The Firg Lands are an expanse of moorland and mountain in the far west of Aestis
. Bordering the Mill Lands and situated directly across the Tuval Straits from Mordikhaan, it is the home of the giant Firg people, and to the unobservant traveller, appears to be sparsely populated. The Firg inhabit small towns and villages which are built from an unusual white granite known as Firgstone.
Most Aestians will admit that they know very little about the Firg. Most Firg, if they speak to anyone, will state that they care very little for the humans that live beyond their borders. Human travellers are not welcome without specific permission to enter the kingdom and most know far better than to test the patience of the giant folk. An average Firg stands just over eight and a half feet in height, but some Firg have been rumoured to reach nearly ten feet tall. They are powerfully strong and whilst they are slow to anger or offend, a Firg on the rampage is a terrifying sight. The Firg have good reason for not wanting humans in their realm, as they have a long and difficult history with mankind.
The Van Emperors believed that the Firg were primitive humans and they first encountered them in the eastern Arclands in the year -3077. Emperor Tougeth Ovare became convinced that the Firg had been sent to him from the Keeper to civilise; little did he know that they already had a complex civilisation and culture of their own. The Firg’s story of their own creation is a mysterious one; they believe that they literally came up from the dark of the earth. The record of their past, the Vukhar, tells of how a vast hole in the earth in the heart of the Arching Mountains was their origin and it cast them out into the sunlight at the beginning of all things.
Tougeth saw the potential in the Firg to build his empire, and under the direction of the Van and (so the Firg believe) the Graces, the Firg became expert craftsmen and women and built the cities of Arc, Harenis (and its library) and Dancare. The Firg also built for the Van, nine great citadels and fortresses above the clouds, convincing the proud and arrogant human rulers that they were as close to the Keeper as it was possible to be. The Firg were never slaves to the Van, but they became so fundamental to the workings of the Van empire that they were not allowed to abandon their labours.
Lacking a homeland and being numerically inferior to the humans (though more than capable of each taking on a dozen human warriors), the Firg were forced to continue working for the Van until the start of the Vannic Civil War and the fall of the empire. In return for allegiance to Emperor Zulfaxes and fighting for the empire, they were finally promised their freedom and territory west of Dancare (in present day Firg).
The Firg were shrewd enough to know that they would be double crossed eventually and as the Van Empire began to crumble, they sailed across the Greater Arc Sea in a fleet of ships they had built for their escape, settling in what is now known as Athane Bay. The Firg are known as the greatest smiths and engineers across Aestis and their work is prized by kings and generals. However, it is difficult to obtain a Firg made sword and those that attempt to bribe the Firg with money are rebuffed. The Firg have little to do with the Swithicks in the south, but have civil relations with the Haatchi to the east (something about the stoic and taciturn horse nomads of the great plains chimes with the Firg).
Trezakan is the hidden forge city of the Firg. High in the peaks of the Lower Orne Mountains, the Firg knew well enough, centuries ago, to hide their crafting skills and the weapons and armour they could produce from the outside world. The Firg were not afraid of humans learning their secrets, but they were certain that crafty and cunning outsiders would find a way to steal weapons that could decide the outcome of any war.
They were also fearful that enemies might arise who would look to destroy the Firg’s abilities to create powerful weapons, and gradually reimpose some form of serfdom or slavery on the mighty, independent people. These fears were unfounded until the Sundering and the arrival of the Khul in Aestis. In the year 52 (Our Time of Miseries) she crossed the Straits of Dancare and laid siege to the city of Wardenhal, and only a coalition of Wardenhalers, the Firg, the Mill Lands and the Haatchi managed to defeat her. The destruction of her armies on the shores of Wardenhal, and the almighty wound she suffered when slashed by the enchanted sword Y’Kantulis, made the Firg among her most hated enemies.
The entrance to Trezakhan is a great hall built on top of the Cloudridge, the highest peak in the Lower Orne Mountains. The land around it is seemingly desolate, but in fact it is regularly patrolled by Firg foot soldiers who do not take kindly to any trespassers. At the bottom of the great hall are three long flights of stairs, mirroring the Three Sisters in [Arc
that descend deep into the great Firg caverns beneath the earth, and into the real city of Trezakhan. The three stairs descend in the torchlit gloom through a vast cavern to three huge stone islands in a subterranean lake.
Trezakhan is built on these islands and connected by elegant bridges and walkways. Here in the dark, lit only by torchlight and heated by the warmth of the city’s forges, is the home of the Firg people. The lake, Ghelhure, supplies the Firg with as much fish, eel and crab as they can eat and it eventually flows out to Athane Bay. Whilst the Firg do much of their ship building in Wardenhal, it is in the caves and coves of Athane Bay that the pride of the Firg fleet is moored. The Firg have not needed to sail to war for generations, but they have long memories and know that a decisive blow against Mordikhaan might one day be a necessity again.
Skoor: The House of Secrets
The Skoor is in fact the throne of the Firg, and any Firg who sits upon it becomes the Skoordal Narise (the great smith of the people). The Skoordal who takes the throne renounces all other names and identities and is no longer recognised as having had a previous existence. The Skoordal is also admitted to the throne room (which confusingly, is also known as the Skoor) at the heart of Trezakhan, and is party to the secrets of the Firg people, known only to other Skoordal, and it is rumoured that only a Skoordal knows the truth of the origins of the Firg.
Infiltrating the Skoor is one of the biggest priorities of the Khul, but as of yet, she has not worked out how to do it. In her attempts to discover the secrets of the Firg, however, she happened across a piece of their history that has been well hidden for millenia.
Before the Firg emerged from the dark, they shared their subterranean world with a race of creatures called the Rekkthal; beings that seemed to be part of the stone of the earth. The Firg had many centuries of an uneasy truce with these beings, but a cataclysm forced the Firg to flee to the surface of the earth, leaving the Rekkthal behind to their fate.
When the Khul discovered them, she helped to restore their civilisation deep beneath the earth, knowing that they would be a perfect weapon for her to use against her hated enemies. The Rekkthal were grateful and hoped that they would soon be given the chance for revenge against the Firg.
Following the defeat of the Khul at Wardenhal, the Firg allowed the city to build a port on the west coast of their kingdom. Carridel is an enclave of humans and Firg that is tightly controlled by the Firg Kingdom, and its role is to patrol the western side of the Straits of Dancare. It is therefore a highly secretive port and few visitors are welcome (the agents of Mordikhaan have made it their business to infiltrate the city and find out its secrets).
Wardenhal has spared no expense in keeping the port well defended and garrisoned. Their close escape from conquest by the Khul has made them hyper vigilant to her predations and the Carridel fleet is ready to sail against Mordikhaan at a day’s notice. The Wardenhaler ships would cut a bloody swathe through Mordikhaan’s black ships and the dark queen knows this well.
The Great Coastal Furnaces
Along the northern coast of the Firg lands are four black fortresses that seem to be built around huge stone chimneys, Sul, Mass, Knel and Poln. These furnaces are the Firg’s most powerful defence against the Khul and any other seaborne invasion of their lands. The Firg have mined a deep and noxious coal underneath the Orne Mountains (hence their interest in the mines of Mont Inaer in the Mill Lands), which when lit in massive quantities will send a terrible choking poisonous smog across the waters, killing all who breath it and setting the sails of ships aflame. The Khul knows all too well what will happen if she launches a fleet against the Firg, but other powers have little idea about the terrible destructive power the Firg can unleash if they are attacked from the sea.