The Creation of Highlake
The Creation of High Lake
There is nothing more fascinating or occluded in speculation in modern Hallowian history as the Ascension of Highlake. In 37 PA all of Hallow saw Occupied Hallow shrouded in huge clouds of smoke and dust. The Jingite armies surrounding Occupied Hallow reported the rumblings in the earth took soldiers off their feet and collapsed their camps. Months later, when the smoke had finally cleared, all the plains could see that a huge pillar of earth had shot up from the center of Occupied Hallow, where Laketown had once been, spilling water in massive waterfall to the city below. The Scholastica was wild with speculation and many a tale was told, but no one until now, has ever actually known what occured.
I will digress and say that had it not been for the fear of living amidst Occupied Hallow, in conjunction with the window for my escape slowly closing, I would have tried harder to gain admittance into what is now known as Highlake. My entire time amidst the people of Occupied Hallow no one could even tell me where to begin, short of scaling the hundred- foot high pillar underneath the waterfall, a task that no one is said to have accomplished, to gain admittance into Highlake. In my final days I made a contact within Occupied Hallow that I was certain could gain me admittance, but I was forced to flee before seeing it through. It is one of my greatest regrets.
Back, before The Occupation, Hallow was somber and beautiful city. It was here that Benghi kept his court and the Sepulcher was a well known place of reflection and learning. The vast statues and beautifully landscaped graveyards were often difficult on the living residents of Hallow, as in that time it was not uncommon for the people of Hallow to live and dwell amidst the sentient undead. So in his wisdom, Benghi allowed the creation of Laketown.
Laketown started out as a collection of rafts, piers, and anything else that would float, lashed together and built up with taverns, gambling halls, and whore houses on the east bank of Tranquil Lake, the small but deep lake in which Hallow was first built around. Scholar and worker alike were welcome. The buildings were always excessively lit with brightly colored lanterns and music could be heard everywhere. Laketwon had a drastically different feel than the somber cityscape and the juxtaposition of Laketown with Hallow seemed to be appreciated by all residents.
When Vol and his Descendant army march begun their siege of Hallow at the beginning of The Ascension War, Laketown severed itself from the shore in order to more easily defend itself. The Descendants, not expecting to have to cross a body of water, left Laketown while the secured the rest of Hallow. And so it was, that for years after The Occupation, Laketown remained free of Descendants, until the winter of 30 PA.
Laketown had stood as the last bastion of resistance in Hallow during the early occupation. The people proved adept at sinking any boats that were not their own, and the deep lake itself proved a perilous swim. In addition, it was said that things dwelt in the dark waters of Lake Tranquil that would attack any Descendant attempting to cross, but leave the Laketowners and seekers of freedom alone. In the winter of 30 PA instead of defending themselves, the Laketowners made an attempt to seize back Hallow, using Laketown as their base of operations. Lead by a Netherseer Timmins who, accounts say was involved directly with The Ascension, as well as the Heroes of West Tower (Among whose number includes King Iyn of Jing), and who was thought dead without accepting Lichdom. Netherseer Timmins was very much alive, and a mage unparalleled since the Benghi destroyed himself and his Council of Bones. Behind this mighty seer the fighting Laketowners captured most of what is now known as the Stockyards and Gallows districts.
However, for the first time since his march on Hallow, Lich-lord Vol the Warbringer strode forth from Sepulcher. Towering over buildings, the giant armor-clad lich shouldered his way through the congested streets of Occupied Hallow, gathering his shrieking hordes of Descendants behind him. His Descendants fought with a fervor unseen since their attack Hallow, and the Laketowners fell before Vol’s blade like the stalk does to the scythe. The Lakelander’s were pressed back to the shores of Lake Tranquil.
There, on those dark shores, Netherseer Timmins, diminutive in stature, clad in his hooded robe of burial cloth, called upon all the powers of magic and nature to slow the advance of the War-lich. And yet, shouldering through each blast and crying out in rage that rent the sanity of the listener, the War-lich came ever forward. Just as Vol was about to close on the Netherseer, the magi squatted low, thrusting his hands in the soil of the lake shore. Eldritch light begun to shoot forth from the earth in jagged cracks as arcane runes began to swirl around the seer in bands of cryptic text. Some lesser known accounts also speak of what witnesses call, “A giant bear whose head bore feathers. The bear roared and stomped, rending at the lake shore and where his claws struck the same eldritch light shot forth.” I include the later only for completeness sake, as this story already seems rife with over telling, and a feathered bear is almost too much.
Even still, the eldritch light formed a ring around Lake Tranquil and as the War-lich’s blade was about to cleave the Netherseer in twain, it stopped suddenly, halted by a sparking arcane barrier. The earth began to pitch and buckle. The city was filled with deafening pops and cracks as stone broke from stone and begun grinding upwards. Suddenly the lake shore itself begun to rise with the lake, the column forming just at the line between the Netherseer and the Warbringer. Above it all Vol’s cry of rage could be heard, as he swore unthinkable torments upon Netherseer Timmins.
Days later, what is now known as Highlake stood. Towering over Occupied Hallow at the heart of the city, a constant reminder to Vol that he could still be defied. In doing so, Highlake has become a symbol for the so-far unsuccessful groups that have tried to liberate Occupied Hallow in years past.
There are more legends than I have pages surrounding what has and does go in Highlake. There appears to be no way to get to Highlake, save if there is a way to scale the pillar beneath the falls that surround it, as the waters of what was once Lake tranquil still fall on all sides. Some legends speak of Highlakers coming down to rescue certain folk heroes among the lower caste of Occupied Hallow. They say that small but stout figures made of iron appear, clanking with numerous ornate locks and chains, forming a wall. This wall of protectors’ parts and Netherseer Timmins himself extends a tiny hand in invitation. Then there is only a blinding blue flash and everything is gone.
Even still more fantastic are the claims of some Occupied Hallow residents that when the sun is just right, on a clear day, you can look up to the top of the falls and see what must be giants patrolling the edge of the falls.
Legend aside, the Netherseer’s actions served to illustrate how far the living had come in the arcane arts, as well as the increase in the livings mastery now that Illister had ascended. It was shortly thereafter that Vol ordered the Towers of Binding, Chains, Durance, and Duress built. Each tower was built on one of four sides of Highlake as a constant reminder to all the Descendants of what magic was capable of. With that same mandate Vol established the Custodian Laws. These laws are uncharacteristically enforced in Occupied Hallow and pertain to magic use and users.
-Excerpt from Into Madness. A Scholar’s Study and Death Defying Journey Into Occupied Hallow. by Varger Slenim.