Name: Metamor Valley
Type: Valley in the Great Barrier Mountain range
Ruler: Duke Thomas of Metamor Keep
For a map of the valley see: http://metamorkeep.com/gallery/pics/valleymapfinale.jpg
For a REALLY good map of the valley see: http://metamorkeep.com/gallery/pics/MetamorValleyMap.png
The keep is located in a pass between two impassable mountain ranges. At its widest the valley is about ten miles across. At it's narrowest its less than a one mile wide. The southern part of the valley is filled with various farms, towns, villages and forests. North of the Keep the valley gets more and more desolate and wild, until at it's northern end its totally wild and uninhabited. The keep is located at the narrowest part of the valley where it narrows to less than a mile wide.
Metamor pass is the only land passage between the Giantdowns to the North and the rest of the continent. Countless times in the past hordes of Lutins and other creatures have tried to sweep south into the warm and heavily populated southern lands. For centuries Metamor Keep and its inhabitants have staved off those attacks. This has hardened the Keepers and made colored the landscape itself.
Metamor river - This narrow and swift moving body of water starts at the lake near Lord Barnhardt's castle and flows south out of the valley It is strengthened by numerous small streams (too small to show on the map) and one tributary (that is on the map). The river itself is small and fast moving and is not really navigable. But in the spring with the river full of the spring melt it is fairly navigable by barges and other shallow draft vessels as far north as Metamor Keep.
Town, Villages and Other places
Hareford - Outpost
Lord Barnhardts castle
Places of interest in the valley
Various villages – Also scattered throughout the map are many small villages and towns that are not named. These are typical villages like Ellingham and would have names but these have not been set yet in any story. Also not all villages are shown on the map. South of Metamor Keep the valley is fairly densely populated with many towns and villages.
Signal Towers - In order to allow for quick communications between out forts, patrols and Metamor Keep, a series of signal towers were built surrounding the keep. Between the out forts and Metamor run lines of these towers, each within visual range of at least two towers or forts.
Each tower is manned by a small crew of between 2 and 5 people, usually on a weekly rotation. This duty is often given to those who do not wish to serve Metamor by going on patrol, or to members of the Keep's military that have lost a limb or who are otherwise unfit for combat due to an injury. Duties at the towers include relaying messages from other towers, watching for large troop movements, collecting reports from passing patrols, and to deliver new orders and updated intelligence to the patrols.
All of the larger out forts have a signaling tower. As well, there is a signal station located atop the central tower of the Duke's Castle. This allows for quick communications between field forces and the Commanders and the Duke back at Metamor.
Built on high ground such as a hill or ridgeline, the signal towers have very little in the way of defenses and rely mostly on natural protection provided by the topography. If an invading army has moved close to a signal tower, the crew evacuates to the nearest out fort or to Metamor.
The towers are made of wood, consisting of an elevated platform above the forest canopy. On the platform is a small building that acts as the crews living area and work station. The shack has large windows and offers a uninterrupted view of the surrounding landscape. A smaller platform on the roof of the building holds the signaling lantern mounted on a swivel and tripod.
The tower's defenses consist of a small palisade around the base, metal sheaths around the tower's leg to prevent burning or cutting of the support legs. In order to offer some additional security to the crew of the tower, the ladder can be brought up to prevent people from sneaking up.
The signaling lantern is a large shuttered lantern that is used to send messages with a flash code. A lever on the side operates the shutter, letting the light shine when open. For convenience and safety the lanterns are fueled with a special oil that burns brightly, but is relatively cool. During the day, when the lantern may be hard to see, other signaling methods maybe used, including smoke signals, bells and semaphore flags.
Major signal towers, such as the ones at the larger forts, may also have Carrier Pigeons. These birds are only useful for sending messages to and from Metamor Keep since that is where the birds are bred, but can usually get a message through quicker and more securely then the signals.
Castle – No real name yet. Located at the southern mouth of the valley. It represents the southern limit of the Dukes control and of the curse. This outpost was recently (CR705) built as a counter to the open hostility and rising levels of warfare from the Baronies just outside the valley. At the moment it is just Wooden tower on a low mound of earth surrounded by a wooden palisade. But with the growing hostility of people outside the valley (Particularly the city of Lasalle) there already is talk of rebuilding it in stone.
Metamor Keep Outposts - Metamor Keep's primary defense against a northern assault is in the extensive patrols of the mountain pass and the surrounding lands. In order to assist with the patrols, a series of fortified positions and watchposts have been built within the Keep's valley. These buildings act as lookouts, signal towers, and provide forward positions from which to combat an invading army. As well, they also provide support to the roving patrols in the form of rations, horses and a safe refuge in case of an attack by overwhelming numbers.
Most of the outposts were constructed after Nasoj's invasion in 699CR The year of the Battle of the Three Gates). Duke Thomas ordered the construction and refurbishment of many of these outposts to provide a better defense against the Lutin hordes.
Out Forts - Surrounding the lands around Metamor Keep are approximately a dozen fortified buildings that act as a vanguard to combat any force trying to take the Keep. Most of these outposts are located to the north, watching activity in the Giantdowns. Some forts do exist to the south, looking after incoming caravans and protecting the Keep's flanks.
For the most part, a fort is garrisoned by one of the Keep's regular companies with units rotating between duty at a fort and duty at the Keep. These forts consist of stone towers that are left over relics of the Suielman Empire, and after centuries of abandonment have been refurbished. These are small castles that usually consist of only a single tower surrounded by a small wall and a ditch.
Defenses at the towers are fairly simple, mostly consisting of ditches and walls. Only the very largest towers are large enough to support large weapons such as catapults, ballistas or trebuchets.
Outpost - Official name Hareford This small castle was destroyed during the same invasion that resulted in the battle of Three Gates. It lay abandoned for several years and was recently (in 702)rebuilt. It is built on the remains of a Suielman fortress whose walls it uses as it's own curtain walls. It's job is two fold:
1. Stop or slow down the constant attacks from the north. Any lutin raiding party has to get past the outpost's patrols.
2. To act as an early warning for Metamor Keep. An invading army from the north first has to go past the outpost. A messenger from there could give the Keep a full day's extra warning.
Other Castles - Many of the larger castles in the valley are the manor-houses for the various nobles. Castles that are owned by nobles are not manned by members of the Metamor army without the permission of both the Lord of the Castle and Duke Thomas. Instead, each lord maintains a small private guard. These lords are under the protection of Metamor and can call on the Duke for help when needed. In return, they must assist Metamor in patrol duties on their land, and stand with Duke Thomas in the event of an invasion from the Giantdowns.
Unusual Locations and Legends
Forest of Ghosts or Haunted Woods – This forest is haunted, thus the name. There are countless stories of strange figures, sounds and lights witnessed in this area. In the center of the woods is a large ruin. What is known is that it was a Suielman fortress at one time, but a survey turned up evidence of history both younger and older than that. What is know is that the Suielman city of Camulodunum was overrun by lutins and everyone in it wiped out in a very strange and bloody event when the valley fell to the lutins.
There has been discussion lately of rebuilding it and establishing another outpost, but nothing has happened yet. One fact has come to light recently - the rumors about it being haunted are true. The ruins are haunted by the spirits of those people who died there so long ago. Also other – more powerful things are there as well. At least one shadow creature summoned by the Suielman just before the fortress fell is still in there. Still defending it like it had been ordered to. Lately the activity there has been increasing for reasons unknown. Edmund Delacot has taken up the quest to free the spirits and has managed to make friends with the Shadow. He, Stealth and Nestorius have all taken up the effort. See Also giants-dike-suielman and metamor-valley-suielman
The Standing Stone - Also called the Gray column, and the Stone Sentry. It is a dark gray column of stone over twenty feet tall. It stands in a small grove of trees in a park like setting a mile or so from the Keep. The stone bears no writing or inscriptions but shows clear signs of having been deliberately carved into it’s present shape and then erected there. It has no magic in it except for a faint preservation spell that is regularly renewed by a mage from the Keep. The columns exact age is unknown to anyone but it does predate the Suielman empire. Some say it’s as old as the Keep itself. Most likely it was erected by the tribesmen who lived in the valley for millennia before the Suielman arrived.
The local farmers consider it sacred and tend it carefully. On the spring equinox people do gather around the column for a day of singing and dancing. Now a days it is simply a festival for the hard working locals to relax and enjoy themselves but in the far past it was probably a serious religious festival. What is not know at the present time is the column was crafted by the Tened and is one of the few standing elements left of those people.
Snake Mound: Located near Hareford are a series of artificially created mounds. One is known to be shaped like a long, coiling snake. Two others have been confirmed as burial mounds - or are at least have used as such by the Lutins for centuries. There exact age and original purpose is unknown but some believe them to be Tened in creation. The truth of this remains to be confirmed or disproved.
Giants Dike - During the waning days of the Suielman Empire with the many invasions coming south the Emperor decided to block the north end of the pass with a great wall. The ballads describe it as being made of stone 80' high and 30' wide. Towers 120' high were set along its length and great keeps anchored the wall at either end. The bards said a thousand soldiers walked along its battlements. The truth was a little bit different. Far from being stone it was an earthen bank, topped by a wooden palisade and fronted by a deep ditch. The towers were wooden platforms on top of the bank, and the great keeps were never built. Still it worked and held back the tide for a time. Its downfall was politics. Pretenders to the throne would take troops from the wall and march south to claim the throne. Eventually too few soldiers were left to hold back the lutins and the giants. See also Giants dike-Suielman.
Time hasn't been kind to the wall. The ditch has filled in, the bank worn down and the palisade and towers long since burnt to ashes. The only things left are a low bank and a shallow ditch both overgrown with trees and brush. Most people have long since forgotten who really built it. Such a great earthwork could only have been dug by giants was most peoples thinking.
An extensive and complete archaeological survey of the entire wall line will be started in 982 and complete in 988, It will uncover an unexpected fact - the wall is far older then the Seuilman and really WAS built by giants in the dim past. Many of the larger earthworks when examined and mapped are distinctly Giant in creation and dated to roughly -4200 CR.
The area near the Dike was in the past heavily populated with farms and villages but has long since been abandoned due to all the lutin raiding. It is now a wild area filled with forests and wildlife. Only small trails cut thru the area. Travelers headed there had best be well armed and expect trouble. They might come across some tumbled down walls and the ruins of abandoned villages.
Various ruins – A close look at the map will show many ruins scattered about. The valley has a long history of war and invasion. Most of the ruins were created that way. Under the Suielman Metamor Valley was a lot more heavily populated then it is now and most of the ruins date from their era. But some are older, far older. See also metamor-valley-suielman.
Lost Villages: The whole valley was once a lot more densely populated then it is now (CR708). There has been many small villages abandoned especially in the area north of the Keep where the constant Lutin raids have made living there almost impossible. Most of the places are now just empty, tumbled down walls and odd shaped holes in the ground, overgrown by trees and brush. All have long ago been striped of anything useful. The names of such lost towns include: Chilstown, Aldwick, Wharram Percy, Wakely, Oxnead, Binderton. North Cadeby, South Cadeby, Stretton.