Chapter 1, The Pre-Aerdy Period: Lum the Mad and Leuk-o and the Rise of the Kingdom of Thalland and the Medegian Bladelands

Aerdian Shamaness c. -460 CY
Still from The Scythian
We cannot be sure of the year in which the Oeridian tribe known as the Aerdi began their migration into the Flanaess that would end with them settling in the furthest east lands. Around 180 OR (-466 CY) in what is now the land of Ull, the urging of tribal shamans prompted the council of Oeridian hetmen to meet(1). The depredations of goblins and orcs employed as mercenaries by both the Baklunish and Suloise empires had been taken as a sign to migrate east(2). In addition a prophecy of the hero-deity Johydee, promised the Oeridians a glorious destiny in the far east(3). The first migrants entered the Flanaess through the Fals Gap(4), and by 187 OR (-459 CY) the migrations east were at their peak(5). It is believed by some scholars that the Aerdi were the last of the Oeridian tribes to pass into the east, shortly before the final convulsions of the Baklunish-Suloise Wars wrought the twin disasters of the Invoked Devastation and the Rain of Colorless Fire, ending those two great empires(6).

The earliest recorded event we have of the Aerdi passage was in -365 CY from the inhabitants of the Flan city of Veralos, located on the edge of the Rift Canyon. The appearance of the savage horse barbarians caused them to flee their homes in panic(7).

The next mention of them is in fragments of writings we have from Urnst, written around -350 CY, where they played a large part in the destruction of the dueling tyrannies of the notorious Oeridian warlords, Baron Lum the Mad, and his former servant, Leuk-o(8). Before Leuk-o betrayed him, Lum’s main opponents had been the Suloise houses which made up the main of Urnst and had set aside their differences to meet his threat after he had conquered the lands northwest of the Franz claimed by them. As civil war consumed the lands held by Lum and Leuk-o, the Urnsti watched with trepidation; grateful for the breathing space, but doubtful that they would be able to hold back the eventual winner. It seemed that the gods had answered their prayers when the horde of battle-hardened Aerdi appeared on the northwest bank of the Artonsamay River, on the flank of the lands held by Lum. A deal was struck by the Urnsti with these barbarians, with promises of vast amounts of silver, gold and gems as a reward for their aid in defeating the tyrants. At the same time, the Urnsti allied with the other nation most threatened by Lum and Leuk-o, the Flan kingdom of Ehlissa, which made up the lands we now know as Ahlissa, Irongate, and the Onnwal Headlands.

Queen Ehlissa IX
Art by Adrian Wilkins
If folktales and songs can be believed, a large role in this theater of the war was fulfilled by none other than the Flan quasi-diety, Krovis(9). According to a ballad still popular in Ahlissa, in the days before Leuk-o had betrayed his master, when Lum’s conquest first became a threat to Ehlissa, Krovis had awakened from his long sleep in the Drachensgrab hills and swam the Strait of Gearnat. Striding in his bronze armor from the sea onto the shores at her capital of Karnosa(10), he had become the lover of Queen Ehlissa IX and led her armies against Lum and Leuk-o. Other tales say that Krovis had centuries before been the lover of the first Queen Ehlissa, who had founded the kingdom named after her. That nation was a strictly matriarchal society until its last days, and though the queens who succeeded Ehlissa I were not of direct descent from her, they all bore her name. In ancient times there had been Flan kingdoms in the Pomarj, across the strait from what is now Onnwal, which had been culturally related to the people of Ehlissa. Krovis is believed to have been a warrior of one of these kingdoms, of the order known in ancient times as the Hradikar. After the death of Ehlissa I around -800 CY(11), the people of Onnwal’s lowlands rebelled against their tributary status to Ehlissa and became separate kingdoms, while the hill clans of the Headlands maintained their loyalty. During the Great Migrations the Flan kingdoms of both the Pomarj and the lowlands of Onnwal fell to invasion by Suloise refugees(12). Another group of Suloise refugees who came later, after a sojourn in what is now Keoland, landed on the shores of Ehlissa. Led by the noble house of Zelrad, they established a peaceful relationship with Ehlissa before spreading to the south into what is now Idee and coming to dominate other groups of Suloise who had preceded them(13).

Regardless of the truth of legends, this unsteady alliance, along with fomenting rebellion among Oeridian and Flan tribes subject to the two tyrants, was successful in breaking their power, driving both of their armies east, into the Adri. Just west of where Rauxes now lays, Lum met his end in battle with Leuk-o, banished from the material plane to where none know. Leuk-o disappeared from the sight of the world soon after; and so ended their tyranny(14).

The situation at the end of this war was one of chaos and unsurety. The Urnsti breathed a sigh of relief when the Aerdi took their payment and continued their passage to the southeast before crossing over the Harp River. According to Ahlissan legend, Krovis disappeared into the sea, presumably to return to his unnatural slumber, and Queen Ehlissa IX faded and died of melancholy, leaving no clear successor, causing Ehlissa to erupt into civil war. This conflict was a godsend for the Aerdi, who found their passage into the lands south of the Harp uncontested.

Aerdian Tribal Warriors c. -350 CY
Still from The Scythian
In those days the lands were very different. As alluded to above in the telling of the ends of Lum and Leuk-o, the eaves of the Adri Forest extended much further than they do today, ending at the western bank of the Flanmi where it met the Grandwood, and along the eastern bank of the Imeda from almost to the Gull Cliffs down to that river’s confluence with the Flanmi. In the section of the Flanmi further south to its western bend, the two great forests met, divided only by the river(15). Southwest of these massive forests were vast flood-plains whose rich black earth yielded bountiful land for grazing and farming. This was the land the Aerdi passed into. It was at this point that the Aerdi clans of Cranden, Thellari, Darmen, Rax, and Torquann separated from the others, settling down. The Oeridian tribes that already lived there either became subject peoples or fled south, crossing the Greyflood and the Hestmark Highlands into Sunndi.

The Medegi, Naelax, and Garasteth would not turn aside from their goal, determined to settle by the shores of the prophesied great eastern ocean, which was said to be the birthplace of the Sun, the Solnor(16). Crossing over the Flanmi and the Mikar they found a land dominated by feuding Suloise states that stretched from the mouth of the Flanmi north to the Lone Heath and southern edge of the Gull Cliffs. For decades the three Aerdi clans ate into the states of the Suloise, taking them one by one. The vast majority of them were won by the strongest clan, the Medegi, whose patron was Hextor. The Garasteth conquered the lands of the Lone Heath, up to the Gull Cliffs, which were held by clans of hostile Flan hillmen. They made their capital near their southern border, among the ruins of a Suloise settlement whose name is lost to time. They renamed it Rel Astra, the City of Heavens(17). Between the Garasteth and the Medegi, were the Naelax, whose lands lay just south of Rel Astra down to the northern bank of the Ment River(18), which flows through Mentrey down to the Solnor.

The strongest of the Aerdi clans to the west was the Thellari, and within a decade they had formed a kingdom that we know today as Thalland, between the Thelly and Flanmi Rivers(19). They expanded to the north, pushing the Cranden toward the Harp and Lyre Rivers. In response, the Flan tribes to the north, beyond the Harp, and once subject to Lum and Leuk-o, formed a confederation known as the Lathu, named after the strongest of its tribes. Tales say that the Lathu were led by Ur-Flan, steeped in the dire magics of that sect(20). By around -325 CY the Cranden, caught between the Lathu and Thalland, were pushed out, with the bulk of them moving east across the Flanmi.  There they came into conflict with their long-time rivals, the Torquann. The Torquann lost this interclan feud, and found themselves driven north, through the woods and into the plain nestled between the Flanmi and Imeda. The Cranden, Darmen and Rax, between the Flanmi, Grandwood and Mikar, were forced into tributary status to Thalland. Likewise vexed by the increasing strength of the latter was Ehlissa, which had taken in a number of Cranden families whom they had developed a close relationship with. Among these refugees was born around -320 CY a boy who was given the name Tuerny. His father was a minor noble of the Cranden who had taken as a war-bride a witch of the Lathu. It was doubtless her talent for magic that was inherited by young Tuerny(21).

Totemic Emblem of Stern Alia in Her
Form as the Antlered Doe

7th century B.C. Scythian stag
The Medegi meanwhile forged close ties with the Naelax through intermarriage. The latter, who before had never favored any particular god of the Oeridian pantheon found themselves thriving under the patronage of the Medegi’s favored god, Hextor. Formally uniting their two lands they formed a union called the Medegian Bladelands. Perhaps coincidentally, the cult of Hextor’s half-brother and bitter rival, Heironeous had become the dominant faith in Thalland. In between the two, at the mouth of the Flanmi on its eastern bank, lay the holy city of Pontylver. With the sacred Temple of Stern Alia, the mother of those gods having its home there, open conflict between the two Aerdi states became inevitable(22).

Next Chapter -- The Pre-Aerdy Period: Outside Influences on Aerdi Culture and The First War between Thalland and Medegia

Art notes:

Aerdian Shamaness c. -460 CY There was no real organized priesthoods for the Oeridian gods at this point in time but tribal shamans frequently served one or more gods in particular as patrons. This shamaness is marked by her robes as serving Stern Alia, although her facial tattoos mark her as a devotee of Johydee. That goddess was said to have been born among the Cranden in the Far West, before the Oeridian ever came to live on the eastern fringes of the Baklunish Empire. She is believed to have still been living in disguise among the Oeridians at the time of the Great Migrations, as a mortal, although as an incredibly powerful and long-lived one, before ascending to status as a hero-deity. It was her prophecies that helped spur the Oeridians on to their destiny of conquering most of the Flanaess, and for the Aerdi in particular founding the Great Kingdom. Legends say that her true apotheosis did not come until after the Aerdi had settled in the lands of the east. One rumor even says that her mortal remains are interred in a hidden tomb in Mentrey.

Queen Ehlissa IX Named Nyfain at birth, she was a daughter of  Ehlissa VIII and served her mother and later as queen during a time that saw many drastic changes to the Queendom of Ehlissa. Songs and tales say she was stunningly beautiful and had many lovers of all sexes throughout her life. The wig she wears here is characteristic of Ehlissan nobility and is decorated with small golden feathers that represent the Marvelous Nightingale artifact for which the queens of her line were famous.

Aerdian Tribal Warriors c. -350 CY The warriors shown here are typical of the Aeridans who flowed into the eastern Flanaess around the mid-2nd century OR, and show the range of features among the Oeridians of the time. The ornamental metal pieces of the shoulder armor and straps of the warrior on the left are typically Oeridian. The wolf-headed serpent buckle in the center is a totemic emblem of the god Kurell that was popular at the time. The sword of that warrior is of single-edged style characteristic among the Flan tribes of the central Flanaess, dating back to the nomadic tribes that roamed the Bright Desert when it was a fertile plain, and possibly even before that, having been found in tombs in the Cairn Hills. It is well-suited for use from horseback and was most likely looted from a Flan warrior during the Migration. The armor of the warrior in the center is not characteristic of Oeridians, and may likewise have been looted or copied from a people encountered along the way, although the decorative piece on the girdle is Oeridian in design. His rich clothes and the armor mark him as a tribal noble. The style of the hilt of his sword is typical for an Oeridian warrior of the time. The warrior on the right and those behind wear Oeridian style conical helms with detachable face masks that were not uncommon. The facial tattoo and kohl around the eyes of that warrior were common for the time.

Totemic Emblem of Stern Alia in Her Form as the Antlered Doe As the goddess of motherhood but also a goddess of warfare, the antlered doe was a common depiction of Stern Alia among Oeridians through the period of the Great Migrations. This piece was most likely made to decorate an article of clothing but now serves as a rare conversation piece for an Aeridan noble.

End notes:

1. The Adventure Begins (TAB) p. 55 “For ages, tribes of Oeridian horse barbarians inhabited the steppes and foothills of what is now Ull. Over two centuries before the fall of the Baklunish and Suloise empires, these barbarians united in a single confederation to resist incursions by imperial Baklunish across the Ulsprue Mountains and by nomadic Baklunish to the north.” “About the year 180 OR, the council of hetmen of this Oeridian tribal confederation, heeding the advice of their shamans, chose to lead the Oeridians out of their ancestral homeland and make them a migrant folk.”

2. Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (LGG) p. 13 “The Oeridians, a confederation of barbaric tribes in close proximity to the warring empires, took the wars (and attendant raids from orc and goblin mercenaries in the employ of both sides) as a sign to migrate eastward in search of their ultimate destiny.”

3. TAB p. 55 “Some of their gods had said the Oeridians were destined for unsurpassed greatness as a people, and the source of their power lay in the east.” Living Greyhawk Archives -- Mysterious Places: The Isle of Lost Souls “The lands of Aerdy lie along the shores of the tempest-lashed Solnor Ocean, at the eastern end of the Flanaess. In the dark centuries of the Great Migrations, Johydee, the Hidden Empress, promised them to the forefathers of the Oerids, prophesying that a glorious sun would rise upon the shores of the day’s dawning. That promise alone sent the Oerids questing across half of Oerik, from the trackless plains of the west to the uttermost east.”

4. LGG p. 23 “The tribes entered the Flanaess through the Fals Gap, where they first encountered the Flan.”

5. A Guide to the World of Greyhawk (WoGG) p. 9 “187 O.R. -- Oerid migrations east of peak point.”

6. WoGG p. 9 “223 O.R. -- Invoked Devastation of Rain of Colorless Fire strike.”
PGTG p. 14 “It has been 1,012 years since the Invoked Devastation and Rain of Colorless Fire destroyed the Baklunish Empire and Suel Imperium.”

7. Living Greyhawk Journal (LGJ) #9/DRG #293 p. 90 “The legends say the inhabitants of Veralos fell victim to a curse brought on by the residents themselves, when the society was consumed by a panic caused by the oncoming and inexorable eastward march of the Aerdi tribes, who were first reported on the western shore of the Nyr Dyv in 1785 FT.”

8. Book of Artifacts (BoA) p. 58 “All accounts of the Mighty Servant begin with its discovery by the infamous General Leuk-o. Leuk-o was a follower of the warlord Lum, but turned against his master when he came into possession of this instrument of destruction. With the power of the Mighty Servant to back him, Leuk-o forged an army that rivalled even Lum's. The two forces clashed many times, always ending in stalemate.”

9. Dragon Magazine (DRG) # 167 “See the Pomarj – and Die!” P. 13 “Hidden in the sandy hills of the Pomarj lies the resting place of Krovis, a quasideity. Krovis has been resting in a hidden crypt for almost 2,000 years, awaiting-the time, foretold in several ancient Flan legends, when his presence is once more required in the Flanaess. Krovis is close to the deity Trithereon (The Summoner), and it is his purpose to prevent the domination of any goodly portion of the Flanaess by a single individual or state. Krovis’s avatar has, in the past, emerged from his crypt to bring down several empires that dominated the central regions of the Flanaess, including the dominions of the Isles of Woe and the Empire of Lum the Mad (both of which occurred more than 1,000 years ago).”

10. LGJ #19/DRG #304 p. 88 “Totemistic warriors chosen above all others from the hardy hillfolk to represent their clans and serve as a vanguard to the Ahlissan throne at the city of Karnosa (near modern Irongate), the greatest Hradikar often served the queen as personal bodyguards.”

11. Most of this information, and other parts of things in this history, come from a discussion on Canonfire! I was lucky enough to take part in that took place in 2006 and picked up again 6 years later in 2012. The dates come from CF! member Rasgon, aka RipVanWormer, calculating from the work of Scott “Scottenkainen” Casper in his article, “Ahlissa: A Greyhawk Gazetteer”, in Oerth Journal #16. It’s a really great article, even though it goes in directions that conflict with how the history of my own conception of the World of Greyhawk has gone. As always, I stand on the backs of giants.

12. Living Onnwal Gazetteer (LOG) pp. 2-3 “By the time of the Great Migrations the Flan were divided into many warring tribes and, it was this disunity that was a major cause of their defeat by the Suel. However some of the lowlander tribes were united by Garantheuld, the Warrior King, in the face of the threats of the invading Suel forces and the hostile, barbarous Flan clans of the Headlands. About a thousand years ago, the Onnwi, Suel migrants fleeing the Rain of Colourless Fire and the turmoil of the Great Migrations that followed, arrived by ship from the Pomarj. A cruel people they made war on the Flan, enslaving them or driving them into the Headlands. They named their new kingdom Onnwal ‐ the land of the Onnwi.”
LGG p. 87 “Prior to the great migrations a millennium ago, the Pomarj was largely a desolate place inhabited by primitive Flan tribes who worshiped powers of earth and sky. Its poor soil and fell reputation caused it to be avoided by all but the most desperate of these newcomers, and it was eventually settled by small numbers of Suel who were unwelcome elsewhere and had no choice but to contend with the harsh terrain and its inhabitants.”

13. Living Naerie Gazetteer (LNG) p. 5 “Many years after the Rain of Colourless Fire that destroyed the Ancient Suel empire, Suel from the house Zelrad arrive to an area which would later become the South Province of Great Kingdom. Having established a peaceful contact with the Flan Kingdom of Ehlissa, the Zelreds build their first settlements and slowly expand into present day Naerie.”

14. Vortex of Madness (VoM) pp. 20-21 “The baron continued his warring ways until he met his match: the formerly loyal general Leuk-o. The two undertook a titanic battle, which it seems neither could win. With casualties piled all around them, a mist of unknown origin appeared seemingly out of nowhere and covered Leuk-o’s opponent. When the cloud lifted, Baron Lum and his mysterious machine had vanished.” BoA p. 53 “Lum's chapter in the history of the Machine ends with both the warlord and his device being consumed by a cloud of vapor which billowed forth from nothing and left nothing when it faded. It would be easy to assume that the machine was forever destroyed, were it not for persistent though garbled reports of its existence in a distant and dreadful land.”
Ivid the Undying (IVID) p. 42 somewhat contradicts the above citations, in that the Machine is placed within the walls of the keep of Rifter, which is located southwest of Rauxes. No mention is made of how the Machine got there and the keep was only raised during the latter part of the reign of Ivid III, so it may not be as contradictory as it seems to me. The keep is named after a nearby supernatural physical feature, “Rifter takes its name from its construction within a half-mile of a narrow (10' across, 25' long) rift in the earth which appears to descend for miles, although it is always smoke-filled and magical scrying does not reveal what lies below.”
This has been theorized by Canonfire! member, Rasgon, aka, Rip Van Wormer as being the planar rift that Leuk-o’s Mighty Servant disappeared through in the final battle, “If we assume that Rifter (where the Machine of Lum is now housed according to Ivid the Undying), one day's ride from Rauxes, is the site of Lum and Leuk-O's final battle (which is supposed to have have opened a rift: [i]Book of Artifacts, page 58: ‘The Mighty Servant is believed by many to have been destroyed in this final battle, although others believe it plunged through a dimensional rift opened in that great conflict.’) then perhaps Lum's empire was based around Rauxes. Ivid the Undying says the rift appears to descend for miles, though it is always smoke-filled and divination will not reveal what lies below. This seems likely to me, since otherwise I have no idea what the rift is supposed to be. I mean, it could have been opened by a later use of the Machine, but nah; Lum's uses of it should be the most iconic and cataclysmic, at least until the PCs (or their adversaries) start tampering with it. So at some point Lum and Leuk-O moved north from Thalland/Medegia to Rauxes, where they fought their final battle.”
I am partially working with Rasgon’s theory in this history, but having Krovis and the Kingdom of Ehlissa play a larger part in the fall of the tyrants, and the final battle between them being the whimper rather than the bang at the end of their rules.

15. LGG p. 22 “The Adri and Grandwood are all that remain of a once-vast deciduous forest that legends say met on the broad banks of the Flanmi. The Aerdi cut back the woods ages ago, and continue to reduce both forests, particularly the Adri, with aggressive logging and clearing for pastures and farmland.”

16. LGG p. 23 “They named that vast ocean the Solnor (literally, ‘the birthplace of the sun’)…”

17. LGG p. 91 “Rel Astra, literally ‘City of the Heavens’ in Old Oeridian…”
LGG p. 93 “After decades of battle with the native Flan and treacherous Suel, the Aerdi noble houses sought a place to call their own, and these places included settlements at Roland, Ountsy, and the largest of all at Rel Astra, the site of a small abandoned Suel settlement.”

18. This river only exists in the maps created by incredible fantasy cartographer and top Greyhawk fan, Anna B. Meyer. The river remains unnamed in all versions of Anna’s maps I have seen so I’ve taken the liberty (and the easy way) in naming it the Ment, assuming the city is the namesake of the river.

19. Bastion of Faith (BoF) p. 8 “By the year 303 CY, two principalities had emerged among the Aerdi populace. To the west, along the Harp River valley, arose the Kingdom of Thalland, home to the Thallari subtribe. To the east, along the coast east of the Mikar River, were established the Medegian Bladelands, home to the Medegi sub-tribe. Although both tribes venerated all the gods of the Oeridian pantheon, the Kingdom of Thalland was governed chiefly according to the tenets of the Heironean faith, while the Medegian Bladelands were ruled chiefly by the doctrines of the Hextorian faith.”
The year 303 CY is most likely a typo and can be interpreted either as 303 OR (-341 CY) or -303 CY. I’ve chosen to go with 303 OR since it fits with my narrative better and most Greyhawk sources say that dates before 1 CY are typically given in pre-existing calendars.

20. Almor Gazetteer: Part 1 “Very little is known about the Lathu Ur-Flan tribe. Their greatest legacy are the many scattered and intricately stone carved ruins found throughout Almor. Many of the Flan remaining in Almor can trace their ancestors to the original Lathu, and a few have managed to maintain some of their cultural traditions including their unique style of stone carving and the long-distance whistled language of Silberi still used by Flan rangers of the area.”

21. IVID p. 137 “Apart from this complexity, House Cranden is important because of its history and traditions… Indeed, the house itself has produced some of the greatest names in all Oerth's history; Johydee, Tuerny the Merciless…” Return of the Eight (RotE) p. 56 “Tuerny was once a human wizard, one of the greatest in all history, and a feared personage in the ancient Kingdom of Aerdy. He was born over nine hundred years ago in the region now called Ahlissa.”

22. Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (HSoT) Pre-gen character background “MYRRHA is from the city of Pontylver, which is a loyal daughter to the See of Medigia (sic), where she was a cleric in the lawful neutral Temple of the Correct and Unalterable Way… Always she was firm and faithful in her allegiance to Stern Alia, goddess of the order.”


  1. That's a great initial summery. This must have taken some time to sift out and place in order. I ought to know, seeing that I do the same on my blog, as well. Different styles: I've been placing the actual source text in order with linking blurbs where necessary; I wonder if I ought to have gone your route, compiling the material into my own prose. No matter, all in and all that.
    Enough about me.
    This is your moment!~
    I'm looking forward to more installments, and wish you luck with the success of this blog. I'm sure it will be a hit!

    1. Thanks, David. I really appreciate the encouragement.

  2. I am bowled over by this article. The use of Krovis legends in the age of Ehlissa has me jazzed, because this is an era that has always been needling me in the back of my mind. I don't know how much is your creation, but I'd love to run with this telling in the future!

    1. Thanks, Mike. Coming from someone with your stature in the fan community this means a lot to me. The Krovis connection to putting down Lum is straight from straight from Joe Bloch's "See the Pomarj -- and Die!" from DRG #167. I just ran with it from there and created a connection with Ehlissa. Him swimming the Strait of Gearnat is a nod to Beowulf. He might have fought some sea monsters while he was doing it. ;)


Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Chapter 18, the Reign of Nalaster the Clever: Part 1

Chapter 8, Rise of the Celestial Houses: Cranden, Rax, Darmen, and Naelax

Interregnum, the Runes of Greyhawk: Part 2