Vaults of Lore Issue 1: The Floaters and the Midsummer Walkers
Topic: Mysteries, People
In the lands in the east of Sas-Akrana and Torlynn, where the lowland piney forests become a steady ascent to the high crests of mountains, there flows a river of staggering length. Much like the Nile or Amazon of Earth, this river, unnamed at present, is one of the longest in the realm, hugging the length of the mountain range that separates the two previously mentioned countries from the inland seas to the east and the countries of Nimb and Morodaldi. It then breaks away from the low point in the mountain range to spread west into the plains of Jhordona, branching into many smaller rivers, including the winding Tengali of the Mahali Wetwoods.
For hundreds of years, the residents of towns built on the leg of the river near the mountains of Sas-Akrana and Torlynn have whispered of strange people drifting northward on the waters. These solitary floaters pilot medium sized rafts stocked with woven urn-shaped baskets and clay pottery. They are never spotted with company, and when called to from shore, the response is never more than a gesture. They clad themselves in humble garb, usually robes of rough fabric and shawls or capes of fur for warmth. The people themselves, however, come from many different backgrounds, and of what race, gender, or age they will be next cannot be predicted.
Documentation in the realm will exist dating to the mid 4th great cycle (4gc), written by various road scholars travelling along the river, although the most well preserved and well recorded account comes from a scholar in 5gc, which I will write about at a later date.
Another point of interest is that, more rarely and only occurring in the warm seasons, similar mysterious people can be found following the roads of this area northward. They carry large pack animals with them, as well as live vipers whose species cannot be traced to a known point of origin. They were dubbed the midsummer walkers by locals. Their appearance follows the same formula as the floaters on the river, of unpredictable race, and they are equally quiet. Merchants encountering them on the road have reported getting a word out of them here and there, but it is always in the region’s trade language, and always a polite decline to trade and good wishes as they disengage from conversation.
These people are never spotted farther than where the river breaks away from the mountains and ventures into Jhordona, and the same people are never seen returning southward.
* SPOILER LEVEL BELOW THIS POINT: MEDIUM *
The snakes are a breed of viper specifically bred to empower their venom, making them slightly less fatal, but increasing the potency of its side effects. The venom triggers a state of shock and dementia , causing paralysis and hallucinations on a critical scale with the intended purpose of giving the bitten an out of body experience. The cult tending the snakes promise the answers to a thousand personal secrets, but warn that most do not survive the journey.