The Enclave > Known Roads > Ura

The Mountain Below

Ura is a Datarii word for mountain, and the name Ammander folk have adopted for the modest community hidden amidst steep hills inland from the Coast Road. The Red Iron Road that winds through the hills from Ura joins the Coast Road some days of travel from the outskirts of Port.

Ammander farm folk and miners of red iron are not the first to make their homes amidst these hills. Long before the seafaring Magi bought their wizardry to Enclave shores, stonefolk had traveled the hidden ways beneath rock and soil, far from the deep vaults and halls of Great Home to find Ura Retii, the Mountain of Distant Places.

To a Datar, a mountain is a mountain whether it is above or below soil and lesser rock. Ammander folk see little of Ura Retii, for it lies entirely beneath the hills. Only the uppermost peaks and veins of red iron are touched by Ammander miners in the open castings and quarries surrounding Ura.

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

Alla, Who Trades For Stone

Another for the stonefolk! Blood, I can tell your sort - not like honest folk, nor merchants, nor the Red Iron Guild. You have the look of thieves with your sacks and mules loaded with ill-gotten gains. You make an old militia spear want to run you through afore you cause trouble, and there's the truth.

Leastways you have manners, not like some. Shouldn't take my words as harsh - carry a spear under the sun on the Red Iron Road for long enough, you'll see how folks come to look. The stairway to the Mountain Below is closed yet, and may it stay that way this summer! What if Alla stays beneath for five summers, as when I were young? What then? Where would you be with your sacks of rock from here and there? Hah! Worthless, it is, and no honest folk would depend on trade with the stonefolk here.

[ Posted by Reason on July 31, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Modest Sage of Ura

I am always pleased to see you, old friend. It is I who should apologise - what little coin I find in summer is put to more interesting use than the pay of servants and other comforts. I live as though an old man without daughters, a far cry from your more pleasant manse on the slopes of Port, I do not doubt. You would find a more seemly welcome with any of the commonfolk here - a life without ink is a life lived cleanly! Now who scribed that remarkable truth?

No, do not worry. The Guildmaster is a pleasant sort, but vain as black goat. He gifts me a purse around first snow in exchange for a little unseemly and overly flattering creativity. Just between the two of us, I have come to quite enjoy it these past winters; it can be a welcome distraction from more weighty words. Oh, no, it isn't that way at all - I have not become a moonfaced playwright in my solitude here! That said, I am told troubadors in Port are wondering on the source of certain complimentary works. They may like the craftmanship, but I fear the common folk are less enthusiastic. I wonder who shows the most sense? Still, one does what one must to find coin for important matters.

Ah, a patron, yes, I know your heart in this matter. My answer is the same as it was at last snow these two winters past. The childhood of a treatise cannot be rushed - I could no more make spearmen of village children, or apprentices of babes in arms. In truth, this is a large child indeed; I fear I will have need of priests and bookbinders from the Great Library in Three Stones before I am done. A patron for the work itself would not be helpful; I came to Ura in no small part to escape that spearman's pace, as you might recall.

One grows used to the sound of stonework in the distance, I assure you; it is quite condusive to a peaceful heart and meritous thought. You must try some of the cheese and bread - fresh, I promise you, for all the unsightly appearance of my home. You should send word ahead when you next plan to visit, so that at least I would not be forced to revel in the results of my own nature!

I admit, it is easy to forget the privileged position I find myself in. I can declare, without any thrill of mystery, that I talk to the ageless Datarii of the Mountain Below each summer in which they deign to open the stairway. They think it a foolish waste of time, but I have learned a little of what engages their interest these past summers. They are a strange folk, set in their ways like a court of elderly Ladies under a King of the old Ammand - yet knowledgeable and even noble in their own manner. My friend, I can say without doubt that my Conversations With the Datarii of Ura Retii will one day be an important work indeed ... but in time, in time. You can hurry neither white hair nor a Datar.

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

Goats on the Unquarried Hillsides

The buildings of Ura nestle in a broad bowl between steep-sided hills, most quarried away over the generations. Come rain or shine, the sons and daughters of farmfolk are up on the few untouched hillsides amidst the high grass, keeping their goats from straying into the Farthest Hills. From the goatherd's vantage, all Ura is laid out in plain view, from Red Iron Road to the old, overgrown mine trenches, from the manse of the Red Iron Guildmaster and the Hall of Powers to the lesser manses of village folk aspiring to greater wealth. Muddy, well-used tracks lead away from Ura to hollowed hillsides, stoneworks and open mining pits, passing between orchards and walled farm plots.

Like the goats, few folk stray beyond sight of Ura. The villagefolk are not hunters like the Landsmen of Port, and no-one has left markers in the hills of Ura like those in the grasslands of Port, or in the stony valleys of Krineth's Hills beyond Three Stones. The Farthest presses close beyond the steep hills overlooking Ura, and overly curious folk - or goats - risk losing their way back to the Known Roads.

[ Posted by Reason on August 2, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Coin For Watchful Eyes

I know you, Abental, always sneaking around after we bring the goats down from the hills. Up to no good, I'll wager! What do I hear from Mire about coin in your hands, hmm? What have you been spying while lazing on the High Rock and letting your mother's goats stray?

Aren't you the brave one, out of sight here? You'll keep your goat-games to yourself, least folk think I've been playing them with you - and least I be thinking ill of you. You're not so old you don't have to be afraid of my mother. She'll take a pick to your skull if she has it in her heart that you looked my way twice ... just as well she can't climb with the goats, hmm?

No, show me, stop hiding it! Look at this purse - the Guildmaster's seal and heavy too! How did this much coin find its way into your belt? Abental? Tell me!

[ Posted by Reason on August 3, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

A Weight of Coin For Red Iron

Do you think me moonfaced, bowing to the Sea each night? I did not travel to Guildmastery on the backs of the beasts of ignorance and blindness! All of us here in my rooms know that Gresei no more represents the Black Tower than I represent the foul Neth of Krineth's Hills. I may not know just how much red iron you plan to load upon her mule, but more than would be needed for the quill and inkpot of a sage, mark my words!

I will say this - the Guild is not your adversary, but rather your partner in this noble enterprise of stone and red iron. It is we who set the great weight in coin you earn, and it is we who will gift you coin in return for the red iron you have so carefully set aside. My friends, skilled miners and crafters, I have let much pass beneath my notice these past seasons. For are we not all are of the same family, in the same vessel on the great Unending Sea? But do not forget that it is a boat, and it can be rocked to the detriment of all of us.

Look here, just as you have carefully set aside red iron from the last find against unforseen harder seasons, so too have I set aside coin against the fine products of your talent and hard work. Let this Gresei, whomever she may represent, depart empty-handed, for she will not honor you as will the Guild smiths of Port.

[ Posted by Reason on August 4, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

Spears to Guard the Forge

Blood! I speak with Tenlei for a single pour and come back to find you've cost us a pretty purse of coin! You and I, we need to have a talk about the ways of the forge afore too long - I knew it'd be trouble when old Vars took sick right when the new spears come from the Forest Road to look for summer coin. He may have had a stench like bad ale in the sun, and be good for nothing more than holding a spear upright, but leastways he had a nose for coin.

You may have wet your spear in Neth and snow while I've been lazing under fur and down, but you've a few things to learn yet - you and your King's Way! What the Guildmaster's goats say is well and good, but then there's the ways of the forge guard. Who holds your spear while the sun is up, you or the Guildmaster? Mark my words, if someone from the Road comes to talk, all pleasant and friendly, send them to talk to me. You and I, we'll have words later - now get yourself to watch the high windows on the far side of the forge.

[ Posted by Reason on August 6, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

An Explorer From the Farthest Hills

Aye, she was these eight summers past, the explorer on the Red Iron Road. We were blistering our feet on the Coast Road to Port, and learning why mules are better left to Landsmen - brand an islemark of warning on every last one of their hides, I would! It was a stranger's storm from the Farthest Sea left the Great Gemfish beached and broken-masted on the strand at Cael, and it would have been the worse for all the old crew were there not two strong eels at the rudder - aye, and two more for the sail afore it tore away to fly above the saltmarsh Odanmouth. You can be well and sure there was much crying and wailing from the merchant folk on the dockside over the coin and loss, and that was the last any of us sailed for Menas. Hah! The old eel is welcome to his own catch, and 'tis better that way.

Aye, the explorer. I recall it as though it were yesterday. Out of the gulley she stumbled, 'tween the two flat-faced hills beside the red iron marker half a day from Ura - dressed as Krineth would be, but pleasing to a seafarer's eye, mark me well. Lost as any seafarer could be, she was, clear as the marker itself. It was luck we had turned from the Coast Road to the Red Iron Road, luck or the touch of the Beautiful Stranger, mind. Gesal, as lazy an eel as I've ever seen, had upped and talked us into it at the joining of Roads - and I'll be thrown overboard if I recall just what he said that convinced us all. Gesal, aye, Lost to the Unending Sea he was, vanished on a day of fog after last snow three winters past. Taken coin to the Temple of Three we all have these past seasons, and may the Powers watch for him.

Well and well, the tale - aye, and show respect for the Lost, you should. There we were, footsore and trying to make sense of a Visitor's tongue. It's a strange thing, to be walking the Road paved by the Beautiful Stranger and almost to feel you can understand a Visitor, a word here, a word there. Afore too long, she was up, drinking from our water and drawing maps on sailcloth saved from the Gemfish. Came with us to Ura she did, for what else could she do?

[ Posted by Reason on August 6, 2005 | Permanent Link ]

The Scowls

The Scowls lurk about the outskirts of Ura and the quarries, a clan of large black cats who stalk the line between wild and tamed. The Scowls have a distinctive set to their faces and an angry disposition to match - commonfolk claim they're not cats at all, but rather the Lost descendants of Trespassers from the Farthest Village. A few folk who work the quarries and thin veins of red iron have befriended the Scowls with food and patience over the seasons, but farmfolk cannot stand the creatures - Scowls have been known to scare goats and steal food from tables while backs are turned. Merchants and other travelers far little better: the unaware who arrive dusty from the Red Iron Road in warmer seasons risk a clawing in return for any overture of friendship toward a Scowl sunning itself atop orchard walls.

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

The Broken Pick

By all the stone I've broken, this is good ale! A sight better than when I was younger, and this inn was called the Forge. Here's a tale for you and yours: the old Guildmaster found the barkeep sitting atop red iron and coin, and all who knew were lucky to escape with their skins. Guildmaster Ferth was an angry one, mind, and that was a winter in which I would have been glad to keep goats rather than swing a pick!

Not just strong arms, then - all that talking you do instead of helping me load stone is giving you the heart of a sage. You'll be moonfaced, chasing the stonefolk in high summer with quill and fancy words afore we know it. Of course that's why the barkeep takes coin from the Guild! The Guildmaster here may be all milk and cheese with his smiles and his manse, but the Guild talks with a pick behind its back - always has, always will. The smiths in Port, they're hard red iron, and their Natramun is hardest of all, mark my words.

Ferth paid good coin to the first new barkeep to come from Port; he's the one who built up the walls and gave it the look of a place on the Dockside Market. You'd half expect eels to come flopping out of the door alongside the ale. That first barkeep gave it the name, too, as soon as he saw the rusted pick stuck in the fruit tree out front. Now there's another tale...

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

Mortal Folk to Guard Datarii

You've never seen those below, have you? This is coin for standing still with polished arms from the Guildmaster's manse - not for those with fire in their blood and the King's Way in their heart. The stonefolk, they walk as men carrying timbers to a new cottage, or with arms full of blades fresh from the forge. Rightly so, I'll say; I'd no more want to be stepped on by a horse of the King's Keep than rub shoulders with Alla. Blood! She no more needs spears than the hills she lives beneath!

Still, easy coin it is, so long as you don't laugh at the Guildmaster and his ways as Meris did last summer. Alla and the other stonefolk, there they stand or sit, still and quiet as you like while all manner of fools come and go. All the while, the red iron goats are dancing and fawning. I'll say this, and may it go no further: the Guild may give us our purses, tell us to take our spears here and there, to bake ourselves on the Red Iron Road under summer sun, but stand beside the stonefolk for a single day and you'll see just what the Guild amounts to.

Blood! None of my concern were you to run to Port for militia coin until the leaves fall again. My tales are as I see the world; I'll be cold and buried without ever taking coin to carry my spear for anyone worthy of it.

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

Pick and Stone Fair of Ura

Stoneworkers and pick-wielders of Ura turn to other occupations while snow piles high in the hollows left from the past summer's work, sustained by coin from the Red Iron Guild. Around the time of last snow, when the ground softens and troubadors depart their winter retreats in Port, Three Stones and Mirael, the Pick and Stone Fair is held in Ura.

Since the Year of Winter, that terrible, unending season of Trespassers and wizardry, when snow and hail buried the Red Iron Road and a third of Ura's commonfolk starved, the Pick and Stone Fair has grown in significance. What was once a small, traditional occasion - marked by coin passed to the few troubadors who wintered in Ura and a late night of ale and carefully husbanded provisions in the tavern and manses - has become an event to rival the summer fair at One Stone. Coin flows freely from the Guildmaster, merchants and players brave the thawing, muddied Known Roads to claim their share, and even some cityfolk from Port - and thieves too, no doubt - have taken to making the journey in recent years.

A successful fair is taken as a good sign for the seasons to come; it is a defiance of the Farthest Winter and its hold over the Enclave lands. After troubadors have played their part and the last of the ale has gone, half of Ura follow the stoneworkers and minefolk out to the quarries, where they compete - often drunkenly - for the right to be first to break the earth and win a purse of Guild-pressed coin from the Red Iron Guildmaster.

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