West of the Tindermoot and across the Emerald Bay is a rugged landmass that the halflings once called the Headlands, now known as the Solastaris Refuge. Until recent times, this rocky plateau was largely uninhabited by civilized folk, save for a few small halfling settlements loosely affiliated with the Tindermoot. It is a harsh land of jagged ravines and soaring ocean cliffs, far less bountiful in comparison to the fertile farmlands of the Tindermoot. There had long been a sense of mystery surrounding these fog-shrouded lands, home to ruins believed to have been built by elves in another age.
Current Ruler: Shogun Solanis’Var “The Light Seeker”
Much of the mystery was solved around a century ago when a fleet of damaged high elven vessels limped into the mouth of the Emerald Bay and made landfall on the rocky island known as The Sentinel, quickly laying claim to ruins found throughout the Headlands. The halflings of the Tindermoot, ever curious as a people, made almost immediate contact and found an entire nation of refugees who called themselves the Solastaris Elves. These elves claimed that the mysterious ruins were in fact ancient outposts of their once glorious empire from across the sea. Though their empire fell into decline long ago, the Solastaris Elves were resolved to reassert their ancient claims to the Headlands and make it their new home.
However desperate these elves were to survive, they were an honorable people, choosing not to reclaim their lands by force. Instead, they pursued diplomatic relations with the Tindermoot and asked for mercy. Moved by the humility and respect shown to them, the halflings took pity on the refugees. With the full support of the people, the Prime Minister of the Tindermoot annexed the majority of the Headlands to the desperate Solastaris Elves to establish a new home on Norlanin, a refuge from whatever ill fate caused them to flee across the sea.
Led by their benevolent Shogun, known as the Light Seeker, the Solastaris Elves have vowed to never forget the kindness the people of the Tindermoot showed them. Yet they remain a secretive and inward-looking people. Honor bound to their Shogun, they have sworn an oath to keep silent regarding the events that forced them to leave their homeland; a topic that has become anathema for their entire race. All that is known is they have made significant strides towards rebuilding their culture and prosperity as a nation in but a single generation since they arrived on the shores of Norlanin near death. However, this does not sit well with their xenophobic neighbors to the north, whose empire is as ancient as the ruins that the Solastaris elves came to reclaim.
Places of Interest
The Forgotten Arches
The Forgotten Arches are a pair of ancient stone arches, standing in a remote and otherwise barren field, strewn with rocks and scorched by fire, in the lands now known as the Solastaris Refuge. These arches are believed to have been constructed many thousands of years ago by the ancient Solastaris Empire, at the height of their power, when they are said to have maintained outposts throughout the Southwestern coast of Norlanin. In the Solastaris tongue they are called, Adanedal Ando and Amarth Ando.
The concept for the Forgotten Arches was created in part by Jason Charles (Calgary, Alberta) as part of his ‘Foot Knight package’ backer reward from the 2014 Realm of Strife Kickstarter Campaign.Read more…
In recent history the arches were first discovered around 90 years ago by a pair of Halfling prospectors from The Tindermoot, called the Hiderbiddle Brothers, who had launched one of many expeditions in search of precious minerals throughout the area known to Halflings as the Headlands. After an unproductive week in the area the brothers were preparing to pack up their camp and move on when they are reported to have heard the sound of a baby crying. Following the babies cries they navigated through a maze of rocky ravines, which seemed to cause the babies intermittent crying to echo in a queer and unusual way. The cries led them to a large barren field of rock, scorched from one end to the other by some ancient cataclysm that left the rocks melted and even simple moss still struggling to cling to life. It is here they found the first of the two arches. At its foot, nestled in the burnt out remains of a petrified tree stump, they found a naked and shivering baby with pointed ears and a sickly disposition. The Halfling brothers took pity on the baby, wrapping it in their cloaks and bringing it back to their camp, where they fed the baby goat’s milk and nursed it back to health. Leaving the baby in the care of their associates the brothers returned to the arch to search for any sign of who might have left the baby there or why, expecting if nothing else to find the bodies of the babies parents. But no clue as to how this abandoned baby had come to be left next to the stone archway was ever found. Instead, for all their searching the only other item of note found in that barren field, not far from the first arch, was a second stone arch. This arch was similar in design, seeming ancient and ruinous, yet untouched by whatever force had seared the area into oblivion. The second arch likewise bore two words carved into its stone threshold. While the script was still easily read despite the apparent age of the arches, it was written in a language unknown to any Halfling at the time. The only clue to unlocking their secret being that both gates appeared to share the same second word.
Returning home with their wild tale, most respectable Halflings would have dismissed the brothers claims, however the strange Elven baby served as proof enough. Over the next several years many expeditions were mounted to investigate the arches. Though it was determined that the arches were likely built by the same civilization that had built many of the ruins found throughout the Headlands, beyond that no one could ever unravel their mystery. With no other reason to study the arches further, they became little more than a curiosity mentioned in the footnotes the Tindermoot’s history books.
As for the Elven child, he was placed into the care of a young Halfling couple, cousins to the Hiderbiddle Brothers. Not having any children of their own, they raised the Elven baby as their son, giving him the name Gilliad. Growing up among the Halflings of the Tindermoot, the Elven youth soon towered over his friends and family, becoming known in those parts as Gilliad the Giant. Though obviously of Elven heritage, when Gilliad came of age it became apparent that he likely also possessed Human blood, evidenced by his very un-elvish muscular build and the newly grown fuzz on his chin. This further added to the mystery of his birth, though his mixed heritage would eventually be at least partly confirmed by the arrival of the Solastaris refugees from across the sea. Sadly his adopted parents would not live to see that day, for being at least partly of Elven blood Gilliad’s lifespan was much longer than the Halflings who raised him, and so his parents passed away when Gilliad was still a youth, shortly after his fifty-first birthday (marked from the day he was first found by the Hiderbiddle’s), less than a year before the Elves arrived to take up residence in the Headlands.
Once the Solastaris Elves brokered the diplomatic annexation of the Headlands, they set themselves for years to the difficult task of building a new home from the ruins of their ancient outposts. But as they began to settle and expand throughout the newly dubbed Solastaris Refuge, they too discovered more and more of the ancient history left behind in ruins by their ancestors on these rocky shores. With the assistance of Halfling historians they also discovered what the Halflings had come to call the Forgotten Arches. However so old and long forgotten were the outposts of the Solastaris Elves that the modern day Elven refugees had no record of what cataclysmic fate had befallen them. The discovery of the arches, standing tall amid the blasted rock surrounding them is believed to hold the key to unraveling that mystery. But exactly what purpose the arches served or how they fit in is still speculation.
All that is known for certain is that the ancient writing above each of the arches has finally been translated, in an old Solastarian dialect. The first arch, where the Elven child was found reads “Adanedal Ando”, meaning “Elf-man Gate”, either by coincidence or fate speaking to the mixed heritage of Gilliad the Giant. The second arch speaks of something far more ominous, and reads “Amarth Ando”, meaning “Doom Gate”.