|Languages||Skodje, Common, Oortaal|
Cain is a large northern continent often forgotten by the outside world in favor of neighboring regions like Ellador and Jorrhildr. Its history is similarly forgotten but it was known to be at the fringes of the Drovv civilization and the Allorn Empire which allowed the Ailor which lived there to flourish quietly for a number of years. The Cataclysm and preceding events, however, drastically changed the landscape into what it is today. Almost every type of northern land formation and climate can be found in Cain, and the style of living of the local Velheim population is diverse to accommodate survival among these various environments. A variety of nations, many in conflict with each other, also populate Cain but many Velheim living there carry out normal lives far away from all those troubles. As an insular continent, the only interest Regalia has had in the region is attempting to convert its population and access its resources, both slow tasks which are slowly beginning to bear fruit. However, Regalia should be careful their fruit does not freeze and die if they ever make the foolish decision to outright attack Cain.
Cain’s history is surprisingly vague despite its large size. Many scholars believe much of its surface, especially in the south and west, was once underwater and therefore inaccessible. However, despite its smaller size in the past, it was a region known to hold members of the Drovv species in the time before the Cataclysm. The landmass was on their borders, similar to Jorrhildr and, while explored, was not extensively settled as the Drovv remained close to the Veil to continue their endless vigil waiting for a new Void Invasion. The Allorn Empire similarly lacked interest in the region, and Cain remained largely unexplored by both parties. This lack of interest proved fortuitous to escaped slaves and the people now called the Velheim Ailor. While a long trip and certainly not as humid as tropical Daen, Cain and the whole of The North Belt offered protection from the Altalar and their pursuit of escaped slaves. However, this task was made more difficult closer to the Cataclysm by the birth of the Great Ice Dragon and the Isldar in distant Ellador. Already found in the north and occasionally suffering snowfall in its northern reaches, Cain was soon transformed. Snow fell further and further south, meaning the Ailor slaves were forced to harden and adapt. Some say it was during this time the Velheim people were born, though others contend the Velheim had already been there for centuries and it was the slaves who fully converted to the northern ways to survive the swiftly cooling terrain. This was only the beginning of the changes Cain was to experience.
During the Fifth Void Invasion, the Void surged through the region on their way south and many Velheim Ailor stayed out of their way. As for the Cataclysm, Cain was one of the landmasses most clearly affected by the disaster. Luckily, it seems many of the areas affected by the Void armies passing were plunged into the sea or dispelled through the complex magical forces at work in this event. However, whole mountain ranges rose and fell in Cain, killing hundreds of Ailor and wiping out various species of wildlife. The largest change was the abrupt creation of the Inner Kalm Sea located center-north of the continent today. Its creation is described in local myth: “The Sea Giant suddenly sought to produce a new body part and grew it with the speed of a flower blooming in the morning sun.” While most Regalians doubt the claim the body of saltwater was formed in less than a day, the changes in Cain were still harsh and sudden. For example, in what is now Noor Mirkal, the Velheim community there suddenly found many of their islands several meters below the waves instead of above them, requiring major shifts in their already maritime culture to accommodate these changes. In the following years, hundreds more Ailor in other areas of Cain died while exploring their new land or from the new blanket of cold which firmly covered their entire continent.
In the years since then, a variety of nations - all Velheim in culture - have gradually risen on Cain, with the occasional foreign infusion from areas like Ceardia, Ithania or Regalia. They have played little part in external politics, mainly focused on themselves and their own inter-state conflicts. Regalian interest itself is limited to two areas: one, the support of private noble missions from the Lordship of Hawthe within the Regalian Archipelago in attacking Cain Folkar and Cain Mar; and the other the attempt to spread Unionism to the populace, a clear mission of the Regalian Empire. Neither has seen much success, the Cain nations remain under Velheim control while Falsemarr is the only nation in Cain to have a large Unionist population in comparison to all others, which are of the Oldt Fayths. Recent world events have done little to change this state of affairs. The Bone Horror Crisis certainly caused damage but with many stretches of Cain uninhabited damage to the overall population of the various states was minimal. A positive of the event is that it ended conflict between the Cain warlords, who formed a united front against the heinous undead. Now, the only remaining issue on Cain is Tryllejag. A massive nation of Velheim purists disdainful of the Regalian Empire, they have frequently fought conflicts with their neighbors and, when not involved in these events, have allowed their population to sell their services to others. For now, they are quiet and stewing after a recent loss to Falsemarr, but they are unlikely to remain dormant for much longer. Until such time, however, Cain remains the cold, vast stretch of terrain it has been for the past three centuries.
Cain is found north of the Regalian Archipelago, east of Fendarfelle, north-east of the North Skags and south-west of Jorrhildr. The continent borders the Altar Sea to the east, the Northern Emptiness to the north, the Fendar Strait to the west and the Great Middle Sea to the south. Cain demonstrates the diverse terrain indicative of a northern climate, resulting in the local Velheim populations similarly diversifying their ways of living and life to accommodate these regions. The eastern half of the continent, as well as much of the north, is covered in pine and evergreen forests sporadically punctured by fields or swamps. The south of Cain has lighter tree cover with more open areas and sparse broadleaf forests. The west of the continent is completely open, however, with little tree cover and is instead made up of open taiga and tundra. Finally, the center of Cain is dominated by the Inner Kalm Sea, a body of saltwater unique in Aloria as the largest inland body of water known to exist. To the south of this land feature are a number of marshlands, many fed by the nearby small sea and the numerous local mountains. These mountains and their associated chains are located across all of Cain and come in formations from small to tall. From these various mountains come many rivers, some of which feed marshlands while others continue across mines of terrain forming small lakes until eventually ending at the outer edges of the land.
These edges are as diverse as the interior, with wide areas of dark-colored sand which meet cliffs as well as hills and a great sea of pebbles, leading up to more solid ground. Fjords are carved into the solid rock as little inlets of tranquility. However, due to Cain’s location, one will never find expanses of white sand or other similar tropical climates. The weather helps to keep this cold climate intact with strong winds helping blow storms in from the North Skags, Jorrhildr and even distant Drowda or Ellador. These winds are felt particularly hard in the west of Cain as the open terrain makes wind cover difficult to find, leading to intense whiteout storms and high winds that the locals have learned to protect themselves from over the centuries. Finally, Cain has several islands off its southern and eastern coastlines. The southern coast holds the largest of these, Marna, where the nation of Cain Mar resides. The other islands on the southern coast are suspected to be pieces left over from the great forces which ripped Marna off Cain and into the ocean. In the east sits the Mirkal Island Group, a small archipelago of six main islands and over a dozen far smaller ones. The area is notable for its sunken ruins but also for its cold-water coral reefs which have slowly covered some of these ruins.
Cain lacks flora diversity but certainly makes up for it in the sheer quantity of what few plants it does possess. Juniper Trees and other varieties of coniferous tree cover the eastern region of Cain while some small shrubs and grasses also cling to these areas. In the swamps south of the Inner Calm Sea, Shademarsh Mushrooms grow in the shadows of waterlogged or slowly dying swamp trees while Water Lilies sit sparsely in the water, dying in the winter only to reemerge in the spring and summer. In the southwest, mainly on Marna, grows samples of Friblomst imported there from the North Skags. Finally, across all of Cain, pockets of Modrá’s Root also grow and provide the Velheim community with the base for their blue tattoos. In addition, similar root vegetables like the simple potato are grown where and when possible by these location populations to help them vary their diet.
Cain’s wildlife is varied despite the cold climate. Predators, like packs of Northern Wolves and Common Silverback Wolves, stalk the forests and mountains for prey always in competition with each other, nature, and the various settlements they might find in their roaming. Another predator of note is the Sibraxas. This feline hunting in a similar way to these wolf packs, and even better in some ways due to its white coat. The animals they hunt are various, from a variety of cervids to smaller animals like mice or Squirrels. A number of domesticated animals also reside in settlements across the continent, from herd animals such as sheep or goats to the Snowpaw Felicis, a canine used to pull dog sleds in the western tundra. In the water of the Inner Kalm Sea, the plentiful Kalmian Spineback provides food to thousands every year, from the Inner Kalm Sea while in the waters around Cain other species of fish, Starv Seals and Gat Bulb Backs, provide their own bounties to those that hunt them.
Politics and Demographics
Cain is as politically divided as its landscape is varied. In the south sit Cain Mar and Cain Folkar, two nations at war for decades. Supposedly each was founded by one brother of a pair who raided and fought, earning themselves large followings of men. However, when the two disagreed, the younger left and thus began the conflict. The two Cain states have fought on and off against one another for years, and on occasion against Regalians from the Hawthe region of the Regalian Archipelago. Cain Folkar has fought its western neighbor Morfadal several times, seizing a swath of the tundra terrain in their most recent war. However, all three states did put aside their differences during the Bone Horror Crisis to defeat several large hordes which attacked their lands. This weak alliance has remained for the past few years as they all grow increasingly aware of the dangers posed by eastern and southern neighbors, one of which is Tryllejag. It is the largest nation in Cain and by far the most dangerous, with vast forests and several major mountains ranges providing them the raw resources for war. Tryllejag has been on the march for the past several decades, only recently being stopped by two embarrassments in recent years. The first was the loss of Orvy as part of their territory, the state now a neutral party key to shipbuilding, sailing and food gathering for the aspiring kingdom. The other was,in their recent conflict with the Unionist Falsemarr, they actually lost territory creating an obvious, irritating bulge into their territory which grows more and more fortified. However, they have had one major predatory success. Sensing weakness in nearby Noor Mirkal, which lives on the Mirkal Island Group, Tryllejag conquered the largest island in the chain, displacing thousands fleeing their imperialistic impulses. All of these nations have largely avoided or rejected outside aid from nations like the Regalian Empire. The only people who are receptive to the outside in any major way is Falsemarr due to their largely Unionist population. However, despite all of this, it is important to understand as much as half of Cain does not acknowledge the nation they live in as a body that commands them. This lack of acknowledgment results in many thousands living free and individual lives away from the conflict and issues described here.
Ul’s Forbannel, also known as Ul’s Curse in Common, is a site that remains a mystery to this day. Found on the eastern coastline of Marna within the territory of Cain Mar, this black scar in the earth has been in existence for at least two centuries. The local Velheim claim it was created by the Goddess of death, Ul, in anger when another god injured the Giant God of the Sea Raudr. She then cursed the site where his blood fell, resulting in the dark patch of dirt which has remained until today. Attempts to grow weeds and grass have failed on the dark soil which, despite many rainfalls and great ocean waves, remains as black as the day outsiders first observed it. The most popular theory among scholars is that the site is a mark left over from the Fifth Void Invasion, a spot which can never be erased. As the locals are extremely crude in their recordkeeping, the truth of this spot is likely never to be known unless someone from the era were to be found alive today.
Another monument to Ul, this site is less mystical in nature. The gate was built into the side of Mount Solnedgang as a Velheim Helbolwen. Helbolwens are large burial complexes maintained by a Velheim class of religious men, the Staargirs. This particular Helbolwen is vast, with many large chambers, some of which let natural sunlight in through gaps in their rock ceilings or walls. The exterior of the complex is what has given it a distinguished reputation. The Velheim claim the artist who carved it was mad, and he killed himself after he finished his work. Whatever the truth, many agree only a disturbed mind could have invented the imagery seen on the rock surface. Demons consuming people, animals rampaging into Ailor settlements, sexual imagery and undreamable monsters fill the nine by twelve foot high doorward into the Helbolwen. The doors are also carved in a similar style of grotesque insanity. Ul’s Gate was abandoned in 304 AC due to the Bone Horror Crisis which saw thousands of Bone Horrors pour out of the crypt, dead Staargirs among them, and even now less than half of the structure is safe to access without fear of running into a Bone Horror. Velheim or even any warrior seeking glory are free to enter, with the local Rakhr and Earl both pointing the way freely.
The Lone Man
The Lone Man is a single statue standing half a mile or so out into the sea on the western coastline of Cain in the territory of Morfadal. The statue is said to be like those from Mirnoye as the Morfadaleese claim ancestry from that region. However, these ties are so far tenuous and unproven. The statue is worn by decades of rain, snow, and crashing waves but has not yet fallen into the sea. It stands some 50 to 60 feet high with its base still attached to the rock outcropping it was carved from. The overall work is Velheim in style, with the man standing on top of a carved surface which attempts to mimic hair as if he is a hunter victorious over a beast. He appears to be wearing a bear pelt and is said to have once grasped an axe in his right hand, but that part of the statue fell off in 290 AC. His left hand is empty, and the man’s gaze is off looking to the south-west, the Morfadaleese claiming it looks to the Mirnoy Ablast. The statue is further carved along much of its surface with Velheim symbology and iconography, much of it worn away but some are trying to preserve what they see and so they are redoing the carvings. A minor note of the site is the small cluster of dark-stoned ruins underwear in and around the statue which some claim to be the remains of the Mirnoye colony that helped form the Morfadal state.
Byenavenhet is the capital city of Tryllejag and an impressive example of Velheim inland settlements. The city is at least a century old, but many local tales set it as being as old as the Cataclysm. Several broad, well-traveled paths lead into the city past great oaken doors and thick stone walls interlaced with wood. Inside of the city, the homes are simple but effective, being made of thatch, wood, and stone in sizes from only a few dozen square feet to the large and open halls of several hundred square feet. The northern area of the city is set on the local lake, and while a portion of this shoreline is used as a harbor, the rest is a training ground set within sight of the largely wooden royal hall. From here, the Kings of Tryllejag have watched their greatest warriors train for combat in the water and on land. A sizable Url population also exists in the city, some guests from Jorrhildr but the majority actually created through purposeful infestation in “transformation groves” found near the royal hall. The city is dotted with fine examples of Tryllejagger wood carving, from within homes on the walls or support columns, to public sculptures commemorating great victories of their nation.
The Coral Temple
The Coral Temple is a unique underwater formation found in eastern Cain in the Mirkal Island Group. It is the remains of a pre-Cataclysm religious temple which was sunk over the course of the disaster. However, it seems to have sunk solely vertically, and its roof is now mere feet underneath the waves. The site exudes a creepy, unsettling feeling for any who dive there. For one, while much of the temple is bathed in light, very little of it breaches the dark rooms and chambers within the temple itself, resulting in foreboding pitch-black entryways only occasionally illuminated by the shifting sunlight above. There is also the silence given it is underwater, and many get the impression they are being watched. However, the final feature to note on the temple is what gives it its name, and that is the coldwater coral which grows along the stonework. While not as vibrant and vivid as the types found in Hadaria, the coral here is diverse in form and presents an interesting study opportunity for the interested. Myths persist from the locals; the temple holds a great treasure lost to their people when the Cataclysm came, but as it is highly dangerous to try and enter the temple’s corridors and hallways, away from easy access to the surface and oxygen, it may remain a persistent myth for quite some time.
- Regalians originally thought Cain was only Cain Mar due to their lack of understanding Skodje. It was not until Falsemarr established ties with Regalia as a Unionist Velheim nation the full extent of the continent was discovered.
- Scholars are eager to explore Cain more thoroughly, due to their belief Seraph and Drovv ruins are likely scattered across the region and have never been explored before.
- Cain is often ignored by Regalians, who are far more interested in Ellador and Jorrhildr. Thus far, this has allowed the anti-Regalian sentiments in Cain to flourish, and most Velheim from the region only come to Regalia for trade or dire reasons.