LORE: The Vermillion Aqueduct
Updated: Aug 18, 2022
In 2/185, the city of Gignastha was founded on the shore of the poisoned lake Sar’Pryannis by the Highborn prince Deben Sordaneon, who later became Hierarch Deben II. Deben was charged by his father, Deben I, to secure the region for the still young and growing Triempery. The city’s location the on the westernmost cliffs above the lake allowed exploitation of fresh water—essential in view of the lake’s contents being undrinkable—and a wealth of other natural resources, including timber, minerals, and hydropower for industry.
Over a period of eighty years, Gignastha grew rapidly and became a prosperous frontier Principality. When Deben succeeded his father as Hierarch of Sordan, his son Meleus Sordaneon assumed the title of Prince and began the line of Princes of Gignastha.
The city had by then grown to a size and population where water supplied by its native river and streams no longer fully met its needs. As part of his greater architectural plan for the city—a plan that included the Watergilt Serat (later Palace) and Sky Bridges that crossed Gignastha’s many ravines—Deben II used transformative magic to cause nearby mountains and surrounding mineral-rich crags to release rock in a fluid form; he then shaped this fluid rock into a design that, as it hardened, became the channels and arches of a massive aqueduct that melded with a water collection system already constructed deep in the surrounding mountains.
The Vermillion Aqueduct has been described as “arches of adamant that tower above the landscape, a monument kissed by beauty, aglow like honey filled with fire” by the famed traveller Patroculos in his Journey to Many Lands.
A Kheld traveller, Aebner Gethedson, thought the aqueduct looked like “a pattern embroidered on the sky, blood red upon blue.”
Because the Vermillion Aqueduct was created—or more precisely “poured”—using Leur omnificence, its entire length and height, arches and channels, are seamless and smooth. No fissures or cracks mar its length and engineers agree the aqueduct’s properties include that of being elastic enough to resist ordinary, and possibly even extraordinary, movement. Over the centuries it has proven durable and resistant to damage from either natural or human attack.
In 2/1862, during the Gignastha War also known as the Bloodletting, the Vermillion Aqueduct was targeted by those hoping to disarm the Watergilt Serat’s defenses (see below). All attacks failed until finally an arcane blast was delivered that broke two of the aqueduct’s arches and severed water flow into the city. Following the war, the arches were patched using available materials and techniques, which resulted in a repair that is readily seen because it is neither seamless nor glows.
The Vermillion Aqueduct collects vast amounts of water from the eastern Telarkan Mountain watershed and conveys it to the southern edge of the city of Gignastha. The terminal point of the aqueduct empties into the Watergilt Palace and, directly, powers the Highborn-constructed complex’s gates and locks. These locks were so strong that, while powered by water flow, the city gates could not be forced or opened.
What water is not directed to the locks is collected in a series of cisterns and deep reservoirs secured by dams also raised by Deben II. These waters are released into Gignastha’s many natural and engineered streams to serve as the city water supply and also power local energy needs.
Destruction of the Aqueduct
The Kheld occupation, or Bloodletting phase, of the Gignastha War ended when Delos Sordaneon used the Lacenedon Crown to deliver a powerful arcane assault that severed two Vermillion Aqueduct arches and its channel, cutting the flow of water into the city and, more importantly, the Watergilt locks. The gates opened and Esseran forces led by Ral of Leseos entered and recaptured the city. Essera’s king soon took the city from Ral.
On order of King Marc Frederick Stauberg-Randolph, and carried out by his interim administrator, the Highborn prince Regelon Merrydeon, the Vermillion Aqueduct was repaired sufficiently for water transport into the city to resume. The gates and locks were also restored. The repaired section of the aqueduct, however, is less stable, is subject to leaks, and requires frequent repairs.
The Vermillion Aqueduct is one of the Triempery’s greater wonders. Its origin in early history by arcane means puts it alongside the Aesa Eranos in Stauberg and Cienorr’s Gate, which separates the Bay of Fire from Mormantalorus. Staubauns were present at the creation of these wonders and what they witnessed—after their parents and grandparents had witnessed the transformations that created the Wall and Rill— cemented Staubaun belief in Highborn divinity. Deben II Sordaneon was a grandson of Derlon, the Rill-Giver, one of the Three.
The breaking of the Vermillion Aqueduct rocked the Triempery nearly as much as did the captivity and imprisonment of Labran Sordaneon by Essera. The Sordaneons had been considered declawed. They were constantly under surveillance and barred from accessing their devices except under guard. Delos’s use of the Lacenedon Crown came as a complete surprise. Using the device caused massive physical damage to the Sordaneon prince as well, however, and though he succeeded in breaking the Vermillion Aqueduct—something many thought could not be done—and opening Gignastha’s gates, Delos perished.
The act confirmed Esseran belief that the Sordaneons presented a threat. That Delos had used the Lacenedon Crown needed answers: it was later determined that a trusted valet of the Prince of Lacenedon had been responsible, resulting in discovery of bribes, an execution, and more blame cast on Sordan.
Leseos, whose ruling prince had been murdered in Gignastha during the Bloodletting, and where the plan for the arcane attack on the Vermillion Aqueduct had originated, became more friendly toward Sordan and less toward Essera and Khelds—in the latter case a great deal less.
Khelds considered themselves betrayed by the Sordaneon attack, which they thought the King and his Highborn allies should have prevented. Ral’s retribution upon entering the city was bloody. Sordaneon destruction of the Vermillion Aqueduct continues to darken Kheld views of Sordan and its rulers. The Kheld assertion that Highborn sorcerers "cause mountains to bleed stone" has its origins in the Vermillion Aqueduct.
Despite its repaired state, the Vermillion Aqueduct’s importance to the economy and culture of Gignastha and the Triempery remains strong.