2 – Next Generations

Chapter 2: The Next Generations

The detail in which I have discussed the origins of the Party, through one individual life to four, will not be possible to maintain. As the generations pass, party members multiply exponentially. While their will be occasion, particularly early in our story, to identify individuals and their exploits – the exploits of individuals will gradually give way to the exploits of the Party – as a homogenous whole –  an entity whose parts all uniquely contribute to the light in its cosmic struggle against darkness.

In its early history, however,  the Party of the Pendant was dominated by the familial lines of Titanius, Conan, Elrond and Arak. Titanius’ sons Menelaus and Demetrius Baldwinov, Arak’s sons Arak II and Stevenius, Conan’s son Rodrick and daughter Melissa, Rodrick’s son Alexander, and Elrond’s daughters, including Saren Miltonov, Arch-Mage of Greyhawk, would continue the traditions set by their fathers.

As the subsequent generations continued their adventures in Greyhawk, and occasionally beyond, they were joined by a couple of new faces. Matina of the Blackwood, an alchemist and the first elf in the Party, and a samurai known as Tronja, joined the fellowship. As their circle expanded, the Party began to understand the mysterious vastness of the world they inhabited. The samurai was from a distant land to the south-east, unlike the Greyhawkians in appearance and fighting style. The elegant elf, emerging from the depths of the forest, simply evoked wonder.

Much like their predecessors, the Party continued their adventures in search of fame and fortune. Arak II, like his father, provided moral guidance in the pursuit. Arak II, who became the Saint of Loyalty and Compassion, persistently guided the Party’s endeavors towards the light and kept the diverse group united to the cause of good. The almost natural righteousness of the Elven maiden Matina made Arak II’s task easier, and the two persistently guided the group to loftier goals.

Again the foes were too many to name. The group encountered local slavers, devil worshipping cults, aquatic bands of fish-men known as Sahuagins, and the dark Elves of the underdark – this but a minor selection of the evils they had faced. I will digress into a few specific tales that have survived the intervening ages. My hope is that such tales will not only shed further light on the forms of the shadow that re-emerge throughout the Party’s history, but also that through these tales we can convey more of the world that was Greyhawk.

On that later note, we get a better glimpse into the politics of Greyhawk through the life of Rodrick Blackrazor, son of Conan. The master thief had passed his art to his son who, as a young lad, was sent to Greyhawk City for special training in a mysterious combat style imported from the east. Rodrick forged a friendship with his sensei while learning the art of ninjitsu.

After losing his sister Vanessa, killed while adventuring at the tender age of 14, Rodrick exercised a cautious courage on his adventures through the lands of Greyhawk. He succeeded, surviving to later life and becoming involved in Greyhawk politics. His old sensei, Magma Notuwut, called upon Rodrick to return to Greyhawk City and support a coup d’etat that Magma was leading against what he perceived to be a corrupt regime. Rodrick was instrumental to the success of the coup and Magma was named dictator of the new Republic of Greyhawk. For his efforts, Rodrick was named Chief of Security and would be an influential commander of Greyhawk’s armies.

It is through a love story, one that resulted in the first marriage between members of the Party, that we encounter a new enemy of the fellowship and the birth of a young man who would wield tremendous influence in the future.

Saren Miltonov, daughter of Elrond, apprenticed with her father in the arts of evocation and travelled with the Party for years. Her power grew to new heights and she was eventually named Arch-Mage of Greyhawk.

Demetrius Baldwinov, like his father Titanius, was trained as a warrior and travelled with the Party alongside Saren. The two fell in love and were married, having three children. The first of the three, Titanius II, joined the Party while his father and mother were still adventuring and his untimely and early death devastated Demetrius. The last of the three, Elrond Baldwinov II, became a Holy warrior of the Gods of War and Magic. His name will arise again later in this tale because he would come to play a crucial role in the Party’s future history, linking the old world with the new.  As a youth, however, he too faced the tragic plight of an orphan.

A powerful darkness had risen, unassuming, in the lands near the Bay of Biscay. A local Count, Margus Von Straud, had seized his noble inheritance by selling his soul to the Lord of Darkness. He poisoned his own father before a change in will would bequeath the county to his younger, twin brother, Sergio.

Count Von Straud became the first of the vampires in this manner, quietly working his evil machinations and growing in power while serving the Lord of Darkness.  Straud would go on to have a long history  with the Party, and that tale will be recalled throughout. Demetrius, son of Titanius, would meet his demise to the shadow that was Straud.

Little is known about the death of Demetrius’ betrothed, Saren. She survived only a few years beyond her beloved. Distant rumours tell of her betrayal by someone close to the Party, a betrayal that ended in her murder. With her death, young Elrond II was left alone in the world.

The ballads of old sing of the military prowess and courage of Party members. In particular, Stevenius of Arak, Rodrick Blackrazor, and Menelaus Baldwinov – all who rose through the ranks of the Greyhawkian army to serve as generals. Tales whispered across the rivers of time give us fleeting glimpses into the world of Greyhawk during their lifetime.

The Greyhawkian forces rallied in a counter-attack against the known enemy to the north, from the land the Greyhawkians dubbed Cornia. Although the campaign was successful and the Mongolian people to the north of Greyhawk were subjected to the laws of Magma Notuwut, the conquest only served to enlarge the world and discover new enemies.

North of Cornia, in a land our heroes called Dacron, more Mongols awaited. A warrior culture, whether eager to conquer or simply retain their independence, provided the next threat to the security of Greyhawk. It was natural for the Party’s military heroes to assume that Dacron was an ally of Cornia and not simply acting out of its own interest. The people were similar in appearance and displayed familiar military tactics. The Mongol aggression, whatever it’s true motive, was perceived as a northern alliance attempting to conquer the south.

Though news of the world abroad was sparse, occasionally rumors would trickle in through the tales of travellers. In such a manner our Greyhawkian heroes would learn that another nation from the far north, known as Albornia, had defeated a nation called Bluestone in the south. Today, the land of Albornia is still known by that name and includes Norse, Inuit and Ice Orc populations. We know now that Bluestone was a vague term the Greyhawkians used to refer to a broad territory including Sumerian, Babylonian, Phoenician and Assyrian peoples.

The news, however inaccurate, reinforced the belief that the entire world was at war and there were two sides – the evil aggressors in the north, and the defenders of the good in the south. False, simplistic, but prophetic.

A new threat emerged from the west. The heroes of the Party were summoned to drive back an invading army on Greyhawk’s western border. It is not clear how this new enemy was perceived by our heroes, though in retrospect it seems that the invasion was coming out of a land known today as Alakavia. The culture of the Alakavians, along with an ancient culture existing in the far western reaches of the world known as Balston, remain a mystery to this very day. The two cultures seem to have a connection to each other – a shared connection to the ancient arcane, to darkness, to the Abyss and the Nine Hells.

It was around this time that Menelaus Baldwinov was approached by an old man who shared a prophecy. Subsequent legend believes that the old man was a god in disguise, attempting to awaken our heroes to the threat that loomed and aid in their cause, however he might. It would prove to be a deadly accurate summation of what was occurring on Greyhawk’s western borders, but its message is timeless and its truth born throughout history.

The end marches forward, with the approach of the force. 
The massive formidable enemy; man, weapon and his horse.
Yet we shan’t believe, trying desperate, avoiding war. 
Security in our homes until they’re at our door.

Yet we ask, “Where was our army to stop this invading foe? 
Where was our bravery? Why would we act so slow?”

But regret is late in coming, death ravages our land. 
Our men attempt to arm themselves for one decisive stand.

The bulking armies come together, forming a giant mass. 
Flesh falls in torn heaps, down in the mountain pass.

In minutes, battle standards wave, the invading force has won. 
Our last hope defenders scattered, for them the war is done.
The hand of slavery sweeps the land, our people put in chains. 
Evil and pain come hand in hand, like the coming of the rains.

We dwell on happier times, when liberty passed the rule. 
Why were we ignorant of the attack, why were we such fools?

Evil runs the kingdom now, the Devil holds the power, 
And all of us beneath him merely run, hide and cower.

The war is over, the evil has won.  
The war is finished before we knew it begun.  

The war is over, the end is near. Our lives are hopeless, we’ll die in fear.

Arriving at its western borders and confident in their prowess given the recent victories against the Mongolians in the north, the Greyhawkian army would soon experience something unlike anything they had possibly imagined.

The Alakavian army, with its blood red standards and glistening heavy armor, thundered into the lands of Greyhawk bringing death and destruction to all they encountered on the way.  By the time the Greyhawkian army arrived to make a stand, much was already lost. Our heroes scoured the intimidating force, held in fearful awe by the sheer number of well armored enemies and the unique, tightly held formations they assumed. The heavy cavalry and infantry stood on the horizon like a giant band of metal, flanked by immense numbers of lightly armored archers. If it was all they faced, hope may have survived.

The Alakavians, however, were accompanied by mixed hordes of cultures that had not even existed in the imaginations of our three military heroes. With the benefit of hindsight, we can understand the surprise and confusion Menelaus suffered through his eyes that day.  Castillians, Franks, Gauls, Greeks, Romans, Scythians – all standing astride the invading force of Alakavian/Balstonians. They emanated subjugation, unwillingly forced to serve some new master’s army.

If that was all they faced, hope may have survived.

Above the blood red Alakavian army, accompanied by its conquered hordes, circled thousands of massive demons from the nine hells. Darkness hung thick in the air, helplessness welled within. The armies clashed and the power of the mysterious foe was even beyond what it appeared. The Greyhawkian army was devastated, its remnants scattering in a desperate attempt to survive the onslaught.

All three of our heroes fell on that day. The tale of Stevenius’ death, passed through the ancient bardic songs, is all we have left of them.

The song sings of Lord Stevenius taking up his bastard sword “Defender” and leading his armies to face the onslaught of the horde in the west. As the army was being overwhelmed and it was obvious the battle was lost, Stevenius refused to surrender. The hordes closed in around him, but he and his bodyguard fought on. As the Greyhawkian battle standard fell to the ground, Stevenius fought his way to it, picked it up, and  proudly thrust it into the air in a symbolic gesture of defiance.  Swords cut into him, arrows penetrated his armor, the blood from his numerous wounds eerily matching the blood red colors of the enemy.

Stevenius of Arak could stand no more. He slid down the pole, dropping to one knee while still holding his head high. The wounds continued to be inflicted until he could hold no more. The Greyhawkian battle standard slowly toppled to the ground, still in the clutches of Stevenius’ lifeless hand.

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