Safelands

In the valley of the swift flowing River Tothean are strung together a
series of six medium-sized towns. Saleid, Taseth, Itisbe, Aleah, Darilean
and Duvaen are the homes of the sleepy, peace-loving people that make up the
realm of the Safelands. Each town is noted abroad for a particular skill,
trade, or export the quality of which can be found only with difficulty
elsewhere. Ringed by dense forests, marshy lands, and slowly rolling hills,
Safelanders have become relatively isolated in their corner of the world, and
are seldomly seen without, just as strangers are seldom seen within. Those
with adventure in their souls find them dull and boring; restless folks have
been leaving the valley in search of excitement as long as it's been
inhabited.

The Six Towns

SALEID: On the north bank of the Tothean right on the shores of Saleid Lake,
a place where the Tothean widens. It is the best known and biggest of the
six cities. Of the strangers who come to the Safelands, very few make it past
the active town of Saleid. The large warehouses aligned alonged the banks of
the river have made this the commercial center of the Safelands. Travellers
come here, do their business and leave. Shipwrights of this city are among
the best in the world, although they tend to specialize in river boats than
larger vessels. Saleid is also home of the important pilot guild without
whose guidance the valley would truly be closed to the world.

TASETH: North bank of the Tothean, Taseth is a very small village situated
atop a large hill. Almost entirely in the forest it is dedicated to teaching.
Here, the masters of the Safelands come once a year to choose new disciples,
here the accumulated knowledge of the people is kept, and here the more
mysterious arts are taught. Healers, herbalists, and woodsmen profit
enormously from the dense forest that seems to have birthed a village. The
only shrine of the Safelands is situated here also, one hilltop removed from
Taseth proper. Equally hidden in the woods, a quiet community of priests live
about its walls and share their daily lives with their neighbors.

ALEAH: Also on the north bank. Aleah houses a very skilled community of
carpenters. The abundance of wood surrounding them is their wealth.
Exquisitely carved chests, tables, beds and a variety more of useful and less
useful objects are produced with much care by these Safelanders. Carpenters
of Aleah are often commissioned by the wealthy of other nations to produce
unique pieces to decorate their homes. The Safelands being so removed, it
often takes a carpenter many years before making a name for himself.
Possessing works from this town is a mark of prestige.

ITISBE: The flattest of the six cities. Situated on the south bank of the
Tothean on a hill that seems to have had its top sheared off. It is the most
removed of the cities and one must actually walk a ways through the dark
forest before encountering this the meadows that surround this quiet
settlement. Itisbe is famous throughout the known world for its honey. What
space the village occupies is devoted entirely to their bees. Incidently,
this is also the only city in the Safelands built more then two stories high.
Of the Safelanders who leave the confines of the valley, more often often than
not they are from Itisbe. Fellow countrymen say, half-mockingly, that it is
because they get stung once too often by their little beasties.

DUVAEN: Eastern-most city on the north bank. It has taken advantage of the
omnipresent hills and lower mountains to herd goats. Each family of Duvaen
own a herd and the whole town is responsible for another herd which is the
property of all. The job of keeping the goats and what little hunting there
is in the foothills is the only adventure not frowned upon. Goat's milk,
meat, and hides are sent out of Duvaen monthly. While most of the valley is
generally warm and sunny, this town is situated higher along the slopes of the
Cantasir Hills, and feels the bite of cooler weather in the winter.

DARILEAN: Situated up and across the river from Aleah, at a point where the
Tothean narrows. The survival and prosperity of Darilean is directly linked
with Duvaen. The wool of the goats is sent here and put in the hands of the
competent weavers. Safeland garments tend to be colorful and long lasting.
They are very sensible and sturdy, some say that for traveling they are the
best. Mountaineers are often very thankful to be Safeland clothed.

Culture

The towns have proven fairly self-sufficient along the years. It is said in
the Safelands that the founding elders divided the people according to
ability and established each town with a mission. This early foresight
(outsiders view it as a compulsion) has paid off and now it seems there could
never be another system. Every spring, all youths who have come of age are
assembled in Taseth to be apprenticed. From there they are chosen by their
skills and temperament for the craft best suited to them. Safelanders honor
hard work and dedication in all their crafts. They have little tolerance for
impatience, flights of fancy or daydreaming. The atmosphere in the valley is
one of industry and contentment. Adventures are frowned upon and those
Safelanders who are taken by such instincts are first sent to Saleid and her
sea port. If the commotion of the town does not prove exciting enough, they
are often recruited among the pilots needed to guide boats along the Tothean.
If they are still restless and don't settle down, many leave with a load of
exported goods to seek their fortunes in the world. Generally, departing
youths have the knowledge of some skill they had started apprenticing. It is
expected that this will see them through in the world.

Geography

The only sure route to reach the valley that harbors the towns of the
Safelands is by river. Other than that waterway, the paths to the valley are
often less than obvious. Were a traveller to leave the borders of Iridine
travelling north, he would first encounter the fields and mayhem of Cinera.
But beyond the Cineran border to the north, he would be forced to the sea to
the port of Remath or to circle around east to enter the Cantasir hills.
Further east still rise the Cantasir Mountains, a virtually impassable
barrier of rock and ice. Very courageous, or very foolish, are the ones who
brave those massive spires without the help of an experienced guide. Some
occasionally attempt to enter the Safelands through its southern forest
border, but those who do so are few. The jungle forest is very old, with
wildlife varied, numerous, and aggressive, and paths unclear when not
entirely absent. The northern border of the valley, toward Tuchea, is marshy
and treacherous to the unwary.

The river is the Tothean, a strong westward-flowing waterway which throws
itself from the peaks of the mountains to twist and turn among the feet of
the hills. Its final stretch, the mouth of the Tothean, is practically
impassible by rivercraft without the guidance of a Safeland pilot. The
Cantasir hills often being too far a detour to the east, the Safelands are
isolated amid these simple natural barriers.

Politics

The Safelands are governed by a group of six Elders and the Eldest called
The Six and the One. The six Elders are elected, one for each town, and they
are expected to sit for three years. An Elder can decide to step down at any
time he wishes, provided he gives adequate reasons for doing so. The
One, or the Eldest, is the oldest priest among the followers of Ereal in the
valley. He is expected to be wise and intelligent and to lead the valley when
leadership is called for. Nomination to this position is for life. The group
meets four times a year for discussions on trade and commerce with the outside
world. They are also expected to convene at celebrations, marriages, and
deaths of important citizens. Emergencies are handled by these seven
individuals who will make their will known and guide the people to a
solution. A slightly offended scholar (he was kindly asked to leave the
valley) compared this small ruling council to that found in Republic town
halls. In many respects he was right, the whole valley, with its six towns,
permeates a sense of humbleness, modesty and peace. Very unlike the bigger
cities elsewhere in the world.

Religion

There are few priests in the Safelands and what number there are fall under
the leadership of the Eldest. He is a priest of Ereal and is expected to
teach aspiring youths the basics in the worship of the God. While the young
of the Safelands are encouraged to learn trades, those few in whom a true
religious spark is found, are taken under tutelage by the Eldest. Of these,
the most gifted are sent to Iridine to complete their studies and better
serve Ereal. The Eldest is usually a gifted student who has returned to the
Safelands.

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