Oringard part 1

On the eastern fringe of Damir is the vast forestland of Oringard.  Named by the dwarven immigrants who fled the kingdom of Paia, it means “Natural Fortress.”  Although it lies within Damir’s borders, it is a realm all to itself.  It is almost two hundred leagues long and just shy of a hundred leagues deep.  It stops up against the Golden Mountains in the north, and trails off into the barren land of Basmah in the southeast.  Oringard touches five different lands: Damir, Gronde, Kasmoon, Nubrince, and Basmah.  Running through the forest is the curvy Paia River in the south, and the much shorter Mourning River in the north.   

Legend has it that the forest is the creation of Hovaia, a dryad queen, who planted the many trees and shrubbery to shield the land from mortal invaders.  Despite her best laid plans, the forest was inhabited for several hundred years by the wood elves, a nomadic people who built tree houses and lived off the forest.  It is rumored the wood elves knew Hovaia and worked with the dryad queen to keep other mortals out.

Of course this did not work.  After the kingdom of Paia (a dwarven kingdom) collapsed during the Chaos War, thousands of dwarves ventured north to discover the vast forestland which they would so aptly name.  They began to settle the forest, burrowing into the hillsides, chopping trees down to lay foundations for small communities.  The dwarves had a network of villages spread about Oringard but they did not occupy all of it.  They left Hovaia and the wood elves to their own realm and interests.

For two hundred years the dwarves controlled much of Oringard, dedicating most of their time to mapping the forestland.  The maze-like paths of the forestland can be deadly to any person who isn’t familiar with them or doesn’t have a map.  The trees are thick and some areas look similar to the next.  Getting lost in Oringard is easy and a common occurrence; trails become overgrown with foliage, creeks dry up, trees fall over and block paths. 

There are plenty of creatures in the woods, but a lot of the big predators have been driven out or killed by the orcs.  Bears, wolves, and wild cats are still common, but the forest used to feature sasquatch and hippogryphs.  It was also home to a nest of gryphons.  The gryphons kept to themselves for several hundred years, even after the high elves invaded the forestland and drove out the dwarves and wood elves.  It wasn’t until the orcs took over Oringard that the gryphons were forced to leave their nests and go elsewhere.

The high elves infiltrated Oringard around 350 ACW, defeating the dwarves in the 2nd War of Damir and forcing them out of Oringard.  The high elves took over much of southern Oringard, built large townships and began to blaze trails all over the forestland.  Believing the dwarves would one day return and try to take Oringard back, the high elves set up a series of booby traps along several false trails that led to their town centers.  The wood elves either assimilated with their High Elven brethren or left Oringard all together. 

Descendants of the fallen elven empire at Jeriko embraced the rule of their leader, Prince Iteph, who was a very distant cousin of the royal bloodline, but the only known survivor who could be linked to the elven monarchy.  In their time in Oringard, Iteph had children who went on to establish a royal line.  But because of the massive orc invasion that would come a hundred years later, most of the records concerning the descendants of Iteph were lost.  When Kalliste gave her prophecy that an elven king would be born amongst them, many figured it would come from Iteph’s lost lineage.

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Doves of Merrimont

The white doves of Merrimont have been part of the city since its inception, a hundred years after the Chaos War.  Even the templar Lyndon noted that the doves there were extraordinary, as they communicated to him through telepathic powers.  Many see the doves as the city’s eternal guardians, but no one has been able to decipher what exactly they’re protecting.  It is thought, by the humans, that the doves are protecting riches beyond imagining.  However, the doves rarely communicate to humans, preferring the elves who moved into the Merrimont region in 460 ACW.  

Telepathic powers are found in some animals but not exclusively in particular species.  In other words, not all doves have telepathy but the doves in Merrimont do.  The doves seem to congregate around the city’s main and largest archway, the Dovial Arch.  Superstition over the Arch circulate from bird droppings landing on citizens passing under the archway.  It has been noted that anyone who is pooped on is doomed to die within a year’s time. Because of these deaths, many in Merrimont are fearful of the doves and believe they may have powers beyond telepathy.  In 721 ACW, an elven mason was utterly convinced the doves were evil and needed to be killed.  The stone mason managed to shoot down seven doves before he was arrested and later executed for bearing weapons and using deadly force within the city (elves were not allowed to have or use weapons within Merrimont until the Farm and Riot Act of 772 ACW).

During many of the wars, such as the 10th War of Damir where Merrimont was put in siege by the orcs led by the warlord Phumbaas, the doves served as scouts and messengers for the elves.  The doves only seem to speak to a select number of elves, including certain elven nobles.  Many elves try to tap into the secrets of the doves by feeding them or cooing at them, but typically the doves fly away when such obvious bribery is offered.  It is rumored that the doves were friends with Kalliste, the blind seer, and that it was they who gave her the prophecy about the Slayer.  Kalliste never mentions the doves at all in any of her works, but the rumors continue to circulate.

In elven lore, doves were the favorite animal of Troix, the Angel of Valor.  It has been passed down from legend that Troix had a special relationship with doves, and they would speak to her and no other.  In her battles, Troix used the doves to spy on enemy outposts and armies, relaying the size and readiness of the opposing army.  When Troix was killed in battle, abandoned by her allies, it is said the doves dispersed and were never heard of again.

Rossi Heights

The Rossi Heights have been a big part of the community at Whitehood since its inception.  Its name comes from the Du Rossi family: high nobles who were nearly exterminated by Ulric in 700 ACW.  Before given its now famous name, they were simply called the Southern Foothills, because they were on the road south to Merrimont.  The road that connects Merrimont to Whitehood runs through the Rossi Heights.  The Rossi Heights serve as a vanguard for Whitehood as they form a protective shield from the east and south.  The Rossi Heights have their own community, but it is mostly an outpost controlled by the military.  It has been the host of two major wars: the 6th War when the elves invaded from Merrimont in the south, and the 11th War, when Hathar the orc warlord made a run toward Whitehood.  In both cases, the humans won the war.  The orcs of Oringard often send small war parties across the Mourning River to terrorize the Rossi Heights but the hills are very well guarded.

Count Peter Du Rossi (570 – 621 ACW) was a very suave and very direct noble, who was exceptionally picky and confrontational.  He enjoyed swordplay and spent many hours of his youth learning the art of sword fighting.  As a young man, Count Du Rossi looked for every excuse imaginable to test out his skills on Damir’s best and most boastful fighters.  As a young boy he loved running through the flowery hills of the southern foothills to play, and that childhood memory inspired him to hold duels there.  It is unclear how many duels Du Rossi fought, but he claimed in his journal that he slew a hundred men there.  However, estimates from other records suggest the number is closer to fifty.  Whatever the number, Du Rossi was undefeated, and he settled disputes through these duels.  Now-a-days, duels must be approved by a magistrate to prevent any escalation or unnecessary confrontations.

The majority of duels are now fought on one of the hills of the Rossi Heights.  It is considered an ideal setting for a match because the ground is firm but not rocky, soft but not muddy.  It also allows spectators to gather and form a gallery, as the fighters duel high up where they can be seen clearly. 

The Peach Orchards

Up on a northeastern hill outside of Merrimont are the vast Peach Orchards, which were at one time owned by a very wealthy elven noble.  The noble and his family were killed during the 10th War of Damir, during the orcs invasion of the Merrimont region, and the orchards have since become community property.  It is fitting that it is also the resting place of Phumbaas, the orc warlord who nearly destroyed all of Merrimont and  attempted to annihilate the elves

Because of how massive Phumbaas was (eight feet tall and five hundred pounds) they did not bother to move him to the burning pile of the other dead orc warriors.  The elves decided to bury his remains, and not cremate him where he lay for risk of torching the prized peach orchards.  His grave was unmarked, however, and every so often a skull hunter tries to find it to dig up his remains.  But so far nobody has.

As a result of Merrimont’s biggest offender being buried in the Peach Orchards, the grounds are considered tormented and hallow.  Ghost stories of the infamous warlord walking amongst the trees have circulated for over two centuries, but many scoff at this, calling it superstitious nonsense.  However, not even critics can deny that something ominous does occur there during full moons.  Every full moon, a peach tree dies.  Its fruit rots and the soil goes bad, making the spot unacceptable for planting.  No one has an explanation for this, other than the superstition that Phumbaas’s tormented soul is spoiling the orchards.

Despite the haunting, the great Peach Festival is held every summer in Merrimont at the orchards.  It is the largest elven gala in Damir where the social elite and common elves gather on neutral ground.  It is a favorite place for weddings, wedding announcements, and courtships to take place.  The common saying among elven gents associated with the Peach Orchards is: “Take a peach, find a peach, get a peach at the Orchards!”