The Mithral Mountains is the name given to the rugged range along the eastern part of province Manthria in the United Kingdom of Santharia located at the southern part of the continent of Sarvonia. These mountains were so named both for the vast amounts of mithril ore mined there and also because of their overall silver-gray coloring when seen from a distance.
Description. The Mithral Mountains consist of a long, jagged range of mountains with low foothills on either side, and a prominent spur of especially rugged mountains rearing up in the very center of the range. It is as if some giant hand reached down and pulled the midpoint of this range of mountains high into the sky and then just left, either not wanting, or forgetting, to finish the rest. The hills on either side of this jagged backbone are low and gently rolling, becoming more rocky near the center. They seem to suddenly end where the massive central mountains climb straight for the clouds. These central mountains also seem to be stacked side by side making it very difficult to find easy routes through them. They are also quite rocky consisting mostly of granite and shale, covered only about halfway up with green skirts of pine trees. Scree and talus coat the more horizontal surfaces, making it precarious for both hunters and prey when the loose rock shifts underfoot.
|Picture description. View on the silver-gray mountain range of the Mithral seen from the Adanian Sea. The double-peak to the right is named Chalbern Peak, the central one Gray Hood, and the one to the left the Cloudtop Peak. In the center you can see the Ravenwing Falls very clearly. To the left of the pic there are the large hills of the Twynor Grassland (in the south). The front the picture by the way shows the village of Nepris. Image drawn by Quellion.|
Along the coast in the centre of the mountains are located
Ravenwing Falls. This landmark, known by the
dwarves as UravAnul WaaInn, (Thergerim:
UravAnul WaaInn, "True Water Falling")
is a massive waterfall plunging several hundred peds that can be seen many
leagues out at sea. It is believed that the
dwarven name was the original, corrupted by
humans into "Ravenwing".
These falls are still used by sailors and fishermen alike for navigation. Even
the massive peaks, like Gray Hood and Archare (to the north), are still used for location and
On the other hand the foothills are quite different from each other. The south-western foothills are fertile and covered in alth'ho and other grasses (Twynor Grasslands) with many deciduous trees while the northern differ in that there are more conifers and mossy ground cover. The eastern foothills are more randomly arranged, sandy and covered in sturdy reed grasses and low hardy shrubs.
Location. As stated, the Mithral Mountains are in the eastern part of province Manthria in the United Kingdom of Santharia along the shores of the Adanian Sea. They reach as far north as Reltne Bay and extend south almost to the mouth of the Mashdai River. The Mashdai is bordered along the far northern slopes by the Nekoma Valley which opens into the Huiscen Plains to the Olantani. South of the Olantani the Mithrals are bordered by the fertile Grasslands of Twynor. There are two large hills several hundred peds high sitting in the Twynor Grasslands a little separated from the foothills but still considered part of the Mithral Mountains. Known as the Sentinels, they are covered in grasses with crowns of granite.
|Picture description. The location of the Mithral Mountains close to the Adanian Sea at the east coast of the Santharian Kingdom. Maps drawn by Artimidor.|
People. The main people living in these mountains are the dwarves in their cavern cities and human fishermen in the eastern foothills and human farmers and hunters in the western foothills.
Mitharim ("Metalfolk") are the main dwarven clan in the area, producing a great deal of ore and metal work, as can be seen by their name. The Mithralrotrumerons (Mithralrotrumerons, as the mountains are called in the dwarven tongue) are rich in mithril, naturally, but also in iron, lead, copper, and other industrial ores. The main Mitharim city-cavern, the famous Kor Mithrid, is located somewhere near the source of the Mashdai River which flows into the Adanian Sea. It is the oldest dwarven settlement on Caelereth, according to the ancient Thergerim histories and engravings. Occasionally a traveller along its banks may see large barges going down to Chrondra and Marcogg, laden with ore-bags stamped with the Mitharim runes.
The dwarven settlements Tyr Donian and Tyr Ethran are smaller caverns and only the location of Tyr Donian is commonly known to humans, although the misanthropic behaviour of dwarves along with their retiring nature usually prohibits revealing such information. They are minor settlements and believed to have been established as trading posts, but vast supplies of gold were discovered in Tyr Ethran and a small community developed and its location is lost in the past. So, for the humans' benefit, it seems that only Tyr Donian is exempt from the usual dwarven security features, such as hidden entrances, concealed smoke vents, and reliance on underground springs. Also, the Mitharim of Tyr Donian have considerately cut the tunnel ceiling levels to tall-folk height and provided a number of guest-rooms in their caverns, close enough to the surface to fit out each room with an exterior-facing window! This dwarven clan is on the whole accustomed to extra-racial contact and will be courteous even to elves and halflings should they meet in the trading-caves.
The only lasting human fishing village is at Nepris, unless you count Parthanul, far to the south at the very end of the range, where the Mithrals trail into low foothills and finally swamp. Nepris is located in Mossy Rocks Cove, its sturdy wood and stone houses strung out along the main north/south road and the mountain pass road which leads west across the Mithrals, through the Crazy Woman Pass. Other small seasonal fishing encampments are scattered along the coast, with rock-buttressed shacks huddled into the sand dunes and bony drying racks empty for much of the year.
It is not a kind or easy life, fishing the Adanian Sea, and the people you encounter will be hard, honed, and practical. They tend to be blunt of speech, dealing their words out like their coins, sparingly but with a solid ring. Despite their limited diet and spartan living conditions, they will be hospitable to travellers, having a saying “Baveras / may fickle be,/ but when She gives, / does bounteously.” Ale is plentiful, mostly of dwarven brewing, and both fish and flesh may usually be found at a meal, but grains and greens do not flourish in the salty, windy climate and are sought after in the trading, or are always a welcome host gift.
The weather for these mountains varies widely throughout the seasons. In spring
the western slopes will have a gentle rain during most of the season and the
streams will start to rise as the snow melts on the many peaks. The central
peaks themselves (like the Chalbern and Archare) may still have snowstorms but the snow pack is starting to melt
as the air warms. The eastern slopes will also get gentle rain but not as much
and there is a constant breeze coming from the Adanian Sea. In summer the
eastern foothills are usually hot with the sun beating down and the only relief
coming with the evening breeze off the Adanian Sea. The central peaks will many
times have black clouds encircling them and there can be seen many flashes of
lightning. If one climbs to the foothills, one may hear the roaring dialog of
thunder as it echoes back and forth among the peaks and valleys. The area is
usually warm in the day but cools rapidly at night.
The western foothills are warm most of the summer and the swollen streams and rivers start to recede as summer progresses. Rain will fall but it is not for long or very heavily. Autumn throughout the whole mountain range is usually clear with the days warm and the nights starting to get colder. It is now when more snow starts to appear on the central peaks. Winter brings heavy snow to the central peaks that are often raging walls of white fury lasting for days. The few passes through these mountains are snowed in and travellers foolhardy enough to attempt them usually fall prey to drifts, slides, avalanches, or sudden blizzards.
A cold drizzling rain accompanied by low gray clouds that last for weeks can be found on the western slopes. Often sleet and snow accompany these rains, especially in the northern areas where they can cover the ground for days at a time. While the eastern slopes will have heavy rains, winds and high gray skies, it is the winter storms that come howling off the Adanian Sea that are most remembered. Sometimes these winds come screaming in bent only on destruction, lashing and snarling at anything foolish enough to stand it their way. These winds drive before them roaring pounding waves that eat at the feet of these mountains while slashing rain and pellets of hail swirl through the pines on the slopes.
Flora. Pines are the prevalent tree in the Mithrals, ranging from the tall sahnrix pine to the halfling juniper. Mosses, ferns, and scrub willow make up much of the undergrowth, enjoying the moist climate and giving the area a rich green hue. But there are a variety of other plants and flowers to be found here, if one is sharp-eyed. A wild version of the colourful "Little Fire" sunflower grows well on the western side of the Mithrals, its yellow-rayed petals starring out from the black, seedy centre. Both sentient beings and beasts enjoy the nutty morsels hidden inside its seeds, but fortunately there are always enough shed to replenish the plant in its wild state! Redberries and waterberries can also be found wild, usually in the foothills close to a stream or spring. Odea moss has been reported found in the northwestern area of the range, but it would be considered a rarity rather than a regular feature of the local flora. The oddly-named gebl’s nose mushroom is often found in the shadow of the pines, as are a number of sporing ferns and lichens. The huge, meaty sulcho mushrooms flourish in the rainshadowed side of the Mithrals, and are a favourite of the Thergerim. Luckily they prefer to cultivate the fungus in their underground moss gardens, so the human mushroom devotees do not have to compete with axe-brandishing hungry dwarves when out gathering wild sulcho!
Picture description: A traveller in the Mithral Mountain region. Pic drawn by Quellion.
Along with the usual deer, rabbits, and coneys, one may see
dancing light-foot on the steep granite slopes, or the lovely but unpredictable
and does. Tarep (rock rabbits) prefer the
sunnier western side of the Mithrals, and have their burrows all through the
grassy foothills there. Ravens and crows and other corvids seem to thrive here,
nesting in the dense pines and riding the wind spirals high above the Mithrals'
peaks. Their harsh caws are a constant feature of the area, and their black
feathers are braided into many a hunter's vest or
hair. Some common grey wolves have packs here
and there in the range, their territories carefully demarcated, and their howls
sound as if the mountains themselves have voices, deep and plaintive. A few of
the molish Mogliar have been spotted by hunters on occasion, but it is doubtful
that the digging beasts have a colony within the range, the rocky landscape
being unfriendly to their clawed-out tunnels.
The noisy kuatu is also often heard as it chatters incessantly to intruders to its area or the friendly calls to each other. These reddish brown and blacked striped rodents can be seen leaping from pine tree to pine tree gathering the seeds out of the cones, its long fluffy tail serving as a balance.
As for birds: Banded ricau are also an important part of the Mithral fauna. Finally the golden-trimmed torán may be spotted circling the updrafts around the larger peaks, its shimmering golden head and wingtips clearly distinguishing it from the other types of eagles that are found in the vicinity, or stooping with great talons outstretched for its favorite snack, the promiscuously-breeding little gray and white surica rodents that make their tunnels among the rocks and grassy hills or hiding among the mossy rocks.
Natural Resources. The area of the Mithral Mountains is both spectacularly bleak, and marvelously rich. The soaring, stark peaks of the mountains themselves from a distance hide the wide variety of wildlife and vegetation in the area. The low, rolling foothills are covered with ferns and brush, while around the knees of the mountains pine trees form a verdant skirt and a habitat for many beasts. The Ravenwing Falls, or to give it its proper Thergerim name, UravAnul WaaInn, (UravAnul WaaInn, "True Water Falling") is a massive waterfall plunging several hundred peds from the mountain crest to its cauldron pool below. The deep, dark pool ringed by fir and pine is a haunt of both the great aurium-eyed trout and the same, tiny, silvery mithanjor that crowd the Olantani River and the lesser streams and springs of the mountains. Ravenwing Pool is a day’s walk from the little human fishing village of Nepris, on the east coast.
In terms of natural resources, the Mithrals have a wide range of plants: pine, sahnrix, juniper, willow, moss and fern form the forests, and sunflowers, redberries, waterberries, and mushrooms all grow wild on the foothills.
Deer, hynde goats, capricus, rock tarep, coneys, tiny surica rodents, the tree-dwelling kuatu, and grey wolves roam the range of mountains freely, most providing meat to the hunters of the Mitharim. Ravens, crows, banded ricau and the great golden toran eagles have their nests in the pines.
Copper, iron, lead, fyrite, herne, ithildin, and gold are all to be found here. Some small silver and aurium veins have been discovered but never in great quantities, while the vast mithril deposits that gave the mountains their names have long since been mined to naught. In fact, mithril is no longer excavated anywhere on the continent, and artifacts made of the bright metal are correspondingly ever more precious.
Myth/Lore. The legend of Crazy Woman Pass is the most well-known in the area, but the Mithral Mountains seem to have their fair share of other ghost stories, myths and legends: The lost hunter who ate from the carcass of a dying pack leader and became a wolf himself... the giant Black Barsa that swims under lazy fishermen's boats to overturn them... the boy who befriended an injured raven and was rewarded with an egg of solid mithril... the inaccessible spring which is the source of the marvellous Ravenwing Falls, and which is said to also be the gateway to Baveras’ feasting hall... the Copper Dwarf who haunts the road from Tyr Ethran, his ghostly axe sweeping through the ferns at the path’s edge to maim sceptical travellers with joint-cramp... if one sits down with a local and enough strong ale, one may soon hear any of these tales or more. It is rumoured that the bard Judith of Bardavos has a goodly store of such lore, and may be persuaded to scrive it down, if you can catch her in an accommodating mood.
History. There have been dwarves living in these mountains for centuries, and early on a lucrative trade in mithril dominated this area. This trade brought the development of the Mithral Route between Marcogg and the dwarven city Tyr Ethran. Although this route traveled further north, passing by Tyr Donion, these dwarves chose to do their trading using the Olantani River. They mainly traded with Chrondra and sometimes down to Marcogg. The land route was mostly used but ships would still arrive along the coast for trading. The main trading destination would be the area around Kor Mithrid because it was easy to locate the general area by the Ravenwing Falls.
Most trade takes place at Tyr Donion, the trading post of Kolbruk and at little fishing villages such as Nepris. The locations of these places are well-known to any merchant who wishes to increase his stock of dwarven ale, iron/lead/copper/gold ingots of a highly-refined purity, or even the addictively crunchy tavern snack known as sunseeds. Of course, many products from the Adanian Sea are also traded here as well.
The fishing villages claim that their families have been there for over ten generations, and indeed, in a Thergerim engraving in a Kor Mithrid passageway which has been dated back to the ninth century, Nepris is mentioned, identified as "human cave-place where make fish-trade-for-iron" (lit. trans., found in the reference work "Of the Stone Folk", by Sage Alkemus of Bardavos). In the villagers’ oral tradition only a few significant events are recorded, such as the Year of Blue Smoke (944) and the Storm of Three Nights (1025, tentatively). A more detailed history of the region is thus unavailable to us, but we may assume that it was one of the longer-settled, if not more sophisticated, regions of Manthria.