Return of the Long Night
Region Lore – Norek
West of the Elven Forest and south of the broad Bay of Ulor, the city-state of Norek stands as an elegant work of art, a riverine community of merchants and tradesmen loyal to the old ways. This sprawling city of nineteen bridges is a glittering necklace in U-Lyshak’s ages-old jewellery box, one of just a handful of independent states in the troubled south-western Jaiman.
U-Lyshak is one of Jaiman’s most fertile areas, despite its decimation in earlier times. Heavy forests cover much of the land; grasslands and farms line the fertile strip along the rivers and coasts. The capital of the Vorn region, an inland state north of Norek, O’Banthi (“where rivers meet”) sits at the junction of the tributaries that form the Zepler Fosse. Cynar, capital city of te Helyssa region (just west of Vorn) and seat of the nominative ruler of all U-Lyshak, lies at the far end of the Zepler fosse, where it flows into the Bay of Ulor.
The Remiriath is a great wooded region stretching across the southern border of U-Lyshak. Elves are the major occupants and rulers of the woods. Mortals who cross its well-guarded borders without invitation usually regret the decision. Miran trees, once found throughout U-Lyshak and in groves around Jaiman, now flourish only in the Remiriath. The wood of the Miran tree is very valuable and particularly rare.
The Alunn Road is the major east-west path through U-Lyshak. It begins at the headwaters of the Alunn River and extends to Lakyran along the southern bank of the Zepler Fosse, through O’Banthi and along Henner’s Fork, where it meets the headwaters of the Arrow River and runs to shore.
The Alunn River begins as a slow flowing river near the coast of the Bay of Ulor, There ground seepage and mineral deposits have caused the formation of a swamp encouraged by an influx of underground water from the bay. The Yusthin Swamp is a barren, desolate place covering 20 miles square that drains in the Alunn River, which then flows south toward Norek. Runoff from the Brank Mountains flows into it year-round, increasing its size and volume. At Norek, the river splits into several branches. These surround the small islands of central Norek and flow into the Harbour of Frebus at the head of Elysea Bay.
The city-state of Norek has great walls that encompass the main city situated n the seven islands in the mouth of the Alunn River (at the head of the Bay of Elysea). Between the islands and the wall are several thousand acres of agricultural land, as well as a large population of urban dwellers. The Norek Council has great influence over the island dwellers as well as those people living within leagues of the Alunn River.
Norek is a city of beauty. The flavour of many cultures and eras blend into the atmosphere and architecture of Norek, because of its contact with the people of Elysea Bay over the span of centuries. Age is not etched into the façade of Norek, however. Grime and disrepair are not common. Its cosmopolitan nature does not revel itself in a jumble of cultures but rather in a gentle and harmonious blend that comes from centuries of peaceful interaction. A tiny percentage of the citizenry are native to Norek, while the remainder are humans from all points of Kulthea. A small scattering of Elven and Dwarven people also reside there.
The nineteen bridges of Norek, some spanning waterways over 400’ wide, are famous throughout the continent of Jaiman. Large portions were built by the dwarves centuries ago. The artistic mastery of magic by the members of the Arcanus and finished woodwork and carvings of the Elves are clearly represented in the eye-catching beauty of the bridges. Surrounding the city is the ancient wall which is over 6 miles in length and 3 foot tall and 15 foot wide at the base. Despite its 6000 years of age, the wall stands in perfect condition as it is checked and repaired constantly by the Council of Norek. The wall is pierced by six gates, each wide enough to allow 2 wagons to pass side by side within, which can be quickly locked with beams and bolts.
After the forging of the Crown’s, U-Lyshak was seemingly protected from physical harm. Yet history records that the great realms of Jaiman were brought to ruin through insidious means, triggered by agents of evil or men of greed (if not both).
The paternal Priests of Arnak were formed during this age of glory, gathering devoted followers by the score, healing the sick and teaching the ignorant. However, around SE 6000 a power struggle erupted between the Priests Arnak of Yarthraak and the nominal heir. The Priests were recognised as a force for evil, having perverted their caring for the people of U-Lyshak into sacrifices and corruption. The land is divided with the Priest-King of Arnak instituting a period of darkness. Finally resolved after a few centuries, the land was united and the Priests were destroyed. Tales tell of a magician (or The Magician) that was involved in the struggles for U-Lyshak.
After SE 6850 (approximate), the recovery of U-Lyshak was slow and difficult. A majority of the wars of Jaiman were fought within the borders of U-Lyshak, leaving the countryside desolate and the populace reduced to scattered and almost barbaric tribes. Remiriath survived, as did the Elves, but the borders of the Elven Forest were ravaged. By the end of the Second Millennium (TE 2000), the great forests that once covered U-Lyshak regained most of their former glory and governments and cities formed where groups of humanity collected. Over the next 4 millennia, U-Lyshak surpassed its greatest achievements prior to the Wars of Dominion; kings and territories rose and fell.
Recently, a hunting accident took the life of the Prince of Cynar. The Priests Arnak of Yarthraak, thought to be long lost, have claimed the regency of Cynar and have begun a search for the missing heir to the throne.
Though the U-Lyshak region is in political turmoil, the city-state of Norek is still viewed as a safe haven in the troubled waters of Jaiman. Long known for its stability, the city ahs survived the rampages of tyrants and potential conquerors. For unknown reasons, those that have approached it to sack and destroy have turned away and sought other conquests, often without even reaching the city walls. Many a tale states that Norek is an ideal place “to get lost” and a “refuge from trouble”.
The city of Norek is ruled by the Council of Norek, a five member bodied organisation that makes all final decisions in all governmental issues, such as trade imports and alliances. So far the Council has avoided the political struggle that has encompassed the remainder of the U-Lyshak. Citizens of Norek consider themselves the guardians of the U-Lyshak, and of Jaiman, following their long history of stability and sanctity. They speak of “Shath a ‘Rheem”, which translates to “throw dice with Death to pass a lazy afternoon”; this purveys their ease of life view and their feeling that Norek’s protection will follow them through all aspects of their lives. The common human greeting in Norek is “A ‘Rhim” meaning “May death tarry”.