Raelenac is one of the few Halfling villages that is well known to travelers and openly welcomes them. The village is part of the Halfling enclaves east of the Plateau of Gnaeun and the roads that go to and fro can be treacherous for the ill prepared. Merchants, nobles, pilgrims, and those seeking worldly pleasures risk the journey at all times of the year however. Raelenac is not a thriving trade port, nor is it in a particularly good crossroads. It is however renounced for its mineral hot springs and strange metals that seep into the water and sands.
Raelenac sits on the shores of a large lake in a deep wintry valley. The hot springs thaw the valley and form numerous natural pools that are speckled with metallic flecks. The sandy beaches are partially mineralized and most of the village structures use a combination of hard woods and sand. This creates the appearance of well crafted and life-sized sand castles. The structures are remarkably resilient and very malleable to different shapes and types of architecture. The weight of the sand does not permit buildings to be built on anything but the strongest bedrock however, so space is limited and only about two dozen sand structures exist. A good number of decorative sand sculptures landscape the area which depict famous Halfling folk-lore.
While the buildings of Raelenac are definitely an oddity, the true prize within is the large deposits of loadstone beneath the village deep under the sands. The quantities are so high that in some places that metal will be repelled and blocks of nickel hover silently above the ground. The loadstone is so prevalent that the air is constantly saturated with static electricity. Every unpadded footstep upon the flecked sands brings a mild shock, as does touching any metal surface or any person. The dwellers of Raelenac are all but ignorant of the effect after a lifetime of contact with it. Travelers consider the effect exotic and mildly intoxicating, at least at first. Over several days the effect quickly turns annoying and downright maddening.
This has turned Raelenac into a mysterious attraction among wealthy human nobles, well to-do merchants, and Elf courtiers wishing to gain the notice of their prospective mate. Some come for the supposed health benefits of the pools, some come for the grand amenities, and others come for the exotic mild shocks of physical contact in Raelenac. Whatever the reason the Halflings of Raelenac are happy to oblige and welcome visitors with many amenities for noble tastes. Lodges, wine galleries, exotic foods, strange slaves, and lake side tours are all common place. There is said to be elements of forbidden pleasures, but these are naturally not advertised – nymph baths, water-monkey duels, laced deathcaps, and the most exotic joy-girls one could imagine. Of course this is but speculation and rumor.
The wilderness around Raelenac is primarily taiga mixed with silver trees and high snow-topped peaks. The lake marks the bottom of the valley and is several miles across. The far side of the lake is considered deep wilderness and dangerous terrain. Lake side tours usually go no more than a mile, and even then a couple never return. Small rivers, boiling pots, mineral pools, geysers and other thermal sites coat the landscape. No grass grows and shrubs are rare in favor of lichens and moss. The deep steam pools are faintly electric. An unprepared dip into a pool can be painful if one is not carefully acclimated first. This is true with the lake itself to a lesser extent and it is known to have some particular ‘hot spots’ in the deeper reaches where the electric properties can kill. Other hazards are also present in the form of bubbling pots, sulfurous geysers, and boiling mud pools. These are usually easily avoidable but strange creatures occasionally lurk within and are known to drag wanderers to their doom. More than one tale of moss monsters and geyser-morays exist in Raelenac folk-lore.
Of particular note are the carp-creatures of the lake. These large boneless fish with flabby flesh and yellow-gold scales. They are elegant creatures in the water but awkward and writhing upon the land. They are highly protective of their egg clusters which they seem to lay in random areas along the lake and lake shore. This has created many accidental conflicts with the creatures, which attack in bezerk masses using sharpened abalone shells to hack apart their prey.
In the deeper recesses of the lake, meglo-coy drift aimlessly in the heated waters. The upper bridge of their body remains above water and is an ideal habitat for the carp-men to dwell. Although not terribly large, it does serve as a mobile floating island and it is large enough for a dozen muddy pods and egg pools to sit upon. The meglo-coy do not seem to mind and in fact seem to encourage the dwellings as it prevents painful parasites from infesting them. The meglo-coy are otherwise harmless creatures, albeit frightening to behold.
Steam turtles also inhabit the lake and will attack those who stray too near with heated steam blasts and sharp beaks. Their shells are high prized as cooking utensils since they are very durable among the heat. Their meat is quite scrumptious and is usually served in their own shells with a mix of shellfish, butter, and garlic. Turtle hunting expeditions are common excursions in which to take the adventurous nobility upon. The turtles sun themselves on large rocks and are usually easy pickings. Usually but not always, and some of these expeditions never return thus well armed escorts are often in demand. Some of the more ambitious expeditions hunt more formidable prey.
This is loosely modeled after Harrison Hotsprings in Canada which I visited. The Canadians are similiar to the carp-men of course.