The Iron Wind
The Iron Wind is some unknown manifestation of Unlife in the Shadow World history. It is known "only as a power", and "only through its minions." Among these include the Dragonlord Oran Jatar, Ordainers, and the Priests Arnak. The evil priests will pretend to be lovers of knowledge, or even Loremasters, to gain the trust of local populations in order to destroy them. There are six orders of Priests Arnak, each adopting its own thematic region. They each have a branch of dark assassins called Messengers. Language about servants of the Unlife infiltrating and destroying civilizations refers to them or Lorgalis.
The Iron Wind is an unusual situation because "The Iron Wind" source book, published in 1980 and 1984, is older than the first edition of the Shadow World Master Atlas (1989). The text from these older books is sometimes carried forward with new context into later books. In the Shadow World setting it is almost a synonym for the Priests Arnak, who are the force of Unlife on the continent of Jaiman.
The Priests Arnak wear powerful signet rings that bind them to each other. The Quellbourne region was destroyed by Zenon under the influence of the High Priest of Athimurl, and the Orders of Gaath and Athimurl control the adjacent forest of Lu'nak and the Black Forest of Dir. This is the Ugus Fost story with the Shards which was retconned from the earlier "The Iron Wind" source book. The founders of Quellburn were from Zor, implicitly fleeing the forces of Dansart. This is the source book context, and Ditmar's Tale refers to their Dragonlord, but it is dubious if this actually mattered in GemStone III.
|Thematic Symbol||Priests Arnak||High Priest||Orientation||Focus|
|Cult of the Dragon||Gaath||Umro (?)||Northern isles and coasts||Xa'ar, Saralis, Mur Fostisyr|
|Cult of the Snow Lion||Athimurl||Dagoth (?)||Northern forest realms||Lu'nak, Wuliris, Quellbourne|
|Cult of the Sea Drake||Yarthraak||Aeryk||Coastal regions||U-Lyshak|
|Cult of the Desert Wolf||Dansart||Osaran||Deserts||Zor, N. Rhakhaan|
|Cult of the Great Horse||Thargondaak||"The Pale Man"||Plains||S. Rhakhaan, Meluria|
|Cult of the Hawk||Lyak||"Priestess"||Riverine cultures||Tanara, Urulan|
(Note: Aeryk is defined in 1989 in the Jaiman book, but the other high priests are named later. The stats for the high priests Gaath and Athimurl are in The Iron Wind books.)
The Cult of the Sea Drake has obeyed Lorgalis for most of its existence. Kestrel Etrevion may have served within its fleet during the Wars of Dominion, but only if "The Legend of the Necropolis of Etrevion" was leaning enough into the Shadow World internal logic for this to matter, since Lorgalis is the one who controlled access to this region in the Wars of Dominion. In the Third Era at present the Order of Gaath is undermining Lorgalis in his holdings to the west of the Kelfour's Landing region (Xa'ar), and Athimurl is undermining the Dragonlord Sulthon Ni'shaang to the east (Lu'nak). This is a considerable source of friction between the two dragon lords, who are actually brothers, but who go about conquest in very different ways. These factions all want to claim the region immediately south of the Landing (Saralis).
These were the surrounding conditions of 6050 Third Era when GemStone III was initially set. Some of this is mentioned in the Kelfour Edition newsletters in pieces written by players, but there is nothing to indicate that this was functionally relevant. The Shadow World timeline diverges from this trend in later books. Within a few years later Sulthon Ni'shaang, for instance, instead invades south into Zor.
Behind the Scenes
The Council of Light has a superficial resemblance to the Iron Wind, with its two branches of dark assassins and secret infiltrators impersonating knowledge lovers. Beyond this there is nothing to suggest the Shadow World materials actually matter to the design of the Council of Light. The Grand Poohbah's rhetoric about his adversary could refer to the Lord High Cleric of the temple or even later stuff that never happened. The Iron Wind is present in this region in the source books. The Order of Gaath is the one that handles northern coastal realms, and they always work with the Order of Athimurl regardless.