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CYNSWYR ARIENSYN 1
he ring of standing stones perched on a high cliff overlooking Sholo’s largest bay are called the ‘Warriors of Sholo’ by the few outsiders to have visited them. To the clans of the Nolgind they, and the complex of stone rooms and cylindrical towers built in and on the cliffs below, are Cynswyr Ariensyn, ‘The Ancient Pledge’. In the dialect of the mainland Kubora, Cynswyr Ariensyn translates as ‘The Promise of Fear’. What is certain is that no Kuboran hand carved the Warriors or built the structures they guard.
The Crones’ Path A path runs from the clanhouse of Sholengor to Cynswyr Ariensyn, nearly 2 leagues to the north east. It winds through scrubby woodlands before fording a river the Sholen call Heneryne as its estuary is rich in fish in season. From there the path skirts beaches and dunes and crosses two low wooded headlands to reach a second river that spreads its waters across a broad sandy inlet. From there it rises steeply and approaches within a few paces of the cliff edge. Then it continues along a wind scoured cliff top where a very few trees cling to life. Finally the path climbs to the highest headland where the trees give way to bleak heathland. There the Warriors sit forever scanning the bay below.
ORIGINS & HISTORY Though it is the ring of standing stones that have attracted the attention of Ivinian and Orbaalese whalers in search of a landmark, Cynswyr Ariensyn encompasses both the Warriors and the structures on the cliffs below. Together they constitute evidence of the ancient habitation of the Afarezirs. The eleven Warriors are named for the rough likenesses of a standing man carved into each stone. They are older than the ring of stones erected on Movel Island in imitation. They may even pre-date the stone structures that sit on the series of broad cliff ledges that step down to the sea more than 100 feet below. Most Nolgind avoid the site and never descend to the complex below the standing stones. Only clan Sholen’s Crone is a regular visitor. She is tasked with ensuring the place is honoured every winter solstice. At that time she places offerings at the feet of each stone to sustain them for another year and prays to Heneryne that the Spring comes quickly. If the previous year has been particularly hard then other clans, suspicious of the place and its reputation, will send gifts to be offered on their behalf. Anyone may claim sanctuary within the ring of standing stones until the time of the next full moon. Few are brave enough to take advantage of this, fearing to spend even one night in this haunting, and perhaps haunted, place. HârnWorld
Sholen children are brought here as soon as they can walk to pay their respects to the Warriors. While the walk can be a pleasant excursion parents plan for the return to be well before dusk. Then the bent and twisted trees truly resemble the dead crones whose spirits are said to inhabit them.
WRITER Alun Rees MAPS Alun Rees CONTRIBUTORS Andy Gibson Neil Thompson Anders Bersten Playtesters at IviniaCon 3 The Harnwriter Group
CYNSWYR ARIENSYN 2 LOCAL MAP KEY 1 The ‘Warriors of Sholo’
Though very old and weathered ten of the stones have the recognisable likenesses of warriors carved into their surface. The eleventh stone still has some signs of carving but any figure has been obliterated; whether by wind and rain, human hand, or some other agency, is unclear. A carved stairway descends from the cliff top to the ledges below. Though weathered and often slick with sea spray the stairs can be traversed with care.
2 The Upper Terrace A few steps lead down into these interlinked rooms. Barely four feet of their thick stone walls remain but they are unlike any stone used in the construction of Nolgind clanhouses. The Nolgind typically salvage stone from their islands’ rocky shores, but the stone of these rooms still show signs of being quite precisely dressed. There are a lot of stone blocks scattered around, and within, the structures that suggest they may have originally boasted at least 6 feet of headroom. There is no way to know how they were roofed of if they were.
3 The Middle Terrace The upper and middle terraces are linked by two exposed but broad stairways cut into the cliff face which are themselves connected by a slippery ledge over the sea below. The stone-built structures here are not linked together but the volume of rubble suggests they originally had higher walls than those on the terrace above. Even today the walls, where they still stand, rise 6 feet from their sunken floors.
4 The Lower Terrace The final terrace is reached by another stairway, this time cut into the solid rock of the cliff itself and therefore shielded from the sea below. The terrace is also sheltered by the surrounding cliffs. A further stair leads down into the surf and at low tide it might be possible to follow it to further ledges and structures to the south. The structure built here has survived much more completely. Though the terrace is still cluttered with rubble the cylindrical tower rises nearly 20 feet above the terrace. It narrows a little as it rises and is open to the elements above. A shallow stair is built into the inside wall leading up to what appears to be a natural fissure in the cliff face.
The Tale of Falor the Tall The Sholen Kubora link Cynswyr Ariensyn to the Tale of Falar the Tall, a hero who travelled through the islands challenging each clan to test him with their champion. Defeating them in turn he bound the challengers into a sacred warband sworn to protect all Nolgind. When he came to Sholo Island he defeated the final champion. But then, as the warband was marching back to its boats to commence its guardianship of the islands, a blind youth appeared and challenged Falor. The hero offered the youth a choice from among his own weapons saying he would face him empty handed out of pity. The youth accepted the choice of weapon but refused them all in favour of ‘knowledge, if you have the courage to face it’. Intrigued, and impressed by the youth’s nerve, Falor agreed. He and his sworn brothers followed the young man to a desolate beach where they found a carefully carved driftwood figure for every warrior. The figures were clearly characters from each clan’s history. ‘With these I show you that I know as much of your clans as you know yourselves, now follow me again’. Carrying the carvings the warriors walked to a high headland overlooking a bay where, using words that each clan claimed Kadag has spoken to them alone, the youth convinced Falor that even a blind boy knew more of Kadag’s wisdom than the greatest warrior. He ended his oration with a phrase of Kadag’s wisdom known to every clan but understood by none of them: ‘When you have conquered these islands you must show your courage by each finding a seat in the dark of stone’. With his sightless eyes settling on each warrior in turn the youth claimed ‘each carving is in the image of a founder of your clan; follow me and I will show you where they can be seated as Kadag commanded’. The youth led the warriors beneath the earth where they seated the carvings in the deep of stone, fulfilling Kadag’s wish. Then, returning to the surface in triumph, the rising sun turned each to a warrior of stone as eternal guardians of the place. What happened to the youth is unknown but the Sholen have since been known for their great knowledge and their power to overcome force with words.