Part 47: Bonus: The MapBefore we enter the final chapter, here's a bonus!
This is a map of the world as we know it. Click through for an enormous version with full detail.
I fucking love this map. It's so alive. Every corner is full of fascinating detail, and it feels as well-used as a map Rook would carry around with him.
Why don't we take a bit of a tour?
Our story began in Strand, one of the few cities where humans and varl live together in mutual tolerance. South of here is Rundwall, kingdom of men. North, Hraun, the land of the varl.
Hakon's caravan went north from here, detouring through Ridgehorn before making the journey to Grofheim. Along the way...
Schlid is a varl fortress that was once one of the few keeping the dredge hordes at bay.
Stonehorn is one of the six Horns, dredge warning towers built by the varl at the edge of the world. Eaglehorn was the first, down in Rundwall, followed by Seahorn, then Ridgehorn, Stonehorn, Skyhorn, and finally Greyhorn in the east.
Fastisetr is a varl fortress that was briefly their capital, before they pushed even further into the north to found Grofheim.
The western sea is called The Vast - not for its reach, but for its depth. Ships that sail out seldom come back. Off the coast to the north are a series of massive glaciers called the Frozen Tombs. Skrymir the varl had a plan to turn them into great tombs for him and his peers, but the project was never finished.
Even further north, as far as anyone has seen, are two islands. Cletberg is a lifeless rock, home to no man, no varl, and no dredge. What few have gone to Wordan have left immediately, spooked by unearthly sounds.
In the north, Valkajokull is named for the Valka, the first menders who pushed the dredge to the ends of the world. Now, it is their homeland.
Grofheim was the last great city of the varl, before it fell to the Sundr. It was the place where the deeds of all varl were honored. Warriors of worth were buried at the foot of the Two Spears, where they became part of the mythical Varlsmarch.
North even from here is Dundr's Beard. It is a frozen wasteland where nothing of worth has ever been found.
Southeast from Valkajokull is Setterlund, once a great frontier for both men and varl. However, the Nordfelling Lake vanished, the trees withered, and crops would not grow. In this desolate hellhole, Rook's journey began, before he headed west.
East from here is the Vetur Sea, a perilous half-frozen ocean that nobody bothers sailing. There are no ports to travel to, and nothing across it.
South from Setterlund, we find a series of smaller settlements. Bitra is a sister town to Skogr founded out of a dispute of the rightful chieftain's identity. Rike is a town that fared so poorly in the absence of Nordfelling that it has been wholly abandoned.
To the east, Skelmotskrolk Spindle marks the edge of the world. Some say that the water spirits beyond it hide a great land behind the illusion of an uncrossable sea.
South from there, and east from Boersguard, is a vast forest. The Wolves Maw forest is named for its deadly inhabitants - for reasons none can explain, the wolves who live here migrate counter-clockwise through the Maw of the course of each year.
Further south still is the Swartbog, a vast and stinking mire where none linger. Hundreds have met their end trying to cross it, none so famous as the Mire Fallows, the resting place of an army of hundreds. Many have theorized that all their weapons and armor could be found and sold for a fortune, but none can take it.
East from here is the Brackish Sea, most unpleasant of the world's oceans. It is little more than a sea of vile sludge.
But west from the Swartbog, we once again see civilization. Etiltorp is a human city on the edge of the bog that uses the peat to fashion iron weapons. Aros is a thriving fishing community.
Stromlund is the land between Rundwall and the Swartbog, and was once a great nation of its own. Now, it is officially a part of Rundwall.
If one journeys southwest from Stromlund, one reaches Dalalond, home of the horseborn. In their early days, the nomadic people of the south became furious at man's mistreatment of horses, and stole and slaughtered them all. Now, living in deep regret, they have withdrawn into their southern lands, cutting themselves off from the world.
Few know what lies to the south from here.
And north from there is Arberrang, seat of power of all of mankind. With each generation, it grows another ring of walls, becoming larger, more indulgent, and more dangerous. North of Arberrang, Manaharr, home of the menders and their vast libraries.
North from here brings us full circle, back to Strand.
Such is the shape of the world. Here, in the center of all things, we shall make our final stand.