Vampires control the province of Stensia, which covers the darkest and most mountainous parts of the plane of Innistrad. The evergreen forests here seem to always be half-dead and the roads always misty and deserted. Jagged hills hide isolated, wary human villages and vampire manors from each other. At the province's edges, the forlorn pines give way to high cliffs above which no human dares venture. In Stensia, the sun seems never to break through the strangely colored clouds.
The mountain range that dominates Stensia, the Geier Reach, defines it utterly. This chain grows steadily higher in elevation as it moves from the borders with Gavony and Kessig toward the province's outer edge. Inland, the mountain peaks are forested, whereas in the chain's middle the tree line gives way to bare rock, and at its verge, the peaks disappear into the clouds. The highlands are dotted with caves and crevasses where vultures, bats, and other, larger creatures reign.
Many mountain passes exist in Stensia to help travelers traverse the mountain range and the most notable passes are:
Only one pass crosses the final zig-zag of the Geier. Ziel Pass is the only way to reach the sea from Stensia's inland valleys. The cliffs at the end of Ziel Pass descend for 1,600 feet, and the only way to get to the churning waters is to jump... or to trek by foot or mule down a treacherous path of endless switchbacks plagued by the geists of those who have died trying to do the same.
Hofsaddel is a wide and well-trodden pass that connects the inland valleys to the outland ones, and one that the vampires leave alone. The reason: human interaction is good for the long term, as long as it's among Stensians.
Like Hofsaddel Pass Needle’s Eye connects the inland valleys to the outland ones. Needle's Eye is a narrow, treacherous, and deadly path because of the presence of vengeful geists on the route as well as its proximity to Ashmouth and its devils. Humans will take the Needle's Eye path only in the event of emergencies in the neighboring valleys.
Getander is a long, zig-zagging route watched by the rapacious Falkenrath vampires that leads from Kessig into Stensia.
Kruin Pass, which is just as long, but in vertical elevation rather than horizontal turns, and is lackadaisically watched by the well-fed Markov vampires that leads from Gavony into Stensia.
The shape of the Geier Reach creates two long valleys in the provinces, and foothills separate those valleys into numerous, isolated segments.
The outer valley is divided into eight pieces by terrain, three of which are noteworthy: the human village of Shadowgrange, the abandoned Maurer Estate, and the human rancher community of Lammas. Shadowgrange and Lammas are strange places populated by humans that are fiercely passionate about their lifestyles but also paranoid and fearful. Few other humans of Innistrad ever see these distant places.
The inland stretch houses two significant human communities with a prominent vampire holding: Silbern, a tiny stone watchtower manned by fatalistic cathars and surrounded by several family farms, Wollebank, a large village of shepherds and their families, and Markov Manor, a hilltop estate that towers over both. Markov Manor is the home of Edgar Markov, grandfather of Sorin Markov.
Twin bogs, one in the inland valley and one in the outland, blanket the center of Stensia like two puddles of ink. Both were once groves of pines, but those trees now sink into the peat muck at odd angles, creating a tangle of dead trunks. The peripheries of both bogs are home to ancient grafs, and as the graves dissolve into the slime, geists proliferate. A few ghouls wander here as well, most of them products of the young, self-taught ghoulcaller Rinelda Smit, an irresponsible teenager trying to make her mark on Stensia by creating her own force of beings to defend against vampire attacks.
In the middle of the Geier, in between the Hofsaddel and Needle's Eye passes and cloaked by forest, lies Ashmouth, a huge chasm deep enough to glow with magma from below. Ash-ridden smog rises from it, mixing with the dark clouds above. Ashmouth is an infernal gateway, and perhaps the most important one. The demon Shilgengar emerged from this pit, which also spews out bands of devils according to some eldritch pattern only the demons understand.
Despite its darkness, Stensia still holds places of beauty. Between its contested valleys and savage peaks, the Geier is forested with a winding, melancholy, drooping pine wilderness. These woods are home to some of Innistrad's most noble and pristine creatures: bears, stags, and other things that have fled here over the centuries for safety and seclusion. Many of these creatures were once found in Kessig, but the spread of hunters, trappers, and werewolves there have driven them here, where they're safe in the shadow of the vampires.
In the middle strip of the Geier Reach, between the Hofsaddel and Getander Passes, lies Castle Falkenrath, a towering, menacing Gothic masterpiece that houses scores of vampires of the Falkenrath line. Although the bloodline's progenitor is long dead, the castle is meticulously maintained. Smaller manor homes exist around the castle and along the border with Kessig, but Castle Falkenrath is the home base from which Stensia's most dominant vampires conduct their ambitious predations.
Four miles from the end of Ziel Pass, cloaked in mist and surrounded by jagged peaks, is the huge estate of Olivia Voldaren, famous eccentric, bon vivant, and progenitor of the Voldaren bloodline. Olivia travels often, visiting the far-flung Voldaren manors and fortresses that are scattered across the four provinces of Innistrad. The elite among vampires know that Olivia throws the best parties, and the nobility will happily make the trek out to the estate for her seasonal ball.
In the corner of Stensia closest to Gavony, Edgar Markov's manor home overlooks Kruin Pass, and the High City of Thraben is visible in the far distance from its balconies. Although the Markov bloodline is the most prestigious and perhaps the most widespread, Edgar lives in comparative simplicity relative to the other vampire elders.
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