Few can better claim to have felt the sheer power of the stormy seas than those living during the winter of 1025 a.S. on the eastern coast of Manthria beneath the Mithral Mountains. For three hard days a storm now known as the Storm of Three Nights blasted the coast, ravaging, destroying and demolishing. A famous myth tells of how this event was the epitome of Baveras’ wrath at the death of a sea creature that had existed since the beginnings of time.
|Image description. Dramatic scenes from the Storm of Three Nights when the Gods took revenge on the villagers of Neprs - or so lore tells us. Picture by Seeker.|
Compendium, of course, strives
for objectivity in all things. Although the fragments of first-person accounts
included in this entry seem far removed from this ideal, the descriptions
provided in them paint a vivid picture of a cataclysm of the likes of which the
Manthrian coastline has rarely seen. As
such, some of the descriptions below may be graphic or disturbing. Most of
these are from various journals and diaries of people suffering the force of
this hurricane, and so contain imagery of painful events possibly distressing
for some. This is also an event that, though scattered reports exist, was
neither carefully nor completely chronicled at the time. The meagerness of the
snippets of writing available to base research on has led to some inference and
educated guesswork in describing this terrible storm.
31st, Passing Clouds. Dramatic weather changes are certainly not uncommon near the coast of the Adanian Sea, but the suddenness and ferocity of the weather change that took place on this day is positively frightening. Despite a sunny, cloudless day, just before dusk the calm waters took a turn. Dark clouds rolled in overhead, and the thick fog, notoriously ever-present on this coastline, became blindingly thick, casting a dismal mood on the region. Just before dark, the sky opened up.
The following journal excerpt is a rare account written by a (foolish) nobleman who was on the ship that hunted the oldest of the Sea Tartuas. Though he died at sea, lost to the storm, understandable fragments of his last diary entry have survived.
“…our last day hunting… wanted to stay out… long as we could… long since given…hopeless. Heading back towards shore… Strait of Kharamm and we couldn’t see our own hands in the fog. Storm had threatened since dusk, and suddenly… rain, thunder, everybody screaming of judgement from the heavens. We… told us to leave the sail up... but wind changed direction… blown towards Nightfogs. Sail in tatters, ripped... vang fringed on the block. Wave… Four overboard. Another… coming we… di-”
Obviously the account was cut off, presumably with the reference to “another”
being another, possibly larger wave. A few parts of the ship and this journal
along with other articles, washed onto shore, but few bodies have been found. A
careful search of the seafloor on the west side of the
Nightfog Cliffs might render some
skeletons, but the dark and imposing nature of the cliffs prevents all but the
most adventurous of Avennorian
pearl divers from exploring.
Though journal entries from all the ships out at sea on this fateful night are obviously unavailable this was certainly not the only one. Along with smaller fishing vessels, a staggering number of merchant vessels bound for Marduran or Ciosa were lost. Rumours were told of a pair of Shipwreck Wyrms that had come out of roosts on either side of the entrance to the Strait of Kharamm, and were marauding up and down the coast from Mossy Rocks Cove to Snipe’s Head Bay. Sailors who managed to beach there ships before being destroyed by the storm told stories of these terrible beasts in inns from Holt to Kolbruk, but proof of these claims was in short supply, and the great drakes were never seen again after the storm had abated. Locally, many older children who had last been seen heading out for the Needle’s Eye were also later reported lost. Likely these children attempted to run for shore when the storm hit rather than wait for it to pass in one of the caves on the island. Despite our knowledge of their fate, they made the best decision, for the rising water level quickly flushed out any chance of their survival within those tunnels.
An eerie silence struck the land as the storm marched inward. Scattered ships between Quios and the Mithral coast reported heavy storms, though they felt only the tail end. Most of these upon perceiving the pounding the coastline was receiving made for either Quios or Ciosa to wait out the storm.
Right before late night became early morning, the records of many who were on shore describe the storm making landfall. This next excerpt comes from a teenage girl, the daughter of a wealthy landowner outside of Marduran. Her fate is unknown, though this diary was found lying, very battered but intact, in the locked writing desk of an abandoned house along Jamliso’s Bend. A leather case kept it drier than many other things left to the mercy of this hurricane.
“Always we have storms in the winter. Heavy rains, thunder cracking, making me lurch in my chair every few seconds; this is a common experience. They blend into a single memory in my mind, arriving suddenly, and without warning, only to pass just as suddenly. So as I look out my window on a beautiful day turned an ugly night, and the threat of a storm hanging in the air, I cannot understand this feeling. Why, in the pit of my stomach, do I feel a lump? I ate dinner, and it has not passed. Though I have sipped a cup of basiloc tea dry, it will not quit it. It is fear: this dark night will not pass like the others."
“I know that though my fear may be irrational, this storm will not blend like the others. It is not the same. A few minutes ago, as I sat in my room by the candlelight, it began. I watched a sheet of water, falling in torrents into the sea, and then onto the cliffs, and then onto the grass, suddenly crashed over my house. Since then, the incessant pounding of the rain refuses to quiet, its sound dulling the rhythmic beating of my own fearful heart. Never can I remember rain like this; a blanket of water than seems to be trying to drown the house. I also remember the thunder. In this storm, the crackling lightening always preceded by a bang has abandoned its method. The thunder is continuous. There is no respite from the constant pounding; like war drums upon the horizon. I must be too loud in my quaking, for I hear my mother on the stairs. She is coming to tell me not to fear, to go to bed. She doesn’t understand. I do fear: I fear what I will wake up to at dawn. Good night."
Though obviously emotional and plagued with the fears of a young girl, this
account is fairly accurate in the necessities. Rain crashed onto the shore just
before the midnight hour, furiously pounding away. It certainly did not abate
during the rest of the night. The owner of this diary may well have awoken to
her worst fears.
Hit hardest tonight during the brief period when the storm actually was ashore were the houses, presumably like this girl’s, that were right along the coastline. Seaside settlements such as Nepris and Marduran took a pounding, but were of course easily able to weather these first few hours of storminess: built on the coastline, that’s what they were designed to do when built.
1st, Dead Tree. The dawn was almost indistinguishable from the night as black storm clouds remained overhead, and the people of the Manthrian coastline were battered by the torrential rains that flooded houses and streets, and washed away anything not secured. Waves of unimaginable size crashed down upon the coast, a few rising up over the small cliffs that normally sheltered the inland communities from the sea.
By the end of the day, a terrible sense of doom was circling amongst the towns and cities lining the coast. Harsh temperatures, powerful rain and hail, roaring thunder and ferocious winds made it dangerous to step outside. In Marduran, the docks were almost immediately destroyed by the waves, and the guard houses flooded. Evacuations of the areas immediately threatened by waves occurred rapidly as people fled in terror, but many were trapped and lost.
Meanwhile, the most harshly punished village, Nepris, was practically underwater. The docks were destroyed, whole houses carried away by the punishing waves, and many families had taken to boats; paddling inland.
Although bizarre, there is one story of this storm so well documented that it cannot rightfully be considered lore, but should instead be taken at face value. Women of Nepris frequently visit Toran’s Falls, often walking to either the top of the falls near Nogerinth’s Tomb, or to the lower falls on a separate path where bending willows create a peaceful place of contemplation. At the break of dawn on this tempestuous morning, a small group of women whose husbands were at sea the night before made the short trek to meditate and pray together, begging mercy from the Wild and Untamed One for themselves and their husbands, She who fishing villages like Nepris both love and fear: Baveras, Goddess of the Sea. Slogging through the downpour, the women hiked into the hills. Upon arriving at the lower part of Toran’s Falls, they saw a terrifying sight. Ithrid, an elder of the village, wrote a famous account of the experience days later, that has since been corroborated by others, and been included here.
I believe everyone
raised in a coastal fishing village develops a respect for the power of
the sea, and She who directs the waves and the storms, as a power beyond
measure. As such, the decision we made to visit the place near the base of
the falls where we used to worship
Baveras once a week in the most dismal weather imaginable, was driven
by fear and respect. From the village we could see dark clouds swirling
around Crazy Woman Pass, and
far below, Toran’s Falls
appeared to have been swallowed by the storm. On that terrible morning,
this testament to peace, this serene location which is normally a symbol
of nature’s perfection, was a reminder of the awe-inspiring dominion of
water. At the base of
Toran’s Falls the purling creek had become a roaring river of white
water from the Falls. The teaming drove
the swirling river down, making it overflow it’s old bed, taking with it
trees, rocks, or any unlucky creatures nearby. However a little further
down, where the ridge forces the creek to bend to the east, we encountered
a sight few could believe. The amiable creek was gone, replace by a
formidable torrent of water, the roar
of waves crashing and swirling skyward in a helix, carrying silt, sand and
stones, overpowering even the roar of the thunder.
Despite the religious overtones of this emotional account, this mystical story goes a long way in expressing the sheer helplessness of the scene felt up and down the Mithral Coast. By nightfall, death was becoming a common chance occurrence as people were swept away by waves and drowned, or trapped in the wreckage of flooded lands. This religious miracle became famous after the storm, and a larger sanctuary, a temple of peaceful beauty and tranquility was erected on the spot where the helix roared in the hills. It still stands today, and the short walk to this mystic hallowed ground receives regular visitors.
2nd, Dead Tree.
The storm penetrated even further inland on the second full day, and as it
climbed higher into the Mithral
Mountains, even the hearty Thergerim of
the Mithrals began to feel the
danger. The dwarves later reported sealing
many tunnels, hiding deep in the earth as thunder clashed on the mountainside,
snow buried the trails, and massive pieces of hail pounded down. The
aboveground plots of the dwarves were almost
all flooded and ruined. Having sturdier shelter and deep, cavernous recesses to
hide in, few dwarves were lost, although tunnel collapses and caverns filled
with water led to a few deaths.
Meanwhile, the situation at the base of these massive peaks became desperate. The village of Nepris was being pounded to dust, its structure all but nonexistent and its population dwindling. The people of Marduran kept retreating further and further inland, and all semblance of law disappears as chaos descends upon a town assailed by sea and sky. Those living closer to the ocean not carried off by the waves bought (or stole) what they could and fled towards the Outer City. The temple of Grothar for which the city was well known was all but overrun. The wealthiest houses were plagued by rioting city-dwellers, desperate for shelter, and many were violently forced to open their doors to all manner of refugees. The village of Starmiran, while unhurt by the waves, was forced to play host to many of these wandering lost souls. Jorn Geir Ranring, a wealthy partial owner of the Ducatri shipyard, wrote an indignant account. He was later murdered by these same “guests” after he purportedly stabbed one of them when the man wiped his muddy hands on Ranring’s hérin’sufár table cloth.
The undesirables have become intolerable! Early this morning I was forced to open my doors to this filth, wet and grimy, and offer them the comforts of my food and fire. My entire stock of seaweed bread; a winter’s worth of sustenance, gone in a day! This pestilence is intolerable. Perhaps if these poor fools had the foresight to get Mitharim advice on stone housing construction when building their own dwellings, theirs would still be standing and I would not be plagued by this nonsense.
The storm continued unabated. Rain (or snow in the mountains) combined with hail, heavy winds, and perpetual thunderclaps made the situation seem, if anything, worse than the day before. This third night brought now relief.
3rd Dead Tree.
The break of dawn saw the rapid subsidence of some of the fiercer weather
effects. The storm resolved into itself, and becomes no more than a steady
rain, a pitiful drizzle that cast a dismal gloom on a land ravaged by a
By midafternoon, even this rain had tapered off, but the chill of a bitter winter set in, accompanied by a gloomy blackness of clouds and air so thick and heavy it seemed to weigh on the spirits of those forced to look upon the wreck of the land they had known all their lives.
More reports were sent to Marcogg by cities from Sunth to Whitewater Keep begging for relief and telling the Thane of the crisis. Two of these, one from what remained of Nepris’s elders and one from the fragmented administration in Marduran, have been included here.
A rider on horseback carried a similar letter from Nepris:
response was slow to come, and the needed aid even slower. The calamity had
ended, but the repercussions would rock the Mithral Coast for a generation.
Effects. In larger port cities such as Sunth and Marduran, the anarchy that took hold was catastrophic. In the latter especially, all semblance of government control was lost, and the first step was to restore relative calm. The Thane did eventually send soldiers, fearful of a larger movement, and the displaced victims were shepherded back to the dockside streets, to begin the tasks of salvaging and rebuilding. A serious eye was turned towards architectural integrity in all of these towns following this event, and in the rebuilding of Marduran, more care is taken in orderly construction. The docks and warehouses of the city became the most well-organized sectors, with wider, securely built escape routes and the creation of a few seaside stone walls with the assistance of the dwarves (no doubt to Ranring’s delight, were he alive).
The dwarves recovered quickly as well, although the destruction of their above-ground plots was no small loss. Although a few living in Tyr Donian assisted the brutally destroyed human villages on the coast, most the dwarves retreated to their caverns for the season, relying on their stores for survival. The few that did leave the security of the earth often sold their services as builders for projects such as the Marduran docks.
For the once-proud hamlet of Nepris, a return to normalcy was not nearly so quick. Homes had been swept away, livelihoods of families that had lived there for generations uncounted gone in an instant. Only the unparalleled determination and skill that is so common in Avennorians allowed the 86 remaining villagers to survive the winter with only three deaths. Nevertheless, the bitterness of the season, short of food and warmth, cannot be overstated.
All the pestilences of large storms were also seen up and down the coastline. Game animals had been driven inland, trees uprooted and carried off, and shortage of freshwater led to a constant risk of dehydration.
Picture description. An artist's depiction of the storm's approach, bearing the wrath of the Goddess of the Sea, Baveras. Image by Faugar.
Myth/Lore. Tales of
this epitome of Baveras‘ wrath run
rampant, but one has eclipsed all the others, likely because it is based in
fact. Forthwith is a record of the way one can hear it told by the elders of
Nepris, when the village gathers on the
anniversary of the storm to tell the story every year, and traverses the path
to the famous temple together in reverent memory of the raging Goddess.
Who can say why they decided to risk the wrath of She Who Controls the Seas, but the gathering to hunt the Old Woman of the Ocean, the last of the Sea Tartuas, was an affair that captured the attention of men from this village, from Marduran, and started talk in every inn up and down this coast. It is said that the giant sea turtles were great friends of Baveras, wise and beautiful, and the slow decline of these gargantuan beasts was a great sorrow to her. One of these in particular, the Old Woman of the Sea, was a turtle of such magnificent proportions that its could be mistaken for a reef when surfacing. Beautiful were these shells, every manner of coral growing on them, a moving ecosystem. Their base was pearly in colour, streaked with silver and gold. Unfortunately, the beauty of the shell of the Old One was also his undoing, for the greed in the hearts of men raised in an environment filled with beautiful pieces of dwarven craftsmanship led them to hunt him. But Baveras loved the Tartuas, and the Old One was an especial friend to her, having seen the birth of the world, the rise and fall of millenia, coexisting in the sea with her. The decision of the men to hunt the creature was their undoing, however, for it led to all the hardship and wretchedness for which we are still thankful to have escaped.
Sightings of the Old One were common enough; often the beast would surface, and sailors would spot her from afar, unable to get close before she sank back beneath the waves. However that greed, that terrible greed, led a group of men to begin a hunt. Three ships embarked near the end of Passing Clouds on the hunt for the Elder Tartuas. Whalers hoping to (literally) strike gold, and simple fishermen groping for adventure climbed aboard as well. For many weeks the hunters would return every few days, cursing their luck, unable to find the creature. On the 30th they set out once more, and were never seen again, although the wreck of one of the ships has supposedly been found. What occurred seems painfully clear. One or more of the ships happened upon the creature, and in some stroke of misfortune, succeeded in ending the life of a being with experience more vast and terrible than these poor fools could hope to understand. The wrath of Baveras at the death of her friend was cataclysmic. The terrible Sea Goddess beseeched Grothar to visit his power upon the Avennorian fishing towns, and together they claimed their revenge. Our own village was destroyed, and for three nights death and and misery reigned. On the morning of the third, the wind and hail receeded, leaving only the rain, the tears of a Goddess suffering the loss of her oldest of friends.