The pride of the Isles, Mysthaven is the kingdom's capitol and largest city. Its skyline is dappled with hundreds of one- and two-story buildings made of cobblestone and brick, some dating to the days of Thalanthus Nypin. The center of the city is dominated by a huge bronze statue of a long dead king, whose identity has been a mystery since the days of Nypin's first landing. This statue has been badly weathered by wind and salt air, such that the face has worn off, and any inscriptions that may have once existed were long ago lost to time. This distinctive landmark provided a convenient meeting place, and Mysthaven's first marketplace sprung up around the statue's feet. Today, the statue stands at the center of a bustling open-air market square, enclosed by buildings containing shops that do business year round. A wide variety of goods are offered for sale every day in the market, though some merchants are more respectable than others.
Near the marketplace is the famous Yorr Place, where the city's rich and fashionable congregate. This street contains the city's Mercantile Exchange, as well as the Royal Theater, where plays and concerts of all sorts are performed. The street is also lined with offices, shops, and luxurious residences, and the prestige of owning an address on Yorr Place drives the price of property on this street to outrageous levels. Another city landmark is the Mysthaven University, which is a gigantic, circular-shaped, open air lecture hall with a canvas tent roof. The city also contains a number of buildings devoted to the government of the kingdom, including the headquarters of the Royal Guard, the Admiralty, and the imposing Courts of Law. Castle Molentia, the royal residence, is located a few miles outside the city.
Most of the city's poor dwell in the crowded neighborhoods near the docks, and the infamous Wyrm and Griffon streets are a haven for criminals. Despite this reputation, many of the people in this part of the city earn a respectable livelihood, since it is home to the kingdom's largest port, and the Mystonian Navy's main shipyard. This is also the place where the large supplies of hemp from Alcornal are turned into rope, and where oil from Kishant is sold. Mysthaven supplements this with their own bit of whaling, though really too little to rival the more northern port. Naval stores are naturally a significant part of Mysthaven's industry. Shipments of lumber from Tul and other parts of the Isles are made into everything from keels to masts, and boxes and barrels for shipping as well. Pine tar is made into pitch for sealing ships, and sailcloth is manufactured and sent in bulk to Kishant and Alcornal.
This commercial city rivals Mysthaven in terms of population and diversity, and its leading citizens hope to eclipse the capitol some day. It is smack-dab in the middle of several important trade routes, so the city always boasts a wealth of merchants. The city makes a hefty profit from whaling and all the goods that come with it, from meat, to oil used for lamps, to beautiful and unique whalebone carvings.
It's no easy task to keep rowdy sailors in line when a crew comes in with a huge carcass, for it is also a windfall for dozens of others who derive a living from these behemoths of the deep. The hefty sums that whaling crews may earn trickles back into the local economy in many ways, particularly through wharfside taverns. Too much drink and too much coin is always a recipe for trouble. It is not surprising, then, Kishant is also famous for its strict laws and severe Royal Guards.
Kishant also boasts the Isles' archival map library, with some maps dating back to Thalanthus Nypin's colonization of the island. (It's well known, however, that these are merely copies since the originals reside within the Palace library.) The explorer Derek Rhys, who took a small party of intrepid adventurers to the island off Alcornal, came back with some startling discoveries of his own about the little explored smaller islands of Myst. (See his journal, a copy of which resides within the museum.)
One of the Isles' naval ports resides within Kishant, creating many jobs and a pool of reserves in times of war. Kishant's naval captains have a reputation for being especially strict, and their crews well disciplined, knowing the price for trouble. Therefore, they (hopefully) set a rather better example for the whaling frigate crews.
The city of Alcornal is a moderate-sized merchant town located on the eastern coast of the Isles, a main port for trade with the countries of the Southlands Peninsula. It recieves textiles from Brookshire, wine from Vekkelmaril and grain from Larmian, and its growing volume of trade may some day rival Mysthaven and Kishant.
Along the coast to the south of Alcornal are massive sand dunes that stretch for miles, providing the raw material for the city's glassmaking industry. Bubbling mud pits can also be found south of the city, fed by underground hot springs--some say the same springs for which Brookshire is famous. Digging clay from the mud pits can be a hazardous occupation, but one well worth the coin Alcornal's potters are willing to pay for it. The city is famous for the quality of its pottery, and exports it to the mainland in great quantities. Alcornal grows vast fields of hemp which it sends to Mysthaven, where it's turned into rope. Those in Alcornal make a bit of rope themselves, but only enough for the needs of the mercantile and naval port located there.
While not nearly as plagued with problems of crime as Kishant and Rak, it has its fair share. Though the guards there tend to be a bit laid back, they generally see to it that all is well. The wooden palisade and gates that protect its citizens from the natural and not so natural predators go a long way towards aiding them in their job.
Towns and Villages
Vekkelmaril is the newest addition to the Island, founded several years ago by Ellurians who were fleeing their war-torn homeland, but in the time since its founding it has grown and thrived. The former tent city has made way for buildings of wood and stone and vineyards have become the pride of Vekkelmaril, as has their wine, which derives a certain unique flavor from the soil and from the knowledgeable Ellurians.
The Ellurian refugees were pleasantly surprised to discover how well celery grows in this area, as well as other root crops such as beets, potatoes and carrots. Vekkelmaril now makes a tidy profit from selling its wines and surplus produce to Alcornal. It remains small, and still very peaceful, its people wanting nothing more than to be left alone.
Along Brookshire's Northeastern border, rolling kettles and moraines spread south and west, leading to flatter plains on their slope to the sea. Wild red oaks, sugar maples, hickory orchards, and evergreen pine groves vie with grassy meadows to cover the lands. Warm artesian springs ribbon the forests and plains with converging brooks that eventually flow into Lok Luina, so named for its distinctive coppery sands. A prized treasure of the Duchy lands, the beautiful MystLily hangs from certain red oaks near the stream banks. This magnificent flower blooms only upon the light of the Spring and Summer full moons and is highly valuable for its herbal medicinal properties and fragrance.
Brookshire is also well known for its textile industry, and both sheep pastures and cotton fields are common sights in the ducal lands. Of course, where one finds wool and cotton, one will also find weavers. Considering some of the more exotic flora that grows about the hot springs, the local weavers are turning out cloth in unique and startling shades and workmanship. Another unique item that Brookshire produces is glass. Because of the distinctive sands in the area, locals make some of the most ethereal and unique glass items on the isles. They are only now finding a thriving market at home and abroad in Elluria, Alesia and Arangoth.
On the fringe of the Red Forest, Tul is a lumber town, known for producing the finest timber in the kingdom. Lumber from Tul is in high demand throughout the Isles for its superior quality, used in construction as far away as Mysthaven. Tul also has a prosperous woodworking industry, specializing in wooden carvings and fine furniture. The master craftsmen of Tul turn out pieces that can fetch exorbitant prices on the mainland. Finally, the cultivation of fruit orchards is also common on in the lands surrounding Tul, and the region is widely known for its jams, jellies, preserves, and homemade fruit wine.
Despite the demand for its produce, Tul is still a relatively isolated community. Most of its contact with the rest of the Isles comes upriver from Kishant, since the quality of the roads is often questionable. Increasing demand for lumber recently brought the people of Tul into conflict with the elves of the Red Forest, though bloodshed was averted and tensions eased when Queen Janessa Molentia opened Crown-owned land in the vicinity to logging.
A tiny fishing village, Larmian is known as the "Jewel of the West Coast" by Mystonian sailors, mostly because it is the first thing they generally see when returning from the sea. Larmian farms boast the best beef stock in the country as well as an accomplished tannery, and surprisingly large vegetable fields for such a small village. A small port employs a many of the village's people, but it's usually only used as a stopover for trade vessels. The Mystonian Navy has a port here, but it's seldom used for anything other than reprovisioning and repair, with a small shipbuilding facility that works mostly on smaller frigates.
Rak is a small trading town where the bulk of the commerce between humans and dwarves takes place. The lands south of the town are devoted to growing the grain from which the famous dwarven beers and spirits are produced, while the rocky foothills of the Key Peaks are home to several vineyards where Mystonian wine is produced. Along with ores and gemstones, salt is yet another valuable commodity taken from the Key Peaks, and traded freely and most profitably with the other towns and villages of the Isles.
Rak holds a coveted trade agreement with the Dwarves, not only for ores, but also for knowledge. A select few of the town's youths are chosen to apprentice with dwarven metalsmiths and gemcutters each year, an honor that parents vie for fiercely. Although they cannot hope to surpass the dwarves' skill that comes from centuries of honing their craft, the smiths and jewelers in Rak are capable of creating exquisite pieces that adorn some of the richest nobles in the land. Because of the heavy trade traffic through this town, there is a hefty crime problem for a town its size.
Other Places of Interest
The Key Peaks
Steep, rugged mountains known as the Key Peaks rise to great heights on the the northern end of the main island. Many have perished trying to scale the myriad of treacherous slopes. Vegetation varies greatly, with sparse tundra giving way to various coniferous forests often with aspen intermixed. Great pines can be found at lower elevations, junipers below that, and grasslands in the lowest areas. The landscape is a complex mosaic of open meadows and forest stands of varying age and species composition.
A nation of hardy dwarves make their home here, toiling beneath the rugged mountain landscape in their underground citadels. Evidence of their presence might be found on the surface as well, as they tend to their flocks in the meadows and fish in the cold mountain lakes.
The Red Forest
This ancient forest is home to the Isles' elven people, the Asidria. Deep within the heart of the forest, redwood and oak giants tower majestically over the city of Asidriel as the morning sun filters through the glistening mists. The Adaron's palace is a marvel to behold: a living, growing building created from a grove of trees fused together with druidic magic. In many parts of the forest, the profound silence is broken only by the step of a deer as it breaks a twig, but few travelers escape the watchful eye of the Kil'reas, the elven ranger corps. In spring, dogwoods and azaleas shine white and pink against the dark red trunks of the redwoods. Summer brings long, warm days for hiking, and winter's chill and damp are offset by the quiet and emptiness of the pristine, sylvan forest.
Known only as the Ruins, most travelers give this fell and mysterious place a wide berth. This is not just because the area is perpetually shrouded in mist, nor even the that rumors of ghastly disappearances abound. Most find something repelling about the area, something dark and foreboding that chips at even the most solid of minds and wills. The mist covers an area of at least a full square mile, not dissipating even under the sun's hottest rays. The silence that lays over the thick mist seems as impenetrable as the mist itself, defying wind and motion like a thick blanket. Few upon the Isles know the truth of the origins of this place, that it was once a grand elven city, destroyed in a magical cataclysm.
Those who penetrate the perimeter of this powerfully unnatural phenomenon soon encounter bits of white marble--some broken chunks, some almost whole blocks, and occasionally, a piece of column, frieze, or shattered statuary. Some of the broken chunks of stone are embedded in the earth--not an usual in itself, given the age of this place--but at such an unnatural angle as to suggest that it had been hurled a considerable distance through the air.
Near the edge of the Ruins, explorers might find a few buildings that are still reasonably intact, having not yet entirely succumbed to decay. The remains of some buildings look as if they might have been compromised by the impact of flying debris. The center of the Ruins, however, is a scene of utter devastation, looking for all the world as if some titan had flattened the heart of the city with the ease of a child brushing away an anthill.
The buildings near the edge of the ruins have long ago been looted, and the cataclysm that destroyed the city and caused the mists has eradicated the heart of the city. Still, the sudden destruction of the city and the accompanying catastrophic loss of life had left little time for residents of the city to escape with their wealth. Who knows what treasures are still buried here beneath the ruins, or squirreled away in secret passages in the ruined buildings? That is one thing that keeps adventurers flocking to the Ruins to explore them, and occasionally, some don't return. Perhaps an ancient building finally gave way, or perhaps they fell victim to ancient elven booby traps, or perhaps the truth is something far worse.
Reports of phantom sounds within the mists are common, as are tales of travelers being followed by shadowy shapes that flit away into the mist when spotted. Some claim that the Ruins are infested with the undead, and others believe that the site is cursed, and that those who venture too deep into the Ruins become hopelessly lost and unable to find their way out again.