Author Topic: The Eye of All the Earth  (Read 6348 times)

0 Members and 1 Lonely Barbarian are spying on this topic.

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Eye of All the Earth
« on: September 07, 2004, 07:44:24 PM »
The Eye of All the Earth surveys the Earth and all the Lands upon it, allowing all Gods to see what has been wrought by them, and by mortals, since the beginning of Time. No place can escape the roving glance of the Eye of All the Earth.
Know the Earth and learn.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
Imperial Provinces and Prefectures
« Reply #1 on: September 07, 2004, 07:44:58 PM »
The Empire is split up into Provinces and Prefectures. Provinces are often what might be described as territories- annexed areas of wilderness or recent conquest over which the Empire maintains limited government and military control. Other Provinces are simply too small to be called Prefectures, though they are just as well-controlled. Prefectures are official, large states of the Empire. Prefectures are often defined by the differences in territory. For instance, Heart Forest Prefecture, a vast wood, ends at the edges of the forestation. Some regions which might otherwise be Provinces are called Prefectures due to the political machinations of their governors (for Prefectures get more votes in the Imperial Deliberative) or because they are particularly important to the Empire.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Eye of All the Earth
« Reply #2 on: September 08, 2004, 10:17:55 PM »
Provinces and Prefectures of the Heartlands
The Heartlands are the central portion of the Empire, the original Empire, with the inland Assor Sea in its middle. The Assor Sea, and the Heartlands' relative proximity to the Regions of Warmth, make the Heartland states places of pleasant climate for the most part. Generally, winter is short, cool but not cold, and rainy, summer is long and hot, and spring and autumn are not present.

The Imperial Prefecture
The Imperial Prefecture is the center of the Empire, and contains within it the Assor Sea. The capitol city of Assor-Hu lies on the Sea's northern shores, and many other rich towns and cities are stationed throughout the Prefecture. The climate of the Imperial Prefecture is cooler for the most part (60-75 F/15.6-23.8 C), with wet, but not too wet, weather, due to the Sea. The terrain is mostly low hills with forested vales between, with terrain rising towards the outer edges of the Prefecture.

This Prefecture is the center of Imperial government and trade, and is also the richest Prefecture. A citizen of the Imperial Prefecture has control of a much larger amount of resources than any other citizen could dream of, even in the relatively rich regions of P'angu and Riverland Prefectures. The cities and towns of the Imperial Prefecture are in good repair, well-furnished and supplied with goods and luxuries from across the Empire and beyond.

The highways and roads of the Imperial Prefecture are clean, well-maintained by crews of the Imperial Authority of Ways, and planned and paved by their engineers. All of the roads in the Imperial Prefecture radiate out from the city of Assor-Hu. Along important highways, there are Imperial checkpoints, small gate-houses manned by troops of the Authority of Ways, where traveler's identification papers and Letters of Travel are checked.

The Imperial Prefecture is not a lucrative place for sellswords or adventurers. The roads and wildernesses are well patrolled by the Imperial Authority, the cities are orderly and very free of crime (except for Assor-Hu's outer districts, due to the capitol's fantastic size). The occasional monster can be found to exterminate, but for the most part this is done by Imperial soldiers. Most citizens of this Prefecture regard adventurers as good-for-nothings and outlaws who bring trouble and disease.

The Imperial Prefecture has no governor. It is ruled directly from Assor-Hu, by edicts of the Imperial Authority.

Riverland Prefecture
Riverland Prefecture is the region of water-meadows, plains, and riverland on the south shore of the Assor Sea, extending slightly to the west and east along the coast. Riverland is just that, a very large riverland, where the great Rivers Shine, Swift, and Shadow, as well as countless lesser rivers, emerge from the Assor Sea and flow towards the Sea. There are a number of large towns in Riverland Prefecture, though only one true city to speak of, the famous Trade City Natte. The climate of Riverland is hotter than that of the Imperial Prefecture (65-85 F/18.3-29.4 C, the average for the Heartlands), with less rain, though there is often fog and mist that rises from the many rivers, streams, and channels in the mornings and evenings. The terrain of Riverland is mostly low plains, threaded by twisting rivers and channels. There are some large floodplains, and a few marshes where many rivers converge. Much of Riverland is covered in swaying waist-high grasses, including Golden Grass like that of the Golden Plains, green plain grass, and wild grains.

For the most part, Riverlanders are rich, living close to the Imperial Prefecture and along major highways between the port cities on Blue Coast and Red Coast and the cities of Imperial Prefecture. Riverlanders who do not make their livings by trade or government related activities are often farmers or fishermen, albeit wealthier ones than normal. The towns of Riverland are well-furnished, but local custom looks down on those who decorate their homes too lavishly.

Roads are not quite as good quality as those of the Imperial Prefecture, but they are comparably fantastic when one comes from a border state such as Vasseme or Iceheart. Riverland highways are generally not paved, except when one nears a town, but they are raised above the wetlands and made from layers of clay and earth. Of course, Riverlanders rarely, if ever, use the roads, since they could, with more ease and more speed, use the rivers. There are few checkpoints along roads in Riverland, but there are many riparian checkpoints, usually at fords or in the form of boats of the Imperial Authority of Ways.

Adventurers and sellswords can sometimes find work in Riverland suppressing bandits and outlaws, and the occasional river dragon or tribe of wild Urwhor are found to trouble the countryside. However, for the most part, Riverland is well-policed and peaceful. Adventurers are seen as distasteful but occasionally necessary.

The governor of Riverland is the Lady Minister Seeds of Wheat. Seeds of Wheat was born in the Imperial Prefecture to a rich merchant house, and is known to be somewhat callous when it comes to the less-fortunate of Riverland, however few those less-fortunate may be. She is also greatly dislikes adventurers. She is, however, thought to be strict but fair as governor, and her judgement is trusted by Riverlanders.

Rain Drum Prefecture
To the east of the Assor Sea and Riverland, Rain Drum Prefecture is a hilly region of dwindling jungle and spreading farmlands. The warm winds blowing out of the South bring clouds, pregnant with rain, from the Assor Sea to Rain Drum, where they release their storms upon the land. The soil is fertile and plants grow fast in Rain Drum. There are few large settlments to speak of in Rain Drum, though one frequently encounters small villages. The temperature of Rain Drum is the norm for the Heartlands (Fahrenheit 65-80), with almost constant cloud-cover and frequent rainfall, though the winter is generally colder than normal because of the nearly constant winter rainfall. The terrain of Rain Drum is much like that of the Imperial Prefecture- hilly, with forested vales between. However, the wilds of Rain Drum are not as tamed as those of Imperial Prefecture, and the tangled jungles of this Prefecture are truly wild in comparison to the woods of the Imperial Prefecture. In the southern portins of the Prefecture, on the borders with Riverland, the land becomes marshy, especially near the coast. Rain Drum has a short stretch of coastline between Blue Coast and Red Coast Prefectures, and it is mostly low, swampy bayous and marshy bays.

Rain Drummers are of sunny disposition, despite the clouds and rains of their state. A common Rain Drummer saying is that "it rains, but the rain is warm". This sort of sodden optimism is accompanied by an adventurousness, and Rain Drummers are often uncomfortable with sitting still for too long. Rain Drum, though large, has really very little to offer to the economy, and Rain Drummers are relatively poor in comparison to their neighbors in the Imperial Prefecture, Rice Grower's Prefecture, and Riverland. Villages are small, really sizable towns are rare, and there are no cities. The rich in Rain Drum usually differ very little from the poor, since Rain Drummers have a tendency to save away their resources rather than spending them. Rain Drummers say that this frugality comes from their ancestors' custom of keeping stores of food in preparation for floods, which are common in the lowlands of Rain Drum due to rainfall washing down the hills.

Roads in Rain Drum are not well-kept, because keeping them is a useless endeavour. The Authority of Ways long ago gave up on clearing mud and repairing flood highways in Rain Drum. There are few checkpoints, and these near to towns. Sodden travellers often depend on roadside shrines and temples rather than checkpoints for shelter.

Adventurers and sellswords are regarded warmly in Rain Drum. The jungles and swamps, however few and paltry when compared to more remote states, are wild and untamed, and wild beasts and monsters are common, as well as bandits and brigands. Though not as untamed and lawless as, say, Hu-Be Prefecture or East Coast Province, Rain Drum is comparatively less policed than other Heartland states.

The governor of Rain Drum is the Esteemed Governor of Rains Ruby Frog Climbs the Tree. Ruby Frog Climbs the Tree is a native Rain Drummer, and is widely regarded as the best governor that Rain Drum has ever had. Ruby Frog has of late succeeded in gathering much aid for the repair of roads and highways in Rain Drum, as well as persuading the Imperial Ministry of War to send a detachment of trained militiamen to serve as road police. Ruby Frog is a cheerful, pudgy man with a common air about him and a soft spot in his heart for adventurers (he used to be one). However, it is an open secret that he is quite prejudiced against the Caatjun, who dwell in the southern part of his Prefecture, and also in swampy Blue Coast. He is aware that his prejudice is not right, but relies on his aides and other government officials to help correct him when he goes astray.

Rice Grower's Prefecture
In the northern regions of the Heartlands, where the rich soil of the Heart Forest meets the rains of Rain Drum and the blazing sun of Thirst Fields Province, there is Rice Grower's Prefecture, the most fantastically fertile land in all the Empire. This Prefecture is the breadbasket of the Empire, from which comes the vast majority of the Empire's sustenance, be it spice-stuffed blood-yams at the Emperor's table, or a quick lunch of sticky rice for a dirt farmer in Far Sight Prefecture. Rice Grower's Prefecture is overspread with small farming towns, surrounded by the cropfields of their inhabitants, though only a few really sizable towns, and no cities. Rice Grower's Prefecture is mostly of average clime for Heartlands, but slightly cooler in the north, with more sun than clouds. The terrain is mostly flat, with some low, rolling hills. The land is blanketed with cropfields, maize and grains, potatoes and yams, tubers, and, of course, rice paddies. The only rivers to be seen are irrigation channels, diverted by Imperial artifice from their true courses. What forest there might have been was cleared away long ago to make room for croplands.

Citizens of Rice Grower's Prefecture, called Rice Growers or Ricers, are for the majority rather poor farmers who tend vast fields, selling their crops at market weeks in the large towns, or sending them to merchants, or to Imperial contractors. They mostly dwell in small villages, surrounded by fields as far as the eye can see, in small huts of little luxury. Ricers are usually neat and orderly, and keep their huts tidy.

Roads in Rice Grower's Prefecture are usually unpaved but clean and in good repair. The Authority of Ways provides much attention to the roads in Rice Grower's Prefecture, since they are relatively vital to the feeding of the Empire. Ricers use roads often, and always walk, though they transport crops on carts. Ricers regard chariots with disdain, thinking them transport for snotty nobles. Checkpoints are not seen in Rice Grower's Prefecture. Major highways in this Prefecture do not deviate like they do in other states. Due to the open land, the highways can run straight to Assor-Hu.

Adventurers and sellswords are regarded with suspicion and distaste, and are rarely necessary anyway. Endless fields of crops provide little room for monsters or outlaws, though sometimes an aberration strays from the stony wilds of Fallen Dragon Prefecture, or a beast emerges from Heart Forest Prefecture.

The Lord Great Minister Dragon's Beard is the governor of Rice Grower's Prefecture. Dragon's Beard is an elderly man with a very conservative bent, who believes that family values are the key to Imperial society. He vehemently opposes homosexuals, though homosexuality is an accepted portion of Imperial society. However, he loves children and animals, and is beloved by the citizens of his Prefecture.

Golden Plains Prefecture
East of Rain Drum, the land rises into low mounts, and then plummets to a floor, a vast rolling plain all the way through, covered in waving, whispering, undulating Golden Grass. There are many settlements in Golden Plains, though few of them are very large. There are a few cities, the foremost of which is the city of Banena. Golden Plains is also inhabited by the Holholitlath, a nomad Barbarian people who make their lives upon the Grass. The Golden Plains are of the average temperature for the Heartlands, with the weather being mostly sunny, with a few days of rain a month. There is an almost constant breeze, which prevents the sluggish air over the plains from becoming too oppressive. The terrain, as said before, is a vast plain of rolling ground, covered in many places by hip-high, swaying Golden Grass, which gives the Plains their name, and in other places by short, springy green grass. In the regions near the Thirsty Fields Province, the green grasses die out and the land is hard and flat, with scraggly bushes and gray, stiff grass.

Golden Plainers, or Imperials at least, make their livings as farmers or traders. The mostly empty terrain and good roads of Golden Plains make it a preferred route for traders heading north or west from the Coastal states. Other Golden Plainers sell their services as guides for caravans or travelers, or get Imperial jobs maintaining the famous roads of Golden Plains. Towns of Golden Plains are generally built in a circle around a communal bonfire, after the ways of the Holholitlath. Buildings are usually just frames made of white mud, sticks, and plaster, with walls and doors made from Grass-cloth mats. Decoration is usually sparse but colorful.

The Golden Plains are famous for roads. This Prefecture's roads are often called the best in the Empire. They are slightly raised on a base of packed earth, and covered with a coating of clay and then the black dirt of the plains. This is then tamped down by Authority of Ways crews to an extremely-level surface. The highways are made in the same fashion, and then paved with sandstone blocks. Travelers often can be heard exulting the pleasure of traveling along these roads. Checkpoints are few, but well-stocked for the pleasure of wayfarers.

Adventurers and sellswords can find much work on Golden Plains. They are often hired by Holholitlath tribes as extra muscle in the near-constant tribal infighting, which Imperial Authorities long ago ceased trying to stop. There are also many packs of noxious dinosaurs that dwell on the plains, as well as a few scattered tribes of Urwhor.

The Golden Prefect River Valley Shout governs Golden Plains Prefecture. River Valley Shout is a dignified older woman who is half-Holholitlath, and shows a slight bias towards those nomadic people. She is a kindly woman, who allocates many of the Prefecture's funds towards helping the poor and the Barbarians, which has led to a growing belief among the rich and elite of Imperials that she is too soft to rule. However, it does not look like she will be ousted for a very long time, because the Golden Plains Deliberative consists mostly of commoners, and commoners love River Valley Shout.

Thirsty Fields Province
This small territory lies sandwiched between the northern portion of Golden Plains and the southern part of Dragonglass Hills, and recieves none of the good of either of those states. Thirsty Fields is desolate and arid, a blasted wasteland that has been ruined by toxic gasses and dusts which blow south from the volcanoes of Firefall Province. Thirsty Fields has only one settlement, a mining settlement on the border with Dragonglass Fields, and is otherwise devoid of people. The temperature is generally hotter than the Golden Plains (80-85/26.7-29.4 C), for reasons that are not readily apparent, though it is probable that it has something to do with the cast-offs of Firefall Province. The terrain of Thirsty Fields is mostly empty fields of cracked, parched dust, punctuated by gray, dying thornbushes or tortured claws of black rock. The sky is either overcast, swirling with poisonous dust, or cloudless but hazy and white, with a sun that beats down like a hammer.

There are no true Thirsty Fielders. The miners who live in the colony on the Thirsty Fields-Dragonglass Hills border, called Rane, live in slate houses built by the Imperial Authority or by the mining company itself, which are mostly furnished with comfortable but functional furniture. They are mostly men, and the majority of them suffer from a variety of ailments, including but not limited to black lung, red lung, dust cough, and any manner of other ills brought on by bad air.

There is only one official road through Thirsty Fields, and it runs straight through Rane and out again into Dragonglass Hills Province.

Adventurers can find lucrative but unhealthy Imperial contracts or mining group pay-offs in Thirsty Fields for protecting the mines and Rane itself from the resilient monsters of the wastes. There are also known to be strange ruins that can sometimes be found in the midst of the desolation, but getting to them is a hazardous affair in a land bereft of water and nearly without food, filled with monstrous beasts and deadly poisons.

The governor of Thirsty Fields could really be considered the governor of Rane. The Lord Head Fieldsman Ice Crackling On the River is a glum, stiff man who has been quite without spirit since his husband left him. Ice Crackling is short, balding, and portly, and has a bad case of black lung from his previous tenure in the mines. The Lord Head Fieldsman is known to be an effective but passionless governor.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Eye of All the Earth
« Reply #3 on: September 08, 2004, 10:20:35 PM »
Provinces and Prefectures of the South
The South lies in the Region of Warmth, the portion of the world where the sun releases much of its heat. The Southern states are places of environmental extreme, with verdant, tangled, seething jungle alongside burning desert and vast plains. Weather in the South is blazing hot, and either incredibly dry or incredibly humid. There are two seasons- summer, and the rainy season. The South is the most likely place in the Empire to see Barbarians, due to its proximity to the Barbarian kingdoms beyond the Empire's borders.

Esse Prefecture
Flowing south from Riverland, the Rivers Shine and Shadow flow rapidly down into the heavily-populated hill-lands of Esse. Esse is a semi-tropical region with many large settlements, that has been populated since the early days of Imperial expansion. It, along with the Imperial Prefecture and P'angu Prefecture, have always contained the bulk of population in the Empire. The climate of Esse is somewhat between that of the Heartlands and the South (80-100 F/26.7-37.8 C), and the weather is generally sunny, though most weeks see at least one day of fine, misty rain. The terrain is mostly rocky hills laced between forested lowlands, rising towards a plateau at the eastern border. The plateau is the separation between Esse and Red Coast, and is a massive single stone that protrudes from the ground (OOC: much like a vast Ayer's Rock), forming a mesa-like wall between the wet, wooded Esse and the arid, desert Red Coast.

Esse is the a region of great Imperial Authority presence, and is densely populated, even in it's relatively wild plateau region. The people are fairly rich, since the vast majority of land trade routes out of the South come through Esse rather than chancing the vast desolation of Far Sight Prefecture and the dangerous Barbarians of Sea of Grass Prefecture.  Esse citizens make their livings as trade brokers, graspers (moneylenders), traders, or as lumbermen, utilizing the vast timber resources of this Prefecture's wilds. The poor are usually herders, running herds of cattle, bo'te, and tenang, or work as foresters and guides. Esse homes are usually made in similar fashion to those of Blue Coast- timber frames with tile roofs and walls of rice paper.

The roads of Esse are usually well made of packed earth, and frequently repaired by Authority of Ways crews to remove errant tree roots and fix water damage. Highways are many and good, brick-lined and raised, and with frequent checkpoints, though these are mostly unmanned and really only for traveler's rest.

Adventurers can find a modicum of work in Esse, due to the presence of the Ta, a race of man-wolves who dwell in the jungle and periodically launch attacks on settlements, lumber camps, and checkpoints. There are also many Demons that dwell in the plateau region, and their hauntings center around a mysterious cavern that locals call the Mouth of the Demon.

The Lady Prefect Wise Comment governs Esse Prefecture. There is not much to be said about Wise Comment; she is a middle-aged woman of middling appearance, with a perfectly bland personality and personal life, and a track record of moderation and neutrality.

Sea of Grass Prefecture
West of the Assor Sea, the terrain rises into a high plateau, where warm winds from Estissuru sweep across, destined to gather and carry rain to the far-away Rain Drum Prefecture. This wind stirs a great tide, waves and waves flowing all the way from the mountains to the edge of the plateau. But these are not waves of water, but waves of grass. Not even Golden Plains Prefecture can match the Sea of Grass, where the entirety of the Prefecture, save a very small portion on the border with Flint Hills Province, is covered in waist-high, rippling green grass. Sea of Grass is hot, like the rest of the South (90-115 F/32.2-46.1 C), but the air is not sluggish or humid, like that of further states, for there is an unceasing wind, or, at the very least, a breeze, which soars across the grass from the Gap of Estissuru. The weather is generally sunny, save for a short, month-long rainy season, during which there is almost constant downpour. The terrain is one great, flat plateau, covered in the above-mentioned grass.

There are no permanent settlements in Sea of Grass, except for the Imperial town of Checkpoint, a town that sprang up around the only checkpoint in all the plains. This settlement is a small village, unwalled, composed of a small house, that of the governor, a storehouse/staging point for road crews and other officials, and a small barracks for the 20-man garrison. In addition, there are three shacks that belong to citizens who have decided, for whatever reason, to dwell on the plains. The other inhabitants of the Sea of Grass are all of a Barbarian people called the Truki, a warlike people, hostile to outsiders, who might be successful rebels against the Empire, if they did not constantly war against each other and against the beasts of the Sea of Grass.

There are many roads through Sea of Grass, mostly made during the first years of Imperial occupation, that are little more than dirt tracks. The Truki tribes keep these paths maintained simply because they are useful. There are only two highways through Sea of Grass, and both lead through Checkpoint. One curves up towards Flint Hills Province, the other going south to Rising Smoke Province.

Adventurers can find lots of work in the Sea of Grass, battling among the Truki, defeating vicious plains dinosaurs and Krish (dino-men) and Urwhor, and defending caravans, but little actual money. Checkpoint hands out Authority contracts and pays in vouchers, while the Truki pay in women, wine, and other such goods. The plains are also home to the Grass-Spiders, a bizarre sect of assassins who kill seemingly at random, and leave their marks all across the Empire.

The governor of the Sea of Grass is the Governor of Grass Void Dance, a man deeply troubled by what he sees as the oppression of the common people by the strict laws and codes of the Empire. He often can be found brooding in his office in Checkpoint, wishing he could do more to ease the burden on the peasantry. Void Dance has tried to have talks with the Truki many times, but he simply does not understand their way of thought or their honor system, and has thus been unsuccesful.

Rising Smoke Province
As one goes south through the Sea of Grass, the plateau on which that Prefecture lies slowly rises and dries, shifting into the Rising Smoke Province, a small province with a rebellious Barbarian populace, important only for its crucial North-South Highway. Lying on the flank of Western Mountains, Rising Smoke is a rocky, mountainous state, with much geothermal activity. The land is overspread by geysers, boiling mud pools, and hot springs. The rivers that flow out of Rising Smoke are yellow and stink of sulfur, and much of the land is split with fissures that release steam and smoke. The air is sluggish and the temperature is the usual Southern heat, and the terrain rises into the foothills of the Mountains on the west. On the south, the land slopes down into the verdant jungles of Estissuru, and on the east, it merges smoothly with the mind-boggling emptiness of Far Sight Prefecture.

There are a few small settlements in Rising Smoke, road villages centered along the North-South Highway. Most of these villages survive on what slight trade may come from caravans and traders, as well as jobs in copper mines and quarries throughout Rising Smoke. There are no cities, but there is one somewhat-large town, where the governor's house lies, on the border with Estissuru. The people of Rising Smoke are mostly poor, especially the Barbarian tribes, who are known as the Lturaka. The Imperials of the Province work mostly as miners, digging up lodes of copper, sandstone, marble, and a small quantity of emeralds in a southerly mine. The Lturaka, those who have not adopted Imperial ways, are rebellious and belligerent, and frequently raid the road towns of Rising Smoke. The Lturaka are warlike and proud, and not a week passes without another Imperial being sacraficed to a boiling mud-pool or a blasting geyser.

The roads of Rising Smoke are usually in ill-repair, fissured and cracked, pocked by falling stones and left to crumble by the Lturaka. There is one highway, the North-South Highway, which is the route that runs from the rich jungle states of Estissuru and Vasseme, through Rising Smoke, and into Esse Prefecture. This important highway has many checkpoints (more as rest stops than as places for checking passes) and is kept in top condition, with a planed surface of packed earth, ash, and clay. Periodically, crews of the Authority of Ways come through and reflatten, fix any fissures or potholes, and repair damage that the Lturaka may wage. There is a finger of the highway that heads northward into Sea of Grass.

Adventurers in Rising Smoke are usually hired by the Imperial Authority to battle Lturaka rebels. These rebellious and belligerent folk are frequent aggressors, and strong. In addition, the mountains are home to many strange beasts, who dwell by the boiling, sulphur-laden waters and survive by eating the flesh of man and other beasts. A number of Demons dwell in this relatively low-population area, and war against the Spirits worshipped by the Lturaka. In the mountains above this Province, the most southerly of the holds of the Duerga is hidden. This strange place, called Steamfont by Imperials and Iron Demon Cave by Lturaka, is in a deep defile, surrounded by clouds of strange smoke and steam, and harnesses the power of the nearby geysers and mud-pits for its mysterious engines.

The governor of Rising Smoke Province is the Lady Governor Feathered Wolf. Feathered Wolf has spent her life in constant planning, preparing for all possible outcomes. She is near-paranoid, and both hates and fears the Lturaka. The Lady Governor knows that the Provincial Deliberative is planning to take her out of office and put a young challenger, Mirror of Mirrors, in her place.

Far Sight Prefecture
The center of the South, to the west of Esse and the southeast of Rising Smoke, there is the vast, incomparable, mind-boggling emptiness of Far Sight Prefecture, utterly deserted and utterly desolate. There is nothing, visitors say, quite like the distance of Far Sight. The whole Prefecture is a blank field of orange dust, where one can look and look and look and see nothing but the vast empty field and the sky, arcing blue and huge and overwhelming over the entire plain. The largest part about Far Sight is the blue sky above, where the sun beats down with heat (95-120 F/35-48.8 C, on average) rivalled only by the Sand Sea Prefecture. There is never rain in Far Sight, and no wind ever stirs the sluggish orange-red dust. The short rainy seasons of surrounding states never occur in Far Sight, for reasons unknown. The state is shaped somewhat like a huge dish, rising slightly at its borders, though that is so gradual that one might never notice.

There is no way for a settlement to survive in Far Sight, desolation that it is, and thus, there are none.

Authority of Ways records state that several crews were sent into Far Sight at one time to construct highways, but none but a handful of men returned, speaking of madness brought on by the incredible emptiness, and of the huge dome of the sky and of the multitudes of the night stars pressing down upon them.

If there is anything in Far Sight for adventurers to do, they would surely not be paid for it, for there is nobody hiring. There are some who say that the strange madnesses brought on by the emptiness of Far Sight could not simply be the product of the desolation itself, but that is merely conjecture.

Far Sight does not have a governor. Why would it be necessary when there is nothing there to govern? For all intents and purposes, Far Sight can be considered merely open space between states, like a comma between words, with no votes in the Deliberative, no governor and no Authority, unpopulated and unnecessary.

Ascending Dust Province
At the edges of the great dust-dish of Far Sight Prefecture, the land rises, and the River Moon flows out of Vasseme Prefecture, irrigating the rocky border-marches of that empty state. This somewhat more populated region is the Ascending Dust Province, a stripe of struggling life between the twin desolations of Far Sight Prefecture and Sand Sea Prefecture. The temperature, though moderated by the River Moon, is still hot, and slightly above the average (95-118 F/35-47.8 C). The air is sweltering and dry, with slight breezes that blow in from the sea, and touches of the hot sand-winds of Sand Sea to the south. The terrain is a line of rocky hills rising about 2,000 feet (about 610 meters) between the Far Sight and Sand Sea, alternating between scrub-forest and dust fields.

There are a number of small, walled towns along the line of Ascending Dust, along the highways and roads leading west from Red Coast. These towns are surprisingly populous for such a hot, arid reason, full of Raseri, a Barbarian people who long ago assimilated into Imperial rule, and numerous Imperials as well. The people are usually either very rich or very poor, living either as herders, or as merchants, or as overseers to both. The lowlands on the southern side of Ascending Dust, where the dunes of Sand Sea creep up onto the rocks, is also home to a great many dune-miners, who search the sands for sand glass, salt crops, and other treasures of the desert. Homes are usually low, rectangular structures of plaster that are even stuffier than the outside, and so people have a tendency to get outdoors as soon as possible.

There are many roads through Ascending Dust, though they are often somewhat covered by migrating dust or sand. These trade routes carry goods between the jungle states of Estissuru and Vasseme and the Red Coast, whence they can go north into the Heartlands, though many traders opt for the easier, albeit longer, route through Rising Smoke Province and Esse Prefecture. The highways are brick-paved and usually have checkpoints at locations where there is water, such as a river crossing.

Adventurers in Ascending Dust can find work as bodyguards for caravans or important personages, protecting against this Province's numerous bandits and brigands. In addition, many treasure-seekers or studiers of ancient lore hire adventurers as extra help when launching expeditions to the mysterious ruins of Sand Sea. There are some few tribes of Urwhor in the regions nearer Vasseme Prefecture, as well.

The Lord Dust Adept Only Our Star governs Ascending Dust Province. As leader of the Dust Adepts, a special branch of the Priesthood who govern Ascending Dust Province, Only Our Star has been incredibly successful in crushing the last of the Raseri rebels in Ascending Dust with propaganda and "holy war". Only Our Star is a fanatic, devoted to the Emperor and the Stars, and believes totally and fully that the only way for the world to cast off the chains of Barbarism and heresy is for the light of the Empire to reach them. Many members of the higher Authority, including the Emperor himself, think that fanaticism is all well and good, but that Only Our Star is just a bit too dangerous to have in any more important state, wherefore the Dust Adept has been sent to this particular Province.

Sand Sea Prefecture
In the uttermost South, beyond the vast emptiness of Far Sight, and the narrow dust fields of Ascending Dust, the land drops into a great basin, filled with swirling sand, parched, dry, utterly without water, tossed by arid, withering winds. The Sand Sea is the hottest region in all the Empire (115-125 F/46.1-51.7 C, regularly), and hasn't seen rain for the last 2,000 years. The land is a vast, sandy desert, and the further one goes in, the greater the dunes are. There are many salt flats and dried-out soil pans around the edges of the Sand Sea, but beyond these borders, the land is all sand. Desert travelers say that there are a number of oasises within the desert, but these are extremely rare and hard to find.

There are no permanent settlements in Sand Sea, but, unlike Far Sight Prefecture, a similar desert, Sand Sea does have some inhabitants. In scattered enclaves throughout the outer sands, there dwell a friendly Barbarian people called the Bhad. The Bhad dwell on rock outcroppings in communal tents. A Bhad tribe may dwell in a location for several  months, until the sand-fishing and wells are dried, and then the tent is deconstructed and the tribe moves to a new outcropping. Most Bhad tribes are friendly, and welcome visitors of any stripe with open arms. These Barbarians have accepted Imperial rule with equanimity, since the Sand Sea isn't really controlled at all, and the Bhad are not made to follow Imperial ways. In addition to Bhad camps, some treasure-seekers, explorers, and loremasters set up camps around the mysterious ruins of the inner desert.

There are not roads in Sand Sea, since whatever is built tends to be swallowed by the shifting sands, and since roads are not needed anyway.

There are many things for adventurers to do in Sand Sea. Spread throughout the sands there are mysterious ruins of strange character, buried somewhat in the dunes, pyramids and collonaded temples and strange cities. Many people seek to unlock the secrets of these ruins, not the least of whom are Imperial investigators, treasure-seekers, and simple explorers, and these people often hire sellswords as extra muscle to battle of desert beasts and supernatural dangers of the sands. Though it is rare, caravans from the land of Therou sometimes come up through the Sand Sea, and these often hire adventurers as bodyguards for the return trip. The desert teems with strange animals, not the least of which are the Sandgorgons, great, multi-headed desert worms that attack all who come near, and Water-trappers, bizarre fungoid creatures who drain the moisture out of their prey. Demons are common in the inner sands and more unpleasant locations of the desert.

Libosh be-Bhamilu, the chieftan of the Bhamilu tribe of the Bhad, is the appointed governor of Sand Sea. Since there is no real Imperial Authority in Sand Sea, Libosh serves more as an emissary for the Bhad tribes than as a ruler over the desert.

Vasseme Prefecture
Vasseme Prefecture, west of the Sand Sea and south of Estissuru, is one of the two Jungle States. Vasseme is the extreme southwest corner of the Empire, and the closest to the rich Barbarian kingdoms of the farther South, Vasseme is a populous state, and many Barbarians dwell there. Vasseme is hot and humid, of the usual Southern temperature, and the weather is slightly rainier than it is sunny. The terrain is mostly thick jungle, especially in the western and southern parts. The eastern region, however, is parched and dry badlands on the edge of the Sand Sea. The northern portions of Vasseme rise into forested hills on the edges of Estissuru.

Vasseme has many large towns and cities, walled in against the jungle. The people of Vasseme have mostly mercantile occupations, working as merchants of goods from the South or from the North in a hundred market-towns across the Prefecture. Others work as jungle-guides, or as interpreters for Barbarians. There are hunters and pathblazers and many other workers related to the jungle. The cities of Vasseme are packed with people, Imperials and Barbarians of any kind, black-skinned Dlanni from beyond the Empire, the Joshi of this Prefecture and of Estissuru, Spestil and Therouna from the kingdoms beyond the Sand Sea, and even Bhad of the desert and Uwonath from the island-kingdom of Uwon. The greatest city in Vasseme is Eba, a metropolis by any standards, where Imperial Authority of the Jungle States is centered.

The roads of Vasseme are heavily-trafficked and generally of middling quality. The wet weather and constantly-growing jungle tends to have a detrimental affect on road quality. The highways are generally made from several layers of clay and wax to minimize water damage, and are higher in the center than at the edges so that rain slides off. Authority of Ways crews frequently go through on highways to repair root damage and damage caused by jungle monsters. Checkpoints are few, and mostly centered near cities. Much travel is also done along the great River Moon, which runs all the way from beyond the Empire's borders and down through Ascending Dust Province and into the Sea in Red Coast Prefecture. Roads in Vasseme are often crowded with traders and travelers, who jostle among the leafy paths and mob checkpoints between cities.

Adventurers and sellswords are well-recieved and well-payed in Vasseme. The wild, tangled jungle is filled with monstrous creatures and wild dinosaurs, as well as tribes of Krish lizard-beasts. The ruins of an ancient civilization, that of the ancestors of the native Joshi Barbarians, also litter the jungles. Many local warlords have taken control of tribes of Urwhor. These warlords are outlaws, and, along with bandits and rebel Joshi, are a large problem.

Waterfall Jump, the Lord Southern Jungle Prefect, is the governor of Vasseme. He is a jolly man of half-Bhad descent, and wears a grossly unfashionable (by Imperial standards) beard. Waterfall Jump is a friend to traders, and has cancelled many of the high tariffs of Vasseme Prefecture. He also has done a lot to better conditions in the Barbarian quarters of cities in Vasseme. Waterfall Jump is said by some to enjoy Joshi plum-beer a bit too much, but how can one criticize such a successful governor?

Estissuru Prefecture
The second of the Jungle States, Estissuru is the only state of the Empire that lies on the western side of the Western Mountains. The Estissuru Prefecture is much like a wilder version of Vasseme Prefecture, less controlled and less settled. The climate is similar to, if slightly rainier than, that of Vasseme Prefecture, the other Jungle State. The terrain is rising, forested hills and slopes against the foothills of the Western Mountains.

The people of Estissuru are mostly the Joshi, a Barbarian people native to both of the Jungle States. They dwell in raised tree-villages hidden in the jungle, away from Imperial settlements, which are few. Joshi often dwell near the ancient ruins of their ancestors, who ruled a large dominion of which the Jungle States were merely outer edges. The Imperials of the Prefecture dwell mostly in small, walled towns near to each other, and near to the great trade-city of Issiru. The buildings are mostly of wood and plaster, with paper screens for doors and windows, while Joshi structures are more like awnings of woven leaves. The people are mostly explorers, who are slowly subjugating this Prefecture, the newest of any state in the Empire. Joshi who are under Imperial Authority are mostly guides and interpreters, though some are hunters or fishermen.

The roads of Estissuru are in near-new condition. Only in the past few decades have they been blazed, and because of this they are among the best in the Empire. There are few checkpoints, but the highways are still patrolled by crews of the Authority of Ways and soldiers. The roads and highways are built in similar fashion to those of Vasseme, though with more layers of wax to help keep off the rain.

Adventurers can find a lot of Imperially-funded work as pathfinders, road-blazers, and for putting down Joshi rebellions. In addition, Imperial sages have taken an interest in the ruins of the Joshi's ancestors, and often fund expeditions into these. The jungles also teem with monsters, dinosaurs, Demons, and bandits, who are numerous in Estissuru. The Krish dwell deep in the jungle, as well, haunting the ruins of their own ancestors, who warred against the ancestors of the Joshi, according to Joshi myths.

The governor of Estissuru is the Lady Northern Jungle Prefect Sky Fire Dancing. Sky Fire Dancing is a young, beautiful woman, recently appointed to her post, who is excited to have been placed in charge of a new Prefecture. Sky Fire Dancing is idealistic and proud, and believes deeply in her Emperor and her Empire. She is intrigued by the Krish, and has funded many studies on these prehistoric beings.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Eye of All the Earth
« Reply #4 on: September 08, 2004, 10:24:37 PM »
Provinces and Prefectures of the Mountains
Against the soaring rampart of the Western Mountains, the air is thin and cold, and the snow lies all year round in the shadows. The Mountain states are dry places of cold, snowy winters and cool, sunny summers. There are four seasons in the Mountains, though it is rarely noticeable, because the slopes are carpeted with pine. The Mountain regions are the only place in the Empire, save Rising Smoke Province, that one can find the enigmatic Duerga.

Eagle's Wing Province
Eagle's Wing Province is the most populous of the Mountain states, a semi-temperate region of forested-foothills and jagged cliffs. Eagle's Wing is the site of the majority of the Empire's mines, and is also home to the mountain-dwelling Barbarians called the Raukko. The springs and summers of Eagle's Wing are cool (45-55 F/7.2-12.8 C), with springs being rainy and summers mostly clear, cold, windy autumns with frequent snow and freezing rain (20-40 F/negative 6.6-4.4 C), with much colder temperatures in the winter (regularly 10 to 20 below zero, F/negative 23.3-negative 28.9 C), frequent snow and ice storms, and near-constant winds. The terrain of Eagle's Wing is heavily forested foothills in the eastern borders, with higher and higher cliffs, valleys and hills as one goes west. There are many rivers that flow out of the mountains in Eagle's Wing, not the least of which is the beginnings of the Serpent River, the mightiest river in all of the Empire.

There are many middling-sized towns spread throughout Eagle's Wing, mostly in the beautiful eastern hills and around mines. The population of Eagle's Wing consists mostly of miners and stonequarriers, of both Imperial and Raukko stock. The many mines of Eagle's Wing supply the vast majority of mineral wealth for the Empire, and the population is accordingly composed of miners. The houses of Eagle's Wing are usually built from sandstone, with curtains of leather for doors and windows, after the Raukko fashion. The houses are usually full of warm furs and blankets, and have central hearths, all to ward of the chill.

The roads and highways of Eagle's Wing are usually well-maintained, important tracks used for carting mined ores and processed goods to and from the towns of Eagle's Wing. Checkpoints are usually set in canyons and valleys, where it is hard to get around them. Roadside shrines, erected to the Raukko, who are very excepting of Imperial ways, are also common.

Adventurers are necessary but disliked in Eagle's Wing. The bloody cult of Korag-Herne the Hunter (or, in Imperial rendering of the Barbarian word, Ko'rag Han) is a common danger throughout the Province, and stages frequent hunts to please their bloody god, chasing innocents through the forest and the mountains with wicked thorned spears and razor arrows, and the Hounds of Korag-Herne. This wicked cult of heretics has long been sought by the Priesthood for it's heresy and evil ways, and the Priesthood has even begun to hire sellswords to help in searching them out. There are also numerous beasts in the higher reaches of the Mountains, and the Duerga who dwell in the same regions are not always neutrally-inclined.

The governor of Eagle's Wing is the Eagle Governor Warm Sunshine. Warm Sunshine is not at all like her name; she is a cold, unyielding woman, who hates Barbarians and the peasantry of the Empire. She is a strictly conservative, tight-fisted governor, who has repealed many of the progressive edicts set out by her predecessor. Warm Sunshine's heart opens only to one thing- her pet re'ku'nang, Twice the Beauty, who she treats like a favored daughter.

Flint Hills Province
Above Sea of Grass Prefecture, there are a series of valleys, filled with flinty talus and shards of rock, known as the Flint Hills Province. The Flint Hills are regions of chilly badlands, where the snow lies year round in the deeply shadowed valleys, and strange, shadowy Barbarians known as the Shadow Men roam. The Flint Hills are dry and chilly through the spring and summer (40-45 F/4.4-7.2 C), and the autumns and winters are bone-chillingly cold  (15-25 below zero F/negative 26.1-negative 31.7 C) and have great amounts of precipitation, rain in the autumn and snow in the winter. The terrain is, as presumed, flinty hills and ravines, deeply shadowed, with many cliffs and rifts, sloping down into the Sea of Grass. The land is mostly barren, though there is some small forestation on the borders with Sea of Grass, and this forested region is the site of most Imperial presence.

Flint Hills serves as an Imperial prison-province. Convicts from all across the Empire are sent to Flint Hills and placed at the mercy of Krish and Truki Barbarians in the south, and the fearsome Shadow Men in the north, and dangerous climate all around. Though not all the Empire's criminals go to Flint Hills (most are sold as slaves to mining companies or given to the Authority of Ways; only the most dangerous are sent here), it is a feared location. Few convicts ever escape, since going south they become lost in the Sea of Grass, and the arm of the Mountains upon which this Province lies is too cold and too lofty to go over. Most convicts dwell in small villages of wattle-and-daub shacks, hot and stuff in the summer and icy cold in the winter. The other inhabitants of the Province are composed of Authority of Justice soldiers and guards, and the mysterious, mask-wearing Barbarians called the Shadow Men, who slay viciously, go nearly naked in the cold, and disappear as silently as they came. There is one Duerga outpost at the western extremity of the Province, but no word has come out of there for centuries.

Roads in Flint Hills are little more than paths, layed down from the period when the Province was a mining area. The Authority of Ways has allowed paths to decay, so that it makes it harder for convicts to get around the province. The southern regions on the Sea of Grass border are the sight of a highway that runs across the Province, serving as a way for Authority of Justice guards to get from outpost to outpost.

Adventurers are unlikely to find work in Flint Hills. The Authority of Justice has a tight grip on the Province, and the Shadow Men attack mostly single targets, never warring on the Province itself. There are some monsters in the mountains, but the Authority of Justice prefers these to stay intact to harrow convicts.

The governor of Flint Hills Province is the Lord Head Warden Red Sparrow, a Justiciar of the Authority of Justice. Red Sparrow is a narrow-minded man, a former soldier who wishes he were still following orders. He is dull as a leader, and not a quick or innovative thinker. Under Red Sparrow's care, nothing has really changed, but only three prisoners have escaped, so he will probably remain in power for a good deal of time.

Shield Hills Province
North of Eagle's Wing, the land rises, snow becomes more common, the cliffs higher, the valleys deeper. The pines form great black forests, carpeting the slopes in needles and standing like the heads of spears above the Man-high snows. It is said that the name of Shield Hills came from Recrimination and Apology, the Imperial General who conquered this province and many others. It is said that Recrimination and Apology looked up the snowy slopes and saw one of the many glaciers shining upon the mountains, and exclaimed "Look! There is a shield of white upon the hill!" The pine forests of Shield Hills are home to the Temmi, a race of shy Barbarians who are little seen. The summer is short and chilly in Shield Hills (40-45 F/4.4-7.2 C), and twilight comes early, while the other seasons are encompassed by a winter that seems to blot out the chances of spring and autumn, and carpets the land in cold and soft snowfall (20-30 below zero F/negative 28.9-negative 34.5 C), though extreme weather (such as blizzards) rarely comes. The terrain is a number of furrowed valleys between the mountains, carved by descending glaciers in a long ago time. These vales are coated in pine forest, while the upper slopes of the valleys meld into the mountains, where white and blue glaciers hang over the lands below.

The people of Shield Hills are few and hardy, a penurious folk who survive by hunting and trapping. There are also many logging camps in Shield Hills, logging pine, cottonwood, and aspen, as well as the iron-strong wood of the ironwood pines. Imperial homes in this Province are usually built from wood, and have leather curtains for doors and windows. After the Temmi custom, the inside of the hut is usually hung with furs to contain the heat of the fire. The Temmi Barbarians, who dwell in the forests, live much as their ancestors did thousands of years ago; they hunt, fish, and trap, and gather dead wood for a small fire, and always, always have dogs with them, for warmth and for companionship, as well as protection. The Temmi are so good at training dogs, in fact, that they are known across the Empire as the Dog People.

The official roads of Shield Hills lead only as far into the mountains as Te'bo'a, the largest city in these parts. All other settlements in Shield Hills are, at best, small towns, and many of them are little more than two or three families. Farther than Te'bo'a, there are only the logger's roads, paths cut through the forest to reach timber within, which the loggers use to transport their cuttings to Te'bo'a for shipment. The highways in Shield Hills are usually buried in snow, and have no checkpoints.

Many logging companies hire adventurers for protection against the creatures of the forests. It is said that the Hunter God, Korag-Herne, is strong in Shield Hills, and indeed, there are many of his cultists. There are also the fearsome Wargs, supernatural monsters who take the forms of men but may also transform into wolves, much like the half-wolf Ta of Esse Prefecture. The Temmi are not aggressive; rather they are very shy and non-aggressive, but many sellswords have been given contracts to "remove" Temmi who become nuisances to logging companies. There are also tales from some explorers (and from Temmi) of ruins half-frozen in glaciers, and mysterious, empty cities upon the slopes of the mountains.

The Governor of Pines Green-and-Blue Monkey governs Shield Hills Province. She is an old hand at governing, and was transferred to Shield Hills as a sort of gift for long years of service in such unpleasant locales as Red Coast and Iceheart Province. Green-and-Blue Monkey is a pleasant old woman with a fatal shaking illness and a blind right eye. She is content to spend her twilight years in this relatively-peaceful province with her husband and wait for the long sleep. She has not changed much in her office, besides repealing some of the more heavy taxes set by her predecessor.

White Fields Province
In the extreme northwestern edge of the Empire, there is the largest and emptiest of the Mountain states, the great tundra of White Fields Province. A place of rolling snow hills and vales of strange, seemingly-impossible ice-flowers, White Fields is not dead, but it is frozen. Not a creature exists there but that is thickly furred, and no water is unfrozen. The winter is year-round (20-40 below zero F/negative 28.8-negative 40 C), and the skies always overcast. The drifting snow is not blown by any polar wind, but instead settles fluffy, white, and chill upon a million othe flakes in this frozen extremity. The terrain is a great, snow-covered tundra, with mounds of snow lying like hills on a plain, sloping upward into the mountains. Throughout White Fields, one can find vales where, impossibly, from the snow, there sprout fields of blossoms, made from glimmering ice, growing like a flower of any Heartland field. These ice-flowers are delicate and still, and when picked, melt into pure water.

The few people who dwell in the sub-zero waste of White Fields are strange folk, drawn to the cold wilds and the dark, snowy sky. There is little in White Fields in the way of timber, and if the mountains have any wealth, nobody has ever gone to investigate it. The only commodity here is the furs of the animals which dwell here, and such furs are also to be had in greater quantity from Provinces such as Wind's Edge, Stone Forest, and Silver Star.

There is only one road in White Fields, a highway that runs to it from Te'bo'a in Shield Hills. There are no checkpoints, and it is little more than a clay lined path that is frequently lost amid the snow.

Adventurers and sellswords in White Fields are not likely to find any money. The supernatural beings and Gods which dwell in the tundra are dangerous and wild things of frost and icy fury, and the people who dwell there are not apt to cross them. The tales of snow-blindness, ice-madness, and freezing death are not likely to be helpful, either. But the Empire might pay lucrative sums for the discovery of new resources, such as mines, and the Brotherhood of Wisdom has take an interest of late in the icy Spirits who dwell in White Fields.

The Lord White Fieldsman Sun Moon Cloak is technically the governor of White Fields. He has no government experience, and was never a member of the Imperial Authority, but said Authority decided that White Fields needed a governor, and they chose Sun Moon Cloak, a grizzled prospector. So far, Sun Moon Cloak has done nothing in any way to govern, and has gone about his business of searching the tundras for money-making opportunities.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Eye of All the Earth
« Reply #5 on: September 09, 2004, 09:12:31 PM »
Provinces and Prefectures of the North
Though the Heartlands are the center of the Empire, and comprise the former Imperial homelands, the North is the site of the majority of the Empire's population. The temperate lands of the North, though colder than the Heartlands, seem, for Imperials, closer to home than the blazing jungles and deserts of the South. Many of the Northern states lie within the Region of Cold, where days are short and winters are long.

P'angu Prefecture
Often called the Center of the North, P'angu Prefecture is a wealthy region of many cities and many people. Here, one can find all manner of people, from Akorti to Zanfal. P'angu is temperate, with a cool, rainy spring (45-55 F/4.4-12.8 C), a warm summer (60-70 F/15.6-21.1 C) with sunny, breezy weather, a chilly autumn with frequent frosts and storms (40-50 F/4.4-10 C), and frozen, snowy winter (10-40 F/negative 12-4 C). The weather is usually somewhat windy, but not terribly extreme. The Prefecture's terrain is hilly, with many thinly forested valleys between the farmed land that surrounds the many towns and cities.

There are many, many people in P'angu, so many that its population dwarfs that of Rain Drum and Riverlands combined. The landscape is everywhere overspread by cities and towns, surrounded by farmed land. The people of P'angu have many occupations, most of them centered in the Prefecture's many urban areas, and are significantly richer than inhabitants of states such as Silver Star, Shever Hills, or Hu-Be. P'angu homes are usually constructed from timber frames with walls of plaster or brick, though the rich often have homes of stone and rice paper. P'angu is famous for tile roofs, and there is nary a home to be seen without one, save the poorest of huts.

The roads of P'angu are reasonable in condition, and are certainly the best in the North. They are usually packed earth with ditch margins, while highways are paved in granite flagstones. P'angu roads and highways also undergo a strange process known as 'smiting' which ensures their weatherproof-ness. There are often checkpoints along P'angu roads, and one must be sure to have ones traveling papers or Letters of Travel handy. The roads are often packed full of people, and bandits roam in full sight.

Adventurers and sellswords are unlikely to find the work they expect in P'angu. Rather, urban dangers are more prominent, due to the tamed countryside and profusance of cities. Crime is common in the cities, despite Imperial attempts to police them, and many things fester in the sewers beneath towns that were better not to have seen light. Hungry ghosts are a problem in towns where the dead are buried in catacombs rather than given the proper offerings, and Demons of disease and filth and other things that breed in cities are apparent. The most likely place to find work for sellswords is as mercenary muscle for powerful crime families.

The Lady Great Minister Loves Her Duty attempts to govern the unruly P'angu Prefecture. Loves Her Duty has previously done very well in smaller states, but the size and population of P'angu have left her in over her head. She is too soft to deal with the crime families, and too hard to deal with the masses. However, she has managed to prevent the crime from spreading overmuch outside the cities.

Heart Forest Prefecture
South of the cities of P'angu, and north of the hills of Imperial Prefecture, there is a great valley, surrounded by great high hills, or low mountains if you prefer, and from the tops of these hills, one can look down and see the vastness of Heart Forest, the greatest forest in the world, and the home of countless Spirits. The Heart Forest is age-old, the last remainder of a mighty wood that once spanned the whole of the North, and it's primeval silence is so still and so deep that it feels almost a sacrilige to disturb it. The air under the trees is not as cold as that of some of the North; spring is mild (50-55 F/10-13 C), summer warm (55-65 F/13-18 C), autumn is cool (45-55 F/4-13 C), and winter is chilly, but not overmuch (35-40 F/2-4 C). The weather is usually somewhat windy, due to air flowing through the gap in the hills in the West, and there is usually a week or more of precipitation each month. The terrain is swathed in dense, primeval forest, with great redwoods and oaks in the central zones, and pines, cottonwoods, and other such high-altitude trees on the upper slopes of the surrounding hills. The Serpent River flows through the center of Heart Forest and emerges out the other side to sweep downward into Rice Grower's Prefecture.

The people of Heart Forest are composed mostly of a few iron and copper miners in the hills, logging camps in the outer edges, and scattered villages of woodsmen, mostly from the local Uti Barbarian stock. There are no settlements in the deeper portions of the forest, where strange beasts and Spirits reign, and the shy Uti stay mostly to the middle regions. The forests yield up great harvests of wood, and this is the Prefecture's main income. There is also some small farmland in the gap between Heart Forest and Serpent River Province, though this is mostly subsistence farmers.

The roads of Heart Forest lead over the hills to the outer settlements, and are usually wide dirt tracks in middling condition. There are no highways, though the larger roads have a few checkpoints. The middle and inner forest has no roads.

Adventurers and sellswords are often hired by logging companies and mining interests in Heart Forest to protect from attacks by vengeful beasts and animal Spirits. Most of the trouble in Heart Forest springs from fractious and jealous Spirits, unwilling to allow Men to destroy the last remnant of the once-mighty forest, though the forest is still mighty. Spirits are very active and outspoken in Heart Forest, and the well-known Spirit known as White Wolf, who, as presumed, leads the wolves of Heart Forest, has spoken with Imperial Priests on numerous occasions, though these talks have only ever lead to more violence.

The governor of Heart Forest is the Forest Overseer Quickened Gaze. Quickened Gaze is a quiet old man who has dwelt in the forest with the Uti for many decades, and understands their ways, and the ways of the forest Spirits, better than anyone else in the Empire. He has helped in negotiations with the inhabitants of the Forest, and has proved a very successful governor since his inception five years ago. There are always grumblers, though, and the grumblers in Heart Forest say that Quickened Gaze is too soft on the forest-dwellers, and doesn't look enough to the needs of the miners and loggers, who, after all, must make money to support their families.

(OOC: For my inspiration for Heart Forest, look to Princess Mononoke. The Uti are As**taka's people, the Imperials are the miners, and the Spirits are almost the same. Remove firearms, and you've got a pretty good idea of the current Heart Forest situation.)

Silver Star Prefecture
Beneath the great cliff of Wind's Edge Province, there is a great flat plain, lying above the cities of P'angu, a plain marked with many lakes and streams, water meadows and stands of pine, a beautiful country of moss hills and squelching water-lily ponds. The water-table is high, and though there are a few bogs, it is mostly grassy water-meadows separated by groups of green pines. The spring and summer of Silver Star are much alike, cool and misty, with much precipitation (45-55 F/4-13 C), while autumn and winter are icy cold, snowy, and clear (negative 20-35 F/negative 23-2 C). The terrain is a high plain with many wetlands, water-meadows, ponds, lakes, and dotted with stands of pines.

Silver Star's beautiful countryside is dotted with small villages of farmers and fishermen, as well as artists and poets who are drawn to the open meadows and starry skies of Silver Star. The region is famous for having been the home of the famous poet and tapestry painter Meet Me Beneath the Star of Fire. Many of the Empire's most famous tapestry-painters and muralists come from Silver Star, and the Prefecture is also famous for the great saga-songs of the File, a Barbarian people who dwell there. The Silver Star populace has a pronounced middle class, something that is absent in most other states, and this middle class is mostly composed of the artists of the Prefecture. Silver Star homes are wooden structures with tile roofs that are raised over the wet ground on decks of wood. They have sliding doors and windows made of wooden racks of stretched leather. They are usually well-decorated, since inhabitants can get ornaments from the local painter or leatherworker.

The roads of Silver Star are in fairly good condition. They are usually raised over the wet ground to prevent water damage, though there is always the chance of sinking. In the swampier areas, dirt tracks are replaced by wooden walkways raised over the water on short wooden posts. The highways are usually paved in brick and raised on packed earth above the wetlands. There are sometimes checkpoints closer to towns. There are also frequent areas to the sides of roads called "imile", a File word meaning "enclosure", circles of packed earth where there are stones erected. On the stones are carved the phases of the Moon. These imile are the File equivalent of roadside shrines.

Adventurers and sellswords can find work in Silver Star, if they look hard enough. The deeper bogs of the place hide strange monsters, and the File often hire sellswords to help and reconsecrate (i.e., clean free of monsters) their holy sites. The File do not war among themselves, but they have a long running war against the Azzu of Wind's Edge, and sometimes send hired adventurers to battle Azzu raiders. The wilder interior regions of Silver Star are also home to strange Spirits, deep shadowy swamps where primeval things dwell, and watery caverns that the File say are entrances to the Underworld.

The governor of Silver Star is a contemplative young half-File woman named Silence Under the Water, who spends much of her time looking out the front entrance of her home at the water meadow and composing short poems. She is rather complacent, and does little actual work, but it really doesn't matter, since her half-sister and assistant, a File woman named Mile-Ileme.

Hu-Be Prefecture
The lakes and rivers of Silver Star drain from their plateau, mixing with the streams of P'angu and tributaries of the Serpent River, and create many channels, flowing down and west to a great basin, forming the great marshes and moors of Hu-Be Prefecture. Hu-Be is muggy and mosquito-ridden half the year (55-65 F/13-18 C), with much rain and constant moisture; the other half of the year it is a chill, frosted mix of frozen mud and icy pools (30-45 F/negative 1-4 C), with biting winds and frequent snow and icy rain. With such weather, and the addition of disease, bandits, monsters, and Demons, Hu-Be is a miserable state in which to live, held only because of the resources that can be gathered there. Hu-Be's terrain is a great basin rising at the edges and sinking towards the middle, where many streams and tributaries flow down into it, slowing into stagnancy in a labyrinth of fetid pools and festering marshes. The eastern part is the site of many squalid villages, but the west all the way to the border is open morass.

In the eastern part of Hu-Be, the populace of P'angu Prefecture spills over onto the flats, living in squalid villages and towns on stilts to rise above the channels, places of disease and crime where the scum of the Earth dwell and die. These horrible cysts of settlements are called "anemu-ko", which means "mud-town" or "mud-settlement". The people are either criminals or farmers and hunters. The latter go out into the marshes on stilts to harvest crops of wild swamp-grain, funguses, sweetgrass, mudfruit, and other marsh commodities. Most people in Hu-Be are poor, and the most common food is snake meat.

The roads of Hu-Be are usually ramshackle walkways of wood, raised above the ankle-deep, tea-brown water by wooden poles. These paths frequently collapse, and are in uniform disrepair. The highways of Hu-Be are not much better, being raised causeways of packed earth, clay, and a layer of wax, which frequently crumble and sink into the mire. There are checkpoints, but the assigned guards usually mutiny within a few weeks, and the gates become the homes of highwaymen, using them to rob hapless travelers.

Adventurers are welcomed in Hu-Be with a firm hand-grip, but the other hand conceals a dagger. Sellswords are often criminals like most Hu-Be residents, but nobody can be trusted. Work comes in the form of small crime or small anti-crime. In addition, there are a species of river dragon that dwell in Hu-Be that frequently attack mud-towns, and the mires are home to many monsters- huge snakes that sleep under the surface, mud-crawling beasts of all description, and a hundred other dangers. There are one or two tribes of wild Urwhor, a sub-species of the norm with a thicker fur coat.

The governor of Hu-Be is the enormously corrupt Great Swamp Prefect Fire Mongoose. Fire Mongoose is a taller-than-average, dusky-skinned man with long, tangled hair and beard, who can usually be found hob-knobbing with criminals rather than doing his Imperial duties. He is a great opportunist, as well as being in the pocket of several crime families.

Stone Forest Province
North of the peaceful wetlands of Silver Star and the festering swamps of Hu-Be, the land rises into a vast, thrust-up, slanted slope of mountains, descending into watery bogs and shadowy canyons at its base. Atop this great cliff, a foreshadowing of the endless cliff of Wind's Edge, there is a knife-blade ridge, and as one looks down from this ridge, one can look into the vast pine forest of Stone Forest, almost as large as that of Heart Forest, an army of black-furred spears in the snowy twilight, all the way into the distance, where the Thousand-Mile Cliffs of Wind's Edge can be seen like a rampart against the sky. This strange land is preternaturally silent, and the shadows in Stone Forest seem deeper and darker than other places. The temperature is cold, very cold (10-40 F/negative 12-4 C), in summer and in winter, though in the winter the ponds and streams freeze over. The wind blows most of the time, and though it is not the bitter tearing wind of the farthest north, it is chilly, and brings with it icy rains and muffling snows.

The silence of Stone Forest is little broken by Men. There are two camps of natives in Stone Forest: the nameless ones, and the Hautti. There are a few villages of the strange, nameless natives, who are hunched and masked and have deadly soft voices, and these are built atop hills of stone and around the bases of monumental pines. The natives' villages are pine piles where all the houses are constructed atop one another and as a part of one another, like a ramshackle tenement or mansion, though the best word is probably hive. The Hautti, a hunting nomad people, live in temporary shelters made of piles of pine branches. The eastern region, bordering on Silver Star, is the site of several relatively new logging camps where gruff woodsmen dwell, and in the swampy canyonlands at the bottom of the southern cliff, there are a number of Hu-Be mudtowns. The deeper one goes into Stone Forest, however, the deeper the silence is, and the darker the shadows, and the longer the night. Few Imperials can stand the strange darkness and weight of the Forest's atmosphere.

The roads of Stone Forest were slashed decades ago during the long (albeit bloodless) conquest of the Province. They are rocky lanes through the forest, made for the feet of soldiers, and generally lead only as far as the closest native village. There are three highways, and all go no further than the mining camps. They are paved, but little other work was done to them, and there are no checkpoints. The strange natives have been known to erect crazily-ramshackle arches of wood over the roads, and festoon these with the corpses of animals. Why they do this is not known.

The supernatural is very alive in the Stone Forest. Adventurers can find work battling alongside the Hautti against the dreaded Wargs, the man-wolves, and the Hautti themselves often battle amongst each other, with sellswords to aid them. The bizarre, furtive creepings and mad dancing of the nameless ones makes many a lumberman nervous, and adventurers are sometimes hired to drive them away. Deeper in the Forest there are massive artificial hills wherein are buried secrets that even the nameless ones will not touch. Occasionally, the western region, where the forest ends and the snows of White Fields begins, is host to strange, elemental beings of ice and winter. This Province is the home of many ancient and baleful spirits who turn an angry eye on intrusion into their realm.

The Lord Pine Minister Six-Fingered Hand is the governor of Stone Forest. His name springs from a quirk of his birth that left him with an extra, deformed finger on his left hand. He is a brilliant governor and an amazing orator, and his talents are wasted on this province, where relatively little happens. He has increased the authority of the loggers to expand their territories, while still maintaining peace with the Hautti, though, which is a feat that has set many minds in the capitol working to judge his enormous potential. Six-Fingered Hand is a handsome man, despite his sixth finger, and has charisma by the bucketload.

Serpent River Province
The mighty Serpent River is born as a trickle springing from a mountain lake in the snowy mountains of Eagle's Wing Province. Flowing down through the rocky highlands, the Serpent River begins to carve into the ground as it is swollen by other streams and by meltwater. The River flows down through pine forests and open meadows, and, flowing faster and faster, carves a massive canyon through the land, the Serpent Canyon, a many league chasm with the rushing Serpent River at its bottom, carving down into the Heart Forest. Serpent River Province comprises the Serpent Canyon and the surrounding land, pine-forested hills and swampy fens on the northern border with Hu-Be. This Province is said to be one of the most beautiful states, along with Silver Star. On the south, the trees give out, the soil turns grey and rocky, and the sky darkens, signaling the border-marches of Fallen Dragon Prefecture. The temperature in Serpent River Province is chilly in the spring (30-45 F/negative 1-4 C), the river swollen and white with meltwater, and the sky iron grey with chill rain. During the summer, the land is warm (warm, at least, for the North, 55-65 F/13-18 C), sunny, and the river's height drops, with stones that break the surface in roaring rapids. The autumn is similar to the spring in temperature, but the river's level rises with the frequent rain, and winter is icy cold (10-40 F/negative 12-4 C), with a shield of ice over the top of the river and snow blanketing the upland.

The people of Serpent River are of manifold professions- there are fishermen, woodsmen, loggers, prospectors and miners, and artists and poets in above-average number. Some are rich, some are poor, though most are on the lower end of the economic spectrum. The settlements of Serpent River are numerous, and most are middling-sized towns. Houses in Serpent River are square wooden affairs with plastered walls and mud-packed ceilings, or tile for the more upper-class dwellings. Decoration tends to be very colorful and very obvious, with neighbors stringing prayer flags between houses, and bright lanterns and banners strung from roofs and balconies. This art is often of quite high quality, due to the presence of the more-than-average number of artists.

The roads of Serpent River are well-maintained and staffed with many checkpoints. They are built from packed earth lined with river stones. Highways are built in similar fashion, but they are paved in smoothed river stones and slightly raised. The Authority of Ways often constructs roads along the edges of the Serpent Canyon, taking advantage of the beautiful views of the river and the opposite shore. Bridges across the canyon are few, but the Authority of Ways makes sure to take good care, for the task of restringing such bridges is a daunting one at best.

Adventurers are a necessary part of life in Serpent River. The wild pine forests are home to ravening monsters and supernatural beasts, and there are many Spirits disgruntled by mortal expansion in this beautiful area. In the southern region, the uneasy atmosphere of Fallen Dragon Prefecture prevails, and so habitation here is sparse. These southern badlands are often the refuge of horrible beasts from Fallen Dragon. The whole Province is also plagued with bandits, who find that the canyon and forests serve as good ground for ambush.

The governor of Serpent River Province is the Lady Minister Golden Root. Golden Root is a middle-aged woman who, with her wife, is a famed poet in addition to being governor. Golden Root is quite the environmentalist, and many of the logging interests and mining guildsmen have called for her replacement, but thus far she has managed to cling to her seat and prevent too much "progress" in Serpent River.

Fallen Dragon Prefecture
South of Serpent River Province, in a vague wedge between Heart Forest, and the Imperial Prefecture, there is a region known as Fallen Dragon, where in time immemorial, before any mortal yet lived, an ancient
something died, or was slain, and its corpse fell to the Earth, and like a corrupted scar or a suppurating wound, festered with darkness, and to this spreading darkness flocked the things of ancient shadows, shades born with the first flashing of the sun, horrible creatures who could not withstand the light of stars or of day, secrets better hidden, Demons of rage and pain. From the ominously baleful forests of the southeast, to the canyons of hissing rivers and black, glimmering sand in the northwest, the whole of Fallen Dragon is wrong, a place better placed in the scrawlings of a madman or the heretical tomes of a sorceror than upon the true Earth. It is unnaturally dark in Fallen Dragon, for there is a dense, black cloud cover that hovers over the Prefecture like a smoke, and holds in the heat, making it a muggy, sticky place (55-65 F/13-18 C) in the summer, while the winter is chill and dank (30-45 F/negative 1-4 C), with many stinking fogs and whispering mists. In the southeast portion of the Prefecture's lopsided wedge, the land is covered in an ominously-thick, watching forest of black-leafed trees and steel-grey bark, where the loam underfoot is thick and tarry, and the air smells of corruption and constant rot. The northwest is a strange region of unnaturally steep and sheer canyons in islands of black, grey, and red stone, with strange smoking rivers of foul water that rushes across beds of iridescent black sand. The tributaries of the Serpent River that flow into this region come out black and foul, and thick with unidentifiable bits of strangeness. The southeast is a region of rising slopes of black talus, where the hissing rivers culminate in pools of still venom where strange things swim. The slopes are carpeted in some places with abominably-itchy gray grass and thorny shrubs, glowing faintly in the semi-darkness. The land drops down into the hills of Imperial Prefecture, where, along a straight line like wall, the corruption ends. Across the center of the Prefecture, like the spine of some great monster, there is a knobbly range of bare, black-stone hills that some call the Dragon's Spine.

There are no people in Fallen Dragon Prefecture, or at least, none that can be identified, truly and totally, as Men. From time to time, foolish adventurers or hapless wanderers who have stumbled into this land of darkness encounter Man-like beings, but descriptions are never sure, and these beings always seem to arrive and depart mysteriously. There is one small village on the border with Flint Hills, a village of convicts, but they are scarcely worth mentioning.

The only road of Fallen Dragon is highways, built from slabs of imported sandstone (local stone is bad luck), quickly laid during the conquest of the North so that troops could pass through Fallen Dragon without having to actually brave its wrongness. The road is in ill-repair, and the evil forest seems to actively destroy it. There is scarcely a place where the highway is not buckled or smashed by gnarled black roots.

Adventurers and sellswords enter Fallen Dragon Prefecture of their own accord or not at all. Few ever go, but for those who wish to make a name for themselves, usually as brave, but most often ending as foolish and ill-fated. The Priesthood periodically sends divisions of its own sohi, along with payed sellswords, to try to destroy the evils of that black land, but, of course, it is to no avail.

The governor of the Fallen Dragon Prefecture is quite obviously Evil itself. There can be no controlling of this land of darkness, even if controlling it was necessary. It is really only an arbitrary portion of the Empire, and serves to some point as a boast and a challenge to other nations; the Emperor once was asked by a Dlanni Ambassador why he kept the foul land as part of his Empire, and replied:  "We have the strength to contain this evil. Where does your strength lie?"

Shever Hills Prefecture
Named for the Shever, its Barbarian natives, Shever Hills Prefecture is a rocky highland state on the west of P'angu Prefecture. The deep ravines and rocky cliffs and hills of Shever Hills have never really been tamed by the Empire, and the Shever are fierce and rebellious. The land is cool and very windy but very sunny year round (45-55 F/4-13 C), save during the winter, when the winds bring clouds laden with frost and snow, and the temperature plummets to icy lows. The terrain is rocky, sparsely-forested hills and cliffs, separated by deep canyons and ravines, rising towards a high, twin-peaked mountain in the center called Two Fangs.

The settlements in Shever Hills are generally walled fort-towns, built for protection against the Shever. The people are mostly miners who dig for lead, silver, iron, and platinum. In addition, the forges of Shever Hills are renowned for their weapons, made with ancient Shever forging techniques, and Shever steel is the highest quality in the Empire. There is also a large Imperial Legion presence here, for, in many ways, the Border Wars in Shever Hills never ended. However, deep in the middle of the hills, where the Shever do not go, and where only the most ancient and lost of paths goes, in a small vale beneath the great peak Two Fangs, there is a city, the City of Dreams, it is called, hidden from all save the Gods. This city is a refuge for people from across the Empire who seek to live without the constant eye of the Emperor upon them, to live without the Authority and the Priesthood regulating them, mortals who wish to escape the grit and shadow of Reality and immerse themselves in the Dream World. The City of Dreams is a whimsical, medium-sized town, built in a mishmash of different architectural styles and cultural mediums, centered around a small lake, with it's own gardens, orchards, and crops. People of all races and cultures dwell in the City of Dreams, which is positioned directly under the Star of Dreamer Second in the Dream World. Here, underneath the direct sight of Dreamer Second, the double-image echo of the Dream World is closer in alignment to the Earth than any other place in Creation. Due to this spiritual closeness, and because Dreamer Second has decreed it so, the people of the City of Dreams may send their Higher Souls to the Dream World at will, sinking themselves in fancy and wonder. Dreamer Second does not allow just anyone to come to this hidden city, though. Only those who have forsworn the Empire and the Emperor himself recieve the call of Dreamer Second, beckoning them to the City of Dreams. Before these chosen individuals, the mazy web of dreams that surround the City part like a curtain, allowing them in. Not all denouncers recieve the call of Dreamer Second; he is, after all, the God of whimsy and change. The Emperor seeks to find the City of Dreams, for he fears that the people of this place are a danger to his Empire, but Dreamer Second's dream-maze has thus far thwarted his efforts, and its strands of memory and emotion lead the Emperor on false paths to empty locations.

The roads and highways of Shever Hills are usually high, cliff-side tracks that spiral against the hills, and never enter the lower lands, where the Shever lurk. Authority of Ways crews try to repair whatever damage may be caused by Shever, snow, and rockfall at the beginning of each year, and then, throughout the year, the conditions deteriorate. The most remote tracks of Shever Hills are often totally impassable by the autumn. Checkpoints are not necessary in Shever Hills. The roads nearer to Two Fangs are ancient tracks that are impassable and mystifying, sending travelers in impossible directions due to the dream-maze of Dreamer Second.

Ministry of War and Legion Authorities are often hiring adventurers and sellswords to aid in operations against the Shever. In addition, the Shever, though distrustful of non-Shever, have been known to hire sellswords as extra warriors and pay in silver and platinum jewelry. Deeper in the hills, there are many Spirits and Demons, but they cannot cross Dreamer Second's dream-maze.

The governor of Shever Hills is the Shever Authority Legion General Prize of Wisdom. Prize of Wisdom is a man of the Ministry of War who, as payment for a certain indiscretion in his earlier life, was placed as general of the Shever Hills. He is a hard man who has been steeled by a lifetime of hardship, and he bitterly regrets his certain indiscretion. He has done much to strengthen Imperial security in Shever Hills, and has faithfully done his duty, but to no avail; he will never leave this Prefecture again.

Dragonglass Hills Province
South of the rocky highlands of Shever Hills, and north of the wastes of Thirst Fields, there is a region of great, glittering black hills that slice the sky like talons. These hills, upon closer examination, are great piles of shattered obsidian, called also dragonglass, lying spread across the volcanic landscape. The dangerous, shard-filled fields of Dragonglass Hills are inimical to anything that is not leathery or scaled, and the poisonous gasses and waters of Firefall Province leak their way south into this Province as well. The temperature is much like that of Shever Hills, cool most of the year (45-55 F/4-13 C), with windy, sunny weather, and cold and snowy in the winter (10-40 F/negative 12-4 C). The baked landscape is cool now, the volcanism is gone, but the land is laced with razor-sharp ridges of lava and obsidian, and the ground is littered with sharp chunks of the Earth's spittings. On the eastern border with Rice Grower's Prefecture, there are large lakes and marshes.

The Dragonglass Hills are unique in that they are the site of eight or nine semi-independent city-states called the Dragonglass Cities. The people of these cities offer tribute of obsidian, stone, iron, bronze, rubies, diamonds, emeralds, and Green Glass to the Empire in exchange for a degree of independence. The people of the Dragonglass Cities are of Imperial race, but hold themselves separate. They are a prosperous people, enriched by trade in lucrative metals and mined goods with the Empire, and many of them are merchants. Somewhere in the center of this Province there is a mountain of the famous Green Glass, a translucent, emerald green, razor-sharp material that is formed by volcanic activity and forms feather-like blades and masses like great manes of green. This Green Glass is rare and extremely valuable, and the most adventurous of Dragonglass Hillers sometimes brave the wilderness and the beasts to find it.

The roads of Dragonglass Hills are dirt tracks lined with stones that lead between the mining settlements. The highway that runs through Dragonglass Hills and up into Shever Hills is nothing to write home about; it is merely a path lined with volcanic stones. There are no checkpoints.

Adventurers and sellswords willing to brave the sharp-edged wilderness are likely to find quite lucrative jobs in the form of missions in search of Green Glass, ebony, or the killing of the strange beasts that dwell in the interior. The very deepest regions of the Hills have strange ruins built of the local rock and obsidian, temples with windows of green glass and bizarre idols of sharp blades of stone.

The governor of Dragonglass Hills is the Dragonglass Minister Iron Moon Flight. Iron Moon Flight is a warm and happy man, who is slightly irritated by his post at the dangerous Dragonglass Hills, but on the overall not too miffed. Anything is better, after all, than his upbringing in a shanty-town in Hu-Be. Iron Moon Flight does well overseeing the needs of his people and his miners, and has made great strides towards bettering the treatment of slaves in Dragonglass Hills. Iron Moon Flight has one thing that angers him-the insistence of Dragonglass Hillers that they are not Imperials, though they clearly are.

Firefall Province
North of Shever Hills and East Coast, east of Silver Star, the great Letu'rano, the Mountain of Fire, a massive, flat-topped peak that, in the past, vomited forth flame and ashes and liquid rock. Because of the Mountain of Fire, the surrounding state came to be known as Firefall, hence Firefall Province. The Mountain of Fire ceased to belch forth the Earth's flame long ago, and the Province has since become a pastoral land, where herds of goats, sheep, and bo'te graze on fertile slopes of grass among scarred, stone remnants of the volcano's fury. Firefall is cool and sunny through most of the year (45-55 F/4-13 C), with a period of chill, windy weather (10-30 F/negative 12-negative 3 C). The slopes and surrounding hills of Firefall and the Mountain of Fire are known as a beautiful, peaceful country, with a few, newly-growing woods and long open fields. However, there are two rivers that flow off of Firefall, and in them are boiling vents that blast forth poisons of the Earth and unhealthy gasses; these rivers flow from Firefall into the Dragonglass Hills and also into Thirsty Fields, and are the reason for those unlucky provinces' barrenness.

The people of Firefall Province are mostly simple farmers and herdsmen who have forgotten the dangers of Letu'rano above them. They are quite content, and they are somewhat better off than most of the surrounding people, for their crops grow fast in the ashy soil and the grass is good for the herds. It is common knowledge among them that the rivers that flow of Letu'rano are poisonous, and that there is a great fire in the peak, but periodically they make offerings to the Fire Gods and to the Stars, and the old stories about the Mountain vomiting flame are just wives tales, aren't they? Firefall is scattered with small towns of square plaster structures. These houses have roofs of sealed wooden planks and leather curtains over windows and doors. The people of Firefall Province, now quite Imperial, were once a Barbarian people, and the colorful, tentacular patterns with which they paint their plaster homes speaks of this.

The roads of Firefall are well-tended, rocky paths, lined with margins of brick. The Authority of Ways issues special Licenses to herdsmen to widen the paths that their herds trample into proper roads. The highways of Firefall are narrower than most others, but they are paved in flat bricks, and frequently repaired. Checkpoints are common throughout the countryside, and so are roadside shrines.

Adventurers and sellswords will probably find calm and boredom in Firefall. The land is pastoral and tamed, and the Letu'rano seems to have erased whatever ancient evils may have lurked upon its slopes before the eruptions. However, every once in a while, a shepherd's boy will uncover the entrance to a dark temple that has withstood the Mountain's ancient fury, or a farmer will be attacked by monsters that emerge from the crater of the Mountain of Fire.

The Lady Minister Cries In Happiness governs Firefall Province. She is a matronly woman of late-middle-age, who juggles the tasks of her Authority with that of raising her children. Periodically, she will switch with ther husband, a File man from Silver Star named Lian, who will rule in her stead while she takes care of the children. If this situation were ever revealed to Authorities in the capitol, she would be immediately reprimanded and justice would be done, but those who know of this see nothing wrong with it; Lian is just as proficient as Cries In Happiness, if slightly less knowledgeable when it comes to Imperial law.

Iceheart Province
In the uttermost north of the Empire, where the Sun is cool and pale over the land, and the sea filled with ice and rime, there is a land of high, jagged peaks and massive glaciers, where foggy fjords slash through the coast and a fierce Barbarian people called the Ffolkki roam the land, there is Iceheart Province, one of the most recent acquisitions of the Empire, and a land of frost and snow. The land is bone-chillingly cold (15-25 below zero F/negative 26-negative 32 C) and snowy year-round, with a few days of pale, warmth-less sunlight. The terrain is divided between the inland mountians, deeply furrowed razor peaks, sparsely coated in pine, where glaciers creep through the snow, and the lowland tundra, where herds of bison, mammoth, and packs of wolves and snow lions, roam the landscape.

The people of Iceheart Province are mostly the Ffolkki, who Imperials call Blue Eyes, the Barbarian people who have dwelt there for thousands of years. The Ffolkki dwell in villages of hide tents on the tundra and lower slopes of the mountains, hunting mammoth and bison. They are a fractious, warlike people, who chafe at Imperial intrusion in their domain. The majority of Imperials in Iceheart live in the walled town of Se-Ne, which is also the provincial capitol. There are several other settlements, but these serve the function of mining or logging camps. The people of Iceheart are, for the majority, soldiers, protecting the workers who log and mine. There are few middle-class folk here, for they get in the way of the important operations and province-building of Iceheart. There is a small majority of huntsmen, who dwell on the tundra in the Ffolkki manner, and hunt mammoth and snow lion for their valuable pelts (and in the case of the mammoth, meat.).

The roads of Iceheart Province, all three of them, are brick-lined roads that run across the tundra to Se-Ne, carrying goods to and from, and allowing the Legions to send troops north. There are no checkpoints. In the mountains, there are many game trails and paths blazed by Ffolkki, narrow, winding tracks that often lead to Ffolkki holy sites.

Adventurers and sellswords can find work in Iceheart battling with Imperial soldiers against the wild and warlike Ffolkki, or vice versa. The mountains are home to strange monsters of Ffolkki legend, as well as Gods of frost and winter, and a sizable cult of Korag-Herne, with all the additional Hounds and Wargs. In some of the higher portions of the mountains, there are mysterious ruins, similar to those which can be found throughout the North, and the Ffolkki consider these sites the homes of Demons and Gods.

The governor of Iceheart is the Lady Ice Minister Broken-Glass Sparrow. Broken-Glass Sparrow is half-Imperial, one-fourth Ffolkki, and one-fourth Caatjun. A small woman in her late 20s, with long brown hair, Broken-Glass Sparrow has the long nostrils and brown eyes of her Caatjun parent, and the pale skin of her Ffolkki parent, and little Imperial look at all. She has many languages (Ffolkki, Caatjun, Imperial, Uwonath), and is considered by many to be one of the best governors in the Empire. She has done much to help the civilization-process of Iceheart, increased the economic output of Iceheart by triples, and has recently performed successful diplomatic talks with the Ffolkki. Regardless, she is very unhappy, and very lonely, her Barbarian looks being a barrier between social contact with many Imperials, and the cold weather is increasingly glooming upon her mind.

Wind's Edge Province
At the northern edge of the Empire, stretching between the mountains of Iceheart and the granite escarpments of Stone Forest, across the fields of Silver Star and the rocks of Shever Hills, there is a mighty wall, a hundreds-of-miles-long cliff, towering above the surrounding land, called the Thousand-Mile Cliffs. The top of the Thousand-Mile Cliffs is the land known as Wind's Edge Province, a wind-lashed scrub-steppe, populated by a few garissons of Imperial conquerors and by the fierce, hardy Azzu tribes, warlike rebels only recently bypassed by the Border Wars (which are raging even now on the north of Wind's Edge), and the tranquil, peace-loving Qi, who dwell in cities in the mountains of the farthest Wind's Edge north. The temperature is usually cool, but the constant wailing wind, and the chill it bestows, guarantees that Wind's Edge is bitterly chill in the summer (10-30 F/negative 12-negative 3 C) and marrow-freezing cold in the winter (15-25 below zero F/negative 26-negative 32 C), with dry weather. There is rarely snow, though what there is is crusty and frozen, blown into crackling mounds of ice by the wind, which never ceases its blowing from the North. The terrain is a long, frozen steppe, punctuated with rocky hills and small rivers and lakes. Most of the step is carpeted in scrubby, dry grass, and herds of yak and ku'we roam.

The majority of the population of Wind's Edge is Barbarian. The Imperial presence dwells mostly in small fort cities near the edge of the Thousand-Mile Cliffs, especially near the Northland Stair, the only entrance onto the cliffs save climbing them. These Imperials, who are mostly soldiers or mercenaries waiting for their shifts at the Border Wars in the far North, have a tendency to live life while they can, for every day might be their last; only metropolitan states have more brothels and taverns than Wind's Edge. Homes are built from stone and plaster, and there are usually tarps and curtains of oiled leather throughout towns to shield from the wind. The Azzu are on of two Barbarian races on the Cliffs. These fierce nomadic tribes war constantly with each other and with the Imperials, though recent rumors of a unifying chief have been worrying. The Azzu dwell outside and each tribe has it's own herd of yak to follow. Yurts made from yak-skin and fur are their dwellings. In sharp contrast are the "Barbarian" Qi, a reclusive, spiritual folk, little encountered by the Imperials, who dwell in monastic cities in the mountains.

The roads of Wind's Edge are dirt tracks stamped across the steppes by marching Legions, and all generally lead between towns or north to the Border Wars. They usually stay in good repair, though they hav a tendency to disappear into the bland, empty landscape. There are no checkpoints.

Adventurers and sellswords are common in Wind's Edge. The Legions are always in need of more swords for the Border Wars, and they pay in jade, not copper. Many a sellsword has made a great reputation fighting in Border Wars. Also, adventurers are often hired to put down Azzu tribes, or as emmisaries to the mysterious Qi. The monsters that dwell on the steppe are well-known beasts, and adventurers are often hired as part of monster-hunting parties to clear the way for marching Legions.

The Wind Minister Violet Dawn Leaping governs Wind's Edge. He is a soldier by trade, a strategist of the Legions who was picked out of service to be the governor, by order of the Emperor himself. Violet Dawn Leaping does not at all understand why a humble strategos such as himself should be given so important a station, but he has faith in the Emperor. So far, he hasn't had much chance to do much, but he hopes to be a good governor to please his superiors, and has managed to secure peace talks with Chizzu, the leader of an Azzu tribe.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Borderlands
« Reply #6 on: September 15, 2004, 10:33:21 PM »
Beyond the Empire's borders, there are the Borderlands, where the Legions fight the constant Border Wars, expanding outward to greater glory. Many of the Borderlands were once populous, rich kingdoms, many of which are now deserted, depopulated by years of war and the fear of the seemingly unstoppable Legions of the Emperor. The Borderlands are a place of blood and war, the grave soil of Barbarian and Imperial alike, from Mountains to ocean in the North and the South.
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist

Offline CaptainPenguin

  • Bastardo!
  • Squirrel Strolenati
  • Emperor
  • *
  • Posts: 5868
  • Awards Questor Hall of Heroes 10
    • Awards
The Eye of All the Earth
« Reply #7 on: September 15, 2004, 10:57:01 PM »
Borderlands of the South

South of Vasseme Province, verging on the edge of the Sand Sea Prefecture, there is the dry, desert land once known as the Kingdom of Atazk.
Atazk was once a thriving kingdom, subsiding on trade to make up for its lack of natural resources. It was one of the richest nations, nearly as rich as gold-laden Dlann. One of the richest, that is, until the Kitazi dynasty came to power. The Kitazi government, led by the half-Dlanni King Ztamun, launched a series of unprovoked attacks on Imperial forces in the near region. The Kitazi continued with anti-Imperial policies of trade and travel. In the Month of the Great River, Atazki soldiers fell upon a Dust Scorpion Clan trading detachment, slaying all of the Imperials.
The Dust Scorpions made no immediate retaliation. But over the coming months, the Atazki nation became poorer and poorer, their stores of food and water less and less. A famine began, and a plague spreading in the capitol, and the eventual economic collapse of the nation, all perpetrated by Dust Scorpion agents- blockades, spies, assassins, and the like.
The nation fell into civil war, and, despite Imperial objections to the legality of the Dust Scorpions' actions, the Legions moved in, extending the Border Wars into the Atazki badlands.
The Atazki badlands are a wrecked land, a parched, cracked and rocky, place. The northern regions of the former nation are the site of Atazki settlements, occupied by the Legions. The south of the nation, including the plague-haunted capitol, are the home of the remnants of the Atazki army, as well as warriors from Harrappa Cincor, dispatched to aid that nation's ally (Atazk) before the collapse.

Hyong is the name of a small seacoast nation on the margins of the Sand Sea and south of Red Coast Prefecture. It is a heavily mountainous region with jungles on the coastal plain, where the majority of the kingdom's population lies.
The kingdom of Hyong has never been particularly wealthy, despite the bounty of its jungles and its seas. The Hyongan, the folk of Hyong, have been ruled by the Pumdangbun, a ruling class of a separate race who are worshipped as the children of Gods, since ancient history. The Pumdangbun ruled an empire that stretched from what is now southern Hyong into the north of the swamps of Wu Karu, but were chased out by plague and warfare, and came to settle in Hyong, subjugating its people and ruling them as half-Gods.
Imperial troops have had difficult time defeating Hyong. The bottleneck Chlang-Hroapak Pass in the northern mountains is currently the site of fierce combat; the encampment of the Imperials lies entrenched at the northern mouth, while the Hyongan gate-citadel lies at the southern mouth. The mountainous terrain of northern Hyong and the vicious Sharktooth Reef that lie in the outer Great Uyuembank Bay have stopped several invasion policies.
The Imperial Authority, especially the Ministry of War, is quickly running out of patience with Unhesitatingly Loyal Weapon, the previously-successful general in charge of the Hyong offensive. Weapon is a young general known for his uncautious (some say reckless) tactics and bold, unexpected movements on the battlefield, and who is unused to the guerilla tactics, hard terrain, and magic of the Pumdangban that have been factors in the Hyong campaign.
Hyong's terrain is wet, mountainous, and heavily-forested. The coastal plain of the east is mostly tangled jungle and river delta-land. This is the site of the capitol, Shyunyeoul. The west of the land is a high, forested land of mountains, rising high enough that rain coming from the sea falls upon Hyong and leaves the desert on the other side a dry wasteland.

(More to come...)
Currently Reading: "Kafka On The Shore" by Haruki Murakami

Currently Listening To: "Piece Of Time" by Atheist