After the Year of Darkness
(1649 b.S.), many among the Ancient Krean who survived the cataclysm left their
lands, disillusioned with their homeland and in search of a new life elsewhere.
Some from this Great Exodus settled on the eastern coasts of the Ivieth
Mountains, and over time became known as the
Gondolwenmith. They called
their new realm "Asen Gondol" (“New Gondol”) after the birthplace of the
celebrated Merchant-King of the Ancient
Krean, Gondolwen Madas Mith, whom they regarded as the ideological father
of their state.
Here we introduce you to the geography of the Goldolwain lands: the location of their homeland and key colonies; the natural features of the Ivieth coast; and the resources to be found therein.
|Image description. View on the skerries between Cape Cloud and the Port of Nor. Hundreds of bridges, tall and proud, each a monument to the power and ingenuity of the Gondolwain, span these skerries, linking the islands and connecting them to the mainland. Picture by Reegen.|
Most of the Gondolith mainland is well-forested with a carpet of maquis and
evergreen woodlands, terminating on the soft sand of the many coves hidden
along the coastline. A notable exception is the Vaenar delta to the south,
where the trees gave way long ago to ordered, well-cultivated cotton
All along the coastline lie long, narrow inlets of sea between steep cliffs, penetrating into the mountains and their valleys. These inlets are appreciably deeper and colder than the adjacent sea, their waters cooled by the icy currents of the mountain rivers feeding them. The reefs along the bottoms of the inlets abound in marine life, which is perhaps why the Gondolwain coastline, especially its northern shore, is such a generous fishing ground. These inlets provide much needed waterways for passage and ferrying between the quarries deep in the Ivieth Mountains and the coastal towns and ports. During the winter months, however, strong tidal currents and wide saltwater rapids occur at the mouths of these inlets – a menace to navigation. Set against snowcapped peaks, these inlets offer majestic views, especially amidst the much taller slopes of the northern shore, carving a smooth, serpentine waterway through the mountains. The air of these inlets carries the sharp, refreshing scent of the lymmon blossoms dotting their slopes; a school of fish causing the occasional ripple here and there only heightens the silence ruling these aquatic valleys.
Thousands of island blocks parallel the northern coast, between Cape Cloud and the Port of Nor, and provide a protected channel for commerce behind an almost unbroken string of mountainous islands and skerries. This passage shelters Gondolwain transports from the treacherous weather conditions of the open sea. Hundreds of bridges, tall and proud, each a monument to the power and ingenuity of the Gondolwain, span the skerries, linking the islands and connecting them to the mainland. The taller summits amidst the northern skerries are crowned with fortresses and catapults, guarding the Gondolith homeland against the fleets of other Nybelmarian powers. These fortifications render the skerry-protected passage unassailable.
Rainwater and snowmelt collect in the mountaintops of Ivieth, forming tiny streams. These gullies either grow larger as they collect more water or add to the water of greater streams they meet along their descent towards the shore. Countless tributary streams all across the realm of the Gondolwain merge, forming rivers in the higher elevations of the mountains and hills; and the rivers grow larger as they accumulate more water from more tributaries. The great rivers of Daeinion Ivieth carve deep V-shaped valleys as their fast-moving water cuts away at the rock on its downhill surge. The vigorous current picks up pieces of rock and conducts them downstream, breaking them into smaller and smaller pieces of sediment. Leaving the high elevation of the mountains and entering the flat plains, the rivers slow down and begin to saunter towards the level landscape of the coastline, giving the sediment a chance to fall to the river bottom and be deposited along with the rocks and pebbles worn smooth in the rivers’ long journey. Thus, the Gondolwain say, rivers do not just flow; they change the surface of the Disk. But amidst the many waterways of Gondol, only the Great Vaenar achieves the ultimate goal of the river: to create a wide, flat valley where it can flow smoothly towards the sea.
|Image description. All along the coastline lie long, narrow inlets of sea between steep cliffs, penetrating into the mountains and their valleys. Picture drawn by Reegen.|
Geography determines culture, and so does the geography of agriculture
determine land use: Dairying and intensive farming of perishable vegetables and
fruits take place in the fields close to the settlements as these products must
get to market quickly - the chilled oxcarts of the Dearanic Age no longer being
a luxury Nybelmarian mages can replicate. Since
grains last longer than dairy products and are much lighter than the timber and
firewood used for fuel, thereby reducing transport costs, they can be located
further from Gondolith cities. As such, grains are often imported from the
“corn-chamber” of Loreney to the northeast or from the Sartheran elves to the
southwest; the Vaenar delta attends to the much more lucrative demands of the
The sea causes numerous indentations in the land, creating picturesque coves and lagoons on the eastern coastline all the way from the Port of Nor to the River Vaenar, with merchant ships taking refuge in their calm waters or the private vessels of the wealthier Gondolwain anchored a few dashes from the coast - tied perhaps to a solid pine tree, the passengers enjoying these idyllic sanctuaries. Indeed, the entire Gondolith shoreline pullulates into countless bays, ports and shelter creeks.
The sheltered geography as well as the thermal underwater springs induce a
climate very much like that of the Plains of Zhun, which is rather milder than
one would expect from the higher latitude of the region. The sea surface
temperature, for instance, ranges from about 1.6 to 2.5
periks throughout the year,
which is warmer than the bay between Faen and the Aesteran coastal city-states
to the west. All these factors have led to the region being called “the Zhun of
the North” by the southern civilizations of the continent. Again, like the Sea
of Zyloth, the currents of the Bay of Gondol are not smooth in respect of
either speed or direction, influenced as they are by the blowing winds.
However, due to its relative limpidity and hot
waters, the Bay of Gondol accommodates large quantities and a broad variety
of fish at the time of their procreating maturity, immigrating from the harsher
Maren Nybeth and Marein Nermarein.
The realm of the Gondolwain is rich in waterfalls, which grow taller and more striking towards the north, adding yet another treasure to the scenic landscape. Ships sailing towards the Gondolith mainland will be quick to spot the great aqueducts carrying the water of its many streams and waterfalls, bringing order and prosperity to a difficult region which no other tribe on Nybelmar had hitherto dared to master.
Map description. The location of the Gondolith mainland in northwestern Nybelmar, extending from Cloud Cape. Map drawn by Koldar Mondrakken.
The Gondolith mainland extends from Cloud Cape at its northwestern-most point
through the skerries of the northern shore and traces the idyllic coastline of
Ivieth as far south as the delta of the Great River Vaenar. Across the Bay of
Gondol it encompasses the peninsula of Qimueh, stopping short of the Lorenite
city of Lahssar. The fortified city of Caradruith is the capital.
The Goldolwain have established colonies in strategic locations all across the northern half of Nybelmar. Usually, these represent a string of small, fortified settlements which secure a foothold for the Goldolwain in otherwise inhospitable regions or serve as markets in their trade network. These seaports, especially in the east and northeast, teem with merchants from neighbouring states because the Gondolith do not impose levies on sales and offer very favourable tax regimes for capital stored in their Vaults. This has generated a lot of friction, often culminating in great naval battles, between the Gondolwenmith and other Nybelmarian powers who are not pleased with all the trade gravitating toward these small harbours, draining the lifeblood of their own major commercial centres. Gondolwain’s main “sparring partners” are the Sceptres of Tarshiin and the High Kingdom of Aca-Santerra.
From west to east, the first of these colonies is the Isle of Númen Andúnië or Númen Anduinië (pronounced NOO-men Ahn-DOO-knee-eh and NOO-men Ahn-duEE-knee-eh; the circumflex accent denotes a long vowel) which lies between Mist, the Sceptres of Tarshiin and the Trumarim Dwarves in the Western Bay. Then comes the petite isle of Caras, nestled halfway between the Drifting Woods and Essalui Thareliath, to the north of the Plains of Kaerath. Roughly midway between the southern landmass of Essalui Thareliath and the Gondolith mainland, to the northeast of the Port of Nór, drift two islands; Ankalas (the “a”s pronounced as in “cart”) is the larger of the two. The Gondolwain have also managed to carve out from the Lorenite realm the Delta of Areírien (aka Árenbar or Árienbad; pronounced A-reh-EEE-ree-ehn, AAA-rehn-bar, and AAA-ryehn-bahd respectively).
The outposts of the Gondolith in the east are too many to list here; the reader is encouraged to consult the Compendium’s maps. The most noteworthy among these are the Cape of Mifreas to the north of the Ulinoth Plains and the citadel, to the west of the Ehebion Peninsula, known as the Pride of Gondol - a nuisance to the Aca-Santerran fleet.
The Gondolwenmith are so
resourceful, so unyieldingly efficient, and drive so notoriously hard bargains
that many Nybelmarian nations are convinced that the
Gondolith “can extract water from stone”, as the saying goes among those who
tend to be on the raw end of these deals. Indeed, the
Gondolwain approach the land
they live upon and the waters they sail across as if they were conducting
commerce with the elements, determined to wring every ounce of value.
After much negotiation, the sea yields them salt, sand, and a great selection of fish and other marine life – which is supplemented by the tributes of the many lagoons penetrating the mainland. Fish eggs and the pickled roe of larger fish are choice foods among the Gondolwain, and represent a major culinary export to the discerning citizens of neighbouring nations.
Dyes and paints are industriously prised out of the most unpredictable places, though not without some resentment on part of the reefs and mountain forests involved - for many of the flora and animals from which the dyes are coaxed out are poisonous, and diligently extract their tariffs, in the form of a few Gondolith lives every other year or so.
Of the flora that decorates the Marketplace (the Gondolith mainland) where this Great Bargaining takes place, the cotton plantations of the Vaenar delta and the lymmon tree sentries standing watch over the inlets are the most characteristic.
Quarries and mines, multitudinous as they are, also contribute their fair share to the family finances of the elements: “white gold” (platinum); iron and an inimitable ore known as “Gondolith Mithril”; the raw materials that make porcelain; and Gondolwain’s hallmark white stone, “Gondolstone”, are surrendered by the earth after much pestering – which earns it three weeks of rest every year as quid pro quo for its generosity.
But water is the capstan around which Gondolwenmith life revolves – whether it be thermal and mineral springs, which lend themselves oh-so-nicely to spas and effervescent drinks; the water harvested by aqueducts and dams; the waterfalls which in their virility invigorate the spirit and enliven the eye; the tides and the rushing waters which power the pulleys, mills, wheels and hydraulics that unobtrusively turn the watch-work that is the Gondolwenmith nation and open its fortified gates to a brave new world waiting to be explored; or the great rivers and the many unsung streams making their way down the mountains, which are the channels through which much of these negotiations with nature are conducted.