Orestol


OrestolAlso called Andau Argun. This is a valley hidden in the hub of heights called the Enchanted Mountains between the land of the five lakes and Marive on the eastern fastland. It is an essentially isolated place, having little contact with the lands surrounding it; its precise location is rarely known, though there are stories of a hidden idyll current in the eastern part of the land of the five lakes, as told to Taru by his father; but stories of some such Shangri-La is not uncommon.

In its earliest days Orestol was inhabited by the giants, who with their mighty songs strew the mountains about with misty snares that waylaid all but the most powerful – or most driven. It is not known where they came from, but they eventually died due to the Arden, Demon of Cacophony who slew them destroyed their song.

Only a few individuals are known to have penetrated these mists: Alkar, Radulph, Taru and, of course, Alentir. There have also been a series of groups of people who have moved up from the lowlands to dwell there; it may be that it is easier for larger groups or, more probably, that the power of the mists is not constant. And indeed, after the giants came, a number of waves followed, as described in The Histories & Prophecies of Dinogad.

The rulers of Orestol when Fial and Taru meet are the Overlords of the Golden Serpent: Tarquin-ö-Orestol, who have ruled the valley for the past nine hundred years. But their time is coming to an end. Before them the valley was ruled by the Sacred King, the temporal partner of the High Priestess of the Goddess of the Land. Together they sought balance, though varying much in the extent to which they approached it.

Orestol is longer than it is broad, running north to south, and dissected by the River Alken. There are twelve realms, besides the separate domain of the Overlords: Glacanto, Savernake, Pennard, the Vale of Hodnet, Cumrew, Cernal, Watchet (the only one in the western half of the valley), Tirglen, Clachen-Der, the island realm of Fayr Trin, Laughern and An Uaimh – the city and realm of the High Priestess. They all assert a high degree of independence, though violent quarrels are rare. For the most part they are peaceful and prosperous.

There have however been a number of occasions when the valley has been under threat due to neglect, most recently before and during Taru’s visit, and the direst when it was assailed by Arden, the Demon of Cacophony, though that was a long time ago. This is remembered in various poems and stories, such as Lwë-Randor which Alentir recites to Bonn as told in the chapter ‘Curious Echoes’ in The Migrator.

Twists

There are a few ancient buildings and monuments in the valley. The Old Fort is long since ruined, but the Tower of Arden has hardly decayed. (It is erroneously called this, as it was built by the giants and then taken over by Arden.) Then there are the three statues, almost forgotten now, that range around the fringes: the Creative Mother, crouching protectively to shield the valley from the remnant evil of the Demon of Cacophony, lichen- and moss-covered now; the weathered Guardian Father below Carwalsic by the easiest route into the valley; and the Perfect Being in its glade on the slopes of Mount Aborâ.

This statue stands in a grove north-westwards from the Overlords’ House. Around the edge of this grove are a circle of huge wooden boulders – once immense stakes, though probably of no real height – and three entrances: from the north-east, the south-east, and the south-west. Within are a circle of dwarf ashes with leaves that bud earlier than on most ashes, and which turn red at mid-summer.

Even the existence of these statues is almost forgotten now, and little is remembered in scrolls or tomes.