Mysterious Places06/01/2004

Piecing Together the Splintered Sun

Since the cataclysmic events of the Greyhawk Wars, much of note has transpired within the borders of the Great Kingdom and its immediate surrounds. Its disintegration and the incessant political maneuverings of the Celestial Houses of Aerdi have spawned several wholly new political entities including the United Kingdom of Ahlissa, the Great Kingdom of Northern Aerdy and the Solnor Compact.

Of these, the greatest is the United Kingdom of Ahlissa. Ruled by the mercantile House of Darmen, the United Kingdom has come through the Greyhawk Wars relatively unscathed compared to the other shards of the former Great Kingdom and indeed seeks to distance itself from the mad excesses of the Malachite Throne. Under the enlightened leadership of Overking Xavener, the United Kingdom seeks to return law and order to lands conquered by the Scarlet Brotherhood or that yet lie shattered after long years of war and oppression. Idee was liberated in 586 CY and control over the eastern portions of Almor was cemented in 590 CY when the city of Innspa joined the fledgling empire. Imperial forces still push deeper into the shattered See of Medegia; Ahlissan forces hold key portions of the strategically vital port city of Pontylver although control over the city of Mentry still eludes them.

Cautious trade continues with Irongate between the Royal Guild of Merchants of Aerdy and Irongate’s representatives based in the fortress city of Zelradton. Trade is of vital importance to Ahlissa, controlling as it does the fecund lands of the Flamni River basin. However, the United Kingdom lacks a secure port on the Aerdi Sea, stymieing its commercial ambitions there. In addition the Lordship of the Isles, once a stalwart member of the Iron League, still remains a puppet state of the Scarlet Brotherhood and vigorously maintains its stranglehold on the Tilva Straits. Brotherhood vessels, along with warships from both the Lordship of the Isles and pirate allies sailing from ports in the south Pomarj, also blockade the vital sea lanes of the Gearnat Sea, further frustrating Ahlissa’s attempts to establish trade agreements with far flung states such as Keoland. Trade still passes over the turbulent waters of the Gearnat, but merchantmen flying under the colours of the Royal Guild of Merchants of Aerdy must either pay a toll on their goods to the Brotherhood and their allies (further raising their price in the marketplace) or be heavily escorted by Ahlissan warships. To this end, the Imperial fleet is being refitted and expanded. The shipyards of Prymp are busier than ever they were under the Naelax. Ahlissa has also begun to establish its naval power in Naerie City, giving it the capability (if it should so wish) to strike at Brotherhood convoys sailing northwards from their homeland on the Tilvanot Peninsula.

It has thus become evident to the learned and ignorant alike that if Ahlissa is to become a truly great power, it must seek new allies in the war against the Brotherhood and secure its long southern borders from both the Scarlet Brotherhood and nations historically treated as foes.

The Naerie Compact

In Onnwal, beleaguered rebel forces energetically led by the last scion of House Destron yet battle against the followers of the Scarlet Sign and their Pomarji allies, who still hold the impregnable city of Scant and large portions of the west of the country. Casualties in the Free State have risen inexorably throughout the last decade. Of a pre-Wars population of over 85,000, fewer than 50,000 Onnwallons still defend their homeland. Of the remainder, some fled after the initial occupation, but many have died resisting the Brotherhood or are numbered among the Disappeared. Many Onnwalish towns have been destroyed in the fighting that rages back and forth across the Dragonshead Peninsula, while others have simply been abandoned or still languish under the heel of the Brotherhood. Fallow fields sprawl across much of the fertile Gildenlea and everywhere the tools of industry lie unused as the war effort subsumes all else. Onnwallon armed forces are also in a desperate state. A decade of constant warfare has sapped the strength of the army and militia to the point where now many in their ranks have either seen too many, or too few, winters.

An alliance between Onnwal, Sunndi and Ahlissa, the Naerie Compact is viewed by many observers as a sham coalition between historical enemies that is doomed to failure. Cynics, of which there are many, warn that Ahlissa now seeks to conquer through commerce what it failed to gain through force of arms. While initially Onnwal looked upon this agreement as abhorrent, the realities of the Free State’s position forced Szek Jian Destron to the negotiation table. Lengthy negotiations between His Transcendent Imperial Majesty, Xavener, Overking of the United Kingdom of Ahlissa, Grand Prince of Kalstrand, Crowned Head of the Celestial House of Darmen, Hetman of all the Aerdi, His Brilliant Majesty, Hazendel, Olvenking and Defender of Sunndi, Protector of the South and His Noble Authority, Jian, Szek of the Free State of Onnwal, Warden of the Gearnat and Azure Seas ended in a stalemate fostered by mutual distrust between Ahlissa and the Iron League states.

Szek Deston’s hand however was finally forced in Coldeven 594 CY, not by agents of the Overking, but by a determined and coordinated Brotherhood assault against the towns of Sornhill and Longbridge. Facing the near-total destruction of his homeland, Destron had no choice but to acquiesce to the Overking’s offer of succor. Were it not for the Ahlissan flotilla “luckily” riding at anchor just over the horizon, Sornhill (and perhaps the whole nation) would have undoubtedly fallen permanently under the sway of the Scarlet Sign.

While not all details of the Accord have been made public some of its affects are apparent to even the most casual observer. In brief, it allows Sunndi to move its 11th Army through the Principality of Naerie from whence it may embark on Ahlissan warships to aid the embattled Onnwallon forces still fighting in the south of the country. Additionally, the agreement provides for a certain level of Ahlissan support for the war with Ahlissan warships operating in support of the much-diminished Onnwallon fleet.

Another key facet of the Compact is the establishment by the Royal Guild of Merchants of Aerdy of several trading outposts in both Onnwal and Sunndi to aid in redeveloping trade and industry disrupted by decades of incessant warfare and skirmishing. The price for this aid however is steep. Both Jian Destron and Olvenking Hazendel have recognised the United Kingdom’s sovereign claim to the lands previously known as Idee; effectively giving up any hope of reforging the Iron League of old.

Elements of the 11th Army of Sunndi have begun to arrive in southern Onnwal disembarking from Ahlissan warships sailing from Naerie City. Although small in number, Sunndian troops deployed in Onnwal are undoubtedly well-schooled in the arts of war – a legacy of untold decades of strife resisting imperial incursions from the north and the periodic assaults of the unnumbered legions of bullywugs dwelling in the fetid waters of the Vast Swamp.

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