This color map is a good representation of the geography of the Cynder Vallery region. It doesn't have political borders, a legend, or a compass rose. The scale is one square (faint blue lines) is 2 miles on a side, approximately. Again, this map was not drawn by professional cartographers and may contain some errors.
The Kingdom of Hightower
Hightower is the capitol and center of weapon and steel armor production for the Kingdom of Hightower. The best fighters in both kingdoms are trained here. Not too many slaves are found here compared to other cities, as Hightower produces more finished products and depends on its smaller neighboring towns to make up the difference in raw materials it needs that slaves can be put to work producing. Hightower is home to quite a few Dwarves but is well mixed, with Elves and Barbarians least in number here.
Law is strict, but there is still a fair amount of crime because of the city size. The town guard is made up of the soldiers stationed within the great walled city, but when assigned to guard duty, they report to the captain of the guard. More or less this operates like a normal guard, and although is made up mostly of military, it is not martial law. Because the soldiers are often reassigned or have their units moved elsewhere, it keeps the guard free of corruption as any guard who would be paid off will most likely be replaced within a couple of months as his orders change. The kingdom's policy of might makes right is the basis of all law. The idea of truth and justice shall prevail through challenge is taken literally. The courts are the arenas. Disputes are settled here with sword in hand, and punishment usually means having to face the gladiators in battle, i.e. death before a delighted crowd. (The gladiators don't get their jobs because they lose!)
Hightower is located deep in the mountains at the half way point of the Northern pass from the east to the western unmapped lands. Surrounded on all sides by rugged peaks, this keyhole shaped mountain valley is almost more fortress than city. Though Hightower does demand imports of food, as well as raw materials to supply its large output of finished goods, its import needs are kept modest. This is due to the rather diverse population. While there are great numbers of skilled craftsmen here, there are also many miners, rock cutters, farmers, and lumberjacks. As a result Hightower produces about two thirds of the materials it needs itself.
Slave labor here produces the needed supplies shipped west through Hightower, and south to the Trade Zone bound for Quadlum lands. Over half of the free population are slavers committed to keeping their property working and under control. The slave to free ratio is higher here than any other city. Made up mostly of "non-citizens" either born into slavery, or captured In the northern most mapped areas of the badlands, and includes most all races, but is largely Sarr, Orcs, Gypsies, and rarely the prized Mystic wood elves. Non-slave Population has the largest amount of Half Ogres of any city. Other races being a bit mixed, but mostly the hearty types such as Humans, Dwarves, and Scavengers.
Officially part of the Dukes Guard, Law here is really controlled by the Trade Syndicate, and is rather corrupt. Crime is high, especially violence, and when punished is usually because it disturbed the business of a slaver or the duke. The sentence for most every crime here is Enslavement, from petty theft, to murder. Often for a set number of years, or until a debt created by the crime is paid. If a slave breaks a law it normally means death for him, with any losses to the wronged party paid by the owner of the slave. The result is low crime from the slaves yet ruthlessly harsh control by the masters.
Jagged Peaks is an unpleasant, dirty, cut-throat city near the border of the badlands. At one point it sat on the edge of the woods, but excessive logging has pushed the forest back. Erosion from mining, over farming the rocky hillsides, and waste from the slums and slave shanties have polluted the river that runs west of the town. The river is muddied and lifeless for miles south, and is even bad to drink up to where it joins another tributary near the trade zone.
Update: Jagged Peaks was destroyed in the year 603 in the war against the Mephosian invaders.
Found at the halfway point on the southern east/west mountain pass, this bustling mountain town is the main producer of alchemy for Hightower's kingdom. It is also the main source of leather and leather armor, as the mountain deer seem endless in abundance. Production of magic items, including potions and scrolls, rivals that of even Quadlum's major cities. Yet the large numbers of mages here use most of what they produce, with less than a third of the magic items being exported. The population is largely hobbling, the rest being mixed races. Most of the elves living in the kingdom of Hightower are found here, many being exiles, fortune seekers who prefer Hightower's "might makes right" philosophy, or are wanted for crimes on Quadlum's side of the border.
The law here is strong but fair, and the guard is well staffed, and for the most part, honest. However because of the large number of nimble fingered hobblings, petty theft is common. At least what most races would consider theft. When a hobbling perpetrates such a crime it is honestly more likely than not a case of "borrowing" or "guarding misplaced goods" etc. Even town guards have been known on occasion to deftly pocket a coin purse left momentarily unheeded. In addition, there are also a fair amount of real pickpockets, and thieves who make their living here. As a result there exists a thriving black market, making it easy to either buy or sell stolen goods if one knows who to talk to.
Located in a small mountain valley, Fair Meade has built up nearly every inch of available ground. With homes and shops pushing as far up the quickly sloping mountainsides as possible. Most all buildings are three floors high, with some of the larger inns, and city buildings being taller. This combined with the fact of streets being very narrow, it's easy to feel lost in this town. Because of the lack of space needed for farming, Fair Meade gets most of its food from Tasin to the east. In most homes the top floor is smaller than the floor below, with the extra space above used for personal gardens or to raise small game birds, such as pigeons or Cornish hens.
The largest of Hightower's frontier towns, it's populated almost entirely by Barbarians. Unlike the Bressara tribe in many ways, these barbarians are less welcoming and are wary of outsiders. They are excellent warriors, and keep a good number of slaves, whom they treat fairly. Slave and master work equally as hard and are often made part of the tribe and family in time. Almost all of the other races living here are part of the tribe, and most of these were once the tribe's slaves. While the slaves are not chained and guarded, few try to escape. Firstly because they are treated well, second, because if they head north towards Dar'thach or east to Fair Meade, harsh wilderness makes the safe path of travel narrow, so escapees are easy to recover. While heading south or west into the wilderness alone is almost certain death.
The amount of crime here is very low. All of the tribe members are considered family, and outsiders are watched closely. There is no town guard as such, but all members of the tribe act to maintain the laws, and any wrongdoing is quickly brought to the attention of the elders, who decide what punishment is appropriate. For tribe members this will range from being shamed before the wronged party in public, (a great dishonor and will hurt ones standing in the tribe.) to Banishment, considered worse than death. For outsiders punishments for could be expulsion, never allowed to return, sometimes without their possessions or even stripped of clothing, or even death by stoning, disembowelment, being drawn and quartered, or something equally nasty for more severe crimes.
East of Hightower and Fair Meade the mountains end and the forest opens up to a fertile river valley. Tasin is located in the southern area of these rich fields on the banks of a wide river that flows northward and is much like the Nile. Not far south the river flows down out of the steep wooded mountains as they curve westward. Across the river to the west the meadows continue for a mile or so where the dense forest resumes and begins uncharted wilds.
No other town within the Cynder Valley is further from the splendors of elven society than Dar'thach, both in distance and graces. In the Hightower Military, assignment to this dismal place is reserved mainly for those who are either insubordinate, or incompetent. The riffraff that inhabit the town are mostly a collection of those who could not fit into a more civilized society. The town is made up mostly of public houses, and cathouses. The only other two buildings being noteworthy are the thickly stone walled sheriff's office and the equally well protected Trade Store.
The few permanent residents besides the innkeepers and whores live in a sad grouping of sod-mud huts surrounding the military garrison a short distance from the main road into town. Those who keep the inns in business are mostly trappers or the few who seek out rare formal magic reagents from deep in the wilds. They come into town and exchange their furs, skins or components for supplies. Then spend the next day or two wasting the extra handful of silver they earned on nights full of drinking, gambling, and debauchery, before heading back into the hills for weeks on end. Among this crowd can be found any one of the races, but most seem to be Scavengers, Humans, Dwarves or Half Ogres.
It can be said Dar'thach does not have a crime problem. There is crime, but the town doesn't have a problem with it. The majority of those in town spend most of their time away from cities, and they take care of themselves. The rule of thumb is, if you need guards to protect you, you have no business being here. There are no laws on the books in town. The Sheriff is there only to haul off the drunks who become too rowdy, and let them sleep it off locked up for the night. Theft and murder is common near the inns, but rarely is anyone officially brought to justice.
Dar'thach sits on the banks of the same wide river that far to the south flows past Tasin. Not far north the river breaks up into a delta. The sea it flows into is known to be vast, but even its southern shores are uncharted. The area is marshy, especially north of town. Rain is common, and often a thick fog will blanket the entire area at night, lasting into the day well past morning. The only earth circle in town is within the garrison, but only the spirits of the soldiers stationed there and but a few of the local residents will be granted a resurrection. For the most part all others must go to either Hightower or Tasin before finding a circle that will return their spirit to a body.
As most Dwarves seem to prefer dwelling underground as opposed to under the sun, the residents of Dugnar are no exception. This small town is build into the mouth of a large complex of ancient lava caves. The entrance is well protected and can be completely sealed off if the town is attacked. Most of the residents choose to live inside the cave; of these nearly all are Dwarves. Those who live outside are mostly farmers, fur trappers, or lumberjacks, and for the most part are even mixes of the different races. Inside, the caverns sides have been cut out to make squared off walls that are decorated with pillars, marble tiles and detailed frescoes. The streets are paved with small cobblestones, and many intersect with small squares, each with a flowing fountain in the center.
The buildings are primarily all stone that is cut from the town's quarries. Deeper into the caves is where the mining and stone cutting takes place, in the winding tunnels and deep shafts that stretch out behind the town. During the day the cavern is filled with the sound of hammers pounding out weapons or armor. Outside, the buzzing of saws from the lumber mill near the town gates fills the air.
The law here is well enforced, even outside of the town gates. Outside crime is a little more common than inside but for the most part is much like that in the city Hightower. Rarely is a serious crime committed within the towns massive gates, as any would be criminal knows that there is only one way out of Dugnar, and the way is well guarded. Minor crimes are dealt with locally but more serious offenses and/or repeat offenders are sent to Hightower to the Arenas. It is rumored that there is a back way through the vast depths of the caves that reaches outside, but no route is mapped. It would take a seasoned explorer to navigate such a path if one exists, as the caves can be quite treacherous. Also the exit would no doubt have a guard of some sort posted, as the way would most likely be known to the Duke as an escape route if need be, and one is wise to keep bandits and trolls out of ones escape route.
Dugnar is believed to be the last remains of what once was the Dwarven kingdom that ruled what has been called the Inner lands. No one knows how old the city is exactly and no town records exist that date back nearly that far. Yet most all of the elder scholars and sages who have examined the oldest of Dugnar's frescoes and architecture agree that they do date back to that time period. The city is somewhat isolated, with only one road connecting Dugnar to the rest of the kingdom, though it is well traveled. It winds south through the mountains and connects to the Highway between Hightower and Jagged Peaks. Outside of town the woods are vast and the mountain terrain rugged and mostly impassable except on foot. The road is accessible to horse and cart but at many points can be steep and/or narrow.
Update CY600: The village of Geyser is now a deserted wasteland, reputedly haunted by the spirits of those slain when it was sacked by an invading army from the uncharted regions to the north.
Here is what used to be said of Geyser:
A small village of settlers, mostly all humans, which have gathered around the location of Hightower's northeastern-most Outpost. Nearly all convoys to Geyser are escorted by troops, and usually come weekly. The escorts are needed as they mainly carry supplies to the outpost, and may include alchemy, weapons, armor, or any number of other items of special interest to bandits. The town is so named because of the abundance of steam vents in the area. There are two earth circles in town. One is in the outpost; the villages' mayor who is also the resident earth caster maintains the other.
The town has no guard; they rely on the outpost for protection. The outpost is there with the purpose of guarding the kingdom's border and to protect its citizens. It does little to regulate any written law, but will act if it sees any disorder, or upon the outcry of the local citizens.
The path to Geyser crosses the high desert badlands north of Bressara, and connects the town to Jagged Peaks. The trail crosses flat, unwooded, open lands and a great distance can be seen in any direction. As the path nears Geyser it becomes slightly hilly and it is here that caravans are most likely to be ambushed by bandits. The town itself lies within these hills and is not seen until the last turn and one is almost on top of it. When the Orc and goblin hordes made their last stand, they did so in this region before ultimately being driven into the uncharted wooded hills that lay far beyond to the north and east. Recently it has been reported that there have been sightings of goblin and orc scouts in this area, yet no confrontations have occurred to this point.
Drundal (Formerly Prisnak)
This smallish town was only established a few short years ago by the half-ogre Prisnak K'urn. This unfortunate was later named a traitor to the crown by the new king, Drundal Hightower II, and his namesake town was rededicated to the new King and called Drundal even as Prisnak was chased out.
K'urn had established a true mercenary character in this frontier settlement, encouraging black market trade and arms for hire. Despite the new administration's preferences, the town has retained much of this rough-and-ready character. Bar fights can be lethal, and the guards do little to interfere if the combatants don't harm innocent bystanders.
Here is the previous entry, when the town was known as Prisnak:
Not so much a town, but a den for mercenaries, smugglers, and outlaws that some how got a name. It can safely be assumed that the town name comes from the owner of the larger of the two Inns here, "The Brandished Arms", a rather large half-ogre known as Prisnak K'urn. Other than the two inns, there is only one other permanent building here, a trading post of sorts that is also owned by K'urn. All other dwellings consist of tents and lean-tos set up away from the inns, well off the path that leads through town.
Law here is described as K'urns law. What he says, goes. Few have challenged it. Those that have quickly found themselves being resurrected at some far off Earth circle (there are none in Prisnak). Every so often a patrol comes through, but they rarely stay long as most are just passing on the way to another destination. Many of the towns "locals" are loyal to K'urn and most owe him in one way or another. Like in Dar'Thach all number of crimes do take place here, but these are more along the line of smuggling, fencing stolen goods, hiring for assassination/murder, etc. In addition to "K'urns law" there is a bit of a thieves code that is followed, in that you basically should be very careful who you mess with here as anyone you stab in the back will most likely have partners or friends who will soon have a dagger ready for you.
Prisnak sits near the center point on the mountainous trail that leads between Fair Meade and Addreadyn. The way is rough and cannot be traversed by carts. Mules make the trip easy enough but most horses not accustomed to such poor road have a difficult time and many will meet their end with a broken leg. Thus the lack of patrols that come by. The surrounding area is mountain and rugged wilderness for many miles and there are no significant landmarks in the area. A very small mountain lake and a nearby spring supply Prisnak with the water it needs.
This garrison guards the highway leading directly to Fair Meade from Irongate. It is named in honor of one of the Hightower's former dukes, Halkirk Erradle, who was slain by orcs while traveling to a trade summit in Old Irongate. It is also believed to be built upon the exact spot Halkirk was ambushed and ultimately met his fate, only about three and a half miles north of Irongate and just two miles west of the Old Ruins.
This stronghold shows all the characteristics of dwarven design. It's partly built into a solid granite cliff face; with three massive stonewalls surrounding the remaining sides. Any who wish to travel the road into Hightower must pass directly in front of the fort's gates, as the cliffs continue for quite a distance on either side of the pass, making a slight detour almost impossible.
The Kingdom of Quadlum
Here lies the highest pinnacle of civilization and learning to be found within the entire outlands region. Its gleaming marble towers are a testament to the splendors brought by the Elven kingdom. No other city matches the resources available here to one studying the Celestial arts. It is also unrivaled in areas of research such as Ancient history, Elementals and the various planes, Magic of the Arcane, or any other great scholarly endeavor.
Many races inhabit this capitol city, but most are elf and human. The large amount of celestial magic used here insures that visiting barbarians or biata keep their stays quite short. Slaves are present here, though not in large numbers. For the same reason as the lack of freeman barbarians or biata in Quadlum, It is also rare to see them as slaves here either. The slavers have learned that both are strong willed to start with, and when around large amounts of celestial magic, the increased number of escapes and rebellious behavior makes it not worth the trouble to keep them here for long.
Crime in Quadlum is well under control. The city guard is numerous, well paid, and honest. The streets are patrolled, and kept lit at night. Major crimes are uncommon, with most offenses being petty theft, and the like. A few illicit organizations have interests in Quadlum, but they keep their operations small. Those who do live a life of crime here rely on the cities large and maze like sewer system for travel from place to place, and if need be, to make a quick escape. As with all cities its size, Quadlum does have a black market, though it is very hard to buy or sell anything illegitimate here, unless you already have a contact, or know who to talk to.
No line exists where the forest that surrounds Quadlum ends, and the city begins. Rather, both city and woods meld together. The streets wind between the massive oaks; most buildings have two floors, and are kept small. The larger buildings are built around the trees, often in an L shape. Only at the city center has any forest been cleared, and then only for the large round government and royal palace towers that touch the sky; with even these being placed so as the branches of the surrounding trees brush their walls. Four main roads Branch out from Quadlum, connecting the capitol to Gil-Gandil to the southwest, Calowyn to the southeast, and to Lombride, which is due east. Within two hours walk the road to the northwest reaches the forests edge. From which point it crosses the plains, heading for the large farming city of Osyrsian.
Only two major cities in Quadlum produce enough food to meet their own needs. Calowyn, which harvests just enough for itself, and Osyrsian, which is truly the breadbasket of this kingdom. The steady supply of caravans carrying grains, vegetables, livestock, and other foods are much need across the kingdom, in some places much more than others. It is well known that without Osyrsian, the rest of Quadlum would starve; its army would be crippled. It is because of this that Osyrsian is so well guarded. There are more troops garrisoned here than there are in the capitol, which is even nearly 50% larger by population. Another thing that Osyrsian has no lack of is space. There are no mountains, or swamps, or dense woods to restrict its growth. It is also no wonder that it is so flat. There has been no need to construct buildings with more than one floor, so few have.
As the kingdom of Quadlum is much more well structured, and unified than the kingdom of Hightower, the laws are more or less the same throughout all of Quadlum's cities. Osyrsian is no exception. However, unlike the majority of towns in Quadlum, the city guard is lightly manned. Because the city is so large, and quite spread out, the streets are not regularly patrolled. Since the military has such a large presence, solders are always about, but they do not act as police, and unless there is a cry for help, they tend to not get involved. The only crime to be a real problem is the amount of smuggling that goes through the city. Regardless, Osyrsian is quite safe, especially when compared to many of the towns of Hightower.
Osyrsian's city streets are nothing more than just dirt, though quite wide to accommodate all the wagons that come and go. When it is dry they are rutted, and when it rains they are very muddy. One can often recognize a resident of this fair city by his boots, they will be high, and of a smooth leather. Suede shoes do not last long here. Because of the large number of cattle here, the smell of livestock is always in the air. Though it may not sound like the most pleasant of cities, the hospitality of its residents more than makes up for its lack of graces. Just to the south, flowing eastward, lays the river that supplies much of the water for Osyrsian. On all sides, surrounding the city, are open, flat grasslands, with a beautiful view of the wooded mountain peaks in the far distance.
Update: Osyrsian was destroyed in the year 603 in the war against the Mephosians.
Though there are rumors of secret underground all-Drae cities further west, Addreadyn is the largest populated known Drae city within the charted territories. Build both above and below ground, its residents are not entirely Dark elves, but a mix of humans, elves, and others. The subterranean part is built inside a large natural cavern. The interior shape is flat bottomed; yet bowl like, with the ceiling less rounded, almost flat. A winding path, nearly 5 feet wide, is cut into the cavern wall, and spirals around one time from the entrance near the ceiling to the cave floor below. The tunnel entrance from the surface connects with this path near the ceiling at a right angle. As one winds their way down, to the left along the path are various shops build further into the cave sides. To the right is open space for nearly 300 yards to the far wall. At the bottom, also built into the cave walls, are the homes of the Drae residents and farmers. The open floor of the cave floor is used for growing mushrooms and other edible funguses. This area is made more efficient as it is not flat, but covered by many man sized or larger stalagmites. These stalagmites are then covered with compost rich soil upon which the mushrooms are grown. Those who live above ground are mostly all miners, stonecutters, slavers, or slaves. Other than the small fungus crop, little other food is produced here, with the remainder shipped in from Osyrsian to the east.
In the many ways Addreadyn is unique, it is also for the fact that it is the only city in Quadlum under martial law. Though Drae are considered among the upper caste of elves in Quadlum's kingdom, quite a few, secretly of course, do not support the rule of the queen. Instead they swear alliance to an elusive leader of an unrecognized, secretive drae kingdom. As for the other races, many would like to see Addreadyn under Hightower's leadership, and they subversively work to undermine the military control. Because of this turmoil, assaults and murders are common in Addreadyn.
One main road leads east from Addreadyn to Osyrsian, and becomes a main highway once out of the woods and on the plains. As the main producer or ore, a steady supply or caravans travel to and from the town. These convoys are normally guarded as Quadlum depends heavily upon Addreadyn's ore supply. Although not near a river, many natural springs nearby provide enough water for the cities needs.
This little town borrows its name from that of its first and most numerous residents, the Bressara tribe of barbarians. Many argue though that like Irongate, this one town is really two. There are many valid points to this argument. For one the barbarian population lives almost completely separate from the other races in town, and their homes also are quite different: being small stone thatched roof buildings as opposed to larger wooden structures. Also the tribe has its own chief, though mainly just a figurehead, whereas the other races have a mayor to represent them. Lastly the barbarians breed horses for a living, and keep no slaves. The others here have many slaves, and are mainly all miners or stonecutters. Despite these differences Bressara is truly one town. Unlike Tasin to the west, the Barbarians here are open and welcoming. There are no separate laws; the town guard patrols both communities equally. All residents share one common trade bazaar, and all accept the Dukes rule.
Not the best patrolled city in Quadlum, nor the worst, the crimes committed and severity depend largely on what side of town you are on. Though one would think there would be a lack or regard for the law on the part of the barbarians, it is it community or miners who cause the most troubles. Theft is somewhat common, as are brawls, or duels, often the result of an unhappy loser at a game of cards. Overall, the city guard manages to keep order. Corruption among the guard is present, but rare, those few who are dishonest are not easily bought, but would appear to be part of a larger organization.
To the north of town are miles of steep, rolling hills that are difficult to cross, and nearly impossible with any wagon, as no roads lead directly this way. Beyond the hills lie the dry, rocky badlands. Just to the east, the river that irrigates the plains, curves north to the hills, and then cuts back sharply. The water is wide yet still swift, and the crossing is difficult here. This creates a narrow passage between the river and hills that anyone headed this way must travel, and serves well in defending Bressara from any invasion coming from the east.
Update: CY601 - Qirathiem was sacked by an army of undead invaders, then recaptured a few months later by a concerted assault by Quadlum and Earth Coalition armies. The city has been ravaged by the attack and occupation, though the damage to property was less than one might have suspected.
Here is the previous entry:
Located close to Quadlum's eastern border, and without the protective barrier of nearby mountains, this city was often nearly overrun during the time of the orc invasions. As a defense against attack the elven residents slowly took to the trees, building their homes among the branches of the mighty oaks. Nowadays almost every building is perched high above ground, connected together by a network of swaying rope bridges. The few buildings on the forest floor belong mostly to farmers, who keep their homes close to the town, or are small temporary dwellings of woodcutters as they build a home above. The only way up to the city is by one of the pulley lifts about town, as are all supplies hoisted up this way a well. In addition to being one of the main suppliers of wood for Quadlum, the town is also very self sufficient, producing nearly all of what it needs of all other goods.
Crime here simply does not exist, and for a number of reasons. The town is simply to far out of the way, and too small to be of a real interest to any illicit organizations. The fact that the city is mainly in the trees prevents shady characters from coming and going unnoticed. But most of all, the local lord has declared that dereliction of duty on the part of a city guard to be a crime punishable by obliteration. In addition to this motivation, they are also well equipped, well trained, and well paid. In short, there are no guards for sale in Qirathiem.
The one main road to and from Qirathiem connects to the crossroads town of Dylonna. There are two smaller trails, though well traveled, also leading out of town. One heads for Lombride to the south, the other heads towards Griffon Fall and on to Quadlum. It is this second trail on which most supplies to and from Quadlum travel. Though little more than a rutted path, the way is flat and serves as a good shortcut between the two cities.
It is said the history of Gil-Gandil dates back to the early days of the conflicts between Hightower and Quadlum. It is here the forces of Quadlum commander Gandil Talanthas, met the invading army of Human commander Gil "Juggernaught" Ultheron. Both had many soldiers and the two fought to a stalemate for well over a year, with Ultheron camped on the west bank of the river, and Talanthas on the east. It was at this time the steady infiltration of orcs and goblins became an all out invasion, and the two warring kingdoms put their differences aside in order to confront the mutual threat they now faced. Word of the new menace soon reached the two commanders. They immediately ceased hostilities and headed northeast, leaving behind many of those who had established themselves at the camps in order to support the two armies. It was these peoples, the smiths and miners, the woodcutters and farmers, who founded on the river's east bank, the village that became the city of Gil-Gandil.
The city guard is made up of locals who are skilled with the sword. Many of these also earn money from hunting or seeking out magical components when not on duty. Since the guard is made up of local residents they have a genuine interest in keeping the town safe. Also, like Qirathiem, the city is quite remote, and of little interest to criminal groups. These things combined keep Gil-Gandil a rather safe place to live.
The buildings here are nothing remarkable, just a collection of stone structures of mostly human design. Quite an odd city in terms of what it supplies, producing large amounts of furs, components for alchemy, or formal magic, and strangely enough, quite a bit of ore. The ore supply is unusual in that Gil-Gandil is not located near mountains or hills, in fact just the opposite. It is built on mostly flat land, and completely surrounded by forest. Regardless it is rich in minerals. Not far from town are the mines that dig down vertically to reach the bedrock, from which a number of shafts will branch out. Only one road leaves this city, connecting Gil-Gandil with the capitol to the east.
A city of mostly humans, Calowyn is a bit of a jack-of-all-trades as cities go. It produces a bit of everything, but not large supplies of any one commodity, with the exception of magical and alchemical components, of which it is a main supplier to Quadlum. Even though Calowyn is such a small town, a good amount of training and research in magical arts is conducted here because of its close proximity to the celestial magic using capitol. Many mages prefer to live here rather than in Quadlum, as they find the quiet of the smaller city more conducive to their work, yet if they need to travel by the roads, the resources of the larger city are only a short distance away.
The guard here keeps things well under control. The laws are the same as they are for Quadlum, as are most cities in the kingdom. They have no regulation or punishment unique to this town alone to note. Being one of the smaller cities of Quadlum keeps things rather quiet. The city is small enough that nearly that lives here everyone knows everyone else, so the guards notice any outsider who might cause some trouble and can keep an eye on them.
Calowyn is referred to by many as "Little Quadlum", for in many a way it truly is. Its architecture is very similar in design, though not as grand as the capitol. The same respect for nature, with an effort to blend forest and city together, is seen throughout. The fact that many of the residents are human makes this even more remarkable, as if one did not know better they would think they were in a city of elves. Leaving Calowyn to the north head two roads. The one to the left leads to the capitol, and the one to the right heads for Lombride.
A center of for both alchemy, and earth magic, Lombride also produces much of the raw materials needed by the kingdom of Quadlum, with the exception of mined stone and ore. Just to the east, about two miles, a large waterfall thunders down. Not of great height, but immensely wide. As the river flows past the city its banks are far apart, the water slow, and shallow, only about 10 feet deep at the center. A few of the towns buildings sit on the southern shore, such as the lumber mills, but most are actually built upon the water, supported on posts, and connected by a series of bridges. One large bridge connects the city to the south shore, and can be raised in the event of an attack. Boats must be used to reach the north bank, as no bridges span the rivers distance entirely.
With its design of being built on the water, protects well against attack, it does little to deter crime. Under cover of darkness one can slip into or out of town via a small boat without notice. With the small craft also move about beneath the city unobserved, and just across to the opposite bank is uninhabited wilderness. This altogether provides the perfect conditions for smugglers of any sort. The town guard is well staffed in order to keep the smuggling under control, yet it still remains a problem. However, because of the well-staffed guard, crimes of any other sort are much less common, with any offender often quite readily caught.
The city is home to a few notable institutions. The Great Library of Lombride has, for hundreds of years, been considered one of the top centers for learning and scribework outside of Quadlum itself. Unfortunately, a malicious arsonist managed to destroy much of the library, and it is still being rebuilt. Gratar's Bazaar lurks in one of the less populated back alleys of the city, and is widely believed to be a front for an organization of thieves. And finally, the Earth Coalition Guildhouse and local Celestial Guild here are a single organization, with casters of both schools working together as they do in few other instances.
The racial mix is rather diverse in this pleasant city. By and large the majority are humans, yet there are also good numbers of elves. As well there are a number of barbarians here too, many of whom are earth scholars from the Bressara tribe to the north. The few who travel to Lombride are normally part of one of the caravans that go between here, and either Calowyn, or Quadlum. No other city lies beyond Lombride, and one headed for Qirathiem would be better to go by way of Griffon Fall.
Populated mostly by Biata, this small way stop town sits at a key location for travelers in Quadlum. Two main highways, and two other large roads branch out from this plains village. Because of the large number of travelers, nearly every building here is an inn. The others being stables, blacksmith, a small armory, and a few farmhouses scattered about outside of town. Different families operate each of the inns here for the most part. The heads of each of these families also form a council that makes decisions on issues concerning the town, such as the laws, and the appointment of town sheriff. Though the population holds on to many of its traditions, the Biata here are by far the most civilized one will ever see. Because of the large number of outside travelers they have adapted their ways to better conform to their guests. However this apparent adaptation is not truly ingrained, as when the Biata residents of Dylonna journey away from their home, most leave their civilized ways behind, returning closer to their nomadic barbarian roots.
The law here is pretty simple. The town council appoints a sheriff, and the sheriff makes sure that order is maintained. If a problem is too much for him to handle alone, then he just gathers up some of the towns men, deputizes them, and they handle things. If this still is not enough they call in the military, and because of the village's location, there is often a patrol nearby. Sheriffs come and go, most only stay on the job for about a year, and not because the job is hard, but because there is literally never any real trouble here, and they can make more gold escorting caravans, than locking up drunks in this sleepy village.
The inns here in Dylonna range from the lavish, to the commonplace. There is something here for all classes of traveler, including services such as wards to protect ones person or goods during the night. The town does not produce a sufficient number of goods to be of any influence on the local economy, but it does strive to provide every amenity desired to its road weary guests, at a price, of course.
This village has very little importance whatsoever. It is a collection of a few farms and one inn. However, the story of the village is quite interesting indeed. During the war against the invading orc armies, it was here that a well-regarded elven commander, Kinuvan Aromatra, also know as the Red Griffon, was struck down by an orcish arrow. Though his army prevailed and crushed the orcs, the arrow that struck the commander was enchanted, and before his healers could save him it was too late. A bard that witnessed the battle composed a ballad to honor the fallen leader that very night. In the weeks and months that followed, as this bard traveled, his story grew, as did the accomplishments of the Red Griffon. Soon people began to travel to see the place where this heralded legend fell. A farmer nearby converted his house into an inn, and a few settled to found a small village. And thus it was given the name, Griffon Fall.
Griffon Fall does not have a town sheriff, instead they depend solely on the occasional passing military patrols for protection. Caravans pass through regularly, and most of these have their own guards. Most of those in town simply mind their own business, and any trouble that comes through town, usually just keeps going, bound for someplace more lucrative.
Like Dylonna, this town is mainly just a way stop for travelers between destinations. However there are far fewer inns here, and none are as opulent. The accommodations are strictly run-of-the-mill, and provide little more than a meal and a place to sleep. The nearby farmers do not harvest enough to truly affect the economy as a whole, and much of what they grow goes to feed the town and the caravans passing through.
The Highway heading north from Osyrsian ends at the southern gates of this castle-like garrison. From here the road continues towards Irongate, albeit a little narrower and a bit more bumpy, for it is not far beyond the keep that stand the thick line of trees that mark the western end of the grassy plains.
Its design is a mixture of human practicality and elven sophistication. At the heart rises the main tower, with a large rectangular base that slowly narrows as it goes up. Surrounding this are many various buildings, such as barracks, and stables. These in turn are enclosed by a thick octagonal outer wall. Finally, a deep trench outside the wall protects against siege engines, such as battering rams. Though not protected by steep hills or rugged mountain, Valendar keep no doubt presents a formidable challenge to any who would dare lay siege to it.
Valendar Keep is a military fortification first, and a settlement second, though on peaceful days a small extemporaneous trading ground will open out on the fields in front of the fort to sell wares to the soldiers and travelers passing by.
Along the border between the two kingdoms that inhabit the Cynder Valley are a few settlements or towns that maintain an uneasy existence. While some would say these settlements benefit both kingdoms, others would be more than happy to annex them.
Mandrake's Landing is our primary game setting. Most events take place in or around Mandrake's Landing. It is located just a short distance west and south of Irongate, along the border between Hightower and Quadlum.
When, in the year 601, the populace of Irongate fled the strange darkness that engulfed that town and an invading goblin army, they ascended into the mountains, climbing Sain's Peak, and unearthed the ancient city of Mandrake's Landing where they were to establish their new settlement.
Home to the remnants of ancient magics, Mandrake's Landing remains a mysterious place even to its inhabitants. The town is the demense of the old dwarven ex-general, Baron Duncan Barkharrow. The city is known a haven for adventurers by providing an atmosphere that is rather tolerant of the foibles of the adventurer caste.
The city is dominated by a large building that now serves as a tavern and inn, but it is also home to the Irongate Adventurer's Academy, a major Earth Coalition Guildhouse, and a respected Celestial Guildhouse.
Both Hightower and Quadlum have jointly agreed to keep Mandrake's Landing politically neutral so it may serve as a venue for the two kingdoms, should negotiations be required. Both have assigned noble governors to ensure that the neutrality is maintained and that their interests are protected and Baron Barkharrow's is the only noble title recognized by both kingdoms. The laws of the city are an amalgum of the laws of the two kingdoms.
Fort Halkirk stands as Hightower's closest fortification, and Valendar Keep serves the same function for Quadlum. The city is poised between these two strongpoints.
Mandrake's Landing is home to about 200 people, of whom approximately 150 are tradesfolk, farmers, ranchers, and such. The bulk of the remainder are adventurers, who represent a substantial transient community.
Update CY601: Irongate has been utterly vacated as it fell first to the invading goblin army, then to the predations of some kind of horrible darkness that withers the flesh right off the bodies of any who venture near. Most of the inhabitants managed to escape and establish Mandrake's Landing, atop nearby Sain's Peak.
Here is the entry as it stood before the city fell:
One of the smallest cities to actually affect the economy. It would be insignificant except for its location between Fort Halkirk, and Valendar Keep, and being the location of the peace talks when they are taking place. The population is a mix of all races, most of whom are farmers or slaves/serfs who work the fields, and a handful of miners. Nearly everyone lives closer to the forts, which are about a 2-hour good walk one way from the town. There are also a few weapon and armor smiths, an alchemist, and a few hunters who can be found sometimes. However they do most of their trade at the forts as well. To buy goods in town it's best to go to the provisioner. Prices are high but most goods coming into town are already reserved for the military, as is most of what the few tradesmen in town make.
The town guard is a mix of military and a select few town members who rotate guard duty. With effectively martial law in place, crime is low in Irongate and near the forts. Despite the large military presence, near the ruins of the old city and on the highways Bandits still prowl, as the armies are kept busy keeping an eye on each other. Because of the nature of the town being divided between the two kingdoms, laws and punishments can differ on either side of town. Yet border hopping does not free one from justice. Even though the line separates the kingdoms, Irongate is still one town and being caught on the opposite side of where you committed a crime will only get you delivered back to face the justice of the respective kingdom.
Irongate sits on the border of the mountains, in the foothills. Not far from town, only about 1/2 hour walk south; the forest opens up onto the Osyrsian plains. The road heading north leads to Fort Halkirk and on to Fair Meade. Not far east of the fort lie the ruins of old Irongate, Now reclaimed by the forest. The road to the southeast leads to Valendar Keep, beyond that the city of Osyrsian.
Ruins of Old Irongate
Once a grand city, it was totally destroyed early during the war between the two kingdoms. It is hard to determine what nation Old Irongate was initially part of, as both kingdoms claim it to have been originally theirs, and control of the city traded hands many times throughout the war. For now, with the current truce, the ruins lie within the borders of Quadlum. The trees have had time to reclaim the city, and now nearly the entire town is hidden within the forest. The only occupants here now are bandits who use the remnants of Old Irongate's buildings and its sewers as a base of operations, and a place to stash their stolen goods. The city remains are divided up between the different gangs, and a constant fight goes on between them for territory. As a result this is a dangerous place to travel as these bands of highwaymen are very protective of their territory and any trespassers are killed on sight.
Nav'arac lies astride the border between Quadlum and Hightower. Its precarious position at this crossroads has led this town to become a nexus of trade between the two nations. The town has an almost impromptu character, with few permanent structures and large areas where merchants may ply their wares. Tax collectors from either nation only collect tariffs from those leaving the town, not entering. The town itself, however, charges a small tax on all trade, which is used to bolster a strong guard detail. Laws within the town are simple and derive from its mercantile character. Contracts are enforced, and impeding trade is a capital crime. Both nations allow Nav'arac to exist in order to benefit from the commerce there. Most of the trade guilds have an outpost here.
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