Shattered Gates Of Slaughterguard
Valley of Obelisks
Cartographers always place Castle Grief in the Painted Canyons west of the Marrilach River. But no one in recent memory has traveled to the castle. Residents of nearby communities, such as Krokarr and Sekletir, don’t know much about it.
The Pendrant family has occupied a castle on the riverbanks southwest of Jewelford for centuries. Lord Pendrant has been granted the authority to tax river traffic that passes Castle Pendrant, and he wields his authority with great relish. Riverboat captains hate Pendrant’s stretch of river, and they scorn Lord Pendrant, his family, and anyone from the town around the castle.
Low on the northern slopes of Mount Surrinak in the Tangletuft Mountains is the ancestral home of an old and insular noble family, the Surrinaks. Their castle overlooks rich farmland and is protected from the west by Redbark Grove, so the Surrinaks are collectively some of the most powerful landowners in the Valley of Obelisks. Trespassers are treated harshly on Surrinak lands – their house guard is the law for miles beyond their castle.
Dondurran’s orchards are justly famous, especially for their apples, pears, and cherries. The village has suffered recently at the hands of gnolls marauding from the mountains to the southeast. After a show of force by cavalry from Sumberton, the gnolls haven’t been seen in several months. Residents are still suspicious of strangers, and the village militia remains on guard.
Hemyulak is a town that grew up around the walls of Castle Hemyulak, built centuries ago to guard a mountain pass that leads north out of the Valley of Obelisks. Hemyulakkers are known as adept hunters and fishers.
Dwarf prospectors have recently started scouting the hills north of Hemyulak, looking for veins of silver and other precious metals. So far, no one has struck it rich, and the prospectors find the monster-infested hills difficult to explore.
Second in population only to Sumberton, Jewelford is home to a mix of races. Halflings, gnomes, and humans make up the bulk of the populace. The halflings are river traders predominately of the Faminestri clan, the gnomes are miners seeking gems in the nearby hills, and the humans are varied, filling many roles that help Jewelford maintain its notable prosperity.
The Marrilach River is wide and shallow near Jewelford, posing a navigation challenge for riverboat captains who have to find the deepest channels or run aground. Across the river from the town is the Shining Citadel. Built by the Luminous Order several hundred years ago, the fortress allows the Luminaries to keep a watch on the Slaughterscar to the east and remain alert for signs of things coming from within. Those who work for the Luminous Order probably pass through Jewelford to go to the Shining Citadel.
Kel’s Rise is more an armed camp than a peaceful settlement. Most of the residents have retreated behind the walls of Castle Kel, fearful that gnolls from beyond the mountains might attack again. The inhabitants survived several months under siege in the castle and they still feel nervous when they step beyond the fortress’s walls.
A road heads through a pass over the mountains to the southeast, but no travelers have use the road since the siege. No one in Kel’s Rise is sure whether the road is safe, because the gnolls retreated down it.
Dwarves from Krokkar have been working the silver and iron mines in the nearby hills for centuries, and they’ve called Krokkar home ever since the ancient fall of the dwarven halls further in the mountains. In the center of Krokkar is the Hall of the Fell Beast, built around the rib cage of an immense dragon. Within this hall, the leaders of nine prominent dwarf clans rule as an oligarchic town council.
As befits its mining heritage, much of Krokkar is underground. Those approaching on the road from Sumberton only see the Hall of the Fell Beast, a few ramparts, and some humble cottages. Beneath are chambers where nearly all the citizens live. The subterranean streets of Krokkar stretch for miles, many connecting to the mines in the nearby hills.
Lukrimar Keep is the farthest upriver that the majority of riverboats travel. It has a thriving community of halflings, especially those of the Hundivarst clan. A logging operation in the Andrall Forest to the north supplies much of the timber for new riverboats.
Downstream from Sumberton is Riverbend, a town where more than three-quarters of the residents are gnomes. Thus, doors and furniture in Riverbend are somewhat awkward for the larger races.
Riverbend is famous for a hometown carnival that spends about half its time on the road, visiting other communities within the Valley of Obelisks. Those who go to the Riverbend Carnival when it’s in town see spectacular illusions, witness feats of acrobatics, and have their fortunes told. Maybe they also “forget” to bring their coin pouches home with them.
Ruins of Andrushel
Andrushel was an important border fortress and guardian of the headwaters of the Marrilach River. But one year ago, a flight of dragons destroyed the castle. Recently, some 200 soldiers and laborers returned to the site, determined to rebuild it. It remains a mystery why the dragons attacked.
Founded by religious pilgrims that came to the Valley of Obelisks to build an ideal community of faith, Sekletir has a temple to Sarenrae second in size only to the one in Sumberton. Because the famous paladin Brannock Provennia is buried beneath a monument in Sekletir, the town still receives its share of pilgrims.
Much of this town exists a hundred feet in the air, nestled among the massive branches of the trees that give the Oakwood its name. The houses, platforms, and magic elevators of Shul Shennek are a sight to behold, but they serve a practical purpose. Oakwood is home to many dangerous monsters, and the elves of Shul Shennek can turn their town into a fortress by retracting the elevators and stairs that provide access from the ground. Monsters aren’t the only concern. Drow raiders have attacked Shul Shennek twice in the last decade – and for an elf, that falls into the category of “current events.”
Shul Vaath’s elf inhabitants are far more isolationist than those of Shul Shennek, shunning contact with the outside world and discouraging travelers from exploring the Vaathwood. They are one of the only isolationist elven communities left in the region, even outside the Valley. And they are quite proud of their traditions and wish few visitors. Humans coming from the direction of Stump Flat are particularly scorned, if not peppered with arrows outright. Among the younger elves of Shul Vaath, however, are some few who wish to connect with the wider world.
Shul Vaath isn’t a treetop community like Shul Shennek. It’s built on the forest floor amid crumbling alabaster ruins from an elf kingdom that’s ancient even by the standards of the elves. Rumors abound of a dark presence within the Vaathwood. The presence might have some influence on the green dragons that have been troubling the elves lately, but its actual nature still remains unknown.
Gold and silver miners call the village of Silvermont home. Prices here fluctuate wildly, depending on whether mining has been good lately. It’s very much a company town, with almost every resident dependent on the goodwill of Harunio Quell, the mines’ owner. Even Lady Andra Tenneskir of Silvermont defers to Quell.
In the mountains north of Silvermont is the Black Tower, home of the Ebon Cabal. Residents of Silvermont all know it’s there, but they believe it’s bad luck to talk about it. Those working for the Ebon Cabal might pass through Silvermont to go to the Black Tower.
This farming community is home to a racetrack that features weekly horse races with a lot of gambling on the side. Sometimes entire acres of farmland changes hands based on the luck of the day at the track.
Relations between the humans of Stump Flat and the elves of Shul Vaath are poor. The elves remember that the town got its name when human woodcutters cleared the eastern portion of the Vaathwood.
The city of Sumberton is the most important trade center in the Valley of Obelisks and is described in more detail elsewhere in this thread.
Tulvercross boasts some of the best grassland in the Valley of Obelisks, so it has horse, sheep, and cattle ranches nearby rather than the farms that dominate the rest of the valley. The Perdekark and the Entrigan noble families of the town have a rivalry that started as a dispute over rangeland but quickly became personal. Members of the two clans aren’t always violent towards one another, but minor acts of sabotage and intimidation are common.