Great Northern Crusade
In the face of Iuz’s obvious threat and the northern nobles’ determination to strike, King Belvor IV saw no need to adhere to the Pact of Greyhawk, especially when the demigod’s empire was suddenly weakened by the loss of the fiends. The king also received many reports that Iuz’s forces were preparing an unpleasant surprise for his armies in the conquered lands, specifically the raising of an undead army from the remains of the thousands of humans slain during the war. Such an act was odious in the extreme to Furyondian morality. Religious and secular support for a new offensive was nearly universal once news of the banishment of the fiends was heard.
King Belvor managed to strong-arm his southern lords into line with his plans, though they deeply resented his tactics and could not at first be won over by threats or bribery. At last, when shown reports and evidence of Iuz’s potential to create vast undead legions, and particularly after hearing the accounts of spies who had visited behind the battlelines and seen the horrors there, the southern nobles gave their grudging support. It is rumored that King Belvor was forced to give up much of his family fortune and even mortgage some of his family’s ancestral lands around Chendl to support the costs of this conflict. Rumors that he was forced to make secret deals with his southern nobles are officially denied.
On the first day of Planting, 586 CY, King Belvor IV and representatives of Canon Hazen, in a unique joint ceremony, proclaimed the start of the Great Northern Crusade. The goal was the recovery of all Furyondian lands lost to Iuz and the complete destruction of the armies of Iuz that dared to confront them. A minor scouting action by perhaps six orc soldiers south of Crockport was used as the pretext for a claim that Iuz had violated the Pact, which was now (as far as Belvor was concerned) void.
Along a broad front, Furyondian and Velunese forces, under the command of Grand Marshal Jemian and backed by the Knights of the Hart and great amounts of magic from priests and wizards (including, it is said, Bigby of the Circle of Eight), slammed into the humanoid armies and drove them back. Secret aid to the demihumans and humans of the Vesve Forest and Highfolk allowed these groups to make telling strikes at Iuz’s forces west of Whyestil Lake; these attacks had only mixed results, though they pinned down many potential reinforcements for Iuz’s legions.
Factional fighting between humanoid races and tribes, and even between their wicked leaders, weakened the enemy’s ability to resist. A major thrust of the assault was a strike toward Grabford, where luz’s supply lines and reinforcements were cut off in savage fighting. War magic was widely used by both sides. The Battle of Grabford allowed the full encirclement of Iuz’s forces in Crockport, which fell in 588 CY after a horrific siege, followed by an uncontrolled slaughter of humanoids and enemy humans by Furyondy’s armies afterward. The command and supply center of Molag became the target of heavily armed, destruction-bent adventurers and mercenaries, the city suffering so many assaults that it was partially ruined. All of Furyondy was recovered by the end of 588 CY, though all cities that had fallen to Iuz were ruined.
In their moment of triumph, the victorious armies were staggered by the horrors they found in the recovered territories. Tales of the inhuman treatment of Furyondian soldiers and citizens captured by Iuz’s troops were widely circulated. The vilest atrocities had been inflicted by magical and mundane means on defenseless prisoners, and evidence was found of mass executions and mass sacrifices.
So inflamed were commoners, nobles, and royalty by these revelations that on the 1st of Planting, 589 CY, King Belvor proclaimed, to roars of approval from all who were assembled in his court, that a permanent and unalterable state of war existed from that day forward between the Kingdom of Furyondy and the Empire of Iuz, a war that would end only with the death or banishment of Iuz from the face of Oerth.
Despite the angry pronouncement, however, many army units were disbanded in the spring of 589 CY, with only those units on border patrols and involved in castle-building along the frontier being maintained at full readiness. A full recovery from the war would take years. A few northern lords have called King Belvor a coward for refusing to strike farther into the Empire of Iuz, but the king never had such plans; he wished only to recover lands lost to his state, knowing that he would have little ability to hold any territory gained in Iuz’s forsaken realm.
Nonetheless, it is rumored that King Belvor has certain plots in motion for carrying the war home to Iuz “by other means,” but what this portends is not yet clear.
Refugee Shield Landers and Knights of Holy Shielding poured into Furyondy from their homes of exile across the Flanaess once the crusade began. King Belvor made good use of them in a side campaign that took more potential reinforcements for Iuz out of the northern war, also deflecting Iuz’s attention from the north. In early 586 CY, Belvor appointed Lady Katarina, Knight Commander of the Shield Lands, to be Lord Marshal of an army made up of ex-Shield Landers, Knights of Holy Shielding, Furyondians, and foreign mercenaries and adventurers from a dozen lands.
With these troops in 587 CY, she led a three-pronged assault in the east, landing forces on Scragholme Isle (with the help of the Furyondian Royal Navy) and crossing the Veng River above and below Critwall. Brutal fighting, with no quarter asked or given, raged for a year before what was left of Critwall was regained. The government of the Shield Lands was proclaimed to have returned home in 588 CY, though by the end of 590 CY only a fraction of the western Shield Lands had been retaken, that being Scragholme Isle and the area within 20-30 miles of Critwall. Fighting in this area is now stalemated, both sides battered into resting and building heavy defenses. It is unlikely that more of the Shield Lands will be recovered anytime soon, as Iuz’s forces are now extremely well entrenched.
Admundfort has been the target of over a dozen raids by different military, mercenary, and adventuring groups around the Nyr Dyv between 586 and 590 CY. The orcs of Admundfort have held out quite well, however, though they are largely cut off from their allies on shore by a Furyondian naval blockade. The city there is in ruins, but capture of the island would make it a valuable staging area for new invasions of the Shield Lands and would strengthen antipiracy patrols on the Nyr Dyv. The Furyondian Royal Navy constantly watches the island and gives aid to adventurers landing there.
Whyestil Lake is still controlled by the orc-crewed ships of Iuz from Dorakaa. King Belvor lacks the funds to rebuild his own naval fleet and harbor in Crockport, though he is always looking for private adventurers willing to clear the lake for him, in exchange for minor noble titles and parcels of Furyondian land recovered from Iuz.