Simsy is a
prosperous village of some 600 people, found well inland within the
Manthrian province of South
Sarvonia. Seated at the base of the twin Sentinels, two giant spires of
granite, and at a crossroads of trade, Simsy is well known for its
beef and stone goods, most of which make their way south to Chrondra, and
further still, to the Manthrian capital of
Marcogg. So far from the sea, and situated so, its
people are a complex blend of many races who historically lived, fought,
conquered and negotiated the ownership of the land. Bloodlines from the
Sophronian, native Darian, and
Glandorion races have all been traced within the village.
Description. Much of this attractive village is built from the tough dark grey granite mined out of the twin peaks rising up dramatically to the north. Everything, from the small family homes of farmers, to the village hall, several inns and huge cattle barns, is expertly crafted from stone. Wood comes from further away, and is used sparingly in Simsy buildings mainly from pride of their stonework. It frames the doors and windows, and is sometimes used for flooring in the living rooms, although the entrance hall is always stone. The roofs are also timber-framed and then mainly thatched, although if they ever found a way to make the heavy granite into tiles it would be this researchers expectation to see the thatch replaced seemingly overnight!
Around the village centre is the biggest of the local inns, known as "Sentinel's Rest", the village hall, and a half dozen permanent shops that deal with daily basics for the working villagers. All kinds of breads, fruits and vegetables, (the latter mainly brought in from trade) are available, along with a tailor, and a couple of general merchants selling everything from sewing needles to wine. There is also a large butcher's premises, allowing access to the local prized beef for the non-farming population of Simsy, and any passing travellers.
Whilst the main centre of Simsy is neatly cobbled, again out of pride, much of the rest of the village is not. The quantity of livestock moved around daily means it's simply not good for the cobbles, or the hooves of the cattle, to be clattering over them every day. Instead the villagers dutifully use heavy rock sledges pulled by horses or oxen, to compact and harden the dirt paths that criss-cross the village. Simple dirt roads they might be, but they are well cared for, raised slightly, and with narrow drainage ditches either side to help with the winter rains. Many years of such treatment, along with the feet of thousands of cattle, has made these roads incredibly hard and capable of resisting all but the most persistent rains before succumbing to mud.
Map description. Location of the Village of Simsy, located on the westeren Sentinel, known as the Frosterpent Spire, next to the Upper Mashdai River. Map drawn by Artimidor.
Location. Simsy sits at
the base of the western Sentinel known as Frostserpent Spire, and runs down to
the banks of the Upper Mashdai River to the east. It is some 250 strals north
west of Marcogg, the capital city of
Manthria, with the town of Chrondra in between.
A major trade road, known as the Sentinel Route passes through the village, south to Chrondra, and continues north and also forking west, becoming the Northern Mithrun Trail leading all the way to New-Santhala. Another westerly turning crosses the Shadowwing Downs and links with much of the west, making Simsy a crossroads for travellers and traders heading for the South East or vice versa.
Politically, the village falls at the eastern edge of the Grassen Steading, part of the Duchy of Huisgen. Whilst the southern border is all the way down past Chrondra, the river at the edge of the village more or less marks the eastern border to the Duchy of Marcogg.
It is with some shrewd cunning that the citizens of Simsy show quiet devotion to their Lord, and their Duke of Huisgen. Being a border village tends to mean their Lord is often too busy to really notice them, so long as they are dutiful. Thus giving Simsy a small level of independence. And it is common knowledge that taxes get higher within the richer Capital Duchy. The village elders are very careful to deny any permanent expansion on the other side of the river, lest it draw attention to Marcogg Lords looking for extra revenues.
In fact, expansion in general is often denied. The elders and the population know that uncontrolled expansion, especially of the quarry, would lead to a marring of their landscape as well as damaging their trade. It would make controlling the village borders impossible, and also draw attention from Marcogg. It would only take a very slight redrawing of duchy boundaries by a Duke's advisor for the locals to be hit with much greater restrictions.
People. The village is
a complex population of Avennorian
humans with very mixed heritages. Carefully traced back through the tangled
web of Avennorian history, it
comes as no surprise that this fairly northern village (by
Avennorian standards) holds some
considerable Sophronian blood.
Although it is by no means that simple. Given the notable lack of traditional
Avennorian enterprise, like
fishing, whaling, and pearldiving, it is
believed that recent ancestors with higher amounts of native Darian blood were
those who ventured inland first, whilst the more Glandorian dominant families
stayed at the coast.
To add further complication, more ancient histories of the region show that the area where Simsy now sits was once well populated by Darian natives, well before the Glandorian invasion. And the city of Chrondra was actually built out of a peace treaty made between the Avennorians and the Serphelorians. So it is perhaps inevitable that some Simsy's families are likely descendants of pure Darian or half Serphelorian/Darian stock. Much of this is speculation though, and the only people who may know for certain is the villagers themselves. However, as with any Avennorian, it's not wise to start conversations about heritage, and certainly not to suggest a lack of Glandorian blood, even as a Compendium researcher.
About a third of the population supports the stone industry, with most of the rest devoted to their herds of cows, and other livestock. All are hardworking, although the former tend to show more obvious (and appreciated) evidence of this with well defined and muscled bodies from long hours working with stone. Most will have the worn appearance of much time in sun and rain, and consequently darker skin as a result. All enjoy relaxing in an inn after a hard days work.
From a young age, Simsy boys spend most of their time outdoors. Most will be out in the grasslands, on both sides of the river, tending to herds with the older boys. The men tend to stay back on their farms, preparing animals for slaughter and meat for trade, as well as the thousand odd jobs that need doing around a farm. Most will also keep some small number of pigs, and goats, but only for their family's use, which the men will tend, including milking the latter.
Women, and young girls, are equally busy, although often indoors in a vain attempt to keep their skin away from the sun, and therefore fairer (a mark of nobility amongst the Avennorians). They will tend small vegetable gardens in the thin soil, as well as make use of wool from their goats, and help with the meat preparation. When the farmer has gone to the towns and cities for trade, they will also tend to the animals around the farm, although the boys are often left behind to look after the main herd.
Young boys of stone working families will learn skills in carving and handling stone whilst they are still too weak to work in the quarries. The stone-working workshops employ large numbers of boys to sweep away stone debris, fetch water and a hundred other jobs not requiring great strength, whilst they are also being tutored in their later work. As they mature and grow stronger, they will move to the quarries and spend many years at the hardwork of mining the hard rock out. Typically, a little before middle age, they will move out of the quarries and back into the workshops, and learn the finer manipulations of stone they first saw their elders achieving when they were boys. Everything from cobbles for the streets to the intricate ornaments that decorate village homes. Some however choose to stay in the mines for most of their lives, finding no apptitude for the precision work, and some weaker boys, or those with minor injuries stay as apprentices in the workshops throughout their lives.
Some lucky boys in the village will be taught to handle the horse sledges that smooth their roads and paths. It is fairly easy work for a lad in his early teens, and one that comes with some prestige for being trusted with the job of maintaining the roads of this proud village. Many local boys vie for the task, and are the envy of their peers should they be chosen for it by the elders.
As mentioned, the village lies on an thriving crossroads of trade, and the villagers welcome it. Showing off their neat homes, fine stonework and excellent beef at every opportunity. Some enterprising local farmers even make a supplement to their income during the warmer months by getting their sons to guide visitors on sightseeing walks up into the foothills of the spire. The views can be spectacular on a clear day, some claiming to be able to see as far as the Mithral Mountains to the east.
A group of enterprising Simsy villagers, some years ago, put forward the idea of building a viable means to access the top of the spire, where the views would be even more breathtaking. Work has been steady, with the backing of the elders (and the insistance the route is subtly masked into the landscape), and they are not many years from completing the intricate pathway of carved steps and bridges that will serve to expand on an otherwise simple side income. A great party is promised for the opening of the path.
Their distance from their Lord, and location on a border between Duchies, lends Simsy a small amount of local independence, which is wielded by a group of elders in the village. Six in all. Typically this will be old men, two from both the farming and stoneworking areas, as well as one of the most successful merchants. The final one is voted in by the locals, and tends to be a little younger, although often not by much. The younger men are simply too busy with their businesses.
Ostensibly they are simply there to gather the taxes to pass on to their Lord, but they also collect a little more from each family and this is put towards village tasks, such as paying the boys who compact the roads (hence part of the prestige in the job). How the money is spent is decided by the elders. Some of it may be spent helping out a widow, some might help fix a roof damaged by a storm. Appeals are bought forward to the elders, and they will decide.
Each year, part of it goes towards the celebration of Baveras, the Goddess of the Seas and Rivers. Originally a rather barbaric rite, involving the sacrifice of a child, such practices are now banned by United Kingdom decree. But in Simsy, the villagers gather on the banks of the river whilst some prayers are said to remember their ocean-going ancestors, and ask for low floods in the coming year. After, a large party is held. Every citizen will provide some meat or other food for the festivities, and money spent by the elders will provide the rest.
Climate. Simsy enjoys a relatively pleasant climate, as does most of the province. Much of the worst weather coming in from the east, or north, is diverted by the Mithral Mountains and any weather that isn't stopped, will run into the Sentinels, greatly reducing the impact on the village.
Yearly, the Upper Mashdai will run high after the spring melt in the Rimmerins Ring mountain range to the north, at the start of the river. A particularly wet winter will see a risk of the river bursting its banks, although rarely as far south as Simsy. Once a decade perhaps will be a particularly bad year, and in such cases the Simsy citizens will be unable to get across the nearby ford in the river to the pastures there, and if prolonged this can cause problems feeding the herds.
Flash floods from the Kresek River, coming down from the Snowdrift Ridge of the Mithral Mountains, are a far bigger danger. It joins the Upper Mashdai only thirty or so strals north of Simsy. They hit without warning, and in some cases, trap herds and their boy keepers across the river for several days at a time. As well as potentially killing anyone or anything attempting to cross when it happens.
During the winter, Simsy will see severe frosts, and likely some snowfall. Depending on where the clouds form, much of the snow may be dumped harmlessly on the north slopes of the Sentinels. However, in very rare occasions where it blows in from the south, deep drifts can cover the north part of the village entirely. It is for this reasons that all the livestock sheds are in the south of the village, and those families (mostly stonemasons) who live in the north section, maintain close friendships with people in the south, whom will offer them shelter until their homes are uncovered again. Rare enough are these events, that the elders can be appealed to for financial aid to the families taking in the refugees.
The stone buildings aren't very warm in the winter, and most Simsy folk can not afford to burn wood all through the winter. Instead they rely on a mixture of hay collected from the grasslands for animal fodder, and dried manure from the cows. Various fragrant herbs, such as rosemint (often added to their meat anyway), will be burnt too, to make the smell more pleasant.
Summers can be very hot, but thanks to the Mashdai River, fed by two snowcapped mountain ranges, Simsy has never had to worry about drought so far. The Sentinels also provide considerable periods of shade at certain times of the day, which helps keep things cooler.
Flora. The lack of trees, thin soil and the prevalence of granite can sound, at first hearing, like a place devoid of greenery. But that is far from the truth. The flora of Simsy consists of many plants, and bushes.
To the south and east, the Shadowwing Downs stretch away, a sea of grasses and wild flowers of many varieties. Most notably alth'ho grass, forming the basis for much of the hay stocks that see the Simsy farming animals through the winter. Varieties such as the wean grass, more nutritious than most grasses, are trying to be introduced by the hard-working Simsy farmers. They hope to cultivate vast fields with it, but the spread is slow given the occassional harsh winter, and its uses beyond fodder are minimal. For now it is segregated in the most southern fields, and saved as a rich pasture for prized animals during the warmer months.
Where the Downs meet the Mashdai River, kell herb can be found in rich abundance, spreading both ways along the river bank. This versatile plant is well known and much used by villages all across Manthria and Simsy's population is no less enthusiastic in taking advantage of it. Pfepper grass, another useful plant, appears in some quantities around the edges of the quarries, and a stone working man often gathers a bunch of the stalks as a gift to his wife instead of the more typical flowers, and is just as well received.
Closer to home, within the village itself, farmer's wives tending small gardens savour the warmest and most sheltered spots for small daín'bél bushes and delicate dalferia flowers. Each have their uses, the latter being somewhat more for decoration. But the dabs of colour they add to the village are prided over as much as any other part.
Fauna. Simsy sees quite a variety of wildlife. Situated as is it, to the north of a plain, with mountains behind, a river to the east, and woodlands not too far away. Such a variety of habitats plays host to an equal variety of animals, although the noise of the quarry, and the human population in general, does limit this to some degree.
Perhaps the most famous wild inhabitants is the breeding pair of eagles that nest on the western cliff face of the Sentinel behind the village. The locals have many stories of antics witnessed by the pair, and they are much loved, although not tamed in anyway. The villagers don't feed them and don't want them to become used to humans at all, aiming to maintain the wild nature admired by a people historically known to be so adventurous. The eagles feed well on local rabbits, mice, and rats found in plenty within the grassland pastures. Occassionally they will be seen carrying back a young prieta deer, caught from the deeper plains where the wild deer are quite common.
Foxes also stalk the grasslands, and the woods. The common red fox is well recognisable, even from a distance, and can be a nuisance to farmers on the outskirts of the village. They have been caught sneaking in and taking young kids or piglets. The young calves at least are too big for them.
Very rarely seen, but with evidence of their presence, are elfcats. These stealthy hunters enjoy the long grasses to take much the same food as the fox and eagles. Within the woodland, they also like to prey on aelirel birds commonly found there.
Across the river, toward the Mithril Mountains, wolf packs run through the foot hills. Although it is highly unlikely they would come so far as Simsy, the villagers, particularly the older ones, will always have stories of cattle found killed in a brutal fashion. Something quite beyond a fox or elfcats. Whether it is true, is impossible to say.
By the river, a little upstream, away from the village. Pairs of mating water dragonfly are often seen, enjoying the warm air and humidity over the water that bring in plenty of insects to feed on during the late spring and summer.
Myth/Lore. Beyond fireside stories of wolves attacking ill-behaved boys whilst tending cows on the other side of the river, and other such folk lore designed to keep children in order, the library of myth surrounding Simsy is fairly subdued against the aim to make profit. However one story any Simsy villager can relate is regarding the two eagles nesting in the Sentinels shadowing the village.
Like any such story there's some variation, but the main theme stays the same. Here is a recount by Joneth; innkeeper of the Rosy Bull, one of the smaller inns in the village.
The Eagles of the Sentinels. "Aah a story
it is, telling of the two Watchers. Yes I call them that name deliberatly.
The villagers use it to encourage young men and woman to seek each other out before they get too old with sayings like "We already have our Watchers, we don't need any more". Other sayings such as "The Watchers will tell me!" are used to discourage infidelity between couples, often heard from women seeking to warn their new husbands. Also "May the Watchers peck out my eyes" is often invoked to seal an important promise.