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LEEHA (Shire of)
Location: Continent of Brun, on the western coast of the Great Bay. NW
Area: 998 sq. mi. (2,585 sq. km.).
Languages: Lalor, Alphatian.
Coinage: Barter mostly, otherwise Alphatian Standard: crown (gp), mirror (sp), judge (cp).
Taxes: 20% collected twice a year.
Government Type: Democracy; elected clan representatives (clanmasters) advise an elected sheriff (count).
Industries: Agriculture, fishing.
Important Figures: Shaedrik Divotfoot (Sheriff, hin, male, F9).
Flora and Fauna: Leeha's rolling hills are forested with a mixture of evergreens, oak, maple, hickory, elm and ash in the southeast. Thickets, brambles and ferns are common beneath the taller evergreens. The forested areas abound with wildlife and wild animals can be encountered away from the settlements. The forests give way to gentle rolling fields and meadows filled with wildflowers and fruit trees, as well as crops. Streams are smaller and gentler in the fields that make up the heart of the shire. There's also an inland swamp near the Gulf of Leeha; quicksand is a deadly peril found amongst the peat bogs here. Twisted and stunted trees give shelter to all types of swamp denizens, monsters included.
Further Reading: CM1 Test of the Warlords, Dawn of the Emperors boxed set, previous almanacs.
Description by Synthala of Aasla.
Finally I have had the time to see this marvellous land, and what a pleasure! The hin county of Leeha has always been an independent, merry land to visit. It is divided into seven smaller dominions (called shires by the hin), but few outsiders notice this, since the hin always make decisions through consensus and live as a single nation. In this report, while describing the whole region in general terms, I will focus on the shires of Highthicket and Merrybrook, located south of the town of Leeha.
Leehashire is one of the most beautiful regions in all of Norwold. Its rolling hills are forested with a mixture of evergreens, oak, maple, hickory, elm and ash in the southeast. Lakes and rivers are plentiful in the hills, which are known as the Catbergs. Hin venture here quite often, but this area is more of a borderland.
The forested area is known as the Greenwood. The Greenwood is pleasant and peaceful, and it abounds with wildlife. Wild animals are the only concern while travelling here. The forests give way to gentle rolling fields and meadows filled with wildflowers and fruit trees, as well as crops. Streams are smaller and gentler in the fields that make up the heart of the shire. Smaller ponds are also common in the fields. The rivers tend to flow toward the sea or into the White Bear River.
The Greenwood River originates deep in the Catbergs. It flows southward through the forest and across farmland, before turning west to join the White Bear just north of Leeha. The Naszbras River starts in a region of the Greenwood south of Goodfield. It flows peacefully from the woods across the fields to the east, then turns northward through Fogvail Swamp, before emptying into the Gulf of Leeha.
Fogvail Swamp is a dark and murky place, which is often shrouded in mist. Few hin dare go here. Quicksand is a deadly peril found amongst the peat bogs here. Twisted and stunted trees give shelter to all types of swamp denizens, monsters included. The inland swamp eventually gives way to salt marsh along the coast, but most of the water here is stagnant and infested with insects. During winter, the bogs will freeze over, making them easy to cross, but some monstrous inhabitants remain active all winter.
The White Bear River is a major waterway that is navigable for most of the year. It often freezes over during the winter. The river is deep and slow-moving as it passes through the shire, but the water is cold from its source in the Icereach Range. In some places, the river can be over a mile wide, depending on the season. The banks tend to be fairly steep as the river winds through the valley, but it is not so in all places. The banks of the river are very fertile allowing a wide variety of crops to grow there.
To the west of the White Bear, the forests become denser, and evergreens grow more common toward the foothills of the Icereach. The western forest is called the Hightimber. The southern part of this forest is thick with smaller trees and ground cover. Thickets, brambles and ferns are common beneath the taller evergreens. North of Leeha, these woods tend to have older, taller trees with little underbrush. Moss and needles carpet the forest floor. The trees are broken by the occasional meadow. Freshwater lakes, ponds, rivers and streams are all abundant throughout this region. The River Dinelbras marks the northern edge of this forest.
The stretch of Hightimber Forest between Leeha and Grassy Knoll is crossed by the dangerous Snakebite River. Poisonous serpents are found in this area, including water moccasins and rattlesnakes. The Snakebite crawls its way to Saurian Saltmarsh, on the coast of the Great Bay. Hin rarely travel here.
To the north of the Great Bay, the woods also become increasingly more evergreen, but are rarely completely so. The trees are dense and thick, making travel difficult. The woods form a protective border on this side of the shire, and have been dubbed the Northguard Woods. These woods are a true wilderness and are mostly unexplored.
Leehashire is composed of seven hin clan strongholds, each with its own leadership (and Crucible of Blackflame). The close proximity of the clans to one another has encouraged the hin to develop together. The stronghold of Leeha is the clans' central gathering place; it is located near the White Bear River.
South of Leeha, following the White River to its source, lies the small clanhold housing the Highthicket Clan. The clan and town both take their name from the Highthicket River, which flows down from the foothills of the Icereach Range into the White Bear River. Highthicket is a community of loggers and outdoors hin. Wood and timber are the primary resources of this area, which is deep in Hightimber Forest. Hin who are not loggers are most likely fur trappers or game hunters. Grouse and wild turkey can be found here. Deer, bears, and cougars also inhabit the surrounding woods and mountains, in addition to animals whose pelts are coveted by trappers, such as beaver, fox, mink, and ermine. The hin are good stewards of the land, and will never overcut the forest. This clanhold is significantly removed from Leeha, so that visits from outsiders are rare. When visitors do arrive, they are not greeted as warmly as they would be in Leeha.
Merrybrook is home to the clan of the same name. It lies down the road from Highthicket, near the confluence of the Highthicket, Fishrun, and White Bear Rivers. As such, the rivers are the major fact of life for this clan. Fishing is their mainstay. Brook trout, salmon, and other fish are plentiful in all of these fresh mountain streams. The waters also help to provide a fertile soil along their banks where various foodstuffs (such as potatoes) can be grown. The Merrybrook Clan are also skilled river pilots. Riverboats and sailboats can both be found here for navigating the White Bear and some stretches of the Fishrun. Smaller canoes and rowboats can advance further up the Fishrun and the Highthicket, both of which contain significant rapids.
Overall, Leeha has the atmosphere of one big happy family. The seven clans are represented in roughly equal numbers, many of whom have chosen to live in Leeha permanently. The mix of full time residents and yallaren passing through make it an interesting place to visit. It may seem somewhat uncontrolled at times (especially during holidays), but the hin tend to watch out for their own. They are friendly folk who are willing to lend a hand to almost anyone. The residents are more aware than they may seem, however, and many are quite worldly. The hin maintain a standing force of 1,500 warriors, and, although the small folk try not to become involved in human quarrels, they will not hesitate to band together and defend their homeland against incursions by monsters and other undesirables.
In comparison to the average hin of Leeha, those of the Highthicket Clan are hardworking and tend to keep to themselves and their woodlands. The Merrybrook are somewhat adventuresome, and travel to Leeha and beyond fairly often. Some even take to piracy along the White Bear. The clan is quite receptive to guests who can arrive easily by way of the rivers. There are a few decent taverns and inns scattered throughout the clan's territory, all of which serve excellent "fish and chips." Celebrations and merrymaking are almost constant among this clan, which has its share of musicians and entertainers.
The area of Leehashire was settled in the distant past by hin driven from the Northern Reaches by kobold invaders. It is believed that these northern hin originally left the Five Shires as colonists, or were driven from there during some earlier turmoil. The hin lived alone-and mostly peacefully, except for humanoid incursions-for many centuries, which is one reason they retained their Lalor language better than their Five Shires brethren. They have reacted peaceably to the arrival of human cities in the last century; in fact, they have profited from trade with the humans.
A great army of orcs, led by a green dragon, invaded Leehashire some 40 years ago (AY 1984) [AC 984. Ed.]. Hin losses were heavy, especially in the eastern clans (Gardener and Divotfoot). That area of the shire was in ruin. The hin forces were rallied by a brave young sheriff, Collin Nimblefingers, whose guerrilla tactics helped beat the orcs at their own game. The orcs were driven back into the hills, and the dragon was not seen again. Sheriff Collin was secured in his office, and he later successfully defended Leeha from an invasion of frost giants, from Frosthaven, in the brutal winter of AY 2002 [AC 1002. Ed.] when the Great Bay froze over completely. A key hero in that engagement was Shaedrik Divotfoot, who succeeded Collin as sheriff in AY 2010 [AC 1010. Ed.].
Recently, Leeha has established diplomatic treaties both with the Kingdom of Siegeria and with the Duchy of Chitine (as representative of the Kingdom of Alpha) that guarantee its safety should the two parties come into conflict. It currently maintains peaceful relationships with all its neighbours, and the hin enjoy the peace and prosperity of their position. Leeha remained neutral in the recent Norwold Wars [AC 1016. Ed.], although it did send troops to help the nearby dominion of Chitine when the army of efreet invaded it [probably to stop it before it reached Leeha as well, thus avoiding a war on their own soil. Adik.].
Leeha is famous for its many fine inns and pubs. Without exception, these inns are high quality places, filled with warm food and good cheer. Many are large enough to accommodate humans. Hin songs and stories can be enjoyed with fine ale well into the night. Various acts, shows, and other entertainment take place on an almost constant basis, with yallaren playing a large part.
Another interesting feature you should not miss when visiting Leehashire is the snow tulip fields. These marvellous and unique flowers blossom in summer and have an incredible variety of hues, forming intricate designs with their colours ranging from snow-white to yellow, orange, pink, red, and deep blue. The Gardens of Leehashire are said to be one of the world's greatest marvels!
Definitely too dangerous to brave, especially after the Draconic Treaty of AY 2016 [AC 1016. Ed.], are the mountains to the south of Merrybrook, which are part of the Icereach Range and belong to the dominion of Siegeria. The traveller should also expect some problems if she chooses to roam the grasslands to the west, since this is the hunting ground of many packs of blink dogs and a few lycanthropes.