The Hitchhiker's Guide to Erasan
From Phobos Wiki
The Hitchhiker's Guide to Erasan by Adam Douglas
Timar The adventures of so many start in the valley of Timar. Since the temple was raised around 400 years ago, this valley has been known to be an unusual site. If being forced to limit my description of Timar to two words, then I would describe Timar as being "mostly harmless". Timar is a safe haven, protected from the world outside by the huge mountains on all sides. This is despite the wide range of creatures which live there. As a result of the relative safety, this region has become a training area for inexperienced adventurers, in order to learn how to bonk the poor creatures of Timar to death more effectively; and to provide them with a sensible degree of mistrust for their fellow adventurer; thus preparing them for the dangers of the world outside. Only those who have been promoted to the class of either page or apprentice are allowed to leave Timar. There have been only a few exceptions to the peace in Timar. Most recently and perhaps most notably, the Forina tragedy. For those of you who don't know of Forina's history, a great battle between a group of rebel Malieran soldiers and Timarians led to the tainting of perhaps the brightest and most beautiful part of Timar into a barren and heartless land. It is said that a single terrible spell cast by the Malieran dark magician, Jerdrus Deicalus, ended this battle for good. The effects of that spell linger on today, as undead still roam the area, searching for squishy brains to
chew on. There are more in depth accounts of this battle in the Timari and Empo Sar libraries, so I suggest that if interested, you read further there. The main route out of Timar is via a narrow gorge through which the River Florus runs. Short, slim river boats frequently take this route between Timari and the nearby town of Brookton. At Brookton, the River Florus joins with the Bilbur Brook, to carry boats from Timar all the way down to Empo Sar on the south coast.
Hilafo The sleepy town of Brookton is rarely used as more than a brief stop—off in a traveller's journey. Most of its inhabitants are farmers and provide nearby towns with various food stuffs and essential supplies throughout the year. Nobles will generally altogether avoid Brookton, and who can blame them; there isn't even a tavern! Fortunately, the warden is always happy to help and give advice to travellers. Being a farming town, the area outside of Brookton is mostly farmland. Further east however, the region becomes a little more interesting. Three mines exist on the eastern slopes of the Hilafo Range: Hethen, Sablestone and Nilkas. As human constructions, they lack both the finesse and grandeur of Dwarven mines (by which I mean that they are now falling apart and many of the lower mines are difficult to access). Most of the mines are now abandoned, although some have since become home to various less—than—delightful residents, including packs of vicious wolves and bands of outlaws. All three mines may be entered via Lileth Gorge. The Hethen mines were the first of their kind constructed in the Hilafo Range. These mines ran without the backing of the Emposian Kingdom, although it is thought that they were funded by other nations until the beginning of the 9th century, by
which time the mountain's resources were all but exhausted. From this point the mines were effectively abandoned as further digging was believed to be unprofitable. Now few of the original mines are accessible and even those which remain are in a poor state of repair. Shortly after the finding of mineral ores and beginning of the Hethen mine construction, the mines of Sablestone and Nilkas began to be dug. The Nilkas mines were originally privately owned mines, though were later bought by the Emposian Kingdom. The mines of Hethen and Nilkas were abandoned during the middle of the 10th century, in both, areas have been taken over by packs of wolves, or outcast groups, though it is also said that more dangerous creatures inhabit some of the lower levels or otherwise less—accessible caves. I'm however no warrior, so have not been able to test out these rumours. Only the mines of Sablestone continue to be mined, although even these have become shrouded in mystery after the unexplained disappearances of several miners and a search party from the lower levels. The Emposian Kingdom, which owns the mines, denied claims that the mines had become overrun by some terrible creature. They also haven't answered claims of discovering an old dwarven brewery, which would explain the slowed development. The Emposian Kingdom has since shut off many areas. What might lie behind these blockades is a favourite topic in nearby settlements, though it's still unsure whether
the tales are simply the chatter of enthusiastic barmen, or if there is in fact some truth behind them. To the south—west of the mines lies the prosperous little town of Aylestone. Originally a bastion of strength during the closing years of the Second War of Shadows, Aylestone later developed a reputation as a bastion of a variety of exceedingly fine and astonishingly expensive artisan crafted items. From blades to furniture, from ale to armor, Alyestone has certainly become one of the most affluent areas of Aerath, besides Empo Sar. The town's proximity to the mines of Hilafo has certainly aided this rise, since supplies of good quality ores are not difficult to come by. Of course the town's location and affluence has made its houses particularly desirable, so those wanting to buy might need to save. For travellers not wanting to settle, or those with smaller purses, the local tavern, The Golden Roe, offers beds for a few nights at a sensible price. In addition, I must recommend this town to travellers wanting to explore further north to the mines, and south to the spider crags of Tirapeth.
Tirapeth The Portho Brook winds its way down the hill on the southern side of Aylestone, carving a narrow gulley, known as Tirapeth Gorge, down to the sea. In contrast to the mining areas further north, this region is a green and rugged wilderness. Explorers should be mindful of the spiders which inhabit many of the crags and caves, and of the treacherous pitfalls which litter the area. I hear from locals that the queen of this group, Shrachlor, nests within the deepest regions of the caves below, unlike any other spiders in the area, she bears upon her back 3 short horns. It is thought these horns originate from a mate of her mother's; another, now extinct, spider species. Of the offspring, only Shrachlor survived. However as a result of her parents' differing species, she is infertile and so these horns are thought to be unique to her. Despite being unrelated to the other spiders of the area, she has adopted a queen—like status amongst them.
Lionel and Empo Sar The Plains of Lionel surround the capital of the Emposian Kingdom, Empo Sar, on the south coast of Aerath. The name Lionel is thought to have come from an ancient kingdom which once ruled the area. However it is now firmly under Emposian control. Although now very pretty and quiet, things have not always been that way; many battles have raged across the Plains of Lionel in past century alone, especially those during the Emposian—Malieran wars. And perhaps as a result, the mountains to the north have become a haven for weaker and more shy creatures, such as trow and even some curious elemental creatures. "All roads lead to Empo Sar" is a common saying throughout Aerath, mirroring both the grandness of the Emposian Kingdom and the city itself. The city is divided into three main areas, each with a wall surrounding them; the upper, the middle, and the lower city. The upper city being at the top of this hill, and the lower city being at the foot of the hill. Starting off as a few small houses around the castle, the upper city has developed to become one of the most affluent and secure areas on Aerath, with constant guard—presence on the streets. However with the riches came the secrets, the scandals and the politics; the upper city is nothing like Lyria's garden. In the middle of the upper city one can find
the Royal Castle, the home of the Emposian kings. Other notable buildings is the Royal Library, the nobility quarters, the ambassadors quarters and the barracks, the home of the Royal Guard and the Guilds of Learning. In the middle city one can find the bourgeois, the merchants and master craftsmen. It is said that only the best crafts are sold here, and that if it isn't sold here, it isn't worth any attention. The lower city can be a dangerous place. Smuggling, theft, bribery, blackmail, and assassination is a way of life for many of the inhabitants of the lower city. It is the gangs that rule the lower city, and the city guard rarely enters unless an ambassador or a nobleman needs an escort to the harbour. Currently it is the Zeladri Family, based at the Black Lion Pub, who rule the lower city. Personally I find them utterly delightful, and wish them long and fruitful lives.
Firlow Firlow is one of the largest regions on Aerath, stretching as far east as Empo Sar and the Plains of Lionel to Cyran in the west, bordering Korlayra to the north and the coast in the south. Firlow's vegetation is a mixture of flowery, open plains with copses dotted around, and dense forest to the south—east. Its landscape is similarly varied, as both gentle hills and rugged cliffs may be found across the region. There are two towns in Firlow: Yethil and Mirai. Yethil was built upon the banks of Lake Firlow on the eastern side of Firlow. A few years ago, during the spring months, water levels at Lake Yethil rose and threatened the town. As a result, part of the town closest to the lake, including the dock, was rebuilt upon raised platforms for flood defence. The rest of the town is built upon slightly higher ground to the north—east of the dock. Yethil has a somewhat delicate relationship with Empo Sar for various reasons. Nevertheless, Yethil freely trades with other nearby towns and its pretty location makes it a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of city life. Unless looking for accommodation it has little more to offer to travellers than and a quick break and chat with Rita Barms, the local pub landlord at 'The Fat Cat'. Rhodosus roam the shores of Lake Yethil and the less forested plains around. Further to the south—west the trees grow closer and
taller, almost seeming to close in around you. These deeper, darker regions of the forest are home to trow and goblins, but few other creatures which would pose a problem to experienced warriors. Nearby areas, such as the patchy forests of Milthorn to the north, are definitely worth exploration, however. Mirai is a curious little town perched on the smooth northern slopes of Firlow; just south of the Korlayra Mountains in central Aerath. It is often mistakenly said that Mirai is part of Korlayra. However this is not true. Mirai is part of Firlow, but is surrounded on all sides by the mountains of Korlayra. Originally, Mirai was a market town and likely stop off for traders travelling between Empo Sar, Hecate and the north. But such trade routes rarely pass through Mirai anymore, although it is still a surprisingly vibrant town and is particularly well known for some of its 'celebrity' inhabitants. Perhaps the best known of Mirai's inhabitants was Fundy Whitemoon. Although strictly speaking the interior of Fundy Whitemoon's house is in an entirely different location altogether, and he hasn't been seen for many years. Although the enchantments protecting his house were far too complicated for any regular magician to comprehend, and those capable of removing such charms either do not wish to remove such intricate spellwork or still hope for Fundy's return someday.
This aside, there are several areas of interest for explorers nearby: many tunnels and caves, and several strongholds remain from the Emposian—Malieran conflict within the Korlayra Mountains. Western Firlow has long been home to a shrine to the goddess of health and wellbeing, Iutithra. The pool at the shrine was blessed by Iutithra herself and is said to be so pure that it brings good health to the body of the good and the righteous drinker, but burns the mouths of the evil and the false. It is certainly one of the better known shrines, perhaps largely because Iutithra is held in such high opinion by the Emposians.
Milthorn Milthorn is one of the larger forests spreading the continent of Aerath. It is roughly central in location in Aerath, stretching from as far north as Maliera and as far south as Firlow. Dense vegetation, scarred battlegrounds and mountainous regions make this a dark and unpleasant landscape. Because it is the valley between the Korlayra Mountains and the Hilafo Range it marks the only passage between those two natural obstacles. Milthorn has been of strategic importance in many battles throughout Aerathian history. Largely because of this, Milthorn is now thought of as being in two parts: the north and south, divided by Eirim's Wall. North Milthorn north of the wall is larger and more dangerous than the south. Only the southern—most parts are flanked to the east and west by mountains, but any sense of foreboding lost by this is more than made up for by the even more densely packed forests that seem to close in around adventurers who stray from the road north. The ruins of Fern lie in north Milthorn. Even walking the main road in north Milthorn may be dangerous, and inexperienced travellers would do well not to stray from the road heading north at all, as all manner of troublesome creatures live there.
South These days the southern parts of Milthorn are tamer than the north. The path east is blocked by the steep mountains surrounding the Timar Valley, whilst to the west the peaks of the Korlayra Mountains rise up far above the clouds. For warriors and merchants alike who walk the roads of South Milthorn, little more than the occasional bandit is likely to bother them. However those who stray far from the road without sound knowledge of the land, or a good map, will quickly find themselves lost. For those with an interest, here is a quick history lesson on Milthorn: The site was used by both Liranda I and Aigelthin III, and in the earlier years of the war, basic wooden palisade towers, walls and huts were used around the current location of the wall to block further Malieran attacks and act as a base for the Emposian army. However these outposts weren't able to defend Emposia from the might of the Malieran armies, and were occasionally overrun. It wasn't really until the end of Ailgeth II's reign (859-887) that any long—term fortifications began to be set down. However, Malieran pressure on that region became too strong, so building at that site was abandoned. Smaller walls and towers in less suitable locations were used in place of the main wall. These worked against most small attacks, but could be quickly overrun by larger
forces and ultimately spread out the Emposian forces too thinly to be effective. Later, in the year 896, during King Eirim III's reign, Eirim's Wall was finally finished. Though attempts to build a small keep beside it had proved too difficult with constant Malieran attacks in the area (most from the Malieran Cirastil Keep in Korlayra). Some years later, the lack of solid protection from a keep led to the destruction of the wall. Later attempts to rebuild it proved equally fruitless, though Eirim, knowing the importance of keeping control of Milthorn, and knowing how well suited that region was for the wall, didn't give up. Finally in 908, an opportunity arose. Both powers, but Maliera especially, were struggling; Emposia had recently taken control of one of the main Malieran keeps in Korlayra, the closest one to the wall. Also, Corisia was attempting to break away from Maliera, and that movement was steadily gaining momentum (note: succeeded in 910 and Corisia regained its independence). Eirim once again ordered for the wall to be built, but sent many more workers than before, and kept the Malierans busy with battles in Korlayra and in north Milthorn. This, coupled with the problems Maliera was having with Corisia, allowed Eirim time to build the keep. Astonishingly the wall was rebuilt and keep constructed in just three days. Despite the major Emposian losses in this brief time, this move signalled a turning point in the war in favour of Emposia.
Eirim's Wall and the keep are still used today; mostly as a base for the army. The guards there will also not let inexperienced adventurers pass, as the area to the north is far too dangerous. In addition, it is not so rare for the path north through Milthorn to be shut by order of the King. There are ways round this, of course: by going through Korlayra to avoid the wall entirely, or bribing the guards at Eirim's Wall (ALLEGEDLY!). After the war ended in 929 almost all the fortifications and ruins were abandoned by the troops. Even Fern was forsaken by the humans and consigned to the forest. Today, roots, mushrooms and small plants cover the old stone walls. However, war unofficially continued in the forest as Malieran partisans used the old forts for ambushes on Emposian patrols. Since the focus of counter—Emposian resistance is mostly in the former Malieran capital, Sivaris, few rebels have stayed in the forest. Rumours say that old Fern has been taken over by spirits of the wood, mostly appearing at night luring unwary wayfarers with their green auras. Furthermore many goblin tribes are said to have moved into the deeper areas of the forest, especially in the mountain—side caves to the north—east.
Korlayra The mountains of Korlayra stretch across central Aerath effectively separating Empo Sar from Sivaris (capital of Maliera) and so were of considerable strategic importance during the Emposian—Malieran conflict. After the fall of Sivaris, most of the tunnels, caves and strongholds were abandoned, and many are now inhabited by other creatures. Most of these are scavengers and renegades who pose little threat to an experienced explorer; however there are also a few darker secrets hidden within the bowels of these rugged mountains. There are thought to be undead creatures roaming the lower bowels of the Korlayra Mountain tunnels. These are thought to have been Malieran magicians, whose spells of death backfired. Although a few Emposian magicians also experimented with such forces in Korlayra at the time and there are rumours that one of the liches was an Emposian. The liches have command over the dead in Korlayra, and call upon them to force out any intruders.
Wirafal Wirafal is a heavily forested area to the north of Milthorn and east of Malieria. Even with a map and trusted guide, the deeper forests of Wirafal can be difficult to navigate. There are many tales told in the taverns of the surrounding areas which tell of how the trees whisper to one another, and may actually move to confuse unwary travellers; coaxing them into traps with strange creatures and Wirathistles, or just forcing them deeper into the forest, to be devoured by the dark heart of Wirafal. The name, "Wirafal", is thought to be derived from the old tongue word for "unconquerable". This is thought to be a reference to the fact that Wirafal is one of the safest locations on Erasan; if you're a tree, that is. It is often said of Wirafal, that the forest attempts to force explorers to their doom in the dark centre of the forest. And that those who do manage to pass through this region unscathed, do so by continually searching for alternative routes through the maze of trees. One thing is certainly true, the forests of Wirafal are ancient and magical. But certainly not all the magic present is a threat. If travelling east from Wirafal, then you should probably turn around and go straight back where you came from. As the great orcish Lraklar Fortress lies on the eastern border of Wirafal. During the second half of the second war of shadows, orcs built several
immense fortresses in an attempt to tighten the Dark Lord Phobos' already slipping grip upon the world. One of the greatest was Lraklar Fortress on the eastern side of Wirafal. Many orcs fled Wirafal in the second fall of the Shadow, however others retreated into the caves and mountains to the east instead. By the year 800, orcs began to resurface, whilst Aerathians, tied up in their own conflicts, took little notice. The orcs were able to rebuild Lraklar Fortress to its former strength. Many of the old tunnels still exist, leading deep into the mountains. The nearby town of Tereth is now often attacked by groups of orcs from Lraklar Fortress, the war and Emposian takeover of Maliera meant that Tereth often had little support during attacks in the past. However a wall now protects the town and the Emposian Army keep a constant presence there.
Maliera Maliera is the region north of Milthorn and Korlayra and west of Wirafal. Having been the centre of the Malieran Empire from around 589, Maliera was annexed by the Emposian Kingdom at the true end of the Emposian—Malieran war in 929. The once great city of Sivaris, the former capital of Malieria, can be found here. There is still much bad—feeling between the ex—Malieran Empire and the rest of Emposia, however.