Saturday, January 30, 2010

Mierg's Sites of Interest

Mierg is a shattered kingdom, a broken land filled with danger, intrigue and perhaps even a little hope left for one day seeing a true leader that will unite the kingdom. Made up of jungles teeming with deadly wildlife, dormant volcanoes with caldera communities, high plains where highwayman and outlaws roam and an expansive swamp and moor to the south, Mierg is not the first place you’d want to travel to in Valtyr. However, for all its inhospitable terrain, the “lands of the Broken Crest” (as it is derogatorily called elsewhere in the world) are active with brilliant politicians, specialty groups selling almost any service you can find, and the fabled gates leading to the place where Lords of Shadow were banished from the world at the end of the Great War. It is a place filled with ancient history and secretive factions that still fight hidden battles against once another.

Like most other nations, Mierg boasts a few places of wonder that exist outside its busy cities and cloistered towns. Within Valtyr Chronicles, you can explore many more places like those listed below, but these are some of the more noteworthy sites within the lands of the Broken Crest.

Sunken Keep:
Half submerged deep within the Mordish Swamp in the south of Mierg lies an amazing site: a great building made of limestone and a strange green rock. The structure is covered in moss, lichen and other forms of plant-life. Five great towers sprout up from a curving wall like thorns on a vine. The building’s perimeter forms a type of rounded pentagram. In the center of the monolithic keep are several smaller buildings with domes roofs made of the same green stone, each damaged and ravaged by time. The keeps southern end dips down lowest into the swamp, actually submerging most of the lower level and lending the building its name – the Sunken Keep. Strange creatures and wildlife have formed their lairs within the abandoned keep, creating a bizarre habitat for deadly beasts.

No one is sure who built the Sunken Keep, or what its original purpose was. It was discovered sometime in the middle of the Age of Wonders, after the establishment of Mierg as a new nation by King Cyrus. Those who have visited the site say they hear half-spoken whispers and see things shifting in the corner of their eyes. Samples of the strange green rock have been gathered and studied from those brave and lucky enough to venture inside the keep and return alive. However, the rock dissolves to a greenish slime that emits a foul stench within a few days of leaving the confines of the swamp’s border. The Citadel believes the rock to have some connection to the Voss in a way they have never seen before and often hires expeditions of thrill seekers as escorts to see if they can learn more about what this could mean for magic and the world.

Most folk that know of the Sunken Keep steer far clear from both it and Mordish Swamp. If the attacks from over-sized alligators, water Primordials, and disease carrying insects aren’t enough, the rumors of groups of Ithrak and Dark Elves roaming the swamp sure are. Recently, tales of the Indigo Children (a group of such foul beings led by a demon) taking up residence in the Sunken Keep have cropped up. Strange multi-colored glows have been reported near the Sunken Keep and a blood-curling howl sometimes echoes across the swamp in the dead hours of the night. Whatever the Sunken Keep once was is still a mystery, but some are more concerned with what the keep might one day become.

Ruins of Tower Gur’rathi:
One of the greatest tragedies to befall the Citadel was the destruction of the Tower Gur’rathi in Mierg during the first days of the Great War. One a spire of dark stone with blue-whorl designs carved into its surface and two prominent minarets, Tower Gur’rathi was an early haven for those born with the gift of magic. It also served as the leading Tower of its days for transporting students to the Tower Veresth in Nilea for their final test into the ranks of sorcery. In the Age of Wonder, the High Council in the Tower Verseth administered all final tests for young apprentices. Tradition dictated that, when the time came, apprentices and their teachers would travel twice a year to Nilea to undergo this ritual. Tower Gur’rathi held sway for being the most convenient place to study prior to the test.

When the Storm Knights began their pogrom of the sorcerers, they chose Gur’rathi as their first place to attack. Thinking that if they cut the tree at its stump, they could stem the flow of magic into the world, they besieged the ill-prepared Tower Gur’rathi and laid waste to it. Hundreds died that fateful night and magic was dealt a great blow to be sure. Even Gu’rathi’s animated guardians, the golems, could not stem the tide of devastation wrought by the Storm Knights. The tower was torn down and destroyed in equal parts siege and magical wards.

These days all that remains are the foundation stones and pieces of giant rock that lay scattered about a strip of plain. If one looks closely enough, they can still see some f the faded whorl patterns in bits of the scattered rock walls that once formed the keep. Any magical treasures that might have once been buried under the explosion have all been excavated. Still, hundreds of sorcerers travel to Mierg and visit this site if for no other reason then to see a living piece of their history and pay homage to the souls that died to defend their gift.

There is a legend within the Citadel that the secrets to controlling the now free-willed golems were lost with Tower Gur’rathi. A member of the newly formed Lodge of Twilight (a group of alchemists, defected Citadel sorcerers and wayward monks) named Edrund Cole claims to have discovered a manuscript that had escaped Gur’rathi during the raid, which details part of the ritual to command the golems. Edrund is a savvy man and knows well that such a document is priceless in the right hands. If the rumors are true, the Citadel would do anything to get their hands back on that manuscript.

The Lost Outpost:

The Lost Outpost is a bit of a joke among the more militant members of Mierg. Not really an outpost at all, the structure is actually an old lighthouse that helped ships sail between the Tradesgate Bluffs and the tip of Syr’s L’lorith peninsula into Brightwater Bay. The saying was coined because the lighthouse was used as a lookout station and emergency port during the Great War. However, no great threat even came from Syr’s navy within the confines of Brightwater Bay. In fact the outpost never saw a single day of fighting, despite it being so close to rival armies. Those knights or mercenaries assigned to the lighthouse were either seen as incompetent or were being punished for some transgression against a superior. For all intents and purposes it was a dead end task and an insult to those assigned there.

Today, the Lost Outpost still stands and continues to perform its original task as the guiding light for ship captains sailing to and from the bay. What is interesting to note about this location though is that it has a series of natural caves that stretch some ways under the lighthouse itself and wind down to the seashore and into the cliff face. Within these tunnels are pockets of rooms where those who were once assigned to man the station hid stolen or valuable treasures. Few know of these caves and even fewer of the hidden riches that were left there when the tide of the War shifted. Occasionally someone will arrive at the lighthouse and disappear from the caretakers’ eyes, reappearing days later with sacks filled with bulging items. Perhaps some great secret still lies within the belly of the Lost Outpost, or perhaps it was not such a dead end assignment after all to those who knew where to look.

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