Tamarus – Geography and Description
In 1106, the Cataclysm changed the face of Erdreja. The Jewelled Isles of Lantia were shifted. Originally formed from multiple realms, they merged into one. Causing most changes was the merge with the Fey realm of Orst, which dramatically expanded the size of the islands, and allowed contact with the many formerly inaccessible races who once lived there. Whilst all of the described features remain, the island now also boasts a large desert in the centre.
A map of Tamarus post-cataclysm can be found here.
Tamarus: Geography and Description
Tamarus, being one of the Western Isles shares much in the way of topology with Andulus, Ceryphus and Rysarius. Flatter than most of the archipelago and close to sea-level, it tends to retain more rainfall than other isles and thus has wide-reaching boggy and marshy ground. Most of these marshes are inland, however, and while brackish are fresh rather than salt-water marshes. Beyond the marshes, however, lush deciduous woodlands grow and, to the south the higher ground of the isle rolls in gentle hills and downs. The land is fertile enough and well enough provided with lakes and rivers that there is an ample supply of freshwater fish as well as their salt-water cousins. After the merge with Orst, the centre now boasts a large desert, marked by regularly spaced oases in a grid pattern, each one a days travel apart. It is thought they were made by using the Wonder of Service at some point in the past.
Tamarus boasts the remains of several once great fortified houses. Presumably at some time they were hunting lodges or seasonal residences for the rich or mighty, but now they are derelict and in need of severe refurbishment before they would be habitable once again.
The Draken Citadel is, as is the case on all of the isles, almost mind-bending in scale. The stairs within are built for a creature with a tread several times the height of a man and in a central courtyard there is the immense statue of a lizard-like being. The sculptor was plainly a master of his craft, for the statue is so lifelike seems almost ready to draw breath and move. The rest of the citadel in a bad state of disrepair, and frankly dangerous to wander around in for fear of falling masonry.
Northern Tamarus is the most noteworthy part of the Isle. The walls and guard towers that circle Lantia sweep suddenly inland, leaving about 200 square miles of the isle isolated from the rest of Lantia. This area once contained the Coliseum; the Circle of Topaz; and the largest surviving Lantian port, but the Circle and the Coliseum moved during the Cataclysm. The Order of Celestial’s Chapterhouse is still located here, however.
The reason for Northern Tamarus being separated in this way is (according to Magnus Gallowglass) because this was the part of Lantia that others were permitted to visit for trade and for the once spectacular Lantian Games and the still impressive (but now ruined) coliseum. Lantia was always defiantly proud of its autonomous status from the Empire, but it was technically a vassal state and could not afford to anger Imperial forces by being entirely isolationist. For this reason, buildings in northern Tamarus exhibit the lip service of Imperial slogans and dedications of loyalty to the Emperor that are not found anywhere else in the Isles.
Beyond the shore north of the coliseum is an increasingly narrow isthmus of land that the tides usually turn into a series of three islands. The first isle holds a fort than guards the port, the second holds nothing but a small shelter, while the third, accessible by land only when the low tide exposes the causeway holds a lighthouse that marks the extent of ship-threatening rocks.
Unfortunately, Tamarus is also the home of a disproportionately large number of exotic and dangerous beasts. It is generally assumed that these are creatures which somehow escaped from their confinement in the Coliseum and somehow managed to make a life on the island. Over time, the Order has now dealt with the majority of these, making the island safer for those who live there.
During the Cataclysm, when Orst merged with Lantia, the changes that occurred included the movement of the Coliseum, from its former location in the north to the south of the island, by Topaz South transport circle.
Circles, roads and ports
There is only one (minor) ritual circle on Tamarus and that is the Circle of Topaz. There is evidence to suggest it once lay exactly within the centre of the Coliseum, but this is no longer the case and for a while it lay a short distance beyond the arena, until the arena moved.
Originally, there were two transport circles on Tamarus, named Topaz South (on the southern tip of the isle) and Topaz East (near the Draken Citadel). Like all Lantian transport circles, they are named after the Ritual Circle from which they draw their power and the direction from it that they lie. For some time, it was thought that Topaz South may have been a ritual circle, although whether this was the case this is lost to history. After the self-sacrifice of Rua, a Lions Faction ritualist, when making the Banner of Two Lands, Queen Tope renamed the circle Rua in her honour. Unfortunately, the name did not last as when the Cataclysm re-ordered Lantia, the circles were realigned back to their Lantian names.
Following the merge with Orst, the ritual circle of Topaz is on the west of the isle, the Chapterhouse is by the transport circle Topaz North and the Coliseum is by the transport circle Topaz South.
In Spring 1114, a ritual was performed on Holy Isle. In a very unexpected outcome, the ritual team were sucked into the void, and – on their return – picked up a bubble which followed them to Erdreja, landing in the centre of the desert of Tamarus. The bubble contained a transport circle, called the Temple of the Paragon. Beside the circle is a Temple, once thought to be the Tomb of the Paragon. On investigation, it contained the Paragon – an imprisoned Ancestor of being the best that you can be, grateful for his freedom.
Though somewhat green with weeds and grass, the roads across Tamarus are still perfectly functional. Although they are in a state of disrepair from their original excellence, they are still of better quality even than the roads on Holy Isle.
Most of the coastline was once defended by the walls and mile-castles erected in ancient times and repaired during the first year of the Lions residence in Lantia. Although the Lions made them sound and strong once again, they remained largely unmanned, particularly since the loss of the Lions forces at Al-Qafar in summer 1115.The Lions legions were never numerous enough to man their full extent and, so far as is generally known, although House Demetus trained up a local militia to patrol the coastlines of their isle of Arzurlon/Archon, even these were lost at Al-Qafar. Whist much of the walls do remain, large areas of the coast are now unwalled due to the island’s expansion in size, resulting from the merge with Orst.
A significantly larger fort guards the only road into or out of Northern Tamarus. Though less significant in size or strength to the great forts of Australis, Borealis and Orientale, it is nevertheless a stronghold that would be difficult to take with less than a legion, were it not currently unmanned.
The the Sea Walls were also repaired in the Lions early years on Lantia, linking Tamarus with Ceryphus to the north and Rysarius to the south-east. The walls are a stunning feat of engineering and their origin remains a mystery, with even Gallowglass having described them as ancient. The walls rose about forty feet above the waves, reaching about twelve feet wide at the top, and about 30 feet thick at water level. How thick they are below the waves remained unconfirmed. Sadly, these marvels were largely ruined during the cataclysm as Lantia expanded dramatically.
Much of the ‘outward’ coast of Tamarus consists of low cliffs and requires little in the way of offshore defences but, as with many other isles, where the land dips down to the sea then the shallows are littered with sunken rocks and broken masonry that presents a potentially deadly hazard to any ship attempting a landing anywhere but at a recognised port.
Tamarus is dotted with the remains of tiny farming villages and occasional foresters huts. The four largest communities of Old Lantian times are the town by the Coliseum, the town by the circle of Topaz South and the Draken Citadel, and the two large villages by the sea walls.
The original population of Tamarus largely consisted of a small number of peasants who accompanied the Knights from Avalon, but population numbers swelled when some of the boat people’ who arrived in Lantia shortly after splashdown also settled there. Simple, unpretentious and almost exclusively human, these folk are some of the descendants of those who fled Lantia immediately prior to the Deluge, but came seeking the jewelled lands of their forebears as the news of the archipelago’s resurgence spread. They have the kind of skills a community actually needs most, eg carpenter, mason, boat builder, tanner, butcher, baker, candlestick-maker, etc. It is notable that they are all really conscientious about their jobs and work to their utmost ability to complete undertakings they make.
Today, it also contains a large number of people living at the Temple in the centre, in addition to an unknown number of Orstians, and some few remaining Wolfengar. The island is also notable for the pub – the Shackrock’s Head, owned by the Company of the Brave and Foolish, in the south of the isle.