History of Chimney

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Source: Nephil's Gambit

Settlement by Harfloot

A few years after the failure of the First Expedition, when the Empire had abandoned its plans to utilize the newly discovered caves, a small-time bandit leader named Harfloot decided that the caves would make a great hideout. He took his band into the caves, and went as far away from the Empire as he could get, which brought them to Chimney. The bandits found easy plunder in the nearby nephilim lands, and they settled down in a fortress on a hill, sometimes called Harfloot Castle.

After Exile was settled, a few other humans trickled into Chimney, mostly to open mines. Harfloot became quite wealthy by preying on trade routes. The merchants soon got used to paying taxes for unfettered passage. Meanwhile, Harfloot's men cleared out the monsters who inhabited the area. Myld Isle in particular became much more inhabitable.

After Harfloot died, his son took over. Harfloot the Younger was less inclined to banditry, but was a cunning businessman. He built up roads and bridges, and established guardposts along Brattaskar Road. Soon, instead of receiving tribute under threat, he received tolls to protect travellers from other bandits. A trading post sprang up around the hilltop fortress, called Lushwater Toll.

Civil war

As Exile's population grew, so did Chimney's. Clusters of villages in the east, west, and south gave rise to local lords. Rodovan Zerr built the Milestone Casino. Trade developed with the slithzerikai, and Lushwater Toll, too, grew into a real town. Control of the area passed on to Yim Harfloot, grandson of the original Harfloot, an ineffective leader who seemed to have lost all traces of his opportunistic, bandit heritage.

When the Empire-Avernum War ended, Chimney was a prosperous and unthreatened land. The other lords grew tired of the profit that Lushwater Toll extracted from them, and in 826 IE, Chimney collapsed into a heap of bickering city-states. While town militias fought, trade and food became uncertain, general unrest spread quickly, and bandits once again had free reign of the land.

In 827 IE, a band of nephilim known as the Cat Paws, led by a nephil known as Groul, made a pact with a fraction of the nobles of Myldres. With their backing, he led a stunning series of conquests. Lushwater Toll was ashamed to be the first to fall, to a sudden, wild attack by nephilim. With Harfloot out of the picture, Groul's noble allies seized control of the north end of Chimney's trade routes. They then threatened Milestone was a trade blockade, refusing its merchants passage across the river Myld. The town, ruled more by money than by any lord, was quick to surrender.

Armed with supplies from the mines, the nephilim marched south. They laid siege to Flickering Keep in the Shadowlands. Mysteriously backed by the power of a drake lord, the Cat Paws were able to climb along the abyss at the back of the keep and storm it most unexpectedly from behind. Its ruler, Lord Fray, was killed.

The Cat Paws then marched on Whitstone, the last free city. Before they could attack, however, the cave ceiling over Whitstone collapsed. Half the people of the town were killed, including its master, Lord White. The cave-in caused the river to flood, and the rest of the town was abandoned in ruins.

Myldres emerged as the undisputed ruler of Chimney. Commander Groul shared power there with one of his noble allies, Ottar, who became the Mayor of Myldres and the official ruler of Chimney. For another nine years, peace reigned.

Groul's coup and the Yvoss-tai uprising

Inspired by the gains that Avernum was able to secure in the wake of the Empire-Avernum War and especially the Reconciliation, despite being far weaker than the other nations it fought, Commander Groul devised an elaborate scheme to seize power in Chimney. He contracted with a vahnatai businessman, Verundis, to obtain a magical portal, as well as a powerful bomb, Thunder Rock.

In 836 IE, Groul used the portal to travel to the slithzerikai homeland. Posing as a mysterious divinity called the Masked Aide (later "revealed" to be Zahr, the god of true warriors), Groul egged a discontent Yvoss-tai worker, Sss-Chross, into staging a revolution against the dominant Ssara-tai warrior caste. The Yvoss-tai, unlike the Ssara-tai, were not allowed to touch iron. Groul used this taboo to manipulate Sss-Chross into attacking Chimney, convincing him that he would need to secure Chimney's bronze mines in order to supply his forces with weapons.

Groul used the threat of invasion as an excuse to quarrel with Mayor Ottar over the right course of action. He baited Ottar into throwing him and his Cat Paws out of Myldres. Groul's plan was to have the Cat Paws swoop in at the last moment, using his secret power over Sss-Chross to make it appear as if the Cat Paws single-handedly saved Chimney from the invasion.

To ensure his plan's success, he needed to prevent any Avernite reinforcements from pre-empting his role as savior. For that purpose, he told Sss-Chross that he would provide a powerful artifact -- the Thunder Rock -- for the Yvoss-tai forces to find, at the Howling Gap. The detonation of Thunder Rock would seal the area with rubble, preventing any support from Exile. But first, slith troops would destroy the human outposts than lined Brattaskar Road, to prevent news from leaking too soon to Avernum.

Unfortunately for Groul, a small group of soldiers from one of these outposts escaped the sliths who attacked them, and made their way to the Howling Gap. With help from Karolynna, a priestess who had been captured by the Yvoss-tai, the soldiers stole Thunder Rock before it could be detonated, and fled south. News of their deed spread and they quickly gained fame as the Heroes of Brattaskar.

Groul tried to turn this setback into an advantage, and manipulated the soldiers into participating in the assassinations of both Sss-Chross (via Groul's own portal) and the Yvoss-tai ambassador to Myldres, Sss-Varbas. He then incited the Yvoss-tai into making an ambitious and risky offense against Myld Isle, from their position at the Howling Gap. The Chimney army met the sliths and, just as Groul had planned, the Cat Paws outflanked the sliths after the battle had already begun, turning the tides and ending the invasion. The Yvoss-tai suffered heavy casualties, and without Sss-Chross and Zahr, the entire revolt fell apart.

Myldres celebrated the victory, which was once again attributed to the Cat Paws. With the Chimney army decimated, Groul stood poised to take over Chimney. His plans were undone, however, by the Heroes of Brattaskar. While employed by Groul, they had discovered evidence of his dealings with Verundis and Sss-Chross. Working with Karolynna, they had also defeated and captured Rashtarra, a haakai who Groul had used to destroy Whitstone (with the cave-in) and Flickering Keep (as the drake lord) during the civil war. When they released Rashtarra to tell his story, he went after Groul and sucked him into the demon realm.

At the suggestion of the Heroes of Brattaskar, a very surprised Karolynna was named Mayor of Chimney -- an uncharacteristically selfless and honest one.