Amalthea

 

Amalthea


Name: Amalthea (Small city)

Population: 8,000 (Human 39%, Elf 35%, halfling 17%, half-elf 6%, half-orc 3%)

Government: A council of elders elects an Elder
Ruler: Elder Ryang (elf male)
Language: Ledean, Veshian
Religion: Denev
Currency: The single remaining town of Amalthea uses mostly a barter economy in these times, and no new coins are minted. The old Amalthean coins are honored as follows: platinum denevs ( 10 gp) , gold oaks (3 gp) , gold sunlights ( 1 gp) , silver moonlights (3 sp), silver rivers (1 sp), silver
starlights (5 cp), copper loam pennies (1 cp)
Resources: Timber, farm products
Allies: Albadia, Vera-Tre and Vesh
Enemies: Calastian Hegemony, Khirde

History
With perhaps the most tragic history of any land in Ghelspad since the Divine War ended, Amalthea has not seen good fortune in many years. Tradition holds that, long before the Divine War, the city of Amalthea was the capital of a vast empire of peace and wisdom. As the story goes, corruption and stagnation led slowly to the empire’s demise. The culture would have died out, were it not for a heroic pair of lovers who inspired the people to rise up against the decadent leaders of the old regime and to create a new government, this time based on worship of Denev instead of Mormo.

By this point the empire had shrunk to little more than the single glorious capital city, and a small surrounding area extending from just south of what is now the Bleak Savannah in the north to the lake now called Adurn’s Tear in the south, and from just inside the Ganjus Forest in the west to well into the Kelders to the east. While a far cry from the huge empire the Amaltheans supposedly once controlled (of which, incidentally, there is little evidence), what was preserved was grand in the extreme, and even the ruins left today of Old Amalthea are one of the more magnificent sights in Ghelspad.

In addition to rescuing the culture from destruction, the young lovers led the cleansing of all the evils that had accumulated in the city over the years. What they could destroy they did, and what they couldn’t “gave to Denev,” to protect the world from these horrors forever. After this cleansing, the city was more beautiful and prosperous than it had ever been, and became a great hub of culture and artwork for all of Ghelspad in the final decades before the Divine War.

Miraculously, the city of Amalthea survived the Divine War rather well. Like Vera-Tre and the Ganjus nearby, Amalthea was spared the worst of the destruction. When the fighting stopped, it shone like a beacon to thousands of refugees who flocked there for aid. What a shock for the refugees when they entered the shining and untouched city built so securely into the side of Mount Amalthea – only to find it practically deserted. It took almost a week of searching before a few brave bands of refugees located the remainder of Amalthea’s once teeming citizenry. Locked together in the vast halls of the famous University of Arts with only the most basic of dwindling provisions, a few thousand Amaltheans huddled in terror.

None could describe accurately what it was that had driven them all into hiding, but dozens of the survivors were irreparably mad for the rest of their lives. No corpses were found anywhere in Amalthea, and nothing dangerous was ever encountered in the city, but the vast population of that once mighty city had disappeared, never to be found. To everyone’s surprise, the Amaltheans decided unanimously to stay in their city and do their best to revive the life and culture it had once enjoyed. They seemed to regard this decision as some kind of sacred duty, but it apparently terrified them, and not one Amalthean could say why they needed to stay.

Almost as if it got lost in the shuffle of the many post-War mysteries, people quickly seemed to forget the enigma of Amalthea, and refugees continued to flock to the city, breathing life into its silent lovely halls, living like kings in the abandoned mansions and courtyards of what was formerly one of the continent’s most wealthy cities. Though the population and cultural significance of the city never approached what they had been before the war, Amalthea City seemed to be on its way to eventual recovery, especially with the discovery of the magical Amalthean ram (apparently a new species since the Divine War – perhaps a gift from Denev) and with all the opportunities that Amalthea had to offer to any refugees willing to worship Denev.

Only the University of Arts remained dark and silent. Then came the Druid War. Though the city
walls were strong and the people had enough supplies to withstand a siege almost indefinitely, the ancient fortifications were simply too vast for the decreased population to hold without extensive support from outside armies. When Calastia withdrew its troops from Amalthea’s defense, the titanspawn armies broke through. Battles raged through the streets as the Amaltheans were pushed steadily back into the heart of the city. Tens of thousands died as the beleaguered people continued to retreat. Once more, the frightened and decimated populace found themselves huddled together inside the old university, this time fighting for their lives.

Though they were miraculously rescued at the very last moment by the combined forces of Vera-Tre and Vesh, the city had been viciously sacked and destroyed, and fewer than a thousand of its inhabitants had survived the final battle. The age of Amalthea had decisively come to a close, but still the people refused to give up their cultural heritage. Even the newer settlers to the area felt oddly compelled to stay in Amalthea and rebuild. Within a few months, a small village was constructed just outside the walls of the old city, and the survivors relocated with the intention of slowly rebuilding the ruins of Old Amalthea.

One of the first things the Amaltheans did was to seal the University of Arts completely and post all manner of magical guardians and wards around all known entrances. The rest of the rebuilding has been largely abandoned for now, as many of the skills and technologies that created the beautiful architecture of Amalthea – especially the many palaces and mansions of elaborate glass and unknown metals – were lost long before the Divine War. The people now therefore content themselves with building the comfort and strength of their pleasant little mountain town, and researching all things ancient for clues on how to rebuild the shattered city.

When asked about this obsession with the old city, or about the sealing of the old university, Amalthean answers vary from the unlikely (“in honor of those that died”) to the vague (“we just have to”) to the completely uncomprehending (“I.. . 1 don’t know”). Though many suspicious people all over Ghelspad assume the Amaltheans are hiding something specific, to all outward appearances the Amaltheans have no real notion of what they are doing or why they don’t just rebuild from scratch.

Certainly they seem to have no clue as to the significance of the University of Arts. In spite of its lack of logic, however, everyone who lives in Amalthea longer than a few months tends to become attached to the place and even defensive of it. Some of the most unlikely sorts have fallen in love with the Amalthean community, and become loyal to it where they have never been loyal to anything before. Some suspect this has something to do with Amalthea’s proximity to the Canyon of Souls and the oddly spiritual climate there, while others believe it to be an entirely different phenomenon, related to the defense of whatever lies hidden inside the old university.

As yet, no one has managed to penetrate the magical defenses of the University of Arts. A recent
rumor indicates that there may be a series of underground tunnels leading to the city’s secrets and containing dangerous riches and artifacts from centuries past, when the city was dedicated to Mormo. These rumors might explain why Khirdet wants to possess Amalthea so badly, but they don’t seem to explain the strange urge the Amaltheans feel to protect the old university. Do the tunnels perhaps connect to the university, or does the old structure house some other unrelated Amalthean mystery? So far, no one seems to know.

In any case, the Amaltheans struggle on, defending themselves from Khirdet’s regular raids, researching ancient architecture and clinging desperately to a culture that, for all practical purposes, is already dead. Whatever unknown treasure the Amaltheans defend, however, if a place like Khirdet wants it, it’s probably best left undisturbed.

Geography

Amalthea is a small mountain town located near the base of Mount Amalthea, just southeast of the Ruins of Old Amalthea. Amalthea has plenty of rich forest and farmland and little else of economic value. The one exception to this rule is the milk of the Amalthean sheep. While native Amaltheans hold these creatures in great reverence and would never tax the ewes by profiting from their milk, it cannot be denied that said milk is an invaluable resource to what remains of Amalthean culture. Amaltheans keep as much as possible about these sheep secret, however, so this milk rarely benefits outsiders.

Mount Amalthea: An almost solitary peak jutting out to the west from the Kelder Mountains, Mount Amalthea is lush and largely forested. Healthy and fertile, the mountain’s relatively gradual slopes make it convenient for settlement and even light farming and herding. Though not among the tallest of the Kelder peaks, Mount Amalthea’s relative isolation from the rest of the range makes it look a good deal more impressive than it really is.

Oak Hill: A centrally located hill in New Amalthea, the hill is coated in thick, lush moss of bright, healthy green and the hill's top is ringed by old, gnarled oak trees whose canopies have grown together and entwined over the years. Beneath this green canopy a large table of marble rests and here the council of elders convene. This is where the Amalthean war council will meet regularly to discuss their current dilemma and strategies.

 

Ash-walk: A winding, brick street lined with old, vibrant ash trees. Many stores, inns and craft houses line this boulevard and it is one of the most cherished in town. Many of the trees were rescued from those that survived the destruction of Old amalthea or from seeds taken from many of those fallen or burnt trees; in this way, New Amalthea have been able to create a beautiful and respectful duplicate of Old Almalthea’s well known Ash-walk.

Flora and Fauna
Common natural creatures in this area include several varieties of herd animal, such as deer, elk and wild goats. The inhabitants keep herds of domestic goats as well. In addition, rodents such as the marmot and smaller ground squirrels thrive all over the mountain, sometimes to the distress of farmers. Common birds include several species of hawk, the great gray owl and  multitudes of smaller herbivorous species. The region’s natural predators are the black bear, coyote and mountain lion, and the plant life is largely made up of several varieties of fern, berry and pine.

All farming takes place on the lower slopes of the mountain or in the foothills, as the upper slopes are too cold year round for most crops. Because of its health and how long the area has
been populated, the forests around Amalthea are remarkably peaceful and safe as Scarred Lands forests go. Apart from the occasional mother bear or poisonous snake, dangerous encounters are rare. A few truly fearsome creatures are native to the area, so travelers are advised not to wander alone, but Mount Amalthea is not typically an environment for wild adventure or captured treasure. Such encounters are confined to the legendary tunnels – if one can find them.

 

Amalthea

Bloodhollow and Beyond - A Vigil of Vesh Campaign WiHa05