The Narfost Plain is a wide
empty grass land, half arid, with low population and abundant wildlife. The
dominant plant is the alth‘ho grass, the
most the prominent animals the aj‘nuvic
and its smaller relative, the aka‘pi, the most feared however is
the oracua, a feline predator. Another famous animal
found at etn Narfost Plain is the jumping ellez‘ga, which is able, as its name
says, to jump high out of the alth‘ho grass
to have a view over its surroundings. The most hated however, is the tra‘mat or
mercarto fly, a
carnivourous flying beetles, sucking blood from other animals. The Narfost Plain is the
Shendar's northernmost hunting and
meeting place and the only settlement, Meh'met, is of
Shendar origin as well.
Description. The alth‘ho grass is about to turn from a dark green to a soft yellow, nothing else is seen for furlangs and furlangs. A gentle wind coming from the northwest causes its dance, forms rolling wave after wave and the traveller seems to traverse a golden sea as wide as the ocean seen at Varcopas looking to the west. Nothing is disturbing the circles of an aguia, the Ráhaz-Dáth eagle, is drawing into the sapphir blue sky, no noise other than the booming of the wind in the high grass is heard in the width of the Narfost Plain. The Injčrá is burning down and its light is reflected in every shiny stalk of the alth‘ho grass, producing an unreal shimmering of the air. Summer has arrived...
|Picture description. View on the vast lands of the Narfost Plain with endless alth'ho grass stretching until the horizon. To the right there are a few grazing aj'nuvic. Image by Quellion.|
Coming from the Sharadon Forest the traveller may not meet anybody till he looks down from the plain's southern cliffs onto Bardavos. And though the land seems easy to travel, a guide is recommended if you don‘t want to use the one or two main trade routes which are secured so that you don‘t get lost in the wide land or even fall down in one of the suddenly appearing gorges or canyons.
The land is mainly flat, but rises slowly and continuously from the Sharadon
Forest to its southern borders, the so called Narfost Cliffs or Cliffs of
Bardavos which stretch nearly from the east coast to
the west coast and reach a height of up to two hundred peds above Occen‘s Lake
and the adjacent plains of the Ráhaz-Dáth. The highest point, called Occen‘s
Lookout is located near Bardavos and allows a
magnificent view to the southern plains of the Ráhaz-Dáth and the Nirmenith
Montains in the south east. Some sharp eyed people even say that on clear winter
days the white top of the far away Norong‘Sorno can be seen as well as the
Burning Sea to the east and the Herrings Bay to the west. Nowadays Occen‘s
Lookout is renamed by the youth of Bardavos to "The
Bard's Lookout", but the reason is still unknown to the elder population of the
town. Unproven rumors say that "Bard"‚ refers to a young woman who lived in
Bardavos some years ago, famous for her artistic,
well loved music and her friendly nature.
Cut into the flat plains are gorges and later canyons which lead all mainly from north to south, though the smaller ones are often directed from east to west till they finally join the big riverbeds. They are formed by three rivers and their tributaries, two of them having their origin near the Sharadon Forests in areas with damp, wet ground. The water emerging there forms soon small brooklets which dig themselves in the ground to form later the two outer of the three main rivers which divide the plains by forming deep canons at their southern point where they leave the plain to fall finally down the last remaining peds into the lower plains to fill up Occen‘s lake or in the east vanish under the sands of the eastern Ráhaz-Dáth to supply the few oases and hidden waterholes. The river however dividing the plain in its middle and cascading down to Bardavos has its origin in the Sharadon Forest and is therefore called the Sharadon. It is the only river which has water during the whole year, though the amount changes drastically. Leaving the forest it flows for a short time in green meadows, but soon the riverbed lies deeper than the surrounding ground, draining the water away and causing the change to halfarid plantlife.
There are only two other places to mention, Meh'met, a small village in the eastern part and Dasai, the former mercenary town as its northwestern point.
The only two trade routes are the one at the western border of the Narfost Plain, from Dasai following the coast till the foothills of the cliffs, then dividing, one route leading to Uderza, the other along the bottom of the cliffs to Bardavos. The others follow coming from Dasai the border of the Sharadon Forest and after crossing the Sharadon River bends down to Meh'met, the last place where the traveller is able to get over the Eastern River. From Mehmetch the only safe route through the plain itself runs up to the Sharadon Forest and down to Bardavos where the last part is very difficult to master due to the descent into the canon the Sharadon has formed. There the path leads over the famous hanging bridge of Bardavos which some count as one of the world wonders. This route is not recommended if the horses are not used to steep paths, though this is the only well known way down the Narfost Cliffs. There may be other known by the Shendar, but they are not recommended, even with a guide.
Location. The Narfost Plain is a wide empty grass land, half arid, with low population and abundant wildlife. It's the Shendar's northernmost hunting and meeting place, located on the Southern Sarvonian Continent, in the midst of the Santharian province of Brendolan, between the Ráhaz-Dáth in the southwest (starting at the artists' city Bardavos) and the Sharadon Forests in the north.
|Map description. The location of the Narfost Plain in southern Santharia, located between the Ráhaz-Dáth desert in the southwest and the Sharadon Forests in the north.|
The true inhabitants of the vast, lonely Narfost Plain are the animals, which
are living there in abundance, though they are not always easily seen.
There is only one small settlement, Meh‘met, a village of Shendar origin. Its people live from their aka‘pis and from growing some vegetables for their own needs. They only trade with the products they gain from the aka‘pi like cheese and wool, dried herbs and sometimes furs of wild animals which they sell in the nearby Bardavos. The Salt People of the Shendar come to Meh‘met for an annual meeting and to find the aj‘nuvics for their children who have come in the bonding age.
The only other people apart from the Shendar who can be found in the plain are travellers from Dasai, Bardavos or very seldom from the Sharadon Forest, who at most times keep strictly to the road. Occasionally lonely hunters or wanderers try to cross the plain where no path is to to be found, but nobody expects to see them again, may it be that the Narfost Plain is really so dangerous or the Shendar spread rumors to keep the other people away.
Climate. Spring is the time when - for a short period - the rain falls in abundance and often very heavy. This is the time when the alth‘ho grass starts to grow again after a frosty winter, when the gorges and canyons fill with water and the cascades at Bardavos are at their highest level. The temperatures are agreeable , though the nights may be still cold. Later in the year the rainfalls get more and more scarce till there are none till late in the winter when heavy snowfalls can occur. The temperatures rise in the summer to uncomfortable heights, though of course it is nothing compared to the desert to the south. In winter they fall below the freezing point and snow is possible in the late winter.
Sometimes clouds are drifting south coming from the north or northwest without releasing rain. But they are low and cover now and then the southern parts of the plains giving moisture to the plants even without raining. These clouds dissolve as soon as they are drifting past the cliffs and so the cliffs have a strange appearence when seen from the hot, dry south.
Flora. According to the rainfall, the plains are green and in some places very colourful in the spring and early summer, but due to the light soils, the water is drained away soon and so for the most part of the year the plains are half arid and dry. There are no waterholes except near the Sharadon Forest where the Furze is growing and therefore you find only plants and animals which are used to conditions where only little or no water is available or are able to climb down into the gorges and canyons to find the last open water there on the bottom.
The predominating plant on the plains is the alth‘ho grass, with its light green in the spring, the changes to the darker green in the early summer and to yellow and brown in the autumn, to an occasionally black in winter it shapes the appearance of the Narfost Plains. There is not a single tree the roaming eye can focus on.
But there are can be found a variety of other grasses and plants as well. So the loriv grows on the steep hills of the canyons as well as some smaller bushes and where it is too steep for the loriv the lythien takes over, sometimes however they are growing in the same place painting an irresistible picture of a golden carpet with black dots and small red points woven in the black. The yahrle likes the shadier, wetter bottom. In not too exposed areas the icemilk can be found as well and several other plants which the Shendar use for healing purposes.
The lorahough doesn‘t grow on the plain itself for it is supressed by the alth‘ho grass, but it lines sometimes the upper parts of the canyons and gorges, which inspired poets to describe the plains as having put on clothes with coloured hems. As beautiful as the lorahough looks with its orange leaves in contrast to the dark green of the alth‘ho grass, it is the cause of many fires ravaging over the plain in autumn, due to its oily seeds which burst in flames when it gets very hot.
Dependent on the plains-fires brought on by the lorahough's propensity to combust, the alrik'ran, a small woody bush with tiny coin shaped succulent green leaves and medicinal roots grows on the scorched lands where the fires of the plains start and are at their coolest. Further out from the lorahoughs, the fire has grown in intensity and can even damage the seeds if it gets too hot. The alrik'ran is a somewhat uncommon sight, but greatly in demand amongst the Shendar women of that area.
As long as the alth‘ho grass is young and small, flowering plants of any colour are found, their seed producing in time short enough to reproduce as long as the alth‘ho grass is not too thick and long to swallow all the light.
Fauna. The most prominent animal of the Narfost Plain is the aj‘nuvic and its smaller relatives. While the aj‘nuvic is only seen in pairs or families, the smaller aka‘pi wander in small herds up to twelve animals, the smallest variety however, the aka‘lol lives in marked areas and digs holes in the ground to find shelter from flying or groundbound predators. Preferably they live at the upper edge of gorges, digging their holes in the sidewalls of the gorges. Another famous animal is the jumping ellez‘ga, which is able, as its name says, to jump high out of the alth‘ho grass to have a view over its surroundings.
All animals, the above mentioned and the others as the family of rodents and the predators, the birds and the insects are able to survive without water, though the ones which wander around tend to visit in autumn the northern part of the plains where there are most times a few waterholes left where the rivers have its origin. The Sharadon is the only continuous watersource left, but accessible only where it leaves the forest, later the riverbed is lying too low and the walls are too steep. However, it is a dangerous place for most visitors, being exposed to the predators which lie in wait for an easy meal.
Myth/Lore. There is lore, told on Shendar fires why there is an old small settlement of the Shendar in the Narfost Plain, older than Uderza, older than Bardavos. It tells that there once was a young Shendar man hunting at the edge of the Sharadon Forest. Shendar normally keep away from the unknown wild forest, but he followed a beautiful jumping ellez‘ga and didn‘t look where he went. And so he found himself at the border of the forest where the light is dim and the shadows deep. Though he was still standing outside, he was captured by the strange surroundings. The hunted animal had vanished, but what he saw instead was a young elven woman so beautiful and different in appearance from what he was used to that he immediately fell in love. She vanished after a while, but when he returned the next day he saw her again. Nobody knows if he ever spoke a word to her, but he didn‘t want to leave the forest when his family was about to go back to the south. Nobody could persuade him and because he was well loved his nearest relatives decided to stay as well and settled down at...
But this is not the only story told in long desert nights: Even more fantastic is the myth of the snow white aj‘nuvic and its rider: Those who saw her, say she is as real as you and me, but who wants to believe people who thought to be lost and dead and who came back when all had given up hope?
There was the young man, who had lost his way in a late snowstorm who froze the young flowers of the spring to death. Near death and with frozen bones he said he saw a beautiful young woman, covered with a variety of white thin clothes, with bare feet, sitting on a huge snowwhite aj‘nuvic and riding without the help of any guiding ropes. She bend down, took him in front of her and dropped him near his Dome...
Or the child who didn‘t find home when the clouds where sitting on the plain and you couldn‘t see any further than a few peds? Out of the mist came a white aj and its rider demounted to take the child in her arms and brought it back...
Or the traveller who lost his way in the vasteness of the alth‘ho grass, without water left, the sun burning down and the air shimmering? He told some Shendar later he saw a white clothed rider on a white aj‘nuvic who gave him signs to follow and showed him where he could climb down into a gorge to find water? - Just imagination born in despair?
By the way: It is also said that Faugar, the artist famous throughout Santharia visited during his stay in Bardavos the Narfost Plains very often, drawing his inspiration out of the landscape by roaming it on his own for many days, not fearing the dangers lonely wanderers have to face. Some people say he got a little depressed during these days, others object to this by saying that the desolate Narfost Plain inspired the artist even more.
Song #2: "Theme of the Narfost Plains", composed and performed by
Format: MP3, Length: 3:20, Original Title: "Strawquay" from the album "Elsidox: Volume One".
Click here to download the song, use right-click and "Save as..." (3.1 MB)
Information provided by Talia Sturmwind