Chapter 3: The Exodus – Escaping the Cataclysm
Magma Notuwut had seized control of the Republic of Greyhawk at the wrong moment in history and inherited a demonic apocalypse. As the Alakavian hordes spread throughout the countryside, fulfilling the words of the old man’s prophecy, Magma knew that it was over and that his people were lost. There was nothing he could do to save them.
The hand of slavery swept the land, the people were put in chains. Evil and pain came hand in hand. The Devil held the power.
In a moment where lesser men would succumb to hopelessness, Magma Notuwut hoped for a better future. The Hordes were pressing in on Greyhawk City and soon all would be lost. All that he could think to do, perhaps all that could be done, was save a small contingent of his people and seek to create a new life away from the Devil’s grasp.
Magma ordered his best ship to be readied in the harbor and aptly named it “Liberation”. When loaded with the necessary supplies, the ship would carry fifty passengers. Then he put out the call and the selection process began. Word reached the Bay of Biscay. The now famous Party of the Pendant, with their proven dedication to their Greyhawkian homeland, were issued a direct invitation by Lord Magma himself. The remaining members of the families Baldwinov, Miltonov, Blackrazor and Arak were invited to join Magma on the “Liberation” in search of a new home.
Recognizing the hopelessness of the situation, the families packed their heirlooms and left the castles their ancestors had built. Together they would ride to Greyhawk City and attempt to flee their beloved lands, escaping the cataclysm that had come.
Arak II with his wife and children, Alexander Blackrazor with his wife and son, Elrond II with his wife and son, and Matina of the Blackwood with her husband Laurethian, were part of a group of nearly fifty souls who hoped to escape their impending doom.
Enroute to Greyhawk City the caravan was ambushed by a group of Alakavian soldiers. Party members, their wives and children, cut down in a bloody massacre. Arak II fought on, losing his will to live and succumbing to his wounds after watching the brutal death of his wife and children. Alexander watched his wife and son fall to enemy blades before he too met his demise. Most of the families of the original Party of the Pendant were eradicated on that fateful day. Their family lines wiped out, they would never be represented in the Party again.
Sensing the hopelessness and unable to save his friends, Elrond II set his wife on the back of his cherished mount, a winged steed, the pegasus. Clutched in her arms was their young son, Titanius III. With one final glimpse back at the devastation, Elrond Baldwinov took to the sky – tears streaming from his courageous and steely eyes.
Arrows sang in the air around them, one finding the thigh of the infant still clutched in his mother’s arms. The pegasus summoned a strength from deep within and flew its family to safety behind the walls of Greyhawk City. Miraculously, the young child survived his wound.
With the soldiers’ attention drawn to the fleeing magnificence of the winged steed, the two Elves, Matina and Laurethian, slipped into the shadowy cover of a nearby copse of trees. Matina, an accomplished alchemist, held a potion out to her beloved husband and they both drank. The magic of the potions transformed them to birds and their fluttering escape from the treetops toward Greyhawk City went undetected by the enemy soldiers. The surviving two party members sought out Lord Magma and helped him with final preparations for the Exodus.
Matina and Elrond II would become the link connecting the old world with the new, along with some interesting individuals whose personal histories give us further insight into the nature and extent of the Balstonian cataclysm. I will relay the tale of four of those individuals, who made their own personal exodus to the safety of Greyhawk City and would eventually establish the new Party of the Pendant in the distant south.
Ulysses the Sacred was born and raised in a coastal settlement far to the northeast of Greyhawk, in an ice kingdom the Greyhawkians referred to as Kaldom. Ulysses’ father was King in those lands, and he was heir to the throne. When he arrived in Greyhawk as a young lad, Ulysses thought he had escaped the demonic hordes that had ravaged his people. The cataclysm that fell upon Greyhawk was larger in scope than first imagined, and Ulysses soon realized that he had not escaped it after all. As an emissary of good from the north, who brought news of relevance to Lord Magma, the young priest was selected for passage on the Liberation.
Kaylan was raised on a small pig farm in a forested region of rural Greyhawk, south of the city of Cornelius. His parents were woodcutters of no particular renown, but rumors of his mother’s stunning beauty spread throughout the land. While in Cornelius purchasing supplies, Katerina and her husband Mikel crossed paths with Magma Notuwut. The leader of Greyhawk was immediately smitten and became obsessed with Katerina. Magma attempted to persuade the beautiful woman to give up her life of swine herding and woodcutting and to join him in Greyhawk City. Loyal as always, she refused.
When the demonic hordes came and small villages were being razed to the ground, Katerina recalled the intense affections of Lord Notuwut. She set out for the capital with young Kaylan at her side. The records do not indicate what happened next, but when the Liberation set sail, Kaylan was aboard.
A young elf from Blackwood Forest in northwestern Greyhawk experienced first hand the horrors brought by the invading hordes. The Blackwood Elves were among the first communities to be overwhelmed by the evil that had arrived. Young Markus witnessed the rape of his mother and sister by a band of ogre minions who served the black army. His family slaughtered, the tenacious young elf escaped to the east and fled to Greyhawk City. As one of the few surviving Elves in the republic, Markus was given sanctuary and selected for passage aboard the Liberation.
Argonius was a giant of a man, quite literally. Though his origins are unclear, it is believed that his grandmother was captured and raped by a hill giant band north of Greyhawk City and a female child was produced from the encounter. Argonius’ mother was raised for several years by the hill giants until the clan was wiped out by Greyhawkian soldiers. The half-giant child was viewed as a monstrosity and drifted through orphanages in Greyhawk City until she was purchased as a slave by an elderly man who operated the dockyard. The massive woman gave birth to a son.
The boy’s mother died shortly after the birth and Argonius was raised by the dock owner. His hill giant blood made him exceptionally large and his strength was a valuable asset on the docks. An oddity, the lad drew scorn from those around him and learned to fight in order to defend himself. He was just a young teenager when one fateful afternoon his “father” ordered him to stock a ship for the Lord Magma. The ship had to be loaded and prepared for departure by nightfall. Argonius worked all day but as chance would have it, he struck his head on a beam in the cargo hold and knocked himself unconscious. He woke to the slapping of waves and the rocking motion of a ship already at sea. The dockboy was selected, by fate, for passage on the Liberation.
Magma’s selections were made. Evening fell and the chosen were ushered through the darkness to the docks, carefully screened as they boarded the Liberation. All they knew was that they were sailing for some mysterious land far to the south. Lord Magma referred to their destination as Shemar, a place he had learned about from legends so ancient they inspired confidence that the small island would be uninhabited – and unknown to those who might wish to bring them harm.
As the Liberation set sail from Greyhawk’s port, an eerie silence accompanied the rippling waters. The fifty passengers were afraid to speak, overwhelmed with their situation and afraid of being heard. As the shores receded in the distance they shared a silent reflection on the life they had known and left behind.
Lord Magma must have thought about the loyal ninja who had served as his bodyguard, the Iron Claw. Many had been left behind. His mind must have recoiled from the burden of his leadership. The selection process had not been easy and any man forced to make such choices would live with them forever. Lord Notuwut selected only seven of his fifty man ninja guard and had tried to blend the old with the new, selecting four of his veteran ninja and three young but promising initiates. Among the young was Hi-Chung.
Hi Chung was an angry youth, embittered by the death and destruction he had witnessed. Tales of old suggest that Chung cursed the impotence of the gods and swore never to worship another. He had already made a pact with himself to trust only his own sword and act only on his own will, for the satiation of his own anger. He would have a long history within the Iron Claw and the Party of the Pendant.
Lord Elrond II, representative of the famous Baldwinov family who had influenced Greyhawk for generations, had a deep respect for Lord Magma and was grateful for the opportunity he had provided to Elrond’s young family. This respect did not extend to the Iron Claw, however, and Sir Elrond despised the ninja’s code of conduct in battle. The Holy Warrior of War and Magic had also accompanied himself with some young squires, more suited to the chivalry and honor that he championed.
Elrond’s five squires were chosen not only for their skill as warriors and connection to their gods, but for the lawful code of conduct that seemed so natural to them. They would be instrumental to maintaining law and order in the new civilization. Two of the five of those young knights – Sir Diomedes des Isles and Sir Avtar le Legitime – would eventually become members of the Party of the Pendant as it re-formed to explore a new world.
We have already introduced some of the other occupants, by telling the story that led them to set foot on the Liberation. The Elven contingent from the Blackwood Forest included Party member Matina and her husband Laurethian and the young elf Markus, whose own history with the Party would span centuries.
Two Dwarves from Rockland, the only Dwarven realm in Greyhawk, were also on the ship. One of them, a priest of Moradin known as Drassa the Holy, would eventually make his mark as the Dwarven representative in the Party.
One other passenger was on board, unknown to the rest. But I will wait to tell that story until we meet that shadow incarnate again in the future.
The various occupants of the ship began to break their silence as time passed and Greyhawk receded into the distance. Though death, destruction and remorse still hung thick in the air, a glimmer of anticipation and excitement took birth. Magma took that opportunity to tell his people more.
He informed the eager listeners that he believed the cataclysm was much greater in scope than they could imagine, that the Dark Lord’s grasp extended across the world. For that reason, the Liberation was sailing into the deep south to a lost island, hidden from the world by the coral reefs surrounding it. Magma had discovered an ancient and unique map indicating the lost island and believed that within its sanctuary the group of fifty could escape the shadow’s grasp.
And so it was. The vessel sailed through the Dacron Sea, the Oriental Sea, the Scattered Sea and into the Great Southern Sea – a journey of four months. As weariness neared overwhelming, land was spotted. This was the land of Shemar. It was their land, wild and untamed. Here they would be free.
The Liberation sailed into the bay on April First, settling on a large rock that protruded from the northern shore of the large island. That rock would soon be named “Foundation’s Rock.” From it a new world was born.
(Author’s Note: The dating system that this history will use, in order to better frame the chronology of events, takes the arrival at Foundation’s Rock as the moment of foundation).