Irene Vov

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During one of the months you are in Middlesborough you are present for the celebration of the anniversary of their founding. The mayor gave a speech:

On this day, as we celebrate our city’s founding we also must make mention of Irene Vov, the witch of insanity.

The founding of Middlesborough is not so much shrouded in mystery as it is in...reluctance. Early almanacs referencing that region, almost, uniformly described a swamp-like terrain in the area, but legend has it that an ancient witch took up residence in that area. Over time she altered the land, (later reports indicate that she could not stand the insects that infested the shallow waters) and eventually created a singular river, running through the area.

As the area dried, it revealed vast amounts of value. The trees of the swamp were worth a fortune simply in lumber, and knowing that the environment was on the way out the woodsmen of the time knew there was a time limit to collect it.

Irene claimed ownership over multiple square miles of land...and she defended that claim. When large teams and machines showed up to collect "their" lumber, Irene appeared. Historical accounts describe her mere presence as "profoundly unsettling" describing some of the woodsmen as immediately running away "even though many of the men were unaware of the witch's legend." Those that didn't run away immediately eventually did when they "were wracked with the pains of death that overtake a man's senses on his deathbed" and some who had their "limbs and appendages twist and turn in unnatural ways, forcing a retreat just to regain control of your own body parts lest you suffer permanent disfiguration."

When small groups attempted to sneak onto her land, she appeared, and the men never left. Some of these men were discovered, years later, doing manual labor for Irene, bent to her will by force of magic.

Those that resisted went mad.

Eventually, a human approached, Milan Burnt, unarmed and alone. He asked one simple question, "What would you like me to do?"

The woman circled him, holding an iguana out at him. The iguana sniffed for a moment. Irene was silent until she said, "Running water!"

"I can do that, but it will require many more visitors like me to do so." Milan explained calmly. "We will need someplace to stay." He stared at her without an ounce of insecurity. "Some…land…"

"I know what you mean, goddammit!" She waggled the iguana at him. "Fine! You can have the south-east side of the river! I'm keeping the north! Don't visit!" The iguana belched, and a cloud of black enveloped Irene and her iguana. When the wind swept the cloud away, she was gone.

Milan collapsed to his knees, shakily reached into his jacket and withdrew a flask. He emptied it's contents into his gullet.

As the months progressed, the people who moved into the area were wary of the north of the river. Children would dare each other to venture into her land, and would return unintelligibly screaming in pain.

Until one day, a catastrophe happened on a build site while Irene just happened to be nearby enough for her curiosity to pull her near. Dozens of builders were buried under the rubble. A couple of hours later, Irene led the survivors out of a tunnel she dug really quickly. She announced that more survivors, more quickly meant the project wouldn't be as delayed.

The crowd still cheered. Irene shrugged.

Years later, a flock of griffons threatened the, still developing, land. They'd nested near enough to human lands that encounters were far too common.

Irene stumbled upon them and scared them off, single-handedly. When asked later why she would perform such a heroic act she only replied, "I don't want to live near any fucking ***griffons!"*** Before her iguana belched a cloud of smoke and she vanished.

The crowd cheered.

Years later, a heavy year of rain threatened to turn the area back into a swamp. As the waves came rushing down the river towards the burgeoning city, evacuations were moving slowly. The river suddenly widened and deepened doubly and the rushing waves sank into the chasm, and the waters of the swamp receded there was only one explanation anyone could come up with: Irene.

When asked why she would do something to save so many for nothing in return she only replied, *"How* ***crazy*** *do you think I* ***am!?"*** *"You think a* ***flood*** *can't kill me?!* What are you? **Stupid?"** She walked back into the undeveloped plains to the north of the river, muttering to herself the whole time, "What kind of moron wouldn't stop a flood if they could? *That'd* be a **special** kind of monster! Knowing a flood was coming and not doing what you could to stop it! Like in gonna *growy own food*..." She turned back, "You're all morons!"

The crowd cheered.

Irene would go on to save the growing city of Middlesborough a number of times throughout the years. Each time, disappearing into the northern forest, always leaving Middlesborough for the better for having done so.

She is attributed to taming the land, the animals, creating a place of safe travel for a large section of the newly formed nation of Shaelor, which made for a far simpler development of Clearview, which turned Middlesborough into the economic powerhouse it became. Deepening the river so that even the largest barges at the time could be safely Les into the city. A place of commerce, travel, and ingenuity.

We, the city of Middlesborough thank and honor one of the founders of our city by leaving you with her last recorded words: