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SEVRIN LORE: The Fox Den

The underground world of Fox Winterborn and his companions is a complex system that combines the mundane structures of Sevrin–cisterns, basements, root cellars, storm drains, and sewers–with the warren of ancient dwarf-built tunnels and chambers.

The Fox Den is a collection of underground chambers, the top “floor” of what was once a dwarf outpost. The most notable feature of the Den is the Feyglass, a large mirror with an ornately carved stone frame. This appears to be a window intp other times and places, for an ever-shifting vista of mountains, waterfalls, turquoise seas, and exotic cities emerge from the mists.  Fox, who yearns for travel and adventure far from the islands of Sevrin, finds both torment and solace in the Feyglass.

Fox suspects that the mirror might also be a portal into other realms. He found Avidan lying on the floor in front of the mirror, with no memory of how he came to be in the tunnel.  He tried to persuade his companions to move the den, but both Delgar and Vishni were adamant that they remain where they were.  Fox suspects that both the dwarf and the fairy know more about the Feyglass than they’re willing or able to share.

Thanks to Delgar’s skill at stoneshifting, the path to the Den is an ever-shifting maze.  Rhendish has tried for years to discover the secret of Fox’s ability to move through the city unseen and to disappear at will.  The adept wishes to do more than apprehend the thief, more than recover the trove of weapons and magical items Fox has been stockpiling for nearly a decade.  It is obvious to him that Fox has access to powerful allies, and he wants to know who they are and what their purposes might be.

SEVRIN LORE: Troll Watch

Sevrin is made of of seven main islands, as well as many small outlying islands, some of them no bigger than a couple of jagged rocks thrusting out of the sea. One of the northernmost islands, Troll Watch, is large enough to support a few wild sheep and perhaps a small fishing community.  Indeed, some scattered stone ruins suggest that it was inhabited at one time, but no one one has lived on Troll Watch within the span of human memory.

In addition to the bleak landscape and rocky sea barriers, Troll Watch is rendered forbidding by a circle of ten-foot-tall standing stones, the origin of which is unknown.

About fifteen years ago, a fisherman casting herring nets nearby noted that the stone nearest the shore was getting a little rough around the edges. Curious, he came closer, only to have his boat dashed to pieces on the rocks. He managed to climb onto a piece of wreckage and was picked up the following day.  He died of exposure and cold before nightfall, and his ravings about “awakening trolls” were dismissed as delirium.

But when another fisherman noted the changing stones, someone remembered the dead man’s story.  The adepts sent Gatherers to investigate Troll Watch.  They affirmed that the standing stones did appear to be changing.  The likeness to trolls was faint, but too pronounced and uniform to dismiss as the random effect of wind and water erosion.

The adepts dismissed this phenomenon as the work of men who possessed an excess of time, mischief, and chisels.  But they secretly established a small community of watchers  on the island to make sure this was not, in fact, what was happening.  The standing stones continue to evolve into troll shape, for reasons no one can ascertain.

The adept Muldonny was particularly interested in this mystery.  He had one of the stones pulled down and shipped to his fortress workshop on Stormwall Island.  A man of great imagination and ingenuity, he thought it entirely possible that someone might have cloaked statues in a rock-like substance that would erode in response to some as-yet-unknown  trigger.  He spent several years chipping off small bits of stone and testing it for the presence of solvents and other signs of alchemical interference.

As time when on, Muldonny talked less and less about his experiments, and he looked increasingly uneasy when the subject came up.  It was noted that Muldonny turned pale when Rhendish jokingly said, “If that was a real troll, imagine how unhappy he’d be with you.” Muldonny never spoke of the stone again, but there are quiet (and largely approving) murmurs on Stormwall Island of a certain moonless night and a barge floating out to sea with a cargo of  stone rubble, followed some hours later by a burst of distant fireworks on the watery horizon.

SEVRIN LORE: Captain Volgo

Captain of the adept Rhendish’s personal guard, Volgo epitomizes the northland warrior:  tall, blond, bearded, and massively built.  He is a powerful fighter and has the reputation of being a capable commander.

What fewer people know, however, is that Volgo started his career as a Gatherer, a mercenary who hunts rare animals and members of the old races.  In his youth, he gained fame for killing a young forest dragon.  Before he came to work exclusively for Rhendish, his skills as a hunter were much sought-after.  His personal trophy collection is vast, varied, and more than a little macabre.

A few people wonder what purpose Rhendish might have in employing such a man.  Of course, such speculations are voiced softly, and always behind closed doors.

SEVRIN LORE: Rhendish Manor

Sevrin is the name of an archipelago of seven islands, as well as the name of the largest island.  Each island is ruled by a member of the Council of Adepts, a group of powerful alchemists who joined forces twenty years ago to defeat Sevrin’s previous ruler.  After restoring peace and prosperity, the adepts increasingly left the ruling of Severin to seneschals and returned to the practice of alchemy.  Though they are not in open competition with each other, they are wary and protective of their secrets.  No words could express their attitude more accurately than a single glance at their strongholds.

Rhendish Manor is a city within a city, a walled community crowning the top of Sevrin’s tallest mountain.  The eastern side of the mountain is densely settled.  Rhendish directs the work of master alchemists, journeymen, and apprentices, most of whom live within the Manor’s outer walls.  Alchemists, particularly those who also design clockwork creations, require a vast array of services.  The East Wall is also home to a wide variety of artisans–coopers, leather workers, glass smiths, metal smiths, herbalists–as well as tradesmen, servants, city militia, and the adept’s personal guard.

At the top of the mountain lie the workshops and warehouses needed for the production of clockwork goods for which Sevrin is famous.  This busy area is highly traveled.  Tradesmen, apprentices, servants, merchants, and alchemists come and go, all of them under the watchful eye of Rhendish’s guards.

The adept’s personal quarters are surrounded by yet another wall.  The actual dwelling is a surprisingly modest home of white stone, surrounded by a garden filled with flower-lined walkways and shaded by trees that grow nowhere else on the island.

The west side of the mountain is a rocky drop into the valley below.  A few goats browse the lower slopes, but the island’s inhabitants avoid the wall, which is considered too unstable and treacherous to climb.  Those few who attempt it invariably die in rock slides.  Some people wonder, quietly and behind closed doors, if alchemical mysteries or well-placed arrows were the real cause of these deaths.

A notable feature of the West Wall is the Mule, a system of ropes and pulleys and clockwork machinery that carry wooden carriages up the steep slope.  Carts carry goods up the winding streets of the East Wall, but the Mule is popular with people wish to avoid the climb, as well as those who enjoy the novelty of riding in a carriage that soars high above the rocky slope.

There are rumors of other paths into Rhendish’s stronghold, most of them based on old tales of a lost dwarven civilization.  Other than a few tunnels for street runoff, some excellent wells, and an underground cistern, Rhendish has found no evidence of this supposed network.

Sevrin’s inhabitants known the area as Crystal Mountain, not because of the mineral content of the mountain but in reference to Rhendish’s fascination for crystals and their properties. From time to time the locals wonder what use Rhendish might make of the exotic gems and crystals he collects, but for the most part they are too pleased with their comfortable, prosperous lives to ask many questions.