THE MANTHRIAN HAMLET SHNEERIN

DESCRIPTION - KEY LOCATIONS - LOCATION - PEOPLE - COAT OF ARMS
CLIMATE -
FLORA - FAUNA - RESOURCES - MYTH/LORE - HISTORY - MUSICAL THEME

If you’d try to describe Shneerin in one word, it would be "tradition". The little hamlet east of Ravenport is very fond of its own history, dating back to the first human nomads arriving at the Southern Sarvonian Continent. Their old heritage results in a traditional view on life. One of their obvious customs is farming the lands north of their village, the Fields of Aurium. They are the main source of golden rain, a grain used to make a richly flavoured and therefore more expensive bread. But the hamlet practices a lot more queer customs, their sayings spoken with their lisping accent being but one example.

Description. A cock crows somewhere in the distance to the north. Once, twice its cry rings over the fields. Then another one follows, off to the Auturian Woods. Then another, and another answer the call of morning. A cacophony erupts as all the cocks in the surrounding area sing their supposed symphony at Daybreak.

A Peasant of Shneerin

View picture in full size Image description. A peasant of the small farming community of Shneerin on his way to work. Picture from the game Mystical Empire™, used with friendly permission. Illustration by Faugar.

It’s Firstflame in Shneerin (pronounced "Shnirn" by the locals); another day is beginning in the little hamlet east of Ravenport. As the Injčrá rises in the southwest, shedding her light from over the Tolonian Heath unto the little hamlet, the beauty of the small farmer community is revealed. Don’t be mistaken, all that is gold does not glitter: the appeal of the place lies in its crude nature rather than in its splendour.

The rays of the sun touch the roads that go through Shneerin. These roads are responsible for the existence of the village today. Shneerin is the last settlement before you cross the Tolonian Heath to the south, bound for Yaithres or even Klinsor. The other trail, passing from west to east through the hamlet, leads from Ravenport to Lareith, a main trade route for lumber. Though the roads are little more than worn-out trails, the heavy traffic ensures that the paths aren’t lost. The buildings of the hamlet have been structured around these streets.

In the light of the sun, the grayish oaken structures of the town stand loosely arrayed along the roads. A history of warfare among humans and elves has made sure that these are not the original Darian structures that formed the first settlement of Shneerin, but as its inhabitants say: “Shneerin survives”. They’ve always rebuilt their town and the indifferent but economically fertile contact with the nearby elves in the Auturian Woods made sure that plenty of lumber was available. This custom of rebuilding has also resulted in the rather chaotic arrangement of the houses: the very existence of the roads is only clear through the trails carved in the soil, not by neat rows of village houses. Instead, Shneerin residences come in groups of four or five assembled near some trees here, two more a little off to the west, while three are suddenly built in a diagonal angel from the road and so on and so forth. The ground the village is built on is very rich of old and results in an abundance of flowering weeds, bushes and a small number of trees in spring and summer, scattered as the buildings are. If you look more closely around the houses, you will find that the occasional villager has taken some time to tend a nice little vegetable garden.

The houses are made of white oak, all of them simple one-storey structures with a thatched roof. The exception to this rule is the Broken Wing, the only public building the village features. It has two storeys, the upper one made of wood, the lower part of the structure made of natural stones probably taken from the Griffin’s Marl quarry. People build their houses on their own, a tradition long kept from Darian settlers. It gives the chaotic arrangement of the houses an extra queer dimension because of the unique construction of each family. But for those who’ve been longer in town, or simply use their eyes well, there are definitely similarities visible. The families of Shneerin, twelve in all, each have their own way of building their houses, and one can deduce from the use of the wood, arrangements of the rooms, the small woodwork decorations and thatched roofs which family is the original builder and tidier of the small house. In present times, the distinction is harder to make, since the relative peace in Santharia has ensured that the lifespan of the structures is far longer than tradition said it should be. This has ensured that the current houses are featured with a combination of family styles. Still, because the citizens count on the imminent destruction of their little hamlet, the added decorations of new families who took over the house of another family are not as elaborate and prominent as the design made by the original proprietors.

The tradition of woodcutting decoration gives the outside of Shneerin houses a distinctive appearance. They usually work by cutting patterns at the edges of parts of the house. This may be at the edge of door or windows, the sides of the wall at corners or just below the roof. The patterns consist of plants or animals, most of the time images of daily Shneerin life. Grain and chickens are among the most popular forms. All woodcarvings look rather primitive, but all together form an incomparable tradition as the images have been recorded from over thousands of years and have barely evolved or changed. It is said that they represent examples of the earliest human art forms, though it’s known that artists of reputable education like from the Bardavos or Lorehaven schools have dismissed the carvings as the work of children. More on the origin of these woodcarvings in the History section.

Besides the Broken Wing, there are some twenty houses and workshops roughly centered around the crossroads. They house about half the population of the hamlet; most of the others live in small farms around the Fields of Aurium or along the south sides of the roads to Ravenport and Lareith. An even smaller portion of the population resides at the Heath, where they herd a small flock of halfbreed sawis-cuncu sheep. The farms are built in the same way as the houses - the family styles are just as prevalent as in the hamlet - while the shepherds reside in a few humble, undecorated, functional cabins not too far from the southernmost farmer fields.

Shneerin’s main business is providing Ravenport with grain and the Fields of Aurium. When the corn is ready to be harvested, you can see the grainstalks rippling in the wind like waves in a goldlit bay. This sight functions as a typical landmark and symbol for Shneerin. Most farmers keep some animals too, though this is mostly small cattle like goats, chickens and an occasional pig, horse or cow. The last two are not only used for their milk or meat, but above all to help the population in working the fields. The animals can be found in ranges along the farms and in the streets of Shneerin too, as most villagers keep some chickens and geese. They add to the lively atmosphere of the hamlet, which is a coming and going of travelers mixed with the common day-to-day business of the villagers, an animated meeting ground between about two hundred people who know each other very well and the thousands of one time visitors that pass through each year.

Religion doesn't have a prominent place in the daily life of Shneerin, but the villagers aren’t without some form of faith, or superstition that is. Since they say the gods taught their forefathers, they believe that these gods still watch them and walk among them in the guise of the many passing travelers. This idea of being watched by some - whether these are the gods or their ancestors that are actually watching - will make sure that they hold strictly to the rules of Jeyriall concerning ploughing, sowing and harvesting. A small children's rhyme refers to this belief, see the Myth/Lore section. To help them in their worship and remind them of the omnipresence of the gods, they've created little shrines to the Goddess of the Harvest everywhere around the hamlet. Tiny rock pyramids are used as focus points of prayer, both in the village and in the Fields of Aurium nearby. These simple structures of stacked stones and rocks are sometimes barely visible in the overgrown waysides of the village, but almost every family has a small pyramid to offer foodstuffs to the Goddess, and every farmer will visit his shrine before starting to work on his fields. Return to the top

Key Locations. A description of the most prominent buildings and places around the hamlet will make the image of Shneerin complete. In particular "The Tree", a very odd structure at the crossroads, should not be forgotten when describing (or visiting) this village.

Location. Shneerin is a small hamlet of farmers in the province of Manthria on the Southern Sarvonian continent. Its fields mark the northwestern border of the Tolonian Heath, making it part of the west half of the province. The crossroads in the center of the hamlet proof to be the landmark that make foreigners remember the hamlet. The west road passes by a small forest, bound for Ravenport or Greineth; the east road heads for the elven town of Lareith at the outskirts of the Auturian Woods; the south road goes across the Heath towards Yaithres and is the access to the central and eastern part of the province, ultimately reaching Greywold and Klinsor. If you want to travel north, you best take the road towards Lareith and continue on the road around the Fields of Aurium, in the end passing on between the forests in the east and Harrowhills in the west, bound for Kreeswind. The Auturian Woods to the northeast and the Griffin’s Marl and Cinnabark Ridge to the southwest make sure that a lot of west-east traffic passes through the hamlet, which functions like a bottleneck for Ravenport. The farmers and shepherds operating in the vicinity all consider themselves part of the Shneerin community and a few families from Fieldside in Ravenport are known to visit their kinsmen on Fastday, though Ravenport city has taken over their farming lands for living quarters, which shows that the territory of Shneerin is larger than the view of the hamlet would suggest. Return to the top

People. The villagers of Shneerin take pride in the fact that they descend from the first humans settling in the area. They say their skills and arts are the direct result of the teachings of Grothar and Jeyriall. Whether or not this is true, the features and complexions of the Darians, one of the first human tribes passing over the Southern Sarvonian continent, are obvious in their appearance, which hint at their old lineage. The community has remained rather close over the years and accepts very few newcomers. When the Avennorians came from the east, after founding their big cities like Ciosa and Marcogg, the village was easily conquered, but settlers of the new tribe were largely ignored. No violence could change this and the invaders, who never felt at home, moved further west to the new town Revin’s Port (today's Ravenport). The sequence of arrival, ignoring and departure has been a standard defensive method for the community. Only when somebody "Tames the Tree" or is able to show that he’s a distant relative of a former villager of Shneerin, referenced in the books of the Cabinet, he will be accepted into the community. This small opportunity to enter made sure that the population wasn’t subject to inbreeding.

Dark hair and tanned complexion marks the outdoors lifestyle of the Shneerin villager, but also their old heritage, showing similarities with the current Shendar population. The resemblance matches the northern Shendar tribe best, the Clay People or Shen-Kha’si, but the outdoor lifestyle and centuries of farming life have left them with some differences. Their faces are crude because of the work on the fields, the wind cutting their skin, making them look older than they really are. The round forms of their heads hints at Darian ancestry. They are a folk of average height, taller than the general Avennorian population, often reaching a height of more than one ped and two fores. Their bodies are strong and harded by the field work, with broad shoulders and stout, muscular legs. A traveler once jokingly remarked that the Shneerin folk looked like their ale: dark and strong. The women differ little from the man in their physical buildup. They often accompany their husbands in the fields and their strength in body is not to be underestimated. An outsider courting a Shneerin girl is warned in advance of their rough character and even rougher love practice.

The clothing of the population is based on daily practicalities and shows no identifiable decorations or patterns. Favoured colours - if the clothes are dyed at all - are those of nature, ranging from adlemirene brown to the emerald colours of sognastheen green, with basic clothes made of white or shades of light brown, being the common colours of wool and linen. The men wear shirts made of the local sheep wool or linen. Shirts vary in fabric according to the needs of the seasons. They will carry leather or woolen jackets over these shirts if the weather suggests doing so. Their pants are of the same colour and fabric as their shirts. Their boots are made of the leather and fur of the cattle or the smaller wild animals that live at the Heath like tarepi. The women wear dresses based on the same materials with skirts that allow them to work freely, but protect them from the weather circumstances. Clothing on Fastday is a different thing all together. Each family has its own way of creating lively suits, where the colours of nature are combined with the colours of the Injčrá - shades of red - the fields - a golden yellow - and the colours of the Sea - all shades of blue. The woolen shirts and dresses of women and men respectively remain, but the men will wear short trousers, showing bare ankels and lower legs unless high boots are worn, with loose jackets, while the women wear boots and matching hats. These feast suits are decorated with the same patterns as the houses. The clothing may sometimes be decades, or in some cases, many generations old, when the suits are passed on from father to son and mother to daughter. The lively colours will of course dull a little over time, especially the dyed linen is vulnerable, but the custom of wearing is considered more important than the actual brightness of it. On top of this, the introduction of a new suit, being a future family heirloom, is of course all the more reason for an extra Shneerin Stout.

The Shneerin population is also marked by their accent. Although they speak Tharian, they tend to lisp with all ‘s’ sounds, including the ‘z’, where they tend to add a ‘j’ resulting in no notable difference between ‘sake’ and ‘shake’. Travelers will sometimes makes fun of this, telling that their work at the fields gives them little need for an elegant pronunciation, and should they want to communicate, they will write it down in their books! Yet another reason for the accent is offered when they suggest that the pride of their village name is so large, that they barely use the 's' other than the 'sj' in Shneerin. Return to the top

Coat of Arms/Sign. The size of the hamlet wouldn’t suggest the need for a real coat of arms, but being the traditionalists that they are, the twelve families of Shneerin have decided on an image to mark the place ages ago, often seen painted in the books of the Cabinet to note the subject of the book as local history, which, in truth, are most of the volumes in the library

The sign comes in a drawn and painted version, the latter only seen above the door of the Broken Wing. The drawn version shows a simple shield, with a slightly down-curved upper line and the two lines at the sides culminating in a blunt point at the bottom. The shield is filled with the image of cornstalks, bound together in the middle. The number of stalks is twelve, referring to the families of Shneerin as well as to the Twelve Gods of the Aviaría. In the painted version, the injohue golden rain is placed on an emeraud field, the lines of the shield radiating the same golden colour as the grain stalks. Return to the top

Climate. The low location of the hamlet and the nearby Gulf of Maraya give Shneerin a moderate and mild climate, with a tendency for cloudy and rainy days. The fresh air from the sea will often bring clouds but they sometimes empty themselves more to the south at the mountains or pass over, heading for the Caeytharin Mountains. It rains the whole year round, though summer and winter tend to be drier than spring and autumn. The villagers are quite happy with the climate as it gives them the opportunity to make the most of their rich soils. This doesn't save the village of yearly snowfall or scorching heat, but the conditions aren't as extreme as in many other locations of Southern Sarvonia or in Manthria, Roulk and surrounding area being but one example of a more hostile climate. Return to the top

Flora. The sight of Shneerin is not known for its flora, but has a wide variety of plants in store for those who observe the waysides and grounds between the houses closely. Exception to this rule is of course the prevalent golden rain, which is seen growing around the hamlet in plenty. A few white oaken trees adorn the appearance, as well as some maple trees. The oaks are sometimes covered in greenbark moss, of course at the northern side of the trunk only, though the Brownie habit of eating the moss is not accepted here. Smaller plants include redberry bushes, foridus and dalferia, while the occasional tareptail weed hints at the presence of tarepi in the fields and nearby Heath.

While the town may seem a jumble of various plants, this does not apply to the surrounding fields. The farmers keep a close eye on the spread of weeds in particular, making sure that nothing gets in the way of their grain production. It has been tried to establish orchards with malus trees, but the rich soils proved to contain too little salt to make a profit from the production: the malsapples simply didn’t become larger than a su, never reaching the size of a silverbard (or bigger, as the farmers might have hoped) at all. Return to the top

Fauna. The farmers of Shneerin are more concentrated on crops than livestock. Nevertheless, a small amount of cattle and smaller animals is kept around the village and at the farms. Southern draughts and banegs are used for the work on the fields, while the domestic goat proofs a good source for milk and keeping the weed down around farms. The sheepherders living southeast of the village keep a fair amount of sawis sheep, though not the pure breed most traders prefer: they have since long been mixed with wild sheep and cuncu sheep, never being a primary source of income and thus importance to the community. The wool is mainly used by the villagers and not exported.

Besides these domestic animals, the fields are home to a lot of smaller animals. Field mice and tarepi are often seen, as well as the occasional rat and throwing hedgehog. The Cabinet library claims to hold the first written record of the rhyme of the hedgehog and thus notes Shneerin population as the authors of the rhyme, though this claim is not widely accepted. The farms and herdercabins are known to house flittermice, while the fox hunts the chickens of the farms and the animals in the fields. Birds are not very often seen because of the little amount of trees in the environment, but eagles and gulls fly in from the Gulf of Maraya and the Auturian Woods respectively. Corbie birds are known to flock together in the sky above the Fields of Aurium. Return to the top

Resources. The one resource the hamlet of Shneerin depends on is common earth. The rich soil the town is built on provides the villagers with everything they need. It is often noted that the ground seems the same as the soil of the nearby Auturian Woods, which might explain its fertility. Shneerin people often point at their history, saying that these lands were once part of the Auturian Woods, giving a logical explanation to the origin of the soil.

Golden rain grain is produced in abundance and exported over the west road to Ravenport, where it is used or shipped to other locations. The rich taste and appearance of golden rain bread opposed to bredden or common wheat bread make it a prized commodity. Small fields of wheat grain are kept besides the golden rain for personal use in the village. The stalks of the wheat are used for various household items.

On top of this, the earth provides them with the vegetables they need for their own food. The grass and food for their animals that provide them with milk, wool and meat, flax plants for linen and trees that are used for lumber are but a few examples. Return to the top

Myth/Lore. A variety of sayings and proverbs have been mixed through the text above. Below are those and some more listed, to display the wealth of folklore present in the little hamlet.

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THE ERA OF HARMONY
(YEARS 13.000 B.S. - 11.900 B.S.)
ca. 12000 b.S. Arrival of the Nomads
The Shneerin population traces its forefathers back to the first settlers coming from the north to the Southern Sarvonian Continent. It is believed that a large number of Darian nomads settled down at the borders of the Auturian Woods and started to cultivate the land to their needs. Because of the relative size of the woods, this did not immediately result in disputes with the elves, though the later Avennorian colonists did have trouble with the firstborn race. Among their settlements was the hamlet Shneerin.

THE ERA OF CATACLYSM
(YEARS 9.500 B.S. - 8.500 B.S.)
ca. 9500 b.S.
to 9000 b.S.
The War of the Chosen
The first recorded destructions of the hamlet in the chronicles of the Cabinet date back to the War of the Chosen. During the war the village suffered multiple attacks for no apparent reason, being of no clear strategical or resource importance.
  

ca. 8800 b.S. Avennorian Settlers come upon the West Coast
After the War of the Chosen the Avennorian colonists on the east coast of the lands slowly start to regain their strength and finally explore the lands west of the Tolonian Heath. The local Darians are either subjugated or pushed back south. Revin, leader of the expedition, starts the construction of the first Avennorian port town upon the shores of the Gulf of Maraya, not too far west of the Fields of Aurium.

THE AGE OF MYTHS
(YEARS 3.400 B.S. - 1.655 B.S.)
ca. 2000 b.S. Oldest scrolls in the Cabinet
The oldest scrolls in the Cabinet are estimated to date from two milennia before Santhros' reign. They are compilations of several older scrolls. In these scrolls, about ten in total, we find notes on the twelve families and their customs, including drawn pictures of woodcarvings and clothing patterns; the first settlers coming to the area; the War of the Chosen; advice on working the fields; tales of Jeyriall teaching the humans of Shneerin; a collection of sayings and proverbs and some loosely arranged notes on various topics. The sources of these scrolls are unfortunately lost.

THE GOLDEN AGE OF KINGS
(YEARS 172 A.S. - 547 A.S.)
188 Construction of the Broken Wing
In the years after Santhros' reign some of the children of the village left to see the world. Few returned, but one did return with plans and a fortune to realize these plans. A Bain family member starts the construction of a central hall for the hamlet as a favour for the community. Before this, Fastday was celebrated in the open or inside the houses with the own family. Unfortunately, with the construction barely halfway through he had to leave urgently when news arrived of sinking ships and other unfortunate events concerning his company. He was never seen again in the hamlet. The finished storey was covered with a thatched roof in haste to make sure the building would survive the weather, but the flat roof looked rather silly compared to the marble walls.
  

201 Finished Construction of Broken Wing
After years of saving money, the Village Council orders an extra storey to be added to the current construction, as was intended by the original creator. Within the year, a second storey is added and the building slowly becomes the centre of community activity in Shneerin. The hospitality and service offered by the keeper give the hamlet a fair reputation and travellers like to stop in the hamlet instead of passing through quickly.

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Evening at the Broken Wing


"Evening at the Broken Wing", composed and performed by Gean Firefeet

Format: MP3, Length: 3:46, Original Santharian Work.

Click here to download the song, use right-click and "Save as..." (3.46 MB). Return to the top

In the far west of Manthria, a few strals outside the city walls of Ravenport, lies Shneerin, a farming community essential to the grain production of the surrounding area and beyond. The only building not completely made of wood - it's even partly constructed out of Griffin's Marble - is the Broken Wing, townhall, tavern and general gathering place.

In the evening, farmers from the nearby fields gather in the common room. If they're lucky, among the passing travelers are a few bards willing to perform, but more often than not a few of the local lads will grab their home-made instruments. Simple flutes, a crude harp and some sort of drum or other percussion instrument will usually complete the set. Listen how they begin an elegant dance, passing the melody from one flutist to another, finally culminating in a rhythmic quick form, with the crowd demanding an extra round at the end, speeding up the musicians with their clapping.

 

Information provided by Gean Firefeet View Profile