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Leeha (Shire of)

Location: Norwold, continent of Brun, on the western coast of the Great Bay.

Area: 998 sq. mi. (2,585 sq. km.).

Population: 7,000.

Languages: Hin (Lalor), Alphatian.

Coinage: Crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).

Taxes: Mostly barter; otherwise crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).

Government Type: Democracy; elected clan representatives (clanmasters) advise an elected sheriff (count).

Industries: Agriculture, fishing.

Important Figures: Shaedrik Divotfoot (Sheriff, halfling, male, F9).

Flora and Fauna: Leeha's rolling hills are forested with a mixture of evergreens, oak, maple, hickory, elm and ash in the south-east. Thickets, brambles and ferns are common beneath the taller evergreens. The forested areas abound with wildlife and wild animals can be encountered away from the settlements. The forests give way to gentle rolling fields and meadows filled with wildflowers and fruit trees, as well as crops. Streams are smaller and gentler in the fields that make up the heart of the shire. There's also an inland swamp near the Gulf of Leeha; quicksand is a deadly peril found amongst the peat bogs here. Twisted and stunted trees give shelter to all types of swamp denizens, monsters included.

Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.

Description by Synthala of Aasla.

Finally I have had the time to see this marvellous land, and what a pleasure! The halfling county of Leeha has always been an independent, merry land to visit. It is divided into seven smaller dominions (called shires by the hin), but few outsiders notice this, since the halflings always take decisions in common and live as a single nation. In this report I will deal extensively with the central shire, Leeha properly, because it's the most famous one and the heart of the county.

The Land

Leehashire is one of the most beautiful regions in all of Norwold. Its rolling hills are forested with a mixture of evergreens, oak, maple, hickory, elm and ash in the southeast. Lakes and rivers are plentiful in the hills, which are known as the Catbergs. Hin venture here quite often, but this area is more of a borderland.

The forested area is known as the Greenwood. The Greenwood is pleasant and peaceful, and it abounds with wildlife. Wild animals are the only concern while travelling here. The forests give way to gentle rolling fields and meadows filled with wildflowers and fruit trees, as well as crops. Streams are smaller and gentler in the fields that make up the heart of the shire. Smaller ponds are also common in the fields. The rivers tend to flow toward the sea or into the White Bear River.

The Greenwood River originates deep in the Catbergs. It flows southward through the forest and across farmland, before turning west to join the White Bear just north of Leeha. The Naszbras River starts in a region of the Greenwood south of Goodfield. It flows peacefully from the woods across the fields to the east, then turns northward through Fogvail Swamp, before emptying into the Gulf of Leeha.

Fogvail Swamp is a dark and murky place, which is often shrouded in mist. Few hin dare go here. Quicksand is a deadly peril found amongst the peat bogs here. Twisted and stunted trees give shelter to all types of swamp denizens, monsters included. The inland swamp eventually gives way to salt marsh along the coast, but most of the water here is stagnant and infested with insects. During winter, the bogs will freeze over, making them easy to cross, but some monstrous inhabitants remain active all winter.

The White Bear River is a major waterway that is navigable for most of the year. It often freezes over during the winter. The river is deep and slow moving as it passes through the shire, but the water is cold from its source in the Icereach Range. In some places, the river can be over a mile wide, depending on the season. The banks tend to be fairly steep as the river winds through the valley, but it is not so in all places. The banks of the river are very fertile allowing a wide variety of crops to grow there.

To the west of the White Bear, the forests become denser, and evergreens grow more common toward the foothills of the Icereach. The western forest is called the Hightimber. The southern part of this forest is thick with smaller trees and ground cover. Thickets, brambles and ferns are common beneath the taller evergreens. North of Leeha, these woods tend to have older, taller trees with little underbrush. Moss and needles carpet the forest floor. The trees are broken by the occasional meadow. Freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are all abundant throughout this region. The River Dinelbras marks the northern edge of this forest.

The stretch of Hightimber Forest between Leeha and Grassy Knoll is crossed by the dangerous Snakebite River. Poisonous serpents are found in this area, including water moccasins and rattlesnakes. The Snakebite crawls its way to Saurian Saltmarsh, on the coast of the Great Bay. Hin rarely travel here.

To the north of the Great Bay, the woods also become increasingly more evergreen, but are rarely completely so. The trees are dense and thick, making travel difficult. The woods form a protective border on this side of the shire, and have been dubbed the Northguard Woods. These woods are a true wilderness and are mostly unexplored.

Leehashire is composed of five halfling clan strongholds, each with its own leadership (and Crucible of Blackflame). The close proximity of the clans to one another has encouraged the hin to develop together. The stronghold of Leeha is the clans' central gathering place; it is located near the White Bear River. The hin have excavated huge warrens along the riverbank, so that the members of all the clans may stay in Leeha and have a safe roof over their heads and a warm fire before their feet.

Leeha is the capital of the shire. It is the central meeting place for the five clans of Norwold, and also the seat of government in the shire. There is a central marketplace where goods can be traded between the clans as well as with outsiders. Most types of goods can be found here, although some foreign items may be quite expensive. Larger two-handed weapons and clothing and armour larger than hin-size will be difficult to find here. Horses are very rare in Leeha, but ponies can be purchased easily. The market is not far from the river, which has docks and warehouses (both above and below ground) to accommodate river traffic and sea-going vessels. However, dock space for larger ocean vessels is limited.

Leeha is not heavily fortified, but there is a central fort where the Leeha Defence Force and krondar (hin police force) are based. The Sheriff's Mansion is adjacent to the Defence Fort. A stone bridge crosses White Bear River in the centre of town. It has two guard towers and a wooden drawbridge to allow ships to pass. The more common smaller vessels can pass under when the bridge is down. It is here that the toll is collected for watercraft travelling on the river. Note that the toll is paid in both directions, and that all ships entering Leeha are subject to it, as the bridge must be passed in order to reach the docks. The shire maintains a small fleet of riverboats and sailboats to patrol the waterway.

Most streets in Leeha are either dirt or grass to accommodate hin feet. The only paved area is found surrounding the Defence Fort. The entire town is walled and there are several towers, as well. The two main gates are the North Gate and the River Gate, but there are many other unofficial doors and tunnels leading into and out of town. A huge network of warrens and burrows has been dug into the riverbanks and extends beneath the city. The entire population of the shire could take refuge in the town and warrens if the need arose. Many of the underground chambers are storerooms containing stockpiles of food and other goods to withstand an extended siege. Because of this (and the small size of the hin), the town seems rather open and spacious. It is less crowded than human cities and there are several parks or "greens" to allow for leisure activities (a very important part of any hin's life).

The People

Overall, Leeha has the atmosphere of one big happy family. The five clans are represented in roughly equal numbers, many of whom have chosen to live in Leeha permanently. The mix of full time residents and yallaren passing through make it an interesting place to visit. It may seem somewhat uncontrolled at times (especially during holidays), but the hin tend to watch out for their own. They are friendly folk who are willing to lend a hand to almost anyone. The residents are more aware than they may seem, however, and many are quite worldly. They will not hesitate to quickly band together and repel disrespectful or dangerous visitors. The hin maintain a standing force of 1,500 warriors. Although the small folk try not to become involved in human quarrels, they do not hesitate to band together and defend their homeland against incursions by monsters and other undesirables.

Recent History

The area of Leehashire was settled in the distant past by hin driven from the Northern Reaches by kobold invaders. It is believed that these northern hin originally left the Five Shires as colonists, or were driven from there during some earlier turmoil. The hin lived alone-and mostly peacefully, except for humanoid incursions-for many centuries, which is one reason they retained their Lalor language better than their Five Shires brethren. They have reacted peaceably to the arrival of human cities in the last century; in fact, they have profited from trade with the humans.

A great army of orcs, led by a green dragon, invaded Leehashire some 40 years ago (AY 1984) [AC 984. Ed]. Hin losses were heavy, especially in the eastern clans (Gardener and Divotfoot). That area of the shire was in ruin. The hin forces were rallied by a brave young sheriff, Collin Nimblefingers, whose guerrilla tactics helped beat the orcs at their own game. The orcs were driven back into the hills, and the dragon was not seen again. Sheriff Collin was secured in his office. He successfully defended Leeha from an invasion of frost giants, from Frosthaven, in the brutal winter of AY 2002 [AC 1002. Ed.] when the Great Bay froze completely over. A key hero in that engagement was Shaedrik Divotfoot, who succeeded Collin as sheriff in AY 2010 [AC 1010. Ed.].

Recently, Leeha has established diplomatic treaties both with the Kingdom of Siegeria and with the Duchy of Chitine (as representative of the Kingdom of Alpha) that guarantee its safety should the two parties come into conflict. It currently maintains peaceful relationships with all its neighbours, and the halflings enjoy the peace and prosperity of their position.

Don't Miss

Leeha is famous for its many fine inns and pubs. Without exception, these inns are high quality places, filled with warm food and good cheer. Many are large enough to accommodate humans. Hin songs and stories can be enjoyed with fine ale well into the night. Various acts, shows, and other entertainment take place on an almost constant basis, with yallaren playing a large part. In addition to the inns, various craft stores and all kinds of shops can be located in Leeha. Most residences are one or two stories tall, but all have some type of cellar. Many of these "holes" are more spacious than the above ground dwelling and some are entirely underground! During deep snows that could paralyse a halfling city, the residents simply retreat to their burrows and life goes on.

Another interesting feature you should not miss when visiting Leehashire is the snow tulip fields. These marvellous and unique flowers blossom in summer and have an incredible variety of hues, forming intricate designs with their colours ranging from snow-white to yellow, orange, pink, red, and deep blue. The Gardens of Leehashire are said to be one of the world's greatest marvels!

Do Miss

Despite the quaint and pleasant character of Leeha, it is not without its shadier side. The southwest side of town, near the banks of the river, is known as "Nighthin Nest." It is here that thieves, smugglers, and other undesirables ply their trade. Most decent hin avoid this part of town. Very few are foolish enough to venture into the burrows beneath this area of town where rival gangs fight over territory. Being what they are, yallaren (young hin) are sometimes involved in these activities, even if just for a time. Nevertheless, this is still a dangerous and unsavoury part of town. Most krondar will avoid patrolling this area, or will turn a blind eye toward dubious activity.