The Fall of Molag

Gary Gygax

Harmonized with Greyhawk Wars; augmented and edited for Greyhawkstories.

Before the Malevolent Throne

Dorakaa 581 CY

If the stark city of Dorakaa was ugly and wicked, its palace was the nadir of such maleficence, and the reeking throne chamber its very pit. So tortuous its shapes, so horrific its decoration, so disgusting its every aspect, that few humans could remain sane within its confines. Men, and women too, were indeed therein, but of their sanity, who could speak?

The Eldritch Lord of Evil so possessed his servants and their every inclination that they scarce knew the bounds where their own will ended and his began. Twelve of these he counted among his most potent: The Boneheart. These he summoned now to his audience.

“Will you indeed take up to half my kingdom?” he muttered to himself as he waited the arrival of his thralls. Long had his jealous heart meditated on the power of Molag: an obstacle to his plans and an insult to his dignity. The time drew near to avenge himself and take back that which by rights belonged to him. “I will teach those pots of blashy piss the true meaning of hierarchy!” he snarled out loud as the first of his chosen ones began to arrive before him.

His servants sensed their master’s mood at once. Malign hatred hung in the air. It seemed to permeate the great, ghastly hall in layers of palpable evil. The closer one came to the throne of silver-set human bones, the stronger the hatred and attendant fear became. Perhaps it was the air, filled as it was with the noxious fumes of ordure and other substances even more disgusting, which smoked in foetid lumps on the hot coals of the demon-figured bronze braziers fanned before the black dais.

Presently a dozen figures stood unmoving, heads slightly bent in deference, amid the waves of foul stench and washes of hatred. The six that formed the Greater Boneheart stood before the Malevolent Throne and awaited the word of their master, the occupant of the throne, the ruler of this place and all the lands around … the great Iuz. The remaining six, the Lesser Boneheart, hung back in the shadows, waiting for a summons before drawing closer.

The cambion lord scowled down at his powerful servants. Secretly, he craved their fear and adoration. He drew himself up to his most terrible form so as to impress upon them the gravity of his concern. “Well?…” The question hung in the thick air. The rasping wheeze that voiced it—a sound of bone on slate, rusted iron drawn over splintered wood—somehow seemed to go on as if the moment would continue into eternity until the query was answered.

They knew what their master desired of them. A strategy to unseat his rivals in Molag—the traitorous Horned Society. But none spoke or dared to form a thought lest the thought be construed importune or disrespectful before his awfulness. They waited in silence. A wave of pure unadulterated rage abruptly swelled up within the cambion. It came belching up like a geyser of steam abruptly releasing a pressure pent up beneath the earth. The rage washed over the servants of Iuz, wracking their bones and tearing at their minds.

“Iuz will not bend his knee to anyone! Cursed be the Hierarchs and their diabolical masters! Twice cursed be those red-gowned nigglings who call themselves the Scarlet Brotherhood! Thrice damned to everlasting and tormented sleep be their Dark One, the one to bind all Evil together… never!” Iuz paused in his tirade, looking from one to the other of the men and women before him, spell-casters all, whether magical or clerical. As if relieved and exhausted by the ejaculation of rage, the dark lord sank back into his throne and reconsidered the various strategies he had played out in his mind so many times already. His evil thoughts drifted into a deep contemplation, weighing out the possibilities. It seemed to the twelve servants standing in silent vigil before their lord that he had quite forgotten about their presence. Indeed, the cambion’s mind had left them to roam back over the recent events that had led him to this moment.

The Rise of Molag

Iuz silently cursed all, as was his habit. It seemed as if many great beings and powerful persons had conspired directly against him of late—the last century, in actual time, but to Iuz this was lately. While there was a certain sense of pride gained from this, a recognition of Iuz’s true merit, as it were, the combination had harmed him nonetheless.

First his mother, Iggwilv, had turned against him, then disappeared. It was with her help that he had gained his realm, and she had promised to aid in its expansion. Well, rot her! Then, Graz’zt, disease rot his vitals, had been removed from his ken too. Graz’zt, Iuz’s dear father—Iuz sneered at the thought—had actually done for his mother, and thus done for a portion of his son’s immediate ambitions. Well, what would come next was yet to be seen…

But there had been an even more serious setback, utterly unforeseen, for which he now needed to compensate. It had nearly cost him everything and been the ruin of all his wicked ambitions. As a result of the little “incident,” half his kingdom had slipped away to servants he once trusted. How did it happen?

Iuz himself had been tricked by an unmentionable being—and imprisoned! He, Iuz! It had taken many years to manage an escape, because the one who confined him was so irrational that no normal reasoning could break the bonds, but break free he did—only to find the lickspittle servants of Hades and Tarterus lording it over a portion of his realm. Yes, these demodand-kissing little humans and their masses of ranked fireball fodder had proclaimed the eastern half of Iuz, His Realm, as theirs. “While the dragon’s away, the kobolds come out to play!” While Iuz remained trapped in the dungeons of that mad mage, his servants fell under delusions of grandeur and elevated themselves over his kingdom. They took it upon themselves to not only steward his holdings and await his return but to fancy themselves lords in his place. They thought him banished, gone forever, never returning. Well, weren’t they surprised! But it was not in his power to act against them, not yet.

Arms-HornedSocietyBeing weakened from the long imprisonment, and needing to regroup his followers and gather more, Iuz had had to smile and show friendship. Yes, he loved it when the “Dreaded Hierarchs” made Molag, His Molag, summer capital of their Realm, their scat of power. Of course! He was pleased that their so-called Horned Society was there to combat the stinking fools who served good—after all, he had been detained elsewhere, hadn’t he? Someone had to carry on the fight! When former allies swore fealty to the Hierarchs, Iuz had never reproached them. Never! That would have bespoken possible enmity, and Iuz was on good terms with all those who served Evil, wasn’t he? Of course, he was anything but! But he needed to gain strength, and time.

Iuz Rebuilds

334iuztheoldHe sought allies among the circles of influence that orbited his abyssal father and obscene mother. Was he not the son of Graz’zt and Iggwilv? The very manifestation of both the Abyss and Oerth. One fell beneath his sway, his dear lady, Queen Zuggtmoy. Like a mally suitor wooing a maiden, he promised her conquest. Together they would bring all Oerth under his rule, spread her pets over its surface, and jointly take their pleasure there, or on Zuggtmoy’s plane in the Abyss. After all, there would be time then for planning new conquests, on other worlds and planes. But, had happened with Iggwilv, Graz’zt, and even himself, the demoness too was stripped from his ken, and foes pressed him from all sides. Iuz knew which beings, and humans too, were responsible, and one day they would be called to account.

Even stripped as he was of allies and friends, Iuz was by no means without resources. Foremost among them, naturally, were his own mighty intellect and powers. Then he had his servants, numbering in the tens of thousands – humans, demi-humans, humanoids, and even a number of major demons – although he distrusted most of the latter, for they either spied for Graz’zt or merely sought to curry favor without promising any real assistance. The drow were of some help. These dark elves had abandoned all service of the supposed Elemental Evil – that had been his and Queen Zuggtmoy’s ploy anyway.

“Take that, you swollen sagging bag!” Iuz spat gleefully as he thought of how he had insulted the spider queen’s dignity and stolen the allegiance of her worshippers. He rolled his eyes manically and smacked his chops in ecstasy as if savoring the flavor of the ruse he had played on them all. To imagine that anyone could swallow the concept still caused Iuz to laugh with fiendish delight! What was more chaotic indeed than the ravening elements? At least a quarter of these nighted drow now served Iuz, much to the dismay of their mighty demoness mistress. Although Iuz did not wish to anger her – for the time for such confrontation was later – he did need those dark elves.

Abruptly the dark lord turned his attention back to his servants. “How shall we proceed against Molag? Speak now! Let me weigh your council.”

One of the hooded figures, a fearsome black-robed priestess called Halga, spoke on behalf of the Greater Boneheart, “Great Lord of Evil, we have considered a stratagem. The so-called Hierarchs make the task easy for his Malign Majesty, for they reign in veiled seclusion, concealing their human identities from their servants and slaves. They circulate rumors that they are not men of flesh and blood, but rather fiendish overlords, and such rumors are readily believed by their thralls. Indeed, the Hierarchs are ever eager to foster such illusions, for in fear they cement their power. Now, let Iuz send his servants to Molag to make mere rumors reality. Let the Lord of Evil reach his right hand deep into the city, and let him replace the lords of his enemies with fiends of his choosing.”

“A worthy piece of malice,” the dark lord mused almost respectfully.

Iuz Mobilizes

The lord of pain danced in glee through the great halls of his palace in Dorakaa. Those who served Iuz hid from his sight, lest he suddenly change his mood and punish those who viewed his gloating cavort. Iuz laughed and jeered and pranced, knowing the fear these actions evoked in his minions, and the feeling doubled his joy.

“Fonkin, frightface, foul boy! You are naught but My own root!” he called, mimicking children’s rhymes as he pranced in step to his own ditty. After a time, though, Iuz tired of his vaunting. It was gladsome to his vile heart, but enough! There was much yet to do.

The Hierarchs so misread his intentions that their number brought the turd-head of death, their miserable master, to foil him. The Reaper reaped naught but something unsatisfactory, for he and the Hierarchs who bussed his bony bum at every step are gone – had vanished from the skin of Oerth. With them went an army of the Hierarchs’ finest soldiers and bestial servants, a host of great strength.

“Where?” Iuz wondered. What did it matter. They were are all slain and now fertilized the good weeds and fed the distended bellies of the scavengers for a hundred miles. Surely the time to strike had come.

Iuz sent forth a thought: “Attend Me instantly!” Then he sprawled his corpulent bulk upon his chair of bones and skulls and awaited the coming of those who served him.

“Lord of Ancient Evil, your servants attend their Master,” said a woman of indeterminate years who wore vestments of rust red trimmed in black. In her hand was an ebon staff bound with silver and topped with a silver-set skull, an object indicating her status as High Priestess.

Six heads bowed before him. “You are the Greater Six, and as My right hand, you will be the first to know of My coming triumph,” Iuz said in a gloating tone. As he spoke, the half-dozen clerics lifted their bowed heads and stood quietly with rapt attention. They knew the cambion was about to relate something of unusual importance, for his antics were known throughout the nightmarish palace.

“The trap is ready to spring!” Iuz boomed. “See how the weakling wretches of Furyundy and Veluna have tangled themselves together for war against the Stinking Brotherhood. Let them exhaust themselves chasing their own tail. Let them trip over themselves and do our work for us.” There was a soft murmur of approval from the listeners, for they anticipated ill for the Kingdom of Furyondy and the Archclericy of Veluna – two states who constantly sought the downfall of their master, and of themselves as well.

Iuz purred, scratching his great belly and ignoring the minor interruption, “Happy as that news is, I have even better word!” At this the six froze into silence and attention once again. A toothy grin split the cambions face as he declared, “Molag is in confusion! Three of the Hierarchs are missing, My spies tell Me, and there are reports of some terrible loss somewhere… but even this is not the best news!”

“May the plans of our Ancient Master always prevail,” the entourage intoned in unison.

Beaming with malign pleasure, the great cambion raised his voice to a triumphant basso that filled the ghastly throne room … “Listen now, for I have instructions for each of you.” So saying, Iuz rapped a brazen tube beside his throne, and the horny knuckles of the demonling caused the cylinder to shudder with a mournful bell tone.

A pair of dretch swung the chamber doors apart, and a huge nabassu, wings flared, strode three paces into the room. The demon bent its knee and asked in a rasping boom, “Your wish, Eldritch Lord?”

“Fetch the ambassador of the drow here at once,” Iuz said, The man-eating demon bowed, backed from the throne room, and the bronze valves were shut again by the dretch servants. Iuz smiled at his trusted lieutenants, baring his pointed teeth as he did so, then continued his instructions.

“Mole, you are assigned to work with Olive of my Lesser Six. You are to take a force of buheer and nonuz. You will command them, My regiment of Black Death, and a company of drow. You are to invade the lands of the Hierarchs, raise the wild Uroz and free reavers there, and march on Molag! I want My city back!”

A short, long-nosed mage stepped forward a pace, bowed, and replied, “I hear and obey, Ancient Lord.” As he said this a pretty woman wearing the garments of a cleric of Iuz came from a curtained alcove nearby and stood one pace behind Mole, likewise making obeisance.

“Good,” the cambion said as he motioned for a tall old crone, wearing a black robe covered with magical sigils, to join Mole and Olive. “Your second will be Althea, and she shall have the illusion-worker called Jumper at her beck as well. While you lay siege, Althea and Jumper will enter Molag and prepare the doppelgangers! Then let everything wait until the assigned hour. If those nigglings want to feign themselves as fiends, I’ll make them fiends. Until then, we must have a distraction. Let them see us march for war, let them learn to fear my might, and while their attention is fixed upon the battle, the blow will come from within. General Sindol knows My plan for war, and he will inform you of it’s further details. Go at once! You must begin your march immediately – do not fail!”

As the four were departing, Iuz pointed to yet another of his Greater Six. “Kermin-Mind-Bender!” A turbaned Bakluni bowed deeply. “Take the wizard, Null, and go amongst the rulers of the Bandit Kingdoms. Give them heart. Tell them I, Iuz, come to their aid. Renegade nomads and a host of others are ripe for war. Pass through the Fellreev Forest on your way. Bring them south with you. Slay the servants of the Horns. Make certain that the petty lords understand and invade the enemy after they are driven out.”

“Yes, Ancient One. We will cross the Ritensa and harry the enemy all the way to Molag, or I am nothing,” said the swarthy illusionist with hard arrogance in his voice.

“Exactly,” said the green-eyed creature who sat on the throne above him. “Else your skull and bones will make a footstool here!” Null, a nondescript man, had joined Kermin during the course of the instruction from Iuz. Both now backed from the chamber and were gone. Half of the Greater Six remained, and Iuz now addressed them, calling in the remaining Lessers as he did so.

“Halga, My Grand Priestess, and Vayne, too, for your magic, you two shall remain here for staff duty. Radduj, Beesting – a fine pair to venture into the upper reaches of the Vesve. There you will whip the sniveling Celbits and Jebli into a frenzy of hate against men and elves. Make the forest and the northern portion of the Valley of Highfolk a charnel house. You will have assistance.”

“As you command, Eldritch Lord,” the two intoned in reply, then departed.

“Ormuz, arch-mage – with Patch, My High Priest, you will go to the southern portion of the Vesve and likewise incite the bands there to murder and pillage. You will have companies of My Woodsrunners and Eiger Guards. This is a most crucial part of My plan, so you two will remain until all others have gone. Then will I give you final instructions…”

Inside the Hall of Dread

582 CY

In Molag’s Hall of Dread, thirteen stone thrones sat perched upon a dais above many lesser seats, but the three most prominent of the thrones remained conspicuously empty. The three Hierarchs who represented Tarterus, Hades, and Gehenna were gone. Those remaining Dread and Awful Presences scowled at the officials, military officers, humanoid chieftans, and bandit leaders who filed into the hall to wait upon them. The lords of Molag had faces painted in lewd colors. Sigils smeared in blood marked their flesh. Some wore exotic masks with leering faces and jutting horns. Hooved boots and clawed gloves, scales and red dyed leathers, tusks and fangs, capes with trailing tail—all their wardrobe had been selected to convey fearsome impression of a council of fiends.

AnthraxusThe murmur of voices in the Hall of Dread fell suddenly silent. The light of lamps and flaming braziers seemed to dim. All eyes turned to the great doors through which Anthaxus the Decayed, Daemonking of Hades, entered upon a nauseous wave of terror. The stench of decay emanated from the frightful creature as it glided across the hall. The underlings averted their gaze and pressed back against the walls to make a wide passage for the fiend as it approached the dais, but the ten Heirarchs upon their thrones did not avert their gaze. Bits of decaying matter fell from Anthraxus, dropping here and there as he went.

“Greetings, Lord of Glooms,” said the greatest of the remaining ten Hierarchs, acknowledging Anthraxus by the least of his titles as if in challenge.

The Daemonking made no sign that he had noticed the affront. “And to you all,” the thing replied in a voice that seemed to issue from an empty chest and a throat choked with maggots. “I am come at the behest of Nerull to assist you in your war.”

None of the ten flinched at the mention of the war, even though they had only today received news that masses of Iuz’s troops were marching through the northern regions of their realm. Again the greatest spoke.

“We serve Evil and acknowledge Nerull as Overlord. We likewise serve the same ends as Thee, but why have you come?”

“To aid you against the might of that fungi-fornicating, toad-spawned, whelp of a miserable little demon princeling, Iuz!”

Such assurance of assistance from Nerull’s servant offered small comfort to the ten remaining Hierarchs. Not that they feared the power of Iuz alone, but they had heard rumor that their former lord had acquired powerful allies: his mother returned from the Abyss, his father Graz’zt and Yeenoghu, Lord of Gnolls, and the cambion’s lover, the Queen of Fungi. Behold! Even as Anthraxus spoke, Zuggtmoy displayed a portent of her power within the Hall of Dread. The oinodaemon had been standing before the Ten of the Hierarchs for an extended period, and a small circle of the putrescent matter had accumulated around his filthy greatcloak. As he was about to turn and leave, he saw the faces of the enthroned Ten turn pale, eyes start, hands shake. He followed their staring gaze down to the hem of the garment, where the litter of rotting stuff oozed and stank. The stuff had become a fairy ring of fungi, tiny zygoms sprouting from the rot.

At that moment Anthraxus felt fear crawl through his plagued body.

Blood War in the Horned Society

grazztThe sire of Iuz made for a powerful ally, but Iuz found his contributions difficult to manage and, once released, almost impossible to contain. In this campaign against Molag, the abyssal lord enticed a host of warriors from a world of giants to play mercenary, and he promised them the spoils of Oerth. Hill giants, mountain giants, and frost giants rushed through a doorway between worlds kicked open by the power of Graz’zt and his abyssal friends. They descended from the Howling Hills, driving before them terrified hordes of orcs and hobgoblins. The goblinkind fled into the Fellreev or into the open steppes where the Rovers of the Barrens cut them down mercilessly. Others fled to Molag for refuge but perished outside its walls, for that great city was already under siege by armies of their kinsmen: trolls, ogres, bugbears, and gnolls. Moreover, things far worse circled about its walls.

The masters of the Hierarchs summoned monstrous creatures from the lower planes to fortify the defense of Molag. Hideous hordlings rubbed shoulders with even worse – daemons of all sorts, and the awful demodands of Tarterus drove back the forces of Iuz. Graz’zt rejoiced. He sent his minions when the besieging force cried for aid. The retreat of luz’s forces became a sudden advance again, as hundreds upon hundreds of demons of all manner were loosed to combat the Hierarchs’ reinforcements from Tarterus, Hades, and Gehenna. Not only were these forces outnumbered, but many hordlings, secretly despising their masters and favoring the chaos of the Abyss, went over to Iuz. Men and humanoids, even those of power or fearsomeness, stayed low and did nothing as demons fought daemons, hordlings tore hordlings or demodands, and were rent in turn.

Monstrous forms hopped and ran, crawled and wiggled, flapped and fluttered in a terrible dance of death and destruction around the city of Molag. Many demons died, but still more came daily, until the whole place was ringed with them, and the air above the city became unsafe for any who did not serve the Abyss.

Then the Dukes of Hell took an interest in what was happening. They sent legions of their servants to assist the masters of the Hierarchs because their cause was one with Nerull and the rest. Cohorts of abishai – blue, red, green, black, and white devils of winged sort – appeared in the sky to contest with the demons there. From spined devils to mighty pit fiends, the Nine Hells sent forth their companies.

The terrible battle raged day and night for a week. When it finally ended, all of the things summoned were dead or returned to their own places. It had to be thus, or else the great rulers would be drawn into the contest, and none – demon, devil, or otherwise – cared to risk this over some petty piece of the Prime Material Plane at this particular conjunction of probability, The Hells were satisfied that they had checked their Abyssal foes. There was time enough to take from the demon-spawned Iuz that which he had stolen.

Blood-Moon Festival

Prematurely the Hierarchs celebrated. Even Anthraxus seemed elated. Had they not withstood the siege and stopped the forces of Iuz outside their walls? Surely Iuz had overextended his reach. Surely the siege was at its end! “Why shouldn’t we sally forth and pursue them all the way back to Black Dorakaa?” the lords of Molag exclaimed.

“Do not think too much of yourselves,” Anthraxus warned them. “If not for my presence and the power of my lord Nerull, that abyssal toad’s fetid droplet would have overrun your walls already. Relax not your guard. We have not yet seen the last stroke.”

Indeed, Iuz had yet to play his hidden hand, for his wicked servants only awaited the assigned hour to replace the remaining ten Hierarch lords with fiends of his own choosing. The hour came in the month of Coldeven, at the height of the Blood-Moon Festival, while all the city of Molag reveled in their victory. The blow came so swiftly that the Hierarchs had no time to call again on extraplanar aid before they were massacred.

By the combined power of Iuz and his lady Zuggtmoy, Althea, priestess of Iuz, banished Anthraxus from Oerth and stripped away his power. All the wards and sigils of protection with which the Hierarchs had wrapped themselves came unbound. The citadels and streets of Molag ran red with blood. The servants of Iuz slew the Dread and Awful Presences, and they died like men and women of flesh and blood. Rumor says some few survived the coup and fled the city that night, but of a truth, most washed the paving stones of Molag with their all too human blood. The demonic forces of Iuz quickly replaced the fallen lords, taking up their visage and form like a man wraps a cloak around his shoulders. They also took up their seats upon the thirteen thrones in the Hall of Dread where they made a show of taking counsel and deliberating over strategy. At length, they announced that they should sally forth, and all the force of Molag with them, to pursue the forces of Iuz. They ordered the gates of the city opened, but the besiegers stood ready. Molag fell to the mundane armies of Iuz. With the aid of fiends and his orcish army sweeping across the plains of the Horned Society’s lands, Iuz vanquished his old enemies in days rather than weeks. In less than a fortnight, the Hierarchs became creatures of mere legend, and Iuz held absolute control over the Horned Society.

The Greyhawk Wars Commence

The cambion’s realm now extended from the Dulsi River in the west to the verge of the Fellreev Forest and the banks of the Ritensa in the east. The writ of Iuz extended northward to the Cold Marshes and south to the Veng River and the border marches of Furyondy and the Shield Lands. Bandit lordlings now pledged their fealty to Iuz, while ambassadors from the nomads of the cold northwestern plains and the strange realm of Blackmoor came with gifts and offers of alliance. Even the master of the distant holdings called Stonefist considered such steps, so great was the fame which came to the cambion upon his overthrow of the Hierarchs. Absorbing the hobgoblin soldiery of the Horned Society into his own armies, Iuz swept onwards across the Ritensa to the Shield Lands.

Of the Hierarchs themselves, not even Iuz knew for certain. Those who had served these men had either died or taken service under their new master. Perhaps some few of the remaining Ten escaped and managed to flee somewhere. Rumor said that they had been carried far to the south, but nothing is known beyond this tale.

The ones who opposed Evil wondered what would follow. Perhaps the night and cold would be upon Oerth forever soon, and spirits dimmed and hearts grew heavy at this prospect. Others, though, understanding full well the contest between Chaos and the rest of Evil, were glad for the seeming victory of badness. These wise leaders sent messages of encouragement to the others who neared despair. “When Evil fights Evil, Good folk prosper. Do not lose heart, for Iuz truly stands between us and a world of utter darkness! There is hope yet.”


The Fall of Molag harmonizes the account in Gary Gygax’s Artifact of Evil with the course of events in the Greyhawk Wars as described in the The Official History of The Greyhawk Wars, Iuz the Evil, and The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer. Based upon an idea from Joseph Bloch.
In Artifact of Evil, Gary Gygax tells the story of Iuz going to war against Horned Society, but his version of the story significantly differs from the official canonical version told in the Greyhawk Wars. In this version, Greyhawkstories edits and truncates Gygax’s original tale, augments it with additional content, and harmonizes it with the canonical version of the Fall of Molag.

 

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