Clearmeadows Geographic Location in Istralar | World Anvil


It's rather hard to look at the paintings of picturesque rolling hills and reconcile them with what Clearmeadows has become today, I find.
— citizen of the Empire
  The Aletheian Empire's eastern reaches are generally the more prosperous regions of the Empire, with regions around Aletheia itself being desirable locations for the rich and politically-relevant to relocate and settle down. However, this overrepresentation of the upper-class has, over time, lead to dire consequences for nearby regions.   The Clearmeadows are one such area impacted by the actions of this overburdening of the upper-class. Once a peaceful landscape of rolling hills and burbling streams, the Clearmeadows now bear very little resemblance to their former glory. Visitors to the Clearmeadows are no longer families seeking calm walks in the sun - instead, they are adventurers primed for dangerous situations or mages interested in studying the phenomena present.   The local governing authorities have placed a significant number of warnings around the Clearmeadows to discourage entry, though there is no legal barrier for those most determined - as with Tenaerul to the north. The Keepers of Divinity maintain a permanent vigil over the site, as the incident that spawned the ruinous event was caused by one of their own, and keep a close eye on any arcane scholars seeking to study the interplay of planar effects. They are additionally responsible for returning any planar travellers back through their portals, or dispatching them if needed.  
It mustn't be noted in the history books, but Clearmeadows wasn't as clear an incident as the Keepers believe. It's why we keep an eye on the place too.
— Unknown member of the Eagle's Shadows


The Clearmeadows were the site of an immense magical explosion and its subsequent tearing of multiple planar rifts. The terrain is frozen mid-explosion in many areas, appearing almost as hills studded with crystalline geodes where magic froze into tangible crystal.  
Clearmeadows Portal by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
In the most affected areas, the magic's effects still linger in the form of open portals that hang in the air.   These generally lead elsewhere on the ruined terrain of the Clearmeadows, though the 'elsewhere' in question may be distorted - portals that reverse local gravity, seem to flip the local area on a horizontal or vertical axis, or that infinitely mirror the world into the sky have all been found, among other strange instances of aberrant behaviour.   These tears are still considered too dangerous for exploration, as many explorers have never returned - and others foreign to this world have appeared from them.
  Additionally, a number of planar fissures are true planar tears that lead to other planes entirely. The most common of these lead to the First World, to the Ethereal Plane, or to the Shadow Plane; all planes that overlap with the Material Plane on which Istralar sits. Though these portals are bidirectional, the nature of the transport often means those who enter them find themselves lost. They rarely return without aid, and such aid is exceedingly rare.   Rare portals to other planes have been found; unsurprisingly to those up to date on planar lore, it is the Maelstrom that counts the highest number of breaches through the Clearmeadows.  
Clearmeadows by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Clearmeadows Portal by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Alternative Name(s)
the Plain of Portals
Owning Organization

Studying the Tears

Magic-twisted lands like Clearmeadows are not the most uncommon, but rarely are they in a state suitable for study. Tenaerul, for instance, was laid to waste in the Worldrend and is still so dangerous that it cannot be approached.   Given the nature of the portals, it has been decided that they are safe to study so long as appropriate guard measures are taken, and so long as no person ventures into any without understanding that they may very well never return. Emperor Aneirin of Aletheia has recently sponsored studies into the portals and their planar magics in the hopes that they could be used in efforts to protect the Aletheian Empire against the Medimian Empire in the ongoing war, but these plans are a long way from coming to fruition.   The greatest benefit of the Emperor's sponsorship, though, is that it is mage-agnostic; previously, divine mages were almost exclusively allowed access. With arcane spellcasters being offered the chance to safely study the portals and their behaviour comes an entire new school of thought, and hopefully, this union of knowledge will prove of some benefit to the area.
Clearmeadows by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
No, this one wasn't a Shadows operation. If it was, I still wouldn't be able to confirm it, though.
— Shadowkeeper

Localised Phenomena

Do not lose focus for an instant. The portals are not always as visible as you might think.
— a Keeper of Divinity guard
  It's not uncommon for portals to open up somewhat at random around Clearmeadows. Some phenomena spotted around or through these portals includes:  
  • Visions of an upside-down world
  • A gateway into space
  • Poisonous gas emanations
  • Sentient hallucinogenic mushrooms
  • Fey tea parties
  • Highly confused angels
  • Inevitable and protean agents in the midst of battle
  • The ghosts that once inhabited this land
  • A portal into the viewer's own memory
  • Alternate versions of reality that stare back through the portal
  • Unspeakable horrors
  • Invisible horrors
  • Unimaginable horrors
  • Smiling plants
Clearmeadows Portal by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
  Naturally, most avoid Clearmeadows as a result, though it still remains a popular vacation for adventurers looking for their next adventure - or at least, the risk-loving ones.  
Random portals? Probable death? Mysterious loot?! Sign me up.
— an adventurer, probably
Clearmeadows by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


But what really happened? Surely it couldn't have just been an accident.
— curious novice
  Established history dictates that the accident triggering Clearmeadows' destruction was the fault and subsequent responsibility of a group of novice clerics, most of whom were adherents of particularly chaotic gods. Having travelled to Clearmeadows with limited supervision as a rare treat during their training with the Keepers of Divinity, the clerics - none of whom are named in the history books this incident is relayed in - began to experiment with the magics they had been studying. With inexperience as their guide and the potential interference of a passing fey creature, the summoning ritual they had attempted exploded rather dramatically with the addition of several illicit substances the group had procured for their own leisure.  
Clearmeadows Portal by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
In this account, the reaction was the start of a chain of reactions that rippled throughout the entire meadow along deep paths down in the Underdark, collapsing old mines and ruining the homes of any deepdwelling creatures nearby - including a settlement of svirfneblins who had previously objected to surface mining operations nearby. When the chain reaction collided with an unknown source of power (potentially a ley wellspring), it exploded out, backfiring across dimensional lines and capturing the force of the eruption in the land. Even three centuries on, Clearmeadows remains as it is - little has been done to restore it, if even possible.   Naturally, this account has many who doubt it. The most obvious point of concern is that no simple ritual practiced by beginner clerics would go so horribly wrong without interference, and in every other case of a backfiring ritual, the Keepers have been allowed to study the incident in-depth and assign appropriate blame. In this instance, the reigning governor forbade all interference in Clearmeadows to 'allow the magic to settle'. Contemporary opinion suggests that this approach only worsened the extent of the damage; the order was only repealed after five years when the Keepers approached Aletheian nobility about outbreaks of demonic activity in the area.   Contemporary opinions vary on who they accuse of perpetrating the incident in the first place. Many highlight the sudden disappearance of a group of nobles who had been known to dabble in strange and occult magics; many also highlight the sudden death of the governor's daughter shortly after the area was locked. Others highlight the intended mining operations that were protested by the very groups killed in the accident, though this is used in two ways: to suggest that protestors carried it out against the operations, or to suggest that the mining barons took matters into their own hands without realising the extent of what they would cause.  
  Whatever the true cause, the area has yet to show signs of natural repair, and no mortal has yet been able to assist.  

Clearmeadows - A Vision

It was different once...
— wistful memories
Clearmeadows - Past by Hanhula (via Midjourney)
Clearmeadows - Present by Hanhula (via Midjourney)

Cover image: Clearmeadows cover by Hanhula (via Midjourney)


Please Login in order to comment!
Sage nnie
Annie Stein
14 Dec, 2022 13:44

The history section is what really grabbed my attention, especially when we get to the theorizing at the end. If it looks like a cover story, smells like a cover story and quacks like a cover story, it's probably totally true and adventures should not look into it any further.

Creator of Solaris -— Come Explore! | Summercamp in Solaris
1 Jan, 2023 13:26

Thank you, nnie! I'm sure the governor appreciates your support. :)

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
15 Dec, 2022 01:03

I love it I don't have any better critique or comment. This is a wonderful read, has me excited, curious, wary all at once and I love every second of it. Amazing work Han :)

Keon Croucher, Chronicler of the Age of Revitalization
1 Jan, 2023 13:27

Thank you! Be careful if you go for a wander... who knows where you might end up?

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
11 Jan, 2023 00:29

As always, this is as beautiful as it is delightful to read.

Deleyna - I survived Summer Camp 2023! Check out my 2023 Summer Camp Reading Challenge and read some of my favorite articles from around the community. Or check out what happened with my Dimi Mission!
3 Feb, 2023 10:04

Thank you! ♥

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!
12 Jan, 2023 01:20

Ah, yes, unspeakable horrors, invisible horrors, and unimaginable horrors. The must-haves of any mysteriously formed field of portals popping up in random places. I wonder if the portals will always remain random and chaotic, or if people might find some way to predict them and find new resources there. Amazing article!

May your worldbuilding hammer always fall true! Also, check out the world of the Skydwellers for lots of aerial adventures.
3 Feb, 2023 10:06

See, they'd have to get permission to properly look into them to work that one out, and that sort of experimentation was how this was caused in the first place! Tsk, tsk. The bonds of society might get in the way of this mystery ever being solved.   (Thank you!)

welcome to my signature! check out istralar!