Amber Hills Hold
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Maps and Floorplans
The last we saw of Amber Hills Hold, a murder had happened. Nazli kills Saedriel when the woman threatens to tell the hold about Benamil's relationship with Arion. In a flight of panic, Nazli kills Saedriel but also goes into labor.
Arion hides Saedriel's body and helps Nazli to the healer's where she delivers a healthy baby. Benamil is ecstatic at becoming a father and he finds that his love for Nazli has developed a new facet with the addition to the family. Benamil still doesn't know, however, about the secret that Arion and Nazli are keeping....
Written by Heather as L1 on September 30th 2020
At the end of the Ninth Pass, believing that Thread was no longer a concern, the eyes of the people of the Southern Continent turned from the skies back down to the land. New Holds were opened up, and young men and women were eager to settle new areas. One group of settlers was lead by the charismatic and enterprising Serhox, the fourth son of a prosperous northern Lord.
Sailing down the river into the Sea of Azov, Serhox followed the eastern shore until he reached the port that served the new Amethyst Cliff Hold. The area reminded him so much of his northern home in both climate and landscape that he was determined to find a similar area to settle in. He found the land he would make his home by following the river from Amethyst Cliff to the south west.
Just beyond the Hold's border, he found the river flowed through a triangular valley and continued down into a steep, narrow canyon to the south . The land was fertile, ready to be planted with grains, orchards, and vineyards. The natural grasses would feed herds of livestock, while the river could be used for irrigation as well as a possible source of electric power. Serhox lead his settlers to their new home and set about establishing a Hold named for the beautiful golden brown hills that rimmed the valley - Amber Hills Hold.
Though they began as good neighbors and friends, Amber Hills and Amethyst Cliff soon fell into a friendly rivalry, both trying to outshine their neighbor. The friendship soon became strained, but peace was kept through careful negotiation and strategic marriages. Several land disputes erupted as both Holds prospered and began expanding, and both vied for the honor of establishing new crafthalls. Much to Amber Hills dismay, Amethyst cliff was granted both the Vintner and Woodsmith Halls. However, the Lords of Amber Hills never gave up the hope that they might one day tempt one or both Halls to their lands.
In the year 1160, the newly confirmed Lord Benaroy held his first Summer Gather, an event that attracted traders and craftsmen from far and wide to their Hold. Unfortunately, one of the trader caravans brought with them the Plague. Once it was realized the seriousness of the illness, Amber Hills was quickly quarantined to prevent the Plague from spreading, but the entire Hold and many people from the smaller Holds beholden to them, had been infected that day. Lord Benaroy's young family along with half of his residents succumbed to the Plague, completely decimating the Hold and its minor holdings.
Even as the Tenth Pass began, Amber Hills was still struggling to regain its former glory. In the late winter of the third turn of the pass, a powerful earthquake rocked the region. While the Hold of their neighbor, Amethyst Cliff, was all but destroyed by the quake, Amber Hills was able to ride it out with only relatively minor damage. When the call came out for help for the Amethyst Cliff refugees, Amber Hills realized this was their chance to fill their empty rooms, restore their formal glory, and to win the Hold's rivalry once and for all.
Many a family moved themselves into the protection and safety of Amber Hills Hold and Lord Benaroy’s shrewd dealings with other holds made it prosper once again. The Vintner’s of Amethyst Cliff were offered a new Hall at Amber Hills where they are still recovering. It was with great sadness that Amber Hills said goodbye to the great man when he passed at his desk early in Turn Five. It was a difficult time as he had not left a document stating his intended heir.
The Conclave of Holders met and elected Zathris, husband of Lord Benaroy’s daughter Benani as the new Lord. This came as a surprise to many even though he was himself a son of Lord Ethris of Jade Harbor Hold. It was not viewed positively by all. There were those who expected one of Benaroy’s son’s to be named. Zathris has since proved himself to be an able and fair Lord.
Amber Hills is located in a triangular valley in the southern foothills of the Great Western Barrier range, which from higher ground can be seen peeking up in the distance. It shares a border with its neighbor, Amethyst Cliff Hold, at the northwest corner of the valley, though the exact location of that border has been under dispute for centuries. The actual Hold buildings are a scant 40-miles apart.
A river connects the two lands, flowing from the northwest corner to the southern tip of the triangle, where it then empties into a steep canyon. If one were to navigate the canyon roads, a journey of about a day and a half, they could then take a barge and coach system down along the river to other communities. It eventually empties into the Sea of Azov to the south. From the southern tip of the valley to the sea is a journey of approximately 125-miles.
It is under the protection of Dragonsfall Weyr, which is about seven hundred miles from the Hold. The Dalsani Clan trade routes pass through their valley on their way east or west. Their goods are usually shipped to other Holds and Halls along the same route.
From Amber Hills Hold to Dragonsfall Weyr is approximately 600 miles, and Opal Cove Hold is approximately 650 miles away.
The average winter low temperature is 29°F (-2°C); the average winter high is 38°F (3°C). During the summer months, the average low temperature is 56°F (13°C); the average high 73°F (23°C).
Amber Hills is unique in that there is not one main Hold, but rather an interconnected Hold complex made up of four three-story buildings and two towers. The two towers are made of cold grey stone, but the main building and three wings were built out of creamy sandstone. The roof of the three wings are made with red clay which is readily available, while the main building is tiled with dark grey, almost black slate.
The main building is framed on three sides by dormitory wings - the Serhox wing to the east and the Sanshira wing to the West (named for the first Lord and Lady of Amber Hills) is where crafters, holders, staff and drudges reside. The Family Wing to the north is reserved for the Lord Holder, Steward, Headwoman, the Lord Holder's extended family and other people of high rank. They are all connected to the Main building through second story covered bridges with first story entrances and exits guarded from the weather below. Residents are welcome to travel between buildings freely (except for the guard towers).
The Family Wing and the Serhox Wing, and the Family Wing and the Sanshira Wing are separated by towers (called the Lord tower and Lady tower respectively). These towers are guard towers which double as barracks. There are also confinement rooms and store rooms for the guard's use. Despite the name of the towers, they are not designated in any way for the Lord or Lady Holder's use.
All three wings have their own bathing facilities, common rooms, and nurseries. The Family Wing also has a Ladies Solar (open to all ladies in the Hold during the day), the Lord and Steward's offices, Record Room, and private dining room. There is also space to house important guests.
The Main Building (which was the original Hold at one time) has the kitchens, dining hall, and reception rooms. It also has a multi-purpose room which serves several functions - a place for all children to play during the day when it rains, a common room in the evening, a ballroom, a reception hall, or a conclave meeting room. This building is also where the Harper classes and infirmary are located, along with the harper and healer offices. The Headwoman and understewards and assistants also have offices in this building.
One of the first improvements made to the Hold in its first few centuries was wiring it for electricity. A dam was built in the canyon in the southern corner of the valley to harness the river's power. There was more than enough electricity generated to supply the Hold with electric lighting, a heating and cooling system, and even provides hot water out of one tap in the kitchen, throughout the "Family Wing", and in the baths of the communal bathing areas in the other wings. The electric lighting has also been installed in most cotholds.
The Hold's residents have become so dependent on electricity as their main source of light that glow baskets are few and far between. However, this dependence on power has also generated a dependence on technicians to keep it running. This is the ONLY reason female technicians have been tolerated.
Though from time to time female Journeyman Technicians have been tolerated, they are considered outsiders and have some difficulty finding acceptance at the Hold. Amber Hills females do not craft. They are too important for reproducing and re-populating the Plague-devastated Hold to waste on such activities as crafting. For the same reason, families have also been encouraged to deny their daughters permission to go to the Weyr on Search, or to be fostered to another Hold unless in exchange for a female in their place. All females were needed to ensure the Hold's survival. It remains to be seen if the addition of the residents of Amethyst Cliff will ease the social pressure on females to remain within Amber Hill's borders or not.
Population and Plague Effects
Before the plague the Hold was full to over flowing with close to three-hundred residents and another two hundred living in nearby cots with room for expansion. After the plague, they were reduced to half that number. Even as the Tenth Pass began, the Hold was just starting to fill some of the empty rooms, but Amber Hills was far from full recovery. Now that Amethyst Cliff has added their numbers, they are full past over flowing, with two Halls now looking to them. They must now solve the problem of where to put all the refugees, not to mention how to feed them all...
Amber Hills is an agricultural hold. Thanks to an inventive, though now ancient system of irrigation, great fields of wheat, barely, hops, and a variety of vegetables not only feed the populace of the Hold, but serve as the bulk of their tithe to the Weyr. Besides farms, there are orchards of several types of fruit, and up in the foothills and down slopes inside the canyon, vineyards have been built upon terraces. There are also great herds of runner and herdbeasts, along with caprine and ovine for wool. These are also tithed to the Weyr or used as trade.
Since the time of the great plague, the Hold has not been producing up to its potential due to a dramatic drop in the population. Several tracts of fertile land that had once been worked have gone feral over the turns. It is the hope that now the citizens of Amethyst Cliff have been added to their numbers, some of those fields can be cultivated once again.
Along with the people of Amethyst Cliff, Amber Hills has also inherited the Woodsmith and Vintner Halls. The Woodsmith Hall will be allowed access to the forests a day's ride into the northern foothills. The Vintner Hall will find their new location of Amber Hills advantageous, for not only are there vineyards readily available, but the Hold has been supplying the Hall with hops for their ales for centuries. The Hold had been hoping to tempt the Vintner Hall to their valley, and now it seems they have finally done it, much to their excitement.
Runners and carts are the most popular mode of transportation in Amber Hills. The river also can be utilized for moving goods within the valley by livestock driven barges. However, because of a dam in the canyon, the barges cannot be used for transportation down river of the Hold. In the Winter, the easiest way in and out of the valley is adragonback.