Ely is the north most city of Barsuem and often used to denote the area known properly as the Winter Plains. Ely was once the capital of a thriving kingdom, but now guards mostly a harsh wilderness writhe with ancient ruins and primal magic. Most of the Winter Plains are comprised of gently rolling plains formed when the ice titans battled over the area in an age long past. The northern part of the Plains are the most rugged. The northeast section of the land has many rocky ridges and deep lakes and the area north of the Great Lake is the roughest and most isolated. Eagle Mountain, the highest point in the Winter Plains, is located north of the Great Lake. In the far northeast, the Winter Plains border resembles an arrowhead. This area is called Arrowhead Country.
About half of the Winter Plains are covered by rolling plains left by the Ice Titans War. These areas are covered by fertile topsoil. Though some sections are sandy and stony, this area has some of the richest farmland in Barsuem. Along the Ewpee River, in the southeastern section of the Plains, the land is relatively flat, cut by deep valleys created by fast flowing rivers and streams. In southwestern section, glaciers from the Ice Titans War left thick deposits of sand, gravel, and clay. This area is criss-crossed by many streams. The few flat areas make good farmland.
The northwest corner of the Winter Plains is anchored by Red Lake. From Red Lake flows the Red River which makes up the western border of the land. Several hundred miles south the Red River joins with a spring and heads southeast as the River Ely. The River Ely then joins the Ewpee, a powerful river that traverses all of Barsuem from the Great Lake directly to the north to the Gulf of Barsuem far to the south. The Great Lake is the northeast corner of the Winter Plains, and the northern border of the Winter Plains moves west from the Lake through the small but treacherous mountain range Winter’s Talon ruled by Eagle Mountain and westward still through the Boundary Waters which connect with Red Lake.
Most of all, though, the Winter Plains is known for its climate. A harsh land that commonly sees -30 to -60 degrees in the winter with snow on the ground from October to May. If a weary traveler survives the cold he may still be taken down by dire wolves, dragons, ice giants or undead to name a few terrors of the Plains. The summer, too, brings torture with heat waves touching 90 to 110 degrees with debilitating humidity. Swarms of stirges join the winter monsters in force to bring death to the unprepared. But despite these harsh conditions, people come to the harsh land.
The peoples of the Wilderness Plain include wood elves, humans, halflings and goblins. The kingdom of the Akoda elves occupy the plains of the southwest Winter Plain, while the kingdom of the Ewjee elves occupy the forests of the northeast Winter Plain and the city of amnesty Roche. Humans are found mostly in Ely but also patrol the Boundary Waters. Webtoe halflings assist trade along the rivers especially the Ewpee. Goblins infest Winter’s Talon, the Waste in the lands beyond and they guard a tower at the mouth of the Ewpee as it flows from the Great Lake known as the Tower of Duuth.
The Winter Plains are unofficially split from northwest to southeast with the fierce kingdom of the Akoda elves controlling the southwest plains. The Akoda are ruled by the Itancan who while not afforded the same pomp as a human king is feared as their fiercest warrior and most cunning tactician. Akoda warriors fight and hunt from horseback with spears, shields and bows; they are known equally for cleverness as they are ferocity. Elder Akoda retire to Red Lake to stand, or fall, against the Waste. Also, Akoda compete with great passion in sports including martial contests, horseback riding and lacrosse. Akoda worship Sioux, a goddess of clever warriors who often takes the form of a snake.
The Great Forest of the northeast Winter Plains is likewise controlled by the wise kingdom of the Ewjee elves. Ruled by the Council of the Three Fires the Ewjee are a nation made strong by the rule of law, powerful alliances and deep magic. The Ewjee are divided by family totems each with rich tradition and powerful magic: Crane, Catfish, Bear, Marten, Wolf and Loon. Faith Keepers maintain the spiritual tradition of the elves while the Keepers of the Sacred Scrolls protect their ancient magic. Shamans provide healing and enlightenment to elves and guests alike at Sweatlodges, and the borders are protected by bow wielding elves who travel mostly by foot or canoe. Lake Lac in the center of the territory operates as the capital of the nation. Also, the ancient mystical city of Roche located in the southeast of Winter Plain is a revered spiritual portal honored by all nations and guarded by the Ewjee. The Ewjee worship the five totem gods: the loyal, social and graceful Crane; the nocturnal, dangerous and wise Catfish; the mighty, fierce and kind Bear; the independent, agile and beautiful Maretn; the loyal, nocturnal and fierce Wolf; and the playful, mysterious and wise Loon.
The once mighty city of Ely razed in the Goblin Wars is now on the rise. A shadow of it’s former majesty, Ely is still the largest city of the Winter Plains and a growing port of trade on the Ewpee. Ely boasts 7500 mostly human men and women in the growing port town and it’s surrounding farmlands. Once known as the Twin City before the Goblin Wars, Old Ely along the eastern banks of the Ewpee still lies ruined and under the curse of the ancient goblin sorcerer Karkong; all attempts to rebuild ending in great tragedy. But New Ely, or simply Ely, along the western banks of the Ewpee are a fortified wilderness bastion offering a wide variety of trade and goods and passage south. Their major commodities are timber, furs, ore and grains. The people of Ely worship the Fox King, a cunning warrior and master trader.
Ely also equips rangers to patrol the Boundary Waters. The rangers are led by the druid Lady Mueller and her werebear ranger Job Bearfield. A recluse and dangerous group those who join the Boundary Waters Rangers patrol the treacherous waters alert for a growing threat of goblins, dragons and death magic. The rangers hold the Lady Mueller as their demigod, she is as cold as winter, life giving as spring and strong as a bear.
Among the waterways of the Winter Plains and especially the Ewpee trade is assisted by Webtoe halflings. Named for their love of water the Webtoe are a group known as river gypsies, pirates, and traders. While not particularly greedy for gold, they are reluctant to do an honest days work and often their natural stealth, cunning and charm work together to profit them at the expense of others. Webtoe hold allegiance to the god Dolzan; Dolzan is like the river: always flowing over, around and under to her destination undeterred.
To the north of Ely the Ewpee rushes forth from the Great Lake. The Great Lake is hedged on the west by Winter’s Talon mountain range and then bleeds into the Boundary Waters. At the junction of the inland sea and the mighty river looms the ominous Tower of Duuth. The tower is home to the Necromancer and his undead minions and enjoys the protection of the Goblin King. He controls trade with the savages beyond the Great Lake trading both with the Goblin King and occasionally the people of Ely. The Necromancer has shown no hostility, though one whose mind is so steeped in the dark arts cannot be long trusted. His minions worship the Necromancer as their demigod.
Finally, in the ancient home of the Thorin dwarves, lives the Goblin King, lord of Winter’s Talon. Since the end of the Goblin Wars the goblins control the mountain range and it’s iron ore. They trade with Duuth and by proxy the savages beyond the Great Lake and the people of Ely. They have been content as of late to stay in the shadow of the mountains, but a great stench like theirs cannot be easily contained. The mountains are also home to dragons who keep their own counsel but are no friend of Ely and the Winter Plains. Dragons are often found throughout the Plains, but they come to the mountains to rest, plan, breed and horde their wealth. Some goblins worship the Necromancer, others elder dragons but most the goblin god Drakmosh, known for his vengeance and spite.