Being Part Three of “The Fall of Geoff” as told by Rhys of the Ash to Morwenna the Fair
Edited by Thomas Kelly
The ram’s horns heralded battles anew, and we carved a foothold in our homeland – CY 586
In the spring of CY 586, more freed captives arrived at the new villages in northern Keoland. Thanks to the assistance of several wizards, the rangers had remarkable success in distracting the giants and their allies long enough to liberate captives. So successful were the raids that the giants began putting leg irons on the captives or maiming them so that they could not walk. These measures reduced the number of slaves the rangers could liberate. It’s hard to make an escape when dragging twenty pounds of iron.
Disagreements continued between the grey elves of Oytwood and the wood elves of Dim Forest over where to place their scant forces now that the high king had forsaken them. The grey elves complained that, since the humans assisted in the Dim Forest, the wood elves should succor Oytwood. The wood elves, however, refused to reduce their forces for the sake of sending aid to the Oytwood. Length of years apparently grants the elves no greater wisdom than men, for they quarrel as much as we short-lived humans.
The Knights of the Dispatch and the Gran March campaigned in southeastern Gyruff. The Rangers of Gyruff provided the Marchers with scouting and reconnaissance information. Advancing through the Rushmoors, the Marchers encountered orc border patrols and ogres manning crude forts. The Knights of the Dispatch carved through the outer defenses, and the infantry from the Gran March occupied the liberated lands.
By Flocktime, the Knights of the Dispatch laid siege to the city of Hochoch. Hill giants and ogres commanded by ogre magi occupied the city and held it against the human forces. The knights brought priests of St. Cuthbert, Pelor, Trithereon, and Mayaheine to counter the spell casting of the ogre magi. Cut off from resupply and panicking under siege, the giants of Hochoch sent urgent summons to their allies fighting in the Dim Forest. A ruddy force of giants withdrew from their battles with the wood elves and hastened toward Hochoch.
The Rangers of Gyruff hastily assembled survivors from the army of Gyruff and the Longbowmen to ambush the unprepared giant column hard and fast. The Magus Aedan used devastating spells against the giants while the Maga Elspeth used necromancy to animate their corpses and turned them on their foes. The tide of battle quickly turned when the rear guard and vanguard converged on the meager Gyric forces. The Gyric lines broke. Aedan was slain as he stood his ground casting spell upon spell to cover the retreat of the Gyri. Despite such losses, their efforts turned the giants back.
When word of the battle reached the occupiers in Hochoch, the ogres and giants trembled. The Marchers began a fierce assault. The ogre magi panicked and fled the city. The rest of the occupiers followed. They fell back from the walls and fled in a great rout. Mounted crossbowmen and valorous knights of the March rode them down and slaughtered them as they fled.
After the Siege of Hochoch, the Knights of the Dispatch began rooting out remaining strongholds of the giants within a day’s ride of the town. The massacre of their fellows at Hochoch made the humanoids and giant-kin desperate and savage fighters. They fought without hope of retreat. The knights took heavy losses, but by the end of the year, the forces of the Gran March occupied the surrounding countryside and refortified the city of Hochoch.
Word of the successful Siege of Hochoch reached the Gyri camps in Reaping and Goodmonth. Some of the refugees began returning to southeastern Gyruff at once. Others remained in Keoland or the Gran March. I chose to return, and I was among the first.
Strife took its toll; old friends were lost and old friends were found – CY 586-587
The good news of the victory at Hochoch failed to inspire cooperation among the elves. That Harvester, the grey elf diplomats abruptly broke off talks with Dim Forest wood elves and returned to the Oytwood. Frustration had mounted to the breaking point, and the kin would no longer speak to one another, nor would they speak with us. The wood elves refused to discuss what caused the final rupture; the grey elves ignored all messages from the humans.
Grand Duke Owen appeared at the court of Commandant Vridanian during Needfest in CY 587. The Duke had long been absent from the Court of Gyruff in Exile, and many were whispering that he was dead. His survival and arrival in Hookhill encouraged the Gyri to hope that all of Gyruff would soon be liberated.
The trickle of refugees from Gran March and Keoland became a flood in the spring. The small town of Hochoch overfilled, and the new arrivals spilled out into shacks and tents that soon surrounded the city. Priests to Trithereon, St. Cuthbert, and Mayaheine established temples in the town as people looked to the gods to liberate them.
An aging Lea returned to the liberated town of Hochoch in the fall of 587. He received a warm welcome from the Gyri, but their enthusiasm could not console him for the death of Aedan. He left day-to-day command over the Rangers of Gyruff to Lily Gellsblood while he concentrated on the formation of a Gyruffian army of liberation.
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Excerpted from the “Recent History of the Grand Duchy of Gyruff” Living Greyhawk metagaming and background materials.
Artwork: Donmalo MARSH