Hail bold explorers, young and old! Bolster your courage and prepare yourselves! Today, Fridays in AEthrem takes you even further into the great unknown! We travel to the opposite side of the globe from the cool woodlands of the Sillindri Wildlands of our last episode to the steamy, tropical jungles of Tefira - THE SHROUDED CONTINENT! What mysteries await intrepid adventurers such as yourselves in its unexplored reaches?!
Tefira lurks on the far side of the world, separated from Pelifor and Valerica by wide swaths of open ocean. Homeland of the Ss'ra, this continent rivals is larger than any single landmass that the human nations inhabit. Impenetrable jungles cover most of its surface, torn open in places by colossal mountain peaks or the sinuous lines of numerous rivers. Much of Tefira's interior remains unmapped, as travel through the thick foliage is slow and dangerous.
Numerous small human colonies and outposts exist on the continent, scattered around the rivers and coastlines, where the jungle cannot impede the delivery of essential supplies. These have been established haphazardly over the years by nations and private investors alike, forming a random patchwork of allegiances and rivalries - a settlement can be separated from friendly territory by long kilometers of wild jungle or hostile human holdings. Most of these communities are tiny and poorly-supplied, populated by the desperate or zealous. A few of these wild-eyed settlers have come for scientific pursuits: studying the native ss'ra, the ruins of their civilization, or native flora and fauna. Many more have come to plunder Tefira's natural resources, or to hunt for treasure in the continents many hidden ruins.
By far the oldest and largest human settlement on Tefira, the city of Haran Olesh was founded by Condrace over two centuries ago. It has grown into a busy port over time, built on ancient ss'ra ruins at the mouth of the Zilliar River, due west across the ocean from its home nation in Pelifor. Countless expeditions set out from Haran Olesh every day, and just as many mercantile convoys return to it from the jungle with wares for trade locally or for export back to Condrace. The city's golden age of trade is coming to a close, however. The recent unrest in Condrace has caused most of Haran Olesh's posted military to be recalled back to the mainland, forcing the local governor to hire mercenaries and venture companies to provide security and policing in their absence - something the city's treasury cannot support for long.
Security is a constant concern for the hardy locals, as the jungle is a source of innumerable new species, many of them hostile to humans. While large predators and packs of scavengers can be guarded against, a settlement can just as quickly be wiped out by swarms of insects, poisonous local fruit, or strange new diseases. Rumors suggest even more exotic threats, such as huge plants capable of trapping an adult human - consuming them whole, spiders the size of an automobile - worshiped as gods by jungle-dwelling cults, and the ever-popular tales of the legendary fanged apes - still unproven to actually exist.
The most famous Tefiran natives are the ss'ra themselves. Long fractured into small social groups, their reaction to human explorers varies from one tribe or community to the next - some residing near human colonies trade with the settlers or sell their services as local guides, while others react violently to what they consider an invasion of their homeland. Hundreds of individual gatherings of the native ss'ra exist, struggling against each other for dominance, each at a slightly different level of technical proficiency. The possibility of a large collective of their species, deep within the continent, retaining an understanding of most of their otherwise lost science is a rumored possibility, but these highly-advanced ss'ra have yet to appear outside of the fictional world of adventure films and pulp novels.
Forgotten or abandoned by most modern ss'ra, the ruins of their long-lost civilization lie throughout Tefira. The jungle has reclaimed these lonely structures, growing over and through lanes and buildings alike. Finding a particularly well-preserved site could provide a group of explorers the means to retire as very wealthy individuals, with universities and inventors guilds alike more than willing to spend small fortunes to acquire functioning relics of interest to them. In some cases, these groups will simply fund expeditions on their own based on a promising tip, hiring a venture company to follow the lead they were provided. As valuable as this forgotten technology can be, tall tales speak of even greater ancient wonders to be found: ss'ra diamond mines, cities made entirely of gold, or elaborate towers of spun glass, wandering about the jungle on their own. Anyone actually discovering such a place could find not only uncountable wealth, but fame and glory, as well.
Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.
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