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The province of Hidaele borders Stjordvik, between Romiene and Dharilein. A quiet province of farmers and herdsmen, Hidaele has long suffered from dissent between the prominent families. Currently the villages in the north of the province refuse to answer to the Crown, or to the local baron. They do not make any formal claims to independence, but simply wish to be left alone rather than owe fealty to a 'blow-in', the local term for those people from outside of the province.
The Sons of Hjalsone have long sought to gain influence in Hidaele but their words have swayed few of these relatively prosperous folk.
Heatherton is a devout town founded about a Haelynite monastery. Like much of western Dhoesone, shepherds surround the town wherever it is too steep for growing crops. The Abbot is particularly proud of the town's reputation for tapestries of religious events and is a noted historian. The abbot is less proud of the monasteries beer-making but continues it from respect for the tradition. Another drink made in the town and growing in popularity is Kvass. Made from the fermentation of rye bread and various fruits or birch sap it is only mildly alcoholic which has encouraged the Abbot to encourage experimentation with its brewing as he is fond of temperance, much to the dismay of his monks.
The largest town in Hidaele , the folk of Hazeltyne are mostly farmers and the inevitable shepherds and those involved in the various industries of both trades. Hazeltyne is noted for a reasonable population of Rjurik who originally crossed the river to trade and in many cases settled. The town has an odd mix of Anuirean and Rjurik building styles and is noted for both 'Rjurik-lover's' and those with a deep hatred of 'Rjurik Barbarians', cynics say the view depends on whether one works with a Rjurik or competes with them.
Hidaele's most famous inhabitant is probably Grandmother Naggath, an ancient goblin spirit said to punish faithless husbands, indolent boys, and women who fail to properly tend their house. Grandmother Naggath roams the western reaches of the province and is frequently blamed by the merchants with assaulting their caravans; locals see this as yet more evidence of the folly of 'blow-in's, all locals know that if Grand Mother Naggath is spoken too respectfully and given a gift of the local specialty Tuffin cake she will leave folk in peace.
Shortly after the Duke of Boeruine marched north to conquer Hjalsone and the druids began to marshal the Rjuven to drive the Anuireans from their lands, Ragnar the Bold, champion of Reynir at the battle of Mount Deismaar, led an army of tribesmen to free the clans of Hjalsone. In a gorge carved by spring floods the Rjuven met a much smaller force of Anuireans who had hastily mustered to slow the Rjuven advance long enough for the Duke to summon allies from the south. With the armies of the Duke was the noted elven mage Caileight Windsong, who had agreed to aid the Duke in return for a peace treaty between the Anuireans and the elves of Tuarhievel and the Sielwode.
Seeing the vast numbers of the Rjuven warriors advancing Caileight worked a great magic, hoping to draw on the power of the Spirit World to warp time to allow the Anuireans to build the fortifications they believed would defend them. As the elf worked her sorcery however Ragnar summoned his divine birthright and hurled his great spear laden with the might of earth at her. The spear struck the spell as it formed before Caileight and in an explosion that made the earth tremble for miles around, everything living thing in the valley vanished.
Nowadays the gorge is home to a wild profusion of wildlife, but is otherwise uninhabited. On clear nights the air seems preternaturally clear, on the winter solstice the air seems to vibrate with the presence of mebhaighl and visions are seen by travelers. Legends speak of Rjuven warriors charging a small keep defended by Anuireans, more recent tales however talk of demons and undead striking at warriors, both Rjuven and Anuirean, and also of Ragnar and Caileght battling side by side against a dark figure, the sight of whom fills the heart of even the stoutest warrior with dread.
Over the centuries many people have experienced visions of this terrible battle, since the fall of the Empire. Some unlucky souls have even found themselves fighting in it, emerging the next morning with terrible wounds or even pursued by undead or demons from the Shadow World.
Several centuries ago the skald Sigmund Greenharp swore that he saw his grandfather Thor Olafsson, who vanished in the gorge one winter long before, battling undead side by side with the ancient Rjuven warriors, and heedful of this legend warriors of the Rjuven have traveled to the gorge in midwinter when they feel age coming upon them, to fight one last battle against the enemies of the Rjuven.
Cailecht was successful beyond her hopes and fears, Ragnar's spear, powered by his divine might, interacted with her spell and shifted all present into a part of the Shadow World in which time passes at a snails pace. In the 15 centuries since the spell was cast but 15 days have passed for the warriors. In those days the Rjuven and Anuireans have gone from being deadly foes to being forced to fight side by side as allies, one of the dread Lost battles to claim Ragnar's mighty bloodline and his minions seek to convert all the warriors to undead servants of the Lost regardless of which side they once fought for.
Ragnar was one of Reynir's champions, just as Erik personified Reynir's wisdom and love of community, Ragnar personified his courage and love of the hunt. Cailecht fought beside Tuar at Deismaar and on seeing the perversions of the Lost helped persuade Tuar to turn against Azrai preventing the Dark Gods victory. She dares not undo her magic and risk unleashing the Lost upon Cerilia, and would consider the lives of the humans present a minor sacrifice to pay for the lich's destruction.
Every midwinter the Shadow World links to the Gorge for a quarter of an hour at midnight, during which time passes at a normal pace and those present can enter or leave freely. At other times in Cerilia, time is nearly still in the Shadow World battlefield. Sigmund, who visited the Gorge frequently, said in the space between two mid-winters an arrow in flight passed but a quarter of its arc.
Obviously if the spell was undone it could have major consequences, Ragnar led thousands of Rjuven warriors into the battle many of whom still survive and is a champion of Reynir, Cailecht is a sidhe sorceress of extraordinary strength and the Anuirean legions beside her were fanatically devoted to the nascent empire. Both of the champions and their surviving troops would find much in the toll taken by the centuries on their people to their disliking, and of course if one of the Lost and their minions were unleashed on Cerilia few could oppose them.
As it is every midwinter the dead rise across the province in response to the eldritch summons of the Lost and march towards the Gorge before being left to wander randomly when the Shadow World carries the battle, and its summons, away from Cerilia until the next midwinter.
, 01-18-2009 at 05:40 PM|
Last edited by , 01-10-2012 at 03:37 AM
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