Monday, September 18, 2023

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 37

Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States -- Week 37

Compiling week 37 of the project, comprised of an additional 7 posts, this week's subject being a deep dive of a location of interest - the extinct volcane of Boarfang Mountain and the nearby Dead Wood in the City-State of Ceannar:


Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #253 

September 11th, 2023 

  • Number: 253 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 1 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): Varies 

  • Brief:  In the northeast corner of Ceannar, where the Flattop Hills near Staplefish Bay, is the tallest peak of the range known as Boarfang Mountain, so named for the large twin spires at the top, connected by a ridge of smaller spires resembling the lower jaw of the wild boars commonly found in the hills below. If one were to view Boarfang from above, one would see that the “jaw line” is about half of a circular summit ridge about the top of a now long extinct volcano. Eons ago, perhaps in a prior age undreamt of, Boarfang was an active volcano and suffered a cataclysmic eruption that tore the summit apart resulting in the uniquely shaped remains. 

  • At that time a great forest covered the slopes and vast fields of snow covered the summits of Boarfang and nearby peaks. The explosion sent a great surge of snow, mud, crushed rock and water down the slopes to bury a great swath of the forest, and any number of creatures living therein, as far as 10 to 15 miles from the eruption. Millenia ago, the first Kin to arrive on Ceannar found sparse tangled forest climbing the slopes back toward the fangs of the boar. But in between those young trees, spring rains and coast winds slowly unearthed the tops of the vast buried forest of now petrified wood. The entire forest is dark, tangled, unmapped and full of a variety of strange and dangerous animals, monsters and undead. 

  • On the slopes below the southern fang, an area that few have seen let alone explored, is an area of dead forest unlike the petrified lumber buried in the slopes further east and north. Suggesting some ancient magical aspect to the eruption, one can find quiet groves of petrified trees rising from a forest floor of hardened lava or volcanic glass. These clusters are haunted by the souls of those killed in the eruption, bound to the sites for eternity. When the wind rises, the solid branches and leaves creak creating a soft sound like muted wind chimes. 

  • Geography: Boarfang mountain rises about 100 miles directly north of the Ceannar Highway between Overlook (#8) and East’arbor (#117). The petrified portion of forest covers about 100 square miles east of the mountain, the living forest covers the land from the coast to the north, past the peak, to about halfway to the highway. Small settlements, most oriented towards logging and hunting, are scattered throughout the woods. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #254 

September 12th, 2023 

  • Number: 254 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 2 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): 211 (Boarview) and 5+ (Nor's hut) 

  • Brief: If the locals near Boarfang mountain will say anything about the forest that climbs the slopes to the peak, they’ll remark that everything gets older and stranger the higher you climb. And, they say, you’ll feel a distinct change in the air once you’ve walked through the transition from the mundane woods into the dense and tangled foliage twisted about the petrified remains of the prehistoric trees that once rose into the skies over Ceannar. “Be careful where ye go, where ye hunt or where ye dig,” they advise, "Else the green giant will appear out of nowhere and want to have a word with ye, and by a word, we mean a clubbing with the tree trunk he carries at his side. Better still, stay downslope where the trees are greener, and the land is flatter, and you’ll be fine.” History notes the current green giant has protected Dead Wood Forest since just after the founding of Ceannar and there have been other protectors throughout the recorded history of the region. 

  • Norfalen (Nor) Elderfate, 402, male Firbolg is the “green giant” druid protecting Dead Wood Forest. He is well over ten feet tall and has a muscular physique. He has blond hair, which he dyes dark green. His nature is kind and loving to all unless you try to attack his forest. For his clothes, he wears brown pants, yellow or orange shirts, and a vest with embroidery on it. He walks with a large walking staff, at a distance resembling a small tree, to use as a weapon. 

  • Nor is the protector of the forest and takes this job seriously. So much of the history of the area is within the petrified trees. Nor spends his days walking through the woods. Occasionally, animals may inadvertently break off the limbs of the trees. He uses his magic to guide creatures around the forest and into the healthier part of the woods. 

  • Nor and his family live in a large hut in the shadow of Boarfang Mountain. Nor's wife is Reylana, 389, female Firbolg, and they have several children that has extended their family with their children’s children. Nor and Reylana are grandparents many times over. Reylana works in the living part of the forest as an animist and helps maintain the careful balance of nature. 

  • Geography: About sixteen to seventeen miles east of Boarfang (location 1 below), in the woods of the lower elevations, is the village of Boarview (location 2 below), one of the larger settlements in the region. It sits at a cluster of game trails and paths with a slightly larger cart route leading southeast to the plains of Cean County. The woods themselves reside in Adehamar County but are loosely ruled, the only notables being the Knights or Mayors leading the small settlements like Boarview. Nor Elderfate lives 5 miles west of Boarfang (location 3 below) along the border of the Dead Woods. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #255 

September 13th, 2023 

  • Number: 255 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 3 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): 211 (Boarview) and 72 (Fae community) 

  • Brief: Boarview at first glance is your typical deep woods community focused on logging, hunting and trapping, but the nature and history of the Dead Woods and its unique inhabitants and protectors turn the typical toward the atypical. The populace is decidedly diverse throughout the region where unique Kin (like Nor the Druid) and other sentients (communities of Faeries for example) outnumber the more commonplace Kin (Dwarves, Elves and Men) living beyond the borders of the forest.  

  • Like the unusual population, Boarview’s history has been a mix of the ordinary and the extraordinary. It has been a haven for mountainfolk, foresters and explorers for centuries, surviving encounters with raiders, bandits and monsters both living and dead. The locals are rugged folk, the survivors banding together to rebuild as needed in response to the attacks and incidents, with Nor hovering in the background to offer a helping hand. The imposing presence of the “Green Giant” gives pause to most who would exploit the Dead Wood, but in dark corners and around tables in hidden hunting lodges, scavengers and adventurers plot expeditions up the slopes to the west. 

  • The mix of old petrified flora and fauna overlaid with centuries of deposited earth and new growth leads to both scrounging and cultivating of unique raw materials not found elsewhere and thus prized by artisans and crafters. 

  • Tessa,30, female Fairy, is an alchemist who works with the special herbs from the forest surrounding the Dead Wood. She is tall, spindly, and has orange and yellow wings. She keeps her black hair short and serviceable. Her eyes are deep purple and bewitching. Tessa wears green shirts and short skirts. She keeps a small backpack to put herbs and other forest matter in. Tessa uses a special magical cutter to trim herbs given to her by her Aunt Dew.  

  • Tessa owns The Affordable Elixir, a potion shop in Boarview. She is proud of how she has become a destination shop for the town. The store is successful because of the unique potions Tessa can make from the plants and trees of the forest. Tessa is friendly with Nor, and he gives her some of the broken trees and bark from the Dead Wood to use in her potions. 

  • Tessa lives in a small Fairy community on the outskirts of the Dead Wood. She is single but lives with her sister, Aqua, 34, Fairy, and her two children, Arloc, 8, and Iatel, 4. They have a large house and partake in festive Fairy gatherings frequently. Other Fairies visit Tessa for various potions to help with growing older or a hangover cure. She always has a kind word and a gentle smile for everyone visiting. 

  • Geography: Boarview is dominated by its large central roundhouse built upon a small hillock where the local hunting trails come together. Originally built as a watchtower by Ceannar scouts, it has grown and expanded into a 4-story complex of cut stone, milled logs and segments petrified wood provided by Nor. Boarview House, as named by the locals, houses most of the local businesses, such as Tessa’s Affordable Elixir, a hotel, a boarding house, two taverns, the Mayor’s office, and a church, all surrounding a central open space featuring gardens and fruit trees, overlooked by inner balconies. Matching outer balconies are reinforced and can serve as battlements. Outer windows have armored shutters. Rain is collected and stored in cisterns plus underground storerooms supply the village during rare attacks. An attached tower, next to his office, is home to Sir Cantus Broadaxe, current Mayor of Boarview. Huts, log cabins and treehouses surround Boarview House dotting the landscape off into the woods. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #256 

September 14th, 2023 

  • Number: 256 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 4 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): 189 (Woodvault) 

  • Brief: If one were to take a day’s walk (about 14-16 miles) southwest of Boarview, just before crossing a small stream flowing down from the slopes of Boarfang, a well-used trail runs northwest parallel to the stream. About 5 to 6 miles later, the trail ends at a pool fed by a waterfall above. Against the stone wall, next to the falls, many years ago a band of Dwarves expanded a small cave into the entrance to create a mine, hoping to find riches in the depths under Boarfang 

  • 50 yards under the ground they found a great chamber, the ceiling supported by columns being the trunks of petrified trees about the walls and rising from the floor, branches interlocked above. Fearing the wrath of the protector who preceded Norfalen Elderfate (#254), the Dwarves vacated the area and decided to mine elsewhere. The chamber remained vacant until a group of refugees, fleeing Ta’arnan persecution, fled into the deepest parts of the forest and petitioned the protector for shelter. She offered the use of the chamber with a variety of conditions, observed to this day, and the settlement of Woodvault was founded. The cave is now filled with all manner of wooden and stone huts, small plots growing fruits and vegetables in and about the trees with sheep and goats grazing in the hills above. 

  • Boone Fullsnarl, 53, male Human owns the Grains 'n More grocery store. He is short, portly, and loves good food. His brown curly hair frames his face, and his hazel eyes are mischievous. Boone wears brown leggings and a light blue long tunic. He wears an apron at work and carries a pair of daggers. On his back, Boone has a tattoo of one of his former girlfriends, Elle. 

  • Grains 'n More grocery store is part of Woodvault, and Boone has worked hard to make it a popular place to shop. Many people still hunt and gather for food, so his shop is still considered more convenient. Boone has made deals with local farms and bakers to carry their items. The next step for Grains 'n More is to include items from a winery and beer from a brewery. 

  • Boone lives in Woodvault with his wife, Erma, and their son, Titus, 15. Boone would like Titus to run the store when he retires in a few years. Titus has other plans that involve adventuring. Erma works for the Woodvault’s Mayor as an administrative assistant. They all like camping in the nearby forest several times a year. 

  • Geography: Woodvault (location 4 see below) is about halfway between the main trail to Boarview (location 2) and the southern edge of the Silent Grove (location 5) below the summit of Boarfang. The vault itself is about 100 to 120 feet high, about 100 yards across and 150 yards deep. The residents, over the years, have installed a mix of mirrors (to reflect light into the vault from keyholes carved into the chamber walls), lanterns and beds of luminescent fungi and flora. The Woodsbounty stream brings a constant supply of fresh water. Houses are built and fixed with sustainably cut lumber (as directed by Norfalen) and carved stone. The population are mostly people who prefer the underground or a dim environment, but some are descendants of the original families of refugees and are held in great regard. The Knight of the Cave, the “mayor” of Woodvault, is usually a member of one of those three families. 

  • Woodvault features several natural tunnels into the mountain along the north wall of the vault. They are rarely explored due to stories of spelunkers encountering terrible creatures hiding in the darkness beyond as well adventurers hearing strange maddening musical tones that suggest stories of the Silent Grove related by protectors past and present. The tunnels are blocked, warded and guarded. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #257 

September 15th, 2023 

  • Number: 257 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 5 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): 317 (Northwoods) 

  • Brief: Centuries ago, Norfalen Elderfate learned what those who came before him had learned as well, one being cannot protect 100 square miles by him or herself. The Druid carefully and quietly observed the inhabitants of his realm and as needed, approached one or two to see if they would be willing to support his endeavor, being part of the protectorate of Dead and living Woods. A few agreed and thus over the course of the years, Norfalen has trained and leads a group of anywhere from a dozen to a score of animists, rangers, druids and scouts. They are scattered throughout the lands between the Dead Wood and the main north-south trail, each assigned to an area of woods. Once a year they all gather at Norfalen’s home (location 3) to celebrate the successes of the past year, mull over the failures and plan for the year to come. 

  • Sheril Forestbraids, 23, female Centaur, is the Ranger who roams and protects the areas around Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Wood. She is tall and has chestnut hair with large white patches on her body. The hair on her head is a deeper chestnut and worn long but tied up to keep it out of the way. Her eyes are a deep aqua-blue, and she has a scar on her right haunch. When in town, she wears a leather vest so as not to embarrass anyone. Sheril loves to use a bow and arrow and is quite a marksman. She also trains with a long sword, though she only has a little skill right now. 

  • Sheril was born in the central plains of Ceannar, but her family migrated to Boarfang when she was only three years old. She grew up wandering the woods around Boarfang and became fast friends with Norfalen. With her love of nature and everything related to animals, Norfalen encouraged her to become a Ranger. He helped train her when he had time but sent her to various experts and other members of the Druid’s protectorate to teach her different lessons. In addition, the local Knight-Mayor of Northwoods pays her to help with the wild horses that make their home nearby. 

  • Sheril lives in a large hut near the northern part of Boarfang Mountain. Her parents, Jelk Forestbraid, 43, male Centaur, and Fiflan, 41, female Centaur live nearby. She has Sunday dinner with them every week. She is friendly with Resrila, 24, female Half-Elf, who owns the Happy Giant Cafe in Northwood, a place to relax and have pastries shaped amusingly like Nor. 

  • Geography: Northwoods (location 6 see below) is the northernmost settlement considered to be part of the Druid’s protectorate. It sits on the main trail about 13 miles north of Boarview (location 2). The trail continues north another 10 miles or so until it reaches the coast on Staplefish Bay (a spur departs eastward from Northwoods reaching the waters after 6 miles). A herd of stocky shaggy wild horses calls the area, between the village and the coast, their home. Sheril, the Ranger-Centaur, keeps watch on the herd, preventing any unfortunate interactions between the locals or strangers and the steeds.  

  • Northwoods, found in an area where the forest sparse and the trees widely separated, consists of a cluster of stone and wood buildings along the trail surrounded by a palisade. The largest structure is the Quiet Respite, a 2 story Inn and Tavern, Sir Rostanbull, the Knight-Mayor, being a permanent resident. Resrila’s cafĂ© can be found just across the street. Fishing folk from small settlements on the bay and infrequent traders visit to barter with local farmers and hunters in the market square next to the Inn. The annual spring “frying of the fish” is a time for celebration and may include a rare visit from Norfalen to bless the event, attendees and food. 



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #258 

September 16th, 2023 

  • Number: 258 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 6 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): 317 (Northwoods) 

  • Brief: The slopes of Boarfang Mountain feature a diverse environment from the desolate, sometimes snow-covered slopes at the top, the sparse foliage atop the petrified remains named the Dead Wood, to the denser living woods of the surrounding slopes. Norfalen Elderfate’s inherited mandate is to watch over the area from the peak to the main trail to the east, with the assistance of his companions and rangers. But Norfalen does allow some number of trusted visitors to traverse the area for various purposes whether to find a unique needed resource (usually a forager or perhaps a Miner of the Guild), dispatch a creature of dangerous intent (Adventurers called by locals or Paladins upon a quest) or simply to explore the tangles of the Dead Wood to confirm or deny a recent rumor or ancient story of an unusual person, place or thing. 

  • Faraxis (Far), 364, male Autumn Eladrin (an Elf of the four Seasons of Aenwyld) is an explorer of unusual terrain and a senior illustrator of the Cartographer’s Guild. He is of average height and is lightly muscular. His eyes are deep brown and inset just a bit. Far has silver hair that he wears shorn close to the skull. He also walks with a wooden cane because of an accident over a century ago. Far has a tattoo of a quill on his left arm and a pot of ink on his right. His clothes are as varied as the terrain he explores. His favorite weapon is a magical crossbow. He also uses a pair of daggers for close combat. 

  • Far never settles in one place for very long. When Far enters a new town, he finds an inn and then explores the village. He asks around about unique occurrences and exciting places to visit. Once he knows what to look for, he will travel to the new site and map it. The new site he is hoping to find while exploring the Dead Wood is a pool that is rumored to glow and emit a green goo. 

  • Far's wife, Briprana (Brip), 350, female Eladrin, companion and co-worker. While Far maps the areas, Brip writes detailed explanations in carefully indexed journals. The two of them had no children and took to the road and map the wonderful world that they lived in. They have made many friends, and Brip enjoys telling stories about the areas they have been to. 

  • Geography: Far and Bripana are currently guests of the Centaur herd who live about 5 miles southwest of the village of Northwoods (location 6 see below). The location he seeks (location 7 see below) is another 6 miles further south of west across the border into the Dead Wood. Before Boarfang Mountain exploded, a circle of trees, home to Faeries and their Kin, surrounded a spring-fed pool in the depths of the primeval forest. The cataclysm flooded the area with torrents of mud followed by a blanket of ash. The trees effectively formed a wall and their branches a canopy that allowed the pool to remain mostly intact, but the fauna suffocated, and the flora withered in the darkness.  

  • Perhaps a decade ago a minor earthquake rocked the area. The chamber canopy, already thinned by years of erosion, cracked open, letting air and some light to reach the pool 120 feet below. The first life to return to the pool fills the cavern’s air with faint green phosphoresces, noticed by a lone passing hunter whose story was embellished by listeners at local taverns and beyond. Whether anything beyond glowing fungi exists in the depths will be for Faraxis to discover and hopefully survive.  



Settlements and Sites of the Four City-States #259 

September 17th, 2023 

  • Number: 259 

  • Name:  Deep Dive on a Site of Interest: Boarfang Mountain and the Dead Woods of Ceannar  – Part 7 

  • Location: Northeast corner of Flattop Hills 

  • Population (approx.): 54 (Under the Silent Grove) 

  • Brief: It is not written in the annals of Aenwyld as to whether the explosion that created Boarfang Mountain was a natural, unnatural or supernatural phenomena. But it is known that the Silent Grove, on the slopes directly south of the Fangs, is much different than the rest of the region. Under those slopes, in that age undreamt of, a great creature, perhaps a first Kin or creation of the First Ones, held court in a grand cavern attended to by its own lesser Kin, created by the creature’s own manipulation of the essence. Then, when it slumbered, the mountain above erupted and the dragon, drake or wyrm was almost instantly buried and suffocated by a million tons of rock, mud and lava. Its lifeforce burst out of its cocooned form and washed across the surface, freezing trees in place and binding its servants to the now crystallized forms. 

  • Over the course of centuries, the trees of the Silent Grove remained as they were, frozen in time, with many tied to spirits of ancient Kin. Most avoided the area, but the yearly rains and erosion eventually unearthed crystals and gemstones, washing them down the slopes into the hands of scavengers and miners. A few were brave enough to attempt explorations of the Grove seeking the source. Eventually the survivors laid a trail to the mouth of a tunnel leading into the depths, opening on to a small cavern whose walls and ceiling appear to be supported by the rock-like bones of the tail end of a vast long dead entity. Rumors say the cave is now home to Kin of the underdark who seek the “Bright Stone of Creation” in the center of the body. 

  • Gruze Nuggetcutter, 103, male Deep Gnome, is the cultist leader of The Ministry of Bright Stones. Gruze is short and extremely thin, with thick black hair and dark brown eyes. He wears long robes in dark colors and a bright necklace with a large ruby in the center. He wears a rope for a belt, which has loops for twin ceremonial daggers. His belt also contains a pouch with an herb that induces a trance. 

  • Gruze is a fiery leader of the Ministry of Bright Stones. As a young Gnome, he received visions of a Deep Gnome carving stones in a fiery volcano. He also heard voices asking him to seek the Stones. He took these to mean he should join the followers of the Master of Stone under the Ulu Maug of Taodeas. After a few years, he felt the church of the Stone ceremonies to be too tame. He broke off his ties to that church and led many Deep Gnomes on an epic journey following a vision of a crystallized entity to form the Ministry of Bright Stones cult in the cavern under the Silent Grove. 

  • Gruze is unmarried and has few friends. Many of his followers have tried to get close to him, but Gruze wants to avoid playing favorites. The cult lives under Boarfang Mountain. They have tunneled a small village there and only go out to hunt and get supplies at night.  

  • Geography: The Silent Grove is a narrow triangle of land covering the slopes directly below the southern Fang of Boarfang Mountain. It is about 6 miles long and just over 2 miles wide at the base. The cavern of the cultists is about a mile upslope of the southernmost corner of the Grove. A narrow defile, shaded by overhanging crystal trees, leads to a narrow entryway resembling a vertical crack in the earth. The path is littered with traps and wards set by the newest inhabitants, the cultists. The entry tunnel descends for another half a mile before reaching the chambers of the Ministry. Stone huts, home to the Deep Gnomes built out of blocks carved from the north cavern wall, rise to the left and right of the entryway in between great curved crystal columns thought to be the lesser bones of the great Dragon of Gems. 



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