A Traveler's Guide to Evendarr
by Shifter Gileen, Master Trader
Over my many years as a trader throughout Evendarr, I have seen many peoples and delighted in most of the cultures I have encountered. This guide is intended to help you, the traveler, know what to expect in the various Duchies of Evendarr. You will of course excuse me if I ramble a bit I am getting old, and having an audience is something I am not used to.
Before we begin our travels, let us discuss the amount of time it takes to travel to these exotic places. Generally, a caravan or single rider with provisions can travel about thirty miles a day cross country. This assumes good weather on good roads. Bad weather, and bad roads can cut that in half easily. A single rider dressed light without many provisions can travel maybe ten or twenty more.
A messenger, pushing a horse hard, can do about eighty miles a day, but the horse will not be good for much use afterwards. I do not ever advise traveling on foot as the distances are much too great, but for some there is no option. A hiker with provisions can expect to travel maybe twenty-five miles, but since you are without a horse, expect to do a lot of resting the next day. I have found that traveling by water is surprisingly similar in time to traveling over land. On a standard barge, one can travel about thirty miles a day over lakes or rivers, half that if traveling upstream.
On the previous page is a chart of some distances between major cities in Evendarr along established trade routes. Some of these routes are mostly over water. These distances are estimates based on my experiences, and as the roads change, they may become obsolete. Note that all of the distances and travel times I have offered are subject to change as transport advances and roads improve. Politics and people change as well, so keep in mind that what I am writing here in early 592 may not be at all applicable a year from now. Now then, a guide to the various Duchies of Evendarr.
Ashbury is a very interesting place to visit if you enjoy music. The duchy of Ashbury was founded by a very high level spell singer, of whom many songs are sung. When trolls rebelled against the settlers trying to establish the duchy, Oliver, Lord of the Four Peoples, battled an evil monster so that the king’s army could contain the trolls and make the area safe for habitation.
If you have any interest in the arts, Ashbury is the place to go. Most of the bards and spellsingers in the kingdom study in the capital city of Ashbury, also named Ashbury.
The reason that the honorable title, "Lord of the Four Peoples" is used is because there are four separate races living within the borders of this duchy. Humans live throughout the four provinces, but other races are more localized. The Ash Forest is the home of various types of Elves, while Mountain Dwarves live in the Baronies of Trellheim and Nordenn. There are both elves and dwarves in the hierarchy of Ashbury. The elves are rather prolific, but the dwarves seem to be rather reclusive. The Ash Forest Barony is inhabited for the most part by elves. The trolls of course were confined beneath the Tower Hills of Trellheim.
Recently, however, there have been problems traveling within this Duchy. The trolls seem to have broken free of their confinement, with what seems to be the aide of some monstrously evil magicks. Powell, the great grandson of Duke Oliver was killed and the trollish hordes were barely restricted to the area of the Trellheim Barony by the Ducal Armies. Alaric Dragonhart, a man attached to the garrison of the Tower Mountain Citadel was instrumental in this action, and for this he was named successor to the slain Duke. Little else is known of the new Duke.
Consequently, one does not wish to travel near Trellheim when it starts to get dark. I understand that there is presently a great need for adventurous souls in Ashbury. If you are planning to travel to Ashbury, make sure and visit the Five Lions Inn, which is one of the best inns in the kingdom. The service is above reproach and the food is delicious.
Blackstone, named for its active volcano, was once a separate kingdom, having been ruled for many years by the Blackstone family.
About 500 years ago, as Evendarr grew around them, the King offered them a place within his kingdom. King Hender Blackstone, glancing about at the good king’s troops, decided that such an arrangement would be beneficial to everybody. In fact the people of Blackstone have taken Evendarr to their hearts and thoroughly enjoy the new markets that have been made available to them through this compromise. For Blackstone is possibly the largest trading and shipping capital on the continent of Avalon, and as such it is also one of the richest.
Blackstone is an anomaly politically - it is a County without a Duchy. It has no Baronies, either. When Count Blackstone visits other duchies he is offered the treatment afforded a visiting Count, not a visiting Duke. Politics is what Blackstone is all about. The nobles of the county seem to be in constant political struggle with each other to gain status and standing in the court. Gossip and innuendo can make or break a noble house here, and word as to who was at each party, and who has the Count’s ear at any time are valuable commodities. It consumes their lives to the point where it provides meaningful employment for the local thieves guilds, which provide nobles with the necessary spies and assassins.
When visiting Blackstone, you may wish to travel to the capital city of Braughm-Raor, where the marketplace is open from dusk to dawn. It is a colorful ongoing pageant of sight, sound and smell, and I have seen nothing like it in my travels. Row upon row of shops, inns, taverns, gambling parlors and other places of pleasure and leisure abound in the city. Of course, remember what I said about powerful thieves' guilds, and watch your money carefully when there.
The Duchy of Evendarr houses the capital city and seat of the crown. Being the center of the kingdom provides it with many advantages. It always has the latest fashions, the best entertainers, the newest music and theater. In general it is the culture capital of Evendarr, as well as the political capital. It is also the safest place in the kingdom to be, (apart from the occasional political assassination.) as it is the farthest from the monsters in the outer regions.
Be prepared to pay more for goods and services, but after all, you are paying for some of the finest accommodations in all of eastern Avalon. If you can afford it, try to stay at the King’s Rest - an inn by which all others are judged! It is said that King Roderick stayed there on the eve of his coronation. Try the boiled swordfish!!
Tread lightly when dealing with the nobles in Evendarr, as they are the oldest and most entrenched in their ways. However they are in general a nice lot and can be counted on to be trusted. Of course, as you are traveling through heavier populated areas, you can expect more common thieves and flimflam artists. Just be aware and ready.
Many fighters travel to Evendarr to enter the King’s army, where the training is excellent, the pay is good, and one can enlist for ten years and return home a fairly important person. There are also a few good schools set up by past fighters who train up and coming adventurers.
The Royal Academy of Arcane Arts and Sciences, located on a small island in the middle of Lake Hollym is home to the greatest school for magic known to humans. It researches both celestial and earth magic, and has created and discovered many new spells. Although technically it is not part of any duchy, it is generally considered to be associated with Evendarr, since people tend to think of Evendarr as the center of all knowledge.
The Academy has been in existence since about the year 100 or so, and predates most of the kingdom. It is a glory to behold if you can manage to talk your way into it. Don’t try bribing your way in, they are only interested in knowledge. If you have a new spell to share , or new information that for some reason does not already exist in their voluminous library, then maybe, just maybe, they’ll let you in. It is most impressive. You’ll feel so insignificant next to all of those stacks of books.
Anyway, as far as I can tell, the main business of Evendarr is government, and tourism! It is still the best place to visit in all of the kingdom.
Kitheria has the largest population per acreage in the kingdom with a staggering 8.5 people per square mile! One rarely travels without seeing another farmhouse or village on the horizon.
Although there are no large cities the size of Evendarr, there are a few towns that are wonderful to visit. Ithiel, the capital city of the barony of Lorin is an artist’s paradise, and despite what they may tell you about Evendarr, this is the place to be if you are an up and coming sculptor or painter. Many alumni of this city have moved up to Evendarr after being discovered and adopted by royal houses. Primarily this is due to the Kitheria School of Art, at which many talented people from all over Evendarr enroll. (This is the school from which Gerin Hrestri graduated!)
The gorgeous seaside port of Pym in the barony of Zyr has one of the most unusual restaurants I have ever visited, "The Dolphin’s Crest". The dining room is on a pier, and the kitchen is actually located in the ocean! This is because the establishment is owned and operated by a family of mer-people. Although other land based races do the actual serving, the cooks are all mer. Not surprisingly, seafood is the main (and only) entree.
Zyr also has some of the largest slate mines in Evendarr, and this provides the locals with a healthy economy. All is not perfect, however. (Is it ever?) There is reason to be wary. A peasants revolution was prevented here in 588 when it was discovered that a group calling itself "the Fist" was behind a baronial conspiracy to have a certain noble kidnapped and obliterated, and replaced with his necromancer son. Although The Fist was exposed and many of its members caught, there is still the occasional midnight assassination accompanied by a fist in a triangle symbol, drawn in the victim’s blood.
Niman is a duchy of contrasts. On the one hand, they are one of the richest duchies, with a great love of the arts, wonderful architecture, beautiful fields, and colorful and exciting people. On the other hand they are one of the kingdom’s poorest duchies, because they persist in perpetuating a system that relies on slavery to exist.
It is very easy to devote your time to the arts when your slaves do all your work for you. It is easy to live richly when you don’t pay your slaves or spend anything for their well-being. I guess you can tell that this issue makes me a bit upset. I’ve seen it firsthand, and its not an easy sight.
The nobles and upper class citizens of Niman who keep this system going are able to control the slaves (many of whom are descended from the barbarians who lost in the wars) by a system that relies heavily on "clues" that allow them to tell their people from the slaves. A slave who escapes, and tries to impersonate a free person is easily found out by his or her rough speech patterns, poor dress, and lack of courtly manners. When you arrive at the borders, be sure to be polite to the border guards, and get the proper papers so that you can prove that you are not a slave if the question comes up. Don’t travel alone, unless you are somebody important, or you may find yourself captured and turned into a slave.
Duke Vordan Nicadaemus is a doddering fool of a man who like most of his nobles sees nothing wrong with the system of slavery. They all tend to have a number of reasons why they can justify the act, and trying to argue with them about it is a sure sign that you will conveniently "disappear".
Niman’s main business is agriculture, and their main crops are wheat and other grains which they export to other duchies in exchange for silks, jewelry, and other riches. They also have a few mines which produce copper and other light metals.
One of the finest sights in Niman is the capital city of Coventry. Duke Nicadaemus’ castle is a model of modern architecture with its new rounded style gate house, and its murder-holes overhead. There is a radical new style in slop conveyance for the moat monsters, and the building has all of the new conveniences such as indoor plumbing. There is glass in most of the windows replacing the traditional oiled sheepskin! Inside there are wondrous tapestries, statues, paintings, and other expensive adornments. It is a glory to behold as long as you put out of your mind the fact that it was all bought from the blood of their slaves.
The Barony of Hadran also has some of the most beautiful caverns in all of the kingdom if you are interested in spelunking. There is one cavern known as "The Singing Cavern" where the water drips down the colorful stalactites and makes beautiful music as the drops hit the puddles beneath. (What the people of Ashbury wouldn’t do to have this cave in their duchy!)
Even with all of this it is advisable to avoid traveling through Niman unless you are a trader of fine goods.
Rotaria is in a bit of upheaval. After the mysterious and untimely death of the evil Duke Martin Rotari last year, things appeared to be turning to the better. His wife Lillian took office and vowed to make sweeping changes.
It is not an easy job. Although she has destroyed the necromancer’s guilds that pretended to be healer’s guilds, and although she has obliterated many of her husband’s former associates, there is still unrest in the country, and much of the advice I gave travelers before her ascension still applies.
The main problem with Rotaria is the bureaucracy. Those petty minor nobles whom the Duchess has still to root out, who pledge loyalty to her while still attempting to consolidate their own power. They care only for their own self-advancement and as such their peasants are the poorest, most underfed and oppressed people in the kingdom.(Well, except for the slaves in Niman.) Things are improving and some new nobles are not as oppressive as before, but society does not change overnight. The most hope is the northern Barony of Warwyck, where Baron Galen Warwyck recently assumed the throne taken from him by Martin Rotari years before. He has begun to make changes - difficult as that may be - and the people are beginning to show more hope.
The Barony of Baltaria is the one to avoid. Baroness Annoria Cabbot has had five husbands executed already, when she got tired of them. She has done the same with many of her knights and other court personnel. Her hold on power is so strong that the Duchess is still afraid of offending her for fear of losing her own power (or so it is rumored).
If you do decide to venture into Rotaria, (who knows? You could be searching for adventure? Out to right wrongs? Or you may just be a damned fool!), be sure to get some of the apples from their wonderful groves. They also have some of the loveliest beaches in the kingdom as well. Off the coast, if you can avoid the pirates that are allowed to exist as long as they pay off the Rotarian nobles, you might even see a mermaid!
The best advice for traveling through Rotaria is to bring lots of money to pay bribes to get yourself out of tough situations. If anyone invites you to their home, Don’t go! Make sure that you do everything that the city guard and the nobles tell you to do. Remember, even if the higher-ups in this duchy are friendly, to get to them, you have to climb up through a lot of mud!
If traveling in Rotaria, make sure you have all of the proper paperwork. Because of its political precariousness, Rotaria demands everyone - even its own people - to have papers whenever they travel from one land to another within the duchy. Also, if you are from the northern duchy of Ravenholt, be sure to keep that fact a secret, and try to hide your accent. Many entrenched nobles in Rotaria still harbor great hatred for Ravenholt, because Rotaria wanted the rich barony of Capulus, and because Ravenholt helped to bring Galen Warwyck back into power. It is better to be safe than sorry. Many of the common people are good, decent, people who have simply learned that the only way to get by in Rotaria is not to trust anyone, report everything to their lieges, and never show kindness to anyone.
Ravenholt is run by Duke Basil Ravenhurst, a man of impressive stature, and with a real appetite for life. Among Dukes, he is one of the nicest, and although he tends to spend his time hanging out in the local tavern in the capital city (town really) of Ravenholt, no one seems to mind.
He has had quite a few problems in the last few years, however. With goblins attacking, and elementals trying to take over...but then again, most of the other duchies have had similar problems.
Because Ravenholt is a frontier duchy, there is obviously more fighting and monster activity than in the central parts of Evendarr. When traveling, always try to travel in large groups. This danger actually attracts many adventurers who come to the area seeking fame and fortune, so expect any local gathering to have lots of armor and weapons shining, as there are so many adventurers present.
This newer society also means that most if the nobles obtained their positions not from inheritance, but by appointment, and as such, usually tend to be more sympathetic to the plight of the under classes. (There are exceptions of course...) The people there are less concerned with formality and court pomp and circumstance than in any other duchy save perhaps Volta. As long as you are a friendly sort, not wishing to cause trouble, you should find many friends.
The best time to visit Ravenholt is in the spring, when the Duke hold his annual tournament, patterned after Volta’s. If you are a gambler, that is the best time to travel to the capital city (also called Ravenholt) because the town is full of people willing to bet on the various teams.
Ravenholt once held the only completely non-human barony on the kingdom of Evendarr, but the Drae Barony of Elfheim was recently granted it’s independence from Ravenholt, much to the surprise of everyone. It is yet unclear as to what this loss will do to the duchy’s lifestyle and economy. Ravenholt produces much of the iron that the northern duchies use for weapons and tools, and is also well known for it’s fine wines.
Sutherland is an interesting but dangerous place. It seems that believe it or not, necromancy has been made legal by the Duke!
A few years ago, you see, they had a major problem with a local goblin tribe. The goblins were actually winning the war, and things looked bad for the duchy, when a group of necromancers entered the scene and promised to "save" the duchy. To make a long story short, they did, and demanded some positions within the nobility, and actually reversed the king’s law against necromancy!
From what I hear, the King is not happy about this, and had ordered the law rescinded, but so far he has been ignored. I am sure that sooner or later there will be a major problem, or even a war. So visitors to this duchy should be wary.
In any event if you do travel the area, there are many nice spots to visit. The Isles De Hoenig are pleasant lands ruled by the Baron Jacques Montaque, and are known across the duchy for fine wool products. These isles stretch across the entire coast of the duchy, from the northernmost tip of Rossanoe to the edge of the goblin lands in the south. The beaches here are frequently visited by the locals and I am sure that any traveler would want to see them.
The Barony of Rossanoe holds the capital city of Sutherland. This is a magnificent city full of delightful shops and commerce.
The Barony of Sahde features the shire of Hobbington with its picturesque homes and quaint hobling shops. Nearby is Granite Point Mountain, a huge edifice that can be seen for miles. It is an extremely large rock that juts out of the ground, forming a bald mountain.
Sudbyr is by far the poorest Barony of the duchy. It is plagued by infertile soil, a line of mountains that splits the barony in half, and a citizenry that is composed mainly of gypsies, dwarves and orcs, all of whom war with each other on a constant and regular basis. This is not a pleasant place to visit, particularly since necromancy is legal.
The Barony of LaRochelle is easily recognizable as you cross the river forming the border between these two baronies. The saying that, "The grass is always greener on the other side" was never more true than at this juncture. LaRochelle is known for its marvelous agricultural products. Even though there have been constant wars against the goblins in recent years, LaRochelle still produces some of the most bountiful harvests in the land.
I suppose that Sutherland is the place to visit if you are a necromancer, but I doubt that the king will allow that status to continue for long.
Therendry is located to the south of Evendarr and Kitheria, and is home to some beautiful countryside, and a most unusual people.
The capital city of Goldhaven, where Duke Jordan Champerlen resides was actually founded by a pirate! It was once a prospering haven for all manner of thieves and undesirables. There was constant war between those who wished for a better city, and those who preferred things to remain the same.
Eventually Duke Champerlen was able to get the place under control, reputedly by working many back room deals. Although the thieves guild there still has significant power, things seem to be generally calmer for the residents. Duke Champerlen is a fine fellow (although getting on in years) and he seems to enjoy the courtly life he leads. There are always many parties to attend if you visit the beautiful inner city.
The main port of the duchy is a pleasant town called Mistport. Many merchant vessels trade their goods here and a traveler is certain to find a number if interesting items for sale. The -uh- "pleasure houses" along the coast are extremely interesting to visit.
Another good spot to visit is the walled city of Kranaesh. The huge gates of this city dominate the landscape at the junction of the magnificent Fury River, and the major shipping road called the "North Trail". The massive wall is a single slab of granite carved by dwarves who first settled the region. It is a wondrous sight to behold, and a marvel of modern architecture.
The city itself is a hodgepodge of different architectural styles with dozens of buildings both above ground and built in to the hillside clashing together to demonstrate the ancient age of this city. The city also connects to the underground city of the dwarves (I can’t pronounce the name.), but humans such as I are never allowed to visit. Not surprisingly this city’s chief business is its mining operations.
The large city of Irongate has a most unusual government structure. The Duke allows the city’s guilds to choose a Lord or Lady Mayor who serves for a five year term. Of course the Duke or Baron can overrule the Mayor’s decisions but generally in order to keep the peace, within the city, they leave well enough alone. Being Mayor is a difficult job, and more than one Mayor has suddenly and mysteriously appeared at the healer’s guild for resurrection.
Visiting Therendry can be an exhilarating experience as long as one remembers the founding fathers of the region. Thieves' Guilds have much power in almost every city. More often than not, political appointments are decided by assassination. As long as you stay out of politics - and this means also not competing with the many businesses run by the thieves' guilds - there is a lot to do in this southern duchy.
The people of Volta are a strong individuals who love nothing better than a good clean fight. Their favorite pastime is sitting in the tavern with a tall glass of their famous ale, and arm wrestling. (Sometimes at the same time!)
The Voltans are after all descended from the northern barbarians, and they share many of the same tastes and prejudices, without that nasty disagreement with celestial magic. They are much less hostile to other viewpoints and ideas, and are generally very friendly unless crossed or cheated. If asked to join a wrestling contest with a Voltan, make sure that you understand what you may be getting into. To a Voltan, a wrestling contest may mean wrestling with his or her pet bear.
When set a task, expect the typical Voltan to perform to the best of his or her abilities, delving into the task with the utmost passion until it is completed. Although they tend to remain politically neutral in regards to their dealings with other duchies, deep down you will find that the average Voltan is basically good and has a great distrust and dislike for their neighbors in Niman. (This is not to imply that there are no evil Voltans, far from it. Volta has as many problems with necromancers and thieves as any other border duchy.)
A good time to Visit Volta is in the fall when they hold their tournament. This annual event was the inspiration for Duke Ravenhurst’s own tournament, but the Voltans go at it with a much different attitude. The Voltan tournament emphasizes battle skills with separate events for different weapons, a wrestling contest, and even contests for picking locks and disarming traps! (The Voltan’s don’t consider these skills inherently evil.) A team in Volta consists of five fighters, a healer, a mage, and a rogue. They represent each of the four baronies.
The prize for winning the tournament is typical for the Voltan lifestyle - possession of a golden shield and sword, the privilege of hosting the tournament in their own baronial capital the following year, and all the free ale that they can drink for the next year. Because of this last provision, no team has ever won two years in a row.
When in the barony of Anym, be sure to visit the falls of Lochniria. This beautiful natural waterfall is not only lovely to look at, as it captures the sunlight and creates wondrous rainbows, but it is also said to be composed of water that is very -ahem- "potent". It is sold all over the kingdom as an aphrodisiac. This is a very fun place to visit if you are into the delights of the flesh.
Prostitution is not illegal in Volta, nor is it explicitly legal either. It is actually unnecessary, as the people of Volta tend to be very free with their attentions - until the point where they form attachments and become VERY possessive. If you do travel this area, be sure to remember the famous admonition, "When in Lochniria, don’t forget your cure disease potions!"
Be forewarned of one unusual item when traveling through Volta. People disappear. For the last ten years or so, the peaceful people of Zarkym have been mysteriously disappearing. No one has actually disappeared while in public view, but small groups out hunting or fishing, or even small groups of children out playing have never returned. The Royal Academy of Magic has investigated these disappearances, but so far have been unsuccessful. Slave raiders are thought by some to be responsible, but since the disappearances have all occurred near the southern shores of Lake Ardynn, far from the slave traders of Niman, this seems unlikely.
Duke Adrick Voltan is a large boisterous man with a full black beard and a gigantic laugh. He is well loved by his people. It has been said that Baron Boddin Douglas has made plans against the Duke, but this may be mere rumor. Certainly no overt action has ever been taken. I hope I don’t get into trouble for saying this, but, there are also rumors about his treachery against the crown, but I don’t really believe them.
One final thing, Never, never make fun of the name of Volta’s capital city - "Unity."