Sarvonia knows plenty of fertile fields that provide
the inhabitants of the Santharian Kingdom with
their daily bread. But few of these places can compete with the renown of the
Fields of Aurium, halfway the Gulf of Maraya, east of Ravenport in the
Manthrian province. Poets suggested that this is the
place “where Jeyriall descended on the
earth / at the moment she was given birth”,
pointing at the extraordinary fertility of the fields. As the bard
Judith of Bardavos noted: "Rippling
golden rain grain, bright in the
autumn sun, gives the Fields of Aurium their
name. Overseen by the coastal town of Ravenport, the grain fields spring from
the same rich black earth that nourishes the
roots of the Auturian Forest." Whether or not
the mythical origin of the Fields has a core of truth or the above-average
growth is explained by the nourishing earth
comparable with that of the nearby elven
forest, the local population certainly makes a profit out of it.
Shneerin, the village south of the Fields, controls
the grain exportation to the coast or towards the rest of the
Description. Aurium is one of the most precious metals in Caelereth, with its golden hue glowing by lantern light in the mines of the Thergerim. As such, Fields dubbed with this epitheton must be quite a sight. Right before harvest, in early autumn, with the sun just right and the occasional passing cloud, the Fields really look like a golden sea, with waves of grain stalks breaking on the surf; the edge of the Fields.
This doesn’t mean that there’s only grain to be seen. The Fields themselves are the property of different families of the Shneerin community. Their farms, adorned by the woodworks so typical for the region, are located in small communities across the fields and near the bigger roads that surround the Fields in the south and east. The road in the east is built alongside a small brook called the Aura, which is said to be partly responsible for the fertile earth. Fieldside, the easternmost part of Ravenport, borders the Fields to the west. The farmers working on these fields have moved ever east over the centuries in the course of time. If you look close to the architecture in Fieldside, you’ll find some of the buildings are in fact old farms, or new incarnations of the old versions. With the growth of the nearby harbour town, these farmers have moved their residence ever more eastwards and currently live just on the outskirts of the town, only separated from the citizens by a few dashes of grassy fields, dotted with snowpuffs, candlebushes and ale nuts. In the north, a small community called Knight’s Rest marks the edge of the wheat fields. As the observant cartographers of the Compendium correctly drew, the ground to the north isn’t as fertile as the rest of the Fields, and in the course of time even abandoned to all farming activities. The grain fields concentrate to the south, with the northernmost farms build approximately 15 strals south of the junction between the roads near Hallowhills.
Each family of farmers controls a particular part of the Fields. Through marriages and the like the properties of the families have varied a little over the centuries, but have all in all remained rather stable. Tradition is – but what isn’t around Shneerin – that the eldest child inherits the properties of his father. Younger brothers and sisters often come to work on the fields of their older siblings. Another tradition concerned here is that a daughter often brings a (sometimes only small and symbolic) patch of land with her as wedding gift. It is thought that in the older days this was a way of proving her fertility: she would be as prosperous as the fields she would bring with her. Trees, planted especially for this purpose, have always constituted the borders of the properties. After the failed experiments with cultivating malus trees in the region, some of this particular species were used to note the borders, effectively starting a tradition which lasts up till this day. Be careful not to taste the malsapples, which were always very sour here. Corbie birds, a true nuisance to the poor farmers, are often seen watching over the Fields from the top of these trees.
In late autumn, when the harvest season is over and the seasonal labourers from Ravenport are drinking up their salaries in the bars of Stormside, taking a stroll over the empty Fields at Sundown is a very rewarding experience. Your first choice is to follow the paths and trails made by the farmers over the centuries. Some of them take special pride in adorning the trail going alongside their homes, creating avenues with oaks or malsapples, which can be seen rising up from the Fields all year round. Another choice is to just walk across the empty fields. Stalks of grain lie here and there, fallen from the hands of the labourers or left there in small bundles as a small gift to the Fruitful One. Verily, the emptiness of the Fields, with the rippling golden rain now harvested, is not what it seems, a shir that may be seen on the horizon being but one counter argument: only now you can appreciate the bare rich soil, a little moist to the touch, filled with little insects like the notorious luck bugs and if you go a little deeper, the occasional myrmex. Cheerks are fortunately rarely seen here, and should you happen to let the earth spill through your fingers and notice one of the little buggers, be sure to notify the nearest Shneerin family, for it will be appalling news. If we continue our walk and pass by some of malus trees, you will notice the family shrines that are only now visible to the eye. It’s tradition among the farmfolk to perform a small ceremony to Jeyriall here before the day starts. Usually the shrines are nothing more than stacked rocks, formed into a rough pyramid. The bundles of grain will surely be present here, one for each labourer that has worked for this family during harvest. If you peel the seeds from the plant, you will notice why the plant is called golden rain: shaped like a raindrop, the grains will reflect the Injèra’s light, revealing their golden teint.
If we continue our stroll up north, the landscape will change radically. When we pass the farms that are located at the edge of the fields, the land becomes rather dull. The earth is of a different hue, browner than the dark soil to the south. Where there was a certain diversity in plant life, there’s now only bare earth, with patches of grass scattered here and there, dotted by rough shrubs. The grass seems to resemble ar’pun grass, but survives the regular rainfall that it common in this climate. The farmers have tried to cultivate the grounds for centuries, but with little success. The ground is even so innutritious that it won’t support enough plant life to feed goats with. Long time this characteristic of the landscape has proven a riddle to the population, until a host of White Knights bought the lands. It is believed that the earth holds some sort of alchemically important mineral, but the farmers couldn’t care less. They sold the land, as it was no use to them. The Order still resides in a complex up north in the Hallowhills, coming down here with a certain regularity. You might bump into them right after harvest time, when the Fields are empty except for the accidental trespasser.
As said earlier, the farmers have formed different communities across the fields. Here follow some of the best known:
Braura is located in the east, bordering the Auturian Woods. It was originally the location of a bridge build by the Darian settlers to keep in touch with the Tethinrhim from the woods, but since these elves have always remained at a distance from others, the bridge is long gone. Only the name of the community reminds them of the bridge across the Aura that used to be here.
Knight’s Rest is found at the northern edge of the fields. This is one of the largest communities with several families and their kinsmen living together. The origin of the name can be gathered from two historical reasons. Either it refers to the many soldiers who’ve died during one of the many battles fought here in the Fields, or it refers to the community of White Knights in the Hallowhills, who used to encamp here when they had an expedition to the Fields.
Jacob is found more in the centre of the fields. From here the annual festivity of the Chase is held, which is described in the Myth and Lore section. The origin of the name remained a mystery for long, until a brilliant trespasser connected the local Jeyriall cultus with this name, which would have simply been Jey’s cup.
Location. The Fields of Aurium are located in the Santharian Kingdom at the Southern Sarvonian continent. They’re part of the Manthrian province, essentially being the property of the Shneerin community, a hamlet to the east of Ravenport. The Fields are surrounded by the communities of Shneerin to the south, Lareith to the east, Kreeswind to the north and Ravenport to the west. The rich soil is said to originate from the Auturian Woods to the east and northeast.
People. The farmers of
the Fields of Aurium are all members of the Shneerin
community, a hamlet with a tradition. Like their kinsmen living ‘in town’ - as
they say in the Fields – that is Shneerin, they focus
on the tradition of their ancestors, keeping up with the local cult of
Jeyriall, visiting family on Fastday in
the Broken Wing in town and decorating their homes with woodwork. Even more than
their brothers and sisters in town, the remark that
Shneerin people look like their ale, “dark and strong”, applies to these men
and women; strong from the hard work in fields and tanned from the same labour,
hinting at their Darian origin like there distant
Coat of Arms/Sign. Though the fields are no separate domain with an own heraldic sign, it is an eye catcher for the village of Shneerin nearby. As such, it has appeared as the central motive on the coat of arms of this village.
Climate. The Fields of Aurium share the mild climate with Shneerin, this due to low altitude location of the location. From the Gulf to the east a salty wind will bring clouds filled with rain over the Fields, but they empty themselves just as often as not. The relatively steady climate, with rainfall in regular intervals and not too extreme temperatures make sure the golden rain will thrive at the Fields. While the grain is dormant in the winter, it may be covered by snowfall, which happens almost every year.
Flora. Those who look beyond the obvious presence of golden rain, will find that the rich soil nourishes more than just wheat. Malus trees serve as border marks for the farmers, sometimes exchanged for mapletrees or oaks, which are found there as well. The borders of the fields, closer to the roads or the Fieldside district, also harbour a variety of small bushes like rapsberries and small patches of wild foridus, which blossom nicely weeks before the big wheat harvest starts. Nearby the farms you will also find the private fields of the farmers. Bredden wheat is commonly seen here for use in the local bakery, with snowpuffs on the borders, which bounce in the wind like balls in the surf. The grass found in the northern part of the Fields is still a case study for New-Santhalan herbalogists but seems to fall outside of any of the currently specified species in the Compendium. Special note should be made of the occasional presence of cylian poppy around the Aura Brook. Farmers speculate that these are harvested by the White Knights, though it’s just as probable that the local population of unfortunate tarepi sometimes eats these plants, providing easy food for other animals like the grass- and rosesnakes or the eagles that dominate the skies above the Fields.
Fauna. The vast region of flatland that the Fields are provide the homes for dozens of species, and are a perfect example of Arvins’ Balance, the cycle of life and death. From the smaller kinds like luckbugs and field mice via tarepi and mimsies to the bigger hunters like eagles and foxes.
The Fields are especially rich when it comes to harbouring various smaller mammals. The farmers would have loved to have had a population of flax rats, which would have taken care of some of the notorious cornstealers like mimsies and field mice. Their cousins, the common rat, is often found more to the east, near the Aura Brook. Another bother to the farmers, though not necessarily because they eat all the corn, are the throwing hedgehogs, which sometimes attack the children playing Hide and Seek in the fields. Though not naturally aggressive, the hedgehogs will not hesitate to defend themselves when seemingly threatened by the playing children. It’s not for naught that the hedgehog verse originates from the nearby Tolonian Heath. All of these creatures are hunted by their natural enemies like ferrets and foxes. There also snakes to be found, the green and golden grass snakes the most commonly encountered versions. Rosesnakes are sometimes seen as well, though they need their fellow hunters or the cylian poppy on the banks of the Aura to provide them with easy meat. The skies are the domain of corbie birds and eagles, though the former are often hunted by the farmers and will flee to the outskirts of the Auturian Woods.
Resources. The one resource the hamlet of Shneerin depends on is the common earth of the Fields. The rich soil provides the villagers with everything they need. It is often noted that the ground seems the same as the soil of the nearby Auturian Woods, which might explain its fertility. Shneerin people often point at their history, saying that these lands were once part of the Auturian Woods, giving a logical explanation to the origin of the soil.
Golden rain grain is produced in abundance and exported over the west road to Ravenport, where it is used or shipped to other locations. The rich taste and appearance of golden rain bread opposed to bredden or common Wheat bread make it a prized commodity. Small fields of wheat grain are kept besides the golden rain for personal use in the village. The stalks of the wheat are used for various household items.
On top of this, the earth provides them with the vegetables they need for their own food. The grass and food for their animals that provide them with milk, wool and meat, flax plants for linen and trees that are used for lumber are but a few examples.
Myth/Lore. Once a year, Fastday before the harvest in autumn, the families of the Fields don’t visit their families in the Broken Wing in Shneerin in the normal way. Instead, they have a day of worship for the upcoming harvest. The families gather in Jacob in the morning for a kind of service with rituals, consisting of sacrificing freshly cut golden rain and other local crops. Afterwards, the women and children leave for Shneerin, but the men remain. During the rest of the morning, they create a maze in the fields of wheat, by cutting paths through them. Somewhere between Sunreign and Sundown, the children and women return and the children play a game in the maze called "Tail Chasing" of simply the "Chase". They’re divided in two groups, where one group has to gather snowpuffs. They are the prey, the tareptail weed marking their kind, while the others are the hunters. The men and women then spread up across the maze to watch the chase and to make sure the children don’t ruin the remaining grainstalks, which are to be harvested during the coming weeks. Children who do leave the paths are severely punished, fortunately this rarely happens. First, the tarepi are free to find a place in the maze, a minute later the hunters will try and catch them. When the last tarepi have been caught, the day is usually at the end. After a blessing by Jeyriall priests overseeing the start of the harvest, the families return home early, preparing for the busy weeks to come.
As a result of the Chase, the saying "chasing a tarepi tail" became common and spread from the fields to town and beyond, to Ravenport and the rest of Manthria. Where it was originally used to comfort anxious parents or siblings of children, pointing out that the child was just playing a game, nothing scary whatsoever, it later became better known as "chasing a lass".