After a lot of sweat, work and a steep learning curve, it is finally time to present my first proper city map project, my take on Critwall. It took me twenty years to make the leap in scope from continents to local area maps focusing on a single settlement. This have forced me to learn a lot of new tricks and new design principles, things that I have worked on for the last 10 years and now I'm ready to show the first result, a closer look at Critwall a city on Veng near the northern shores of the Nyr Dyv.
A first wave of brave Flan settled the area around -4000CY. The Flanaess was a much colder place back then and the beginnings of what would become Critwall had a mesa that gave a good vantage point for hunters, defensible and still close waterways for fishing and easy travel. The plateau was covered in a dense forest of low spruces and pines which provided both cover and good building materials.
The settlement on the mesa into a large hillfort with fortifications of wood that got gradually reinforced with stone. Some centuries later it had become a small town still centered on the former hillfort. Most of the native forest was cleared and replaced with farmland and planted oak, birch, ash and other, more valuable tree species. The climate was warming and that also helped deciduous trees spreading.
The Flan town was called Shelemek and was home to a bit over a thousand people when the first tragedy struck. A new priest arrived from the east with an entourage warning about grave danger, a dragon had settled in the Volcano in the east. The new priest demanded that they prepared to defend against the dragon, and improved defenses where dug into the hill. This is when they discovered that under the hill there was a huge cavern, the remnants of the old volcano that once was here, it eroded down into the mesa that are still with us in modern times.
The dragon attacked and they hid in the caves and Shelemek survived its first trial, and come out stronger. The next catastrophe was different but it again started with a a priest, a son of the Lord of Shelemek that had been away to learn new skills, explore and hopefully come home wiser, stronger and preferably even richer. The lords son had indeed picked up new knowledge, he had seen how a new class of powerful lords was conquering in the east and south, they had overcome death itself and make use of the dead to seize power and hold it, for eternity. The son quickly disposed of his father and proclaimed himself as the new ruler of Shelemek. Then he used his necromancy and turned himself into a some form of free-willed undead and dug up the buried townsfolk and turned them into his minions.
The undead lord's tyranny lasted for decades and then he ran out of living souls to rule over, and that is when the name of Shelemek was almost lost and the history of Critwall might never have been written if it weren't for people fleeing the empire of Tostencha who arrived looking for a place to seek shelter and start anew. For these hardened Flan a few undead was no match and they made the process short with the undead lord of Shelemek and took over the town.
They also worshipped differently, they served a new mother in Beory, a father in Obadhai, and they had also learned to ask Ehlonna and several other powers for guidance. They raised the stone circle near the southern end of the mesa, that still stand to this day, and built a small ringed village next to the stones safely away from the tainted town on the hill top to the north.
These people where determined to keep safe from the dead and after Beory had told them to return them to the earth they followed the new tradition of throwing the dead into the underworld the belonged far enough that no mortal could ever used them again. Communities that still practices burial and the use of the dead to fend of other enemies was shunned and labeled Dark, serving the Horned Ones, or worse...
Shelemek became a regional center, it had both good defenses and waterways for good communications. The top of the mesa became known as Niahu Hill, the place you don't step into. Business was good, both the religious and more secular kind catering to agriculture, hunting and fishing. The climate had steadily been warming up for centuries, and this is when new people from the west started to arrive, they were great riders and skilled warriors, the first Oeridians had arrived.
After the initial tense contacts an bit of an understanding started to emerge, and there was enough land to have for all. A few of the new arrivals stayed but then more came and rumors spread of rich lands in the east and south so a lot of the newcomers moved on. Luckily not all did so, and they where around to help out when the next calamity hit the area, Vecna had picked up where Tostencha had left off and become an even worse undead tyrant. Vecna's henchmen terrorized the area for more than a century and it was probably during one of the many nights spent in the old caves dug out centuries before to shelter from the dragon long ago, when an old dark haunting memory started surface again. Every weapon was needed to fight this new horror, and the Dark Ones had the power to call them.
The word spread and the answer came from up the Veng, the Order of the Storm in Molag sent warriors to Shelemek. They were led by a young warrior called Ulvane. He was as ruthless as Vecna's men and with the support of the remaining townsfolk they got rid of the tyrants rule, and after that, several of the old gods where seen in a new light, even the dark ones. Just as Vecna's rule had been disposed of came the next problem, and again it was a dragon. This time the folk were not going to take it, they were prepared and determined to hit back hard. Under the leadership of Ulvane they figured out that dragon laired in the Volcano they named White Plume Mountain.
This time the dragon was a big one, of the most powerful dragons that have ever existed in Flanaess, Dragotha. She was a determined, intelligent and utterly ruthless dragon,. This threat was going to be tough, and require a both cunning, cooperation, bravery and patients to defeat. All of the priesthoods of the area saw the threat and cooperated, and a group of the most daring servants of the gods secretly settled in the Mountain to observe and get to know the enemy, they were lead by a hierophant named Aegwareth.
Shelters where dug in various places across the land and a big complex was constructed in the Serion Hills a day east of Shelemek. By having a force there as well they could attack from multiple directions and have many places to seek cover. The caves became known as the Dragonhide Caves, and in the year of -900 CY the Order of the Storm, led by Ulvane, and every abled body from Shelemek participated in the battle near the caves when Ulvane became Warduke when he defeated Dragotha.
After the battle the dragon carcass quickly became a worm ridden mess which was left to rot. To the astonishment of people left to guard it, even the bones disappeared, such a thorough job did the worms before they too was gone. Later wisdom would have told the people back then to take this omen seriously, and both Dragotha and the Worm Lord would come back and haunt many of their descendants later on. But for the time being celebrations where at hand, Warduke, the Order of the Storm and the people of Shelemek had triumphed!
The time of celebration and happiness turned into yet more tragedy, Warduke turned out to become more and more of a ruthless tyrant as the years went by, and he seemed to escape death as well. Not only on the battlefield but rumors had it he served Nerull himself and the lord of death needed him here so he could live on as long as he served him well. Often had problems come from afar, but this time intruders would be the problem solvers. A stream of Oeridians came, from the east this time. Descendants of the first wave hundreds of years ago had now established a powerful kingdom in the east and was seeking new lands to settle, or conquer with force if needed.
When the first probing ships came up the Veng the people of Shelemek knew the language and took a chance and asked for help, offering they lands as a reward. That and tales of evil Flan cults terrorizing the area made the mighty Aerdy send a force many times stronger that had been seen this side of the Nyr Dyv before. Warduke fled back to Molag with those loyal to him and the Aerdy took over, and a new era started.
The new rulers had big plans, were well organized, skilled in both engineering and warfare, and determined to build an empire. Plans for a big city north of the Nyr Dyv on the well situated peninsula along the Veng were laid out and work begun. The new folk had a habit of using clay and chalk found along the river to cover their walls making them white, and the term Critwall was coined ant it soon became the name of the new town. A new lord of the Walworth family became the new ruler when Critwall was included in the Earldom of Walworth. Below is their heraldry:
The modern city started in the early days of the Great Kingdom's advance westward as a staging point in the defense against northern incursions as well as continued advance westwards.
In the early 100's CY the city was still under the Earldom of Walworth when they adopted this heraldry:
The tower symbol was still white, relating to its white limestone, the black malachite imported from the mainland Great Kingdom would come later in the 200's CY. Then a new heraldry was introduced to show the new fancy improvement:
Now the modern day Critwall is starting to take shape with its three main wards defenses and port. Shelemek, the old gods, traditions and history of the flan who had lived here for so long became legend. Scary stories, told to folks to make them cling to the new gods, or laugh at when drunk in the alehouses.