Seriden Peak, First Village, and the Sanctuary Mountains
Whereas the profile for Whitemoon Aerie deals specifically with the gryphon culture and society there, this section will detail the physical characteristics of Seriden Peak and the surrounding Sanctuary Mountains. The Whitemoon section specifically mentions the Sia'kalia Citadel, and so we will start there.
Atop the highest peak in the Sanctuary Mountains rests a citadel that is both a center of worship for the Air goddess Sia'kalia and a center of governmental power. This mergence of spirituality and governance creates an atmosphere of religious awareness that permeates the entire region, though this is less common among the gryphons than among the range's most numerous inhabitants, the Seridensana. Although the Seridensana revere all of the goddesses, it was the Air goddess in particular that originally separated them from humans so many milennia ago, giving them the abilities of flight, telepathy, and goddess-voicing. The Sia'kalia Citadel (also sometimes referred to as the White Spire or Helvera Spire, after Di'Quinasev's largest moon) is a tremendous structure that extends the height of the already formidable Seriden Peak a further nine hundred feet, coiling in a grand spire toward a pointed dome where the High Priestess, a white-plumaged Seridensana who both governs and advises the entire region, can look out across the near endless vista of Di'Quinasev. On particularly clear days it is possible to see the green expanse of Midland Forest to the north, and occasionally, to the sharp eye of a gryphon, discern the stretch of slate that forms the Blue Cliffs even further north. To the south it is possible to see past the craggy Sanctuary Mountains to the lush and impenetrable jungle that stretches unexplored to Di'Quinasev's rear. However, these extreme views are rare, as the mountain is almost always swathed in snow-bearing clouds.
Spaced in a jagged line surrounding the Sia'kalia Citadel are four other prominent peaks, each capped by a graceful spire. Each of the spires is named after one of Di'Quinasev's other four moons: Lacuna Spire, named for Di'Quinasev's Dark Moon (unaffiliated with a goddess, and abandoned, its history is murky at best and anathema at worst -- it is said that the already cold weather of the region intensifies into a cold that even the snow-accustomed Seridensana and Gry'falcons find forbidding at the base of this spire); Isrhea Spire, named for the Red Moon (Ele'cherath's moon); Tarani Spire, named for the Gold Moon (Tal'anakae's moon); and Vorist Spire, named for the Blue Moon (Ala'niste's moon). Attending each spire every hour of every day is a rotating coterie of like-affiliated families of Seridensana; the elemental clans share out this duty on the night before Fivemoon Day for the following calendar year.
Seriden Peak is guarded by the only organized militial group of Seridensana on Di'Quinasev -- a highly disciplined and highly secretive organization known as the Helvera Guard. While some are naturally white Seridensana, those that are not bleach their feathers to match the remainder of the guard, and tangentially to honor the High Priestess and gain camouflage in the perpetually snowy mountain peaks. Their badge is a snowy peak beneath the white moon, and the emblem alone commands respect throughout the Sanctuary Mountains. The Guard trains in obscure locations throughout the mountain range, with individuals returning only when their training is completed and they are deemed fit to bleach their feathers and take up arms in defense of the Citadel.
While gryphons hollow out lairs in the smooth mountain limestone, the Seridensana make their presence known by sculpting the rock into fanciful shapes and delicate, sweeping architecture. A Seridensana's home is a constant project, and virtually the only time that at least a part of that home is not covered in protective mats (in turn strewn with tools and powdered with limestone dust) is when the family is in a period of mourning. Thus, while there is a period of blank stone directly beneath each spire and beneath the Citadel, great works of architecture wreath the mountains in a sprawling city surrounding Whitemoon Aerie and Seriden Peak. As the population of the region grows, so too does the reach of the carved city. Owners of merchant buildings often carve their offices and storefronts to match their wares, and similar products -- pottery, herbs, vegetables, fabrics -- tend to congregate near each other on the same avenues. One seeking a particular item can therefore simply stroll or glide down the streets and find a building carved in likeness of that item or those like it.
At the base of the Sanctuary mountain range, to the east, is the human-populated First Village. The White City's alliance with the humans of this sizable village is what led to the installation of land-accessible roads leading to, from, and throughout the large city. Although peppered with rocks, the soil here is quite arable, being enriched by streams formed from mountain rain runoff; the humans have excelled at farming in great pockets of soil that dot the foothills. A steady vein of trade also flows through the village, supporting a series of inns and taverns, as caravans travel from across Di'Quinasev to purchase exotic goods from Seriden Peak. Some Seridensana create artwork from their own molted feathers, and these pieces are perceived by non-Seridensana as good luck for those sharing the same goddess-alignment as the Seridensana in question. The Village also supports a vibrant fish trade, being situated against the banks of the Nightstorm River. As the oldest village, First Village too retains a stentorian traditionalism that causes it to lose many of its young folk to other villages, but enough remain to support a steady population, and the flush of trade often brings new blood, refugees or willing departures from their old lives, that come to enjoy the quiet dignity and spiritual serenity of the region.
The Sanctuary Mountains and its city (often simply called the White City in reference to its limestone base) thrive in this age of Di'Quinasev, and continue to grow and expand. Being separated from the rest of Di'Quinasev was initially a weakness, but in this period has grown into a strength and singular independence.