The Great Kingdom Awakens
Despite their anxiety about Aerdy, the Nyrondese had begun to take steps against the Fists pillaging the Duchy of Tenh. Nyrond moved troops into the Phostwood and attacked to the north. While they advanced some, their losses against the determined Fists were higher than expected, and the army could not continue its advance so far from Nyrond borders. Nyrondese caution was wise. Aerdy struck south, west, and southwest.
Taking advantage of the chaos, Ivid V ordered the Great Kingdom’s armies to muster, with the intention of paying back his foes for centuries of impudence. The war that followed was staggering in scope and consequence. To the south and southwest, Aerdi forces attacked the states of the Iron League; to the west, they moved through Almor and on toward Nyrond. Almor was utterly destroyed, but under the legendary Commandant Osson, one Almorian army led the Aerdi forces in a merry dance by moving through Ahlissa, Sunndi, and even into Medegia before its daring but ultimately pointless deed was put to the sword.
It is a tribute to Ivid’s incompetence that a nation with the vast armies and resources that the Great Kingdom had was fought to a standstill by much smaller Nyrond. For all the excellence of the Nyrondese armies, and their superb morale and training, Ivid should have been able to crush them.
Instead, such trivial diversions as Osson’s raid into Ahlissa and Medegia brought out the very worst in Ivid. He became utterly obsessed about such matters and ordered appalling reprisals, verging on genocide, against the people of those lands. In response, Ivid began executing as many traitors (the vast majority of them imagined traitors) as he could get his once-elite Companion Guard to lay their hands on. He saw it as punishment for treachery in not dealing with such affronts to His Imperial Majesty. Rauxes was awash with blood; by the end of the wars, its population was barely above half its pre-war total.
The winter brought respite on the field of war and time for desperate diplomacy. The Iron League allied with Nyrond, its old protector, but suffered immediately from a startling secession from its own ranks. Prince Lathac Ranold of the Lordship of the Isles was replaced by a distant cousin who at once announced his support for the Scarlet Brotherhood. Too late, their machinations began to dawn on the beleaguered forces of good. And Nyrond had another threat to contend with: the Bone March humanoids skirmished with Ratik and Nyrond itself.
Nyrond was invaded and Sunndi was conquered. The nobles of the Great Kingdom fell upon one another, terrified of their insane overking and eager to steal the lands of their neighbors. In the chaos, Medegia was despoiled and Rel Astra attacked by the Great Kingdom’s own military.
Convinced of treachery among his nobles, he invoked a unique new form of ensuring their obedience. With Hextor’s priests and the aid of fiends, he had the nobles and his generals slain and reanimated as intelligent undead (animuses), with all the abilities they possessed in life. He thought that by eliminating their human weaknesses and he could be certain of the loyalty of wholly acquiescent zombie-leigemen. What he actually had, however, was a large number of very powerful and embittered monsters who retreated to their own lands and simply defied him.
The supreme irony is that Ivid himself is an animus now. After an assassin’s poisoned and enchanted dagger struck him, only this revivification process was able to prevent his death. Still, the process failed in some crucial respect, as Ivid still has the wasting disease he contracted shortly before the wars. The disease appears to be incurable.
Ivid the Undying is dying by the day.
To return to the history of Aerdy: one must add to Ivid’s crimes the decimation of Medegia by troops. This came about because of his rage over the Medegian failure to support him in his military campaigns, the failure to resist Osson’s raids, the execution of the ruler of Ahlissa, and the destruction of Almor. All these have simply added to the tidal wave of hatred against the overking which is awash within the Aerdy lands. Even his Naelax cousin, ruler of North Province, has seceded from the kingdom.
Yet, the sheer terror which Ivid still inspires prevents many of the princes from acting directly against him. The legacy of more than 130 years of Naelax rule through fear cannot be shaken off in a few years.
Ivid signed the Pact of Greyhawk to give himself time to prepare for a final, crushing onslaught of Nyrond. Yet, that will almost certainly never come—at least not from Ivid himself.
The mad overking can claim direct control over not much more than a few hundred square miles around Rauxes. And his leigemen find pursuing their own squabbles—building their own empires within old Aerdy—much more interesting than sending their armies to Nyrond. They have no intention of leaving their own landholdings vulnerable to opportunistic conquest by their neighbors.
Ivid believes himself to command great provincial armies, which have in actual fact long marched homewards. The greatest of all empires of the Flanaess has passed into history.
To the west, matters appeared more secure. Realizing the true threat of Iuz, the southern states allied in signing the Treaty of Niole Dra, which brought together Keoland, the Yeomanry, the Gran March, and the Duchy and County of Ulek. Even isolationist Celene agreed to send a token force to join with the others in assisting Furyondy. Yet Iuz himself had not been idle, and while his overtures to Perrenland proved largely fruitless, he was welcomed in the western Baklunish land of Ket. Its rulers saw the chance to annex the fertile lands of Bissel and to secure a southern bulwark. Iuz saw the opportunity to divide the forces of the southern lands. The spring of 584 CY brought a renewal of hostilities and abundant bloodshed.