Cities and Towns
Ahnodin was two loose farming villages (Ahnn & Dinn) located at a confluence of rivers from the High Buttes of lower Celestials. A strip of flatlands punctuated by marsh and low hills, farmers filled the arable land while herders made use of the grass and shrub covered hilly areas. Long ago the Aerie Valley settled more villages towards the mountains, but the glaciation dried up trade and brought more dangers down from the mountains. Ahnodin’s north-south route became more popular as road to the east dried up. This brought more trade and craftsmen to the merging Ahnodin. The village became a town and a diverse one at that. The lingering stragglers of the epic Aerie Valley found home in the area, avoiding the more collapsed economy of the City of Meddle to the West. Despite the town’s sleepy past and character, Ahnodin naturally grew to be a place where you could find things. Within the renewed waterfalls and thick rivers running from the mountains changes are in the wind. But Ahnodin is well established and very self-sufficient now.
Ahnodin is within the a large winding area known as the Free Eldaar City-States. This region of independent villages, towns and cities follow rules of Eldaar dominion. They maintain less militia, avoiding the cost of being “war-ready”. But they have no central leadership. Villages and towns can elect to join a larger city state for protection, but most problems needing muscle is done through hiring mercenaries and adventuring types.
Ahnodin is the start for the players. It will act as a home base and provide much of what they need in between adventures. They will find work easily here. The townspeople are interwoven in many adventure hooks. Ahnodin is within the sights of multiple deities and powerful players. So the scale will climb beyond a sleepy town that is always under construction and expanding. Buildings are available for purchase and the players can hire easily to create a secure home base. There are even some abandoned structures in the nearby area that could be useful, once their squatters are removed. Whichever way the players want to go (remote stronghold in the woods or gated mansion in town), Ahnodin can answer that wish.
Meddle is the city that always wanted to be more, bigger, more powerful. Built on a site of older cities with partial walls, Meddle is a bustling city. They have the trade routes and enough arable land to support a large city. But that great city-state never emerges. In generations past they secured exclusive trade with the secretive and dangerous Fey-adjacent Aerie Valley. But the curse of Meddle seemed to extend it’s reach. The Aerie basin was crushed under the snow and ice of the mountain glacier. Meddle had started to build their Great Wall, choosing to encompass more land than they had settled. But the money froze when the Aerie did. The incomplete walls stand out in the middle of farmland and grazing sheep.
Meddle always has plans and dreams too great for their destiny. Perhaps it is the rampant corruption. The competing power players and guilds.
MEDDLE IS JUDGED BY ELDAAR
A generation or two ago the city’s largest Eldaar court was visited by the gods themselves. Eldaar walked through the court, a cacophony of screaming and rabble, into a High Court where an Arbiter of ill repute was passing another flippant sentence on an accused man. Challenged, the Arbiter was incensed by this stranger’s disrespect. Eldaar threw off his robes. At the sight of his living chain mail there was panic. The chains thick and small snaked out over heads and under feet to block doorways. They snaked around walls and pillars like 100 year old vines to trap everyone within the grand courthouse. The noise of the panic filled the building until the god spoke, his voice everywhere.
“The Grand Courts of Meddle are filled with corrupting little maggots like this charlatan arbiter. The dungeons of Meddle are bursting with the poor, the foreigners, the disliked. And they empty out when the slaver caravans pass through. Except… for the diseased and sick.”
Before the Arbiter appeared a lump of a man on the floor. Filthy, wounds bubbling on his legs and arms, with a stench that people recoiled from within seconds.
Eldaar spoke, “this innocent father of three was sentenced to rot in your dungeons, because he sold you a horse, and you poisoned it with your stupidity.”
The Arbiter, brazen still, even before a god, began to defend himself. Eldaar’s eyes closed slowly, a resignation of patience in dealing with children. A spike on a strand of thin chain shot out from his chain mail gauntlet and through the stomach of the arbiter. His screams echoed through all the courts. The chained weaved through him and the spike wrapped around to his right arm and down to his forearm. A fine piece of metal separate from the spikehead to become a hooked needle, a fine thread of metals curling out behind it. The needle hooked into his forearm and begin to sew in and out of the skin.
“Drop my gavel, you worm.” The arbiter fell to his knees gasping at the pain. The gavel dropped from his right hand as the needle worked on the forearm.
“You had him accused him of selling sick horses. You even poisoned other’s horses to make your point. Then you sentenced him for revenge.”
Eldaar looked at the sick wretch of a man. “He is nearing his end now. The damage is done.” A chain went out and wrapped around his neck.
“STOP!” A woman’s voice spoke out from behind Eldaar. He smiled.
There standing in gossamer folds of a purple cloak was a birdlike creature. Her feathered head lead thick down to a round body that thinned to form wider hips of a more human form. Large eyes, forward facing, with a boney orange ridge above and between them. And a large more human mouth below with tiny teeth. Beautiful iridescent white feathers became green as they formed a regal collar around what would be shoulders. The ridges were bone and ran to the front of the body, letting bright white feathers of the stomach peak out.
“Driela, welcome to my courts. Although this one barely should have my name. I am here to correct that.”
“Eldaar, our most wise and judgmental, I am here for the same reason. This court is an affront to all manner of beasts and life. I will not let you add another unnatural death to the toll your laws have created.” Eldaar’s chain withdrew from the prisoner. The arbiter’s mewling continued softly.
“This life will serve as a guardian of this court, and bring justice down upon it if need be.”
The bony ridge around here neck flexed out and up in arcs and the purple gossamer cloak billowed out in a spread of giant wings, colorful and patterned like a butterfly. They ghostly wings touched the ceiling and it crumbled like paper and disintegrating into falling clouds of dust—impossibly small for the damage done. The mans body began to convulsive and change color and texture. The legs burst into rushing forms, like tenatcles that drove through the floor and the below chambers to sink into the earth. Arms flailed and split and shot up through the hole in the ceiling as it expanding in a failing curtina of white and brown dust. The sunlight of the open sky making the room bright enough to blind all but the two titans of immortality. With slow creaking and rustling continuing as Driela started to step forward, she spoke again.
“This great tree will stand here as long as he has the will to breathe the always free air. And should… " her eyes, large beautiful blue orbs, looked downward as her mouth curved into a smile, “when corruption returns, he will give two warnings. He will drawn down the lightning and he will draw down the rains. But if he must act a third time, he will raze this stone abomination back to the true earth below.” Her eyes look to Eldaar, blinking and fluttering at him.
“All will be right?”, she questioned.
Satisfied her wings gently caressed forward and when they drew back she lifted and slid up through the gap in the ceiling. The sunlight disappeared as the tree’s high boughs sprouted a canopy of rich green leaves. Driela was gone.
“Oh, wait.”, the great god said , almost conversationally, like speaking with an old friend.
His chains shot out from walls, webbed windows, barred doors and floors. Screams erupted throughout the chambers. The noises of bones crunching, sickly wet noise of disembowelment and hangings. The rapid rattling of chains everywhere, then sliding and metallic scratches as all the chains wound back to their one source. Weeping and screams continued as the survivors ran out the unblocked exits. The streets now in panic.
Eldaar turned into his robes, they seemed to hold themselves open, like a valet wrapping them around his shoulders. He rattled off as he hurried forward, talking and walking, a mover and shaker from aristocratic society. It was efficient, unaffected, devoid of any real connection. “Your have been judged.”
On the ground the now dead arbiter laid out is a twisted form with his forearm pointing to the creaking and settling tree in the midst of the stone building. On the forearm, was the stitched word, “GUILTY”
Meddle had learned it’s lesson. But that was very long ago.