Volare (3.5e Environment)
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The center of Halimeda is fraught with forests, though most are either directly tied to, or are offshoots of the Faelorn Forest, marking the territories of the Elven lands. While not nearly as tragic a tale as the dwarves, the wildlands of Volare are one of the last "true" elven territories, or so its inhabitants would have you believe. Bearing a deep resentment for the expanding human empires of the world, and the fact that their own has shrunken so considerably, the Volarean elves choose to believe that their race is becoming extinct, rather than simply evolving, when more and more elves toss aside traditions to live amongst the humans. The lands are mostly untouched, giving them a wild taste to the occasional traveler.
Climate, Geography, and Wildlife
Like most Halimedan regions, Volare also enjoys a largely normal set of weather patterns, outside of the intervention of some powerful force. This leads to a rather peaceful environment, most days, offset by the temperate thunderstorm or even the occasional tornado or hurricane some months, especially in the warmer months. The forests of the region seem to be rather impervious to the weather, however, always seeming to spring up whenever they are destroyed, though this is likely owed to the energies from the Yggdrasil that reside nearby, in Ashalorien.
While forests dot the landscape, and cover a large portion of the region, especially in the northern and southern Faelorn forests, hilly plains are the most common scenery. It is also worth noting that everything in Volare that has been constructed, at least under the eye of the elves, has been constructed so with wood, or left alone, if not. Such is the case with even the very ground; Roads are made of dirt, or are not made at all!
Wildlife, while not as rampant as the variety found in Tirasus, is prolific in Volare, though when any species grows too large, or is too frequent a danger to travelers, the elves usually attempt to hunt them down to a more manageable level. It is also worth noting that all kinds of Fae are present in the wooded regions of Volare, mostly due to the relation of the region and one of its central benefactors, the goddess of Fae: Alcyone. There are more Fae in the region of Volare than there are in the rest of the world; The region is simply a gathering point, for them!
The region of Volare came only after Alcyone had settled here, back when almost the entire region was covered by the depths of the Faelorn Forest, and called it her home. She gave form to the spirits of the wood, and called them Fae, considering them her chosen people. With their goddess, the fae danced merrily in the woods of the region, and for a small time, only a few centuries worth, all was well. Elves, native to woods far from Volare, eventually came passing through the region. At this time, they were still a mostly pure-blooded people, nomadic hunters that revered and took joy in the natural beauty of the earth; It was no coincidence that they were some of the first druids. At first, the fae seemed hesitant to accept the elven tribes, though at Alcyone's urging, they did eventually come to welcome them. Elves settled the region, and for many years, the Fae and the Elves lived in harmony, assisting each other in forming boundaries around the land to ward off outsiders who might soon see harm to the land, as well as to attack logging camps to the south and north of those borders, as both Silverfell and Lionel sought to utilize the vast growth for lumber.
The turning point came when Alcyone, mother of the fae, was forced, like all the Aesir, to recede into her slumber, becoming dormant in the furthest depths of the wooded region, which had since lost portions of its forests to logging and war. Using the last of her strength, Alcyone took form as a large, dryad-like creature... and became the Yggdrasil, a magical tree that towers over all others, and brings prosperity and bounty to the lands around it.
Since this time, both Elves and Fae consider this tree sacred, not only because it is an aspect of their goddess, but because of what the tree's continued existence means to the land. The elves, in time, built a city around, and even upon the great tree, creating what they believed to be the greatest, and possibly, the last true home of the Elves. Others of their race had since begun to move out into the world, leaving the region in search of many different aspirations, but tradition in Ashalorien and its surrounding wilds means more than any possible future.
The governing powers of Volare are mostly tribal, small circuits of druids or hunters that lead their respective communities across the land, leading many to be skeptical over whether Volare can truly be considered a country. Nevertheless, the elves and fae do claim it, and fight fiercely against any unwelcome visitors, and have seen capable to provide a rather powerful force to repel large scale invasions, though it typically does not embark on imperial conquest with such power. All communities and individuals, however, no matter how large, or small, answer to the Elder, who resides in Ashalorien. While most elves, be they the Wood Elf hunters in the forests, or the High Elven mages of the plains, tend to flock to others of their own kind, all revere the Elder, whose mantle is passed down to successors at death to an apprentice, selected by the Elder, themselves. While all the tribes can argue and conflict, the Elder is the only entity capable of making national decisions, leading to a uniform, if vulnerable level of government.
While Volare is rather close-knit, and this results in no human settling in the region, native Catfolk can be found throughout, as well as a small level of Merfolk, the two races never having been involved in anything but the occasional trade or chatter with each other, and thus less under the grudge of the elves. The elves have a difficult time trusting anyone, however, and even guests of the elder themselves might find a column of stares and stern tongues waiting for them.
Foreign Relations and Military
Traditionally, Volare employs isolationism, less concerned with what occurs outside than within the borders, and the tribes that populate the various settlements across the region have a very callous attitude towards outsiders, though they are not always wholly intolerant. While sympathizers can exist in some towns and villages, most have already left for the outside world, if not having been shunned into keeping quiet by their peers and elders.
Volare has the most tension with Silverfell, because of disputes over resources, political ideologies, and even religious ideals. With Volare's population almost wholly worshipping Aesir, it has been subject to many of Silverfell's crusades in the past, and while the might of Silverfell can hardly be matched, natural terrain, combined with the forces of the Elven nation have managed to repel the invasions, albeit with heavy casualties. The two nations are never truly considered in a state of peace, though lulls in fighting does occur.
Volari troops, if they can be called such, are usually mostly elven rangers with longbows, supplemented by magics of Wizards and Druids. It is also not unheard of for the Fae, both civilized and wild, to assist the Volari when they defend their homeland, and thus the force of a Volari defensive party cannot be measured only by the enemies one sees, from afar.
Language, Religion, and Culture
Volari speak Elven, primarily, and forthright. Sylvan is a secondary language for communicating with the spirits of the wood, and the Fae, while both are recognized by the Volari leaders. While most comprehend and even know other languages, they will always prefer to use these dialects, instead, finding the other languages crude and foul.
Volare's citizens typically worship Aesir, especially Alcyone, the goddess of the Fae; Currently entombed within the Yggdrasil, she sleeps, but provides nurturing energies to the world around her, and thus earns the admiration and veneration of most of the population. Additionally, hunters and druids tend to also worship Bestia, goddess of the hunt, while Merfolk in the region worship Undine, goddess of the sea.
Cultural values tend to favor family, close friends, and community, while shunning the unknown. They also encompass ideals of precision, wit, and cleverness, traits of hunters, druids, and wizards alike.
Ashalorien, Capital of the Volare Region
A grand city built around the base of, and around the trunk of the great tree, Yggdrasil, the city is a testament to the Elves' pledge to never let the tree come to harm, as well as their devotion to the being within it. The tree is never harmed, and the elves utilize construction only upon its natural branches, with supports linked to the ground, never pressed into the tree. Rope bridges can be seen connecting the various hunts and wooden building that dot the side of the tree, covered from the sun by the cerulean leaves that cover the branches above, covering the city in a glade. Their are no paths between buildings, besides the bridges, allowing one to wander back and forth without any true uniformity. The Elder resides in a temple-like structure found high, near the canopy of the great tree, overlooking the region towards the west.
Located in the plains near the western sea, this town has some semblance of outside influence, a small dirt road having been created over time, with wooden buildings lining either side. Residents of this town are slightly more accepting of outsiders, though they are far from jovial about it. The town has a small port, though it goes mostly unused; Small canoes are usually the only vessels around, and are used to briefly skirt the waters over to islands off the coast.
A town near the southwestern edge of the region, between both the Faelorn Forest and the ocean toward the west. This town serves as a entry point into the region, as well as a garrison of hunters and messengers, which, whilst going about their daily lives, often recite drills of running towards the forest, and through, towards Ashalorien to warn of any attacks that might occur. Any approaching group of outsiders are met with extreme caution, and will often be stopped, searched, and questioned before allowed to proceed, or thrown out.
A small island city found in the northwestern part of the region, Agota is not aligned with Volare, nor its neighbor, Lionel. It is a chaotic city that is anarchic, with no governing force. Citizens of Agota are of many different races, and generally worship whatever god they wish, though the two most common are Serberus, and Era, which tend to find many amicable crowds among the city's lawlessness.
Other Notable Sites
- Mersidhcath - A small island located southeast of Ashalorien. It is considered sacred ground, and is guarded at all times. Elders are rumored to train their apprentices here.