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Wendar (Elven Kingdom of)
Location: North of Glantri and Ethengar, south of Denagoth and west of the Heldannic Territories.
Area: 78,170 sq. mi. (175,883 km2)
Population: 400,000, roughly 40% human and 60% elves (including 25,000 Alfheim refugees) (For AD&D, make this 35% human, 50% elves and 5% half-elves).
Languages: Elvish (Genalleth and Alfheim dialects), Heldannic, Thyatian Common (Hattian dialect).
Coinage: Di (gp), on (sp), and teci (cp).
Taxes: 20% income tax, collected yearly.
Government Type: Monarchy.
Industries: Logging, agriculture (grows barely enough for its own use).
Important Figures: Gylharen (King, elf, male, F11/M11), Bensarian of Kevar (human, male, M9), Doriath (exiled Alfheim King, elf, male, F12/M15), Brendan Erendyl (exiled Alfheim clanmaster, elf, female, F7/M8), Durifern Widefarer (exiled Alfheim clanmaster, elf, male, R15), Beasthunter (exiled Alfheim clanmaster, elf, male, F12/M13), Starwatcher (elf, male, F10/M20).
Flora and Fauna: The region boasts tall ancient sequoias and pines, along with other evergreen trees that make the logging industry the most profitable one. Throughout the whole region the terrain is rocky and difficult to cultivate, so that only the most resistant and healthy plants and crops can grow here.
The animals commonly encountered in Wendar are moose, elks, bears, wolves (in forests), horses, boars, snakes (in open fields and hills) and even mountain lions. Monstrous species are also abundant, including snow apes, white apes, giant bats, dragons (white and green), giant ferrets, sasquatches, and unicorns. Tribes of ogres and trolls have been reported living in the Mengul Mountains, while actaeons, centaurs, dryads, faeries, fairy folk, gremlins, treants and wooddrakes are sometimes encountered in the forests.
Further Reading: X11 - Saga of the Shadow Lord, AC1010 - Poor Wizard's Almanac to AC1012 - Poor Wizard's Almanac 3, and Joshuan's Almanac.
Description: by Christopher Dove
Wendar, a land of mysteries to discover and of monsters to slay. So similar to a borderland, yet so overflown with ancient traditions and customs that are all but barbaric. It is a nation of proud men and stout elves, of sages and fearless rangers, of monster hunters and heroes. It is a country not so different from the so-called "civilised ones" (like my dearest Darokin). Yet the traveller that arrives here for the first time can almost breathe the feeling of bravery and of steadfastness that fills the heart of the Wendarians.
I had always wanted to visit this remote corner of our Old World, but up to now I lacked both the time and the reason to do it. I must thank you, my dear Ursula, for having given back to me that spirit of adventure and that curiosity that fed this old heart of mine in my glory days. I feel my youth is slowly returning me, and it is this job as correspondent for the Mystaran Almanac the cause of the miracle. I will do my best to provide you all, dear readers and editors, with the most accurate information about the places that I've planned to visit this year, and as you've already guessed, my first step back into the path of the explorer has led me to the ancient nation to the north of Glantri, the Elven Kingdom of Wendar.
Nestled among two plateaux and two mountain ranges, Wendar (or Genalleth, as the elven race calls it) is a secluded and ancient land that still holds many secrets and marvels even to its inhabitants. Thick evergreen forests blanket more than a half of this region, their beauty and stateliness mirroring the Canolbarth Forest in its glory days. There are four major "reserves" (this is the best translation of the way the elves call them) in Wendar, all closely guarded and tended by Genalleth elves.
The first and most important one, Korrigan Forest, lies in the western part of the nation, touching Wendar City and Sylvair, the two most thriving Wendarian cities. It is renowned for the beauty of its sequoias and for the many shrines sacred to the Korrigans, the Nine Elven Protectors that watch upon Genalleth. The legend says that they drew their name from the mythical (and believed extinct) korrigan, a woodland animal that once lived here.
The Forest of Bounty (now renamed Forest of the Curse after the events of AC 1013 and 1014) lies in the southwestern corner of the nation and is currently inhabited by the Alfheim refugees. Mighty and sturdy oaks grow here, protected by a small group of treants that the elves call "The Elders." Woodgate and Oakwall, two other towns, lie at the easternmost border of this forest, and use its wood to boast their logging industry.
Right at the centre of the Genalleth Valley we find the Enchanted Forest, a mysterious patch of trees that the elves hold as sacred. According to the legends, here live the fairies with their sylvan friends, the centaurs and actaeons, and those who dare trespass against Nature in this place are bound to be abducted by actaeons and to serve the fairies for the rest of their life. Tales of missing wanderers abound in this region.
The last important reserve lies at the northwestern border and is referred to as the Dark Woods of Baamor. The Wendarians tell frightening tales about this area, whose trees are strangely darker and more twisted than the common trees of the region, and whose fauna is made up of deformed and evil parodies of the common woodland animals. Elven sages blame this to a mysterious being (or race, this is not clearly defined) called Baamor, who tried to poison the entire continent in the ancient days to appease the Dark Immortals. However, the Korrigans rebelled against Baamor and ultimately defeated him, imprisoning the evil Baamor inside one of the blight trees of this forest. Therefore, in order to avoid freeing him, it is strictly prohibited to cut down any tree in this region. In fact, few people venture there, for it is said that Baamor tries to possess anyone who walks into his forest and use him to achieve freedom.
The rest of the region consists of rocky hills to the east and to the south, where the few herders raise their cattle (horses and sheep mostly). In the central plains and moors the humans raise their crops. The valleys and plains are usually safe and free of monsters, but the more one gets to the mountain ranges, the more the trip becomes dangerous.
The Wendarian Range to the south and the Mengul Mountains to the north are renowned for their snow-capped peaks and for the fierceness of their inhabitants. The Wendarian Range, whose peaks average 11,000 feet in height, is home to many tribes of yeti, sasquatches and even a few white dragons.
The only two southern passes maintained and guarded actively by the Wendarians are the Elven Pass to the southeast, which leads directly to Oakwall, and the Kevar Pass to the southwest, from which the Royal Way leads to the capital winding through the Korrigan Forest. There is a third pass leading northwards through the Mengul Mountains and up to Denagoth, but it has not been used since the last war with Essuria, about 80 years ago. Gylharen Keep has been built near the border with Denagoth under the supervision of King Gylharen, and the standing garrison has the sole purpose of stopping (or slowing) any possible invasion attempt from that land. However, since Denagoth has not given any significant trouble in the last decades, the soldiers stationed here have taken on the duty to harass and annihilate any humanoid band trying to cross the border and cause mayhem in Wendar; so far, they've been successful.
The Wendarians are no weak folk whatsoever. The climate, the wild land and the wilder monsters living here have toughened them, so that even the elves seem somewhat fiercer and braver than their Alfheim cousins. The humans (all descended from the old Antalian stock) are used to the cold and humid weather so common in this land (it snows and rains seven months a year). The elves, who've been dwelling here for a longer time, are no less tough than their human countrymen. But even though the Wendarians could seem at first a united and peaceful folk, there are many differences and problems that still divide this people.
Just an example: the name of the country is different for each race. The elves call it Genalleth (after a mighty figure of their obscure past), and the humans Wendar, in honour of the first man who created the Wendarian League at the beginning of the millennium. Even the label "Elven" near the word "Kingdom" in the entry for Wendar in every Thyatian almanac would be considered questionable by the majority of the humans living here; but there's more. Every major town has its name translated into both Heldannic and Elvish (the ones written on the map given in the Almanac for 1010 are the human names, obviously), and the proclamations and laws must equally be issued and written in these two languages. Every town with a mixed population has two burgomasters, one for each race, and they both must co-operate and agree to issue anything, from a simple announcement to a legal document. The Wendarian militia is composed 50% of elves and 50% of humans, and each division is either made up of humans or of elves only (AD&D: half-elves can be accepted into either unit).
It seems that in the ancient days the things didn't go this way, but in the last decades many small frictions have occurred and the Wizard King deemed it right to reshape the political and military system this way to avoid bigger problems. Personally, I don't believe he made the right decision, judging from what's happening at the moment, but he's renowned for his wisdom, so I hope he will soon notice that there are far more causes of discontent than he thinks between humans and elves (especially Alfheimers) and that he will pass the right laws to cool down the hotheads.
And talking about the Alfheimers refugees, they're not much happy these days. The first and foremost concern they have is of course the fate of their beloved Canolbarth Forest, and from my observations in Wendar I've noticed they've not yet given up the hope to once again walk under the sturdy trees of Alfheim. Now, eight years after what they call "The Expulsion" from Alfheim, the clanmasters are more ready than ever to reclaim their homeland, and they seem sure that their comeback is near at hand. Perhaps they are aware of something that I fail to see.
Regardless, as long as they remain in Wendar, they have to face another issue: the open feeling of hostility and sometimes xenophobia the humans show towards them. Events during AC 1014 (detailed in my attachment) have caused an uproar of the human population of Wendar against the Alfheimers, and the elves have not reacted very wisely. The so called "Alfheim Avengers" have indeed undertaken retaliation acts against some minor provocations by the humans, and now the situation is escalating in a very unpredictable way. I fear that if King Gylharen is not able to contain these acts of violence, we will soon have another nation in turmoil as has happened in the Heldannic Territories, Rockhome, Ylaruam and Ethengar. I wonder if some kind of mental disease has not spread amongst the people of the Old World to cause so much unrest in this brief lapse of time.
The past two years have been troubled for the Wendarians. First, a plague originated by the magical healing fruits found in the Forest of the Bounty (the Alfheimers' territory) has killed over 40,000 humans during AC 1014, and only the intervention of King Gylharen with the use of the Elvenstar has avoided the disease to claim more souls. However, this fact has caused the humans to loathe and mistrust the Alfheimers, who've been held responsible for not testing or even creating the malign fruits on purpose (they only killed humans, merely draining elves of their strengths for a while). The situation has thus degenerated in a matter of months despite the King's attempts at lowering the tension, and this has caused a few minor skirmishes of Alfheim Avengers against human neighbours, with casualties on both sides. King Gylharen has been forced to issue a decree confining the Alfheimers in the southern part of their forest and has repeatedly suggested their clanleaders either to stop the Alfheim Avengers' activity or to relocate in another country.
With that particular situation becoming rather dangerous in Wendar, some of the Alfheim clans have decided to find another land to live in. They have sent explorers up in Denagoth, where according to historical evidences another clan of elves should have lived. Unfortunately, the returning explorers have reported of the extermination of the elven clan by the minions of the Shadowlord, a mysterious being that is said to live in a fortress called Drax Tallen, where the remaining Geffronell elves are held prisoners along with some members of the exploring party. The clanmasters of Grunalf and Long Runner clans have thus decided to go on a Crusade to reclaim the lost Forest of Geffron and avenge (and possibly rescue) their brethren. The Elven Army made up of many representatives of these two clans is now marching towards Denagoth to battle against the Shadow Army. I've joined them as chronicler and expert of lost civilisations to discover what lies beyond the dreaded Mengul Mountains. If I am lucky enough, you will be reading my latest reports from the front line in this same almanac.
All the aforementioned reserves are worth a visit, with the obvious exception of the Dark Woods of Baamor. In particular, the Enchanted Forest is the place to go if you want to relax and to receive "inspiration." But beware: only those who don't trespass against the Laws of Nature will be allowed to see the realm of the fairy folk and of their friends. Even if you don't meet the fairies face to face, you will remain enthralled by the beauty of the plants, the purity of the air and the gentleness of the land. To many Alfheimers, this place seems the perfect copy of what they called Dreamlands in their beloved Alfheim, and many often visit it two or three times a year to forget their fears and to attain the peace of mind and soul.
And talking about legends and mysterious places, I've heard of a shrine called Shadowmere that lies somewhere south of Wendar, near the mountains. According to the elven sages, this wood is an ancient sanctuary sacred to the very god of all the dragons! Could you have ever imagined: dragons worship Immortals just as humans and elves do! However, nobody has ever found it and the rumours want it to be constantly guarded by the spirits of dead dragons and by a clan of elves who has sworn fealty to this Great Old Dragon instead of the normal elven Immortals! I've always thought the elves have no rival to spin tall tales besides halflings, of course.
Also, in the western part of Wendar, near the small hamlet of Kevar, lives a wise old sage known as Bensarian and very much respected by both elves and humans. I had the pleasure to have a nice and scholarly talk with him, and I have to say that all the rumours about his great knowledge and quickness of mind are well earned. He looks like an old wizened man in his eighties, but there are slight physical traits that reveal a bit of elven blood in his veins (although not enough to be considered a full half-elf, if playing AD&D, that is. Ed). He is undoubtedly the greatest living expert about the history and the races of Wendar, and I suspect from the conversation we had that he's well versed in the history of the region known as Denagoth, too. Strangely enough however, he seemed a lot less talkative about this topic. However, Bensarian of Kevar is a trustworthy and friendly sage, and I advise any of the reader who have problems and travel through Wendar to pay him a visit: I'm sure he will result much more helpful than what you might think.
The last (but not the least) important feature of Wendar is the Korrigan Forest, the biggest forested area of the country. It is dotted with shrines dedicated to the Nine Elves, the Korrigans, the Immortals who according to the legends saved not only the Genalleth Valley, but all of Denagoth and Norwold from the Great Rain of Fire. This forest resembles Canolbarth in its glory days (according to the Alfheimers refugees), and its inhabitants are friendly and helpful towards all the good-hearted travellers that stop in their small communities (strictly built atop the tall sequoias and pines).
In particular, there is a wonderful holy festival that is performed once a year in this part of the country. All the worshipers of the Korrigans must attend at least once every fifty years: Ad...n Dainy...s (the Land Reborn). This celebration usually takes place around the first two weeks of Fyrmont, when the temperatures and the climatic conditions are at their best in these lands. The sacred festival begins at noon of the first day of the week and ends at dusk of the 9th day, going on unbroken for the entire time. Each day at noon the Holy Keeper of one of the Nine Sacred Shrines "lights up" the shrine dedicated to one of the Korrigans, using some herbs and minerals that provoke an alchemical reaction that makes the whole area glitter. Each of the Nine Shrines has a different colour, mirroring those of the rainbow plus pink and grey, and the hue slowly extends to the forest around the shrine during the following days. At the end of the ceremony the forest is divided in nine zones of a different colour, and it is said that each one colour is somehow magical and related to some kind of spells that can be invoked by the followers of the Korrigans during the last day. Aside from this mystical ceremony, all the elves in the forest celebrate the festival with dances, songs and tales about the goodness and bravery of the Korrigans, who saved the Genalleth Valley from various perils and were finally invited to join the Immortals in the Upper Skies.
If fiends had a place to call home on this planet, it would surely be the Dark Woods of Baamor. This forest (I've only seen it from a hill far enough to be considered safe by the elves) is literally "pulsing" with negative energy. I've looked at it especially at night, and what has most impressed me is the faint greenish haze that envelops all the trees like a fouled cape. It's not just the bright green of the evergreen forest so common in this land, but it's a more sick and disgusting colour - like that of the mould on rotting cheese. I am not an emotional nor superstitious person, but I can assure you, dear reader, that even looking at these woods from over a mile's distance made me shiver. I can understand the reluctance of the elven guides who accompanied me to venture even closer, and frankly, even if they hadn't insisted on this matter, I don't think I would have ever asked to go nearer. That forest is alive with an Evil far older than the oldest dragon living on this planet, but I am sure that as long as the Genalleth elves will watch over it, nothing will come out of the Baamor Woods to reclaim its lost heritage.
Another obvious place to avoid (if you're not interested in testing personally what's in the afterlife, that is) is Geron Pass, and in general the whole Mengul Range. This part of the country is literally infested with goblinoids and feral beasts like mountain lions and wolves, and dragonlike shadows have been reported much more frequently near the highest peaks. Suffice to say that the pass leads to Denagoth, and nobody wise enough would ever go there without an army as a personal escort. That's why I joined the Elven Crusaders to go exploring that blight and perilous plateau.