Friday, 15 September 2023

North Province, Part 2


“When one with honeyed words but evil mind
Persuades the mob, great woes befall the state.”
― Euripides, Orestes

The world is a dark and bloody place...
The world is a dark and bloody place where the strong rule the weak, and power is the only reward. It is often necessary to be cruel and merciless in the pursuit of ones goals, and achieving those goals can have harsh consequences. Order must be forged out of chaos and law out of anarchy. The forces of tyranny must be obeyed and dissenters must be oppressed or destroyed.
[LGG – 172]
If there ever was a creed that described North Province it would be this.
It is Hextor’s Creed. And he is near and dear to North Province’s heart.

Lesser god
Hextor is a cruel and brutal tyrant. He brooks no challenges or dissent. He employs any means necessary to enforce his will. The Scourge of Battle revels in the mayhem of conflict, and firmly subscribes to the doctrine that might makes right.
[Bastion of Faith – 87]
Hextor is worshiped by evil warriors and assassins, mercenaries and murderers. His following has always been strongest within the lands of the Great Kingdom, where his priests hold sway in many residual fiefs and attend upon Ivid. [FtAA – 89]
Hextor's Priests
These priests are skilled combatants and assassins, cruel and violent, bereft of subtlety while still being cunning and wily. The priestly hierarchy is rigid, dominated by strength and cruelty. [FtAA – 89]
Priests of Hextor are trained in assassination, so that at the gaining of sixth level of clerical ability, one level of assassin ability is also gained. Thereafter, every two levels of advancement in clerical skill means one level of gain in assassin ability. The maximum. level attainable in assassin ability is sixth, which is reached by a cleric upon attaining 16th level in that class. [Dragon #67 – 25]

Hextor’s roots are burrowed deep in North Province.
Hextor is much honored in the Great Kingdom. [Dragon #67 – 25]
This religious tradition was recognized by the earliest monarchs of the Kingdom of Aerdy with the establishment of the See of Medegia under the rule of a Hextorian censor based in Rel Astra. Alone among the Oeridian faiths, the church of the Champion of Evil has grown in power as the Great Kingdom has declined. This rise was due in part to the departure of most of the church armies of rival faiths. [BF – 90]
Indeed, his worship is the heart and soul on the North Province, where it found, perhaps, its most fertile ground.
Hextor’s faithful strongly backed the House of Naelax during the Turmoil Between Crowns that began in 437 CY. This alliance led to the faith’s ascendancy over all other faiths in the Great Kingdom as of the coronation of Ivid I in 446 CY, but also resulted in the church of Hextor falling under the thumb of successive overkings. [BF – 90]
One need not wonder why: the House of Naelax is the mirror of its devoted patron.
Hextor appears as a normal, handsome man when in disguise, for he can cause four of his arms to meld with his torso whenever he so desires. His complexion is fair and his hair jet black, as are his eyes. He is well spoken and charming, a hale fellow and a man’s man, yet irresistible to women. He can converse with sages, reason with philosophers, argue with clergy, discuss arcane secrets with dweomercraefters. When in his true form, however, Hextor is gray of skin, lank-haired, with red-rimmed eyes bulging from a visage horrible to look upon. Then he cares only to fight and slay. [Dragon #67 – 25]

It comes as no surprise then that Grenell is the man he is: suave, learned, cultured, and cloaked in shadow.
Grenell Naelax
Grenell is […] a master politician [.]
PGtG – 24]
He is also unspeakably ruthless.
North Province, the: Grenell, A 15 [WoGG – 17]
His Radiant Grace, the Herzog of the North Province (Assassin, 15th level) [Folio – 26]
Then again, perhaps he is not an assassin at all, but Hextor’s high priest…
An evil high priest of Hextor with little value for human life [.] [PGtG – 24]
Whatever he is, he is not benevolent.
The Herzog of North Province is a cousin of the Overking, as evil as his kin, but certainly not as demented. [Folio – 26]
Grenell of House Naelax rules North Kingdom, and he is an utterly ruthless and cold-blooded monarch. Grenell's temporal authority is augmented by his dominance of the church of Hextor in the north, of which he is the titular head. [LGG – 73]
Every prince and lord in North Kingdom realizes that crossing Grenell may bring down his wrath in the form of a raid from his orc allies, who are organized as shock troops with no love of humanity and its culture (though they have benefited greatly from human arts of warfare and command). [LGG – 73]

577 CY
Grenell may be ruthless, but his North Province is within the Great Kingdom; and the Great Kingdom is perceived to be less powerful than it once was.
Once the most powerful force for order and good, the Aerdians have declined over the last century to an unspeakable state of decadency. After a millenium of leadership, its rulers and nobles turned to evil and irrationality. [Folio – 10]
Both the North and South Provinces are under the suzerainty of Aerdi royal houses and are ruled almost as independent states. The troubles in the Bone March have caused the Herzog of the North to fall into line [.] [Folio – 10]

One would think that this betrayal by the orcs would have come as a bit of a surprise to Grenell. He had aided the orcs in their bid to conquer Clement’s insufferable Bone March, after all.
The importation of orcs and goblinoids began in earnest after the fall of Bone March, when Herzog Grenell, cousin to Ivid V, made a pact with the orc and gnoll chieftains who deposed Marquis Clement. [LGG – 74]
And one might expect that he should expect some gratitude for that aid. Then again, Grenell being Grenell, he would have expected that the orcs would be fair-weather friends, orcs being orcs….
The action in the Mark has caused a great influx of both humanoids and evil humans, many traveling through the Gamboge Forest and the upper end of the Flinty Hills to reach Bone March. Humanoids and giants in the Rakers are also pressing eastward to aid in taking and looting more territory for this new “promised land.” Knurl, an independent town under the control of evil humans, is said to be recruiting hobgoblins and any other willing humanoid types for a campaign to capture all the land between the Kaye River (west fork of the Teesar), the Flinty Hills, and the Adri Forest. The Herzog’s patrols from North Province do not venture within 10 leagues of the Blemu Hills. [Dragon # 57 – 15]
Blemu Hills: These hills have been overrun by the humanoids of the Bone March. The few demihumans who lived here were forced to retreat to the Flinty Hills. Along their eastern flank, the Tessar Torrents are an effective boundary from the North Province. [FtAA – 58]
These incursions come at a time of continued raids from the humanoid bands near Bellport who have not thrown in their banners with the Herzog as of yet. [Dragon #59 – 24]

Grenell would have had no choice but to fortify his northern border. This would have left his eastern flank open to plunder. Which is exactly what happened.
The attention of the Cruski was directed wholly to the south, where choice plunder could be gained during the summer raiding season. [Dragon #57 – 14]
During the season of 577, much minor activity took place along the coast of North Province and off the northern end of the Island of Asperdi. [Dragon #63 – 16]
[M]any of the vessels from the cold north did manage to avoid patrolling warships and successfully raid North Province and the Baronial Isles. [Dragon #63 – 16]
After a particularly successful venture in 577, the Cruski and Schnai sat down together to bargain on a division of the spoils. [Dragon #57 – 14]

578 CY
Early success bred ever greater expectations of what might be had in the future.
This made the raids into North Province and the Isles of the Sea Barons all the easier next year [.] [Dragon #57 – 14]
Gathering in the Blemu Hills
This promoted a problem for Grenell. With so many ogres and orcs and gnolls gathering in the Blemu Hills, he had little choice but to rely on the Sea Barons to guard his coast against the Barbarians, to say nothing of their aid in patrolling his northern border.
[T]he Lord High Admiral reacted promptly to the summons of the Overking — this despite some severe raiding from the northern barbarians. Asperdi has recently dispatched a sizable contingent of ships and men to the North Province. In essence, this force represents a squadron of warships to control the sea, while a solid block of fighting men, most of them veterans of skirmishes with barbarian raiders, stiffens the forces of the Herzog. [Dragon #63 – 15]
A fleet from the recalcitrant Sea Barons has been dispatched to aid the cousin of the OverKing, who commands North Province. [Dragon #59 – 24]
The Herzog continues to muster his forces, awaiting the arrival of 2,000 seasoned veterans of battles with the sea-wolves of the north. [Dragon #59 – 24]

He did not have long to wait for the coming of the humanoid horde. The orcs advanced, they tested, they raided and they struck. And Grenell’s lines held. For now.
His forces battered, Herzog Grenell withdrew them to a position which masked both Edgefield and Eastfair — and no enemies pursued, they being bent on other matters. This left His Grace with the opportunity to rest his battle-worn array and seek reinforcements. Both Eastfair and Edgefield were stripped of all available men, adding a stiffening of cavalry and missile troops to the levied footmen. This exhausted all of the available manpower in the whole of the North Province, for the east had already been called upon to the full.
The time granted to Herzog Grenell was indeed fortunate for him, as it allowed the integration of the new units into his army and enabled them to be trained to some degree. […]
Meanwhile, patrols from Edgefield have been probing the Blemu Hills and otherwise keeping a constant watch on the enemy.  [Dragon #63 – 15,16]
Grenell must have been nervous, indeed. Best by Barbarian raids, orcs amassed to his north, he could only wonder when Almor and Nyrond would move against him.
It is rumored that this movement came down as an Imperial order from Rauxes to help alleviate the problems created by the incursions of Almor and Nyrond into the southern part of Bone March, as well as to answer the North Provinces’ call for aid against these attacks. These incursions come at a time of continued raids from the humanoid bands near Bellport who have not thrown in their banners with the Herzog as of yet. [Dragon #59 – 24]

This chess match would play out for years to come.
c. 580 CY
War has been a steady diet of the Overking’s realm for several years. Allies are few, but include the Herzog of South Province, the See of Medegia, certain tribes of humanoids to the north (those crushed in actions between North Province and Bone March, etc., and then reorganized) and certain factions of the Sea Barons, although the latter – as a whole – are quite untrustworthy. [WG8 Fate of Istus – 69]

581 CY
One wonders how a widespread war never sparked. Tensions were high. Raids common. Victims aplenty.
Allentar still has the characteristic plump shape of a halfling. Born in the Flinty Hills, Allentar was orphaned in his early teens when raiders from the North Province of the Great Kingdom passed through their lands. Fleeing their terror, he eventually drifted down to the City of Greyhawk. [WGA4 Vecna Lives! – 89]
It is no wonder that the countryside along the borders emptied into whatever walled city would take them.
Major invasion of the Bone March would drive humanoids in their tens of thousands into North Province [.] [WGS1 Five Shall Be One – 4]
But the expected conflicts never materialised.

582 CY
Until one day a distant spark caught fire, and the flames were fanned across the whole of the Flanaess.
Other factors convinced Ivid V that Nyrond and Almor were ripe for harvest. For some time, the Overking had courted the humanoids of the Bone March, but being blood-thirsty and primitive, they saw no gain in his offers. Now an ambassador flew north on one of the Overking’s personal carpets to make a new proposal. In exchange for alliance, the orcs of the Bone March would gain both land and loot – all from Nyrond.
A Distant Spark Caught Fire
While the emissary delivered this proposal, the Overking drummed up war fever in his own land to compel his independent-minded cousins to join the fray. The North Province, sensing a dangerous shift in the wind, stood by Ivid, reasoning that though he made an unreliable friend, he was a truly horrific enemy.
[Wars – 11]
The North and South Provinces have once again fallen into line behind the Overking’s banner and his emissaries have even brought the humanoids of the Bone March closer to the imperial fold. [Wars – 5]
Grenell foresaw the possibility of great gains, but he was cautious too. Mostly of his cousin, the Overking.
Though not too close, lest the Herzog of the North find a dagger in his side. [Wars – 28]
With North and South Provinces swelling his ranks, Ivid V never once thought he could not lose.
With his strength growing, the Overking looks for an excuse to again press his claims on the rebellious western lands. [Wars – 5]
The Sea Barons too expressed their steadfast resolve, while the North Province crowed about its ever faithful loyalty to the crown. [Wars – 14]

584 CY
The war did not go as planned, however.
Ivid personally assumed complete command of all the armies of the Great Kingdom, despite the counsel of his best advisors. [Wars – 20]
A Disaster
The military campaign that followed was, predictably, a disaster.
[Wars – 20]
Ivid did not just overrule or even sack his generals: he executed them, sparing only his favorites. [Wars – 20]
The crisis reached its climax during the Richfest celebrations of that year. An assassin emerged from the thronging crowds and struck Ivid a mortal blow with a poisoned dagger. When news spread of Ivid’s death, the gloom over the land lifted. The nobles stoked the fires of celebration, joyously preparing for the power struggle to come.
The Great Kingdom was spared that turmoil, however, by an even greater one. Just as the cunning of the mad Overking had saved Ivid from countless threats past, it saved him now from the grave. Secret arrangements, perhaps made with fiends summoned while on the Malachite Throne, resulted in the Overking’s revivification. Ivid V – who had seemed cold and soulless in life – seemed doubly so in death.
The vengeance visited by the animus Ivid was swift and terrible. The orgy of execution and revivification soared out of control. Ivid rewarded even the slightest suspicion with death. Nobles falsely implicated enemies, seeking to settle old scores, but Ivid cared little whether the accusations were false or true. The mad Overking, now styled the Undying One, revelled in the chaos and destruction in his lands. [Wars – 20]
Ivid’s kiss, it was called. A fate akin to death. Because it was.

Grenell Rebelled
Ever cautious of his cousin – for good reason – Grenell was the first to abandon Ivid’s lost cause, believing self-preservation the greater of the two.
Grace Grenell, Herzog of the North Province, rebelled against his cousin in a desperate attempt to hold his lands against the march of King Archbold. Freed of the mad king, the Herzog and the orcs of the Bone March halted the Nyrondese armies in the rugged Flinty Hills. The Herzog callously sacrificed both human and orcish troops to grind King Archbold’s advance to a halt. Though the Nyrondese could advance no further against the combined armies, Archbold, tantalized by the prospect of ultimate victory, refused to break off his assault.
The North Province’s defection from the Great Kingdom unleashed the pent-up fears and ambitions of all nobility in the Great Kingdom, both living and animus. The Herzog of the South, among the first nobles rewarded with death and revivification, reasserted his claim to the South Province. The wave spread outward from there: living nobles turned their fiefs into armed camps and animus lords sought to expand their realms. The Overking’s authority collapsed entirely, leaving Ivid with only his personal estates. Thus, the always-fragile Great Kingdom shattered into a hundred petty principalities, dukedoms, baronies, counties, and earldoms. The Aerdi Empire was no more. [Wars – 21,22]

North Province declared independence from the Great Kingdom in 584 CY, dragging itself out of the Greyhawk Wars, and the empire shattered within weeks into many pieces. [LGG – 24]
The North Province's secession did indeed trigger the complete disintegration of the Great Kingdom. [FtAA – 9]

Chaos reigned after its creation for a while and was what one might call life-changing for a great many people. Consider, if you will, what befell Greenkeep.
This ruin marks the easternmost point of the highlander castles. In Suns' Ebb CY 584, the castle was decimated by an immensely powerful magical strike. A boiling black cloud settled in the sky above Greenkeep, and vast strokes of lightning and acid rain cascaded down on the building. The walls and towers were shattered and the keep ruined, with most of the garrison here slain and only a few managing to escape westward to safety.
It is still unknown who mounted this formidable attack. The most often-rumored theory connects the attack with the necromancer Raspalan, garrisoned with the troops here. Raspalan was a minor princeling of the House of Garasteth, and was known to have fled his birthplace west of Rinloru and no few other eastern and southern cities during his lifetime. He left behind a trail of murder, outrage, and bitter enemies. The destruction of Greenkeep is generally believed to be due to one of those enemies catching up with him. [Ivid – 55]
Or so it is said. But a great many things are said in the North Province. And elsewhere. Some of it even true.

585 CY
If there was a winner to come out of the shattering of the Great Kingdom it was Grenell. He prevailed as others fell.
Shattered into a score of petty fiefdoms, some larger domains (North Province, for example) still remain largely intact while elsewhere the Overking
’s bizarre treatment of his most powerful nobles has generated an entirely new type of ruler: the animus. [Dragon #191 – 67]
North Province: Governed by Herzog Grace Grenell (who is alive and not yet undead), this is the largest and most powerful land within the former Great Kingdom. Grenell is an unscrupulous, utterly evil man who has an alliance with the humanoids of the Bone March. This unlikely military cooperation allowed the North Province to fend off the incursions of Nyrond, but now Grenell is obliged to aid the humanoids in their persecution of Ratik. [FtAA – 27]
Grace Grenell is in a very difficult position politically. During the Greyhawk Wars he allied with the humanoids of the Bone March out of desperation. This alliance was successful in forcing a stalemate which created peace, but a very tense legacy has been left behind. [Ivid – 44]
So, this alliance has to be maintained, but the orcs and other humanoids want to get something in return. Specifically, they are now calling in the debt: "We helped you fight Nyrond, now you help us storm Ratik."
For himself, Grenell doesn't give a fig about Ratik. Unfortunately, no few of his most powerful local rulers care a great deal about Ratik—as do many ordinary folk. Many of them share the same Oeridian-Flan racial mix as the men of Ratik, and they admire the rugged bravery of Ratik's warriors in having kept the humanoids at bay for so long. They are opposed to any plan to conquer Ratik, and some of them are ready to go and fight for Ratik should Grenell dare act against that nation. [Ivid – 44]
He will almost certainly welch on this agreement. [FtAA – 27]

The orcs within Grenell’s North Province, on the other hand, had never had it so good. Clean barracks. Three steady meals. Coin in pocket.
Only in North Province, where Herzog Grace Grenell actively allied with the Bone March against Nyrond, are these troops still reliably under the control of the ruler. [Ivid – 10]
The influence of North Province (now North Kingdom) has led to greater organization and military effectiveness among [the] barbaric tribes [of the Bone March]. [LGG – 35]
Would it last, though?
So far, different warlords among the Euroz have not indulged in their traditional intertribal warfare within North Province, but that is probably just a matter of time. [Ivid – 44]
Orcs are orcs, after all. Far be it that a good thing could keep an orc in check. What good are clean sheets and three squares when there was no reaving to be had?

Grenell would worry about that later. What good was it to win a kingdom only to lose it? He had borders to secure and armies to maintain, and an army marched on its stomach. Thus, farms had to produce, supplies had to be delivered. Where would he get the money to do this? Slavery was a good option – the best, actually, to his way of thinking – but slavery could not produce goods he did not have. Trade was the only option.
Trade is crucial to North Province, for outside of the Flanmi River basin the land is often poor, stony, and offering low crop yields. Livestock farming dominates most areas, and theft of livestock is a capital offense. Fishing is another major resource North Province possesses, and the whalers of Kaport Bay know all too well that the barbarians of the north could decimate that industry all too easily if they chose. Fish are a vital part of the food supply now. After years of war, the poor farmlands of North Province have been inadequately sewn and harvested and resources of grain and vegetables are low. Without the fish brought in from the east coast, usually salted or pickled, many folk in North Province could starve. [Ivid – 45]
To trade, he had to mend a few fences.
Some covert trade was conducted with the barbarians through the Lords of the Isles and even the Sea Barons or Ratik (which was also a source of good woods). In return, Aerdy exported food, cloth, weapons, and a little in the way of gems, worked items from artisans, and rarer commodities such as Grandwood and Adri herbs and the infamous pickled eel saveloys of Winetha. Such external trade has now mostly collapsed, at least as far as the west is concerned. The eastern coastal cities and the Sea Barons, and North Province, conduct most of the surviving trade. [Ivid – 17]

Cockles in Laminari
While these small mussels come to us by way of the Gamboge Forest, their source of origin is the Solnor coast of the former North Province. Cockles are small mussels treasured for their delicate flavor. They are often served steamed with fire-finger broth but are just as tasty fresh-plucked from the sand and eaten raw.
The supply arrives packed in barrels of laminari and bone, which serve to protect the cockles for far travel. The laminari is itself a hearty and flavorful purple-brown kelp that takes well to sauces or simply steamed with butter, and it stores well enough once it's dried. [Dragon #271 – 74]

The orcs complicated Grenell’s need for trade, of course.
Indeed, the barbarians increasingly trade with some North Province coastal towns and villages, and that trade brings much needed wood, furs, and other commodities in short supply in North Province.
If Grenell helped the humanoids against Ratik, the barbarians would certainly begin their raids again, and trade would cease. Grenell can't really afford to have either of these things happen. [Ivid – 44]
With the orcs of the Bone March grating their teeth, and “his orcs” gnashing their jaws, Grenell needed a secure route to the coast as far from the orcs’ northern stomping ground as he could find: the Trask River.
Trask: The Trask must arise from subterranean water tables, with headwaters formed from springs and streams in North Province. It is navigable for some 150 miles west of the once-busy port of Atirr, where it flows into the Solnor Ocean. [FtAA – 64]
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]

Who then, did he have to trade with?
The war against the Great Kingdom cost the Nyrondese armies dear, with almost 70,000 casualties, and it exhausted Nyrond's coffers, although its navy remains strong. [FtAA – 32]
Resources: foodstuffs, cloth, copper, silver, gems (I, ll) [Folio – 13]

Almor has passed from the map of the Flanaess. Weakened and embarrassed by Osson's exploits, it was invaded by Ivid in 584 CY and its old capital, Chathold, utterly decimated by the Overking's mages and priests. The animus Duke Szeffrin now rules half of the old Almorian lands, and this creature, formerly a greatly favored general in Ivid's armies, is reputedly one of the cruellest of the animus nobles now holding sway over so much of Aerdy. [FtAA – 26]
Resources: foodstuffs, cloth, copper [Folio – 8]
Equally unlikely.

See of Medegia
Just as Almor is no more, so has Medegia passed into history. […] Medegia was utterly despoiled, and what remains of it is barren and underpopulated. Its few surviving inhabitants are bitter, twisted, and half-mad people tormented by fiends and petty despots. [FtAA – 27]
Resources: foodstuffs, cloth [Folio – 12]
Not at all promising.

Bone March
Resources: silver, gems (I, II) [Folio – 9]
The humanoids of the Bone March still seek to destroy Ratik, the beleaguered gnomes of the Flinty Hills, and any other territory they can advance into; their "alliance" with the North Province has already begun to disintegrate due to the ill-organized and undisciplined nature of these creatures. [FtAA – 24]
The Flinty Hills folk are divided between support for Nyrond and a desire to stay independent. Nyrondese armies fought the Bone March and North Province armies here and the demihumans don't forget that, but they also hear tales of the human king's weakness. [WGR4 The Marklands – 83]
There were resources there, but little trade to be had there. Because… well, orcs.

Lendore Isles
These islands have always been a mystery, due to their native aquatic and high elves who kidnapped intruders into their realm and did not release any to tell tales. Both the Sea Barons and the Lordship of the Isles kept well away from the six isles in this chain, save Lendore Isle itself. [FtAA – 30]
Little help there, it would seem.

Sea Barons
The Sea Barons now raid parts of the eastern coast of Aerdy (though they trade with Rel Astra), skirmish with Lendore and the Lordship of the Isles, and prefer to avoid needless combats with the barbarians.
The seamen and barons here are very uncertain of their future, not knowing with whom to ally. [FtAA – 36]
They now sail widely, attacking any target that looks soft enough, from North Province to Hepmonaland. [Dragon #206 – 35]
Resources: None outstanding [Folio – 15]
Not promising. The Asperdis had fish. So did North Province.

[T]he Cruskii have been more reliable allies with the other barbarians and most of their marauding has been directed toward the North Province. [FtAA – 28]
Frost barbarians
Resources: foodstuffs, furs, silver, gold [Folio – 10]
Ice Barbarians
Resources: furs, copper, gems (I) [Folio – 11]
Snow Barbarians
Resources: copper, gems (I, II) [Folio – 15]
Desperate times called for desperate measure. Besides, many of the northfolk had kin among the Suel Barbarian clans.

The Sea Barons and Frost Barbarians buy wood here still; however, trade with the Theocracy is slow, and trade with cities of the North Province is extremely low. Ratikers are now even more insular and self-reliant than before the war. [FtAA – 34]
Resources: shipbuilding supplies, furs, gold, gems (IV) [Folio – 14]
Ratik was promising.

Lordship of the Isles
During the wars, the former prince, Latmac Ranold, was suddenly deposed and replaced by [Prince Frolmar Ingerskatti], who at once removed the islands from the ranks of the Iron League and allied the lands with the mysterious […] Scarlet Brotherhood. [FtAA – 30,31]
Resources: rare woods, spices [Folio – 12]
These islands were not without promise, Grenell believed.

South Province
Reydrich is certainly not an animus, although it is said that he traffics with evil creatures from the outer planes. Reydrich is known to loathe the Scarlet Brotherhood, and to covet both Irongate and Onnwal. [FtAA – 27]
Resources: foodstuffs, silver [Folio – 15]
South Province was likely one of Grenell’s best hopes, despite their differences. It was stable, after all.

Rel Astra
[Rel Astra] is now the major trading center on the eastern coast of old Aerdy, ready to conduct trade with anyone—the Sea Barons, Barbarians (rarely), Ratik vessels, the Scarlet Brotherhood's proxies from the Lordship of the Isles, Sunndi, and other Aerdy lands. As long as money comes in, Rel Astrans don't care who provides the coin. [FtAA – 47]
Resources: foodstuffs, cloth, copper, silver, gold, gems (IV) [Folio – 10]
Most definitely. Rel Astra was one of the great markets of the Flanaess.

If Grenell knew one thing, he had to strengthen, rebuild, and find money. The sooner the better, if he hoped to retain his throne; and his precious skin.
[T]he political situation in North Province is very tense and dangerous. Some humanoid forces have already struck off on their and have begun to pillage the northwestern fringe lands [….] Mercenaries are increasingly attracted to trouble spots, finding no few rulers ready to protect their lands with armed resistance to any marauding humanoids or bandits. The level of North Province rulership in any local area is generally "medium" or better, but the conflicts between those rulers threaten to plunge North Province into a civil war every bit as bitter as the Turmoil Between Crowns. There is no organized resistance to Grenell, and most thank him for getting North Province out of the Great Kingdom just in time. But some new alliances are just beginning to emerge, and Shalaster and his excellent army are a possible focal point for a new style of rulership in these lands. [Ivid – 44,45]
Grenell certainly had his hands full.

586 CY
Ivid had lost control of his kingdom. Insurrection was everywhere, except where the strong prevailed. It was held at bay in North Province because Grenell was very strong indeed. He held his North Province together where others failed – with an iron fist, if truth be told. He was overking of the north, in all but name; so, it comes as no surprise that he declared himself exactly that:
Shattered Kingdom
Following the devastation of Rauxes in 586 CY, Grenell became the scion of House Naelax.
[LGG – 74]
In 586 CY, Herzog Grenell of North Province declared himself overking of the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy. [LGG – 16]
This “new” realm has not changed in character from the old, being cruel and tyrannical in the extreme. [TAB – 23]
[T]he lands that now constitute the notorious North Kingdom included both North Province and other northern possessions of the old Great Kingdom. After the sundering of the empire following the Greyhawk Wars (584 CY) and the subsequent devastation of Rauxes, these lands united as an independent realm, ruled from the old provincial capital at Eastfair. [LGG – 73]
The new imperial capital was proclaimed to be Eastfair, to no one’s surprise. [TAB – 23]
The capital of North Province is Eastfair (pop. 26,000), which is infamous for its debaucheries at court. FtAA – 27]

Many courts in the heart of the Flanaess were stunned at the news, for it indicated that Grenell, cousin of Overking Ivid V of House Naelax, was able to forge alliances with two potentially hostile noble houses of the north (Torquann and Garasteth), as well as with many humanoid tribal leaders in Bone March. [TAB – 23]
He did; but there might be no mystery why he could: give the stat of what was the great Kingdom, the Houses of Naelax, Torquann, and Garasteth could either stand together under Grenell or die apart.
Grenell's nobles support their Herzog simply because they consider the alternatives too unpredictable, but they have no spirit of loyalty toward him. [FtAA – 27]

Many thought Grenell’s rule as “Overking” would be short, as the mad but true Overking Ivid V would never tolerate such blatant presumption. However, a response from Rauxes seemed very slow in coming, and it appears to have never come at all. It is not certain what transpired in the capital of the fallen Great Kingdom the tales told by adventurers and deserting Aerdy soldiers conflict on many points. Most stories state that an announcement was made in Rauxes in early 586 CY by a high priest of Hextor, declaring that Ivid V was no longer Overking (not dead, just not the Overking). A reason for this was never given; possibly, the disappearance of fiends from nearly all the Flanaess, which occurred just before this, had some connection. [TAB – 24]

[Grenell] focused his energies entirely on defending and consolidating his new realm. [LGG – 24]
The "little" or "new" Great Kingdom has spent the time since strengthening its infrastructure and putting down a civil war. [PGtG – 12]

The tribes from the Rakers and Blemu Hills are likely to remain in firm control of most of the [Bone M]arch, failing an invasion by either North Kingdom (unlikely) or the concerted effort of Ratik and its allies among the Suel barbarians (who have had successes and failures here in the past). Grenell, the self-styled "overking" of North Kingdom, covets these lands and would gladly see them under his thumb, but past alliances with the nonhumans have brought many under his own banner, and he cannot risk losing their support. His own realm is not yet solid enough for the assault, as well. [LGG – 36]

There are rumors that adventurers are being secretly recruited as spies and scouts by states bordering Grenell‘s kingdom (especially Nyrond) to infiltrate his realm and report back on the conditions there, particularly in Edge Field on the Adri Forest. [TAB – 23]
Adri Forest
Some 25,000 people live within the forest, hunting its plentiful game and hewing the fine woods found there. This forest has historically been part of the North Province, with its western fringe beyond the Harp River part of Almor [.] [FtAA – 51]

Late 580s CY
The "little" or "new" Great Kingdom has spent the time since strengthening its infrastructure and putting down a civil war. [PGtG – 12]
One might ask, where was there not civil war? There were some far more concerning that others, however.
Grenell is concerned with only two Aerdy lands, save for Rauxes itself; the broad swathe of Naelax lands to the south and the Twin Cities. Grenell must keep peace with the rulers of Rinloru and Winetha. He cannot afford conflict in the east and south as well as the problems the humanoids pose him north and west. Grenell can hardly send any emissary to Rinloru's frightful ruler, but as yet there seems no threat from that quarter. [Ivid – 46]
Delglath's current policy is to gradually convert all ordinary folk into zombies. [Ivid – 64]
That would put Rinloru at the top of Grenell’s concerns list.
Rumors spill from a dozen sources about a dreadful civil war fought in the late 580s around the city of Rinloru, with men, orcs, and hobgoblins pitted against a vast army of undead; details are sketchy even now. Fighting is likely to continue there still. [TAB – 23]

591 CY
Did Grenell survive his ordeals? He did.
An evil high priest of Hextor with little value for human life, Grenell is nonetheless a master politician and survived the Greyhawk Wars and the Great Kingdom's collapse without being captured, slain or turned into an undead monster. [PGtG – 24]
Has his Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy survived its ordeals. It did.
North Kingdom
Proper Name: Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy
Ruler: His Righteous and Transcendent Majesty, the Overking of Northern Aerdy, Grenell I, Grand Prince of House Naelax (LE male human Clr19 of Hextor)
Government: Independent feudal monarchy with strong theocratic elements; current monarch is the highest-level cleric of Hextor in the realm, simultaneously commanding the forces of the church, the northern branch of the royal house (Naelax), and all feudal nobles and nonhuman leaders in his service
Capital: Eastfair
Major Towns: Atirr (pop. 19,700), Bellport (pop. 9,100), Darnagal (pop. 6,400), Delaric (pop. 22,000), Eastfair (pop. 35,000), Edgefield (pop. 15,800, plus 4,000 orcs), Kaport Bay (pop. 5,800), Luvern (pop. 3,100), Rinloru (thousands of undead; besieged), Stringen (pop. 4,700), Winetha (pop. 19,300)
Provinces: Eleven principalities, with a few tiny counties, baronies, etc.; nearly all are centered around cities, towns, castles, or strongholds
Resources: Foodstuffs, cloth, electrum, whale oil; resources are not exported
Population: 2,618,200—Human 83% (OFs), Orc 9%, Goblin 3%, Halfling 2%, Half-orc 1%, Other 2%
Languages: Common, Old Oeridian, Orc
Alignments: LE*, NE, N, CE, LN
Religions: Hextor*, Zilchus, Erythnul, orc pantheon, various goblin gods
[LGG – 72]

Fringe faiths persist, however.
Permanent temples to Telchur exist only in the North Province and Blackmoor. [Dragon #265 – 57]
(The magnificent Iceminster in Kaport Bay in the North Province was torn down by the people for firewood in the Winter of 246 C.Y.) [Dragon #265 – 58]
Few worship there, though. Few are so brave as to declare any faith other than to Hextor.

Has Grenell’s Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy thrived? That’s open to interpretation.
Grenell rules by diplomacy and an iron fist, balancing human with humanoid and by playing one Celestial House off against another.
[N]early 10% of the population of North Province consists of evil humanoids, primarily orcs of the Death Moon tribe. These brutish forces cause much trouble in North Kingdom, and they often work at cross-purposes with Grenell's plans (as well as their own). [LGG – 74]
While the attention of Grenell is turned to the south, that of his evil humanoid allies remains, to the north, for the orcs and gnolls of the Rakers greatly desire the destruction of Ratik While the presence of the rapacious orcs threatens to send North Kingdom into chaos, they may also be one of the most important factors holding the nation together. Every prince and lord in North Kingdom realizes that crossing Grenell may bring down his wrath in the form of a raid from his orc allies, who are organized as shock troops with no love of humanity and its culture (though they have benefited greatly from human arts of warfare and command). [LGG – 73]

The Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy
Principality         House
Atirr                      Torquann
Bellport               Naelax
Darnagal             Naelax
Delaric                 Naelax
Eastfair*              Naelax
Edgefield             Naelax
Highlander**     Garasteth
Kaport Bay          Torquann
Rinloru***          Torquann
Stringen               Naelax
Winetha              Garasteth

* The capital principality of the king
** Highlander's capital is Redfalls, a great castle and military fortification on the Teesar River.
*** Rinloru is currently a city of undead, besieged by Torquann armies attempting to destroy a mad undead cleric of Nerull (once a Torquann prince) and his ghastly armies that control the ruined city.
[LGG – 73]

Grenell’s balancing act is no easy thing. Orcs and humans do not get along, for the most part. Nor do the Celestial Houses, truth be told. Add to that Grenell’s “undead problem,” and Grenell’s persistent plotting appears more desperate with every minute.
Once thought contained, the undead horde infesting Rinloru has swelled in numbers, apparently the result of heretofore unknown magics employed by Delgath the Undying, the mad animus who holds the city. The Forces of Overking Grennel [sic] are hard pressed to contain the army, which now contains at least a dozen giant skeletal golems who secrete a potent acid that quickly eats through weapons used against them.
In the Principality of Bellport relations with savage humanoid mercenaries recruited from the Bone March are in tatters after Patriarch Halldrem of Hextor was heard publicly referred to his professed orcish allies as “soulless scum fit only to divert the blades of our enemies from the shining human knights of our legions.” A band of orcs, led by the charismatic but boorish Vurak Brokennose, then attempted to murder the priest in a public square, resulting in the deaths of four dozen market patrons whan Halldrem let loose a terrifying blade barrier. Both humans and orcs have been on edge ever since. [LGJ#3 – 28]

And there is the southern problem to consider. Both Grenell and Xavener of the Kingdom of Ahlissa claim successor to the Great Kingdom, it is widely believed that one day, perhaps one day soon, war will come to settle the matter.
[I]t is widely acknowledged that so long as they both exist, Grenell and Xavener threaten each other's claims to rule the true successor state of the Aerdi people. For the time being, the overking of Eastfair is too embroiled in his own affairs to make a concerted effort to settle the matter, and Xavener appears to have the upper hand. Everyone anticipates war. [LGG – 74]
Indeed, it would seem that Xavener is doing his utmost to destabilise Grenell’s kingdom every way he can.
Ahlissa (Innspa/Adri)
Scouts in the Adri
Prince Molil’s claim on the Adri Forest east of the Harp River (backed up by the considerable power of his cousin, Overking Xavener of Ahlissa) is causing rumours that North Kingdom forces operating out of Edgefield have designs upon the woodlands. Scouts speak of troops massing close to the Adri’s eastern border, and many fear invasion may be imminent. Whispers in Insnspa’s slumtown suggest that the prophet Medarkus, who rallied hundreds of the oppressed in Vedaris Square last month, is none other than the missing-and-thought-deceased Anarkin, a former prelate of the Prelacy of Almor. If these rumors are to be believed, many high-placed members of Innspa society would pay dearly to know what he's up to. 
[LGJ#1 – 28]
Innspa is a unique city in Aerdy. It has been part of Nyrond, Almor, and North Province in its history. For the past 35 years or so, it has become virtually the personal fief of Prince Corazell of the House of Garasteth. His house had bought Innspa from the Crandens centuries ago, when the city was but a small mining village, and turned it into a trade city, dealing in orcs from the Flinty Hills, food from Nyrond, timber from the Adri, and fish from the river. During changes of nation, Innspa has stayed much the same, a cosmopolitan city where all races and alignments intermingled. [Dragon #208 – 56]
Adri Forest
This forest has historically been part of the North Province, with its western fringe beyond the Harp River part of Almor, but particularly since the War, the folk here have owed little allegiance to their imperial masters. [FtAA – 51]
It’s in Xavener’s nature to do so. Grenell’s too, for that matter.
In Ahlissa and North Kingdom, the Oeridian people have developed subterfuge as an art form. [OJ#27 – 24]

His Grace Grenell I
Grenell realises this and is taking steps to level the playing field. He’s searching for weapons, relics, artifacts.
Grenell has sent priests of Hextor and mages to the Isle of Lost Souls, a place once denied to him by Ivid V. [LGG – 74]
The Causeway of Fiends lies just off of the north-easternmost point of North Kingdom, between the shore and the treacherous Isle of Lost Souls. [Dragon #294 – 93]
Maybe I should not have said “level.” He’s looking for anything and everything that will give him mastery over the field.

I would not give up on Grenell. He’s a survivor. And so is his North Kingdom. It always has been. It persists. And its soul remains the same. Whomever dwells here.
Perhaps one of the most troublesome of the lost Flan nations are the [T]yrants of Trask. Believed to have existed around the Trask River in modern day North Kingdom. The Tyrants of Trask were responsible for the attacks on the elven city of Summer Stars. Evil and bellicose beyond refute the invading oerids of house Naelax, had little choice but to wipe them from the face of Oerth. Destroying much of their magic and writings. [OJ#27 – 16]
Grim. Grey. Shadowed. Cloaked in shadow.
Grenell is in “good” company.

“All history is one continuous pestilence. There is no truth and there is no illusion. There is nowhere to appeal and nowhere to go.”
― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle

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

The Art:
Hextor, by Jim Halloway (?), from Dragon #67, 1982
The Mighty are Fallen, by Eric Hotz, from The Marklands, 1993
Greyhawk map detail, by Darlene, from World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
A Day in the Life, by Eric Hotz, from The Marklands, 1993
Sea Barons map, by Dave Sutherland, from Dragon #206, 1994/WGR7 Ivid the Undying, 1995
Greyhawk map detail, by Sam Wood, from Players Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
Composite map, by Kent Matthewson, from WGR7 Ivid the Undying, 1995
North Kingdom heraldry, adapted from World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
Throne room, from Players Guide to Greyhawk, 1998

1015 World of Greyhawk Boxed Set, 1983
2023 Greyhawk Adventures Hardback, 1988
1068 Greyhawk Wars Boxed Set, 1991
1064 From the Ashes Boxed Set, 1992
9025 World of Greyhawk Folio, 1980
9253 WG8 Fate of Istus, 1989
9317 WGS1 Five Shall Be One, 1991
9398 WGR4 The Marklands, 1993
9577 The Adventure Begins, 1998
9578 Player’s Guide to Greyhawk, 1998
11412 Bastion of Faith, 1999
11743 Living Greyhawk Gazetteer, 2000
WGR7 Ivid the Undying, 1995
Dragon Magazine 57,59,63,191,204,206,208,265,271,294
Living Greyhawk Journal, #1,3
Oeth Journal #27
Greyhawkania, Jason Zavoda
The map of Anna B. Meyer

1 comment:

  1. Grenell the survivor! I wish there were more canon on his succession plans because he is getting long in the tooth. I am a fan of Shalaster off in Highlander, fighting off the orcs his liege was made to ally with. As for Greenkeep, I have my own "head canon" around that in my campaign, and I've determined what happened to it and by whom and where old Raspalan figures into it.