Welcome back to the World-building Journal.
Today, we’re visiting Inrisward, also known as Inris, Land of Strife. It is the northernmost “ward” or country of Warding, or, the Four Wards. To the south (not pictured on this map) lies its closest ally, Verisward. These are the only two remaining lands of the once mighty Four Wards.
As the first novel in the Swordspeaker Saga takes place in Inris, this is the land that is the most developed so there is lots to talk about!
Land of Strife
For centuries, Inris has been a place of battle. To the west lies the rebellious country of Noath. This land was once part of Inris, but broke away long ago. Mostly they are content to remain independent and keep Inris at bay, but at times their enmity for their estranged kinfolk boils over into armed conflict. As Noath is small and its people disorganized, this rarely works to its favor which is why they are loathe to meet Inris in open war.
The times when they have been drawn into open war with their neighbor have usually come when they have allied with Haukmarn, the land to the north. Haukmarn is even more warlike and aspires not only to rule Inris, but all of Warding.
I’ll go into more detail about Inris’ neighbors in another entry. For now, let’s get back to Inris, for we have much more to explore.
The Garden City
The capital of Inris is Madrigal, “City of a Thousand Gardens”. There are almost more gardens in the city than houses, especially in the center of the city. It is considered disgraceful here not to have an impressive flower garden. Of course, the largest garden of all belongs to the Margrave, the ruler of Inris.
Famous gardens include Glimshale Garden, Pathway Garden, Singer’s Glade, Feathermallow Circle, Master’s Meadow, and the Garden of Furs.
Other notable features include Daydrin’s Run, a long track for jousting. Sivryn is a large crystal fountain made by nyn, a race of diminutive craftsmen we’ll learn more about in another entry. Sivryn has six water spouts made to look like large flowers, with a central, enormous daisy in the middle with six jets of water streaming from it. There is also an enormous covered market inside a building known as Candlewick Consortium.
Inris is divided into four districts or “castings”. These are: Selvedge to the north, Limmring to the west, Aldric to the south, and Urlish to the east. Each casting is ruled by several noble families. In each major town a Daysman, appointed by the Margrave, assists the nobles in seeing justice done.
Selvedge is dominated by the Clefts and the Wetherbone Tors to the north and the Hemming Hills near Charring to the south. Farmland is at a premium here and most of the wealth is found in the possession of land and the production of crops such as potatoes, cabbage, and oats. Charring, a walled town, is the most important settlement in Selvedge.
Aldric is the smallest casting, but as it is home to Madrigal, it is the most important and influential. Nickling, a small pastoral village is the only other town in this casting.
Urlish is a land of fishermen and huntsmen. It’s people tend to be gruff and show little interest in affairs outside their casting, though they are loyal to the Margrave and serve him well enough when called upon.
Limmring is the largest and most prosperous casting. The fish markets of Grettling and Fennigar are bustling centers for trade even during the winter months. Quelling is the second most important city of Inris with high walls and a strong military presence. Because of its central location, the Margrave can send troops from Quelling to deal with threats in western, northern, and central Inris. The main feature of Quelling is the Greensward, a large open park, larger even than any in Madrigal, though not nearly as beautiful as those cultivated gardens.
Climate and Terrain
The climate of Inris is cool and damp most of the year, though summers can be quite hot. It is colder to the northwest and warmest in the southeast.
Another name for Inris is “The Pebbled Swath”. This is due to the rocky soil. There are stretches of good farmland, but they are few and far between.
The most dominate features of the land are the Merilling river, which runs nearly the whole breadth of Inris from west to east, and Fathomwood to the south. As Fathomwood is dominated by thornthistle trees it remains a wild and unsettled forest. No permanent settlements exist there, but the Margrave’s men patrol the one road through it vigilantly for it is the one connection they have to the mountain pass connecting them to Veris, from whence comes the majority of their trade.
Most Inrisian’s have green or blue eyes and brown or black hair. They are generally taller than their southern counterparts in Veris, though not as tall as the people of Noath.
The people of Inris like to whistle and play clackers. They are famous for woodworking and woodcraft, especially in the west and east. In the central regions, more emphasis is placed on farm work and animal husbandry.
Inrisian’s prize stability above all else. “If there’s one thing you can depend on in Inris, it’s that we’re dependable,” is a popular saying. That’s not to say they don’t enjoy good food and song and company, only that they are far less inclined to put stock in such things over hard work and frugality.
Inris has many shepherds but few weavers so most of their wool is shipped south where it is highly prized. As wool is abundant and cheap in Inris it holds little value and shepherds are generally considered the lowest rung on the social and economic ladder. It does not help that few of them own the lands where their sheep graze and are forced to give over some of their meager earnings to the nobles and rich families who own them.
My inspirations for developing Inris came from Ireland and Scotland, both of which I visited briefly many years ago. The land there is incredibly beautiful, but seemed exceptionally rocky, at least the parts I visited.
In doing some research on the medieval period I also read that shepherds were some of the most marginalized people during that time. They were considered smelly and unclean, and were generally extremely poor.
The name, “Inris” comes from a morphing of the Irish word, “Inis”, which means, “island”. Though Inris is not an island, its people have the same independent spirit as though they lived isolated by the sea and, in a way, they are isolated from the more cultured and prosperous Verisward by the imposing mountains which form their southern borders.
The journal continues
And that is all I have today for you. I hope you enjoyed this visit to Inris. I’ll see you in the next entry of the World-building journal.