Swimming Flowers is an island just offshore, about halfway between Two Dragons and Big Mountain Home. It is about ten miles long and five miles wide, with a deep, sheltered harbor on the south-west shore. The mountain known as Heaven’s Blossom, located on the north end of the island, is home to one of Erde’s foremost monasteries. Here, elite unarmed warriors are trained. Rumors and legends suggest that Erde’s elite assassins are trained here, too.
The streets of Swimming Flowers are paved with large, square-cut pale stones, in soft shades of cream, tan, and white. From the air (or from the summit of Heaven’s Blossom), one can see that careful planning went into the layout of the streets, which form giant lotus blossoms. All new construction must be approved by the city planners, and must conform to strict building codes for both safety and beauty.
The homes and shops of Swimming Flowers are built using a dark timber, and the same pale stone as the streets. Both stone and timber are imported from the mainland along with tools, weapons, and cloth. Throughout the island there are carefully cultivated gardens, woodlands, and meadows. Plants, even crops, are chosen for their beauty as well as their function. Swimming Flowers grows and exports numerous rare and difficult-to-grow spices, herbs, and alchemical components. In addition, the city boasts innumerable artists: painters, potters, wood and stone carvers, jewelers, instrument makers, musicians, singers, dancers, and tattooists.
The architecture of Swimming Flowers is much like that of the other Western cities, with sloped roofs and gentle curves. Lintels, sills, and load-bearing columns are generally carved with flowers, vines, and animals. Some families have adopted geometric or abstract patterns but these are still rare.
On the far side of Heaven’s Blossom, facing the northeast and the open sea, is one of Erde’s few gryphon aeries. The gryphons here are known as thunder tigers and they are tended by a loyal group of mixed-race companions. Though new companions find their way to the aerie every few years, there are five families – Alfar, Dokkalfar, human, Halfling, and Gnomish – who have been serving the gryphons for centuries upon centuries. In recent decades, some of the children of these families have been born with wings of their own. The aerie folk believe the wings are gifts from Sky Father for the centuries of loyal service. Outside the aerie there are dark grumblings and ugly rumors about foul magic and unspeakable acts.
This work by Jean Headley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.