The EAST MARK
The land east of the upper Andural River is thickly forested and sparsely inhabited, a seemingly endless expanse of forested hills and wide rivers. Throughout the deep woods are scattered pits and burial mounds, for this is where the barbarian Koths first came into the West, crossing the great river 600 years ago to settle the land that would become Anglamar. Now, the Eastmark is a frontier province under the authority of the Baron of Eastinghold, though - as in the Northern Marches - the noble's authority is a tenuous thing. Most people live along the banks of the Andural in farmsteads cut out of the forest where they grow small crops, hunt deer, and raise some cattle. Though not as dangerous as the North, life is still rough. Winters are harsh, the Summers mild with frequent thunderstorms out of the east. Orc raids and other monster incursions from the wilderness are common. The people are stubborn, clannish, and resentful of the nobility. Banditry, cattle thieving and feuds are common.
The seat of the barony is a hilltop keep surrounded by a rambling town of wood buildings on the banks of the upper Andural. There is little to be found here amidst this uneven sprawl of timber buildings, aside from a smithy, stables, cattle pens and farmer’s market. In the center of the town, before the gates of the Baron's keep, is a muddy open space dominated by a large gallows capable of hanging six at once (some say, half-jokingly, that it's the busiest place in town). There is a river dock where goods brought in by the locals are loaded onto boats and transported downriver. The width of the river here and the steep bluffs that line its western shore force transport south to Long Isle for trade.
Sir Kayle is the Lord Sheriff of the Eastmark, a position appointed by the crown though still subordinate to the Baron at Eastinghold. Kayle commands some 20 or more foresters (archer-trained men-at-arms). He wields considerable influence in Eastinghold, and any noble must take into account that his men and many others (including merchants) in the Eastmark are loyal to the Sheriff for one reason or another. This can cause problems when it comes to an accurate accounting of taxes and actual control of the barony. More than one nobleman has found himself to be little more than a figurehead in Eastinghold.
Elves are occasionally seen passing through Eastinghold, alone or in small groups, though they keep to themselves and do not stay for long. The Elder Race is not well-regarded or trusted by many in the Eastmark, though, according the King's Law, they may not be harassed. There is some resentment toward them since the Lady Aravel forbids men to cross the Greyflow River.
The Hunted Stag is Eastinghall’s only tavern and inn. Tiberus Hule is a strange, dark-haired foreigner (some say from Varalkia or the Inner Sea Lands) who has run the Hunted Stag for years. He is rumored to have many contacts and is able to pass messages by unconventional means to anywhere in Anglamar.
Anglamar’s easternmost settlement is a collection of wood cottages and timber lodges partially surrounded by a wooden wall. The inhabitants hunt the forest around Greyshadow Mountain and travel the long miles over the Forest Road to Eastinghold for trade. It is a lonely, isolated place with its only protection a small garrison of the Baron’s soldiers and the presence of a resident mage adept.
The town is well-known as a base for adventurers bound for the lost mines and monster lairs of Greyshadow Mountain. The locals greet visitors with courtesy and wry humor. Over the years they have seen many enthusiastic swordsmen, thieves, adventuring monks and up and coming young mages pass through town in search of fame and fortune – and not so many return. Some of the townsfolk amuse themselves with private wagers on the survival of adventuring parties headed "up the mountain."
The One Way Inn, run by the retired swordsman Donagal, caters to the special needs of adventurers. He has supplies and adventuring gear (much of it left behind by past adventurers), potions, flaming oil, alleged maps of the various lairs and dungeons on the mountain, rooms to rest and recover – everything for the itinerant dungeon-crawler at not-so-reasonable prices. The walls of the common room are decorated with trophies from previous adventures. Perhaps the most famous are the stuffed minotaur's head mounted above the large fireplace or the gleaming red and black carapace of a giant fire beetle, the size of a small pony, adorning the wall beneath the stairs. At Donagal's one can hear every dungeoneer’s tale of orc-brawls, near escapes and hilariously miss-fired spells. Conversations starting off with "Did you hear the one about the …?" are commonly overheard – and they usually involve a dwarf with a pole-arm, a mage in an alcove, or a thief sneaking about with a lit torch in hand.
The mage adept Elwyn, called Raven by those who know her well, dwells in an old stone tower outside of town.* She is a sorceress of some renown who has adventured throughout the West. Rumor has it that she was an apprentice of the arch-mage Falkard in Westhaven, and a former paramor of the mage Eldane of the Blue Star (among others).
*Raven has been mysteriously absent from her tower since several weeks before the New Year. According to the locals, there has been some investigation - by a pair of visiting Northern Rangers and by Eldane himself. The latter's sudden appearance after a three-year absence from Anglamar caused something of a stir in Greymantle. As of yet, the mystery of Raven's disappearance has not been solved.
HIGH HORN KEEP
This lonely castle stands in the foothills of the Storm Giant Mountains in the Eastmark. Long ago, it was the seat of an ancient barony. But that noble line died out and the castle is now a frontier guard post manned by soldiers of the King, as well as a place of Royal exhile. Individuals who have earned the special wrath of the King of Anglamar have been sentenced to spend the rest of their lives here in utter seclusion. Escape is unlikely, since the keep sits atop a sheer cliff with only a single passage through rock, sealed by an iron portcullis. There are also said to be magic wards in place around the castle.
Currently, there are two guests incarcerated at High Horn. Their identities are not widely known, though one is rumored to be the Lady Ingral, long ago the mistress of King Thelric and a witch who tried to supplant the Queen.
The knight-commander of High Horn holds the title of Warder of the East and commands a force of 10 knights and 200 men-at-arms, along with their support personnel and the castle staff.
In the Eastmark, if you want to trade or travel, you go to Long Isle town. The place is a cluster of wooden buildings crowded onto a low narrow island in the midst of Long Isle Lake. Goods come downriver from Eastinghall, where they are traded in Long Isle’s board-walked marketplace, and merchants from the rest of Anglamar come here by boat to the town’s sprawling wooden docks. The buildings of the town are crowded against each other in ramshackle fashion, many of them standing out over the water on thick wooded pilings. During Spring, when heavy rains raise the level of the Andural River, the island is flooded and the inhabitants must get about by row boats and rickety wood and rope bridges strung across from upper floor to rooftop. It is an altogether colorful and chaotic place, thriving on trade and visited by folk from all over the kingdom.
The Birdwatch Inn stands on wooden stilts at the island’s north end. From its lakefront balconies there is a magnificent view of the lake, the wooded shores and the in-flowing river. Old Helferen’s kitchen is famous for it’s roast fowl and fish stews and the rooms are comfortable, if one does not mind the building swaying and creaking like an anchored ship.
DEAD ORC PASS
This high, narrow pass cuts through the Storm Giant Mountains south of High Horn Keep. Though frequently snow-blocked, it is used by brave travelers passing to and from the eastern lands. The passage is dangerous, recieving its name from the fact that rival orc tribes often clash here and their remains litter the mountain trail. Soldiers from High Horn keep watch on the pass for orcish incursions from the mountains.
The land north of Greyshadow Mountain, between the upper Greenwater and Easting rivers, is a barren stretch of dead trees and withered undergrowth, scattered with weathered stone blocks and marked here and there by blackened mounds of earth. This is all that remains of the Elven realm of Ealdas, overrun in the orcish invasions of 150 years ago. The land is silent and empty of life, a seemingly endless expanse of dead trees and brown earth. The Elves of the Wildewood do not go there and they do not look kindly on people who do.
This massive lonely peak towers above the eastern forestlands between the Greenflow and Easting rivers, marking Anglamar’s eastern border. From its tree-covered flanks, one can look out over a seemingly endless ocean of green. On a clear day, the misty rise of the Weathermoors, far to the west, can be sighted, as well as the towering snow-clad peaks of the Dragonspine Mountains to the north. "The Mountain," as it is referred to by the locals, is the site of ancient dwarf-holds, tombs, treasure vaults and worked out mines which have now become the lairs of wild beasts, trolls and other creatures more foul. Over the centuries it has been a popular destination for young and daring adventurers. Halfway up the mountain's slope from the town of Greymantle stands the ruins of an old borderland keep, known to be a main entrance to the "dungeons" of Greyshadow.
The legend of a dragon’s lair on Greyshadow Mountain was confirmed five years ago when the Company of the Green Gryphon (of which King Thelgar was a member, under the name Deren) discovered and slew the black wyrm Harassek. Apparently, the dragon's hoard was not nearly as great as the stories claimed, though much gold and several magic artifacts were found. However, true to the myths, the treasure caused desent among the companions which eventually led to the dissolution of the group.
Wildewood is ruled by Aravel, High Lady of the Elves in the West, and has been for as long anyone can remember. The Elf-lord Alandar is known to frequent her realm.
Wildewood's status with regards to the kingdom of Anglamar is a complex one. The Elves are a sovereign people and their land lies at the very eastern extent of Anglamar's influence. Yet, elven numbers are so reduced in the West that they would be sorely pressed to defend themselves against a serious incursion by men or orcs. The High Lady and her people have been allies of Anglamar for centuries, and several elves have been actively involved in the affairs of the kingdom - notably Lord Alandar and the Lady Nyeen. By treaty with King Thelgar II, the forestland east of the Greyflow and south of Greyshadow Mountain is their's. No noble may impose his will there and no human may pass, save by leave of the High Lady herself. In return, the Elves will guard that border of Anglamar and give warning if threats appear to the east. In addtion, under the King's Law, all elves are to be granted safe passage throughout the kingdom. They may not be taxed, delayed, detained, harassed or barred from any city or town.