Historic Vistas: Creagland
Table of Contents
In 5252, the twin brothers Zel and Or founded the kingdoms of Zeland and Orland. Settlers of strong stock from the newly-established capitol Zel City ventured forth to the north and west to Loch Del, a large lake system at the head of the Greatwash River. The settlers were hardly well-received--to the east of Loch Del, the beautiful rolling hills and glacier-carved mountains hid a well-entrenched society of barbarians, calling themselves the Creags ("The Rocks"). Their strange language and customs along with their rebellious nature and strong clan-driven lifestyle made them a formidable neighbor.
The Creags were a particularly headstrong breed of people, having lived in the highlands of Zeland for millennia. They constantly intermingled with the Anarians to the northwest, and for a long period of time their cultures were much alike. Many of their strange and unique traits, however, began to emerge because of the differences in climate, topography, proximity to other races, and their clan pride. Gone were the leather jerkins in favor of the less-restrictive kilts, enabled by warmer climes; swords and weapons became larger due to better sources of iron ore; their love of honey mead turned to adoption of the barley-based uise beatha, or whisky, as their national drink. The traditional wooden forts gave way to the use of very abundant blockish stone in construction of fortresses. Many of their other pastimes, sports and family traits remained closely tied with the Northmen; some skirmishes were recorded along a very loosely-defined border, but never many.
Throughout the history of Zeland there had been skirmishes and internal pressure in the dealings with the Creags. The Northerners never really accepted the rule of law imposed by Zeland and its Farland-aided forces, and were content to live their lives apart from the central government of Zel City. In 5979, however, after years of mounting taxation and the imposition of several harsh laws making Creagland responsible for heavy tariffs and more constricting government rule, the clans of Tavish and Duff banded together and began a program of illegal vigilante actions against tax collectors from the capitol. Because of this civil unrest, Creagland garnered the attention of Zeland, which requested aid from Farland.
Initial skirmishes by Zeland troops proved fruitless, as years of in-fighting and clan warfare had hardened Creagish spirit, and many hired-mercenaries of the Creag clans returned home to protect their family interests. But the double-edged sword of clan battle took its toll, as the northern clans continued their bickering and let the two most southeastern families do all the fighting. This rift was aided by clandestine magical intervention, and the Creags were defeated at the Battle of Loch Brech. Zeland forces, backed by Farland's finest troops, regained control of the high lands, but enamored by the fortunes garnered from the raising of horses in southeast Zeland, they decided not to push the advantage and simply imposed taxes from afar.
The Highlands were formed from great upheavals of magma through some deep fissures in the ground. Regional metamorphism from surrounding mountain-building created transverse pressures that transformed the rocks, after which several advances of glaciers carved out many nearly-circular cross-sectional valleys between the igneous sill protrusions. In addition, these glacial events cut through streams at near right angles, leaving hanging valleys and falls that gushed water from the mountains into thin air, falling to the major valley below.
In some cases, the sills left two-way valleys and saddle points that allowed rivers to flow in two separate directions, meandering away from each other. In some rare cases, solution caverns were formed when soluble rock was soaked with acidic rain, causing closed vertical caves and sinkholes.
For the next hundred years after the founding of Zeland, much of the attention of Zel and his successors was directed to annexing and civilizing the eastern and central portions of his newfound kingdom and these barbarians, as they were thought to be, remained entrenched in their castles and towns among the plentiful land of Creagland.
Although thought to be bands of roving ruffians and thieves, the social structure of the Creags was much like that of the kings of Farland and Zeland, but with land holdings determined by a complicated and often fluid net of natural boundaries, traditional family holdings, regional interests, natural resources, and a sept system. The septs consisted of smaller, less powerful families that pledged allegiance to the most powerful clan of the area. They were given protection from conflicts with other nations and more often than not, from other clans (there was much infighting among the Creags), and for this protection and contracts of fair trade, they supplied young men to serve in the general welfare and protection, through a conscription.
Each of the ten clans typically was led by the major family, with the Clan Father being the eldest, handing his reins to the chosen eldest son, or First In Line at a time it was felt to be right. The Clan Father was aided by his own chosen wizard, who advised him on matters of the spiritual world. The most notable exception to this was that of Eahrcnoc (Duff Clan), the most southeastern of the clans, bordering Zeland proper. This family was besieged by a physiological inability to bear males, and soon felt the need to change to a matriarchal clandom. Women soon grasped the reins of power, as it has been since.
Of course, this was all before the Dark Conquest...
As mentioned, the Creags found their valleys and hills brimming with natural resources, not the least of which was sturdy stone in great quantities, found near the surface and easily quarried. The mountains were formed of large regional metamorphism, converting both sedimentary rock and igneous intrusions into easily-cleaved and hardened gneisses, schists and marbles of beautiful foliation and coloring. Indeed, some of the high-cobalt content of the rocks near Slaughbaetha have given their buildings a distinct bluish tinge. Some of the more igneous sills found deeper in the hills have yielded granite, gabbro and basalt, giving the castles and more important buildings a hulking, dark appearance.
Lesser important buildings and homes of the common folk made use of the prevailing wood resources, which included oak, maple and ash of the deciduous variety and many types of evergreens found higher along the hills. Locusts and osage trees along riverbanks were used for fencing, alongside extensive stone walls built for more permanent property delineation.
Most of the houses owned by commoners were built as single-residence wood frames with a sturdy roofs and slate shingles. Where clay was available, potters often baked clay rings and sold them for fireplace foundations. Often, some beautiful stone masonry would be found to adorn the houses as countertops, foyers, porches and even tabletops.
The Creags were a proud society and held on to their beliefs and structures with great tenacity. Much of their individuality was shaped by topography and the natural resources available to them.
The McLeods, for instance, named their land and main castle Fuachdlaimrig (foed-lam-ri), meaning the Cold Land, due to their northern location and proximity to the Anarians. Indeed, some of the septs protected by the McLeods were heavily influenced and populated with those of Anarian descent. Much of their living is made trapping and hunting, and pelts and furs from their clan was considered to be among the finest in Creagland.
The Lewis clan adopted the name Chadlighe (kad-lee), meaning The Lawless, as their life in the higher mountains to the east and constant battles with the undead from the Sarumvest made them believe that they had to live outside of the law. Truly a buffer state against the ancient lands, they were quite militant and vigilant.
The Buchannans named their land Caisteal Gorm, or Castle Blue, after the abundant blue limestone in the area, as well as the beautiful waters of Loch Del. They adopted a laid-back attitude, being far from Zeland's oversight. Much of their wealth came from the abundant fishing resources along Loch Del.
The Stuarts named their land Slaughbaetha (slo-key-ta), meaning "Land of Good Life"; it was a proud statement of the beauty and serenity of the land, its meandering rivers and peaceful ways. Their peaceful demeanor had led many to follow the ways of scholarly pursuits.
Clach du Fadail (cloa-do-fedel) was the castle and city owned by the Wallaces in the far southwestern corner of Creagland. It referred to the Stone Ford, a passageway of natural rock over the river toward the land of Kelerak. The Wallaces would make periodic attacks in an attempt to control Stone Ford and the merchant traffic that passed over it, but the might of Kelerak never allowed them to hold it long.
The Donalds named their castle and city Dreasglenn (drez-glen), or The South Glen. They took much of the south shores of Loch Serpent, the most fertile farming land, and continually fought with the Caembuhls over the borders.
To the north, the Caembuhls (cam-bell) named their land Airdbuain, or Northern Grass, for the grassy shores along the Loch. They were highly industrious, making use of natural resources such as water power, iron ore and coal.
To the south, the Connors named their city Inbhirdaloch (in-ver-lock), or "along the lake," as they controled all of Loch Iron, and it dominated their lives. The choppy hillsides in the clandom had naturally made sheepherding their prime source of income.
To the southeast, the Tavishes established their Gearasden Airach (gairs-den eric), meaning Battle Fort, to denote their militant and vigilant ways. More than once, the Tavishes and Duffs had to bear the brunt of fighting with the forces of Zeland.
And further to the east, the Duffs named their clan castle Eahrcnoc (air-nock), or Eastern Hills. Both the Tavishes and Duffs had traditionally been the more military-minded of the clans, and most of their fortunes were gathered from trading and herding.
Places of Interest
There are quite a few places within the oft-disputed borders of Creagland that were (and possibly still are) of interest. Most are of note due to topographical and geological anomalies, and a few are sociological in nature;
The Great Hole - a huge sunken valley, completely enclosed, near the Connor/Tavish border; legends surrounding it state that few have ever entered it and returned;
Iron Valley - a valley within the Connor clandom, rich in nearly pure iron deposits and gleaming with yellow and rust-red colors of the rich ores, close to the surface;
Valley of the Fellow of the Sheep - strange area of the Connor Clan where religious sects worshiped sheep, in particular a sheep god;
Cliffs of Connor - a crustal shear feature with an upthrust of a thousand feet vertical by thirty miles long;
Blue Plains - a natural outcropping of bluish limestone, ranging from a light cyan to a deep midnight blue, where much of the rock used in building was quarried by the Buchannans;
Glen of Despair - a deep glen where, as legend had it, many of the Stuart and Tarbert clans were massacred in an uprising by the Donald Clan - it is said that the ghosts of those murdered still roam the valley;
Cliffs of the Anarians - a deep, steep set of cliffs along the northernmost banks of Loch Del, where some Anarians believe the god of the Wolf and of the Bear once squared off in a heated battle, and where Mankind originated;
Leac Seas - standing stones within the McLeod clandom, from unimaginable antiquity, set as a guide to astronomy, religion and medical wonders;
Hiding Valley - a valley within the Stuart clandom, where long battles between the Caembuhls and the Stuarts were fought--many are the caves, cliffs and strategic locations all along the valley;
Hills of the Sky - a Lewis Clan location--some of the hills verge on being low battles, they are so tall
Valley of the Sun - deep Lewis valley with a circular cross-section and hanging valleys with beautiful waterfalls;
Valley of the Moon - white chalk cliffs lining this Lewis valley reflect the full moon in an almost day-like aura - said to be the home of Sulis herself;
Hills of Shame - several massacres occurred in this plain between the Donalds and the Caembuhls, Creagland's most hatful rival;
The Three Sisters - three spires, all that is left, of a caldera of a volcano southeast of the Duff clandom, consisting of high copper and iron content--often thought to be a doorway to another dimension and a resting place for souls;
Road of Sorrow - the main road, and the safest to travel, from Eahrcnoc to the Battleplains--hence the reference to the sorrow of the fallen; and
The Battleplains - the location of pyres for resting bodies of fallen Zelandish warriors, laying them to the elements for the gods to take back what is good of their lives, according to legend. The Creags generally avoid the Towers of Waiting that dot this valley.
Fate of the Creags
When the Lord of Sloth took control of Zeland, he slowly realized the threats the Creags posed, because of their fierce warrior spirit and their defensible location. He was even slower to act, allowing the Creags to live free for nearly a century, suffering only the occasional orc raid, while he plotted his plan of attack. Finally, in 7945 F.R. (140 P.C.), Sloth directed his most capable general to destroy the Creags and clean out the highlands. But the Creags gave as good as they got, bloodying the nose of Sloth's forces in more than one engagement. This forced the Lord of Sin to refresh troop numbers and redouble his efforts. Finally, in 7947 F.R., in the face of a seemingly limitless supply of orcs, the last of the Clans' strongholds were defeated. But even this was not the last of the Creags. Joining efforts with rebels from Farland that had fled to the highlands, and with Dwarven refugees from Wawmar, the Creags and their allies mounted a full-scale rebellion. Between the years 7950 F.R. and 7955 F.R., the rebellion had surprising success, taking the cities of Gorak and Hestor and even besieging Zel City itself. Alas, the rebellion was doomed, for Sloth was ultimately reinforced by the Lord of Greed himself, and, after several pitched battles, the rebellion was ruthlessly put down. Sloth ordered every living Creag slaughtered. Some few escaped, fleeing to points North and West. Creagland was officially no more.
Demography of Creagland in the Time of Darmon Stuart (c. 5999 F.R.)
|Buchannan||Caisteal Gorm (Castle Blue)||Fionntan Buchannan||Carmichael Fletcher Erskine Young Bearr|
|Caembuhl||Airdbuain (Northern Grass)||Brian Caembuhl||Haig Hume Livingstone Burns|
|Connor||Inbhir Daloch (The Mouth of the River)||MacBeatha Connor||Blair Allison Turnbull Strachan|
|Donald||Dreasglenn (South Valley)||Gormal Donald||Maitland Lewis Balfour Pollock|
|Duff||Eahrcnoc (Eastern Mountains)||Osage Duff||Dewar Duncan Ramsay Urquhart|
|Lewis||Chadlighe (The Lawless)||Dairmad Lewis||Murray Dundee Paisley|
|McLeod||Fuachdlaimrig (The Cold Land)||Mickel McLeod||MacWilliams Elk Wolfe Warren|
|Stuart||Slaughbaetha (Many Lives)||Uilliam Stuart||Caembuhl Donald Tarbert Buchannan Lewis|
|Tavish||Gearasdan Araich (Battle Fort)||Osgur Tavish||Wood Stirling Muir Craig|
|Wallace||Clach du Fadhail (Stone Ford)||Niall Wallace||MacIntosh MacDonald Nairn Walkinshaw|
|Buchannan||Loch Blue||3 shades blue||4500||Low-lying bluish grassy fertile plains; bordered by Loch Del on west|
|Caembuhl||Loch Serpent||Blue Green||12000||Highland hills to the northwest; North Greens fertile plains bordering Loch Serpent|
|Connor||Loch Iron||Tan Black White||4000||Steep valleys to south; Loch Iron in interior; rugged|
|Donald||Loch Serpent||Red Orange||10000||Highland hills to west; South Greens fertile plain and Loch Serpent in center; rolling hills to east|
|Duff||Loch Brech||Blue Tan||7500||Shares Loch Brech with Tavishes to southeast; hills in center; Battleplain to north; Zeland proper to southeast|
|Lewis||none||Brown Tan||3500||Largest wild steep hills to northwest; heavy forest to east; mountains to north; many miles of rivers|
|McLeod||Loch Blue||Green Yellow Black||4000||Northwestern most; some mountains to north; major river; Loch Del to west; border on Anarian lands to north|
|Stuart||none||Red Black||8000||Two deep high valleys with rivers; two ridge mountains; rolling hills|
|Tavish||Loch Brech||3 shades of Green||7000||Rolling steep-sided hills; valley and Great Hole to south; shares Loch Brech with Duffs; borders Zeland on south|
|Wallace||Loch Wallace||Red Yellow Black||8000||Borders Loch Del to west; Zeland to south; steep cliffs along loch; raids Stone Ford to western lands|