It’s late on this Quest of Fire Friday, so thank you for joining me. Recently I’ve been talking about the newest Quest of Fire release, Desperation, but today I wanted to dive back into the lore of the Lowlands. Every time I start to root through the annals of the Lowlands history I discover so much. This time I was investigating Stormridge, a city of ENORMOUS importance to the Quest of Fire series. Here are some stats and hints at both stories told and those to come in the series so, I hope you’ll enjoy diving into this with me.
Founded: 2160 Ancient Era (small settlement), 1300 Middle Era (when Ordumair II rescued it)
Population: 1.2 million (1605 Middle Era)
Political Affiliation: Capitol of Stormridge County, Libertias
Economy: Rare mineral and metals exports, textiles, luxury goods, weapons, and early machinery
Like much of the Northwestern Lowlands, the history of Stormridge before the Middle Era is somewhat murky. It began as a small village at the foothills of the Iomvaire Mountains, founded by early explorers from Tyreenes during the late Ancient Era but was abandoned until well into the Middle Era because of wyverns which nested in the mountain range nearby. The place was known then as Bailewyvern and retained the name for centuries. At some point during the dark period in its history witches inculcated in the arts of Tislatna’s cults came to reside in the boggy microclimate north of the mountains. There they used the naturally occurring and rare carmine berries to produce their elixirs and potions for their dark arts.
Unaware of their presence, a group of Ecthel explorers created a semi-permanent settlement deeper in the mountains. After discovering iron deposits and an abundance of game in the mountains nearby, a permanent town was chartered by Ecthelowall. By 1165 Middle Era the town had about 100 residents.
However, the witches north in Carmine Glades became aware of the town after a small hunting party stumbled on the bogs. Using their potions, they turned the hunting party into carrion. Victims had no control over their wits or actions beyond fulfilling the commands of the witches. They seemed impervious to pain and relentlessly battled on behalf of the witches. The witches descended upon the town.
Surrendering to the witches’ rule, Bailewyvern’s people were tortured and exploited in cruel and despicable ways for nearly a hundred years, their first glimpse of relief came when a band of Knights of Light from Ecthelowall came upon the town. The Knights drove out the witches for a time, but eventually the Knights had to depart. Even so, the experience was a breath of fresh air to the people of the town and ever after that they had at least one Knight among their own number who could help hold the curse of the witches at bay. This tenuous balance on the edge of chaos continued until 1300 Middle Era when Thane Ordumair II, ruler of the dwarfs of Ordumair and Knight of Light came across Stormridge on his route back to Ordumair after his long, brutal campaign against Ecthelowall.
The Thane heard the townspeople’s plight and brashly acted against the counsel of his fellow Knights of Light and stormed the witches’ enclave at Carmine Glades. There he slaughtered every last one of the witches and then continued on his way homeward.
What he didn’t know was one witch before dying conferred a dread curse upon her son and entrusted him a portion of the ancient Tislatnean spells. The son escaped to plot his revenge and deepen with his own dark, twisted schemes for the Lowlands.
With the wyverns and witches gone, the small town of Bailewyvern renamed itself Stormridge and began mining the mountains. In addition to iron, deposits of gold, tin, copper, gypsum, quartz, and marble were found. Positioned between the capitals of the budding Vogteremark and Rehalcy, the town became a city of great prominence and an enormous trade hub. When the war of independence from Ecthelowall began among the colonial counties, Stormridge joined and supplied a steady stream of cash and goods to the armies which ultimately allowed the Ecthel colonies to succeed and form Libertias. Preeminent among Libertian counties, Stormridge continued to thrive and grow so that by the 1600’s of the Middle Era it was perhaps the largest city in the Lowlands.
The county seemed poised for still greater things when its enormously popular count, Eidolon, came to power. The first non-noble born to hold the title, he furthered his prestige by marrying Fiona, the aging Count Rylant of Falconcleft’s daughter. The combined power of the allied counties surpassed that of the rest of Libertias collectively. The Vogteremark to the north was starting to shown signs of weakness, offering potential for conquests and northerly expansion. Still untapped riches lay within the mountains that surrounded Stormridge and as a hub of learning, innovation, and culture, no heights seemed to high for it to soar to, higher even than famed Tislatna dared.
But then disaster struck. Accounts differ and historians are divided on what the proper sequence of events leading to its cataclysmic destruction (read Shadows at Nightfall for a description of what transpired). What is known for certain is that within a span of days the entire city of Stormridge was destroyed. It’s supporting villages and operations ground to a halt and disbanded. Some fleeing in fear of a curse that was blamed. Others because of the sudden war that erupted between Ecthelowall and Libertias. The outcome of which ensured that decades passed without
Stormridge seeing a single person’s return. Centuries went by and still none have dared to tread the ruined grounds of Stormridge again. The storms for which it got its name seem to have grown too fierce and the rains too heavy to make even crossing past it to reach its mines feasible. In time other great cities arose and alternate routes of trade and abundant caches of resources replaced the need for Stormridge’s wealth. And so, it sits, abandoned, a gigantic scar on the Lowlands history and landscape. It’s secrets and dangers hidden until discovered in 350 Modern Era, by one who would use the relics of its dark past for sinister ends.
I hope you enjoyed reading about the history of Stormridge. There’s still more to discover for this troubled town which will be revealed in due time. For now, here’s some pictures of real world places that remind me of aspects of Stormridge and of course some sketches from Shadows at Nightfall of scenes which take place there:
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