"The Shadow" is one of the most mystical places on the continent of Nybelmar. Called "Kingdom of Ehebion" by its inhabitants (and often "The Shadow Realm" - as a reaction to the Korweynite lore), "The Second Shadow" by Korweynites, or simply "Murmillion lands" by Santerrans, this region has always been more or less involved in all the important events of the most troubled history of the eastern part of this continent. South of the burned fields of Pallaeion Ulinoth, east of the Fallaenion Gaeldorioth's lush forests and north-east of the beautifull Jerrah river we find the easternmost tip of Nybelmar: the Ehebion peninsula. This seemingly unnatural range of volcanic mountains ("Epheran'yphero", or "The Burning Mountains"), continuing inland with the soft hills named "Oberion Thaleseth" (or "Moon Hills"), hosts the mysterious Murmillions, the ones that forged one of the longest lasting Kingdoms in all Caelereth.
Picture description: The Nightvalleys of Ehebion, a region of rugged terrain with furious streams crossing dark forests. Drawn by Nalfaren.
Ehebion peninsula (also named "The Sickle") has a mostly mountainous landscape,
with a range of active volcanoes far to the eastern shore and one of inactive
volcanoes more inland. Dense and dark forests cover almost all of Ehebion with
mighty tall firs and pine-trees. Traveling through these woods may be a very
challenging task due to the fierce wild beasts that inhabit them but also due
to the extremely rugged terrain. Furious streams run down the steep rocky
slopes and often paths may bring a sudden end into deep ravines. There are few
settlements here and most of them may be found up in the mountains, almost
everytime the houses being dugged into their very rock. These are the homes of
the "Lords of the Sickle" - Families older as the Kingdom itself - and very few
commoners live here (apart of those settled in the mining villages). Yet each
Family of the Kingdom was always to be held in great respect if they owned a
drak (Murmillions' strange
fortresses, carved in the very mountain and seemingly melting with it) in
Ehebion. It was here that the first capitol of the Realm was built: the great
fortress-city of Dasans, nowadays being once again the most important
settlement of those that call themselves "Free Murmillions" - those that
refused the Santerran rule.
Places of notice on the Ehebion peninsula are as follows:
The Fortress-City of Dasans
Down towards the southern shore of peninsula, stretching on the first mountain side that faces the Bay of Desolation, the great fortress rises as if from the mountain itself, Dasans - the Ehebion Capitol, the city where no foe has ever set a foot. A rift goes along this side of the mountain, while rocky abrupt slopes and cliffs on the other sides cut off any natural access for other than the beasts native of these places.
But as there are two natural ways to pass into Ehebion so the men have built two crossings over the rift, in Dasans. Two stone bridges guarded by two towers each (one tower on each side of the rift): the north bridge, named the "Bridge of Mists" (because after each summer rain the thick and heavy mists descending from the mountains gather below this bridge as if forming an otherworldy river) and the south bridge, named the "Bridge of Silence" (because from the top of its high towers one can look towards the Bay of Desolation, where no storm can travel and no ship can sail).
On the mountain side of the rift, a crenellated wall was built, its ancient stone being engraved in the holy glyphs of Menemronn. Further up the mountain, different fortifications were built during times, forming now a complicated network of defensive lines. For Murmillions haven't built the fortress on the mountain, but instead they applied the same architectural principles as for any of their draks: the mountain was used as main fortification and they have built from inside out and not otherwise. They have only supplemented for what was not there yet. Nature must be subdued and its purpose is for the use of men, such is their belief and such is the city of Dasans as well. Thus various smaller enforced stone walls and many earth walls, and also wood and stone towers, climb up towards the very crest of the mountain. Among these there are the draks, as the city is actually a concentration of draks, all belonging to the most influential Families. Yet it is needless to say that the draks themselves are small fortresses on their own.
Seen from the outside, the draks may fog the mind of the most experienced traveller, as they seem to have been built without the most basic sense of reason. Rows of tall and thin windows on walls that seem to wall nothing, terasses which apparently only birds may reach, marble stairs that lead out and into the mountain, but also stairs that, in a complicated design, seem to connect nothing but a few unreachable terasses, all these amongst column supported buildings that from afar look like windows carved directly into the mountain, walled in portions of houses that look like small fortified villages themselves and, often, springs that fall in a controlled, yet unpredictable design towards fountains or even small gardens. The secret of understanding a drak lays in knowing its basic principle: the real living space is in the mountain, what we see on the outside is just the result of that. Beyond the outside looks there are countless of rooms and huge somptuous halls, all either double-walled or double-floored (Murmillions do not use fireplaces in their draks, instead they have a heating system based on the circulation of hot air through walls or floors). Some of them are lightened by the sunrays pouring down their tall and thin windows during the day, some of them are lightened by the eerie glow of the Ehebion Mushroom paint spreaded over the walls or ceilings, concentrated into candelabra (using an elaborated system of mirroring materials) or mixed in the very texture of the translucent veils used in decorations. A system of tunnels connects the rooms and halls and goes further down into the mountain, being used as storage space or for other various means, specific for each Family. There are lots of tales about how these tunnels communicate with those of the other draks, or about how they are leading towards long forgotten caves with silver walls and glowing lakes: ruins of what once was a mighty Fortress, the home of the Enlightened One, Menemronn. Yet for how much truth lays in these tales, that's only for the Lords of the Sickle to know...
On the outside, the draks and all the other various buildings are linked by dark grey cobbled roads, sinuating through large portions of the forest apparently left untouched. Paved clearings are set from place to place always offering a panorama on the valleys below, on the Bay of Desolation or on the faraway lands towards the Gates of Ehebion. High up in the mountain, right on the crest, in the only suitable spot for building something, we can find the great Public Library of Dasans. It almost resembles the construction of a drak and its tunnels go as deep as to the Bridge of Silence linking it with those of the Arkhaeon Archives. In these two great buildings lays the greatest treasure of all for Murmillions, all the Nybelmarian knowledge that they gathered along the millenia. But along with scrolls and parchments and clay tablets (as well Murmillion but also Korweynite or from any other nations that they have ever encountered) there are also countless of other cultural artifacts: paintings, statues, or engravings. It is said that an unwarned visitor may become lost in this great Library is just a matter of minutes...
Beyond the crest and the Public Library entrance the land descends suddenly, on the other side of the mountain, in narrow ravines with cascading fast waters and in rugged cliffs. Stone and wood towers guard this side of the mountain as well. Yet they do not stand against a conquering army but they are the mark of the Dasans hunting grounds, where the Lords of the Sickle come for entertaining, or where the Drakkar Companies are fiercely trained in the ways of the mountain warrior.
The Moon Hills.
As the shores are practically unreachable, there are only two pathways by which
one can enter in the Ehebion peninsula and both of them come from the Moon
Hills. One can take the road through the Gates of Ehebion (a fortified mountain
pass) towards the Dasans Bridge of Silence, or the longer High Shores road,
sinuating along the northern coast and then heading south along the mining
communities to the Dasans Bridge of Mists. Just between the Gates of Ehebion
and the Purple Tower (that marks the beginning of the High Shores road) we can
find the city of Lhindal, former capitol of the kingdom in the later Times of
the Second Shadow. West of Lhindal lies one of the marvels of this realm, the
Silver Forest. Stretching on several hills and the valleys between, a great
forest, composed exclusively of birches,
has been an inspiration point for many local tales and legends. The thin trunks
covered in white bark and the small light green leaves give the forest an eerie
look as if the trees themselves would be of silver. Strange ghostly beings are
said to live there, dangerous for unwary travellers as they never follow a
good/evil pattern but just search for means of play. It is also said that few
who meet such beings also live to tell the story.
Beyond the Silver Forest many settlements host the commoners' class tending the vine plantations or the sheep and cattle herds. A little up to the north, controlling the northern Moon Hills territories, we find the fortress of Daekas a first line of defence against any possible threat from the north, but also the producer of the finest grape-wines in all of East Nybelmar.
Places of notices at the Moon Hills are as follows:
The City of Lhindal
Lhindal was originally built with the purpose of controlling the way in or out of the Ehebion peninsula, thus in the beginning it was mainly just a military garrison. But as the Kingdom expanded and with all the loot that started to pour down in Ehebion from the raids against the Korweyn Empire, the military garrison rapidly grew in a small city. In time Lhindal became the religious center of the Kingdom as all the Cults started to build their temples east of the Silver Forest and thus it became a place of pilgrimage for all the commoners.
After the Korweyn Empire was scattered (following the battle of Kormendale), Theodunn, "the Prophet King", started the building of a great monument, a mausoleum dedicated to the millenia of glorious struggle against the Korweynite heretics, that finally seemed to have come to an end. But in his short reign Theodunn never got to see this monument, the "Amber Halls", finished. His successor, Queen Alma, finished the monument and also moved the political corpus from Dasans to Lhindal, making the city the new capitol of the realm - a realm now stretching from Ehebion to the far west Ranesh river and the city of Kormendale. Soon, Lhindal became a huge settlement, aknowledged at that time as the most beautiful human city of the East Nybelmar. All the riches from all over the realm were gathered here and even the Great Library of Dasans was partly moved in Lhindal. The city was parted into districts, each belonging to a certain Cult (apart of the royal one) and thus forced to respect the architectural design indicated by their Kunrans. But through a common urban agreement though, it was decided that only lime-trees should be planted in the city, all other sorts being choped down. As a result the city was slowly covered with lime-trees as if the buildings had sprang from a lime-forest. The unique perfume of these imposing looking trees soon became the mark of Lhindal, the lime-tree itself becoming its symbol.
But as the Year of Darkness was approaching, the city slowly started to decline. A high rate of unemployment generated a state of crime unimaginable for a Murmillion settlement. The nobles retreated in their somptuous residences living a life of luxury and never-ending banquets. Even the Cults started to lose their grip of the city, as other gods were being worshipped in the now dark and miserable alleys of the commoners. A former symbol of magnificence, Lhindal became a symbol of decadence and corruption, a symbol of evil, as evil as the Second Shadow was perceived to be. The Year of Darkness brought the Santerran armies to its gates and with all the territories in the Moon Hills, Lhindal became the most important settlement for the Murmillion Families that shifted their loyalty to the Santerran High King. Before the Santerran invasion, a lot of the Lhindal's treasures were carried to Dasans by the exiled Arkhaeon guilders and the last drakkars. With the Gates of Ehebion sealed the Santerrans didn't push further east and thus resulted the current political shape of these territories: The Moon Hills being an autonomous region loyal to Aca-Santerra, and the Ehebion peninsula continuing to protect those that call themselves now Free Murmillions.
The city of Lhindal was "cleansed", the Cults were dismissed, a single Cult taking their place: that of, from now on, Santerran Mari. A new age began for Lhindal, the city being now known throughout all Aca-Santerra for its excellent brands of pipeweed, its weird musical shows (dating back from its golden age and originating in the Cults' Sermons), for its libraries (still containing knowledges older than the Santerran Kingdom itself) and schools (as although the Cults were dismissed, their facilities were kept), and for its excellent smiths. And also Lhindal became the new training center for the new Murmillion military elites, employed now by the Santerran armies.
Location. The Ehebion peninsula of the east Nybelmar and also all of the Moon Hills are the territories inhabited by Murmillions now. During the Dark Age of Nybelmar though, their kingdom was stretching from the Ehebion peninsula far to the south-west, near the Ranesh river and the city of Kormendale..
Inhabitants of the
Shadow Realm of Ehebion are the Murmillions.
Murmillions are a folk of strong will and short temper. In their belief in the
Goddess Mari they’re willing to do much
which appears weird, arrogant or cruel to other people, but in their own way
they can be loyal comrades and warm family members.
Murmillions are quite
fatalists, as they do believe that some things are meant to happen. For instance
this very reason is what stands now between
Murmillions and Free Murmillions. The last great war against
Aca-Santerra was started by them as
many believed the Year of Darkness would mean the rebirth of the Dark God,
Mari's spouse from beyond the world. They
were defeated by Asthalon the Black, the
only Santerran king said to be aligned to
Mari. That's why a lot of Families
accepted Santerran rule as being part of that
destiny: they were defeated because it was meant this way. Of course, many Free
Murmillions are now regarding the Santerran
Families as "Fallen Families" and they are accusing them of tendencies to "speak
the name of the unspoken", giving their "unfree" status as an example of what
could happen if one tries to deal directly with the Dark One.
Some wise man once said that Murmillions are split between darkness and light, seeking the one by obeying to the second. The religious rituals of Mari, the main Goddess of Murmillions, are always seemingly chaotic and are very mind-influencing, driving the participants often in states of hysteria, deep meditation or hallucinations.
They often use various rituals to determine the future, but those are more misleading and subtle than the ones known from the priests of Aca-Santerra's Thalisien and are also more detailed and presumably more powerful, if interpreted correctly. Santerrans see Mari more as a Goddess of illusion and insanity than as one of destiny, thus being the antagonist of Thalisien.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The clerics and nobles of the Murmillions use a special kind of writing, based on glyphs - these are supposed to be sacred as their reading/interpretation is the only way in which one can connect with the truth of the Gods or the magical aura, cár'áll. Their coat of arms is a purple banner on which the glyph of Mari, the Glyph of Dreams, is painted. Sometimes, on special occasions, the noble families have the honor of adding on the vertical margins of the banner smaller glyphs that build a statement of wisdom, a "motto" that constitutes that family's signature of pride. Santerran Murmillions have kept the Glyph of Mari but they are painting it on a black banner. They want to point out that Mari is herself merely the manifestation of the Unspoken and that the free Murmillions are following a wrong path, being too much closely linked to Menemronn the Purple and, obviously, his mistakes.
Climate. A temperate climate reigns over Ehebion with mild winters in the Moon Hills, although, due to the high mountains, in the peninsula it can get quite very cold.
Flora. As we have already seen, tall firs and pine-trees cover most of the Ehebion peninsula, while the Moon Hills hosts mostly beeches, lime-trees, acacia and birches. Pipeweed is cultivated in several places and also the western hills are very suited for growing vines. The rest of the hills are mostly pastures, used for the large herds of cattles and sheep (a herd being usually owned by several villages). Also worth to be mentioned is that a special sort of mushroom grows in the caves of Ehebion and it is used by Murmillions due to its unique feature of bioluminiscence.
Fauna. Besides the fire dragons of the Burning Mountains, the fauna of Ehebion is that which usually can be encountered in any temperate climate region of Caelereth. The most notable exception to this would be the warg. Considered to be a mythical beast in other places, the warg is nevertheless real in Ehebion. Their origins are unknown but, supposedly, they were brought here or created by Menmeronn, being set on the loose after his legendary defeat. A dangerous presence nevertheless, yet the locals managed to deal with them, as they are hunting the warg as the warg are hunting them as well. There is a Murmillion saying that tells that "only the unworthy is eaten by the warg". Many commoners are sending their young boys to hunt and eat a warg as a rite of passing into adulthood. The nobility instead had developped a sport from the warg hunting (a very dangerous sport indeed, as not always everybody returns from such a hunt) and also, in time, they perfected a fine cuisine from the warg meat. The warg fur might also be used in various clothing or interior decorations.
Resources. The lands of Murmillions are formed by mountains and high hills, with a range of volcanoes (many of them still active) far in the east. So besides small portions of farmlands and vineyards on the high hills, there can be found, up in the mountains, various mining sites producing mainly iron ore, silver, amber and opals.
Myth/Lore. It is said that the Ehebion peninsula is now only the northern half of an ancient magical fortress that was raised from the waters by a powerful archmage, Menemronn. During the almost forgotten War of the Chosen, Menemronn (one of the fighting wizards) retreated to Nybelmar and erected by means of magic the volcanoes later to be known as the Burning Mountains (Epheran'yphero). Every nation of East Nybelmar (humans or elves) has a myth about Menemronn, but not always the myths are told in the same way. The common interpretation (that can be encountered in the Kaýr of Korweynite lore for instance) was that he supposedly planned to subdue all the nations of Nybelmar and to "harvest" them for his own purposes. Murmillions though (that see themselves as the followers of Menemronn) never mention a plan of conquest, but mostly an attempt to civilize a barbaric, primitive land.
Nevertheless, a long and bloody war was fought throughout all of Nybelmar leaving many scars, some of them even now being not yet healed. Menemronn's armies were defeated by a great alliance of humans and elves in a heroic battle carried in Epheran'yphero. Again, the elves and humans tell that Menemronn was killed in that battle, yet his body was never found, thus leaving Murmillions now with their very own interpretation (that Menemronn never actually died but he merely left the "World of Exile", fulfilling his glorious destiny). After this last battle, it is said that the highest of all volcanoes violently erupted tearing up the land and crumbling into the sea. Thus Menemronn's fortress was split into what we see now: the Ehebion peninsula, the Bay of Desolation (where the great volcano crumbled) and the Artakar peninsula (the continental Aca-Santerra now).
After the alliance retreated its troops, one of the human leaders, Kyras the Dark, returned to the Burning Mountains rallying around him all those that still believed in the cause of Menemronn - humans and elves alike. These are the ancestors of Murmillions, the Lords of the Sickle. As actually even the Murmillion name (that strangely, for Korweynites or Santerrans has a literal meaning and supposedly different ethymologies) is the human transcription of the elvish Mór'mélor (Styrásh Mór'mélor), which means "deep shadow".
History. Still to be added.
Information provided by Smith in Exile