact with their nefarious race, and the excursions from the rebellious Roka, Chebi and Hochebi, and visitors from the west and south, polluted our people with their flesh and their cultures. The Brotherhood would swear to uphold the ideals of the Suel culture, forswearing physical and mental corruption. Their purity would be the purity of the flame, tempting the pure, searing the unworthy and branding the inferior. Despite resistance from certain obviously tainted houses, the council and the king approved my plan and presented me with a mansion and funds for the use in creating this order.”
—from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB – 2]

-422 CY
In which hitherto unheard-of destruction is unleashed upon the two greatest empires to have ever existed, wiping them off the face of the Oerth.

Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colourless Fire Strike
The Invoked Devastation
The Great War had reached its height. Thousands had perished, and thousands would perish still. Each revelled in their atrocities, citing moral and racial superiority, eager to cleanse the land of the filth that tainted it.
In the Suel Empire proper, the Suel mages gather their magical energies and cast the Invoked Devastation. No Bakluni cities survive this blast of magical energy. But Bakluni mages gather at Tovag Baragu, using the arcane powers of the Binders, and drawing upon the energies of their holiest site, withstand these energies and counterstrike with the Rain of Colorless Fire. The remains of this expenditure of energy are now called the Dry Steppes, and the Sea of Dust. The holders of all Four Binders are utterly destroyed but the binders themselves are not. [OJ11] (224 OR/ 5094 SD/1729 FT)

When the Invoked Devastation came upon the Baklunish, their own magi brought down the Rain of Colorless Fire in a last terrible curse, and this so affected the Suloise Empire as to cause it to become the Sea of Dust. [Folio – 5]

The Suloise lands were inundated by a nearly invisible fiery rain which killed all creatures it struck, burned all living things, ignited the landscape with colorless flame, and burned the very hills into ash.
[Folio – 26] (224_OR/ 5094 SD/1729 FT)

When the Invoked Devastation came upon the Baklunish, their own magi brought down the Rain of Colorless Fire in a last terrible curse, and this so affected the Suloise Empire as to cause it to become the Sea of Dust. [Folio – 5]

The Suloise lands were inundated by a nearly invisible fiery rain which killed all creatures it struck, burned all living things, ignited the landscape with colorless flame, and burned the very hills into ash. [Folio - 5]

Thus ended the Age of Glory, the west sundered and burned, its glory under a blanket of ash.
When the Rain of Colorless Fire ended the Age of Glory and brought down the Empire, the tribes [of the Suloise] decided to seek their fate to the east, in the lands of the Flan. [WoGG – 61]

“The Bakluni wizards have wrought terrible fate on my homeland. Lights without color fell from the sky and burned everything to ash—people, homes, even the soil and the rock beneath. At last I understand the foreboding that consumed me this past hour and drove me to flee with a handful of students and slaves—it was a premonition of the death of my city and my people. Saved by Lendor’s Matrix, we now stand at the entrance to the Harsh Pass, watching the destruction of millions of men and women, the greatest empire of humankind, and five thousand years of history.
“I swear such a thing will never happen again. Never will my people be stained and damaged by the actions of an inferior race. We will travel east and find the scattered survivors of our great empire. My Scarlet Brotherhood will build the Suel empire anew. All who do not kneel to us will be crushed. We must move with haste, for the fires of my nation’s death-pyre move this way.”
—from the Journal of Kavelli Mauk [SB – 2, 3]

Their slavery [of the derro] came to an end 1,000 years ago, when the Baklunish Rain of Colorless Fire slew the Suloise above ground but failed to penetrate the deep mines dug out by the derro over their centuries of enforced servitude. Derro regard the Rain not as a dis¬ aster but as their deliverance and a blessing. There in the subterranean darkness they survived and prospered, looting the many ruins above them now buried deep under the ashen desert we call the Sea of Dust. In imitation of their former masters, the derro began taking slaves of every sort from neighboring races in the underworld, but especially from human adventurers or survivors of the cataclysm. The derro continue this evil practice to this day.
[Dragon #241 – 40]

The dominant human population of the Densac Gulf remains the Olman, but between 950 and 1050 years ago, Suel survivors of the Great War between the Suel and Baklunish Empires invaded the region in large numbers. Many of these bands of desperate refugees crossed the Hellfurnaces and entered the Amedio Jungle. Others traversed the lofty Crystalmists and the Sheldomar Valley to cross the waters as far as the archipelagos of the Pearl Sea. Unlike their brethren, who migrated north and built new prosperous civilized nations, these Suel fought and competed with the native Olman peoples for scarce resources and land. [Dragon #350 – 65]





I Am Become death...
“If the radiance of a thousand suns
Were to burst at once into the sky
That would be like the splendour of the Mighty One...
I am become Death,
The shatterer of worlds.
[Quoted from the Bhagavad Gita after the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.]”
― J. Robert Oppenheimer




“There are many humorous things in the world; among them, the white man's notion that he is less savage than the other savages.”
― Mark Twain, Following the Equator: A Journey Around the World





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.



The Art: 
Su-Doppelganger illustration, by R.K. Post, from Dragon #241, 1997
The Rain of Colorless Fire, by Vince Locke, from Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Derro illustration, by R.K. Post, from Dragon #241, 1997


Sources:
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
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11742 Gazetteer, 2000
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazeteer, 2000
Dragon Magazine, 241, 351
OJ Oerth Journal, appearing on Greyhawk Online
LGJ et. al.
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

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