CruelSummerLord writes "Several months after the initial dispatch chronicling the end of the Greyhawk Wars, the Brother of the Cruel Summer writes to Respected Savant Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet the Younger with further observations...
An Alternate View of the Greyhawk Wars
By: Jared Milne (firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.)
Respected Savant Iquander and Respected Sir Pluffet:
I apologize for the tardiness of my writing in this letter. As I currently suffer from the flu, my script is rather strained. Nonetheless, this letter absolutely must go through...
In the western Flanaess, valley elves appear to be holding the pass into the Valley, though rumors have no doubt reached you about the Mage himself being killed.
My divinations yield nothing on this matter, and indeed the fact that the "Black One" was an exiled mage of Bissel puzzles Owen, who is further disturbed by rumors that both Rary the Traitor and the mysterious Mordenkainen seek the Mage and some artifact that he is rumored to have acquired -- both sending rival parties to that fell place. Owen himself wishes to investigate, but the Oytwood and Dim Forest elves have come into increasingly unfriendly relations, both bickering with the other over what kind of stance to take in the wake of Geoff's angry stance against Keoland.
King Kimbertos himself is another matter. He is planning to retake the fortress city of Westkeep in the chaotic morass that was once the Hold of the Sea Princes, but with the Geoffites and Sterish furious at his politicking, the royal fleets badly damaged from an invasion of Gradsul by the Lordship of the Isles, and native Keoish uncertain of their king, problems are growing. With the Treaty of Niole Dra hastily signed against future giant incursions, Skotti seems rather befuddled and confused on the chaotic situation in Keoland, and even native Keoish are growing increasingly critical about their king's ability to guide the nation through its current crisis.
Geoff and Sterich both suffer from many post-war conflicts over land ownership, dwarven clans at odds with each other, greedy con men who seek to seize weakened baronies for themselves, and disputes over money and the legitimate ownership of property. Citizens dispute over how to approach their dealings with Keoland and their kin to the north or south and how best to deal with the stretched national budgets. It is the same in Geoff and is a direct result of the massive giant invasion and Skotti's slow response.
A great deal of sympathy exists for the Geoffites and Sterish who suffered so badly, and so these Keoish citizens are verbally criticizing Skotti, despite his attempts to silence them and put the situation under control. Rumored infiltration by either the Scarlet Brotherhood, rousing Suel rabbles, or the Black Brotherhood, whose goal is to return everything to Dread Tharizdun, is rumored but unproven.
A small note must be made for the Yeomanry. Though it survived the Wars in very good shape, and its economy and military are as strong as any in the Sheldomar right now, the discovery of the Passage of Slerotin has struck a great deal of excitement among the populace and foreign adventurers, who have built a "frontier" town called Dark Gate to use as a base for exploring the passages. Most adventurers do not return, of course, but accounts of its exploration are slowly returning.
The problems on the Nyr Dyv are surprising -- the Shield Lands are now a permanently dead nation, and the Horned Empire has opened trade from Admundfort and Critwall, its new ports. Greyhawk is quite willing to accept any new source of coin, and while Dyvers wishes to have a share of the Horned markets as well, the City of Sails is restrained from such by the suspicions of Furyondy. Rumors of Belvor planning naval blockades against attempted Dyvers trading with the Hierarchs have spread, although whether Furyondy, (still rebuilding from the Wars) has the capacity to do this is unclear.
Greyhawk itself is in a precarious position. With a Cell of Iuz in the Cairn Hills and the Orcish Empire of the Pomarj lurking to the south, Greyhawk is considering calling on the Horned Empire to send troops to deal with the Cell, as its own army is not as seasoned and trained to handle such a thing. No other states have the capacity to send help -- the Urnst states being more concerned by affairs in the east.
If Greyhawk could alleviate these problems by opening trade with the Orcish Empire, this would add even more coin and reduce problems from the south, although the Principality of Ulek and Celene would likely both be furious at this, as would the annexed towns of Narwell and Safeton. However, who really cares about the human slime that dwell in the Wild Coast towns, I ask you?
The real menace is the possible cost of Horned Empire aid, although Nerof Gasgal feels he is truly caught in a bad situation -- Furyondy is recovering and unable to send aid, Verbobonc has its own problems, and Urnst is paying more attention to the east.
We see that the Prince of Ulek could be extending trade to the Lordship of the Isles, despite overseers in scarlet robes rumored to be present on those ships. He needs the funding for the current war effort against Turrosh Mak, as well to try and beat Mak to whatever the Despot is seeking in the Suss Forest near the Jewel River. The Cell of Iuz in the Suss is a menace to both sides.
In the eastern Flanaess, the Theocracy of the Pale is consoldiating its gains in Redspan and building a road through the Phostwood and battling the fairy-folk of that wood. The fairies, who are notorious for playing tricks on humans and generally making them look foolish, are being slaughtered mercilessly by the Palish Inquisition, and are losing badly in their war effort. Tenh appears to have some breathing space to recover, although some are angry with Duke Eyeh III for allowing the nation to be caught off guard by both the Pale and Stonefist.
Changes in government have affected four states -- the Hold of Stonefist, the Bone March, Ratik, and Verbobonc. The problems that Sir Fenward Lefthanded caused in Verbobonc are well-known, and nothing more need be said of it apart from Viscount Landrigard taking the throne. You also no doubt know of how Sevvord Redbeard has restructed the government of the Hold of Stonefist and assumed kingship as Rhelt Sevvord I.
The situation in Bone March and Ratik is interesting. The alliances that Grenell formed with some of the humanoids allowed the other southern chiefs to fall easily. The northern humanoids were drawn either by greed or alliance into the conflict, and Ratik was quick to seize the March north of the Blemu Hills, taking both Spinecastle and Johnsport.
Rumors swirl of Knurl's destruction, though the Adri has become dangerous and hostile of late, so few travel there to see what has happened. It is said that Count Dunstan has been made Margrave of Bone March, as head of a provisional government until the Key of Spinecastle is claimed, either by a returning Clement or by Dunstan himself. Search for the Key has become very popular of late, and it can only be guessed how the barbarians feel about this situation. The lords, both human and nonhuman, of Ratik are unhappy, not only because of Evaleigh's indecisiveness in ruling Ratik, but also for the tightening grip of power her family holds. Some whisper that Count Dunstan is preparing to become permanent Marquis of Bone March, although others say that Clement still lives, and is either preparing a counterattack, or merely observing the situation.
As Alain's widow, Evaleigh must hold the throne of Ratik, as another male lord cannot take the throne due to old Aerdy succession laws, giving the Ratikkan lords one more reason to grouse. The rumors of North Kingdom battling a host of undead around the ruins of Rinloru seem to be true, although Grenell must keep one eye there and one eye on the increasing tensions between North Kingdom and Ahlissa over their undefined border and the fallow lands in between. Not only with his dangerous orc allies, but also the weakness of North Kingdom's economy, the lack of great mineral or agricultural wealth, Grenell appears in dire straits.
What of Nyrond and the former Golden League states? Nyrond is bankrolled by interests in Greyhawk and Urnst, and also by those in the Flinty Hills who do not wish to see the nation fall. Kevont's government-in-exile stays here in Rel Mord, though little indeed of Almor is still held by his troops, the rest being divided into wilderness, or as Nyrondal or Ahlissa protectorates. The restoration of the Prelacy is possible, though right now King Lynwerd has many problems, not the least of which are the Pale hosts occupying his northern lands. The Flinty Hills gnomes and residents of the Gamboge Forest appear very wary -- hearing of how the Pale deals with the fey folk of the Phostwood.
Onnwal and Irongate trade with Nyrond and the Iron Kingdom of Holgi Hirsute, who is considering joining the Iron League and reconnecting with his kin in the Hollow Highlands, Hestmark Highlands, and Glorioles to maintain trade and other links with Sunndi. Survivors of the Eddri family escaped to Hirsute's domain after the Wars, as Ahlissan troops hold all of old Idee and have all but incorporated it into the empire. However, the Iron League is divided over how to deal with Ahlissa -- the Eddris want to try and reclaim Idee, but that nation was so thoroughly defeated by South Province during the Wars that such is highly unlikely. Irongate and Sunndi advocate patience and to deal with the Ahlissans if they remain fair and honest. Ahlissa has not proven as bad as the old Great Kingdom, but a massive war is something that no side in the debate wishes. Many in Irongate, Onnwal and Nyrond are furious over the trade coming from Ahlissa, as are the people of Almor who remain in their old country, as well as Kevont's government in exile.
The new szek of Onnwal, Parmud Destron, as well as King Lynwerd still feel that their nations need as much trade as possible to recover, and possible alliances against Scarlet Brotherhood raids are being discussed even with the Aerdy -- forbearance being the watchword in these discussions.
But what of the Scarlet Brotherhood itself? They seem to be trying to encourage Suel in any number of places to rise up and overthrow their Oeridian or Flan "oppressors," and to take control of the Flanaess nations themselves. With outright military conquest mostly denied them, the Brotherhood of the Scarlet Sign resorts to whispered rumors, suggestions, and rabble-rousing to accomplish its goals of making the Suel the great race of the Flanaess and to bring back their race's ancient glory. Those less-discriminating folk on both sides allow some trade at Kro Terlep and Ekul, and in ports like Gryrax and Gradsul, despite warnings by more conservative folk. It is a hotly debated point whether the Scarlet Sign seeks to destroy entirely other races and cultures and throw them in chains, or to subjugate them and let them stay, so long as they recognize the authority of their Suel masters and show proper deference, of course.
I will finally send this letter by carrier pigeon to you both, though I have no doubt that you have already seen some of these developments. Despite all the grim tidings which I send, there is still much good -- Furyondy and Veluna work very well together, the Geoffites and Sterish remain bastions of good despite the chaos they suffer, as is Keoland, despite its problems. Good-hearted adventurers of all stripes work against the darkness. It may be through these that we avoid falling completely.
the Brother of the Cruel Summer"