Archive for the ‘Places’ Category

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Otherplaces – Zand, Gold Stream of (A to Z Challenge, Z)

26 April, 2012

Yes, it is true, it is out there.  I have seen it.  It is a river of liquid gold, but not burning hot, not like molten gold should be.  More like water for tea hot, you can burn yourself but you can avoid it if you are careful.  But taking gold from the steam, an art and a challenge, it does not give up its bounty easily.

Gold Stream of Zand

Among the jagged hills, sheer cliff and blasted valleys that make up the land known as Higher Zand, there is one thing -and one thing along- that draws people up into them, the gold stream.  At dawn it appears, running a new course through the sharp stones, cutting through loose rock and pouring into pools, and then vanishing back into the earth, as the entire stream does as duck before reemerging again the next day.  When it vanishes at night, it leaves almost nothing behind, a few nuggets might be found where it passed but that is rare.  If you want the gold, you must pluck it from the stream while it is flowing.

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Otherplaces – Yotenschlachtfeld, Blasted Plain of (A to Z Challenge, Y)

25 April, 2012

When the giants heard that the gods had been slain and felt the world shatter, their rulers called their armies and began to prepare for war.  But the Empress was already prepared and the massed flights of the dragon descended on the giant as they gathered.  The battle lasted a day and a night but the giants were not organized and the dragons were flying powerfully on the strength of the godsblood they had consumed.

At the end of the battle, the nobility of the giants had been slain and their army shattered.  Thus the Giantkin would not be a serious threat to the Dragon Imperium.

Blasted Plain of Yotenschlachtfeld

Even a millennium later this place is still recognizable as a battlefield, and one where terrible things happened, the ground is torn and rent, columns of unmelting ice are lit by pools of ever burning flame.  The only thing lacking is bodies and a few of those can be found where a dragon or giant’s body was melded into the earth through powerful magics and no one has been willing to risk breaking them free.  All of the loose bodies and other items have long since been looted, leaving it a quiet, haunted place of reflection.

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Otherplaces – Xarixes, Stone Army of (A to Z Challenge, X)

24 April, 2012

The hilltop had been fortified, the walls were lined with guardians, it was only as we crept closer did we realize that they were statues, carved and armed as though they were soldiers dating from a distant age.  Inside the walls was a palace surrounded by parade fields and a small number of barracks.   Even there, the statues of soldiers were everywhere, a army of them.  But all was quiet, no living being seemed about.

It was as we moved among them, closer to the central palace, that someone observed that the grounds and buildings were in perfect repair, as were the statues . . .

Stone Army of Xarixes

Abandoned by people

The Fortress

The Emperor Xarixes defeated by an alliance of petty city-states in his drive to conquer, retreated to gather a new army and resume his conquest once all was prepared.  His advisers and his children were worried about his obsession, and slowly maneuvered him out of power, moving him to a newly build fortress-palace to “oversee the raising of the army” and cycled small numbers of soldiers through to keep him happy.  Once he was seen talking to suits of armor as though they were soldiers, they started replacing some of the soldiers with statues, and as Xarixes demands for new and varied troops increased, it became easier to assign sculptors than to send new troops.  Then, at some point, all of the living people vanished from the fortress and all that were left were the statues.

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Otherplaces – Wollanfuft, Bottomless Well of (A to Z Challenge, W)

23 April, 2012

Wells should have a source or at least a bottom, the well at the center of the village of Wollandfuft has neither.  The water is so clear that you can almost see all the way down and, yet, it seems to go down forever.

Bottomless Well of Wollanfuft

The mountain village of Wollandfuft is in an otherwise unremarkable place apart from the well, the neat stone houses with steep roofs are just like any other in the region.  But the well is known all around the area, almost everyone withing a days travel has visited it at least once.  The well is steep sided, descending straight down and the water is clear, oh so clear, when the sun is above the well you can stare down into the depths forever and ever.

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Otherplaces – Vys, Silver Tower of (A to Z Challenge, V)

22 April, 2012

The rulers who founded the kingdom of Vys sought a land ruled by justice and virtue.  The silver tower was an attempt to ensure that goal.  It is said that the wall of tower are only pure when the ruler is, as a ruler falls to vice and corruption, the surface of the tower tarnishes.

Silver Tower of Vys

At the heart of the capital city of the kingdom of Vys is a tall silver tower surrounded by a walled garden.  It is in this tower that the princes and princesses of the kingdom are raised and educated under the watchful eyes of the Knights-Tutorial.  During special occasions, the public is allowed into the garden but never into the tower itself.  It was thought that the heirs of the kingdom should be raised where they could see the people they would be responsible for on a daily basis.

The exterior of the tower is plated in a thin layer of silver, magic has been used to make it seamless, though there are windows and doors, the same magic keeps it beautiful and uncorrupted as long as the ruler is just and pure.  The heirs of Vys are raised in a highly structured and competitive way, with moral instruction being the centerpiece of the curriculum of the Knights-Tutorial.  As all of the children of the extended royal family are in competition for Crown, the word of the Grandmaster of the Knights-Tutorial weighs heavily as to deciding which heir will inherit the kingdom.

Occasionally outside scholars or specialists, occasionally even venturers, are invited in to the tower to teach specific lessons or tell their stories to the heirs.  It is considered a great honor and, as such, only pays a token amount.

As no one is entirely free of temptation, the reading of the patterns of tarnish on the tower has become a cottage industry among the townsfolk.  The exact amount of tarnish on the tower that will trigger the removal of a reigning sovereign is unknown but it is known that a level of one part in ten is not sufficient to do so.

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Otherplaces – Ul’Ulasian, Dancing Sands of (A to Z Challenge, U)

21 April, 2012

Where the winds blow sweetly and the sand sigh in harmony, there you will see and hear the most wonderful things.  Dancers that skill and beauty defy the imaginations of mortals.  But do not join the dances, for if you do, you may join the dancers forever and never return.

Dancing Sands of Ul’Ulasian

In an area between three oasis, a area frequented by the caravan that travel across the burning sands of the desert is a place, never quite in the same place twice making it impossible to deliberately avoid, where the sands are laced with crystals.  During the day the winds blow the crystals into pleasing patterns that flash and dance in the sun.  Occasional faint musical chiming can be heard, if one stops to watch, the chiming continues and intensifies and the patterns begin to solidify into dancing forms, beautiful humanoids, matching the viewers ideals of beauty, skilled and flexible.

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Otherplaces – Triyania, Hungry Garden of (A to Z Challenge, T)

20 April, 2012

Sometimes, you may have heard it said, that evil takes root in the soil.  Here in Triyania, such has come to pass.  The eighth Baron was dark and twisted, after the death of his wife, his shadow darkened and cursed his children.  Together for over thirty years, they preyed upon, tortured and destroyed their people.  Those that were killed were minced and fed to the grounds to fertilize the beautiful flower gardens.

Red as BloodWhen the ninth Baron was killed by his wife and the aristocracy rose up to kill his siblings, only then was the terrible truth confirmed.  But by then, the garden had become, well it was already alive, but active.  Hungry and able to defend itself.  The first few attempts to cut it back ended disastrously.  The body of the last baron and his siblings were thrown to the garden in a fit of anger, the last sacrifice to their evil.  It has now been walled up.  But you can still look over the garden from the castle, it is beautiful, from a distance, its evil cannot be seen.

Hungry Garden of Triyania

From a distance, it seems like a lovely, if overgrown, ornamental garden if perhaps tending too much towards the red and purple range of flowers.  Surrounding the garden is a twenty foot (6.5m) wall with an uneven level of gravel extending between three and five feet (1-1.5m) into the garden at its base.   There are no gates or doors into the garden.

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Otherplaces – Seralla, Cycling Storm of (A to Z Challenge, S)

19 April, 2012

If there is one thing that Seralla does not lack for, it is rain.  You can set your clock to the cycle of rainfall in Seralla, light rain from mid-morning on, torrential rain from four to six in the afternoon -with lightning and hail every third day- dropping to light rain until nine at night.  Then the cycle begins again the next day.

Cycling  Storm of Seralla

Weather in most places is changing and unpredictable, but in and around the Barony of Seralla, weather is their clock.  It set the pace for everything done in and around the barony.  The building are all built with solid and steep roofs, rain run off is gathered in cisterns and reservoirs and used to power waterwheels for a variety of uses.

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Otherplaces – Rokalan, Sandship Port of (A to Z Challenge, R)

18 April, 2012

Rokalan, once a city decorated in beautiful colorful tiles, the Peacock Port is was called, now the sand and dust make the exterior of every building a uniform khaki.  The tiles have all been moved inside, but even there, dust gets in.

Sandship Port of Rokalan

Once an important and prosperous port on the far edge of a great ocean, Rokalan is now surrounded by desert on all sides and for miles and miles.  It was a natural disaster or a curse or a spectacularly failed wizard’s spell or a joke of the gods or all of them that moved the ocean from Rokalan.  Had the sorcerer-shipwrights not developed the techniques for allowing ships to sail through the sand as though it were water, Rokalan would surely have vanished into the sands.

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Otherplaces – Qolis, Training Ground of (A to Z Challenge, Q)

17 April, 2012

“If you have come to learn the way of combat, there are few better places to learn,” said the old man, who carried himself straight despite a limp.  “While you are visiting you must stay to the areas marked with this symbol.”  He tapped a round metal medallion marked with crossed hands with his cane.

“Why, sir?” asked the guest.

“Let me show you,” he stepped off the path, past a disc marked with a sword, into a small grove of neatly tended trees.  He had gone no more than three steps when one of the trees thrust at him with a smooth sword like branch.  He parried with his cane and counter attacked, rapping the tree soundly which caused it to stop attacking.  He limped back to his guest.

“To learn to be a great warrior, you must always be ready to defend yourself.  The school believes that and expects it students to learn that very quickly.”

Training Ground of Qolis

The training ground and martial school of Qolis began as a mad dream by a group of venturers who had decided to retire before one of their expeditions went horribly wrong and killed them all.  But as venturers their marketable skill revolved around mass slaughter and organized mayhem, not always the most marketable skills if they did not want to be run out of town on a rail.  But people always need combat training, noble, merchants or commoner, all needed the tools to defend themselves and that they could provide.

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