The Town of Ree
Given its rural location and difficult routes to and from other regions, the large size of the town of Ree is rather unusual. All of the main roads in the town are perfectly fitted stones of blue, white & grey, cut to create a design inspired by crashing ocean waves. The stonework of the grounds at the main plaza at the center of town is comprised of similarly cut stones of red, gold & other colors to create a massive sunburst design. Many new roads & paths have been built, most of which range from basic cobblestone to gravel and worn dirt paths.
Most of the town is constructed of wood, though some human made stone structures exist. The largest buildings, usually reserved for important city functions and residences, are remnants that had been constructed by the dwarves of Nir before they had vanished from the world. The dwarves of Nir often did not embellish their architecture with artistic nuances and style as the dwarves of Olmon were fond of doing. Their ziggurat structures were simple in design and practical, but where they lacked in decoration, they made up for it in technological wonders. The Nir structures are all equipped with running water, plumbing, hot and cold water, heated and cooled air conditioning, controlled lighting conditions and a variety of steam or hydraulic powered mechanisms, such as conveyance tubes capable of delivering messages placed in special cylinders across the town in minutes. There are some devices' uses that have never been determined, such as the crystal and brass device atop the Atheneum. This Nir ingenuity exists throughout the town as a whole; springs, wells & spigots for water, fountains, street lamps that light themselves without fire when it beings to grow dark, two halls with hot baths and the "Horn of Morning" (each day shortly after sunrise a rumbling bellow like that of a great horn resounds from within the earth and mountains - this is actually from the ancient Nir smelting forge deep within the mountain that is fled by lava flows, each morning the pressure valves are automatically opened to release pressure, which creates the sound that can be heard and felt in the ground for miles).
West & East of Ree: Beyond the town proper to the west and east are expansive farmlands, each run by a small village or hold that are home to a number of families. They harvest their crops and herds, keep what they require and bring the remainder to the town market to sell. As the climate in this region is very mild, with no harsh winters or severe summers, crops of many varieties can be grown and harvested at different times and brought to the ever busy marketplace to be traded with other farm holds or with the townsfolk for all sorts of crafted and manufactured goods.
South of Ree: To the south of the town is the town is the what most simply call "the wild". Lightly covered in forest, this region is the domain of the witches. The witches were here before the Reefolk settled here. The dwarves who were here before state that they had been there when they had fled the kobold takeover of Ree. The witches and dwarves had left each other alone, but when the Reefolk had come, the two had become deeply entwined with each other. The witches are healers, wise ones, masters of potions, poisons & cures, as well as a hex or a curse here or there when needed. While the witches continue to live beyond the town, they have become a vital part of it and recruit from the Reefolk population. Their wisdom, leadership skills and abilities had long ago earned them a place in the politics of the Reefolk. Their primary rivals being the wizards of the Atheneum, who largely see them as uneducated, superstitious charlatans & gossips, always seeing to stick their noses into things they have no right to be a part of and pushing people around. The witches similarly see the mages as arrogant & impractical, more interested in asking questions & researching than acting or doing.
The Caravan & The Winter Festival: Once a year, just around the start of Winter, a large caravan comes through Nir from the northern nations of Ilren and the swamps of Kuth. Exactly how the caravan manages safe passage through the kobold infested halls of Nir is a mystery. Many have traveled with the caravan, people leaving Ree, people coming to Ree, and they all report having seen nothing out of the ordinary about the journey, save for the very poignant lack of kobolds. The caravan has been making this journey for many years and the position of caravan leader is handed off over time, but always to a brother and sister, and there is always one of the lizardfolk amongst them. The caravan brings goods of all sorts from all over Ilren & Kuth to Ree for buying, selling & trading, as well as visiting entertainers, craftsmen, messengers and people and products of all sorts. The significance of this caravan has resulted in a great annual celebration called the Winter Festival. The Reefolk, humans and dwarves, welcome the caravan and those that travel with it to their town, and all the farm steads, rangers, witches, Strong dwarves and other residents beyond the town, even the occasional hobbit from the Vale in the east come to celebrate and/or to trade. The caravan stays for one week and then it departs early in the morning, heading back north into Nir and the lands beyond. It has become a tradition for many of the townsfolk to follow the caravan, making merriment as the caravan minstrels and fools play music and dance about behind the main host. They stop following and the music stops as they reach the massive Nir Southern Gate. In silence the people of Ree watch as the now silent caravan vanishes into the darkness beyond the gate. Then they quietly return to their homes and resume their normal lives.
Significant Structures & Locations in or Around Ree
- The Mayor's Office: this is the largest surface structure in all of Ree. This Nir complex serves as the governmental offices, forums & courts, as well as the guards quarters, barracks & dungeons - and atop the structure is the Mayor's home (originally a large squat residence comprising the top two levels of the ziggurat structure), but the current mayor has added wood additions to it, turning it into a lavish mansion).
- The Atheneum & Archives: The upper floors of this large Nirish building is where the mages, scholars, and others who study and research magic and academia reside. All recognized Hopefuls, Apprentices and associated Sages & Scholars of the Atheneum wear the seal of their order, a bronze disc with the image of a rat hugging a scroll. The ground level is where educators & faculty educate the young of Ree. Beneath the Atheneum is where the Archives are located. This was once the repository of lore, relics, artifacts, even magical items created by the wizards, as well as a variety of ancient documents & items left over from the prior residents of the town & the Nir. A little over a decade ago, there had been an earthquake that had caused damage to some of the walls in the Archives, opening rents in the interior and allowing a variety of vermin to invade. The Reefolk attempted to repel the dangerous insects in order to find their incursion points to repair them, but the invaders proved too much for the town guards to fight. As much of the critical items in the archives were retrieved and deposited elsewhere in the Atheneum and the entrance into the Archives were closed, boarded up and sealed by magic.
- The Sun Plaza: this is the grand plaza decorated with a massive sun burst design at the center of town. It is the heart of all trade & commerce in Ree. The plaza lies atop a raised ziggurat platform, similar to the other Nirish structures, but it has other multilevel structures built up alongside it, such as the Mayor's offices and the Twin Dawn in addition to others. These buildings open up to the plaza level and many have additional levels above that. They have a street-level below the plaza and many have a Stone District level below that.
- The Stone District: the dwarven neighborhood located beneath the Sun Plaza. The main avenue that ramps up to the Sun Plaza has two ramps on each side that lead down to a wide underground corridor that runs the perimeter of the plaza in a large square. The corridor is lined with doorways and windows leading to homes built to dwarven scale. Four corridor lanes lead in each cardinal direction from the main square lanes, leading to two another neighborhood to the west and east, and an underground plaza to the south, which is where the shrines to Tol, Karas, Tobrum & Jal are located, as well as a small alcove leading to a small shrine to the strange nameless multi-armed Nir goddess. The north lane leads beneath the gate into Nir. This passage has been sealed off for centuries. The Stone District is where most of the dwarves in Ree have lived since they had fled the kobold invasion of Nir.
The dwarves of Ree are divided into three ancient clans hailing from Olmon far to the north. Clan Bolduum led by Hearth Father Vonin, Clan Gomgrin led by Hearth Father Tomu and Clan Khagam led by Hearth Mother Baerras. A fourth clan was founded from members of all three clans; Clan Strong is led by Big Boss Jorn the Mighty when they left Ree and claimed Garda Tur at the Nir gate for their home. The three clans of Ree and Clan Strong are not hostile, but typically do not get along very well. The Ree clans view the Strong as being brash, unreasonable, uneducated & foolish. The Strong Clansmen see the Ree dwarves as being weak, subservient to humans and very undwarven.
- Garda Tur: the western guard tower built into the mountainside that flanks the gateway into Nir. The rebel dwarven Strong Clan, formed from members of the other three clans, had left the Stone District and Ree in search of true dwarven lifestyle. They had successfully infiltrated and taken hold of the guard tower from the kobolds and continue to hold it as their new domain and staging point for their forays into Nir. While not hostile towards the people of Ree, they are far from friendly.
- Inn of the Twin Dawn: the town of Ree is home to many taverns, but only one inn. The Twin Dawn is located directly off the Sun Plaza and earns its name for the spectacle created when the sun rises; anyone looking out the massive main window in the commons room sees both the rising sun above and the sun upon the plaza reflecting the glow of the dawn. The inn is a popular tavern year round, and provides quarters ranging from small single inn rooms to full apartments for both temporary lodgings for the rare traveler as well as long term lodgings for those who come to Ree on the caravan and remain for the year until the caravan returns. When the caravan is in town, the inn is packed beyond capacity. The inn has been family run since it had been built three generations ago by the Tanda family. The Tanda family also maintain a shrine of Rhys & Alrin on the rooftop of the inn.
- Ebenezer's Supplies & Maps: this large shop carries all your basic supplies and gear for everyday life, as well as for life less ordinary. The shop was opened when Ebenezer, an experienced explorer and mapmaker arrived in Ree on the caravan about 20 years ago. He had heard of Ree during his travels and thought it sounded like the perfect place for him to retire from his adventuring days and open up the shop he had always dreamed of owning. No matter what rare oddity he may have in stock, there is never anything more strange than the owner himself. Ebenezer is a gnoll, originally hailing from the icy lands north of the Olora Mountains. It took the Reefolk some time to adjust to this strange new resident, but in time they finally did and accept him as one of their own to the point of being fiercely proud & defensive of him towards any outsiders that might find his presence alarming. Ebenezer employes a young girl named Brook, who also does a side business of painting portraits.
- The Rose Garden: this is the town brothel, a relatively new establishment. Under the reign of the previous Mayor, prostitution was made illegal. The Mayor had all the prostitutes and even the owners in the brothels at the time of the proclamation gathered up and given to his guardsmen to enjoy as they saw fit before being cast back to the streets. Not all of the victims survived the ordeal. Prostitution since then had become a secret backroom business, largely managed and protected by the Mayor's Daughter and her guild. The current Mayor's legalization of prostitution is rumored to have been a ploy to justify his own personal cravings as well as a means to strip business away from the Daughter and put that coin back into his own pockets. The Rose Garden, which is not only a brothel, but also a tavern, gambling den & has a stage where the girls put on performances, has quickly become a very popular establishment in the town. The owner is a young dwarven couple, Briar Khagam and Shara Bolduum, who employ The Scarlet Mistress to manage the establishment.
- Beaten Horse Tavern:, very few people ever notice the Beaten Horse. It lacks a sign or any other markings to differentiate it from the surrounding buildings as a business. The tavern is small, dirty, poorly lit and the food & drink are astoundingly bad. A few regulars for reasons few could understand choose to patronize the location. Unknown to most, the majority of the patrons in the Beaten Horse are members of the thieves guild, having long ago chosen this location as their preferred location to meet and plan. The owner/manager, a tall bald man with a long greasy black beard named Farin, is entirely oblivious that he is host to criminals, always having just assumed his establishment had found it's niche and community. Farin's cleaner & wider brother is a well known and respected horse breeder named Larin, who is also a prominent member of the Daughter's guild.
The Origins of Ree
Before the fall of Nir, a busy trading community had been established just south beyond the mountain gates. The community grew into a town, where humans, dwarves, halflings and other natives to the region south of the Taren Mountains would come to trade with each other. The town was named Cairdeas, which means "friendship" in the Nir language.
When the Nir vanished many of the residents of Cairdeas fled the town in fear of it happening to them as well. Trade and commerce quickly began to fade and eventually no one came to Cairdeas anymore. The few remaining residents left save for the Olmon dwarves that still lived within the mountain city. Cairdeas was abandoned.
Then the kobolds invaded Nir. From somewhere in the depths of the city, they surged forth in great numbers. The dwarves were overwhelmed and forced to flee or die. They found refuge in the abandoned town of Cairdeas. The non-dwarven crafted buildings had largely fallen into disrepair over years of neglect, but the dwarven structures above and the dwarven neighborhood beneath the grand plaza was perfectly intact. Other than the occasional night time raid, the kobolds seemed content to remain within the confines of the mountain city. The three clans that had escaped Nir settled beneath Cairdeas and made themselves a new home.
Many years passed until the refugees fleeing the destruction of Al-Lorin discovered the ruins of Cairdeas above ground. All but the stone buildings & structures, roads & plaza had fallen and vanished by then. At first they thought they had found an abandoned ruin until the dwarves beneath the town warily appeared, prepared to defend their home from invaders. The leaders of refugees of Al-Lorin, all having belonged or served the Wizards of Ree, sat down with the dwarven clan chiefs and discussed cohabitation of the town. A peace was made and the human refugees were welcomed to inhabit and rebuild the town above.
The town above was named Ree, after the faction that the refugees had belonged too, and they were collectively the Reefolk. The old name of the town was lost with time, very few having actually ever known it, and the meaning of the new name would also be lost with time, save to the wizards & scholars who guarded such secrets from common knowledge - they preferred to keep their role in the destruction of Al-Lorin a secret, thus why they adopted the symbol of Corinth the Rat, the god of secrets & mysteries, as part of their orders seal.