Far to the north east along the icy coasts of the north sea is Estalycia. A small city that carved itself out of the frigid barren rock long ago. The city is encircled by a windswept tundra and further isolated by the Whitepeak mountains.
For centuries this settlement was known for its fishermen and stoneworkers, a minor trade partner to the nearby dwarven cities nestled deep within the surrounding mountain range. The city managed to maintain a lifeline to other regions outside through their adept command of the seas, and merchants from this far off city have been known in the past to aggressively purchase wares from other ports to the south.
However, Estalycia’s role in the world has changed in the past two decades. Out in the tundra, adventurous prospectors came across a large field of strange ore. The dull green metal was malleable and oddly light. After extensive study, several wizards found that the metal could be enchanted and would retain simple magical energies for years. Fragments of this rare element could be infused to provide ever-burning lamps. Other small pieces could be infused with other ritual energies to give off searing heat, or numbing cold.
The craftsmen of this rare mineral called it, Endurium, named for its astounding ability to retain energy. Such amazing properties of this metal have allowed Estalycia to transport fresh catches of seafoods even further to other cities. Lampworks were created overnight, with the demand of their ever-burning lights being a prize possession for nobility and other citizens of status outside Estalycia.
Another wondrous property of endurium is that fist-sized chunks of this strange ore serves as a means to store vast amounts of motion energy. Such energies have served as perpetual engines, operating great lifts and ever-turning wheels that could drive large ships, or wheeled cart caravans. This advancement has even rivaled the ingenious dwarves and their clockwork automatons.
No one is sure how this metal came about. Some claim an ancient star must have struck the world. Others claim it is a patch of earth that was saturated in the blood of titans and demons during some long forgotten war. Nonetheless, this small etch of mineral has been a boon to Estalycia.
The city now has streets lined with smokeless lamps. The normally frigid homes have become comfortable residences with warmed floors heated by enduruim laced water pipes. The precarious coastal stone quarries hold several automated lifts, and its navy has begun to outfit many vessels with waterwheels that can continually churn the salty waters without the need of sails.
It is the inhospitable location and the natural barriers of the Whitepeak mountains that have allowed Estalycia to maintain their hold on the nearby endurium mines. Other more accessible cities would have likely been invaded by neighboring kingdoms. To this day, many whisper that the great dwarven clans would have taken these mines by force if they were not continually harassed by orcs and goblins. Although many more learned tacticians of war would claim the long trek across the icy tundra would be a difficult task for any army, even the stout dwarves.
As the prominence of Estalycia has grown over the decades, the city inhabitants have become even more cosmopolitan. It has become a very popular region for arcane practitioners to settle and conduct their mysterious research. The increase of endurium powered carts and ships have meant more trade, and now it is several merchants from far off regions that seek to enter the broadening markets of Estalycia. Many seek to obtain simple arcane infused goods, energized by fragments of the strange metal. Yet the most coveted good is endurium itself. The sale of the raw metal is severely restricted, and well over a king’s ransom for a large piece.
However many aspiring thieves have tried their mettle in obtaining samples of the enigmatic ore through dishonest means. More brutal ruffians have sought to strike out at the mines themselves. It is a near constant effort that one can usually find employment by local merchants and Estalycian military to stave off any attempts to steal endurium. Likewise, one could likely find a more dishonest benefactor to fund an attempt to gain a large hold of the metal.
A few more reserved opinions with an ear for politics claim that the great dwarven clans of the region seek to control all the sources of endurium. It is a matter of time before a clan attempts to take these fields of strange metal by force. However it is unlikely that one clan alone could do this, and such a prize would make other clans greatly envious. As this arcane element is so rare, there is no possible way all the neighboring clans could benefit from a small group possessing the mines. Hence many well versed in the dwarven kingdoms claim that several noblemen spend many of a long night, drinking ale, thoughtfully pulling on their long beards, pouring over maps and plans to determine how they could obtain this treasure of Estalycia, and still be able to retain it from opposing dwarven clans.