Saxe-Märchen 1756



A Traveller's map of  Saxe-Märchen, showing main towns and other features

The Duchy of Saxe-Märchen lies in the farthest southern lands of  the Saxon duchies, almost in Thuringia / Franconia, the Palatinate, and Bamberg - all who have claimed it at some point (In fact it's by by judicously either marrying into or playing off all these parties, that succeeding generations of Saxe-Märchen Princelings have managed to keep a modicum of independence).

Geographically, Saxe-Märchen is bordered to the south side by the Fluss, which originates in the West Thuringian heights and eventually joins the Weser many leagues to the north. A visitor to Saxe-Märchen, boating down the Fluss would notice how it cuts through the high Nebelbergen, (which themselves are an echo of those larger Thuringian heights), flowing vigorously through these high cliffs until it eventually (and with some relief to those nervous of water travel) reaches a point where the river wiidens and becomes more gentle. A small town on the North bank appears - this is Keinbrucken, the first Saxe-Märchen village and the best place in from where a ferry across the Fluss can be taken. After a league or so the Fluss then makes a wide bend  to the east, and on its northern lea shore are wide, flat sands, separated by a small rocky outcrop jutting into the river on which a small fort now stands. These sands are known as the Westerstrand and Osterstrand respectively. 

On the eastern side of the Osterstrand there is a confluence of the Fluss and a smaller tributary stream, the Ang, which flows in from the north. At this confluence are the twin towns of Driebrucken and Koblerz, on opposite sides of the Ang.. 

Koblerz (originally derived from the Latin confluentes for a river confluence, the name bestowed on the town by Charlemagne in his More Roman than Thou phase) has been settled forever, but when two bridges were thrown across the Ang many centuries ago, the settlement that grew on the western side was called Zweibrucken. In the Sixteenth century a channel was cut through the OsterStrang marshes to the Ang, thus avoiding the turbulent water-race where the waters meet. A bridge was eventually thrown over that channel too for the Keinbrucken road, and thus Zweibrucken became Driebrucken. Koblerz is now the junior town, and its inhabitants feel the slight and are famously given to exaggeration to compemsate, so in Saxe-Märchen whenever anyone tells a tall story, he or she is is known to be "talking Koblerz"

From Koblerz, the Fluss takes a very slow curve to the right for a number of leagues, and the steep north slopes of the river face the sun all year round, so have been used for grape growing for centuries. The Fluss then turns sharply left and northeast, and narrows again, and to the north can be seen the dark, brooding Grimmwald. Soon after this great forest starts, a small brook, the Offenbach, flows into the Fluss and this is where the last Saxe-Märchen riverside village - Muhl am Fluss - is located. About a half-league north, on a high promontory jutting out from the forest (at the first cataract of the Offenbach) is the Schwharz Turm, the castle of robber barons from the dark ages on but now used by the Saxe-Märchen army as a border watch point and local headquarters.

But let us assume the traveller puts in at Driebrucken, and takes passage through the marsh, up the Ang into Saxe-Märchen. The barge is pulled up the Ang along the west bank, as the Ang flows along the floor of a valley, the Gluchlichstal. To the west are the high Nebelbergen, to the east are the lower wooded hills of the Grunhöhe, and further north, in the distance, are the higher Blauerhöhe.

After several leagues the visitor will reach the medieval castle and town of Schonburg, the Principal town of Saxe-Märchen. It has always been a fairly well to do town as it is at the conjunction between the Ang and the road from the Nebelberg to the GrimmWald and beyond, but was made even more prosperous in the middle ages, owing to it being the stopping off point for the monastery at KlosterBaden.

Up on the forested heights of the Nebelberg, there are warm springs, and while shrines, hermits and quack doctors had been there for aeons, a monastery - the Kloster-Baden - was eventually set up, and a few years later miraculously announced they had a relic, the big toe of St Simeon Stylites. Not only that, but the monks brewed very good beer. The big toe plus spa waters (plus beer) prompted a medieval tourist rush, and as Klosterbad's reputation grew, Schonberg's inns, taverns and souvenir shops grew with it. 

Not to be outdone, a Nunnery was set up on the other side of the Ang, on the road up to the Blauerhöhe, and the dark blue habits of the Sisters of Our Lady of Mercy of the Blue Hills gave them the nickname "Blue Nuns". They specialised in winemaking, a light white wine being their speciality ("Our Lady's little helper" the Nuns called it) from the grapes of the wine-slopes on the Fluss, and they started an industry that continues to this day. 

However, the attraction of saintly big toes has long since waned, and KlosterBad and Schonberg are in genteel and sleepy decline, nothing much has happened since the Thirty Years War - and the Princes of the House of  C...  like it that way. However, as Schonburg is about a day's water travel up the Ang from Driebrucken in the south,  and Wahlheim and the Werzel Kanal in the north, it retains its attraction as a stop off point for all manner of merchants and travellers, and market day is not to be missed.

So our traveller, stopping at Schonberg, is at a crossroads - literally. This is the KreuzungPlatz, the main square of Schonberg. South is the road and river to Koblerz-Driebrucken from whence he or she has come, west is the road to KlosterBad and then over the Nebelbergen, East is the road up to the Blue Nunnery and the town that grew around it, Höhekirchen. Carrying on past Höhekirchen the road winds between the BlauerHöhe and GrunHöhe, through the hamlet of Hochenhöhe and down into the dark Grimmwald, and on through that huge forest until it meets the Offenbach, which is the eastern border of Saxe-Märchen. 

There, at the forest hamlet of Offenfurt the traveller can take a forest road south along the babbling Offenbach to the Schwarz Turm and Muhl am Fluss. Many do not like this dark road and prefer the High Road from HochenHöhe along the windy, winding slopes of the Grunhöhe that then cuts down to Muhl am Fluss 

Now, if our travellers in the KreuzungPlatz go north, by road or river, they will see the Glucklichstal widen until the flat northern plain of the Sonnefeldt opens out before them. Rising from the Sonnefeldt plain is the tall spire of Wahlheim's small Cathedral. Wahlheim is near where the Ang and Werzel Kanal meet, at a weir complex nicknamed the "Sturm und Drang". Wahlheim and the canal mark the northern border of Saxe-Märchen, (Theoretically the Saxe-Märchen Princes own some of the meadows on the far side, and the Bishopric owns parts of Wahlheim, but over the decades for convenience the Werzel has been seen as the border between the Princedom and the Bishopric. 

There is also a poorer road around the eastern slopes of the Blauhohe to Wahlheim though the Feeland, , but most people prefer to travel over the Hochhohe pass to ovaer to Grunberg and up the Ang from to Wahlheim instead, stopping at HoheKirchen and "taking in the waters" there as they go.