The Vales is the region west of the Shield Mountains and encompassed on the west and north sides by the sea. It is land is made up of many deep, forested mountain valleys and a single, large river valley that makes up the center of the Vales. Where the Vales does flatten out again, to the northeast, it’s border is another river valley, that of the River Valyn. The Grey Peaks take up the northwestern region of the Vales, jutting out into the sea as a mountainous peninsula. The Vales are are in some ways the least “modern” of the regions of Aerne, but only in the sense that here the Old Ways flourish still, and the isolated people of the Vales stick close to the land. Only Jewel, at the mouth of the River Swift, is considered cosmopolitan. Beyond the walls of Jewel, the Vales is a land shrouded in both literal mists and the mists of history. A few small towns dot the valleys here and there and many Valers live in isolated hamlets, nestled in wooded glens, making a living from selective logging, some mining and eking crops from the rocky soil.
Along the east side of the Grey Peaks, where the Hornfury river tumbles into the Sea of Hrothmir, the village of Misthaven sits overlooking the Lonely Coast. Misthaven is a village of fishermen, miners and woodsmen, scraping an existence from the Albiorn Forest and the desolate cliffs that plunge into the sea. Farther north, at the tip of the peninsula, the rugged fishing village of Sparr is a stop over point for ships bound for Trusk. The wary inhabitants of Sparr are on a constant vigil against Northlander raider longboats, who occasionally sweep in from the sea to sack the village and carry off goods and thralls.
East of Jewel, located in a steep sided gorge in the Shield Mountains, the town of Rivenstone
sits along side the cascading headwaters of the River Swift. It’s inhabitants are occasionally miners, hunting rare ores in the surrounding mountains, but as often as not, they are scholars and loremasters seeking isolation and freedom from distraction. This fits with the Vales’ paradoxical reputation as a backwater full of secret and ancient knowledge. Just north of Rivenstone, in the depths of the Alfwydd Forest, is the ancient elven “capitol” of Val’Rethien.
North, again, past the River Valyn, is a rugged land of geothermic activity, strange druidic cults, and hardy laborers. The Darkmoon Vale is the northern most of the vales, territory contested by both Jewel and by Trusk. Much mining is done in the mountains to the east of the vale, but it’s chief export is the strong, light timber of it’s many darkwood trees. Here darkwoods grow more plentiful than anywhere else on Aerne. Darkmoon Vale is a true frontier land, in a land many consider to be all frontier, still carving out it’s place.
The rest of the Vales in between is dotted with ancient ruins, sites of obscure religious importance, and great forests that hide many elven settlements. In fact, the Vales counts the most elves in it’s general populace then any other region in Aerne. The Vales are protected by the Green Rangers, a group of scouts and woodsmen who patrol the Vales, keeping out unwanted guests, clearing areas of dangerous creatures and keeping what could loosely be called “law”.