The Gardbury Downs take their name from this striking ruin, a large monastery that has lain in ruins for almost one hundred fifty years. The abbey was dedicated to Bahamut and served as the base of a militant order of paladins who won great fame fighting in Nerath’s distant crusades. As the story goes, the paladins brought a dark artifact back from a far crusade for safekeeping, and evil forces gathered to assault the abbey and take it back. Extensive dungeons lie beneath the ruins, which might still conceal the hoarded wealth of the old crusading paladins.
From the words of Eilian the Old,
Gardmore Abbey was one of the first settlements in the Nentir Vale, you know. Almost three and a half centuries old, those ruins are. Until Winterhaven came along about thirty years later, it marked the northern extent of Nerath’s expansion. Well, them and Fastormel in the east.
That abbey was made for defense, bar none! Built on the steepest hill and the thickest stone wall (still standing! …mostly) to protect the village and the home of those monk knights in the abbey proper. That village sure did prosper, supporting the knights with goods and food and enjoying their protection.
Them holy knights did travel far in the name of Bahamut! Railing against any monstrous and evil forces that lurked into the Nentir Vale…and, on occasion, to places outside the Vale. They destroyed thousands of orcs in the Stonemarch, brought low a temple of the snake-god Zehir in the depths of the Witchlight Fens, and journeyed to the Dragondown Coast, far to the south, to sack the Infernal Bastion of the terrible hob-goblin warlord Hur-Tharak! The treasures they would bring back! Kept the abbey well repaired, to be sure. There were magic fountains spoutin’ up all over the place, not to mention holy weapons of incredible power! Those knights must’ve had the luck of the gods on their side.
But I guess luck always runs out eventually. The old abbey’s been in ruins for almost 150 years now, ever since a force of orcs came down out of the Stonemarch. They came out of the west looking for revenge, and boy did they mean to get it! They brought ogres, hill giants, and even demons to break through those stone walls! Didn’t work at first, though. Gardmore always was the most siege-ready place around. Hard to say how it really went down, but I’ve heard tales that the break in the wall, the only break mind you, came from inside, if’n you get my drift.
Still, not to soil the memory of those Bahamut monk-knights. Maybe it was just a balancing of the scales. All that good they did and even with the sacking of the place didn’t equal it out. Gardmore Abbey was also the site of a battle in the more recent Bloodspear War, about ninety years ago. The armies of Fallcrest were defeated there, and the orcs swept through the Vale, leaving Fallcrest in ruins. There’s a few left in Fallcrest who remember that battle, the dwarf Murgeddin for one.