“In life she protects us and carries us. In death, she yet carries us home.” – Proverb from the Old Book
The land is vast; one can travel almost 100 miles in any direction from The City before reaching The Edge. Many small towns dot the landscape, some concentrating on agriculture while others specialize in collecting and processing the various resources needed to support The People.
But it has not always been this way. In a time before The Old Book, the land was bigger still; it is said that it went on forever. Then dark times came, and The People were plagued by a vast evil, some say of their own making. When The People’s numbers dwindled to near extinction, Colo’shi intervened.
Colo’shi is the goddess of the land, and the land itself. She provides for The People, even as she slumbers. Colo’shi is said to mean She Who Carries in a tongue long forgotten. She brings dawn every day and darkness at night. She brings the seasons every year so that the plants, animals, and people may survive. She is the mother of all born from the land, and when a life has expired, that life returns again to her. There are tales of Colo’shi speaking directly to her people, or sending messengers, but that has not happened for many generations.
FLORA AND FAUNA
Colo’shi is primarily jungle, with basically two seasons, wet and wetter. Wide rivers and large lakes run through the land, interrupted frequently by swamps and bogs. Occasional rocky outcrops provide brief respite from the moisture as they rise above the low cloud cover.
The vegetation grows quickly, and overruns everything, man- made and otherwise. Evolution happens at a rapid pace, and many plant species have spawned multiple variations in order to best take advantage of even slight differences in terrain and climate. And of course, the plants have also often adapted aggressively in an effort to defend themselves against the other inhabitants.
The animal population, while less varied than the vegetation, is more dangerous. From organized packs to lone behemoths, there are plenty of ways to meet death in the jungle. The rapid speed of evolution only aggravates matters, always causing new unexpected threats to emerge from the underbrush.
Perhaps in response to the dangerous nature of the environment, humans have also evolved swiftly, manifesting a variety of different abilities. While The Old Book speaks of a powerful magic long forgotten, new powers have been born of necessity. Almost all humans come into the world with some form of Talent. This may be as simple as the ability to quickly locate food, the knack for bonding metal, or lightning reflexes. Other times a person’s Talent may be more complex and powerful, such as a deep understanding of the weave of nature, the power to move objects without touching them, the ability to commune with darkness, or control over a new, younger magic.
The City is a bustling metropolis, hugging one of the few mountain clusters that protrudes out of the jungle. Vendors ply their wares and children scurry the streets on the way to school. Adventuresome traders arrive from the outer villages bringing necessary materials, and take equally necessary supplies back to the outskirts. Crime is almost nonexistent; the populous are simply too busy making sure that The City resists the ever-pressing encroachment of the surrounding jungle. There is no currency; everything is handled via barter.
For all the threat that the jungle presents to The City, life in the outskirts is even harder and more perilous. The average village population comprises only two professions: those who keep the jungle at bay, and those who concentrate on the production of something particular to that village’s location – anything from mining ore to gathering or farming a particular type of food that grows best in the nearby area. All other needs, from food to schooling to construction, are met by bartering with The City.
Colo’shi is governed by an elected council, consisting of a representative from each village and 10 representatives for each quadrant of The City. From this council an inner circle is then elected. Politics, in general, remain simple, and it is considered an honor and a duty to serve on the council. There are times when dissention is heated, but only because the members of the council feel strongly about their cause. And for petty disputes, there is little tolerance. In general, the council works in a coordinated manner to make decisions that increase the safety and well being of The People.
THE OLD BOOK
The Old Book is the oldest known object, and while there are many pages missing and many of the words are no longer understood, it provides a basis for some history for The People. It is thought to have been written shortly after the dark times, as a warning of mistakes not to be repeated, and a journal of The People’s new beginning. It tells of the many different tribes that were saved by Colo’shi, and of the cities that they built in the land that She saved. True to the account, there exist ruins of a few ancient cities overgrown by the jungle, long abandoned, however the scarcity of these ruins doesn’t correlate with the numbers implied by The Old Book.
There is a small group of scholars that spend their lives studying The Old Book, attempting to decipher new passages and preserve and share those that are more understood. Despite all efforts, however, the majority of The Old Book remains a mystery.
Magic of various types is an everyday occurrence, but most often in mundane form. Since most individuals have a Talent of some sort, minor magical abilities go relatively unnoticed. Some, however, have a greater grasp of the weave of magic energies, and those individuals are usually urged to join The Protection in order that their abilities can be put to good use in ensuring the safety of the population.
From a technological perspective, The People have not advanced particularly quickly. Their own evolutionary speed and the steady advancement of various magics have elbowed technological progress to the background. The same styles of traditional metal weapons and armor have been used for generations.
A select few, however, spurred on by ambiguous passages in The Old Book, do tinker with the creation of intricate objects. These objects are usually primarily mechanical in nature, but often utilize magic to assist where the various pieces may not quite serve their intended function.
The Protection is a small elite force that is charged with safeguarding The People from all dangers, expected and otherwise. Primarily this entails driving away the many beasts that sometimes plague the villages, but also includes the more mundane tasks of patrolling the land, cutting back the undergrowth, and exploring the ruins for historical clues.
Every several years or so, however, a more potent threat surfaces. The most recent such threat was a semi-organized invasion of another humanoid species, though it is not clear from where the invaders came.