iquander writes "Vecna's name has lived on for a thousand years after the fall of his empire, a name of dread and fear. But little else about the horrific lich-king is known to scholars today, for what records of those ancient times do exist often conflict with one another, and are polluted with exaggerations and outright lies to mask things the authors felt were best left buried. In the face of this, Savant Iquander has compiled a history of the lich-lord, and it may even be true...
Author: Erik "Iquander" Mona
by Erik Mona (Iquander@aol.com) and Copyright by Wizards of the Coast
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author. Originally posted to the RPGA Living Greyhawk Message Board
Few names in the long history of the Flanaess conjure such frequent nightmares as the Whispered One, Vecna. Though the once supreme lich ruled a kingdom of antiquity, his name has become synonymous with pain, suffering and the price of dabbling in magics not meant for the ken of mortal minds. Few save the most powerful wizards and priests know of Vecna’s bid to dominate all the gods of Oerth in 581 CY, or of his defeat at the hands of Iuz, a most unlikely foil. With each passing day, however, fear of the Maimed God grows, as his cult continues to gain influences in the dark places and secluded corners of the Flanaess. Those to take the long view take comfort that Vecna now seems somehow isolated from Oerth, though many now prepare for his return. The most valuable weapon in this renewed crusade will, of course, be the Sword of Kas, the only weapon known to have harmed him. Short of that blade, which has not been seen in a decade, the folk of the Flanaess must arm themselves with knowledge.
Knowledge of Vecna came early for the Suloise migrants in the dark years preceding the Twin Cataclysms. In that period, entire Imperial Houses fled the empire, seeking refuge to the east. One house, the Kateri, found instead death and gruesome revivification. These migrants, typical Suloise in every fashion, had little time for the original Flannae inhabitants of the Sheldomar River Valley. They avoided what folk they could not slay, ducking from hill range to hill range, from this forest to that. Some one hundred miles south of the Rushmoors, the Kateri encountered tribes of Flan they could not displace. Had the arrogant Suel taken time to speak with the southern Flan, or even the few Oeridian tribes who even then settled the valley, they would have been warned. Instead, Lord Vecna had their heads torn from their necks and placed on spears, which his subjects stabbed into the earth to mark the southern border of his territory. As a grim joke, Vecna’s Ur-Flan necromancers had the heads animated. For seven years, wildly insane, pale-faced heads stretched from the northwest terminus of the Sheldomar to the waters of the Lort, announcing the dominion of Vecna in pathetic, vaguely human rantings.
The Occluded Empire of Vecna, as it became known, served ably as a ulcer in the gut of all migrants. Oeridians flowing east from the Fals Gap had avoided Vecna’s lands by coincidence, at first, but soon learned that the lich-lord’s dominion extended all the way to the northwest shores of the Lake of Unknown Depths. Despite Vecna’s control over such a wide berth of land, his actual grasp did not extend far from his own Rotted Tower, said to be located in the Rushmoors, or the now-ruined town of Tycheron, along the northern banks of the Velverdyva, not far from modern Dyvers. Between these centers of depravity ranged several tribes of debased Flan, who were all too happy to carry out the debased orders of Vecna, or those of his most trusted lieutenant in Tycheron, Kas the Bloody-Handed. Many otherwise good-spirited tribes, however, lived under the depravity of Vecna because, as the fledgling nation of Keoland would learn in the century to come, all but subservience to the Whispered One led to certain death.
Shortly after its foundation, the Kingdom of Keoland attempted an ambitious expansion effort, supporting frontier towns to the south and west and, taking advantage in a lull of activity by the Occluded Empire, even to the north. The fate of this settlement, known as Fleeth, is best recorded by Uhas of Neheli in his Chronicle of Secret Times, a look at the scandals, crimes and cruelties of Keoland’s first era. In return for the lives of all in the city, Keoland’s regional burghers implored Vecna to take their own lives. Instead, the lich had the entire city gutted, the governors’ wives and children executed before their very eyes, their staring heads displayed upon a vast pile of death. As a final show of "mercy," Vecna allowed the burghers to live, that they might take warning to their king.
Armies amassed in the Keoish capital. The king prepared for a great war. Though decimated by cataclysm and largely untested in battle, the skill of his troops would carry the day, despite the numbers of the Flan to the north. But what is a casualty to an emperor who can animate armies of dead with the wave of a hand? Exercises proceeded with a grim undercurrent that Winter. All might have been lost, too, had not one of Vecna’s rare acts of kindness come back with a vengeance.
In addition to an unnaturally elongated life, Vecna had granted Kas with a weapon of exquisite beauty and a heart as dark as the lich-lord’s soul. This blade, the Sword of Kas, whispered dark ambition into Kas’ ear, urging him to make a move for the lands his master had held for a millennia or more. As armies gathered to the south, and the Ur-Flan whipped the northern tribes into war furor, Kas the Bloody Handed made his move for the Spidered Throne. The titanic struggle that followed apparently destroyed both liege and lieutenant, and a great evil was expunged from the world.
When the armies of Keoland pushed northward in a seemingly futile gesture, they found little resistance. Vecna was dead, his empire shattered. The Flan tribes now warred against each other, a primitive rabble easily brought down by a military-religious order of knights formed to do battle with a lich. Compared to that service, settling the lands that would become the Gran March was easy.
Decades later, as indentured Flan dug the foundations of the city of Shiboleth, three remnants of the battle between Vecna and Kas rested upon the floor of the Rushmoors. A hand, an eye, and a sword black as death. Their story had just begun."