Bay of Catazar
The Thule, of all people, claim that once upon a time the area occupied by the Bay of Catazar was once solid land. They say that thousands of years ago a great starfall took place - many times larger than that which recently fell in Otkodov - that created a great basin into which the waters of the southern sea greedily flowed. Unlikely as this story sounds, it might account for the ilium that is regularly pulled out of the waters of the bay by fisherfolk.
The Bay is completely surrounded on three sides by land; the Empire in the north, the Iron Confederacy in the west; the Broken Shore in the east. The southern side is largely blocked by the landmass dubbed "Attar" which - like the Broken Shore - is dominated by the Grendel. Two broad channels allow access to the Sea of Sighs, and the oceans beyond. The easternmost channel is comparatively narrow, choked with islands, and controlled by the Grendel. The western channel is much wider, and contains few islands. Occasionally contested between the Grendel and the Iron Confederacy, neither side gains the upper hand for long and for all intents and purposes it is uncontrolled, neutral "territory". This is the channel that Imperial fleet captains from the nations of the Bay use when they engage in foreign trade.
A project to map the Bay of Catazar was initiated by the Imperial Senate during the Winter Solstice 381YE, and completed shortly before the Spring Equinox 382YE following extensive contributions by Imperial ship captains. The information gleaned was made publicly available shortly before the Summer Solstice 382YE.
A note about the maps
The maps, and the details they provide, are insufficient to allow the use of ritual magic to scry on these territories. Furthermore, there is no suggestion that the features detailed are everything to be found in the territory in question - they are simply what could be observed from the sea with a reasonable margin of risk.
The Open Sea
South of Fauchard in the Iron Confederacy lies the open sea, the Sea of Sighs. Imperial trading vessels can avoid both Fauchard and its Grendel equivalent on the opposite shore, simply by sticking to the middle of the broad waterway between the Iron Confederacy and the Broken Shore. This stretch of water is ideal hunting grounds for Grendel privateers, but it is also patrolled by Suranni warships who have little love for the Grendel at the best of times.
While the waters of the open sea do not belong to any territory, it is still possible for a naval force to move between Attar and the Iron Confederacy, albeit only in two locations. It is possible for a navy to move between Tathar and Shavronne (from the regions occupied, respectively, by Fort Salann and Lioneye's Watch), and between Raineach and Veroigne (from the regions occupied by Fort Kuhnahvn and Fauchard Fortress).
The Iron Confederacy
Until recently, the Iron Confederacy controlled two territories along the Bay of Catazar - Shavronne and Veroigne. With the conquest of Kalino by Suranni troops, and the recognition of Harold Guiscard as Duke, the Iron Confederacy now has a third territory on the Bay proper. The full extent of the Iron Confederacy is unknown; they are not especially welcoming but there is at least one other territory to the west of Veroigne called Chaubrette whose coast was beyond the borders of the mapping enterprise. The climate is actually a little cooler than the Brass Coast, despite being further south, and more humid. The waters off the coast of the Iron Confederacy are deeper and noticeably not as warm as the water further north - the climate is comparable to that of Redoubt or Necropolis rather than Madruga or Sarvos.
Kalino (or “Arbonne”)
The western territory of what was once the Lasambrian Hills, lying along the southern borders of the Empire. Kalino runs west a fair distance, lying adjacent to both Feroz and Segura. For centuries, this territory was the home of the Naguerro clan of orcs, although some of the western regions were claimed by the Hierro. The orc were driven from their ancestral lands when the Suranni, in an alliance with the Jotun, split the Hills between them. Today the Iron Confederacy claims Kalino, having killed, enslaved, or exiled the orcs who once lived here. The terrain is very rugged; the Hills earn their name. The climate is warm and reasonably dry in the north, becoming cooler and more moist as one heads south. There is also a good deal more foliage to the south.
The Suranni, interestingly, are slowly phasing out use of "Kalino" in favour of "Arbonne", which is apparently the traditional name for the northern hills in the Iron Confederacy. It remains to be seen how effective they will be at changing the name. Duke Guiscard has his court further inland, at a town called Regney along the southern borders.
The eastern shores of Kalino are not especially welcoming to ships, outside of a few key locations. The exception is Ruenda, a once-Naguerro town built around the wide arc of a natural bay. Most of the town was destroyed during the Suranni invasion, but the natural harbourage here means the Iron Confederacy slaves are already involved in rebuilding it. According to dockside stories, this bay is where the bulk of the Naguerro boarded Grendel vessels in the last days of the invasion and departed south and east for new homes on the Broken Shore.
The new town lies around the base of some steep stone cliffs, with limited access from the landward side to the bay and the settlement that surrounds it. Imperial captains are able to see that work has begun on a fortification on the cliffs above the town, although the construction appears to be proceeding slowly.
While not technically part of the mapping enterprise, there is known to be a completed fortification in Kalino along the northern border. It is believed to have been built in the hills south of Feroz, rather than Segura, possibly not far from the Freeborn town of Damar.
Northern Shavronne is hilly, southern Shavronne is forest giving way to plains. It used to be the northernmost part of the Iron Confederacy and faced regular raids from Lasambrian orcs and bandits. The Grendel were not a massive threat here, but the coastal regions are still fortified. Shavronne lies south of Kalino and north of Veroigne. The land is hilly along the border with Kalino, quickly giving way to rolling plains as one heads south. Much like Feroz and Madruga, there are many small islands that lie off the coast but within the borders of the territory. Unlike the Freeborn islands however they tend to be uninhabited - a scattering of minor fishing villages belonging to some minor noble or another. This used to be the northernmost territory, and subject to regular raids by the Lasambrians; there is apparently at least one large fortification along the northern border. The territory is ruled by the powerful Duke Jacques DuMoi, known as the Iron Wolf. Prior to the conquest of Kalino, the DuMoi were responsible for diplomacy with the Empire.
This is the easternmost region of Shavronne. Made up of forested islands, it is considered to be a wilderness - the habitat of bandits, pirates, exiles, wizards, and weird beasts. Every few years a minor crusade is launched during which Suranni templars clear the islands with fire. It is rare for these crusades not to uncover at least one Grendel enclave. The great prison of Axiom stands on one of the larger islands in the northern part of this region.
This massive, fortified prison built in built on one of the northernmost of the Maligaro islands, a short distance to the east of the town of Bestel. It is very inhospitable place; no Imperial ships were welcomed at the small, secluded docks below the prison. How the prisoners are chosen - the Suranni apparently favour execution for most serious crimes - is unclear even to the local citizens. Being imprisoned in Axiom is seen as a fate worse than death by most - and anyone who is incarcerated there is imprisoned for life. According to scuttlebutt in Bestel, the workers here toil to extract valuable minerals from mines deep beneath the island.
Approach to the prison is very treacherous; there are broken pinnacles of rock, unpredictable tides, and vicious metal spikes just below the waterline intended to scuttle any boat that strays from the approved approach. Atop the prison is a tower with a beacon on it that is as much to encourage captains to stay away as it is a warning of the dangerous rocks that surround the island. According to the Suranni, the prison is also a temple to their god Arav the Judge, and the warden of the prison - Brutus Costaigne - ranks highly among the priests of that faith.
The largest settlement in eastern Shavronne, Bestel is a port-town that straddles the mouth of the Stamatis river. The Bestel family runs the town, ably overseen by Baron Roth deBestel, an iron-willed matriarch whose family make little secret of their Ducal aspirations. Much of the Bestel wealth comes from foreign trade, but their profit margins are narrow due to the need to employ mercenaries to protect their trading vessels. The town is comparatively welcoming to Imperial visitors, although crews and captains alike must be on their best behaviour.
Just north of town stands the Temple of the Iron Axe, a religious structure dedicated to Kobol, maiden of battle. This dour stone structure is surrounded by rich farmland worked by slaves owned by the priests of the temple.
Built on a headland above the Bay at the easternmost point of Shavronne, Lioneye Watch is a major fortification on par with the Silent Sentinel in Casinea. The high exterior walls are carved on the outside with large depictions of winged lions killing and feasting on armoured orcs. Some of the orcs are shown throwing themselves into the sea; apparently this is an artistic depiction of some historical event during which a Suranni hero destroyed an orc army on the bluffs here. To the north and south of the castle, along the cliffs, are two massive stone statues of winged lions, each easily fifteen feet tall, beside which are great beacon towers lit whenever a significant Grendel naval force is spotted. Several Imperial captains report signs that the beacons have been lit very recently.
The castle is equipped with several large catapults which are not shy about firing warning shots at Imperial vessels that draw too close. The castle watches for signs of an invasion from the east - the Bay of Catazar is narrow enough here that a naval force could sail between Shavronne and the Grendel territory of Tathar as if they were adjacent.
Veroigne is the territory south of Shavronne, and lies at the "mouth" of the Bay of Catazar. It is reasonably flat, but appears to be quite woody in places. The territory is controlled by Duke Helen Gerradin, who is nicknamed the "Bloody Fist" after she allegedly beat a foreign envoy to death with her bare hands for touching a statue of one of the Suranni gods with "unclean fingers."
At the mouth of the river Isoiile, the port-town of Robec is one of the largest settlements in the Iron Confederacy, rivalling Meade in size. It has extensive docks and a fortified keep and a line of sea-defences designed to protect the town from naval assault. After the fort and the port, the largest structure in town is a grand temple to the Suranni god of Smiths, recently expanded with Imperial white granite.
Imperial captains are (somewhat grudgingly) welcomed here.
A coastal town, much smaller than Robec, best known for its temple of Farod the Herald. The priests that serve the temple are said to be able to invoke their god to calm raging seas, or to raise storms that make sea travel a difficult and dangerous proposition, as well as being able to ensure blessed rains that help the farmers of Shavronne raise strong crops. Imperial visitors are not welcome here; any vessels that put to port are effectively quarantined by suspicious templars until their business is completed and then they are encouraged to leave swiftly.
Another coastal town, around the same size as Touraine. Périgon is owned by the Baronial du Morraine family who oversee a shipyard here that builds both trading ships and warships suitable for naval engagements. There is a reasonably well-respected college here, which teaches engineering, architecture, ship-building, and other practical disciplines of value to the militaristic Suranni. Imperial captains are unwelcome - and there is comparatively little room for their ships anyway. A large naval force is anchored at Périgon, apparently dedicated to the protection of the Suranni coast from Grendel naval engagements.
This massive fortification is built to protect the Suranni coast from Grendel navies. Built on an island it is a mammoth structure, perhaps even on par with the Castle of Thorns in Astolat. The fortification is positioned at the narrowest point between the Iron Confederacy and the Broken Shore. As in Shavronne, it is possible for a naval force to cross between Veroigne and Raineach in the Broken Shore as if they were adjacent.
Forest of Ylourgne
Visible from the sea, the forest of Ylgourne grows along the northern borders of Veroigne. While the edges of the forest are tamed, the dark heart of the woodland is said to be wild and vicious. Somewhere among the dark trees are the ruins of the citadel of Fausseflammes, a hateful and terrible place where enemies of the gods once attempted to openly establish a temple of Dumon. The woods have a grim reputation as a consequence, and are carefully patrolled by templars and ducal soldiers alike.
The Broken Shore and Attar
The Broken Shore tends to be warm and arid. Settlements cluster along the banks of the freshwater rivers, lakes, and oases. There are more hospitable zones, but they tend to be scattered and are invariably claimed by one orc warlord or another. The Broken Shore more properly refers to the territories of the mainland (Ayereed and Mareave), while Attar refers to the territories on the major landmass along the southern part of the Bay (Tathar, Shayeel, and Raineach). The Grendel dominate this entire area. Their main settlements are on Attar, with the Broken Shore being more the domain of their subject tribes.
The coast of Attar and the Broken Shore is very irregular - there are many small islands, many narrow inlets, many secluded coves. It is often quite rocky as well, with strong currents that endanger smaller vessels that get too close to the shore. Not every region of the Grendel domain is truly coastal - as with southern Urizen there are often vertiginous cliffs or inaccessible beaches protected by jagged rocks and the occasional reef.
The southernmost territory of Attar, from the sea it seems to be quite inhospitable. The coastline is quite rugged; strong waves regularly batter the southern regions. It seems to be comparatively sparsely populated; there are several port towns but only two significant population centres - Fort Kuhnaven in the east and the peculiar port of Bone Beach in the south-west. Much of the coastline here is carved from deep black cliffs - there are only a few areas easily accessible from the sea. It is possible for a naval force to pass from eastern Raineach across the wide open waters to the Iron Confederacy territory of Veroigne and vice versa.
(Coo-NAH-vun)This heavily fortified town stands at the easternmost point of Raineach. It appears to be a large town surrounding a shipyard built beneath some steep black stone cliffs.The fortifications consist of a sea-wall set with metal spikes, and a central keep of white granite that overlooks the town itself. Like the town, the fort has a ramshackle appearance as if it has grown up naturally over time rather than being properly planned. Massive ballistae and trebuchets are arranged around the walls, capable of launching rocks far out to sea. Much of the excessive splendour and decoration that the Grendel like to surround themselves with is missing from Fort Kuhnaven.
Temple of Tempest Jade
On the mainland north-east of fort Kuhnaven is a large stone structure that seems to be studded with a small Prince's ransom in tempest jade. Every ship captain who ventured near reported that the currents here were unpredictable, and the winds seemed to actively try to pull the vessel onto the jagged rocks below the structure, dubbed the "Temple of Tempest Jade". On more than one occasion, spies reported ceremonies atop the cliffs in which shackled slaves were forced to leap to their deaths on the churning rocks below.
This town is built on a headland overlooking a wide inlet where a river comes down into a natural bay. Bone Beach obviously takes its name from this large inlet - the beaches here are absolutely covered in what seem to be the bones of massive creatures. Here and there the rotting corpse of a great drake lies, surrounded by packs of smaller creatures and circling seabirds. It is as if generation after generation of behemoths - some from the land some from the sea - come here to die. There also seems to be a healthy population of larger drakes here - including several that have been encountered as part of the Grendel armies on the Imperial side of the bay.
The settlement - believed to be called Haurlatch - is build in and around the bones of a true behemoth, a creature of breathtaking size that looks to bear some of the characteristics of a great lizard and some of a whale. Overlooking the town stands a rambling ancient structure topped with a great beacon light. Banners flutter from the walls bearing stylised images that identify it as a major moridun of the Kraken's Jaws.
The northernmost of the three Grendel territories on Attar, Tathar seems much more hospitable than rocky Raineach. There are even a few forest here - small and showing signs of having been heavily harvested by the orcs. In some old documents, this territory is referred to as "Attar Minor" or occasionally just "Attar". It is the site of the Grendel "city" of Dubhtraig, ruled by Salt Lord Suriad. The coastline is still rugged, but much more of it is accessible from the sea. Every coastal region is the site of an orc settlement, although none can compare with the size and splendour of Dubhtraig.
It is possible for a naval force to sail from Tathar to Shavronne in the Iron Confederacy, via the region guarded by Fort Salann.
A major Grendel fortification that stands on the incorrectly named "Drake Island" (it is actually a promontory; while high tides sometimes swamp the approach to the headland, it is never truly cut off from the mainland). There is another shipyard here, built as part of the fortress. Unlike Kuhnaven in the south, Fort Salann has clearly been carefully designed to be as intimidating as possible. Carved onto the wide sweeping seawall that protects approach to the harbour are two massive stone statues of drakes whose heads appear to be hollow. At night, slaves light great lamps in the heads that can be seen from miles around.
The "city" of Dubhtraig approaches Sarvos in size, but has none of its beauty. Sprawling Dubhtraig is dominated by the Grendel and their many subject tribes. It is an absolutely wretched hive of scum and villainy, where the strong oppress the weak at the command of the wealthy. Ruled by an utterly ruthless Salt Lord, Dubhtraig appears to be a centre of Grendel trade and piracy - and for their politics, such as they are. The city is a study in contrasts; the wealthiest Grendel live in the hills above the city proper, while the teeming masses of their subjects occupy shambolic neighbourhoods huddled along the coast itself. The exception was the palace of Salt Lord Suriad, a massive white-granite complex that once stood next to the city's grand shipyard.
Following the Autumn Equinox 382YE, Imperial heroes launched a daring raid against Dubhtraig and the surrounding countryside. The raid was a resounding success, not only freeing thousands of slaves but also burning Salt Lord Suriad's palace and the adjacent shipyard to the ground and disrupting Grendel access to both mithril and weirwood for several months.
North of Dubhtraig is a large island, completely covered in trees. Warships patrol the waters around the island, intercepting any vessel that comes too close. Captains able to get a look at the island report two intriguing features. The island rises slowly toward the centre, and it appears that the hill has been carved in some fashion at some point in the past. It is now heavily overgrown, but there is definitely the suggestion of a face of some sort. The other point of interest is that the island is absolutely covered in weirwood trees. The few settlements visible on the shores seem to be armed camps intended both to protect the island and to maintain the slave gangs that harvest the weirwood.
Another fortification, but this one is much smaller than either Fort Kuhnaven or Fort Salann. It occupies another region accessible from the sea, but unlike Kuhnaven and Salann it does not appear to have a shipyard - although like most Grendel settlements it has a comparatively large harbour. The small town that surrounds the fort appears to be heavily involved in the slave trade.
The eastern territory of Attar, Shayeel appears much less fortified than either Raineach or Tathar. There are plenty of coastal settlements, and a profusion of islands in a wide variety of sizes. The climate is warm and dry, but as with Tathar there are occasional woodlands visible from the sea especially on the islands. There are a lot of Grendel vessels here - both pirates and traders - moving back and forth between Attar and the Broken Shore.
On the northern coast of Shayeel is the town of Vorlach, a rich mining town that imports slaves and exports raw metals - including mithril - and salt. Salt Lord Moorvain controls Vorlach.
A wide bay is gouged out of the eastern shore of Shayeel which is entirely choked with thick, rubbery seaweed. The area is effectively impassable to large vessels - and attempting to sail through would be dangerous as the sea here is not only scattered with rocky outcroppings but also several extremely shallow areas. The seaweed sea is quite heavily populated - orcs use small boats to get around, while many of them seem to be able to walk on water itself! On further investigation it becomes apparent that they are actually using cunning footwear woven from reeds that work a little like tiny coracles, spreading their weight across the surface of the seaweed so they do not fall through the thick layer of vegetation - some of the Kallavesi in the far north-west make use of similar contraptions.
The area is also home to a population of monstrous predatory eels - or eel-like drakes, opinion is divided. Unlike the eels Imperial sailors are familiar with they hunt in packs, gliding beneath the seaweed and striking upwards to bite chunks out of unfortunate orc travelers. A person in the water, surrounded by a pack of these hungry eels, lasts less than a minute before disappearing below the water in an explosion of blood and foaming water.
Along the northern part of the sargasso is a settlement apparently called "Barbless" which is built partially on a large rocky outcropping and partly on the remains of shipwrecked vessels. Even for a Grendel town it is remarkably ramshackle in appearance - all save the high stone tower at the centre that is said to be the domain of the Salt Lord Yameissan, a powerful magician and master of Day Lore.
The first of the two territories that make up the Broken Shore, Ayereed is dry and reasonably barren. Visible from the sea is a great range of mountains to the east, which look to be thick with vegetation and so tall that there is snow atop many of the peaks. This range seems comparable to the mountains of northern Varushka.
Island of Zemress
In the waters halfway between Attar and the Broken Shore is the island of Zemress, home for several centuries to the descendants of that exemplar's shipwrecked crew. The coast of the island is inhospitable - sheer cliffs surround it perhaps explaining why it managed to avoid the attention of the Grendel for so long.
(Gain-MEACK-doov) The largest coastal settlement on the Broken Shore, Gainmeachdubh is very different to Dubhtraig. Controlled by Salt Lord Azshur, it is a rough, barbarous settlement that has a much higher population of violent orcs of the Broken Shore than of Grendel.
(Eye-lin-TAIN) Some distance south of the Island of Zemress, and west of Gainmeachdubh is a peculiarly shaped island, a little like a small, submerged mountain with the top sheared off. Examination with spyglass indicates that there are structures built around the top of the mountain, which all indications suggest is hollow - at least to some degree. Speculation is that the hollow peak may be a dormant volcano.
South along the coast from Gainmeachdubh, the land rises sharply. Atop the cliffs here are peculiar sculptures - great stone heads with orcish features. They are weatherbeaten, but each one appears to be at least slightly different to the one next to it. There are perhaps fifteen of these heads visible from the sea, spread out along some twenty miles of clifftop. If they serve a purpose, it is not at all clear what that purpose may be, but they do seem to be carved of white granite.
Some distance north of Gainmeachdubh, the land again rises steeply. Visible from the sea here is what at first appeared to be a great forest. On closer inspection with spyglasses, however, it became apparent that rather than being composed of living plants, the trees appeared to be carved of stone! The trees were extremely lifelike and in great number - something that leads to speculation that at one point this was a mundane forest somehow transformed to stone either by magic or by some peculiar natural disaster. The orcs call it “Cravanclosh” (CRAW-ank-losh or CRAV-ank-losh).
The second territory of the Broken Shore lies south of Spiral. It has much more in common with the Urizen coast than that of Attar; there are comparatively few natural harbours here, and the coastline is both rocky and raised into steep cliffs. Like the rest of the Broken Shore, it is warm and dry with little in the way of large scale vegetation. As with Ayereed, the land rises to the east until one hits the great mountain range that presumably connects to the mountains of Urizen.
There appear to be two main points of interest along the coast of Mareave.
Blood River Colossi
Along the coast a one heads north, one comes across a pair of immense statues. Easily fifty feet tall, they depict humanoid figures facing out to sea. Age has weathered them such that their features are hard to make out, but examination with spyglasses indicates that rather than orc features they appear to have human faces! Each bears the broken remains of what may once have been a staff or spear. They represent a truly breathtaking feat of engineering but (as will become apparent) it is not clear how much longer they will remain.
The figures flank a great waterfall that cascades over the cliff into the Bay, the waters of which are a dark red-brown in colouration. Sensitive sailors initially claimed that the river was in fact blood, but examination has indicated that rather it is simply water polluted in some fashion by some sort of metal residue. The water was also found to be foul - possibly even poisonous - and once this was ascertained several captains reported that the local sealife appeared to give the area a very wide berth.
The waters have clearly risen of late; they now lap against the feet of the two great statues, and there is some sign that they have partially worn away the left foot of the northern statue. If they continue to erode the sculpture, it is likely to plunge into the sea.
Several miles north of the colossi is the only major coastal settlement of Mareave - the port of Beoraidh. Built on a relatively accessible part of the shoreline, the town appears to be in danger of being washed away. Observation with a spyglass showed buildings literally in the water, and boats drifting among them. Estimates suggest that roughly two-thirds of the original town is now beneath the Bay, and the waters show now signs of receding. Their advance appears to be slow however - certainly slow enough that the orcs here appear to be continuing to build increasingly shoddy homes further up the beach rather than abandoning it entirely.
There are also obvious signs of attempts to inhabit the growing ruins - bridges and walkways between partially submerged buildings for example - as well as a large number of moored houseboats. What is keeping the orcs here is not clear, but again examination with spyglass suggests that some of the stone buildings are not of orc construction at all, and appear to be much older than the surrounding settlement. Even submerged, or partially submerged, the buildings remain intact. There is likely to be a Salt Lord in charge of Beoraidh but if there is, there is no sign of any palace.
Following the Winter Solstice 382YE, an armada of Imperial ships lead a daring raid against Beoraidh in response to a plan formulated in part with the aid of the eternal Rhianos. The raid was a resounding success. Not only did it destroy a partially completed fortification, and burn the mustering grounds and coliseum, it freed several thousand orc slaves eager to join their Imperial Orc benefactors.
The last significant structure in Mareave visible from the sea is, somewhat surprisingly, an Urizen spire. Or rather, the remains of one. The buildings visible atop the cliffs have an obvious Urizen style about them, but they have clearly been converted to the use of barbarian orcs. The most striking feature however is a large, fortified seven-sided lighthouse built in the centre of the settlement; a white granite tower atop which is a globe of tempest jade clearly intended to be illuminated with a lightstone. The light does not appear to be working, however, or the orcs seem disinterested in operating it. The structure looks quite old - it may even be pre-Imperial in nature.