Eberron: A Confession of Pain
When the glass shattered in Sharn, eighty years ago, the hawkish consulars and redeemers of Thrane foresaw a time when they may need strong footholds on the edges of their domain. Stone by stone, year after year, Greyghast grew on the northeastern shores of Lake Brey. Though the city was small, the Zealots spared no expense on raising it’s walls high and strong. And by the time the Warforged first walked under the sun and marched to their battles, Greyghast stood proud—a critically important forward scouting location, well provisioned and well outfitted.
The War raged on.
Marquis Mina Thimig, lady governor of the Greyghast outpost, held the city as the Last War hit city after city, throughout the empire—her orders from her masters in the Empire being to be ready always and stand fast.
As Haruuc’s hobgoblin Rebellion in Breland gained momentum, Thimig defended the city of Greyghast from mercenaries, irregulars, militia, even soldiers—all looking for plunder and bloodlust. Very little serious thought was given to the tiny city and its formidable defenses—in truth, it protected nothing of great strategic value. Nevertheless, Greyghast endured the waning years of the Last War with the pride of having never fallen.
…until the Betrayal.
In 991, the new rulers of Aundair and Karrnath formed a secret pact with the Lord Militant of Breland’s Northern Armies—Kairn Kaizer-Shenk—to take the city of Greyghast from Thrane, robbing the Devouts of one of their more popular pieces of propaganda—the impenetrability of their fortress city. The siege lasted four months, thousands of citizens and soldiers of Greyghast died. And all the while, Marquis Thimig held. Such were her orders, and she’d hold until every last person was dead.
As winter came and the city endured, Thimig received new orders—a peace had been signed with Breland and armed conflict was over—that Greyghast was part of the bargain. With heavy heart, but true sense of duty, Thimig raised the gates.
The slaughter was horrific. Fifteen thousand soldiers, men, women, children… all… dead. Murdered in a red sack of Greyghast—all the anger and resentment of the armies that sieged the city for months was taken out on the populace. Thimig and a handful of citizens and nobles escaped across the lake in the night, taking the river out to Cyre where Count Zanson ir’Novio had cousins that could give them shelter until they could make their way to Aruldusk or Flamekeep and tell their masters what happened.
Count ir’Novio’s kin were hospitable, taking the refugees of Greyghast in and making plans to smuggle them to Thrane—the Novio’s of Cyre were deeply tied to the intelligence operations of their nation and proved to be adept at hiding and moving their charges as the war raged on around them. It was two weeks, hiding outside of Moil, and during that time the Novio’s uncovered a devastating truth.
The leaders of Thrane, the Cardinals and pontifexes and generals, had conspired against the coming forces marching on Greyghast. They knew. And more than that, they encouraged it—leaving the southern roads open right to the city. The siege bought Thrane time to push their fronts in other places, and just as it seemed as though the city might triumph and the army might leave or press farther north, they ordered Thimig to open the gates… and by allowing the tired, hungry, and frustrated soldiers into Greghast, Thrane launched a new propaganda campaign about the savagery of their enemy and their inhumanity. The bloodlust had been the product of a ritual performed by the great deacons and priests of the Silver Flame, intended to turn a sack into a horror.
And it worked.
Thimig and her city, her people, used as a shield and then sacrificed for a marketing campaign—lied to. Her friends and so many thousands of subjects… all dead. All murdered by one army from a betrayal by another. The chaos of the Last War went beyond the folksongs—the tragedies were real.
Thimig wandered the lands of the Brey River with her people, less than a hundred survived Greyghast. Staying ahead of the soldiers and brigands was hard, but by 994, they made their way back to their city—now an empty, burned husk of what it was. Abandoned. Lost. Desolate.
And they began to rebuild. These original refugees, those that came home—they are the First and whether cobbler or noble or drunkard in the street, they are awarded the respect and deference they deserve for having survived the Betrayal and come back to rebuild the city they lost. Marquis Thimig resumed her post as governor of the city and, like squatters in a run-down tenement building—the First survived the winter.
When the calamity that destroyed Cyre came in 994, and refugees from what was left in that blighted and devastated place fled to all corners, many passed Greyghast on their way west, either overland or from the river. Several of them, it had turned out, were Novios of Moil—those who had sheltered the Greyghastians. Where they had once aided, now they were given such aid.
Denning ir’Willhom and Hags Krehl, both powerful and wealthy men of Cyre’s nobility, had hidden and protected Thimig during that hard time, and when they refound each other there in Greyghast, they struck a bargain.
The three settled many of the refugees fleeing Cyre or the War to the North and South, raised soldiers from the rag-tag new citizens to hold the walls, and re-founded Greyghast as an independent city-state—a nation unto itself. It’s independence was a slap in the face to Thrane and Thimig’s survival proved to be an embarrassment to Breland and Aundair. Only Karrnath seemed uninterested in the declaration.
In only a few years, the Treaty of Thronehold was proposed and the Marquis of Greyghast (all three, now: Thimig, Willhom, and Krehl) sent their own delegation to the convention. The wealth of both Willhom and Krehl greased the palms of many diplomats and by exhausting it entirely—two fortunes raised over generations, gone in the span of a week—they managed to ensure that included in the war ending treaty was the acknowledgement that Greyghast was an independent entity from the Five Nations, it’s own city-state.
The Marquis used their influence to bring together others who had lost much during the War. The dejected. The betrayed. Those who had been crushed under the heel of the great Nations in their quest for power. These refugees came along with visionaries and opportunists… all came to Greyghast.
Publicly, Greyghast struggles to initiate diplomatic relations with the major nations of Khorvaire. Their people build new settlements near the city. They ply their trades. They ship goods. They build a nation, quietly and proudly. Their motto is “Peace and Prosperity”.
Beneath the surface, however, the city never forgets. The Marquis and nobles and veterans… they do not forget. The Creed is Greghasts clandestine services, drawn from the citizenry, all of whom are vetted. The true motto of Greghast is “Never Again”. This secret organization was formed to protect the city and avenge itself on the great nations that had hurt it, slaughtered it, conspired against it, and betrayed it.
Citizens of Greyghast have all left something behind, and see the world as one where they are defiantly surviving with enemies all around. Never again…