Welcome to... Canonfire! World of GreyhawK
Postcards from the Flanaess
in Greyhawk
Cities of
Jason Zavoda Presents
The Gord Novels
Greyhawk Wiki
    An Alternative History of the Scarlet Brotherhood (Part 2)
    Posted on Sun, October 17, 2021 by LordCeb
    ArtharntheCleric writes "Part 2 of an article on how the Order of the Scarlet Sign might have stayed in the shadows in the Flanaess, pulling the strings in the Kingdom of Shar.

    By Paul “Artharn the Cleric” Jurdeczka

    A Monk of Fife” (page 208); by Andrew Lang (1896) (British Library Catalogue digital ID 014815487)

    Published Sources (continued)

    A continuation of how the published sources need to change:

    The Scarlet Brotherhood provides a history of the Order that must be amended for them to withdraw into the shadows:

    Eventually the travelers emerged from the swamp, at the narrowest part of the Tilvanot (“south-hill”) peninsula. Liking the cool breezes and misty skies of this place, they continued south and west and came at last to a great mesa, where they found a colony of several thousand followers of the Suel Emperor’s son Zellif Ad-Sol, who had been living there since 5071 SD (-445 CY). Zellif’s people had claimed the peninsula as their own, driving away, bargaining with, or enslaving the humanoid and Flan tribes there. Earlier that year Zellif had disappeared into the Griffs far to the north for an unknown purpose. 

    However, Zellif had led a group of refugees including those loyal to him from the Suel Imperium prior to the Rain of Colorless Fire, fleeing the internal strife and opportunism that allowed Suel houses to eliminate rivals. They greeted Kevelli and his “loyalists” with some suspicion. The Order and its purpose were not known beyond the highest levels of the Imperial government (now dead for the most part), and had occurred prior to Zellif and his followers leaving, but Kellevi and those with him were known to be or clearly loyal to the previous Emperor and regime. Those nobles who had fled with Zellif had been ruling the colony as a council until Zellif returned, and could rule for or appoint a regent for Zellif’s young son if he did not.

    Kevelli’s tale of the Rain of Colorless Fire dismayed the colony’s members, but to Kevelli’s disappointment took this as confirmation they had been right to flee the Imperium and its flaws. Kevelli could see that the Order’s views and aims could lead to internal conflict in the short term if pressed. While the Suel colonists were resistant to certain aspects of the old order resuming, they were still clearly Suel. They looked down on the native inhabitants of the Tilvanot peninsula, and were quite willing to enslave them in the same way the Imperium had enslaved other races. The colonists were also trying to create a new Suel realm echoing the old - in culture, architecture, social norms and worship of the Suel gods. Kellevi took a long term approach to this challenge. First the Suel must master themselves, then they could master all others. The Order would ensure this, even if it had to do so in secret. 

    Kellevi could see the way to do this - the Suel religions. The Suel had continued to be faithful followers of their gods in the years since fleeing their lands. Years of travelling had forged their faith in their gods, who had continued to watch over them in that time. The colonists had built shrines and temples to their gods in their new lands, and the priests of those gods played a major part in daily life including schooling the nobles’ children. 

    However, the plantation economy that had begun to emerge in the colony was a danger to staying true to the Suel ways. Suel farmers and workers had to deal with and supervise the Flan that had been enslaved and worked the fields, or that continued to live in the adjoining areas yet to be brought under the colonists’ full control. Consorting with “inferior” races raised the risk of diluting the purity of the Suel race, and exposing the Suel to heretical beliefs and worship of the Flan gods. So Kellevi’s first step was to gain the support of the Suel churches, and begin to infiltrate them with those loyal or beholden to the Order at the upper levels. The Order did not need to control every person, for now, just those in charge. Through the churches the Order could ensure the beliefs and breeding of the colony remained pure. 

    Kellevi also knew the displaced Suel were still vulnerable, as much to infighting as external threats. He might have sought to claim a key role in the fledgling colonial government or nobility himself, given his noble blood, but instead he sought to simply advise and counsel (a model the Order would employ to great effect over the centuries), and again co-opted what already existed. The noble council would rule in place of Zellif until he returned, or his son came of age. In time that son would become King Zellif, the first king of Shar and the first of that name. The name became tradition for the ruler to adopt as their own upon gaining the crown, and continued to the present day. That the Order would rule Shar using a virtual puppet king bearing the name of a man who would probably revile them was ironic. 

    The threat of external foreigners was also used to deal with the threat of internal division. The fragmented Suel were reordered in new houses under the remnant nobles, and each put in charge of a division of the peninsula. Each would be responsible for guarding their part, under the command of the noble council and in time the king. A standing army was organised, but the main protection was provided by putting the humanoids to guarding the northern approaches against any non Suel. At that time the Flanaess was still undeveloped, with the waves of migration from the west still flowing east. The Flan were being overrun by the Suel, with the Oeridians coming behind them. The Tilvanot peninsula was simply the furthest in the Flanaess anyone could travel, and difficult to reach beyond the Vast Swamp. However, the Suel needed to be ready when that eventually happened. For it would. 

    Over time, other Suel refugees came to the Tilvanot peninsula. Kevelli and the Order continued to sow the seeds of their philosophy in Shar minds. Lesser races and minds were responsible for the suffering of the Suel people, and they would repay the debt owed their superiors. Only the wisdom of the Suel could properly guide them all, and prevent the tragedy that had befallen the Suel before. 

    The colony built towns along the coast, and a nascent navy to protect it. However, the main defence was sheer isolation, the powerful mages who could protect the coast with their magicks and controlled monsters, and the humanoid tribes protecting the northern approaches. In time ships would come from foreign lands seeking to trade with the Shar. However, this was always done on Shar’s terms. Only the capital, Kro Terlep, in the north and Ekul, on the east coast, were open to trade. Visitors were not allowed outside demarcated trade districts, and attempting to land elsewhere was punished harshly,being enslaved or simply never being seen again. Those wishing to come to Shar learned to put up with these terms if they wanted to visit. The rare woods, fruits, and spices drew them back, but otherwise the aloof and unassuming Suel nation drew little attention.

    Suel from the north continued to find their way south to the Tilvanot peninsula. Some stayed while others continued on to the south across the shark infested Tilva (“southern”) Strait to the jungles of the continent there. 

    … (paragraph regarding Eri-hep-Mona remains unchanged) …

    Although Kellevi died in 5105 SD (-411 CY) his work continued. His most talented student, Reshek Nes, continued her mentor’s work. She strengthened the Order’s use and control of the churches as a tool of social engineering, creating a scarlet robe wearing monastic order that ostensibly was to enforce the moral and social rules of the Suel churches and culture. However, the Order of the Scarlet Sign, as it was publicly known, was secretly the master not the servant in that relationship. The Order was able to operate in the open, in an apparently humble role that insinuated itself into Shar society. They were able to operate as a virtual secret police force, quietly pulling the strings in Shar life. While the average Shar citizen thought their life ruled by the king, the nobles and the churches, such was simply a facade for the Order that sat behind them all. But also enforcing the regime for them. The Order hid and operated in plain sight - the humble servants of the Shar kingdom.  

    In that role the head of the Order continued to advise the king and council of nobles (and churches), counselling patience and against aggressive moves against any nearby realms. Those that were seen as a threat to the Order or Shar were dissuaded, coerced or died of “natural causes” or “accidents”. In 5271 SD (-245 CY) the Order uncovered a conspiracy amongst three houses to overthrow the king and replace him with an ambitious cousin. The conspirators were arrested, tortured to reveal their fellow traitors, and publicly executed. No opposition to the king’s regime would be tolerated.  The loyalty of the Order to the king and the regime was reinforced in the eyes of all citizens by the uncovering and crushing of the plot. 

    Over time the Order and Shar lapsed into complacency. Kellevi was a visionary whose ambition and drive had carried the Order on, but needed a similar visionary to continue. They would come only every few generations. Preserving and protecting the Suel culture and race in Shar had been secured, and the underlying aim of Kellevi to build a new empire and conquer the Flanaess become more of a dream and less of an agenda. Rare visitors from the outside world saw only a stern nation of patriotic citizens. Any visitor who traveled too far or saw too much disappeared, either into slavery, or torture for information and then death. That complacency would eventually be ended centuries later. 

    The Fate of Istus suggested the cause of the Order beginning to stir, but it is adapted as follows:

    The complacency of Shar was shaken to its roots in 489 CY (6003 SD in the Suel calendar still used by the colonists' descendants). Suddenly Shar was invaded by exotic monsters and a small band of an entirely alien people who bore a disturbing resemblance to certain of the Bakluni. Initial forces that encountered them were driven back in disarray by unarmed monks with fearsome fighting skills, and mages with unusual powers. 

    Irith Van, the head of the Order at the time, sent out agents to investigate and negotiated a secret meeting with the strangers. It proved these people had entered Oerth by a magical portal, created by a powerful mage to escape even more powerful enemies in their homeland of T’u Lung in Kara Tur. The portal had closed behind them, and they had no way to return. Irith Van noted the novel but effective skills of the intruders, which resembled the similar unarmed prowess of some orders of their previous Bakluni enemies according to ancient tomes of Suel history preserved by the Order (see “Fighting Monks”, Oerth Journal #35; Winter 2020/2021). He proposed an alliance, which they accepted.

    Under Irith Van's firm control, the Order was remade. The alliance with the monks was secret to all but the highest circle of the Order. Irith Van and the highest level learned, and then began to teach, the imported martial arts and discipline of the newcomers. There was a radical reorganization of the Order’s by then stale structure, which is what it operates under now. The monks were to become the highest level, and with a new focus on external spying and espionage assassins and thieves developed as the new levels below them in turn. 

    In 6006 SD (492 CY), Irith Van ordered the building of a new headquarters at the location of the strangers' entry on the plateau. It was to become Hesuel Ilshar, the Breedhome of the Suloise - a fortress and city operating as the base of the newly energized Order. The entire episode was erased (or rather never entered so as to need to be) from official histories, and the existence of the newcomers’ descendants remains a strict state secret. In the course of five generations, the precise age of Hesuel Ilshar and the reorganization of the Order was largely forgotten by all but the highest level of the Order. 

    To be concluded in Part 3.

    Related Links
    · More about Power Groups & Organizations
    · News by LordCeb

    Most read story about Power Groups & Organizations:

    The Horned Society

    Article Rating
    Average Score: 0
    Votes: 0

    Please take a second and vote for this article:

    Very Good


     Printer Friendly Printer Friendly

    Associated Topics

    Power Groups & Organizations

    The comments are owned by the poster. We aren't responsible for their content.

    No Comments Allowed for Anonymous, please register

    Re: An Alternative History of the Scarlet Brotherhood (Part 2) (Score: 1)
    by ArtharnTheCleric on Sat, August 20, 2022
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    I have since rewritten and expanded the article and it is available as a download pdf on my blog:

    Canonfire! is a production of the Thursday Group in assocation with GREYtalk and Canonfire! Enterprises

    Contact the Webmaster.  Long Live Spidasa!

    Greyhawk Gothic Font by Darlene Pekul is used under the Creative Commons License.

    PHP-Nuke Copyright © 2005 by Francisco Burzi. This is free software, and you may redistribute it under the GPL. PHP-Nuke comes with absolutely no warranty, for details, see the license.
    Page Generation: 0.77 Seconds