* Dakaryimry: This fortress has rarely been attacked; it is more a refuge for local herders and miners than it is a proper fortress against armies. The mountains largely keep out the Pentans. It is often seen as basically a place to put people near the end of their term of service to reduce the chance of death in their final few months. However, it is outside the Glowline and thus at times, there has been trouble. |
* Gyumri: This fortress guards the river bridge here and stands atop a high cliff over the river below. It has a small 2,000 person attached town that those who dwell in the Royal Valley come to in order to sell their crops / hides / ores, etc. It is very formidable and most of it is never seen by anyone not stationed there; bridge traffic goes through a long tunnel which is a giant death trap for any intruders, a tunnel surrounded by the fortress itself. |
* Kastet (5,000): This is where the Kings of Vanch are crowned, in the fortress where the Vanchites rode out the worst of the Great Darkness and learned the ways of Great Raccoon. The king hunts in the forest here and priests commune with the sacred Raccoon. Raccoon Hsunchen staff the castle. The King often comes here for the hottest part of Fire Season if things are peaceful enough. |
* Imferand (11,000): A quiet mining and metalworking city; bronze and gold are plentiful in the hills here and in the mountains and everyone brings their ore here to be processed and shipped. The city rings with forgework. The gold is precious especially to the Dara Happans as it is the metal of Fire. Most of the gold found here is shipped downriver to Lagash. Most of the city are Vanchians but there are a few hundred Dara Happans who maintain this trade connection. However, with Lagash in decline, the city is trying to find another economical way to ship its gold to another Dara Happan city; efforts to get Moonboats have been unsuccessful so far. Imfera is the local Goddess of Mines, and her temple is the biggest in the city, to the embarrassment of the local priests of the Seven Mothers. |
* Kastet (5,000): This is where the Kings of Vanch are crowned, in the fortress where the Vanchites rode out the worst of the Great Darkness and learned the ways of Great Raccoon. The king hunts in the forest here and priests commune with the sacred Raccoon. Raccoon Hsunchen staff the castle. The King often comes here for the hottest part of Fire Season if things are peaceful enough. Many fisher folk live in this reason and pay their taxes in fish; Lake Kastet is very safe to fish in and the fish are plentiful.
* Lodril-Harshemoth (14,000): According to ancient myth, Lodril had sex with the Harshemoth River Goddess here and their child founded this city during the Great Darkness as a refuge from the Great Flood. The city rises in spirals up the slopes of a massive 2,000 foot tall mountain which rises out of the plain next to the river, which surrounds it, making it an island. It played Arvad and Elempur against each other, keeping independent; it's populace are Dara Happan but of the poorer sort, though some are now rich. But these days, the elites tend to become Lunarized. The temple of Lodril and Harshemoth is itself on an island inside a tiny lake inside the mountain. During the last days of Dark Season, everyone in the surrounding countryside evacuates to chambers inside the mountain and Storm Season begins with a huge storm and a huge flood which renders the ground much more fertile.
* Shagarash Falls (17,000): In this area, the hills suddenly plunge in a long cliff, five hundred feet deep, and so does the Shagarash River. During the Empire of Wyrm Friends period, the empire built a giant set of locks which can be used to raise and lower ships. A small cult keeps them functional, supported by the city, worshiping the petty god Shagarash Falls (Water) himself. The city was heavily renovated by rioting when the Empire of Wyrm Friends collapsed and so only the cult's temple has the style of the Second Age. |
To visit Vanch can be rather confusing; you might see someone wearing a Doblian style conical wide-brimmed hat, Darjinni elevated clog shoes, a Dara Happan fancy hairstyle, a Lunar toga, and Pentan style painted fingernails. This is because the inhabitants of Vanch believe strongly in copying the best ideas from their neighbors and believe dignity is for the weak. The two national mottos are 'do not hesitate to stoop to conquer' and 'imitation is the sincerest form of flattery'. Or they would be if they were that honest. They serve the Great Raccoon and number Raccoon Hsunchen among their numbers.
Vanch is an allied Kingdom with its own King; the kings and queens wear masks always and take on titles; the current king is King Gatherer, and he has gathered much wealth for his nation. Vanchite traders swarm up and down the Oslir, finding the best ideas, improving them and sending the profits home.
Vanch is too dry for rice and too cold for a lot of cash crops but grows profuse grains and vegetables, raises sheep, cattle, pigs and goats, and mines metal in the hills.
Vanch fields forces of slingers and light infantry, backed by Dara Happan style heavy foot and light cavalry armed with spears and slings. Vanchian slingers have a magical knack for hurling just about anything they can pick up; one Vanchian myth tells the story of how the Great Racoon flung the Great Bear with his sling at Oslira when she threatened to eat him. Then she choked on Great Bear, who went to sleep in her throat because it was dark and cold there. She no longer comes near the Great Raccoon's lands.
The ancestors of the Vanchites were part of the nation of the High Folk. Their king was Isildin and he saw the Great Darkness rising and believed the only hope was to turn to Chaos and pact with it before it destroyed them. But you can't bargain with Chaos and the wise fled, led by the Great Raccoon to a refuge. What happened next, no one knows but this area was the result; the inhabitants, not counting random chaotic monsters, are the hideous Isildini, mockeries of the human form but with warped four eyed heads, two mouths, hideous claws and thick fur. Every so often, they swarm out in a great tide and have to be stopped; more often, they raid in small groups.
Deep within Isildin's sin are mountains made of glass, paper, fire, vomit, and other odd substances; the Isildini sometimes call forth chunks of the mountain into strange shapes to join their armies as golems. There is rumored to be a literal mountain of gold but few are crazy enough to go looking for it.
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