Located on the coast facing the Karban Sea, this towering city is built on and around an enormous Dragon’s Tooth shrine. The giant black spire juts out of Roque Ridge, looming over the lapping sea waves, and is a marvel to behold. The more affluent residents along with city officials have constructed lofty and magnificent manors on the actual spire itself. The other buildings in Roqueport radiate out around the spire, all built tall and impressive like the spire that inspires the city’s growth.
For centuries, Roqueport has been known as the center of commerce for The Cross. This is due in part to its central location on the Karban Sea and an ample natural harbor, as well, as its impressive and questionably contemptuous feat of building a metropolis on a Dragon’s Tooth. Many companies from The Cross have their headquarters located somewhere in Roqueport’s business district.
Houses make up the ruling class of Roqueport. Houses are primarily comprised of magnates, capitalists, and trading companies. It is rumored that the governor’s palace even has a rare and intact Dragon’s Tear on display, but only for the most well-connected and powerful to enjoy.
Located on the western shore of Tartaran, Atlas is the seat of power in The Cross. The city is a sprawling hub of trade, industry, and science known the world around. One can discover information within the near limitless number of books at The Order of Arcane Sages Grand Library. There is always work to be found at the countless guild halls, a wide array of goods to trade at The Kalzar Market District, and adventure in every nook and cranny of this maze-like metropolis.
The remnant of a warring age long past, Atlas was once the seat of power to a mighty emperor who conquered the three small nations that used to inhabit Tartaran. The proper name of Atlas is ‘The Holy Empire of The Crystal Fangs’ named after the three spires that reside upon the island. Most refer to it in the current era as simply Atlas, which was the name of the first emperor to reign over this mighty city.
Many generations have come and gone, but The Emperor’s bloodline exists to this day. While mostly a figurehead position, Empress Kai the Fourteenth sits upon the imperial throne. The young rhino has guided The Imperial Senate with grace and wisdom in her short years since her father’s death, and aims to better their society through a progressive and modern approach.
The Imperial Senate is comprised of a number of notable figures throughout Atlas. Most infamous is Senator Mazak, the representative of The Order, who’s said to have used the wide-reaching hand of the organization to manipulate votes into his favor on some issues. Other senators of note are the extravagant crane Herald Demeaux of Perch Trading Company’s Eastern Branch, the staunch and rigid bear Jonas Nevrond who leads The Clergy of Fate’s Light, and a famous equine guild master simply known as Mr. Edward.
With the Empress’ guidance, the senate discusses and enacts many laws and policies that arise within the capital of The Cross. The ideal is that among the thirty representatives they strive to improve and protect the people within their walls, but can often at times get lost in the arguments, discussions, and personal vendettas against their fellow senators. Despite these delays and disagreements, they manage to keep Atlas in good shape.
Atlas enjoys a robust trade district with its massive port, second only to Roqueport in size and structure. Its goods and services extend from the most common to the most obscure, and with the right connections, one can find anything they want, regardless of its legality. Apart from trade goods, the mountains and foothills to the east of Atlas are home to the Einhart Silver Mines which have served as a strong source of labor and industry for hundreds of years.
The people of Atlas come from all walks of life. From the upper echelon noble to the lowly beggar in the filthiest gutter, one can find it all here. Culturally, Atlas has been a very large melting pot of many beliefs and practices from the very start of the imperial unification. This doctrine has drawn people from the world over, and has developed into a truly unique blend unlike any other place in The Cross.
Bisemutum is a small region set in the northeastern part of Cross. It is isolated from the rest of the land by Coeurasa’s Reach to its east, the high cliffs and rough seas to the south, and The Withered Wastes to the north. With no sea access and only one small land entrance, Bisemutum has been well protected from outside influences. The region is home to four Dragon’s Tooth shrines that are active and well preserved.
A set of five communities reside in this land; four of these travel from Dragon’s Tooth to Dragon’s Tooth as the seasons change. When each of the traveling four communities arrives to their next region, they use the land and provide their specific services to the area before they move on to their next region when the season ends. The communities provide services for each other by leaving behind tools, materials and food and maintaining the land or structures.
The Pater focus on construction and maintenance of the region’s structures along with the fabrication of tools and armor. As architects, fixers, and creators, some of their greatest accomplishments include the Crescent Forge, where Moonweave metal is produced and forged, and the hanging homes on the cliffsides to the east. Their most skilled artisans reside either at A’Mond where they maintain the fort or at A’Paz where they work the Crescent Forge. Most smiths from A’Paz begin their education as leather armorers in Pater.
The Mater focus on farming with the cultivation of plants and fungi; they maintain the soil of the region. They are farmers, cooks, and herbalists, they teach and provide medicine, helping keep the communities strong. Work tasks are generally harvesting and planting of new seeds. Their greatest challenge is overcoming the sickness from those who spend too much time in The Withered Wastes, a feat they have been unable to accomplish for thousands of years even with the help of shrine Guardians. They work their hardest and are at their greatest during the Blood Nights, where they cook the festival feasts. Their greater herbalists reside at A’Mond and with the Amans tribe, where they learn ancient techniques from Guardians and where their medicines are in great need.
The Amica focus on herding and land tending along with the training and raising of livestock. They are ranchers, foragers, and providers. Their typical work tasks include maintenance of the rivers and aqueducts of the region and leather tanning. They provide war beetles to the Amans, food for the Mater and materials for the Pater. Their rarest feats are training manipedes for war and riding Nocturn Alas. Their greatest tamers move on to help the Amans, assessing which beasts will be useful as mounts or prey.
The Amans focus on hunting and gathering resources. Hunters, miners, and lumberjacks, their work relies on obtaining food and materials from animals and the woods in the region. Hunting for animals in the region not only helps provide food and armor but also keeps the population of harmful wildlife under control, keeping the communities safe from beastly attacks. Their greatest accomplishments are the Sunset Tunnels to the west of Bisemutum. Their greatest hunters tend to become warriors, choosing to move frequently to do guard duty in A’Mond.
Art by: Silent Ravyn
The residents of A’Paz do not travel and are located between the southernmost three Dragon’s Tooth shrines. It is maintained by a small group composed of smiths, elderly, people who can no longer endure the seasonal travel, and a small support group of clerics, guards, and other experts. The elders teach spiritual communion with the shrine Guardians and Whisperstones, pass down folklore, teach literature, and perform rites of passing. While the community here relies the most on the other four, they provide the great service of maintaining the gathering spot for the Blood Nights festival and teaching advanced smithing in the Crescent Forge.
Bisemutum has lived the same for thousands of years with long periods of stability. A valley surrounded by mountains with a single treacherous entrance has provided them with ease in the prevention of invasion. Their location has proven to be a strategic wonder. Their communion with Guardians has provided them with a unique advantage as they have been guided on how to survive natural disasters, plague, famine and taught resource management and medicine. Among the Guardian’s gifts, Moonweave alloy stands out, allowing the creation of advanced tools, weapons and armor.
Before their self-imposed seclusion, the Bisemutum performed expeditions to push for the preservation of Dragon’s Teeth outside their lands. The first few sent out were treated with great regard, almost as royalty because of how they displayed their Whisperstones as jewelry to be seen and admired. It did not take long for these missionaries to realize why they were treated with such admiration; the value of their Whisperstones was coveted more than their friendship. A few managed to make their way back to Bisemutum in the dead of night, but most were not so fortunate. The Bisemutum tried other peaceful methods to teach other cultures their reverence for the Dragon’s Teeth, but overall, they found little success. Bisemutum’s influence did not reach much farther than the Bipusmarsh and even then, it was questionable. The locals altered Bisemutum preservation methods, but at least the missionaries rested easy knowing that the Tooth in that land would be protected.
Spreading their ideology to the outside world proved too difficult. The dependence on Tear shards was strong and deeply rooted into the economic system of the outside world. Asking for such a change would alter the operations of many organizations and companies, bring poverty to many who were rich, and would bring the ire of the more secular governments, who dismissed the Bisemutum’s ideals. Bisemutum garnered the envy of other nations of The Cross. These nations killed emissaries, attempted to trespass into Bisemutum, and even made efforts to invade A’Mond. After enduring such hostile acts, The Bisemutum closed their land to the outside world. They accepted that spreading their ideals would be too costly a task and a losing battle.
Despite all this, the Bisemutum maintain a small relationship with the outside, participating in trade with some of the nearby villages to maintain some positive influence with their neighbors.
Moonweaving is a technique passed down from the Guardians to the Bisemutum. Guardians gifted a special furnace that smelts Moonstone and copper into a silvery alloy. The resulting alloy, Moonweave, is light, hard, strong, and glistens a silvery gray like the light of Coeurasa. The operation of the furnace turned into a complex ritual taught to most skilled smiths. The Guardians are gifted most of the produced Moonweave as a sign of reverence and excess is left behind for the Bisemutum to make use of.
Moonweave armor is styled to look like chitin armor, giving warriors agility and dexterity unheard of for how thick and hard the armor is. Spears and swords forged from this material slice even the heaviest plate clean open with ease. The Moonweave armor is reserved for elite guards and hunters of the community, turning them into far more formidable warriors able to keep trespassers out and able to hunt down the strongest of prey.
The stone marks the second gift Guardians provided to the Bisemutum. Whisperstones are decorated and well-shaped fragments of a Dragon’s Tear, generally smoother and oval shaped with an intricate golden symbol inside the surface. The stone holds a dim glow compared to a Dragon’s Tear. They are believed to carry the souls, intentions, and path of the previous holders.
Whisperstones are provided to newborns upon their first Blood Night. The stones are believed to provide Coeurasa’s grace while the soul visits the land and is separated from Coeurasa. The Bisemutum keep hold of their Whisperstone and is a physical manifestation of their soul. Upon death, the Whisperstone is collected and passed down yet again to a new visiting soul.
Whisperstones can provide guidance and visions to their holder. Special training and discipline is required to have direct communion with the stone where the souls within answer the keeper. The success and type of guidance provided by the stones vary as much as the souls contained within. During the Blood Nights, stones are particularly active and may bring their keepers into communion themselves. Practice and concentration must be used to maintain and interpret more lively conversations with the stones.
The Bisemutum are aware of the treatment of Dragon’s Tears as currency outside their land. When travelling outside their land, they usually refer to Whisperstones as “tokens” to diminish their importance. They are kept safe and hidden away from view of others.
While conversation with Whisperstones is common, there are rare occurrences of those who fail to communicate with their stones at no fault to their attempts. These people are known as The Forsaken. They are considered cursed by Coeurasa, their soul having been driven out of her in disgrace. Should this person not be capable of redeeming themselves, their soul is believed be devoured by the Dragon into the Howling Sea.
The A’Paz are quick to remind everyone that this is all speculation about the Forsaken and remind that they cannot truly understand how Coeurasa behaves and what her intentions are. However, the oddity of the situation does bring concern from those who can listen to their whisperstones and they greet the unfortunate ones with solace. The few Forsaken from the current era believe that pilgrimage will bring them favor, but as to what spiritual significance will cause their awakening it is unknown, as it is unclear if a forsaken has ever been able to regain favor with Coeurasa.
Places of Interest
A fort built into Coeurasa’s Reach, located at the entrance passage of Bisemutum where the mesa meets the cliffside to the sea. The fort’s walls have stood unharmed and unaged from years of attacks.
Bisemutums are assigned to guard the pass as part of their Rite of Night, keeping people from crossing into their lands.
The fort features several defensive benefits, aside from the strength of its walls. Avalanches can be can be started that barrel down and cover the path to A’Mond. As a last resort, the stationed guards have been instructed to destroy pillars supporting the ceiling of the fort, collapsing it over the entrance and, sealing Bisemutum from the rest of The Cross.
The location of the yearly Blood Nights festival, it is situated between three Dragon’s Tooth shrines (Dahre, Vita, and Peperit). The area is a large flat field surrounded by a ring of woods with the many streams from Peperit flowing through it. This city is almost a ghost town for most of the year, featuring countless empty festival abodes and fire pits and paths overgrown with plant matter. The few permanent inhabitants reside closer to the center of the city, where they maintain their community and teach lessons at their small library.
The Withered Wastes
The desert to the north of Bisemutum is accessed by passing through the Tempus shrine region. The land is a mixture of dark sands and a dead forest; decayed and burnt trees dot the landscape. A curse was placed upon the land, causing sickness and eventual death to those who wander through it. A thin trail known as Kromek’s Pass avoids the curse and leads to the Absolvo shrine, however the pass is poorly kept for fear of the curse.
Dragon’s Tooth Shrines
Located to the southeast. It is the origin for many of the springs and rivers that flow through A’Paz. It is the highest point of the peninsula, the mountains appearing as if reaching towards Coeurasa.
Located to the southwest. A notable feature of this area is a large cave with a tunnel that runs through the mountain. A forsaken attempted to please Coeurasa by digging a tunnel through a mining cave in the mountain, wishing to add beauty to the landscape by providing his homeland with a second sunset. These caves became to be known as the Sunset Caves. Whether this worked to help please Coeurasa no one knows, but the gesture has been appreciated by all who see it.
Located to the east, the Dragon’s Tooth is nestled in a ravine. The mountainous region has complex cave formations that partially run down the cliff side, providing for cool shelter during the summer months and flora unique to that area. While most inhabitants reside within the cave formations, a few set their homes on the edges of the rising mountain face.
Dragon’s Tooth located to the north, hidden deep in a forest. The shrine marks the end of the woods and the entrance to the Withered Wastes. The shrine itself is overgrown with plant matter and hides well within the forest. Normally the Guardians would keep the shrine pristine, but the Guardians misunderstood a request from a forsaken. What began as graves and planted flowers to remember the dead became a large garden surrounding the Dragon’s Tooth that eventually grew to cover the shrine.
The Dragon’s Tooth located deep in the Withered Wastes. Though only Guardians live here, there is a marked path, so the curse can be avoided on pilgrimage.
From the outside, a long and steep white mesa that rises from the Karban Sea and stretches for hundreds of miles to the north. Several mountains run along the base of the mesa before it turns into a steep vertical cliff, earning it the nickname of The Wall or Sky Reach. It climbs far into the clouds, and it is believed that snow and ice cover the peaks of the Wall due to the constant water streams that combine into rivers that feed the Bipusmarsh. Avalanches are common during the season of water, proving it too difficult to maintain cities or roads along the length of the reach. The surface of Coeurasa’s Reach shines brightly with the sunset from all the snow and ice run-off, however it also casts a great shadow in the morning, delaying sunrise.
On the opposite side of the reach lies the Withered Wastes. A mess of dark jagged spires and mountains run along the base, some reaching up towards the wall. They appear like giant lengths of decayed trees. There is no semblance of order amongst these spires and they are unlike the Dragon’s Teeth. From this side the reach appears to have a slight inward bow. This is a dangerous piece of land during the Season of Water, as instead of avalanches, giant spikes of ice may randomly fall from the sky. During the Season of Fire, the fallen giant spikes of ice turn into pools of water which form a continuous thin waterfall that runs the length of Coeurasa’s Reach. While ice spikes are far smaller and fewer in this season, they are just as dangerous. Travelers to this area carry large chitin shells over their heads to protect them from these spikes. The stream from this waterfall travels south to the fort of A’Mond and feeds into the Karban Sea. The only known passage through Coeurasa’s Reach is through the fort of A’Mond, keeping Bisemutum separate from the rest of the world.
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