Music – Evoken, Mare Erythraem

 

Also, this ends the first chapter of Cirsova.  For now, entries on Ungoza are complete.  We’ll next be visiting Gatlia, the province to the west of Ungoza and north of Cirsova.  I hope you’ve enjoyed things thus far!

Elefloe

About two days northeast of Old Cratera, the ancient stones of Elefloe may be found gleaming dully green against the white of snow and ice.  Many things are said of Elefloe: its grounds are haunted, the tower is cursed, it is a city of ghosts, never built for the living, and in the deepest winter months, evil spirits who roam the ice sheet hold court here.  These untruths are popular stories in southern towns where no true scholars and historians reside.

Like Jorgora, the ruin known as Elefloe was discovered by cartographers surveying Ungoza and charting the bounds of the Ice Sheets.  While a few remote dolmens have been happened upon in even more forsaken places, some far deeper in the ice than Elefloe, none of these have been mapped or studied (many could not be easily found again) due to their isolation. Elefloe’s size and proximity to the Old Cratera site, however, made Elefloe easier to find than other sites.

Owing to its architectural similarity to certain structures seen in Polaris, Elefloe is thought to be a late-Tyuravelinai site, perhaps only abandoned 400 to 500 years ago.

Elefloe consists of a single tower and three concentric rings of walls or other ruined structure, ultimately 180 feet in diameter.  All of the remaining structure is made of hewn milky green stone.  Petrologists have compared samples from Elefloe to the crater glass and other stones found in Ungoza, finding it composed of a mineral wholly unknown to the region.

The outermost ring of Elefloe was comprised of at least four well polished Orthostats.  Very little of this outer ring remains, the northern orthostat having fallen on its side, the eastern, partially shorn off near its base with its remainder missing, and the western gone

altogether.  Only the southern stone still stands in its place.  These stones formed a perfect cross with the tower at its exact center.

An intermediate ring is only supposed to exist based on the ruin’s precise use of measurements and strata found between the Orthostats and the inner ring.

The inner ring, which lies 25 feet from the tower and 50 feet in from the outer ring, is a thoroughly ruined wall, of which only four segments remain.  At one point, the inner ring had a large archway at its southern end and seven smaller archways or windows evenly distributed around its circumference. The base of the large arch, and three other segments bearing the smaller arches remain intact, along with a few large wallstones scattered.

The tower of Elefloe is circular, reflecting somewhat the inner ring, and 30 feet in diameter. The tower is somewhat more intact that the surrounding ruins, seemingly hewn from a single giant rock, though the upper portions of the wall are worn down, crumbling and in some places missing, so it is impossible to determine its original height.  At present, the highest portion of the tower wall stands about 40 feet from the ground, 30 from someone standing in the tower’s center. Only 5 feet (from the interior) of the wall remains in some places, particularly on the eastern portion.

Around its wall are eight inornate engaged columns or pilasters with an even 10 feet between each one.  The tower’s southern face is approached by stone slab steps between two of these.  Between the pilasters, on the northern, eastern and western faces are small windows, though the eastern window is missing much of its upper portion.  From each of these portals, one would be able to see the standing stones at the cardinal points of the ruin.

The pilasters of the tower form either a cross or eight pointed star, at the center of which is a round capstone.  At one point, the capstone featured many engravings, however most of these are weathered to oblivion.  Only the word “Elefloe” is distinguishable on the stone’s side.  It is from this that the ruin gets its present name.  No archaeological expeditions that have studied Elefloe have come equipped to remove the capstone, so it is not known what, if anything, it covers.

Beneath the three windows of the tower are shallow cists, one of which (the western cist) had been covered with smaller rectangular stone.  Within were found 3 sealed clay jars, each containing several scrolls in various states of preserve, all written in the language of the ancient Northern folk.  A few of these scrolls, which are now kept in the royal library of Gatia, have since been translated, giving some small insight into the Northern Civilization.

Most appear to be poems and song committed to paper, including the most complete manuscript of the Romance of Tyuran and Velina.  Most of what we know about the Northern Folk comes from these scrolls, combined with old myths told by the Ungozan Storymen and the dream poets of Polaris. In the years following the discovery of the Elefloe scroll cache, little new information could be gleaned from studies of the ruin itself.  The difficulty in reaching the ruin, extreme colds that any crews would need to come prepared for, and a lack of new finds brought about a near cessation of explorers and researchers.  Every now and then, a particularly daring treasure hunter may make their way to Elefloe, only to leave disappointed by a lack of easily carted off artifacts.  Thus, Elefloe has suffered only a little to vandals and robbers.  Now, the academic community has redirected its efforts to comparative study of the writings found at Elefloe and what we know of the people of Polaris.

Of note, Jorgora, which is thought by some to be a ruin, has not been found mentioned in any of the writings thus far translated.  No excavation has found any artifacts of actual inhabitation (bone, pottery, refuse, etc.).

A full scale reconstruction of a ‘restored’ Elefloe has been built as a folly in the imperial gardens in Gatia.

A Music Store Page

You may or may not have noticed that there’s a new “Page” link in the upper corner called “Music Store“.

You should click on it 🙂

I said awhile back that I’d let everyone know what was up with my business and whether or not I’d be continuing it into the new year.  Personal problems, car problems, all sorts of crazy problems have led to me to the conclusion that I simply cannot afford to run a small business/hobby business, pouring money and time into it for very little return.  I’ve concluded that it’s something I need to take a break from, stack up some chips, so to speak, concentrate on my girlfriend, my day job, and on Cirsova.  As such, Retro Virus Records is no longer going to be a “business”, at least for the immediate future, and I’m probably not going to be putting out near as much music as I used to, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have a ton of CDs and LPs that are sitting around either in my storage room or on the shelves of various distributors.

So, I invite you to check out some of these albums.  They’ll be marked down soon, especially from the Kunaki store, so they might make some nice Christmas presents for folks.

Also, over the next month or so, I’ll be doing some “spotlights” on each of these old albums.

Nautical Metal for Nautical Misadventures

For anyone who’s been following Cirsova and paying attention to the music posts, you’ve probably noticed I’m really big into doom & sludge metal. I remember as far back as Vampire: The Masquerade 1st ed, a sourcebook suggesting the using music to enhance the mood of certain scenes for roleplaying. I wanna say that the example they used was something like “A guy crashes a party and switches out the cd; throw on something like Butthole Surfers”.

Recently, ST:Wild on Roleplaying posted about creating soundtrack cds. Rather than soundtracks, I’ve always preferred soundscapes, largely because they enhance the mood without the jarring created by either track breaks or players’ familiarity with songs. Droning doom metal, however, might be a different story,  as the length of tracks and ambient nature create a fairly consistent atmosphere with less of a roller-coaster feel than a playlist with a few dozen shorter songs.

One of the sub-genres within doom that I’ve found oddly appealing is nautical themed doom metal. All of the music is played so as to recreate the feel of rolling waves of the ocean and being lost out at sea. One of these bands, Ahab, plays whaling-themed funeral doom, their first album being a retelling of Moby Dick. I’ll admit that what I’ve heard of the new album is not that great, but their first, The Call of the Wretched Sea, is pretty amazing.

Another band I’ve recently become enamoured with is Monarch!, from Bayonne, France. Lyrically, their songs are ballads of the forelorn wives of sailors, oceans of tears, etc., and they are heavier than a planet with epic 20 minute tracks that evoke the despair and isolation of high seas. Their album Dead Men Tell No Tales is a great introduction, as it’s a pretty cheap two disc cd giving you two albums, 5 tracks and nearly two hours of the heaviest metal you’ve heard.

If you plan on having any sort of nautical adventures, or even astral-nautical adventures (who HASN’T wanted to play a Gith pirate campaign?), I strongly recommend checking out both of these bands and trying out a little in the background of your next session.

Galbarrow

Galbarrow is a mid-sized port town several days southeast of Agalla, the largest town in Ungoza after Cratera, and perhaps the oldest permanent settlement in the region.

According to town legend, Galbarrow is so named because Arqua dan Gal, a famed old seadog from Solaris, was buried here.  Arqua dan Gal had acquired quite the reputation as both a gentleman smuggler and foe of pirates when Ortia was incorporated into Cirsova’s dominion three hundred years ago.  Wanting no longer to be Ortians or Cirsovans, Arqua dan Gal, who was a wealthy ship captain, his wife, crew and their families set sail north from great port of Solaris across the Dawnsea.  Dan Gal offered free passage to anyone who wished to join him in his journey.  A few other “noble smugglers” heard of dan Gal’s plan, joining the exodus. Along the way, Arqua dan Gal fell ill and died.  His final request was that his ship and wealth be used to build a haven for nationless sailors.  Today, a statue of Arqua dan Gal, facing south toward the sea, and his wife, looking inland, stands in a square just beyond the harbor.

For many decades, Galbarrow had a reputation as a haven for pirates on the Dawnsea (ironic, considering dan Gal’s own feats against piracy).  It had been nearly forgotten about, save for the rumors heard in the alehouses, inns and docks of Korsha and Diirdec.  Even the relatively peaceful conquest of Ungoza failed to betray the location of Galbarrow to the Empire.  As the Marshfolk had amicably traded with port for many years, though, its discovery was only a matter of time.  The Cirsovan army, upon learning that the legendary pirate stronghold had been found, bore down upon Galbarrow.  What they found was a quiet fishing village with maybe a dozen ships. Following Galbarrow’s rediscovery, a road was built from Agalla and sailors from Korsha and Diirdec began an influx of trade and persons to the town. Much of this growth was fueled by the stories of Arqua dan Gal and his idea for a free port, which appealed particularly to captains who wished to reap rewards of trade between Korsha and Solaris in a less-than-legitimate manner.  Would-be pirates who had been driven to near extinction in other cities along the coast of the Dawnsea suddenly found a new home in this frontier port.

Though nominally under Cirsovan rule, Galbarrow operates under supervision of a dockmaster, harbormaster, and captains’ council which together keep the peace.  The rule of thumb in Galbarrow is ‘what happens at sea stays at sea, and the land shall be no wiser”. Violence and vice are not welcome on the streets and docks of Galbarrow, and are met with swift retribution.  By keeping the streets clean and remitting taxes (often paid from booty) to Ungoza’s autocrat in Agalla, the Captains’ Council has kept the Empire satisfied and Galbarrow left be.  Off the streets, anything goes.  Galbarrow’s gambling and drinking halls are said to be second to none; though blood sports are officially frowned upon by the Captain’s Council, they are not forbidden, provided they do not interfere with smooth operation of the docks.

Today, Ortians make up only a small percentage of the population.  It is they who put up the statue of Arqua dan Gal and his wife.