The Plains of Kaerath, or Moredein Kaerath, are the fertile lands in the north-western-most corner of Nybelmar. The Plains are a temperate region known for the plentiful grain they produce, with fresh water available both from the frequent rains and the many springs and brooks that wind their way through the gentle slopes of the hills that cover most of the area. One’s first and strongest impression upon setting foot on the Kaerathi Plains is a sense of things being out of proportion, as if one were walking through a strange dream where miniature thunderfeet wash windows with water from their trunks, mastiff-sized porcupines serenade giant prickleworts, tomato-sized pumpkins sit side by side with pumpkin-sized tomatoes, and peach-sized bees terrorize farmers as they fly around scouring the fields for nectar.
|Image description. The three independent trading posts of the Faen, seen from a distance. The Plains are free from large artificial constructions such as cities and villages, and the Morchini would like to keep them that way. Picture drawn by Reegen.|
longer the primal wilderness of ages yore, the gently rolling hills and
carefully cultivated fields of the Plains span from the foothills of the Dolith
Mountains to the very cliffs that rise above the Nermarein Sea. After countless
generations, it is all but forgotten that this pastoral realm was wrenched from
the wild by its first inhabitants, the exiled
earth mages of the ancient Faen nation
to the southeast.
Today, however, the foreign traveller might find himself a bit bewildered at first in a land where grasses grow as high as men, but trees might be at their tallest barely above his waist. Be that as it may, the Plains have an air of plenitude that soon eases the mind and rouses the stomach.
In those places untouched by industrious Morchini farmers, the surface of the Plains is mostly covered with grasses and herbs, great and small. These are punctuated with only moderately sized copses and patches of shrubbery, which make the colossal thorncloud trees scattered throughout the lands even more imposing. The soil is rich, but laced with lime, and the multitude of streams, brooks and small rivers that riddle the hills disappear in gurgling sinkholes, only to spring forth again from a small cave opening somewhere else entirely.
This brings forth the other face of the Kaerathi Plains: a musty world of limestone caves, flint and fungi, which has been cultivated over the ages just as much as the lush grain fields above. Tunnels and caverns great and small can be found throughout the region, but peter out as one approaches the three great forests of the Plains: the Drifting Woods to the northeast, the Origin to the northwest, and the Whirlingwood to the southwest.
Two great rivers span most of the Plains, their beds carved into the soft rock, and fed by thousands of smaller brooks and rivulets. These are the Metherinin in the east, which winds down from the eastern edge of the Dolith Mountains to filter down into the ocean through the Ter'ei'Vikh realm of the Drifting Woods; and the Eckumin in the west, which follows a more lateral course and spills into the sea from the west coast, on the southern border of the Amorai Origin forest.
The following extract, taken from Tales of the Third Shadow War, paints a gloomier picture of these lands:
“One step forward, and I
should cease to be...”
Location. The Plains of Kaerath mark the north-western-most corner of Nybelmar. The Plains border the Dolith Mountains to the south, but are otherwise surrounded on all sides by the sea, save for a narrow passage to the southwest and the southeast.
|Image description. One of the Morchin Watchtowers overseeing the Morchin-Amorai border in the northwest- veritably a castle of moss, grass and wood! Picture drawn by Morjer.|
People. Three tribes reside side by side (though often not very peaceably) on the Plains: the Morchin; the Ter'ei'Vikh; and the Amorai:
The Morchin ("Mushroom People")
The Morchin, or "Mushroom People" of the Kazai Morchin-i nation, are the primary occupants of the Kaerathi Plains. These short, stubby humans might be mistaken by the uneducated visitor for dwarves, or even gnomes, but are merely humans of short stature, a trait they share with the neighbouring Faen tribe. Considered one of the most skilled tribes of farmers on Nybelmar, the Morchini have transformed much of the wilderness of the Plains into lush orchards, expansive meadows, and fertile fields. They govern nearly all of the settlements on the open plains, with only a few exceptions such as the M'aghin research centre of the Enkyclopadië Nybelmarnica near the Metherinin River, a handful of independent Faen trading posts, and the Tarshiïn embassy. Their typical building styles, usually incorporating either the giant mushrooms of this region or colossal thorncloud trees, add to the pastoral feel of the area, as it is mostly devoid of large artificial constructions such as cities and villages.
The Ter'ei'Vikh, or simply Vikh, inhabit the floating mangrove forest known as “the Drifting Woods”, which lies in the north-eastern corner of Moredein Kaerath. Due to its submerged hot springs, this bizarre jungle has developed a plethora of strange inhabitants and phenomena, and a tropical climate of its own. The Vikh have little to do with the outside world; they prefer to keep to themselves, only dealing with other tribes at the enormous Gates of M'aghin, where a large trading community can be found.
Lastly, the Amorai, a people descended from the Ancient Lillivear and somewhat related to the Ter'ei'Vikh, reside in two separated forested areas along the western coast of the Plains.
There is, of course, one other race without which no study of these lands would
be complete, a race which lives not so much “on” the Plains as around the
coastline of the peninsula. They are the merfolk
of Nybelmar, better known as nybelmer. Not to be
confused with their addle-brained Sarvonian cousins,
nybelmer are an intelligent race that can speak the
human tongues and lives in more or less
organised communities along the coasts of Nybelmar.
They are also capable of casting advanced magic, depending on the tribe. The two
mertribes of the Kaerathi coastline are: the Deep Sea Mer and the Glittermer.
Deep Mer with their royal blue fins are giants among nybelmer, reaching an average length of six peds from head to tail. They are the Wardens of Mertribes – a sort of “high merfolk” if you like. Leaders of the merrace in “foreign relations”, the Deep Sea Mer travel to each of the merrealms to make sure all is well.
The cheerful and frivolous Glittermer dwell in the surface areas of most of the coast of the Kaerathi peninsula. They are well-known, albeit infrequent, visitors of port towns and fishing ships, who enjoy the sun as much as the water, often beaching themselves or climbing atop cliffs in order to sunbathe.
Climate. The Plains of Kaerath have a temperate climate, with all four seasons visibly manifest. During the summer months, the skies are mostly blue, alternated with large, fluffy rainclouds that provide a soft and refreshing rain to the fields below. During winter, the temperature rarely drops below zero periks and, with the exception of the foothills of the Germon Doilth, snow and ice are rare. The lands south of the Eckumin River, named after the mythical dragon Eckulor said to roost at its spring, are a bit colder. As such, they are more prone to stormy weather and temperature extremes than the more northern part of the region.
Flora. The flora of Moredein Kaerath is perhaps its greatest asset. Known widely as the "Granary of Nybelmar", the hububat fields of the Morchini supply grain to many nations other than their own via a chain of Faen merchants. Notable examples of the local flora are the Kazai rose, a decorative creeper popular even in Sarvonia; the enormous thorncloud and banyan trees; Morikoom mushrooms in which the Morchini make their homes; the fragrant Wise-Man's bush; and edible taintberries, which are used in many kinds of food preparation.
|Image description. The enormous Banyan trees of Moredein Kaerath. Things often seem to be in the wrong proportions on the Plains... Picture drawn by Reegen.|
That which one would normally expect to be small is often gigantic on the Plains
and vice versa. Among these one could list: shrub-sized trees sprinkled amidst
the colossal, free-standing thornclouds; pine trees hardly taller than a
halfling; waist-high willows; miniature apple trees bearing ‘snack apples’ that
can easily fit into a grown man’s closed fist; tomato-sized pumpkins and pumpkin
sized tomatoes; giant daisies which Morchin children are fond of climbing; large
mushrooms to sit on; pricklewort flowers with their central hub bigger than a
man’s head; ginger and ginseng roots thick as the arms of a
Of all these plants, two deserve special mention, hallmarks as they are of the Kaerathi Plains:
Echinacea (Pricklewort, Royalspine, Aguebane)
The first two names are derived from the spiky centre of the flower, which children think resembles a miniature prickleboar. Its more common title of ‘Aguebane' comes from its remarkable ability to mediate the symptoms of a typical ague - the running nose, the stuffed head, the sore throat... all respond well to an infusion of Aguebane with malisehoney.
Umbrella Thorn (Bumbertree, Fishhook, Thorncloud)
Colloquially nicknamed the 'Bumbertree' or the 'Fishhook (from its resemblance to a Brownie mushroom used as a rainshelter, or its double-spiked thorns), this dramatic tree is better known as the thorncloud. From a distance one sees a series of misty greyish flat-bottomed shapes, looking exactly like rain clouds hovering on the horizon. But as one approaches, one sees the haze resolve into narrow leaves with the viciously-pronged thorns protruding beyond them, clustered in their cloudlike masses on elongated limbs. The best one can say about this tree is that it provides a great deal of shade, its dripcircle being almost a stral in diameter...
Fauna. As with the
native flora, the animals of the Moredein Kaerath often seem to be on the wrong
scale, being either far bigger or much smaller than they have a right to be.
Good examples of this are two-ped millipedes that dwell in the many cisterns and
cave tunnels; kitten-size tum-um cats; peach-sized bees; giant
tareps called 'Nibakku' by the Morchini,
which they use as mounts; colossal squirrels upon which the Amorai traverse the
Plains; mastiff-sized porcupines that can ‘spit’ their needles; giraffes, which
are comical enough in their natural size; miniature
thunderfeet about the size of a young
dog, which the Morchini train to clean windows, wash the streets and water the
grass; and of course the enormous
bahimut monsters lumbering through the landscape.
Wanderers of the open hillsides would best be wary of Sidizz holes. Even through the average rock-snapper is not large enough to be a real threat to humans, the sharp claws may inflict painful wounds on the hapless victim's feet or legs, making the remainder of the way an unpleasant business. Another health risk of Kaerath is the Green Fever, which is transferred by the Grey Bloodmoth's sting, so it is often wise to use a finely-woven net to shield oneself from these and other pests at night.
Resources. The true treasure of Moredein Kaerath lies in its agrarian products, specifically the famous hububat grain which serves as the base for gida, jinn, and kubhi-bread – three products that make up a considerable portion of the local cuisine. The foothills of Germon Dolith have several useful deposits of coal, flint-stone, and tin ore, but the mining of these resources remains problematic, as the Dolith range is notoriously hostile to travellers and settlers alike, making only the outermost deposits available to the Morchini.
The many caves and chasms that riddle the Kaerathi landscape produce an extraordinary amount of different fungi and molluscs, many of which are edible or useful in some way. Examples of this are the local freshwater oysters, the purple-shelled kuro snails, and the highly sought-after kedhab mushrooms, which, depending on the variety, can be used as a potent healing agent or in the creation of a destructive solvent.