Miaren is a land of gentle golden woodlands, open steadings, fertile fields, fair winds and the great Navarr city of Seren. It lies on the border between Dawn and the Marches, between Wintermark and the League.
In the early years of the Empire the vallorn at Miaren was completely destroyed and at the heart of the forest the ruins of the city Seren reclaimed, to be slowly rebuilt. It is now considered the heartland of the Navarr nation, and a symbol of what can be achieved.
Today Miaren is dotted with carefully tended woodlands, farms, and orchards; only in the north-western region of the Goldglades is there any true forest. With so much open ground to work with, many of Miaren's steadings have expanded in size far beyond the settlements encountered in other Navarr territories. They increasingly have more in common with the towns and villages of Dawn and the Marches than with the steadings of other territories. Navarr visiting from Liathaven, Brocéliande, and even Therunin for the first time are often amazed at how peaceful they - and the territory they stand in - can be without the constant threat of the vallorn or barbarian orcs to contend with.
For non-Navarr visitors (and given its central location in the Empire and excellent roads it should come as no surprise that Miaren sees a lot of non-Navarr visitors), one element that stands out as strange is the careful reverence with which the old Terunael ruins are treated. The city of Seren is well-known as being built among the ruins of the former Terunael city, but the Navarr are careful not to damage any ruins they have found that have withstood the malice of the vallorn. Any farm might have a carefully preserved ruined tower, any orchard might be bounded by a high wall of unfamiliar construction, any well might be surrounded by wind-worn statues from a time long before the Empire. To those not acquainted with the practice, this can give the territory a slightly eerie quality despite its otherwise pastoral beauty.
Miaren sees a lot of trade - again its central location combines with its proximity to the heartlands of the Empire to see regular merchant caravans from most Imperial nations. It produces a significant amount of the vinum sap used to create liao for example - more than any other territory in the Empire. With the completion of the Blood Red Roads, there has also been a marked increase in Faraden, Urizen, Freeborn and even Suranni, Axou, and Sarcophan visitors eager to purchase fruit, wines, spirits, wood, and other fine quality goods. Navarr merchants from Hercynia and Wintermark used to bring their wares to Miaren to sell - although this practice has become less prevalent with the rise of the Northern trade network and the completion of the Blood Red Roads.
Miaren is the heartland of the Navarr. Unlike other Navarr territories, conflict here arises not from the threat of the vallorn but either from the internal politics of the Navarr, or from conflicts between stubborn groups of Marcher and Dawnish yeofolk brawling across the invisible "border" between their two nations.
Above all, Miaren is civilised and (compared to many other Imperial territories) reasonably peaceful. It would be easy for an outsider to assume that this means the people of Miaren are "soft" or that the other Navarr look down on them for their lives free from the threat of vallorn. Nothing could be farther from the truth.
Firstly, the people of Miaren are no less likely than any other Navarr to join a striding. Indeed, it is a common practice for the youth of Miaren to immediately join a striding as soon as they pass their citizenship, to go out into the world without their parents or family both to do their part in the fight against the vallorn and to develop their identity as an adult. Many return eventually, but just as many remain with one striding or another for decades, or join a steading in some far-flung part of the Empire. Rowdy drunks at an idyllic roadside wayhouse - or the occasional band of greedy bandits - often discover to their cost that the smiling staff all have a decade or more of experience of hard travel and fighting opponents that would make the toughest bandit weep.Secondly, far from disdaining the civilisation of Miaren most Navarr recognise it as what they one day aspire to create in Liathaven, Hercynia, Therunin, and Brocéliande - and perhaps even in distant Emrys, Cavan, and Béantal Dol (should that even be possible). In a very real sense, Miaren is ultimately what they are fighting for. One day, there will be no more need to fight the vallorn or the orcs, and all of Navarr will be a garden (at least metaphorically). One day, when the vallorn is gone and the orcs are no longer a threat, Navarr will build something new and enduring from the foundation of their ancient past. One day, Miaren may well provide the blueprint for a brighter future - perhaps not only for the Navarr.
Points of Interest
A fallen city of Terunael, once the heart of a vallorn, Seren has been absolutely transformed. In 22YE, in the early years of the Empire, the vallorn of Miaren was defeated, and the ruins of Seren reclaimed from the forest. In the centuries since, the Navarr have incorporated the ruins of the ancient Terunael city into their own sprawling settlement. It is the largest permanent settlement of the Navarr in the Empire. In contrast to the larger settlements of the other nations, Seren is composed of a number of interlocking steadings, each technically separate to the others, but entwined in an interdependent relationship. When the steadings need to make decisions as a group, a council of brands is formed to discuss the matter and reach a consensus. This model is often reflected in informal arrangements between Navarr groups across the Empire. For the last century at least there has been a general consensus among the brands who oversee Seren, and recent decades of peace and cooperation have seen it grow in population until it has begun to be seen as a city in its own right. While it is no equal to the great urban centres of the League, in size and population it is easily a match for Meade or Siroc.
A third of the ruins are given over to a weirwood forest, and even in the more built-up areas there are many green open spaces and carefully tended trees. Across the Empire, it is often referred to as "the Garden City".
The ruins of Seren have been extensively explored and catalogued, and many of the facts the Empire knows about the Terunael were uncovered here. At the height of Terunael, Seren was a city known for its scholars and poets, and for both colleges and military academies. Several of these buildings were reclaimed when the vallorn fell, and while no writing survived exposure to the heart of corruption, a combination of divination magic and tireless archaeology slowly teased our some of the secrets of the Terunael.
In early 377YE a number of fortified watchtowers and secure campsites were built around Seren, providing local bandit-hunters and scouts safe places to use in their pursuit both of lawbreakers and opportunistic orc raiding parties. The project was overseen by Henry Ward (senator for Upwold) as part of a larger Senate initiative to provide protection to towns throughout the Empire. The defences are not sufficient to qualify Seren as a fortification, but have helped reduce outlawry throughout the territory.
A more recent exploration discovered a mystical flame in a hidden chamber behind a waterfall here, which was expanded with the aid of the former civilian commissioner of Navarr to create the Eternal Flame of Miaren. In a similar vein, the Thorned Rose, a small academy that provides training to prospective vates, stands near the Golden Trees, and provides a seasonal sinecure to the Dean.
The Golden Trees of Seren is a Bourse resource located in Serenael. Custodianship of the Golden Trees is an Imperial Title that brings with it a Seat on the Imperial Bourse. It produces 28 Imperial wains of weirwood every season. Control is allocated to any Imperial citizen by open auction during the Winter Solstice.
Brock's Toll is a famous toll bridge situated roughly halfway between Dawn and the Marches, but historically claimed by both. While it isn't much used by wealthy merchants or nobles, the road that this bridge lies on carries most of the agricultural traffic between Dawn and the Marches. The bridge is associated with a sinecure, contested between the Marchers and the yeofolk of Dawn.
The Great Sinkhole
Just over a month after the Spring Equinox 381YE a large section of north-western Goldglades collapsed with an almighty roar. After the initial collapse, the hole began to spread. Warnings by the Navarr vates reached the already-worried people of Birchland, Wood Heath, and the Vardstein Vale not a moment too soon before parts of the three adjacent territories - Upwold, Hahnmark, and Temeschwar - were likewise consumed.
Where Miaren once bordered Hahnmark, there is now a massive sinkhole. Estimated to be seven hundred feet deep, with a lake at the bottom that may well be bottomless. The cliff walls are nearly vertical, and still prone to collapse in some places, but there are also signs of caves and tunnels opening out in several places. Initial explorers have excitedly reported what look to be ancient mine workings - some reaching back to the time of the Terunael, and some reaching back even further. The full extent of the network of caverns here has yet to be determined. More worryingly, some of the early daredevils who have made a preliminary investigation of some of the more accessibly caves and tunnels have failed to return - and all those who have made it back in one piece have described encounters with particularly angry trogoni - creatures rarely encountered outside of the mountains of Urizen, and the northern peaks of Wintermark and Varushka.
The sinkhole was officially named "Lorenzo's Deep Pockets" by Lorenzo Macelliao von Temeschwar, and remains a source of some concern to the people of Miaren.
In less peaceable times, when the Navarr spent more time hiding from barbarians than hunting them, it was a refuge named Sanctuary Falls. It was named in 30YE in honour of the archmage Rhonwen who gave her life to help defeat the vallorn of Miaren. The steading is built into the cliff under falls that feed the upper reaches of the Gancio. The settlement attracts scholars from across the Empire who wish to study the swirling intricate designs that the first Navarr carved into the rocks here, designs that contain information about trods and old ritual dances. Historical research on Rhonwen's Fall was commissioned by the Advisor on the Vallorn during the Spring Equinox 381YE, which you can read here.
The Goldglades are named partly for the great stands of ancient oaks that grow here, and partly for the rich bounty of ambergelt that the forest workers harvest here. The steadings of Goldglades are some of the wealthiest in Miaren and indeed Navarr. The Eternal Family Striding hold a small (by Goldglades standards but still lavish for a Navarr from Therunin) Wayhouse here where they can often be contacted.
Of interest to those of a mystical nature, in the southern foothills of the Locul peaks stands the Pool of Silver Clouds. A still pool in a quiet glade which, whatever the weather, reflects silver clouds and a blue sky. It is said that some vates can divine the future in the waters of the pool. Indeed, these same vates were the first to be aware of the threat of the Great Sinkhole, and their speedy warning not only to the people of the 'Glades but also to folk in the neighbouring territories saved untold lives from the natural disaster.
Holtford is a thriving region, known for its orichalcum mines and deep clay pits rich in dragonbone. The large steading of Holt that stands near the southern borders historically served as a staging post for expeditions to explore the land claimed by the Miaren vallorn. In recent centuries, it has become better known for the quality and strength of their pottery, and for its merchants. Traders who wish to avoid Temeschwar (for whatever reason) commonly pass through Holt on their way between Highguard and Wintermark, and some of the largest and wealthiest wayhouses in Navarr are found here.
The Nighthaven Steading was founded near Holt, and known to produce politically and economically savvy Navarr who regularly send one of their own to represent their people in the Imperial Senate.
Holtford was also the site of a so-called "Alchemical Workshop", a peculiar tower of white granite apparently dedicated to the eternal Murit that functioned as an workshop for studying "the transformation of base matter". The structure was commissioned by the Imperial Senate during the Winter Solstice 380YE summit, and work was completed shortly before the Spring Equinox 381YE. A year later, shortly before the Spring Equinox 382YE, the tower disappeared. Where it once stood is a circular pool of clear, fresh water. The water appears entirely mundane, but anyone who looks at their reflection in the pool sees themselves as they might have been had they made different choices at some point in their lives. At night, the night skies reflected in the pool bear no relationship to the actual stars in the skies above them. According to locals, a peculiar creature frequents the pool, emerging from its depths on nights of the half moon to speak to scholars of night magic who visit the area. It has been dubbed "Darkwater Pool" by residents of the area.
The ruins of the Terunael city of Seren lie in northern Serenael; this is where the dark heart of the Miaren vallorn lay. The Golden Trees of Seren is a sprawling weirwood forest that covers much of northern Serenael and encompasses roughly a third of the Terunael ruins. It is also the site of the Golden Orchards, a sinecure that provides the Granger with a bounty of crystal mana. The rest of the ruins are given over to the largest permanent Navarr settlement - the town of Seren.
The Leafstalker Striding are a modern band of Navarr based out of Serenael, famed for their signature cloaks that allow them to blend in with the weirwood trees of the region.