In honor of the premier of Planet Earth II back in March, I wrote a post about the northern region of my fantasy world, Úr’Dan. In that post, I wrote about the Hundred Teeth mountain range and the Uplands that make up the northern portion of this subcontinent.
Planet Earth II was fantastic, by the way. If you have not watched it, you’re missing out on some beautiful cinematography and amazing animals.
Anyway, I thought I would continue my “Exploring Úr’Dan” series by discussing the people who actually live in the Uplands, collectively known as Uplanders.
As the majority population in WoEM, Feldings are an obvious group to start with. The Feldings of Everfeld are typically fair-skinned with light hair and green or brown eyes. They also tend to be tall and lean.
Although larger wards exist in Everfeld, Feldings have traditionally lived in small communities scattered throughout the mighty forest, subsisting especially on hunting or fishing on one of the numerous glacial lakes in Everfeld. Some glades, in which Feldings typically dwell, are large enough to cultivate crops, but travelers will not find huge fields of any kind here.
The Arrowhead is an oblong strip of land between two forks of the Everwash, south of Everfeld. It is said that the first Arrowheaders were Feldings who traveled south down the river and settled this small spur of land, but Arrowheaders may have darker hair and eyes than their northern kin.
With a large town at each end of the Arrowhead, Arrowpoint and Wiló’s End, Arrowheaders have long dominated the trade that flows down Everwash. Merchants and craftspeople populate the island, benefiting from the trade that flows in both directions along Everwash.
While ‘Western Clans’ refers to the tribal groupings who live west of Everwash in the Uplands, they are far from being a monolithic people. For instance, the clans along the Springfield valleys tend to be sedentary agriculturalists and/or pastoralists. However, the clans and tribes in the true highlands tend to be nomadic or semi-nomadic, following the vast herds of boar and antelope across the plains. On the whole, the people of the Western Highlands have tanned skin with varied hair and eye color.
Despite these differences in lifestyle, the tribes in the Western Highlands have always been connected and defined by their proximity to each other, with territorial disputes being as common as trade. A rich history of war games between tribes has also acted to allay more violent conflict over the centuries.
The people of Naebvael, a valley set in the northeastern ranges of the Hundred Teeth, have long been isolated from the rest of the Uplands. Naebí typically have fair skin with dark hair and blue or grey eyes, with stockier, stronger builds.
Rich veins of iron ore fill the foothills of Naebvael, and the Naebí were the first people in all of Úr’Dan to pursue iron-working in favor of the much more common bronze-work to the south. Agriculture is also common, but the Naebí economy is truly determined by their access to trade down the Cloudwash, which, fortunately, forms within their small mountain home.
The Rainflow Clans are a large and fairly diverse group of people populating the Rainflow valleys between Cloudwash and the Storm Breakers along the eastern coast of the Uplands. With tall broad builds and thick dark hair, the Rainflow peoples seem to have been built to survive the violent storms and persistent rains that dominate their region.
The rainfall also happens to feed the lush grasslands of the Rainflow valleys, where the clans have developed a sophisticated culture of cattle ranching. The big hairy cattle of the Rainflow region are the most valuable possession of any Rainflow Clan, and their clan groupings are often led by the largest and wealthiest ranchers.
The Northern Clans are now so-called because they inhabit the northernmost region of the Uplands, a rocky spur of land between the upper Everwash and Cloudwash, just south of the Altpass between the mountains. These tribal groupings of bronze skin, black hair, and black eyes call themselves Firelanders, but many Uplanders refer to them by the pejorative term, Redskaels.
The Firelanders entered Úr’Dan only a few generations before the events of WoEM from their fabled homeland known as the Firelands, far to the north. The migration of the Firelanders through the Altpass — in the tens of thousands — has fueled wars and territorial strife with their neighbors for years. While some clans have assimilated along the fringes of their neighbors’ societies, many have remained in the Northern Uplands, herding goats or hunting the sparse game to be found in the dry region.
I don’t know if that’s a word, but that’s the story with Uplanders. Despite their proximity, and often close trade relations with each other, the peoples of the Uplands certainly retain their own identities, traditions, and ways of life.
And remember, the Uplands are just one region of Úr’Dan, making up about half of the large subcontinent. I’ll get into some of the other regions and peoples later on.