Llorkh was a large human town in the Gray Vale of the Savage Frontier. Once an important mining town, it dwindled and was finally annexed by the Zhentarim in the mid–14th century DR, becoming the westernmost outpost for their caravans and efforts to dominate trade in the North. After Zhentish rule, the town continued to fade in the 15th century DR, and finally destroyed by stone giants in the late 1400s DR.
Llorkh was originally founded by Netherese refugees fleeing the downfall of Netheril, sometime after its fall in the Year of Sundered Webs, −339 DR. The neighboring settlement of Loudwater was founded around the same time.[note 1]
Later on, further settlement of Llorkh and Loudwater, as well as Longsaddle, Secomber, Triboar, and others, was undertaken by pioneers from Waterdeep after the establishment of the Lords of Waterdeep there in 1032 DR. These pioneers were sponsored by noble and mercantile Waterdhavian families.[note 2]
Llorkh grew to become a sleepy mining town, its people busy working mines in the nearby hills and farming the surrounding land. The town was led by a series of lords, well-respected, retired miners and warriors. However, production soon started to wane and Llorkh began to dwindle. Only stubborn miners and many sheepherders were expected to remain.
Finally, shortly before 1357 DR,[note 3] the last of the old lords, Phintarn "Redblade", was found dead at the foot of the Lord's Keep. Overnight, the mage Geildarr Ithym seized the Lord's Keep and claimed the throne. Soon after, four hundred "Lord's Men" arrived and in a handful of battles slaughtered all of the existing militia under the pretext that they were trouble-makers. The citizens found themselves under the "protection" of the Lord's Men. Thus, Llorkh was quickly and quietly conquered by the Zhentarim and under the control of their puppet.
Thanks to this brutal occupation, the townsfolk had no liking for Geildarr. In the aftermath, Phintarn's brother died mysteriously one night, and his inn was razed the very next day. Lord Geildarr named the aged dwarf cleric Thianos "Ironskull" an outlaw and ordered his troops to find him. Since the takeover, the dwarves of Llorkh steadily and discreetly departed, even disappeared.
As soon as their control over the town was consolidated, Zhentarim caravans began to arrive from the Anauroch. They required accommodations, food, water, animals, wagon repairs, and so the townsfolk were pressed into work supplying these. They erected rough inns and taverns to cater to the caravans.
By 1357 DR, the fiendish forces of Hellgate Keep advanced on newly conquered Llorkh. The Lord's Men met them on the banks of the Delimbiyr river above Shining Falls. They fought a major battle, but beat the demons back.
In Uktar of the Year of Shadows, 1358 DR, one particular Zhentarim caravan was secretly transporting a menagerie of monsters in locked wagons for unknown reasons on a journey to the south. One night, one monster—eyewitnesses described something huge, dark, man-shaped, and with vicious insectoid mandibles, suggesting it was an umber hulk—escaped from its wagon, knocked over three others, and destroyed an inn and three other builds, and finally bolted in the hills. Meanwhile, other monsters spilled from the knocked-over wagons and roamed the streets before the Lord's Men came to deal with them. The caravan masters absconded into the night, and daylight found thirty monster zombies, undead ogres, bugbears, and minotaurs destroyed and ten soldiers and civilians killed.
The travelogue writer Volothamp Geddarm, when visiting Llorkh, once stopped at the Ten Bells. There he was accosted by four thugs, whom he suspected to be Zhentarim agents, and defended himself with magic. Leaving burning bodies behind, he promptly fled town, not desiring to return.
After only a handful of decades of Zhent occupation, the veins of gold and silver in Llorkh's mines played out. The occupiers left, taking everything of value with them and leaving Llorkh's buildings in a state of ruin.
Although Llorkh was still disreputable, one incompetent ruler after another caused the remaining citizens of integrity to leave, and it suffered a dramatic decline in the 1470s DR. By 1479 DR, the city lay in ruins and served as a stronghold for a self-styled bandit king and his henchmen.
The bandit king was eventually killed and people started to return to Llorkh in an attempt to restore it. It was then that a clan of stone giants, led by an evil, xenophobic giantess named Kayalithica, in alliance with the Uthgardt Blue Bear Tribe, smashed the town into rubble.
Llorkh was fairly isolated where it stood, on the north bank of the River Grayflow in the western fringe of the Graypeak Mountains. The mountains to the east and north of the town were riddled with tunnels left by mining operations. These were old and almost depleted by the mid–14th century DR.
Prior to the Zhentish occupation of 1357 DR, Llorkh was governed by a succession of human lords, often retired miners or warriors who'd earned the respect of the community. It's said they would never have tolerated the Zhentarim in their town. Phintarn was the last of these old lords, until he was found dead shortly before 1357 DR.
Following the end of Zhentish occupation in the 15th century DR, Llorkh was under the thumb of a series of inept rulers, ending with a bandit king by 1479 DR.
The Zhentarim of Llorkh were opposed by the Lords' Alliance of the good cities of the North, who contained their spread to the town's environs. They were also opposed by the Harpers.
However, the greatest threat to Llorkh and the Zhentarim in the region was the fiendish might of Hellgate Keep. The Zhents worried that disguised demons would infiltrate Llorkh and sabotage their efforts, and so hastened to strengthen and protect themselves around 1370 DR. However, they were not always in conflict: in the winter of 1370 DR, after the destruction of much of Hellgate Keep, Zhent slavers from Llorkh avoided the guardian treants and entered the Keep. They met and made an alliance with the cambion Kaanyr Vhok, who sought to gain information, slaves, and modern magic. They would seek to maintain their alliance for the sake of control over the area, but in order to keep the treacherous fiend in line, they negotiated with the Arcane Brotherhood of Luskan for binding rituals.
There was opposition at home too: the increasingly overt Zhent dominance was not appreciated and few of the townsfolk liked, let alone loved, Lord Geildarr. He faced attacks from adventurers and rebellious townsfolk who fought to depose him, requiring protection by the Lord's Men. The local people in and around Llorkh were counted as experienced fighters against Zhent forces. Nevertheless, the people had mixed feelings about the Zhent takeover. The increased commerce put money in their pockets and was taken as a sign of prosperity, but crime and corruption grew and people felt unsafe. Either way, the majority were forced to support the regime.
Prior to the Zhent occupation, Llorkh was protected by a local militia. Afterward, the Zhentarim installed the Lord's Men, 400 purple-cloaked soldiers (secretly members of the Zhentilar). These defended the town against orcs and fiends, enforced Geildarr's will, and protected the unpopular lord against adventurers and insurgent townsfolk. By 1366 DR, Zhentilar soldiers had arrived and were permanently camped outside town to the south and east. By 1372 DR, the Lord's Men had been reduced to 300 while the Zhentilar remained.[note 4]
Around 1369/1370 DR, the Zhentilar were busily digging a large defensive ditch around the town, and greater fortifications were projected. They worked to turn Llorkh into a Zhentish stronghold.
Prior to the take-over, Llorkh had but one tavern, the Ten Bells, and one inn, the Worried Wyvern, owned by Phintarn's brother, which was mysteriously razed after his death. With the influx of Zhent caravans, rough facilities were hastily constructed: the Drover's Cup and Wet Wizard taverns; and Tantarn's Inn (a pleasant place) and the Six Shields inn (little more than a Zhent soldiers' barracks).
By 1358 DR, Llorkh had a shrine to Bane the Black Lord, managed by priest Mythkar Leng. However, Mythkar later converted from the deceased Bane to the worship of Cyric, and a full-fledged temple to the new god called the Dark Sun was erected. It was thriving by 1366 DR.
Llorkh was once an important but quiet mining town, busily extracting iron and silver from the nearby mountains. However, the mines were shallow and their lodes were soon exhausted by the mid–14th century DR, causing the economy and the town to decline. Nevertheless, they were not completely worked out, and townsfolk continued to delve into them. After some decades, in the 15th century DR, the mines were finally declared empty.
Llorkh stood at the western end of the Black Road over Anauroch, the primary Zhent trade route, and thus was a major stop for caravans from Zhentil Keep. Since Geildarr's takeover, Zhentarim-led caravans began to arrive in Llorkh in great numbers, needing to take on staff, beasts, and supplies prior to the last leg of their journey: the trek to Loudwater, where barges would take their goods up-river. Through the 1360s DR, two caravans came from Darkhold each week except in the depths of winter, carrying trade goods, weaponry, and Zhentish warriors. The caravans brought much wealth to Llorkh, which desperately needed it after the mines failed. The people of Llorkh thus found prosperity servicing the Zhentarim caravans. In return, by dominating Llorkh, the Zhentarim had a monopoly on trade between the town and Loudwater and a point from which to further trade interests in northwest Faerûn.
Llorkh was also a popular place for treasure hunters to meet up and trade finds and information, thanks to proximity to the lands of the long-fallen empire of Netheril. On rare occasions, nomad tribesmen from Anauroch (the former home of Netheril) came to Llorkh to trade. They bought goods in exchange for curious relics of ancient designs.
Prior to 1357 DR, Llorkh was home to approximately 2,000 humans and 300 dwarves, and some 100 members of other races.[note 5] However, after Geildarr took over, the dwarves gradually left and were almost entirely gone by 1368/1369 DR. Nevertheless, by mid-1372 DR, Llorkh had regrown to a population of 3,051. The humans were largely of the Illuskan ethnicity.
Rumors & LegendsEdit
Around 1357 DR, it was furtively rumored in Llorkh that Lord Geildarr was a member of the Zhentarim. This was in fact completely true and all doubt was erased with the overt Zhentish dominance by 1372 DR.
It was rumored in Llorkh that the original dwarf population was being quietly murdered off by the Geildarr regime, just as Lord Phintarn had been. However, they in fact migrated to Mithral Hall in search of better lives under the reign of King Bruenor Battlehammer.
- ↑ The actual founding date is unknown. The texts of both The Savage Frontier and The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier say "Netherese founded Llorkh and Loudwater", implying they were founded around the same time, but the dates of Loudwater's founding is also unknown. The same paragraphs also refer to events from −333 DR to −298 DR, implying both Llorkh and Loudwater were founded in or after this period.
- ↑ It is unclear how or why Llorkh and the other settlements were settled again and what happened to the existing Netherese settlement. The Savage Frontier says these towns were "resettled", but the later sources simply say "settled".
- ↑ The date of this unknown. Waterdeep and the North (dated 1357 DR) only says this was "recently", implying sometime in 1357 DR or shortly before.
- ↑ The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition page 169 reduces the number of Lord's Men from 400 to 300 without explanation. It may be that the previously disguised Zhentilar in the Lord's Men are now openly Zhentilar, as part of the Zhents' more overt rule.
- ↑ All sources give populations of 2000 humans and 300 dwarves, except for Dwarves Deep, page 61, which mentions "300 dwarves (out of 2,400, almost all humans)". Minus the 2000 humans, this leaves 100 members of other races.
- ↑ 1.00 1.01 1.02 1.03 1.04 1.05 1.06 1.07 1.08 1.09 1.10 1.11 1.12 1.13 1.14 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 169. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 2.13 2.14 2.15 2.16 2.17 2.18 2.19 2.20 2.21 2.22 2.23 2.24 Ed Greenwood (1987). Waterdeep and the North. (TSR, Inc), p. 7. ISBN 0-88038-490-5.
- ↑ 3.00 3.01 3.02 3.03 3.04 3.05 3.06 3.07 3.08 3.09 3.10 3.11 3.12 3.13 3.14 3.15 3.16 3.17 3.18 3.19 3.20 3.21 3.22 Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 30. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- ↑ 4.00 4.01 4.02 4.03 4.04 4.05 4.06 4.07 4.08 4.09 4.10 4.11 4.12 4.13 4.14 4.15 4.16 4.17 4.18 4.19 4.20 4.21 4.22 4.23 4.24 4.25 4.26 4.27 4.28 4.29 4.30 4.31 4.32 4.33 4.34 Ed Greenwood (1993). Volo's Guide to the North. (TSR, Inc), pp. 212–214. ISBN 1-5607-6678-6.
- ↑ 5.00 5.01 5.02 5.03 5.04 5.05 5.06 5.07 5.08 5.09 5.10 5.11 5.12 5.13 5.14 5.15 5.16 5.17 5.18 5.19 5.20 5.21 5.22 5.23 5.24 5.25 5.26 5.27 5.28 5.29 5.30 5.31 5.32 5.33 5.34 5.35 slade (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (Cities and Civilization). (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- ↑ 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Ed Greenwood (1990). Dwarves Deep. (TSR, Inc), p. 61. ISBN 0-88038-880-3.
- ↑ 7.00 7.01 7.02 7.03 7.04 7.05 7.06 7.07 7.08 7.09 7.10 7.11 Ed Greenwood and Steven E. Schend (July 1994). “Campaign Guide”. City of Splendors (TSR, Inc), p. 17. ISBN 0-5607-6868-1.
- ↑ 8.0 8.1 Thomas M. Costa (1999). “Speaking in Tongues”. In Dave Gross ed. Dragon Annual #4 (TSR, Inc), pp. 26,28.
- ↑ 9.0 9.1 9.2 Richard Baker, James Wyatt (March 2004). Player's Guide to Faerûn. (Wizards of the Coast), pp. 14,17–18. ISBN 0-7869-3134-5.
- ↑ 10.00 10.01 10.02 10.03 10.04 10.05 10.06 10.07 10.08 10.09 10.10 10.11 10.12 10.13 Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Jeff Grubb (1993). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 2nd edition (revised), A Grand Tour of the Realms. (TSR, Inc), pp. 113–114. ISBN 1-5607-6617-4.
- ↑ 11.00 11.01 11.02 11.03 11.04 11.05 11.06 11.07 11.08 11.09 11.10 11.11 11.12 11.13 11.14 Kevin Melka and John Terra (April 1995). Ruins of Zhentil Keep (Campaign Book). (TSR, Inc), p. 45. ISBN 0-7869-0109-8.
- ↑ 12.0 12.1 12.2 12.3 12.4 12.5 12.6 slade, Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Paul Jaquays, Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 68. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- ↑ 13.0 13.1 13.2 13.3 13.4 13.5 13.6 13.7 Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 10. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- ↑ 14.0 14.1 14.2 14.3 14.4 14.5 Rob Heinsoo, Logan Bonner, Robert J. Schwalb (September 2008). Forgotten Realms Player's Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 100. ISBN 978-0-7869-4929-8.
- ↑ 15.0 15.1 15.2 15.3 Christopher Perkins (September 6, 2016). Storm King's Thunder. In Kim Mohan, Michele Carter eds. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 96. ISBN 978-0786966004.
- ↑ 16.0 16.1 Christopher Perkins (September 6, 2016). Storm King's Thunder. In Kim Mohan, Michele Carter eds. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 145. ISBN 978-0786966004.
- ↑ 17.0 17.1 Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), pp. 4,40. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- ↑ slade, Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Paul Jaquays, Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 8. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- ↑ slade, Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Paul Jaquays, Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 9. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood and Jason Carl (July 2002). Silver Marches. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 6. ISBN 0-7869-2835-2.
- ↑ Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 62. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (1995). The Seven Sisters. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 0-7869-0118-7.
- ↑ Eric L. Boyd (June 2005). City of Splendors: Waterdeep. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 46. ISBN 0-7869-3693-2.
- ↑ Bruce R. Cordell, Ed Greenwood, Chris Sims (August 2008). Forgotten Realms Campaign Guide. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 10. ISBN 978-0-7869-4924-3.
- ↑ 25.0 25.1 Ed Greenwood, Sean K. Reynolds, Skip Williams, Rob Heinsoo (June 2001). Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting 3rd edition. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 174. ISBN 0-7869-1836-5.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend (March 1998). Hellgate Keep. (TSR, Inc), p. 14. ISBN 978-0786907861.
- ↑ Steven E. Schend (March 1998). Hellgate Keep. (TSR, Inc), p. 32. ISBN 978-0786907861.
- ↑ Ed Greenwood (1991). Anauroch. (TSR, Inc), p. 26. ISBN 1-56076-126-1.
- ↑ Jeff Crook, Wil Upchurch, Eric L. Boyd (May 2005). Champions of Ruin. (Wizards of the Coast), p. 60. ISBN 0-7869-3692-4.
- ↑ Paul Jaquays (1988). The Savage Frontier. (TSR, Inc), p. 47. ISBN 0-88038-593-6.
- ↑ slade, Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Paul Jaquays, Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 62. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.
- ↑ 32.0 32.1 slade, Ed Greenwood, Julia Martin, Steven E. Schend, Paul Jaquays, Steve Perrin (April 1996). The North: Guide to the Savage Frontier (The Wilderness). (TSR, Inc), p. 46. ISBN 0-7869-0391-0.