Farewell to Land
The isthmus of Beringia is all but unknown the greater world, having been totally cut off from civilization since the advent of the Nightmare War. While Beringia was untouched by this conflict, the continent wide collapse and restructuring of the clathrates meant that most of the Beringian magic backed industry and transportation also failed. The former Satrapy of Beringia reverted to the Kingdom of Beringia which itself persisted for 250 years.
Beringia is characterized by wide, flat plains bordered by the Sundering Sea to the South, and the Cordillian Sea to the north. A large number of rivers criss cross the plains and have over the years turned the rolling hills and plains into a mosaic of washout valleys and small lakes. Much of Beringia is forested, covered in a thick carpet of cedar, spruce, and other evergreen species. Given the cool climate and short summers, agriculture usually took second billing to ranching the local domesticated elk. Fish and shellfish are plentiful in the cold waters of the Cordillian coast, and whales and fish are common in the warmer waters of the Sundering Sea to the south.
But Beringia has a problem, the entire region is sinking into the ocean. Many of the regions river valleys have become rias, or drowned valleys. These estuaries are prolific with oysters and other shellfish, as well as shoals of fish that shelter in the relatively shallow drowned valleys. This is more prominent on the northern coast of the region, as the Cordillian Sea is a bit higher than the Sundering sea.
1200 to 1000 years ago, Beringia was a minor satrapy of the Old World, a place that was renowned for it's idyllic coastline, bountiful seafood, and the mildly exotic prevalence of domesticated elk and trained moose rather than horse and ox. While the Nightmare war left the region almost completely unscathed, the damage to the lay lines meant that the entire region was cut off from the mainland. Isolated from the bulk of the continent by Thorondrim, also known as the Great Dividing Range, the Skyrakers, or Falhath's backbone, the swamps and fens of the Woses, and by the treacherous waters of the Sundering Sea, most travel was done via magical supported means. Mundane travel from the Beringian capital of Helnivik to Soixane, the closest friendly settlement, would take around 6 months in a ship, and more than a year by foot travel. (This accounts for the ship following the coastline and not navigating by map and compass.)
Following the end of the old empire, Beringia elected a constitutional monarchy emulating both the Royal Throne and the High Congress of the empire. This monarchy would remain relatively stable for two and a half centuries before fracturing. The primary cause of the dissolution of the Kingdom was a long term steady decline in population. Most of the population settled on the coast, abandoning the labor intensive farmlands in the central region of Beringia. A small ship and a net was seen as preferrable to the plow and the brittle soil. Once the central plains were largely emptied, two seperate powers came about, one on the northern coast, and one on the southern coast. The two duchies coexisted peacefully for another three centuries without much in the way of incident or violence.
Roughly 450 years ago, the entire isthmus started sinking into the oceans. This sinking was much more prominent on the northern coast, and within a short amount of time, the principle city and townships along the coast were half flooded or lost completely to the creation of rias, or drowned valleys. Displaced from their peaceful fishing economy, the survivors started raiding south across the plans, and in some instances displacing entire southern communities. This period of skirmishes and raiding was short lived because the southern settlements shared the same water-logged fate as their northern counterparts.
Having survived some 550 years being cut off and with a slowly dwindling population, Beringia finally collapsed as a civilized region. The combination of death from raiding, starvation caused by the loss of ships, and the loss of shelter to the sea forced the surviving population out of settled life. The survivors had to follow the elk herds to not starve.
Over the next 400 years, the landmass continued to subside into the ocean, but following the initial slump, the rate of sinking tapered off. It is still sinking, but the rate is roughy a few inches a year. Hundreds of square miles of land have since been swallowed into a sea that is on average 30 feet deep. Given the current rate of sinking, Beringia will survive as dry land for another century and a half before becoming several islands and then another two centuries for the what used to be mountain tops to be reclaimed by the ocean.
There are still humans living in Beringia, but they now follow a nomadic lifestyle, keeping herds of elk for meat and leather. There is some fishing still, but the ships are much, much smaller. While nomads, they still retain the pleasant disposition of Beringians of old, and traditions of hospitality, and a strong musical tradition.
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? Responses (6)-7
Sadness is emanating from this post. It seems the region did not escape the effects of that war; it is merely slow death as opposed to the brutal shocks the other lands had to suffer... hard to say what is worse.
Just out of interest, is there a particular reason for the sinking? Was it really the war in some way, or is it the movement of geological formations?
Oh, and let's not forget the obvious plot hook: the exodus of a tribe or few from Beringia into the other lands. Some will happen for sure.
After my reading about the flooded valleys, I had the notion to write this piece. The cause of the region sinking is because of isostatic displacement, the general area of the crust is sinking while another section, namely the Thorondrim Mountains are in the process of rising in the west. The answer then is both. The process is natural, but the events of the war and clathrate collapse accelerated the process, causing the formerly low Falhathian mountains to rise into giants, and Beringia to sink into the ocean.
Poor them, a once great place sinking helplessly into the sea.
I wonder if those left behind will adapt into a drier Atlantis.
A nice background piece.