INone of Our Wishing - Prequel
This work is none of our wishing -
We would house at home if we might -
Song of the Red War-Boat
The Great Barrier Mountains rise abruptly from the Southern Sea in cliffs stretching a thousand feet from shore to crest. The sheer face the cliffs present tends toward a conglomerate copper that close examination breaks into a variety of minerals and colors. From the sea, fishermen perceive the conglomerate and refer to the cliff as the Copper Coast. Working from small fishing boats with limited range, the Copper Coast is a boundary to Newborn fishermen, the eastern limit to their sailing. As a consequence, it is also known to Newborn as the edge of the world.
The cliffs span forty leagues around the base of the Great Barriers running from Coblan Reach in the west to Unknown Bay in the east, this latter appellation used by Coblans in sardonic recognition of Newborn unwillingness to sail past the edge of the world.
Above these cliffs and set back ten or twelve leagues, the Great Barriers continue to rise until the peaks form a fifty-six- hundred foot tall throne from which clouds, birds, beasts, and the occasional Coblan can ponder the world. The range runs north from the Southern Sea more than one-hundred-thirty leagues reaching numerous peaks at various altitudes - one as high as ten thousand feet - all along its span.
Like the Dragonback Mountains lying to the west on the far side of the Great River, the Great Barrier is home to all manner of life, plants, animals, and the wandering Coblan. In the upper elevations, vast stands of forest, fir and aspen, cypress and pine, spread blankets over the mountains from peak to shoulders. Their smaller cousins, the pinons and mesquite, cottonwoods and saltcedar, take up the task on the mountain's shoulders to extend the cover down to Great River's valley. From the river, all that can be seen of the Great Barrier topography is this rolling mass of vegetation, the dominant colors blending from base to crest in a thousand shades of green.
Among these trees run carnivore, insectivore, and herbivore, each finding just the right home within the protective mantle of the forests. Bears share the range with tree-cats and wolverines; eagle with hawk and owl, wood wasps with engraver beetles, grosbeaks with cowbiess; deer with woodchuck and rabbit. The mountain lakes are swollen with fish and gnat and duck. A hundred minor creeks and one major stream run down from the Great Barrier's western flank, occasionally interrupted in their course by dams erected by industrious beavers, to the Great River while another hundred streams crease its eastern flank.
The rigors of exile lie in the eye of the beholder. The Coblan race, exiled two centuries past to the Great Barrier Mountains, regret loss of their home in the Dragonback Mountains, a regret they are sure to mention to visitors to Coblan Reach. Observant visitors, though, mark how rarely the Coblans mention how they feel about their new home in the Great Barriers, notice there is never a complaint registered. Such visitors come away from Coblan Reach with a sense the Coblans do not seem overly chagrined at their isolation in these mountains. In fact, the Coblans seem very much at home.
This is good news to Newborn visitors indicating as it must the likelihood of new aggression from the Coblans remains slim. It is worrying news to the current White Elph visitors who hope to recruit these Coblans as allies in a war against the Newborn. It is no news at all to the Coblans themselves.