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.