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Vanya's Rest (Heldannic Territory of)
Location: Continent of Davania, eastern coast by Gulf of Mar.
Area: 48 sq. mi. (108 km2)
Population: 4,000 (does not include around 500 farmers supplementing local rations).
Languages: Heldannic, Thyatian Common (Hattian dialect). Thyatian is the official language.
Coinage: Groschen (5 gp), gelder (gp), erzer (ep), markschen (sp), and fenneg (cp).
Government Type: Military Dictatorship.
Industries: War, some agriculture (mainly grains and vegetables).
Important Figures: Governor-General Heinz Kronenburg (human, male, P15 of Vanya).
Flora and Fauna: The vegetation found around Vanya's Rest is typical of that in a damp coastal region. Along the cliffs there are numerous forms of mosses and hardy grasses, while further inland the grasses tend to predominate, with the occasional gnarled bush breaking the undulating fields. No trees can grow here - the winds would likely blow them over near the coast, and the soils are too poor to nourish them further inland.
The animals found here are just as hardy as the plant life. Gulls and other sea birds nest among the cliffs, managing to feed themselves by catching fish in the Gulf. Also present in the cliffs are various rodents who feed off of the eggs of the various birds. Further inland one can find foxes, groundhogs, numerous kinds of insects, rabbits, and the occasional snake. Some giant spiders are known to inhabit the region, and in the lower levels of the fort it is possible to find giant rats.
Further Reading: Voyage of the Princess Ark, Part 4 (in Dragon Magazine #156).
Description: by Friedrich von Eisendorf, servant of Her Glorious Lady Vanya.
As Adjutant to His Most Exalted Templar, Herr Kronenburg, it is my pleasure and my honour to be able to serve Vanya at this fortress - Vanya's Rest. Only the elite of the Heldannic Order are ever permitted to serve here, charged as they are with guarding the remains of our Patroness Herself! Recent developments have also allowed us to take on another duty, that of expanding our domains on this continent for the greater glory of Vanya!
The land upon which this great fortress has been built is largely an unforgiving one. Harsh winds from the Gulf of Mar gust in from the east, forcing great waves to crash against the low cliffs along the coast constantly. Further inland, and beyond the fort, the land descends gradually into the Aryptian Savannah, a largely arid, empty expanse of land. Even within our fort we are not completely immune from the elements, for the very winds that smash the shores with waves also bring dampness that chills everyone in this region to the bone. As a result, there is a microclimate here that makes the area feel more like a stretch of land in the Northern Reaches, even though we are not far from the great Aryptian Desert.
The fort itself is built atop the highest of the cliffs, such that we have a commanding view of the countryside and the Gulf in all directions. Due west of the fort, no more than two or three miles distant, lie several small farms, tended by eager colonists. The soils here are relatively poor, but over time good crops have been coaxed from the reluctant earth. These souls assist in supplying the Knights, who would otherwise have to rely totally on supplies brought from home.
When there is little action, many Knights will assist the farmers in harvesting and sowing, as it is in everyone's interest that there be enough food for everyone.
You will not find better people than those at Vanya's Rest! Only the most disciplined and stalwart Knights are allowed the privilege of a five-year tour of duty here, and all who come are drilled mercilessly and give top performance at all times. It is said that many of the top members of the Order had a tour here, such that time spent at Vanya's Rest is almost a prerequisite for would-be commanders. The people who farm outside the fort are also dedicated to Vanya, and wish to assist in expanding Heldannic holdings by tilling the soil here. No doubt the promise of free land was also an attraction! The farmers also have some training with weapons, and many can be called upon as auxiliaries in times of need.
Around 925 AC, certain Hattian worshippers of Vanya - promising fighters and clerics - received dream messages from their Immortal. She told them to secure their birthright, a land of their own where they could live as they chose. Before this could come to pass, they had to secure for Her a sanctified place, where Her earthly remains could be protected from infidels.
This place in question lies in Davania, on the coast of the Gulf of Mar.
The boldest and most pious, eager to prove their worth to Vanya, and to show respect for Her mortal remains, made a great pilgrimage to that region, as foretold in a dream. They landed after weeks of sailing, and as one force, they stormed the shores, only to find a small settlement, populated by indigenous human tribespeople descended from the Milenians.
These people were driven out, their village destroyed, and the entire region was searched until the remains of Vanya were found. The tribespeople, known as the Meghaddara, were forced to wander the Meghales Amosses Desert and the Aryptian Savannah in search of a new home - and have been the sworn enemies of the Heldannic Knights ever since.
The remains were then reverently placed under a stone cairn, upon which was built the great fortress now known as Vanya's Rest. Once the fort was complete, in 935 AC, Vanya visited Her faithful and told them they had done well, and secured her rest from unbelievers. She then told them that they had to marshal their forces, and return to Hattias, there to bring all who were true to Vanya's Path to the ultimate victory, a home of their own. Most of the Heldannic Knights, as they began to call themselves, returned to Hattias, but they left behind a garrison of elite soldiers to guard the fort.
The one thing visitors must not miss is the fort itself! Those who come to Vanya's Rest will immediately notice how massive the structure is.
The outer walls themselves are at least 1,5 meters (five feet) thick, and are 9 meters (thirty feet) in height. At regular intervals along the walls are stout square towers, each mounted with heavy catapults and ballistae. Finally, the most breathtaking structure within the fort is the Great Cathedral, which houses Vanya's remains and is decorated by stained glass windows, numerous sculptures, and tall archways, all in a gothic style.
In the territory claimed by the Knights, the regions immediately to the north should be avoided. These northern territories are inhabited by the Meghaddara, who have been sworn enemies of the Knights since they were pushed out of their own lands when the fort was built. Those wearing the insignia of the Heldannic Knights, or who travel in their company, will be attacked on sight by the Meghaddara.