Wednesday 3 May 2023

Kambyra: Out East

 I never went beyond the fastness of the eastern mountains, for I was told that Imperial writ did not run thither, and no good account came to me of that wild vastness, peopled as it was by the uncouth and violent Native Elves and men both Superstitious and Brutal. Naught was to be seen there worth the danger, or so it seemed to me.

    Zastenuto, private letter to Yorvald Astell.

It is a curiosity of our times that, whilst the currents of history have, for the most part, swept this brave and lonely isle east to west, the Imperial contagion came from the west. It is, some say, an impermanent - and impertinent - imposition that is fragile, and even doomed. For in the east, they say, true power lies buried at the roots of the earth, in the roots of ancient trees, in the veins of the true folk of this land, and the pattern of true history may yet be somehow redeemed by that power. I do not know if this is truth, myth, or just a foolish hope of a conquered people, or all three.

    Calvid Rhoak, the Wandering Scrimshander

The great mountains of the east frame, protect and yet somehow menace the colonial heartland. If not as wild and rugged as the peaks of the southwest, these peaks seem almost primordially massive (particularly given their location on an isle which, whilst large, is hardly a significant landmass). Constantly battered by winds from the southeast, these peaks shelter the rest of Kambyra from the worst of the weather that comes up from the southern landmass, whilst they also capture and direct the rainfall in the form of the rivers and lakes that irrigate and fertilise the rest of the isle.

Much of the land, especially in the south, is simply rugged and for the most part empty, although it is known that a clan of Giants dwell in the interior of the southern peninsula, occasionally trading rare hides and minerals with the intrepid Zwunker villagers of Wilderwater - who, since the passing of the Koryato Elves, are the only navigators who would dare such perilous waters as lie to the southeast.

It is rumoured that Dragons dwell in the East - although few are the wildernesses of which such things are not said. No sure sightings have been reported since the slaying of the Gibberranter, the malign Black Dragon who previously dwelled in the ruins of Karris Khazo. 

Karris Khazo itself, once a mighty temple of the Shokottu Elves, was for the most part destroyed during the assault by the aforementioned Gibberranter and abandoned to that fell worm, some five centuries ago. However, eighty years ago, a powerful Knight of the Empire, Sir Yalson Gwend led an expedition against the vile creature, and succeeded in slaying it. However, only one of the twelve who set out against the Dragon, a grim scout named Ammedel returned, bearing tidings (and wisely, proof) of the dragon's death and that of Sir Yalson, the beloved priest Nalner of Hind, the fabled archer Sheerin Kalkoskii and indeed, all the Knight's companions. 

Thereafter, admirers of the fallen heroes would betimes make a pilgrimage to Karris Khazo, seeking knowledge beyond the proofs given by Ammedel, and often seeking souvenirs - some of which became relics - until, thirty years after the fall of the Dragon, those who travelled to the ruins ceased to return. Silence fell upon that region of the east - a windswept dryland of rough hills punctuated by marshy vales, until just five years, the few brave traders who still traffic with the Shokottu Elves began bringing word that some new force had occupied Karris Khazo, and the Shokottu, in their understated manner, seemed deeply worried about what that might portend.

North of Karris Khazo, where the land is not mountainous, it is a rugged, narrow strip of coast, choked by dense forest and populated by the remnants of the Shokottu Elves. Once a proud, martial folk, whose small towns and keeps dotted the entire island of Kambyra, this Elven people have become forest nomads, eschewing the arts of civilisation (so-called), and living a simple life as hunter-gatherers. Formidable on their own ground, they do not acknowledge Imperial authority, and, in the absence of a full campaign by Imperial troops, they have no fear of being made to bow to a foreign throne.

Only in the farthest north, where the land is gentler and the weather more mild - though still heavily-wooded and prone to ferocious storms - is there any degree of safety for the colonist (or adventurer!) who ventures into easternmost Kambyra. Here dwells an order of forest monks, drawn from among the Shokottu Elves, colonial renegades or dreamers and the indigenous Kambyran folk. Known as the Shakuri, they keep their pleasant corner of the island quiet and, for the most part, safe. Woodcutters and hunters know never to dare these woods, for the Shakuri are gifted with power over both mind and body. Certain colonial landowners dislike so much potentially productive land lying 'neglected' under the governance of the Shakuri, but the colonial administration has thus far been firm in its resolve to leave the woods to the monks, being all too aware the the monks' domain sits astride the easiest route whereby the dangers of the east might invade the Kambyran heartland. 

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