The Heart of Barsaive
Kaer Ardanyan history pt 1
Before the Scourge, the Theran Empire ruled over the province of Barsaive. The Therans tamed the wilderness by constructing roads and trade flourished almost everywhere. Not all cities and towns were connected by Theran roads, however, and alternative trade routes emerged where the roads did not reach.
One of these trade routes developed in the foothills of the southern Throal Mountains. It was Throal’s link to the Serpent River, where a Theran road ran from the city of Parlainth to the settlements along the coast of the Aras Sea. Back in those times, dwarven engineers decided to build their own road and a bridge across the Serpent River. Theran governor Kern Fallo disliked the idea; his secret intent was to keep the dwarven kingdom small. Without support and protection from Theran cavalry, the route to Throal remained largely insecure—the caravans were easy prey for ork scorchers and brigands.
The trade route forked in the forests between the Coil and Alidar rivers, allowing travelers to reach the settlements in the south. This crossing was the site of a shrine devoted to Rashomon—a place where the questor Ardan Yan blessed travelers with courage and endurance for the rest of their journey. Many people rested here, and used the opportunity to trade with the elves of the nearby forests. Over time, as more people settled down in the area, the crossing slowly turned into a permanent village.
Ork scorchers became interested in the site when it became palisaded, watching the settlement carefully. On a clear night, they attacked, razing the place without mercy, and slaying the few warriors brave enough to take up the fight. Ardan Yan died along with them. The scorchers took everything they could load upon their massive thundra beasts.
After the ork scorchers had moved on, the elves decided to rebuild the village, Naming it Ardanyan in honor of the fallen questor. Word spread fast, and soon other questors came to expand the shrine into a larger temple. Wealthy Throalic merchants funded the construction for their own interests, and provided mercenaries to protect the village from further scorcher raids. The elves soon found themselves governing a small town that was growing so fast that bigger walls were needed for defense against scorcher attacks.
A few decades before the Scourge, the town council negotiated with Theran officials to receive the Rites of Protection and Passage. A settlement of the size of Ardanyan was barely worth the Therans’ attention, so they suggested that the people of Ardanyan join a bigger kaer instead of constructing their own. When the council members insisted on purchasing the Rites, the Therans grudgingly demanded a price so high in goods, gold, and slaves, that the town would not have been able to afford to build their own kaer if they agreed to the deal.
Negotiations were again taken up when dwarven stonemasons found deposits of precious gold and silver in the nearby foothills. They took this as evidence of a cache of elemental earth buried deeper below the surface. Supporting the masons with Elementalists to dig into the hills faster than usual, enough elemental earth was mined to pay the Therans for the Rites without resorting to slavery. And there was still plenty more True earth to be found.
Rich from their find, Ardanyan’s council hired the famous dwarven architect Ghandoz to plan the construction of the kaer. Four large halls were carved out of the natural caves near the mines. Like an orb-shaped shield, protective runes were dimensioned to incorporate the surrounding rock—providing sufficient space for further excavation during the Scourge without risk of disturbing the kaer’s wards. The temple of Rashomon was integrated into the central hall where fantastic mosaics and paintings decorated the long hallways. The domes of the halls were painted sky-blue and enhanced with illusion magic to make everyone forget that they were underground.