Population:149,492 (45% Anari, 28% Saxa, 12% dwarves,
10% hearth elves, 3% engro, 2% frostborn)
LOCAIS / CIDADES / VILLAS / ALDEIAS
Conquered by the Anari, the region remained part of the Empire until the Blizzard War. As the armies of the Hellfrost advanced south through Hellfrost Pass, they wrought terrible destruction, wiping out most of the population. Those not killed fled further south.
When the war ended, survivors and settlers drifted back to claim territory. Since then, numerous settlements have grown up from the ruins of those left by the terrible War, but no ruler has had the charisma or military might to unify the lands.
Attacks by orcs in the north and undead around the center, combined with no central authority, make the Freelands a dangerous place to travel, let alone live.
No single ruler controls the domain, and the villages and towns within its borders hold allegiance only to themselves (though the larger towns have outlying villages associated with them). Since the Blizzard War, the settlements have reveled in their independence.
While many rural villages cooperate militarily, none of the major settlements do. Each retains its own army, its size and composition varying with the terrain and size of the settlement. While larger settlements, such as Aslov, command sizeable armies, they serve only defensively.
No ruler currently has any designs on military conquest, if only because starting such a campaign would force the other settlements into a joint pact against them.
The Freelands encompass a wide range of geographic features. In the far north lie the Jagged Peaks, and beyond them the Icebarrier Mountains. Heading west,the hills slowly level out into the Stone Forest and the plains which surround it, whereas in the east there is only unbroken rolling countryside. In the south stands the Pinnacle, a single mountain bordered on all sides by the high, barren Lesser Hills. The Freelands surround the Black Heath and Darkwood, which together make up the Withered Lands, on three sides.
The Jagged Peaks were once part of the Icebarrier, but collapsed during the Blizzard War, a result of powerful dwarven and dragon magic battles, to form a range of steep, broken hills. Few trees grow here, and even the grass is patchy and thin. Numerous orcs and goblins, not to mention trolls and giants, inhabit the Peaks.
Surrounding the Pinnacle are the Lesser Hills, so named because, compared to the mountain, they are mere anthills. A few villages dot the landscape, scratching a living by mining small quantities of gold and silver, or by farming the nearby land and selling their excess to the folk of Spyre.
Giants, trolls, and orcs all live in the area, though not in any large numbers. Undead sometimes raid this far south from the Withered Lands, but are quickly dealt with by the Spyre militia and the elves of Angarion.
THE STONE FOREST
Population:4,000 (90% hearth elves, 8% Saxa, 2% engro)
An ancient wood even by elven standards, the Stone Forest contains six major stone circles and ten times as many single standing stones, all of which predate both the Anari and Saxa occupations. The stone circles are important places of power for druids and earth elementalists, though the circles were in existence long before the hearth races began using elemental magic. Even the elves claim they arrived to find the circles already in place.
Orcs and goblins from the Icebarrier menace the northern part, but the druids and earth elementalists have prevented them from gaining any sort of permanent foothold within the forest.
The Nine Sisters: Although not the largest stone circle, the Nine Sisters stand in the center of the forest. It is here that druids meet regularly to discuss matters relating to their craft.
According to elven myth, the stones were once nine elf maidens, who were petrified during the Blizzard War.
The Whispering Stone: A single standing stone on the eastern edge of the forest, the Whispering Stone produces a constant stream of faint, unintelligible whispers.
Divination magic has revealed the stone is magical, but experiments into its origins or the nature of its words have proven fruitless.
People who sleep near the stones suffer from bad dreams. These usually revolve around being imprisoned in a dark, cold place, with powerful feelings of total
isolation from everything they have ever cared for. Most folk who suffer these dreams never spend a second night sleeping here.