Monday, December 07, 2009

Widders - Hands and Hearts

Widders are a strange sort of psuedo priest and hedge wizard combined, though no Widder would ever concede to such an identity. More so the Widders of veil see themselves as simple wisemen and women, possessed of an acumulated knowledge based on common sense and a straight forward view of the world around them.

The Widders function more on a level like a friendly neighbor and local healer/sage. They often know things that others do not, about their home and the valley as a whole. These secrets and valuable tidbits of knowledge are often handed down from one Widder to another as they are trained.

The wise ones' powers are nowhere near that of the priests and clerics of other lands but they are no less valuable to the rustic communities which they serve. On more than one occasion a community or lost traveller has owed their life to the capable and crafty hands and skills of the local Widder.

Roth Thane - Barbarians of the Steppes

It is not known whether the Roth Thane have any direct kinship with the Thanes of the Dragon's Claw Mountains but the savage horse peoples that traverse the Harian Plains have been given the name by those who have encountered them.

The Roth Thane are a stoic, almost brooding people possessed of a spirit that is unshakable and unnerving to those from outside their culture. In battle they ride silently, letting the thunder of their mounts announce their presence alone. None who have battled them can say that they recall the Roth Thane speaking a word.

At home and among their own kind they are, conversely, quite vocal. The Roth Thane have a rich verbal tradition and their own language is divided into at least ten known dialects, one for each of their nine clans and a tenth used only by their shamans. Each of these languages is similar but has unique subtle differences known and mastered only by members of a clan. Clan members learn these nuances as they grow up within the clan to which they are born. Revealing these clan secrets is punishable by banishment and excommunication from the clan.

Through this rich linguistic tradition, the Roth Thane have accumulated a tapestry of intricate tales, songs and stories all used to educate and entertain through the ages. Members of other clans can share in these tales but without knowledge of the clan's linguistic secrets, they will not find full meaning in this.

Roth Thane beliefs state that in their early days a great hydra was summoned by a shaman, fearful for the survival of their kind. The hydra stole all language from the people, leaving them silent and without any way to communicate and would only give them back their words once they had settled their differences through understanding and the more intricate interactions required by the lack of spoken language. But this was not enough for the shaman, who fear that once they had regained their words they would set upon one another once more and so he asked a final favor of the hydra spirit.

As requested by the shaman, when the hydra returned their words to the people, he did so in a manner that made each clan's words slightly different than the others. Though they could share ideas and communicate as a people, no clan would ever fully possess the entirety of the knowledge and teachings of any other clan, making every clan a necessary part of the whole people. Since that time, it has been forbidden to ever kill off a clan. Though it has been tried and some clans have been cut to the quick, always some are allowed to live so that the people will not lose a part of themselves.

The typical Roth Thane is a lanky person, standing about 5' 7" with sinewy arms and legs and a lithe muscular form that allows them great agility in the saddle. Men and women alike are similarly built as both live and ride, fight and hunt. Hair ranges from deep reds to dark walnut browns with black and blond occurring but rarely. Facial hair is not commonly warn and is seen by the Roth Thane as a symbol of evasion or concealment.

Attire is usually limited to simple jerkins and breechclouts made of natural fiber or animal skin. They seldom wear armor save the occasional decorative scrap looted and worn for its appearance

Monday, November 19, 2007

The Shrine of Imin Thiel

Imin Thiel is a holy place for the elves, not because of it celebration of the their gods but more for the loss they had suffered as a people on the site where the temple is constructed. Though most men and many of the elves of the valley know little to nothing of the true meaning of Imin Thiel there are few in the land Ilithenor who are without the true knowledge of the pain and suffering that took place there. These days Imin Thiel is a lonely place. A bastion of faith, love, and memory it stands in the middle of a land intent on swallowing it up, a place known to men as The Downlands but more commonly called by its elven name, Morduin.

Surrounding Imin Thiel are several layers of dikes, all connected by the remnants of an ancient highway that connects it to the main roadthat goes from Bethelport to Rivertop and then on to the Old Elf Road. These dikes have been erected to stave off the water that encroaches on the site of the temple proper as the marshlands sink. Each is fitted with several flood gates to allow the controlled redirection of water around the tample. Th areas between the dikes, spanning several miles each are fetid places and are known to be haunted by all manner of dark creatures and wild beasts seeking to feed on the vermine that collects there.

Once past the haunted lands of Morduin, the shrine and its surrounding temple complex can be seen through the perpetual gloom. Towers and parapetsrise, iluminated from within by the warm magical lights of the elves. Towers flank a long cause way that greets guests with the rich art and celebratory craftsmanship of the elves. Even through all this though, the weight of the world outside the temple cannot be ignored and its everpresent weight can be felt hanging over everything.

The elves of Imin Thiel, totallying some several hundred, are known to be a special lot, almost all talented in some for of magic or another and bound togetherby a monastictradition. They are guardians, caretakers, and teachers who pen the temple to nearly al who seek them out. There is much hat they have to offer thosewho do find thir way to the temple.

A vast library of ancient texts can aid most travellers or those seeking the truth about the valley and its secrets, though it may take some time to find them. Elfin texts can often be quite lengthy as befits a race to whom time is a fleating concern. The librarians of this collection cannot even claim to have read ever word but they do have an extensive knowledge of sprawling collection.

The priests and warrior monks of the temple are also talented in the arts of combat and healing and can often be talked into aiding those seeking to learn a new tactic or manuever or who have a need of some cure or another. They do not however grant these to everyone who asks and are quite sure to way the need and worthiness of those asking.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

River Robbers - Commerce Raiders of Vale

As ideal as the valley may be, it is not without its sins. Because the communities of Vale are so spread out there is a great amount of trade that travels though vast expanses of wilderness. One of the ways that the transport of these trade good and merchandise can be simplified is through the use of the valleys numerous slow, windin grivers. It is these trade routsthat have become the stalking grounds of a special kindof bandit known as River Robbers.

River Robbers are bands of men who ply the waterways in merchantile vessels, diguising their true natures in order to join up with water caravans or to get close to isolated merchant vessels. Preferring the lighter faster craft as prey, the River Robbers avoid the big merchant barges as they are often well-manned and equipped for defense.

Often a single robber vessel will take up with a smaller merchant craft, playing the friendly companion and taking advantage of the merchant's desire to have company along the way. When the merchant has been lulled into confidence, the robber vessel with either feign distress or subtly lead themerchat vessel down a wrong tributary and into the clutches of hiswaiting brethren.

More daring River Robbers will often set up grand plans of attack to take one of the large merchant barges. This is no less than a military operation and usually involves the planting of at least one agent within the crew of the merchant barge. Once this agent knows the ins and outs of the barge and has had a chance to work some saboutage, he will notify his brethren when the best time to strike will be.

When that time comes, the robbers will attack en mass, sewing a distracting and violent assault upon them erchant vessel while their agent has a chance to wok his villainy from within. Taking hostages, rendering weapons or tillers useless or even poisoning crew with incapacitating toxins, the agent will do his best to undermine the defensive abilities of the barge and its crew.

River Robbers band together in groups of usually no more than 40-60 individuals. They aremostly male and come from all places in the valley and from beyond. They carry a combination of weapons made up of martial weapons and improvised weapons created from farm implements andcraftsmans' tools. Their craft, as mentioned earlier, are sleek and light weight, the sort that can pierce the river water and get through the most shallow of places.

The robbers make their hideouts in secluded backwaters and downhidden tributaries. Being men of the water, they seldom stray too far from it and often build their homes out over the water. Occasionally a watery cave or manmade canal will allow them to move off the water way proper for greater defense.

River Robbers are knwon throughout the valley, but for most they are not a personal threat and perceived as thesort of thing that only river merchants have to worry about. Occasionally River Robbers will venture onto the land when pickigns are slim or when the mood strikes them. There are other times, though, when the robbers will turn to the defense of a community and it is true that they sometimesh ave very close ties to some landed communities.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Blood Moon - The Long Wicked Night

Every five years, when the three moons of Celni, Ilshora, and Navi align on the longest day of the year and block out the sun's mighty sphere there comes a time that the people of the Valley call Blood Moon.

Blood Moon is a time of fear in the valley where there are no tall walls or city guards to keep the common folk safe. What's more, there is no evidence that the other parts of the world are afflicted by the events that ensue during Blood Moon. So the people of the valley have consigned themselves to enduring it alone.

When the moon goes bloody the valley folk hold up in their homes or in common buildings such as inns, shops, etc.. They do not venture out and it is the duty of every member of a community to prepare for the coming of Blood Moon on his or her own. Though sharing is never a problem except in extreme circumstances, it is still thought of as bad form to not at least make an effort to try and supply oneself for the duraton of the dark passing.

What the people are hiding from is the opening of the very netherworld. Blood Moon brings forth the host of the dark places. The woodlands creep with Witch Wood and the streets moan with living shadows. Travellers unfortunate enough to be caught on the road during this dark time are harried by all manner of manifestations, but none are more feared than the Garl.

The Garl are the unquestioned masters of Blood Moon, flying throug hthe skies, casting their dark shadows across the bloody sphere of the eclipsed sun. The Garl swoop and cry, screaming and haunting the people of the valley. Those they catch, they carry away or rend where they are found. Those so rent are doomed to walk the nights as spectres and haunts, their spirits bound to the place of their death for all eternity. Blood Moon is truely a dire time.

If not for the powerful energies that flow through the valley during this time, no sane man would brave venturing forth during Blood Moon. There are those that do, however, seeking to unlock the secrets of the dark passage of the eclipse. Legends abound about Blood Moon's thinning of the veils between plains and increase in magical energies during the time. There are also legendary placeswhich can only be reached during the time.

Blood Moon is not known by just men, however, and the other races of the valley also mark its passing. To the elves it was known as Kagonost and the dwarven observers of this time know it as Gurok. To the Unmen of the valley it is seen as a holy time when their ilk are given a time to rise and reap the valley for its spoils. They call it by many tribal names but nearly every clan and tribe has some name for it. The Thanes of the western peaks know it as Hemhost and mark is as the day when a great giant swallows the sun and they can see his face leering in mockery at them from the face of the prominant moon.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

The Harpsman - Death in the Valley

Like other places in the world the valley has its stories of death. As in those others cultures death is not simply a matter of nature but a force, with rhyme and reason. This has never been more true than it is in the valley.

To the men of the valley, death is known as Arden, Arden Moranan, or more comicly Ol' Silver Strings. He is depicted as a wandering minstrel who songs tell somber tales of the past of the men of Vale. He is said to wander the land, looking for those who's song he can sing. Those he sings to can expect there end to come soon.

Unlike some incarnations of death, Arden does not do the taking himself. The folk of Vale do not ascribe such direct devinity to the act of death. His role is more to mark the passing and to make sure that each has a song in his remembrence, even if that song shall never be heard by mortal ears. It is this that men hold to the knowledge that no matter where they pass there will be something to mark the passing of themselves, their relatives, their loved ones.

This has seemed strange to outsiders who might be used to a death that is more direct, perhaps even a frightful spectre or incarnation of doom. But in the isolated expanses of the valley with its wild places and harsh elements, it serves the valley's people well to know there needn't be any grand process but that all will have their recognition regardless of how, when or where they pass.

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Witch Wood - Haunted Hollows in The Valley of Baryn

The Valley of Baryn has many legends and folktales. Some are simply the stuff of storytellers and bards while others are quite real and should be headed. One of these is Witch Wood. Some say that Witch Wood is the product of fowl and dark magics performed by priestesses of some ancient diety. Other say that it is the creation of mad Widders bent on turning the wilds against men. What is known is that the Witch Wood comes as mysteriously as it guards its secrets.

Witch Wood is not a place so much as an occurance. Travellers speak of being swallowed by a strange mist that comes from nowhere and finding themselves in a gloomy hollow when it clears. Sometimes a person travelling a perfectly familiar road will find they have taken a wrong turn, never knowing that they have slipped into Witch Wood until they are hopelessly lost within its tangled thickets. No matter how it comes, Witch Wood can appear any place that is isolated and alone.

The physcial characterisitics of Witch Wood are always the same. Regardless of where it appears, Witch Wood appears as a twisting, tangled maze of trees and clawing branches illuminated by a disembodied eerie light. In the day, a mist obscures clear vision in the Witch Wood but by night, this mist thins, forming phantasmal whisps of haunting form that filters through the glowing, shadow-stricken wood. Visitors to Witch Wood find themselves disoriented, chilled and with a contant sense of dread, even when they are in good number and company as if the woods themselves radiating such sensations.

Within the Witch Wood there are living things ranging from ordinary rabbits, boars, deer - all the things that ordinary forests would find themselves denizened with. Witch Wood denizens are not ordinary creatures, however, and those who have found themselves with the Witch Wood's embrace report even the most simple creature seems to have an otherworldly characteristic to it, flickering, fleeting as if it were not wholey of this world. But there are other inhabitants which must be given greater concern withing Witch Wood for it is also a place of spirits and demons.

Those who have escaped Witch Wood say that they were witness to strange rites and gathering of dancing, leering devils. However, they also report being met with spectres of more subline nature. Figures wandering between the tangled trunks have beckoned to travellers, whispers silent words to them which could none the less be heard. The noted traveller, Angus Morwyn, claims to have been given shelter from persuing bewitched wolves by a strange woman of luminous continence and warm demeanor.

Escaping Witch Wood is more a matter of luck and endurance than it is skill. Nobody has ever been able to credibly say that they found their way out of Witch Wood, but simply that after a time, they found themselves free of its maze-like trees and haunting glow. Sometimes it is asimple as waking up after a night in Witch Wood other times it requires days of constant struggle against those things that seem to make these places their home.

One final note about Witch Wood is that it seems to be of particular interest to the Sister of Scaera, those shadowy hedge witches that seem to lurk in every corner of the valley. Any time that Witch Wood appears it is sure to draw these odd priestesses to it. For what, it cannot be said, but they have a purpose for it.

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

Tales of The Hael Lords: Part One - The Coming of the Haelic People

Long after elves had left the valley and longer after the dwarves of Har Hundir had sunk their mirky mines deep into the peaks of the western talons of the Dragon's Claw Mountains, and ancient hero of man, exiled from his people and cast under the auspices of a traitor set foot on the rocky shores to the South.

His name was Svartsok and it meant "Dark Heart" but this was not an endorsement of his brand as a villain, but more a prophecy cast upon him by a skald when just a child.

"Two shall be born of one dark one fair but judge yee not by their strands of hair," were the words of the skeld to this Haelic hero's mother as he and his twin were handed to her - Svartsok with his raven's black locks and his brother Guldi with hair like gold.

It had been his name and the heavy weight his heart had carried since his mother's death tha haunted Svartsok and led some to believe the rumors and lies about his nature. It was not until he slew the savage fire demon, Sutzarf while defending the Haelic colony of Aesligard and its queen Aeslig that his true heroic nature was revealed. Unfortunately, this deed came to late and was not enough to save Queen Aeslig, leaving Svartsok at the mercy of Aeslig's jealous and kraven brother Cormwyr. When Svartsok's fame began to eclipse the majesty of Cormwyr's rule, the treacherous king banished the hero and all who swore kinship to him.

So northward they went and found a misty, rocky shoreline rich with fish, beasts and long, straight-timbered trees. Here would be where they would build their new settlement of Betisport. Here they would build a thriving community that would go on to spawn all the settlements of Vale.