Prelude to War
In the mid-sixth century, Ivid V ascended the Malachite Throne. A series of subsequent unsuccessful skirmishes against Nyrond, the Iron League, and other adjoining states did not suggest to the distant Furyondians or Keolanders that the Great Kingdom offered much threat to anyone. But Nyrond knew better. Ivid V was a weak military strategist, but his diplomatic skills were considerable, and undoubtedly he had fiendish aid in drawing both the North and South Provinces and Medegia back under his influence and control. Nyrond saw, clearly, the Overking’s preparations for a great war against the western state. Yet, when the first blow came, it did not come from Rauxes. It came from luz; meddling fools (see the Plunder of Castle Greyhawk) managed to release the fiend from his imprisonment in 570 CY, only a year after the forces of good in Furyondy and Veluna celebrated the sack of the notorious Temple of Elemental Evil in the Gnarley Forest. Their celebrations would not last many years.
The years from Iuz’s return to the Greyhawk Wars (570–581) are often seen in retrospect to be the prelude to later conflict. Several destabilizing forces came into play, upsetting the old balance of power in the Flanaess.
The most insidious of these powers was the Scarlet Brotherhood, a highly secretive and paranoiac order first confirmed by returning travelers in 573 CY. It seems incredible that this monastic sect of religious militarists could have escaped notice for so long, even given their isolation in the closed city of Kro Terlep and the remote plateau south of it. But while the secret of this land became more widely known, the existence of a veritable army of spies and assassins in the imperial courts of the Flanaess was not. That same year, Prince Thrommel of Furyondy, hero of Emridy Meadows, vanished from the world.
The marriage of the Prince of Furyondy to the daughter of the highest-ranking noble of Veluna promised to unite the states and help solve Furyondy’s internal squabbling. The Prince’s abduction, surely at the hands of Scarlet Brotherhood agents, destroyed those noble hopes. When the Provost of Veluna disappeared also, the forces of good were in some disarray. Yet no one suspected the Scarlet Brotherhood. Their red-robed emissaries had wormed their way into the good books of many rulers and nobles, beginning with the states of the Iron League. When rumors surfaced of their enslavement and martialing of armies of “savages” in Hepmonaland, men and women who should have known better dismissed such rumors. It was all too far away to be bothered with. Distant lands were not the object of their attentions. And such myopia cost the powerful states of the Flanaess very, very dear.
Semi-regular skirmishes between Aerdy’s South Province and Nyrond erupted into open hostilities in early 579, when Overking Ivid V made war against the so-called “Golden League” (Nyrond, Almor, and the Iron League). Though this dreary war lasted through to the end of 580, it resolved nothing except to drain the coffers and manpower of both Aerdy and Nyrond, leaving them weakened when continental war erupted in 583.
The ravaging of the Shield Lands by both the Bandit Kingdoms and Horned Society in 579–583 CY similarly served to weaken this entire region, leaving the Shield Lands in ruins. Iuz took note of this and made use of it in his grandiose plans for conquest.
An important though seldom noticed event took place in 581 CY, when an agent of Vecna, the Whispered One of ancient Flan legend, struck down the entire Circle of Eight. The Circle had acted subtly as a balancing agent for years, preventing any one power from dominating too much of the Flanaess. Though the Circle’s leader, Mordenkainen, returned his colleagues to life using powerful magic, the group was in disarray when war again erupted in the distant north in 582.