This section details some of the basic features of the keep of Mon-Crulbagh, which during recent times has come under the ownership of Sir Qerlak Barleybane. This foef is a major scene of action in “The Plane of Dreams” as well as “The Test of Fire”. There is a map of the foef in the Maps section.
Location and Climate: Mon-Crulbagh is the southernmost settled foefdom in the Barony of Colign and, with the sole exception of the mysterious coastal city of Lur-wash, represents one of the furthest reaches of the Argensian Empire. Its neighbors like to joke that Mon-Crulbagh is the northernmost reach of the wild lands, but they seldom said this in the presence of its former lords. Mon-Crulbagh is a wild and somewhat inhospitable foef, and the Crulbagh family line was known for its fierce determination to maintain their ownership and privacy at any cost.
The land is very low-lying overall, with the highlands of Pritaelseran to the east forming a strong contrast. But the rising escarpment to that foef in the Barony of Dargor is only somewhat sharper than those that lie to the south, where the jungle fringe incurs on the southern edge of the foef. Indeed, the southern border of Mon-Crulbagh is ill-defined and has fluctuated with the power of its lords and the population of its inhabitants. To the west, of course the Hills Hunchant also speak of higher elevations- but since the terrain is so inaccessible, the main comparison usually drawn is between the lowlands of Crulbagh and the high plains of Pritaelseran. Much of the western third of the foef is dominated by marsh, shading to deep swamp and the waters of the Mon Morteissk, which are most dangerous and difficult to navigate. The weather is wet and warm overall, resembling in the general flora, fauna and temperature fluctuations somewhere between the Carolinas and Florida in our world. Trees that resemble cypress and willow are common, and a few palms are seen in places.
Economy: The goal of most southern foefs is self-sufficiency, and in this matter Mon-Crulbagh does better than average (though it gains little respect from other, more outwardly wealthy foefs). The wet and warm weather allow for a long growing season, and its peasantry can live healthily if not luxuriously on the rice, barley, and fruits produced there. Other crops may well be possible, and some of the manor owners are experimenting with cotton. Reeds grow in abundance, which creates parchment and woven matting: there are indications that clay was once mined and used to some fame in the past. Riding Lizards, in addition to making tractable work animals, can be eaten though it is an acquired taste for outsiders. Other game is plentiful though the swamps are a somewhat dangerous past-time for an unarmored hunter. Fish and other aquatic life are harvested from the rivers and outer swamps as well. In sum, it’s a rare year when the harvests and stores of the foef fail to feed the population, though there is virtually nothing at present to import or export aside from grain (and no large connections have been made for trade with other knighthoods). The Hills Hunchant are rumored to hold gems and ores, but the “native” population has deterred any serious exploration of this matter to date. Wood is scarce, and metal must be imported or scavenged. Most lord labor and tithing is provided in barter, so Qerlak must pay a fee to northerly merchants and banks in order to convert his wealth into silver.