Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Setting Snippet: Sundweil

This setting-snippet is probably at least 15 years old (yes, pre-3e), and rather than describe a number of places succinctly, I only did two and a part, weaving in references as I did so.  I remember a map, but can't be sure if I drew it or simply intended to.  I think the only parts of this I took for the Shadowend were the names of two mountain ranges, the Shieldwall and the Spearwall.

The Land of the Sundweil

Marsh of Sundweil, The
            The Marsh of Sundweil is a great, treacherous expanse of swamp and jungle that separates the elven kingdom of Aevinle from the ocean.  It begins south of the Bay of Portholme, and swings westward around the low, green hills that mark the southern edge of the human territory, and are the fading remnants of the Spearwall Mountains.  South of the Spearwall, the Marsh broadens, covering 150 to 200 miles east-west.
            Near the ocean, the Marsh resembles a great prairie, with nigh-endless expanses of saltgrass reaching to the water's edge.  Yet the "prairie" is laced with narrow waterways and mudholes, most often concealed underneath a mat of dead grass and leaves, traps for the unwary traveler.  The truly unfortunate may fall into a trollhole or marshcap lair, or disturb one of the many fenwyrms that make their home in that region of the swamp.
            Inland, the trees thicken and crowd together in a humid, fetid jungle of serpents and insects.  The Oanqua lizard-men make their homes in here, in primitive villages of mud, sticks, and leaves, concealed by the dark swamp.  Only the most daredevil and fearless willingly enter here, to trade with the Oanqua and the other reclusive inhabitants - or to suffer a less happy fate.
            In the east, the jungle thins once more, giving way to the great morass that marks the meeting place of the Marsh of Sundweil and the River Running, which has its origins far the north and east, and stretches southwards, through the Running Vale of the Spearwalls, through Aevinle, and so to the Marsh.  The Elven-folk guard the eastern edge of the morass of the Running, and sometimes glide over its shallow, stagnant waters in slim, poled rafts.  Other times, the Eihanti pass south of the Running Vale and into the morass, bound on business of their own.  Ancient stories speak of a lost city, long gone under the dark waters, that was the birthplace of the river-folk, but the Eihanti as always keep their own counsel.

Running Vale
            A gash through the Spearwall, scar in the mountains, the Running Vale pierces the Spearwall mountains from north to south, allowing the River Running passage from the Human lands to the Elven kingdom of Aevinle, and thence to the Marsh of Sundweil.  It is a narrow, treacherous notch, overhung by great slabs of crumbling rock that continually shower the river below.   For the first stretch, there is no footpath, not even the narrowest ledge -- any access to the lands below is by boat, which the Eihanti control -- for the Running Vale also houses their refuge and retreat, the only solid land the Eihanti can call their own.
            After the treacherous passage of the northern notch, the River Running empties into a broad, quiet lake, one nestled between the sheer slope of the Spearwall with all the security of a fortified castle.  Boats and barges of all sizes ply the lake, on business and pleasure, as the Eihanti go about their ways.  Several villages nestle on the lake shores, and in the narrow canyons that twist into the mountains.  Stone towers, manned by experienced Eihanti warriors, guard either side of the northern entrance to the lake, and similar towers ward the south, where the River Running flows southwards, out of the mountains.  The notch here is not so narrow or treacherous as in the north, and a single, twisted track allows foot traffic to Aevinle.  Overhead, the skies are guarded by a single Eihanti family known as cloud dancers who claim not the waterways, but the skies as their province, and have maintained for numerous centuries a herd of asperii, or cloud horses.
            The Eihanti do not allow casual passage though the Running Vale.  Only Eihanti or their guests can gain admittance here, and a guest who spurns the riverfolk or disregards their ways will swiftly find himself alone in the Vale, or abandoned in the surrounding mountains.  Any who find their own way into the Vale, or into the Eihanti land are subject to a geas never to reveal the Vale, or any means into it.

Vensisgate Plains
            In the east, where the Shieldwalls fade away, the Vensisgate Plains begin, spreading westward to the Farfolk Hills, south to the Spearwalls, and northward emptying into the great expanse of grass and sky that is the domain of the Vensi tribes.
            The Vensisgate Plains are nearly 300 miles east-west, and almost 700 north-south.  They form the entire eastern border of the Republic lands, and circle westward in the south to edge the cities of the Joriatic League.  The abundant streams and rivers of the Plains empty into the River Running, and thence southward through the Running Vale.

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