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Against the Shadow  |  Places on Aryth  |  Yggdra, Dornish village
Yggdra, Dornish village
Yggdra, Dornish Village


    Yggdra is a Dornish village, halfway between Bastion and the Fortress Wall. The tree stump in the center of the village was once so large that twenty full grown men could link hands and not make a circle around it. The tree was a holy site, worshipped with the a scarecrow representing the Hanged God in the winter festival, and blood smeared on its roots. Autumn meant the great dance with half of the town making hammers out of corn shucks and old pillowcases in order to playfully beat the other half of the town, dressed as the trickster, around the tree for a beating. This beating would make the gods laugh and ensure good harvest.
    Springtime decorated the tree with flowers and colorful muds from nearby streams. Marriage ceremonies performed before the colorful druidic murals.
    Summer meant water was brought to the tree to quench its thirst. Sometimes a witch or a criminal or even an Orc captured from the North would be killed in the tree's shade to quench its restless summer heart.
    Now it is only a stump. Despite its size and grandeur, ever the Legate doesn't stand upon it as a stage to make announcements. Doing so would only make him seem all the smaller.
    Someone performs secret rites under the moon on the stump, using the body of a once hly thing, paying respect to a corpse of a divine entity in hopes of summoning hope from its dried wood.
   Before the last battle Orcs took the Fortress wall and took the tree down. They made boats from its wood, crossed the Pellurian and conquered Eredane on Yggdra's pride and joy.

    The people of Yggdra are caught between the many Orc of the Bastion District and the levies of the Fortress Wall. Their Legate is a brutal taskmaster when he has to be, but the constant threat of Orcish troops keeps the locals in line, seeing to the bountiful harvest, sending grain to the Erethor and Karadun fronts.


Nine Wells

by Dirigible

    Before the Fall of the Shadow, Yggdra was home to a wise old man named Gahnarm. This man had been a hero in the constant skirmishes against the orcs in years before, before retiring to his home village as a celebrated warrior and wielding an enchanted spear he had wrested from the hands of a witch-knight in Izrador's service.
    One day, the well of Yggdra ran dry. Quickly, the villagers dug another... but as they finished it, a strange buzzing filled the shaft, and a swarm of horrific, flesh devouring locusts boiled out and killed some of them.
    Even after this shock, the people knew they needed water, so they dug another well... and this time, thick black oil gushed up, tainting the water. Again and again, the townsolk dug... each time, they were faced with poisonous water, or swarms of snakes, or shafts that belched flames for no good reason. Many bemoaned this wicked magic that plagued them, but Gahnarm kept their spirits up, urgig them to keep trying.
    At last, so thirsty that all were near death, they dug the ninth well shaft. At the bottom, as the last spadeful of earth was cast aside they found a small, bent-backed creature, coloured like mud and with a sadistic, malevolent glint in his eye. The little man cackled as the villagers recoiled from him, and danced victory jig.
   
"Heh heh heh heh! Thank you, credulous humans! You fell prey to my sorceries, and have at last released me from my earthy tomb! Now I, Kryschataar, am free to wreak my punnishments against all your kind!"
    The villagers of Yggdra wept in despair, and prepared to leave their home, reasoning that they could not battle this powerful spirit. Gahnarm, on the other hand, strode back to his house and retrived his spear Skycleaver, and challanged Kryschataar.
    "Foul earth spirit! I will strike you down unless you leave this place!" The spirit merely laughed "Dorn! You cannot hurt me!"
    With an oath, Gahnarm hurled his spear to pierce the little gremlin... but Kryschataar leaped down one of the wells. Skycleaver flew back to the warriors hand, and Gahnarm approached the wells, aiming his spear down the shaft to spear the earth spirit as it sat at the bottom. As he did, Kryschataar disappeared and reappeared in a different well, hooting with mocking laughter.
    For an hour they played this game, the gremlin popping in and out of the wells as the Dornish warrior stalking him, always missing, even with his enchated weapon. At last, Gahnarm had an idea: he order the villagers to fill the wells up, one by one... Kryschataar found himself without hidding places, and the warrior struck him down and slew him.
    Though freed from the gremlin (who is still used to frighten children in the area to this day), a strangfe quirk of fate ensured that water in the wells flowed... erratically, forcing the villagers to dig them out again. Each day a different one of the nine wells gives water, while the others are dry. The locals know the pattern off by heart, but it is odd to outsiders.

Hel Orchards

by Shadowfane

    Lying to the north of Yggdra, the Hel Orchards were once rich plantings of fruit trees that have long since fallen under the Shadow. The quiet apple and pear groves have become a snarled wood of black, sinister shapes and half-glimpsed movements - the haunt of restless spirits and demons; so say the locals of old Yggdra who remember the sweet fruits of the orchard only in folklore.
    Over the decades the orchard has devolved into tangled and dense woodland, spreading like a canker through the shallow moorland valleys of northern Bastion. The trees are gnarled and twisted, as though blighted by some terrible disease and their leaves are thin and mottled, crumbling to dust soon after they fall in the autumn. In the spring, those trees and their descendants produce fetid blooms that carry the stink of death, wafting on the cold northern winds to befoul Yggdra’s air with the promise of decay. In the autumn, odorous fruits ripen on the oldest trees of the Orchards; to eat of their putrid flesh is to invite certain painful, death.
    All manner of haunts and vile spirits are thought to dwell in the Orchards dark recesses, and even the legates and the orcs fear to go near. One spirit more terrible than the rest is purported to dwell at the black heart of the Hel Orchards within the crumbling, rambling ruins of the former orchard owner’s house; the villagers call this eidolon Saliach, which means simply ‘defiled’. The local folklore places Saliach as the last owner of the Orchards, brutally murdered by orcs at the end of the Third Age. Other tales claim he is a dark demon, fled from Riismark after its sacking and taken up residence in the befouled wood, and yet others say Saliach, is the tortured spirits of the trees from this once fair orchard, taken substance in their anguish, and twisted into a malign and spiteful force. Whatever the truth, a dark foreboding lies heavily upon the wood known as Hel Orchards, and few animals or birds or men, dare venture there....

Wolf Pack Pond

by Judd "Paka" Karlman

    Like in all northern villages, wolves are hunted. There used to be wolf traps, walls of wood in a V shape that would serve as ambush points, so villagers with sharpened sticks could kill the beasts, keep them from stealing livestock. There was little enough to go around as it is.
    A few years ago a band of Orcs, hunting a Channeler, came through the town. They were hungry and tired. When the village couldn't raise enough food to properly outfit the band, they took a newborn child for food. They kept it alive, stuck it in a sack, saying that it would be fresh for the road.
    A week later there was terrible howling near the pond just outside of town. When the first Yggdrasan got there a pack of wolves padded away and on the pond's shores was the baby, hungry and cold but unharmed. It is unknown what become of the Orcs.
    The V's used to hunt the packs were then dismantled and the wood used to build a small shrine to wolves. Since then the villagers have left offerings on the shores of the pond for the wolves in hopes that they would watch over the children of Yggdra.

Troll Cemetary

by Judd "Paka" Karlman

    An old troll sits under the covered bridge into town, eating what the Legate feeds him. Every so often a troll will come with a body, burned or etched with acid and the old troll will bury it carefully on the muddy banks of the river under the bridge. The bridge is known as the Troll Cemetary. Villagers tend to avoid it, even though the Troll wants very little to do with anyone.
    They say he is old and revered among the trolls and so they bring him their dead when they can, so he can send them on their way to Izrador. He burns all of the bodies standing up, facing north, so they can make their way to Izrador safely. The heads and feet are buried in a seperate pit, all also facing north, to make sure no Trollish Fell make their way out of his pit.
    The howling wind from the north that makes such a hellish whistle through the covered bridge is said to be either the spirits of the Trolls about to make their way to their Dark God or Izrador himself, beckoning his dead soldiers to come home

Legate's Manor

by Judd "Paka" Karlman

    Norfadin was a Soldier Legate on the Erethor Front. His heroics were responsible for the Shadow taking an important grove.
    Arrows pierced him, leaving his lungs barely working. To this day a hacking cough invades him every winter. Legate-ship of Yggdra was a boon for him, a place for him to retire. There are rumors that he murdered the former Legate who held this town before him but they've never been substantiated and Theros Obsidia is too busy with a war to care. Let Izrador sort it out.
    He will often tell the villagers stories of the Elves, how they eat people and yet the people live on for a year and a day, how the Witch Queen bond death as her consort and hence the Fell come back to plague the living and how the Snow Elves steal children on the night of snowstorms, leaving pieces of cold wood, glamoured to look and act like a child.
    His manor is a small stone building, just outside of town, surrounded by tall hedges. It is called Yggdramaine, the name carved into the foundation stone in ancient Dornish runes.
    He is interested in marrying a local girl and often invites famlies with unmarried girls to his manor for as lavish a meal as a country Legate can provide.

Shadow Chapel

by Judd "Paka" Karlman

    Once it was a place where people went to pay homage to their ancestors on Holy Days but now its doorway faces North, towards the One God's home. It is a building tha thas been plagued by nature, floods, fire and snow have assaults its rickety timbers. Wind whistles through the walls and the fire in the hearth always seems to be about to flicker out.
    Cronorn is the old lady who tends the chapel. She tells the children stories about how Izrador watches out for the strong and the cunning. She talks about the first ages, when man was beholden to so many gods and goddesses and demons that none could name them all but they could enter anyone's home and take the children away.
    Izrador cut man off from these dieties, so he could grow strong on his own, without the crutch of prayers. Prayers don't please Izrador, only strength and loyalty.
    Several children who have shown promise were sent to Theros Obsidia on Cronorn's reccomendation but it is unclear what status she holds in the Shadow's hierarchy, only that sometimes Legate's or their Sniffer Demons will come to consult with the old hag.

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