Valarn is the land between the Tavir and Akai mountains, reaching from the coast of the Inner Sea far inland into the endless forests that dominate almost all of the northern Ancient Lands. It is the homeland of the Eylahen and also contains many settlements of skeyn in the foothills of the Tavirs in the east, as well as many small clans of Vanyar that have come down from the Akais in the west over the past centuries.
The Sakaya: Most Vanyar in Valarn were originally mercenaries who were hired to guard caravans transporting salt from the Akais to the ports of the Inner Sea and the elven lands. One particular of these mercenary groups were the warriors of the Sakaya, a religious order from the Akai Mountains who believe in always working on improving ones professional skills. In times of little threat to their communities by other clans of the mountains, their warriors often travel the Ancient Lands looking for work as mercenaries. About two centuries ago some groups decided not return to the mountains and share the money they earned with their monasteries, but to keep working as mercenaries permanently. And in times where work was scarce, they turned to raiding. While the Sakaya of the Akai Mountains greatly disapprove of this practice, the mercenary bands dropped almost all ties with them and since started to recruit their own new members and focus exclusively on increasing their skills as warriors, relying on tribute and ransom from local towns for anything else they need. These Sakaya are highly valued mercenaries by those who can afford their service and they changed the outcome of many wars between clans on the Inner Sea. But in the last century they have steadily increased in numbers and begun to make a habit starting small wars for their own benefit, which makes many of the chiefs and kings of Valarn very uneasy.
Keltir is a vast and not clearly defined region within the endless forests north of Valarn. Few people live in this land, most being Eylahen or some smaller groups of Vanyar or skeyn, with a few groups of roaming kaas occasionally being seen.
Fey Courts: Ruins of old fey castles can be found almost everywhere in the Ancient Lands but except for the naga of Kemesh their builders have almost entirely disappeared from the world of mortals. Deep within the ancient forests of Keltir, not all of the old castles are abandoned and there are many stories of courts of shie that rule over them to this day.
The Akai Mountains are a large mountain range on the western coast of the Inner Sea, rising above the coastal plains only a few dozen miles from the sea and stretching far inland towards the west. These mountains have been a hiding place for the Vanyar for countless generations, as they were outside the range of both the shie in the north and the naga in the south during the time when the fey races ruled the world. Dispersed over a large and almost barren landscape and being only few in number, the Vanyar were little known to either the elves or the lizardmen until relatively recently. While today they are known as salt traders and mercenaries throughout the Inner Sea region, their mountainous homeland is still a dangerous wilderness with small fortified villages and almost no major towns other than the great monasteries of the Sakaya.
There’s no specific theme for this region yet.
Baikat is the land of the Red River, which runs south from the Akai Mountains and then turns east towards the Inner Sea. Even though Baikat is a very flat land with few major hills or mountains, it lies well above the coastal lowlands and recieves only little rain. It’s mostly dry grass and shrubs with occasional forests of small hardy trees, but some parts consist only of bare clay or gravel. The Red River has carved a huge canyon that cuts deep into the otherwise almost featureless land and contains the vast majority of all water in the region. The canyon is so deep that even though the land drops quite steeply as it approaches the coast, ships can travel up the river all the way from the sea to the feet of the Akai Mountains. There are many caves in the canyon walls, many of which have been made into villages, fortresses, or shrines. The coast on the eastern edge of Baikal is very different from the highland plains, consisting of the massive Kuremo swamp at the mouth of the Red River. During the summer rains, most rain falls on these swamplands and few clouds make it to the top of the cliffs that form the border to the highlands. The highlands are the homeland of the Ruyaki, especially south of the Red River, while the northern section has become home to smaller groups of Vanyar.
Again, sadly no strong theme for the region yet.
The Mahiri Jungles begin south of Baikat and form the westernmost part of the southern coast of the Inner Sea. Along the coast the Yagashi have several major ports that are important centers of trade, but the culture heart of the tribe is deep within the jungles, based around vast temple cities.
Alchemical Wonders: The Mahiri Jungles are full of rare plants and stange insects found nowhere else in the Ancient Lands, many of which are extremely valuable for alchemists. They are an important source of wealth for many of the powerful merchant families on the coast and there is a very strong competition over control of both the trade and their sources.
The Red Goddess: One of the temple cities in the Mahiri Jungles is ruled by its deity itself. The Red Goddess is a powerful red skinned shie who has ruled over her domain far longer than any of the oldest Yagashi who serve her. Her grandchildren and great-grandchildren form a powerful caste of priest-administrators whose influence reaches far beyond the borders of this land.
Sarhat is the greatest kingdom found anywhere in the Ancient Lands and the only country of its kind. Once part of the lands ruled by the naga, the lizardfolk slaves of the western cities rebelled almost a thousand years ago, succesfully driving the naga to the east into Kemesh and creating their own kingdom as the Mayaka.
The Royal Guard: In addition to the vast armies of warriors, the king of Sarhat also has command over a strong force of elite warriors who guard his palace and the capital city, but are also frequently send on special tasks related to protecting the kingdom from its enemies, which is mostly the naga of Kemesh but also dissenters against the dominant Temple of the Sun. Sometimes these tasks lead members of the guard to other regions of the Ancient Lands as well.
The islands of Suvanea lie between the Inner Sea and the ocean, southeast from Senkand and north of Kemesh and Sarhat. Consisting of thousands of often very small islands, the region is home both to the Gandju lizardmen and the Amakari humans. As neither tribe is very numerous or builds any large towns or cities, there is not a lot of trade going on in the region and the waters are difficult to navigate for sailors used mostly to traveling between cities on the coast.
Pirates: The waters of Suvanea are full small islands and reefs, making it very easy for ships to get lost or running on ground. It is not only Gandju and Amakari who plunder the wrecks, but there are also many bands of pirates from other lands using the islands as hidden camps and hunting grounds. Most of them are Keyren or Yagashi, but many ships have highly mixed crews including Neshanen, Amakari, Gandju, and recently also some Vanyar.
Kemesh is a remote land seen by very few people from other parts of the Ancient Lands. East of Sarhat and south of Suvanea, it is what remains of the once vast kingdoms of naga who once ruled over all the lands south of the Inner Sea. Today they are few in number but still have large numbers of Suji slaves. It is a land of wonder and there are countless tall tales about it in the ports around the Inner Sea, but very little is really known for certain