Black Ghosts' Requiem
The heartland of An-Xiisz is split into Northern and Southern halves by the Ergitt River and the Kaxa-tun Mountains. The River itself is a major trade route, trade which is controlled by the River Rats. These “rats” are an engineering guild operating a system of locks that allows shipping traffic to bypass the cataracts.
The land South of the river is the Karasi Vale, an area of gently rolling hills surrounded by mountain ranges. To the West the Black Wisp’s Pass and Seven Gales Pass break up the craggy hills that form the Western edge of the vale. The central part of the vale is covered with thick forests, occasionally broken up by a town and surrounding farmland. Numerous streams, roads and railroads cross the region.
Most cities and towns are located along the edges of the vale. Center of the valley once was the province of Voliisz. Today the ruins of the former provincial capital are surrounded by Blackthorn Woods, dark and ominous forest where all sorts of monstrosities make their home. The woods are named so after a black, thorny creeping vine that appears to be made out of wrought iron. When cut a deep red blood like liquid oozes out of the cut. All sane folks give Blackthorn a wide berth. While some of the lands that once were part of the Voliisz province have been divided between neighboring provinces, ruins of Voliisz, as well as many cities abandoned after the Purge, are still technically an independent province. A province with no population or vote in the Grand Assembly, but still a province.
To the South are the Veil Mountains, low mountains that break up into earthmotes and form the Widow’s Veil. Two most notable features are the Veil’s Cut fortress and the Veil Sepulcher. Veil’s Cut fortress marks the Norther limit of the Cut, an airship path through the Widow’s Veil. The Veil Sepulcher is an ancient burial ground. The original builders are speculated to be ancient minotaurs, based on the winding, labyrinthine hallways. The area has been used as a burial grounds up until the Sundering. At that time something deep in the underground crypts of the Sepulcher broke, and the dead have become restless.
Area North of the Ergitt River and the Kaxa-tun Mountains is composed of the Sunset Vale and Shadow Vale. The Sunset Vale is a long valley, bound by Kaxa-tun Mountains to the South and opening up onto the Tanash Uplands in the North, where the border with Free Baronies is located. The higher elevation of the Northern part of the Vale limits the vegetations to small, cold resistant trees and open grasslands. The Southern part was once covered in lush forests. Today these forests have been cut through to make room for numerous cities, large and small. Surrounding these cities is rich farmland.
The Shadow Vale is a deep valley where Aszak-vesz province is located. The valley floor is very hilly and covered with thick forests. Lumber camps and lumber rail lines cut through the forest. Hills and mountains surround the valley on three sides, opening to the West onto the Sunset Vale.
The Eastern boundary of An-Xiisz is defined by Vrekhnash Mountains and the Great Scar. The Scar is an area of open air with earthmotes of all sizes, usually too close to safely travel by airship. The Scar extends all the way down to Below.
Eastern region of the Sky Provinces consists of mountainous earthmotes. There are some forests, but there is very little area for any significant vegetation to take root. Countless caves and abandoned mines dot the mountainsides, and are home to various wild creatures and goblin and kobold tribes. Rail lines cut long tunnels through these mountains, connecting many of the small mining communities to Annan-vex.
Southern part of Sky Provinces is much more hospitable. High hills and mountain ranges dominate the landscape. What area is not taken up by the terraced rice paddies, it is overgrown by tall forests. Unlike the Eastern part of the Sky provinces, the countryside is much more populated. Roads and rail connect many small towns and villages, and the countryside is a lot tamer than in Annan-vax.
An-Xiisz is for all intents and purposes at the literal end of the world, with few allies to call to if the need for help arises. To the south, past the deadly reefs of Widow’s Veil is the Great Below. This vast expanse of Crystal Abyss is the primary trade route between the northern nations of the Plains of Torann and the southern islands of Avarthum’s Run. In addition to natural threats from the creatures of the Crystal Abyss, pirates and raiders are plentiful. The most notable is the fearsome tiefling pirate named L’Fette and her deadly frigate, the Jade Zephyr.
To the West is Aascheral. It has been a constant thorn in An-Xiisz’s side. The Border Wars have been going on and off for decades, subsiding when Aascheral has to put down another slave uprising, or attacks someone else. But they are a threat even during the most peaceful times. A lot of the population along that border is composed of escaped slaves, who gladly join the army to fight their former masters. In return their families gain full citizen rights.
To the North are the Free Baronies. The Baronies are a number of free city states that often band together for protection, especially when Aascheral decides it is time to expand again. For the most part the relation with the Baronies is peaceful, focused on trade. Occasionally a small conflict will happen, but never anything on the scale of the Border Wars.
To the North East is Xihorszad. This hobgoblin enclave controls Northern end of the Vrekhnash Mountains. The relations with the hobgoblins are strained at best. In the best of times there are limited trade treaties in place, and an uneasy peace. At the worst of times the hobgoblins decide to go to war. On the upside, if the need arises, the hobgoblins will come to the Commonwealth’s aid, assuming the price is right.
The North border is defined by the Vrekhnash Mountains and the Great Scar. This is the untamed frontier, with all sorts of dangers lurking within, and occasionally crawling out into the open country. Beyond the Great Scar are the Emerald Heavens. The orcs of the Heavens are warlike and xenophobic, which makes them rather dangerous neighbors. Even there is a peace treaty with the shogunate at this time, raids by minor orcish clans are a constant threats to the Southern and Eastern provinces.