Anvil Vale Icons
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The Dwarves of the Citadels
|The Great Clans|
"Remember our Legacy. We are the inheritors of ancient honor and devotion to our people."
Though they were once the rulers of dwarvenkind, the days of kings and crowns is past. Still, the Urram Athair grant their lineages power and blessings, and while the wealth and prestige of the Great Clans may have tarnished with time, they still have plenty of both.
"Prosperity is security. Those who have are those who protect, and it is fallen to us to see to the continuation of our people now."
Though they were once considered upstarts, now most of dwarven society is accustomed to the rule of the Guildsmoot. The quintessential dwarven trait is craft-skill, they claim, so those with the most such ability ought to rule. The Guildsmasters sit on the moot, and they balance and check all of dwarven society like a business. So far, they have brought prosperity and with it, safety – which is more than the old warlike Great Clans could claim.
The Folk of the Vale
|The Pastoral Sainted|
"Walk these fields with us. Revel in the passing of the day, the turning of the seasons, the planting, the growing, the harvest, and the fallow."
The agricultural faith of the Mysteries Pastoral has a great deal of influence in the Vale, and the Sainted Three who act as it hierophants wield that capably. They usually seek only health and prosperity for the farmer and workers, while also ensuring that the sanctity and health of the vital land is maintained by their dwarven overlords, who can sometimes be blinded by gold to the dangers their industry can pose. But some are also suspicious of the Sainted, claiming they have sinister intentions, using their powers and the faith of the field-workers to accomplish their ends.
"Gather up and heave together, friends. For this is the Strength of Men, and it does not falter in this task."
Though their title is an old dwarven one, the Thanes are the (largely) human leaders of the settlements of the Vale. While the Thanes together hold a single seat at the Guildsmoot, their influence goes beyond this advisory role. Left to their own devices for years at a time, the Thanes work together to see to the defense and prosperity of the Valefolk, sacrificing much to accomplish it, and given much respect and wealth as their due.
The Primal Four
No one knows what is is or where it comes from. The Berserker does not observe boundaries or borders, although it has never appeared within the citadels themselves. When it appears, bloodshed follows. Sometimes, goodly folk are ripped apart, for reasons no one can understand. Other times, they are saved from threats, the Berserker their gore-covered savior. Most disturbing, though, is the fact that its propensity for frenzy seems to be contagious: some of those who have encountered the Berserker later give in to furies of their own.
In the deeps of the Grinnirwood, the forest itself stirs. Witches and cultists and canny huntsmen know the secrets of the Darkest Wood, and they seek to preserve its sanctity and to serve the Grinnir. The Grinnir is a creature of life and death, a hunter's totem that blesses those who take life from under his trees, for his promise is that the day will come when they themselves lie as bleached bones beneath those trees, feeding the wood they fed themselves from.
|The Speaker of Spirits|
"Listen for the whispers that sound around you at all hours of the day. Do not despair; few can hear them. I am so blessed, however, and I will speak for them."
Though the individual Frostwood elf clans all have their own individual elders, all of them listen for the advice of the Speaker of Spirits. A wielder of primal magics, the Speaker is the defender of the Frostwood and its elven folk, a role that brings them into contact with the folk of the Vale far more often than is comfortable for either side.
|The Unicorn of the Frostwood|
"Tread lightly in the shadows of these boughs, stranger. You walk on hallowed ground."
For generations, there has been a Unicorn of the Frostwood who speaks for the forest itself (rather than its spirits or folk within it, as the Speaker does). There are holy glades in the Frostwood that are under the protection of the Unicorn, and those allied with her. Even in the fastnesses of the citadels, one can find those who work with the Unicorn, seeing her as a symbol of that which is good and pure in the world.
"Yeeessss, come closer, come closer. Speak to me the morsels you have gathered, that we might feast on them together!"
High in the Starfrost Mountains is the Last Aerie, a mountain peak city home to kenku and aarakocra. Its master's identity is largely unknown; denizens of the Last Aeries simply call them the "Aeriemaster," with the suggestion that the individual that bears that name has changed over the years. Greedy for knowledge and driven by a desire to know the secrets of others, the Aeriemaster sends their people out into the world to recover knowledge and send it home on the wings of ravens and hawks. Cruel and unrelenting, the Aeriemaster has never hesitated to use such secrets against others – or even to sell those secrets to the highest bidder.
|The Queen of Frost|
"Oh won't you join me in this dance, this dance of winter, this dance of the pure white silvery snows?"
She is lovely beyond reckoning and lures mortals away to her frozen palace in Ylistaloré, the eladrin city that appears in Silvershield Vale only on nights of the full moon. The Queen of Frost herself can and does appear at any time in the snowy mountains or when winter touches the Vale, and many a mortal has made pacts with her, or one of her Winter Knights on her behalf. She seems to be a creature of caprice and whimsy, delicate in beauty like a snowflake, but often deadly like the blizzard.
|The Sea Lords|
"The rightful domain of humankind is the sea, and we its masters."
Far away, weeks down the road that extends south from Great Gate into the Frostwood, lies the realms of the Sea Lords. Coastal nobility who claim all of the sea as their own, the Sea Lords are a lineage of canny politicians given to piracy on their enemies. They claim all of humankind as their own, and so any place that has humans living there is bound to have a few who offer their loyalty – in secret, most often – to the Sea Lords.
Horrors & Monsters
|The Slumbering Inferno|
[slow cycling breaths, like a mighty bellows]
Deep in the Starfrost Mountains somewhere, there sleeps a great Doom. Only his most faithful know the name of this great red dragon, but everyone has heard of it: the Inferno-That-Sleeps, and there is no doubt in anyone's mind that when he awakens, the Vale will burn. Worse yet, this dragon has an entire network of servants and worshippers, promised safety when the Inferno wakens.
"Listen, listen • Seek in thy dreams • Neither run nor hide • Naught can muffle thy screams"
Everyone in the Vale and the citadels above them have had a whisper-dream of the Vundilan. A nightmare thing whose merest whispers spawn nightmares in sleeping minds, no one truly knows what the Vundilan is or what it wants. Still, some wake from those nightmares with more than fear and tears: some wake with a mission, and know that if they do not accede, they'll never sleep a peaceful night again.