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, modeling their new state after the principles of Gondolwen Madas Mith, the celebrated Merchant-King of the Ancient Krean. Lovers of order, logic and discipline; stern and pragmatic, the Gondolwenmith (pronounced: Gon-DOL-wen-myth ["o" as in or and "e" as in west]) became known as “the Practical Krean”. As centuries dissolved into one another like waves into the ocean, they emerged as great traders, shipwrights and bridge-builders. Relative to the size of their small state they have a disproportionately large fleet - the fourth largest in Nybelmar after that of Aca-Santerra, Korweyn and R’unor, surpassing that of the Anpagan Republic.
Image description. An illustration of a male so-called Practical Krean, a Gondolwenmith. Picture by Faugar.
Masters of transportation and commerce, the Gondolwenmith have colonies in
strategic locations all across the northern half of the continent, vying with
the R’unorians over the corn chamber of Loreney. They maintain a close alliance
with other Krean tribes and the mages of Nybelriod; and
possess an economic influence far beyond the borders of their own territories.
Master manufacturers of textiles, porcelain and furniture, the Gondolwenmith
are also renowned smiths in northern
Among the achievements of the tribe one can list the creation of Merchants’ Law (a system of mercantile law known for its level-headedness and speed in adjudication) and maritime law; the founding of their capital, the fortified city of Caradruith; their unique ship-designs; and the construction of the many bridges and aqueducts crowning their land.
Names. Origins. These people take their name from the celebrated Ancient Krean king, Gondolwen Madas Mith, who is viewed as the ideological father of their tribe. Incidentally, “mith” is also the suffix form of “mithreas” – meaning “student of”.
Alternative Names. Gondolwenmith has in common speech been eroded to Gondolwenith, and eventually to "Gondolith". "Gondolwain" is also frequently heard, the suffix “wain” standing for “citizens of”.
Linguists point out that the name is not devoid of meaning, quite independent from the reference to the famed ruler: “Wen” means “son of” and is usually appended to place names, in which case it stands for e.g. “Sihitarawen” or “Rhaastharwen”. So for example “Dearan Asaen Sihitarawen” (Dearan, of House Asaen of Sihitara) or in the case of a well-known family whose branches have spread to various cities: “Dearan Sihitarawen Asaen” (Dearan of the Sihitaran Asaen). “Mith” is not only the king’s surname but also the suffix form of “mithreas” (student or descendant of): e.g. Dearanmith (descendent of Dearan). Ergo, the name Gondolwenmith reads as “Descendents of the Son of Gondol”.
Appearance. Still to be added.
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 Gondolwain 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 in otherwise inhospitable regions or serve as markets in their trade network.
The outposts of the Gondolith in the east are too many to list here; the reader is encouraged to consult the Compendium’s maps and the entry on the Gondolwain Mainland Asen Gondol.
Map description. The location of the Gondolith mainland in northwestern Nybelmar, extending from Cloud Cape. Map drawn by Koldar Mondrakken.
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 provide much needed waterways for passage and ferrying between the quarries deep in the Ivieth Mountains and the coastal towns and ports.
On the northern coast, the skerries between Cape Cloud and the Port of Nor provide a protected channel for commerce behind an almost unbroken string of mountainous islands. This well-guarded passage shelters Gondolwain transports from the treacherous weather conditions of the open sea.
The realm of the Gondolwain is rich in rivers
and waterfalls, which grow taller and more striking towards the north. 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.
(For more information, please refer to ‘Geography of the Gondolith Mainland’.)
People. The Gondolwain’s mercantile mindset, industriousness and ingenuity traces descent from their Ancient Krean ancestry – but the Breaking (1969 b.S.) and the many centuries of exodus and hardship that followed it have greatly curbed their appetite for the ornate. Lovers of order, logic and discipline; stern and pragmatic, the Gondolwenmith thus became known as “the Practical Krean”. This pragmatic outlook is probably best exemplified by the tribe’s famous axioms, such as “The practical is the moral” or “Form follows function”.
The Gondolith have a talent for languages and for making things happen, which many of them capitalize on in choosing their life’s calling and the financial means by which they live. Indeed many around Caelereth envy how the Gondolwenith mind gravitates towards opportunities as a compass to ley lines. So it is no coincidence that the Gondolith are the great explorers and guides of Nybelmar. Over time, they rose to fame as traders, shipwrights and bridge-builders.
Perhaps owing as much to the geography they were born into as to the culture they were raised in, many Gondolwain are drawn to a life at sea – whether it be commerce, work as a sailor, or a soldier for the navy.
They maintain a close alliance with other Krean tribes and the mages of Nybelriod, which, coupled with their extensive trade network, gives the tribe an economic influence that reaches far beyond their own territories. As part of this allegiance, the Gondolwain have their mages trained at the Academy of Nybelriod. The significance of this might not be apparent to all the readers of this Compendium: Nybelriod has in its possession a great collection of tomes and journals from the Dearanic Age and thus produces the greatest sorcerers of the continent - other than the Efferdita (“Krean Gypsies”), if you believe the rumours. (This might explain how one city-state can control such a vast swath of territory in one of the most hostile regions in Nybelmar!) Thus, the Gondolwain are one of the few tribes which have access to a coherent system of Krean Magic – alas, the godlike powers of the Ancient Krean belong to a bygone era.
Map description. The Gondolwenmith colonies, spread all over the northern part of the continent of Nybelmar. Map drawn by Koldar Mondrakken.
Aside from a proclivity for the arcane arts, the Gondolith inherited an eye for
beauty from their ancestors. Although the same discernment is evident in every
aspect o f their life, it is in their remarkable seascapes and panoramas of the
skies that their Krean pedigree most fiercely shines
through. As many a connoisseur will aver, a cluster of clouds painted by a
Gondolwain is never just white, but an explosion of colour and light.
Finally, witnessing the Breaking and the fall of the Ancient Krean, a civilisation which walked as gods among men and which many thought could never fall, left a deep impact in the Gondolwain and an avid urge to leave their mark on Caelereth, to be remembered and not have the ideas their civilisation stands for wiped from the face of the world. This has led the Gondolith to become great historians and chroniclers - a pursuit that ties in well with their expertise as explorers and merchants.
Housing. Still to be added.
Clothing. Still to be added.
Diet. Bounties of the sea form the staple of the Gondolwain’s diet - to which they attribute their longevity, good health and stamina! Owing to their vast trade empire, the number of strategically placed colonies they have all across northern Nybelmar and the sheer practicality of their recipes, Gondolith cuisine may well be one of the most influential cuisines of Caelereth. Certainly, their character shines through in their cooking:
It is said in Nybelmar (and in ports as far away as Varcopas in southern Santharia) that when the preparation of food is at its simplest and best, it often owes a debt to the Gondolith kitchen. The Gondolwenmith aver that the essence of good food lies in simplicity – and most mothers endorse the popular Gondolith adage that the more you spend the less well you eat. Indeed, Gondolwain food is all about good basic ingredients, simply prepared and fondly cooked to produce a meal that has not taken all day to create. And anyone who has been brought up in a Gondolith port town knows first-hand the respect accorded to food and eating. So in a sense Gondolwain approach cooking the way they approach life – and the resulting cuisine is like everything else this tribe makes: sensible, no-nonsense and of sterling quality.
Enjoyment is the most characteristic aspect of Gondolith cooking and eating – and a Gondolwain cook will very vigorously tell you that if a recipe and the ensuing meal does not persuade you into the kitchen, enliven your day and bring a smile to your face, it deserves to be hurled into the sea. On most days the Gondolwain eat quick, light meals. These they eat rather frequently albeit in small proportions: about four to six times a day, with two main meals (breakfast and lunch) supplemented by gentler, snack-like suppers made from vegetables or fruit throughout the day. But a “traditional” Gondolith meal is a great family affair, reserved for special occasions or the weekends, when there is more time to cook – and more time to talk, argue, laugh and savour. These gatherings have a rather complicated meal structure, which perhaps gives the remarkably practical members of this tribe a chance to unleash their inner Krean... Such a meal (often a lunch) starts with a selection of appetizers, soup or salad followed by a pasta dish. Neither of these courses is large in volume for there are still three more to follow! – seafood, the main vegetable dish and dessert or fruit. Perchance food is what brings family and community together in this otherwise exceptionally individualist culture?
Weapons. Still to be added.
Occupations. Still to be added.
Image description. A Gondolwenmith girl sitting at the beach. Picture by Faugar.
Gondolwenith government is based on the principle that less is more: This tribe
ardently believes that free trade and a live-and-let-live approach to life are
essential not only to the prosperity of the state but also to the wellbeing of
its citizens. They advocate a system of part private, part public finance for
services ranging from education and transport to justice and defence – “for
every fish is hooked from its own mouth” as the Gondolwain say... In many
respects therefore their state is modelled after the principles set out by
Gondolwen Madas Mith, the celebrated Merchant-King of the Ancient
The head of the Gondolith republic, who is elected every seven years, is known as “the Sovereign” in Tharian and “Amor” in the Gondolith tongue. However, a closer translation of “Amor” would be something between “Custodian” and “Far-seer” – the first, to call attention to the idea that the Amor rules because the inhabitants entrusted a portion of their free-will to him and his charge as a guardian of their freedom; the second, to underline the vision needed. The Sovereign is expected to plan ahead and see further than the leaders of other nations in order to secure for the Gondolwain their free trade. As the Gondolwain say: “Today is clear-cut; tomorrow too is distinctly visible - but is your vision true Amor-sight? Or does five years, ten years from now look smaller and blurrier – like birds over the horizon?”
Natural Resources. 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. Of the flora that decorates the Gondolith mainland, the cotton plantations of the Vaenar delta and the lymmon tree sentries standing watch over the inlets are the most characteristic.
Quarries and mines also contribute their fair share: “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.
But water is the capstan
around which Gondolwenith life revolves – whether it be thermal and mineral
springs; 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.
Production/Trade. The four masts of Gondolwain industry are: textiles, porcelain, furniture and smith-work. Their trade network is so vast and their fame so great that there are few merchants across the Disk who have not heard of Gondolith fabric. Whether by magic or skill or some other invention of the mind the Compendium cannot say, but the Gondolwain can spin cotton so finely that over the seas it has come to be known as “the new spilk”, “Gondolspilk”, “Gspilk”, “Geespilk”, or simply “Gonsilk”. In a world terrorised by rough, uncomfortable clothing prone to inducing redness, itching and all forms of other distasteful tactile experiences, Gondolwain cotton offers a more affordable alternative to the discerning customer, undercutting the silk and spilk producing nations. It has three qualities to commend itself: It is miraculously soft, airy and lends itself to tailoring as water into the sea.
Most Gondolwenmith clothing is blessed with Krean Magic to shield the wearer from unpleasant weather conditions, as well as the consequences of overzealous sweat-glands. Nonetheless, such fabric is difficult to come by outside Nybelmar, and a wealthy Avennorian merchant, a Veior or a Jorn for instance, would be lucky to sport one or two such items in his wardrobe. These arcane-spun fabrics preserve the wearer’s body temperature, a quality which has spawned the saying “cool as Gonsilk”. In addition, the fabric keeps itself dry by causing water to evaporate upon contact – making enchanted Gonsilk a sterling choice for seafaring episodes, given that the only plausible natural substitute, the lightweight watertight hide of the Ráhaz-estár snake procured by the Shendar, is very rare and not available on the market.
None other than Gondolith weavers know quite why or whether it is a side-effect
of this enchantment but Gonsilk does not easily catch fire. In fact, one way to
test whether cotton fabric bears genuine Gondolwain enchantment is to throw it
into an open fire: If it does, the springing flames will lick the cloth without
igniting it and as the temperature increases strange runes will emerge and
begin to glow, as if they are draining the heat. This glow gradually
intensifies until a point of saturation is reached – as if the cloth has become
“soaked” with fire – after which the runic
structure will suddenly fall apart like earthenware shattering upon hitting the
ground and the fabric will burst into flames shortly thereafter. Ergo, given
the probability of the claimed Gondolsilk being devoid of any enchantment and
thus ruining what is otherwise perfectly decent fabric, this is a useful but
potentially expensive experiment – so it is best reserved for verifying the
claims of overweening merchants before one consummates the purchase.
Finally, to prevent Gondolwenith sailors suffering heat strokes in the hot summer months – especially given their prolonged exposure to the elements and sunlight bouncing off the waves – charmed Gondolspilk reflects sunrays falling upon it. Elves might always have light on their faces, but so do the Gondolwain – on their clothes. This gives the white-washed settlements of the Gondolwain a luminous quality at firstflame and sunset, which sparks into radiant sparkles around sunblaze, now flashing on, now flashing off, the streets bustling with merchants and craftsmen and sailors and all the dramatis personae of a thriving economy, all aglow and all afire.
Image description. Two Gondolith women picking fruits in a lemon orchard. Picture drawn by Faugar.
The cotton grown and spun in the Vaenar Delta thus gives the soldiers and
workmen of Gondol an advantage over their counterparts in other nations in
battling the hot climate of Nybelmar –
and their harder work reaps its own reward in the form of opulence,
world-dominance, and a lot of shiny objects...
Also, some Gondolcotton can be enchanted to “store” light and release it incrementally like a slow-burning candle as the day wanes from sundrown onwards – a favourite trick used in all sorts of Gondolith coat of arms, flags, banners and related paraphernalia. Sunset is magnificent everywhere, but in few places on Caelereth is the dusk that follows it as breathtaking as in the Gondolwenith mainland: as Injèrá sets, drawing her light away from the Disk back into herself in much the same way the mysterious force of alsetism pulls iron dust onto itself, it is replaced by the softer light issuing forth out of flags, banners, spreads, laundry left out to dry... and the cities of the Gondolwain begin lighting up as the sun sails away from the land, melting into the horizon.
Items made with this enchantment are known as “suncatchers”. A prominent use for them are in “Gondol-lanterns”, lanterns tailored out of Gondolcotton into all forms of magnificent shapes. Think of paper-lanterns – in this case “cotton-lanterns” – that need no candles inside. A variation is the “Bad-tempered Dragon”, a Gondol-lantern with an open ceiling out of which a wick protrudes for several nailsbreath, with its walls curved towards this wick. As the enchanted cotton radiates with the sunlight it collected during the day, the air inside the lantern grows hotter until finally it sparks the wick of the candle it encloses. Of course, since Gondolsilk is heat-resistant it does not burst into flame along with the candle it contains. In the worst case scenario a few rune-laces will begin to shimmer through the fabric, which would only add to the lanterns’ exotic beauty. Lanterns which light themselves – like bad tempered dragons spontaneously combusting – are rather glorious party starters. However, they tend to only work during very hot days, when the lantern has had the opportunity to trap enough sunlight to perform its trick after daywane. On such days dragons are probably not the only ones with a foul temper – something which will not come as a shock to anyone who has experienced a Nybelmarian summer – so lighting up the atmosphere and diffusing the tense mood with a few pretty lanterns is probably not a bad idea. Like everything the Gondolwenmith - “the Practical Krean” - do, behind the splendour lies a practical thought.
The second and third most important manufactures are porcelain products and wood or wrought-iron furniture. The Gondolwain are also renowned smiths in northern Nybelmar, whether it be wrought “Gondolgold” (white gold, platinum) jewellery, intaglio and cameo engravings, weapons or armour. Clockwork constitutes a smaller but prestigious industry. The main food exports are lymmons and various delicacies made from fish eggs. Furthermore, the soft sands of the coves dovetailing the mainland lend themselves well to glassblowing. However, whilst Gondolith glassware is of decent quality, it cannot rival the first-rate products of the neighbouring Aesteran city-states to the west. The dyes extracted from various flora and fauna inhabiting the reefs, lagoons and mountain forests are used both in the textile industry and the paintings for which the Gondolwain are renowned.
The major import of this tribe are grains and corns from Loreney, which are not grown in Gondol as the only area suitable for farming is devoted to cotton-growing. Well-aware that this dependence on trade for the staple of their diet is their main weakness, the Gondolwenmith are exceptionally proactive when it comes to securing their food supply - often pre-empting Runor and Aca-Santerra for control of the continent’s “granary states”. Of course, as a thriving economy, various luxury imports are in constant demand as well.
Holidays, Festivals and Observances. Still to be added.
Sayings and Idioms. Among the most famous sayings of the Gondolwenmith people are the following:
“The great secret of
life is that no creature is against another; each is for itself and
repeats itself. So make their benefit coincide with yours.” – a quote
from Gondolwen Madas Mith, the celebrated Merchant-King of the Ancient
Krean, which elegantly sums up the Gondolwain’s worldview.
Important Achievements. Among the achievements of the tribe one can list the creation of Merchants’ Law (a system of mercantile law known for its level-headedness and speed in adjudication) and maritime law; the founding of their capital, the fortified city of Caradruith; their unique ship-designs; and the construction of the many bridges and aqueducts crowning their land. Indeed, the Gondolwenmith are the great law makers and enforcers of North Nybelmar – and many traders opt to have their transactions governed by Gondolith law and courts. Much to the dismay of Aca-Santerra, the Gondolwain have unified – that is: strong-armed – most North Nybelmarian nations under a single maritime regime, presiding over matters such as sunken ships, spoils of war and territorial disputes. In fact, the Gondolwenith often use infringements of this “Law of the Seas”, which R’unor and Aca-Santerra do not recognise, as an excuse to initiate strategic strikes against the two states. It is for the same reason that other, smaller nations have adopted the Gondolith code: to have a “big brother”, if one would excuse the expression, to which they can turn should R’unor or Aca-Santerra invade their shores or capture their vessels.