Churican, also called "the Isle of Churican" or "Churicán" (in Styrásh), rests just off the west coast of Sarvonia in Northern Santharia. Some believe its name to be a derivation of the Styrásh "Chró'uricán" for "Island (that is) to wave," or, more simply "Wave Land". Others argue that the first syllable might in fact derive from "chó", meaning "great". This would suggest that Churican's name actually derives from "chó'uricán", meaning "to undulate greatly". Located in the province of Vardýnn, it is an island blessed with both hills and plains across its fertile span, which measures approximately nine furlays from north to south and eight from east to west at its widest point.
Picture description. View on the green, hilly Island of Churcian as a lonely ship approaches the isle directed by one of its smaller lighthouses on the craggy coast. Image drawn by Bard Judith.
Housing approximately 30,000 residents, the isle has fortunately weathered the
storms of history; wars have come and gone, rulers risen and fallen, and
kingdoms formed and faded, but it remains more or less as it has always been.
Its grassy knolls are home to shepherds who watch over their flocks; its
flatlands are covered in
meldarapple orchards; its surrounding oceans are fished by the same
families who have done so for generations. The people are friendly, yet
cautious, but most will proudly claim that there is no place quite as
beautiful, quite as fortunate, or quite as peaceful as the Isle of Churican.
Description. The Isle of Churican is a peaceful island just off the coast of Santharia in the province of Vardýnn. Despite its propinquity to the mainland, the seas which surround it have been wide enough to preserve it from the tumultuous affairs of the continent; the tranquility of the isle reflects its physical beauties. All things seem to echo the serenity that has so fortunately blessed the island for so many years.
Churican is a rolling island, with hills rising from it like waves from the sea. They are covered in grasses, which transform them from chartreuse in early spring to deep green in summer, then golden near summer’s end and light brown in the autumn and winter. Small copses dot the grassy knolls, breaking up the view with tufts of leafy green, which often turn brilliant gold and scarlet in the autumn. Within the undulating landscape, between the swells in the land, lie small lakes, marshlands, and moors.
The main terrestrial trade is shepherding and, because the salty sea wind is harsh to many plants, the typical Churican visitor may not see a crop farm but will rather witness clusters of white sheep or goats dotting the hillside. The sound of their bleating weaves into a aural harmony that is purely Churican’s, harmonising with the whistle and sweep of the wind over the hills and the churning and crashing of the waves. Here and there the lonely call of a gull may rise up from the melody, and often the sound of shepherd voices rings out over the rolling vale. At night, the crickets call out amidst the winds, coupled with the long ululation of an owl or sheepdog.
Although shepherding is the primary vocation for those who keep to the land, the isle is certainly not devoid of farmers - and recently the number of farmers has risen. There are several meldarapple orchards and a few vineyards to the east and north, the fruits of which are frequently made into jellies, jams, and wine. The island’s larger markets form where the rolling hills meet the flatter lands (often called the "Orchardlands") and sea, and here goods are exchanged, often by traders selling goods from the mainland and buying up those produced in Churican, that latter of which mostly includes cheeses, wools, jams, and salted fish.
Churican does not seem at first to have much potable water; being surrounded by the salty sea, most of the readily available water is quite undrinkable. However, there are a number of small lakes and ponds nestled between the hills, and often there is good water hidden deep in the earth and accessed by stone wells.
The people of Churican are quite proud of their isle, which they see as a land brimming with peace, beauty, and good fortune. Such sentiments are expressed in the following Churican folk song:
There is a land I call
The coast of Churican, which comprises the entirety of its natural borders, is
variegated, here coming softly up a sandy beach, there striking swiftly into a
cliff to overlook the roaring sea. Generally the beaches lie where the
Orchardlands meet the ocean, and here the waves throw seashells and polished
rocks upon the sands, along with strewn seaweed and pieces of coral. Shore
birds cluster to pick at the small crabs hiding just below the surface of the
Elsewhere, the shore is less calm, but no less lovely or majestic. Here and there cliffs that once were hills rise up against the tides, and from such a point one may see out into the endless ocean. Amidst the rocky outcrops that occasionally stretch into the sea are coves and secret caves where live many of the isle’s bats. Here, too, creeping over the rocks and sand, are crabs of all sizes.
Above one such craggy shore, to the northwest, is a lighttower made of dark stone that sits like a lonely sentinel on a cliff overlooking the sea. Beside it is the lighttower keeper’s house, where the lighttower keeper and his family live beside the roaring coast. The Lighttower of Churican has been kept by the same family for the last 150, but has a spotted past. Considered one of the first in the kingdom of Santharia, it was supposedly constructed around 800 b.S., though there are only stories and rumours to support this estimate. The lighttower has since undergone a series of cycles of use, neglect, and reconstruction. The current lighttower was said be constructed around 112 a.S., and has been in use more or less from that time forward.
Location. The Isle of Churican lies just off the coast of Santharia in Southern Sarvonia, and spans approximately nine furlays from north to south and eight from east to west at its widest. Because of the gentleness of its terrain, a traveler blessed with a fast horse could, theoretically, cover the girth of the island in a week - supposing, of course, that he could find a fast horse among the mild little ponies of Churican. Just west of the Peninsula of Paragonj and northeast of Witchking Isle, Churican is surrounded on all side by the waters of the Dark Sea. The isle resides within the province of Vardýnn, though there are no bridges to connect it to the mainland.
People and Culture. The
inhabitants of the Isle of Churican are supposedly of
Erpheronian descent, although
many years of relatively minimal interaction with the
Erpheronians of the mainland has
slowly separated the two cultures. According to some early histories, the
original inhabitants of the isle were hobbits,
usually referred to as Churican Hobbits or, occasionally, “Chobbers.” However,
the closeness and subsequent intermarriage between the two produced the Churican
inhabitants of today, which share the look and culture of both.
The Churican men are a bit smaller than the mainland Erpheronians, averaging about 1.7 peds, with women being a bit shorter, and they have lost some of that severity of expression for which Erpheronians are known. Churican inhabitants have, however, retained the original hues of the hair and eyes; the hair is rarely lacking a reddish tint, and the eyes are frequently grey, green, or hazel. Lighter complexions dominate, frequently with at least a sweep of freckles.
The people of Churican are easy-going, valuing peace and simplicity above all else. At times the perception of these qualities is somewhat affected, as many domestic or community issues are hidden to maintain appearances. It is considered imprudent to discuss one’s personal troubles, and it is expected that any personal story be purely for merry entertainment. Those who choose to bring up troubling issues - swindling, adultery, and worse - are frequently deemed as trouble-makers themselves.
The Churican people are fond of food and drink, particularly stews, pies, wines, and ale. They have a number of informal annual celebrations in order that they may consume a great deal of both. They enjoy dance and song, as well. The Churican people value kith and kin highly, particularly because, for an island of Churican’s size, there are not an overwhelming number of inhabitants - perhaps 30,000 on the entire island. Many of those born on the isle become traders or decide to leave, seeking more excitement or better fortunes on the mainland.
Most of the inhabitants of Churican are illiterate, having no real need to know how to write or read. Due to their relative isolation, the people of Churican have, over time, developed a unique dialect, such that, should they journey from their island, they may be quickly identified as foreigners. In particular is the rolling pronunciation of the “r,” the occasionally the dropping of the “t” in words like “water” (wa’er) and “bit” (bih). Finally, they have a tendency to leave the “g” off verbs ending in “ing” (“walking” becomes “walkin’”).
In addition to pronunciation, there are a number of “Churicanisms,” or words and phrases that developed on the isle and remained local, such as the term “parter” for a handyman and a “seashooter” for a sailor or tradesman who goes back and forth between the isle and the mainland. One term, however, that does seem to have made it off the island is the term “chubby” to describe a human who looks like a “Chobber,” or a Churican Hobbit.
Coat of Arms/Sign. Ask most any resident of Churican about the isle’s coat of arms and they’ll give you a bewildered look. “What do we need one for?” they might reply. “Churican hasn’t a flag to wave, nor an army to wave it. We’re a peaceful peoples. Now get off with ye!” However, Churican indeed has a coat of arms. It is an oval in which a cross creates four quadrants; These quadrants are coloured in alternating green and blue. In front of these colours are three yellow birds, supposedly kingells, flying upward.
The coat of arms is a relatively recently creation. As the story goes, when the first Sarvonian War broke out in 806 b.S., the people of Churican, considering themselves members of the Erpheronian kingdom, briefly considered getting involved alongside their fellow Erpheronians, and some members began discussions over a coat of arms (much before discussing the issue of organising an army, it should be added). However, being so far to the north, they eventually decided it best not to concern themselves.
When the Second Sarvonian War began in 550 b.S., the residents of Churican really thought about getting involved (no, really!). After all, the Second Sarvonian War seemed closer to home, and there were more naval battles, meaning the fighting could (theoretically) come to Churican. The residents discussed and discussed before deciding that the mainland seemed to be doing just fine without them, and the best they could do was to keep on making meldarapple wine and Churican cheese (the latter of which was growing in popularity).
Finally, in 298 b.S. Third Sarvonian War broke out. This time, the residents of Churican were resolved to help. No, really, they had all the intention to do it this time, and they began to discuss their coat of arms very (very) seriously. Should it have a fish? Should it have a sheep? What shape should it be? Some wanted circles and some wanted squares, while others thought diamonds looked best.
Eventually they created the coat of arms that is more or less in use today, though when first designed, the kingells were flying downward, the way these seabirds generally looked when diving fearlessly into the sea to catch their prey. Unfortunately, for most objective observers, the birds looked quite like they were falling from the sky rather than intentionally flying downward. After a much heated debate, it was agreed that the coat of arms should be turned upside down so the birds appeared to fly upward.
By the time this was decided, the Third Sarvonian War was nearly over, without a single Churican marching into battle. However, the isle finally had its coat of arms, so most residents deemed Churican's activities during the war both productive and successful.
Climate. In Churican, it is said, you will always know the weather, which seems to assert itself prominently as though it had a personality of its own. When the sun shines, it shines warm and gentle, at times briefly blotted out by a passing cloud. When the rain comes, it may go on for hours or days at a time, falling incessantly over both knoll and plain. When a storm comes, the winds howl and whip up the hills, causing the grasses and infrequent trees to shake wildly. More than that, the weather seems to change and shift regardless of the season. - However, some generalities may be made.
Spring is a timid season, entering the land with soft rains that awaken new life to the hills and plains. Small leaves begin to sprout and, come mid-spring, the air around the orchards is fragrant with the flowers from meldarapple trees. The knolls are covered with little lambs, which hop and prance about their mothers with unbridled joy of movement and life. To travel into the copses is to hear the chatter of little birds calling for their mother to feed them.
As spring ends and summer steps into the isle, the greens all deepen their shade, and the children of spring grow into young adulthood, gaining strength - which they must have, for the summer storms blow through the island with abandon. Lightning cracks the sky and thunder roars, but the air is warm, and when the storm passes, the isle is cooler for it. The storms fade as the summer deepens, and the greens turn yellow on the hill.
As early autumn sets in, the meldarapples come to harvest, and there are festivals across the isle. Autumn brings chill winds and cool showers, and turns the grasses darker and darker, from yellow to gold to brown. In the small woods, the deciduous trees turn golden and scarlet before letting fall their leaves, while the evergreen trees keep the dark greens alive through the season and into winter.
Winter, though not exceptional gelid, is a rather lugubrious season, and the inhabitants often throw parties to lighten the mood. The isle, because of its being surrounded by the sea, experiences only a light blanketing of snow, hardly more than a fore high at any point. Occasionally, though, gusty, howling storms rattle the windows and doors of the cottages, and coupled with the long nights, lend an uneasy sobriety to the air.
All seasons that pass in Churican seem to have their own unique feel and beauty.
Flora. The hills of the isle are covered in grasses, including the alth’ho. Perhaps because of the salty air, the grasses rarely grow higher than a ped, usually maintaining a height of a fore or two. Here and there on the grassy knolls bushes grow, such as the goldenbell bush, and occasionally trees, usually pines and maples. Most of the trees, however, grow in copses or small woods between the hills where the winds aren’t as harsh. Here, baych trees, maples, oaks, and pines grow comfortably, sometimes covered with vines.
Willows also thrive on the isle, usually near the swampy marshlands where yealm reeds and life reeds grow among the algae. The yealm reed, also happy with salt water, occasionally grow in inlets along the coast, here and there shadowed by a coastal redwood standing contentedly amidst the salty winds from the sea.
The Orchardlands, where the land is more or less flat, are filled with bushes and grasses, though much of these lands are covered in meldarapple orchards, occasionally broken up by a few grape vines. Some farmers may also grow root vegetables, like potatoes and carroots.
Fauna. The variety of physical landscapes on Churican permits a modestly diverse range of faunal residents, particularly birds. Being an isle surrounded by sea, a great many ocean birds inhabit the areas around the coast, including gulls and kingells, the latter of which can often be seen diving fearlessly into the waves to catch dinner. Inland, particularly around the small woods, finches and stormcrows (who seem to be in flight at the coming of storms) find ample space to build their nests. Sparrows and other birds flit around the marshland, feasting on the flies and other insects buzzing amid the swamps and bogs.
Both in the copses and in the sea coves, bats roost during the day upside down. At night, they take to the skies, gorging themselves on flies and other aerial insects. The crickets, whose stridulations create a nightly chorus, hide in the grasses of the woods and hills. While rarely seen, owls also live on the isle, known only by their lonely calls in the night. The isle is not without its rodent populations, particularly field mice and tareps. Wild ponies live northeast on the isle; their number has decreased as more of the residents tame the little ponies and use them for carrying items to market.
A great many animals on Churican is domestic. Sheep and goats are extremely common on the isle, and tufts of white are common among the hills as herds of them go to graze. And naturally, wherever there are sheep there are sure to be sheepdogs. The sheepdogs of Churican are as white as the sheep, covered in long, fluffy fur. Less common are cows, though most shepherding families are known to have one or two.
Taenish and geese are relatively common sights around the isle’s cottages. Whether you reside in the Orchardlands or in the hills, most bowers have a pen for keeping domestic fowl, which are raised for both their eggs and their meat.
Resources. Being an island, Churican has easy access to the sea and all its plentiful resources. Fishermen daily take to the ocean with their ropes and nets, hauling in the sea’s bounty. From fish to crabs and even seaweed, the ocean serves as the most immediate and obvious resource for the residents of Churican.
Churican’s rolling hills, covered in sweet and hardy grass, provide ample grazing for the sheep, goats, and other livestock on the island. Many of the isle’s wild ponies, believed to be native inhabitants, have been tamed by the residents of the island. At the north and east, the flatter lands have earned the name Orchardlands from the meldarapple orchards that grow here plentifully. Along with meldarapple, farmers here also grow grapes, potatoes, carroots, and other hardy crops.
Production. Churican produces a number of items often traded on the mainland. One of the most famous is Churican cheese, which comes from goats’ milk and is often wrapped in seaweed during the aging process. The result is a creamy, salty cheese that often pairs well with fruits and is commonly used in pastries, sweet pies, and other such dishes. The cheese became rather popular after it was discovered that, as a boy, Thar had proclaimed it his favourite of all cheeses - a statement the Churican cheese-makers never tire of repeating.
Churican is also known for its wool products. Perhaps because of the winds or the seas, or else the process following shearing, the wool of Churican is moderately less coarse than many mainland varieties. While Churican wool sweaters, hats, etc. are not hard to come by, most of the wool travels to the mainland in spool form, often making its way east to the Caltharians who dye and sew it into clothing, blankets, and other goods.
Churican is known for its wines - particularly meldarapple, which is grown in orchards to the north and east. Meldarapple wine, often coloured an orange-rose, is usually very high in alcohol, as the meldarapple’s sweetness is turned to alcohol during the fermentation process. Some varieties of the wine involve concentrating the liquid to get a thick, syrupy dessert wine. There is even a bubbly version, rarer and far more expensive. The grapes grown on the isle are usually mixed into the lot to create a blended wine, which also has wide appeal in the mainland.
Meldarapples are frequently made into jams and jellies, and these tend to be amoungthe most popular Churican products abroad, at least among young ones. The combination of the meldarapple sweetness and the slightly saltiness from the environment makes this a favourite among the connoisseurs of jams (usually young children seven years of age). In fact, the popularity of Churican jam has lead to a little rhyme sung among groups of children. One child usually begins the rhyme and, upon concluding it, chooses another child to repeat it:
My name is [...] and I can
Here the child chooses another to repeat the rhyme, and round and round the rhyme goes. There are some variations that are occasionally used as well, such as the following:
My name is [...] and I can
Finally, the fish market of Churican is rather lucrative, with much of the
highly-prized, deep ocean fish being caught off the coast of Churican before
being brought in to be dried and processed on the isle to ship off to the
mainland. In recent years, the Caeh-fish trade, small at first, has begun to
spread past Accam and Milkengrad to cities like
Trade. Most of the trade at Churican occurs off the isle. Operated by tradesman who ferry goods back and forth, Churican's trade generally occurs in Accam, its closest neighbour, as well as the city of Milkengrad, though many tradesman also visit Thyslan and other cities and towns farther inland, sometimes by sailing up the Vandrina River. Most of the imports back into Churican consist of cotton and lighter fabrics, metal tools, pottery, and alcohol. Occasionally fine wood products also make it to the isle.
Myth/Lore. Being a small, rather quiet community, Churican is naturally home to a multitude of tales, most of them concerning witches and ghosts. Residents, particularly children, believe most copses host a witch of some sort. Of course they disagree which eldritch wood may actually be a witch-wood, each averring the copse closest to him or her must house the most terrible, or the ugliest, or the most powerful witch on the island. These witches are blamed for everything from poor weather to missing socks, and one will find a number of claims about them, though rarely any complete narrative.
There are a number of ghost stories, generally around loves and lost loves. One such tale is “The Tale of the Storm and the Wind”. Sometimes called “the Story of Wilmyna”, “The Maids Who Loved The Fisherman”, etc., this tale exists in a variety of versions. Depending on where it is told and who tells it, the names and locations change. In some versions, the vengeful Wilmyna is a shepherdess and Anna is the orchard farmer’s daughter, but the story is meant to not only serve as an explanation for the sounds of the storm, but also teach children to be more cheerful and forgiving.
The Tale of the Storm and the Wind.
Long ago, it is said there was a young fisherman who lived near the sea,
and his name was Dorian. He was strong, handsome, and kind, but was loved
by two women with equal adoration. One was a fair young shepherdess named
Anna; she was quite lovely, and loved Dorian with the sanguine innocence
of a young lamb. The other was a handsome orchard farmer’s daughter named
Wilmyna. She was kind but extremely shy, overwhelmed by her love for young
Many of the most popular ghost stories concern the lighttower or the lands and
towns which surround it. Many a sailor and tradesman perished upon the craggy
rocks below the lighttower, precipitating its construction to help warn of
danger. However, the ghosts of the drowned are said to haunt the area still.
In addition to these stories are the hauntings of the lighttower itself. Some of the spirits who remain at the tower are regarded as nefarious and dark, but not all. One of the most popular, and most tragic, ghost stories concerning the tower is the story of "The Lighttower Keeper and His Love." The story is purported to be true, the young man and young maiden being real people whose names have been lost to time and history. The story has some variations, and is often recited in song:
The Lighttower Keeper and HIs Love
There is no end to the number of stories on the isle. Myth and lore abound, particularly of ghosts and witches. Should the Churican visitor wish to hear one, she need merely to step into any tavern and put a coin in the minstrel's jar, or ask a child passing by.