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Cliffhome--Arena 38

The city of Cliffhome, built into the northern wall of the Langrani Highlands, is famed for its view. From the great balconies one can see the Bone Meadows stretching away to the north, an ancient battlefield where herds of goats and tame deer tread the bones of ancient warriors under their delicate hooves. Farther north, the land sinks into the mist-wrapped swamp known as the Syrinwald, and beyond that, the Daggerspines can sometimes be seen, like smoke on the horizon. To the east, the Rirorni Plains stretch away as far as the eye can see. Westward, beyond the curve of the Highlands, one may glimpse the sparkle of the Trier Sea.

Of old, Cliffhome was an aerie, home to a northern tribe of the elithan, the winged people. They were attracted by the natural beauty of the caverns, as well as their defensibility. Some two centuries ago, the lower passages breached by explorers from the darkelven city of Faehrso. In that first encounter, the dark elves looted a food cache, killed four elithan, carried away two more to sell as slaves, and desecrated a shrine. War was imminent, when Jazdrei Bindaki ascended to the throne of Faehrso (by assassination), and proposed a treaty. Seeing the value of winged allies, Bindaki offered to return the prisoners and to enrich the treasury of Cliffhome with trade from the underworld, if the elithan would spy for the dark elves, and fight on their side when they warred with the surface folk. Luvien Cloudwing, Princess of the elithan, accepted the offer, for her people did not want to leave their home, and also they had no love of those who walked on the ground.

Over the next six decades, Cliffhome became the terror of western Alastari, raiding at will as far north as Tobir, and as far south as Talcama. Few villages were able to withstand the sudden appearance of the stealthy elves, backed up by a hail of arrows from the sky. The dark alliance grew richer, and repelled several assaults upon the sheer cliffs of the city by outraged Mordanti, until it fell victim to the expanding Osksi empire (some say it was a darkelven traitor who showed the Osksians the secret tunnel into the back portions of the city). The Osksians gained less than they had hoped, as the elithan, as soon as they saw they could not win, immediately evacuated, and the dark elves retreated into the depths, taking most of the city's ill-gotten treasures with them. The Osksians quickly walled off the passages leading to the underworld city of Faehrso.

Today, the population of Cliffhome is mostly Osksian--though many citizens, while claiming pure Osksian descent, show traces of the darkelven traits of dusky skin, pale hair, elven features, and utter ruthlessness. The remains of the elithan tribe live far back in the hills; the exact location of their aerie is unknown. Cliffhome still bears the stamp of the dark elves in its ornately carven passages and chambers, and in the skill of its pickpockets. At the crest of the cliff stands the hauntingly alien Temple of Filarnon, a remnant of the elithan culture.

Cliffhome is not on any major trade routes (though it does guard the road that connects the Great Eastern Route to Osksi). It is the site of a ruby mine, but its primary industries are the herding of goats and deer, and the housing of wealthy and noble pleasure-seekers who enjoy the scenery, the skilled courtesans, and the exotic atmosphere of the city--as well as shopping in the famous mercado, which features unusual artifacts from some unknown source. The population has outgrown the caverns and spread onto the meadow below. The poorer neighborhoods squat on the ground around the great square arena.

Cliffhome is ruled by the fair young Lord Dharmorrin of the house of Kalderent, a member of the Osksi Council of Lords. He is not a strong leader, preferring to while away his days in the company of his concubines, gambling in the smoky casinos, watching the arena fights, or attending the multitude of brilliant parties which are the main occupation of Cliffhome's upper class. The army of Cliffhome, under the command of General Zallor--who answers directly to the Council of Lords--is large and well-trained. Cliffhome's Scarlet Rangers were very prominent in the sacking of Niania, just a few years ago, and are considered to be the Osksi Empire's first line of defense (or offense) against the Mordanti Confederation.

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Published on: 2002-07-14 (1315 reads)

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