North of Mistone, across the Great Northern Wash, lies the snow-covered island of Krashin. To southerners, it is commonly known only as one of The Barbarian Isles, as few outsiders live long enough on this inhospitable wilderness island to gain an appreciation of its unique landscape and culture. At the moment, the island is dominated by the Raven Tribe, and its capital city is Raven's Watch on the southern shore of the island. The Raven Tribe is one of several tribes of human barbarians who make their living on the island by fishing, whaling, and farming. Worship of Mist is very important to these tribes, as most of the people residing on Krashin depend on the sea for their livelihood.
The climate of Krashin, though harsh and unforgiving by all accounts, varies greatly both between the winter and summer as well as from the central peaks to the coastal valleys. The Krashinite storytellers describe the seasonal changes to be the result of an eternal struggle between two figures: King Winter and Summer Maiden.
According to the local stories, a long dark winter sets in toward the end of the ninth month, when King Winter awakens in his lair deep in the High Reaches. Fresh from his summer's sleep, he marches down from the mountains across the lowlands until finally, by late in the tenth month, he stands by the ocean having conquered all. So mighty and powerful is he that even the sun flees from the land and takes refuge in the south. A long, dark night sets in, lasting until spring, and the land remains covered in heavy snow. As the animals return to their lairs to sleep or huddle in secluded valleys protected from the icy wind, the land falls silent. What little noise remains is dampened by the heavy snow. For this reason, winter is often spoken of as the Silent Night.
The winter lasts until around the beginning of the fifth month, when the Summer Maiden awakens and drives King Winter back to his lair in the High Reaches. Golden haired and furious, she fights him all the way back to his lair in the High Reaches, where he bars the gate and retreats from her fury. Tired and worn, King Winter sleeps until he is strong enough to drive back the Summer Maiden once again. Wherever the Summer Maiden steps, the snow melts and life returns. Animals wake, sound returns, and the land is briefly covered with delicate flowers. The sun, seeing all danger has passed, returns from her flight to the south, though the sun too is forever an outsider in the land of the Silent Night.
The vegetation of the island varies greatly between the windswept highland plateaus and the coastal valleys. Approaching from the sea, Krashin appears dark and foreboding until one notices the deep valleys carved into the land by the long fjords.
At the bottom of these long fjords lie deep valleys, and protected from the wind and warmed by the sea as they are, the earth in these valleys is surprisingly fertile. Although snow and ice dominate seventy percent of the island, the southern third of the land contains arable farmlands. Rye and barley are grown on the best land and lush green grass and shrubs like Kinnikinnick, Juniper, Cold Eyebright, and BlÃ¡gresi covers the rest during the brief summer.
The valleys give way to deep forests of pine and fir. These forests are vital for the people of Krashin because they provide them with lumber for boats and dwellings, as well as hunting grounds for food and fur. Still few, if any, people make their homes in these forests. Krashin's population is almost completely concentrated in the fertile valleys, where the Krashinites can farm the bottoms of the valleys and keep herds of animals farther up the valley sides.
As one moves even further inland, the land rises and the forests give way to a windswept highland plateau. A few trees attempt to grow here, but they never thrive, and remain gnarled dwarves for as long as they persist on the harsh plateaus. Bushes and shrubs, like harebells and saxifrages, take root where they can, but the inland plateau remains mostly barren tundra. Snow-covered for all but the briefest portion of summer when delicate flowers blossom, the only thing that thrives on the plateaus is lichen.
The central part of the island is dominated by a mountainous region full of jagged peaks that are always covered in a white blanket of snow. This mountain range is called the High Reaches because the peaks resemble fingers reaching for the sky. The metaphor of reaching fingers is truest of the four tallest and steepest peaks in the chain, which are located in the center of the range. The Reaches contain many caves and tunnels, but few dare venture into them and even fewer know where they lead. Some say that the deepest tunnels lead to the root of the mountain where the King of the Reaches holds his court.
The King of the Reaches is a creature who holds a great deal of power over the High Reaches. He sometimes comes to the outlying farms in the guise of a dark-skinned man, luring away young women with promises of marriage and a life of luxury in his court. Only too late do they realize who he is; by then, it is too late for them to ever return to their homes. Hence, when a man wants to marry a woman he must ask her father for permission so the father can see that he is a real man and, just as importantly, that he is man enough for his daughter. It has been done this way for many years, even though the King of the Reaches is an old tale and even the tribe elders cannot recall ever seeing him.
Now it is home to the Raven Tribe Kingdom.