29 minutes ago
Sunday, October 10, 2010
Way Up North
Borea is the sprawling land north of the City and the Union as a whole. It's more sparsely populated than its Southern neighbor, owing to a more frigid climate. Most of its cities and towns are clustered around either the Inland Sea, or the West Sea and the Strait of Anian--which form the Northwest Passage allowing westward travel from Ealderde to the Far East.
There are those who choose to live in the Borean wilderness or more isolated towns. Hunters and trappers still eke out a living as they have for over two hundred years; there’s still a market for the meat of dwindling mammoth herds, or the golden pelts of the aurumvorax. The vast northern forests still support a thriving timber industry. Then there are the aboriginal peoples who follow the ways of their ancestors, some of them living in the ice-bound wastes where few “civilized” folk ever care to go.
Borea’s cold owes to more than its latitude. Some strong northern winds are actually born from the confluence of elemental water and air, forming elemental ice. The preternatural cold of these winds can freeze unprotected animals or people in their tracks, cause trees to explode with quick-frozen sap, or even coat whole villages in ice. Boreans try their best to avoid these death-ice winds, and experienced woodsfolk know the signs that mean such a wind is coming.
Over the vast wilds of Borea, the Boreal Mounted Police are responsible for keeping the peace and enforcing justice. These intrepid lawmen contend with human criminals, and monstrous menaces (like the wendigo), as well. Like the Freedonian Rangers far to the south, the mounted police are a special breed, inured to life on the fringe of civilization. As such, they're figures romanticized in fiction and film in Borea, and famed in even more southern lands.
The North has its share of mysteries, too. Shimmering, phantom cities sometimes are seen in its skies, which may be ghostly glimpses of the distant past, psychic projections of the fabled paradise of Hyperborea, or something else. Then there are legends of an Arctic island warmed by volcanos or hot springs, which may be the ancestral home of the all the natives of the New World. Other legends, or sea tales, speak of ancient longships from the Old World emerging from the icy mists, manned by undead raiders, and laden with centuries of plunder.