A Spot of Silver
The largest town in the Baron of Harkenwold’s domain, Harken is notable for the large, rocky bluff on which Harken Castle sits. Were it not for this formidable natural redoubt, Albridge might have made a more sensible choice for the capital of the Barony.
Although the barony appears quite small and provincial, especially to Lord of the southern regions of the world, Harken is actually quite unique among the Nentir Vale’s many cities in that it has enjoyed a period of relatively uninterrupted peace for some time. While there are always the occasional raids from Daggerburg goblins in the southeastern Harken Forest and the machinations of the Treants of the Harken’s Heart druids occasionally require the intervention of the Baron’s troops, by and large the region has been peaceful for several centuries. The small force of troops kept garrisoned at Castle Harken have contributed to the peace, and Baron Stockmer has seemed to rule well, kindly, and without excessive luxury at the expense of his people.
Recently, however, Harken has come under attack for the first time in many generations. For the past few years, travelers have told tales of strangely dressed men, women, and occasionally tieflings traveling up and down the Kingsroad, especially in Harken. While they would identify themselves as being part of the Iron Circle if asked, they did not seem overly threatening except for the occasional tavern brawl, and most assumed they were part of some sort of unknown religious or emissary order from Sarthel, traveling to the Lord Warden of Fallcrest for various reasons. As such, no one expected it when a ravaging force marched upwards from the southern Kingsroad, striking quickly and decisively at Harken Castle.
The Castle fell quickly. The Baron’s troops were more familiar with settling local disputes over land deeds and the size of goat herds, as well as cracking the skull of the occasional petty goblin raiders, who were usually long gone by the time the troops arrived, anyway. The Keep fell in a matter of hours, and immediately the city of Harken was informed that the flag that flew above the newly-christened Iron Keep was that of the Iron Circle, and the flag that flew directly beneath it was that of the warchief Nazin Redthorn.
Since then, Redthorn’s Iron Circle troops, including troops that most people think must be tieflings, have been responding with an exceedingly heavy hand to even minor disturbances or signs of rebellion. In addition, for reasons known only to the Iron Circle, various religious orders throughout the region have been harried and persecuted, especially Sister Sondal and her House of Faith in Harken itself. No one has heard from the Baron in the month since Redthorn came conquering, and what Resistance there is to his rule is pitiful in face of the trained troops of the Iron Circle.
The Broken Gaol
Once a respected taphouse, the Broken Gaol has very quickly become known as the place for a local to go if they really want a broken nose. The Iron Circle garrison treats this bar as their personal property, and just about every ne’er-do-well in the Iron Keep lives here with every off-duty hour. A half-orc woman named Krutha took over the bar when the Iron Circle ran off the previous owner, and has proven to be the only local in the area rough enough to hold her own against the bar’s new crowd of malcontents.
Formerly Baron Stockmer’s stronghold, about 60 Iron Circle guards now occupy the Keep at any given time, while over 120 more patrol Harkenwold. The Keep was largely built in recent days, and any local with a decent memory can tell you that it was largely the work of Old Kellar, a local dwarf and stonemason.
Run by the three Ironbeards, dwarven siblings Omurk, Dathilda, and Dannurk, Cliffside is renowned as far away as Fallcrest for its finely-crafted ales, lagers. No fewer than six varietals are produced at the Brewery — one for each major settlement in Harkenwold. Though their brewery is in Harken, the Ironbeards were born in Marl and will proudly tell anyone who’ll listen that the grain used to distill it comes from Marl’s many and varied wheat fields. Their varietal for Easthill is apparently a favorite among the dwarves of Hammerfast.
Tower of Green Flame
A mysterious crystal tower that rise just west of the town’s center, the tower is largely deserted and rarely approached. Local children tell each other spooky tales about other children who played hide and seek in the tower and were eaten by Mist Mages, or about the danger of getting too close on a moonlit night when the witches who live quietly in the tower come out to dance. Townsfolk sometimes report seeing green lights in the upper floors of the tower, especially on nights when the moon is nowhere to be found.
Harkenwold Trading Station
The major source of trade in the village, the trading station is overseen by an oily, fat man named Rennis Duggard. Rennis loves a good ale, but more than that…he loves a good coin. He’s also been known to seek out his coin in unscrupulous places, and the adventurers suspect that he was planning to follow them around and claim whatever valuables he could get from them should they meet an unfortunate end. Most people in town suspect he might be working as a spy for Nazin Redthorn, but these suspicions are not founded on evidence of any sort. Rather, since Rennis tells anyone who’ll listen that he’s actually a spy for the Resistance, most locals learned a long time ago that whenever Rennis tells you something, the opposite is probably true.
House of Faith
This relatively large temple, given the size of Harken, is run by Sister Sondal, and is dedicated to Pelor, Moradin, Erathis, and Sehanine. Currently run by Sister Sondal, who herself serves the Sehanine Cult most fervently though she tends the altars to the other gods with appropriate care and diligence, the House of Faith has come on hard times. Strange, exorbitant fees levied by the Iron Circle may force the House of Faith to shut its doors at last. As a result, Sister Sondal asked a band of adventurers to seek out a holy relic from a derelict abbey nearby. A hero of sorts in the area, Sondal hopes that the skull of the Blessed-of-Four Monk can serve to both bring new pilgrims through the church and swell her dwindling coffers. She also suspects that finding the skull would encourage the Harkenwold Resistance, as the monk was quite a legend in these parts.
Run by a staid, grandmotherly halfling named Nonnie Farwhere, or “Aunt Nonnie” as she tells everyone who darkens her door to call her, Nonnie’s place is the only place in town where locals can gather to spread gossip. While Nonnie is wise and knows to keep a lid on her tongue when Rennis or Iron Circle sneaks are in the bar, her inn is a quiet hub of news and information, even if it’s not exactly a hotbed of rebellion. Nonnie’s place charges local travelers 5 silver for room and board, but folks not known to Aunt Nonnie pay a full gold to stay at the inn. It’s not much, but it’s the best Nonnie can do to discourage Iron Circle malcontents from mucking up the place.