Jernais is a city located on the Heath of Jernais between the Thaelon Forest and the Twinnean Peaks, in the Santharian province of Vardýnn. Though initially located on territory belonging to the former Erpheronian tribe, Jernais is now home to a connected community of mostly Caltharians, who maintain a happy and comfortable life in the city. The population of the city at the moment lies somewhere between 8.000 and 10.000 residents. With a laid back but caring government and a equality for all members, everyone enjoys a comfortable standard of living. The city is always full of activity and things to see, and is as colourful as the people who live there.
Image description. View from Jernais on the surrounding heath and a bunch of xazure herons, typical for the region. You can also spot the Hèckra volcano to the south and the High Fores to the east. Picture drawn by Bard Judith.
City of Jernais is perhaps one of the brightest in
Caelereth, quite literally. This small town in the midst of the Heath of
Jernais is filled with brilliant colours and contented people. The insides of
the city are fairly close together, grouped closely like a bunch of gossiping
girls. There is a clear difference where the end of the city ends, as the
outside of the city is surrounded by farms where wheat and corn is grown, along
with farmed forests to supply the city with the wood it needs.
The general atmosphere of the city is a fairly lively one, perhaps influenced by the bright colours. Many traders and travelers will make it a point to stop by to enjoy the hospitality and good nature of the members of the city, though most admit that the beer isn’t the best, unless it’s imported from the Helmond Shire in the Silvermarshes. Much of the food is fresh, though, and the people are genial and amicable.
Despite (or perhaps because of) so many of the people being woodcutters, the town is filled with beautiful trees that are allowed to grow freely on the street corners. Some of the street signs are, in fact, built into trees still living in the city. Though birch trees are scattered throughout the town, trees like red oak and maple are some of the favorites, perhaps because of the colour of their leaves in the autumn.
Crime is virtually non-existent in the town. Very few households have anything of monetary value, like gold or precious gems and jewelry, so there isn’t really a lot worth stealing. The classes in this town are difficult to distinguish because of the similar economic position of most of the members. Taxes ensure that no citizen of the town gets too rich or too poor. In times of surplus, the taxes are saved. When needed, that money is given back to the people to stimulate production again.
The City of Jernais can be devided into the following Districts:
City (Resident and Small Shop District)
The painted houses of Jernais glow in brilliant shades of azure, scarlet, allia, and many other colours. Even Korwyn gold! The houses are renown for their stylized beauty. Often those of more famous members of the woodworking trade will distinguish their houses with maybe intricate designs on the door. One of the more famous Caltharian woodsmen carved the figure of a fierce gryph on his front door, and continued to carve figures in all the doors in his house, including an elegant unicorn for his lovely wife. Since his time, though, many other Caltharians have etched the forms of mythical or extraordinary creatures and events into their doors, which eventually led to street names like, “Baych Horse Street” and the rather famous, “Mithril Dragon Avenue” (named after the birch, though none of the doors is actually made from it, but often strong oak instead), along with smaller ways such as “Maple Horsefay Alley”.
Most of the houses located in and around the city are made of wood, though now many of walls, both on the inside and the outside, have been coated with a special mud that dries and helps keep the buildings from burning. In the city's early days, fires could easily catch from one house to another, and the village would be decimated within a few hours. It really wasn’t until after the Third Sarvonian War, however, after a horde of orc raiders burned one house and ended up catching the whole city aflame, that the initiative was taken to use building materials that resisted burning. Many of the roves are now made of stone shingles instead of wooden ones, though some of the poorer households are unable to afford the expensive stones and take their chance with wooden shingles.
The change from wood to stone or tile shingles, however, has not influenced the custom of the inhabitants. It is still common to see wooden carvings hanging from the roof. Some of the stores will hang samples of their products from the roof, including shoes in various shapes and styles. Some, in order to have more space to hang their decorations, have made shingles sticking out from the space above the window. Many of the house-decorations, however, are more personalized, and some of them are intricately designed. One decoration on Mithril Dragon Avenue features a snake-like dragon with an intricately decorated head and various wooden plated for the body, connected such that when the wind blows by, the dragon moves, slithers, in the air.
Northwest City (Shopping, Tavern, and Accommodation District)
Though Mithril Dragon Avenue is renown for its beautiful houses - many have awesome renditions of dragons carved into the doors and beautiful wooden carvings hanging from the roof - there are many other popular places to visit. The main road into the city, coming in from the west, goes by the name of “Purple Sock Street,” and is marked by two oak streets bending over the entrance to the city to form an arch. It is believed that the first shop on the road was the “Sock and Boot Shop”, where people could and still can by socks in all different colors, and good, comfortable walking shoes made of wood and cloth. It is believed that at one time, this shop was but a small shack selling purple socks, and the name “Purple Sock Street” just stuck. Along this street, “Amerson’s Furniture Design” pulls in business from throughout Caelereth with an inventory that spans over nearly a dash-long building two-stories high. The quality is superb, though.
The northwest section of the town is also genuinely to be considered the place to go if you need somewhere to stay the night. Clean and hospitable inns like the Euwen Inn and the Cobalt Inn, will not only provide a comfortable room in which to stay, but also a breakfast in the morning. Lunch and dinner, however, is most certainly be spent at the fine dining taverns, many with colour motifs found in the trim and colour of the table clothes. The Scarlet Lýth’bél, for example, has a theme of red colouring even the waitresses’ bodices. Pastas and even spiced roasted taenishes are served with a touch of something special, and most agree that it’s probably the fresh lýth’béls that can be found in just about every delectable recipe. Korwyn Kao-Kao is also a popular place to stop, if only for their deserts, all sweetened with kao-kao.
Bars and saloons, though not the best for their beverages, which tend to be on the poor side if not imported, are still an exciting place to go if you’re interested in a bit of fun. Many traders visit to take a load off and help lighten the mood. The barmaids of Jernais are known for being merry and cheerful, and will certainly throw a joke to help incite a laugh, or just take a moment to lend her ear for a problem. Though it is said that the sweetest barmaids work at the Meldar-Aelirel, the Black Glitra, which changed its name from the Black Hart after a special performance by Gerissa of the Glitra, it truly the place for entertainment. Musicians and bards typically play and sing here, and there is often dancing as well.
Northeast City (Temple District)
The city, apart from being bright and cheerful, is also religious, with temples for Jeyriall located in the Northeast. These temples are conveniently located near local healing houses and an orphanage, so that those who are suffering can find some comfort in prayer. Jeyriall's temple is, as many of hers, pyramid-shaped, and not so grand as others made to her, but is rather modest, like the people who occupy the town. The inside of the temple has a place for running water and plenty of small places in which to pray. Murals of the lovely goddess decorate many of the small rooms. Gardens surround this temple, often with lovely little plants that the children from the local orphanage have planted here.
Around the temple of Jeyriall, concentrated on the east and northeast side of the pyramid-shaped temple, exist relatively small buildings run by the priests and priestesses to house the homeless. These builds, mostly two-story and coloured in a grain-yellow hue, are filled with pillows and blankets, bunks and hammocks. A larger building among them regularly serves meals to those unable to feed themselves.
A small tribute to Baveras stands in the same area: a beautiful round fountain made of soft gray-blue stone. The fountain is unusually large compared to most city fountains, having various columns and multiple pools such that when water slips out of one it lands in another. At the top of the fountain stands a lovely image of Baveras, her flowing hair falling down around her supple shoulders, her eyes looking toward the east, the Adanian Sea. The fountain is large enough to hold almost 10 people in the bottom pool. Some people come here when they are sick to bath in waters and hope for blessings from Baveras, while others merely come here to cool off in the midst of summer’s heat.
Many graveyards are also located around here, and rarely does a day go by when there is not colour even in this, one of the most depressing of places. The beauty of colour and light is not lost on the Caltharians, even in death.
The city is a surely a place of light mood and hospitality, and genial smiles walk the cobble streets every day, welcoming even strangers to their bright city.
Location. The City of Jernais is located to the east in the Heath of Jernais, about half a dash from the River Vandrina, running North of it and separating it from the Thaelon Forest, where some of its wood supplies come from. The City also lives relatively close to Ephirn’s Lake, from where some of the city’s fish is imported. The location of the city makes it a wonderful stop for traders on their way to Milkengrad and the Aurora Plains from Carmalad, so people continually move through the city.
People. Jernais is a
very interesting place, in terms that the town and so the people living in this
city have changed quite a bit over the millenia. In the Sarvonian Wars Jernais
served as a military base for the
Erpheronians, which later on got abandoned and once
Caltharia were united in the
Tharian Kingdom, more and more
Caltharians moved into this former border town of the northern realm to
start a new life. Ironically, the life people established there is almost
contradictory to the militaristic orientation of the ancient
Erpheronians, so that the saying
about a "Bardavos of the North" is not that
far-fetched, as Jernais represents a constant pool of regeneration and joy for
inhabitants and visitors alike, a rarely found oasis of peace.
The permanent residence of the city today is almost uniformly Caltharian, and thus, the inhabitance have a very light complexion, that which not even Foiros’s rays can darken, and light hair, often light brown or, at the darkest, light brown. Their light eyes seems always to glisten with something bright and mirthful. The residents of Jernais, like the others of their tribe, typically decorate themselves with bandanas, often of all different colors and combinations, sometimes even stitching them together to make unique pieces of clothing. Their standard of living is a bit higher than most Caltharians, and they are not restrained to the rags that many Caltharians have to wear. Their flourishing economy has led to a great amount of wealth coming into the city. The clothes they wear are still humble, but are not so poor to be called "rags."
Though many of the Caltharians here have their hair in the traditional deadlock style, some have taken to wearing their hair neat, sometimes combed, and the current style of braids grows every more popular among the inhabitance, while men are slowly beginning to cut their hair so that it doesn’t get in the way of their work.
Dying and woodworking in the main vocation of most Caltharians in the city. Tree farms and wood imports supply the town with the wood it needs to create all sort of artwork out of the material. Fabric, as well, is often imported, especially from large cities and the Aellenrhim, though sometimes the Caltharians will import string for a cheaper price and do the sewing themselves. Though these are the main occupations, there are many others as well, including inn and bar-workers and waiters and waitresses.
The Caltharians in the town of Jernais are known for being very amicable. They will greet even strangers with a smile, and will be happy to help out those who need it - especially if you're an artist or a dancer. Black Butterfly Rovers are always welcomed into the city, despite their reputation for being robbers and thieves. It is this kind of attitude, this friendly mood, that has allowed the Caltharian people to live in such peace. No one feels contempt against any of his neighbours; they teach and learn from one another, no matter age or status. Everyone is in about the same class, and distinctions are thin. Because of the equality established by the mayor of the city, all people respect each other, not on wealth, but instead of skill and personality. Those held in the most reverence tend to be the ones who often help give back to the community. Thier attitudes have produced such sayings as "As happy as a Jernaisite!" (meaning: care-free, happy-go-lucky) and "...not a Jernaisite's worry..." (meaning: not a chance, very slim).
The size of the city, which contains between 8.000 and 10.000 residents, makes large celebrations rather difficult, but large events like weddings and births tend to excite at least a section of the huge town. At such events, many of the people bring died cloth or clothing for the newborn infant, or families will band together to buy pieces of furniture for a new couple. And in times of sorrow, perhaps when a house burns down, the community will help to rebuild it. It is a very nurturing society.
Coat of Arms/Sign. The Coat of Arms for the city is derived from the true coat of arms, which shows a rounded shield in the soft colours of blue, teal, and white. While the background is virtually identical, the sword is instead a woodcutter’s knife with a wooden handle wrapped partially in a piece of died cloth, showing the skills of the town.
Since the city is rarely at war, though, and thus does not need to show any proud banners while charging into battle, the good nature of the Caltharians and the humor some wandering artists experience at the Caltharian’s way of life has lead to sillier variations, including the wood-cutters knife being replaced by a flower with different colors for each petal. Others show two pieces of cloth and a curved knife, making a happy-face. The favorite variation by far is the coat of arms exactly as it is, but instead of a knife, a purple sock, after the famous street.
Climate. Jernais, being rather inland, is prone to slight extremes in weather. The spring is fairly comfortable, being rather warm and being generally time of enjoyment and laughter, during which most inhabitants will enjoy the new life beginning to sprout. It is during this time that flowers begin blooming and fruits and such can be seen on the trees around town. Many of the villagers living just outside of Jernais will plant tnew trees and crops to grow within the coming warm months.
Summers are rather hot, though not humid. The air tends to be very dry, and thus the water is re-routed through canals and aqueducts from the River Vandrina to the city to help keep the residence hydrated during these months. Many will find shade and comfort inside their houses. The wooden build of the house helps keep the housing relatively mild during these hot months. Children will sometimes cool off by playing in the fountain of Baveras, along with even some adults, while others may cool down in the temples made of stone.
When autumn comes, a chill runs through the streets and nips at the cheeks and noses of passersby. The town is perhaps at its most stunning during this season. Just like the colourful houses and clothing of the people living here, the trees growing in the city put on a flashy shawl of seasonal wears. Brilliant leaves colour the town in striking scarlets and bright gold that, as might be assumed, the Caltharians adore. The chill itself prompts the wearing of more dyed clothes, and colourful scarves are warm to further brighten the streets.
Winters shed snow on the cobblestone streets and on the roves of the houses, covering much of the colours in white. By this time, the brilliant colour of the trees has turned to bare branches lined with fallen snow. The winters can indeed be rather cold, and most Caltharians stay inside to avoid the freeze. It has, however, become tradition for, when the winter comes, to decorate the streets with pieces of dyed cloth to help bring colour to a rather bleak season.
Flora. Caltharians love them, and they do not hesitate to decorate their city with them: Birches grow quite content on street corners and between houses, on the streets. The slender figure of the birch allows it to grow in rather small places, which tends to be helpful for a city. Their small leaves fall gently on the rooftops and streets, and on the cobblestone roads that pave the larger streets in Jernais. Though many of the birch trees are associated with strange myths about ghostly elven queens or deaths of strange women that call men into their midst, the Caltharians view the trees as happy creatures. The sound of the wind running through the leaves of the birch, the Jernais residents say, sounds like laughter, and thus surely the birch must be a happy spirit.
Birches are not the only trees grown here, though. Maples are one of the most popular, especially in the northwestern part of town, where the syrup they release can be gathered up and used in the various taverns there. The maple is also a lovely tree in the autumn, when the leaves turn gold and red. At times, though, springs with this plant can be difficult, when pollen covers the tree in haze.
Oaks, especially red oaks, are certainly one of the most popular, and can be found throughout the city at almost every major corner. The branches sometimes display the name of the streets, carved into their bark. Children will sometimes watch the travelers go by and can be found laughing and smiling in their strange branches that reach out over the city. Sometimes the oaks on either side of a street have grown so large as to actually entangle one another, creating a natural arch, as is the case at the entrance into the city from the west.
The Meldarapple is one of the more endearing trees in the city. Their large leaves in relation to their short figures, coupled with their sweetly sour fruit makes them a very loved tree. Many like to grow them close to their house. It is even customary to plant a meldarapple tree around the house after a new couple moves into a place, or when a new baby is born. Meldarapple trees are also found growing all around the temple to Jeyriall, and even around the modest shelters for the homeless, along with many birches, oaks, and maples. Their sweet fruit is often harvested and made into a plethora of dishes.
Other plants, which aren’t trees, such as lyth’berries, dalferias, and fáberiges also grow here, commonly in small gardens kept outside the house or in small gardens just outside the window.
Fauna. The city of Jernais, being a city, doesn’t have a lot of animals. The trees, however, do help attract a bit of animal life to the city. Kuatus will happily make homes from the various oaks that grow around town, eating the acorns when they hang from the branches. They dash through the streets, and have gotten rather familiar with much of the population, that will, once in a while, give them scraps of food to eat.
Aelirels find the city delightful, especially around the temples where it’s relatively quiet and where there are many trees in which to make their nests. They are certainly active in the spring and in summer, and it is believed that the laughter of children playing in Baveras’s fountain attracts them to the city. They usually make their nests in the trees around the temples and around town, though many have even made nests on top of buildings.
No house is complete without the local pest! Small mice nibble on the leftovers of the household, and, unfortunately, wander through the cabinets and pantries to raid the food supplies, chewing through the containers and sometimes spoiling food. They are also famous for chewing holes in the walls, and it is rare to find a house that does not have at least two mouse holes in the wooden walls.
If the pest problem gets too bad, though, there is always the option of getting a cat. Cats are fairly popular pets, and both stray and domestic ones live in the city. Though usually these cats tend to be barn cats, most here aren’t completely pure, and have a bit of Brendolian or Avenor blood in them. Because of this, the eye and coat colour is subject to change. Most households have a cat or two, and many taverns will keep them, too, though they tend to keep them in places where the guests won’t see them as they prowl for mice.
Government. A mayor, who takes orders from the local Duke, runs the city of Jernais. The mayor is typically voted in, stays there for about 8 years, and then a new mayor is voted in, unlike many other places in Santharia, especially in Erpheronian territory, where the ruler is decided by bloodline. There are customary taxes, which never run too high, but are required to pay for various institutions, like the local orphanages and healing houses. Taxes also go into helping to pay for keeping the city clean and safe. Street-cleaners help to move out horse-manure and trash from the streets, while friendly guards patrol the sidewalk, making sure all the citizens are safe.
The government is, for the most part, out of the picture, and there is more freedom in trade and production. No regulation is really required to keep things running smoothly, to keep business going and the people happy. The mayor, along with his advisors, lets the market forces find their equilibrium, and trust in he generosity of the people. Whenever a surplus is taken in through taxes, it is saved to help out when economic activity is low. In this way, the city of Jernais manages to maintain a pretty balanced life style.
Resources. Most of the resources of the town are imported from other areas for production. Most of the wood for carving comes from tree farms grown around the city. In such farms, oaks, birches, maples, and many other kinds of trees stretch out for dashes before they slowly fade into the Heath of Jernais. There are many tree farms farther around in the heath, though these, singularly, do not produce as much wood as the tree farms around the city. Sometimes woods are also brought in from the lower south, from places like the Goltherlon Forest.
Most of the fabric also has to be imported, but imports are high, as the people here die clothing for many other people all around Santharia. Just across the Vandrina River, however, lies the Thaelon Forest, where a huge concentration of silkel trees grows. The Caltharians by no means cut down these trees, but will harvest the bark that peels from the trunk.
The peeling of the trunk is something of a ritual in itself. Hundreds of men and women will sail across the Vandrina and participate in the harvest, working in a soft, almost enchanted silence to pull off the slender strings. It is a time to reflect on the beauty of nature, and to look inside to one’s self. It is a spiritual time; some believe a time of growth and a time of thanks to nature and nature’s children.
The silkel tree is believed to be the result of unicorns wishing to be turned into trees so that they could give back to the people in their bark and leaves and nuts. The tree symbolizes the sacrifices people and animals offer to make the people of the world happy. The silk harvesting also tends to be something of a rite of passage. When a Caltharian is old enough, typically 15 or 16, they are allowed to visit the forest and help harvest. Those who are new to the forest often don’t harvest as much silk as the veterans, as then are so enchanted by the beauty of the forest.
Trade/Production. Jernais depends completely of trade to sustain itself.
The population of Jernais is almost completely Caltharian, and thus the many production is carving and dying. However, the resources needed to maintain these productions don’t always grow in the vicinity. A lot of the wood for carving is imported from the Goltherlon Forest, where the golgnomes live. This also happens to be where the Caltharians get the majority of their dye, and often times representatives will journey into the rather eerie wood to discuss with the golgnomes what sort of dyes are needed in the coming year, and what colours would be best. The golgnomes are happy to do business, usually, with the Caltharians, and the fact that this gnomish tribe, while speaking gnomish, also knows Tharian tends to be very helpful in trade.
The fabric for dying comes in from all over Santharia, though the majority comes from Milkengrad, Carmalad, and other large cities. Even smaller cities will export cloth or string to the Caltharians for them to dye. The fabric from the Aellenrhim tribe in the Bolder, while a bit more expensive, tends to be high quality and easy to intricately dye, resulting in some of the most beautiful pieces of clothing. Some of the most excellent seamstresses and tailors live right in Jernais, and create many popular styles. Even Nobles, Thanes and Dukes, will send some of their fief’s or province’s supply of fabric to be dyed by the people of Jernais.
But means of production are not the only thing Jernais imports, but food and drink stuffs as well. Though there are a number of farms lying just around Jernais, the city also gets a lot of its wheats and grain from the Aurora Fields, which helps to make breads and pastries for a hungry town. Liquor and beer is imported from the Helmondshire Hobbits living in the Silvermarshes. Their beer and brandy are believed to be among the best.
Caltharians tend to make their living by cutting wood and dying cloth, and that’s exactly how Jernais maintains a steady economy. Furniture production, in particular, is huge, and with stores like "Amerson’s Furniture Design",which spans over quite a bit of space, it’s easy to see how. The quality is often very good, and special details are put into each piece before the structure is put together. Sometimes the legs of a kitchen table set will be intricately patterned with leaves. Sometimes the legs of a desk will appear like the wings of some majestic gryphon. The detail has to be good and the work, flawless, in order to compete with other furniture producers like the Dogodan hobbits, whose work rivals that of the Caltharians.
In the market of dying, however, there is usually far less competition. The only other dyers live on the other side of the Tandalas or across the sea, and thus Caltharians dominate the trade. Though the Caltharians are known in particular for dying, they are fairly good seamstresses and tailors as well, and are often creative with their designs, producing new styles all the time. They export their clothing to places all over Santharia, especially to large cities, sometimes all the way to the Santharian capital of New-Santhala.
The city of Jernais makes quite a bit of money from travelers, traders, and adventurers that wander through their town. These welcomed guests make use of the various accommodations provided. The taverns benefit a lot from passersby, who may spend a bit of money on a nice dish. The bars and saloons pull in a lot despite the city’s inability to produce really good beer. The shows, the conversation, and the generally light-hearted feel of these places draws people in. When the Black Butterflies come around, it is said that the city of Jernais will roll out the red carpet, so to speak, welcoming them with open arms, though there are still some members of society that think them low and vile.
Information provided by Rayne Avalotus