In the First Age, titanic engines and powerful Charms were deployed in the North to increase agricultural productivity and enlarge herds, but the land rarely gave forth abundance. Thus, the region’s underlying granite was cleft with powerful tools — weapons, almost — and the broad valleys created were sown with soil, seed and trees below their steep granite cliffs. Lakes fed miniature rivers flowing through each vale, and mines and quarries pierced the rock walls. Thirty-two such vales survive in the Age of Sorrows.
The largest is Icehome Greenfield, which runs for not quite 100 miles inland and holds the League’s capital, the city of Icehome itself. The smallest, Sunset Greenfield, is only two and a half miles long, cutting inland 70 miles from the foothills around Gethamane.
For modern inhabitants, these steep-walled and sheltered greenfields along the White Sea are peaceful islands in a hostile world. Narrow at the sea and wide toward the south or east, the valleys collect heat in summer and disperse it over the coldest months. Trees, grain crops, cattle, sheep and reindeer flourish. Sixteen vales lie between Icehome and Gethamane, another nine lie between Icehome and Malice Bay and seven dig into the coast between Malice Bay and Crystal.
Greenfields tend to be five to 10 degrees warmer than the surrounding high country and tundra. Hemmed in by high cliffs, greenfields stay sheltered from the worst Northern winds. Most greenfields are farm and pasture land, though orchards and vineyards are common. The wealthy keep gardens. Large stands of cultivated trees help to hold down soil in more exposed areas and provide wood for building iceships and air boats. Through hard experience, the Haslanti have learned that the wind is capable of blowing away soil and leaving bare rock behind.
The Haslanti who live in greenfields tend to view the outside world with more tenderness and less suspicion than others. While the lives of those who dwell in greenfields are not exactly soft, these Haslanti have access to more luxuries and foreign goods, and they live closer to their neighbors. As a result, these Haslanti view foreigners with greater goodwill. Sheltered within both city walls and the greenfields’ natural boundaries, the inhabitants view outside threats with equanimity.
Most greenfields hold only a town or two and a few villages. The town is usually situated on a hill or a cliff overlooking both the valley and the main beach that also serves as the local shipyard and port. Few towns have elaborate harbor facilities. The town is walled in stone; sometimes, as in the case of the town of Kaet’s Landing, east of Icehome, the town is actually cut into the rockface of one of the valley cliffs. Town populations tend to swell in wintertime, as villagers crowd into winter quarters for protection against barbarian raids and the Wyld.
The five largest greenfields together support six of the major city-states of the League. Icehome Greenfield, the largest greenfield and home to the largest city, is 96 miles long and usually about 35 miles wide. Two hundred miles to the east is Ironfall Greenfield, 68 miles long and eight miles wide. In the northeast, Windcreche Greenfield lies almost exactly on the line between Crystal and Icehome, driving 43 miles inland and 10 miles wide for most of its length. Three hundred miles south of Windcreche is Shield Greenfield. Fort Bear Greenfield cleaves the earth another 200 miles south of Shield. Finally, Tuskstad Greenfield, the principal port for mammoth hunters, lies 150 miles west of Icehome. The greenfield runs 38 miles inland and averages 11 miles wide.