Note: after much thought I’ve decided to change the character to someone living in the present-time, rather than one form the past (and age of discovery). As I wanted to focus more on the present world and the rapidly decaying nature of things, I figured that I’d be better served doing it now (c. 4000 RM) rather than the age of Navah Berden (c. 550 RM), so without further ado, here are the adventures of Shaham of Nekoda.
I sit in the evening shade, sketching a group of old men as they sit talking, chewing on sticks of ekhun. A quaint practice, and one I have not encountered elsewhere, ekhun is little more than limestone crushed and mixed in with the red resin of the eucalyptus that once thrived in the region. Prepared into long hard sticks, the stuff is sold in markets around Amouar, where it is enjoyed by males of most ages (though I have spotted the odd matriarch chewing on the stuff, also). It has a bitty substance, turning powdery once chewed and tends to stick to the roof of your mouth, taking ages to wash out. The taste is, as one would expect, earthy, though the addition of the resin and other herbs and substances adds variety. Though it is still far from my favourite regional food.
Ekhun is an acquired taste, surely, and one that goes back to the earliest records of the region, before imperial colonisation began in around 210 RM, when the area was still known as Vaern, an archaic name though to be derived from a Fourth Age culture that once flourished in the region. Similarities to the far older though perhaps more recognisable name Vorropohaiah are invariable, and not unfounded; an accusation that can be lain at the feet of perhaps a dozen words common in the region. The more modern name of Vârr that replaced Vaern following full imperial occupation of the nation in 792 RM springs to mind, as does the ‘Cursed Mount’ of the Varrachon, which local myths claim to be an artificial mountain, created through the refuse of mining efforts under the maddened regime of the Demiurge Vorropohaiah during construction of what is perhaps Vârr’s most famous legend, the Prison Carceri. Indeed, the Korachani word for the Twenty-First Demiurge is Ropohaii, its root blatant to anyone willing to search,
And that is the crux of Vârr. A dead place that yet thrives, if such a word can be used, on the patina of mystery and fear that its history – both ancient and recent – carries. For what does this dying place have to call its own other than its past? And even there, one has to go far back, over three millennia, to reach a state of independence. Freed of its imperial shackles for just over 160-years now, we are only now beginning to see a nation where every generation is one born to freedom and the wasted land left behind by the ravenous empire of Korachan.
As the empire began to grow more powerful following its acquisition of nations (by the time its forces moved permanently into Vaern, after many decades of censor, exocrine and iconoclast forays, Korachan had become a super-power in the Inner Sea, rivalled only by the nations west of the Sea of Serpents, if even that) its need for resources became great. It saw an opportunity in the troubled lands of Vaern, then ruled by warring Hierogoths and their tribes, each with its own belief system. Once its Domnitors gained a foothold and the major population areas became corrupted to its cause, Korachan was quick to send its industries north. The basin of Lamedua and the lush plains and scrubland of Solum were attacked by armies of industrialists; the largest open cast mines seen in imperial history appearing around the region. Within a few centuries the land had been changed – where once forests and lavish hills thrived, instead appeared scarred lands, marked by dozens if not hundreds of depleted quarries and open-cast mines, some many miles wide, reaching well over half-a-mile down, their bottoms stained brightly by chemically-tainted waters. So voracious were these industries that within less than a millennium of its appearance there, Korachan had left Vârr a wasteland, ruined, its ecologies devastated, its populace broken, any national pride that may have once existed shattered. A fitting precursor for Elyden’s waning, perhaps.
However, I look around, some six-hundred years following the administrations’ abandonment to the Interreges, and I see, despite all odds, a thriving city. A generous word, perhaps. Thriving, in the way maggots, worms and other vermin thrive on the bounties of a rotting corpse. The signs of the old Korachani empire are everywhere; brazen idols that now lie tarnished, disfigured. Old municipal structures, despite being reconditioned to their new tasks, still bearing the distinct harsh lines of imperial architecture. And, above it all, the looming beast that is the temple of Nemesis, largest – if uncompleted – temple in any land once occupied by the empire.
I look up to the west, the need to shield my eyes from the dying sun unnecessary, for the colossal shape of the temple mars the horizon above the great cliff that once divided rich from poor. Its silhouette stark, skeletal half-finished dome jagged against the vermillion of the dying light, it stands, a reminder that no matter how much these people may try, how many generations of freeman come and pass, this nation will never truly be rid of its subjugated history. Perhaps, the legends of Vorropohaiah give hope to these people, hope that they once served a noble purpose, and might one day do so again.
I pray their naiveté remains unshattered.