The Eye of the Dragon
The Blane is a valley network named after the De’Eblana, a regional tribe of Bin’Eria. It is situated in the northern part of the Tolba Islands. The valleys are closed in by high mountains and glaciers in the upper reaches. This gives some degree of protection from the elements making the valleys a little warmer and temperate than the rest of the northern regions. Although much of the valley is marshy, forests have taken root around the drier areas. This is mixed woodland of pine and birch. Swathes of moss and ferns dominate the wetter ground.
The Bin’Eria claim they were the first to arrive in the region. They called the land Eblana and named themselves the De’Eblana. No one is quite certain when this happened but they had well established settlements by the time the Varanganni first arrived some 1500 years ago.
For the next 600 years the Varanganni ruled the Blane as they established their own colonies and set up waypoints between the Human lands to the south-east and the Dantha e’Tan lands to the west. It was a focal point for amassing their great fleets as they sailed the seas conquering coastlines around half the world.
Around 900 years ago, the Varanganni began to take heavy losses in their battles against the Dantha e’Tan. They made an uneasy peace with the Humans, which allowed the Humans to integrate more in the settlements around the Blane. The Dantha e’Tan pushed ever onwards and made secret pacts with the Humans to rise up against the Varanganni overlords.
It was nearly 200 years before the battles reached the Blane. Aside from minor rebellions from the Humans in the region, the Blane had largely escaped any large scale battles up until this point. The armies ravaged the landscape, consuming all the food and resources, leaving the Blane a bleak and desolate place. If that wasn’t bad enough, two plagues swept through the region spaced around 90 years apart. Around 60% of the population were killed in the first plague and around 30% during the second plague. This effectively killed off any Varanganni resistance in the region and the Dantha e’Tan and Humans pushed onwards to the Varanganni homelands.
About 400 years ago, with the Blane economically poor, the region become much of a wild land with outlawry. Many cults and movements sprung up, most of which were formed from the morally corrupt – even the insane. Although there were lots of fighting between the various factions, the worst peoples affected were the Bin’Eria. They had largely escaped the plague and famines due to their resourcefulness. As such, they were demonised and persecuted by the other races – all in the name of various religions.
With the rise of technology and science, the Blane settled down to a more civilised region and largely ignored by the rest of the world. That is until the Black Gold that drove technology began to run out. The Blane and the surrounding area became a focus for research, drilling and mining as the great nations sought and fought over the little pockets of the valuable resource that remained. This culminated in the near devastation of the world in one global war.
One hundred years have passed, magic has been revived, old technology remains and the nations are once more at loggerheads over resources. The two greatest of these do not want to repeat the mistakes of the past. As such they took the brave step of starting negotiations to cease warfare and to scale back their weapons of mass destruction. In effect, they plan to disarm their most deadliest of powers – providing they can agree. The Blane, being somewhat out of the way and neutral in alignment was chosen as the place to hold these initial exploratory talks between the Dantha e’Tan and the Humans.
The area of The Blane covers glacier carved valleys between steep-sided mountains. The glaciers retreated miles into the higher mountains a few hundred years ago. The whole valley network remains prone to flooding with meltwater every spring, although such occurences are rare.
Pine forests have grown up across the valley and cover small rounded hills – that never quite got flattened by the grinding of the glaciers. Some decidious trees have taken root as the temperatures have risen over the last century. The land remains boggy and marshy in places, particularly close to the rivers and streams. Many an unwary traveller has succombed to the bogs, pulled to a suffocating death in the mire.
In the mountains about three days south-west of Devlan there is a strange tunnel. When passing down the tunnel, it seems to be only 200m or so long. Yet, it somehow covers several miles leading out to the barren lands on the other side of the mountains from The Blane. In addition, the tunnel has several side branches leading into rooms that would appear to be the living quarters of some creatures that stand twice the height of humans.
The land around the Blane is still geologically quite young with the landmass sitting atop a hotspot. Volcanic eruptions are common in the area as are earthquakes. They infrequently have an enviromental impact as they spew thousands of tons of rock and ash several miles into the atmosphere. This can cause a blanket of cloud to cut out sunlight over vast regions of the continent. Ashfall can suffocate crops and cause major famine in the area – fortunately, the most serious of which was around 500 years ago. This may have partly contributed to the Blane becoming a lawless region.
The last major eruption in the area was fifteen years ago. Although a fine ash covered the ground for miles, there was little other impact other than the blocking of trade routes and the destruction of some 60 homes across the whole area.
There are many geysers in the area. Most are well known located in a few well-defined geyser fields. They erupt on a frequent basis. Others may come and go, erupting without warning anywhere across the valley floors.
Average temperatures for the region:
|Average High||Average Low|
The number of insect species is low compared to other parts of the world. The most numerous wild mammal is the fox. Other top predators are wolves and bears, though they avoid the settled parts of the region as much as possible. The Bugge are believed by most to be a fanciful tale told to frighten children but they are indeed real albeit very rare. Orc are found in the vast cave systems beneath the mountains and glaciers.
Birch is the most common tree type in the area along with aspens, rowans and junipers. Sleeping Oak can be found in small clumps throughout the area.
This largely revolves around a village council – headed by a mayor – dictating the affairs of each settlement with larger issues being discussed by the leaders of each village.
Historically, the economy of the region relied heavily on game meat, leather and furs. There is still a large hunting trade across the area with some 40% of the value of exports coming from the trade and 7% of the population employed solely as hunters and the associated trade of tanning.
Ore mining is the other main export of The Blane, with aluminium and ferrosilicon being the two most valuable minerals found. Green vegetables, potatoes, mutton and dairy products are the main agricultural exports. Much of the wood that is cut down remains in the region for firewood and construction. There is a very small market in wagon and cart production – mostly revolving around the repairing of merchant caravans as they pass through the region.
Ice, is a surprising export. It is cut from the higher mountains slopes and shipped in cold storage to the southern lands. A fact that bemuses most people of the area.
Officially, tax doesn’t exist in the area. The communal spirit is quite strong and everyone pulls together to keep roofs over heads and food in bellies. When something is needing bought for the good of the community, people normally make voluntary contributions. It is estimated that this amounts to around 10% of each person’s income.
The original population of The Blane were the Bin’Eria. The Varganni, Humans and Elves were all later influx of conquerors – although one theory suggests that the initial human population were brought as slaves by the Varganni.
Until around 300 years ago, the permanent settled population is estimated to have been around 400-600. This discounts military basis and temporary invading armies. Nor does it include merchants and travelers who didn’t stay long in one place. The region underwent a population growth over the last 300 years and now stands at around 3,300.
It is estimated that around 500 people currently living in the region are immigrants. 80 of whom are Varanganni offering their aid in the construction of settlements and mining of resources across the region.
Top settlements in the region:
Perhaps surprisingly, the largest religious order in the region is the Cult of the Kraken – a religion mostly associated with the sea. This is perhaps due to the Varanganni who brought the initial humans into the area by sea. Across the region, the estimates for members of the religions are:
|Cult of the Kraken||1,300|
|Cult of the Unicorn||200|
|Cult of the Lycanthrope||30|
|Cult of the Sasquatch||5|
The region is largely secular with only around half the population being affiliated with a religion and then only very few who are actively involved in religious worship, ceremonies and festivals.
The Blane is a strange cultural mix of old Varanganni sense of hard-working, duty and community mixed with a modern human sense of liberalism and egalitarianism. Nearly everyone across the region speaks at least two languages: the Common Tongue and Varanish (so named for its close links to the old tongue of the Varanganni).
The people place great importance on independence and self-sufficiency – perhaps due to their success in recent decades without the influence of a large nation governing over them. The populace is hard-working but generally happy with their lives – feeling like they have everything they could possibly want. The people are also warm, friendly and accepting of everyone. There is little religious or racial hatred in the area – although the Bin’Eria do keep themselves apart.
Story-telling forms an integral part of the community life of the settlements. Their main form of entertainment during the winter months bring a rare cultural creativity to the tales and fables told.
The landscape around the region has been famously captured by Rinn Ralksson, a modern painter who resides in Devlan. A lot of the traditional songs of the area stem from deeply religious hymns, many altered to fit with a more secular modern view of the world. The religious hints remain though for those that listen carefully.
Lamb, mutton and dairy products form the basis of the region’s cuisine, with salmon and beef providing a little variety. Potatoes, pickled cabbage, green beans and rye bread are the most popular side dishes.
The main sporting activities of the region are archery and gilma (a form of wrestling). Skiing and sledging offer winter alternatives to the mainly summer pursuits of hand-ball, foot-ball and horse-racing. Many young men and women take to hiking through the mountains and high passes as an unofficial rite of passage.