Friday, 27 September 2013

Brave new world

Before the War of Enlightenemnt the Duchy of Diemed, located in the Traen valley east of Wezell, was one of the most prosperous in the Empire. When a powerful plague demon was deployed by the Alliance of the Deep this was changed forever. The plague that struck the area turned people into walking dead  whose soul focus was to consume living flesh. Today the region is simply known as the Redlands, a wild and terrifying place where the material and the ethereal meet - it is considered to be a Verge. Spirits and lost souls dwell in the ruins and the living does wisely to be cautious.

The only law that is recognised in the land now is that of the Raven King. This spirit is somewhat of a war hero, aiding the Pius Cabal in defeating the plague demon. It has grown to its current power by consuming lesser entities and through cunning deals with mages and anyone wishing to venture through its realm. Today the Raven King's influences reach far beyond the borders of the Redlands and as the saying goes, "speak no secrets before an open window; there are ravens on the roof."

All across Eria, those wishing to purchase favours from the king, more often than not someone else's secret, steal up to court trees in the twilight hours. The payment is often a golden heirloom, but there are whispers of darker favours being granted for more sinister payments. Despite of, or perhaps more likely because of this, the Raven King is visited by ambassadors from almost all the realms of the Enlightened Allance; there are few courts in the North without a few ravens in the rafters.

The chief export of the Redlands is Umbral silk. This mysterious substance has never before been seen in such quantities until it started appearing here. It is a very light and solid silk is produced by Weaver-spirits, with the leading theory being that the weavers, spirits of Pattern, is reacting to the state of flux and that this is their attempt at binding creation into place.

The silk is highly sought after by balloon makers across Eria and it is worth seven times its weight in gold. Collecting it is far from easy or harmless though, as silk miners have to brave the many dangers of the Verge. Still, there is no shortage of people who will risk getting lost or eaten by roaming spirits or the walking dead, or getting tangled up in the webs, just for a shot at returning with a load of the precious silk.

There have been one notable attempt at industrialising the process when a group of young mages set up a factory across the river from Fork. They had however not secured permission from the Raven King, and after their entire structure vanished overnight with everyone inside, no further attempts have been made. The king now grants licence only to small mining crews.

To the west of the Redlands the Barony of Geistwald is ruled by a powerful mage lord. Geistwald is one of four of Primordial Forests in Eria, ancient woodlands that are material shadows of great princes of the spiritworld. On the outskirts of Geistwald, refugees from the surrounding regions have settled in a handful of villages. There is a single road running through the forest, connecting Wezell and Corillia to Marburg and the lands of the Flood. Both villagers and travellers must abide by strict terms laid out by the Lord of the Woods or face the knights of the realm, a cadre of feral umbrians, shapeshifters, and spirits.

Geistwald and the Redlands have a long-standing alliance, and the Lord of the Woods holds a seat in the Enlightened Council.

On the northern borders of the Redlands lies a series of towns that were not destroyed by the plague. Nevertheless, they lie so close to the Verge that the Gauntlet is often times negligible. It was here that the first recorded umbrians were born. These towns now lie on the frontier between the lands of men and the lands of the others. Here spirit creatures, umbrians, and humans rub shoulders, coexisting in relative peace and harmony. No formal law exists, so it is perhaps no surprise that more than a few criminals seek refuge in the labyrinthine streets of these towns.

Given the nature of these two realms, those living near them have gotten used to strange phenomena. It is not uncommon for villagers to witness vast and unusual shapes moving slowly towards some unknown destination. Luckily, and no doubt largely thanks to the two lords, it is only rarely that these entities wreak any havoc on their way.

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