The cities of Initiate of Stone


World building is winding down.  After this post, I’ll probably have one more about the languages of Tellurin, and another to cover some of the odds and sods I haven’t described elsewhere.  Following that, there will be a final post on world-building resources.

Cities, towns, villages, etc.

I’ll start with Hartsgrove, Ferathainn’s village.  Situated west of the mountains, Hartsgrove is one of many free towns, or free holds.  Except for the Parimi, Haldane, and Espanic lands, which are proper provinces, most of the people who live in the west are clustered into such communities.

The village proper contains The Silver Swan, Willow’s public house, which is a structure half built, and half shaped from a massive oak.  In the back rooms, she brews her beer and ferments her wine.  Her distillery is off-site, for safety’s sake.  The Swan is the closest thing Hartsgrove has to a town hall.  It’s where most community business and assemblies are held.

A small stable, blacksmith, and a builder complete the village’s services.  There is a mill down by the Chance River, built to withstand the seasonal floods, and with a mill-wheel that can be raised and lowered given the water level.

The rest of the village, set well back from the river, consists of families that work on the farms in the surrounding countryside to earn their share of the harvest.  Willow’s orchards and fields (behind The Swan) are tended only by her and her brothers, though they recruit assistance for the harvest.  Even Fer does her share during the sowing and reaping periods.

Hartsgrove is just north of the Deep Forest and many of the trees around the village are ancient.  Think about pictures you might have seen of century trees.  The eleph have shaped their homes from these.

North of the village is a sacred grove, planted hundreds of years before.  It’s where the name of the village derives.  That’s where all of the seasonal festivals are held.  They’re mostly communal affairs, as Hartsgrove isn’t big enough to rate a priest.  They have to petition one to be sent from one of the larger centres for important events like marriages.

Selene and Aeldred share the responsibility of the physical health of both animals and people.

Hartsgrove sends annual tributes to Aurayene, Drychtensart, and Gryphonskeep in the form of food and Willow’s excellent brews.  There is a fair demand for The Swan’s beer, wine, and whiskey.  These might be the village’s only export.

There is no wall.  Only ones made of stone can withstand Vedranya, and there is no quarry nearby.  There is rarely any need of defence, and the men of the village, with Aeldred’s magickal support, are more than equal to the few bandits who choose to try their luck.

Aurayene is a sprawling city state founded by the Parimi.  It is the capitol of Parime, and the spiritual centre of Tellurin.  The Archbishop, the highest ranking prelate in the land, makes his home there, and the Monastery of Aurayene is the biggest of its kind, taking up fully one third of the city’s area.

The Archbishop’s compound and tower are palatial.  Not only the compound, but the city as well, are guarded by massive stone walls.

Aurayene is one of the few cities to have survived the Cataclysm, though only barely.  When the western coast sheered away from Tellurin, Aurayene stood on the very brink.  In succeeding generations, they adapted to their inconvenient perch atop a cliff that dropped several hundred feet to the Jagged Sea below. 

Miners and stone masons excavated The Long Stair, which descended through the stone beneath the city to the floating mass of docks that formed the port below.  A lift was also constructed to convey cargo up the cliff face to the city.

The Chance and the Aurayene Rivers flow respectively south and north of the city, cascading in incredible waterfalls to the sea below.  The land around Aurayene is mostly plain, though the coastal mountains, Les Bras d’Auraya, surround it.

Riversway is essentially a mercantile centre on the Aurayene River a day’s ride out of Aurayene.  Because goods coming into Aurayene from the port side have to be hauled up the cliff, and the city is so well developed, there’s not a lot of space, literal or figurative, to bundle things off to specific destinations.

Riversway serves as the place where shipments are sent in bulk, to be divided and repackaged for shipping further up the Aurayene, or by land into the continent.

Gryphonskeep is on the north shore of the Aurayene River.  Originally built by a discontented Alban lord (Murdo Christie)  who’d left the Island Kingdoms before the Cataclysm, the keep earned its name and reputation by virtue of several gryphon fledglings that the lord managed to capture on his journey through the mountains.

The keep was built for defence with thick walls and multiple sets of doors.  Christie was jealous of his new prize and distinction, and unwilling to lose either.

The aerie tower was built to simulate the gryphons’ mountainous home with broad balconies at the half-way mark and the top level allow the gryphons access.  During Vedranya, these are covered with massive wooden “shutters.”  The gryphons would much rather be up in the mountains, safe above the storms, but they like to humour their Tellurin caretakers.

Gryphonskeep has come into the hands of many lords over the years.  It is both a desirable reward—who wouldn’t want to be the Gryphonskeeper?—and a kind of back-handed compliment—who wants to be exiled to the western wilds?

The west of Tellurin is considered a barbarous and lawless land.  Few families have been eager to assume the burden when they could be living a life of relative comfort in the civilized east.

Killian’s father held Gryphonskeep before him, but his disreputable behaviour and abuse of the noble beasts caused him to be stripped of the honour.  Killian had to fight to prove his right and worthiness to hold Gryphonskeep.  Dairragh might be the first third generation Gryphonskeeper, if he can regain the honour.

Aumenburg is a small village nestled in a valley of the Great Ring Mountains southwest of Kriegstaff.  The mountains are Saxon land.  It is ruined by the time Ferathainn and Dairragh reach it, having been ravaged by Kane’s army and then abandoned to the storms.

Like Hartgrove, it has a grove.  Unlike Hartsgrove’s, Aumenburg’s grove has been forgotten and left to the wild things.  It also happens to be the site of a great sourcerous battle and the resting place of Jareth’s amulet.

Finally, there are five mountain keeps that guard the passes through the mountains.  These were built by the Saxon in the days when defence, or at least provision for travelers and protection from Vedranya, were deemed necessary.  All five keeps were constructed in much the same manner; all tall, rectangular, utilitarian structures built out of the mountains themselves.  Each was built on top of caverns which served as storage and dungeons, the foundations of each keep reaching deep into the stone.

Each has an outer baily, or commons area, and an inner fortification.

That’s it for tonight.  Have a wonderful weekend everyone!

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