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The Firepeaks

This lonely set of mountains, several hundred miles east of Almorel, is one of the most famous landmarks of the Endless Waste, the Central Area and the Oriental Lands. The Firepeaks is a rugged geothermal basin, surrounded by a circle of volcanic mountains. Eruptions from the cones occur frequently, at least one of the mountains throwing up a cloud of ash every few weeks. The gray clouds are visible from as far away as the Spice Road, which passes within 100 miles.

This volcanic activity, along with the reddish glow faintly seen at night, is what gives the region its name. To most of the civilized races, the Firepeaks are a desolate, although perhaps fascinating, region. The nomads revere the mountains as Badara-Kharshi, Land of the Fire God. The mountains are sacred, and can only be visited after ritual preparations. Most outsiders come to use the many hot springs of the basin, believed to have healing and spiritual properties. A few come to deal with the inhabitants of the volcanic mountains.

The Firepeaks are not deserted. According to the Tuigan, the mountains are the home of the Siremun, the iron Men. These are strange little men who dwell among the flames, working with crystal and iron. The Siremun are full of tricks and pranks, forever envious of the horsemen, since their own legs are too stunted to reach the stirrups.

In truth, the Firepeaks is the home of an ancient dwarven kingdom. In ages past, just as the might of the dwarves peaked, an adventurous band left the west and made their way across the “flat world” to settle in the Firepeaks. These settlers were the last wave of the great dwarven expansion. No more followed them, and in time communication with the West broke down. Now the dwarves of the Firepeaks live in isolation.

The dwarves have built a sizeable kingdom beneath the flaming peaks. Here they mine skystone, a perfectly clear crystal, that can be chiseled and carved like ordinary stone. Hard as marble, skystone is used by the wealthy to build palaces and towers. The dwarves have used the skystone to build sections of their kingdom, creating crystal mazes and dizzying halls with seethrough floors. They also export a large amount of the stone to princes and wizards. For example, the Phi of Semphar used skystone for many of the towers of Dhaztanar.

The dwarves are not the only inhabitants of the Firepeaks. The volcanic region has attracted a number of goblin-kind and giant-kind. Most numerous of these are the orcs, who have entered the Firepeaks region from underground passages. Holding with traditional hatreds, these creatures are at war with the Siremun. To date, they have seized several of the outer halls and one of the larger skystone quarries. They outnumber the dwarves, but lack the resourcefulness of the Siremun. Thus the dwarves have been able to slow the orc advance, although they are still, ultimately, losing the war.

On the surface, there is a sizeable population of ogres. Since they remain on the surface, the ogres are ignored by the Siremun for the most part. The brutes have seized control of the hot springs and are, in their own half-witted way, trying to set up a business, a spa of giant-kind, as it were. Each band of ogres, usually no more than ten, has claimed a spring or group of springs. The cleverest of the lot have erected crude markerscairns topped with animal skulls, bones, feathers, and bits of worthless cloth—to mark their claim. Nearby will be one of the clan, waiting to collect a fee from all who want to bathe at their spring. Lacking grace and charm, they threaten to smash anyone who refuses to pay their fee. This new sense of capitalism has created a gold-rush mentality among the ogres. There are more ogres than hot springs and some springs are better than others. As a result, there has been ogre claim-jumping, ogre bush-whacking, and ogre hot-spring wars. The strongest of the clans is trying to bring law and order to this frontier their laws and order, of course. They have had only limited success.

Strangers entering the area are naturally viewed as potential claim-jumpers. The ogres are likely to throw rocks and ask questions later, unless convinced the visitors don’t have hostile intentions. Of course, being simple-minded brutes, the ogres can be easily duped.

A small clan of Firegiants live among the upper reaches of the Firepeaks as well. They have made some forays to other nearby lands including a time they were defeated by the Dragonslayers.