Saturday, 28 May 2011

Kaynor Islands

These small islands off the south-west of Teiglin are notorious for the human pirates who have established a base in the ruined fort now known as Pirates Keep. However, the rest of the islands have scattered bands of bugbears who travel around in large sea-going canoes. The islands are riddled with limestone caves, and both troglodytes and giant bats live there. The troglodytes rarely emerge from the caves, but the giant bats are the main predators on the islands, emerging from the caves at night, feeding on the elk, deer and boar and careless humanoids they find in the open at night.

Pirates Keep was originally Vettrel Keep, but it was abandoned early in the Wars between the Empires when its defence was clearly not economical. It was taken over by pirates soon after the summoning. The surface is a large square keep and a curtain wall on a cliff top, and underneath includes a large sea-cave into which ships can sail and anchor. However, there are tunnels linking this sea cave to the territory of a band of troglodytes, and there have been skirmishes between the pirates and the troglodytes in the tunnels and the sea cave. 

Although the troglodytes will not say, the pirates believe that the caves go far deeper and further than any human has gone before, forming an underground realm with its own ecology and geography, including creatures and minerals the surface world has not seen.  This realm stretches underneath the sea bed between the islands, so the troglodytes can move from island to island without ever seeing the sea. 

The bugbear tribes of the islands have been around for centuries and have not come from any Chaos Portal. They are fiercely territorial and will battle any intruders including pirates or troglodytes that enter their forests. They are the main reason the islands had not been taken over by the Toutus Empire earlier. They have been spotted travelling from island to island in large canoes made from hollowed-out tree trunks, the larger ones carrying 10 or so bugbears. Although they probably could reach the Teiglin mainland if they wanted, they do not venture far from the Kaynor Islands. They used to have 4 villages, one on each island but the pirates destroyed the Crabclaw village on Ildriss Island (the same island as Pirate Keep) and the surviving bugbears fled in their canoes. 
The remaining three villages (Boarhoof, Elkskull and Batwing) are fortified against pirate attack though many bugbears live outside the villages in bands roaming the forests of the islands - although the pirates may have destroyed Crabclaw Village, they did not wipe out the bugbears on Ildriss island. 

There is a band of pixies that have made their home in the forest but they only come out during the day. They enjoy teasing and stealing food from the bugbears. At night their invisibility is useless against the giant bats - they are picked up by echo-location and are snatched and devoured on the wing like moths are by normal bats. 

Most folks in Teiglin are not interested in the Kaynor Islands, but a few situations might bring them there. Firstly the pirates occasionally kidnap people and hold them to ransom. A few weeks ago the pirates captured a wealthy merchant visiting a coastal village. Ransom negotiations started but clerical divination revealed that the merchant has escaped and is currently hiding in the woods. His family are desperately looking for adventurers willing to find and rescue him before the pirates, bugbears, troglodytes or giant bats get him. 
Secondly a sage who specialises in gems and minerals has speculated that the caverns underneath the islands hold some very valuable gems, such as Aquamarine, Jade and Bloodstone. He has mentioned this to a gem merchant, and both he and the merchant want to travel to the islands and into the caves to find out if this is true. They realise that they are going to need protection, so they are looking for adventurers willing to escort them. The rewards could be a share in mining profits. 

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