The Saaltz Mountains
In the border areas encompassing lower Serroya and the northern territories of The Heel of Accitaine lie the Saaltz Mountains, a wild and notorious mountain range covering an area of many hundreds of miles. Whilst the mountains and hills within this range are nothing compared to the ranges found in Amarkacha, they are still substantial enough to have snow on the summits of the higher mountains all year round, despite the general climate being arid and dry. There are a few official passes with trade roads going through it, but given the terrain, there is always a bandit threat, and that’s before one takes into account the dangers of the fauna and treacherous avalanche producing peaks. That being said, normal people can make their home in the mountains, for the lower hills and smaller mountains do have forest and soil that can make for a decent living if one is prepared and able to defend oneself.
As well as mountain lions, wolves and bears (to name some but not all of the “mundane” threats), there are also Wyverns, Gryphons, Manticores, Owlbears, the rare and legendary Giant Eagles and other oddities there as well, not to mention tales of unpleasant things lurking in the caverns and caves that riddle the mountains. The settlements that dwell within the mountains are all walled and mindful of attack from above as attack from the ground. A profitable (if dangerous) living can be made by merchants, mercenaries and adventurers of all stripes within the mountains, but it is not for the faint hearted or unprepared. Below are detailed 3 of the settlements within the mountains, and whilst representative are not the limit of what is there.
This fortified township of over 3000 people is located in the Northerly part of the range and is within Serroyan territory. It is governed by the Marquis Alain de Montville, who is also a Colonel within the Serroyan Army (which conveniently allows him a useful stipend to support his private army), and it is an important part of the Gouge trade route that follows its meandering way south towards the Heel. Vineyards and various fruit orchards and farms dot the land around the town, patrolled by the Marquis’ distinctive red coated soldiery. It’s prosperous enough, and the wine that is made here is well regarded, though it is noted that this is all possible in great part due to the generosity of the Crown.
This is credited with being the oldest settlement within the Mountains, and sits in the centre of the range, occupying a crucial strategic placement for the trade and travel between Serroya and the Heel. It numbers some 4000 people and employs clever stepped farmland to provide for the locals, though trade passing through is vitally important to keep the town supplied. It is a Free City, for its legal status has been disputed in the past between Serroya and the Cantabrian Colony city of Villaro, though after a treaty signed, now is an autonomous settlement run by a Mayor elected by the citizenry.
It is also worth noting that the city is built on the ruins of a much older settlement, and some of the more superstitious locals and visitors believe the ruins and UnderDeeps of the city are haunted.
This township of 1500 was originally a farm for harvesting the red maple trees located in the Saaltz mountains in the Northern Heel, and has over the generations grown into a fortified farm ruled by the Thurvish Xaquo Clan. It is located amidst forests of the distinctive red maple tree and the syrups and sugars tapped and harvested by the experts of this township are exported a far away as Cantabrius and Heidelgard. The distinctive quality of this product only seems possible in this area, and in typical Thurvish fashion, it is guarded diligently and not a little zealously by the Xaquo. Their Rangers and woodsfolk are deadly defenders of their livelihood and are merciless to thieves, bandits and indeed any threat to their farming and those who dwell within their forested domain, and they can also count upon the assistance of Villaro if bigger threats come calling.
Many scholars, archaeologists and adventurers make their way to study, investigate and loot (respectively) the ruins that dot the mountains, for the people who lived here before were something of a mystery to modern eyes, though it is known that the Society pays a close eye upon those who dig too deep or find anything that might be considered “contentious”.