Seemingly hewn from great, grey shards of granite arbitrarily hurled onto the Oerth by some otherworldly power, the Glorioles are the only peaks of note in the whole south-eastern portion of the Flanaess. Low by the standards of the Rakers or Crystalmists, these ancient mountains are now worn and eroded with age. Blurring almost imperceptibly into the Hestmark Highlands to the south, their lower slopes and foothills are shrouded in dense, gloomy coniferous forests. To the west, the leafy Rieuwood grows in the very shadow of the peaks, its towering Ipps, mingling with the more predominant firs and cedars of the interior. Shrouding the lower hills and valleys in an almost impenetrable veil, these forests are home to cave bears, wolves, red deer, wild boar and a dwindling number of black panthers. Other, less savoury things also lurk in the half-gloom beneath the trees. Ogres and giants infest the lower slopes, while wyverns nest in the few lonely outcroppings of rock that struggle above the tree line.
Two major, and a host of minor, peaks jut above the forest mantle, thrusting their blunted granite summits proudly skyward. The interior of the range is remote and craggy with plunging, steep-sided valleys and towering cliffs hindering exploration.
Worn by time and the elements, the largest of the mountains are named Kilvangath and Bolwhurgirn by the dwur. Forming the nuclei of the proud and ancient dwur kingdom of Glorvardum, they are also known as Kroonburzh and Parentarr by the lowlanders. The latter is also referred to colloquially as Panther Peak after the sleek, ebon-hued great cats that dwelt among the high crags when the Oeridians first came to the lands below. The foothills and lower slopes of the Glorioles extend away in a series of gradual plateaus that undulate many miles out from the range proper.
A great many small streams tumble down the shallow gorges and valleys of the mountains’ upper slopes. Fed by several dark-watered tarns, themselves replenished by the frequent rains, the streams cut steep gullies through the gloom of the forests. Lower down, the streams converge to form narrow, swift flowing rivers along which human settlements cluster.
Several deep passes cut through the Glorioles, linking Sunndi with the outside world. One, the Pass of Anbek, is strongly held by the dwur of Glorvardum. Another, located further to the west, is strategically important, as Pitchfield, the capital of the Kingdom of Sunndi lies at its southern terminus. Unsurprisingly, it has been the site and the cause of considerable conflict over the centuries. Alternately held by dwur, giants and imperial forces of the Great Kingdom, it is now firmly under Sunndian control.
Below the tree line, low-lying land tends to become boggy and noisome. Characterised by a preponderance of reeds and other damp-loving plants, these areas are avoided by all. A few of these marshy vales have been drained and transformed into particularly fertile meadows by the hobniz who inhabit the surrounding hillsides.
Small pools and lakes are dotted throughout the range. Often fed by the natural run off from the mountains or by underground springs, these waterholes act as a focus for the rich animal life and often serve as meeting places for hunters and travellers alike. Communities often meet in moot or celebration in such places and followers of Beory hold them sacred.
The coniferous forests that cloak the region cluster thickly about the lower slopes. Brownish-grey barked firs intermingle with green needle-laden larches, slender white barked silver birches and a scattering of mighty oaks. Rain is frequent here, and the forest floor is often moist and slick. The sounds of dripping water are near constant, muting the other more expected woodland sounds. Beneath the dense canopy, the shadows are thick and undergrowth sparse. Perennial grasses, mosses and ferns as well as occasional clumps of heather, whortleberry and cranberry bushes are prevalent here. In the rare clearings and breaches in the tree cover, bracken and wild flowers cluster thickly. Fungi abound, as does a plethora of medicinal herbs. In the warm summer months, swarms of insects plague the woodlands and all year round birds roost in great numbers amongst the heavily laden boughs. Predacious Sparrowhawks prowl the skies, hunting the more numerous blackbirds, woodpeckers and finches. Badgers, rabbits, foxes and squirrels abound, and are hunted for meat and for their pelts, which are cured, sometimes dyed and then sold in the cities of Ahlissa.
Above the tree line on the rocky slopes of Kilvangath and Bolwhurgirn only hardy grasses and the stunted Gloriole gorse bush survive.
Noniz, hobniz and human settlers all dwell in relative harmony among the lower, wooded portions of the range. No large settlements exist here and in the main the races do not intermingle much. The human settlers, although still demonstrably of Flannish descent, also exhibit characteristics of their Oeridian ancestors and strongly resist incursions into their territories. They have undertaken limited logging to clear dells and glades for their villages, while the noniz and hobniz prefer more unobtrusive homes hidden amongst the landscape’s natural features. Almost exclusively found along riverbanks, human villages are surrounded by sizable expanses of farm land. Hunters still stalk the mountains and limited trade now takes place with nearby Ahlissan and Sunndian settlements.
Several hundred Almorians also dwell here. In the main survivors of Osson’s campaigns, they are a bitter, dejected people, clinging to their traditions and values although they are trapped many hundreds of miles from home. They have built several well-hidden and heavily fortified villages on the wooded fringes of the foothills and many advocate a guerrilla war against Ahlissa.
Hill and stone giants still infest the upper slopes of the Glorioles, served by their ogre brethren. Organised into a loose confederation of tribes led by shaman strong in the auspices of Grolantor, they occasionally descend from their high places to prey upon the lowlanders. Trolls can also be encountered deep in the inner fastnesses of the mountains and some of these fell creatures serve Grolantor’s followers.
Low-lying clouds often obscure the highest peaks of the range and rainfall is frequent and heavy. Throughout the winter months and early spring, the higher peaks are often mantled in a thick snow covering while lesser snowfalls dust the forest below. Avalanches are an occasional hazard and in exposed areas, the wind chill can be murderous. In exceptionally cold years, snow can persist throughout Coldeven.
From Growfest through Harvester the mountains enjoy warm weather, although it often drizzles for much of any given day. Throughout the early autumn months, the weather once again draws inward and becomes noticeably cool. Fogs and mists blanket the woods more thickly, giving them an eerie, ethereal quality. Even skilled woodsman can lose their way in these conditions, some disappearing never to be seen again. Throughout Ready’reat the mists gradually give way to snow.