Joined: 10 Nov 2002
|Posted: Fri May 11, 2007 11:53 pm Post subject: ~~Nierash- The Northwest Continent. An Anthology in Progress
|Disclaimer: This document is carefully worded to be a recording of precisely what is known at this time about the Northwestern Continent. I have spent a great deal of my life looking after this project that we may unravel the myths and truths about it. Though you may not believe me, I have seen this place. I have been there and I have walked upon its shores. I have met the people and eaten their food and slept under the same skies, even if it were only for a brief period. However, the tale of my witnessing is another story alltogether. This, however, is merely a dispassionate catalogue of what I learned and observed while in their company.
Nierash, the “Northwest Continent” is a small landmass roughly 1/6th the size of Calenndor. It is located in the far north and west in relation to Calenndor, and has not seen much (any) contact to the outside world in this Age. Researchers suspect that the ancestors to the varying races of Nierash traveled to the continent before the Sea of Frozen Tears came to be. The Sea itself is an extension of the iceflows that block off portions of the Northern Continents in the Summer months, when the Glaciers in the far north lessen and break away. Nierash is far enough north, however, that it is located among many Icebergs close to the source of these Glaciers that it is effectively suicide to attempt to sail through it.
Few people in Calenndor know or believe in the existance of this tiny landmass at the bottom of the Sea of Frozen Tears, and fewer still take any interest in it. For this reason, the civilizations on its surface have remained relatively uninfluenced.
(Above are links to higher quality versions.)
Nierash, as the continent is called by its inhabitants, is almost completely blanketed in snow the year round. The exceptions to this are several forested regions in the far south of the continent, closer to the coast. Here, during the brief summer months, grass and other greenery can flourish. The far north and western portions of the continent are large, looming mountains that shelter the southern and eastern lands. These mountain ranges are separated into three portions; Bodin-Giel, Umbra-Giel, and the Dinjai Lands. The lands beneath the mountain ranges are relatively flat, and divided by the Jierai River into the Eastern Wastes, and the Western Wastes.
The Jierai and Curt Rivers:
The only other notable exception are strips of greenery that are able to grow very close to the banks of one of the two major rivers of Nierash; the Jierai, or “lifeline.”** The Jierai is fueled by the Kuros Lake at Kitzel Mill, which leads up to an indeterminate point in the mountains. I was able to trace the river up myself, to a large waterfall by the name of “Okti Vallen” before Dijani sentries instructed me to turn back.
From my understanding, during the summer months the waters from the Kuros Lake thaw, and the Jierai river thaws. Through a mixture of irrigation and gnomish heating technology, this enables a limited number of crops to flourish along the banks of the Jierai.
**(The name, I understand, is derrived from the Qorai word for 'Jier' or a fisherman's line. A Jieri is a thick cord typically tied around the waists of the fisherman and fastened to the mainmast to prevent crewman being knocked overboard during storms. Thus the word Jieri, actually modifies a fisherman's line, to literally mean “a line for fisherman. The suffix 'ai' supercedes the 'i' and referrs to a physial location.”)
The Eastern Wastes, despite its name, is the most populous region of Nierash. The proximity to the south and eastern coasts make it prime location for fishing, and even farming closer to Utrin. It is also the farthest one can get from Umbra-Giel and the dangers of the Western wastes, which I will discuss later.
In terms of other areas of note, the Okturi and Utrin Woods are two large coniferous forests that are, as I understand, filled with a great many unpleasant and unknown things. The “Otokai” references a peculiar mass of slanted plateaus southeast of Kiz'tel mills. These landforms rise as high as half a mile, in places, and I have no explanation for their existence. I can say, however, that they are a sight to behold.
The Western Wastes, by contrast, is very aptly named. Commonly referencing the lands west of the Jierai, the Western Wastes are a desolate, perilous, and sparsely populated region. It is littered with remnants of weapon and bone from a battle fought some four decades past, and scattered with Ruins that are centuries older still.** Manner of great beasts common to the wild tundra wander among this desolate land of half-buried buildings, broken flag-standards and frozen bones. At the top of all of these, are the Black Menace that is the Nirasian Drow.
**(When I inquired to the Qorai about the nature of these ruins, most shrugged, or began gossiping. The truth, I believe, is unknown to these people.)
Beyond the Western wastes is the uncharted land of Umbra-Giel, the lower, Western spine of mountains that crosses Nierash. I cannot speak much about this place, as I was not willing to cross the Western Wastes to reach it. Tales tell, however, that the mountains are thick with Drow, and other creatures too terrible to speak of.
Bodin-Giel is specifically the capstone of the Mountanious spine running diagonally across Nierash- in the Northeast. Travelers in that region say that the mountains are populated by large, White Drakes, and even rumors of several Dragons. The closest I myself have ever been to Bodin-Giel, is the city of Leptyri nestled at the base of the range. During my stay there I neither saw nor heard any drakes or dragons.
The Dinjai Lands:
Are completely unknown. This is all I can say on the matter. The Dijani fiercely guard their racial independence from the Qorai, and refuse any passage into their lands. The only notable pass into the heart of the Dinjai lands is beyond the Okturi woods. There sits “The Great Gates”. These are massive barriers constructed of brilliant white marble, much like the Dijani buildings. They are beautifully carved, extend up a head and a half past a Giant, and nearly as wide. Above all else, they are almost always closed. The Gates mark the borderlands of the Dinjai lands, past which only the Dijani are allowed to proceed. The enormous city that has sprung up outside of Gates has no name, and simply shares the name of its keepsake. “Great Gate.” Because this is an essential bottleneck of trade with the Dijani, many villages and tiny settlements apart from the city have sprung up in proximity to the Gates.
Beyond this, nothing is known about the Dinjai lands, and asking a Dijani is considered an insult.
The Barrow Plains:
While the Qorai are populous throughout the Eastern Wastes and the Plains, the Barrow Plains are the absolute best place to go if one wishes to find the most curious of the Nierasian peoples; The gnomes.
The Plains are said to be a haunted place, heavily covered in mist and steam that drifts down from the southern tip of the Umbra-Giel, and sparsely dotted with coniferous trees. The coastal regions, however , are very hospitable and even comfortable in the summer months; particularly around the cities of Pendin and Cape Tijan.
The main cities in this area, however, are gnomish controlled; the capstone of which is the gnomish capital of Kevtz'il'cog-denm.
The Qorai are the peoples that occupy the majority of the Nierasian lands. The term, apparently, referrs to no specific race, but rather the cultural group that the Qorai represent. From the information that I could glean from various Qorai historians located in the major eastern cities of the Eastern Wastes, the Qorai have always lived on Nierash for as long as their history records. Racially, it is a smattering of various snow-furres, (wolves, lepoards, and rabbits, mostly), as well as a smattering of humans. Supposedly some elven blood runs through the Qorai veins from elven ancestors having sailed over the seas ages ago.. but if so, the traces are so dilluted that I cannot call any Qorai an 'elf' or even a half elf.
For the most part, the Qorai seem to have an independent, but decentralized government, allbeit one that has pledged a level of sovereignty to the Dijani.
On the map that I have enclosed with this document, the walled settlements represent major cities. Each city has its own governing body, and mainly deals with peacekeeping within the city and surrounding lands, as well as trade between the various cities and, in some cases, with the Dijani.
Once or twice during my stay in some of these cities closer to the Dijani Border I witnessed Dijani nobles entering the city keep. The fuss that the arrival created was enormous. Sighting Dijani outside of the Dijani lands is a very rare thing, said several gawkers in the area. The Qorai seem to respect the submissive position to the Dijani readily enough, and very few I spoke to bore the Empire any ill will. Not too long ago, evidently, the Dijani aided the Qorai in pushing back the Drow encroaching on the Jierai.
The Qorai lifestyle seems to be split between a stark middle class, and a lower, farmer class in the southern and western areas of the Continent. Because of the value of farming ground in the east, most farmers typically migrate out west to set up temporary farms in the Spring along the banks of the Jierai.
The brief periods of flowing water and warm weather allow the cultivation of fast-growing tubers called “Posch.” It appears to do well in the harsh Nierasian climate, and is one of the staple foods for the Qorai, alongside the fish taken from the coast.
This is considered to be a work for the brave or the suicidal, however. Drow raids on these small impromptu farming villages are very common, and frequently leave nothing in their wake but smoking ash. Yet, because of the potential fortune to be made if a successful crop can be harvested, the farmers continue to return every year. Often, the farmers are either accomplished fighters themselves, or hire out mercenaries in an attempt to fend off or discourage the yearly raids.
Decentralized, the Drow still pose a serious threat to the outlying Qorian lands, and little else can be done by the major Qorai cities, and is willing to be done by the Dijani.
The result, however, is that the eastern lands are considered to be the richer lands. The poorer, more desparate and adventurous make their homes in the west.
The Qorai are a spiritual people, but they have no knowledge of the Primes as we do, in terms of a holy pantheon. What they view in place of 'the Primes' is an assembly of souls of their ancestors that have pledged their afterlife as part of a group of souls with similar virtues. For example, a Prime is not a being, as much as it is an ethereal classification for the spirits of those who would follow those ideals.
In the far north, beyond the city of Great Gates, lies the lands of the Dinjai Empire.** The Dijani peoples appear to be the most xenophobic race that I have cataloged in my long life. They keep to themselves, for the most part, so I have not had the opportunity to have much contact with one. I can hold no illusions for how they treat one another, but the few that I glimpsed from afar appeared to put up a cold, dispassionate front. They are, without a doubt, a beautiful peoples, very reminiscent of the elves of Calenndor in many ways. Their ears are elongated much in the fashion of a Lynx, and apart from this they bear very sharp, elven-features. In fact, I would say that they were furry-eared elves were it not for the very fine layer of fur coating their skin. The fur ranges in hue from white, through varying shades of violet and blue, all the way down to a deep midnight, in some cases. The other notable curiosity is the shade of the Dijani eyes. Unlike any creature I've witnessed before, the area surrounding the iris of the eye is a deep pitch black; This is in stark contrast to the iris itself, which is frequently white, or a pale shade of electric cyan. It makes adressing a Dijani just that much more daunting.
**(Dinjai is a variant of Dijani. In the Qorian tongue it is grammatically incorrect to refer to a place without the suffix 'ai', which denotes a location. The correct way to differentiate, then, is that the people are the “Dijani” their lands are the “Dinjai”. Interestingly enough, the Qorai seem to be the exception to their own rule.)
The government, like much everything else about the Dijani peoples, is shrouded in rumor, mystery, and misconception. The Qorai refer to the 'Dinjai Empire' which leads me to believe that there is some form of Emperor at the heart of the Dinjai lands. However, this is an un-confirmed hypothesis, only. The Qorai associate with the Dijani only distantly, and do so without question. Dijani of high rank or trade-rank occasionally visit the outlying Qorian cities, and their authority is rarely denied in any case. In the cities and outposts outside of the Dinjai lands controlled by the Dijani, the power structure is based around a Magistrate. The Magistrate oversees a council of Dijani intellectuals that regulate trade and, to a degree law enforcement. This power-structure, however, is clearly a trickle-down from some higher force present in the Dinjai lands. The importance of tattoos in the Dijani culture make rank a blatant thing among the Dijani. Different types and styles of tattoos indicate the variety of rank, and the quantity and complexity indicate the specifics of duty and importance of the position.
However, the teeth of the Empire have a much more feared reputation than any official. Referred to as the Vod-Sien. Where the Dijani are secretive, the Vod-Sien are legend. They are characterized by tattoos in the design of 'Sien'- small, poisonous winged snakes that inhabit the wilder regions of Nierash. Rumor has it that the Vod-Sien keep peace between the Dijani, and “deal” with any opposition. They are, in essence, legalized assassins- cleaning up any loose ends or niches that the bureaucracy of government cannot root out. However, I myself have never seen a member of the Vod-Sien, and stories of their deeds are normally left to drunken tavern patrons. I cannot validate any claims made under such circumstances.
I have had some limited contact with the lifestyle of the Dijani. For several months, my journey around the nation left me in the area surrounding Great Gates, and later Central Lyrion. Both are settlements under direct Dijani governmental control. It seems that the lower class Dijani, or those that counter the popular Dijani culture are the ones to choose to dwell outside of the Dijani lands. Even these, however, are rare and seem reserved when adressing other races. In fact, few Dijani speak the Qorain tongue. It too, I think, is considered a mark of disrespect. Every high-ranking Dijani that I have seen is accompanied by a life-long translator. From what my hosts in Great-Gates told me, it is an honor to select a Qorian child to be the translator for an infant Dijani of high rank. The Qorian, in return, recieves the upbringing and education to match the Dijani. This is viewed as a better life, and most Qorian parents would make that sacrifice.
The Dijani in the outlying lands all seem to be artisans of some type. Each common Dijani has one or several tradeskills at which they profoundly excel. This has made Dijani commodities in high demand throughout the continent. Middle to upper class Qorai will frequently seek to collect Dijani-made items. The superstitious even believe them to hold magical properties.
The Dijani do have priests and priestesses, so I can only assume that they follow some form of religion. However, this religion is not openly discussed by the Dijani. In fact, it is actively hidden, and very few Qorai know much about the belief system. The Dijani show no interest in attempting to convert the Qorai peoples. I am sorry to say that I myself was unable to collect any information about this.
A wonder unique to Nierash alone. Nowhere else in this world have I seen a race quite so eccentric as a rule of thumb. A gnome is perhaps a little over a forearm's length in height; a bit over a foot. Next to this faeries, this effectively makes them the second smallest sentient and organized species cataloged by civilization. A gnome's lifespan, however, is shorter than most other races- though through entropy or lifestyle I cannot say. This has lead to a gnomish credo of exploration, expansion, and enjoyment of life that I found to be particularly refreshing.
A typical gnome will appear clothed in furs and other light cloths to keep warm in these harsh lands. As a people, the gnomes seem to classify themselves based on the color of the bandoleers slung overtop it all. It is supposedly an important part of gnomish society to prove ones-self worthy of a bandoleer, working up to the white held by the top “Engineers**” of Kevtz'il-cog-demn.
**(A self dubbed term, an “Engineer” appears to be the gnomish equivelant of a mage. However, rather than using arcana or prayers, gnomes have the unique and impressive ability to divine magical results from mundane objects through the use of complex systems.)
The gnomish governmental structure is loosely based off of the Qorian structures. For the most part, gnomes are in fact part of the Qorai civilization. Roughly half the gnomes of Nierash live in the Qorian cities, under Qorian law.
The only settlements that are run by gnomes themselves can be found in the southwestern portions of the continent, beyond and within the Barrow Plains. Cities marked on the map are those that, I understand, have been built with the scale of the Qorai (the Gnomes most fastidious trading partners) in mind. Other settlements are often hidden within the barrows, and are far out of scope and scale for someone of my size to visit comfortably.
Each of these settlements, however, has its own militia** that keeps the peace, and deferrs back to the gnomish capital of Kevtz'il-cog-demn.
**(Gnomes are excellent team-fighters. I have seen them quell disturbances with uncanny speed. No one gnome is capable of standing up in combat but a platoon of thirty is a devastating force.)
Gnomes have a delightful, symbiotic relationship with the Qorai. Because the Qorai have been, for the most part, deprived of magical influence due to the Dijani hording of arcana, the gnomish “engineers” serve a large role in filling that gap. Great magical devices that, as I understand, draw energy from boiling water, or the hotsprings in the Giel mountain ranges, and use it to produce and distribute heat, grind posch, and move heavy equipment. Only gnomes are capable of this sort of miracle, and so they often have a place to stay when traveling between Qorai cities. Qorai families and estates often have housing specifically for the gnomes that are paid (And paid well) to upkeep the devices that make the ctiy habitable.
I do not mean to suggest that the gnomes have not -attempted- to teach the qorai, though, far from it. However no Qorai or- I have to confess- myself, is able to understand the complex babbling that gnomes lapse into when attempting to explain the workings of their magic. I assume that this is because it is their own equivlant to spellcasting, and unless one is a gnome, one would be incapable of processing the meaning behind those words. I doubt even the Dijani could fathom it- if they ever took interest.
Gnomes, as far as I know, have no true religion. They have no priests, and when asked about beliefs, they frequently break into a fit of giggling. The most I have been able to wrest from a gnome, is that they do not concern themselves with the afterlife, or divine will, and prefer to focus on the here-and-now.
I am loathe to even include these as a “species” prominent on Nierash, for they are more a blight than anything. However, in the interests of knowledge- I must.
The Nierasian drow were at one point, as I understand, a powerful force on Nierash. Much like the Calenndor drow, they had a degree of centralization and hierarchy that rivaled that of the Dijani. This lasted, however, until the first Dijani fell pray to a drow attack.
The response was immediate and without pause. The Dijani struck back and crushed the Nierasian drow capital of Xek-thrash, located in the northern regions of Umbra-Giel. The result was a rocky, half-war that continued between the Dijani and the drow, until finally the Dijani requested, or more or less ordered the Qorian cities to begin fielding a major army.
Some fourty years ago, this massive army finally came to gather, on the banks of the Jierai, and began a ten year campaign to systematically root out and erradicate the drow towns and cities located beneath the Western Wastes.
It was a bloody conflict that left both Dijani and Qorai sore from fighting. However, at the end of those ten years, the drow had been forced back into Umbra-Giel, where the attack stalled. Few drow were left, and those that were had adopted geurilla tactics. They would not fight, but they would lead astray patrols, poison the food supply, and drain at the morale and physical wellbeing of the Qorai soldiers.
Though the war was won early, the remaining drow payed the Qorai back tenfold, and left many dead in those mountains as they finally withdrew.
Since then, the drow have never made an attempt at reorganization, as far as is known by any. Those few that survive now have crept from their holes, out into the miles of wasted, ruined battlegrounds that became the Western Wastes. There, they feed on the Qorai farmers like paracites still- And neither the Dijani nor the Qorai have the taste enough for blood yet to attempt a true extermination once again.
One can only imagine what dark beliefs such a vile group follow. This, I am glad to say, I could find no information regarding. No respectable Qorai would dwell on such dark questions.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of the intricacy of this continent and its peoples. Though my time there was brief, it is an experience that will stay with me until the end of my days. In the future, I hope to write and publish more works that cover these intricacies in appropriate depth.
~~ Viscount Harold De'brois.
--Antagonism isn't a way of life, its just a profession.