Wednesday, July 25, 2007
Takshendal is an independent city state of some one hundred thousand people, straddling the River Weyr. Its authority is undisputed within the range of its riders but it lays little claim to lands beyond. Even so the people surrounding it recognize its strength and accept its laws willingly as they are the only laws known to the region. Takshendal is an ancient city, a vast walled construction whose commanding dark presence looms omnipotent in the mental landscape of the peasants and pervades all around it with a sense of tradition and civilisation.
To the north are extensive marsh regions known as the Salten Reach and beyond that is the Starshine Sea. This marsh area is sparsely populated by small communities of reed dwellers where ancient, weather burned women in blue and white sweaters swap gossip and riding in traditional punts, fishermen spear eels and smoke sea weed in clay pipes. At the mouth of the Weyr is a small decaying port called Haven where rotting boats sink into the mud and sea birds tussle over fish heads. Fishermen of the sea live here, dark faced and salt stained, their children playing with bare feet.
To the south is the ancient town of Castelopea and beyond that the Rapthia Mountains. Beyond the mountains are shadowy lands whose names invoke the aura of spices, warmer climates and exotic drinks. Travellers from these parts are dark eyed, quick featured and avaricious but bringing trade from the south they are looked upon with pleasure and benevolence.
To the west is a long open stretch of anonymous arable land laced with rivers and dotted with myriad farmsteads where people live short uncomplicated lives, tending their fields and beasts. Occaisionally a marriage betweeen old families or the harvest festival will lighten the burden of living in these quiet regions but for the most part, life in the west moves slowly.
To the east the land curves away into a wilderness of forests and marshes. For a few days ride, sporadic farms dot the horizon, but beyond these is nothing but a frightening wilderness climbing ever higher into the eastern reaches of the Rapthia Mountains. Here the villagers speak of 'child demons' and were-people. The moon is regarded as a goddess and tales tell of dryads luring men to the doom.
All around Takshendal the land is moist and verdant, the earth dark and the air wet with mist. The weather ranges from humid to cold in the winters and from bright, warm to temperate during the summers. The cycle of seasons is terrestrial and the over all culture this promotes is Euro/Siberian in nature. Takshendal differs from this by virtue of its population density and the politics this inspires. Its technology and cultural perspective are as the European Rennaisance in nature.