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Chaos Dwarfs vs Kingdoms of Ind - The Dragon Isles 2/2
The Dragon Isles
“First brought to the attention of the Old World by bold tilean explorers like Luka Huarugoin and the dwarf fleets from Barak Varr, the Dragon Isles have slowly found their way into our cartographic knowledge, one rumor at a time. Generally speaking, they are described as a small group of tropical islands within the Sea of Dread. Located south of the Mountains of Mourn and east of the Southlands, the islands are separated by the Sea of Storms from the mainland, while the eastern sea is called the Lizard Sea for reasons that will soon be obvious. The archipelago consists of three large islands and several smaller ones, including the southernmost clutch, a small group known as the Claws, where navigation is made dangerous by currents, bad weather and uncharted shoals, making any attempt to land difficult without an experienced pilot. The islands are covered by dense jungle and are known for their riches, including diamonds, jade, lapis lazuli and rare timber. All that should make them subject to colonization by any nation bold enough to do it, but in the case of the Dragon Isles, the only thing more infamous than their riches is the reason why looking for them is akin to suicide.
As if the harsh nature of the fever infected jungles was not enough, the islands are well known for a reptilian predatory fauna that puts the Old World bestiary to shame and can only compare to what can be found in Lustria. This includes creatures catalogued long ago: vicious packs of Horned Ones, apex predators like the bloodthirsty Carnosaur, poisonous Salamanders hunting trough the swamplands, Stegadons laying waste to the jungle as they fight for supremacy, Great Wyrms, feathered Coatls and Terradons flying over the canopy, and colossal Thunder Lizards. More mysteriously, witnesses speak of feral two-legged lizards inhabiting abandoned ruins and ferociously denying entrance to intruders. They seem to bear a certain resemblance to the lustrian lizardmen, but they lack the primitive trappings of civilization explorers have found on the New World. One way or another, the entire archipelago is the most hostile environment one could hope for, a hunting ground where every living thing kills or is killed. Witnesses tell of an even more disturbing phenomenon, an unnerving change in the animals’ behavior when interlopers set foot on land. As soon as warmbloods enter their territory, the creatures abandon their mutual hostility and rush to defend their islands, a common berserk reaction, an instinctive truce that lasts until the warmbloods are devoured or forced to return to sea. This unnatural territoriality, which some link to a defense mechanism whose authors are unknown, has allowed life on the Dragon Isles to continue in its most primeval form, as it has done since before the realms of men.
We owe many of our information on the subject to the controversial estalian conquistador Cayetano Díaz de Talavera, a man described both as a brilliant seaman who almost circumnavigated the globe, and as a complete cretin who managed the feat of reaching Ind while sailing to Lustria. What is undoubtable is that he left a fascinating journal of his travels and everything he witnessed. He and his crew fought in Ind for several years as mercenaries. Riding a sea Sierpe by the name of “Quijada”, he took part in dozens of conflicts on land and sea and quickly thrived; serving rulers and rogues and profiting handsomely, a fact he was quite proud of noting.
According to Cayetano, indans were probably the first humans to reach the Dragon Isles. Since the forgotten day the first fishermen set foot on the archipelago searching for water, and since the day the first survivors returned to port rambling about the horrors they had witnessed somewhere in the dark western sea, the islands have become a fixed rumor and source of both dread and gossip in the coastal taverns. Soon explorers set sail farther west they had ever gone. As the islands’ wealth became fact, maharajahs asked for reports on the matter and for colonization plans. In the next years and decades, larger and larger fleets headed west, starting an indan age of exploration, a drive that would lead indans all the way to the Southlands and to establish their first contact with Araby.
But as for the Dragon Isles, no expedition, no matter how well equipped or armed, ever settled successfully. Attracted by the dream of fabulous wealth, thousands of soldiers and colonizers vanished in the jungles, never to be seen again, although some times their companions heard them scream before the true masters of the jungle got them. Eventually the very settlements were overrun by living tides of teeth and claws. The fascination gave way to pessimism and the realization that the islands should better be left alone. The cost was too high, the rulers of Ind returned to more prosaic matters, and the islands went back to their isolation.
Only one kind of people have refused to resign themselves to this situation: the motley society of the western coasts, an incontrollable fauna of wreckers, pirates and petty rajahs who gather their fleets at Angre Fort, a pirate haven diplomatically ignored by local rulers. From there, they make a living by sacking merchant fleets and selling their services to maharajahs in need of ships. Unable to compete with the powerful kingdoms of the hinterlands, those pirates and robber lords have always turned to the sea for wealth, and in the seamen communities their crews are made of, the Dragon Isles remain an irresistible mirage. It is precisely at Angre Fort where a self-proclaimed “Rajah of the Dragon Islands”, who apparently had never set foot on his “domain”, hired Cayetano for an expedition. The purpose was as always to find riches, creatures to sell to the courts’ menageries, and everything they could find in the abandoned cities, those trinkets being well rewarded by the temples. The estalian writes many pages about the dangers to be found on the islands but adds nothing new to what is already known. The most interesting and sinister part of his tale involve a different kind of danger. A civilized one, if the word could ever be use to describe what he saw.
With the benefit of insight, it seems Cayetano’s employer hid important information from him. Once the fleet left Angre Fort, not a single indan gave a word of warning. It was something the captains and the crews avoided talking about until it was too late, as if they thought mentioning it would bring ill luck and they hoped the danger would pass them by this time. Only when the estalians saw the columns of black smoke approaching the islands from the north, and the indans’ terror at the sight of it, did they realize humans were not the only ones with a claim on the archipelago. And that Carnosaurs are not the worst thing one can find in that forgotten corner of the World...”
-Riniero Cornari, “Commentaries on the nature of the World”. Inspired by the “Travel journal of Cayetano Díaz de Talavera, of his many feats in the lands of Gold and Blood, of the many singular events he found himself entangled in and of how he disentangled himself”.-
Dawi-Zharr of all countries, unite !
Chaos Dwarfs and Kingdoms of Ind - http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...#pid289243
The Dragon Isles - http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...?tid=17958
The edge of the World - http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...?tid=18055
the nature of Estalia - http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...?tid=17975
The priestess and the tarasca - http://www.chaos-dwarfs.com/forum/showth...#pid290710
This post was last modified: 09-28-2019 11:37 PM by ashur.