The Nalfrey Reach
The Nalfrey Reach
The Nalfrey Reach is the fabled cradle of civilization, the place where the first mortals were given life. It is said that from here in this region every form of intelligent life sprang, and that this place is the most dear to the gods in all the world. It is home to Dwarves and Elves, Humans and even Dragonborn, as well as many others. With Armongard as the crown jewel, the Nalfrey Reach is the head of the world, the center of civilization for all of Midgard.
The Reach is surrounded on three sides by mountains. The great Korangar Spine forms its north border, with the four great passes at Tyrswatch, Wodenswatch, Thorswatch and Freyswatch, and three great sister keeps, Ruricksgard, Fallasted and Alfadheim. From the north of the Spine the Fetid Lands creep ever south, turning all it touches into a rotten, festering swamp inhospitable for man or beast.
Further south, the land turns more hospitable, giving way to great evergreen forests, and toward Armongard, even oak and birch woods. The city of Coormenhall sits on the great sea, and receives trade from the barbarian lands and the far-flung peoples of the southern world. This area is not without its share of mountains itself, including the Bjollshield Mountains that give Armongard its enviable watershed area that makes it so productive for farmers. Some smaller holds like Surmeade and Thurman’s Falls rest on trade routes between the once-great Sisters and the southern holds, and countless villages too small for their names to be remembered by anyone more than 20 miles away have sprung up around those over the centuries.
Holds of the Southern Reach
Jarl Jorn Armon presides over the entire Nalfrey Reach, theoretically, but even he admits that he is only a peacekeeper and negotiator between the mostly-sovereign holds of the Reach. While the three sister keeps technically owe fealty to Armongard, the traditional seat of Jarl Armon’s clan, their recent decline has led the jarl to keep less of a stern eye on the three sisters, as they have very little to offer him, and their current jarls are less than cooperative these days. As such, Jarl Armon contents himself with the not-inconsiderable prize of the entire rest of the Nalfrey Reach south of the sisters.
Bethslahn is a large hold nestled between two of the tributaries of the Gornen River. It receives trade from up- and down-river, and specializes in leather and food production. It is ruled by Jarl Morketh Felgrip, a shrewd negotiator and proud warrior. Jarl Felgrip runs his hold with exacting efficiency, and pays dear homage to the gods, most specifically Martyn. He believes it is because of the gods that he has been blessed with such wit and plenty, and thus he holds great feasts and revels in their honor. He is an incredibly superstitious man, but not so much that he is driven or controlled by his superstition.
Bethslahn relies heavily on the river for its goods, so it should come as no surprise that many of its residents are boatsmen. Much of the businesses are built up on the very banks of the river, some extending onto it on stilts. The people of Bethslahn are generally wealthy, and at times even decadent. A gold mine in the town of Illensted to the northwest provides a steady trickle of the precious metal, greatly increasing the wealth of the main hold.
Coormenhall, to the east, experiences a similar wealth to Bethslahn, though its main exports are worked bronze and granite. Great quarries of the stone exist not far from the main hold, and copper and zinc mines keep its smiths working and generating revenue. In recent years Coormenhall has been propping up nearby Surmeade, as the jarl, Jarl Anya Moonsmeade, has a great affection for the small town’s mayor, Boren Thundershield. As the town has suffered more and more from the approaching blight tendril, more and more of Coormenhall’s resources have been devoted to the town and its preservation. Moonsmeade has paid court wizards and alchemists to research the blight, and the hold is considered the leading authority on the rotting disease that causes it. Every year new treatments are attempted, and while a cure has not been found, some treatments do show promise.
Coormenhall was the ultimate destination of the Alfadheim refugees, where many experts on the blight had lived before. On occasion those experts return to their old home, to track the progression of the blight and see if they can find any weaknesses in their eternal foe. In central Coormenhall lies a university where the best and brightest from around the Reach go to research all manner of things and increase their wisdom.
Armongard, hold of Jarl Jorn Armon, stands as the main hub of civilization in the Nalfrey Reach. More city than hold, the sprawling population center sports craftsmen, soldiers, and anything a man could want. There is a university in Armongard to almost rival the one in Coormenhall. The mines in Armongard put all others to shame, and its prime location in the Bjollshield Mountains’ watershed means its farms thrive and produce plentiful food and leather.
Also a hub of culture, Armongard is home to the best-educated and most refined general populace in Nalfrey, Coormenhall notwithstanding. Jorn Armon runs Amongard with exacting efficiency, keeping the barbarian tribes to the south occupied and keeping roads clear and safe so that the gold, iron, silver and copper can flow along them like the lifeblood to his country that they are. Armongard has by far the largest-standing military of any hold or keep in the Nalfrey Reach, and the skill of the soldiers trained in Armongard is well-respected even in the Wild Lands.