Prelude to War (577-581)
The years between luz’s return and 581CY were a prelude to war. Several destabilizing forces fomented strife. The most insidious was the Scarlet Brotherhood, an occluded monastic order first reported in 573CY.
In this handful of years, semiregular skirmishes between Aerdy’s South Province and Nyrond erupted into open hostilities, with Overking Ivid V finally declaring war on Nyrond and its allies in the so-called “Golden League.” Though the war lasted only two years, it drained the coffers of both Aerdy and Nyrond, crippling them when continental war erupted only years later.
A truly important, though seldom noticed, event occurred when an avatar of Vecna, the Whispered Lich of legend, struck down the entire Circle of Eight, a collection of archmages that included such respected names as Bigby, Tenser, and Otiluke. The Circle had acted subtly as a balancing agent for years, preventing any one power from dominating the Flanaess. Though the Circle’s leader, Mordenkainen, returned his colleagues to life, the Circle was weakened when the Greyhawk Wars finally erupted.
The Greyhawk Wars
In 582 CY, the god Vatun appeared to his subjects among the barbarian tribes. Ancient legend told that the return of Vatun, who had vanished centuries ago, would signal the rebirth of a barbarian empire in the north. Unfortunately, the newly appeared Vatun was a sham perpetrated by luz to whip the northmen into war frenzy, and it worked. The barbarians invaded Stonehold, smashed through the Griffs, and overwhelmed the Duchy of Tenh. The barbarian alliance crumbled soon after, but the damage was done.
Returning to his homeland, luz conquered the Horned Society, the Bandit Kingdoms, and the Shield Lands in quick succession. Taking advantage of the chaos, Overking Ivid V mustered his Aerdy armies to retake Nyrond. The nobles of the Great Kingdom fell on each other, fearful of their increasingly insane Overking and eager to steal neighboring land. Ivid attempted to ensure loyalty by having his generals assassinated and reanimated as undead with all the abilities they possessed in life. In turn, he received the same treatment from the church of Hextor, after which he became known as Ivid the Undying.
Southwest of the City of Greyhawk, a half-ore named Turrosh Mak united the tribes of the Pomarj. Mak’s armies boiled north, conquering several cities, and capturing nearly half of the Principality of Ulek. The appeals of Prince Corond of Ulek to Yolande, the elven Queen of Celene, fell on uncaring ears. Celene closed its borders to even its most trusted allies.
By 584 CY, decade-old paranoia regarding the Scarlet Brotherhood came true, as advisors in courts throughout the Flanaess were revealed as Brotherhood agents. The Lordship of the Isles, Onnwal, and the Hold of the Sea Princes fell under the influence of the Scarlet Brotherhood thanks to treachery or invasion. Barbarians from the Amedio Jungle were used to secure captured lands. The Brotherhood was revealed as an order dedicated to preserving the culture and racial purity of the ancient Suloise Empire.
For three years, all of the Flanaess flew the banner of war. Demons and devils from the Outer Planes were summoned by unscrupulous wizards, and thousands died. Finally, the battleweary combatants gathered in the City of Greyhawk to declare peace.
Autumn of 584 CY saw the signing of the Pact of Greyhawk, an event that would close various hostilities plaguing the continent. On the Day of Great Signing, however, Greyhawk suffered a great treachery, as Rary, one of the Circle of Eight, destroyed his companions, Tenser and Otiluke, in a great magical battle. Many suspected that Rary wished to hold the ambassadors hostage, but instead, he fled to the Bright Desert to form his own kingdom. Fearing further disruptions, the delegates hurriedly signed the pact. Ironically, due to the site of the treaty signing, the conflicts soon became known as the “Greyhawk Wars.”