Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Fyron's Sites of Interest

The northern forested lands of Fyron are filled with frost, snow and cold nights all year round. Even as the temperature begins to climb above freezing in the harsh winters to the warmth of summer days, winter never leaves the lands. Many speculate as to why, but the truth is due to a tear between the boundary that separates Valtyr from an otherworldly realm of constant snow, ice and hoar frost. A traveler to the lush evergreen forests and ice harbors of this mystical land will often be amazed at how the air feels like summer but the ground is still swathed in white, as if new snow had just fallen moments before.

To the industrious and fiercely proud Fyronese that call this land home, there is nothing more important than honoring their history and proving themselves worthy before the eyes of their comrades and ancestors. Fyron is a fierce landscape, filled with elemental creatures, savage weather and dangerous travel for those not used to its temperament. But to the Fyronese, it is a gift – a wonder – that offers up rich resources, solid borders and a prosperous life filled with hard work and hard play.

Unlike many other nations on the continent of Amarel, Fyron does not possess a single one of the Tayrin (ta-RIN), the places of mystery that seem to defy explanation amongst the intelligent races of the world. Nor does it have any ruins of major importance, at least none that have been uncovered so far. Fyron did not play too large a role in the Great War and although battles have been fought in the frozen northlands before, none have left major scars upon the lands. Perhaps it is a blessing that the snow covers all that has happened before - a way to forget the past and start fresh.

This is not to say that Fyron does not have notable sites of interest; far from it. In fact, there are three areas of note that I will detail below, each adding to the wonder and danger that makes up the icy northlands. And if you haven't yet ordered your copy of Valtyr Chronicles, grab it today and see for yourself just how many other spectacular areas there are to explore.

Llocna’s Tor:
An isolated pinnacle of towering striated white and blue rock, Llocna’s Tor is a major landmark and a notable moment in history for the Fyronese. The story goes that in the year 2173 a Field Marshal within the Silver Lancers (the national knighthood of Fyron) named Faerend Gilles discovered a fleet of Storm Knight scouting ships off Starcap Bay. Fearing that the enemy might be looking for a suitable location to dock their larger war fleet to the south, he signaled his men to launch a surprise attack.

The attack was successful and the Storm Knight ships were damaged beyond repair. The prisoners that survived were transferred to the budding village of Bend until a decision could be made as to their fate. While surveying the confiscated goods, Faerend found orders that detailed the Storm Knight’s plan: they were indeed looking for something, but it was not a staging point for their war in the north. Instead, they sought out a lonely peak of rock with blue and white striations near Starcap Bay. There, they hoped to find an item of great magical power that General T’rang wished to use to turn the tide of the war even more in his favor.

Faerend reported his findings to his superiors and a thorough interrogation of the prisoners revealed that the item, known as the Servian Seal, was believed to bestow amazing powers of command on the wearer. If Eldric T’rang were to get such an item, the forces that opposed his mad campaign would surely perish. Knowing the general would send more ships once these did not arrive, the people of Fyron decided to act and find the lost artifact for themselves. A Elven sorceress by the name of Llocna of House Ryzal accompanied the party, for the item was to be entrusted to her care and delivered back to the Tower Argetur in Fyron for further study.

The expedition made the arduous climb up the sheet sides of the tor. Strong winds and blizzards rained down on the party for fifteen long days. Finally, the party reached the summit of the tor and followed the instructions they had found, locating a cave that led within the giant spire of rock. Now they had to descend, but as they did the air grew warmer and snatches of ethereal singing could be heard in the darkness of the mountain’s belly.

They did not travel long before they came to a chamber of rough rock with tendrils of orange and white light flaring from strange crystals growing from the chamber’s floor, walls and ceiling. In the center of the chamber was a ruined, single story house. The party approached the ramshackle building, amazed by what they were seeing. Inside, they found the Servian Seal, placed on a pillow of crushed gold and red threaded runes. Llocna determined the object to be unaffected by any magic she knew and proceeded to take it. However, once it was removed from the pillow, the walls began to shake and light flared outside with such intensity that it blinded those that had been left outside on guard.

A great earthquake hit the tor and the expedition tried to escape. Several of the beams of light began to snake about, as if they had a life of their own, and attacked those closest. The party rushed to ascend and escape, but Llocna knew that the attempt would fail; whatever they faced now was the cause of a power beyond her understanding…perhaps beyond all of the Citadel’s ken as well. In a last ditch effort to save as many of her kinsmen as she could, she summoned her power and teleported those in the party to safety, just as the chamber folded in upon itself, crushing the life from her and locking the Servian Seal away in a tumult of rock.

Those that survived returned to their homes and spoke of the sacrifice that the sorceress gave to save their own lives. The Silver Lancers and the members of the Citadel sorcerers of Tower Argetur both honored her passing with a grand wake, which was and still is the way of the Fyronese. They began calling the spire of rock Llocna’s Tor in her honor and the name has stuck for generations. It is often used as a symbol of camaraderie and glory, even at the price of death – something the Fyronese can relate to in a land filled with difficult challenges.

Anul Harbor:
Situated off the eastern edge of Fyron’s icy coastline lies the busy and exotic port town of Anul’s Harbor. Named after a young merchant’s daughter, who later went on to become a musician within the king’s court in Kiril, Anul’s Harbor offers travelers sailing to Fyron a safe place to dock. Aside from this obvious advantage (as overland routes into the northlands can be quite deadly just given the extreme cold at nights), the port town also offers a very large and active bazaar whereby many goods trade hands daily. The fine ice crystalline wares forged within the foothills of the Cloudspire Peaks are sold in wide abundance here, more so than anywhere else in the world. Exotic spices and specialty weapons enchanted by members of the Citadel can also fetch a fine price here. But there is even more to this town of several thousand souls than crowded seaside merchant stalls and warm ale to chase away the chill from travel – the presence of the Bân-fâth (BAAN-faath).

Created during the Age of Myths, the Bân-fâth is a being of radiant beauty and power. It appears as a vaguely feminine humanoid with silvery skin, tendrils of light for hair and a shimmering gown filled with living eyes that see into the many dimensions of Time. The Bân-fâth found its way to the bustling port town more than a century ago and, for reasons no one knows, chooses to stay. Its voice has a lilting tone and it seems to possess the ability to speak any language that is needed. If there is more than just one in the world, it is a mystery to all, for no other has ever been sighted.

For decades now, the Bân-fâth has gifted those that come and paid tribute to it visions of their future. But these visions allow for ways to turn the tide of Fate and create the destiny one seeks. Such information does not come without a price as all who seek out the Bân-fâth must adhere to a powerful geas, compelling them to perform some service for the creature first, before their questions are answered. Still, the allure of a self-created destiny is a great draw, and many flock to Anul’s Harbor in search of their wildest dreams. How many actually find it is another matter entirely.

Dwarven Gate of Eszen-Dar:
In the southern stretch of the Cloudspire Peaks, just before the Enaleth hills break the great mountain’s spine, sits the massive frost-covered gates of Eszen-Dar. One of only six entrances into the subterranean realm of the Dwarves, the gates are carved to resemble two giant Dwarven guards holding aloft great shields, as if to protect those that travel beyond them.

Perhaps the second most used Dwarven Gate (the first being accorded to the gate of Hammen-Dun in Rynell), Eszen-Dar (which translated roughly to “the white sentinel”) offers access to the crystalline forges of Fyron’s chief natural resource, ice crystal. Mined from the southern offshoot of the Cloudspire peaks, ice crystal is a malleable but sturdy material known for its beauty and lightweight nature. It can be used to create everything from ornaments worn in a woman’s hair to blades used on the field of battle. Characterized by a light bluish-white hue, ice crystal appears in its unrefined state to be little more than colored quartz. But under the craftsmanship of the Dwarves, the material can be molded into something similar to molten steel or silver.

Eszen-Dar has stood for longer than the before first human travelers set foot in the icy north. The purpose that the gate served before the Dwarves came along is still a mystery. It stands as the only Dwarven Gate to not have been created by the bearded folk's hands and is viewed with superstitious caution from most Dwarves who are not native to the area. Still, whether by coincidence or some latent power within the gate itself, the ice crystalline wares produced by the Dwarves’ capability is arguably the best among all the crafts the race has manufactured.

The Dwarves also share a tale from the first of their kind that came upon the gate. They speak of a great battle with an unnamed creature. When the beast was defeated, it breathed out a word in a foreign tongue and the doors to the gate suddenly started opening, flooding the shadows with light. The Dwarves cowered in fear and pain from the harsh rays of the sun and all but two fled the scene, escaping into the darkness’s cool embrace. The two that did not flee were never seen from again, but after the Dwarves explored the exterior of the gate, they noticed a depiction of two Dwarven warriors carrying great shields emblazoned on the giant stone doors. As they beheld it, a feeling of peace and confidence overcame them and from that moment on, the light near the gate seemed less intense to their sensitive eyes.

The attendants of Eszen-Dar, like many of the Dwarven Gates, does not usually permit the races of the sunlit world to pass its boundary, but the labor and connection to the Dwarven community that the gate provides has helped ensure Fyron remains financially strong in the present Age.

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