Defenders of the Vale
One of the largest settlements in the vale, Brindol is a prosperous farming community and caravan stopover located along the Dawn Way on the south bank of the Elsir River. Orchards of apple and pear trees follow the river’s winding shores, while broad grain fields and farmlands surround the town for miles in all directions. Brindol is the home of Lord Kerden Jarmaath, and his small keep and the city walls are the only fortifications of note this side of Dennovar.
- City Gates. Brindol’s gates serve a dual purpose. They control foot traffic into the city and they serve as garrisons for many of the city’s guards. A city gate can house two dozen guards comfortably, and four dozen in times of need. Visitors to the city can enter without paying taxes, but merchants and obvious adventuring parties must pay a gate tax of 1 sp per person to enter the city.
- The Stone Wyvern. The Stone Wyvern gets its name from the petrified wyvern that dominates the inn’s common room. This looming statue takes up half of the room and is mounted on a large upthrust rock that protrudes through the building’s floor from the ground below. The wyvern was petrified more than a century ago by a group of adventurers who were defending local farmers. An enterprising gnome named Yabaling bought the plot and built a building around the wyvern, figuring the statue would make an excellent conversation piece. He was right — today, the Stone Wyvern is one of Brindol’s most successful inns. Yabaling’s son, Trabalard Yab, runs the inn now. He has developed a healthy fear that some troublemaker might come along and unpetrify the wyvern, but also worries that getting rid of the statue will hurt his business. As a result, he spends much of his time worrying.
- Axenhaft Security. This large building is owned by a dwarf named Eldremma Axenhaft. She keeps a small contingent of fighters and warriors on staff, hiring them out as guards for merchants.
- Shank’s Shivs. The proprietor of this weapon shop is an ex-bandit who served a ten-year sentence in the dungeons below Brindol Keep, then spent the next twenty years establishing himself as a respectable businessman. Today, Shank’s Shivs is widely regarded as the best place to get weapons in all of Brindol. Shank employs a half-dozen artisan smiths and holds a standing contract to provide the Lions of Brindol with the weapons they need.
- Brindol Market. This large open-air market is where traveling merchants, performance troupes, con artists, street-corner prophets, local farmers, and the like come to sell their services and wares. The market is normally quite busy, making travel through the area a vexing prospect.
Tyranny, Slavery, and Little Donuts. Located in Brindol Market, this stand is run by Ron Razete a detestable kobold who is tolerated only for his scrumptious donuts.
- The Thirsty Zombie. The sign above this tavern’s entrance depicts a wall-eyed zombie drinking from a cracked tankard. The ale in the tankard pours out of various holes in his neck and torso to pool at his feet, where six drunken rats cavort. The sign is a fair warning that this watering hole isn’t for the cultured and quiet — which a glance at the tavern’s patrons will confirm. The Thirsty Zombie’s clientele is universally coarse, foul-mouthed, and loud, none more so than Torgin Kuraki, the corpulent half-orc who runs the place. He doesn’t keep (or need) bouncers, preferring to handle any customer-thrashing himself — often to the delighted whoops of his other patrons. The taste of Torgin’s whip is usually enough to curb a drunkard’s unwelcome revelry. When additional persuasion is called for, a masterwork heavy crossbow (named “Last Call”) hangs meaningfully behind the bar.
- Red Magic and Sundries. This tall, thin, multistory building, one of the few completely stone structures in Brindol, is the shop and home of Immerstal the Red, Brindol’s most prominent wizard. Immerstal lives with his longtime companion, Alandri, in a well-apportioned apartment on the upper floor. The second floor is set aside for his research, while the ground floor is a cluttered but well-stocked magic shop. Alandri runs the shop while Immerstal busies himself in his library/workshop. Prices here are fair, and Alandri detests haggling — anyone who tries to haggle with her prices is shown the door, but it is known that those who can amuse her with clever wordplay or riddlecraft receive preferential treatment.
- Shrine of Yondalla. This modest building, a refurbished guildhouse from Rhestan days, is now a religious center catering to the local halfling population. Since the clergy of the shrine spend much of their time aiding Brindol’s indigents and poor, the human citizens of the town view the place as a welcome addition. The benevolent presence of these kindly halflings, led by a soft-spoken cleric named Natalie Nettlemead, has done much to remove the stereotype of the sneaky halfling scoundrel from the mind of Brindol’s populace.
- The Craven Raven. The proprietor of this high-class tavern prides himself on providing a clean, sophisticated venue for Brindol’s populace to seek entertainment and drink. A slim, elegant male human, Andraki Lenn won the deed to this once-notorious tavern from a scoundrel of a gnome named Fishlip Fergus in a game of three-dragon ante. The townsfolk of Brindol were pleased to see Fergus go, and Andraki kept the tavern’s name (and the attendant sign that depicts a scruffy raven clutching a gold coin in its talons) the same but upgraded everything else. Today the tavern is a favorite among the nobility of Brindol, and after performances at Velorian’s the taproom is always crowded. Adventurers aren’t welcome here unless they are cultured, dress well, and keep their language clean. As a result, most adventurers seek out other places to drink, such as the Thirsty Zombie or the Laughing Manticore.
- Velorian’s. This large building is Brindol’s playhouse, although plays aren’t the only entertainments offered here. Concerts, dances, magic demonstrations, and scholastic debates are often hosted here as well. The owner is a beautiful female half-elf named Velorian, a retired adventurer who saw an opportunity to make money in the comfort of the city when she learned that Brindol didn’t have a proper playhouse.
- Brindol Academy. This two-story building is perhaps the most prestigious place of learning in the entire Elsir Vale. Founded and financed by a huge grant given by a revered wizard named Lessiter Kayne (now deceased), the academy offers courses in history, magical theory, geography, alchemy, engineering, and culture. The academy has on-site accommodations for faculty, while students live in one of three nearby dormitories. Most of the courses are for adults, but half of the ground floor is dedicated to a finishing school known throughout the vale for producing cultured and well-mannered aristocrats. The headmaster of the academy is a no-nonsense matron named Damynda Rianthiar.
- The Laughing Manticore. This building is a combination tavern and brewery. The taproom caters to rich but wild patrons, making it a place where most adventurers feel right at home. The Laughing Manticore’s most well-known product is its manticore mead, a pale red drink of honey and spices served in a hollowed-out manticore tail spike that allows the cup to be stabbed into wood with a satisfying chonk! once the drink is done. The owner of the Laughing Manticore is Rillor Paln, who is also the guildmaster of the Black Knives, the local thieves guild.
- Kaal Manor. This richly furnished mansion commands an impressive view of the vale to the east of Brindol. With its own stables, garden, and archery range, Kaal Manor might well be the greatest and most tasteful display of wealth in the city. And with good cause: Its primary inhabitant is Lady Verrasa Kaal, a shrewd and gifted merchant who owns more businesses and holds more outstanding markers than anyone else in Brindol (or indeed, the vale). House Kaal has a private armed force of around 75 members who protect their business interests.
- Teskerwill Manor. One of the founding families of Brindol dating back to Rhestan days, the Teskerwills live in this sizable mansion. Their primary interest is horse breeding, and a sizable walled field to the southwest of this mansion houses the best of their stock. They are the pride and joy of the family patriarch, Owen Teskerwill, perhaps even more than his three grown daughters (Kharra, Hurndahl, and Danella) who are all accomplished riders.
- Discreet Departures. This two-story wooden building looms over the surrounding structures. Once a shrine dedicated to Wee Jas, the building fell to the care of a cadaverous coffin maker named Worren Lasterman when the church completed construction of a larger temple to the south. Today, Discreet Departures handles the majority of the coffin building for Brindol’s dead.
- Cathedral Square. This large open square is used for public ceremonies and festivals. It’s also where the governing bodies announce edicts and proclamations and hold the occasional hangings.
- Cathedral of Pelor. The most distinctive building in Brindol is the Cathedral of Pelor. A massive structure with towers rising well over 100 feet in height, supported by flying buttresses and intricately carved pillars, the cathedral is an impressive display of the religion’s dominance over the city. The angle of the church is such that as the sun rises, its rays shine through a massive stained glass window in the cathedral’s eastern face and out through a matching window to the west, to wash Cathedral Square with a riot of early morning color. The cathedral has a host of nearly two dozen clerics, led by Shining Servant Tredora Goldenbrow, Brindol’s most powerful cleric.
- Brindol Keep. The city’s second most recognizable landmark is the squat four-towered keep perched atop the central hill. Although this place has traditionally been the home of the city’s ruler, for many years the ruling lord instead dwelt in one of the newer, more luxurious mansions lower down on the hill, letting the old keep serve only as a garrison, town hall, and prison. With the start of Lord Jarmaath’s rule, the old tradition has been restored; Jarmaath and his sister and servants now dwell in the keep. The old-timers of Brindol welcomed this return to tradition with open arms, and the younger residents are just happy that someone relatively young is in charge of the city for a change. Lord Jarmaath is one of the best, and best loved, leaders Brindol has ever had.
- Haskinar Mansion. The Haskinars are Brindol’s least pretentious noble family. While they can’t quite trace their lineage all the way back to Brindol’s foundation as the Kaals and the Teskerwills can, they come close. The populous Haskinar clan’s claim to fame is near-domination of the farming trade; family matriarch Rhola Haskinar either owns, finances, or has alliances with virtually all of the farmers that surround the city. A long-standing feud with the Kaals (“Elitist plotters!”) and the Haskinars (“Mud-fingered dirt-eaters!”) shows no sign of diminishing any time soon.
- Brindol Cemetery. This large compound is surrounded by a low stone wall. As Brindol has grown, the clergy of Wee Jas have had to move many of the bones buried here into an extensive ossuary below their temple. Several vaults near the cemetery’s center are traditionally reserved for the city’s nobility. The clerics of Wee Jas are quite accomplished at keeping the periodic infestations of ghouls here under control, and as a result the cemetery is relatively free of undead.
- Temple of Wee Jas. This modest-sized structure is breathtaking to behold — the clerics of Wee Jas spared no expense in the construction of this new temple, as befits their goddess’s vanity. No one in town is quite sure where the temple’s high priestess, High Mourner Mhiram, got the building funds, and much speculation has arisen over their source. Despite the gossip, Wee Jas’s clergy are seen as performing a valuable public service; in the century since they built their first shrine here, they have never done ill by the people of Brindol, and their efforts to keep the presence of undead from within the city’s walls cannot be denied. A friendly rivalry exists between this temple and the faithful of Pelor, and the two churches are constantly trying to win converts from the other rather than seeking new converts from outside their respective religions.