The Void Fortress
Home of Marisha Veilbreaker, Champion of Ashandri
DescriptionThe Void Fortress is truly a sight to behold: Massive walls, magically carved from a single stone, reaching 250 feet high. They are engulfed in a colorful purple mist that emits a soft, dim light during nighttime. The stronghold stands at the very edge of the world-island, one fortress gate opening up into the void, another one in the opposite direction. The Voidgate, as it is called, leads to a stone platform with several floating stone discs in front. Those who own an activation key can use these to float down about 1.500 feet to the world-chain. Anyone else would have to climb down the jagged brown rocks leading to Ashandri's bottom side. The fortress is constantly guarded by elite warriors of The Voidguard. Twenty to thirty guards constantly watch each gate, several hundred more patrol the surrounding area and serve as a city guard in the nearby village of Rimville. It's almost impossible not to meet one of them when travelling the area. Occasionally, you can see Marisha's dragon companion at the top of the stronghold. The ancient golden dragon Dessaroth loves jumping down the walls to start her flights, sometimes patrolling the vicinity, sometimes serving as a mount for Marisha. The area around the fortress is grassland with only sporadic trees or bushes, allowing to see for miles on a sunny day. At the edge, you can see into the Braythian Void. About ten feet beyond the edge, the purple clouds are in a constant, slow motion. You can see about a thousand feet through the void itself. Only few people aside from Marisha's allies and servants get to enter the Void Fortress. The ground floor is about as imposing as the outside: A large hall, thirty feet high, with magically floating chandeliers and (minor) enchanted weapons, shields and armour as decorations on the walls. Marisha is known to occasionally give some of these items away as gifts or rewards. Three rows of tables fill the hall, both for celebrations and welcoming important guests. In the back of the hall, a newly built wall with a small iron door hides the entrances to three tunnels leading into the ground. Large stairs lead to the upper floors, which are surprisingly cozy: Fifteen feet high, with art and tapestry on the walls, and little glowing, floating spheres of glass providing illumination. The fortress has eleven levels, the top floor being Marisha's private rooms. Several dozen servants live and work here, taking care of the everyday chores in a fortress. There are rumours about hidden floors below the ground, accessible through the underground tunnels, but even the common Voidguard soldiers don't know if there is any truth to the stories.
ResidentsAside from Marisha herself, about eigthy servants (mostly hired from Rimville) live in the fortress. Being aware that another attack from Va'Laeth could endanger them, all servants are trained by Voidguard members how to fight, and a few of them are even spellcasters. As Marisha treats the servants like family, and pays them extremely well, they are absolutely loyal to the Halfling. While no Voidguard soldiers constantly live here, there are two floors dedicated to the members of the organization. From bedrooms to armories and war rooms for tactical and strategical discussions, the Voidguard are well accomodated in the fortress.
Important charactersThe owner and ruler of the fortress is, of course, Marisha Veilbreaker herself. The leaders of the Voidguard, including her best friend Shadar Khuravi, are treated as "second in command" inside the fortress. Marisha's valet, the 270 years old Gnome Hevron Dragonbeard, is in control of the household staff. Some also call him the Master of Whispers, as he seems to know about every rumour and story, more often than not also knowing the truth behind it. Hevron has also befriended the paragon's dragon companion Dessaroth, and in their free time, the two love to chat with each other. The Half-Orc Grosh Frozenfist, a former resident of Whiteguard, takes care of the stables and its supernatural mounts. He's better with the beasts than with people, but one can tell he's trying. Anyone careless enough to attack him quickly finds out he's not only an experienced warrior, but the mounts - which are always free to leave the stables - will defend him with their lives. In the nearby settlement of Rimville, the halfling Terlac Silkfoot has been voted as mayor for the third year in a row. He takes care about all organizational problems in the village. But the true power is Elvra Greenfox, a half-elven merchant. She has helped build the hamlet from the very first days, and there seems to be almost no one not owing her a favor. Elvra is investing a lot of her money into sages to study the void, and engineers to build airships. Her ultimate goal is finding a way to build ships that can fly through the void. It seems as if she's still years away from success, though.
The EdgeWhen people talk about the edge, they do not just refer to the border of the world-island. The Edge is an inn and brewery about a mile south of the Void Fortress owned by the dwarven couple Sami and Helena Greenrock. The building is not just located at the edge of the world, but even reaches over it for about fifteen feet. There's a door at that side that lets you exit right into the purple clouds. Sami is famous for brewing his Voidbeer. According to rumours, he has found a way to harvest the purple clouds of the void and use them as an ingredient in the beer. When asked about it, Sami only laughs. Voidbeer is not only very nourishing, a single mug being enough to sustain an adult Human for a day. It also calms the mood and is said to give pleasant dreams.
The VoidstablesThe stables look a bit like a miniature version of the Void Fortress itself (just without the purple mist). Located about a hundred yards from the stronghold's Landgate, the building is about 70 feet high. It was carved out of a rock by workers from Rimville only about a year ago, after the second invasion of Va'Laeth. Fifty steeds are kept in the stables, all of them tamed supernatural beings. Thirty of them are a herd of horses that were engulfed in magic on Ashandri's first day. They have translucent silvery wings with which they can fly for short periods of time (about ten minutes, after which they need a short rest before being able to use the wings again). These magical animals are about double as fast as normal horses. The Silversteeds are regularly used by patrols of the Voidguard. The other mounts include a giant snake, a family of boar-rabbits and a white, ice-breathing elk. Grosh Frozenfist cares about all the creatures as if they were his children, and only takes in new ones if they fit to his current flock.
RimvilleAfter the first invasion of Va'Laeth, the first settlers decided to build their homes near the Void Fortress. About two miles away from the stronghold, the small town of Rimville has become a permanent settlement. The armies of the second invasion didn't seem very interested in the hamlet, passing it quickly. A few battles took place here, but the damage has mostly been repaired by now - except for the deaths, of course. The locals are mostly strong supporters of Marisha Veilbreaker, and believe in building a hopeful future for the entire world. The population consists primarily of halflings, humans and gnomes, with about a third of the residents belonging to other races. Rimville not only provides the fortress with food, but also a variety of other products and services. Travelling adventurers can find work on the Rimwall, a part of the town wall where both the locals and the Voidguard put up job offers.
The Carving StonesBetween Rimville and the Void Fortress, there is an area where fifteen large rocks protrude from the ground. They have been here since the first day of Ashandri. Originally just a strange anomaly in the landscape, they have become a memorial site after the first invasion of Va'Laeth. A local mason started the tradition of carving stories of Ashandrian war heroes into the stones. By now, the Carving Stones are covered in hundreds of tales, memories of saviours and victims alike.
Devran's CavesSouth of Rimville, there is a strange hole in the ground. It emits a soft blue light that is barely visible at day, but illuminates the surrounding area at night. The entrance leads to a network of tunnels that are said to be haunted by a powerful Unbound, possibly the disembodied spirit of a demon. Marisha has clearly stated that something is imprisoned there. Aside from the name - Devran -, she's not willing to share any further details, and warns people to steer clear of the caves. She doesn't keep people from going in, but those who did rarely returned. Survivors tell stories of horrible monsters, getting more and more powerful the deeper you go. Those who managed to find some sleep in the tunnels also speak of foreboding nightmares, all of which came true - often a long time after leaving Devran's Caves.
The Tar PitAs The Perishing first touched the ground of Ashandri, they left black, tainted soil behind. Most of it has been healed and cleared of their influence by now, with one big exception: The Tar Pit was a small, but lively lake near the Void Fortress. But when Marisha Veilbreaker returned, the lake had turned into a sluggish, dark mass. In an area of about a hundred yards around the lake, there is no life, not even a single blade of grass. All attempts of healing the area from the Perishing's influence have failed so far.
ServicesWhile the Void Fortress itself doesn't offer any services, Rimville is friendly to travellers. You can buy everything for your daily needs here, and Elvra Greenfox's shops - she owns six different stores in town - can procure many unusual and rare items, if given enough time. Outside of Rimville, the Edge is the best place to stay the night, and Helena Greenrock is a great cook.
Local rumours and news
- The Voidguard general Avryenne Soulwing, an elven wizard, has confirmed she is organizing an expedition into Devran's Caves, and accepting volunteers from outside the Voidguard. Rumours are there's a group of ravager elves hidden in the tunnels, while others believe Soulwing is looking for a powerful artifact.
- Recent gossip speaks of a secret admirer of Elvra Greenfox, a rich noble from Hollow's Market in Shamrua. If it's true, the Half-Elf doesn't seem very interested. She has spoken about a possible trade route to the faraway city, though.
- A group of Slumberpool halflings have arrived at the Voidflow near the fortress recently. They seem to avoid the local population, and all that is known is that they explore the depths of the river.
- The Voidguard is searching for a killer. A couple travellers, including an entire caravan from Firesight, have been found dead in the grasslands. They all seem to have been killed by the same blade, suggesting it was a single murderer.
- An orcish cleric of the goddess Basilissa Vamadira is trying to acquire land in Rimville. She wants to build a temple to her deity here, but the local population isn't very happy about the idea.
- A druid has travelled all the way from the Spirit Fields to the Void Fortress, guided by visions. It seems he wants to restore the Tar Pit to what it was before. Some locals don't trust him. Whether they are overcautious, or the druid has some hidden intentions, is hard to say.
During the first invasion, the fortress was conquered by the forces of Va'Laeth. The tiefling Cirandir had his engineers and workers dig deep tunnels under the fortress, some of which lead to secret exits in the surrounding area. When the fortress was under Marisha Veilbreaker's control again, the halfling had the tunnels altered, and equipped with new defense mechanisms.
The entire fortress was magically created by Marisha Veilbreaker with the world-shaping powers she was granted. As such, it is grown rather than built - a single, massive stone structure rising out of the ground. It reaches about 250 feet (about 75 meters) into the air, enormous and imposing grey walls that are clearly meant to scare off intruders. They are shrouded in a purple mist, which reminds of the Braythian Void, but seems brighter and occasionally sparkles or gleams.