The Cloudland (4e Environment)
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Banner Symbol: White spear on sky blue field.
Standard Color: Sky blue and white.
The Cloudland's geography is defined by hills of moderate to large size, and valleys and flowering meadows. There is only a single lake, but numerous water holes across the countryside. Its elevation is such that it appears to be a very large, dark cloud.
Imports, Exports, and Resources
The Cloudland's main import is of dry foods; various grains, spices, and cured meats to supplement the limited livestock and farming land. Of the livestock sheep are valued most, for their wool; which is then refined into The Cloudland's main export of woolen yarn and cloth. Cloth is another valued import: fine linens, cottons and silks, and other weaves, which are then used alongside the native wool to support The Cloudland's secondary trade- clothing. Wingles are fond of the arts, and with wool being a rare renewable source weaving and tailoring are taken to with a gusto. Wingle produced wool is very fine and warm, and the traditional wingle style of dress is light and flowing.
Other wingle crafts include musical instruments, painting, and the odd whitesmith. The stereotypical wingle instruments are the pan pipes, flute, and harp. Winglish portrait art usually consists of a handful of well-placed lines meant to suggest, but human and elvish art remains popular.
For water, wingles depend upon rainwater and condensation. The Cloudland tends to wander over the more temperate and tropical climate zones, so these are usually in good supply. Wood is a precious commodity, as there are relatively few trees on The Cloudland.
The Cloudland's history began when it was severed from the continent by Maegwyn, one of the wingle Elders. Upon recovering from this feat and instilling her magic in Valknyr Maegwyn set out to explore her new land with Urkel, who would become her husband. They established the family hall in the island's central region, and soon it was filled with many children and in time grandchildren. These were the times when Maegwyn and her kin were most isolated.
After some urging from Urkel, Maegwyn visited her family below, and this started the first growth spurt in wingle culture. Soon after the family visit the wingle matriarch Ha died, and the wingles turned to Maegwyn for leadership. So, as a reminder of Ha's vision and work Maegwyn constructed an awe inspiring castle from clouds overlooking a lake, and held court there. Then she encouraged travel to and from The Cloudland, and the floating isle received its first non-wingle visitors from below.
The vast majority of Maegwyn's rule was peaceful and prosperous, and she outlived all her siblings and several of her heirs as well. But by that time, the wingles living below had grown more war-like and began to fight to gain control of the Elder's powerful weapons. Maegwyn, the wielder of Valknyr, was decidedly neutral and refused to take a side in the conflict... which some saw as an ill omen, due to her association with prophecy, while others saw it as simple indifference. Though even wingles of The Cloudland clamored for her to aid one side or even collect the weapons for herself Maegwyn stayed out of the conflict. However, her husband Urkel knew how she wished for the strife to end, and he was not impartial. Urkel took up Valknyr, and in a single day routed the wingles vying to gain the blade of light Halla. Upon hearing of this and her elder brother Hal returning from the Celestial Plane to reclaim his sword Syuveil, Maegwyn wept for three days and nights at a well she had been magically constructing in the countryside, before passing to the Celestial Plane in her sleep a few days later.
The next few generations passed without incident, and the wingles stayed aloft on The Cloudland more often than they left for below. Until, that is, High King Albus and Queen Maeghan ruled. They were the last pure-blood wingles remaining on the wandering isle, and their daughter was known as the fairest on The Cloudland, as well as very free-spirited. She used a considerable portion of her ancestor's fortunes to purchase fine clothing and jewelery, at an alarming rate. A young noble named Gildas grew weary of the princess' antics, and reasoned that he would be able to seize power if he did away with the royal family. Enlisting the services of an infamous wingle assassin of the lower lands named Gar, Gildas very nearly did just that- but the princess escaped, and jumped off the edge of The Cloudland in possession of Valknyr after Gar's mysterious failure to strike her down. To cover, Gildas very publicly brought Gar to justice, having one of his wings amputated and putting a geas on him to protect the Well of Tears.
Though it did take a few years, Gildas indeed fulfilled his ambition to become High King. Wingle culture resurfaced under his reign and grew to new heights, with more trade between The Cloudland and the lower lands than ever before. Wingle living on The Cloudland gained a great love of music during this period, adopting the pan pipes and harp as their chosen instruments. Though, among more traditional wingles, Gildas made an unfavorable impression by giving the merchant guilds of the lower lands too much power in court.
And so, though disliked by a fair number of wingles, under Gildas' reign The Cloudland flourished. But during his later years Gildas was focused on a wingle living below: the princess was said to survive, traveling the land in a red riding cloak and still in possession of Valknyr, and looking barely a day older than when she fled. Gildas formed a division of rangers to scour the land in search of her, but every mission failed due to either the princess being surprisingly proficient with Valknyr or incompetent tracking. This drove Gildas mad, and he demanded ethereal music be played around the palace to soothe him; the very same music played in the castle today.
Again, wingle culture on The Cloudland has entered a quiet, stable period, though many report the princess to still be alive and well and eagerly wait for news of her return.
The Cloudland is usually ruled by a king and queen, who hold court with various representatives of merchant guilds and nobles to set the laws and customs for The Cloudland. Their power on the floating isle is near absolute, but less so on the wingles living below. There have been a few less than wise rulers, but it is whispered that the ancient crown and ring Gildas began the tradition of wearing grant some measure of wisdom to the wearer.
The Cloudland's Culture
Like all wingles, those on The Cloudland enjoy song and dance, performing scenes from their history with great enthusiasm. Much is done to preserve the limited space and wildlife of The Cloudland, and many families have a pet bird of some kind.
Where wingles of the lower lands would enjoy hunting, wingles of The Cloudland participate in athletic contests, such as mid-air wrestling and javelin throwing.
There are several villages around The Cloudland, but many wingles instead travel from one end of the island to the other, setting up camp for a few days at most.
Key Locations and People
- The Well of Tears: An ancient well in The Cloudland's west, where Maegwyn cried for three days and nights. Her tears gave the waters magical properties, capable of things like healing and granting wishes. Maegwyn's heir Mirany was the first to notice this, and she began the custom of having the Well closely watched to see it waters' powers weren't abused. Gildas' stationing of Gar at the Well to guard it is widely credited as a clever move that initially helped him claim the kingship. Although, his detractors question the wisdom of granting such a notorious assassin access to the Well of Tears. Either way, Gar's geas shows no signs of fading, and he remains in the area doing his duty to this day.
- Gar: The assassin who slew High King Albus and Queen Maeghan in broad daylight, there are few in wingle history more infamous than Gar. He says he was born on The Cloudland but raised down below by his mother in the alleys of several cities, and that he learned most of his craft as a matter of survival. Though quick to take credit for deeds by copy cats, research shows Gar was only on The Cloudland for a relatively short period of time before accepting Gildas' offer. When asked if the princess fended him off with Valknyr, or he let her go due to feelings he had developed for the princess while watching her routine in the castle and planning his attack, Gar prefers to just smirk and chuckle. He has never given a straight answer on the matter. And though he is far beyond a normal wingle's life span, Gar remains able-bodied and quick witted enough to fulfill his duty.
- High Queen Samma: Perhaps the cheeriest Queen since Maegwyn herself, Samma enjoyed playing the harp in her youth and occasionally gives concerts with the rest of the palace musicians. And again, just as Maegwyn did Samma has an air about her that makes a simple frown seem like a deep disapproval of a failure, and commands instant respect. Known for openly offering for the lost princess to rule with her.
- The Cloud Castle: Words fail to do its architecture justice, but many remark upon its brilliance at sunset. In further detail, it is said to have tall and graceful pointed arches and facades, scrolled columns, and magically stained crystal mosaic windows. The throne is said to be like a sunrise that lights up whenever the king or queen is seated. On any given day, from the top of the tower it is possible to see the edges of The Cloudland. On the first floor is a ball room, with a floor of sparkling crystals set in black marble. Two staircases on the side lead up to the throne room; the throne is on a gentle uphill slope, and the floor is covered with grass. The third floor features a meeting room with pillars in the shape of trees with branching leaves, and the fourth is the observation deck, and the fifth and the king and queen's personal rooms.
- The Hall of Memories: Maegwyn's family hall, converted into a museum. Some of the smaller rooms are used for private concerts or presentations on relics in the exhibits.
- The Northern Garden: A flower garden looking over the edge of The Cloudland, that grew into a small park. The oldest area has a semi-circle of benches around a magical water fountain, and has a magnificent view looking right over the edge of The Cloudland. Frequented by romantic young couples.
Institutions and Organizations
- The Royal Rangers: An elite squad of rangers hand picked by the king and queen. Under Gildas they had a reputation of critical failures and general incompetence, but since then they have redeemed themselves. Their search is rumored to be for an object and not the lost princess, under Samma's rule.
- The Palace Musicians: The music Gildas demanded be played to soothe him was deeply ingrained on all visitors to the castle, and the hauntingly beautiful strains of the same music are still played today. The palace musicians also play newer music, and give concerts at the castle and all around The Cloudland, as well as an occasional performance on the lands below.
- The Opened Way: A school that trains wingles for mid-air wrestling. Has remained a popular choice for aspiring wrestlers, despite its hilly location and infamously tough training regimen.