Iron Kingdoms 3.5
In Power: Kommander Negomir Tarovic
Population: 74,000 (humans, mostly Ryn with a large Umbrean minority and a few hundred gobbers)
Military: A heavy contingent of Winter Guard supported by a small detachment of Widowmakers under Kommander Negomir Tarovic garrisons Elsinberg. Thousands of additional forces regularly move through the area on ongoing operations, for Elsinberg is an important supply point between Laedry and Merywyn. A small force of local militia remains for law enforcement under the watchful eye of the Khadorans.
Imports: Leather, manufactured goods, textiles
Exports: Scholarly texts, marble, sculpture, wool
Elsinberg, the City of Memory, is drenched in history. Each past century has deeply engraved its mark in the very fabric of the city. Marble statues and stone markers commemorate battles, glorify great heroes, and vilify old enemies. Every month, Elsinbergers hold at least one holiday or festival to commemorate a significant historical event, and once a year the city’s population nearly doubles when visitors from all around come to see the most famous of these events: the March of the Dead.
Every autumn spectral soldiers from Elsinberg’s past begin manifesting in the streets of the city. Several generations ago these shades simply appeared on a cold early morning, visible to some residents but invisible to others. Enough witnesses corroborated the sightings that magical authorities confirmed the appearance as a true phenomenon. They walked through the streets, formed into neat ranks and files, marched out toward Ravensgard, and vanished. The first manifestation of this spectacle caused panic and confusion among those who could see them, and it generated controversy in local churches. Given the
apparitions harmed no one and their arrival was not linked to necromancy, people accepted the annual visit and eventually turned it into a major draw for visitors. With each passing year these phantasms appear earlier and earlier allowing the Elsinbergers to witness more of their pre-battle preparations: repairing armor in
smithies, stowing gear in packs, sharpening swords, and sparring with each other all without making a single sound. In each appearance the spectral army gets closer to Ravensgard before fading away for another year. Recent years have seen the soldiers
saying farewells to spectral families and loved ones and settling their affairs until a silent alarum sounds and calls them to war.
The peculiar march took on special significance last year after Elsinberg had been captured by stirring patriotic sentiment in the citizens and serving as a reminder of their own casualties. Most Khadorans had never seen such a thing, and it prompted superstitious fear. Turmoil erupted when the Khadorans were not prepared for the influx of visitors to the city. This worsened when several high ranking officers could not see the ghosts and were convinced their own soldiers were drunk or hallucinating. Khadoran priests of both Menite and Morrowan faiths tried to lay the phantasms to rest but with no more success than earlier attempts by the Merywyn Vicarate Council.
This year locals expect the phantoms to appear during the last four weeks of autumn and the first week of winter at which time Elsinberg’s population will grow by 4,000 silent spectral soldiers, their ghostly
families, and thousands of tourists coming to witness the apparitions. The ghosts seem oblivious to the living citizens around them. Some scholars have said that these specters are simply echoes from the past while others say they are cursed spirits doomed to repeat
their last days. Whatever the case, they obviously move through an Elsinberg that “was” rather than “is.”
Despite the Church of Morrow’s stance that this manifestation is unnatural, the spirits have become important symbols—doubly so with the occupation. As the soldiers’ preparations draw to a close and they form up, the living traditionally gather in the streets to wave banners and Llaelese flags—something upon which the current occupiers may frown. Living
musicians lend their breath and horns to the dead silent trumpeters, and people cheer for the soldiers and root for their victory knowing well they will vanish before reaching their destination. Scholars agree this army belongs to the baron, General Ghan Gallowey, whose forces mysteriously disappeared in 183 AR while marching to reinforce Ravensgard against the Orgoth. They were never found, and Ravensgard fell that winter not to be rebuilt until after the Orgoth were years gone from the shores of Immoren.
Elsinberg Library: This sturdy marble building not only contains one of the most comprehensive collections of written histories in the Iron Kingdoms, but the building itself is also a historical monument. Asc. Angellia herself founded the original library in 1033 BR six years before her death and ascension. The oldest part of the building is a simple stone vault in the heart of the current structure and now houses the library’s most valuable tomes.
With each passing century, the library’s collection grew and new rooms were added. During the Orgoth Occupation, monks took the entire collection out of the library and squirreled it away in hundreds of different hidden caches to preserve it. The library building itself housed the soldiers of their oppressors. After the liberation of Elsinberg, the books returned to the building which continued to grow as the collection did. The library is staffed and guarded by erudite monks and clerics who have chosen Angellia as their patroness. These monks were prepared to defend the library with their lives during the recent invasion, but the Khadorans never attacked the building.
The chief curator is Ion Badescu who is very protective of the library’s collection and particular about whom he will allow to peruse it. He is more than willing to share his own knowledge over drinks at the local pub.
Reliquary and Monastery of Ascendant Angellia: Elsinberg’s Morrowan monastery has weathered the centuries well. It did not suffer much during the occupation, as its minaret was useful to the Orgoth as a watchtower. After the liberation the monastery was repaired and re-sanctified. As with the Elsinberg Library, Kommander Tarovic made certain not to risk damage to this sacred site during the invasion, and he occasionally visits.
The most important part of the monastery is not made of stone but of bone. The marble sarcophagus in its shrine holds the mortal remains of Asc. Angellia, the Patroness of History and Knowledge. She lay undisturbed for generations until the coming of the Orgoth. At that time her bones and dust were placed in an ironbound reliquary and entrusted to an Umbrean paladin named Alexei Tzentesci who took a vow of celibacy and the title “Husband of Angellia.” He carried the iron box on his back out into the wilderness where he protected the sacred remains for nearly thirty years in lonely isolation. The reliquary passed from one paladin to another in secret for 180 years until the ascendant could return to her proper resting place.
Today Asc. Angellia sleeps soundly in her sarcophagus encircled and guarded by her nine “husbands,” all of whom lie interred in the floor of her shrine in honor of their dedication and sacrifice. Their names are inscribed in the marble for all to read. Several monks of the Order of Keeping always protect the grounds, and while numerous old churches and shrines exist in Elsinberg, most of these are humble and small so as not to detract from Angellia’s Reliquary. The town’s clergy are overseen by Prelate Mara Lynyse.
Tomb of the Orgoth: An elaborate spiked fence of black wrought iron surrounds this small courtyard. In the center lies a blackened patch of earth in the shape of a human silhouette where an Orgoth warwitch fell in 181 AR during the liberation of Elsinberg. The unnamed Orgoth was the last of its kind to set foot in the city. Nothing has grown here since and no one will build over the spot. In recent years during the March of the Dead, the specter of Ghan Gallowey and three of his men have been seen standing over the spot and staring intently at it. Liberation Day is celebrated every spring and revelers often pass by this spot to make rude gestures at the scorched silhouette and break their wine bottles against the fence.