The Geography of Central Faerluria

As recorded by Siorus Llygedyn, Road Scholar of Tinandel

[For your convenience while traveling, places will herein be referred to by the name used by the nearest major race.]

Geographical locations:

Our map is centered on the valley of Ystrad Aeron, named for the berries that grow in as much abundance as variety at its mountainous eastern and western borders. The valley floor is densely forested with a mix of deciduous and evergreen, with ferns growing wherever they can, and is home to sufficient game to support a healthy population of predatory animals. These predators, mostly wolves and bobcats, do not frequently bother the local humans except to plunder game corrals. The humans have been turning increasingly to agriculture, as badgers and the like have proved slightly less of a problem, and now supplement their meat by hunting.

To the north, the mountains continue to hem in the valley as it slowly rises toward the less hospitable, subarctic terrain of Brineira ("Snowy Hills"). They recede before it reaches the northern tundra called Y Olwyn ("The White Footprint," for the fact that a footprint there can last for months, or even years if sheltered from wind).

Ystrad Aeron continues south all the way to Y Dylaniesin ("The Shining Sea").

On the west, Y Mynyddau Gwawr ("The Dawn Mountains") reach as far south as the sea, ending in a vista of spectacular bluffs that can be best appreciated from atop or from a rowed vessel. Sailing ships give the cliffs a wide berth, due to hazardous rocks that reach out from shore for at least a mile.

The southern two-thirds of the eastern mountain range we will call Gabil Dûm, as that is the name of the Dwarven kingdom encompassing that region, and we know of no better name for the mountains themselves. At the southeastern border of the mountains of Gabil Dûm is a large peat bog, but this may be circumnavigated by keeping to the grasslands and dunes nearer the Dylaniesin. (The bog appears to have no "official" name, but those in nearby Corstref call it "'Gator Swamp".)

A small river named Neirinwy ("Noble River") runs down the length of Ystrad Aeron, about eight to ten miles out from Y Mynyddau Gwawr until the southern end, where they nearly meet. Though it has many tributaries, only two sources are worth noting here: Llun Arven ("Wept-Over Lake," named for swimmers swept over the falls to their deaths), which, fed by mountain streams, cascades over a hundred feet down jagged ledges. From there, it meanders southeast into the Ystrad, forming the west branch of Neirinwy. The north branch flows directly southward into the valley from Brineira; nobody has traced it to its source.

The far sides of both mountain ranges hold rivers (west: Prenwy ("Timber River"); east: Duine Calen) and their surrounding fertile forests; beyond both lie expansive plains.

Political/Racial boundaries and cities:

The nearest human empire is Tyr Delyth ("Pretty Land"). It originally consisted of the fertile region west of Y Mynyddau Gwawr: Most importantly the inland capitol Dinas Mawr ("Big City"), and the southern port Hendre Dylan ("Winter Home [by the] Sea"). They have crossed the mountains by land and sea, and founded a seaside stronghold, Caer Cefn ("Ridge Stronghold"), on the cliffs at the southeastern edge of the mountains. North of there (about the same distance as lies between Hendre Dylan and Dinas Mawr) is Dinas Felin ("Mill City"). The small town of Tre Glyn serves travelers halfway between Caer Cefn and Dinas Felin. In contrast, the road between Dinas Mawr and Hendre Dylan is littered with individual establishments that have little need to exist within a self-sufficient town. The heavier traffic and greater distance from the uncivilized races allows them to procure goods more safely and efficiently, even by delivery in many cases. The range of Tyr Delyth's effective control includes its settled lands, the roads mentioned herein, and the sea trade route between the two ports. The extent of Tyr Delyth, according to its own officials and maps, includes the entirety of Ystrad Aeron and Y Mynyddau Gwawr, the plains within thirty to forty miles of the main road, and enough area to the north, including parts of Y Olwyn and Brineira, to round the mountains in that direction. Nobody seems to care that Tyr Delyth's supposed plains holdings include the Gnomish city of Verania.

The precise geography of the Dwarven kingdom Gabil Dûm, mentioned above, is not well known. The dwarves claim that it encompasses their entire mountain range, the surrounding foothills, and the land to the south right up to the sea. There are two exceptions: They disclaim responsibility for 'Gator Swamp, and they disclaim ownership and even stewardship of the pass at Tre Bwlch ("Pass Town". Creative, no?). It is considered likely, despite its fantastic sound, that Gabil Dûm includes tunnels that extend under the entire mountain range; therefore the pass would have far less value to the dwarves than to all other races. They likely then consider it prudent to not be involved in any disputes over its control. In practice, the dwarves have not been shown to control any areas outside of the mountains south of Tre Bwlch, except for one known city in the eastern foothills, Zirak Dûm. Their capitol, Uzbadu Gathol, is presumably somewhere in the mountains, and may be completely underground. As a side note, Zirak Dûm is difficult to travel to, being surrounded on the west by cliffs and on the east by the Duine Calen's north branch, but its beauty is said to be worth the effort. Again, the natives almost certainly have hidden tunnels, given the absence of even a bridge.

The elves of the plains east of Gabil Dûm call their lands collectively "Iand Talath". Their settlements start with the city of Othrond Lóth at the confluence of Duine Calen's north and east branches, and continue east, spreading increasingly far from the river. The other settlements are much smaller, until, about fifty miles up the river, one reaches the capitol, Ost Talath, ringed by a large number of reputedly lovely but slightly xenophobic towns. (This xenophobia is notably absent in the western settlements including Othrond Lóth.) Iand Talath presumably extends farther east, but we have precious little information about the lands beyond the capitol.

The Gnomes who live west of Tyr Delyth are friendly, hospitable, and always happy to share information. As a consequence, we have very many highly detailed maps of their homeland, every one of which contradicts the rest in almost every detail. Even the name of their homeland is inconsistent between tellings, and the humans refer to it simply as Cartref Coblyn ("Gnome Home"). In light of this, any further information we can give will probably be wrong.

There is a mixed race settlement of unusual character at Corstref, on the Dylaniesin coast south of 'Gator Swamp. Originally centered around an out-of-the-way elite military academy and library commissioned by the nobility of Tyr Delyth, the Church of Faynwan established its headquarters there. The Church of Unil-Gal, seeing that move as an attempt to monopolize evangelism toward a lucrative faction of impressionable and potentially powerful and influential students, moved its own headquarters there in response. While the two churches have not yet come to blows, those who have witnessed their tensions assert that only a bare minimum of cynicism is required to imagine violence erupting over some perceived slight. Meanwhile, opportunists from all walks of life have created a service economy centered around rich students and rich priests. While Tyr Delyth claims regency over Corstref, the distance makes this claim moot. It is not clear who, if anybody, keeps the peace. Certain Tyr Delyth nobles have proposed that the students themselves, being by their second term more martially skilled than most town guards, are sufficient to secure the town and its denizens against wrongdoing. Accounts from visitors to corroborate this idea are scarce.

There have been occasional sightings of monstrous humanoids in the area. Confirmed sightings include orcs in western Ystrad Aeron (who have preyed upon merchants and farmers on the road between Tre Glyn and Dinas Felin), kobolds in eastern Ystrad Aeron, gnolls in the southern plains of Tyr Delyth, and goblins just south of Iand Talath. The goblins have not been seen in many years, and may have moved or been moved.

Regional Travel:

Hendre Dylan and Dinas Mawr are connected by both the river Prenwy and a well maintained highway that roughly parallels the river. Log rafts are frequently sent down Prenwy to the sawmills and shipyards of Hendre Dylan, and the loggers will let you ride free in exchange for some company, provided that you know (or claim to know) how to swim. If you walk the highway, you can have your pick of inns and taverns along the way. You will likely find one or two inns whose placards bear the staff and the moon; if the proprietors are honest, they will offer a discount to the faithful of Tinandel. Part of your tithe goes toward maintaining this discount. Just south of Dinas Mawr, you will pass the Mages' Guild and the Hoggelrynth School of Magic. These impressive structures are best viewed from afar.

Both the highway and river continue north and gradually curve west toward Verania, though neither is quite as navigable as it is south of Dinas Mawr.

From the northern stretch of highway, a dirt road bears northeast into Y Mynyddau Gwawr. (At the junction there may still be a gnome-run inn that serves those who cannot (or choose not to) make their entire trip in one day, said trip being between any two of Dinas Mawr, Verania, and Dinas Felin.) The dirt road takes a tortuous path through the mountains and down a tricky pass, and is not suitable for wagons through those areas. Walking is still easy here, provided you have the endurance. The road runs southeast from the mountains, following Neirinwy's west branch for a while, then meets the main road from Caer Cefn to Dinas Felin just north of the latter. Twenty-nine miles may seem a long way to walk between two cities fifteen miles apart as the phoenix flies, but the escarpment along much of the eastern edge of Y Mynyddau Gwawr prevents a shorter route except for those who enjoy scrambling up broken cliffs, navigating between crags and gullies, and bushwhacking. (Some folks have done this. Once.)

Assuming that you do not stop in Dinas Felin to enjoy their coffee and fine crackers, to stroll the grounds of Pembrey Estate and see Brannigan Manor, or just to sit at the bridge and watch the water wheel turn (and why wouldn't you?), you can continue east along the road and eventually wind your way up the Ystrad floor to the pass at Tre Bwlch. If you bring wagons through here, multiply by two, add one, and convert wagons to spare wheels. Bring at least one spare axle, as well. The friendly folk of Tre Bwlch will be happy to sell you wagon parts, but carrying the amount of money they charge will weigh you down just as much as the spare parts will.

Once through the pass, the wide dirt road vanishes. The grassy plain here is not entirely trackless, however: A wide trail serves as a road, bumpy but serviceable to wagons, all the way south past Zirak Dûm, into the forest, past an old midway inn (if it is still there), through Othrond Lóth (and over any of a choice of sparkling, small, flowered bridges in the process), past 'Gator Swamp, and into (or past) Corstref.

Travel through the plains of Iand Talath is easy, on or off of the paths. Learning your way around without the paths will pay off; elven maintenance teams change the paths every year. If you need to bring wagons deeply into Iand Talath, be prepared to pay through the nose for an updated annual merchants' trail map, available at the Othrond Lóth Chamber of Commerce. (Possession of an unauthorized copy of these maps can land you in gaol.)

There is distant but lucrative sea trade across Y Dylaniesin with the halfling nations to the south from all three major port cities, but primarily from Hendre Dylan. The distance is roughly one hundred sixty nautical miles, depending upon the destination and, as always, the weather, the navigator, and the map.

Lastly, those of sufficient hardiness or daftness may follow Neirinwy north to a small lodge at Brineira's border (approximately, depending upon season), where one may warm up, spend the night, purchase warm skins and snowshoes, or in the best case, be convinced to turn back. Barring that last option, they may continue north, turning right where Neirinwy turns left before a small mountain, then skirt the mountain and a hill on the left before arriving at the Li Xiang monastery, where the masters are known to be true masters because nobody understands them, and the students seek to learn by misunderstanding until they achieve nirvana and can no longer be understood either.

As a cleric of Tinandel, you, my reader, should already know the following. But just as a reminder in case my writings sound authoritative: All maps are flawed. All histories are lies or half-truths. Do not unconditionally trust even your own memories, for you will remember what you are inclined to remember. Keep your eyes open to the world as it currently is, and enjoy every moment of your journey.

May the wind be ever at your back, happy trails, and so on.


Siorus Llygedyn

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