Thuria and Beyond
Vanahem, also known as the Outer Land of the Linnorm Kings, is the western part of Nordhem, the area north of Cimmeria that includes Asgurd. Vanaheim is not a unified kingdom. Rather, this is a barbarian land of small clans and villages and a people with a common culture and language. The tribes of Vanahem worship a pantheon of fierce, warlike gods also venerated by the neighbouring clans of Asgurd.
In order to survive in their cold wastelands, the Vanir have built a religion around battle and warfare. Aggression is seen as a virtue and the Vanir are undoubtedly fierce warriors, singing songs even as they die, swords in hand. Each tribe is ruled by a physically dominating chief who lives in a great hall around which the tribal village is built. Vanahem is called the _ Outer Land of the Linnorm Kings_ because of a tradition observed in these small “Kingdoms" which is also observed in Asgurd (the Inner Land of the Linnorm Kings) In the case of the larger and more powerful clans, these petty kings, then, must slay a linnorm single-handedly and parade the beast’s head before his people in order to secure and cement his mandate to rule unchallenged.
The village economy is based on limited farming and extensive hunting and foraging as well as pillaging. The Vanir are quick to fight among themselves and raid their neighbours.
The very boldest coastal tribes sometimes travel down the coast in longboats, raiding the small communities of northern Zingara for plunder.
Sea raiding aside, the coastal region is the most felicitous part of Vanahem as far as human needs are concerned. Villages are more numerous along the rocky coast, with the people eking out a living by fishing, hunting marine mammals and beach-coming for driftwood. Children collect sea bird eggs from the rugged cliffs.
This is a sombre country, mostly a bleak tundra plain that is snow-covered through the long winters. Covering its southern region are swampy taiga forests, giving way to denser forests of huge pines in the very southernmost part of this area. Most Vanir people live along the windswept coast, where the living conditions are less severe.
Vanahem is separated from Asgurd by the Blue Mountains and from Cimmeria by the Eiglophian Mountains. Carpeting the Vanahem foothills of these mountains is the broad, deep Grungir Forest, a dense woodland of tall coniferous trees which is generally shunned by the Vanir. The Forest is wrapped around three sides of a roughly rectangular lake at the centre of which lies the Isle of Swords, home of a Vanir clan ruled by the Linnorm King Torfel the Fair.
North of the Grungir Forest, the fast-flowing Rajmflarn River poses a major obstacle for those attempting to travel northwards or southwards in the interior of Vanahem. The river rises in the Blue Mountains and from the foothills of the range onwards, it is never less than 100 ft wide. Bridge building is an art not practised by the Vanir, so the river may only be crossed by means of ferryboats, which are generally found wherever riverside settlements are located. The most notable Vanir settlement located by the Rajmflarn River is Trollhem, stronghold of the inland Dakjarn clan. The large Vanir settlement of Kalsgard stands at the mouth of the Rajmflarn, where the river empties into the Western Ocean. Further upstream lies the settlement of Helrin, site of an important shrine.
A major feature of the Vanahem coast is Brakarn Bay, a long, sheltered Western Ocean inlet. A number of small settlements are built around the bay, most notably Bildt, the stronghold of King Ingimundr the Unruly, one of the most powerful of the Vanir Linnorm Kings.
North of Brakarn Bay lie the Aalenbarn Isles, an archipelago of islands the largest of which are inhabited by the Vanir clan ruled, uniquely by a Linnorm Queen rather than a male chieftain. A little to the north of these island, the Starkadsgarth Fjord forms a particularly long, narrow and steep-side inlet on the coast of the mainland. Located above this fjord is the stronghold of the Linnorm King Starkad.
Off the far northern part of the Vanahem coast, some considerable distance from any coastal Vanir settlements, lies the island of Umiank, a desolate rock peopled by a strange, lost tribe whose people in no way resemble Nordhemers. The entire culture of the Umiank people is built around myths about their ancestors having travelled from across the ocean to serve as protectors of the large stone idol which dominates their settlement.
Aside from the human Vanir population, Vanahem is home to the following:
- Dwarves and gnomes in the northern foothills of the Eiglophian Mountains
- Frost giants living in ice caverns in the northern tundra of Vanahem
Creatures native to this frozen land include:
- ice lizards
- ice trolls
- woolly mammoths and mastodons
- woolly rhinoceros
- lynx, wolves
- herd animals (elk, reindeer etc.)
- white dragons