The Vessa Settlement in The Calinan Sea | World Anvil

The Vessa

"From the Dawn of Man to the End of Time, the Vessa belongs to the Druids."
-Vessene proverb
  The Vessa is an ancient druidic grove in the heart of the Masscht Valley, in the southern Arikandan Heartlands. It is the ancestral home of the Druids of the Vessa, and has been their centre of operations since the end of the Age of Stone, when it was settled by the wandering shamen who would eventually become the first Druids.   The inner grove of the Vessa is a vibrant, otherworldly place, with dense woods, plus a number of unique ancient monoliths and strange phenomena. It is where the Druids are trained before going out into the world and where they hold council, and is a centre of knowledge and wisdom in Arikanda.   Over the centuries, the Vessa has become more than a simple grove however, as it has slowly but surely seen an influx of settlers. The inner grove remains and is very much the same ancient place it has always been, while the settlement has expanded to a large yet controlled town along the outskirts of the original grove.


The majority of the population of the Vessa are southern Heartlanders. The population is divided between the Druids who either work at the Grove or maintain permanent residences there and the settlers who have found their way to the town over time, initially to provide services or to seek assistance from the Druids, and then remaining due to their own roots planted in the area. A small Sapphran and Tanorite diaspora can be found at the Vessa, particularly those from regions bordering the Heartlands.


The entire Vessa, including both the Grove and the town, falls under the jurisdiction of the Druids of the Vessa. While anybody may reside in the Vessa, and their opinions are valued by the Druids, in the end no non-Druid, regardless of wealth or aristocratic bloodline, may influence the laws and government. Laws and decrees are issued by the High Circle, the ten elected leaders of the Druids of the Vessa. Other Druids may petition the High Circle, but it is only the Circle that may pass these laws or decrees.   Civil works in the Town Ring are supervised by delegated officials, while the enforcement of law and order is considered one of the primary duties of the Druids, and they take on the role of para-police.


Like many towns of a decent size but just shy of a city, the Vessa's Town Ring is encircled on its outer edge by a palisade of sharpened logs. A stone battlement platform has been raised behind this in recent years for guards to man, along with wooden guard towers. A second log palisade has been set up on the inner side of the town wall, sealing it off from the Grove.   Beyond the Town Ring's inner wall. the inner grove itself is virtually undefended, with no fortifications save for the forest, and the Druids themselves - but that is often all the protection needed.

Industry & Trade

Industry is heavily restricted in the Vessa. The Druids venerate nature and consider the Grove one of the holiest places in Arikanda. As such, logging and agriculture are forbidden in the Grove proper, and heavily regulated in the Town Ring. The role of any organised industry in the area must be to support the Druids and the community, not to turn a profit.   Commerce is important to the town - both to provide the residents with livelihoods and also to ensure the Druids remain well supplied. It is also heavily regulated however - only manufactured goods may he exported, with the export of raw materials strictly prohibited. Objects of a sacred nature, anything native to the Grove, and any compounds, herbs or items integral to Druidic arts are forbidden to be exported without direct permission from the Druidic Circle.   Rumours abound of a black market that exports stolen relics and imports forbidden items, but any illicit trade is punished severely.


The Vessa is divided into two major sections - the Town Ring and the Grove.   The Town Ring, as the name suggests, is a ring-shaped belt of urban development on the outer edge of the circular-shaped settlement. The town has slowly but steadily expanded over the centuries, and it is only the will of the Druids that keeps it from expanding into a full-blown city. The Town Ring is primarily residential, with homes built haphazardly over the ring. A small number of commercial buildings have appeared to support the populace and trade with the Druids, but heavy agriculture and industry is forbidden.   Beyond the log palisade that borders the inner edge of the town ring is the Grove itself, a large circular zone of dense forest, interspersed with clearings and ponds. This area is exclusively reserved for the Druids of the Vessa, and is where they reside, work and study. There are many secrets wonders within the Grove that are carefully kept hidden from public eyes. With that said, visitors can enter if they have the express permission of a Druid.


Human habitation of the Vessa can be traced back to at least 5000 DoM, placing it firmly in the tail end of the Age of Stone. Its earliest inhabitants are a mystery, but are hypothesised to be wandering pastoralists or hunter-gatherers of a shamanic tradition. Over time, this tradition has evolved into the precursor of modern-day Druidism. As the Druids made themselves known and forged a legacy across the Heartlands as wise, learned miracle workers, individuals began to travel from the Heartlands to seek their services. Some chose to stay, providing goods and services to the Druids in the area.   With these new settlers came agriculture, although the Druids refused to allow such trappings into the Grove itself, dictating that all settlements must be restricted to rings outside the Grove. This led to a strange duality, where the inside of the Grove remained very much the same sparsely-built, sacred region it has been throughout the millennia, while the outside of the Grove has expanded and flourished into a prominent town.

Points of interest

Within the Grove itself there are a number of ancient spots of interest, including:   The Lyceum - an open air compound for the training of prospective Druids. This compound is set in a natural clearing, in which a number of wooden longhouses have been raised to house students, store texts and conduct lessons. There is also a large stone amphitheatre for lectures, and a number of physical assault courses for the more physical aspects of Druid training.   The Lunar Mirror - Located at the very centre of the Grove, the Lunar Mirror is considered a sacred area for the Druids, and is reserved for their most sacrosanct rituals. It is a perfect circular clearing, the centrepiece of which is a smooth marble bowl, about five metres in diameter. This bowl appears to levitate about a metre above the ground, and appears to stream a fountain of water upwards out of seemingly nowhere, the water seeming to change hue at hourly intervals. Even the Druids do not understand its origin or how it functions.   The Pylons of Fate - Located in another clearing in the Grove, these are fifteen tall structures constructed of the same kind of smoothed marble-like stone as the Moon Mirror. They resemble obelisks but with rounded tops rather than pointed ones. The stone appears to give off their own glow underneath the night sky, and a low chiming sound can be heard to originate from them. They are said to be magically and spiritually active, and many Druids undertake magical training and rituals around the pylons.   It is not common knowledge, but the Lunar Mirror and Pylons of Fate appear to pre-date the arrival of the Druids to the area. It is unclear where they may have come from.


The City Ring houses a mish-mash of buildings - some longhouses and wattle and daub buildings in the style of the Druids, and other townhouses of the combination of woodern, stone and brick construction seen in the city-states of the Heartlands.   The types of buildings in the Grove seem to be made up of two distinct styles - the minimalist nature-like wattle and daub homes, wooden longhouses and tree terraces of the later druids, and the ancient monoliths of the earlier periods, mainly constructed of smoothed and polished marble. Nobody knows the origin of the monoliths, with speculation ranging from unique techniques the first Druids that have been used lost to time, to mysterious precursors or even to spirits and gods themselves.


The Vessa is set deep in a clearing in the forests surrounding the Masscht River, and is about five kilometres north of that river. Beyond the clearing that houses the Town Ring, dense temperate broadleaf forests dominate the landscape for kilometres, with canopies that can virtually blot out the sky. A number of worn trails pass through these forests, connecting the Vessa to the Masscht River, along with other roads and trails.
Large town
Inhabitant Demonym

Cover image: by World Anvil


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