Located east of the Goodlund Peninsula, Claren Elian has been the object of legends since the days when Silvanesti merchant vessels were common sights in Istari harbors. A heavily forested island, it has nonetheless not been plundered by minotaurs for lumber and virtually no known exploration of it has been undertaken—even by the kender.
Most peoples in eastern Ansalon believe the tales that powerful
forest spirits dwell on the island. The fact that those known to have
embarked on expeditions to Claren Elian have failed to return, or have
returned with tales of terrible beasts lurking in the forests, reinforce
the perception that the stories of the island are anything but kender
In truth, the island is home to beings who are at once much less and much more than the legends claim….
Only skilled sailors can approach Claren Elian safely. The waters around it are fraught with reefs, and both the winds and currents are unpredictable, making the waters dangerous even for expert crews.
The eastern and southern shores of the island rise steeping from the Southern Courrain Ocean, sheer cliffs against which ships crewed by unwary sailors may be pounded to tinder. Dark, forbidding forests can be seen atop the cliffs.
The northern and western coasts are lined with narrow beaches of black sand. 15 to 20 foot high cliffs rise from the beaches along the eastern northern shores, but more gentle slopes lead inland on the island’s northern tip. However, reaching these beaches can be very dangerous. The waters are shallow and rife with reefs and cliffs, and both winds and currents are unpredictable, making it dangerous to even bring small boats close to the island.
There is only one well-known place where larger vessels can approach the island. In the decades before the Second Cataclysm, Illtide Bay emerged as a regular portage for the vessels under the command of the notorious Gad Maccaby. He charted a safe course through the reefs, reportedly at the cost of two ships, and the raiders could anchor in well-sheltered natural harbor, and their water supplies could be replenished from the falls of pure, sweet-tasting water that tumbled over the 15-foot cliff onto the beach.
Although Maccaby’s grandson, Scarrel Maccaby, continues to plague shipping in the Bloodsea, he does not make use of Claren Elian. He is smart enough not to draw that close to the shores controlled by the Red Marauder.
The majority of Claren Elian is covered by lush green forests, and even though Malys, the great red dragon who seized control of the Goodlund Peninsula in 3SC demonstrated her power by burning a swath across the island’s middle, the hearty forests are already starting to reclaim that land.
No obvious paths lead from the island’s shores to its interior, and would be explorers must cut their own trails. This is slow going, with a party only being able to cover a mile in an hour. Once away from the shore, however, they start to encounter overgrown blocks of stone and toppled pillars here and there. The cry of wildlife and flutter of wings echoes beneath the trees.
These signs of ancient civilization become more common as one moves northward. Finally, the forest falls away to reveal the ruins of a once-glorious city, now over-grown and resembling a gigantic garden. Pillared courtyards vie for attention with many tiered buildings that tower as high as 60 feet. Friezes of serpents and flowers and ornate statuary decorate everything. Everywhere, stand statues representing idealized dwarves, and many walls are carved with scenes of dwarves being served by human slaves. At the heart of the city is a 150-foot-tall building. Slender crystal towers capture and focus the light onto the center palace which sparkles like a thousand stars.
Claren Elian enjoys a mild climate for most of the year thanks to warm southerly currents from the Blood Sea. Summer lasts for nine months here of the year, and winter is only a dulling of the ever-present heat.
Claren Elian is inhabited by the Ran-Eli, a little known culture who has lived in isolation for many centuries. They were once peaceful philosophers, but after being enslaved by magic using dwarves to help build the city of Claren Elian, they turned to mastering every form of combat so they would never be enslaved again.
Theirs is a strongly patriarchal society and the measure of a man equals his skill at arms. The greatest honor for a male among the Ran-Eli is to become a Master of Rank. These are the greatest warriors among them, and one only reaches this stage by surviving a grueling series of tests. The highest honor for a woman is to bear the children of a Master of Rank.
Before the Cataclysm, the Ran-Eli dwelled high in the eastern mountains of Istar, only interacting with other peoples when they were sought out. More than once, they served as assassins for the Kingpriest, but they mostly kept to themselves. When the Cataclysm struck, the vast majority of the Ran-Eli warriors were killed, leaving only women, children, and the elders who were the master philosophers of the fighting orders. Only the highest of the mountain villages and the city of Claren Elian (now known as the Forbidden City, for only the most senior or the Masters of Rank went there, or gave permission to go there).
From this base, they rebuilt. They continued to hone their fighting skills and became the greatest of all warriors and assassins on Ansalon, despite the fact that they rarely used their skills beyond the confines to their island. (Many explorers, however, met their end on an Elian blade.)
When Malys arrived, she almost failed to notice the Ran-Eli. Almost. Upon transforming the Goodlund Peninsula into a volcanic wasteland, she turned to the islands off the coast. She realized that these skilled killers could be of use, and she set about to intimidate them. After burning a swath across the island and destroying the entire population of a village, she realized they would die rather than submit. She tried a different approach and sent an emissary to learn how she might earn their submission. The leader of the Masters of Rank, the Superior Master, said that the Emissary would have to best him in combat. She did, and the people of Ran-Eil swore allegiance to Malys.