The Caaehl Mountain range of the Northern Sarvonian peninsula of Caaehl'heroth has been likened to a jagged spine a massive, blighted beast. The mountains are bleak and grey where the Injèrá's warm rays rarely touch. Creatures of nightmare are said to crawl, slither and fly amongst the peaks and crevasses. The ruins of an ancient civilization are rumored to be hidden among the steep cliff faces. These crags compose the longest mountain range in Caaehl'heroth, though not the tallest. It is said that the mountain range in the Icelands of Aeh'Os'th'er'oc to the north of the Caaehl are far taller. Nevertheless, the Caaehl Mountains are an intimidating presence within a region not short of terrifying features: in the north, they border the twisted Mists of Osthemangar, while at their western feet lurks the dreaded Cartashian Forest. Because of the regions' generally inhospitable inhabitants such as trolls, giant spiders and the predatory bat-like creature known as the "oogorim", there has not been any reliable research done of the region. The orcs of the Osther-Oc are familiar with the southern end of the range but the central peaks are largely unexplored. The northern range, of course, touches the Mists where all sorts of unpredictable phenomena can occur.
|Image description. View on Hen'ta Faan (also known as "Hero's Pool") with its legendary stone statues, supposedly once created by orcen hands. Picture drawn by Arbaon.|
Description. The Caaehl Mountains are composed of several tall, steep peaks that rise up from the ground like grey claws grasping at the sky. The mountains are immense. Their upper cliffs are rarely seen, for on most days thick clouds enshroud them like dreary blankets. In fact, viewing distance within the mountains is limited due to the fog and some scholars have theorized that the tainted Mists of Osthemangar have spread over the entire mountain range. The orcs of the mountain clans dispute this as they claim the "ish'ko jahgg'rumm" (orcen lit. "mind sickness fog") is still safely some distance away to the north. Still, the parallels are startling as if the entire region was birthed in mist forever hidden from the sky.
The Southern Range
Beginning in the southern end of the mountain range, the Caaehl peaks begin at the north border of the Fields of Oun'tran'phu. These lush fields have long provided many generations of Osther-Oc with vegetables and fruits as the soil is rich and generous. Many small tributaries flow from the Kharim River along the eastern border of the fields. This river begins its long, southerly flow from between the first two peaks where the orcs have settled. The fields are considered sacred to the orcs and cared for by a separate clan all to themselves known as the Inuk. The first two southern peaks are home to a handful of orcen clans who have built large villages around the base of the cliffs. These orcs are typically farmers and growers who tend the fields year round. Watchtowers that have stood for many hundreds of years surround the fields at intervals of half a stral to guard against creatures who sometimes attack from the Cartashian Forest. Occasionally, bands of mountain trolls have attacked the fields with the purpose of pillaging the food stuffs grown there.
The Sentinels of Karfu
and the Hero's Pool
The Kharim River is birthed from a large lake that calmly sits within a basin between several peaks at the south eastern point of the Caaehl region. This lake is an important geographical area to the Osther-Oc. They call it the "Hen'ta Faan" (lit. orcen "Hero's Pool"). One of the oft spoken orcen legends speaks of the mighty warrior known as Karfu who in ages past slew a god after many days of intense combat. At the spot where the god was slain, a lake of blood gushed from the rocks. The victorious warrior dipped his weapon in the blood and it immediately became water that formed the lake and river. Many years later, Karfu's descendants carved two sentinels of rock made in the likeness of the hero. Both have stood over the lake in memorial of Karfu's historic deed for many centuries, and can still be seen to this day. The river flows from this lake for hundreds of strals south before forking at the Kaaer'dár'shín colony of Eph'denn. The Kharim is one of the most important sources of water in Caaehl'heroth for the orcs, as well as their cousins the Kaaer'dár'shín.
The Ancestor's Dwelling
North of the orcen settlements is where the geography of the mountains becomes less detailed. The orcs themselves rarely venture beyond the first two peaks as they claim many dangerous creatures have burrowed deep in the cliffs. One surprising detail that they can tell of is what they call the "Chuut'kur Volk'has" (orcen lit. "ancestor's dwelling"). This "dwelling", they say, is an extensive network of ancient corridors and underground palaces that were built ages ago by their long dead ancestors. The orcs say the ruins are now inhabited by tribes of mountain trolls who populated the region during the "Dark Elves' War". Likely, this war was the Third Sarvonian War of 298 b.S. The stories that are told say that the dark elves enslaved many of the giant races in their wars, including trolls and giants. After the elves' defeat in the war, it is likely the creatures they had captured split and went their separate ways to rebuild their clans. The Osther-Oc have warred with the troll clans for many years with neither side gaining any sort of advantage.
The ruins of the Chuut'kur Volk'has remains unexplored. Though the orcs desire to reclaim their old ancestors' home, they know it foolish to attack troll lairs. The entrance of the ruins can be seen from a cliff just a few strals east of the southern Cartashian Forest border. Great stone pillars have been carved from the rock face and detailed carvings of battle are carved in the gray, weathered stone overlooking the massive doors. Many other pillars lay broken and scattered all over the area. To the north of the doors stands a stone tower overlooking the forest to the west. The trolls have never been seen up there as they prefer to remain close to the ground. This is a fortunate thing as the orcen settlements likely could also be watched from the tower.
The Northern Mists
One cannot mention the Caaehl Mountains without also mentioning the Mists of Osthemangar. The northern end of the range touches the Mists and completely envelopes it. The nature of the creatures that inhabit these tainted peaks can only be imagined. No known explorer has dared hike those cliffs and only from afar can they be admired (or reviled). Mist Hunter pathfinders have claimed to have seen large flying creatures emerge from several caves and holes that dot the misty peaks. These beasts behave like bats. They emerge at night and fly in unpredictable patterns most ungraceful. Their wings are black and their bodies are covered in thick hair. The Mist Hunters call them the "oogorim". A skull of an oogorim is thought to grace the Mist Hunter clan village at Mt. Osthen. The skull is a holy relic, and said to be as large as a small boulder.
Location. The Caaehl Mountain range extends for several strals along a north/south path in central Caaehl'heroth in Northern Sarvonian. The mountains are surrounded by the Shadow Coast to the east and the Fields of Oun'tran'phu to the south. The mountains also serve as the western border of the Cartashian valley with a great forest spread over the western surface of the mountains' feet. The blighted Plain of Ehelvin is to the north of the Caaehl mostly covered in tainted mist from Osthemangar.
People. Two races of people are known to live in the Caaehl Mountains: the Osther-oc orcs and trolls known as the "Kloighut" (trollish lit. "Mountain Tribe"). Both races have been at war for many generations for control of the mountain resources. The orcs remain ever vigilant year round as troll raids are known to occur at anytime. Typically, the Kloighut launch attacks during the coldest winter seasons in order to steal food.
The orcs of Caaehl'heroth long ago had settled the rugged mountain lands. Santharian sages say that the Osther-Oc ancestors had migrated along with the dark elves into the Cartash region soon after the Great Sundering. These early tribal orcs were known as the Aes'Os'th'er'oc and they quickly spread far and wide all over the peninsula. The clans who settled in the Caaehl Mountains demonstrated great talent at carving temples, homes and statues out of the rock. Eventually, wars with the Dinali human tribes and subjugation by the dark elves greatly dwindled the Aes'Os'th'er'oc population over the centuries.
Today, the ancestors of the Aes'Os'th'er'oc who still reside in the Caaehl Mountain region call themselves the Inuk clan (lit. orcen "rock"). Like their forebearers, the Inuk still live in mountain carved dwellings and hunt in the rugged peaks and cliffs. The Caaehl southern region is their chief agricultural center where they maintain crops grown in the Field of Oun'tran'phu. They are a proud, traditional people who place great emphasis on the worship of their ancient ancestral heroes. The Inuk also claim responsibility for the vigilant guard over the Hero's Pool and the Sentinels of Karfu from desecration by the Kloighut.
|Image description. The enormous trolls living in the underground in the Caaehl Mountains, also known as the Kloighut. Picture drawn by Seeker.|
Mountain trolls are known to live underground in many caverns deep within the Caaehl's southern peaks. According to orcen oral history, the dark elf defeat at the end of the Third Sarvonian War had left many of their once subjugated races in turmoil without leadership. The trolls and orcs, two of the hardiest races whom the elves had enslaved, fought yet another war amongst themselves for control of the dark elves' remaining fortresses and treasures. The trolls were defeated and driven into the Caaehl Mountains where they took refuge within the old Aes'Os'th'er'oc ruins. The orcs settled on the surface and took to their old ways of farming and hunting.
The Kloighut managed to spread and after several generations began to cause trouble for the orcs. Using their cavern tunnels and high cliff points, the trolls' favourite sport is to surprise the orcs by hurling small boulders and logs down the mountain side. At times, the trolls have burst forth from the caverns in large groups to charge the orcs tending their fields. Some might say that orcs are far from being civilized, but trolls are worse creatures. To be captured by trolls alive is worse than death for it is said that the creatures will torture orcen captors for many days before eating them alive, bones and all. Many orcs in the Caaehl region carry small daggers with which to kill themselves if necessary before being captured in a surprise troll raid.
Climate. Cold, dry
winds are a constant companion to those that live in and around the Caaehl
Mountains. The region where the orcen settlements are receive thick blankets of
snow in winter, usually five months out of the year. The soil has been tilled
and worked over many generations and the orcs
have learned to grow edible vegetation in their fields. The northern ends of the
range become colder with the peaks having a near constant covering of snow.
Injèrá's rays shine rarely upon the bleak
cliffs and when they do, it is usually near the southern and central areas. On
any typical day, the air is chill and dry. The sole exception are the north
peaks that touch the Osthemangar Mists.
Those brave explorers who have managed to visit the
Mists and live to tell about it have all
said that the tainted region has a climate all its own that is unpredictable at
best. Most reports, at least the two that have been made available to this
researcher, say that the Mist touched region
of the Caaehl is balmy and considerably warm.
Flora. Flora found in the Caaehl Mountains region includes the following:
The Cartashian Forest provides the largest share of growing vegetation for the Caaehl Mountains. The western length of the mountains iis home to the Cartashian Woods with their tall and hearty clusters of Arnean trees. These trees can be found all over Northern Sarvonia in many of the regions' forests. The trees are known by many names, including Arne'pherán (Styrásh Arne'pherán, lit. "Strike Tree"), as it is called by the Injerín elves. The Kuglimz, in their ever-practical way, name it the Ret'jyrl, or "Hook Tree". The Osther-Oc call it the "Pok'sha Itus" (lit. "Thorn Tree"). The name is aptly put as the tree's branches are thorny that produce fruit in late summer. The trees only grow in the forest touching the mountain base and not amongst the peaks.
One of the few plants that grow amidst the cracks and crevasses of the Caaehl is a variety of skyweed vine. This plant, called the rock vine, is similar to that of the Southern Sarvonian variety in that it has a blue-gray colouration with dark red flowers. Also, it produces a fruit in the form of dull yellow clusters of berries during fall and winter. The berries are bitter tasting and the orcs care little for them.
In the areas of the mountains touched by the Mists, one can find large gardens of the savage mushroom. The orcs call this vile fungus "K'arg'Batuk" (lit. "attacking vegetation"). This flesh-eating plant only grows within the misty areas of the tainted northern Caaehl range. The mushrooms' bright red berries attract a number of creatures large and small, but once a berry is disturbed, the mushroom releases a noxious cloud of spores that quickly incapacitate the victim. Often, the prey falls on or near the mushroom where the fungus nourishes itself on the fresh meat. Truly one of Caelereth's most grisly forms of life.
One of the major crops grown in the Fields of Oun'tran'phu is the "Poik'thon" (orcen lit. "moon berry or pumpkin"). The moon berry is a hardy shrub whose vines grow along the ground to protect themselves from the harsh winds that roll down the mountain passes. Winter snow fall completely buries the plant. In the spring however, when the snow melts, one finds that the plant has grown enormous pumpkin-like fruits; pale as the moon they are, cold to the touch like ice - and they glow faintly in the dark. It is as if the shrub has soaked up the qualities of the snow and has infused them into big white swellings.
As the sun returns daily to warm the moon berries, they gradually gain an orangey tint, and lose some of their iciness - until, eventually, after approximately two months, they are ready to be harvested. The orcs enjoy feasting on the sweet pallid flesh inside. Additionally, the hardened shells are made into drums, masks and crockery. Preserves can be prepared as well, so that the orcs don't have to survive solely on meat during the winter.
Fauna. The orcs say that many dangerous and twisted creatures inhabit the deep caverns and high cliffs of the Caaehl Mountains. They rarely stray far north from the Fields of Oun'tran'phan due to the trolls and other dangers. The most common type of creature in the Caaehl are spiders. Many varieties of spider are known to crawl in the dark fathoms of the world, but the Caaehl region is said to hold the most dangerous kinds.
Large and territorial spiders inhabit the central mountain range with some varieties so big that they give even the trolls a certain measure of fear. Orcen lore holds that the dark elves of ages past used the spiders in vile experiments in an attempt to create beasts of burden and war. The orcs say many of the spiders were once small and harmless, such as the common woolly cob variety, and barely a palmspan or two across. However, legends says that powerful dark elven magic caused unpredictable effects on the creatures that evolved them into the unnaturally large varieties that are known today. The Inuk orcs say that these massive spiders have legs the length of two peds and grotesque bodies as thick as a boulder. Only in the deepest, darkest pits of the Caaehl mountains do these spiders dwell. Some bestiary researchers, such as the gnome Merglen Anzeron, made it his life's quest to find and observe these large specimens. Unfortunately, he never did, and one of his last journal entries finally admits that perhaps the Caaehl spider was truly something of an exaggeration.
The beast that the orcs know as the oogorim is a large, winged hairy dragon-like monster that makes its home in high cliff caves of the mountains. When matured, oogorim have a wingspan well over three peds across and claws large enough to snatch a small orcen child and carry it away. Their shrill cry is deafening and a flock of them sounding off can be heard for many strals distant. They fly quite high in the foggy sky haphazardly circling before swooping down on prey like a hawk. The oogorim have hairy bodies, much like a bat, but with a reptilian-like head and a curved beak. Their nests have never been observed by any known researchers as they are so high in the cliffs, however, sometimes young oogorim fall from their homes and are found alive near the base of the mountains. Even wounded, the baby oogorim are dangerous adversaries. Gratcha Swath, a Brownie researcher, once observed the Ghostlings hunt and kill a small oogorim. The orcs have developed a way to lure oogorim to the ground with bait and nets and once caught, the creature's flesh and skin can be made into clothing and food.
and the Red Salmon
Two varieties of fish, the northern lysh and the red salmon, are commonly found in the Hero's Pool lake and the Kharim River. The orcs are accomplished in fishing for these creatures and the meat they provide have been a staple diet for the orcen people for generations. The red salmon migrates up and down the Kharim river with spawning occurring at the mouth of the lake in early spring. The northern lysh, so named because it is the only variety of lysh that lives in the North, thrives in the Hero's Pool.