I took a few weeks off for personal reasons, but I should be back to my regular update schedule for a few weeks.
This week I’m happy to present a deeper dive into the material I posted as my last update.
The Bright Cliffs is a region of colonies many miles apart and treated as a single city. Covering almost twenty square miles, both at the feet and the top of the cliffs that provide its name, the Bright Cliffs is the westernmost settlement of the Starspire Forest. With a constantly fluctuating population and the closet of the Starspire colonies to the great Ozark Desert, the Bright Cliffs is home to a great many people, both forest folk and not.
At its heart, the Bright Cliffs is a trade centre and is one of the main points of contact with the world outside of the Starspire Forest. A regularly travelled off-shoot of the Ashen Way joins with the Desert Way about three miles from the Bright Cliffs’ borders and provides a steady stream of trade goods and other imports to the forest not suitable for Star-reach or Deephaven. For their part, the people of the Bright Cliffs are able farmers and carvers, providing many raw materials and hand-carved goods for the desert folk to make use of. Alongside the physical trade, the monks of the Dawn Rivers monastery have long been associated with the sun god and many pilgrims contribute to the local economy every year.
The Dawn Rivers monastery, built atop the Golden Falls at the confluence of both the Rising Light and the Rushing Wind (to give the rivers their names in the common language of the area), is a centre of learning and philosophy. Its archives hold records dating back millennia, preserved through carefully guarded techniques and revealed only to a select few. The monks themselves farm in several small clearings below the temple, sharing the land with the people of the village of Golden Falls, some two miles below them at the feet of the Bright Cliffs. Golden Falls, due in no small part to the monks on the cliff above, has been kept small and agricultural. Where many of the towns in the Bright Cliffs area are trade focussed and sprawling, Golden Falls is compact and continues to exist only through its people’s ability to grow and harvest rare crops.
The centre of the Bright Cliffs, if it can be said to have a central point in terms of commerce and administrative power, is the forest-folk town of Juriel’s Roost. Named for a mythical figure, Juriel’s Roost is a treetop enclave nearly three miles across and home to many artisans and scholars, as well as the region’s standing army. As the ‘city’s’ unique geographic layout presents a tempting target for many of the outlaws who call the Starspire Forest home, the Bright Shield (as the standing military force is known) maintains an active presence along the roads connecting the towns and villages that make up the Bright Cliffs and all its members are either veterans of the conflicts of years past, or recruits from other colonies within the forest seeking glory or experience.
The other town of note, the Shadowfort, is a fortified emplacement built to provide a last line of defence against the horrors that lurked within the forest centuries ago. Now, it is manned only by a skeleton guard and is host to a permanent caravanserai, its walls protecting traders and locals alike. Many of the goods traded from the Bright Cliffs come here to be sent on to the outside world, with the administrators of Juriel’s Roost maintaining a careful watch over all the trade that takes place here.
Greeter of the Dawn is the aged abbot of the Dawn Rivers monastery. One of the forest-folk, he gave up his birth name when he joined the order and has seen the monastery through many troubles. While many of his brothers whisper that he is due to step down soon and begin retirement, he remains full of energy and is an active figure in the local community.
Gerain Oakheart is the head of the Bright Shield, a veteran of the Thousand Glade War and a realist. He knows that his life has been spent in the defence of his people and that they will not reward him for his sacrifices. World-weary and tired, he wants nothing more than to lay down his arms and set up a small farm in one of the innumerable glades of the Starspire Forest, but there is always another matter that requires his attention.
Thalia Brasseye is a trader from the desert-folk who arrived in the Shadowfort one day and never left. She is currently an envoy for the administrators of Juriel’s Roost and has excelled in that position for many years, but there are whispers that she moonlights as an architect and has been helping to the build new fortifications and defensive measures to face an enemy no-one else believes is coming.
Merrick is a mystery. No-one knows who he is or where he came from. He simply appeared in the town of Shattered Glade one day and saved the town Elder’s life. Since then, he has risen to prominence within the town and has led many successful sorties against the outlaws who plague it. A few of the locals insist that he is a magic user, but no-one has seen proof of this.
Wandering Brook found her way to the reclusive village of Shadowed Ford and has been instrumental in protecting it from the monsters of the forest. An entertainer by nature, and a skilled swordswoman by experience, children of the village love to watch her regale them with tales of her derring-do and many of them have asked her to train them in the ways of the blade so they can better protect their village when they come of age.
The attacks on Shadowed Ford have been increasing rapidly and many of the villagers have begun to speak of abandoning their homes. The village council is willing to pay people to investigate the source of the attacks.
There are rumours of a demon worshipping cult in Juriel’s Roost. While they wouldn’t act against the city directly, they might move against one of the smaller settlements.
Thalia Brasseye claims to have spoken with a prophet who warned her of the monsters approaching the Bright Cliffs from the tunnels and mines in the area. While no-one yet believes her, a few miners have gone missing in recent months.
The Riven Stone, a local landmark, has started vibrating for no apparent reason. Locals who live near it speak of a voice that calls to them in their dreams. No-one has looked into this phenomenon, but several people insist something is hunting them while they sleep.
A monster from the dawn of time has been seen stalking through the gloom beneath the trees near some of the outlying villages. A call has gone out throughout the entirety of the Bright Cliffs for experienced warriors to track it down and dissuade it from approaching the colony.