Zephrah

Zephrah
Official art of Keyleth and Vilya conversing at Zephrah, by Kent Davis.[art 1]
Official map of Zephrah's location in the Summit Peaks by the Lucidian Coast, by Andy Law from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn.[art 2]
Geographical information
PlaneMaterial Plane
WorldExandria
ContinentTal'Dorei
RegionLucidian Coast
Historical dates
Established900 to 1,000 years before 810 PD
Society
Leader titleHeadmaster (Voice of the Tempest)
LeaderKeyleth
GuardsTempest Blades, Skydancers
AffiliationAshari
Population1,310 (in 836 PD)
Demographics
Notable locations
Points of interestRift of Air

Zephrah is the village of the Air Ashari in the Summit Peaks of Tal'Dorei, located at the rift between the Elemental Plane of Air and Exandria. The Air Ashari are one of four Ashari tribes, formerly a single druidic and nomadic society during the Calamity. The tribes split to guard and over time heal rifts to the elemental planes that opened in Exandria, and the Air Ashari established themselves near the Rift of Air. Zephrah is led by a headmaster called the Voice of the Tempest, who ascends to their position after completing a lengthy journey to the other tribes.

It is the home of the player characters Keyleth, the current Voice of the Tempest, and Orym.

Description[edit | edit source]

Zephrah is a village at the top of the Summit Peaks near the Lucidian Coast and is located near a portal to the Elemental Plane of Air, called the Rift of Air. With Terrah, is one of two Ashari villages in Tal'Dorei.[1][2] It is located on tall mountain bluffs with cliffs falling into a sheer drop at either side.[3] Mountain caves hidden among these cliffs provide emergency shelter for the village.[4]

Trees grow out of the cliff sides at the outskirts of the village.[5] At the far edge of the outcropping on which Zephrah sits grows a cherry blossom tree, which is used as a central gathering place. It is described as twisting and gnarled but elegant and beautiful. Its branches are long and thin, its bark is a deep and vibrant dark brown with some gray patches, and moss grows at its base and in shadowed areas under its branches.[6] Keyleth propagated the Raven Tree, a cutting from the Sun Tree in Whitestone; she planted it on on a ley line in 811 PD.[7] As it grew, she embedded a raven feather from Vax'ildan and other relics of the Raven Queen into its trunk, and the tree attracted ravens, previously unseen in Zephrah.[8] Around the same time as Keyleth planted this tree, Vax'ildan also built a small altar to the Raven Queen.[9]

Described as simple and beautiful, the village is built on a hill surrounded by trees, and it is composed of around one hundred homes built into the mountainside and at the edges of the cliffs. Homes are simple, natural, and dome-like in shape and made of stone, leather, and well-crafted, intricate strips of long, curved wood that appear grown into their shapes and further smoothly bent using druidic magic. A number of homes are built around or from trees, or the trees grew through these buildings.[3][10][5] By 836, the cliffs were also dotted with windmills.[4] There are small businesses within the village, including a smithy[11] and a seamstress's shop.[12] Zephrah's graveyard is on the northern side, overlooking the valley below.[13]

Because the top of the Summit Peaks are suffused in power air elemental magic from the nearby rift,[2] a strong, ever-present wind surrounds the village, protecting it from aerial invaders and creating a visible "windfall" of clouds, leaves, and dust.[14][3] Air Ashari magic keeps the air still inside Zephrah itself,[3][5] but a gentle whistling sound is constantly heard inside the village.[10]

Points of interest[edit | edit source]

  • Airy Eyrie: A bar with plenty of outdoor seatings.[15]
  • Rocky Outcrop: A bar[15]
  • Keyleth's home: A natural living space embedded into a Zephran tree and lit by egg-like, enchanted glass lanterns. All furniture is organically integrated into the tree, including bookcases adapted from its roots, as well as chairs and tables "sprung up from the wood itself". This abode has at least three levels. At the third floor Keyleth has a bedroom with a large bed, supported by four posts of vines and roots, and adorned by tapestries and paintings. One of them depicts a red dragon above a city set aflame, pursued by a bird. Another art piece shows an earth titan among the ruins of a metropolis.[16] Most of them were gifts.[17] The house's balcony has a small tree serving as a perch.[18]

Society[edit | edit source]

The people of Zephrah, the Air Ashari, guard the portal to the Elemental Plane of Air and strive to eventually heal the rift. They also watch over the Frostweald and maintain the natural balance of their surrounding lands.[2][1] Zephrah's location protects its people from most hardship and trespassers. This safety is said to have "bred a certain recklessness" and a "lack of stoicism and restraint" scorned by the Earth Ashari at Terrah. Despite this, the Air Ashari perform their duties with as much dedication as the other tribes.[19] They balance this sense of duty against free-spirited playfulness, and they culturally value freedom of the skies.[20]

By 836 PD, Zephrah has become less insular, though it remains isolated from the rest of the world. Many, including those with innate connection to air, outside druids, and other spellcasters, have successfully proven to Keyleth their respect for the sky and now live in Zephrah. Largely, Keyleth has campaigned against Ashari isolationism and moved toward integrating Zephrah politically and economically with the rest of Tal'Dorei.[4]

Zephrah lives on high-elevation vegetation and occasionally by hunting large avians, so most in the village are farmers and skilled hunters and climbers.[2][21] By 836 PD, the village also began milling grain bought from the Dividing Plains.[4]

Clothing[edit | edit source]

The Air Ashari are often identified by blue and white robes or by symbols in gold, green, and blue.[22] They wear scale-like leather armor that reaches to the legs and are often armed with staffs.[23] Though not all the Ashari keep the gods, Melora, the Wildmother is the preferred deity in Zephrah because "her freedom is like that of the wind".[20]

Voice of the Tempest[edit | edit source]

The headmaster of Zephrah, its leader, is titled Voice of the Tempest, whose duties include monitoring travel through the portal, druidic rituals, and visiting outsiders.[2] As with all Ashari tribes, a chosen leader-to-be embarks on a years-long journey called an Aramenté, during which they visit each village to earn the respect of the other headmasters and establish connections between the leaders; they ascend to headmaster upon their return, and their predecessor retires. Should the chosen Ashari not return within a reasonable amount of time, someone among their family or an allied family is chosen in their place and embarks on their own Aramenté.[1][24]

Defense organizations[edit | edit source]

Official art of a skysailor, by Claudia Ianniciello from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 45.[art 3]

Leaders and warriors travel around the mountains by riding on the constant winds using skysails, a magical glider. The village has never maintained a formal army, but many Voices of the Tempest have trained people to defend Zephrah and most adults can use a spear or staff in self-defense. About one in ten people in Zephrah have some elemental training and can cast the spell Gust of Wind at least once a day. Skydancers, Zephrah's most skilled skysailors, are seen as local heroes in their dual capacity as warriors and artistic performers. Keyleth expanded the training of Skydancers, intending for them to respond to any emergency in Tal'Dorei such as the Chroma Conclave attacks.[2][4]

Zephrah is also protected by a group of guards known as the Tempest Blades,[25] who practice a balletic form of swordsmanship known as the Zeph'aeratam.[26]

After the apogee solstice in 843 PD, some of Zephrah’s wards and means of transportation were disenchanted and were in the process of repeated enchantment.[27]

Demographics[edit | edit source]

In 812 PD, Zephrah was a village with a population of 410 people. Most of the villagers were half-elves (75%) with some humans (10%), halflings (10%), and tieflings (5%) as well.[28] There were also apparently genasi at that time.[29]

In 836 PD, the population had grown to 1,310. It remained mostly half-elven (65%) with some of elemental ancestry (12%), humans (10%), halfings (9%), tieflings (5%), and other races (2%). The significant increase in population is attributed to those outside the Ashari successfully petitioning Keyleth for permission to live in Zephrah.[4]

At some point in Keyleth's time as Voice of the Tempest, there were also dwarves, orcs, and elves, among others.[8]

Notable people[edit | edit source]

Name Type Description
Keyleth PC Voice of the Tempest beginning in 811 PD and member of Vox Machina
Orym PC Former member of the Tempest Blades and member of the Crown Keepers and Bells Hells
Derrig PC Master of Defense in 813 PD tasked with assembling the local guard[30]
Alma NPC Orym's mother; a midwife[31]
Dwala NPC Keyleth's predecessor as Voice of the Tempest,[32] who died of an illness[1]
Korrin NPC Keyleth's father and acting Voice of the Tempest after Dwala's death until Keyleth's installation as headmaster[1]
Leeta NPC Derrig's daughter and Master of Defense after his death in 837 PD[33]
Maeve NPC Derrig's daughter and Leeta's triplet; a druid.[34]
Thollo NPC Member of the Tempest Blades, associate of Leeta, and lore keeper.[35]
Torth NPC Blacksmith and armorer for the Air Ashari and at times other Ashari tribes.[36]
Vilya NPC Keyleth's mother who disappeared during her Aramenté around 800 PD[37] and returned in 836 PD[38]

History[edit | edit source]

Background[edit | edit source]

During a celestial solstice about 900 or 1,000 years before Campaign 1,[39] during the Calamity,[fn 1] elemental rifts tore open across Exandria, causing terrible earthquakes, fires, and a flood of elemental monsters. Though they eventually beat back the elementals, the people of Exandria were terrified of what would happen on the next solstice. The druidic Ashari, until then a single nomadic society on the continent that would later be called Tal'Dorei, agreed to split into four tribes to seal the rifts and watch over the major remaining portals. The Air Ashari remained in Tal'Dorei and founded Zephrah.[1]

Vilya was chosen as the next Voice of the Tempest, and she left on her Aramenté in 794 or 795 PD.[40] She did not return to Zephrah, having disappeared in the Elemental Plane of Water at Vesrah after completing her trial at Pyrah around 800 PD.[41][37] Dwala later died of illness, resulting in Vilya's husband Korrin to become acting Voice of the Tempest in the interim.[1] Vilya's daughter Keyleth left on her own Aramenté when she turned twenty in 809 PD.[42]

Campaign 1: Vox Machina[edit | edit source]

After Thordak escaped the Elemental Plane of Fire and devastated Pyrah, Zephrah was contacted by survivors. Leaving behind most of the village to cloak Zephrah and protect it from Thordak, Korrin led four others to Pyrah to aid them and arrived a day later.[22]

Zephrah tracked Tal'Dorei's armies as they marched on Emon to face Thordak, and the Air Ashari awaited a call for their aid. The day before the attack on Emon, Keyleth, Vax'ildan, and Allura Vysoren visited Zephrah to request air support to thin out the wyvern flock over Emon. At Keyleth's request, Korrin tasked Zephrah's conjurers with creating a dangerous storm and sending toward the city at mid-day before the battle and committed about one hundred people, including himself, to engage the wyverns in the sky once a signal was given. He confirmed to Keyleth that enough people would remain in Zephrah to defend it and that the magical protections around the village would protect it from stray wyverns or other flying creatures.[43] Once the attack on Emon began and Keyleth signaled to the Ashari, the Air Ashari were seen commanding the storm from skysails.[44]

After completing her Aramenté, Keyleth returned to Zephrah to seek her father's blessing and be formally installed as Voice of the Tempest. Korrin called for a celebration to be held right before sunset.[23] Once preparations were completed and a feast was had, everyone gathered at the base of the large cherry blossom tree at the edge of the village. Korrin ceremonially bestowed the Mantle of the Tempest on Keyleth, officially making her the leader of the people of Zephrah.[45] Later that night, Keyleth and Korrin discussed the future of the Air Ashari and agreed that Zephrah and the other Ashari needed to open themselves up to the broader world as their isolation is increasingly unsustainable. They hoped that cultivating other allies would prevent incidents like Thordak's devastation of Pyrah in the future.[24]

Keyleth and Vax'ildan later returned to Zephrah, living there for a year. With the help of Percival de Rolo and Taryon Darrington, Keyleth installed an emergency communication system between the four Ashari tribes, called the Crisis Orbs, in the form of magical crystal beacons in each village; tapping one beacon will light all beacons that village's designated color, alerting the other Ashari to an emergency. Keyleth also planted a cutting from the Sun Tree in Whitestone, which became the Raven Tree,[7][fn 2] and Vax'ildan built a small altar to the Raven Queen.[9]

After Campaign 1[edit | edit source]

After defeating Vecna and helping rebuild Vasselheim, Keyleth returned to Zephrah to lead full-time. As Voice of the Tempest, she became one of two central points of the balance between civilization and nature in Tal'dorei, and the Council of Tal'Dorei often reached out to her for guidance.[8] She eventually became an ambassador for all the Ashahri tribes to the Council,[46] and she moved toward Zephrah's greater political and economic integration into Tal'Dorei so that their needs may be heard by the Council. She faces resistance in her campaign to break down the Ashari's isolationism, but this resistance is mostly from within the Ashari.[4]

By 836 PD, Keyleth and Percy introduced various technological developments to Zephrah, most notably windmills. Kept secret from the rest of the village, two of the mills refine whitestone into residuum to construct magic items and arm the Skydancers.[4] This arrangement continued into late 842 PD, and it remained largely kept from most in Zephrah.[47] Vilya, who was living without her memory on Rumblecusp for years after escaping the Plane of Water, regained her memories with help from the Mighty Nein and was finally able to return to Zephrah in 836 PD. She did so through Transport via Plants and was greeted by Keyleth immediately upon arrival.[38]

Keyleth was suddenly attacked in 837 PD, six years before Campaign 3, by Otohan Thull and her echoes (Gray Assassins)[48] who dropped out of the trees. Though the attempt on Keyleth's life was unsuccessful, Will[49] and several others died. Because this was the first attack on Keyleth in her time at Zephrah, she and others debated whether it was a real attempt, a test, or something else. The felled assailants melted into goo, causing them to be unidentifiable, and no further information could be uncovered at the time nor for years after.[50][51] Orym, who was present at the attack, left the village soon after to travel.[52]

Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn[edit | edit source]

In 836 PD, as a part of an adventure hook Poached Eggs, poachers became a series problem in the Summit Peaks near Zephrah. The human poachers, led by a quasit named Ryzzix, were frequently stealing the griffon eggs, slaying the parents and fencing the stolen eggs on the Stilben black market. The Air Ashari were concerned about the preservation of the local griffons, seeking armed aid before the locally endangered creatures are all dead or taken.[53]

The same year, as a part of an adventure hook, A Welcome Overstayed, djinni named Shaktia was forced out the Plane of Air, recently entering Zephrah through the elemental rift. Shaktia wasn't kin on going back to his home realm, instead avidly engaging with the local villagers: pranking, debating, or inviting people to become his well-paid servants. Keyleth seeks adventurers to capture Shaktia and return him to the Elemental Plane of Air.[53]

Exandria Unlimited and Campaign 3: Bells Hells[edit | edit source]

Crates of residuum originating from Zephrah were stolen in Emon by the Nameless Ones in late 842 PD.[47] This was discovered by Orym, who was adventuring in Emon, and he had word sent to Zephrah about the theft.[54] Months later in 843 PD, Keyleth received information about an attack in Jrusar in Marquet that was similar to the attack on her many years ago. She requested that Orym investigate the matter and its possible connections to the Zephrah attack.[50] She brought him and two friends, Dorian Storm and Fearne, to Zephrah, then to Emon before sending them onward toward Jrusar via skyship.[55]

After confirming that Keyleth had survived the attacks on her by Otohan Thull at the Malleus Key in Marquet, and that she was in Zephrah, Bells Hells used the Staff of Dark Odyssey to teleport there.[56] They were met by a guard led by Maeve, who upon recognizing Orym welcomed the party. Maeve provided an update on the Air Ashari's role at the Battle of the Red Center, and escorted them to her sister Leeta, who was guarding and caring for the gravely wounded Keyleth. Bells Hells were taken to see Keyleth, who was able to provide answers to some of their questions about the gods and the Ruby Vanguard. She also asked them, as a favor, to travel to the Grey Valley to retrieve blue perennem flowers, which would cure her wounds and those of others who were affected by the Gray Assassins' toxin, as well as try to find the other group that had been sent to the valley a few days prior. The party then visited Orym's mother, Alma. After Orym and Ashton put in orders for new armor and clothing with Torth and Fanny Z respectively, Bells Hells were transported, with Maeve's help, to the Grey Valley.[57] They returned, with the surviving Ashari members and the flowers, which were used to heal Keyleth. She addressed the Ashari, and honored Orym as "Savior of the Tempest." In an extended discussion between Keyleth and Bells Hells, Imogen provided Keyleth with much more insight into the Reilora by summoning one. Keyleth was able to identify Ashton as a "Titan of Blood", and recommended that the party perhaps seek out Evontra'vir in the Shattered Teeth. She offered to provide transportation to the party following her rest. Orym also revealed that a winged figure associated with the Matron of Ravens was imprisoned and in pain, and Keyleth provided some general political updates regarding the events at the Battle of the Red Center. Finally, Keyleth was able to provide some insight into the nature of Ludinus Da'leth's harness.[58]

Orym and Ashton picked up their armor and clothing respectively, and Orym then went with FCG and Fearne to visit Nel and go with her to Will and Derrig's graves, where Orym addressed them. Chetney and Laudna engaged in a skysailing adventure, and everyone reconvened at the Airy Eyrie bar to drink and relax. Laudna briefly attempted to connect with Delilah, who first ignored her, only responding after Laudna and Imogen called out to the Moonweaver, who also had not answered. Delilah told Laudna she would always be hers. The party rested at Alma's house and Scryed on Dancer, whom they were able to locate in Yios. The following morning, they discussed their plans with Keyleth, who offered to transport them to Yios and then on to the Shattered Teeth, and they departed for Yios.[59]

After the battle in which Opal became the champion of the Spider Queen and in which Cyrus died, Dorian traveled to Zephrah, where he met with Keyleth. The two spoke, and after they both received messages from Bells Hells, left for the Tishtan site.[60]

Footnotes[edit | edit source]

  1. Other events that occurred about 1,000 years before Campaign 1, such as the fall of Uthtor and the creation of the Pallid Grove, are said to have happened during the Calamity.
  2. Marisha said Keyleth planted the cutting in Vesrah, but this is understood to be a mistake due to context and "The Chapter Closes" (1x115).

References[edit | edit source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 30–31.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, pp. 44–45.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 "The Siege of Emon" (1x78) from 1:42:49 through 1:45:55.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 3: "Tal'Dorei Gazetteer", pp. 69–71.
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) from 3:29:43 through 3:31:17.
  6. "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) at 3:40:00.
  7. 7.0 7.1 "One Year Later..." (1x95) from 38:46 through 40:40.
  8. 8.0 8.1 8.2 "The Chapter Closes" (1x115) at 4:10:00.
  9. 9.0 9.1 "One Year Later..." (1x95) at 34:07. Built by Vax between 811 and 812 PD.
  10. 10.0 10.1 "Dangerous Dealings" (1x42) at 37:56.
  11. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 1:47:35.
  12. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 1:51:37.
  13. "Nice" (3x69) at 42:47.
  14. "The Siege of Emon" (1x78) at 1:53:33.
  15. 15.0 15.1 "Nice" (3x69) at 1:31:04.
  16. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 36:10.
  17. "4-Sided Dive: Why, Matthew?! Why?" (4SDx15) at 35:40.
  18. "For The Tempest" (3x68) at 2:02:27.
  19. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 129.
  20. 20.0 20.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", pp. 48–49.
  21. "Trial by Firelight" (3x02) at 1:36:17.
  22. 22.0 22.1 "Those Who Walk Away..." (1x45) from 2:51:22 through 2:53:30.
  23. 23.0 23.1 "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) from 3:34:27 through 3:38:27.
  24. 24.0 24.1 "Vox Machina Go to Hell" (1x91) from 14:09 through 20:06.
  25. See the final entry in Orym's Campaign 3 playlist.
  26. "Chasing Nightmares" (3x11) at 3:55:28.
  27. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 22:06.
  28. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 44.
  29. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 28. Genasi in Tal'Dorei are said to be most common among the Ashari, and Zephrah is one of two Ashari villages on the continent.
  30. "Dalen's Closet" (OSx33) from 10:32 through 11:26.
  31. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 26:21. See also 1:25:40.
  32. "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) at 3:43:12.
  33. "The Aurora Grows" (3x49) at 4:38:23. Leeta is said to have taken up Derrig's role after his death.
  34. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 19:37.
  35. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 34:37.
  36. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66) at 1:47:12.
  37. 37.0 37.1 "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 2:52:00. In 810 PD, Vilya is said to have visited and left Pyrah ten years prior.
  38. 38.0 38.1 "Devoutness and Dicks" (2x107) at 3:50:45.
  39. "Aramente to Pyrah" (1x22) at 1:17:27.
  40. "Enter Vasselheim" (1x16) at 26:51. Keyleth, who is 21 in this episode set in 810 PD, says she was five or six years old when Vilya left home.
  41. "Onward to Vesrah" (1x87) at 3:28:19.
  42. The Chronicles of Exandria Vol. I: The Tale of Vox Machina, p. 34.
  43. "The Siege of Emon" (1x78) from 1:48:33 through 1:53:53. It is clarified how many of the Air Ashari are present 2:43:43.
  44. "The Siege of Emon" (1x78) at 3:51:46.
  45. "Voice of the Tempest" (1x90) from 3:39:07 through 3:57:16.
  46. Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 2: "Allegiances of Tal'Dorei", p. 46.
  47. 47.0 47.1 "The Nameless Ones" (E1x01) at 3:56:45.
  48. "Blood and Dust" (3x33) at 1:54:17. See also 3:14:42.
  49. "Heart-to-Heartmoor" (3x17) from 3:40:51 through 3:42:30.
  50. 50.0 50.1 "Growing Bonds and Teasing Threads" (3x06) from 3:10:00 through 3:14:40.
  51. "Chasing Nightmares" (3x11) from 4:10:24 through 4:21:15.
  52. "Chasing Nightmares" (3x11) at 4:29:48.
  53. 53.0 53.1 Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn, Chapter 3: "Tal'Dorei Gazetteer", p. 71.
  54. "The Oh No Plateau" (E1x02) from 1:51:56 through 1:54:50.
  55. "The Draw of Destiny" (3x01) at 1:12:05. Fearne mentions having been to Zephrah in "On the Trail of a Killer" (3x04) at 2:42:57 and "Growing Bonds and Teasing Threads" (3x06) at 42:15.
  56. "A Path of Vengeance" (3x65) at 4:03:59.
  57. "Aid of the Tempest" (3x66).
  58. "For The Tempest" (3x68).
  59. "Nice" (3x69).
  60. "Bittersweet Reunions" (3x93) at 2:37:43.

Art:

  1. Official art of Keyleth and Vilya conversing at Zephrah, by Kent Davis (source). This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  2. Official map of Zephrah's location in the Summit Peaks by the Lucidian Coast, by Andy Law from Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting Reborn. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.
  3. Official art of a skysailor, by Claudia Ianniciello from Critical Role: Tal'Dorei Campaign Setting, p. 45. This file is a copyrighted work. Its use in this article is asserted to qualify as fair use of the material under United States copyright law.