This is the ancestral home of the Kallavesi, a land of cold stagnant bogs. The land changes through the seasons, but always has a feeling of brooding stillness. In the warmer months it is a boggy marsh cut through with streams and fjords. In the winter the waterways freeze over and the whole land is covered with frost and snow. The marsh serves as the national graveyard and this is a place of ancient secrets and mysticism.
It is a mournful land, but a beautiful one. Thanes' halls are traditionally constructed entirely from wood here and those built in marshy areas are raised up on stilts. Many halls in Kallavesa are built around sacred places or places with a magical reputation. There are not believed to be any troll ruins in Kallavesa; while stories occasionally speak of shattered halls buried beneath the Rundhal Marsh, these tales are considered largely fanciful or allegorical.
Parts of Kallavesa, especially the West Marsh have a reputation for being haunted. Not only are the marshes where the honoured dead of Wintermark are interred, they have also seen regular battles through the ages. Several vicious battlefields lie drowned beneath the boggy marshes; the Jotun have raided across the narrow sea from Kalsea since time-out-of-mind; in pre-Imperial centuries there were irregular border skirmishes across the southern borders - first with with the orcs who dwelt where Bregasland and Mitwold lie today, later with Marchers who displaced them. Orc and human dead alike lie in the deep pools of the western and southern marshes, and they do not always lie still.
Kallavesa is rich with many fine herb gardens. Perhaps as a consequence of the many battlefields buried beneath the marshes, the territory is known for the quality of the bladeroot that grows here. The Kallavesi themselves are acknowledged experts in the use of herbs - the Infusions of Feathers were first developed here in the Wittal Groves and later shared with apothecaries from across the Empire.
The Senator for Kallavesa is appointed by the Kallavesi during the Winter Solstice, and is almost invariably of Kallavesi stock.
In the Winter of 370YE the Jotun invaded in force, taking West Marsh and pushing into Skymark. Before they could consolidate their hold, however a joint campaign by Wintermark and Marcher armies drove them out under the leadership of a young Skarsind general named Britta. Without her excellent leadership and inspirational presence is it widely believed that both Sermersuaq and Kallavesa would have been lost to the orcs. Further attempts at invasion were stymied by the re-vitalised and re-equipped armies left behind to guard against another attack.
The marshes of Kallavesa are the final resting place of the great heroes and heroines of Wintermark. Alone of all previous Emperors and Empresses, Empress Britta was interred in the marshes rather than resting at Necropolis. The Highborn have built a shrine and appointed a Guardian of Britta's Shrine, but the body itself (or as much of it as was recovered from the Thule) rests beneath the waters of Kallavesa.
Once the capital of Kallavesa, in Rundhal where mystics sent dreams to the Steinr, and where the wise met to choose the monarch of Wintermark before the Empire. It is still a place of utmost importance to those who follow the Kallavesi traditions, and is where many of the oldest traditions are passed on. Scops come to the round hall to learn the stories and songs that tell their nation who they are and inspire heroes across all of Empire.
The weed-choked waters at the heart of Kallavesa, boundaries and waterways shifting and reform all the time, as small islands of floating reeds drift on unpredictable currents. Attempts to build permanent structures here are stymied by chaotic nature of the floating islands and the presence of several large colonies of marshwalkers who will not tolerate the disruption of their boggy territory.
The Pilgrim's Trail
Following the internment of Empress Britta in the Sovevann, an opportunity to help pilgrims visit the sacred waters of Kallavesa to honour the heroes of Wintermark. Senator Olle Markusson commissioned the Pilgrim's Trails during the Winter Solstice 379YE, and they were completed shortly before the Summer Solstice 380YE. The Trail consists of many roads and bridges built to connect the major religious sites across Kallavesa to each other, and to the rest of the Empire
The Senate decision to construct the Trails was enthusiastically supported by many of the Winterfolk. Wry comments were made concerning how people who thought the "Anvil mud" would react to what the people of Kallavesa call "dry land". The completion of the project became a point of pride, and donations came in from across Wintermark.
Surveyors planned an optimal route through the marshes, intended to minimise the number of bridges required while at the same time ensuring the trails passed through as many communities, and past as many shrines and resting places as possible. At the Spring Equinox 380YE, word came that an egregore had fallen valiantly in battle, and that an agreement with the Jotun meant that his body would be returning home - along with the bodies of many heroes who had fallen fighting the orcs. The builders were determined that the trails would be completed in time that the body of Guthwulf would be the first to pass along them. The last blocks for the last bridge were placed as the funeral procession was mere paces away. As the procession was crossing, in a flash of inspiration a builder who had not yet put their tools away carved into the side of the bridge the name of the egregore, Guthwulf of the Red Embrace.
The name was soon joined by that of the other fallen heroes of Wintermark who travelled across it, and in other parts of the Pilgrim's Trail mourners have begun carving the names of the dead into the fabric of the last bridge they cross on their way to their final resting place in the waters of Kallavesa.
The Beacons of Wintermark
Shortly before the Spring Equinox 383YE, the beacons of Wintermark were completed, covering Hahnmark and Kallavesa. This sequence of beacons and watchtowers protects both territories from surprise invasion and allows heroic individuals to contribute to the defence of Wintermark as if they were a fortification.
The Kallavesa swamps are home to many rare and unique forms of flora and fauna that are below our abstraction layer in the sense that they are important to the Kallavesi mystics, but not important enough to be one of the five herbs. While many of these herbs have useful properties (such as groveblossom or bitterweed), they are very much along the lines of headache treatments or gentle sleeping draughts, rather than purification of an envenomed wound or repairing a crippled limb. Other examples might include tobacco, for example, or flavoursome herbs used in cooking, as well as mild narcotics.
It is very common for the folk of Kallavesa (of all traditions) to reference odd herbs or animal extracts - but it is important not to let other players get the impression that these plants are a big deal, as this will cause confusion, or disappointment.One possible opportunity these herbs present is for a character who wants an unusual or distinctive farm or business. Like the herders you could define your business as trading in medicinal herbs, or your farm as growing minor medicinal plants - indeed it is easy and appropriate to diversify a farm to include some of the potent herbs produced by a herb garden.
Qualities: Marsh, Haunted
Sandwiched between the Westmere and the Sovevann, this is the place most outsiders think of when they imagine Kallavesa. Boggy marsh, dotted with lone huts on stilts where pale herons stalk and burbling frogs maintain an eerie chorus at dawn and dusk. These are the haunted marshes where the heroes of Wintermark rest, and the few scattered halls here are generally given over to the study of The Way of serve as hostelries for visiting pilgrims come to honour the dead.
The largest settlement in this region is Masi home to the dead and those who guard them. Funerals are usually held here. On the rare occasions that a Feni or Jotun raid is not turned back at the borders, it is the warriors of Masi who force them back.
The presence of so many dead heroes gives the entire region the haunted quality; there are more ghosts here than anywhere else in the Empire with the possible exception of the Necropolis in Highguard.
Site of Rundhal, the largest permanent settlement in Kallavesa. It is a place dedicated to wisdom and the mystic learning of the Kallavesi. While Rundhal Marsh is boggy and damp, the western stretches towards Hahnmark are somewhat elevated and drier - here are found many copses of beggarwood and other softwoods, carefully tended by stewards who ensure their health and that the availability of wood for building the unique stilted buildings of the marshes.
The northernmost of the Kallavesa regions is chilled by northern winds for much of the year, but is also home to rich farms and sprawling holds. Small fishing fleets are common here, and several of the villages here maintain ties with their cousins in Sermersuaq via the Rikkivesi and the Atkonartoq. In southern Skymark is Ishal, across the cold waters of Sovevann from Rundhal and Masi, furthest of the three settlements round the lake at the heart of Kallavesa. This is where the wise go to read the future in the flight of birds and the night skies, as the scops learn at Rundhal and the dead heroes rest in the marshes near Masi. It’s a place for the old, for learning and for clear thought. "Threes, and threes and threes," the seers say, those who foretold the coming of the Steinr.
On the waters of the Rikkivesi floats Hyljehal, a unique hall built by the Empire to serve as a meeting place between the seal-shifter people and their Wintermark cousins. It may be moored along the shores of either Kallavesa or Sermersuaq. The Mediator of Hyljehal - traitionally a Suaq mediator is charged with maintaining good relations between the two people.
Qualities: Marsh, Coastal
On the shores of the Westmere stands Westerhal, home to the small fleet of Kallavesi boats that keep the coast safe from Jotun raiders. Its importance has slowly dwindled, in part due to the rise of Meade in the Marches which has much better access to wood and stores, but the patrol ships of the Marches are uncommon this far north. Once it was the second settlement of Kallavesa, and there are residents who would like to see it take its place again as a centre of trade and defence of Wintermark - perhaps with a new fortification.
At the heart of the grove stands Wittal, a place of learning and the study of herbs and plants. Many grimnir have spent a season or more studying here, as have healers from further afield, even a few from far Urizen. Some never return from foraging expeditions into the deep-woods; the Feni are usually blamed. The inhabitants of Wittal also maintain the The Tree of Swords, a lone elm tree in a glade hung with the swords of dead Wintermark warriors that is also the heart of a strong Winter regio. Weapons are hung there of warriors who died with their quests uncompleted. It’s said that if the tree ever flowers, the warriors will return.
Where the trees join the marshes, on the shores of the Westmere, stands the small port of Fisk. Before there was an Empire, Fisk was an armed camp watching the orcs of what is now Mitwold (and later, the Marchers who displaced them). After the formation of the Empire, the warriors largely left Fisk and the traders moved in. Today, Fisk is a small but prosperous port allowing adventurous ship owners to trade with Meade and the Marchers and even with foreigners across the sea as far as the Asavean Archipelago and the Sumaah Republic.
- All the regions of Kallavesa are under Imperial control
- Attempting to build a permanent fortification in one of the regions with the marsh quality is likely to encounter additional difficulties.
- While it is possible for armies to travel from West Marsh to North Fens in Bregasland, it is not possible to cross the Westmere into Ottermire; Imperial (or Jotun) forces will need to go through Mitwold if they wish to reach Ottermire (or Kallavesa Marsh).
- The Beacons of Wintermark are a unique wonder that helps defend the territory.
- The Pilgrim's Trail is a great work that provides an additional 50 votes in the Imperial Synod and 25 liao divided among the congregations of Kallavesa. They were built as the result of an opportunity (detailed here) - under normal circumstances a great work cannot provide liao and votes.
- Some of the prominent halls of Kallavesa are detailed here.