The Night of Short Chains is the initial event that sparks off the Great War of Stygia following the arrival of the Fourth Great Maelstrom. The Grim Legion, under the direction of the Smiling Lord, springs forth and attacks the European Necropoli. The armies overthrow local Anacreons, take over strategic buildings and areas, and declare the area under the rule of the Smiling Lord. While a few Anacreons muster defenses, none are successful in keeping the Grim Legion out; many of the newly reaped support the Smiling Lord because of his policies of revenge, best shown in the division known as the Bloody Legionnaires.

On this night, the Smiling Lord also sends his best spies and assassins to the Seat of Succor to capture and overthrow the Laughing Lady. She manages to escape with the help of loyal members of the Penitent Legion and goes into exile. The Smiling Lord rewards her mask to another who will do his bidding; while some divisions of the Penitents remain loyal to the true Laughing Lady, several accept the replacement and declare allegiance with the Grim Legion, fattening his armies with some of the fiercest warriors in the Shadowlands.