“I doubt there is much you could say to convince me to help you. I didn’t go with you before and I won’t go with you now. Besides my life is here, helping and healing people. People come from as far away as Triton when their loved ones fall ill.”
Miranda told Marek how she had built the hospital in Freston and taken it upon herself to train new healers. In addition she traveled to other cities, not just to heal the sick but to help them establish similar hospitals. Her work had given her life a new meaning and she was not about to abandon it, not even for Marek.
“I love you, but my place is here.”
“I understand that you feel you are doing the most good that you can here. But what are you going to do when death knocks on this city’s walls again?”
“I will continue to heal as many as possible.”
“There is no potion that I know of that can cure death. A darkness is spreading across this land and no amount of healing will make up for it.”
“That is merely your opinion Marek. You have no evidence of this hidden evil of which you are speaking. It makes no sense that someone would want to rule all of Creedon.”
Miranda was right and Marek knew it. Still he knew what he had seen over the last year and his gut was telling him otherwise. It was well established that each city was it’s own municipality. There were elected councils that led the administrative duties of each city, and each council had a head counselor that was chosen anew on a yearly basis by the other officials. In this way no one person could stay in power for too long. It was a very refreshing system over the old kingdom ways. Once a season the head counselors would gather to discuss matters of the land. Each municipality was given an equal voice. Year after year the municipalities agreed to remain sovereign in their own right. None of them ever wanted, or even hinted at wanting a single leader for all the land. It was never even suggested. In every city, in homes and in public gathering places, there was never any discussion, by any citizen of Creedon, ever wanting such a leadership system again.
This is why it bugged Marek that he felt this way. It made no sense that someone would want to rule the land. There was no sentiment for it anywhere he went. The land and the cities were flourishing under their current system. Marek let the matter go and told Miranda that he was just probably weary from his adventures and needed some time to think on the matter. She smiled and bought his lie. For the next several days he spent as much time as he could with her and helping her throughout the hospital.
After about a week he quietly went to go see the cartographer of the city and asked for several copies of various maps including a larger one of the known world. He spent a couple of nights reviewing them in private when Miranda found him.
“I have not seen you in the hospital today, is something wrong?”
“It is nothing, I have just been doing some research.”
“What has the great Marek been pondering?”
“I am pondering where I should go next.”
“Do you plan on leaving soon? I thought we were getting along quite well, and you promised you would stay awhile.”
“I have not been sleeping well, and I cannot shake this feeling I have. I charged myself to drive these thoughts from my mind. I thought I could get them out by focusing on you and life here in Freston. But I have been unsuccessful so far. For the past few nights I have been looking at the maps. Tracing where I have been recently and trying to find a good hiding place for the evil I am afraid of. I have yet to come to a conclusion.”
“Perhaps I can help assure you that there is no place such an evil could hide and then you can be sure that no such heathen exists.”
“I would greatly value your input.”
Marek rolled out the largest map of the known world. The northern most part contained Valeria, which largely consisted of valleys and meadows. It was a very green and lush landscape which few men have seen. The elves insisted on being left out of the land of men, for their ways did not agree with their own. It was easy enough to keep humans from intruding because of the natural forest that separated Valeria from Creedon. The forest was thick and virtually impassable.
What made the forest so difficult to get through were the goblins. Marek explained to Miranda that the goblins and the elves used to be one race long ago. Marek had learned that long ago the races were born of and shared in the same magic. Over time the two races divided. The goblins being a group who desired to use their magic to amass wealth and appease their greed. The elves were a group that wanted to use their magic to maintain peace and acquire knowledge. Eventually the elves settled in the northern most area, while the goblins remained hidden in the trees with all their possessions. The years drove their races apart and now they could not be more different.
Further north of Valeria was rumored to be a vast wasteland of ice where no living thing could survive, but this had never been verified to a cartographers satisfaction so it wasn’t on any map. While the forest was officially part of Valeria, it was sometimes referred to as Valeze so that no one could confuse the two areas. To the south of the forest line was marshland. It was almost as unforgiving as the rumored ice lands. Wagons that traveled through there were bound to get stuck in the mud and sand. To walk or ride a horse through there was bound to be slow and arduous by any standard. The ground was not nearly firm enough to build upon and the insects made it a rather undesirable area to stand in one place for too long.
The northernmost human city was Triton. It was grand and sparkling. It was built at the base of the Sheeran Mountains. A large majority of the population mined the insides of the mountains. The gems and ores that were not sold to other cities in Creedon were used to build spectacular buildings throughout the shiny city. Triton was truly a spectacle to behold.
South and east of the Sheeran mountains was a vast desert that stretched out to the seas of the eastern shore. There were a few rivers that snaked through the Hearst desert. Along those rivers were several small towns. Those rivers eventually met up at the easternmost city of Halai. Halai was known for it’s vast ships that would sail upon the waters for an entire cycle of seasons. The fish that were caught from the sea were dried and sent to all of the major cities of Creedon. These fish were considered a delicacy by all who tasted it.
South and west of the Sheeran mountains were several cities dotting the land. Freston was somewhat in the middle of these cities and had a rather large lake just to the north of it. There were three major cities along the west coast. The southernmost being Altoun. While the ships of Altoun were not as large as Halai, they were formidable in their own right. The only reason they did not go too far out to sea was because of The Island.
The Island was actually called Smoldoun. Everybody just called it The Island. It was where the last of the dragons lived. The dragons were a sentient and intelligent race that lived in Creedon and Valeria before all other things. Their size and their powers made them the most feared race in all the known world. They had little respect for the “younger races” and wanted nothing more than to be left alone. Every Creedon citizen was taught at an early age that to to even sail near The Island meant the wrath of the dragons and certain death. For this reason no one ever went within a mile of Smoldoun. On clear days if you were at see you might see some of the dragons silhouettes flying around The Island but no one in several cycles had seen one close up. The dragons did not come to Creedon, just a Creedon did not come to the dragons.
South of the main cities of Creedon was not much. There were some smaller villages but eventually was the Cliffs of Chalibis. The Cliffs as they were commonly referred to were exactly that. Across the entire southern stretch of Creedon were the Cliffs of Chalibis. There was land beyond The Cliffs, but it was unreachable and unexplored. Some claimed to have stood on the cliffs edges and looked out to see life in those lands, but that was widely regarded as myth. The Cliffs were a sheer drop of almost one mile in some places. The rocks leading down were to sharp to climb down. Every now and then someone would repel down to try and reach the bottom. No one has made it to the bottom and no one has ever come back up from such an attempt. Some of the more educated people of Creedon have theorized that trolls may live beyond The Cliffs but the evidence for that was weak at best.
Image Credit: NakadaiShimada