Thieves & Kings
The largest and most well-known of the ruined towns in the western forests of the Echo Wood, Mosswater was abandoned in 1000 TR when a series of terrifying troll attacks killed hundreds and sent the survivors fleeing to Thornkeep.
Today, empty shops and ivy-covered houses stand silently along the weed-infested banks of Candlemere Bog. Wherever visitors wander in the ruins, the weathered bones of those who did not escape the town’s doom crunch underfoot – a grim warning to anyone who dares tread among the haunted avenues and alleys of Mosswater. Most travellers avoid the remnants of the village. though some treasure-hunters still come here from time to time, looking for lost wealth left behind during the panic of its abandonment.
The lake known as Candlemere, is notorious in the region for being haunted. Long before the trolls took the town, stories from fishermen, bandits and local hunters alike supported the argument with eerie tales of strange lights dancing upon the waters, blood-curdling cries of lost souls, and mysterious shapes rippling through the lake’s depths. And then there are the tales of the “Candlemere Lights”, flickering spheres of color seen dancing over the lake and along its shores.
The origins of the town are ancient, and date to the lowland tribes of Ninnellen that came to these lands in 472 BT, where they roamed as nomadic woodsfolk for almost 600 years. The Kingdom of Zog conquered them around TR 409, placing the collar of servitude on them and taking most away to leave only a handful of their reputed “Truth Stones” to mark their passing.
In TR 506, a small band of settlers, claiming descent from the ancient Greatwyrm clan, began wandering the area, eventually founding a settlement on the site around TR 515, when their leader, the great warrior Seldin Greatwyrm, began using the island in the Candlemere as a fort for his people against goblin depredations. Strategically placed, with good soils and fish abundantly available, as well as an easily quarried stone from a nearby soapstone deposit, the settlement prospered for decades. The pots and and carvings made from soapstone quickly became a popular trade good among local tribes.
Vandryn Greatwyrm (TR 561-617) further improved the town by encouraging traders as far away as Mornhaven, though the threat of local bands of goblins and their kin remained ever-present. In TR 581, the Mangai built a hall and began spreading its traditions and skills among the local settlers. Bjan Greatwyrm (TR 620-670), Vandryn’s grandson, further expanded his holdings, conquering several small nearby tribes and and his son Valen founded the realm of Greatwyrm in TR 672, claiming the title of Baron. Valen proved to have a different mind-set from his ancestors, valuing coin and being known for his cunning and political savvy. For several centuries, his descendants proved very astute to politics, and gave up most of their raiding and primitive traditions. The region didn’t develop further, however, due to its distance from important centers of trade, and general isolation.
The region become valuable, however, with the rise of the Kingdom of Mercia in Mornhaven (TR 757-796). Sarrokson Greatwyrm (TR 791-872) built the first stone fort on the island, and greatly improved its defenses from TR 852-857. From a minor branch of that clan, he usurped the position of clan leader, and dedicated himself in later years to the teachings of Korg, abandoning his heritage as “…the son of great Sarrok…”, for that religion’s more pastoral and civilized traditions. He granted the sect a large land holding in TR 859, inviting their priests to build a temple and improve the abilities of his clan in agriculture.
Hlan Greatwyrm (TR 847-928), his son continued to build on his father’s traditions, founding numerous small settlements nearby, but the rise of Antonis Darkstar in founding Thornkeep in TR 865 over-shadowed much of his successes. He developed the island fort’s defenses further, fearing that realm’s bandits, replacing its wooden palisades with local stone, constructing stone bridges, and rebuilding many of the realm’s important buildings. Taxation became an issue, as the costs to support the improvement in infrastructure proved difficult to sustain. Local members of the Mangai protested, and from TR 878-882, there were rebellious uprisings which led to a massive fire that encompassed much of the lower town. In TR 882, the Mangai forced concessions on the Baron by imposition of a Council to oversee the realm’s finances and improvement of the realm, which appeased many.
The great stone tower on the island was built in TR 960, and many of the wealthier members of the community, each possessing large landholds in the nearby valley around Candlemere, built a series of manors in the upper town, and the town grew to over a thousand souls. The local area gained a reputation for good harvests, and began to overshadow the more sinister history of its southern neighbor. Its military, known as the Wyrmguard, patrolled the area and protected it from raids and bandits, further enriching its citizens.
The appearance of bands of hungry trolls in TR 1000, was the death-knell of the Barony of Greatwyrm. Over a period of a few weeks, they started raiding the outer farmlands, and then the nearby villages. The large army of the Wyrmgaurd, nearly two cohorts in strength, were whittled away, until they eventually could barely protect Mosswater and the local fort. Refugees gathered in strongholds, such as the temple and the mill, but many began to flee south to the defenses of Thornkeep. In one horrid night, the army of trolls attacked those strongholds, including the island fort itself, and wiped the town and realm of Greatwyrm from existence.
Since the trolls conquered the town fifty years ago, the edges of the lake have grown more and more boggy, until the town itself is become host to an increasing forest of ever-growing mushrooms, some approaching the level of trees in their height and girth. Goblin Brambles are common, and often choke the ruined buildings of the town, making their exploration doubly difficult, as one must deal with the crumbling ruins and the thick, stinging thorns of the brambles. Particularly poisonous versions have been found here, whose thorns have a toxin that can sicken most intruders.
The trolls of Mosswater are, of course, the greatest threat to visitors, and they visit the town ruins on a fairly regular basis, in their searches for food. Under the leadership of the violent troll “king” Hargulka, the trolls have been raiding the area for fifty years, when they first moved into the region. They are believed to dwell in a cave complex near the north shores of Candlemere, and are known to be uncompromising beasts.