Being Part Two of “The Fall of Geoff” as told by Rhys of the Ash to Morwenna the Fair
Edited by Thomas Kelly
Homeless and hopeless, we waited through the Winter of Wanting – CY 584
Never was Needfest more aptly named. The surviving Gyri counted our dead and our wounded. Our nation had become little more than landless vagrants. Some few escaped with their belongings, but most had little more than the clothes on their backs. With Duke Owen grievously injured and the army shattered, our people would have utterly despaired if not for the surviving heroes Gyruff and the handful of lords – Lady Blackblade and Lord Lea among them.
The Gran March allowed us to spend the winter on their western borders. Commandant Magnus Vrianian and many churches brought food and clothing to us, but the Gyri refugees numbered many thousands, and there was never enough food. The nights were long and the cold as the hunger pains were sharp.
With the coming of spring came renewed activity. Duke Owen went into seclusion in Shilobeth in the Gran March. Chancellor Galimar Withington acted as regent in the Court of Gyruff in Exile on behalf of the absent Grand Duke.
A change had befallen Lady Blackblade over the winter. She had been a paladin before the invasion, but now she took a vow of humility and left the warrior path. She refused even to to wear a dagger. She turned her skills to diplomacy and lobbied Keoland and the Gran March for money, troops, and food to help the landless Gyri.
A few returned to our homeland to help those who were left behind – CY 584
As the snows melted, Lord Lea announced his intentions to go back to Gyruff to rescue anyone he could from slavery and from the giant’s cookpots. Many denounced it as foolishness, but Lea insisted that he would go alone if he had to. As he began the trek back into Gyruff, many heroes joined him, including the entirety of the surviving Rangers of Gyruff. I sent one of my young and eager scops along with them. I myself would have only slowed them down, but I wanted someone to be my eyes and ears and to tell the tale.
Spring gave way to summer and diplomacy paid some return. Commandant Vrianian offered the refugees from Gyruff land in the Gran March. The land was freely given, but the tracts were scattered throughout Farvale. Not wanting to face another winter like the last, many Gyri took up the offer and dispersed through the Marcher lands. We later learned the land came with conditions. Most Gyri remained in camps on the border where they planted small gardens and hunted, trapped, and fished for food. I stayed there with them, waiting for a chance to return home.
In the late summer, Cuthalion Strongbow returned with word that Lea and the other rangers made contact with the elves in the Dim Forest. Alas! The wood elves had been driven from Derelion, their greatest city, but they still had possession of many small olven villages in the southern and eastern forest. The elves in the Oytwood and the Hornwood carried on the fight as best they could, but they were in sore need of help. Strongbow complained that the three kin of the elves bickered among themselves over where and how to best fight the giants.
The first of the freed captives arrived in the Gran March in the autumn. Rangers guided the redeemed through the Dim Forest and Oytwood. They carried some welcome news: the frost giants had left and returned to their homes in the mountains—at least for the summer months. Lea and the rangers remained in the Dim Forest continuing their reconnaissance missions.
While fickle fate toyed with us through a year of mixed blessings – CY 585
Due to heavy lobbying from Sterich knights and the lords of Keoland, the Knights of the Watch focused their spring campaign on reclaiming Sterich. This came as devastating news for us. Gyruff would not be liberated this year, or maybe even the next. The Gyri living in the camps were heartbroken. Many openly questioned the value of the fealty our duke swore to Keoland, seeing how the Lion Throne never came to our assistance.
Proceeding without the dissident Knights of the Dispatch, the Knights of the Watch determined strategy at their annual meeting. In the early summer, the knights crossed the Javan River and began the re-conquest of Sterich.
Meantime, Lea’s men escorted several hundred more freed captives to the camps. Few children they found among the survivors, for the ogres and the giants have a sweet tooth for the young. Lea lamented that the elves feuded among themselves. Getting messages to the king of the high elves in the Hornwood proved difficult.
That same summer, the Gran March informed the Gyri who had settled among them that they would be required to join the Marcher army and swear fealty to the Commandant. Withington and the Gyric nobles expressed their outrage, but Commandant Vridanian remained firm. He stated that all young male Marchers were required to serve. The marital requirement is as old as the Gran March, but the misunderstanding upset the Gyric settlers. Some left their new lands and returned to the refugee camps. Others agreed to the conditions and joined the Marcher military.
Lady Blackblade met with better success in her embassy to the Lion Throne. King Kimbertos Skotti of Keoland permitted us to settle in villages along his northern border under our own leadership. I believe he did so to ease a guilty conscious for looking to Sterich first and not coming to our aid when the giant’s invaded. He required no oaths of fealty from the Gyri. Rather he asked for simple vows to maintain the peace and to come to the assistance of the Keoish to defend the land.
Word arrived with another group of freed captives that the elven kin had sundered. After months of silence, a message arrived in the Dim Forest from the high elven king. He stated he would not be able to assist either the grey elves of the Oytwood or the wood elves of the Dim Forest. “When the palace is burning, you cannot look after a stable,” the high king wrote. The grey elves and wood elves renounced their fealty within days of receiving the note. I find this troubling. Who has ever heard of the elves making such rash decisions?
Stubborn wounds resisted time’s healing balm – CY 585-586
After the harvest, the refugees left the camps that had been their home for nearly two years and headed south to the Keoland. Food and supplies awaited them thanks to the efforts of Lady Blackblade. Life for the refugees proved more bearable than it had for the first winter, if only by a degree or so. The year ended on a note of optimism with many Gyri dreaming of home.
Read part three of THE FALL OF GEOFF: The Battle for Hochoch.
Visit the Geoff Page to read THE FALL OF GEOFF from the beginning and for more Living Greyhawk goodness.
Excerpted from the “Recent History of the Grand Duchy of Gyruff” Living Greyhawk metagaming and background materials.
Artwork: H. R. Miller’s Chuchulainne Rebuked