THE CITY OF SALÓH (HÁR'LČVE'THÉM)

DESCRIPTION - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE -
FLORA -  FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE -  HISTORY

Salóh (Styrásh Salóh) literally means "the bottom of" - referring to its location at sea level, rather than on a high cliff like Elving and most of the Zeiphyr, and is also known as Hár'lčve'thém (Styrásh Hár'leve'thém, meaning lit. "valley stronghold"). Salóh is the second of the Twin cities (the other being Elving) of the Quaelhoirhim elves in the Zeiphyrian Forests. Originally the city started life as a sort of extension of the Capital, Elving, into the smaller Eastern Forest as strong strategically point - dominating the Hár'lčve'thém Bay, and the Auturian Valley that lies between the Zeiphyr and the Auturian Woods. It's military advantages of course were probably not the city's primary function, however, Salóh serves as a trade rest for goods and travelers moving from Elving and beyond to the western towns of Marcogg and Elsreth. The Salóh Road links Salóh to Elving, along the coast. This is ideal as strangers, for the most part, are kept to the edges of the elves' beloved forest.

Description. Salóh may be referred to as the twin city of Elving and it is true they share many similarities - but Salóh has a very different character to Elving, which may in part be attributed to Salóh's importance as a strategic location. The city has its roots as a trade center outside of Elving. It served as a gateway to the Serphelorian empire on its founding and this can still be seen today from the way that the whole city is centered around a giant market place, surrounded on all sides by shops. This is the only place that visitors, especially those of other races, have access to. Like Elving, Salóh's Mages have developed a system of protection for the city that does not - like Ylfferhim cities - keep visitors out completely, but allows them into the city on a very restricted basis. As in Elving this is achieved at the gates of the city. A password must be uttered to reach the real - or in this case - complete city. If one does not utter the words as you pass through the gates, then one finds themselves directly on the market square, and the city appears to consist of nothing else.

Location. Salóh is located in the Santharian province of Sanguia. It is found some half a day or so ride East of Elving. It sits on the Hár'lčve'thém Bay on the southern point of the Auturian Valley that separates the Eastern Zeiphyr from the Auturian Woods. Return to the top

View entry on Santharia View complete map of Santharia Location of Elving The Province of Sanguia
Map description. Location of the Quaelhoirhim's Zeiphyrian Forest and the city of Salóh  at the coast to the Aetryam Sea in the Santharian province of Sanguia bordering Manthria and the Auturian Woods. Map drawn by Artimidor.

People. The elves here are predominantly of Quaelhoirhim descent. The general attitude to life in the confines of Salóh is an overwhelmingly Quaelhoirhim one. Life is conducted on the same rules as Elving, there is no currency - except when dealing with outsiders. Goods and services are traded on a favor system, which can get very complicated, but works well for the elves. There is a general deep interest in outside affairs. Residents returning from travels outside the city are often called upon to present an account of their journey, and any news from the rest of the kingdom they may have acquired while away in one of the small halls off the great hall. To the left of the entrance to the great hall is a notice board that is updated daily, giving information about the kingdom, tribe and city.

There is also a prevailing friendliness and openness (even if they hide parts of their city and have huge walls) to strangers and other races, and the elves are often keen to talk to outsiders. There is on the northern edge of the market square a spot that is known affectionately as Mé'krói'kránna (Styrásh
Mé'krói'kránna) or "Human Corner", where
elves practice their Tharian upon unsuspecting passing humans, and question them endlessly about philosophy, their homes, their relationships... The elves draw such joy from talking to strangers - not just humans - if they are lucky enough to encounter any other race they will probably have them there all night - that it would be almost impossible to ignore them, or not to take pleasure in the experience. It has been known for elves to give humans who endure their friendly inquisitions small gifts as tokens of their appreciation. But if you have pressing business to attend to, it is best to avoid the area, you could be there a while!

The Quaelhoirhim are known for their craftsmanship, beautiful enameled jewelry, wonderful and highly decorated armor and swords. Glass is also a specialty to be found here. Many windows are adorned with colored glass. Sand from the shore is collected and mixed with minerals brought in by merchants from further a-field and heated in the great furnaces in the south of the city. The Quaelhoirhim also produce strong functional wares such as storage vessels, cooking pots, etc. Salóh itself is noted for its metal-wares and weaponry. The eastern and northern fringes of the Zeiphyr supply the ore for such work.

The city has a very high concentration of mages - for there is much need for them here, both to maintain the Salóh illusion. Unlike Elving however, few are in permanent residents. Elving is a center for magical research in a way that Salóh just is not. As such, many of the mages are on loan from Elving, on a sort of sabbatical, up in the towers. It provides a quiet atmosphere for reading and meditation, a good antidote for the faster pace of magical life in Elving.

Many halflings from the Shire of Elenveran have free run of the true city. The Quaelhoirhim are extremely fond of their diminutive neighbors! However the approach to the city is known to be perilous - for the Zeiphyr is populated by drakes, wolves and many other animals who would eat a party of halflings for a midday snack. As such, the elves will happily escort them in and out of the forest. Several halfling families dwell in the true city and are well respected by their elven neighbors.

The major difference in Salóh is the amount of Tethinrhim influence. Many individuals share the red-headedness of the neighboring tribe, and some religious principles have found their way into Salóh life. Many Quaelhoirhim elves in the city are tattooed in a similar way to Tethinrhim youngsters, something not found in more westerly parts of the Zeiphyr and certainly never seen in Elving. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. The tribe's coat of arms, a gleaming sword engraved with the Eye of Avá on a red field flanked by two frost dragons, is sometimes used by the city. But the city has its own coat of arms, keeping the red field with a simple white tower - a reference to the limestone keeps off the outer wall that shimmer above the water. This shield is used by the city's archers and warriors to identify them from other Quaelhoirhim regiments and also by administration, on the top of letter heads, wax stamps and so forth. Return to the top

Climate. Sailors have been heard to sing of the "City in the Mist". Despite being in a warm temperate part of Santharia, where the forests grow all year round, lush and green, Salóh's position at sea level on only open ground between the two great forests of the Zeiphyr and the Auturian means that it is prone to morning mists caused by condensation from both the sea and the slightly lower temperature of the air in the Auturian valley compared to the humid warmth of the covered forests. Hár'lčve'thém Bay and the Valley, however, are well sheltered by the towering forests from the elements and the prevailing southerly and westerly winds that blow along this part of the coastline. The city very rarely suffers from any extreme of hot or cold, and precipitation is regular, though not particularly heavy throughout the year. Winter is brief and warm. Many species that could never possibly survive on the windswept Elverground or in the darkness of the forests depths do uniquely well around Salóh. Return to the top

Flora. Salóh itself seems to position (at least on its more South Easterly side) of a small natural salt marsh. This probably made the huge systems of moats easier to dig. The air is also noticeable saline; from the sea spray and the morning mists so plants lining here tend, if not to be specially adapted to saline conditions, then at least have a tolerance to the salt. The scenery is also predominantly karst from the limestone base the city is built on so the soil is in many places fine and alkaline.

As a result, seaside grassland is the natural state of the area, and the elves have left swathes of this untouched. Many small rare plants live in among the crevices of the limestone pavements - such as the purple sell, a small delicate plant with tiny purple or blue flowers, that adore the saline conditions. One also finds yrom (heather) and thick leathery grasses like saián that are slightly prickly to the touch and almost seem to exist on nothing but air. The open air also facilitates the growth of just one or two giant costal redwoods around the edge to the city.

But of course, the Quaelhoirhim, it seems, can make anything grow anywhere - by their sheer green-fingered-ness and with a little Xeuá put into the mix. "We are part of the land," they say as a way of explanation. "Tied to it. We understand it and it us." And they can make the most extraordinary species grow! Roses and the climbing inila that usually love thick forest soils grow in abundance inside the city's walls. Flowers of all kinds are the Quaelhoirhim's favorite it seems, but small quantities of kaouje and loriv. Return to the top

Fauna. Bird and insect life flourishes in the city. Bird life is a strange mixture of the sea and forest variety. Only here would you see kingells and banded ricaus on the next tree from an injóh. Fisher Birds of many varieties, who usually feed in the fresher waters of great rivers such as the Thaehelvil also do surprisingly well from the saltwater moats, while the taenish does exceptionally well in the Outer Ring.

Madis flies and ferrymen are the main inhibitors of the surface of the moats. Ferrymen are small insects who skim the waters surface and are very fond of the large areas of still water the moats provide. Bogsnappers are also fond of this property of the moats. Madis flies, small biting insects, are found above the water at twilight, in seasons where it has been excessively damp. Mercarto flies may swarm. These little beetles - who usually dwell further south are less welcome guests as they spread a water borne agent poisonous to elves. However, as the moat water is predominantly salty, the Quaelhoirhim at Elving were saved the fate of the Ylfferhim, as they do not drink the water, nor spend any great time in it, and there have been no significant deaths from mercatos' prescience. Will'o'Wisps, however are more frequent dwellers and are common sites over the moats and in the city. You will also find the carris fly - the Salóh elves refer to it as the suicide bug, because the females have to plunge into the water to lay their eggs - drowning in the process. Mud worms live on the moats' bottoms, and one will also find significant populations of saltwater fish, including the yellowtails.

Meanwhile the gardens are the area that attract the most insect life. Here the glowing comes from the quillý'efér but you will also find the white spiral butterfly, red diamond butterflies, as well as small silk moths that look much like their larger Northern counterparts the lu'an moth. Bats also like the gardens and can be seen hanging from trees in the daytime - but don't disturb them! The Quaelhoirhim absolutely adore these creatures and will get very upset if you are cruel to them.

There is a significant lack of larger animals and animals that would represent the higher end of the food chain that populate the surrounding area, such as deer, wild pigs and drakes. The reasons are philosophical: To keep large animals who were native to the area in the city with high walls seemed morally indefensible to the elves, so many were removed as the walls were constructed. Domestic animals such as sheep, cows, goats and elk are kept; so the city is not totally devoid of life. Significant rat and tarep populations exist in some areas of the city, but somehow never seem to get too out of hand somehow.

There have been reports of mogliar sightings around the city every so often, but these have proved difficult to confirm. Return to the top

Resources. Elving is a resource rich place. Its greatest asset is of course its location, representing a gateway to the elves and tactical control point for the locality, Salóh is well supplied both by Elving and other Quaelhoirhim settlements, but also by the Eastern human populations. All good bound for Elving from Marcogg or Elsreth pass by way of Salóh. The east of the forest is known for yielding rocks containing iron ore (the soil here is often red, or in marshier areas, blue, depending on the ferric state of the iron) and provides Salóh with raw material to make beautifully crafted and functional objects. The karst scenery betrays the limestone bedrock of the city that the elves have used to craft this colossus of a fort around their city and it can be also useful for some basic chemical reactions, and rudimentary small explosives can be made by mixing with acid in a small container. Lime can also be used in the treatment of various insect stings and bites, just as well with all those madis flies about.

Apart from position, Salóh's greatest resource, as in Elving, are its population - friendly, dexterous - not afraid to take ideas from other races and unafraid of change. This gives them a variety of labor base that few elven cities can match, and most human cities admire. As the younger twin, Salóh has often felt it plays second fiddle to Elving, and as such residents of Salóh are well noted for a more cynical of Quaelhoirhim decisions and have a sharper satirical wit, which many visitors find refreshing if they found the "We're-the-center-of-the-elf-universe" arrogance one sometimes finds in Elving to cloying. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. Elves have good memories. And the residents in Salóh, perhaps more than their Elving neighbors have a thing for historical accuracy. So often in Salóh events are fairly well remembered. Much myth to be found in the city is about things that the elves can never quite be sure of for certain. Being a port town, and given the sightings daily of dolphfolk and whales have led to many stories of merfolk living in and around
Salóh. The most famous is of a builder who was constructing the walls around the harbor.

The Elf and the Mermaid

"The weather was foul, and even Salóh's sheltered bay was taking a battering, but such was the haste to finish Salóh's fortification that work was continuing regardless. The elf was swept out to sea by a massive wave, and his colleagues were convinced after a week of searching that he was indeed dead.

One year later the elf was found washed up on the beach. Bedraggled, wet, and almost voiceless, but quite alive. When he recovered he babbled incoherently about a mermaid who had saved him from drowning, cared for him devotedly, but returned him to his people because she could never share his life, nor he hers.

Canonical wisdom says that merfolk are not exactly intelligent, and probably not capable of caring for a human - let alone comprehending and expressing complex emotional processes - so most rule the man's story out as the imaginings of a drowning mind, but so the story goes on that one day, perhaps a year later, the elf and his newly taken wife were standing at the harbor when the mermaid swam right up to the jetty where they were standing, in front of onlookers, and looked disapprovingly on the elf's wife. Then she held up a small merchild to the elf for some time, smiled; then dived back into the water and was never sighted in Salóh again."

But just because they like historical accuracy, doesn't mean that they get it right all the time. Another popular story told to children is about a wizard, Vortigan, a half-elf, responsible for upholding Salóh's magical defense about the time of Saban Blackcloak's attacks on Hár'lčve'thém in revenge for the elves choosing Anthioullsn as the new Ava'rónn.

The Wizard Vortigan

"
The story is that Vortigan, a weak and tired figure, and bored by his endless task went to Saban and negotiated a deal by which he would turn over the city and all the forces in it in return for power in Saban's ranks. He was of course found out, some say by Tiri'lym, Anthioullsn's son. Some accounts say that the Ylfferhim elf then fed him to a lesser drake as punishment, others that Tiri'lym handed him over to the human forces in the area, who were merciless with the traitor. Another ending still is that the elves locked him in one of the caves under Elving, imprisoned by the very mages of Elving that he had once worked along side."

There is no record of this Vortigan in any contemnor report of the period after the Third Sarvonian War. Nor is he a name that is found in any Ylfferhim account. Given this tribe's isolation from the rest of Sarvonia before and since Anthioullsn's reign it seems likely that if he were an actual historical figure he would exist in their tales too. As a result many think that Vortigan is a later addition to the tales of the War against Saban. In fact as Vortigan is such an un-elven name, and tales of other traitorous Vortigans exist in myths about the War of the Chosen and in various human stories it seems likely that this element has come from another entirely different myth. The story however is a great one, and its probable lack of truth has not stopped it catching on all over Santharia. Many human paintings exist of the betrayal of Vortigan. The most famous depicts the half-elf handing over the flag of Santharia to the Móch'rónn, while two dragons (one blue - thought to be Saban's darkfriends) and one red (the blood of the állied races) battle to the death at their feet.

The Caught Imp

"
Less serious is the story of the elderly elf, who had accepted her life's purpose was nearly through. One night she heard squawking and caught an imp in the large cage of her chatterbird. The creature had been created by a mage to steal money and gold and to bring it back to its greedy master. The imp promised that if she fed it red meat that it would bring the gold to her. But what use has an elf of gold? So she released the imp and sent it on its way.

The next night she heard squawking again. Again she caught the imp in the birds cage. This time she was cross. Again it offered her the spoils of its mission if only she would feed it red meat. The elven woman had little meat in her house, but offered the imp the fish she had in her pantry. The imp ate greedily and promised not to come back. She let it go.

The next night again there was squawking, and this time when she went to the cage there was no bird. The imp had eaten it. So the elderly elf went and found a mouse - for birds are hard to come by - and put it in the cage, planning in all honesty to trap and kill the wretched creature.

Again she was woken by a shuffling and there again was the imp with a small sack of gold. It waved and disappeared, for imps have a mind of their own you see. The elf, found use for the money, buying things of use from merchants from far away places and lived comfortably for the rest of her days.

The moral of the story is that even if another does something you are unhappy about, don't judge too quickly for their actions may be for the better."
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History. Cárimuá was the first Ránn of the Quaelhoirhim, crowned in 811 b.S. - part way through the First Sarvonian War. Until this time the Quaelhoirhim had been a roughly allied set of settlements with a knowledge of some kind of kinship and shared origin, and Salóh had been virtually entirely self governed - interested only in its own affairs. Born and bred in Salóh, she had been the city's matriarch and mother figure for several hundred years when war broke out. It did not go well for the Quaelhoirhim, and they learnt much from the governing techniques of the humans and in 811 b.S. decided that a unification of the tribe under Cárimuá, who possessed a faultless but rather wildy logic, would pay great dividends. It did of course, and the unification and centralization has held to this day.

Cárimuá originally governed from Salóh. It wasn't until after her death and the end of the War that her successor decided to move the seat of decision making and administration to the larger, and recently rebuilt, Elving. Cárimuá first act in power was to rename the city - she called it Hár'lčve'thém - the "Valley Stronghold". For strong, it unquestionably was. Salóh's residents saw problems coming a long time before Elving it seems and prior to the war, as tensions mounted between man and elf, Salóh began to prepare for war. And their preparations were immense and thorough. In a very short space of time Salóh became the greatest, most technologically advanced stronghold on the Santharian continent for its time. For this very reason it was spared the destruction that reigned down upon Elving and it has never been taken at any time in its long history even though it has often been under siege - most notably by the forces of Saban Blackcloak as he sought to rule the elven tribes, which resulted in the capture of the Ava'rónn Anthioullsn's son.

Hár'lčve'thém was renamed Salóh after the unification of the kingdoms to Santharia. The Quaelhoirhim felt that it was easier for the men to say, as well as being a little more welcoming. Return to the top

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