Sunday, July 24, 2011

Osterland, Land of Ice and Snow

Osterland, in the north of the realm of the High One, is a land where the passing of the seasons and the climate of the land shape the way of life of the people living there.  This is most particularly true in Har, the wolf-king, the land-ruler of Osterland.  His mind is described as being shaped at one time by ice and then by fire.  This is has molded him into a fierce, ungentle, though fair, ruler.  

The nation is one most notable for the snowfalls and blizzards that are the norm for this land.  Here, in Osterland, a gentle snowfall can turn into a blinding blizzard with little warning.  Following these snows are the majestic vesta.  During the summer, the vesta will wander farther and farther to the north. These creatures are as broad as a farmhorse, with a deer's delicate, triangular face.  Their pelts are a blazing white, like the snowfall that helps to define the land.  The vesta's hooves and crescents of horns are the color of beaten gold.  Their eyes are a remarkable liquid purple.  They have four powerfully built legs that can take them racing across the land, there hooves barely skimming the snow, comparable to an arrow in flight.  Vesta can run for miles in the snow without tiring.

Osterland is one of two of the six nations of the realm of the High One that has always been ruled by a single person.  As a result, it rarely suffers the warfare that faces nations like An and Ymris.  And like most of the nations of the High One's realm trade flourishes.  The lack of formality with which Har often treats people has led in his over two thousand years of leadership to an informality in Yrye, the capital of Osterland, itself.  The southern border of Osterland is shaped by the great river Ose.  To the east of Osterland lies Isig and to the south the great stretch of unclaimed no-man's land.


Yrye, Grim Mountain, & the Lake-Lands
Yrye has been the seat of Har's power for nearly his entire reign.  This city at the base of Grim Mountain, the central peak in a range of low, border mountains, is full of beautiful, brightly painted wood houses and shops.  Har's own great unwalled house is made from wood gathered from all over the High One's realm; oak, pale birch, red-toned cedar, dark, rich timber.  Its eaves, window frames and double doors are traced with endless whorls of pure gold.  

Through those double doors lies a central hall, the size of a barn.  A great firebed, to battle the chilling Osterland atmosphere, runs half the length of Har's hall.  During the winter, citizens of Yrye, the children of Har and his wife Aia, and Har's various animal friends come to wait out the freezing months of winter.  At the very least, the children of Har and Aia will send an animal when they can't come and visit their parents.  One of their daughters has sent a white falcon, for example.  Everyone from the rich men and women of the city, traders, trappers, musicians, and even a handful of simply dressed farmers may stay at Har's house at any given time.  They engage in many actives; drinking hot wine by the fire, talking, playing chess, and reading.

Yrye is fringed by forests to the north, at the base of Grim Mountain.  The steep crags of the mountain itself are also covered with forestry.  Grim Mountain has many high mountain passes that make travel up the mountain difficult.  Mountain goats and hawks, among other creatures, call Grim Mountain home.

To the north of the mountain chain, that Grim Mountain is a part of, are the lake-lands.  The lake-lands border the great northern wastes.  Only a few trappers collecting skins and the vesta in the summer call the lake-lands home.

The Land-Rulers of Osterland

  • Har - He has been the land-ruler of Osterland since the Years of Settlement.  The great wizard Suth, during his wildest years, taught him how to change shape.  Suth gave him the bone-white scars of vesta horns on his hands as a mark of this teaching.  Har most commonly prowls his kingdom in the form of a wolf and has become known as the wolf-king.  Har is also a master of mind-work, the ability to guard one's thoughts and invade the thoughts of others.  Throughout the years of his life, many men have begged Har to teach then the mind-work, shape-changing; very, very few of them have ever left with vesta-scars on their hands.
    • He is older than most the wizards of Lungold having been alive over two thousand years.  Har is the subject of a great many riddles.  Such as the one about Ilon of Yyre.  He and Suth played riddle-games before there was even a College at Caithnard; and as a result, he can riddle better than the Masters of that college.  Har enjoys these riddle-games and has a standing wager that any man who wins a game with him can have the first thing he asks for when the game is done.  Of course, besting Har in a riddle-game is a long and tiresome affair.  One man who challenged Har one after a day and a night, and the first thing he asked for was a cup of water.
  • Aia - She is the beautiful wife of the land-ruler Har.  In her youth she was a golden haired beauty.  Now, she is a strong, lovely old faced woman with hair the color of old ivory, which she keeps braided to her knees.  Aia has entered her husband's mind and knows it as well as he himself knows it.  As a result, she knows that he will bottle-up the sorrow he feels deep inside himself.


Minor Charcters of Osterland

  • Hugin - The son of the wizard Suth and a vesta. He has white hair and purple eyes, typical of a vesta. He currently lives with and serves Har.
  • Ilon of Yrye - Ilon was a harpist at the court of Har of Osterland, who offended Har with a song. In fear his life he fled and harped by himself in the wilderness. He is the subject of a riddle.
  • Ingris - Ingris of Osterland angered Har, the King of Osterland one night when he appeared as an old man at Ingris's door, and Ingris refused to take him in. So the wolf-King put this curse on him: that if the next stranger who came to Ingris's house did not give his name, then Ingris would die. And the first stranger who came after Har left was --a certain harpist. That harpist gave Ingris everything he asked for: songs, tales, the loan of his harp, the history of his travelings--everything but the name Ingris wanted to hear, though Ingris demanded in despair. But the harpist could give him only one word, each time Ingris asked for his name, and that word, as Ingris heard it, was Death. So in fear of Har, and in despair of the curse, he felt his heart stop and he died.
  • Jarl Aker - A big, red-haired trader with a weal across his face. He has been dead for two years. An Earth-Master took his form. He was missing one of his front teeth. He got the weal when a loading cable snapped and hit him in the face.

Ă–sterland

Osterland is the medieval term used for the southern part of Finland and was one of the four traditional lands of Sweden.

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