Exploring Úr’Dan: The Rainflow Valleys

I did not realize how long it’s been since I wrote one of these. Apologies if you’ve felt bombarded over the head with writing updates, marketing tips, and publishing think-pieces for four months.

Not heartfelt apologies, though. I regret nothing.

But now it’s time to scroll all the way in on another region of my fantasy world: The Rainflow Valleys.

Since it’s been a while, here are the regions I covered last time:

The Rainflow Valleys

The Rainflow Valleys are a series of river valleys in the eastern Uplands. Protected by the Hundred Teeth to the north and along the eastern coast by the Storm Breakers mountain range, the Rainflow Valleys benefit from the violent storms that pound eastern Úr’Dan each autumn.

As the rains filter down the leeward side of the mountains, they form into three mighty rivers: the High Rainflow, the North Rainflow, and the South Rainflow, all flowing generally east-to-west to meet with the broader Cloudwash, which pours southward into the Barger’s Marsh.

These rivers create three small, but well protected valleys beneath the mountains. The valleys quickly became known as fertile ground, thick with tall grasses and perfect for agriculture of water-loving plants. The South Rainflow Valley, in particular, is known for growing rice.

Even with the lush earth and freshwater sources to live on, the people of the Rainflow Valleys engage in fierce competition for control of these resources.

The Rainflow Clans

The people who inhabit the Rainflow Valleys tend to be tall and stocky, with thick dark hair and medium skin tone. As protection from the constant rain, they wear heavy woolen cloths like blankets over the shoulders and tall leather boots. These people live in loose clan groupings as sedentary pastoralists. One animal is king in the Rainflow Valleys: the Upland Cattle.

Each clan may control hundreds or thousands of the huge, shaggy beasts, with such herds needing miles of open land to roam and feed. That means that ownership of land is paramount for the Rainflow clans.

The larger a clan’s herd, the more land they must control to keep their herds fed.

Each clan is led by a Shaerif, typically the eldest male of the clan. The men of each clan follow their herds every day on horseback armed with long sharpened or barbed staves to prod their cattle.

The women of each clan typically manage the homestead and hire laborers to help tend small farm plots. These hired hands are never clan members. This creates a pseudo-class system in which members of large, wealthy clans can be assured of their status as herders or homesteaders, while those from smaller clans with fewer cattle may have to resort to working for one of the powerful clans.

The Rivers as Highways and Borders

Like everywhere else in Úr’Dan, the rivers of the Rainflow Valleys are the region’s primary means of trade and travel. Large trading hubs straddle each of the Rainflow rivers as they meet the larger Cloudwash, which carries goods and people all the way from Naebvael to the north into the Barger’s Marsh.

The rivers also protect the valleys, to and extent, from the Northern Uplands to the west, a rocky, drier region in which many of the Firelander clans settled after the Northern Migration.

With the lush land of the Rainflow valleys just across the Cloudwash, many Firelanders have tried to control the land that is so precious to the Rainflow Shaerifs.

The Rainflow clans’ proximity to the Cloudwash puts thema t odds with another people: the Naebí.

Isolated within their mountain valley to the north, the Naebí have only one way to connect with the outside world. Control of the Cloudwash very quickly brings the Naebí and the Rainflow Clans along that river into conflict.

As in virtually every other region of Úr’Dan, control over the trade flowing into and out of the Marsh is a constant struggle. The Shaerifs of the Rainflow valley may prefer to be left alone to herd their cattle, but their neighbors have other ideas.

Steve D

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