The Hollow Houses
The Cedar Hollow Sanct is the head and gripping hand of the collection of Sancts known as the Hollow Houses. It commands the entire northern border of the Wilderness and much of the region besides, both within and without. The Hollow Houses do much to imitate the aristocracy of the Glorium, some of them going so far as to make abbotships hereditary. Cedar Hollow spearheads all diplomatic relations with the Glorium, constantly stabilizing what is at best a deferred enmity. Of all the Sacrosancts, Cedar Hollow has the best relations with the Glorium and leverages the advantage to protect the Wilderness from colonisation. This is carefully balanced with the blatant extortion, human trafficking and mercenary work the Hollow Houses are known for – they are the richest (and most diverse) Sacrosanct of the Wild Hunt.
Caravans, merchant wagons and any trade that travels through the Wilderness are guarded by Hollowmyn almost as a rule – the toll for passing through the unpredictable Wilderness unscathed. Often these clients are not informed of a second toll, or third, or fourth, until they are trapped in the thick of jungle. The line blurs between protection racket and robbery when hiring these burly, pretentious, pseudo intellectuals. The favored weapon amongst those of the Hollow is the typical Wilder spear, fire hardened ash with a copper leaf blade. Their pride in their Sacrosanct is prominent in their dress, hooded mantles of pressed red leaves serve to camouflage them in their native forest and also to denote their affiliation further south.
Cedar Hollow is the principal Sanct of the Hollow Houses. At first glance, the Sanct seems small and underpopulated. The village that surrounds the petrified tree that gives the Sanct its name is populated by hunters, tradesmen and guides. The population is small, at five hundred people.
Cedar Hollow Sanct is a lightning struck Cedar tree that is as tall as four-and-thirty men and a third as wide. The tree is ancient petrified and has been hollowed and carved into a temple dedicated to Hyacinth. Underneath, a cavernous cathedral expands into an intricate network of tunnels and caverns called “The Rootway.”
The Rootway is where the majority of Cedar Hollow members live and operate. The network of tunnels has been rumored to lead into neighbouring sancts and cities, even into the Glorium itself.
Another prominent Hollow House is Anahearth, a border city that sits close to the Glorium province of Landrend. The city houses close to two thousand people and is the main trading outpost between the Wilderness and the Glorium. Her Glorious Armed Forces has a large presence in the city, although traditionally there has not been much conflict between Hearthmyn and Gaffers. Recently a splinter cell of the Anahearth Sanct has been attacking Glorium officers and institutions, leading to martial law being declared by the Glorium. The situation is escalating.
Anahearth is a dirty, grungy city of muddy roads and ramshackle buildings. The divide between rich and poor is extremely pronounced in the city, even within the ranks of Anahearth. The weather is often dark and cloudy with more than its share of rain, but its proximity to the Glorium and Wilderness both make it an invaluable stop for traders and merchants.
The Anahearth Sanct is small stone temple in the centre of the city, surrounded by a maze of shrubbery. Wooden barracks are set beside each entrance into the maze.
The principal God of the Hollow Houses is Hyacinth, the ancient god of wisdom, of home and hearth, blood and kin. Hyacinth is depicted in the Neolithic myths as the wise, old tutor and advisor to Rhadamanthys, until Diluvian, the Great Rain ended the reign of the gods. He is often shown as caretaker of the mortals, taking great delight in appearing before mythic heroes as a beggar to test their wisdom and spirit. Other gods popularly worshipped include Rhadamanthys, Penllyn-in-Bloom, Levan-upon-the-Stag and Kyler Shade-Son (among others).