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Furmenglaive (Province of)by Marco Dalmonte
Location: Isle of Dawn
Area: 38,410 sq. mi. (96,025 km sq)
Population: 3,000 (including 600 in the community of Furmenglaive)
Languages: Thyatian, Alphatian (not so widespread)
Coinage: Emperor (5 gp), Lucin (1 gp), Asterius (1 sp), Denarius (1 cp). Alphatian coins are also accepted: Crown (1 gp), Mirror (1 sp), Judge (1 cp).
Taxes: Citizens have their total worth assessed every year, and are taxed 20% of that amount.
Government Type: Feudal (the Counts of Furmenglaive owe fealty to Thyatis)
Industries: Agriculture, fishing, and sheep
Important Figures: Count Phileus Furmenglaive (human male werewolf, F20), Countess Lyra Furmenglaive (human female werewolf, Pr20)
Flora and Fauna: Furmenglaive consists mostly of moors and rolling hills with scrubs and a few scattered woods of ashes, yews and the occasional pine tree. Small ponds also dot the countryside, where sheep and goats are the most common sight. Wild goats and boars and packs of wolves are also common for the shepherds and farmers of the region, who use brave shepherd dogs to protect their cattle and farms. Many unpleasant creatures can be found in Furmenglaive (and in general throughout the Shadow Coast) due to the presence of the Thothian Plateau, which is a veritable nest of monsters. Lycanthropes are feared in the region (especially werewolves and wereboars), as well as undead and the so called "night demons", a term the Furmenglavians use to define any unpleasant creature that stalks the land by night (including goblins).
Introduction by Shaun the Elfin
Shadows stretch all across this tiny province in the south of the Isle of Dawn, shadows that belong to the night and to the other side of life, what is commonly called "fear" or "mystery" by most men. And truly Furmenglaive is "the Gateway to the Darkworld", as many of its inhabitants call it.
Rolling hills and great expanses of moors dominate the Province of Furmenglaive. Some patches of scrub trees and gaunt isolated birches and ashes may be encountered up and down the hills of the region, but to call those real woods would be an insult to Mother Nature (especially for me). Moors are the common terrain here, and many people dedicate their lives to rise goats and sheep that produce a fine quality of wool (similar to that produced in Klantyre). Others prefer to work the soil and so some cultivated fields can also be spotted in the area (especially near the capital), though not as often as shepherds tending cattle. A few fishermen also try to earn their living in the southern part of the dominion, but theirs is not a wealthy profession here. Many small ponds and a few bogs (especially in the southern tip of the dominion) can be encountered by the inexperienced traveller, and wild animals usually gather here to drink and rest during the day, while they take refuge in their lairs at night, like every other sane being would do here. The sky is an impressive sight in Furmenglaive, so near to the ground that sometimes it seems you could touch it with your own hands. Clouds roll by at incredible speeds during night and day due to the wind currents from the nearby Sea of Dawn, making the landscape a kaleidoscope of colours, especially during daylight. Furmenglaive coasts are jagged and full of reefs in the northern part, while the southern ones are windswept and more shallow.
The only good natural harbour here lies below Castle Furmenglaive, where the Counts have built the only existing port of the entire domain. A four yards wide street of milestones lead from the port 200 yards up to the fortified town of Furmenglaive, built around the imposing building known as Castle Furmenglaive, a gloomy old fortress erected on the cliffs above the harbour. The town consists mostly of wooden barracks and a few stone dwellings for the richer artisans and the town mayor (who also happens to be the Seneschal and the Chief Constable). The countryside of Furmenglaive is dotted with a handful of tiny hamlets and isolated huts of lone rangers and herders who don't trust wanderers, especially if they're strangers and come by night-time.. as I've witnessed myself firsthand..
The people of Furmenglaive are a superstitious lot... or a wise one, I've not understood it yet. They believe in Things That Go Bump In The Night, in Witches' Covens, in the Beasts Within and in the Longfang Devils, to use the terms of those natives. They are of Kerendan stock, but strangely they are more similar to last century Traladarans than to the common Thyatian: I can only assume they changed their vision of the world when they came to live in Furmenglaive. And honestly I cannot blame them for their fears, for this is a land where even your own shadow seem to be alive... and out to harm you. The Furmenglaivians believe in the dark side of men and nature and are ready to defend themselves using wards and old traditional countermeasures that range from the simple cantrip and garlic necklace to the most complicated "formulae magicae" (ceremonies) to drive out devils and impure spirits from places and human beings. Normally, special people (àuguri -sing: augurus) who are held in high respect by all the villagers perform these rituals: they have the same importance of priests in the nations of the Known World (and some of them are indeed clerics), though their powers are not always real (but they do believe in them!). There is also a strange role assigned to some people I encountered in these hamlets: the "Dhampirs". Apparently this is a tradition that could also be encountered in Traladara in the last centuries (though I admit I don't know if it's still in use today). According to legends, the dhampirs are half-humans and half-monsters, children of a human woman and a creature of darkness (commonly a vampire, a Longfang Devil) who can recognise and hunt down other monsters like their father because of their incredible (albeit fiendish) powers. Famous Dhampirs are always viewed with suspicion by people not only in Furmenglaive but also in all the dominions of the Isle of Dawn (where the knowledge of the existence of these beings is widespread). However, in Furmenglaive nobody can deny a dhampir shelter and a warm meal if he asks for it, because this could bring bad luck on him, or worse the dhampir's wrath. Dhampirs normally are loners who travel the land seeking evils to destroy, but I haven't understood the reason they do it even after speaking with a few of them: some do it for revenge, others for glory, others simply for sheer pleasure of killing... a strange lot indeed. Also, there is a common and renowned profession widespread in Furmenglaive and in all the provinces of the Shadow Coast: the Hunter. There are four types of Hunters in the Province of Furmenglaive (though others could exist in nearby domains): Vampire Hunters, Lycanthrope Hunters, Demon Hunters and Ghost Hunters. Each hunter is experienced with the tactics, powers and weaknesses of his kind of prey and has special weapons and tricks he uses to identify and subsequently kill his foes, taught from generation to generation. I have encountered a few of them in my wanderings in the Isle of Dawn, and I must say they are really incredible people, extremely experienced and devout to their duty of freeing the world from the most hated creatures of darkness. The ones I spoke with were all utterly loyal to the cause of Good, but I know some have also a love for money and glory like every other hardened adventurer.
The people of Furmenglaive also have their own particular celebrations during the year besides those commonly acknowledged in other Thyatian dominions. The strangest two are the Awakening (also called "D" Day) and the Night of Whispered Curses. The first one (Eirmont 23rd) commemorates the first major victory of the forces of Goodness against the Prince of Darkness, which led to the end of the Shadow Years of Furmenglaive (AC 500-540) and to the formation of the first companies of Hunters. It is also called "D" Day because according to the ancient version of the legend, it was the famed dhampir "D" (the first of its kind) who was responsible for the defeat of the evil forces of Darkness. The Night of Whispered Curses (Kaldmont 13th) is said to be the moment of the year when the powers of the witches and of all the servants of the Prince of Darkness (or the Dark Mother according to others) are at their peak. For this reason people throughout Furmenglaive meet in large sanctified halls (temples or even blessed stables) and there they pray for the whole night to the good Immortals, trying to fend off the evil curses of the witches and protect themselves from the Darkness' powers.
Furmenglaive is ruled by Count Phileus Furmenglaive and his wife Lyra, who managed to reclaim their dominion after the Alphatians captured it during the war in AC 1006. The province itself is quite old, and was founded in AC 500 by the great grand-father of the current ruler, Magnus Furmenglaive, a powerful Thyatian wizard. The dominion has always been ruled by the Furmenglaive family, even though the inhabitants of the region tell strange tales about the fate of the former rulers. In fact, many people here believe that the Furmenglaive family is cursed and that this legacy dates back to Magnus's time. Persistent rumours want the current rulers to be cursed too, even though nobody knows exactly what kind of affliction they're suffering. However, both Count Phileus and Countess Lyra fought valiantly against the Alphatian invaders and organised a secret resistance during the period of the occupation that was able to dispose of more than one hundred Alphatian soldiers who ventured too far in the moors of the domain. Of all the occupied provinces during the war, Furmenglaive was surely the one that gave less benefits to the Alphatians and the first one they left (some say in a hurry) after the end of the war.
There aren't many things to visit in Furmenglaive, but if you are really brave and ambitious, you could try to get an audience with the Sybill. This woman lives in a hidden cave near the northern border of the dominion and is considered blessed by the Immortals: she is renowned for her prophetic abilities. She lives alone in her cave and apparently has no contact with the outside world. Many say that she's been living there for more than one hundred years, for they remember their grandparents talking about the Sybill, but nobody knows for sure who she really is or how she looks like. The Furmenglaivians are not even sure the Sybill is a female: they simply use the female pronoun because they heard others using it in the past. The truth is that nobody has ever seen the Sybill (according to my sources), so she's surrounded by an aura of great mystery. However, she still lives in her cave and offers omens and predictions to every person that can find her lair. The visitor must whisper his questions at the entrance of the cave and the Sybill simply whispers the answer after some time. The problem is that the cave distorts the voice, and considered that the Sybill also gives very obscure responses, most of the times the pilgrim cannot really understand the answer. However, as far as the rumours go, the Sybill's prophecies have always been right: she's the true mouth of the Immortals.
I'd say do miss the whole Shadow Coast altogether if you value your soul, but if you want me to be more explicit, these are a few of the sites I would not venture too far when you are in Furmenglaive: the Blood Hill and the Tower of Magnus.
The Blood Hill is a singular haunted place: theatre of one of the most bloody battles between Alphatians and Thyatians during the last century, it is now inhabited by the ghosts of all the soldiers who perished there. The hill itself is an eerie sight even during daylight, for it is still littered with bones and rusted armours and weapons belonging to the fallen fighters, and is normally avoided by men and animals alike. By night, the whole hill becomes alive with screams, sounds of clashing weapons and ghostly figures roaming around. Some people claim to have witnessed the events from a safe distance and report the sight of whole troops of shadows raising from the earth and marching against one another, repeating the same moves and suffering the same fate over and over again. Rumours also tell of unlucky travellers who were so moved by the scene that they tear themselves apart crying in agony, while others joined the soldiers in their fray and became part of their macabre army.
The Tower of Magnus is a strange and isolated tower built near the eastern border of the domain and shunned by the locals. The legend wants it to be Magnus' laboratory, where the first ruler of Furmenglaive researched arcane lore and made foul pacts with the Forces of Darkness dwelling on the Isle of Dawn. When Magnus disappeared some 450 years ago, his tower became inaccessible even to his relatives, and all the adventurers who have tried to unveil its secrets have never returned. Some say that Count Magnus still visits it during certain periods of the year, though nobody knows it for sure.