I feel like volcanos should appear more often in fantasy, because let’s face it: they’re awesome. Therefore, much of the Speaking Lands knows the Sainted Trio, the three smoldering volcanos on the horizon, an ever-present reminder that the dwarven homeland is just over there, up in the mountains, where things just explode every once in a while.
The Sainted Trio
The southern reaches of the Kharzan range mount high above both Outland and Verdas; at the summit sits the Sainted Trio, three volcanos in close proximity to each other. These highly recognizable peaks are known throughout Ipeiros, appear on the blazon of the King Under the Mountain, and their silhouette is closely associated with the dwarven people. However, the volcanos have become significant elements in the cultures of the many peoples whose horizon includes them. Writing in his journal before leaving for war, Valormawdescribed his life as a full one, his exploits and accomplishments including having seen the Sainted Trio from both north and south.
All three are stratovolcanos, with steep sides that rise high above the rest of the range. The three peaks are an iconic element of the mountains’ silhouette; on a clear day, they can be seen as far as Tallus and the Jaws of Cuca. While some peoples have their own names for the individual peaks, the prominence of dwarven trade caravans has largely normalized names across many languages. The tallest central peak is often named a variation of Finley or Finn, while the eastern peak is ubiquitously Lennox. The third and smallest sees the most variation, from Rhianna to Rene to Anne.
The Sainted Trio sit on the faultline that runs from Asfixis Crater across the whole of the Kharzan Mountains and out to the volcanic islands of Kelompok in the Quiet Sea. This fault line was once far more active than it is today, and the area around the trio is riddled with dormant lava tubes. Some of these are used as segments of the dwarven High Road, but are known as ‘sainted ground,’ uncomfortably close to active lava tubes and liable to get very hot and very dangerous at the least tremble of seismic activity.
The volcanos are prolific, producing minor eruptions every few weeks. The lava spewed out accretes to the considerable volcanic cones, but the eruptions also disgorge a deluge of will-o-wisps, as well. The wisps drift down the slopes slightly faster than the lava, giving rise to a local industry of hardy dwarves capturing wisps while avoiding the cooling tides of lava. Much of the spiritual power thus harvested is used in prosaic wizardries throughout Kharzan, including the tourist trade. Visitors and pilgrims can purchase veneration relics powered by volcanic will-o-wisps, which typically light up or recite the exploits of the volcanos’ namesakes.
The volcanos are named after a trio of dwarven saints—Fionnlaoch Kyteine, Lennox Seileach, and Rianne Glagadaich—who travelled the length of the High Road and beyond. While many modern retellings of their stories focus on Fionnlaoch’s piety as the impetus for their many good deeds and heroic exploits, the oldest stories present the trio as footloose adventurers causing as much trouble as they resolved. They expelled kobold invaders, guarded the first caravan to reach Wildermarch, and slew dragons. Their respective clans are proud of their ancestors’ stories and ceaselessly leverage them for political advantage.
I wrote this more than a year ago, so you’ll permit me, I hope, to giggle at the image of dwarves chasing after floating will-o-wisps—I imagine they have great big baskets—while the lava chases them. I feel like that gives you a good sense of what dwarven industry and common sense is like.
Speaking of common sense, let’s find what the most folks think is a sensible entry to check out next week. Is that segue terrible? Yes it is. Vote accordingly?