The Ferdiad Cycle
Caern Môrn is second largest city in Aenoria, next only to Caernfaddon, and the unofficial capital of the northern provinces. It’s built on the ruins of a former Vod-hin city atop a strangely formed hill with a flat top called Broken Tooth, making it almost impenetrable to enemy sieges. The hill is riddled with tunnels built by the Vod-hin, their meaning unknown. Caern Môrn is the center of trade in the north and its role in many historical battles have left it with a almost mystical reputation of adventure and intrigue.
The city is governed by the Watcher – the ruler of the North and the second most powerful man in the realm. The city is split into five quarters: The Old Town, The New Town, The Merchants’ Quarter, The Noble Quarter and The West Side. An enormous street called Titans’ Causeway cuts through the middle of the city. Its perfectly smooth surface is cut a foot deep into the rock, as if a huge finger had dragged through the mountain’s surface. Many elegant walkways have been constructed along the way, as the causeway can reach a width of almost twenty yards at places. No-one knows who created the way, or why. Caen Môrn is one of the few cities in Aenoria with a functional sewer system built by the Ellysians, although the Cerns haven’t fully understood how it operates or how to properly maintain it. The city’s air seems oddly free of the stench usually emitted by large settlements – perhaps because of the sewers, or as some say, of the high altitude.
The Old Town resides within the inner city walls, at the heart of the city. As its name implies, Old Town houses some of the oldest buildings known to man. They are carved from huge stones not found within the local area, and have been built for beings much larger than humans. Some scholars believe they once housed the mythical Vod-hin, whose spirits still haunt the streets (or so the stories go). Much of the shabbier northern part of Old Town has been turned into a ghetto during the last century. Violent gangs calling themselves the “Street Clans” rule over there. The city guards leave them to their devices as long as the violence doesn’t spread outside their territories.
The New Town was largely built by the Ellysians over previous ruins on the northern side of the city. As a result many beautiful statues adorn the sides of its tall buildings. Such is the craftsmanship of the Ellysians that not even the vengeful Cerns dared to tear down the constructions when the Empire toppled. Today New Town is largely populated by wealthy clans of common stock, who make their living as artisans. Competition between them is tough, but fights between rivals rarely erupt openly. Only a fool would wilfully invoke the wrath of the Watcher, whose palace looms just over the streets.
The Merchants’ Quarter encompasses much of the southern part of the city. It is the hub of the trade within northern Aenoria, attracting merchants everywhere, from the wine merchants of Leguinea to the blacksmiths of the Hrods. “Silver Square”, the city’s largest marketplace, is the sole place within the North where one can see and hear myriad foreigners hawking their exotic wares. Reputably the city’s Thieves Guild operates within the Merchants’ Quarter, though their existence has always been denied by the city officials.
The Noble Quarter, sits at the south-east corner of the city. The residing nobles descend from those clansmen who originally captured the city during the Cernish uprising, led by the First Free High King Drustan magh Aenor. They chose to rebuild the part of the city that was burned down in the war, boasting that they would not settle any house previously owned by the Ellysians. As a result the renewed buildings have been prone to collapse on themselves from time to time, as the Cerns are not famous for their architects. Still, many of the ancient fortresses and bastions survived the war, and have been renewed (by foreign contractors) to new heights.
The West Side hosts much of the spiritual and cultural buildings of the city. Many of Caern Môrn’s most famous landmarks are found here under the shadow of the Watcher’s Palace. The city’s grand park still holds some of the eldest Soul Trees within the realms, while the north-west part of the city has been reserved for the largest cemetery in Aenoria.
1. Old Town Hall
This old three storey building is used by the city officials for daily administrative work, also serving as the headquarters of the city guard, hence the nickname “The Peelers’ Nest” (peeler being a slang word for guardsmen). The building used to be a hospital during the Ellysian occupation. Some believe the statue of Nimue carved above its doors actually depicts an Ellysian pagan goddess Linuatar.
2. Herald Street
This long street is famous for the hundreds of clan symbols decorating its sides. Many are so old not even the oldest of tomes have mentions of them.
3. Watcher’s Palace
This vast fortress sits atop a hill in the middle of the city. It is older than the history of men and has seen many changes, first being used by the ancient Cernish tribes during the Cycle of Kings. After them the Ellysians rebuilt much of it, until the Cerns took the city back, erasing many of the previous changes. Legend has it that it still has parts which no man has yet found, hiding the secret wealth of the Vod-hin and more.
4. Grand Street
After Drustan magh Aenor took the city he marched at the head of his army through this street. A large statue of the First King was raised at the end of it shortly after his death.
5. Queen’s Square
Named after the First Queen, this walled square is decorated with the statues of some of the most important men and women in Aenoria’s history.
6. Hall of Heroes
This venerable fortress acts as a garrison. Its main hall is decorated with weapons and armours of great heroes, the most famous being the shards of the First King’s greatsword Llofrudd, which was broken in the battle with the dragon Vornierzigarr.
7. Victory Keep
This fortress is always manned by a score of Dún men as dictated by ancient traditions. According to the stories Drustan magh Aenor managed to capture the keep because the Ellysian captain of the guard had left his post to get drunk at his favorite inn. The keep was instrumental in taking over the city. After the war it was named Victory Keep for its important part in the rebellion.
8. Lucky Rat
Residents of the Merchants’ Quarter know this gambling den to be the headquarters of the Thieves Guild. Despite numerous raids by the city guards the place never seems to stay closed for long. Gamblers and rich nobles looking for excitement are drawn to the place like flies to a carcass.
9. Adrian’s Keg
The city’s finest and most expensive inn. The luxurious private rooms are named after kings who have stayed in them.
10. Honest Steel
Reputably the finest seller of weapons in the realm, originally started by Hrodish craftsmen. Supplies the arms for the Watcher’s personal guards.
11. Barmy Pig
A tavern and an inn situated at the eastern gate. It was originally a shrine of the Ellysian gods. The Cerns razed the building and had a piggery built on top of it. Later it was turned into an inn. The name kind of stuck.
12. The Cloud Tower
Other than being the tallest building in the city, this tower’s original purpose is unknown. Today it has been converted into a temple of Debranua, goddess of the sky.
13. Axe Keep
The smallest of the four military keeps. After the liberation of the city during the uprising the tyrannical military leaders of the Ellysian regime were executed in its hall. The axe used to do the deed is still held on display.
14. Kathryn’s Garden
The city’s park, named after the First King’s daughter. According to the stories her ghost still wanders there when the moon is full.
15. White Monastery
This round building made of pure white stone is the only monastery in Aenoria that is built within a settlement. It used to be an Ellysian academy, but much of the books and tomes gathered there were destroyed by the rampaging Cerns eager to lash back at their rulers during the uprising. Nevertheless the monastery’s library is still one of the largest in the realm.
16. Hollow Grounds
Large parts of this cemetery are left to grow wild. Those who venerate the Old Faith have many of their rituals within these woods. The graveyard itself is well kept and closely guarded against would-be graverobbers.
17. The Furnace
This enormous forge is one of the most enigmatic construct in the city. It seems to have been made for giants and not for men. Despite this both Ellysians and Cerns have utilised it both as a smithy and as a place of worship. It used to be a giant shrine of the Elysian pagan god Rodger, now it is dedicated to Teutanis.
18. The Westerner
This small tavern is famous for its part in the story where Drustan magh Aenor conquered the city. The captain of the guard had left his post at Victory Keep to spend time here, and thus practically handed the under-garrisoned city to the Cerns. The nameless captain’s armour was made into a strange altar in the alley next to the tavern, where even today its customers can go to relieve themselves over it (or, to “take a piss at the Empire”).