Fool’s Gold (Quest of Fire Friday)

 

This week’s #QuestOfFireFriday post is a bit of Lowlands history and a bit of a sad story. This is the story of Pepin’s Fjord:

Northwestern Lowlands-Albaron territory
Topographical map of Albaron territory during the Middle Era.

Pepin the Foolhardy, son of Albaron’s Laird Klaus was first in line for his father’s throne. But he was only a teen when his father took ill and left many in doubt over who should succeed the Laird when he died. Pepin’s mother, Lady Helene of Hildecrest, had told him stories of treasures in the icy northern realm of the Knors. At that time, no one could reach those lands save by a costly overland route through Ord and Dag-Votere lands. A sea route to the north would make Albaron rich by cutting the travel from the powerful Monarchy of Ecthelowall to Knorland from many weeks to days.

By late summer of 785 M.E., Pepin’s venerated father is succumbing to his illness. He sees his position as tenuous and wants to make a name for himself, and thereby make his claim to the throne sure. Ignoring the wisdom of his parents and counselors, he gathers his closest friends and makes the trek east.

The trip is arduous, taking months to navigate the harsh mountainous terrain. It claims half his men, but Pepin reaches what he believes a natural harbor in a fjord, which he names for himself. Quickly setting up a series of cabins for permanent habitation, Pepin plans to use it as a launching point for ships to Knorland and as a supply depot for his expedition. He sends back half of his remaining men to bring word to his people of his success and direct settlers and supplies to “Pepin’s Fjord”. Only one of the men survived to reach Alba’s capital, Caldoness. There he finds the Laird has recovered, but winter has set in and no one can make the journey till spring.

When spring comes, the Laird personally leads the party to Pepin’s Fjord. There they discover a horrid, icy mess, as the fjord freezes in the winter and still hadn’t thawed, making it impossible to use as a year round port. They find the settlement is also abandoned with only the cryptic message, “IT ENDS!” scrawled on the interior of Pepin’s cabin. Search was made for him and his men, but none were ever found. The Laird thought the Knors had perhaps come and shepherded his son to their lands, but Klaus’s men whispered fears of icy beasts devouring them.

August Era of the Lowlands political map
Political map of the lands from the story. The western portion of the region is ruled by Ecthelowall’s Commonwealth by the August (modern) Era of the Lowlands.

Heartbroken, the Laird returned to Caldoness. Lady Helene never left her bed chambers after the news of Pepin’s disappearance and Klaus ended his years of rule a hard, calloused man. With no heir, the family’s dynasty of three generations ended, as did the marital alliance between Albaron and the Dag-Vogtere. No one inhabited Pepin’s Fjord, known after as Pepin’s Folly, till year 175 of the August Era when Chancellor Klaus of the newly formed Vogteremark sought out the place, having heard stories of Albaron’s like-named ruler and his sorrows there. Succeeding where Pepin failed, he turned it into a mining town, having found small deposits of gold nearby. He issued an edict forbidding any to call it Pepin’s Folly again.

 

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