Isle of Bigail
|Source: Drakefyre canon|
The main landmass of the island is the near elliptical northern part, which runs out into a sharp tip curling towards the southeast. All in all, the island has an area of about 125,000 square miles.
Bigail lies to the west west of Valorim, almost snuggled within an extensive bay formed by the continent. It is surrounded on three sides by the mainland, leaving only the western coast (and its capital of Shayder) with clear access to the open sea.
In its six towns, the Island of Bigail harbors close to 700,000 inhabitants, 400,000 alone in its capital of Shayder. Of these, 600,000 are human, 95,000 are Nephilim, and a few thousand Slithzerikai have recently formed a settlement on the Isle, which could well be the largest town of its kind on the surface of Valorim.
The island has not been settled long, like the rest of Valorim, but its cities have been well established in the slightly over a hundred years since their founding. The discovery of Valorim was followed by a great rush of migration from the by now crowded parts of Pralgad, and a small, but not insignificant portion settled into the Isle of Bigail. They founded its five coast towns Bavner, Kuper, Port Townsend, Fenris Port and Hectar, and most importantly the capital of the province, Shayder, at the west coast of the island (facing away from the continent).
To aid navigation through the somewhat treacherous passageways leading past the isle and into the bay itself, there are two lighthouses at opposite ends of the island: Northpoint Lighthouse, and Southpoint Lighthouse
Industry and Trade
Originally, the main trade of Bigail, especially the former city of Kneece on a tiny island southeast of Bigail was developing into the center of magical learning on Valorim, and the now closed Kneece School of Magery the largest institution of arcane research anywhere south of Blackcrag. This, however, changed with the re-establishment of the Anama Church on the main island. With Kneece abandoned, and the island still sorely affected by the cockroach plague that hit it around 830 IE, the industry of the island still has not fully recovered.
The Anama Church
Several centuries after the period known as the Anama War (405-437 IE), some of the descendants of those Anama followers who had continued to worship in secret (risking severe punishments by the Imperial Decree that was still in effect), emigrated to Valorim. In order to avoid Imperial interference, they settled on the Island of Bigail, as far from the mainland as possible.
It is true that the Anama have contributed greatly to the prosperity of the island, but it is equally true that they have crippled the former main industry, namely the teaching of magic and the production of magical items.
In the days of the settlement of Valorim, the creatures that had been exterminated in Pralgrad long ago under Ironclad were still flourishing: Among them the troglodytes, the goblins, ogres and the Lesser unicorns. The settlers had to defend themselves against all of these, and especially the places far from civilization were dangerous parts to travel in. Being skilled priests and very wise in the arts of potion-making and alchemy, the Anama priests were accepted quite readily by the other settlers, since they provided a valuable support in these wild, uncivilized areas. In Shayder, Bigail's capital, the Anama built its first chapterhouse, led by the high priests Ahonar and Lockhart. They proceeded to win strong influence economical and political on the island, and soon had shrines in all of the cities, even sending travelling missionaries to the mainland of Valorim. As their influence extended into the politics of Shayder (whose position of mayor was at that time held by a high-ranking member of the Anama), the mages of the isle soon found their lives made difficult: Shipments of supplies were late to arrive or totally intercepted, magic users were discriminated against in most affairs, and at some point the practice of non-clerical magic was even banned outright. At this point, the local Empire liaison announced a rather sharp command, demanding the church to cease the persecutionist policies, else he would file a report to the Emperor. After all, the Imperial decree had still not been officially revoked; although the Imperial senate was too busy with matters in Pralgrad, and the barely civilized continent of Valorim was of little concern to him, such a report might well have caused a reaction. The threat worked, and the magic ban was lifted. But a few years later, the liaison was relieved from his post on health grounds and a new, church loyal, liaison succeeded him the Emperor still had to confirm the decision, but since he was not informed of the exact circumstances surrounding it, he saw little reason to investigate further before approving. With the magic research on Kneece deteriorating under further hampering, the city was soon abandoned by most wizards, and after the primary mercantile value of the city was lost, the other citizens left as well. To this day, Kneece is a ghost town, consisting of ruins, and inhabited only by monstrous lizards. Adventurers have reported of a hermit wizard who still makes his home there, but this has not been confirmed. Following an excerpt from the report of the field researchers sent to investigate the city:
- No sign of inhabitation has been discovered. Beyond the infestation of lizards and drakes nothing seemed out of the ordinary, except for an unnatural stone wall, encasing a large square of ground. No entrance was visible, and we therefore assumed the building to have been a part of the former school of magery, protected by spells against collapse. We cannot explain its relative appearance of newness otherwise.
- While it is of course a pity that Kneece failed to ever gain renown as an Imperial School of Magery, it would have been unreasonable to expect both it and the Anama to coexist on Bigail. The Anama happened to establish themselves with success, and the mages have largely moved to the city of Lorelei, where the University of Valorim was founded.
- To secure ship travels through the narrow and occasionally risky passages past Bigail to the main coast (especially Lorelei), two lighthouses have been built on the northern- and southernmost points of the island. The northern lighthouse is rumored to be occupied by a slightly deranged necromancer, but he does his job proficiently and has not harmed any of the surrounding towns with his supposed experiments, so the authorities have largely turned a blind eye on the rumors.
Another noteworthy feature of Bigail, especially to zoologist researchers, is the lair of Giant Intelligent Friendly Talking Spiders the existence of which has been confirmed in a wood in the middle of the isle. Stories have been told of an Undead lair also on the island, but that is more than likely just a fairytale.
Perhaps the most significant point in the more recent history of the island was the brief but severe infestation of gigantic magical cockroaches during the time of the plagues caused by the Vahnatai. The origin of the roaches (a cave at the north coast of Bigail) has been destroyed by adventurers, but a very few remaining specimen continue to roam the woods, their population held in check by the giant spiders.
Finally, the Anama have recently started to lose some influence in the local politics of Shayder, having suffered a hit in their reputation with the population after failing to solve the roach problem without hundreds dying. Mayor Garith (in office for five years) has succeeded Bernathy, who resigned for old age reasons in spite of having regained her health well after almost falling victim to the disease spread by the roaches. Both Garith and Bernathy have while supporting Prazac's decree of religious freedom for all citizens successfully opposed during their terms of office the strongly rooted connection between the Anama and the worldly affairs (such as trade) on Bigail, aiming for a separation of church and government. Now, the Isle of Bigail is once more a relatively neutral place politically, and neither the mages nor any but the most radical of the Anama members are particularly unhappy with the current situation.