Friday, 21 April 2023

The History of Hepmonaland, Part 4 (584 to 591 CY)

“Those who deny freedom to others, deserve it not for themselves”
― Abraham Lincoln, Complete Works - Volume XII

Expeditions into Hepmonaland were Charted
The Suel had arrived in Hepmonaland. First as refugees, fleeing the oppression of the coming of the Scarlet Sign. The Brotherhood all to soon followed. As explorers. Colonisers. Exploiters. Slavers. Extending a duplicitous hand of friendship.

584 CY
The Great War, the Greyhawk Wars as they came to be known, had come to a close. Their coffers emptied, the nations of the Flanaess had exhausted their selves. They had spent their strength, dashing the flower of their youth upon the shield of their enemies. But not all. Not the Brotherhood. They had held back, fielded no armies, marched upon no fields. Yet somehow, they had conquered nations, by hook and crook and surgical precision.
The ports and straits and fleets of the south now in their possession, they turned their attention to the Dark Continent.
Extensive Forays
[After the war] [e]xpeditions into Hepmonaland were charted [.]
[SB – 6]
The Brotherhood has made extensive forays into Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle, both home to "degenerate" Suel people. [FtAA – 35]
The city [of Sharba, in Hepmonaland] is a staging ground for deeper forays into the jungle. [SB – 52]
They had great need of fodder to garrison their recent gains.
Recent kidnappings by warriors of Xolapeqa have aggravated Cuhuetla; armed guards watch over the northwestern settlements, and it is expected that the relations between the two states will escalate into war relatively soon. [SB – 49]
At least one ship departs Ekul for Hepmonaland every day—the purpose of these voyages can only be speculated upon in the north, though few believe the activities of the Brotherhood in Hepmonaland and the Amedio Jungle to be charitable. [LGG – 96]
Ekul has a large (if transient) Hepmonalander population. Since many of the savages have little experience on boats, the Brotherhood puts them ashore as soon as possible, which makes Ekul a dumping-ground for the transported warriors; the then march overland to the mesa. [SB – 25]
As in Ekul, large numbers of Hepmonaland soldiers and slaves camp outside the city [of Kro Terlop], awaiting transport. [SB – 27]

Exploring the Coasts
Their ships took to the sea, leaping past the northern jungle, landing ever further south, coming face to face with the coastal Tuov.
Protected from most naval attacks by the dangerous reefs on their western shore, the Cuhuetlan are not yet threatened by the Scarlet brotherhood. [SB – 49]
Ships from the Scarlet Brotherhood have landed in [the] port [of Ikelan] and so far relations have been cordial; the visiting Suel have made no mention of their agenda, nor of their hostility toward other races. [SB – 50]
Scarlet Brotherhood ships have been spotted along the western shore [of Iyapo’s demesnes] and navigating the Hambu channel, but the rocky cliffs have discouraged them from landing, and the Iyapoans have had little contact with the Suel explorers. [SB – 50]
The Scarlet Brotherhood has sent one delegation to the city [of Kundaxa], although they retreated quickly after viewing some of the giant hillside markings common to the region; no Brotherhood ships have come back since. [SB – 52]
The Kabrevo Plain
Kundanol has not yet been approached by the Scarlet brotherhood, although the priests of Uvot and Nola have received divine warnings that the Suel are not as friendly as other ports report.
[SB – 51]
The Scarlet Brotherhood landed once at the city port [of Byanbo] and offered gifts to the king; a small group remained behind to study the language and advise the prince. Reports surface from time to time of unusual ships on Byanbo’s shores piloted by beings the locals call “The Tall Walkers.” [SB – 48]
The Prince [of Vay Nama] has received several visits from red-robed officials of the northern lands, but has made no announcement about an alliance with the strangers. [SB – 54]
Emissaries from the Scarlet Brotherhood were slain and sent downriver, which caused the Brotherhood to patrol the Jolan coast; Prince Ilamo Ilamo looks forward to testing the blades of his warriors against the flesh of the white-skinned northerners. [SB – 50]

Exploring the Dark Continent
The agents of the Scarlet Sign were pleased with what they found: Gold, silver, gems. Spices. Textiles. Art and magic. And a people ill-disposed to keep them from taking what they wished. The Touv were as divided as the Olman in the north. And as ill-equipped to defend their riches. But the Brotherhood was stretched to its limit since the war. More of the faithful were required to ensure that those riches found its way to the motherland; thankfully, the faithful were only too willing to serve, and sacrifice themselves for the good of their beloved Shar.
Many volunteer for dangerous assignments in the Vast Swamp or the remote jungles, often sacrificing their lives for the betterment of their people. [SB – 9]

Typical assignments include:
  •  Ferrying messages to agents in Hepmonaland, the Amedio jungle, or extreme regions of the Tilva peninsula
  • Taking an administrative post in a Tilvanot city, Brotherhood controlled outworld city, of Brotherhood colony, including Hepmonaland and the Amedio
  • Exploring a particular country or region, discovering and claiming treasure and magic
  • Conveying troops or essential materials to an outworld location
  • Establishing a safehouse or temple in an outworld location
[SB – 9]

The faithful all too soon were setting out into the southern plains, even as they plunged into the jungles, each and all sending back both tales of wonders and riches, and reports of the most amazing discoveries that never failed to excite.
The discovery of near-human creatures such as apes and baboons in Hepmonaland and the Amedio has caused a great deal of excitement among the slave-breeders [.] [SB – 22]
Those who succeeded were rewarded for their successes.
While most agents of the Brotherhood occasionally travel the Flanaess on assignments, few have time to take in the sights. Thus, many choose to vacation in the more civilized areas under Brotherhood control […]; the braver ones travel elsewhere about the Flanaess in disguise or to the strange cities of Hepmonaland.
[SB – 14]
Most preferred the comforts of the Tilvenot peninsula. But the Duxchan beaches beckoned, too. They were peaceful. Deferential. Subdued. Safe. Those faithful who toiled to tame Hepmonaland, however, sometimes found comfort under those ziggurats they had worked so hard to claim. Why tarry, though, the most dedicated argued, when one could relax under the southern stars, exploring the inland plains for a camel’s perch?

585 CY
One wonders how the Scarlet Brotherhood was received in the wake of the war. They were far afield, visible in most ports now, supposed gentle monks. Or so they presented themselves. The perceptive could not help to recognise their suppressed swagger, though, their hooded glance of contempt, their pride. They could not hide those from those who looked. Their composure declared: we are the masters of the southern seas.
These waters comprise the Aerdi and Oljatt Seas, the Tilva Strait, and the Spindrift Sound. The Scarlet Brotherhood controls much of these seas, contesting northern areas with the Sea Barons and in a few incursions from Ice Barbarians. Eastward along the north coast of Hepmonaland, a handful of pirates—some reputed to be seagoing hobgoblins—occasionally foray westward.
[FtAA – 48]
Surely the blame fell on the shoulders of the piratical Duxchaners, though. Didn’t it? It was their ships that held the Spindrift Strait, their crews that boarded merchants and extorted the tolls. As far as the rest of the world was concerned, they were the reclusive and seemingly benevolent Kingdom of Shar. Didn’t they?
Perhaps most importantly, many rulers in the Flanaess believe they have purged their courts of possible Brotherhood agents, giving sovereigns in courts still populated by inactive agents an unwise sense of security. [LGG – 98]
No matter. As masters of the southern seas they must be recognised, treated with, traded with, even if those lesser peoples knew them for what they were.

North Province
Grennel was pragmatic.
So far as importing foreign goods goes, the supply line from the south—the great Flanmi artery of trade—has dried up beyond Darnagal. Once, even Hepmonaland silks and spices reached Eastfair by this route, but no one could hope to sail the full length of the Flanmi safely now. Atirr has become the most important supply port for goods from the far south, which has made that city more important politically, as Grenell is only too well aware. [Ivid – 45]

Sea Barons
The Sea Barons are increasingly rapacious. Between the Rhisians to the north and the Duxchaners to the south, they have need to be. Basmajian Arras suspects they may be infiltrated and under siege.
Most seriously, Leastisle fell to pirates and buccaneers at the end of the Greyhawk Wars. Most of these freebooters were fleeing the eastern coastal cities of Aerdy, but they brought enough mercenaries and seapower to sack Vernport. They now sail widely, attacking any target that looks soft enough, from North Province to Hepmonaland. [Dragon #206 – 35]
[The Sea Barons] now sail widely, attacking any target which looks soft enough, from North Province to Hepmonaland. [Ivid – 45]
The old Medegian lands offer a soft target and the Barons raid there, but apart from the occasional foray into Hepmonaland to loot the spices, ivory, and furs which come from that vast land, that is about the limit of the Barons' current exploits. [Dragon #206 – 35/ Ivid – 45]
[T]he Barons and their liegemen often have slaves in their households, save in Oakenisle. These slaves are humans taken from Hepmonaland for the most part. [Dragon #206 – 36/ Ivid – 89]
The sharks revel in these times, however uncertain the future may be.
Sea captains who, as children, sat on his knee and thrilled to tales of savage Hepmonaland or the orcs of the Pomarj (Walfrenden has sailed all of the Azure Sea), are every bit as ready now to bring the old man a tankard of ale and hear the same tales again. [Ivid – 94]

Rel Astra
Drax the Invulnerable is as much an opportunist as Grennel.
Rel Astra is a city of contrasts. The Barbarian Quarter is a place of license and vivacity. Sunndi elves, albino barbarians, Suel folk, even a handful of Hepmonalanders can be found here. [Ivid – 97]
Rel Astra also has, by virtue of its size, some of the oddest and most specialized traders and shops anywhere. Selling Hepmonaland goods only is not uncommon, but Rel Astra also boasts one tiny, dusty little shop where only carved jade artifacts from the Shinazi people of that continent are sold. Those curiously fascinating little trinkets, often carved in the form of fabulous or enchanted beasts, are said to have magical qualities to ward off disease or magical control of one's mind. [Ivid – 97]
[P]irate vessels and a few ships which have looted, or traded with, the free Hepmonaland peoples have been known to bring their cargoes to Rel Astra. [Ivid – 97]
Trade must flow. Rel Astra means to be the marketplace on the Solnor.
In its expansive markets are displayed half the wonders of the world, and its streets are trodden daily by dark-skinned folk of Hepmonaland, golden Baklunish in flowing cloaks, and pale, gruff barbarians of the far north. [LGG – 92]

Ountsy,though open, is more cautious.
Lastly, though Ountsy is a puritanical and mean city, it has a sprinkling of visitors as all the southeastern port cities and towns do. Dullstranders sometimes trade here, likewise do men from the Darmen lands, the Sea Barons, and one or two Hepmonalanders. [Ivid – 102]
The markets to the west all but closed to them, thy have braved the blockades and sent out merchants and spies into Hepmonaland to discover what riches might be found there.
Celandenn: […] priestess of Wee Jas
Her home is filled with relics and trinkets from Hepmonaland, and she has visited there several times, though she does not reveal what she learned or observed in that wild and wondrous land. [Ivid – 102]

586 CY
Few ships ventured south of Dullstrand, what with the blockade. Those that did invariably found Duchan ships lying in wait.
Shulof is a highly fortified port on the island of the same name. Central to the town is a building called the Tower of the Eye, in which wizards use a crystal ball with clairaudience to scry Dullstrand, Rel Astra and Ountsy, reporting ship movements there to the captains of the Lordship and Brotherhood vessels via sending spells. Storm wizards on this island can also send disruptive weather into the path of enemy ships. Most of the civilian population of Shulof manufactures weapons, mainly arrows and ballista bolts, while others dredge the sea floor for catapult stones. Shulof is a way station for savages and slaves from Hepmonaland; a night spent on dry land prevents attrition due to seasickness. The kesh of Shulof is Uncle Ikkens […], a grey-haired man with a meticulous attention to detail and a long history of working on the sea.
[SB – 28]
Great standing waves of water have been seen off Dullstrand; the Brotherhood is experimenting with weather-controlling magic. Many locals are fleeing the city for Rel Astra.  [FtAA – 79]
That served the port of Dullstrand well in the long run, it turned out. With the blockade tightening, Dullstrand served as departure for caravans that trekked across the Highlands with regularity once tension cooled between Alhissa and Sunndi.
Merchant ships from Rel Astra ceased to appear in the Azure Sea after 586 CY. It is now known that the Tilva Strait has been blockaded by ships and possibly monsters under the command of the Scarlet Brotherhood and likely its puppet, the Lordship of the Isles. The seaports od Ekul and Duxchan are undoubtedly part of this blockade, though additional ports to support the effort may have been built along the Tilvenot Peninsula and even in northern Hepmonaland. This situation has led to an increase in trade along an overland corridor from the town of Dullstrand uphill to the Kingdom of Sunndi, and from there into the Kingdom of Ahlissa to Nyrond and on to the west. This trade connection has served to moderate tempers in diplomatic relations between the Iron League and Ahlissa. [TAB – 30]

How long the brotherhood could sustain the blockade was anyone’s guess. They would declare indefinitely. But there were those who thought otherwise. The Brotherhood was stretched thin. And all too soon they began to lose their grip on their recent gains.
[T]the Great and Hidden Empire soon fractured. [LGG – 98]
An oligarchy of nobles and generals took over South Province and the conquered portions of Idee; although Brotherhood assassins did their best to eliminate these leaders, the oligarchy held firm and claimed the rest of Idee by the end of 6101 SD. The Hepmonaland and Amedio troops were no match for the superior arms and cavalry of Ahlissa, and most were killed or forced into work camps. [SB – 6]
Meanwhile, the peasants of Onnwal threw down the Brotherhood government in all but the crucial port town of Scant. [LGG – 98]

586 – 589 CY
Despite these losses, the Brotherhood as a political entity is now much, much more powerful than at any time during its long history. While it has lost land, it has gained enormous wealth, destroyed and destabilized enemies, and made important gains in the southern jungles. The Brotherhood commands the southern seaways, with naval blockades in the shark-infested waters of the Tilva Strait, and in the so-called "Southern Gates" of the Azure Sea, between the Amedio Jungle and the Tilvanot Peninsula neat the Olman Isles. [LGG – 98]
A New Route
Few captains were wont to pay the exorbitant tolls to traverse the Tilva Strait. Some tried to run the blockade. Few succeeded.
Merchant ships from Rel Astra ceased to appear in the Azure Sea after 586 CY. It is now known that the Tilva Strait has been blockaded by ships and possibly monsters under the command of the Scarlet Brotherhood and likely its puppet, the Lordship of the Isles. The seaports of Ekul and Duxchan are undoubtedly part of the blockade, although additional ports to support the effort may have been built along the Tilvenot Peninsula and even in northern Hepmonaland. [TAB – 29]
Travelling ever south, Rel Astra rounded its southern extent.
It was then they realised that they had discovered a new route to the Azure Sea and the markets of the west.

589 CY
[T]hough the Brotherhood has lost much power since the wars, it is now more feared than ever before, and arguably remains poised to strike in several key, as-yet-revealed locations. [LGG – 98]
But there are cracks forming within its rigid structure. There are those who do not bow to the Father of Obedience, it would seem.
Key […] Hepmonaland holdings are being infiltrated by the so-called "Black Brotherhood," a sect devoted to entropy (Tharizdun). [LGG – 98]

Distracted by losses and internal strife, stretched thin to breaking, the Brotherhood found their blockade less secure than they had believed. Rel Astra had circumvented it altogether.
That summer, the appearance of a Rel Astran caravel in the central Flanaess surprised the Brotherhood. The ship had avoided the brotherhood blockade of the Tilva Strait by circling the small continent of Hepmonaland. [SB – 7] (6105 SD)
And elven ships appeared to sail where they wished with impunity.
An elven ship was seen in the Densac Gulf as well in 589 CY, and many wonder if the elves are allowed to pass through the straits or have managed to sneak through using magic. It is also possible the elves are rounding Hepmonaland as the Rel Astrans claim to have done. [TAB – 29]

The Brotherhood took measures to shore up their increasingly less effective blockade.
In that same year [6104 SD], the Brotherhood fortified its closest Hepmonaland ports to help maintain the blockade of the Tilva Strait. A third was build farther south on the western Hepmonaland coast; this third port was largely created to move goods, slaves and recruits north. [SB – 7]
The northernmost islands [of Breeka’s Teeth] are hideaways for pirates from the north, although few have been seen since the Scarlet Brotherhood increased their blockade of the Densac Gulf. [SB – 57]

591 CY
What’s the state of the southern seas?

Spindrift Sound: These waters connect the Solnor Ocean to the Aerdi Sea. Spindrift Sound is notable as the traditional battle-zone between the Lordship of the Isles and the Sea Barons, with pirates and sharks making it livelier still. [LGG – 150]
[N]o quarter is ever asked or given. Unknown pirates and buccaneers frequent these waters also, making it a lively place indeed. [WoGA – 48]

Oljatt Sea: The blue-green tropical waters east of the Duxchans, south of the Lendores, and north of Hepmonaland are known as the Oljatt Sea. This region of the Solnor is believed to be extremely deep and is known to be inhabited by sea monsters able to drag down solitary merchantmen with ease. Ships voyaging into the Oljatt are known to chain themselves together, with men-at-arms ready with pikes and bows to drive off giant octopi and sea serpents. Sharks of unbelievable size trail convoys in hopes of stealing scraps from a fight; giant crocodiles from the saltwater Pelisso Swamp do likewise near that area. Ships from the Lordship of the Isles and Scarlet Brotherhood sail here freely, hunting down vessels from other realms that dare invade "their" territory. Hobgoblin pirates are noted near Hepmonaland. [LGG – 149]

Pelisso Swamps
Pelisso Swamps:
These unhealthy stretches along the northern coastline of Hepmonaland are almost unexplored, but the meager accounts of the place are fairly consistent. [FtAA – 61]
Few explorers have braved its depths, thanks in part to the Scarlet Brotherhood's blockade. [LGG – 153]
 It is home to many exotic birds and insects, whose feathers and chitin would probably fetch good prices if they could be exploited. Giant crocodiles and poisonous reptiles and amphibians throng the place. There is said to be an extended family of black dragons (a most unusual occurrence) in one central location. [FtAA – 61]
Black dragons have been attacking ships passing the Pelisso Swamp. [SB – 61]
The flora is similarly said to be exotic and dangerous, with carnivorous plants and huge flowers, pitcher plants, and giant ferns standing twice the height of a man and more. [FtAA – 61]
Several ships have become stuck in very shallow rivers here, leaving much wealth here (or so it is thought). [LGG – 153]

Tilva Strait: The Lordship of the Isles long collected tribute from states wishing to use this long, tropical, shark-infested passage between the Tilvanot Peninsula and northwestern Hepmonaland. Such tribute was negotiated through diplomats and paid in advance, and Lordship vessels patrolled the straits, hunting for vessels whose home states had not paid the fee while also ensuring that those who had paid made the journey safely (i.e., were not attacked by pirates, rumored to actually be Duxchaner privateers). [LGG – 150]

Densac Gulf:
Little is known of the tropical sea that lies south of the Tilvanot Peninsula and is bounded by the Amedio Jungle and Hepmonaland's western shores. The southern boundary of the gulf, according to various old maps, is loosely defined by island chains inhabited by pirates, south of which is the so-called Pearl Sea. The Scarlet Brotherhood makes travel to this region dangerous, though sea zombies, giant sea serpents, morkoths, and other horrors lurk here as well, possibly under the Brotherhood's control. An eastward-moving current is present here. [LGG – 148]

The Sea of Sharks: The eastern shore of Hepmonaland abuts the Sea of Sharks [.] Technically part of the Solnor Ocean, the Sea of Sharks is home to many colonies of sahaugin, which periodically raid the coastal towns. [SB – 55]

Vogan Sea (Pearl Sea): Named for the Tuov storm god, this sea is the source of the annual hurricanes that bombard the western side of Hepmonalnd. In its deeper areas, it is plagued by sea monsters. [SB – 56]

“End? No, the journey doesn't end here.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King
“A story has no beginning or end: arbitrarily one chooses that moment of experience from which to look back or from which to look ahead.”
― Graham Greene, The End of the Affair

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.
Special thanks to Jason Zavoda for his compiled index, “Greyhawkania,” an invaluable research tool.

The Art:
Quicksand, by Terry Dykstra, from Swamplight, 1993
The Tuov, by Sam Wood, from The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
Jungle Ruin, from Tomb of Annihilation, 2017
Greyhawk Map detail, by Darlene, from World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
Elven Ship, by Joel Biske, from Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Swamp, by Terry Dykstra, from Swamplight, 1993

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11374 The Scarlet Brotherhood, 1999
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
Ivid the Undying, 1995
Greychrondex, Wilson, Steven B.
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

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