The Enclave > Known Roads > Mirael

Tower of The Furrow

The stone-walled tower of The Furrow, red iron shutters covering its few windows, looms over the common folk of Mirael in more ways than one. The tower stands atop a hillock a little way from the scattered village dwellings, giving it a commanding view of the Odan River, the River Road and the surrounding fields. Indeed, the tower was built by spearmen from the King's Keep in the time of Tean's youth, and served as a winter staging post until the The Furrow claimed it for his own.

The Furrow was once a sage of the Black Tower in Three Stones, until his departure the better part of a generation ago. He is rumored to hold the keys to powerful wizardry; the threat of The Furrow's Refutations casts a longer shadow than does his tower. The Furrow is neither vindictive nor vengeful, but quite capable of momentary or lasting cruelty without a second thought.

The Furrow makes few demands of the folk of Mirael; privacy and provisions are chief amongst them. The cost is not great, and stories are still told of the fate of those spearmen and common folk who once stood up to The Furrow. No-one knows how the Ammander sage spends the passing seasons hidden away inside his tower - few folk in Mirael care to speculate aloud.

[ Posted by Reason on April 20, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Fast Flowing Odan

The Odan river flows fast and deep by Mirael and the River Road. The rocky banks slide and shift each spring with the melting snow; wood-walled Ammander cottages built beside the Odan a generation ago now hang precariously over river rocks, supported by stonework and posts.

Fishing the Odan at Mirael is poor sport and a poorer living. River Pebblefish are small and shy, while the Toothed Eels that hunt them taste rancid. Still, it isn't unusual to see older Ammander folk casting line and hook into the current to while away a warm afternoon.

Were the Odan less rocky and rapid, and the Farthest Wilderness less forbidding, there would no doubt be trade by river between Mirael and Cael or the Watch of Trees. As it is, the Odan is the only thing to wind its way across the open Enclave land to the Unending Sea.

[ Posted by Reason on April 22, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Speared Neth

A run-down, dirty stone tavern is the first building in Mirael passed by any traveler arriving from the River Road. It is an unappealing sight, the appearance not helped by a poorly-executed wood mural of spearmen and what would be a dying Neth - were it not deliberately scratched out.

The tavern lies empty in warmer seasons, shunned by the common folk of Mirael. Spearmen from the King's Keep drink in the Speared Neth when they pass through in winter; it may be ugly, the interior dirty and hung with unpleasant reminders of Neth, but the ale is cheap. Not as cheap as it should be, but cheap.

Lun, the aged Ammander who owns the Speared Neth, is as unpleasant, ugly and ill-kept as his tavern. It is common knowledge that there was once something between Lun and The Furrow, an arrangement of some sort when the sage was newly arrived and Lun still a merchant of means - but a short Declaration on old parchment was all Lun recieved in the end. "Ugly and nothing you are, ugly and nothing you will always be."

[ Posted by Reason on April 22, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Lun and Abethel

Poor ale, yes, Neth leather on the wall turns your guts, the wind blows through the walls, but don't be calling her a crone. Abethel's her name and if your spear was nocked as mine, you'd see the look she gave you. A generation ago you'd be spilling your blood atop the dirt, like as not. Best watch where you sleep tonight.

Hah! This place is rotten meat that won't fade, and us as flies in winter. Neth, they make you sick to even think of, and here we set down spears, drunk on bad ale in filth and cold. You can't stand it, but mark my words, you'll be back just as sure as Neth when leaves fall. Old cursed Lun, he's just another gobbet on the whole rotting pile, deserves worse still he does. Abethel, now though, she rode with Tean.

Why? You're not going to understand, not until you've Neth blood on your spear. Not until your father looks like that and you're staring at your own path ahead. Not until you find and lose a wife. Abethel was as hard and sharp a spear as you'll ever see, just ask the old priests at the Keep. Her here with Lun, like this ... like this, look around you! That's just how it is.

No, no more. Drink your King's-cursed ale I paid good coin for. The morrow is to the Odan Bridge again, and that's too soon for my liking. A drink to this rotten pit of a tavern and freezing ourselves on the River Road!

[ Posted by Reason on April 23, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Master Lareth of the Players' Guild

By Lady Moonlit's nether beard! What have you been doing with my coin, my hall? What is the name of this piece? "The Love of the Two Pillars" ... "Love," do you hear me? You call yourselves players? Why, you passionless field rabbits look less in love than the Two Pillars themselves! And the delivery ... oh, but I am speechless! Speechless! If I'd wished the best work of my mentor butchered, carelessly dismembered, treated like cuts on a commoner's table, I'd have thrown my coin at Lady Dalun's squawling babes and their talentless thugs and thieves.

Ah, me and mine! I am riven, riven! Look at me - you have brought me to tears and pulling at my hair! It's no less than my own fault; I should have stayed rather than leave things in less capable hands. But who else to trust with Three Stones merchants and cloth and dye? And less than ten days til we are to leave for the One Stone fair! What to do, what to do?

[ Posted by Reason on April 24, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Players' Guild

The village of Mirael might seem an odd place to find a traditional Ammander players' hall amidst trees and faded hanging ribbons. From the River Road, Mirael seems far too small a community to be the destination of troubadors in winter and the source of traveling players in warmer seasons. Nonetheless, as home to the Players' Guild, such it is.

In truth, the Players' Guild is much reduced from its once-comfortable place as a favorite of Three Stones nobles; a mere shadow of what it once was. While other Guilds were forbidden and disbanded by order of Lady Verden and her descendants, the troubadors and players of Three Stones continued on as a guild in all but name for a generation. The increasing influence of the Temple of Powers and a number of injudicious decisions on the part of successive Master Players brought an end to that golden time of patronage and performance, alas.

As seasons passed, the troubadors of Three Stones drifted away to Port, Gold Vale ... and Mirael. It happened that Master Abonel, a shrewd and talented playwright of not immodest means, spent his childhood by the Odan and in the fields of Mirael. Quite where he obtained the coin to commission the players' hall and surrounding dwellings is a matter for speculation, but obtain it he did. The small village of Mirael became host to quite the wide variety of characters and birthplace of a number of well known performances in the years that followed.

In time, Master Abonel reached the end of his Road and the hall came into the hands of the present Master Player, Lareth. Sad to tell, but with Abonel went the last of the easy coin; Master Lareth may have the touch in some matters, but coin has never been one of them. As the years whitened Master Lareth's once-fine head of hair, the lure of noble patronage in Port or playing for coin on the Known Roads proved too much for many a troubador - even fighting for lead coins with the few established players in present day Three Stones is a more attractive proposition for some than living the life of villagefolk.

Still, the players' hall stands yet, threadbare though it may be, and troubadors come and go from Mirael in all seasons. Old Master Lareth has a good number of years left in him, and even those on the outs with his coterie have to admit that the Mirael players do not lack for skill.

[ Posted by Reason on April 25, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Two Pillars and the Council House

A wealthy Lord and Lady came to live out their old age in Mirael many generations ago, when Three Stones and Port were smaller and the village by the Odan was little more than a few farmers and their families. The noble couple built a manse overlooking the Odan and commissioned stoneworkers to carve the Two Pillars, each engraved with poetic declarations of love and devotion.

The weathered Pillars still stand a little way from Mirael, out in the fields where once was a grove of tall trees. Each worn stone mass is twice the height of the traditional Ammander spear.

The noble manse was put to many uses over the years after the Lord and Lady passed from the Enclave; much of the building crumbled for lack of coin to maintain it. What is left, impressive old stonework even with the passing of generations and patchwork repairs, is now the Mirael Council House.

[ Posted by Reason on April 26, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Water Circle

The large Water Circle of cracked slabs in the center of Mirael, grass growing thick between the stones, is another remnant of the old noble manse and its builders. A single tree grows in the circle, canting surrounding slabs at an angle. The Council House stands beside the point at which the River Road ends by joining the Circle. Once, buried channels carried water from the Odan to flow around the edge of the circle in a stone-lined watercourse; all that remains of that now is a sunken ditch about the edge of the stones that floods in the rain.

The players of Mirael perform and practice on the Circle as often as in their hall. Traders from Three Stones and the King's Keep set out their wares on the old stones on market days. The whitebeards of the village gather beneath the spreading branches of the Water Circle tree in warmer seasons to reminisce and tell tales. Yet the upper red iron shutters of The Furrow's tower are visible from the Water Circle - over the rooftop of the Hall of Powers - just as they are from much of Mirael. The tower provides a constant, unsettling reminder for those who recall the The Furrow's arrival.

[ Posted by Reason on April 28, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Hall of Powers

The Hall of Powers is a three-walled, open structure facing the Water Circle in the center of Mirael. The walls are old, made of carefully fitted river stones, but the high wooden roof is clearly a later addition. The centerpiece of the hall is the statues of Lady Moonlit and the Beautiful Stranger, both carved in white stone from Port. Other Powers of the enclave are represented in their own ways - such as an old Route Marker set into the wall for the Traveler; figurines of lantern and boat for the Fisher in Darkness; a wooden statue of the Seeker of Burning Truths, shading his eyes to stare into the distance; a rusting iron spear and crown for the King of All the Ammand; a roguish and handsome etching of Salin the Seafarer; a sapling planted for Laelene, the Eldest Tree.

The Hall of Powers is tended by a crotchety Ammander priest named Croen, his means provided for by the Mirael Council rather than, as would be traditional, gifts left in the Hall by village folk. Croen dwells alone in a small wooden hut on the edge of the village, a creature of habit and ritual - not one to be bothered by the cares and concerns of others.

[ Posted by Reason on May 1, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Strangers' Rest

Rasik, now, he and that wife of his may play at being the young goats, but he has more coin than you or I. He'd look his age if he wore a beard; has interests here and interests there. Like trees in the field, his friends in Three Stones. But there he is, behind the bar in the Strangers' Rest, because that's what pleases him. Not as though I'll complain while he keeps the good ale out front.

Hah! You think goods fall from the sky like rain, no doubt. No wonder you don't have a pair of coins to rub together. Take a look around the Rest the very next time you're spending Mered's coin; engravings on iron sheets and those tables don't come cheap - not to mention rooms fit for Three Stone traders. Not that you'll ever see the inside of those, cloth and drapes to put the Council House to shame.

Well, now, it was good enough for the Visitors from the Farthest River. They tied up their strangers' boats and came up to trade, not that half the folk here wanted to be anywhere near. The smell of them was curdled goat milk and rotting hay, for all they weren't too unpleasant on the eyes - not like that scaled thing that ruined fishing for a season two years past afore it went back to the Farthest. Still, Rasik gave them room and was paying coin to twenty folk for twenty days to scrub out the smell after all was done. They say he got the best of the trade though, and there was talk that him up in the Tower had something to do with it ... but no need to be bringing that up. Let us talk of other matters.

[ Posted by Reason on May 1, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

River Houses and the Year of Winter

Was a time when some folk lived in houses on the Odan; before the seaons of him up in his Tower. Fast and deep the river may be, but a chained raft stays steady enough to build on - the Year of Winter put paid to that, though, mark me well. The river froze solid, right enough, and it was a harsh time for all; even cruel Neth when spring never came and Trespassers roamed the land. But afore that, Neth were to be crossing the frozen Odan and butchering poor folk in their river houses, leaving their stench over everything. Spears on the ice river bank, it was, and murder done in driving snow.

The chains, a few are still there, but no-one builds river houses now. A good thing too, even if the Odan froze over neither before nor since.

[ Posted by Reason on May 5, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Spearmen's Wall

The old, low Spearmen's Wall of dry-fitted river stone was built when Mirael was smaller, a boundary line for hired spearmen to walk in winter. Larger stones have been taken for houses, and much of the Wall has simply disappeared as the village expanded away from the Odan River. The remaining lengths by the river banks, River Road and Players' Hall haven't been repaired for a generation or more - they are ragged and collapsed in many places.

[ Posted by Reason on May 7, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

A Council of Tradition, New and Old

In the old Ammand, far across the Unending Sea, village councils met and acted at the behest of their Lord. A noble or representative was given the Lord's Place at the head of the table - a seat that remained empty for most council sessions. While the Enclave is not the Ammand, the Council House of Mirael does boast a stone table and Lord's Chair, both crafted long ago in Port when the Council House was part of a larger noble manse.

By rights, the Lord's Place should be accorded to Leressa, aged sister to the present Lady Talmur of Three Stones. She is far more refugee than representative, given the degree to which she has fallen from favor in her family, but she is the only noble-blooded Ammander in Mirael. Unfortunately for Leressa, the Lord's Chair has been claimed by The Furrow for a generation - and thus it gathers dust while that old sage remains secluded within his Tower.

Nonetheless, it is Leressa who has pushed for frequent council meetings over the years and brought more of village life under Council auspices - raising minor taxes; providing for the Hall of Powers and Croen; resolving disputes between village folk; hiring spearmen year-round rather than only in winter seasons; ensuring The Furrow's requirements are met. Leressa is a strong-willed old woman, set in her ways and determined to be every bit the traditional Ammander Lady despite her current status and the looming shadow cast by The Furrow - both issues that she does her best to ignore. If Leressa cannot be Lady in Three Stones, then she will be Lady in Mirael, and woe betide any who say otherwise.

The other councillors in Mirael are village folk - kindly Eldine, Barras with his crippled leg and sharp wit, and young Tenyei of Vanished Isle descent. They as much dragged along by Leressa as they are councillors with a voice and vote, but they care about the folk of Mirael and do their best to see a good outcome for all.

[ Posted by Reason on May 8, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Spears to Guard in Summer

I've carried my spear 'cross the Enclave and back, let me tell you, and wed me to one of Orer's goats if this isn't the easiest coin I've found. Village ale, a clean guard house and coin for keeping the peace. You with your talk of up and leaving to the King's Keep! A few seasons of the King's Way, a few winters of Neth and Trespassers on the Roads, and you'd be pining for village life, I'll wager. Coin is just coin - it can't buy you fire and a good woman on the Forest Road, nor your fingers back from Neth, no. It can't make Port a place for an honest spear neither, and that's the truth.

You shouldn't pay any heed to the Lady; it's as much the other council folk who pay our coin. She's like the river eels, bites because she can. Besides, you'd be polishing spear and armor a good deal more for those who follow the King's Way. Where's the harm in standing a while outside the Council House for good coin if that's what she wants? Village folk aren't moon-faced; if spears are needed, we'll know about it, that's for certain and sure.

What about last season when Bralem and his brother were each at the other's throat in the Stranger's Rest over some trader girl? Half the village was there afore any of us, and it was all done and done by the time any spear was through the door. Rasik's wife hit Bralem over the head right smart and that was the end of that save for the cursing. A sight easier than patrolling the dockside in Port, mark my words!

[ Posted by Reason on May 9, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Orer's Goats

Ugly creatures, aren't they just? Like two goats in one, and dragged backwards through a wet hedge at that. Well behaved, though, I'll give them that, and they seem to keep the rest quiet. No more chewing through the gate ties and eating what they shouldn't - I'm thankful for that, for certain and sure.

Well and well, six summers past it was, afore Merris broke her leg on the riverside and Master Lareth and the Lady almost came to blows over his attempt at a festival. A year that was! That young isleblood, away to Port and salt air he is now, was tending my goats - and I'll be buried if he didn't come back with six more than he left with one fine day. "They looked Lost," he said. "Wouldn't leave," he said. Too soft in the heart to work the land, that one, and didn't I always say as much? Can't say as I blame him, mind; you can't help the blood you're born with. He couldn't be faulted for lack of trying, neither.

So there you have it, or them, as you like it. I haven't tried their milk in these six years, and by the Lady Moonlit, I can't say as I'm going to. Mayhaps the old ways work for goats just as for folk - treat these Visitors well and the Beautiful Stranger will keep my animals safe should they stray into the Farthest.

[ Posted by Reason on May 10, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

A Visitor Atop the Walls

Not so long ago, a Lost Visitor from the Farthest Fields dwelled in Mirael; he looked enough like an Ammander to pass for one at first glance, but he never spoke the Ammand tongue. The players took him in and gave him a place in their houses, since he showed no interest in earning his way as a commoner. There was a certain sadness about the Visitor's ways, even though he favored the bright colors of cloth brought by Three Stones merchants. The Visitor never left the village in the years he was there; in winter seasons, he would sit atop the low Spearman's Wall and sing in his own strange way.

When The Furrow arrived in Mirael, the Visitor vanished. There was much ill in the village in those seasons, and the Visitor was far from the only one to leave. There are those who say The Furrow had more of a direct hand in it, what with the fascination that Black Tower sages have for the Farthest ... but they say so quietly and to themselves.

[ Posted by Reason on May 12, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

With the Traveler to Guide Their Steps

Mirael's small gravefield overlooks the village and river from a low but rocky bluff between fields of crops. A graven image of the Traveler, leaning on his trusty staff, faces the scattered marker stones amidst rocks and trees. The largest tree on the bluff shades an old, overgrown crypt built after the fashion of those in the gravefields beyond Three Stones and sealed for generations. Within rest the remains of the Lord and Lady of the Two Pillars, those responsible for much of the early growth of Mirael.

Two lines of rusting Ammander spears are set deep in the earth at one edge of the gravefield, between them a worn stone carved with the crown and spear of the King of All the Ammand. The rusting metal marks the graves of spearmen who died in the Year of Winter, while defending blizzard-bound Mirael from cruel Neth and in futile battle with a monsterous Trespasser from the Farthest.

[ Posted by Reason on May 13, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Standing Rock on the River Bend

Between the fields and the deep Odan, an old, rock-strewn path runs out past the Spearmen's Wall and alongside the river. It is marked by large, overgrown stumps amidst grass and bushes, the trees cut down in past seasons. Blue sageflowers grow over the dead wood in spring and summer, collected by the older children of Mirael to be hung over doorways and at the Hall of Powers.

The clear path ends at the river bend and the Standing Rock; only a slight bend in fact, but the great rock hides the river downstream. In warmer seasons, players and troubadors bring ale and fishing lines to the Standing Rock - an escape from Master Lareth, or simply to a way to laze undisturbed by village folk; there is little in the Odan worth fishing for. The Standing Rock is knife-etched with generations of ale-addled players' lore; treasured lines, insults, ill-phrased rejoinders and the memory of love and loss.

The common folk of Mirael tell stories of the Standing Rock, of how the fast-flowing Odan is bottomless beside it, or as near as makes no difference. Once upon a time, or so it is said, the Fisher in Darkness come up the river to sit atop the Standing Rock. That noble Power fished with line and rod for who knows what for a full year and a day - from high summer through first and last snow to high summer once more. He caught nothing in all that time, but sailed downriver for the Unending Sea in as good a mood as a year and a day earlier, for the Fisher knew that fishing is more than a matter of simply catching fish. But whatever the Fisher fished for still remains, and so sensible folk ply their business elsewhere on the Odan.

[ Posted by Reason on July 22, 2005 | Permanent Link ]