Adventures in the Elsir Vale
The Elsir Vale
The Elsir Vale
The Elsir Vale is a thinly populated human frontier. The vale stretches almost 250 miles east to west and averages about 70 miles north to south. Several small mountain ranges and dense forests form the vale’s borders. Elsir Vale lies in the subtropical latitudes. Summers are hot and dry (although punctuated by the occasional intense thunderstorm), and winters are warm and rainy. Large stretches of the area are quite arid, and the vale is flanked by the vast savannahs stretching for mile after dusty mile. The forests that stretch across most of the vale’s northern reaches are stifling and sweltering hot in the summertime, with not a breath of wind to relieve the oppressive heat It is currently mid-summer in the vale. Days are hot (85E to 110E F) and nights warm (60E to 85E F). This is the dry season, so rainfall is infrequent – but when it comes down, it really comes down. Thunderstorms and tornadoes are common. Though the borders of the vale are mostly hills, mountains and forests, the heart of the vale is grassy plains for the most part. Every town in the vale is surrounded by numerous farms. Beyond the civilized areas are vast rolling plains with infrequent hillocks and copses of trees.
Civilizations of the Vale
Several civilizations have come and gone over the last 1000 years in the vale. The dwarves built most of the roadways, Overlook and the fortress in the pass. Rhest re-established trade and safe travel with neighboring regions about 500 years later. Both empires built to a peak; made advances in metalwork, stonework, agriculture and magic; then fell apart for some reason. Erathis (god of civilization) remains a significant diety in the vale, but the region is ruled by numerous city/states with no common leadership. Nobles and merchants (the wealthy) keep things like security, trade and farming at acceptable levels, for their own benefit. No doubt some of the advances those great empires made have been lost. There is an organization known as the Vanguard (of Erathis) spread throughout the vale. This group operates independently of the church, though often with common goals, and many members are members of both. They are not very large or influential as a whole. They exist much like the Masons; visible to all, but subtle in their actions. Most people consider them benevolent and harmless. The organization is composed of numerous independent cells throughout the region.
The scattered human towns and villages of the area grew up along the Dawn Way, an important east-west trade road linking the heavily settled lands that lie northwest across the Endless Plains with the exotic kingdoms and goods of the coastal lands lying to the southeast. Much of the Dawn Way was built by an ancient dwarven kingdom that spanned the Wyrmsmoke and Giantshield Mountains more than a thousand years ago. While the dwarven kingdom is long gone, their roads, bridges, and cisterns remain in use to this day. After the kingdom passed, the presence of various monsters and raiders kept traffic along the Dawn Way light for many years; few caravans dared the long and dangerous trek. Few humans lived in Elsir Vale during those years – only scattered settlements of druidic folk who left behind little more than grassy barrows and stone circles on the hilltops.
About five hundred years ago, the nearby city of Rhest came to control the vale and a large swath of land north of the Giantshields as well. Soldiers from Rhest secured the roads all the way to Dennovar and beyond, creating a safe passage for trade. More and more traders traveled the Dawn Way, and the kingdom of Rhestilor grew wealthy on the tariffs exacted from the passing merchants. Under the kingdom’s shield, the towns along the Dawn Way – Brindol, Talar, Terrelton, and the rest – grew up from tiny hamlets or lonely soldiers’ posts to flourishing human settlements. The kingdom of Rhestilor eventually collapsed under civil strife, monstrous incursions, and magical blights. Almost two hundred years ago, the city of Rhest was burned by savage horde out of the Wyrmsmoke Mountains. Although the warriors of Rhestilor killed many of the goblins and their kind, the city was abandoned and the already weakened kingdom broken. The locks and canals surrounding Rhest fell into disrepair, and the Blackfens (swamp) swallowed the ruined city. Today Rhest and the Blackfens lie in the hands of King Rissed of the Lizardfolk.
In the years after the kingdom’s fall, the towns of Elsir Vale came to look after themselves. Most of the local lords still held titles derived from the old kingdom of Rhestilor. While everyone knew that the kings of Rhestilor were long dead, no new realm arose in the vale.