Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Saron’s Gorge


Welcome…welcome traveler to Saron’s Gorge, where we mine the finest iron in Amroth and the days are filled with wonder. I see that you are wearing a sword and armor, adventurer yes? Well if it is adventure you seek, then you have come to the right place. You know, most of Amroth was elven lands once, now there are only few elves left, some say they live in the Elderwood – I do not know if that is true or not but in the nearby Umbral Woods, I have heard of old ruins, some say old elven ruins – no doubt filled with treasure and secrets. Yes, I see your eyes light up, treasure and secrets, not bad eh? But mind you the Umbral Woods is not exactly a safe place, filled with dire wolves, goblins, and from time to time trolls from Blackmoor. As you can see the village is nestled in the mountains; where Lord Stark from time to time hunts wyvern and manticores and just on the other side of the mountains, gnolls, gnolls by the thousands. Every summer they come, into the mountains raiding and pillaging, but not to worry Lord Stark and the Royal Legions will keep us safe. Aside from this, there is plenty of work to find here for a young man as yourself, caravan guard, miner, or as an apprentice in the smithy – and the nights, oh the night – well if you have coin, then I would recommend that you spend them in Dorin’s Inn, where he serves the finest Dwarven spirits and his signature dish, rack of lamb seasoned with fresh spices and if you are lucky, then Dorin will sing. Yes, we have many wonders here in Saron’s Gorge.

Saron’s Gorge was settled more than 250 years ago, when the iron was discovered. The village was named after a large gorge discovered nearby. A small settlement quickly sprang up, mining the iron and shipping it to Dendrith for processing. The settlement was plagued by repeated raids from gnolls, and a small fort was built nearby to protect the main mountain pass leading south, and garrisoned with Royal Legionnaires. It was widely accepted that if the iron mined was not of such a high quality, the village would have been abandoned. Out of the way, from the settled lands of Amroth, Saron’s Gorge remained a small village until King Theomin III came to power 30 years ago. As a sign of favor, King Theomin III granted the lands surrounding Saron’s Gorge and the responsibility of the mining and the foresting to one of his oldest and staunchest supporters; Duke Eddard Stark. Since Duke Stark has taken over, the village has grown considerably and has now become a small town. Duke Stark built a lumber mill to process the lumber harvested in nearby Umbral Wood, and constructed a small keep, where the Stark family lives alongside their Household guards and servants. With the Duke came several of his retainers, who also settled in the town among them Lady Amara, Dorin and Volgan Ravenscar.

Saron’s Gorge is located in the South-Western tip of Amroth, nestled in the mountains, approximately, half a day from the Umbral Woods. Saron’s Gorge has grown considerably over the last 30 years to a population of approximately 1500, excluding the 100 Royal Legionnaires. Most of the people work either in the lumber mills or in the mine, but with the growth of the town several craftsmen have set-up shop in the city including a blacksmith, a tanner, carpenter and a large inn. There are also a number of shepherds, living in the mountains surrounding Saron’s Gorge, where they tend to their flocks. Once a year, they drive the sheep into town, where their wool is cut and shipped north to Amroth City. The town is divided into three; 1) the mine site, where many of the miners also live in what is being called “shack-town”, 2) the lumber mills, where the craftsmen have set-up shop and the Foaming Mug is located. There are two lumber mills in Saron’s Gorge; one built by Duke Stark which supplies much of the raw material for buildings and support for the mine and a smaller mill owned by Karl Rainier which focuses on black willow exports and 3) the town center where the keep, two general stores and the inn Dorin’s Rest is located. In the town center many of the well-to-do families live. Recently a small chapel was built in the town center, where Father Siegfried now ministers the word of Asterioth.

A short walk from the town center there is a watchtower hailing back to the founding of Saron’s Gorge, where Lady Amara lives.

About a days journey into the mountains from Saron’s Gorge lies the Royal Legion garrison led by Captain Steiner. It is a small fort guarded by 100 Royal Legionnaires, protecting the southern border of Amroth. It is not uncommon to see a few Royal Legionnaires in Saron’s Gorge.

The near-by Umbral Woods is where most of the lumber is harvested. One has to be careful when venturing into it’s darkness for trolls from the Blackmoor swamp venture there. The Umbral Woods are named for the darkness within it. This is mostly due to the black willows growing there. Black willows look much like common weeping willows do, except that the bark of their trunks is pitch black and the leaves on their branches are a dark ash gray. They are ominous and gloomy to behold but their wood is a beautiful jet black and easily takes a glossy luster if polished. Thus small groups of armed woodsmen at times go into the forest to find the finest trees as it’s timber is highly prized in lands as far south as Alakir and as far west as Talaron.

Notable characters:

Duke Eddard Stark: The lord of Saron’s Gorge and the surrounding lands. Duke Stark, also known as just “The Duke” is widely known for his exploits in the wars against Dastana, where he fought alongside King Theomin III. Duke Stark was also a strong supporter of the King during the unification of Amroth. Know as a pious and just man – he has become famous, as he insists on carrying out the King’s Justice personally. He is married to Lady Caroline, the daughter of a Nova Nastaran nobleman and the father of Bran, Arya and Sansa Stark.

Lady Amara: The Lady Amara served Duke Stark during the Dastana Wars, and since followed him to Saron’s Gorge. The Lady is a Weaver of some notability, but keeps to herself. Every so often there are wild rumors of where she is from, what she does in her tower and who her frequent visitors are. However, she has on several occasions used her spells to aid Duke Stark and the people of Saron’s Gorge, most recently when the mine collapsed. She is well-liked, but a favorite subject for gossip among the women of the town.

Volgan Ravenscar: Volgan Ravenscar is a large Vors warrior and the weapon master of the Stark household. He also leads the Household guard; 15 veterans from the Dastana Wars. Known for his great temper and his seemingly endless capacity for drinking ale, he is the favorite companion of Dorin, the innkeeper of Dorin’s Rest. Volgan used to be an adventurer before he came into the service of the Duke, and many a nights he will entertain the customers in Dorin’s Rest with outrageous stories of his skill and previous adventures.

Father Siegfried: Father Siegfried is a young cleric from Othian. He came to Saron’s Gorge at the request of Duke Stark. Ministering to the townsfolk, he is a devout cleric of Asterioth and has built a small chapel in the center of the town. He spends his time teaching the children of the town reading, religion and history. One day a week, he visits the mine, where he and his acolytes care for the miners and their families in a small hospital built by Duke Stark.

Other notable characters: Dorin Wyrmbane (innkeeper: Dorin’s Rest, dwarf), Captain Steiner (Captain of the Royal Legion), Karl Rainier (owner of the Black Willow lumber mill), Thorak Wyrmbane (Dorin’s brother), Tradis Winthrop (innkeeper: The Foaming Mug), Ulrich (blacksmith).

Rumors abound in Saron’s Gorge from gnoll incursions to troll attacks in the Umbral Woods, and wyverns attacking the sheep in the mountains. Most recently, a group of lumberjacks stumbled across some overgrown ruins in the Umbral Woods which they claimed looked ancient. Unfortunately, before they could investigate they were beset by goblins and fled. Since then a few groups of adventures have tried to find the ruins again, but unsuccessfully so far. There have also been rumors of necromancers and stillborn from Dastana infiltrating Amroth, spying, looking for weaknesses and spreading their foul magicks. Recently there was a bandit attack on one of the iron caravans to Dendrith, but it was fought off by the Royal Legionnaires. Rumor has it that Duke Stark have contracted a group of workers from Dorin’s clan to build a smelting facility and a number of forges in order to process the iron ore in Saron’s Gorge, which would lead to more jobs and further growth, but it is unclear how the merchants in Dendrith would view such a venture.

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