Shadows of Northmere
Strathaven (pronounced “stray-ven”) is a small city that is the seat of the Barony of Strath and a burgeoning trade center on the Northmere Sea. It has seen substantial growth in the last year, as refugees from Ashwood and other settlements near the Deepwood had suffered raids from a growing gnoll threat. The gnoll incursion was ended at a battle in Ashwood, the first combat seen by the new baroness, but the village was razed to the ground at the start of the gnoll raids.
Strathaven is home to an old castle dating back to the Calidorian Empire’s occupation centuries ago. Since then, Strath Hall Keep, referred to as Strathall by the locals, has had a newer level added on top of the old keep. The fortress overlooks a natural harbor with teeming docks, fishermen, and markets. As trade has picked up, the city has started to see more trade cogs and even galleys from the south.
Strathaven is ruled by Baron Armin Strath, who has a castle overlooking the town from a northern precipice. Baron Strath has a score of knights and dozens of men-at-arms at his call. His force is used to man the walls of the keep, watch over the docks, and even patrol the outer villages. His one son died young and his daughter was adopted. Strath was once very active, including attending the Duke’s court, accompanying patrols, and even visiting his favorite tavern for drinks, but has been largely reclusive since becoming a widow.
The town has a wide variety of craftsmen and some merchants, but it is mostly populated by fishermen and laborers. There are several small taverns and inns, but the local favorite, though a bit expensive, is the Mandrake Inn owned by Quintus Jinn, a retired locksmith originally from one of the free cities in Vyshan. Not only does it have the finest selection of spirits (and wines for the few who partake in them) in the area, it also features excellent Vyshani and Saladarian dishes.
Overall, the climate is mild when compared to many other lands. Strathaven’s unique location brings four distinct seasons. During the summer, the Inner Sea brings warmer waters from the south. Though it becomes warm enough to break a sweat when working outside, it rarely reaches blazing temperatures. Autumn is beautiful, with temperate trees turning blazing red and gold, and just enough cold to put a slight frost on the grass on colder mornings.
In winter, cold winds from the Mistshroud Peaks blow over the Inner Sea and can cut through the warmest of fur cloaks at times. Snow is common but rarely more than a few inches deep. Spring is usually quite rainy, and the sea sometimes becomes blanketed in thick fogs.
Strathall (Strath Hall Keep)
Called Strath Hall, or Strathall by the locals, it is an old keep that was built at least six centuries ago, with worn moss-covered walls and towers starting to crumble with age. It is built on two levels of a precipice north of the town. The lower level includes the bailey, stables, storerooms, and old great hall. The upper levels have been transformed into barracks and rooms for the knights.
The upper level is newer, with construction ending just 10 years ago. It is more spacious, with a larger new great hall. The old great hall is still used when the baroness holds court and for the men-at-arms to dine, while the newer one entertains guests and hosts feasts. The baroness’ advisers live in the newer addition. Their rooms feature balconies with spectacular views of the town and Inner Sea.