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Author Topic: Taveruun  (Read 27824 times)
Mike Holmes
Acts of Evil Playtesters
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Posts: 10459


« Reply #15 on: May 29, 2003, 07:39:40 AM »

Hmm. I think the link is somehow dynamic or something. Here's the link to the files page from which you can get to the Taveruun map.

http://groups.yahoo.com/group/indie-netgaming/files/

Look forward to the Southwest and what Dardanet's neighbors are like. BTW, people should feel free to grab one and add, right? It's not just you and me, is it? We can have the whole country worked up in some detail in no time if people pitch in. I'd only ask that you try to respect what's already been written and work those details in (as opposed to contradicting them).

I tried to stick with the book (though I did it from memory, so correct me where I've goofed), and to take a neutral approach to both Brian and my views on the region. So it can be taken either way, or in a totally different one.

Mike
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #16 on: June 03, 2003, 10:42:31 AM »

Nobody's helping out, but I still want to keep the other areas open for others to contribute to if they like. So I thought I'd zoom in on a small region of the South Imperial County, and see who we find there. I hope this will inspire people to add on more ideas.

------
Maruzin Clans
This clan has held portions of the mountains of Taveruun since they invaded from the north time in a time unremembered. They removed an aboriginal peoples related to the Numerians, and settled down to farm the scant valleys of the region. For a time they were somewhat prosperous, and one can still see huge ancient carvings of the gods of their past. They've long since abandoned that religion however, and mostly had adopted Numerian customs by the time of the Imperial dominance. Now they are supposed to adopt the Imperial ways, but in practice few do, and none entirely have abandoned other beliefs.

Since the ancient times of their prosperity, however, their lands have become taxed by over cultivation of the thin soil, and now little grows anymore. They'd have to abandon the area entirely if it were not for their sheep that can eke an existence from the scant grass that pops up between the rocks, cave-cultivated mushrooms, and other alternate food sources. This provides only a meager sustenance, however, and the tribesmen have developed a culture over the centuries that, while not really bloody per se, does encourage taking what it needs from it's neighbors through force. Raiding is an important activity for Maruzin clansmen, and attempts to stop it by authorities invariably result in pursuit into parts of the mountains where they can seemingly disappear.

Despite this the culture maintains an interesting oral history dating back a long long time.

Taveru Monasticism
Founded by a monk named Geriun, who was one of the first to Imperials to settle in the region, Taveru Monasticism started as a small movement. At first it was limited to a burst of monastery building that began shortly after the arrival of Imperial force in the realm. This stayed mostly limited to the Imperial South County, but later monasteries did pop up in other parts of Taveruun, and in other countries as well.

Outwardly the order would appear similar to any other Imperial order of monks. But internally there are some distinct heresies that are the result of Geriun's adoption of some of the ways of the people of the south of Taveruun. The order is also highly politicized, and meddles highly with secular affairs wherever it is encountered. Essentially it's a tenet of the order that their work requires money to accomplish, and as such they tend to favor land management. Their subtly heretical nature, and their political activism tend to make the nobility dislike them, though usually not openly.

Numercasti
Numercasti is a small region in the mountains of the Imperial South County of Taveruun, mostly populated by Maruzin. It's known for containing the Azeun Plateau in its borders, home of Taveru Monasticism. The area is booming economically in part due to the fertility of the plateau, attracting a large populace. The region stands in stark contrast to all the lands that surround it in which the barbaric Maruzin clansmen barely maintain a living.

Oranparas
Because Oranparas was built on monastic land it has always been closely connected with Mount Azeun. It was a tiny village only a generation ago, but has become a small town with the influx of immigrants. It is a gateway to the region located near the Imperial Road at its closest approach to the area.

The Monastery of Zurasan
The Monastery of Zurasan was established during the earliest times of Imperial control, right on the slopes of the Azeun Plateau. It's only four miles away from Oranparas and guards the access to the Plateau. The road from Zurasan leads up to the plateau through a narrow pass, and down gentle valleys to connect to Oranparas, and thence on to the Imperial road. Historically, Geriun lived in the monastery for much of his life. After his death it went into a period of decline and was taken over as farmland by clansmen. For a short while it became the seat of a Numerian noble named Araptah who used it to conduct raids in the area. This is how the region got its name (Numercasti means Numerian castle). When Araptah was eventually removed the land returned to the ownership of the monks. Given its importance in defending the now prosperous area, it has since been fortified with twelve mighty towers. Also impressive is the church at the monastery.

Monastery of Chlatophi
One of the more important monasteries, certainly the one from which most of the administration of monastic lands occurs, the Monastery of Chlatophi is at the opposite end of the rout from Zurasan up to the top of the plateau. It is not nearly as heavily fortified, but could still withstand an attack if it needed to do so. Contained in its lands is the bustling village of Isfuraza.
 
The Tower of Isfuraza
The Tower of Isfuraza was built during the same time that the Monastery of Zurasan was being fortified. It is the principal building of the farming village for which it is named. A short time after it's construction the Imperial Count spent some time in the tower and issued various concessions in favor of the monasteries of Azeun Plateau. He removed the obligation for the farmers of the region to pay any tax and the original document is still kept at the Monastery of Chlatophi. Since then the region has prospered and expanded tremendously. The tower is used as the living quarters of the monks who manage the village.

Mike
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Brian Leybourne
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« Reply #17 on: June 03, 2003, 12:20:31 PM »

Yeah, sorry Mike. Time got on top of me very quickly and I haven't had much time to think about Taveruun or even roleplaying in general (I leave New Zealand for 6 weeks on Friday).

Nice stuff so far, and of course when I get back I'll be keen to jump in with you if you're still keen, maybe we can produce a web Taveruun sourcebook.

Brian.
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Nick the Nevermet
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« Reply #18 on: June 04, 2003, 06:14:47 AM »

Life is intervening in my affairs.
I'll get to this tonight, I hope.  It is my kind of thread, though.
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Gary_Bingham
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« Reply #19 on: June 04, 2003, 08:16:29 AM »

Mike I would love to help out, unfortunately I have been on holiday without net access for a week.
But I am back now and ready to get stuck in :)
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #20 on: June 04, 2003, 12:26:05 PM »

Wow, my powers of guilt are much more potent than I thought. :-)

Skip the excuses, however, and let's just get on with the additions!

:-)

Mike
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #21 on: June 05, 2003, 11:00:18 AM »

Hmmm. I am against bumps. Which means I have to post something again. So I shall zoom in yet again. This time to play level.


PC Hooks, mentioned below, are things that the NPCs would want from PCs. These are intended to get the PCs involved by making the NPCs latch on to them.


The Monastery of Zurasan - Important inhabitants

Hadrique - the master of the monastery is a well-educated man of Cyrinthian descent. He studied in the Imperial Colleges before traveling as an attaché of a noble to Taveruun. He never left. Taking the Oaths of Geriun, he became a member of the order, and his connections with the Imperial hierarchy have served to see him rapidly promoted over the years. He became the master of the Monastery of Zurasan when the last master passed away. He is, however, somewhat reclusive and very personal, and not a particularly good leader. He leaves the day-to-day operations to Sabosizar, who he sees as a necessary evil to be able to pursue his academic pastimes.

PC Hook - if any of the PCs are academics, Hadrique will no doubt engage them in all manner of debate and discussion, and may also send them on tasks to acquire tomes and artifacts for him. In fact, he has a collection of Numerian artifacts that he obtains via smugglers, and has a real fascination with their culture and religion. He has some fairly heretical beliefs, and may try them out on the right person.


Brother Sabosizar - the man who really runs the monastery is Sabosizar, who holds the position of Chancellery Administrator. Every monastery in the order (or at least all of them in the South of Taveruun), has an administrator assigned to them from the high chancellery office at the Monastery of Chlatophi. This individual is supposed to oversee activities at the site that they are assigned in order that they remain coherent with the order's economic policies. In the case of Zurasan, however, the administrator has become the de facto head of the site, as the master does not care particularly to assume these duties. This suits Sabosizar, who is somewhat ambitious, and sees Hadrique as effete.

Sabosizar is a Maruzin who has forsaken his upbringing to adopt Imperial ways. He is a small but tough example of his kind, and has an active plotting mind.

PC Hook - Sabosizar may use the PCs to further his ambitions. He wants to be master of the monastery, and may employ the PCs to some end to remove Hadrique. Or, if the PCs can offer other routs to power, Sabosizar will no doubt pursue those avenues.


Brother Prounent - Prounent doesn't stand out from most of the other monks in most cases. But in conclave, he leads some of the more mysterious rituals of the order. This includes some rather serious heresy, a fact that the monks keep heavily under wraps. He's a bright-eyed Taveru, who takes his time and gets things right. He's also very protective of his order, and their beliefs. As it happens he's also a very talented swordsman having learned from one of the noble schools as a young man before joining the order. Overall, he's a tough customer.

PC Hook - Prounent has an inkling that there's someone at the monastery who's looking into the order's business. He may approach the PCs to use them as agents in trying to find out who this person is. He may also suspect that the PCs are spies themselves, and may approach them with tasks just to keep them busy and guessing.


Merisek Carandula - Merisek is the commander of the forces that defend the monastery, and a knight. The monks have always seen the need for a noble to command the defenses of this important strategic position, and Merisek is the descendant of what has become an inherited position. He competently leads his small contingent of five shaldar (feudal, but non-noble horsemen in Taveruun). He also oversees the garrison, but leaves direct control of them to Andotahk, his captain of the guard.

PC Hook - Merisek is concerned about rumors that he's heard about Numerian incursions. He'll entreat the PCs to check these out for him. Further, he doesn't entirely trust Andotahk, and may have the PCs follow him or look into what he does when he's outside the monastery.


Brisen - one of Merisek's shaldar, Brisen is haughty for his position. The Taveru son of an unlanded knight, Brisen's father was unable to get him a sponsorship, and so he was never able to attain his own knighthood. Which has haunted him since. Instead he has to settle for the position of being a professional soldier, chattel to be traded between real nobles. Brisen would make a good knight being of considerable size, and very burly. Strangely, he is blonde, a fact that his family has never been able to explain.

Unusually, Brisen owns his own horse, having been a gift from his father.

PC Hook - Brisen will examine the PCs for whatever they can do in terms of helping him achieve his knighthood. He's driven, and any change in the status quo like the arrival of PCs will trigger his response to action on this issue.


Andotahk - the captain of the fortress defenses is a Hotar, a tribe related racially to the Numerians, but who've lived in a small corner of Taveruun since before Taveruun was a country, they long ago adopted some Taveruun culture, and have been ethnically distinct from the Numerians for eons. Andotahk is a hugely built and imposing figure (ST 7), capable of inspiring fear in both friend and foe. He is terse, and unsociable, but highly effective as a leader due to the confidence he tends to imbue in his troops. The large compliment of 100 men do not like him, but would willingly follow him in battle.

PC Hook - Andotahk is very concerned for his family, a fact that few are aware of. His wife and two children still reside in the Hotar village that he came from originally. He wants to move them but he sees them infrequently, and his wife doesn't want to leave their home. He may try to convince one of the PCs to help him out somehow. This may include some rather drastic measures; Andotahk isn't daunted by convention when it comes to achieving his aims.


Grusio - one of the guard, Grusio is the son of a wealthy merchant of Oranparas. His father got him the position as guard, to teach him some humility, and it has worked very well, in fact. Grusio has taken to learning the arts of war diligently, and constantly pesters the shaldar or anyone with real skill to train him. He's a bright young man and charming in a roguish way with a lot of potential.

PC Hook - Grusio is interested in moving on from his current position if the time is right. His father would not object, Grusio having become much more the man he wanted. So, Grusio may see all sorts of opportunities in terms of the PCs, including the possibility of becoming a vagabond warrior.


Chalek - the smith of the monastery also serves as unofficial quartermaster. As such it's his duty to see that provisions of all sorts are kept in good supply. He's a heavyset and boisterous Taveru who likes to make a game of goings on at the monastery. He's a source of frequently incorrect gossip that he tends to make up, for instance. In part because of the unofficial nature of his position, he doesn't attend to it well. This annoys Sabosizar no end who Chalek avoids like the plague.

PC Hook - Chalek needs PCs to look into the disappearances of lots of goods that he's responsible for about the monastery. If the situation continues, no doubt Sabosizar will take away his authority and give it to someone else. Which would be more embarrassing than disappointing. The gossiper would become the source of the gossip. He's also just very social, and will attach himself to some of the PCs if he can just to gab.


Izlija - the head of the kitchens, Izlija is a fat, ugly aging Maruzin woman, who ensures that everyone is fed every day. She runs the kitchens by instinct, rather that organization, however, which results in somewhat spotty performance. Hence she isn't allowed much in the way of logistic control (the thought makes Sabosizar's head spin; Chalek is a paragon of efficiency in comparison). She tends to be somewhat curmudgeonly, but a lot of that attitude is to hide her own confusion at times, and her feelings for the monks. Deep inside she feels like they're her sons (having lost her own long ago), and dotes on them as well as she can while not allowing her feelings to show. This is important, because it's very much her non-feminine manner that makes the monks accept her at the monastery despite their general prohibition against women in the monastery.

PC Hook - as it turns out Sabosizar is her son. He grew up near here, and left home to become a brother at an early age. When his brothers died, Sabosizar arranged for his mother to be brought in as a servant, still having some feelings for her. But he made her swear never to reveal the fact, not wanting a reminder of his heritage to bother him on a day-to-day basis. This is why she's a bit befuddled. Several years of this has warped her mind a little. What she needs from PCs is someone to understand her predicament. With a faint hope that they might be able to rectify the rift between her and her only remaining real son.


Pelis - a Taveru of low birth, Pelis is a young man who serves as a gopher for some of the important commoners at the monastery like Chalek and Izlija. He has access to many parts of the monastery as such, and uses this to great effect in pilfering all manner of goods. He is, in fact, the source of most of Chalek's problems with maintaining supply, though Chalek is unaware of this. Pelis works in cahoots with two of the gate guards, and holds court over three younger boys (two stable boys, and one of the kitchen hands). He is cocky, however, and sure to be caught or turned in by one of the boys at some point.

PC Hook - Pelis will look to shady PC sorts as possible allies in smuggling goods to his contacts in Oranparas. He will also attach himself to any roughish but dashing hero type that will allow him with delusions of becoming a wandering swordslinger himself. He may also try to get money off the PCs by brokering information. He has gossip, too, and it tends to be more accurate than Chalek's.


Brother Asroban - another Maruzin (his family converted long ago), Brother Asroban is technically not of the Taveru Monastic Order. He is a member of the Cheilian Order instead, which has the peculiar distinction of making him both a monk and a priest. He is posted here, in fact, because the Taveru cannot perform most ceremonies themselves, and need a priest. The Cheilians, being a traveling order, often get posted to such positions. He is, therefore, in charge of the rather magnificent cathedral at Zurasan.

Asroban is, as most of his order are, from Cyrinthmeir. As such, he has a connection with Hadrique that makes them close confidants. He is aging and a quite emaciated figure.

PC Hook - Asroban is, in fact, a plant from the Imperial Hierarchy. He is there to determine what level of heresy the order maintains in its actual doctrine. As such, he'll ask the PCs to try and infiltrate meetings of the monks, or to obtain documents from the monks that might tend to incriminate them. He is biased in Hadrique's favor, however, and will try to protect him from persecution if at all possible by slanting outcomes.


Ignaruza of Orandia - originally the lord and master of a small but exceptionally profitable little fiefdom (Orandia) in the Imperial East Barony of Taveruun, Ignaruza retired some years ago after his wife died, leaving the lands split between his sons. This was a situation that was equitable, but suited none of them. Thrown out by his own family, he left with his daughter, and has decided to become a member of the community at this scenic monastery. The monks were more than pleased to take his money, and put him up in his own tower. They also appreciate his influence, which he uses on occasion to benefit the monastery. He is an aging but yet hale man seeking only to enjoy his remaining years.

PC Hook - Ignaruza may see PCs as a solution to his problem with his daughter, especially if somebody noble appears. Even if not, he may ask PCs to act as agents for him to seek out suitors, or deliver messages. He also just likes to chat with travelers, and will talk the ear off anyone (who isn't too low class) that will let him. He likes the monastery but the monks are too ascetic for him in this way.
 

Orlelian - the daughter of Ignaruza is not a great beauty, but well built. Which is enough that, since she is one of the only women allowed at the monastery (due to her father's influence), she turns the heads of the men constantly. She's also bright and adventurous, which leads to her being even more attractive to those who do get an opportunity to actually speak to her. And never mind that she stands to inherit a fortune, or at least have a massive dowry; for those who see her as a potential wife, she's the only show in town. This is problematic, however, due to the fact of her high birth, and the lack of suitable suitors present. She occasionally receives outside visitors, but the lack of noble holdings in close proximity means that they are few and far between.

Orlelian is already 19, and there is some fear of her becoming a spinster. Her father is unwilling to actively pursue a suitor for her because of his lacksidasical attitude. She has therefore been considering returning to Orandia to live with her brothers. But she's grown fond of the monastery and would rather not leave.  

PC Hook - Orly (as her friends call her) is secretly having a thing with Brisen. She's not in love with him, and in fact sees him as boorish. Besides which, as he's not a knight, there's no way that it could ever become anything. So it's really just a dalliance that she intends to cut off shortly. On the other hand, there's Grusio. Grusio is also not of high enough birth for her, but she finds herself attracted to him constantly. Almost obsessively. It's this attraction that has her thinking that perhaps it's time to go; and also this attraction which keeps her at the monastery. What Orly needs from PCs is manifold. First, she'll need someone to break it off with Brisen at some point (she's not bold enough to face him). She may also find that she decides to go after Grusio, in which case she may need a go-between. Lastly there's every chance that the right adventurer could win her over. Which would probably only conflict here further about her feelings for Grusio (who for his part, tries to ignore the girl as out of his league socially).



Mike
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2003, 02:06:30 PM »

Bumping again by means of adding info. Still waiting for people to help.


From The Journal of Brazhim ir Makhilef:

May the prophet have mercy on my soul, I make this entry in the name of wisdom, and not as a work itself. Highest rejoicings in the word of Ha'shalosh whose name is holy.

It is now three months that I have traveled in the lands of the infidels. It cannot cease to amaze me that the people of this land earnestly call it Taveruun, when clearly it is the sixth estate of the Sul'taan, and held against him in all violation of logic. It is the misguided religion of this country that makes them so resistant to join in the bounty that flows from the lord of Ottamarluk and the Emir.

I would fear to write this openly, but I find that in the regions I now enter, there are none who speak the holy language. If this journal is discovered, it will yield no secrets to the infidels. In fact, they seem to speak several tongues, and as we move south I find that Kharilin can only converse with them in the Taveru language of which they all seem to know at least a little.

Long after leaving the precincts of Longstone where the hated enemy, the Highlord of the Eastern Barony holds reign over the other infidel Highlords, the old Imperial Road meets with the Cathedral River. There are many, many rivers in this land, but this is one of the more mighty. It is large enough that there is a substantial traffic on the river. The road follows the river south on its western side, crossing it at the city of Ardanast. This city, as well as the others we've encountered on the road are all possesed of cathedrals that I would call magnificent if not for their dedication to a religion that does not recognize properly the prophet. The naming of the river becomes, therefore, obvious.

The further we travel to the south, however, the more I not a change. The cities have become sparse, and more and more crude villages have replaced them. I note that in these places, that the infidel religion is replaced amongst the peasantry with another religion. Kharilin says that it is something like the Numerian beliefs, with the occasional abomination of beast with man's head fals god portrayed. These images disturb me. I am unsure what is more unsettling, the misled Xanarites, or these heathens.

Given that we are meeting with some of these barbaric peoples as the goal of our mission, I hold great trepidation. Is it not unwholesome to deal with such even as allies against the infidels? And what if they choose to betray our mission to the infidels? Our deception of being merchants will not long hold I fear. Already we are looked upon with fear and suspicion everywhere we go. I fear this will not be something that will be easily accomplished.

Still, if we are able to rile the Numerians to invade the South County of Taveruun, then the Baron will be sure to have to send aid, leaving him open to attack. I become more sure of this as I see how relatively undefended and unpopulated this wide open territory is. They do not use the mountains for homes. In fact, the mountains are said to be inhabited by a ghost like people who are not allied with the Highlord of this dirty realm.

So while we have yet to observe the full military forces of this land, I'm sure that we'll be able to assess this better at Illitzi. Already we cut across the river and land to that fabled city. The desert grows untennable any further south to all accounts, and the road does not go that way. At the ancient port that is capitol of the County, we should be able to assess the troops that the Count has available. I have made such assessments before, and praise Ha'shalosh that he has given me the talents to be so useful to my Sul'taan. If the troops are of the same sorts as seen along the road, I have no fear that the Numerians should be able to wreak havok in this land. Their Knights seem few, and their shaldar are not an equal in any way to Marmeluks or even Janisaries.

As we now move eastward, however, we are warned that there are tribes  of yet another race of men to the north of the road and to the east. Apparently these peoples roam these territories and attack caravans on occasion. So we travel with all haste to our destination. I hope dearly that once at Illitzi, that we will have no troubles finding our pre-arranged ship. If that is not available, Kharilin tells me that we can travel into the Numerian dester overland. But this is not a prospect to which I look forward. I have seen the deserts of T'zaul, but compared to the black waste which we can see to the south, the realm of T'zaul is a garden.

In fact, the vista to the south is haunting. One can see many miles to where the cathedral river meets the Anazum to form the Urdza. The valley should be fertile, but the strange black desert almost overwhelms even these rivers in their attempt to give life to the land. Beyond the valley there is only death. How can the peoples of such a place be of a strength to be warriors? Worse, Kharilin assures me that their worship of their beast-men gods is led by a cult of women. Will we need to deal wth these? Prophet help us.

In his most holy name.



Mike
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« Reply #23 on: June 09, 2003, 11:09:30 AM »

I didn't want to make this a daily thing, but, when inspired...

Feel free to join in any time, now. :-)

BTW, does anyone disagree with me that of the two rivers that empty into the Sapphire Sea, that the one to the West is the Cathedral River? Can anyone verify it for me? In any case, what's the name of the other river?

The Cathedral River Lake Monster
In it's slow meander south, the Cathedral River widens into several chains of lakes, all connected by very large waterways, with only gentle falls separating them if at all. These lakes have good fishing, and have a lot of traffic upon them in part due to the relative ease of travel up upstream in such a sluggish area. These are quiet, idyllic little lakes with towns and villages in abundance.

The only thing that threatens the security of these habitations (other than the threat of war), is a creature called the Tuluradzi, or Lake Monster. Rarely seen, there are many who say that it's a myth. But disappearances occur a little too frequently along the lakes for folks to totally dismiss it.

The Legend
When questioned, the Taveru who inhabit the villages where sightings most often occur (probably once a year or so), will tell you that the creature looks like some flattened dragon with claws like a crayfish, but of momentous size. Apparently it's said to be able to lurch out of the water, grab livestock and people, and drag them to a watery death. Deep in the lakes it's assumed that the creature eats them. Lot's of capsized boats found with their passengers missing are attributed to the beast.

Some few may be able to remember a legend about a dragon and an ancient hero that supposedly occured around these parts. But the dragon was slain, so it can't be related...

The Facts
In fact, most of the villagers who tell these stories are faking them. It's a long tradition that began before anyone can remember. They send travelers passing through out looking for the "creature" and laugh behind their backs. The villagers prosper from housing travelers who come off the Imperial Road looking for these nice lakes, so the villagers use whatever tactics they can to get people to come. The Lake Monster is quite an attraction.

As it happens, however, the disappearances are real. The villagers just assume that it's all due to happenstance, drownings, thievery of livestock blamed on the creature, etc. But as truth would have it there are things in the lake.

The legend of the Lake Monster comes from a form of oceanic dragon that made it's way up the river aeons ago. When it arrived, it was a terror, and ate whole villages. Eventually a bold hero named Bricortz defeated the dragon with an enchanted club that had been wielded by a particularly nasty ogre (which he got from some fae who were also threatened by the dragon's rampage). The creature sank beneath the waves, and was forgotten other than as part of Bricortz's legend.

But the dragon did not die. It was, however, badly brained, and was unconscious for centuries at the bottom of the lake. It awoke a couple of centuries ago, and is now only capable of acting with animal intelligence if that. It is in fact generally harmless, and stays well away from humans when it can. It is responsible for some of the livestock disappearances, however, and it's sighted every couple of generations, either in the river, or actually coming on land. So it is the legend. But it's not this creature that's responsible for the unusually high number of "accidents".

A group of the Fae that inhabit the many swamps that surround these lakes know of the lair of the dragon. It ranges all over the lakes, but eventually comes to rest in a cave that can only be reached underwater. These faeries, renegade unseelie from a court of High Fae deep in the largest of the swamps, can manifest as glowing lights. They lure people into the swamps where they change into their other form, scaled toad-men typically as large as the largest man, and capture them. Other times they swim out and capsize boats, half-drown their victims, and then take them back.

All people captured are taken to the dragon's cave, where the toad-faeries use them in bizarre rites. The objective of these alien minds is to change the dragon. It is a great spell that has taken nearly a century to accomplish; but the time of the change draws near. In the end, the creature they produce will be much more fierce than the dragon that originally rampaged across the lakes. Their goal is the death of their immortal masters, and the assumption of the local throne of the fae court. Though the humans of the lakes will no doubt suffer greatly as well.

Mike
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Nick the Nevermet
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« Reply #24 on: June 10, 2003, 06:02:53 AM »

Well, Mike.... you've gone from making me guilty to completely intimidated.  I just got to read this board for the first time in days (internet connection died), and quite frankly I don't want to touch Taveruun.  It is your's, bud.  I can't really add much.

But I'll try.


The book mentions there are large statues of Xanar travelling with an 'unknown' female companion.  The official Church claim is that this was Miredel, and she was to be one of the many brides Xanar took throughout his conquered lands.  The time they spent together made Xanar happy, for Miradel was beautiful and caring and wise beyond her years.  Tragically, she sacrficed herself to aid Xanar and his army.  A dowerful demon was sent to disrupt Xanar's army.  Knowing that such a demon would create problems for Xanar's cause, she threw herself at the demon, knowing it could never resist eating virginal human flesh.  By the time the demon had finished devouring her, Xanar's forces were alerted.  Xanar himself slew the beast for what it had done.  In Miradel's honor, the statues were built, and her younger sister became Xanar's new bride.

That is the official Church version, of course.  Not all the tales of these status neatly fit with the Church's story.  

One common tale points to the fact that Xanar consulted his Gods and their law to determine the perfect queen for him in a particular land.  In this legend, Xanar fell in love with a women who was not fit by the law to be his queen.  In some stories she vanished, was executed by Xanar, or became a demoness & turned against Xanar.  In either case, he married another, erecting the statue in honor of lost love.

Some scholars in the Cyrinthmeir have suggested that the statue actually is of the wife Xanar took in the area, Saira, but due to unknown reasons her face and hair were carved in a different way than those iconic picture of her made throughout Taveruun.  These scholars are generally ignored.

Many of the cabals of Esauln claim she is Rakel.  A relatively minor character in their Kova, Rakel is a priestess who leaves the lands of Ixliaph out of shame for the sins committed by her twin brother.  Rakel was noted for being sagely and as having a great love for Esauln.  According to Taveruunish Esaulnism, Rakel brought the wisdom of Esauln out of Ixliaph and into the land of winding rivers.  There she was a teacher of any who would listen.  One of her students was a great general, named Xanar.  So impressed by her wisdom, he commanded a statue be erected in her honor.  The statues represent her showing Xanar the world anew after hearing her lessons.  

Their reverence of Rakel is one of the main reasons why the cabals of Esauln in Taveruun are looked at as heretics by both the Church and the Steel Clerics of Ixpliaph.
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #25 on: June 10, 2003, 08:39:40 AM »

Nick, don't punish me for being overactive. Keep posting. This is good stuff.  :-)

Those statues are at the beginning of the road, IIRC. And according to my little map (have you checked it out?), only the Northern province connects to either Ixilaph or Cyrinthmeir. So I think you just laid claim to the very interesting North Imperial province.

Here are some quesitons to answer about that land.

What is it called both as an official fiefdom, and as a place that existed since before the Imperials came and left? What is the title of the feudal lord? He's a Highlord, according to the book, and that's probably traditional, but I think that they'd all also be duchies, baronies, etc. I made an unorthodox decision intentionally by making the most important lord a Baron. This happened historically, however, as in the case of the Barony of Saxony.

Who does the Highlord owe fealty to? What are relations like with it's bordering provinces of NW Taveruun, and NE Taveruun? What about with the other countries it borders, Cyrinthmier, Ixaliph, and Ottamarluk (with which it's border extends south to the river)? Do the rulers of the region have any political objectives of their own? Any traditional territorial rivalries that threaten to break out again?

Geography? What of that river? I believe that this region is supposed to be mountainous, with a range and pass mentioned in the book (the map certainly looks it).

Who are the local people, all Taveru (you'll note that's what I've named the major indiginous culture; sound right to you?)? Or are there other ethnicities and/or cultural groups in the area? What are local customs like for these groups? Religions (you've already touched on that which is very cool)?

What's the economy like here? What local commodities are produced, and what's imported and exported? How brisk is trade, and what forms does it most often take in terms of transportation? Has preparations against the Marluks made the people poor? How prosperous are they when they're not under threat of invasion? What is their military like? Well developed, or lacking?

Major cities? Other cultural geography? What sort of subsistence patters do the people have, and what effects does this have on what habitation patterns are like? Technological variances? Subcultural structures?


Just some ideas. If others want to pick up other territories, there's still 5 left totally unclaimed. East, of course is the biggie, and probably has the most threat from Ottamarluk (I'd think that they'd want to take Longstone as a site to stage from). Southeast has the border with the mysterious land of Savastra. The Northeast borders Helena. The Southwest has the border with the warring state of Dardanet. (Brian indicated an interest in the naval affairs of the West province).

That last one is interesting. Under the listing for Ottamarluk, IIRC, it says that they've invaded Dardanet in the past. It's possible that they do this by seaborne invasion, but what makes most sense to me is that they just march across Taveruun to get there. This would not be without historical prescident as I've discussed before.

I've only detailed one-eighth of Taveruun. Still a lot of work to be done.

Mike
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Jake Norwood
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« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2003, 11:22:37 AM »

I just want to chime in and say "keep it up." My next game is gonna be in Taveruun.

Jake
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Mike Holmes
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« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2003, 12:05:16 PM »

Quote from: Jake Norwood
I just want to chime in and say "keep it up." My next game is gonna be in Taveruun.

While we've got your attention, Jake, anything you've read so far that breaks with canon? I'd like to keep it as compatible as possible.

Mike
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« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2003, 12:11:58 PM »

Lemme give it a good second look-through, but for now I'd say all looks kosher...and I dont' really beleive in "canon."

Jake
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Nick the Nevermet
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« Reply #29 on: June 10, 2003, 03:11:21 PM »

i'm 90% sure we haven't contradicted anything published yet.

Anyways... Damn you Mike.  I was planning on doing work today.


Quote from: Mike Holmes
Nick, don't punish me for being overactive. Keep posting. This is good stuff.  :-)


Wasn't intended as a punishment.  It's just you seemed like you were on a rool.  Take it as a compliment ;)

The north, hmm?
And yes, I double-checked the book before writing :)
Also, a warning: I'll be beating my favorite dead horses again.

Geographically, Northern Taveruun, called Koma (or the Koma Valleys) is almost a delta in reverse: countless small valleys cut into mountains, creating places for agriculture and cities.  The majority of humanity in this region lives in these valleys, forming a network of towns, cities, and farming communities connected by river valleys and passes between the river valleys.  It is a cold but fertile enough place.  All the cities and towns are built in strategic places as trading outposts, giving any town worth existing in northern Taveruun a hint of cosmopolitan feel.


POLITICS
I expect that one of the few constants in Taveruun is tumult.  While Taveruun is many things, peaceful is not one of them.  It isn't a crossroads, it's much worse: it's nation of cross-roads.  Centrally located, tons of rivers, lots of neighbors with strong ideals (at the very least).  The only question is what forms the conflict takes.  In different regions of this sprawling country, I imagine that the daily uproar has different components.  The northern province is not a province of military strife, but it rather byzantine intrigue.

Komas is blessed with relative peace and security in the military perspective.  Because of the mountains and the fact that it is North of Dardanet, Komas does not live with the threat of Otamarluk invasion as much as other regions.  A profitable and well-regulated trade is maintained with Cyrinthmeir.  

Through the mountain passes of Komas lay the only land route for the riches of Maraiah to Mainlund.  The Dukes of Komas are not a native Taveruu bloodline.  Their ancenstry comes in part from Cyrinthmeir.  During one of the later crusades for The Shard, the polity of Komas collapsed.  A peasant rebellion took place, blaming the local nobility for allowing roving knights (current history claims they were Stahlnish) to pillage as they passed through.  A Cyrinthian knightly house, Sursatay, squashed the rebellion and restored order.  Promising to support the other highlords (and keeping that promise) gave house Sursatay tenuous support as the rulers of the Komas Valleys.  

As one could expect, the ethnicity of House Sursatay caused tensions.  Since taking the reigns of power, each Duke of Komas has been of Sursatay lineage, and each has attempted to strike a balance between cultures, with varying success.  At first, they were puppets of Cyrinthmeir.  Then they became puppets of the other Taveruu highlords.  As the problems with Otamarluk worsened, their relative political position improved.  The Sursatay Dukes have become wealthy, safe, and envied.  However, the prosperity of Komas is upheld by a delicate web of commercial and political ties.  This web has no claim to stability.

After a disasterous attempt to secure a port on the Inland Sea by invading Ixliaph in 1394 WEYR, The Dukes of Komas have focused their military development on defense.  The hold court in the city of Samerhab, a citadel built near the head of the Galadonian River (city marked on the map w/ no name).

There are routes that go to both Cyrinthmeir and to Helena from here, as well as the river which winds down into central Taveruun.  One of the Dukes a century and a half ago move the court here from Kramace, a city much closer to Cyrinthmeir specifically because of the need to appear 'more Taveruu.'  

Games of power played with trade and political loyalties have one disturbing deature that games played with war do not: it is often much harder to tell who is winning until it is too late.  The Sursatays have weaved a web around themselves.  They have contacts with nobles in both Helena and Cyrinthmeir.  They have attempted to open communication with smugglers in Otamarluk, and even Fahal.  However, no one knows if these actions are folly, masterful machinations, or risky gambles.

Like the rest of Taveruun, Komas has a feudal hierarchy.  Generally, each valley has a petty noble of some form.  These 'Valley Lords' then answer to other, more important Valley Lords, who in turn answer to Counts who live in the trade-cities.  These Counts in turn are the vassals of the Duke.

The Northwestern Province and Komas have long standing agreements on how the taxes between their goods, as well as the goods coming to & from Helena, are divied up.  If one of theese two highlords was to alter these arrangements, the conflict would be severe.  At the moment, however, the two highlords work together on matters of trade.  As long as Otamarluk remains focused on southern Taveruun and Dardanet, and not Helena, their discourse will remain on issues of trade.

The Highlord of the Northeastern Province is one of the greatest critics of the Sursatays.  Living in constant fear of the coming counter-crusade, he sees Komas as protecting itself at the expense of his province.  Duke Alzanar of Komas holds the opinion that nothing will be enough to make this man satisfied.  Though Duke Alzanar would send some help to him, he would send more help to the Highlords farther south that he has better relationships with.


ECONOMICS & Agriculture
The people of Komas produce some cattle in the larger valleys, sheep, and root vegetables.  Its only major export is timber, though some wool also is exported.  Komasian Taveruu are also known for their leatherworking.

However, the true center of the economy in Komas is trade.  It is the safest over-land trade route between mainlund on one side, and Maraiah and south-western Tegaarn on the other.  The only other options would be to go through the Sea of Fallen Gods (impractical for Stahl or Sarmotov), or to go through lands like Fahal, T'zaul, Krym-Khanan, and Zaporazhya (less than civilized lands).

The Dukes of Komas have always known this was their greatest strength, and have managed to regulate the trade very carefully.  The uphold the safety of the passes, maintain the imperial roads (within reason), provide ferries on the navigatable portions of the rivers, and collect taxes on anything that moves through their borders.  The passes that connect the Valleys together it a grand highway going from Cyrinthmeir to Helena, southern Taveruun, and beyond.  Any city worth noting in Komas lies in a valley that is on the way to one of the three destinations.  Everything else is purely agricultural.

Winter is something to be feared in Komas.  The trade route shuts down, and a few valleys every year become blocked off in the dead of winter.  Every winter someone in Sumerhab holds their breath, fearful something will happen that is terrible, but unreachable.  


MILITARY
The entire military has been built over the idea of protecting trade.  Very little calvary exists due to the mountainous terrain.  Infantry, scouts, and engineers are the primary units, along with archers (who would be skoffed at in Farrenshire as amateurs) and irregulars (trained for stealth in the mountains).  The occasional bandit party can survive for a short time if they only target Komasian settlements.  To attack a caravan is to sign one's own death warrant.  

Some of the more far-thinking generals have heard of the counter-crusade coming Otamarluk, and are deeply concerned.  They know they can handle border skirmishes with Ixpliaph, bandits, or even an outlying valley that goes into rebellion after a poor harvest.  However, none of that matters in the face of a horde of religious fanatics.  Plans for dealing with this range from total denial to building up the military to politically pushing the other highlords in front of Komas as buffers.


THE PEOPLE
The current Duke, Alzenar Sursatay, believes in actions, not spectacle.  The portion of his court which is public is short, and he spends much of his days in private consultation with his advisors.  He proudly points to the recently completed Cathedral he funded, as well as finding mercenaries from Mainlund to aid the more pressed Highlords.  A widower whose wife died during the birth of their second son and third child, he is a man who attempts to show himself as a defender of Taveruun through actions.  However, for all his apparent good deeds, neither the Church nor the other Highlords of Taveruun truly trust the Duke of Komas.  

Duke Alzenar believes that it is possible for House Sursatay to become the dominant house among the highlords within three generations, but they are not there yet.  The current mission must be to keep Taveruun strong, keep the Sursatay strong, and keep those who oppose either weak.  He believes that The Three have blessed Komas with wealth and trade, and that this will be the foundation to move on.  As much of Taveruun is or will be devastated by war, it is natural that his province help support Taveruun as a whole, and that his family be rewarded appropriately for that.  He has married nationalism, commerce, and enlightened self-interest into a grand ideology that drives him and his inner circle through all their plans.

His three children are infinitely more visible -and substantially less visionary- than the father.  The eldest, Arsen, has taken charge of his father's military.  He maintains the peace, catches the smugglers, and makes sure the towns are safe.  He is the most popular member of the Sursatay family among the common people, seeing him as a heroic protector.  He worries that Sursatay's military has become weak through its defensive posture.  His driving goal is to make another attack into Ixlpiah to obtain a port.

His father has forbidden it however, afraid that such a move would be too costly and be seen as the Sursatays looking out for themselves and Komas more than helping defend the rest of Taveruun.  In truth, Arsen does not feel much loyalty to Taveruun as a whole.  If the opportunity ever presented itself for Komas to be an independent nation with himself as its ruler, he would seize it.  As their have been no major military actions since Arsen's childhood, he is not truly tested.

The middle child, the daughter Vesna, plays the hostess to whatever Dignitaries are visiting Samerhab, be they from other provinces or foriegn.  A very proper elegant women who dutifully follows the instructions of her father and the advisors.  For the past two years, she has secretly been carrying on a romance with a diplomat from Helena.  She loves him dearly, but knows it is an inappropriate romance.  It will no doubt break her heart if she ever discovers the diplomat is actually a Janissary spy attempting to disrupt the trade through Komas.

The youngest, Tomas, is the subject of many uncomfortable rumors.  An enthusiastic child, he returned last year from 6 years of studying in Stahl
and Cyrinthmeir.  He has come back to Komas a quiet, introspective man interested in philosphy and swordplay.  Rumors have swarmed around him, suggesting that he is at least a Riddleseeker, at worst a heretic or a Thayrist.  Tomas appears to ignore the rumors, as he generally appears to ignore people.  His father has taken to having irregular but long private meetings with his.  Alzenar appears troubled at times before or after these meetings, but his advisors have learned that one does not enquire
about 'The quiet Sursatay.'

Beyond these four individuals, there are a whole host of other characters.  Many of the feudal lords can trace their lineage back to the Sursatays as well, some even share the surname.  Commoners can rise to prominence, as the Sursatay have instituted an unusual custom that trusted advisors may be given as a part of the annual tribute to one's lord.  More than one commoner has been known to be handed to higher nobles through this fashion.  It is not incredibly common, however, as rather unfortunate consequences occur if the new advisor is disliked by
the new noble (for both the vassal and the commoner).

 Nonetheless, this odd form of patronage adds to the belief in some parts of Taveruun that the Dukes of Komas have always been a tad eccentric.


RELIGION
Monks
The religion promoted by the Sursatays in Komas is a very direct Church of the Three Become One.  Traditionally the nobility has disliked monasteries, fearing church institutions that removed from the noble-controlled cities and valleys of Komas.  Nevertheless, two notable monasteries exist within Komas.  The first is the Monastery of the Divine March, which was built on a mountain that overlooks the great statue of Xanar and Miradel.  Though it can be easily seen from the Imperial road, one actually needs to travel two days on winding roads to move around the cliffs in order to travel there.  The night before every holy day on Xanar's calendar, a traveler can hear haunting music flow down from the monastery.  The pipes and drums made by these monks are hard to come by (they are not sold on the open market), but are of a elegantly simple quality.

The second monastery is the Abbey of the Good Well.  According to local legend, Saint Sarpedon, a surviving member of Xanar's army, found a town in a valley that was set upon by three curses: It was ruled by the ghost of a dead king, it was in permanent drought, and every ten years, a landslide came and destroyed one out of every five homes.  After praying intensely to the God of Justice for a year, Saint Sarpedon was able to strike down the Ghost-king.  By praying earnestly to the God of Mercy for another year, the landslides never came again.  And by praying with conviction to the God of Knowledge, Saint Sarpedon learned where the townspeaker could dig wells that would yield enough water for them to prosper.  The town, now called Sarpedium is at the base of the mountain and a shrine up the mountain slope holds the remains of Saint Sarpedon.

The city church
The Church of the Three who Became One is, as mentioned above, very standard in its practices within the cities maintained by House Sursatay and the Counts.  The Church is conflicted in its opinion of Komas: on one side you have a friendly & dutiful ruler with an earnest population.  It is well taken care of, with its working relationship with Duke Alezar and its domed, Taveruu-style cathedrals.  On the other, these good men are constantly under temptations by heretical and heathen forces of the Great Betrayer (see below).  This problem however, is secondary to the looming threat of the Seven Vows.  Between heretics, the threat of religious war, and the constant sin promoted by trade, the Church here is busy and powerful, but not in a position of control.

The valley church
The congregations in the valleys are another situation entirely.  Much more humble, the only concern of the churches in the valleys is to tend to the souls of people.  Most of priests in these communities are taught in an apprenticeship in the nearest trade-city, lasting a few years.  The priests are members of the village, not just a representative of Xanar's Church.  Many more folk customs and uniquely Komasian idiosyncracies find their way into the festivals and ceremonies of valley churches.  Sometimes these are cleaned up when a superior from the city visits, sometimes not.  More than one village priest has required 'additional contemplation on Xanar's law,' but forcing the valley churches to adhere perfectly to protocol is not a high priority for the Church at this moment.

Heretics
While the Sursatays promote strict Three Become One doctrine, that is not by any means the only religion present.  A variant on the religion of Ixpliaph hides in some of the more remote valleys in eastern Komas.  There, people revere Esauln, the God of Ixliaph, with ceremonies that borrow heavily from Xanar's law.  They also hold sacred the name of a high Priestess, Rakel, who brought the wisdom of Esauln to the valleys.  They are left alone generally unless they reject the rule of the Sursatays, or the Church demands action, both of which happen periodically.  The Sursatays are hesitant to do anything too harsh to them, however, because no one knows the eastern mountains of Komas like these heretics.  Whether it is smuggling routes into Otamarluk, or secret passes into Ixpliaph, the Taveruu Esaulnists know this land.  Always afraid to destroy something of potential value, the Sursatays have always been hesitant to act against them.  This hesitation has been fueled by the occasional agreement Duke Alzanar has been able to make with the clan elders of the Esaulnists.

If the Esaulnists are an alien religion among the lowest peasants in the hills, Helenian Paganism is the fad of high culture in Komas.  The court culture the main cities (Sumerhab, Meshib, and Kramace) have a certain segment that appreciates the aesthetics (and hedonism) of the pantheon of Helena.  It has become a widespread fashion to have a coin with 2 faces on it as a good-luck charm, for example.  Many of the works of art patroned by the nobles has an allusion here or there to various gods from Helena.  The merchants from Helena have promoted this, seeing it as helpful to them in this province of passes.  The Church, needless to say, is less than happy with this.  They fear it goes far beyond the fashions of art.  On several occasions the Chuch has requested Duke Alzanar pass edicts controlling the worship of the false gods of Helena more.  The Duke so far as held them at bay, pointing to pre-existing law, as well as the fact that no hard evidence has been found of worship (outside of foreigners from Helena).

The true specter of heresy that hovers over Komas, however, is Thayrism.  Today, Thayrism is seen by many nobles, commoners, and holy men as the unseen enemy within Komas.  Every few years an abandoned temple to a Thayrist god is found in the mountains.  Sixteen years ago, a temple was found hidden in the city of Meshib.  The Duke used all his powers of persuasion and coercion to keep the Inquisition out of his province that day.  Since the return of his son Tomas, Duke Alzanar has been dreading the day that Church begins investigating the rumors that he is a Thayrist.  Regardless of whether they are true or not, such a scandal could be all too dangerous to the Sursatays.

For every fact about Taveruu Thayrists, there are a legion of whispered rumors.  They are said to have hidden valleys where communities thrive, underground catacombs beneath the cities, strange alliances with the Esaulnists (and even the Fahalim).  They are the whispered conspiracy that no one admits to truly believing to exist... but that everyone knows for a fact does.  The plans of the Thayrists are unknown, but assumed to be unholy.  Some even fear their hatred of the Church is so deep they would hand Taveruun to Otamarluk out of spite.  

Fey
These concerns do not extend out of the cities.  The valleyfolk who tend the farms and herd the livestock care only that Xanar is their Great Lawbringer, that the Church is good, and that the heathens to the east are all evil.  Demons and ghosts may live in the mountains, but Xanar's conquering hand cleansed the valleys and made it possible for the Tavaruu to make their cities and farms.  But always beware what is between the mountains, for Xanar did not step on every peak.  The concerns of Valleyfolk have less to do with heretics and more to do with the Fey of the mountains.  Upon each peak, they say, a spirit dances unless its attention is pulled away.  Stories usually have foolish humans doing this, though they also stop to converse with eachother.  These spirits have a dizzying cosmology, including Summit Monks, Ridge Knights, Kings of the Peak, etc.  The spiritworld on the high mountains has an order all its own, and it is not the order of man or Xanar.  Komas folklore revolves around height, or more precisely, moving up or down.  Humanity naturally wishes to move down, putting its feet squarely on the ground.  The nature of The Three and their divine servants is to move higher and higher into heaven.  The High Folk, on the other hand, are the wind that moves across, touching heaven and earth for but a moment as the move between them.

The Church does little about these legends since the Sursatay took over. Before that, there were many more unusual stories and tales coming from the more remote, upper valleys.
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