"The legions of the Reaching Moon came a generation ago, desecrating our temples, destroying the Old Ways. In the lowlands and the towns, the hand of the Red Emperor is at the people's throats, but here in the highlands we still live free as the wind that roars over the mountain peaks. We are the Haraborn of Black Stag Vale, and our clan has outlived false gods, Western sorcerers, and the lies of dragons. The Red Moon now thinks she can break us, and bend us to her filthy foreign ways. I say Shepelkirt is wrong. When Argrath comes as prophesied, and tears the Red Moon from the sky, we will still be here, faithful to our gods, loyal to our ancestors, and mindful of the ancient ways..."

- Joddi White Hart, Haraborn Lawspeaker

Saturday, December 17, 2011

YOUR HOME (Part 1)

Black Stag Vale

Located high in the Quinvin Mountains fifteen miles due west of Boldhome and at an elevation of roughly 6000 feet, lies the Haraborn community of Black Stag Vale The largest settlement in the Tula, it is home to some 350 people. The Haraborn chieftain, Hendor Andrinson, resides here at Black Stag Hall, along with his most loyal thanes. The Clan Ring assembles here every Windsday.

Geographically, the vale is a narrow v-shaped cleft between Mount Dragonwind and Three Fang, running north-south for some two and a half miles. At the north end plunges Black Stag Falls from a height of three hundred feet, where the waters pool in the Deer Pond before flowing southwards in a narrow, rushing stream known as the Deer Run. Near Deer Pond is Stag Hill, a conical mound crowned by seven dolmens arranged in a circle. Legend attests the hill is the burial mound of Jarstakos, an ancient Haraborn chieftain, and his thanes. It is sacred to Orlanth, and is the center of all male ritual activities in the Clan. A shrine to Orlanth is located on the east face of the hill, three quarters of the way up.

Six farmsteads hug the waters of the Run as they head south, each home to some 20-40 people. Black Stag Village--simply "the Village" to clan folk--sits on the east side of the Run in roughly the middle of the vale. It is home to some 170 people, including the chieftain's weaponthanes and their immediate families, as well as the redsmiths, horse grooms, and others needed to attend them. The clan market is here, and a shrine to Issaries. The Chieftain's Hall sits on a fortified hill overlooking the community. Near the southern extreme of the valley, carved into a sheer cliff face on the eastern edge of Mount Dragonwind, a stark square door enters the Riddle, a winding labyrinth carved in ancient days. This is holy to the Earth Tribe, and the shrines to both Ernalda and Uralda stand near the entrance. On the opposite side of the Run from these is the shrine to Barntar.

The Tula

The rest of the Haraborn Tula hugs the southwestern face of the Quinvins, with clans folk nestled into hidden valleys and folds. There are 27 Haraborn farmsteads outside of Black Stag Vale, ranging from a dozen to two score people. The Lunar census takers have had a difficult time even finding these steads, and have started to hire Heortling guides from rival clans to locate them. As a consequence, the Lunars currently count the Haraborn at around five hundred members, slightly less than two thirds the accurate number.

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