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Leehashireby Dan Eustace
Population: 6,500 (Hin).
Languages: Alphatian, Lalor (hin).
Coinage: Alphatian standard - Crown (gp), Mirror (sp), Judge (cp); barter.
Government Type: Democracy; elected clan representatives (Clanmasters) advise an elected sheriff.
Description: Leehashire is composed of seven halfling clanholds, 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. The stronghold 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. The hin control passage up and down the river, charging a toll of 1-10 gp per vessel, according to its size (~1 gp/10 Hull Points). The hin can muster a force of 1500 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.
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 years ago (1984 AY). 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 secure in his office. He successfully defended Leeha from an invasion of frost giants, from Frosthaven, in the brutal winter of 2002 AY when the Great Bay froze completely over. A key hero in that engagement was Shaedrik Divotfoot, who succeeded Collin as Sheriff in 2010 AY.
Climate: The climate in Leehashire is similar to that in the rest of Norwold. It is a temperate region, with four seasons. Spring generally begins in early Flaurmont. The rivers are high and the ground wet from the melting snow of the previous winter. Temperatures range from 30 - 45. Summer begins in late Klarmont and lasts through to early Ambyrmont. Summer days are long here, as daylight can approach 16 hours. Temperatures range from 45 - 65, but temperatures can climb much higher during a heat wave. Autumn lasts from mid-Ambyrmont until late Eirmont. Temperatures average 35 - 45. In winter, which starts in late Eirmont and lasts through Thaumont, the days grow very short (as little as 8 hours of daylight) and the bitter cold sets in. Temperatures drop to an average of 20 - 35. However, temperatures below zero, along with frigid winds are not uncommon. Leeha's climate is somewhat milder than is typical for other areas around the Great Bay. This is partly due to its distance from the open ocean, and partly due to the unique nature of the hin lands. Precipitation is common, with violent thunderstorms in summer, and heavy snow in winter. Rain, snow, or a mixture can fall in spring and autumn, depending on the exact time of the season. On average, there is precipitation every four days, although droughts have been known to occur in times past. The ocean is relatively calm here, and there is usually a gentle sea breeze. But the sea being what it is, storms still occur, especially during the bleak winter months. Coastal areas can take a pounding during a dreaded Nor'easter.
Terrain: 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 south-east. 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. Men from neighbouring dominions also travel these hills, and orcs can be found further to the south.
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 which 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 saltmarsh 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. In addition to the snakes and other swamp-life, fierce lizard men also dwell here (but rarely venture from the saltmarshes).
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.
Leeha is the capital of the shire. It is the central meeting place for the seven 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 pricey. 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 had 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 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!).
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 "hobbit holes" are more spacious than the above ground dwelling and some are entirely underground! During deep snows which could paralyse a halfling city, the residents simply retreat to their burrows and life goes on. Despite the quaint and pleasant character of Leeha, it is not without its shadier side. The south-west 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 fool enough to venture into the burrows beneath this area of town where rival gangs fight over territory. Being what they are, yallaren 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.
Overall, however, Leeha has the atmosphere of one big happy family. The seven 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 a 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.
Population: 600 (150 in clanhold, 450 in surrounding area)
Highthicket is a small clanhold housing the Highthicket Clan. The clan and town both take their name from the Highthicket River which flows down from the foothills of the Icereach Range into the White Bear River. Highthicket is a community of loggers and outdoorshin. Wood and timber are the primary resources of this area, which is deep in Hightimber Forest. Hin who are not loggers are most likely fur trappers or game hunters. Grouse and wild turkey can be found here. Deer, bears, and cougars also inhabit the surrounding woods and mountains, in addition to animals whose pelts are coveted by trappers, such as beaver, fox, mink, and ermine. The hin are good stewards of the land, and will never overcut the forest. This clanhold is significantly removed from Leeha, so that visits from outsiders are rare. When visitors do arrive, they are not greeted as warmly as they would be in Leeha. The Highthicket Clan are hard-working and tend to keep to themselves and their woodlands.
Population: 800 (200 in clanhold, 600 in surrounding area)
Merrybrook is home to the clan of the same name. It lies down the road from Highthicket, near the confluence of the Highthicket, Fishrun, and White Bear Rivers. As such, the rivers are the major fact of life for this clan. Fishing is their mainstay. Brook trout, salmon, and other fish are plentiful in all of these fresh mountain streams. The waters also help to provide a fertile soil along their banks where various foodstuffs (such as potatoes) can be grown. The Merrybrook Clan are also skilled river pilots. Riverboats and sailboats can both be found here for navigating the White Bear and some stretches of the Fishrun. Smaller canoes and rowboats can advance further up the Fishrun and the Highthicket, both of which contain significant rapids. The Merrybrook are somewhat adventuresome, and travel to Leeha and beyond fairly often. Some even take to piracy along the White Bear. The clan is quite receptive to guests who can arrive easily by way of the rivers. There are a few decent taverns and inns scattered throughout the clan's territory, all of which serve excellent "fish and chips". Celebrations and merrymaking are almost constant among this clan, which has its share of musicians and entertainers.
Population: 800 (350 in clan hold, 450 in surrounding area)
Nimbleville is the clanhold of the Nimblefingers Clan. It is located northeast of Leeha, on the shores of the Gulf of Leeha. The shoreline is rocky, and only a few small boats may dock here. The Nimblefingers Clan are the most stealthy and streetwise clan in Norwold. They make excellent scouts or spies, as the case may be. Keep your pouch close to your hip while in Nimbleville, as thieves are common here. These hin are curious rather than ruthless robbers. They are raised with the notion that personal property is more communal than personal. Any item of interest is fair game, and some items can change hands several times in the course of a day. There are some hin, however, who take their crime more seriously. They are known as "Nighthin", and they can be as tough as any human bandit. Aside from the illegal activity and loose definition of possessions here, Nimbleville is a haven for various artists and craftshin. Potters, leatherworkers, carpenters, glassblowers, and other artisans all ply their trade here. Many outsiders pass through here enroute to Leeha. Whether purchasing hin crafts, or simply passing through, purses tend to be lighter after leaving Nimbleville. This usually does not leave the best impression of the hinfolk on visitors.
Population: 1,100 (400 in clanhold, 700 in surrounding area)
Fort Divotfoot is home to the military-minded Divotfoot Clan. Located along the trail east of Nimbleville, Fort Divotfoot is the most heavily fortified of the clanholds. It's walls are completely of stone, and numerous towers provide further protection. A central tower-keep is at the heart of the Fort. This clan is devoted to military pursuits. Their soldiers are always vigilant for incursions of orcs or other humanoids. Patrols range throughout the clan's range and even extend into areas held by neighbouring clans. One can find all types of weapons and armour here, including some of larger sizes. Weaponsmiths, armourers, bowers and fletchers all have shops here. The fort is kept clean and is run with the type of precision that only a military outpost could be. The town tends to shut down early, and the parties are more subdued than in other clanholds. The Divotfoots are the watchdogs of the shire and have come to the defence of their more carefree brethren on more than one occasion. This clanhold contrasts sharply with neighbouring Nimbleville. The Law is firm in Fort Divotfoot, and Krondar are obeyed without question. The hin here are not oppressed, however. The military way is their tradition and one they are proud of. They have a strong sense of duty to clan and shire. The lands surrounding the fort are fertile and are farmed for various grains and other crops. Farming is the primary occupation of the majority of non-military personnel. Lazyday Stream crosses the pastures and is a popular spot for hin on leave from the fort. It flows into Lake Gusst, which once saw a pitched battle with orcs along its shore.
Population: 900 (200 in clanhold, 700 in surrounding area)
Goodfield is the clanhold of the Gardener Clan. It is located to the east of and slightly to the north of Fort Divotfoot. The lands of Goodfield are extremely fertile and are the breadbasket of the shire. All kinds of crops are grown here, including wheat, corn, alfalfa, clover, parsley, beans, and various garden vegetables. Some hin keep small orchards of fruit trees, mainly apple and pear, especially along the banks of Appletree Creek, which flows through the territory. Carrots, radishes, and turnips are all plentiful. Some hin cultivate rare herbs, such as wolfsbane. Flowers are grown, both for commerce and for their aesthetic appeal. Hin farmers will also keep some animals, including chickens, dairy cows, goats, and pigs. Hobbit-holes are the primary dwellings in this region of the shire. The Gardener Clan is quiet and folksy in character. They tend to mind their business and not travel too far from home. Those who do, yallaren or not, are looked at funny by their neighbours. The Gardeners enjoy a good meal and a night of merrymaking even more so than other hin clans (save the Merrybrook). They welcome visitors and stories from afar and they seem to derive some sense of adventure from this. As long as the adventure stays away from Goodfield, it is fine; they just don't like it too close to home. A warm, cosy home and sharing a good meal with family and friends is valued above all else by members of this clan.
Population: 600 (150 in clanhold, 450 in surrounding area)
This town is found about 40 miles north of Leeha, and is home to the Lowhill Clan. It is a smaller clanhold, built atop a small, grass covered hill. The lands between Grassy Knoll and the coast are suitable for farming, although the soil is rockier than in other areas of Leehashire. The Lowhill Clan is more noted for the mines which are located in the foothills southwest of town. The hills produce ample quantities of tin, copper, and even some iron. Lake Galass (or Lucky Lake)is in the vicinity of the mines. It's waters are reported to bring good fortune to those who drink or bath in them. Sometimes ore can be found on the lake bottom and also along Cupribras Stream which runs out from the lake. The hin in this town are fairly hard working folk, but they work the mines at a pace that is not as tiresome as the more industrious dwarven folk. The mine's yields are suitable for the needs of Leehashire, with maybe some excess for trade on occasion. In addition to mining supply shops and the like, there are a few decent inns and saloons. Other shops belong to metalsmiths and craftshin who work with the recovered metals. On a historical note, Grassy Knoll, is the site of a dark event in Leeha's past. In 1963 AY, a popular Sheriff, Kennedy Divotfoot, was assassinated here while on a victory parade through town. Krondar arrested the alleged assassin, but he was later killed before he could stand trial. This led many hin to concoct wild conspiracy theories about who was actually responsible and why. The rumours persist to this day.
Population: 700 (400 in clanhold, 300 in surrounding area).
This clanhold is located on the northern shore of the Gulf of Leeha, and is home to the Harborhin Clan. The coast is rocky here, but the harbour at Port Hinly is clear and is deep enough to accommodate larger vessels. The Harborhin are an adventurous sea-going people. Their livelihood is bound up in the waters of the Great Bay. Ships and boats leave daily for Leeha. These hin are skilled sailors. Harborhin ships sail to towns all around the Great Bay. Some adventurous captains even sail beyond the Bay's waters to Oceansend, the Isle of Dawn, or other territories. The Harborhin are skilled merchants and are the chief traders of Leehashire. They are more worldly than the other clans and tend to view the other clans as somewhat parochial and naive. However, Port Hinly, has a good number of residents who have never left the clanhold. Such folk tend to be fisherhin, dockworkers, net-makers, or shop keepers. The town is a mix of these locals who like to mind their own business, and seahin who travel far and wide. Port Hinly does have a marketplace, but most rare or imported goods make there way to Leeha where there is a greater demand for such items. In winter, the port can be lashed by fierce storms, and only the most foolhardy would dare to set sail during the winter months. Ice is also a hazard during this time, and it is not unusual for the harbour to freeze-in. In the event of an attack on Leehashire by sea, the Harborhin seafarers serve as an early warning system, and can be mobilised by the Clanmaster to form a makeshift navy. Most hin vessels are lightly armed, if at all, having only ballistae and possibly a light catapult. What they lack in artillery, they make up for with good boarding techniques, skilled manoeuvring, and general enthusiasm. Some of them may even be pirates, who have honed these skills from previous work. In fact, hin pirates are more likely to be a threat to the area than is a foreign naval presence. Another danger on the open water is the Great Bay Monster, affectionately called Bailey by the locals. Many hin report sightings of the Monster, but it has never been proven to exist. Harborhin treat it either as a joke, or with extreme seriousness - there is no in-between. Nonetheless, Bailey is often blamed when ships fail to return to port.
Most of the town is located close to the waterfront, with a fair portion located out on the docks. Hobbit holes are uncommon here. The surrounding lands are settled only very close to the central clanhold. The Harborhin have not ventured too far into the Northguard Woods. Some homes can be found on the River Smoothstone just west of town, but few are beyond there. The coast road to Grassy Knoll is generally close to shore, and only passes through several wooded sections. There is an inn located by Pinecone Brook to accommodate travellers between the two clans, but it is not large enough to house humans comfortably.