The Long March
The first battle of the Marshes of the Moon dislocated many human settlements as Lord Bagoly of the Nyir lead his Praxian army against that bastion of Elvindorm. While many of the refugees found new homes south of the swamp, and others returned to their old lands, one band was hopelessly lost. Lead by the eldest son of Lord Giruvus Haur, the column of refugees from the Haur freehold tried to find a safe haven, but instead staggered beyond the borders of Elvindorm and found themselves in an sparsely inhabited and completely undeveloped no-mans-land of wild animals and brutal weather.
Fear and Loathing in the Wastes
It was not long before the band was suffering from hunger pangs and the pack animals were being relieved of their cargos only to find the cook pot as their fate. A few had taken to scavenging from the land and many became ill from poisonous mushrooms and plants. It did seem that the band would eventually find itself beyond the shroud, a restless band of ghosts and revenants cursed to wander the wastes forever.
The fears of the refugees were not without warrant or basis. In the wastes that make up the Easterlands there are many haunted places where bands of hunters, refugees, nomads and explorers have become lost and joined the realms of the undead. Most of these locales are at first seemingly good resting places, clearings, natural caves, and other sources of fresh water or shelter. they also ended up being the places were many seeking shelter and respite would expire. The slow agony of their deaths combined with the natural magic of the Easterlands turned the souls of the deceased into ghosts.
Most of these ghosts wander around the area where they died, unable to go more than a league from where there remains rest. The regular passage of these ghosts cause plantlife to be stunted and withered as well as spawning mushroom rings and thickets of nightshade to grow. Dealing with these ghosts can be as simple as laying their remains to proper graves or combating the shades with clerical magic and blessed weapons. Some weep for their deaths and loved ones, while others wail with rage against the living.
Those Who Yet Move
The most dangerous of the undead are those ghosts who re-enter their bodies and force them to rise of their own accord. These are technically called Revenants and are among the most dangerous of the undead. Many are able to demonstrate a facsimile of life long enough to fool travelers into traps where the Revenant then tortures, kills and devours the hapless folk, though not always in that order. These undead must be hacked to pieces, their remains burned and their spirits consecrated with holy magic or be utterly destroyed by fire or necromantic magics.
The Vale of the Dragon
The band, now reduced to less than half of it’s starting number crossed an unnamed ridge and found themselves looking down into the Vale of Skafandraxis, the last of the non-black dragons. The ancient beast was a terror of the Easterlands and the main reason that neither Elvindorm nor Prax had attempted to claim or colonize the region. The ancient red wyrm was nearly 1,000 spans long and could melt an entire castle with it’s breath of flames. Driven by a brutal winter storm, the band entered the relative calm of the vale, weapons ready for unnoticed hordes of undead or in grim preparation to face a foe that even the Blackwing Guard dared not face.
To their surprise Skafandraxis was dead and half buried in snow. Thoughts of treasure were forgotten when the refugees realized that dragons were indeed made of meat. With axes they sought to make their way through the iron-hard scales but found little progress. Like parasites, the refugees found ways into the dragon, such was entering through the mouth to cut hunks from the slowly freezing tongue and inside of the mouth. More adventuresome souls moved further, entering the throat and other viscera of the dragon in their hunt for food.
In a gruesome fashion, the refugees made their winter relief inside the carcass of the huge dragon. The cavity of the collapsed lung made for a viable place for many to sleep during the night, though no fires were lit inside. There was no fear of burning the meat, there was simply no place for the smoke to go. In the spring, the refugees began to build, making homes of wood and stone. Most found themselves wealthy beyond imagining from the dragon’s hoard, but the gold and jewels turned out to be worthless as there was nothing to purchase with them, and none even knew where they were.
While many might think of dragon meat as a great delicacy, the corpse of Skafandraxis proved to be almost inedible. The meat was very tough and chewing was nearly impossible. The main way that the refugees survived was by boiling the meat for hours until it would start to soften. This dragon-pottage proved to be nutritious, as well as bolstering the health of those who ate it. To the distinguishing palette the meat has a very smokey flavour not to dissimilar to burnt beef liver but with a very noticable metallic tang. The texture is akin to chewing on an overdone piece of flanksteak that has been impregnated with hundreds of strands of string-like tendon tissue.
Dragon meat has a unique property, primarily that it takes an absurdly long time for it to spoil. A cut steak can sit out at room temperature for nearly a month before spoiling, and if kept cold, it will keep nearly forever. The condition of an entire corpse in a cold climate means a source of meat that will take eons to be reclaimed by the enviroment. In the case of dragons killed by other dragons, the Blacks that dominate Saerith currently have no qualms and even show a delight for cannibalism.
The Lost Years
During the lost years a village grew up around the hulking corpse of the dragon. The thaw saw about half of the beast sink into the earth, creating a vast hill. When the next winter came, the villagers, as they no longer thought of themselves as refugees lit massive bonfires and paid homage to the spirit of the dragon whose corpse did sustain them through their first and most brutal winter. The dragon remained a steady source of protein for a number of years afterwards while the villagers rebuilt their herds of goats, oxen and domesticated local reindeer.
The village was renamed Draachenhaur, or Dragon-Lord in their own dialect. with rough unpaved streets and ramshackle homes built with no concept of city planning, the village is a mess. Roads run to abrupt ends and major traffic areas are often narrow footpaths between two buildings that were built before the path was established between them.
It was roughly 200 years later when the now township of Draachenhaur was rediscovered by Elvindorm. A band of elfin warriors and their barbarian allies stumbled across the vale and were shocked to find a strong and healthy community thriving in the middle of the Easterland wastes. The locals were curious about the progress of the war with Prax and were disappointed to learn that no progress had been made, and now the King of Elvindorm was seeking allies and advantages, the reason that the band had been sent into the wastes.
The Haurians were put off by this notion. Years ago they had fled this conflict between the elves and once again it had intruded on them. Rather than seeking trade, the noble elves were looking for more fodder to fight their battles for them. During this time the Haurians had not been idle. Rather, they had become most proficient at crafting weapons, tools, armor, and clothing from their most abundant resource, the dragon. While the elven warriors were clad in iron and shivering in the cold, the Haurian hunters were clad in vests of dragonhide lined with fur. Their weapons were carved from dragontooth, dragonbone, and dragonclaw.
When the Haurians asked the elves to leave, the elves did so, but only grudgingly. Allies such as the Haurians had to be gained by Elvindorm, it would only be a matter of time before Sidious sent a group of the Black Wings to visit the dracophiles of Draachenhaur. The Haurians now are concerned that the elves could come back in force to fight them, or that the Praxians, who drove them out in the first place might come to recruit them, or to finish the job they started two centuries ago.
Now tall and strong of arm, the Haurians gird themselves for undesired war. They will stand to defend their remote home from elf of any stripe, Elvindormian or Praxian. As such the forges now work more constantly producing more coats of dragonhide and weapons of dragonbone.
The General Store
While the Haurians are girding for war, they are interested in starting up trade with the rest of the kingdoms, though have no desire for their wars. As such, they are open with merchants and traders, offering rare and well crafted goods as well as supplies and lodging at decent rates. While considered backwards by many accounts, the merchant leagues are unhappy with how self-sufficient Draachenhaur is, as they are unable to ride in and trade pelts or beads or some other piece of flash for gold, dragon goods, or jewels. The Haurians are rather savvy about what they have and what they need and are unlikely to fall for outsider ideas of selling gold nuggets for glass beads.
Dragonbone - Initially this material was harvested from the corpse of the dragon and used for a wide variety of tasks. Most small knives, arrowheads, and other applications that would have used iron instead use dragonbone. There is a new synthetic dragonbone manufacted now from the clay from the valley mixed with powdered dragonbone. The synthetic is about half as strong and durable as the original, but can be fashioned much quicker and depletes the supply of bone at a much lower rate.
Dragonbile - This highly corrosive substance in gathered in small amounts from the large resevoir of the dragon’s spleen. It is carefully stored in glass vessels where it is used in alchemical preparations, etching metals, and in rare instances as a weapon.
Dragonscale - The hide of the dragon is cured into a variety of leathers, while the actual scales themselves are most commonly used in the manufacture of Haurian shields. These red shields are fire-proof as well as adding a degree of magical protection (5% or so) and are highly prized by Haurian warriors and hunters. These sell at high cost when they are sold at all.
Dragonsteak - This is the staple for hunters, who carry the long lasting meat smoked or cured in brine. It can be sold but most travelers and merchants are seldom interested in more than a bite or two of the unpleasant fare.
A Trading We Will Go - the PCs are interested in getting some draconian armor and fire shields. To get these rare goods they will have to travel east to Draachenhaur, purchase the goods and likely prove themselves as friends to the Haurians and not allies to Elvindorm or Prax.
Diplomats - The PCs have the unenviable task of visiting the Witengamot, or ruling council of Draachenhaur, to negotiate with them. The PCs have been instructed to gain the Haurians as allies, as well as securing supplies of their valuable weapons and armor. If some of the hunters wish to ‘join the ranks’ then the PCs are to encourage them. Problem is that the Witengamot has no interest in allies for war and wishes to remain neutral.
Raiders - More likely a Praxian hook, the PCs have been sent to gain the Haurians as allies or to loot their village if they refuse. Alternately the PCs could be in the village when the Praxian elite soldiers attack and are pressed to defend their Haurian hosts.